Monday, September 30, 2013

and in this corner

The grass grows and grows. It is eaten and scratched up and left for dead as the livestock move through, and still it persists. 

After our first fall we were concerned that nothing would grow back. The cattle and turkeys get huge and consume massive amounts, leaving short grass behind. Then when spring arrives boom! Everything grows back. 

And now the cattle are in our neighbors favorite location. She can easily see them from the windows of her house. She used to live on this property, until they built a different house, a one story house, and moved next door. 

We invited her to visit and tour, to let her know what we are doing. She declined, telling us that her view from her windows onto the cattle the 3-4 days she sees them is just fine. She probably knows we will put her right to work. 

Sunday, September 29, 2013


Just after the CSA and market season began, a very large tree branch fell from a tree and broke the fence. 

No one was injured. The broken part was still an intact fence, no livestock escaped or anything like that. 

We leave the farm a bit during the growing season. Even if not farm related travels are usually farm related: policy meetings, planning meetings, education, fund raising for outreach groups. Mostly working during the growing season!

So the removal and repair has been way down on the list of priorities. Didn't hit either building or anyone, so all is well. 

But it didn't look so hot. The massive branch was chopped up and hauled away, the pickets themselves realigned and replaced. So now it looks just as it did before: a fence. 

It was a fair amount of work to have nothing really change. Kind of like getting the laundry done. Except a ton more work. 

Looking good now!

Saturday, September 28, 2013


In an effort to cram too much into a recent day, I managed to crack the glass table top on our outdoor dining set. 

Purchased via craigslist just after we moved to the farm, this metal table and chair has seen lots of use. 

Just outside the kitchen door it is an easy spot for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack. 

I had cooked a pot of something. The pot was hot and it was late at night. The pot was way too hot to put in the fridge so the cool back porch seemed like a great idea. It seems like it has been done before. Probably with a cooler pot. 

From another angle. 

Now, I wonder, where can I find a replacement piece? Have never seen that on craigslist. 

Friday, September 27, 2013

eggs of the future

Egg production from our flock increases with daylight, decreases as there are fewer hours of sunshine. We work to counteract this with strategic purchases of chicks. 

Our anniversary flock, the Silver Lace Wyandotte and the Arucanas, will begin egg production in November. It would be better now, but the peeps were not available until late June. 

Yesterday we received a new shipment of baby hens. Day old, in a couple boxes shipped via the postal service. 

Paper goes over their brooder floor until they learn to eat feed and not bedding. 

Homer built a homemade hover. A washtub, a few chunks of wood for legs a clip on light and a warm bulb. 

A hole cut in the bottom of the washtub. 

Creates an environment where the peepers can adjust to temperatures on their own. In the brooder when warm enough, sheltered when warmth is needed. 

And in March, eggs!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

on stormwater

Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending the Stormwater Summit in Baltimore. 

I heard something there, the same thing I said this summer: the desire for a $5 crab cake. There is only one way that will ever happen again, and that is only when there is enough clean water for the grasses to grow in the Chesapeake Bay. The crabs need to hide in them, and the only way that can happen is for all water entry points to reduce how much goes into the bay. 

There are programs all over the place to reduce the amount of agricultural runoff. The big farms had to build and be in compliance years ago, now the focus is on mid-size farms and efforts to keep the smaller creeks and streams clean. 

In urban areas, the roofs, streets and sidewalks cause incredibly heavy runoff into every little and large waterway. When we leased land for farming (in Baltimore County) the small river turned into a massive flood on a regular basis, the first time we lost hundreds of birds, after that we had our pens in a different location. 

All up and down the waterways the rush of water occurs. The focus of yesterday's conference was on methods to slow the water down, keep it in place, use it for something else rather than dumping into streams. The erosion caused by this fast moving water causes lots of sediment in the bay, which also contributes to loss of bay grasses. 

