Friday, November 29, 2013

let the sunshine in

Homer's plan for converting our south facing porch to an enclosed sunroom using as much salvaged material as possible is working. 

The sun came out yesterday. High temperatures were low enough that Ski Roundtop, just a few miles from here, was able to make snow. When it is that cold outside it is quite cold inside our cinder block walled house. 

Using salvaged oversize windows, Homer has installed an even, level framework to hold each large section of glass in place. A few pieces needed all new trim. And the entire thing needed to be caulked and wind blocked. He needed twice as much caulk as originally planned to make it draught proof. 

The room is no where near complete. More finish work and painting must happen. But yesterday, in its rough shape, we sat out there as the sun warmed the space. 

As the sun rose, it was cold on the porch. We had not had sunshine since the room became airtight. 

And as the day progressed, we all gravitated to the warmth of the still under construction space. 

After the sun had a chance to warm the space, a lone fly appeared. With all 3 dogs tracking, it did not last long. 

We were rested enough from all the turkey doings that we could join friends for Thanksgiving. And when we returned from a lovely visit, the sun room was still at least 60 degrees, with out a bit of heat other than the sun shining in. It had been dark for at least 4 hours, and the cement floor and walls were still releasing heat gained all day. 

You can find us out there again today. 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

farmers eat out

When we eat out, there are a few notable places we like to eat. Many of them support us and our fellow farmers, and that is certainly a reason we frequent them. There are a few that have stood our test of time from long before we were farmers, and they center around Belvedere Square in Baltimore. The beautiful Senator Theatre has been reopened, so a bite to eat before or after a movie is now a wonderful option.

Early morning is the time to visit Greg's Bagels. Greg and his wife Kathy have been handmaking bagels for more than 20 years, and have a wide variety of toppings and fixings that go with them. They do not take credit cards and they are closed at random times...they like to travel and close the shop to do freeze some in case the next time you have the desire it can be fulfilled.

Atwaters now serves breakfast almost all day. From great, rich granola (not that dusty stuff fold in the grocery stores) to waffles, oatmeal, fresh fruit, decadent coffee concoctions, this is a great place for breakfast. And lunch, dinner and dessert too. Taharka Brothers Ice Cream serves as the cornerstone for the milk bard, and some delicious milkshakes are made there. A wonderful cheese bar too. A lovely selection of not too sweet baked goods. Big crusty loaves of bread. Interesting soups, salads and sandwiches.

Planet Produce has a nice selection of fruits and vegetables, and a jucier bar too (go around back for this). Nice choices of fruits, veggies and green shakes too.

We get sushi as often as we can from Owen at Ikan. He makes beautiful, tasty combinations at his intimate sushi bar.

Completely out of the ordinary is Neopol Smokery, with smoked fish that you would expect and love, and lots of other smokey surprises too. Drinks, salads, beautiful vegetable and cheese pies, just good stuff.

We had crepes at Sofi's when a boy child was young. He gave the best endorsement: "when I have a date, I'm bringing her here to eat!". We always have to have a savory and a sweet, no matter how hard we try and resist it is futile.

And new to the square is Shoofly. I ate there alone the other evening as was completely comfortable. I did not use the slide, but kids were doing so! I had the big salad which I loved and will have again, and the chocolate pudding which I will most certainly have again.

Really, if we could, we would eat our way through these lovely eateries. We love the owners, the pride in their businesses, their dedication to keeping it local, and the all around entrepreneurial vibe that is there. Good eats, reasonable prices.

My husband ate at an unnamed burger chain the other day. His total meal was $13, which was a burger, fries and a soda. I thought certain he had a milkshake, but that is not an option on the menu. We had to ask ourselves why...when these other, much more fabulous places exist, we are spending money there? might not happen again.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

one left

There is one turkey left at Sunnyside Farm. Actually, there are a few still outside in their pen that will be prepared for Christmas/New Years meals. 

Turkeys that have been prepared for Thanksgiving have been our focus for more than a week. We had the most lovely friends help us with every aspect, and we are so thankful for that. 

We saw last week what weather changes were predicted, and shifted everything by several days. Our work crew shifted their days too. 

And now, there is this. 

Buckets that had water in them are all ice now. This is the weather that we wanted to avoid, to be inside while this happens. 

On Sunday, at a parking lot meetup for Thanksgiving turkey distribution, my phone stopped working. It was below freezing and overcast, and the phone just stopped functioning. We process credit card payments with the phone, it had to spend a little time warming up in the cab of the truck so that transactions could take place. 

One lone turkey. Pickup is scheduled for today. Then we rest. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

no sun for days

The sun room is getting pretty close to completed. Situated where the sun shines directly into it, all caulked up, it warmed up nicely yesterday in there. 

