“Burn down your cities and leave our farms, and your cities will spring up again as if by magic; but destroy our farms and the grass will grow in the streets of every city in the country.” William Jennings Bryan

Sunday, April 24, 2011

April 24, 2011

Louie turned 25 years old the other week...a few pics of him over the years since he came to live with us...

...just hangin' at the barn

"struttin' with my fly sheet...yeah I be cool..."

running is better than sleddin' anytime....
"grass grass grass, give me grass"
"I know I look funny, but it wasnt my idea..."

Happy Birthday Lou!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

April 17, 2011

Tuesday I picked up six baby chickens. Every year we add new girls to the flock so that we always have some strong layers. As chickens get older they lay less often, so mixing young and old keep the flock productive.

That same Tuesday night, a cold front pushed through the area, led with a line of severe thunderstorms that knocked out electrical power. We were asleep at the time and didn’t know, but our daughter, who was at work only a few miles away, called to tell us it was out. She was worried that the baby chicks might get cold – without electricity their heat lamp would be off.

I got up and went downstairs and found my way to the garage. With a flashlight, I looked into the brooder to check on the chicks – just two days old. They were huddled together, shivering. They didn’t have enough body heat to share to keep them warm.

I gathered them into a small box and took them into our house, which was a bit cold too, since the heat was out with the electric. Kath and I could only think of one place that would be warm. We lay in bed and nestled the box of chicks beneath the covers between us…

In about fifteen minutes the chicks began chirping and scratching around – a sign they were warming up and moving out of their huddle. Over the next hour or so, the storms moved past and then later the electricity was restored. Towards morning we were able to put the chicks back into their brooder, warmed by the bright heat lamp. And Kath and I went back to sleep…

It’s all part of living on a backyard farm…

Sunday, April 10, 2011

April 10, 2011

I know that I haven’t written anything for a few weeks now….although there is a lot going on, there is really not enough of one thing to make a “topic”. This spring is just bits and pieces. But I will try to weave them all together here.

Last Wednesday and Thursday kicked off the first volunteer day for the CSA. Mark came by on Wed to help me re erect my fencing. I made the field larger this spring so I had to start all over with fencing it off. Stacey also dropped by Wed , and helped weed the lettuces. She’ll be helping as she can, and will also be interning at another CSA in the next county over.

On Thursday Paulie came down from NYC and Esther came over and we spent a lot of time catching up on things while we weeded the garlic beds. Later we mulched the beds over with salt hay. Karen couldn’t make it – she was away in Italy, probably drinking wine at a Tuscany b&b at the time….

I am off to a good start though. In the house and under a grow light I have a good crop of tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant started. In the hoop house I’ve started leeks, cabbage, chard, bok choi, scallions, cilantro, and thyme. I am also trying to root fig cuttings in hopes of a tree or two down the road. In the field I have onions and garlic, and recently seeded kale and beets. I have a bed of lettuce and another of arugula. The strawberries are just beginning to push new green leaves, and new raspberry canes are patiently inching up from the ground.

The first purple martin showed yesterday – a sure sign of spring and summer to come. The bluebirds have begun nesting in the boxes, stealing straw and any shedded horse hair they can scavenge from the stable. They will also swoop into the chicken coop for fallen feathers. At the end of each year I always pull the old nests from the boxes and wonder at all the stuff they find to make nests.

We also have some deer every day in the yard – three does and one buck. The buck always comes out by himself. He is just beginning to grow new antlers. Right now he has two emerging bumps on his head. The does don’t mind me too much…when I go out to the stable they alert, but if I “click”’ at them, they relax and keep on eating the backyard grass. The buck though, immediately jumps back into the woods.

I put Snoops on a diet so to loose her extra winter fat. She had a little too much winter fat goin’ on and was looking like a bloated 747. She’s lost some - I have been cutting her grain down and increasing her time on grass now that we have grass again. I told her that she needs to get her “bikini body” back for summer…

And the rooster and I have come to an agreement that if he goes after me I go after him….good thing we don’t have neighbors to watch me chasing a rooster around the field in retaliation – they’d have me committed to the looney bin. He’s only tried to spur me three times, and each time I block him with my foot, then chase him! I don’t try to catch him, but just let him know that he is my prey. Of course, he has never gone after Kath, of which I am constantly reminded. It must be me. But I am sure that one of these days he’ll try to see what she’s made of too. It’s just a matter of time before I look out the window and see her chasing the rooster about the field!

Bees are good. I lost the hive that was struggling going into winter. I had expected to – it had weakened out for some reason and although I tried to build it up, there just were not enough bees to make enough honey to feed itself through the winter. It died out in February. My other hive made it – its now three years old. And my son’s hive made it too. I am hearing lately that the average local hive losses this winter was anywhere from 30 -50%. Its not a good number. Overall, bees are in trouble.

Kath and I have been riding the hippos every week. Zippy is fully recovered from his foot problems, and we think that the herbal pain relief medicine we gave him has made him feel better – he is a lot less “touchy” and much calmer and even affectionate. Pat’s teeth are good as new. He has no more problems chewing, and Zip will tell you that he can bite pretty well. Zip has Patrick bite marks all over his butt from the two playing. And Lou is Lou, clopping along on his big feet and munching on grass. A while ago, Rose, who originally boardered Zip here, said that Lou’s mouth was “one big suction cup”. She described him well! He’s always suckin up something!

And that’s about all I’ve got to tell about for now. Those are all the bits and pieces of what’s been going on.