Solutions under way are just beautiful. Rather than building massive tunnels and holding areas there are designs to change water catchment systems. Rain gutters to planters. Pervious sidewalks and roads. Angled parking with corner plantings that have deep, stone filled channels beneath. Budgets for building from a variety of sources, local, county, state and federal. 

The next 10 years promises a very different landscape. The EPA has set standards and is supporting the expansion of water catchment and diversion systems. Selection of plant materials is moving to many more native varieties. From the plans, urban settings will not lose parking places, just by angling the number of spots remains the same. 

Studies have shown that trees on a street change the culture of a street. Trees absorb rain and create breezes. The shade offered, the cooling effect in summer slows everything down. The less of a heat sink the happier the residents. 

There are thousands of acres that need runoff reduction in every jurisdiction here in the northeast. Great solutions and ideas were shared yesterday. Things I had not thought of were discussed. Truly inspiring. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

todays load

What is in the truck as we return to the farm?

A few things. Empty containers of what we delivered. Except not really empty, refilled with cool stuff we are returning to the farm.

Stale bread from a bakery. The little bit of groceries we buy (chocolate, coffee, bananas, baking powder, toilet paper, orange soda made with cane sugar).

And beautiful, solid pallets. Constructed from solid pine, we envision reusing these in a construction project we are envisioning, as cabinet doors. After a little reinforcing, sanding and painting.

5 gallon jugs, which after cleaning will serve as cloches for tender plants next spring. Plans are to request 300 of these: for the 100 tomato, pepper and eggplants we grow each year.

Two sided pallets, which will be deconstructed and remade into fencing here on the farm.

Yesterday, the truck was emptied and refilled, 3 times, from the local saw mill. Two loads of wood shavings to go under the baby peeps in the brooder. We are expecting a flock of meat birds and a flock of egg layers each in the next week. Those will be our last batches this year, until new flocks of meat birds begin again next March.

A load of sawdust, that goes into our compost along with the...other stuff...that gets composted here on the farm. Varied are the items that go in our compost, the addition of sawdust ensures a great balance of everything, results in the breakdown of everything that goes in. About 2 weeks later, there is nothing but black gold, the sweetest smelling compost ever. Nature takes care, and there are a whole host of bugs out there waiting for the next bit of stuff we put into the pile, and cover up with the sawdust.

And in the afternoon, the truck was loaded again. This time, a stop at a local restaurant yielded a garbage can of stuff that would go to the landfill if we did not take it. Melon rinds, egg shells, broccoli stems, celery stalks and other edible bits go into the bin. The pigs are overjoyed to get these things, and we consider it recycling at its most basic. Tons go in. Little comes out.

Happy pigs. Landfill reduction. All good.

Monday, September 23, 2013

what the farmer eats, pepper edition

Finally, a few peppers. We are going to have to figure out something different with peppers. We started the plants in February, set them out in May, and only now is there anything to harvest. Last night the temperature was in the 40's. Which means only a few more weeks until freezing temperatures, and pepper plants turn to slime when hit by frost. 

Last year we kept just a handful of plants alive, in just one bed in the hoop house. This year we have at least 100 plants in the ground, outside the hoop house. The yield is about the same. With 40 shares and 100 plants we figured at least 1 pepper per plant each week, 2-3 peppers per share weekly. That has not happened. The hoop house made a huge difference in production: we are going to need a bigger hoop house!

And we need to select peppers with the shortest growing time possible. Not hot peppers, we only need a couple of those plants as a little goes a long way. The eating varieties, the bullnose and the bell peppers, we will be working to identify open pollinated types that have the shortest flower to harvest timeline. 

I'm not allowed to eat commercially grown bell peppers. They have an undesirable effect on my digestive system, one that results in my husband asking me to sleep in another room. 

But the peppers we grow don't have that effect. We had chili made the other day with our ground beef, tomatoes and peppers. Totally fine with it. 

In this photo of a part of Sundays harvest, the farmers eats a couple of these peppers. The one that looks like something took a bite out of it, and the one that just does not look right: two toned, a limitless something extra growing on it...