The structure needs to be painted inside and out. We have the paint but need 50+ degrees for the paint to dry, and none are in the forecast for days. 

Last year Ski Roundtop did not open until Christmas last year. The temperatures were too warm to make snow, and we had little to none in November or December. We could have painted this thing on most days last year this time. Will have to wait this year. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

not done yet

Not every single turkey is gone yet. But most of them have been picked up. Sunday turned out to be just as cold and worse, just as windy as predicted. The turkey handoff resulted in an iPhone malfunction. The phone was too cold to function and needed time in the truck with the heat running before it would work again!

Meanwhile, back on the farm, Homer completed most of the wood cutting and affixing to the south facing sun porch. 

Wicker furniture from craigslist when we first arrived on farm. Salvaged sliding doors reworked as fixed windows. Purchased wood as frames, salvaged and spray painted hinges and handle on the one door that opens. Caulk and paint will happen shortly. Out of the wind and still in the sun the dogs vote yes. 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

turkey talk

A key piece of equipment started dropping ball bearings on the ground. The sound of the metal hitting is quite distinctive and a little disturbing. It's not good. 

Yesterday I drove a total of 3 hours to pickup 2 boxes of ball bearings. The two heavy, small cardboard boxes cost over $40. 

I actually have no idea what is in this box. I went were Homer asked me to go and took the box that had his name on it. I have zero idea what will happen after this. 

While in this small Lancaster county town, I happened upon a sight that some might not be familiar with. A hitching post. 

An Amish man pulled into the bank parking lot. Right in downtown, the parking lot had a series of pipes at one side of it, and this man drove straight to it, tied up the horse and walked away. There was room to tie up at least 20 horse and buggy teams there. As I drove out of town I encountered another Amish man driving a horse and a work wagon...a flatbed...that at a full trot ran right through a 4 way stop. The cars were all stopped as he tore through the not busy they all knew he was going to do it. 

Some turkeys we raised this year are 40 pounds. And people have taken them. But we have a couple more than we think people will want, so it makes sense to piece them out. After the first one done on Friday night took...forever...I located a restaurant supply store in Lancaster and stopped for this. 

The description on the package said something about razor edge and 2 pound weight. So much easier to piece out a bird with the proper equipment. 

Lots of turkeys have been picked up. This one: debatable as to who weighs more...

Saturday, November 23, 2013

while it is all about the turkey today

The other day Homer made a crazy good dish. Smoked pork skin wrapped around chicken thighs and apples, roasted in the oven. Yum

Today the race is on to get every turkey processed before the weather turns. Tomorrow is predicted to be butter cold, barely getting above freezing during the course of the day. We have had an outpouring of help and support during these intense days...and discovery that some essential ball bearings that work in a critical piece of equipment must be purchased today, in case of need. Lancaster trip anyone? I'm off! 

Friday, November 22, 2013

that is a bit much

In any endeavor there are extremes. A bell curve, with most of any measured thing falling into the middle. 

The extremes can be shocking. And sometimes predicted, expected. 

This was not expected or predicted. 

That's a 40 pound turkey. It might be unlikely that any one family wants or needs this. But cut in half, to make a 20 pound turkey might just happen. 

Glad this is the outlier. If we had a lot like this it would be nothing but ugly. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

we are not experts

We are the first ones to admit that we farm because we like to eat, not because we are experts in growing. We started growing when Homer wanted better flavored chicken, and it has expanded from there. 

When we were contacted about rescuing a pig from the SPCA we agreed to take her. We have raised pigs for years, bred a few, seen pigs at other farms, at fairs and at research farms. When this little pig rolled out of the building and into the parking lot, we stopped short. 

Little mouse ears. A small stature. Big jawbone. Big belly. A tail like a horse. And then there is this. 

She poops like a rabbit. And they all go into just one spot on the ground. Each day when her pen is moved this little pig leaves a lot of rabbit like pellets behind. 

Every other pig we have raised leaves nowhere near as much behind, and it is in a totally different form. Some pig. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

salvage and a little retail too

The sun room is progressing. The weather report shows very cold temperatures for Sunday and Monday, so the next few days will be all about turkeys. The sun room will get more done after turkey time is complete. Here's a recap. 

On Facebook a few weeks ago, an offer is made for free removal and hauling of 8 glass doors. Homer heads out and, with help, loads the doors into his truck. 

He designs, modifies, measures multiple times, considers door and seat placement, views and dog access. We contemplate and switch around. The current, metal supports are removed, and the discovery is made that the metal bases have melted away. There is just no there anymore. Good timing on this project. 

