Thursday, July 30, 2015

Never Underestimate the Power of Throw Rugs

'Almost at the end of July -- just August humidity to get through before I can breathe again.

The new pullets have started laying their miniature eggs, which are unsaleable and therefore "house" eggs for me.  It takes three to make a respectable plate of scrambled eggs.

Butterflies are everywhere, but especially in the former vegetable garden, which looks more like a butterfly jungle.  'Glad to help out.

We've had some nice rain and red raspberries are ready to pick again.  First, I'll need a machete to cut down the giant weeds that block my path to them.  There are more ripe tomatoes than I can use, so the chickens get the benefit.  Peppers are on the bushes and nearly ready to pick.

The peach and pear trees are so loaded with fruit that the branches are hanging low.  Deer come to feast each evening.  I hung a wind chime in the peach tree to discourage them and will do some arts and crafts with tin cans and old keys to arm the pear trees.

The men cut and baled more hay.  I am happy to report that the big barn lofts are full of square bales.

Having gotten the lawnmower stuck in a slight dip between the fence and the peach tree with no one around to help me push it out, I discovered that laying a couple of old throw rugs in front of the tires gave me enough traction to get back on the job.  I think this will work for ice and snow if the Mule gets stuck, so I have a new respect for throw rugs.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Summer Solstice

June has been as hot and humid as any July or August.  I hide indoors during the middle of the day.  All productive outdoor work is done early in the morning or early in the evening.  It is a survival technique.

Since there is also some rain most days, it was a challenge to get the hay in, but the men did it.  The hayfields are already well into the next growth and will likely allow for another cutting in the Fall.

Berries are prolific this year.  I've picked red raspberries, black raspberries, gooseberries, and blueberries already.  The wineberries will be ready soon and then blackberries.

There are pears, peaches, and apples on the trees which will ripen later on.  Vegetables march on, developing at an amazing rate.

Last week, I saw a bald eagle in one of our lower pastures -- don't know what it was hunting.  A lone monarch butterfly appeared near the barn.  I'm hoping all the butterfly bushes and milkweed will insure a large visitation this year.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Kids, Kids, Kids

Yes, I'm hip-deep in little baby goats.  There are 41 so far, with one doe still to go.  They are fun and a lot of work.  If we had chandeliers in the barn, they'd be swinging from them!


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Marching Onward

It' nearly the end of March and I'm still on baby goat watch.  Any day now...

The temperatures are up and down.  Rainy and sunny.  There are mentions of a snowy mix.

The world is waking up from its long winter nap.  Butterfly bushes are showing new growth.  Daffodils are up and blooming in drifts.  Grass is greening up in the pastures and lawns.

Fifteen pullet chicks are lounging in the big brooder, eating and drinking like little lumberjacks.  The geese are laying.  The ganders are murderously protective.

There is comfort in this annual miracle.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

February

We are deep in the deep freeze this week.  It was in the minus zero range last night and won't get past 9 degrees F today.  We got eight inches of snow a couple of days ago and the Governor declared a State of Emergency!  The county was closed.  There was no garbage pickup and no mail delivery on Tuesday.  The schools are closed.

I guess that Virginia is technically the South.

I managed to drive down the hill in my UTV even before a neighbor came around with a snow plow.  I put my lone trash can out on the road.  It's still sitting there.  Yesterday, after taking care of the animals, I saw the sun come out and knew that it was my big chance to get out and get a haircut and buy some supplies.  I made a break for it.  It worked out really well because when I got home just after noon, the next weather event was starting.  It was this current cold front and a light coating of new snow.

The forecast is for more interesting weather and a warming trend with rain.  That sounds jolly and exciting.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Blue Eye

The days are so truncated right now.  I try to make use of all the daylight hours doing farm chores and it seems that 5 p.m. rolls around awfully quickly.  That is the time just before it is pitch dark.  I must go down and get the geese tucked in while there is still a little light.

The old grey goose has gone mostly blind.  She walks into things and has a hard time finding the entrance to her side of the goose house.  She shares it with Baby Huey, son of M. Honky Embden, who does not tolerate geese other than his old Wifey in his private apartment.

B. Huey Embden acts as her seeing-eye gander, leading her with sounds.  She navigates by sound.  I don't know exactly how old she is.  I bought her here from an acquaintance about ten years ago.

We've had Honky et al. for at least twenty years.  Embden geese can live past thirty.  I can still remember Baby Huey's blue eye scoping me out from the incubator even before he fully emerged from his eggshell.  He was alert and intelligent even then.  I'm guessing he imprinted on me.