Sunday, September 22, 2013

a season we hate to see end

Nighttime temperatures are not yet cold enough to kill the tomato plants. But the temperatures day and night are cool enough that there are no new flowers blooming, so no new fruit will be set. The bees are still out in strong numbers every day, but they are on the goldenrod and not on the tomatoes. 

We eat tomatoes every day for months. If a slice with a hamburger, a salad mixed with cucumbers and goat cheese, cooked into a chili, roasted with other vegetables or into a salsa, we love them. 

As production slows we are happy thet are growing inside the hoop house. The extra bit of protection extends the tomato season by a few weeks, keeping us a bit happier for all the fresh goodness. 

We regret the end of the the tomato season. It is so nice to pluck a fresh, warm tomato and eat it. Hate to see it come to an end. 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

turkeys mow it down

See to the right and the left of these pens? That is what it looked like before the turkeys mowed it down. 

The center part of the picture, where the turkeys were this week, shows what they do in a series of 24 hour periods. 

Each day they are moved the length of the pen. The wheel jacks engage and the turkeys move forward as the pen moves. 

No matter how high things are growing, the turkeys eat every bit if it. Thistles included. Turkeys don't care if there are big, thick, sharp barbs on thistle. They eat it up. And every other thing growing. 

And then it all grows back. A little rain and zoom, growing like mad again. 

Friday, September 20, 2013


Mornings, as the sun rises, finds chilly days here in the farm. 

We love the change of seasons for what it is. The cooler nights, comfortable days and mild evenings makes it so much easier to get everything done. Gone are the days we have to stop and drink water every few minutes to stay hydrated. 

At the same time, we dread the wintertime. Our house is unbearably cold in the winter. Many leaks and concrete block walls combine for very high heating bills and zero comfort indoors. We freeze here, and look forward to days when we can head outside and into the sunny hoop house. 

When the sun is shining the hoop house is a very warm temperature. Out of the wind it turns our property into a balmy paradise. We can then work in shorts and tee shirt, comfortably, until the sun sets. Then into the icy house we return, where our heat to keep the pipes from freezing indoor temperatures generate bills that are $700-$800 each month. A horrible way to spend money. 

There are plans and ideas percolating to change this status. Can't wait for them to happen, and they can't happen soon enough. As evidenced by this photo, the frost is with us many mornings now. Cold weather is lurking out there...

Thursday, September 19, 2013

turkeys in September

The turkeys are good sized this year. They are getting to the point where some of the males will tussle with each other. They all gobble at once when they hear a sound or see one of us heading toward them. 

One turkey was being picked at by the others. For several days he was removed from the pen and returned after dark. Yesterday he became a turkey that is ready for someone to cook this week. 

These turkeys are Broad Breasted Bronze, a beautiful, good sized, able to take care of itself kind of bird. We grew them a few years ago, the year the pigs got out and opened the latches on every turkey pen. 

The grain bin has been a back saver. We used to take delivery of feed in 80 pound bags, which was fun for about a minute. Unwieldy, slippery and way too heavy. Made of woven plastic that just slid around when we tried to stack them. Or load into the truck. When empty the wind would pick up a bag and then we had to chase them. Last week we had huge winds blowing through here, and no problem with the grain bin, it is solidly in place. Every week we were setting out a garbage can full of plastic grain bags, now we just use buckets. A dramatic reduction in the amount of trash leaving the farm each week. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Street Dinner!

Here we go!

Buy Fresh Buy Local, The Horn Farm and Healthy World Cafe are joining together for a street dinner in York!

Food from local farms will be gathered, cooked up and served at this fun event!

The chefs from Healthy World Cafe are creative and make some delicious goodies!

Join us! Tickets are $65 each, contact for more information. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

east coast living

We live just down the road from a ski slope. It's a little one, and they have to make snow at night, but people ski, snowboard and ice skate there for 3-4 months of the year. 

