Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Latest

This is Dot.  Dot will be joining our family sometime around January 9!
Dot will be Margarets dog.  We thought it wasn't crazy enough around here so we thought we'd add a puppy to the mix.  We're all excited.  

The kids looking for eggs.  We are still averaging 2.7 eggs a day but I think the rolling average will be getting higher as the days are starting to get longer!!!  Yippee!!!

Success!  2 eggs.  Notice Emily in the background texting.  She got a cellphone for Christmas.  So I guess kids these day don't talk to each other, they just text each other.  It's a whole new world.  I'm not sure who she is texting--- I can only imagine- Hey Zoe, we just got two eggs from the nest boxes.  or rather,  Hey Z, jst got 2 egz frm chknz

This is as close as I've gotten to the sheep.  See Frank in background holding his Lie Down position.  Tomorrow morning I think I might get a good look as I have to break their water trough of the top layer of ice in the morning.  I forgot to put the de-icer out tonight and now it's too dark.

This is my favorite-- picture and man...  :)
The man is in Vermont at a gorgeous farm looking at Belted Galloway.  He'll post pics tomorrow of the herd he is planning to purchase.  I think it's 15 animals in total.  My favorite name is the bull-- his name is Dudley.  

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Blueberries

Frank is turning out to be a great dog.  He is pretty good at rounding up the sheep.  A friend got me the book Nop's Trials and I just loved it.  Great book about a stockdog Border Collie named Nop.
We planted 54 blueberry bushes today.  Yes, on December 28th we planted blueberry bushes.  It was probably between 55-60 outside today and the ground was perfect.  Thank goodness because this was the batch that I assumed Shipping Immediately meant shipping immediately by your Zone.  I was the most worried about the blueberry bushes because they are not cheap.  

We'll probably get a few more bushes to round out this area and then we should be set!  Blueberries for life!  And plenty to go into the CSA shares.  Most of the bushes are 2 year plants but 12 of them are 4 year plants that will fruit this year.  

Ah--- now were do I plant those raspberry canes that are still in the Morton building? 

Friday, December 26, 2008

Thinking about Summer Vegetables in the Cold of Winter

Last summer,  several lucky folks got to try out veggies and tell us what they thought and how much they used in a week.  Here is an email from a happy customer:

"Well I never thought these words would cross my lips, or I guess more appropriately these letters cross my finger tips but why oh why did I defrost that London Broil… with a veritable cornucopia of options sitting on my island when I returned home. All at once I felt like an Iron Chef, my secret ingredients before me.

I went quickly to work in my planning. I would not let a piece of beef distract me from my task. This would have to work. Tonight’s menu would be quickly rearranged to accommodate the new wealth of fresh garden goodness received.

Memory recalled some baby potatoes still in the pantry. These would be roasted on the grill in olive oil, herbs and tonight with an amazingly fragrant and flavorful fresh garlic. Also hitting the grill would be some fantastic fresh zucchini small and succulent, lightly brushed with olive oil and simply topped with fresh ground pepper and kosher salt. Lastly, but certainly not least a leafy lettuce salad with fresh cucumbers and tomatoes topped in a nice Chianti vinegar, organic olive oil and herb dressing.

I did it. I pulled it off and it was amazing. Little credit to the cook and much credit and thanks to the farmers. My future chef’s reaction to the unbelievable flavor of a real cucumber, fresh lettuce and tomatoes was an added bonus. I can now just sit back with the remnants of my glass of wine and the last hint of dinner on my pallet to begin wondering what next great meal will come from my new found bounty."



See Greenakeys.com for more information about a share this summer.



Wednesday, December 24, 2008

quick post

Im messing with the html adding in google analytics and I dont know if it has been installed yet...

Lets check, shall we?

sheep me!!!




We got our sheep!  Will from Whitmore Farm came over yesterday and delivered 5 Katahdin ewes to us.  Livestock!  Were owners of some small ruminant livestock!

So...that means I have to pick up a mineral feeder and some hay in case the weather gets super snowy and the sheep get hungry.  I mean, we dont have enough GRASS in the pasture or anything.

Sheep.

