SUNSHINE AND COOKIES

December 1, 2011

Thursday

Linda

I was beginning to think the sun had abandoned us. After days of battleship grey  skies dropping rain and forecasters who gave unkept promises of sunshine, my mood was turning as fowl the weather. Seeing the sun shine from a clear blue sky was the perfect tonic to cure my soggy attitude.

The solar panels sucked up the sunny rays as well and it was nice to be able to vacuum and run the washer without turning on the generator. Even the animals felt better. The chickens puttered around the yard stretching their wings and basking in the warm sunlight. A dust bath would have been the icing on the cake for them, but unfortunately the ground is still saturated and only good for a mud bath. I guess we can’t be too greedy and should be thankful for what we have.

Roo Roo has been festively dressed up for the holidays and stanchly stands at the driveway entrance ready to welcome all visitors who find their way to our door. We’ll soon have Christmas treats to offer while they warm up with a cup of coffee or hot chocolate by the wood stove.

All decked out for Christmas.

Clarissa and I will be making a trip to Delaware this weekend to make Christmas cookies with the women of my family. Its a family tradition that has been going on since I was little girl and believe me that has been a long time. There have been a few years lately where the weather has interfered and we were unable to go. The guys plan to hold down the fort here at the farm and will anxiously await our return in a car leadened down with tins of homemade cookies. I fully expect to see them waiting on the porch with wide grins and coffee cups in hand  as we come up the driveway.

Sunshine and the expectation of  holiday cookies…. the very thing to raise the spirits of gloomy grump.


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.


ONIONS, GARDEN HATS AND CHICKS

May 11, 2011

Wednesday

Linda

Yesterday when I went to town I looked for some onion sets to buy. Of course I am always a day late and missed the rush on onions ( I can just picture frenzied gardeners with shopping carts pushing each other like a roller derby match toward the onion set display). I did manage to find a mixed bag of onion sets hidden in a corner containing twenty each of red, yellow and white bulbs. It must have been bumped out when two carts clashed during the onion derby and rolled to a corner to seek safety. Our victory. We may as well have an assortment of onions. The red onions are great for grilled shish ke-bobs.

My first order of business this morning was to get the onions planted. I also planted my yellow straight necked squash plants I picked up yesterday from Lowes. Since the greenhouse catastrophe nixed starting any zucchini plants early I went ahead and made three hills and put four seeds in each.

Walking through Tractor Supply yesterday I found a nice straw garden hat that fit just right. The straw is woven in a pretty pattern on the crown to give my hot head some ventilation and it has a string tie so it doesn’t blow off in a strong breeze. The brim is big enough to keep the sun off my neck, but not so big like some hats that can shade the person next to you too. I wore it today while I was working in the garden and I have to say I give it an A+ for comfort.

Ready for work and stylish too.

The little chicks are starting to become more comfortable in their surroundings. Today they ventured out into the coop pen for the first time. It started off with one brave barred rock that tentatively peeked out of the open hatch and then stepped out onto the ramp. She cautiously put one dainty foot in front of the other and went slightly further out until she caught sight of a bug and threw caution to the wind to catch it. The rest of the teenybopper flock soon followed and the bug games began. Soon they will take an even bigger step and blend in with the older flock off to explore the wonders of PHF.

Get ready, get set, GO!

Whose There? Where did it go?


MAY GOINGS ON

May 8, 2011

Sunday

Linda

Wow, it’s hard to believe that we are already in the month of May and even harder to realize how long its been since my last blog entry. I have no excuses. Since the rain for the past weeks has put a damper on doing outside projects I have been spending my time doing a little Spring cleaning in the house. The walls and cabinets have been scrubbed clean of the winter wood stove residue and the glass of the inside windows is now gleaming. I washed the sofa slip covers and hung up Springtime fresh curtains. Now that those chores are completed I can spend most of my time outdoors where I really want to be.

There are so many projects that need attention here at PHF that sometimes its overwhelming. Sonny and I sat down and made a list of everything trying to organize it by priority. Not an easy task because it all seems to be a priority but as they say, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.”

Sonny took a weeks vacation this past week so that we could finish up the drain ditches, the wood shed addition, work on the garden, finish up the hog pen fence and about a thousand other things. Of course it rained the first part of the week and then he had a little mishap.

