SCORCHER

May 31, 2011

Tuesday

Linda

Today was a scorcher! The temps lingered around 98 and I even saw it rise up to 100. The heat index was about 110 or more and believe me it sure felt like it. Ruby panted at high speed and the cats barely moved a muscle. I kept the fluids going and indulged in a little siesta in the afternoon.

It was too hot to do much outside so I worked on the mud room. With family coming soon to visit it has to be made back into a guest room. I got the bed frame put up and tried to put everything else together like puzzle pieces to make it all fit. You would think that with all the stuff we got rid of before we moved here there would be plenty of room.

Working today required lots of rest periods between jobs. In heat like this everything you do must be done in slow motion and what doesn’t get done will be there tomorrow, which should be more than 10 degrees cooler.

The heat didn’t seem to bother the chickens or the guineas. Tonight when I drove the Kubota back to check on the frat boys they put up a road block at the garage where all the feed is kept. The chickens and guineas formed a procession line in front of the Kubota. If they could have I think they would have carried signs that said “We want scratch and we want it now!” I do believe that was what they were chanting as I tried to break the line with the nose of the Kubota, but they were too strong and I had to stop and throw out some scratch before all mayhem broke loose. With them finally appeased I was able to get on with my business.

The heat is finally starting to abate a little and Ruby has stopped panting. Annie still has not moved off of the couch but thats ok… I’m about to join her.


EARLY B-DAY PRESENT

May 30, 2011

Monday

Linda

Sonny's new grill.

Sonny liked his new birthday grill so much that he wouldn’t let me put the cover on it. He had to sit on the porch swing and admire it a while. I think it even has a compass in the stock ( you know what I mean if you have seen “The Christmas Story” about the Red Rider BB gun with a compass on the stock and a thingy that tells time). At least he won’t shoot his eye out with this, but he might have to watch out for some flying hamburgers. Looking forward to some good BBQ next weekend.


FULL NEST

May 26, 2011

Thursday

Linda

Our little Phoebe has a full nest again. She has returned to the same nest located on the down spout right outside the bathroom window for about three years now. These babies are her first brood this year and she will have another one after these are grown and fly away. From the looks of them it won’t be long. Mama Phoebe is there on the right tending her young. There is no room now for her to actually get into the nest. It is always a joy to watch her little family hatch and grow up.

A full nest.


SO MANY FLOWERS TO CHOOSE FROM

May 25, 2011

Wednesday

Linda

I usually go shopping on Mondays, but I ended up going into town today instead. Lowes was one of the stops on my list and I couldn’t resist passing through the plant department. There were tall racks filled with flowers in so many hues that they reminded me of a box of Crayola Crayons. Which ones to choose? There isn’t much room in the budget for flowers but I had to have some. I found some nice ones for .99 cents a six pack, so I loaded my cart with yellow French Marigolds, red Salvia and Variegated Vinca. They should fit nicely in the porch planters.

Porch Planters

There are enough flowers left over after filling the planters for another container. I have a couple in mind but there are only so many hours in a day and they will have to wait until tomorrow. There was also a hanging basket filled with pretty little flowers, like wild flowers that are my favorite.

More to plant.

Don’t worry Sissy. There is still the flower bed around the stump to do when you come out. So start thinking about what to put out there. Maybe we’ll even fill some more containers to put around PHF.


POOPED OUT PIGGIES

May 24, 2011

Tuesday

Linda

I have noticed that my pigs are not early risers. I don’t believe they get up before 10:00 a.m. even when their breakfast is delivered. As fast as they grow you would think they would be hungry all the time and be especially anxious for their morning feed.

My black rubber wellies made a squish slurp sound as I trudged through the mud at about 7:30 this morning, a galvanized bucket of pig feed swinging in my right hand. The pasture is still so wet and muddy that I can’t drive the RTV back to the pig palace. As I approached the fence I could see a mound of pink skinned piggies piled on a hay mattress in the left corner of the pig shelter. It looked like a frat house after a long night of partying.

No one moved or appeared to be alive as I poured their morning cereal into the feed bowl. I hollered out “It’s time to get up!”  The only response I received was an aggravated twitch coming from the back of a pig facing away from me. Another one slowly lifted its head, blinked a few times and then yawned. What did they expect breakfast in bed? This is a farm not the Waldorf Astoria Hotel.

I hollered  again and beat on the bucket trying to get some reaction from them. Again no one moved except for the aggravated twitch of a back. My motto is usually that if I’m awake then everybody should be awake but today I left them to their sleepy stupor. I don’t know whats going on out there at night, but I suspect the wild turkeys are bringing in some moonshine for boys.