New wood for the framework is purchased and hauled to the farm. Careful measuring and cutting occurs. The slope of the porch away from the house is taken into account. It would just look weird if the big windows slanted and were installed level with the floor, so adaptations are made. 

Salvaged windows from more than one place are installed. The base height is different, but the entire thing will get painted when complete: the windows, stops, bench, supports, caulk, all of it. The final porch will have a solid bench on the side facing the farm, and the level of excitement over a panoramic view of the farm grows every day. The house currently has only very small windows facing the property. The big windows look out onto the road. We are working to change this, it has been our vision from the beginning, and this sunny space will be the first step. It's always a matter of time and money. For anything!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

winter weeding

Nighttime temperatures are cold now. Most vegetables don't like that, but there are a few that make it in spite of even frigid temperatures. 

We grew vegetables last winter. There were just a few beds planted, not the entire hoophouse. 

As we have time we plant. And an amazing thing happens, the seeds sprout and grow. And weeds do too! What the?!

As time allows we plant and weed. Soon we will harvest, which is why weeding is important. Greens should contain greens and not chickweed, onions and other stuff. 

With the grass and stuff. 

With just what was planted. 

Clean up aisle 9. 

The sun was out yesterday, so it was sunburn in November at Sunnyside Farm. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

doubling up

On the farm, we are currently racing a number of things with time and weather. 

Thanksgiving turkeys, of course. Must be moved, fed their small ration of grain, and watered every day. It will be necessary by one week from today for every single one of them to be oven ready. Actually, a few are turkeys for Christmas and New Years, but a lot of turkeys need a change in the next 7 days. 

More seeds in the hoophouse. Not fully planted yet. A couple snafus in plans are the cause of this. Must rectify, or seeds won't grow into harvestable foodstuffs. 

Chickens also need to be moved and fed and watered and processed. We are grateful for warm days to do this. 

And our house. The race against the cold clock is on. The south facing man cave on the hoophouse is lovely in winter. Warm and sunny even when there is a slight overcast, Homer is working on adding a glass enclosed version on the south facing porch of our house. 

So things look like this. 

Buckets of grain, extension cords, sawzall, measuring devices. 

And this...

Boards, egg basket. 

And as he removes the metal decorative posts to replace with wood framing, we recognize the size and weight of the roof on this little porch, and support it with temporary, substantial, reinforced timbers. 

Each day we go from one to another, cursing the loss of light at this time of year. We, and the laying hens, need a bit more each day...

Sunday, November 17, 2013

keeping livestock

We learned quickly that keeping livestock is a daily checking and scanning of equipment. Yesterday, the half boar on loan to us met Homer at the hoophouse gate. That is not where the boar belongs, and after coaxing him back to where he belongs, a break in the electric fence was discovered. And then repaired. 

This morning, the cattle decided to play rough with their shade/water/salt lick/ mineral lick cart. 

The cart lost. 

When Homer asked the herd which one of them was responsible for this one of them popped up their head. Coincidence? Maybe. Or might just be the one. 

Friday, November 15, 2013


You might have heard my endless droning of how cold our house is in winter. Oil furnace system has not ducts to upstairs. Electric heat pump never warms the house, always freezing. Either system in an uninsulated house results in everyone wearing layers of outdoor clothing inside. 

And yet the hoophouse, on a sunny day, is over 100 degrees. A metal frame with a layer of plastic over it. We run out there and then are in shorts and tee shirts!

A friend was dismantling a rotting system of large windows and frames. The glass is still good, but much work needed to be done to get the frames back in order, and the decision was made to go completely different. We salvaged the 8 glass doors removed. 

Our house has a south facing porch off of the living room. Plans are to attach the windows, reframed, to the porch. And to use the sunshine to warm up this place. 

Will it work? We will see! Some wood, sealant, paint and we will be testing it. Some insulation in the roof too. After the hoophouse is planted. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

on the menu!

Do you know the Roosevelt Tavern in York, PA? They are featuring two menu items that originate at Sunnyside Farm. 

Screen shot, not a great image. The first item listed under starters is a chicken liver pate from our chickens! Our livers are a deep brown color, close to a dark chocolate in appearance. When cooking they smell like a cut of meat, not the chicken liver smell I associate with cooking. The pate must be outrageous with our livers and executive chef Byron Kehr's preparation! Byron worked in a restaurant in Lancaster for 15+ years, before returning home to York County and opening his own place. 

Also on the menu are our chicken breasts, served as a dinner entree. 

If you live around here, this week the Clipper York is featuring Roosevelt Tavern. 

On line reviews indicate that since the new ownership the food quality is excellent. Starting out with our chickens as a base can only mean good meals!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

first snow

Yesterday we had our first snow. Mid-November seems early, so Homer is hopeful we will have a winter full of snow, so he can use this. 

