August 31, 2010
We have two new additions to the Pot Hole Farm family. They are future mouse catchers and bug eaters. Right now they are a little small to do their job, but I can see there is a tremendous amount of courage and strength under their fuzzy little coats. The first addition is courtesy of Ronald and Vickie. He is a cute little gray and white striped tabby. The stripes on his forehead form a capital M so I named him Moby.
He loves attention and for you to hold and stroke his soft kitten fur. He’s about ten weeks old now and still needs to grow into the loud motor that starts up the second he sees you. The second mouser is courtesy of John and Carol. I took in two barn cats from them before that were about a year old and they took off like they had been scalded as soon as I opened the cage. We never saw them again, but I believe one of them may reside at a farm about two miles down the road. So we thought a younger kitten may adjust to new surroundings a bit easier. She is coal black and is about four months old. I named her Minnie Pearl. I just picked her up today, so she needs to stay in the cage for a day or two. I imagine she will be ok to come out tomorrow.
Right now she is not very happy and I was unable to snap a picture of her. Moby wants to be friends and although Minnie Pearl is very sweet, she doesn’t appreciate him jumping on top of her box and staring at her through the cage bars. She sticks her paw through the opening swiping at him and growling what I can only imagine is, “just wait till I get of here you little twit.” All in all I think Moby and Minnie Pearl will be great friends but most importantly they will help keep the mouse population down.
By the way, to all my family and friends out there, the Inn is full as far as dogs and cats are concerned. No more homeless, pitiful, or needy pets. I don’t care how cute they are. John and Carol aren’t aware of it yet, but there is a rooster in my coop looking for a good home. I think he is kind of partial to them and would love to live on a donkey farm. All he asks for is a few girls to keep him company. Fair is fair. A rooster for three cats.
August 29, 2010
Pot Hole Farm is in the end of summer phase. We pulled out the string bean plants as they were no longer producing and the carrots I planted didn’t do well. They looked squished and stunted like little orange mutant carrots. Not very appetizing at all. They actually need a more sandy soil rather than the clayish and rocky soil we have here. I recently found out that like potatoes they need to have dirt pushed up on them as they grow, forming a hill. Our garden this year was an experiment anyway and this particular one failed. Sonny crinkled up his nose and carried them to the compost pile as if they were nuclear waste. I don’t think carrots will be on the garden menu next year. The tomato plants are turning brown and dying off. Grass has begun to take over the now vacant areas where the red potatoes were planted and the pumpkins have taken over the squash and zucchini plants. We still have Lima beans and the sweet potatoes and pumpkins will be harvested before the first frost.
This weekend Sonny and I cut up one of the large limbs that broke off an ancient Maple tree this past winter. It was the size of a small tree itself and will help to keep us warm this winter. Our minds are beginning to turn from summer projects to winter preparedness. We need to install the wood stove, put in insulation under the house, and cut wood for our winter fuel. Those are the major projects but there are also small things like painting the root cellar and the door trim of the chicken coop. We need to install a solar panel on the roof of the chicken coop so we can run a light in there during the shorter winter days. Chickens need about 12-14 hours of light to produce eggs. We also ordered and received three more 205 watt solar panels and he plans to order a ground mounting rack for them next. I think he is wanting to try to get a third bank of batteries before Christmas. Sonny wants to make sure that we have enough energy to support the house when grey days arrive.
It’s possible we may have phone service in the near future. I was surprised last Wednesday when a guy showed up with a ditch-witch to dig and bury the new phone cable. At least we are that far now. We have to wait for the phone company to come out and attach the connection box to the house and hook us up. It’s hard to say when that will be but its one small step closer to being able to communicate with the outside world. I know my Mom and daughter-in-law will be ecstatic when it gets connected. The phone lines will be smoking when that day arrives.