Yesterday we left the farm to meet up with friends. Vegetables were picked, egg gathered and packed, coolers filled, bed of the truck jammed full of deliveries. 

Between drop offs and pickups we managed to get a few hours away, at a friends house on the water. Brackish water, not quite salt water but getting close. A beautiful tributary just off the Chesapeake Bay. 

The garden club launched their season. It starts with some steamed crabs, pulled from these waters by a guy who then steams them to bright red, right around the corner from this spot. 

It is a lovely way to welcome the change of season. And easy enough to get a full day of farm work in, get from the little mountains to not quite the ocean and catch up with a whole bunch of loved ones. 

Life is good. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

everywhere I look

Everywhere there are beans. Everywhere I look in the garden the bean plants are scrambling over everything. They have covered the sunflowers, the corn and every inch of the supports built to hold them. 

Homer had to rebuild the bean supports to keep the beans happy. The weight of all the bean plants pulled the original, twine based foundation almost to the ground. Heavy gauge wire had to be run across the top to support the bean vines. 

We have grown two kinds of beans this year. Rattlesnake, which grow with a purple color and in great bunches that make them easy to find on the vine. And Kentucky Wonder, that are solid green just like the leaves and not so easy to find. Some picking days it is like hide and seek out there. 

When the beans get big they can be kept and dried to be used some other time in the year. We did that last year and loved soaking beans in our chicken broth. 

Fresh big beans in chicken broth with a ham bone in there has been the perfect meal for the last couple of days. The temperature outdoors dropped by about 40 degrees, and some warm deliciousness waiting on the stove has been most welcome. The three flavors combine to be pure comfort. 

We have also frozen beans, removing the string and breaking them into smaller bits, packing into bags and then right into the freezer. They will be used all winter for much the same dish, all ingredients from our farm. Feels like riches beyond compare...

Saturday, September 14, 2013

time for a trim

We don't use weed killer on our farm. At least, we don't use the kind that comes in a jug from the store. 

Our weed killers tend to be the four and two legged kind. The cattle, laying hens, chickens and turkeys. 

Pigs graze too, given the opportunity. They love to eat grass and to eat the roots too. They will dig out a hole in no time and strip the ground clean. 

When the pigs appear in spots they are not supposed to be in, it is time for the farmers to clear along the electric lines. By August, the grass and weeds have grown up high around the electric lines, and the lines get shorted out. They stop working because the electric current is no longer circulating through the wires.  

This happens next. Pigs in the back yard, no longer in the paddock where they were supposed to be. Meeting the farmer at the door of the truck. 

Out come many methods of getting the electric line working again. And keeping every animal where they are supposed to be. But not the weed killer in a jug. It kills a little more than we want. 

Friday, September 13, 2013

$8 privacy fence

There are seed houses all over the country. There are some names everyone knows, even people who have never put a seed anywhere. Others are smaller, more specialty types of seed purveyors. 

Our closest spot to get seeds is in New Freedom, PA. Only about half an hour away, they stock every vegetable kind and many flower seeds too. 

I bought a pound of sunflower seeds from them this spring. Not a big stack of the paper packets with the pretty picture on the cover, just a big bag weighed out

Like most things, buying in bulk right in their office has its advantages. A pound set me back $8. 

And then planted where we have envisioned a privacy fence/planting. Just to test it out without the time and expense. 

The results are beautiful. And covered with bees and such all day long. 

A beautiful way to create a wall. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

late in the season

We experienced big chicken losses this year. With 2 dogs on the farm it appears that we have managed to stem the tide of attacks on our flocks. Each day we are a little more confident that the dogs are chasing away the daytime and nighttime chicken thieves. 

We have been able to fulfill the chicken CSA orders this season. There have been weeks when we have no extra chickens to sell. The frustrating part has been that we purchased the chicks and the feed and with almost every loss had grown the birds to full size. 

