Thursday, June 30, 2011

Is There Anything....

Is there anything quite as 

as...

clean white sheets blowing in the breeze on a sunny summer day?

as...

teeny, tiny blue jeans?

as...

fresh picked flowers from the garden?

as...

a little boy's first taste of wild black raspberries?


YUM!

but, oh, what a clean up!!

The sweetest things in life are sometimes the simplest...
found right in front of you...
no need to look elsewhere.

Hope your day is filled with sweet moments, too!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

What I've Been Up To

Seems like this week has been a flurry of activity,
and, gosh, it's only Wednesday.

The bear trap has left us...
the game warden came and picked it up yesterday.
No bear.
Just a silly old coon and a nasty looking 'possum...both of whom
probably still have sick bellies from all those sweets!
So, for now we will try peaceful co-existence with Yogi...
bringing in the bird feeders every night
and keeping a watchful eye on our pups after dark.

The blueberry bushes are loaded with ripe berries.

Yum, our favorite fruit....blueberries.

These are the 100 bushes (freshly mulched by me) we planted four years ago.
This will be our very first year for a large harvest from these bushes.
Each row is a different variety, with a different ripening time.
From left to right is from early to later ripening.
Oh, and by the way, this lovely job of mulching around the bushes,
will be all for nothing in a couple of weeks, as our chickens love to 
scratch in the mulch and send it scattering.

We've been picking daily and will soon have enough for a big batch 
of blueberry lime jam.
Not to mention some fresh baked blueberry buckle.
(I'll post a picture and recipe when I bake it.)

Here is last evening's pick....

picked under threatening skies with thunder rumbling in the distance.


We could use a little rainstorm to help with the watering.


Of course, no chore is ever done without a bit of company.


And nearby....TomTom, who, by the way, recovered from his
polyp removal quite well.
He is breathing easier now and spending his days hunting.


I may have shown you our basement larder some time back.


Here we keep a couple of large freezers filled with local grass fed beef,
and frozen produce from the garden.
Yesterday I picked up 30 large chickens from a local Amish farmer
who raises pastured poultry.
Each year he takes orders and then when the chickens are ready,
butchers them.
With my truck full of coolers of ice, I picked up our 30 birds 
and brought them home to pack and freeze.
Two hours later, our freezer looksed like this...


By the end of the summer we will have the rest of the year's worth of food
stowed away.
With that much in the freezer,
it's good to have a back up, propane-run generator in case the electricity goes out.
(Which is does quite often, living in the country!)

I received a question about the terrain in central PA.
This is the view over our pastures....
rolling hills everywhere.
We have mountains, but none of them are very high...
mostly just rolling hills and valleys with more rolling hills.


We are very lucky to live in a lushly green area,
populated with small farms.
When I talk of our "neighborhood",
well.... this is it.
I wouldn't trade this for any other place in the world!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Catching a Bear....

It seemed so easy.
Fill it with donuts and he will come.
That's what the game warden said when he placed the trap in the yard.


Once again we woke to find the trap door closed.

Did we do it?
Did we finally catch that pesky bear?
Surely the other animals can read,
that this trap is for a bear and not for them!
But....
maybe the bear can read, too.
In which case, he will most obviously never enter this contraption....
after all... it is a trap.
Right?
It says so right on the side!


Well, most of us agreed that last week's raccoon, while potentially viscious,
was awfully cute.
But, this guy, that we caught this time is not so cute!
Not cute at all.....


No, this guy is the stuff that nightmares are made of!
Goodness, is he ugly, or what?
(Oh, and he ate the rest of Tyler's birthday cake!....and it was a lot of cake.)


Well, that trap is now full of new jelly donuts.
We are going to catch ourselves a bear next time,
I just know it!


Monday, June 27, 2011

Welcome To Our Home

Promises are one thing I hate to ever renege on.
However....
Does time ever get the best of you?
Then you will understand....
This weekend got a bit busier than I had anticipated.
So....
no video.
(I'm sorry!)
I will however give you a photo tour instead.

First the outside of the front....
When we first planned to build a log home,
we found a picture in a log home magazine of the front of a home very similar to this.
We fell in love with the look of that home and decided to model ours after it.
We then sat down and drew our own plans for what was to be inside.
After a few tries, we succeeded in drawing something build-able. 

Above the garage, is a cupola with a beehive....

The front door....

The front deck....


From the front door, we enter into the living room.

To the left is the stairway to the upstairs loft...


Beyond is the dining room and kitchen...
(more on that at another time)

Guest bedroom....
(yes, each room comes complete with its own dog)

and....


Back deck and screen porch....



Our home is our haven....the place we love to be.

I received a question about what I cook with the veggies that we harvest from our garden.
So, I thought I would share a typical weekend farm breakfast with you.

Saturday morning I picked this....

Yes, those are purple carrots!


I sliced two freshly harvested red potatoes, some scallions and some asparagus.


Sauteed them in a pan with a little olive oil.
Added eggs and made a frittata.


Breakfast menu:  Frittata with asparagus and thyme, sliced purple carrots, 
French breakfast radishes, and fresh picked blueberries on 
homemade whole grain Belgian waffles.
Delicious and so nutritious!
The perfect way to start a day filled with farm chores.


Breakfast on the screen porch.


Green tea with fresh mint from the garden.


A pot of mint tea for iced tea.


As I harvest different items from the garden, 
I will share with you how I plan to use each veggie.

