Thursday, March 30, 2017

Life on the Funny Farm

 Apple trees are blooming!

 For several hours this morning I monitored the third "play date" for all my chickens, trying to integrate the new white pullet into the flock.
 So far, so good. The first time, they did chase and harass her a bit, especially my two Ameracaunas (a roo and a hen). They must be a meaner breed. Honestly I think Punkin is just plain neurotic.
Here's Little Snow, as I call her:
 So sweet, so docile. During the play date yesterday, Bernie was letting her know he was Boss! She skeedaddled into the coop and hit behind a nesting box.
 Poor thing! So stressy. Today they are more laid back, not fighting ... but their behavior is quite bizarre! Everybody except Snow was inside the coop -- even with the orchard available! -- and they were squawking and putting up a fussin'! Finally I went in there to find out what the matter was. All three hens were standing there, looking at The Favorite Nesting Spot. Every little flock has a favorite spot to lay an egg. And who was in the favorite spot? And who was clogging up the works and making the hens mad? Bernie! That's who! Sitting there on a couple of their eggs, no doubt, pretending to be a girl, haha! I think he was just escaping the stress of trying to wrangle all those females and their hormones.
 Adam trimmed another 1/3 out of the big pear tree. He took all the straight water sprouts and started making a pretty wattle fence for the peas in the garden. I adore the rustic, peasant look of a wattle fence.
Meanwhile in the greenhouse, things are progressing. Here's my work area:
 Today I began transferring tomato seedlings from their first cells into small pots. Such an exciting time!
 I did 19 plants.
Adam has not felt well the last few days. He's very, very achy and sore, probably from arthritis. He hurts all over. I reminded him of his ache-mantra: "Motion is Lotion." He came out and turned ... or "fluffed," as he says ... his compost, with help from three pups. He loves the company of dogs.
I also have hostas up, and sedum and ferns and cilantro and masses of oregano. The Scuppernong grapevines have begun to leaf out too.
In the veggie patch we have these things up: potatoes, spinach, lots of peas, lettuces, radishes, and Swiss chard. Asparagus continues to do well. That's it from the farm!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Over the Farm Gate

 How I do love being at home on the farm! Every minute I'm here, I'm more tranquil, and as I read this morning, "A tranquil heart is life to the body." That's in Proverbs, but it's also real life. How many of us would be so much healthier if we just got the stress out of our lives?
Little Snow is still living in her isolation coop, not because she needs it, but because those other nasty chickens won't be nice to her and let her into their flock! I sat out there on Tuesday for hours, refereeing the squawks and clucking and chasing and pecking. I do not feel she is safe with them yet.
 I may wait until she's about 20 weeks. As a White Leghorn, she'll be bigger than all the other hens and better able to give them a run for their money. Here are the two meanies. Punkin and Bernie:
 I took extra nibbles back there to keep them happy and distracted, but it didn't work.
 I also restricted them to the old chicken yard, barring the orchard to them, so I could keep the contact more controlled. It bothered them to no end that they couldn't get into that orchard! You'd have thought the world had come to and end.
Meanwhile, in the barn office, the dogs were naughty.
 They've now destroyed the bottom cushion to their sleeping chair too. Adam removed the poor chair (which is really a nice piece of furniture) before they gnawed the legs off. Maybe I can find replacement cushions? Wishful thinking!
And over in the greenhouse, the tomato seedlings are struggling along.
 They aren't very big. We've had some cold snaps and the greenhouse isn't as warm as they'd like it those nights. Like tonight: 38 degrees. Brr!
 Plenty of cells are empty. Of course, I don't really want 150 tomato plants like last year!
 Here's the culprit: the heater Adam rigged up. Twice on really cold nights it blew out early. I'm amazed my tomatoes survived at all! I had them covered with plastic tops, which is probably why they did.
 So last night Adam resorted to what we used last winter, an electric heater.
 But that electric heater needs to be plugged in, and the electricity is in the barn. Of course, last winter we didn't have Ned, AKA The Great Chewer of All Things. Please note previous photo of chair. Running an extension cord from the barn to the greenhouse ran the risk of having it gnawed to pieces and shocking the dog. Thankfully, Adam was able to string the cord among the trees like so many Christmas lights!
 It worked!
Our peas are still trying.
 Our radishes are coming along.
 The one really happy plant is our horseradish. It's sending up new plants all over the bed.
 Our spinach is doing great! This is the second planting. The first planting, with the seeds encased in the white tape, did not come up at all.
 This long row is full of seed potatoes. They are not up yet. But I'm hopeful for better potato results this year!
 We also have some tiny lettuces up, and our asparagus continues to thrive. All in all, a good garden beginning.
I'm picking dandelions to infuse in oils to make my summer insect-repellent lotion bars. Must think ahead and start early!
 Aren't they happy?
I made a batch of lavender soap today. Most of it will be sold in bulk to a local store that (hopefully) will begin selling my soaps. Yippee!
Adam continues to work on his books -- both making them, binding them, and writing in them. He's enjoying it thoroughly.
Aren't they impressive?
Life on the farm is rather chilly right now. I do hate summer heat, but I'm no fan of winter cold either. But somehow, both spring and fall seem to pass in mere moments, leaving us wallowing in the extremes. I'm not sure what kind of weather heaven will have, but I hope it's more like spring and fall!

Friday, March 17, 2017

After the Big Chill

After three freezing nights, this morning Adam got up and, noting the stillness in the air, started a big burn pile.
For a second time, I saw a snake and did not scream. This fellow was on the warm ashes beside the fire. I thought he was too close. I prodded him, and he slithered under the big stump we've been trying to burn up for over a year.
I rolled the stump over into the fire, and there he was, curled up. The stump was smoking, and I wondered if he was dead. I prodded him again.
And I'm sorry to say, he slithered into the fire. It was shocking! As his head neared the very hot embers, he tried to recoil, but it was too late. His head was singed. He died and I carried him away.
Later I saw a lizard on that same stump! I didn't mess with him at all.
Our tree-chipping friends delivered yet another pile of mulch. For free!! Yay!! Adam gets to haul and haul and haul ... again!
Now that he's mulched to his heart's content in the veggie patch, this new mulch went over the shrubs along the road front.
Adam has taken to calling our vegetable garden, the "patch," as the British do. He's so silly.
Here's my new chicken, Snow. She's still in isolation, although her private pen is inside the other chickens' yard, so they are around each other. Next week I plan to put them together under close supervision. She has grown a lot.
Here's her face. I've read that hens with white earlobes lay white eggs, and hens with red earlobes lay brown eggs. Hers are small yet, but look like they might be pinky red. I'm wondering if she's actually a leghorn; there are other white breeds. We shall see!
I'm wondering about my eucalyptus tree. All her leaves are copper brown after the winter. Is she alive?
The leaves are quite pretty. I just hope there's new growth coming soon.
And now! My Lady Banks Rose! Look at her! I'm so pleased and proud. She's blooming beautifully in this her first year.

Tiny little blooms.
Here's my Baby. I finally got a close-up shot of her face. I can't tell you why, but she is just my dog. I know she adores me. Don't know why. She doesn't look like the kind of dog I might choose for myself. But there you have it -- we've picked each other. I just love her.
I love her sweet face and her soft ears. When she lets me caress her face and whisper to her, I feel that we understand our love for each other :)
My white hyacinths are gorgeous too, yes?
What's blooming in your yard, friend? Are you still in winter's grip? I think ... hopefully ... we are past our big chill this year.