Sunday, December 27, 2009

The End of Fall, The Beginning of Winter

Fall was quiet here on the farm. The colors seemed to fade
just a little too fast for me this year. I can hardly believe that 2009 is nearly over. It seems this year went by faster than any I can ever remember. I love the quiet of winter, how everything is so still and beautiful when it is resting. I love to walk through the garden and see the dead sunflower stalks that the birds have picked clean, and the rosemary that makes it through most of the winter. I also love to look for birds nests in the trees, and collect the ones that are blown to the ground by the fierce winds this time of year.
The hens took a few weeks off from laying as they do every year, and now things have started to pick up again. The ducks and geese are doing well and spending most of their time in the pond. Our most exciting event since the hatching of our chicks and ducklings happened last Wednesday though, the birth of our baby goat Star (see photo).
Jackie is a good mother, but is very very stubborn when I try to milk her. We are still working on it, so I hope that it gets better over time. It's actually very easy to milk her once we can get her to stay still. We haven't tried any yet but I hope to after we have it tested by a vet. I love to watch the baby jumping and running around, it is thoroughly entertaining to watch.
I plan to spend the winter reading through seed catalogs and making plans for the spring. I haven't decided if we are going to order more chicks in the spring, but I will replace a few of our lost ducks. I will also read through a lot of my gardening books this winter. Winter is a perfect time to make a list of goals for your farm in the next year, plan your garden and decide if you want to add or subtract from your livestock. So grab a cup of hot chocolate, a notebook and lots of seed catalogs, gardening books and hatchery catalogs. Spring will be here before you know it!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Late Summer

It's late summer here at the farm and everything is changing. The nights are cooler now, the pumpkins are turning from green to orange and the giant sunflower heads have begun to drop under the weight of their seeds. The tempo of the crickets have slowed, and the birds are more active than ever anticipating the coming cooler weather. It's time to think about planting a fall garden, harvesting apples and putting food up for the winter. Fall is my favorite time of year. To me there is nothing better than the smell of fallen leaves, the sound of football whistles and the taste of hot apple cider. I love the smell of pumpkins while they are being carved, seeing acorn candy on store shelves and eating pumpkin seeds. There is something nostalgic about all of it. It's during this time of year that I miss home the most. I long for the beautiful foliage of Massachusetts, the trips to my favorite orchard and walking along the beaches when they have been abandoned by the summer vacationers. I love making new memories here at the farm, ones that my children will one day look back on and long for after they have left to go and make their own way in the world.
Fall at our farm means picking apples, raking leaves, burning twigs, cleaning chicken coops, feeding the birds, collecting leaves from our maple trees and lots of baking.
What memories will you make with your family this fall?

Friday, August 21, 2009

A mouth full of Germ X and other life's lessons

Some things that I have learned along the way

-Live your life as if someone is watching, because they are

-Don't eat after using Germ X. Those of you that have done this already know why, those who have not let me assure you that it tastes worse than it smells.

-Tomato Horn Worms will try to stab you with that HUGE thorn on their back so if you find one in your garden get a pair of tongs to pick it up then and feed it to your chickens. If you don't have chickens and your plant is already gone then leave it, they turn into the beautiful sphinx moth, which is an excellent pollinator.

-Alton Brown is THE GOD of Food Network

-True friends are worth more than all the gold in the world, hold on to them for dear life!

-If you are going to go on a diet don't go any buy all your favorite junk food before you start, then you will have to lose an extra 5 pounds or maybe more

- Weeds will take over if you don't pull them out every day, this goes for your garden and your life.

- Don't leave Raisinets in your car during the summer, they all melt together and it's not pretty.

- Your kids grow up so fast. You blink and they are teenagers. Enjoy every moment that you have with them, it will be gone before you know it.

- If you haven't read books about George Washington Carver you should. He was an amazing man.

- Don't feed your chickens off your porch. One day you will go out to find chickens waiting by the door for a treat. Feed them as far away from your house as possible.