Frank and I took a herding lesson from Linda Tesdahl yesterday.  Frank was fine with the sheep but was completely blowing me off outside of the paddock.  He is on the lead again for a while until he learns some respect.  Im putting Emily and Margaret and Kevin on a lead too.

Frank did fine with the sheep yesterday.  Not polished at all, and he probably needed to shake off the rust.  This morning, I took him out to our sheep for 10 minutes.  He was great.  He listened well to me and was calm.  Much better than yesterday.  The sheep were a bit flighty but didnt turn to fight or scatter.  They were understandably nervous around the Border Collie, but since it was their first introduction to a dog, they did fine.  Frank is going to save us a ton of work around here. 


Monday, December 22, 2008

First tooth!


Kevin lost his first tooth today!  Hooray!  He is officially a big kid now.  And five dollars richer.   Now we have to schedule a toothday parth with an official toothday cake.  In the shape of a tooth.  And all the other fun stuff that goes along with a toothday party.  Like key lime pie ice cream.  And christmas cookies.


On a farm related note, we are getting our first five sheep tomorrow!  Katahdin hair sheep.  All five are pregnant ewes due in March.   We will also be adding another 4 or 5 ewes on New Years Day if all goes as planned.  We could have as many as 20 lambs in March and April.  Talk about farming...

The new watering troughs are being installed today and tomorrow.  Im worried that they are going to be fine for the cattle but too high for the sheep to reach, no way the lambs can reach into them to drink.  Im going to have to make sure that we have enough room for them to reach in and drink.  When we put in water lines along the fence line, I will be installing permanent water troughs there also that will be short enough for the sheep and chickens to use.  And anyone else for that matter.  Thirsty?  Try the trough.  Its fresh goodness.




Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Sheep






I feel like the little boy that cried wolf....

The sheep are coming today--- actually they are not,
The sheep are coming today---actually they are not,
The sheep were going to come today but the gentleman who was going to bring them is still not feeling well.  So soon.....soon....  the kids are so anxious.  It's a great lesson in patience.

Life is so exciting these days--- it doesn't go by without something to laugh at or learn from:

--We've caught 8 mice the past 5 days -Isabella dropped one trap and all by my bed- I was ok, 
---Frank peed on the nice gentleman from the soil conservation office (Mike was in shock so his reaction time in calling out 'FRANK' was a little delayed).  He doesn't have the marking etiquette down yet-- bushes/ok, people and cat food/not ok
--I ordered the blueberry bushes and some raspberry bushes and thought they'd ship in March like all the other ones I ordered from other sites--- seems I didn't quite understand the phrase "shipping now" so we'll be figuring out where to plant the bushes next week---- thank goodness my husband loves me... it's a lot of bushes--- :)
--We think the boiler is leaking--- we had hoped it would make it through the winter at least- it may-- we'll just be wearing lots of sweaters

And best of all... The Christmas Tree is up!  Even though it's shorter than past trees and slightly crooked -- it smells great and it totally fits into the house.  
Margaret was sick today so while she did sleep a bit, Margaret is a busy, busy child.  She decided to make lots of really, really large paper hats!  She is also the author of the purple font post below.  Blogspot is so easy, even an 8 year old can post a comment with no parental help.  She is getting a lesson on how to post in her own name tomorrow....  




do you think the Rouen ducks cute.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Ducks

The ducks are now 11 weeks old.  You can see the Rouen ducks in front with the blue on the wings.  Their heads are also starting to turn a deep green color.  The one in front is the female.  She has a lighter neck area.  The male is behind her and he has a fuller brown lower neck area and a white collar between the lower neck and upper neck.  
The Blue Swedish is on the right hand side of the Rouen ducks.

Spike is still doing well.  Still not sure if Spike is a male or female.  They should lay eggs at about 20 weeks so we'll find out then!  To the left of Spike is a Buff duck.


My favorite duck is the tall brown runner duck in the middle but I also like the pencil duck which is hiding behind the other three.

I could watch the ducks for hours.  I HAVE watched the ducks for close to 2 hours...
They are just so happy with the simple things, like a new patch of clover and a tub full of fresh water!  This spring we'll show them the pond and make them a more permanent house.

video



  

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Seeds

This is the time of year when I order the seeds for the garden next year.  I think I enjoy ordering seeds more than anything else in the world.  Seeds are cheap (compared to clothes, shoes, linens, etc) and the variety is endless!!!

