Friday, April 29, 2011

Subject Matter

Each day when I compose my blog post,
I worry that tomorrow I will have nothing to say, nothing to write.

And then tomorrow comes and it is as full as today.
I guess I should stop worrying about this.

Take yesterday for example....

I began the day in the midst of a torrential downpour.
By the end of morning chores I was soaked to the skin.
And...I wondered what I would write about.
The day seemed mucky and soggy... not much else.

And then the sun came out.

So, while I was doing afternoon chores,
I found a few possibilities for posting.

The Ducks.

It seems that I have a Mama who just might be bringing ducklings into the world.

Inside the duck hut is a nest full of eggs.
Each morning, when I go in to get some feed,
she is there crouched low, protecting her eggs.

The Chickens.

If you follow my blog, you will remember a week or two ago
when I posted about how sorry Rod Stewart was looking.
You see, he was molting....badly.
The good news is....
Rod once again has a tail (albeit small).

And he is one happy rooster!

The Nigerians.

My dwarf Nigerian goats have shed some of their winter fat
and their winter coats and are once again up to their high-jinx
on top of their houses.

Please excuse me, but I saved the best for last.

Tyler and the Turkeys.

I often write about my amazement at how different species 
can so calmly and peacefully co-exist.
Yesterday afternoon was the perfect example of this.
Sitting near the grape arbor
(the buds are just beginning to open on the grape vines)
were me, Jenn, Tyler, 

Maddie, Hickory, Sam, Oakley,

the turkeys,
and the guineas.

At one point, Tyler started to crawl after Tom Tom.
Watch the video to see what happens....
(if you are reading this post on facebook,
you will need to go to my blog to see the video... )

It almost seems as if the turkeys are protective, doesn't it?

Amazingly this went on for quite a while.  
These crazy turkeys just love to follow us around!

I had several requests for a recipe for the loaf of bread in yesterday's post.
I will post this for you over the weekend.

Have a great weekend!
See you on Monday for more tails from the farm.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Fresh Veggies

the first taste of summer has arrived on our plates.

A bit early this year,
our asparagus is coming up like crazy.
Each day another few shoots break through the soil and
work their way towards the sun.

Unfortunately for them, their climb toward warmth and light
is cut short.

And so they end up on our dinner plate!
Yummy, tender, juicy, sweet spears that 
are loaded with vitamins....
so different from that which you buy in the store.
Those spears have been picked and packed and shipped...
using gallons of fuel, only to arrive at the store with half the taste
and even less of the nutritional value.

You just can't beat eating something within moments of being picked.

If you have never considered planting asparagus crowns,
you might want to think about it.
The process is simple.
Plant the root,
and it will grow.
Let it gain strength the first year...don't eat.
The second year you can eat half and leave half.
The third year you can eat your fill.
Aside from keeping the bed weeded and mulched,
there is little care to be done.

Easy peasy....and so, so delicious!!

While I was picking our dinner's worth of veggies,
this loaf was doing its second rise (called proofing)...

It is a multi grain loaf that is loaded with whole wheat bulgar, oat groats,
sunflower seeds, and chia seeds.

Do you use chia seeds?

Yes, chia seeds are what are in those "Chia Pets" that are popular Christmas gag gifts.
Amazingly, chia seeds are very high in anti oxidants and a great additive to baked
goods for an extra nutritional boost.
You might want to consider buying some Chia seeds at your local health food store.
You can sprinkle them on your cereal, on your PBJ, in your baked goods...
just about anywhere!
Last evening I found Hubbs with a fork and his vinegar and oil
standing beside the salad table.

He can hardly wait for these little shoots to get just a bit bigger...
then fresh organic greens will accompany our meals.
I love spring and summer...
it gives us the chance to truly reduce our carbon footprint,
and quite nutritiously, I might add!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Adventures of Tom, Chuck, and Edith

Oh, the fun of free-ranging turkeys!
Tom, Chuck, and Edith are getting bolder each day...
venturing farther and farther from their house.