August 23, 2010
On Saturday we got a chance to go to the Doddridge County Fair with John and Carol. Next time we will be sure to go earlier in the week. With Sunday being the last day, apparently Saturday is the “get ready to pack up day”. We got a chance to check out some of the photography exhibits and had some serious thoughts about entering a few of my photo’s in next years fair (http://www.flickr.com/photos/redriderphoto). Most of the animals on display had already packed up and out also.
23 Special at the Doddridge County Fair
But, the main reason we went was to catch the Blue Grass and Country music they had scheduled. One of the bands was a local favorite called “23 Special” who belted out some excellent Blue Grass toe tappers. Many in the band were Doddridge locals. The Headline band was “Savannah Jack” and they were also very good. Over the last year or so they have toured and opened for Kenny Rodgers and had several songs being played on the radio. The lead singer Don Gatlin was related to the Gatlin Brothers but clearly their music stood on its own.
While waiting for the start of the music I caught a glimpse of an old gentleman sitting alone on a straw bale and noticed he was wearing a ball cap with Iwo Jima survivor on it. I decided I had to go over and talk to him. I introduced myself and thanked him for his service. His name was Bill Whitehill, he was 85 yrs old and had be part of the battle of Iwo Jima. Army soldier during WW II and after the surrender of Japan he joined the Navy as a Postal Clerk. I told him that I had done 22 yrs in the Navy and he really perked up. We talked for about 15 minutes and invited me to visit him at his house just a few miles up the road. I plan to take him up on his offer. Like Bill Whitehill, my Father-in-Law James Pippin, my father Harold Jobe, myself and my 26 yr old son. We are all Military Veterans.
Veteran Bill Whitehill Iwo Jima survivor
August 22, 2010
Heading out from the house this morning we came across a load of Turkeys including a couple of young peeps in the middle of the dirt road. Once I got close they all headed in the same direction. RUN RUN.
August 18, 2010
Summer of Sustainability: Off the Grid in Doddridge County – WBOY-TV – WBOY.com. (click this link)
Last Saturday one of the local television station came to our place and did an interview with Linda and I about our Off Grid Homestead. Although it was very hot and humid it was still fun to do. The link above includes the video of the story they actually aired on tonight’s 6:00 p.m. local news. Hope the paparazzi don’t start running up and down my road taking pictures of me when I’m out trying to mow the lawn.
August 17, 2010
Sunday morning Sonny and I decided to crack open the FRANKEN EGG. We were unsure what might be hiding inside the grotesque oblong egg. We carefully lifted it out of the foam egg carton and examined it to make sure there were no cracks or a giant beak sticking out. The shell was smooth and unblemished. I raised the egg, my hand poised to crack it against the side of the bowl. Sonny looked at me. I looked back at him. Our eyes questioned each other whether we dare open this brown monster egg that could possibly contain a fate worse than Pandora’s Box. He nodded giving me the go ahead and I hit the egg against the lip of the bowl. I pulled the shell apart and the contents plopped into the bottom of the container. There was no Ostrich Chicken hiding inside or evil spirits. No smoke came swirling out or screaming banshees.
Instead there were two yellow yolks pathetically looking up at us like yellow eyes. One eye was broken when it fell into the bowl. Nothing scary there. We scrambled them up and had a side of bacon and toast. The Franken Egg is no more.
August 15, 2010
Friday night, Linda and I went out a little later then normal to close up the chicken coop and were really amazed clear the night sky was. After putting the Hens in house lockup we setup a couple of chairs on the porch and leaned back with our heads cranked up to the stars. Although we can only point out the dippers and milky way and maybe the north star, we do enjoy star gazing on a clear night.
Lucky for us that our farm is pretty far out in the backwoods and we have virtually no outside light or lights from town street lamps. We sat out there about 30 minutes seeing stars, aircraft, satellites and even a couple of shooting stars. Later that evening we realized the no-see-ems feasted on our ankles. Get me the comb – I gotta scratch.
August 12, 2010
August is a tough month to get through. If the heat and humidity don’t do you in the crazy horse flies and other bugs eat you to death. I don’t know about other places but here in West Virginia during the month of August the horse flies go ballistic. If they’re not drilling craters into your skin they are dive bombing your head and crashing into walls and windows.