I will recommend these sites for ordering seeds since they have a large variety of organic seeds:

I'm up to around 95 varieties of tomatoes and 15 varieties of basil!!!!
Yummmmm

I'm going to need a larger area to grow my seeds.....hmmmm  - Greenhouse???
Maybe Santa will bring me a greenhouse.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Egg Results

If you guessed the egg on the right side of the picture as the Green Akeys egg, then you were right.  Pastured poultry eggs have a deep yellow almost orange color to them. 

No statistics tonight about the eggs as the main internet is down so we are on backup.  Backup is the cellular connection that is only on the laptop facing south west in our bedroom.  It is also SLOW and when only one computer is available, I don't get much air time.

I love our dog Frank.  Granted, he still needs to be house broken a bit but he's great at his job.  I took him out with the ducks on Saturday afternoon and kept him on the leash while I showed him how I herded the ducks.  The look of realization on his face as I moved the ducks was priceless!  He instantly got down and assumed the "Lie Down" position.  Mike let him herd the ducks into their house last night and Margaret practiced again with him today.

Come By, Away to Me, Walk up, Lie Down, That'll Do----- those are some of the commands.  I'll post a video sometime of one of us working with Frank.  It's really, really, really cool!  I could totally get into trialing dogs.  It's extremely fun!

The sheep come Tuesday and Emily is getting ready to name them.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Egg Challenge


Kevin making french toast with our eggs!  He's been practicing the last few weekends.  We need more vanilla.


Pop Quiz!
Which egg is the GreenAkeys egg and which one is the grocery store organic egg?
One above is with a flash the one below is no flash.



Answer will be posted on Saturday with some statistics about Pastured Poultry and how eggs from Pastured Poultry are so much better for you.
I also did not break open lots of eggs to do this-- just random eggs from either our farm or the store.

Also-- orders are now being taken for a CSA share and/or egg share for next year.
See Greenakeys.com for more information.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

No Sheep Today

I wish this darn flu bug would stop getting everyone sick.  The sheep owners were the latest to catch the bug (hopefully not from us 2 weeks ago) and so the sheep did not come today.  
They will come next weekend.  Which is fine because it will give Mike a little more time to prepare.  
Although Frank the Border Collie needs some work to do, so I hope it really is next week.  We've never had a male dog that was intact.  He has a lot of energy and the whole marking thing is throwing us for a loop.
He is a great dog but he only really likes me when Mike is not around.  As soon as Mike comes home, Frank leaves me immediately.  I found this out the hard way as he almost pulled my arm out of the socket yesterday when Mike came out the front door.  Note to self, next time let go of the leash.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

My Other Hobbies

I still really, really love my pressure cooker.  I'm getting faster at the process and used the leftover Turkey and put up a bunch of turkey stock and turkey soup.  We still have no microwave in the new house and canned foods are so much easier to heat up as there is no thawing involved.  Life without a microwave is ok.
By the way, we sold the old house on Friday!!!  So we can't turn back now.  The farm is our house.  So from now on there will be no more mention of old or new house, only The House.

I made a coat for Emily but I ran out of the purple yarn and only got 3/4 of one sleeve done.  So right now the coat is sleeveless until I can find one more skein of that yarn.  It happens to be discontinued but I have a friend trying to help me learn ravelry and help me find one.


This is Margaret's summer dress.  It's a little too big right now but should be perfect next summer.  If you look carefully you'll see my stack of sweaters piled up on my dresser.  Living with one 4 foot closet in the entire house is definitely a challenge.  But it's only temporary.  As one of my new favorite old sayings says "This too Shall Pass."  


Friday, December 5, 2008

Seeds

This is the time of year that I start to plan the garden for next year and start to buy seeds.
One of my favorite seed sources is Seeds of Change.  All the seeds are organic and they all did so well in the garden this year.

This is my favorite tomato of the entire year- The Amish Paste Tomato.
Those of you that received some of these know what I'm talking about.  Best paste tomato I've ever eaten in my life.

