Thursday, October 2, 2014

Growing Chickens

I am happy to say that the hens that arrived as just-hatched-chicks
on April 1st are laying now.


Every day I am getting 2 ½ to 3 dozen eggs.

Lovely, aren't they?
I love an egg carton full of eggs of varied color and size.


Hubbs takes our eggs to the city each week...
we have regular customers who reserve a year's worth of eggs at a time.

And so, in order to service those long-term customers, I have to
raise a new flock of chickens each year to replace the ones who retire along the way.


I have three chicken houses, and each year the newest batch of hens
gets moved into one of the houses (on a rotating basis).
This last group moved into the upper house in this picture.


There are two houses that share this enclosed yard,
but as you can see... our chickens spend their days out in the pasture...


or hanging out in the goats' run-in shed.


Next year's chicks will move into this chicken house behind the goats.


Currently there are about 20 retired chickens living in this house.
(A couple of them still lay an occasional egg.)


If you are on the fence about raising backyard chickens,


don't hesitate to email me.
I would love to chat with you and perhaps give you a little push towards raising your own eggs!

I guarantee you will never be sorry that you did!
(Unless of course you happen to get a rooster amongst your hens...
unless your neighbors don't mind waking up before the sun rises!)

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Gifts

Like most mornings, I headed out yesterday before the sun was up.
Driving to the barn, the dogs dodging in and out of my headlights...
I was ready to take on another day.


It was quite foggy as I reached the barn.


My arrival signaled "grazing time" for the horses and donkeys,


and they were eager to get on about their business.


I turned on the lights in the barn workshop in order to feed the cats and was greeted by this:


Well, it looks as if my barn kitties are earning their keep!
(By the way, this one was about 8 inches long, without his tail!)


I have never actually seen a live rat on the farm, but I know we have plenty.
Just about once a month I find one of these treasures laid out like a prize...
a gift from one of my hunters...or... perhaps I should call it "rent".


We feed our barn kitties well.
There is always dry food available, and twice daily they get a little canned food as well.


This way they have lots of energy for hunting,
and then lots of energy for playing with their catch.


They never eat what they catch, but I suspect that they play it "to death".
Sad, but better than the alternative.
And the idea of being over-run with rodents appeals even less than finding these "gifts."

With the cooler temps and the fog, I thought it might be a good time to work
on weeding the vegetable garden...
hoping the gnats might be gone.


Not so...they are still out in full force with the single goal of making gardening as miserable
as they can possibly make it.
I did fill several trugs full of weeds ... take that, gnats!

My prize was this pan of fresh veggies...


finally I am getting tomatoes from our garden!

Somewhere during the day I got the bright idea that I could make my own wooden
buttons for my knitted items.
And so, out came the power tools and varnish, and voila!
They are each about 1 ½ inches across and cut from an oak branch.


I think I will be using these for my next knitted neck warmer.

Remember that bell I found at the antique store a couple of weeks ago?
Well, when I found it it was pink and white (really!)...
now it looks like this....


I can hardly wait to hang it.
It's so big and loud, I'll bet you can hear it from miles away.

I also harvested handfuls of herbs to make a Tuscan rub for roasted chicken.


Into the food chopper went rosemary, oregano, thyme, Kosher salt, pepper,
dried hot peppers, lemon zest, and garlic.


Then I rubbed this on the outer skin of a whole chicken (with backbone removed)...
and into the oven it went.


Yum....local chicken with homegrown herbs....roasted over top of assorted root veggies.
it's what's for dinner!

Hope your day is fog and gnat free!
Happy October 1st!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Making the World a Little Smaller

A question...
why do I blog?
One answer... because you are there... interested... reading what I write.
And yet...not.


I have asked myself this question often...
especially in times when I feel like there is nothing interesting happening.


And then I remember the days before living on the farm...
the days when I read about others' farms and lapped up every little detail.


Each and every chicken picture thrilled me.


I dreamed of cooking with the food that I had grown myself.

I dreamed of waking to the sound of a rooster crowing each morning,
and enjoying a breakfast of eggs that I had raised.
I dreamed of fresh air, wide open spaces, and the critters that would fill them.


And now I live the dream that I dreamed...
and it's every bit as fun and challenging and rewarding as I had hoped.


And so I blog to share it with you...
because just maybe you have the dream too....
and just maybe the thought of chickens in your yard is as exciting as it was (and still is) to me.


But even more than what I can share with you, 
is what you share with me!


Blogging has made the world a smaller place for me.

I now "know" so many like-minded folk from all over this country,
and even in other countries.
My quiet, rural life has grown rich with friends.


Yesterday I entertained Candice, her husband Richard from Texas
 and their friends Marv from California and Alan from Connecticut.


They brought me my very own Texas armadillo...


and I offered to send a good 'ole Pennsylvania porcupine home with them!


By the end of our lunch together, I felt like we were old friends.
I have my blog to thank for directing good people my way!

After lunch I realized that we had lost Sammy somewhere on our walk.
Guessing that he got locked in somewhere along the way,
I checked the indoor arena...


sure enough!


"Mom!....you forgot about me!"

In a time when there seems to be so much bad news...
I blog to share the good...
to reassure us all that there is a lot of peace and harmony and love
still left in this world!


Thanks for being a part of it!

While we are making the world a little smaller,
how about we make the world a little warmer, too.
I just finished these two new neck warmers...from the softest, warmest wool...
yes, cold weather is coming!



Monday, September 29, 2014

Weekend Getaway

Our weekend's adventure was a trip to Maryland's Eastern Shore
(the Chesapeake Bay) 


to visit our friends Liz and Mel.


We spent Friday through Sunday at their house on the bay...


enjoying magical sunsets...


indulging in wonderful food and drink by the fire pit...


boating...


kayaking and paddle boarding...


playing with their pups, Roxy and Lola...


exploring Annapolis, with its quaint streets...


and exciting waterfront...



We slept in and then enjoyed the rising sun...


and just generally relaxed!


Meanwhile back at the farm,
Amanda and Tim held down the fort and kept all of the animals happy and safe.

Although life on the farm is almost like a daily vacation (a work vacation),
we never seem to get the luxury of sleeping in.
This past weekend was such a treat!
Thanks so much, Liz and Mel!!

I am so very excited for today...
I am entertaining guests from Texas.
A blog friend, Candice and her husband are making a day trip to the farm
while visiting a friend here on the East Coast.

This is an open invitation to YOU...if you are ever in the Central Pennsylvania area,
let me know...you are welcome to come for a farm visit, as well!

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