We are growing birds later in the season this year to make up a little of our losses. While we can't make back the money spent on feed and birds, we still need to produce income. 

Yesterday our order for 200 more birds arrived. Into the brooder they went, and into the winter they will grow. Freezers will be full this winter, as we are always asked for chickens in the cold months this year we will have them!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


"It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are 20 Gods or one God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg."

Thomas Jefferson

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

on the menu

Last year we had a couple tour the farm with a group from PASA, the sustainable agriculture group. They returned this spring with a request: for us to provide food for a wedding. 

The wedding was this weekend, and reports are in: the food was fantastic. Prepared by the chefs at the Stone Mill Inn in Hallam, PA, these wonderful ingredients combined to make a meal that received many compliments. 

We are so honored to be included with this list of fine growers: we have eaten what many of them produce it is good! What a meal this must have been, yum!

Weddings always take lots of advance planning and attention to many small details. The planning for this one included visits to our farm and others, taking wedding planning to a whole new level!


Monday, September 9, 2013

dreams, intensified

We have lived in a home that was warm in winter. Heated by a high efficiency gas heater Ann transmitted via radiant (not steam) heat, it was a comfortable and warm house. Double wall and window construction kept it draft free, and kept the heat in the house. 

That is not the case where we live now. It is freezing in this house and as winter approaches we start to dread the coldest months of the year. 

Homer's idea, design and scale model has a bit of interest. The idea, of building a size that makes sense for a farmer, of including heat capturing, food preserving, preparation and growing all in a very livable, comfortable space resonates with us. And with a few other people as well. 

On Friday, a visitor to the farm saw Homer's model and got it. Understood quickly and completely the value of such a structure. Using off the shelf materials, combined to build an attractive, traditional in appearance home that has simple systems to operate for heating and cooling. Simple systems for growing food in quantity year round. Designed to be infill construction in urban areas, or to go where a current, neglected structure is beyond repair. 

3/4 of the building is now committed to be paid for. We need a little more in sponsorship to get this project from idea to finished. The first will be built here, and it is likely we will stay in Tramper while it is done. 

Always beautiful to see a dream come to fruition. 

Here's Homer's model. 

Still a work in progress. But closer. Much closer. 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

what is uncovered

The laying hen pens recently rolled through a patch of poison ivy. Neither of us got it, we are both much better about wearing clothes that cover up and avoiding the individual plants on the field. 

Seeing the poison ivy while collecting the eggs forced me to slow down, work around it gently to not disturb it. 

The hens don't get poison ivy. Don't seem to mind it a bit, scratching up the ground and plants. 

And then the pens rolled over this, uncovered by the birds. We saw the plant but not this pumpkin until they unearthed it...a curious thing to see, a pumpkin plant growing all by itself in the middle of the field. We didn't plant it. Wonder what did!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

for plants

We attended a talk on keeping plants in containers year round. It turns out that if larger than 24 inches, a container does not dry out as quickly and the plant stays healthier. Every large container we have seen for planting is plastic and still costs a fortune, if made from metal or wood is really expensive. 

Enter the salvage yard. We needed a barrel for farm work and thought this would do it. It didn't. The barrel, cut in half and mounted on legs to stabilize it, looks like a spot for perennial flowers to me now. With a few spilling over the sides one would never know what this really is. The edges are beaten down so the sharp sides are not accessible. I think this might happen...

Friday, September 6, 2013

whoever gets it first

Not everything gets used up here. We eat here a lot, but some food goes stale or rotten before we can get to it. 

It goes outside the back door in a bucket, then out to our high efficiency composters aka pigs. 

Except for the items the dog decides he needs to eat. He picks past and fruit or vegetable peelings or ends and finds a hunk of stale bread and takes it. Stealing from piggies. That's not right. But with that set of teeth I'm not wrestling him for it!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

when chickens roam

"Are your chickens free range?"