So this year we'll be planting lots of this one-- and lots of different kids of basil as well.
Our niche is going to be tomatoes and anything else you need to make sauce and salsa.  
Lots of garlic, basil, onions, peppers and cilantro.




Thursday, December 4, 2008

Farm Lessons


I learned a valuable lesson today that I shall try to remember next time.
When you get home after working all day and then taking a 2 hr train ride, another 1 hr drive to the farm and you are lugging your 2nd suitcase in 2 months that broke a wheel AND you happen to hear the ducks quacking loudly in the night......... you must use your Duck Whisperer senses and realize that they should be asleep and that something is wrong.

Something WAS wrong.  One duck was outside the electric fence and the others were hanging out and quacking loudly on the other side of the fence.  She probably accidently flew out and couldn't figure out how to get herself back in.  Amazing that the rest of the ducks hung out and waited for her to be saved.  Mike just picked her up and put her back with her flock of girlfriends.  

There are also some key learnings for everyone out there that come to mind from this experience:
-Don't leave your friend stranded outside the electric fence, band together with your flock and quack loudly - the lone duck needs your support and all the quacks you've got
-When you hear a lot of loud noise or chatter at the wrong time of day-- stop to listen and see what you are missing
-Anyone can be a hero and save the one that is stuck outside the fence


Monday, December 1, 2008

The First Writeup


Mike had the first article written about him and the GreenAkeys Farm today.  I busted out laughing when I saw it!  First off, I took the picture and you'll have seen it in the blog.  So technically I've been published for my photography!  Whoo-hooo!  

It's mostly based on facts but a few of the statements are a little off.  The one that is really not correct is the statement that Mike believes that local means he would want to buy food within a 5 mile radius.  I don't know if we can technically get into Westminster in 5 miles so it should really say 25 miles.  Might have been a typo as I was listening to his conversation with Laurie and he said 25 miles.  But it's a nice first article and I'm thinking of calling him Poultryman from now on---- he-he.

Oh, and for the record, we now have 56 chickens.  We got 30 more chickens from a friend that are a little over 2 years old and they lay eggs!!!!  So far we've gotten 8 eggs in 5 days.  It's the slow side of the season in addition to the hens being 2 years old.  Production drops off for both of these reasons.  So we are really going to be paying about the same about of money for these eggs in feed as we would at the grocery store for organic eggs.  But to see the look on the kids faces when they go out and find the eggs is just priceless.  In the spring we'll also use these hens as 'practice' for the MPU and cook up some good chicken stock!  Our friend will then get some of her hens back to make her own chicken stock as well.

Now did you know that when you move chickens you do this at night?  I had no idea and thought it was crazy to be putting 30 chickens into crates and then into our minivan (on a tarp) and then back into the field and into their chicken house on the roosts at 9:30pm.  Well it turns out they have night blindness and they are heavy sleepers.  So it was easy to move them and less stress.  

So now comes the most hilarious part of the story.  We move the chickens, they are all set, it's about 10:30pm when we are all done.  We go to bed and suddenly at 4am the next morning Dougie the dog is barking like crazy.  Mike starts laughing hysterically and says to me "you're the one who wanted a rooster".  I broke out laughing as well.  Roosters really do make noises that sound like Cock-a-doodle-doo.  The rooster crows at exactly 4am every morning and then crows again between 6-7am.  The second time he is really following the rules and crowing when the sun comes up.  I feel like he has a split personality, Mr 4am rooster and Mr Regular rooster.  I'm not sure the deal with Mr 4am Rooster.  At this point, I'm training myself to ignore Mr 4am rooster and I've now got a technique where when I hear the first faint crow, I grab the extra pillow and put it on top of my ears.  It worked well this morning.  We need to move the chicken house anyway so this time we won't put it smack dab 50 yards from our bedroom window.  We have 63 acres, there must be a spot that won't wake us up or the neighbors.  Mike of course thinks I'm crazy and says the rooster crows all the time and that we live on a farm so I had better get used to the noise.  I'm working on it!

One last warning-- we've watched 12 episodes of Green Acres so don't be suprised if I start calling Mike, Oliver (pronounced Ol EEV er) and say Darling! all the time..... might not be able to help it!