We had taken Festus, (Johns Truck) to Southern States Supply to get a couple of propane bottles filled. The tanks were filled and Sonny started to climb off the back of the truck when his heel got caught on the edge of the tow hitch. He fell like a sack of potatoes onto the asphalt and injured his right shoulder. I took him to the Urgent Care and the X-rays didn’t show any fractures, but his shoulder is still extremely painful if he tries to lift his arm too high. He will get a follow up done this week.

Sonny tried to get some things done, but trying to use a shovel or put the metal roof on the wood shed extension was out of the question, so was putting the green house back together. I am just grateful he didn’t break his neck.

We have four new additions to PHF. Yesterday we went to Two Lynnes Farm and came home with three Barred Rock hens and an Americana/ Cochin mixed hen. They are about eight weeks old and as cute as be. I can’t wait to see them tootling behind the rest of the flock but that will have to wait a few weeks. I promise to post pictures later. We also came home with some cabbage and brussels sprouts seedlings and two pint jars of Two Lynnes Farm Maple syrup. Can’t wait to try that!

My day has been a busy one. It seems as though it has taken me forever to put up the chicken wire around the bottom of the garden fence. The chickens weren’t free ranging last year but now they hop in and out of the large square openings of the cattle fencing like its a hop scotch game.

My fingers are soar from wire tying the chicken wire to the existing fence and let me tell you those raw, sharp ends of the fence can poke too. Wearing gloves just gets in the way so I will suffer the consequences of not wearing them. Now that the chickens can’t get into the garden I went ahead and planted the cabbage plants and two rows of Strike beans. Our friend Gary gave us some potato starts and I cut them in half so I can plant them tomorrow.

My fingers are soar and my hands are scratched, my back aches and my muscles scream but I feel good. I finally finished a job that needed to be done and the garden has its first plantings. We have four more beautiful hens that will give us eggs in a few months and it is a good feeling to know that we can feed ourselves. Well as long as the garden grows.


WATER TANK AND WAGON

April 18, 2011

Monday

Linda

We don’t have any pigs that need to be fed and watered yet but we are all set when we finally find some to purchase. We bought a metal garden wagon from Tractor Supply and strapped  a 65 gallon water tank to the base. The hog pen is located way out in the back pasture and lugging water buckets from the house every day would be too difficult. Besides I don’t care to have my arms stretched so far that my knuckles drag the ground. Not pretty.

We also bought a 2 stroke portable 6 gpm model pump. When the creek is full of water we will be able to use the pump to fill the water tank with creek water. That will save having to use power from the house pump. We can then hook the wagon to the four wheeler and deliver it to the hog pen. Sonny will put a spout on the water tank to which we will connect a hose and be able to fill the water trough with ease.

WATERING TRAILER


A WHEELBARROW AND A RAKE

April 11, 2011

Monday

Linda

Wild Violets

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.

Break Time.


COOP CLEANING DAY

January 29, 2011

Saturday

Sonny

The temperature was in the high 30’s today with the sun peaking through ever once in a while.  Earlier this week Linda mentioned it was time to get the chicken coop cleaned out so today was as good as any.

Tractor Training

We used the bucket on the tractor to dump the poop and straw on the garden. This should help us out when growing season starts.


MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM POT HOLE FARM

December 24, 2010

Friday

Linda

Merry Christmas From Pot Hole Farm

All is quiet here at Pot Hole Farm on this snowy Christmas Eve.

The house is decorated in fine array and the lights are lit on the tree.

Sonny’s work socks are hung by the fire to dry,

And he’s hoping St. Nick doesn’t put a lump of coal inside.

Ruby’s waiting patiently to receive a new ball or bone.

Annie’s hoping Santa will regift Moby to another home.

The chickens are tucked in all snug in their coop,

They’ll be happy with some corn scratch and a clean place to poop.

Linda’s sipping coffee and updating the daily blog,

Sonny will join her with a cup, once he’s brought in a load of logs.

Ruby’s ears are perked, she hears sleigh bells,

Good night too all and and have a blessed Noel.

Remember the star above a little manger with hay,

Where our King and Savior so sweetly lay.

Merry Christmas and a Happy Happy New Year to you all!


COLD CHICKEN FEET

December 8, 2010

Wednesday

Linda

We have had some sporadic sunshine today which lifted the spirits of all. Even though it was only about twenty degrees outside it felt warmer because the air was dry. It wasn’t that bone chilling cold you sometimes have to endure this time of year.