Each afternoon, around 3, I open the door to their yard and
allow them to roam the farm for the rest of the evening.

They show up in the darnedest places.
What we are learning, though, is that they seem to enjoy
human company and invariably end up close to wherever we may be.

Two evenings ago they visited Becky in her garage.

Yesterday afternoon, they accompanied me as I cleaned horse manure
from one of the goat yards.

As you can see, they have no fear of the dogs, and vice versa.
Edith spends her time looking for bugs.

Tom and Chuck continue the same behaviors that they practice
in their yard.... male posturing, designed to impress Edith....

She is obviously unimpressed, and would rather turn her attentions
towards insects!

Then last evening, as I was weeding the strawberry patch,
look who showed up to keep me company.....

All three of them, TomTom (one of the barn kitties) and
Sam and Oakley hung out with me until dusk.

Then we herded the turkeys back to their house like a parade...
me in the lead calling to them,
Hubbs following the turkeys,
and three guineas following Hubbs, squawking.
What a sight that must have been.

The beauty of living in the country is:
that no matter how ridiculous you are,
no one witnesses it.

And no post is complete without the cute baby/baby goat picture of the day!

"Hi, Jane.  Can I have some of your food?"

Can you believe how quickly my world turned green?
All we needed was a few sunny days after all that rain.

I sure hope it's sunny and green wherever you are, too!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Colony Collapse

Life on the farm has its ups and downs.
With this past few days came a couple downs.

First of all,
I lost my sweet Eileen.

You might remember my gold laced Wyandotte chicken
that we treated for bumblefoot last summer.

She did recover from that and by winter was walking
on both feet without a limp.

Yesterday I found her dead in the chicken house.

She was the sweetest of my chickens.
I gave her a little loving each afternoon as I visited the chickens...
she was always receptive.
I'll miss her.

Sadest of all, however, is the loss of most of my beehives to
Colony Collapse.
We opened up the hives this weekend to get them ready for
summer honey production...

 to find that we have only one living hive.

The bees from all the other hives were gone...
Although we practice organic farming,
our local farmers do not.

Most are dairy farmers who plant corn, soy and hay.
The latest research suggests that Colony Collapse 
is due to a very specific insecticide.

I am just sick about this loss.

We will start all over with new bees, but at a slower pace.
I will not be replacing all 8 hives this year,
but will gradually replace them over the coming years.

And so it is with life on a farm...
you take the bad with the good.
Over all...the good far outweighs the bad.
It is still hard to take some losses, though...
and the bees are one of those tough losses...
and something we all need to be concerned about.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Herding Turkeys

As if we needed a new task to add to the end of each day....
we seem to have acquired one....
herding turkeys!

We decided over the weekend, 
that it is time for the turkeys to free range a bit.
We have been reluctant to allow them to leave their yard
out of fear that we would never get them back in at night.

So, each evening, before dark,
we find them and herd them back to safety.
Last night Tom and Chuck were cavorting with the chickens in the chicken pen.
Meanwhile, Edith was nibbling grass near the turkey pen.

With the help of Amanda and Sam

we herded the two male turkeys out of the chicken pen...

Sam is a great farm dog,
and loves to work.
He is respectful of the birds,
and they have no fear of him.

Free ranging turkeys is not turning out as we had planned.
It seems that turkeys are much like guineas and less like chickens.
That is....the are a little short in the brain department.

I thought I would share a few pictures of our Easter fun with you.
Our Easter treat for Tyler is this new farm wagon...

which he loved riding in.
Almost as much as his Mommy loved it!

Especially when his Uncle Andy took them for a ride...

It was a wonderful family day...
and we got a short break from the rain, too!

Friday, April 22, 2011

It's Spring!
As the world around us has a make over...
from dull winter brown to vibrant spring green,
I thought I would tell you about our very own makeover special.

For a limited time
we are offering free makeovers.

You can start out like this...

and end up like this....

or look like this before....

and this after....

