Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Friday, July 17, 2009

Hay season has arrived ~

Jinx & Jade, sisters & buddies

After an incredibly wet spring and the month of June filled with rain, July is actually more like summer. We had a week of good weather, sun and warm temps and hay fields have dried out and farmers are making hay! Hay has been in short supply and people have been scurrying to find enough to feed their animals until farmers can make some new. Thankfully our new pastures came in great and our animals have been grazing for awhile now. The barn is filling up and the round bales are piling up. I love to "store nuts" for winter. It's a big relief when I don't have to worry about winter feed. I'll try to get photos of the next big load we haul in. I was too tired after unloading the last load.

We are in the process of purchasing our own bull. Pictures will be arriving today. Stay tuned.........

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Guinea update..........

Everyone knows that I really like my guinea fowl and think they serve a great purpose on the farm. Tick and bug control are very important and they really are pro's at that. They are great watch dogs, alerting us to strangers, human and animal alike. When it's quiet here, I know all is well. The only fault I can find with my guinea hens is the fact that they are lousy mothers.

On July 4, I posted this photo of a new mother guinea with her 18 keets. As of Monday, she was down to 12. We decided to catch them and put them in the jr. guinea house. They adults take the babies through the wet grass, through water puddles, and anywhere else they want to go obviously not realizing that the water kills them. I put the two females in the house with the 12 babies. The Mom's can hop over the screen to enter a larger screened area for bugging or eating. Obviously they were not at all happy with this arrangement, they managed to stomp all but 4 of them to death. So, we took the babies away, put them in a brooder box and we are now handraising four guinea babies.

I found this clutch of guinea eggs in my perennial garden today. Ten so far. I'm going to wait until there are a dozen or so and then I'm going to put them under a broody austrolop hen. Miranda, the Delaware chicken did such a great job raising hers that I'm thinking this black hen should do just as good of job and I'll have healthy guinea babies that I don't have raise myself.
Miranda's babies are young guineas now. She herds them into the guinea house to sleep at night. I sit at my dining room table and watch them jump in behind her, one by one. They all get on a roost pole next to her and they stay there until I let them out in the morning. Obviously it doesn't matter in the fowl world whether Mom is the same breed or species. Miranda has taught them to bug and pick and they travel all day long picking up stuff and picking bugs right out of the air. She's also taught them to be in front of the big barn doors at 5 p.m. and there will be a corn treat waiting for them :) I'll be sure to post how this experiment works out.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

A ducky day .....

Yesterday was the second "open" day for our farmstand. A great day and we are meeting so many nice people that either live or summer in our area. Customers are enjoying our animals - we have a small petting area set up next to the shop and the animals greet the customers as they enter. The little runner ducks in the photo are a big hit with the children. These ducklings are about 4 weeks old now. Soon they will be patrolling the farm with Mama duck and her siblings. For now they are in the "duck" tractor until I'm comfortable something won't make a snack out of them.

We have had beautiful sunny weather for the last three days. A brief show last night gave the gardens a drink but no heavy rain. The flowers have perked up as well as the vegetables. A little hay weather and a few bales were made. Hallelujah!!

~Hope your all having a beautiful day where you are~

Thursday, July 9, 2009

My world thursday.......

This is how our day started this morning. Foggy - and moist. A heavy dew on everything. This was about 5:30 am.
At about 6:20 am the sun started to burn through the clouds. Such a beautiful sight and I was hopeful that we would have a sunny, dry day.
Happy cows - A new round bale and sunshine on their backs :)

We traveled a couple of hundred miles today hauling round bales for the cows. Hay is scarce here - too much rain and the fields are saturated with water. Grass has headed out already and it's lodging from the weight of the constant rain. North of us the weather has been a little better and they did have a few days where they made some hay. People are driving much farther distances that we traveled to purchase it. The weatherman is predicting dry weather for the next three days. Our local hay man is hoping to cut and bale by the end of saturday if he mowed this morning. I'd love to put in new hay on sunday!

The cooler temps and rain haven't stopped the broccoli. We will have our first harvest this weekend.

After taking her babies around picking and bugging in the sun today, Miranda and her guinea babies are calling it a day. They now roost in the big guinea house with the mature guineas. She has done a fantastic job raising these babies. I found a guinea nest yesterday with six eggs in it. As soon as their is a dozen, I'm going to put them under a broody hen. Maybe we will get lucky and get another dozen babies.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Monday, July 6, 2009

Surprise babies...............

We have had guinea fowl on our farm for many years. They are great tick and bug eaters. They will kill snakes, spiders and eat weed seeds, pods, beetles, all the stuff we don't want around the farm. They patrol through the gardens and pick the bugs off the plants but do not damage the plants nor do they "fluff" in the gardens like the chickens do.
The hens will lay in a community nest, depositing close to fifty eggs before one hen will decide to sit the required 28 to 31 days for a hatch. The hatch is the tricky part. Weather plays a huge roll in how good of a hatch you get. Guinea eggs have tough shells and high humidity really makes it easier for babies to emerge. The last three years haven't been good hatch years. I was down to a dozen guineas at the beginning of the year, all males.

