Saturday, April 30, 2011

Blueberry bushes

Homer and I attended a Slow Food dinner in Harrisburg a month or so ago. The featured speaker was an author and professor at Radford. He had written a book about growing blueberry bushes, trying to build a business, maintain his marriage and his sense of humor. He read from his book and his writings were beautiful, inspirational. We had already ordered 60 organic blueberry shrubs and after listening to his stories were quite excited to get growing!

Homer worked the pigs over the area first. The pigs dug up the turf, most of the shrubs and trees and almost all the grass and vines. What was left was clay: red, hard, compact. So Homer started digging holes, at the advised distance. And threw his back out working to get all of those holes dug before the shipment arrived. His friend Gavin was kind enough to spend an afternoon here running a post hole digger we rented from Home Depot..and got every hole in place.

The directions we received advised us to plant in clay, but to empty the hole of any loose bits of clay. Then add a specific amount of peat moss, planting the blueberry shrub to an exact depth. While Gavin ran the post hole digger, Homer and I got the peat moss and shrubs into every hole. The directions also said to mix the prat moss with water in a wheel barrow, then put the mix in the hole, then add the shrub. We chose to ignore this portion of the directions, and mixed the peat right in the hole with the water. Every plant went in the ground with a nice amount of the peat moss, and we slept like babies that night.

Neighbors stopped by to see what we were planting. With the pigs still in their pens, buckets of Planet Produce juicer pulp and giant garbage bags of stale Atwater's bread it is no wonder the neighbors say "what exactly are you doing?!". Really, who can blame them?

And then came torrential rains. And winds. The peat moss, so carefully mixed with wTer, washed out of many of the holes. And we thought all was lost. Tonight we spent time in that part of the property , were Homer had refilled the holes. And every plant looks beautiful, each is growing, sprouting, blooming. As with any plant, blooms mean fruit at some point in time!

We chose blueberries because they are native and support huge numbers of native song birds and insects. And because they are delicious! Can't wait to share with our CSA!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Homer builds gates for Gitte & Clay

Homer built gates over the winter, and had a chance to install this week. The gates are made from cedar and finished with a marine grade finish. It used to be that varnish could go onto cedar and last 20 years before needing to be reapplied. Now, if varnish went onto this in 1 year time it would flake off the gate. They guess it is a result of the reduction of the ozone layer.

 Here is the spot where the gates go in..a beautiful home in Chevy Chase. MD. The homeowners had their backyard terraced and landscaped, the front yard too. Now the gates go in, shutters in a couple of weeks and then comes the new driveway.

And here are the during photo:

Homer had to chisel out space for the hook where the latch will rest. The homeowners will get a finish on was an unanticipated field change!

and after:

I must admit, I have gate envy..they are just beautiful!

Monday, April 25, 2011


We purchased 60 organic, 1 year old blueberry shrubs. They are now in the ground, roots firming up in the peat moss that fills their holes. And today we were amazed to find blossoms on many of them, that means we might have a few blueberries to eat this year. We sure hope so.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Pig Plows!

Homer has plans for Sunnyside Farm going off the grid. We plan to have solar panels for electric, composting toilets, grey water catchment areas and a golf cart that runs on sun charged batteries. Until then we do not own or use a rototiller or plow..he uses the pigs to dig up the garden beds..and Sandi watches with interest..

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

eggs overrun us!

Over the winter this year we had zero eggs. We must have timed the addition of peepers to our flock at the wrong time, there were about 50 that should have started to lay eggs in November. And not one did. Now, all of our hens are laying on a regular, frequent basis. So we are packing into flats and getting them to market by the dozen and by the case!
On rainy days the eggs get muddy from the hens feet. So we need to give them a quick rinse. We used to be able to dry them on the dish drainer..but no more! Too many! Homer built this double decker egg dryer yesterday so we could line them up to dry before packing away. For now we have been able to keep them in the garage, it has been cold enough in there..but next on the list is an additional refrigerator, full size, for eggs. We have used a dorm room sized fridge for years, but now that holds only a days worth of eggs, time to expand our holding capacity!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Buff Ducks

Last spring we purchased 8 Buff Duck day old ducklings from McMurray Hatchery. I had seen the full grown ducks at the PA Farm Show the January prior and thought they were a pretty duck. Turns out the American Breed Concervancy (for protection of farm animals) has the Buff Ducks in their list too. That clinched it! Over the summer we lost 3 (all in one night) to a fox attack, leaving us with a total if 5. 1 male and 4 females. They females started laying eggs about a month ago, and we started gathering and putting them into the incubator. Yesterday the first 2 hatched and are now in the incubator! At the same time, one of the female ducks has been seen for very brief periods each day, and we watch her go into a huge pile of brush, gathered by Troop 792 when they visited the farm. Homer speculates she is sitting on a nest. We look forward to the day she shows off her babies!!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

back trouble

Homer pulled his back out, so I am doing duty as the farmer and the farmers wife. I struggle with the 50 pound bags of feed (can't lift them, have to use gravity to allow the feed to fall into a bucket) but can do everything else. It just takes me a whole lot longer than it takes Homer!!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Cattle on the farm

Yesterday we took delivery on a trailer full of cattle from Keswick Creamery. 6 calves, all males, that will mow our grass all year. And one heifer that will give birth in a few weeks and allow Homer to have REALLY fresh milk..and butter, ice cream, yogurt..yum! This morning all the calves were up and eating, some out on the grass, some beginning the day with a bucket of milk.

Friday, April 1, 2011


Homer gets his eggs on the board at Goucher College! Chefs happy, students requesting, life is good!


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