Since the sun was shining I thought the chickens might like a reprieve from the confines of the coop.  The rooster this morning sounded like he was crowing, “let us out!”  So, to appease my feathered friends I cleared a small section of snow in front of the coop hatch and put out some scratch.  I’m sure they get bored in the coop.  I must have pansy chickens, because they came out only long enough to eat the scratch and then quickly retreated back into the coop.

Burrr! My tootsies are freezing!

I left the hatch door open just in case they decided to step outside some more for a stretch and wing flap, but I don’t believe they did.  I guess I will have to get them some chicken snow boots.  I don’t hear the the chickens in Alaska crying.  They go out in colder weather than this.

On second thought maybe my chickens are geniuses.  Why go out when its cold if the lady wearing the goofy Elmer Fudd hat is stupid enough to come out and take care of you.  Fresh straw underfoot feels better than snow and that cooked oatmeal still warm from the pan….delicious.  That warm water is great to drink too.  Who needs a frozen beak.

Yea, whose the pansy here and whose the sucker.


SNOWY SOLAR PANELS

December 6, 2010

Monday

Linda

The hectic days of Spring planting and Fall harvest are behind us, but that doesn’t mean we get to hibernate through Winter here at POF.  Cold nights mean a wake up call at 3:00a.m. to put more wood in the stove.  I’m talking about on nights that are 20 degrees and below.  It’s supposed to get down in the teens tonight.   We insulated the house very well so it would stay fairly warm if we didn’t stoke the fire but it wouldn’t be that toasty warmth you enjoy waking up to.  We do have propane wall heaters as backup if needed.

The first chore of the day is usually to scoop out some of the ash from the stove and get the fire going again.  In cold weather the stove is your lifeline to cozy comfort. That and a cup of coffee which I didn’t get till much later this morning.

Snowy solar panels

No sun today and more light snow means minimal power being absorbed by the solar panels.  It is imperative to keep the panels clear of snow even on an overcast day.  Although there was no direct sun the panels still absorb whatever light there is during the day.  Even the light reflected from the white snow can be utilized as power for the panels. So, second chore of the day….Turn on the generator for a charge and sweep the snow off the panels. Which I did about four times today.

Cool squeegy gadget

Luckily the snow was light and fluffy like packing peanuts.  Sonny bought me a long handled squeegee that works great for dragging the snow off. Last year we only had a broom which wasn’t even close to being long enough to reach the top of the PV Array.  The right tools make all the difference.

Next stop, the chicken coop.  I turned on the solar lamps that Sonny installed to give them some artificial light on this grey day.  I wasn’t sure if the battery would be charged enough from the solar panels on top of the chicken coop since we haven’t had sunlight for days.  A flick of the switch and the coop went from dreary to cheery.  I switched out the water container and replaced it with one that wasn’t frozen.  I know they have heated waterers but I think they use electric.  That would not be an option for us.  So my job will be to switch out the water containers frequently throughout the day.  Chickens need plenty of water even when temperatures are freezing.  I only collected two eggs today, but that is to be expected in this weather.  The chickens didn’t want to go out in the snow today and I don’t blame them.  I added some more straw on the floor and I think that will give the coop some more warmth.

A quick stop by the woodshed to grab a load of wood and finally back inside the house for a cup of joe.  With the snow continually coming down this circle was completed numerous times throughout the day.

I did get a chance to finish filling out my Christmas cards except for a few of Sonny’s friends of which I can’t find the addresses for.  I will have to get them from him later.

Even though it was cold out and the snow wasn’t blowing Ruby and I decided to walk the mile down to the mailbox to post the cards.  It was actually an enjoyable walk.  I made sure I dressed warm in the Carhart coat Sonny bought me, a wool scarf, mittens and my brown plaid Elmer Fudd hat with ear flaps down. Just like the right tools make a job easier the right winter gear will keep you warm.  I’m sure I looked very enticing in my ensemble that included L.L. Bean boots and an orange grocery bag left over from Halloween to tote the cards in.  It was a colorful accessory that complimented my brown color scheme and it could double as a beacon for hunters not to mistake me for a deer.  In my case that would probably be a moose.

It looks like the next two days will be the same.  More snow, more grey skies and cold.  It’s been a busy day and I think I hear the bed calling my name, or could it be that pesky 3a.m. alarm I hear.


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