So, I might not have gotten a video done, but we did, however,
spread an entire 9 months worth of manure on our hay field,
mowed 4 pastures, 4 goat pens,
moved the Cuckoo Marans from the French Quarter to their new home with
Rod Stewart and the rest of the Polish hens,
worked in the garden,
picked wild raspberries, 
and visited with our kids.
It was a great weekend - a full weekend!
Thanks for understanding!!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Bear Tails

For the past couple of weeks, this has been sitting in our front lawn.



Yes, it's a bear trap....designed to capture and relocate our pesky neighborhood black bear.
This bear has been plaguing us for months, now...
on our decks, destroying our bird feeders, in our garage.
He is obviously one hungry bear.
And if it weren't for our dogs, I wouldn't worry about having his trapped.
After all, this land was his long before it was ours.
Black bears' habitat is shrinking all the time, so I feel quite sorry
for these amazing creatures.
But I love my dogs and farm critters, and would hate to lose one to an angry bear.

Saturday night Hubbs and I were in the family room watching a movie.
Over the sound of the TV, I heard a snorting coming from outside.
"Hrumpf, hrumpf, hrumpf" I heard as he exhaled.
We figure he was checking out the trap....but wary enough to not go into it.

This morning, very early, Hubbs noticed that the trap's door was closed.


Could it be?
Did that pesky bear finally enter the trap?
Here is what we found
when 
we 
looked
inside......


This poor fellow was scared to death,
and probably sick in the stomach from all of the rotten doughnuts that he had eaten.

After freeing the raccoon, I cleaned out the old hay and the old doughnuts,
in an attempt to "gussy up" the place a bit....new hay, leftover birthday cake...
hopefully we will catch dear Yogi next time.

Thank you for the suggestions you left me with your comments yesterday.
Occasionally I have a quiet day on the farm without excitement,
and it is nice to be able to tell you a little more about things you might enjoy.
I do so enjoy your comments and suggestions...and questions,
so don't hesitate to "ask"!

So, I promise you....Monday will be a house tour.  
I will work on it over the weekend.

There was a question about our dear "One Eyed Myrtle" yesterday.
Myrtle is one of our original breeding stock Fainting Goats.
She came to us from Nevada.
Myrtle came to us with two eyes, but was plagued with eye problems...
infections, allergies, constant irritations.


Part of her problem was the fact that both eyes lie within
patches of white.  No pigmentation around the eyes can be a problem for goats.

Eventually Myrtle's right eye became so sore that Dr. Becky removed it.


Amazingly, Myrtle has no problems related to the loss of that eye.
She navigates quite well and does not seem to miss it at all.
She is a great Mama, giving birth to a set of triplets this past Spring.


You also commented how you enjoy our chickens.
We enjoy them too!

These are my two largest henhouses.
They share a common yard,
and house about 50 chickens.
Here they are just moments before the gate opens for daily free ranging....
lined up like school kids on the last day of school...
 full of excitement and anticipation.


Here they are as soon as the gate opens....


Woo Hooooooo!  How we love to be outside!
And of course the turkeys and guineas are never far away.
Our fancy chickens live in a coop by the barn
and free range around the horses all day.

The Roos make their home in a coop close to the farmhouse,
as well as the Cuckoo Marans and Henri.
Soon the Cuckoo Marans will move into the upper henhouses
and a new batch of chicks will arrive the second week of July.
(Gotta keep up with the demand for good fresh farm eggs!)

Have a great weekend....
hope to see you back here on Monday for our video house tour.


PS....
check out last night's garden bounty....

We had a yummy dinner, chock full of garden goodness!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

This And That

I swear that if we studied the bees a little more,
we would find that a beehive can be used as a natural thermometer.
The hotter the day, the more bees cling to the outside of the box.


So, I guess you can tell by that picture that it is a hot, lazy afternoon
here on the farm.
By the way, this is our one and only living beehive,
having lost the rest to colony collapse disorder.
Thankfully, this hive is robust and full of brood and honey.

The horses seek out the shadiest spots to graze on days like this,


while the dogs head to the pond to cool off.
Maddie, of course goes right in and swims with the ducks.


Sam is a bit more timid,
and settles for the safety of the shallow end.


He has been getting bolder, though,
and now lies down to cool off his undercarriage.


Look at the size of our ducklings!
In two and a half weeks they have grown to half the size of the adults.
By the time they reach 6 weeks of age, they will be full grown.
I suppose that is a survival adaptation.


Tuesday I was telling you how we lost most of our strawberries to the birds this year.
Well, I learned my lesson.
I placed nets on the blueberries.

It is hard to believe that when we planted these one hundred bushes,
four years ago,
they were just sticks with a bare root at the end.

They are now vigorous bushes,
loaded with berries. 


With berries ripening daily,
it won't be long before I can make a batch of blueberry lime preserves.


Is there anything better than a snack of just picked fruit?


Hopefully in a few years, we will be able to open our 
blueberry patch as a "Pick-Yer-Own".

And finally a special request from our most favored goat, O'Malley.
O'Malley is finally back to her pre-pregnancy weight,
and is dressed in her summer wardrobe.
She wanted me to show you her picture looking so fine....


Isn't she beautiful?
She will look like this for a couple more months.
By September she will start to grow her angora winter coat
(yes, the one that catches hay, goat berries, and anything else close to it!)
Sadly, that winter coat makes her look a bit frumpy.
But for now, she is sleek and sassy and quite proud of herself!

I hope that wherever you are, your gardens are planted,
your hay is growing,
and you are enjoying some hot, lazy days of summer!
Happy Summer!

PS....is there anything else around the farm that you might like to see more of??
Let me know....I love suggestions!

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