As usual the chickens were wide awake. The rooster was crowing “Let us out” as I walked past the coop and I yelled back, “Lay your eggs!” If I let them out too early then I find eggs in other places, so I usually let them out at about 9:00 or 10:00. I have one hen in particular that likes to lay her eggs anywhere but in the coop. Today there were four eggs in the nesting basket of the coop when I let everyone out and later on when I rechecked there was one more. So today she was a good girl and laid her egg in the right place.

The little hens are growing up fast. They now get up on the roost at night instead of hiding behind the nesting basket or feed bin. The four of them mill around the farm together like a little clique. They don’t follow the others and still like to stay in the vicinity of the coop, but as soon as they are old enough I’m sure Roo Roo will have them rounded up with the rest of his harem. I just hope that wild turkey with the moonshine doesn’t corrupt my chickens like it did those frat house pigs.

Young hen looking for bugs in the grass.

I don't want my picture taken.


THE SURROGATE MOM

May 22, 2011

Sunday

Linda

A warm sun shone us today as we carefully removed twelve brown speckled eggs from their cozy nest. I was surprised that Mama Guinea didn’t throw a fit and start hollering for her mate to come and thwart the evil farmers stealing her babies. I slowly approached the nest  talking to her in soothing tones as I carefully stuck my hand beneath her to take an egg. She tolerated the removal of about three eggs then huffed off the nest making soft squeaking sounds that were almost inaudible. I’m not sure I want to know what she was saying. She stood just a arms length away and kept a weary eye on me as I gingerly picked up each precious egg and placed it into an egg carton.

I actually thought better about the egg carton after the fact, thinking that a towel lined basket would have been a better choice. That way the eggs would be in the same position they were in the nest. I don’t know maybe it doesn’t make a difference. I only selected a dozen, leaving her with ten eggs to tend to. When I moved away from the nest she immediately inspected her off spring then squatted down on them as if nothing had happened.

To keep the eggs warm I filled a hot water bottle, placed it on top of the carton and wrapped a towel around whole package. I had to wait a little while before heading over to Two Lynne’s Farm so I hope the tiny eggs fared ok and stayed warm enough. Again I am no expert at this kind of thing.

I don't know what I was thinking putting them in an egg carton.

When I arrived at Two Lynne’s Farm we took the eggs to their new surrogate mama. Her name is Turkey Lady and she is a beautiful bird. Turkey Lady desperately wants to hatch out a family and has been sitting on two eggs of her own. Unfortunately there is no male turkey on the farm so they are unfertilized. Lynne and Sandy have let her set on them to ease her broodiness.

Turkey Lady is a sweetie and she was very patient as I placed the twelve eggs beneath her warm feathered body. I stroked her back and talked softly to her to keep her calm. She just turned her pretty head and eyed me as she willingly excepted each little brown egg. I have no doubt in my mind that she will take good care of the little guineas.

Turkey Lady setting on the guinea eggs.

In payment for the services of Turkey Lady, I gave Lynne and Sandy a goody box containing my home canned tomatoes, pear sauce, pumpkin and squash conserve. We also agreed that they could keep half of however many chicks hatch.

We will see how well our little guinea mama will do in hatching whats left of her brood. Hopefully we will be able to catch them when they finally hatch. We wanted to at least let her try to hatch a few on her own. All we can do is hope for the best and let each bird have the satisfaction of being a mom.


TO THE FLEA MARKET AND BEYOND!

May 21, 2011

Saturday

Linda

It was the usual Saturday morning, up at five and out of the door by six. The flea market was loaded with vendors. I believe everyone who had cleaned out their homes of extra stuff came to sell it at the flea market today. It helped that we had sunshine and warm weather to pull all those rain sodden recluses out of the mud and back into the life giving light. Its amazing how a little sunshine can change a person from a scowling umbrella carrying zombie into a light hearted smiling human being.

There were a lot of the usual vendors there, but there were also some fresh new faces with tables full of wares that had been pulled out from overstuffed garages, closets, and kitchen cabinets. There were all kinds of neat gadgets to catch a pack rats eye, fortunately I am not a pack rat and have a small home with little storage. Whenever Sonny and I walk down the rows of overflowing tables that spill out onto tarps on the ground, we ask ourselves if we really need anything. His eye is out searching for useful tools and I look for old rustic objects that would look nice as yard ornaments. I look for things that would work well as flower pots like old buckets or watering cans. I found a pretty flowered wreath to hang on the root cellar door. Even a root cellar door can look festive.

Pretty wreath.

Carol likes things that can dress up the outside as well and we often grab for the same item. Today there was a rusted metal rooster that we both liked. Of course Carol being the nice person she is asked if I wanted it, but even if I did I would not take it from her. First come, first served. I would have to tease her a little about it first, but we were in luck today. Apparently there were a pair of roosters and the lady who was selling them brought out the second one and said we could have them both for five dollars. So we split the cost and we both went home with a homely looking rusted rooster with paint splashes for color. He will look just divine in our flowerbeds.