- Mice make really good pets, snakes do NOT.

- Most spiders are good, and so are bats. They eat lots of mosquitoes and other annoying insects.

- It's OK to let your kids get dirty and messy. It's lots of fun and everything can be washed when they are done.

- Lysol is your friend during cold and flu season. Spray door knobs, light switches, faucet handles, car door handles, phones and anything else that you touch. If you can't use Lysol spray, the Clorox wipes are great too.

- After you have recovered from and illness throw away your toothbrush and get a new one.

- A container full of rice or kidney beans and a few cups will keep a preschooler occupied for at least an hour.

- Spend a lot of time with the elderly. They can be your wisest and dearest friends. Be sure to take your kids with you.

- If you only had one month to live what would you do? Go and do it now. Life is short and you may never get the chance again. You never know when you are going to be called home.

- Forgive and forgive and forgive.

and finally let me leave you with a quote from George Washington Carver

How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in your life you will have been all of these.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Life and Death

This year we have had a lot of deaths on the farm. I know that it is part of life, but it doesn't make it any easier. Grief has visited me more times than I care to admit, but I have made it through with the help of family, friends and most of all my faith. It is one thing to go through grief yourself, it is another to watch your child lose a beloved duck, dog or cat. It hurts in a different way to watch your child go through the process, wanting to make the pain go away and sometimes feeling powerless to do so. Yesterday Crooked Beak (a chicken with a severe cross bill) died. It was especially sad because we had never expected her to make it through the winter. She proved us all wrong and I thought that she would live at least until this winter hit. Her birth defect made it very difficult for her to eat, but we did our best to help her out. We allowed her to sit in the feed barrel and eat, and it made it easier for her to get food into her mouth. She was very sweet and friendly and would follow us around always looking for more to eat. She grew weak over the last two days and I sat with her as she died and went off to chicken heaven. I carried her out of the barn and placed her into a box. My heart was filled with sadness.
But there is also new life on the farm. A few days ago seven beautiful baby ducks hatched out and they are all doing well. Mama Duck (that is what we have named her) is very protective. The ducks are unimaginably tiny and just the cutest fuzzballs you will ever see. Yesterday Dan went into the coop to check on our three broody hens and discovered that one of the chicks have hatched out. It is a beautiful deep reddish brown color and it looks very healthy. We are still waiting for more chicks.... very impatiently I might add! I am hoping that the days ahead will bring more life, but at least I am prepared if it does not.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Healthy Lunch

Summer is here, and it is easy to provide your kids with a healthy lunch. I find that if I put a plate out filled with colorful fruits and veggies they will munch on it all afternoon. The more color the better. Baby carrots, celery, grapes (green and purple), strawberries, cherries, melons, tomatoes and beans are all good choices. You can also have a dip available if your child doesn't like veggies much. I find just a pinch of salt on cukes makes my son very happy, and he will eat lots of them!
Now you may be saying "there is no way my kids will eat that" but just put a plate out and don't say anything... I have seen even the pickiest eaters start eating a well arranged plate of healthy food! Don't forget to join in, if they see you eating healthy then they are more likely to try it too.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

