January 21, 2013
Maple syrup may be the top event going on here at Pot Hole Farm, but its not the only one. We still have daily chores to attend to that include gathering firewood, taking care of the guineas, chickens, turkeys and cats and dogs. Because we have had few days of sunshine the generator needs to be fed as well and that means going down to the Country Store to fill up gas cans. Gray cloudy days do not make enough energy for the solar panels to charge the batteries.
January is also the month we start to plan for spring projects and one of those projects is the garden. Today we took a trip over to John and Carols where a nice pile of composting donkey manure was waiting behind the barn. John used the bucket of his dependable 1970’s Ford tractor to dump four large scoops of manure into the bed of our old farm truck.
We were almost home when it began to snow. Large fluffy flakes floated on the wind and landed on the frozen ground. We used pitch forks to spread the manure over about a third of the garden while snow flakes swirled around us creating a scene fit for a snow globe. The manure was black and rich with pink earthworms playing hide and seek in the clumps. It will lay atop the garden for the rest of winter where it will continue to decompose and feed the soil. We still need to get three or four more loads to finish covering the garden.
The snow is continuing to come down and the temperature is dropping. Time to curl up with a cup of coffee and a seed catalog.
4 Comments | Battery Bank, Cats, Chickens, Dogs, Farming, Firewood, Garden, Generator, Guineas, Maple syrup, Off-Grid, Solar | Permalink
Posted by lkjobe
November 14, 2012
In between trips to town and putting up sap lines we managed to get a chance to go to Two Lynn’s Farm to pick up our two turkeys. No, these guys are not for Thanksgiving dinner. We were supposed to pick them up weeks ago, but never managed to make it there. Sandy raised an assortment of poults. We had her set aside a pair of blue slate/bourbon mix who are now about four months old.
They are still adjusting to their new environment, and are unsure about their housing. The first night we carried them inside the turkey coop and they were sitting on the roost in the morning when we opened it up. Last night they did not want to go in at all. So we will see how they feel about it tonight. We may have to carry them in for a few more nights. Food did not coax them in. I have seen them walk in and out of it during the day, so I imagine it will just take a little time for them get used to new surroundings.
Hopefully this pair will do well. Pot Hole Farm now has some new voices to mix with the chorus of rooster, hen, guinea, barking dogs and meowing cats. Oh, and yea the occasional call for Sonny to come in for dinner!
Blue Slate/Bourbon Red mixed Turkeys.
2 Comments | Cats, Chickens, Dogs, Off-Grid | Permalink
Posted by lkjobe
January 22, 2012
Its been another beautiful day back here in the holler. There was snow on the ground but the sun soon melted most of it away. A little sunshine sure makes a body feel alive especially when the January temps hit a balmy forty degrees. Mother Nature has duped us into believing its spring instead of the dead of winter. The sap in our limbs has warmed a bit and the golden rays of sunshine has prompted us to leave the den for some much needed fresh air.
This was a perfect day to use the solar oven. Sonny carried it out of the root cellar where its stored and placed it in a position where it would get the most sun. We put a couple of sweet potatoes inside to bake. They along with a salad would make a tasty lunch.
While our sweet potatoes were baked by sun power we took a little walk down the road that leads to our house. Our best mates Ruby and Moby came along too. Even they get weary of confinement and lack of exercise.
We started on our leisurely stroll with Ruby and Moby leading the way of course and reminisced about the blackberries we picked last spring along this very road. The bushes are dormant now in winters sleep, the vines withered and dry.
With the leaves gone from the brush we could see a leaning stack of old white bee boxes near an out building of the ghost farm. Ancient apple trees with their unpruned twisted limbs stood watch. The old farmhouse with its peeling white clapboards and rotting porch looked tired, but I can just imagine what it might have been in its heyday. A flurry of activity. The bee boxes would have been in use collecting the yellow gold of honey. The scent of lilacs and apple blossoms would ride on the breeze that blew across the laundry hanging from lines strung on the front and back porches.
The lowing of cows could have been heard by the lady of the house as she baked bread. Her husband would have been busy fixing a tractor tire in the barn or setting up his gear to make hay while the children swung from the tire swing that still hangs from an old sycamore tree.