I am asked this question everywhere I go. At farmers markets as a vendor. Or anywhere else when people discover we grow egg layers and chicken for eating. 

It's a funny question. When people ask, I try and answer politely, and find out what that means to them. Since I know what it means in poultry growing language I'm curious what it means to a person, not a farmer, looking to buy eggs. 

I always get the same answer. To a person looking to get eggs for tomorrow's breakfast, they have a vision of a few chickens roaming unencumbered by restraints on sunny, balmy, grassy fields. In their mind, there is dew on the grass and an earthworm in the beak of the chicken. It is never 88 degrees with no shade or 28 degrees with frozen everything: in the imagination of the term free range the day is lovely, the sun is rising, there is no such thing as rain falling an inch an hour, or the sun beating down relentlessly day after day. 

The poultry industry standard for free range means the bunker where the chickens live their entire lives has a door to the outside. Somewhere in the standards of free range is acknowledgement that birds have "access" to grass. The growers we have seen here are proud to remove stacked cages and place all the birds on one level: this makes them free range. They can move around with the thousands of other birds in their building. 

We keep them in small, light, mobile pens. Over the years we have grown poultry we have discovered many different daytime and nighttime predators that love chicken. If a bird gets out of the pen and does not get back in, this is what we will find. 

The chicken is no longer productive. In any way. 

They are, and will stay, in mobile pens. Moving off of their waste and onto fresh grass keeps them healthy and safe. And alive. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

September update!

We have been working on projects, directly related to our farm and indirectly related as well. At the same time, we have been harvesting, processing, planting, moving pens and paddocks, getting to market and a few planning meetings.
One of Homer's ideas, the house that can be built by you and your pals, continues to evolve. Homer speaks with experts, tweaks his design and scale model, allows time for changes, refines, tweaks some more. The latest is the guest bed in the living room...usually exists as a couch, but rolls out to a full size bed when needed, while living under the staircase when not needed. Remember the table in our kitchen? A larger version of that!
It looks like another of his ideas will get a partner and a bit of funding, along with scientific monitoring of the results. More on that later, but it is exciting to be recognized as an innovative, low tech designer.
We were recognized by the York Conservation District for our farm practices. Read more about that here. It was a lovely ceremony, where Homer stood up and spoke about every child has a right to skinny dip in clean water. We think every kid should have access to clean water to do so!
Buy Fresh Buy Local York's Scavenger Hunt was a great success this year! If you missed it, make certain you get on board next year: 30+ locations participated this year, kicked off with a Taste Of York, ending at John Wright Restaurant with a ton of prizes given out to participants. More info here.

A couple of conferences are negotiating with us for over the winter presentations on several things: Homer's pen design, our low tech approach to business model, and also the hoophouse water use. These talks look like they will happen in the dead of winter when only the laying hens miss us. And maybe the dogs too.
This week we deliver 2 pigs and 40 chickens for a wedding. We have grown out the pigs for the last 10 months, and they are now the perfect size for a big party this weekend. Fun! And we get to attend the wedding of a dear family friend this weekend, so even farmers get to party! After all is delivered this week, farmers markets attended, CSA deliveries made, vegetables picked, eggs gathered and packed, pens moved, you know, the usual.
I'm continuing to have conversations with people about cleaning up the tributaries to the Chesapeake Bay. My meetings in DC earlier this summer have my brain working on new ways to make things happen, input from anyone who cares about the health of the watershed are welcome. I've had preliminary conversations with many experts and many people who are concerned, and every conversation is enlightening. Please get in touch if you have thoughts or ideas.
Our CSA shares of vegetables, chickens and eggs will continue until early November. Seeds continue to be planted, as we expect to also have a few things through the winter, all those weather resistant goodies.
Available each week are chickens and eggs. We have them at market and on farm. We are also taking payment on sides of beef: about 100 pounds of grass fed beef is $600. About half are paid for now, and the rest are available until we run out. Also, Thanksgiving turkey: $6 per pound, $40 deposit, pickup fresh just before Thanksgiving.
For a limited time we have pork sausage available. In about a weeks time we had 600+ pounds of pork delivered from here, we now have less than 100 pounds of sausage left. $9 per pound, available until it is gone.
This week we welcome 150 day old peeps to the farm. These will grow up to be laying hens, it takes these little things about 6 months before they start to lay eggs, so next March we anticipate the tiny maiden eggs. In March of this year we brought about 60 new day old egg layers to be on the farm. They spent a while in the brooder and now are in a field pen all their own. No eggs from them yet, but it will start anytime in the next few weeks. We had eggs all winter last year and expect to do so again this year. Remember us for your winter time eggs!
We will have whole chickens available for end of season buys if you should need them. We added a rescue dog (he's over 60 pounds!) to the farm, and as a result we are no longer losing penfuls of chickens each night. If you would like some birds to stock your freezer before things get really cold and dark, let me know. We will be able to provide!
In September we are expecting visitors from Australia, as well as members of a writing group to travel here. We are working on other exciting things too, but have to wait before we can tell more.
To follow along with us daily, go to the blog:
Thanks for your support. We are so delighted to be your farmers!
Dru & Homer
Sunnyside Farm