His first iteration, many more to come, of his sailing snow ride. I don't think the office chair will be on the final version, there is talk of a tub or wind shield...he's testing it before I go out on it...

Monday, November 11, 2013


We had a few visitors to the farm this weekend. It resulted in a few things. 

At first, the night before, it was the thermometer gauging the temperature inside the big cooker. 

And some of this: a number of people carved up the pork so it could be eaten. 

There was listening and much conversation as Homer showed the scale model of his Farmhouse of the Future. 

The entire tub of cheese balls was emptied. 

There was a fire too hot to stand near, and Homer was reported to have said something about making the pile of pallets smaller next time, after the plastic on the hoophouse started shrinking from the heat. 

A lovely day. We are lucky people. 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

as Thanksgiving approaches

These birds are just beautiful. While in the first few weeks they are difficult to manage, for months now they have been growing and growing, until now they are breathtaking. Dado was here yesterday, and took these amazing photos.

We are so tickled with how they are growing out. We will have enough turkey for the year with just one bird!

At this point, we have about 5 left. Huge birds, everyone, we expect 20-30+ pounds. Now that makes for an impressive dinner!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

at long last

Most of our laying hens are birds we start from day old chicks. A couple of flocks were adopted, but most are farm raised.  

Earlier this year we started a flock of about 60 hens. Some came to the farm from a local, in school hatching project. Some are our anniversary Silver Lace Wyandottes. And the rest of the flock are Arucanas, the green egg layers. 

Today we found this. 

The first egg in their pen! Because it is white we know it came from a white leghorn, one of the birds from the hatching program. Our Wyandottes will lay brown eggs and the Arucanas will lay blue/green eggs. 

The hens are all the same age, the bird bred for production starts first. She will also lay longer before going into a molt, and will produce more each day. 

Can't wait for the rest to start! And for them to put them into their nest boxes. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

it's dark

This fall back thing. Seems ridiculous. Why do we do it? Every year it is a shock to our systems, this sudden plunge into darkness every evening, the rush to get chores completed only to discover it is 5:15pm. 

The burn barrels are going because it is a challenge to work in the dark and cold. Chaz is happy right there next to one of them, but we all wonder why this whole thing is needed. I'm ok with the gradual loss of daylight hours from now until December, and the gradual increase in daylight that happens as we get to be closer to the sun. Just can't understand the need to adjust clicks twice a year. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

work truck

Last week I put another dent in the truck. Small, but still, this truck handles abuse. The bumper this time, the right rear when I backed into a t-post a few years ago, a dent in the front quarter panel when a deer ran into me a couple years ago.

Yesterday this truck was full of wooden pallets, that we use for a variety of things on the farm. Sometimes just for firewood. Every morning this truck is full of buckets of feed for the poultry.

I had a session with a psychic reader this weekend. She asked "what is all this coming and going? Are you a caterer?". I do carry food to people all the time, and come and go. It is just not usually finished food like a caterer, but ingredients that are prepared by the recipients for meals.

Also yesterday the truck was filled with garbage cans, filled with junk from all over the farm, then driven to the street for trash collection. The load pictured above is from the shop, lots of things that are likely to be burned or go into the hoophouse.

With the fun half pallets we get, Homer made this...

If you plan to visit, a seat cushion, like the one you carry to the stadium, might be in order!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

last picking

Today is the last picking for the CSA vegetables. While there are greens being planted as we remove all the summer stuff, this officially ends the summer growing season. 

Green tomatoes, beans that dried on the vine, and some lovely, cold, crisp lettuces. That's a wrap. 

Saturday, November 2, 2013

wind power

The other night we lost a few things. 

The little roof over a protected spot for one thing. 

And the water/shade/salt for the cattle was knocked over. If the water was low it is prone to tipping. 

Cattle, pigs and chicken all intact. And, thankfully, the hoophouse kept its top on too. 

Friday, November 1, 2013

more planting

The summer CSA vegetable share ends this week. As the planting beds have emptied of tomatoes, cucumbers and other warmth loving plants we have been replanting. 

Using Homer's Speedy Seeder, we have filled many beds with seeds. 

A little sifted compost goes over top of this, and a little bit later there is this. 

While it does not look like much today, these plants will grow all winter in the hoophouse. Freezing temperatures don't deter them. We cut the tops off and the roots send up more. Last winter we had a few beds planted. This year we aim to get every bed inside the hoophouse full up, and we are well along getting that done. If you are hankering for a clear out/get seeds down adventure (that really, when you get down to it, is just manual labor) we can make that happen. Just drop us a line...


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