It’s especially hard on my cousins donkeys, and any outside animals. They are just tormented with the stinging bites of these flying demons. Despite August’s fiery disposition it does have it’s good points.
It is a time of harvest and today I picked our first batch of Lima beans. It was only about a half a pint but they are just coming on. The vines are full of immature pods and blossoms. I also picked another load of tomatoes and plan to can them up tomorrow. So far we have canned seven pints of tomatoes from a previous haul.
I hear a thunderstorm rolling in from a distance and the sky is turning a dark hazy grey behind the mountains. Hopefully some cooler weather will tag along behind it.
The cicadas are chanting for more hot weather, but just underneath their chatter you can hear the crickets tuning up for the Autumn concerts to come.
August can roast us, and bite us, and test our endurance, but the cheery song of a little cricket gives us sight of the finish line.
August 11, 2010
Yesterday afternoon I took my usual stroll down to the coop to collect any eggs that had been laid that morning. My hens tend to lay their eggs anywhere from 10:00 in the morning to 2:00 in the afternoon. I don’t know, maybe some days things move more slowly. It’s no wonder in this heat.
Of course they were all happy to see me, cooing and clucking as I came close. It’s not my great personality they’re excited about, but more the fact that I’m the food lady or the house keeper. They walked around me looking expectantly, their heads bobbing to and fro with every step as if a string was tied from each foot to their beak. I made my way over to the nesting boxes. HOLY MOLEY! Laying between two normal sized eggs was a humungus egg. I’ve never seen such a large egg from a chicken. It was bigger than an extra large egg. Some prehistoric chicken must have stopped by. I would hate to think that one of my hens had to push that out. There must have been some grunting on that one.
One of these eggs look different from the others
When I got my eggs all washed up and dried I put them in a foam egg carton. This egg was so big the lid wouldn’t close shut. I’m curious if it has more than one yolk, but I want to wait for Sonny before we crack it.
Chickens must be related to Pirana. I put out some watermelon yesterday and some squash this morning. Anytime you throw something into the pen they hurry over and it’s a pecking fest with bits of food flying in every direction. Within minutes whatever you threw in is consumed. Even the rhine was gone. I definitely don’t want to get too close, I hate to think what might happen. My toes may look tasty. I think someone sold me some chickens from a science experiment. I knew those FFA students looked shifty.
August 10, 2010
Once again the weather has turned hot and humid. As I sit here on the porch swing I feel like a wet dish rag that wasn’t wrung out enough. I look forward to Autumn when the skies are clear blue, the air is crisp and a soft flannel shirt is just enough to keep you warm. The leaves morph into a sunburst of color and the scent of apples and acorns float on the breeze. When chilly evenings are warmed up sitting by the wood stove with a cup of steaming coffee and a slice of apple or pumpkin pie….. Sorry I was caught up in a day dream.
The past few days have been less humid and I took advantage of the milder weather. I canned up eight pints of spaghetti sauce made with the tomatoes, onions and green peppers from our garden. I think it turned out pretty well. We had a huge pile of sand left over from the root cellar project and every time I passed it I kept telling myself we need to move this stuff. When its 89 degrees and humid, shoveling sand is the last thing you want to do. So yesterday evening when it was nice and cool I grabbed the shovel and rake. The ground in front of the root cellar was uneven with dips and bumps and it seemed a good idea to use the left over sand to fill them in. We really didn’t have any other use for it. After about an hour of shoveling and smoothing the black plastic the sand was piled on was empty. It felt good to have the job done. Now we won’t have to endure a pile of sand mocking us as we walk by. I also tackled the job of sweeping out the hen house and putting down clean wood shavings. My girls like a clean house and they cooed and clucked as they inspected my cleaning job. Happy hens produce good eggs.
The Dog Days of Summer will soon be over. Can’t say I will miss them. At least not until about January when the Gloomy Days of Winter kick in.