while working

Some jobs on the farm are noisy. Some dirty. Some require covering a lot of ground. 

Every week there are some jobs that are repetitive and exacting, but not taxing. Concentration is required, but only in intermittent time frames. 

Homer tried Tedtalks, but missed key points and had to fiddle too much to watch over and really, they are just not long enough when an entire day of work is ahead of you. 

Homer has found the best solution. Movies he knows but heart on a tiny, portable DVD player. If missed he already knows what happens, no need to rewind and watch again. He knows the dialog already!

And I didn't think we had any dvd's left. These made the cut, it seems like there is even a VHS of The Goonies still with us too. Some we just could not bear to part with!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

let me sample that

Most mornings the big dog accompanies Homer as the livestock is moved, fed and watered. A bit of feed for the poultry goes in front of the pen so they move forward to get it. The pen is repositioned so that the poultry is on clean ground and on top of the feed. 

The dog checks every portion set out. He takes a sniff and a taste, then moves along to the next pen. The poultry get to eat the feed and all that fresh green growth under the pen. And the next day it happens again. 

The Thanksgiving turkeys are growing beautifully. 

Monday, September 2, 2013

scalding a scalder

There are things on the farm that need to be scalded sometimes. Big things and little things.

We visited our local salvage yard the other day. Mostly they collect metal and crush it for sale to the recyclers. They crush cars and have big piles of large metal things: appliances, lights, anything that is made of mostly metal. 

There was a barrel there, empty. It was cut in half, burned in the hottest fire ever, and then a small supporting stand was built for it. 

The other thing that can be done with it? Planter for growing dahlias. Nice and big to hold 20 or so...

Sunday, September 1, 2013

not really fruit growers

We don't really grow fruit. While there are trees on the property they suffer from a bit of neglect: we have pruned but not often and we don't spray a bit.

Every year we get chickens underneath each tree for scratching and getting the weeds out. We read the list of ingredients of fertilizer for fruit trees and had a realization. It is almost exactly the same as what comes from a chicken. A couple times a year we set a flock of chickens under each tree for a day and they clean up and fertilize. 

We have never seen pears like this before. They are not ripe yet but the tree is covered in them and we are researching pear recipes and preserving methods. We have seen pears in trees late in the season, even after frost, and will need to research the optimal time for picking. The skin on these is pretty thick and rough, not certain if they stay that way or soften up when ripe. 

The apples are looking good too. 

I've set a reminder in my calendar to research pherome traps for next year. The coddling moth does the most damage to fruit trees in this part of the world, and pherome traps set in place at certain times of year prevent the moths from finding each other, greatly slows reproduction and the number of caterpillars in the fruit. Science and interruption of the reproductive cycle. Fun. 


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