I am NOT a morning person

This morning I woke up to the sound of my six year old daughter in my bed giggling and saying "wake up Mommy" while sticking her cold feet on my legs. I am slow to wake up, I roll out of bed and stumble through the house, crashing into things trying to find my way to the tea kettle. After my cup of tea I am ready to face the world. Before then it's not pretty. If you wake me up in the middle of the night, or steal the covers from me I will YELL at you, just ask my family. One night Sam had a bad dream and I guess I yelled "what are you doing out of bed???!!!" poor thing. I apologized a million times. Speaking of a million, let's get back to this morning....
so there I am laying in bed trying to wake up and Meghan starts talking a million words a minute saying what if we had a million fruits and a million meats we would be so healthy blah blah blah blah blah.... I don't think she even took a breath for ten minutes, all she did was talk talk talk talk and all I wanted to do was sleep.
The mornings that I do get up early she sleeps in, of course. The next time that happens I think I am going to crawl into her bed, stick my cold feet one her and talk until my face turns blue. Then when she does get up I will spend all day asking her when I can get a miniature horse. I will also be sure to scream a glass shattering, ear piercing scream anytime to boys do anything that annoys me even just a little bit. You know if I do this the boys will look at me like I need to be committed to a looney bin, so I will sigh and roll my eyes and argue for the rest of the day too. Then I will get in my van and drive just a little too close to the poor soul in front of me. I will make fun of anyone reading anything and then I will go to bed a happy and satisfied person. The next day I will return to my normal self and enjoy the peace and quiet because everyone is too stunned to dare say anything.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Our Diseases

Let's just get this out of the way. I have a confession. I have a disease. It is called Laundryititiscantfoldandputaway disease. I wash and dry but everything ends up on our "laundry couch". YES, we have a couch that has mountains of clothes piled up on it. I try to lay the clothes that must not get wrinkled in a separate pile, but they always end up wrinkled anyways. Then the kids complain that they can't find anything to wear. I will then walk over to the pile and in 1.3 seconds pull out the exact item that they need. This goes on for weeks. Somehow our clothes just never seem to make it into drawers.
But I will have you know I am NOT the only one in my family with a disease.

My husband has

My 14 year old has

My 11 year old has

My 6 year old has

So there you have it. I feel better now that you know the truth!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

June Chronicles

Summer has settled into the farm. The nights are warm, the fireflies are filling the sky with hundreds of mini blinking lights, and the bullfrogs sing us to sleep each night. Yesterday I came home and went to check on the garden. The peas are towering over my head now, and some of them fell over though I am not sure if it is from the weight of the peas or the thunderstorm that blew through. Note to self: next year plant peas along fence, and space them further apart. Also remember to sneak out in the middle of the night, pick, shell and freeze peas before the kids get into the garden, otherwise there will be no peas for winter. End of note to self.
Josh cut down the pea vines that had broken and put them in a large pile after he cut all the peas off. I headed up the hill to feed Gandalf (actually his name is Ralph, but he LOOKS like a Gandalf) the peas. I love the smell of goats, and I sat there and held the vines as he ate them. I love the munch munch munch sound he makes as he eats, and the fact that he burps after ever bite gives me a good chuckle! When I was done I went back into the garden. The garden is my sanctuary, and I spend time there every day. I find myself wat
ching insects for long periods of time. I just can't get enough of insects. I love to photograph them, and study their behavior. Hoverflies are my favorite. They look like a bee, but have the eyes of a fly. They are very small and their wings have the colors of the rainbow in them if the sun hits them just right. They also happen to prey upon aphids and leaf hoppers, so they are one of the many bugs that you want to have in your garden.
Yesterday I walked in and looked at the hollyhocks that greet me by the garden gate and I found a large crab spider tucked inbetween the unopened blossoms. Note to self: you really need to get a good camera, that would have made a perfect picture! End of note to self.
After walking around, pulling weeds and yes, even I eat some peas, I walk around the orchard to look at the trees. The peach trees have so many peaches on them that some of the branches are bowing to the ground. If I learn how to can peaches this year, I will have peaches all winter long. The appl
es and pears are coming along nicely and the cherries are gone. The birds ate half, the children ate half but somehow I still managed to get a few.
The warm weather has also brought another sort of production this year in the form of broody farm animals. Right now we have a goose on 4 eggs, a duck on 15 or more eggs and three chickens on over 20 eggs! If all goes well, in a few weeks I will have to change the name of my farm to "The Great Peeping Farm" because babies walk around going "PEEP! PEEP! PEEP!" as loud as they can. Well I am off to try to find a book titled "How to Keep Geese From Sleeping on Your Patio". More Chronicles of Farmia to come.