Gas was used to run the lights and the refrigerator, not electricity, and surely a wringer washer is still waiting for the next load. The family is gone now. Only a tired run down farm remains along with rusted farm machinery, broken bee boxes and the clothes line still strung on the front and back porches. Its a sad sight, because it could still be renewed for a another family, but I believe that its time is winding down.
We past the ghost farm and strolled down the hill until we came to the old school house. Its another reminder of past generations who raised their families in this holler. Its cut stone foundation leans and the tin of the roof is rolled back in spots. Its a reminder that time marches on and makes one wonder what will become of our farm when we are gone. Will the PV arrays still stand? Will the house become broken down, the porch swing idly swaying in a breeze? Even so, the signs of life will still be here. The sounds of contented hens, Ruby snoring under the walnut tree and the hum of a dulcimer will forever echo in these hills.
Sweet Potatoes in the solar cooker.
Moby by the trickling water.
Leave a Comment » | Cats, Chickens, Dogs, Farming, Homesteading, Off-Grid, Self-Sufficiency, Solar Hot Water, Sun Oven | Permalink
Posted by lkjobe
December 16, 2011
I watched a show on TV one time where a person went to visit Martha Stewart’s farm. I sat there in awe as they walked through the horse barn. It was immaculate and the spokes person raved that it smelled of lemons. I would love for my chicken coop to smell of lemons when I open the door in the morning. Unfortunately it smells like chicken poop and if I stand too close to the door as the hens hustle out I just might get a little poop/mud cocktail flung in my direction.
I keep the hen house clean but I doubt that it would pass Martha’s inspection. We live in real life. Farming is dirty and smelly. It is blisters, sweat, and dirt caked under your nails. It is nights of soar muscles, with a glass of water and two tylenol for a nightcap.
Whenever John and Carol go out of town I take care of their donkeys, two goats, dog and abundant barn cats. Their barn doesn’t smell of lemons and it isn’t immaculate. It smells of hay and donkey sweat with a hint of manure. I love how it all feels. The vibrancy and excitement of the animals anticipating their feed, then the quiet and calm as all are fed. Its a soothing balm for the soul, that grinding chewing pastoral chant and occasional snort from the donkeys.
As far as the garden goes, it lies dormant in winters sleep with a covering of donkey manure. Life here has slowed down a bit too, but the animals still need daily care. Maybe next year we will have a few goats or meat rabbits to add to our twenty-one roaming chickens, three cats and dog.
We may not have a Martha Stewart farm set in perfection, but I can tell you that when I step out and look across our little farmstead, my heart grows two sizes. My feet are growing roots right along with the blackberry bushes and grapes. No offense Martha, but you can keep your farmisneyland, we’ll keep reality.
Leave a Comment » | Barn, Cats, Chickens, Dogs, Farming, Gardening, Hay, Off-Grid, Self-Sufficiency | Permalink
Posted by lkjobe
August 30, 2011
While hurricane Irene hurled her wrath up the East Coast last weekend, the weather at PHF was beautiful. We attempted to work on some long overdue projects in between making phone calls to check on family members who were caught in her angry grasp. Prayers were answered and we are relieved that they all fared well.
On Friday John and Sonny worked on step three of building the smoker. It is beginning to take on shape, even though at this stage it looks more like a hunters blind or a kids play house. You are able to see now how the doors will fit across the front and where the grates will sit at the base of the enclosure.
Step three completed.
Also on Friday our solar hot water heater and panels were delivered. As of yet we are not sure when we will install it. Sonny plans to place the panels on the mudroom roof. At this point I am not sure how it will all work. That is a blog for him to write. The delivery service unloaded everything right there on the driveway. Sonny used the Kubota to move it over near the woodshed. He drove the Kubota and I held onto the box to keep it from banging into the tractor and possibly doing some damage to the panels. They are pretty tough though. It appears the Kubota tractor has come through for us again. I don’t know what we would do without it. It has become such a staple here on PHF.
Keep it steady.
Sonny and Harold have begun to bush hog the pasture that sits on the right side of our property. Its the same area as the infamous tree that got caught in the crook of another. Harold obtained some good experience using the bush hog and I believe is now an expert. They didn’t get it finished, but it is amazing to see how much bigger the pasture is than we had imagined. They still have to remove a few tree logs before finishing.