Rusty and handsome.

After the flea market and our traditional breakfast we went to Tractor Supply, Lowes and the feed store. I picked up six more strawberry plants and I got them into the ground as soon as I got home. We stopped by Two Lynne’s Farm for a short visit and of course I came home with three Coleus plants that Sandy didn’t have room for. I seem to always leave there with something fuzzy or potted.

Our guinea girl is still sitting on her eggs. Lynne and Sandy offered to let their turkey hen sit on some of the eggs until they hatch. Apparently she has been successful surrogate before. I think we just might take a dozen over for her to hatch. Sandy said they tried letting their guineas hatch their own, but once the eggs hatched the parents ended up leaving them to fend for themselves. I had read about that, but Lynne and Sandy have years of experience under their belts when dealing with chickens, guineas, ducks, geese and turkeys. So maybe we will have a few baby guineas after all.

I would like to give a shout out to cousin Arlena who I hear is a new blog follower. Welcome. You know how those Aunties gossip.


SURPRISE, SURPRISE!

May 19, 2011

Thursday

Linda

PHF was full of surprises today. First John and Carol called this morning and offered to come over and help us get the broken down greenhouse back together. I think they got tired of hearing me whine about it or maybe it was having to look at its creepy skeletal frame ominously sitting in the yard every time they came to visit. With stormy black clouds looming above and peeking through its missing panes it could have been a prop for a haunted scene in a horror flick. But no more. Its good as new.

Making repairs.

We moved it from its original location and put it across the driveway opposite of the garden. This way if we want to expand the garden some more we have room and don’t have to try to relocate the greenhouse again. Everything went back together just like it was before except that we could not tell which side of the panes were UV resistant. When we originally installed the panes the first time they had a sticker attached that indicated the UV side. Of course we removed all of those before the wind blew the greenhouse to kingdom come. The company said if the wrong side was facing out it would turn yellow in a few years. Well, we can’t do much about that and it won’t interfere with the performance of the greenhouse in any way. It might just look like a patchwork quilt in few years with its yellow and white panes. Oh, and it is anchored down too. We still need to put some gravel in the inside, but it is ready to start new plants whenever needed.

Good as new.

While we were working on the greenhouse John heard a guinea call from the direction of the pasture next to the driveway. It was not one of the three guineas milling about and one of the males immediately went running toward the direction it came from. Carol and I walked over and searched to see if we could find a nest. There must be one. We looked deep into bushes and grass but could not find anything until all of a sudden Carol yelled “There she is.” She was in plain sight and we had looked all around her. She was sitting with her wings spread slightly out protecting her nest of eggs.

Sitting on her nest.

Later when she went to feed we snuck back to see how many eggs she had in the nest. She is sitting on about twenty-two eggs.

Guinea eggs.

We are so excited that we may have some little guineas, but I have read that guinea mothers are not the best moms. Most of the little ones do not survive due to the fact that the mothers take them out into the wet grass and they get cold or predators get them. Sonny and I are debating on whether or not to move her nest into the dog kennel and put it into the pole barn or let nature take its course. I don’t know if by disturbing the nest she might abandon them or not. It would be wonderful if we could successfully raise the first babies born to PHF.


CARRYING ON WHERE OTHERS LEFT OFF

May 18, 2011

Wednesday

Linda

We have had rain for weeks, no, longer than that… for at least two months. Constant angry overcast skies with only minutes of sunshine every few days and everything from showers to downpours to stormy thunder and lightening. Even when we lived in Japan the monsoon season lasted only about two weeks. Things have been so wet and soggy that I feel like before long mildew and mushrooms will begin to grow on us all.

There is a bright side to this incessant precipitation. The grass is emerald green, the trees are festooned with healthy leaves, and gems of wild flowers sparkle in the tall grasses.

Celandine flower.

Star-of-Bethlehem

Sometimes after a hard rain it is fun to put work aside and walk the grounds to hunt for treasures that have washed up to the surface. These found treasures are tidbits of history, a link to the families that inhabited this land before us. You can find pieces of pottery, broken crocks and porcelain canning lids or ancient door locks and square headed nails.

Cup pieces and porcelain shards of a canning lid I found in the creek.

Its fun to imagine what part these items played in the everyday life of the people who used them. Not a day goes by that I don’t thank them for the hard work and perseverance it took to clear this land and make it into a working homestead.