Although these "after" pictures have the girls posing like shrinking violets,
they are undeniably much happier having shed their winter coats.
Hickory runs and plays like a puppy since her haircut.
And Maddie is full of life after losing about 10 pounds of winter fur.

I clip the girls myself.
Even Hubbs gets his haircuts at home.

So, if you think you could use a makeover...
just let me know.
I'd be happy to help you out.
(please note, however, I only do one style!)

PS:  The baby goats continue to grow more each day.
Their mamas have their hand full...
as these little ones are totally unruly.

Right after I snapped this picture,
Spot (black and white) jumped onto his Mama's (Myrtle's) 
back and then kicked up his heels and leaped off.
Dear Myrtle...she is so patient with these little ones.

O'Malley's twins still show no signs of growing horns.
It looks as though we may end up with two poled (hornless) goats.
Poling is a dominant trait, so statistically we should end up having 
50% of O'Malley's kids being poled.
Last year's twins, Sally and Fred, both have horns.
So perhaps these two will not.

Happy Easter from all of us
all of you, our friends.

See you next week for more Tails from the Farm.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Help Wanted

Wanted: Gardeners, Planters, Weeders
to replace present work force.
Salary - none.
Benefits - many!
Must be willing to start immediately.

If you thought Phyllis looked bad yesterday,
you should see what I look like today!
Here is the best part of me....
the rest, I just cannot show you.

I am in the middle of a major overhaul of the strawberry patch.
Half of the patch is still buried beneath its winter blanket of straw
and many many weeds.

While the other half is weeded and transplanted...
ready for the warmth of the sun.

Tiny plants like this will grow and flower over the next two months
and then burst forth with fruit in June.

I have been working like a "dog", on hands and knees.

As for my help, and why I am placing the above ad...
Well, here they are....

sleeping on the job.

Hickory is the only one enthusiastic about the work,
but at 16, her pace is a bit slow.

So I ask you...
where does the phrase "working like a dog" come from?
Because, if you ask me....
it's more like napping!

Speaking of "hard at work"....

Here's Hubbs on the backhoe, cleaning up some shale that washed into the pond.
I'd say he's in his element...
a big boy with a big toy!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Yesterday's sunrise was the best part of the day....

A glorious red sun rose above the horizon and painted the sky shades of pink.
And then it dawned on me...
that little saying I heard so much as a child:

Red sun at night, sailors' delight.
Red sun in the morning, sailors take warning.

That lovely red sun quickly disappeared behind some
ominous grey clouds, however.

Sadly, the saying held true and the rains came again.
Most everyone watched the day from the safety of their shelter,
only venturing out of doors at feeding time.

Rain always makes the fancy chickens look anything but fancy....
as is demonstrated by Rod and Phyllis.

Rod and Phyllis are having a rough time.
Besides being a bit damp, the happy couple are molting together.

Thank God, Rod is in love and doesn't notice how bad Phyllis is looking right now.

Phyllis from the back....

Phyllis from the front....

Somehow, Phyllis, I don't think this is what Rod meant
when he asked to see a little skin!

Poor Phyllis, this has been so stressful on her,
her mascara has run, and her nose is red and puffy from all the sobbing she's doing.

She's understandably upset.
What, with those two divas, Penelope and Calliope
strutting around the barnyard in their fancy-schmancy feathered outfits
with matching hats...
make-up perfect and not a feather out of place.

Hang in there, Phyllis, it won't be long until
you'll be shaking your tail feathers again.

Meanwhile, back in the French Quarter,
Henri is surrounded by his harem of Fifi's.
Is that a smile I see on his face?

He's growing quite a top hat,
while the girls are getting "big girl" feathers on their wings....

Ooooh, la la!
In two weeks time, the Cuckoo Marans have tripled in size.
They are all thriving nicely in the brooder house
and have started flying up to the roosting bar and the nesting boxes,
about 1 1/2 feet off the ground.
It won't be long now, until they start to look like gangly adolescents.

I must make sure they don't see Rod or Phyllis in this state,
or they may not want to grow up at all!


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