I haven’t complained much on the blog about how the shower Sonny and I installed in the bathroom has been a thorn in my side. All I can say is that it has been a real festering wound for me. Here’s a little advice for all of you that are planning to install a new shower. Do not purchase one that has umptine pieces and parts that have to be sealed together and get one that has a sturdy base. Ours leaked continuously and we were unable to successfully troubleshoot the area that the water was oozing out from.
Well our son and his wife came to Mama’s rescue and have offered to help us put in a new one. We have picked a fiberglass style that is much sturdier than what we had put in originally. We wanted one that was all one piece, but had to settle for one that is two pieces so that we can get it through the door. Harold is also going to install Roma Stone flooring like he installed in his house in Texas before they sold it. Thank goodness he has experience.
Saturday Sonny and Harold removed the old shower and flooring while Clarissa and I went to pick up feed. They had it completely gutted by the time we returned home. The floor was wet under the vinyl flooring and we finally found where the leak was coming from. It was coming from the area of the drain pipe. Now, this is another reason to get a shower with a sturdy base. I think the shower base we had was flexing when we stood on it allowing water to leak underneath. I have had fans blowing on the floor to dry it out before the men start to work on it this weekend.
Sunday and yesterday were down days for me as I had a little intestinal virus. I was able to lay on the couch all day (between bathroom visits) and watch episodes of my current favorite show that Sonny orders from Net Flicks. I figured rest was the best remedy. Today I feel pretty good and have started to can up the bazillion organic carrots that my bargain hunter daughter-in-law brought me. Thats ok this winter we will be glad to have them and I have no doubt in my mind that we will have some jars left for next winter. We have not been successful at growing carrots in our own garden.
Must be a sick day for Moby too. Oh wait, I think thats just a lazy kitty.
Sunday Sonny was able to go to Two Lynne’s farm and help them put up hay. He got some OJT on running the square baler and fixing it. No, he didn’t break it. It’s pretty common for the strings that tie the bales together to break or become jammed. A lot of these balers are well used but still have a lot life left in them. He enjoyed having a chance to get some baler experience and help our neighbors at the same time. Between my cousin John and Carol and Two Lynne’s Farm we might become decent homesteaders. Hopefully someday we will be able to pass on our experience to someone else. That’s how it works.
This coming weekend will be the Labor Day weekend. Here at PHF we will definitely be laboring. So much to do…such little time. Life is good!
9 Comments | Alternative Energy, Canning, Cats, Farming, Green, Guineas, Homesteading, Off-Grid, Self-Sufficiency, Solar, Solar-Powered, Sustainability | Permalink
Posted by lkjobe
April 11, 2011
When you live on a farm you have to get work done while the sun shines and Pot Hole Farm is no exception. We had plenty of sun beams streaming this morning so I thought it was a good time to rake up the fallen branches and debris in the yard. A wheelbarrow and rake…what more could a girl ask for? With the warmer days and rain showers the grass has been growing like Rip Van Winkles beard. It’s time for the lawn mower to come out of winter storage to give the grass a well needed trim, but it won’t be today with a storm on the horizon.
I’m not the only one with this idea. When I rode down to the Country Store this morning to pick up some bread I saw two of my neighbors buzzing around the yard on their lawn mowers. It always reminds me of those clowns in the little car racing around the ring of the circus Big Top. I know I look like that too when I cut grass. No one goes at a slow speed. We always have the mower in top gear cutting rows back and forth through the grass and making circles around obstacles. Sonny can lean down and pick up a stray dog toy and never slow up. I on the other hand would end up in the creek.
Of course I had my crew working with me today. Ruby, Moby and the chickens. The guineas were off working in another department, but I have heard rumblings of a strike. Those guineas are all union. Ruby pulled out more sticks as fast I could rake them up and the chickens and Moby inspected all my work. Slave drivers. I think I deserve a raise.
I think I better get the Quality Control Supervisors over here.
Looks like production is slow. Tell her to get a move on.
2 Comments | Alternative Energy, Cats, Chickens, Farming, Off-Grid, Pigs | Permalink
Posted by lkjobe
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.
5 Comments | Barn, Cats, Chickens | Permalink
Posted by lkjobe