He and his brother especially enjoyed untying shoelaces on people's shoes when they were little.  They've lived a pretty natural goose life on our ponds and exhibit the charming testiness that I admire in geese.  Huey greets me each morning with enthusiasm when I open his door and escorts the old grey goose to the pond.  He then insists on walking me to the gate of the pond yard as I go on to whatever my day will entail.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Fun on the Farm

Today, the temp is up to 50 degrees F, bright and sunny.  It started a bit colder.

I began my day bundled up in a fleece-lined jacket, with gloves and a scarf over my Manure Movers of America sweatshirt and jeans.  I tied the strings of the jacket hood, which was over my scarf.  As I tackled the brush around the farm shop with loppers and hand shears, the day warmed and I began the old farmer's strip tease.  I lowered the jacket hood, then took off the scarf and gloves.  Before long, I took off the jacket.  You can work up a sweat doing this kind of work.

As I organized and cleaned the inside of the shop, it became clear to me that I have to do something about the wild vines and brambles which are trying (successfully) to come inside through the windows.  So I managed to clear one long wall and started around the side of the building.  Unfortunately, the slope and the fact that there is a pasture fence near this mess doesn't lend itself to much mechanical short cutting.  I'll just work my way around the building by doing what I can on warmish dry days until it gets done.

Right now, the pasture side looks much like what Snow White's castle must have looked like with all the brambles and weeds.

The cows are sharing pasture with the goats.  I noticed that the calf kindergarten was having fun running wildly through the grass.  They must have noticed that this scared the goat herd and made them run in the other direction.  A new game.  What total fun!

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

December

The cows have been cycled into the last pasture near the barns.  There's a lot of grass there which they are currently chomping down.

We've had a little snow, some freezing rain, and a good number of cold but sunny days.

The farm work shop is getting organized.  I think I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.  Many loads of cardboard and metal have been hauled to the recycle center.  Trash has been bagged.  "Lost" treasures have been found and located with items of similar function. 

I've gotten down to the nitty gritty of sorting screws into see-through containers, which is very tedious.  However, it will be nice to find just the right size and type when doing projects and repairs.  I now know where many power tools and hand tools are located.  The drawers are labeled.

I've got a short list of other indoor farmy projects to keep me busy during the Winter months.

Bear sightings are on the rise.  I haven't personally seen any yet this year, but some of the neighboring farmers have killed bears on their land.

I've only heard the coyotes screaming once so far.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

November

Well, it's cold enough to convince you that it is mid-November.  The black walnut trees are leaf-less and some of the others are holding on to fading Fall colors.

Barn cleaning is going swimmingly and I'm making serious inroads on the farm shop building.  I've hauled carloads of cardboard and paper to the recycling center and am sweeping and sorting like a madwoman.  It should be done in a year or two.

The cows have a visiting red Angus bull and the goats a handsome Boer feller.  We should be knee deep in kids come March.  September should be prime calving time.

So far, no snow.  I am thankful for that and hope it will continue in that weather pattern for some time to come.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Sweeping the Cobwebs Away

It's the long-awaited coolness of Autumn which allows me to engage in productive physical farm work.  I've cleaned out the goose and duck houses, exchanging clean straw for mounds of dirty litter.  The chicken house took only a day.

Now, the goat barn clean up is in progress.  The upper part is mostly raked out, with dried manure and old wasted hay hauled out in my Mule UTV.  I'm tackling the lower part now, which requires me to get large mounds of the wasted remains of large round bales in order to work the gates.  That would allow me easier entrance and exit with the Mule.

This will take a great many daily forays before it's accomplished.  This will be my work outs as long as the weather permits.  I cannot do it while the goats are "in" because they invariably hop in the driver's seat of the UTV while I'm raking to check and see if they can drive it.  The other day, they managed to dislodge the ignition key.  Long searching finally located it in the hay.  'Not quite a needle, but still...

In the middle part of the barn, where wooden gated stalls are located, giant cobwebs hang down from the ceiling.  It is truly halloweenish and it is impossible to walk through without getting my hair topped with the wispy strands.  The only way to make the area more people friendly is to take a broom and literally sweep the cobwebs from the ceiling.  That is something I can do with goats present, but I cannot leave the broom down there because the goats will eat it!

Mostly, I check to see if the herd is somewhere in the pastures before I go down to the big barn.

The trees have now turned their cheerful Fall colors and sunshine this week will encourage the continuation of the great barn cleaning of 2014.