After a hard days work we stretch out on the couch and complain about our soar muscles while we snack on foods bought at the grocery store and watch a movie. I don’t believe the people before us had quite that luxury. If our garden fails we can fall back on the grocery store, for them a crop could mean life or starvation. A day of work to clear this land was a day behind a hand saw and mules or oxen to clear the trees. Supplies were brought in by wagon on less than passable roads. Well sometimes the pot holes and muddy ruts of our roads could be just about as treacherous.

I can imagine this farm as it might once have been. The hills behind us would have been cleared of trees and apple orchards planted in their place. The sweet smell of apple blossoms in springtime must have been wonderful when the breeze blew down from the hills into the hollow. The wooden post and barbed wire fenced pastures would have been inhabited with cows or sheep. And like PHF the barnyard would have been filled with the songs of hens and the crow of the reigning rooster. There would have been a vegetable and herb garden and the lady of the house would churn fresh butter on the porch while her laundry flapped in the breeze on a handmade clothesline. In the evening the light of an oil lamp would glow behind the window. There would be no solar electricity. At some point the oil lamps would have been traded in for gas lights.

They certainly would have had a smoke house to cure the hams and bacon that would be supplied by the hogs lounging in the mud of the pig pen. Come fall when the mist hangs low on a chilly morning, the holler would be filled with the aroma of curing ham riding on a stream of smoke.

A hand built barn put together with square headed nails would sit off from the house. The rough board building would house the work horses or mules, their tack and harness hung up on pegs waiting for the next job. It would smell of polished leather and manure mixed with the sweet scent of hay stored in the loft. The heat of the animals would warm the barn on cold night, their presence giving it an atmosphere of peace. There would be essential tools to repair any object that needed fixing, because you just didn’t go down to the country store to buy something new. You repaired it until it couldn’t be repaired anymore. Neighbor would help neighbor and Sunday would be set aside for the Lord.

Oh yes, this soil contains the blood and sweat of farmers from long ago. It’s seen skinned knuckles and soar muscles, laughter and tears, birth and death. What stories it could tell. The house and barns are gone, the apple trees gave way to new hardwoods and the only thing left of the barbed wire fences are rusty strands grown into the bark of a tree. The patriarchs of this land are laid to rest up on the hill in mostly unmarked graves. The headstones or wooden markers gone long ago. The broken fragments of crockery, rusted square headed nails and the cleared pastures are the only testaments that they were ever here. Thank you Morgans and Starkeys who I believe were the first to settle this land and if not they carried on just like Sonny and I hope to.

We say we live the simple life. Well, it is if you compare it to the life of the city. The work can be hard and sometimes we have failures, but I’m not sure we would last a day in the life of the original owners of this farm. Would we measure up to the strength, savvy common sense and undying faith it took to build up this farm? I don’t know, but I like to think that they would be proud of what we have accomplished and that their contribution has not been forgotten.  I think that even with all their struggles they would say that life was good. And so it is, even when the sky can’t seem to stop crying.


MISSING A GUINEA

May 17, 2011

Tuesday

Linda

I don’t know if the shirt and dog hair scared off the bear last night or if he just didn’t come by, but all was intact this morning. The piglets can already recognize the RTV. They race up to the fence with raised snouts sniffing the air for edible scents, their squinty eyes alight with curiosity and anticipation. I guess they can’t control their excitement when they see the bright orange cantina of pig delicacies rolling up to the pen.

My second stop of the morning was to let the chickens out and check on the guineas. The guineas are usually way out in one of pastures but I noticed that I only had three walking around the yard close to house. I remembered that last night when I came home from John and Carols there were only three hovering around the feed bowl. I didn’t think anything of it at the time as sometimes one or two will already be roosting. It is one of the females that is missing. I’m not sure if something got her while I was gone yesterday afternoon or if she has decided to nest somewhere.

I walked around the farm looking for anything that might indicate she was nesting and kept watch to see if one of the males or the group would cluster around an area. The guineas as well as the chickens acted a little odd today. The guineas didn’t venture off to parts unknown like usual but spent most of their time on the porch railing. The chickens stayed close too mostly in the yard between the house and woodshed. They didn’t even out near the garden. It was rainy and overcast but that has never stopped them from making their rounds of the farm. Even Moby stayed close choosing to nap in a box on the porch instead of hunting.

I would like to think that the little female guinea is somewhere out there sitting on eggs, nestled behind a curtain of tall grass and brush, but I fear she may have been the dinner of a hawk or fox maybe even a coyote. Who knows. We’ll still keep watch though. She may turn up eventually.

The little chicks were the only brave ones today as they ventured further from the coop than they ever have. They came out as far the yard in front of the wood shed.

Looks like a good place for bugs to hide.

Roo Roo Rooster kept an eye on them but didn’t bother them. He is already becoming protective of them. He will be a good husband when the time comes. He takes good care of his other five wives.

Come on girls. Looks like some good eatin' over here.


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