Last year a friend gave me three babies (keets they are called) and I raised them in a brooder in the house and then moved them to the chicken house and raised them with my baby chicks. Luckily for me all three were females. This year they began laying in the chicken house and that's how Miranda the chicken ended up setting on guinea eggs and hatching 9 babies.

They are big kids now and roosting with Mother Miranda in the small guinea house at night and grubbing during the day, already doing a good job.

While preparing to open the farmstand on saturday, we heard quite the commotion from the guineas over by the woodshed. As we went to investigate, this is what we found.

A new Mama guinea with 18 babies! She was accompanied by another female guinea and they will work as a team to keep track of all of them and keep them safe at night. When the leaves on our hard shell gourds get huge and grow over the garden fence, that's where they like to hide them at night. For now, they find a safe place in the woodshed. It's fun to watch them move as a unit, looking for food. They are already picking at bugs and seed pods and they are only a few days old. Obviously with all of our rainy, damp weather, the humidity was just right and we had a great hatch. They hatched several different colors and it will be great to see them change as they mature into adults. We will not a tick on the place with all these guineas around! Hopefully our female population will increase. So many people ask for keets in the spring but because of our low hatch rate I haven't sold any in years. I remember not so long ago one year we had 85 babies. Now that was a huge bunch of guineas! We sold most of them - you can only keep so many :)

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Opening day!!

Warning - photo heavy post....

Today was opening day for our new farmstand. What a wonderful day we had. I woke up to blue sky and yes, sunshine! After 29 days of rain and gloomy weather, we had sun and the air smelled crisp and fresh.

We have been working incredibly hard to get this stand ready for opening and 4th of July seemed a good day. We opened at 10 a.m. and had our first customer at 10:10 a.m. A steady flow of customers throughout the day and promises of folks returning each weekend. A good omen I think.
I tried to set up a slide show of the new stand. I'm feeling technologically challenged and after a celebratory glass of Australian Shiraz, I just couldn't get it to work properly. I apologize :)

The best support crew ever - my family. Mom, Steve, Tom & Ty
They are in front of our little petting zoo area. This was a hit with adults and children alike. We provided handwash to use before and after petting the animals. Worked great. Washable & Dryable sheepskins - soooo soft!

Today veggie selections - mesclun mix greens, a variety of mixed loose leaf lettuce, radishes, beet greens and rhubarb. New curtains - I really wanted to make them myself but just couldn't find material that suited me. These look great in the shop and I got them at a bargain price. The knitting corner - a few hats, booties, socks, dishcloths, etc., I hope to add to this but I don't have much time to knit in the summer months. The hat racks are old bobbins we picked up at an antique shop.

~Our first dollar ~

Our greeting card rack - people love the photos of the animals

The yarn boxes are filling up - the dye pots are going every day now.

This beautiful shawl was knit by my friend Diane of Oasis Farm Fiber Mill. We have a new line of yarn this year, "Symphony" which is a 50% pygora, 50% merino blend. It was a natural gray color that she overdyed this beautiful green. It is incredibly soft and light. The pattern, one of her own :) One of my handwoven roving rugs made from the wool of our sheep. I have room in the new shop for my big loom. I'm very anxious to start weaving again.
We also offer in our shop whole & skim milk, heavy cream, duck & chicken eggs and natural raised lamb. Hopefully next week I will have had time to make a few gourd bird houses and feeders.

Tomorrow......surprise babies :)

Have a safe and happy 4th of July!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Soggy farming continues...........

The soggy weather continues here in the Northeast and the foggy view above has become what I expect to see when I get up instead of a bright sunrise. We are all suffering from sun deficiency but the end is in sight so they say - a little sun tomorrow, more sun Saturday and Sunday! The cows and sheep will all need to be fitted with sun glasses :)
In spite of the rain, our gardens are thriving and we are harvesting a few things for our table. The radishes are Delicious this year - tasty but not so hot they burn your tongue. Mesclun mix greens and lettuce, swiss chard and basil. Summer squash and zucchini have blossoms and the tomatoes have blossoms and little green tomatoes. Beans are starting to run and the sunflowers are heading towards the sky."Charlie"

This is Charlie. He is our new shop mascot. He's a mixed breed bunny and as sweet as can be. It's been awhile since we've had rabbits on the farm. The last breed I had were Angora rabbits for their fiber. They were beautiful and sweet bunnies but I just didn't have the time to care for them properly. Charlie loves to beheld and cuddled and I will enjoy his company as well as anyone who visits the farmstand. We will have a small petting zoo area for all the children that come to the farmstand. Tom will oversee that project and make sure our animals are treated nicely. We ask each person to use handwash before and after handling the animals. Most people really do not mind. The animals love the attention and the animal crackers ;)

Speaking of the farmstand, we will open for the season on Saturday, July 4. I have been desperately trying to get it ready inside and out but rain and lightening have certainly hampered our efforts. Dyed yarn just doesn't dry well when it's so damp. I had the wood stove going yesterday! I will try to post photos this afternoon when everything is finished. We are quite happy with the decor and the fact that we will have veggies to offer tomorrow.

  • ~Wishing you all a safe, Happy Fourth of July weekend!~