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
October 23, 2011
Its a nightly ritual just before bedtime for Ruby to go out for her last potty break of the evening. Last night as we shut off the TV, blew out the candles and did the usual bedtime preps, Ruby pranced at the door.
The moment Sonny opened the door Ruby shot out of it like a bullet, barking in high pitched tones. As she sprinted down to the base of the porch steps Sonny heard a pssssss sound. Ruby immediately made an about face and scrambled back up onto the porch trying to push her way into the house. I heard Sonny screech out, “Its a skunk!” as he simultaneously pushed Ruby away from the front door with his foot.
He quickly slammed the front door shut and then closed the connecting door between the mudroom and main house. All those Navy drills he endured learning how to close off ships compartments to contain flooding came in handy. Only thing is the skunk stench still followed him, although it could have been much worse. It could have been Sonny who got sprayed square in the face.
Even with the doors tightly shut the foul skunk oder still seeped into the house, slithering through the cracks like a rank fog. Sonny jumped into the shower just to be on the safe side. The pant leg of his pajama bottoms where he had touched Ruby was covered in ode de skunk. Needless to say they were promptly shoved into a plastic bag and disposed of. Sonny was lucky and didn’t get any of the smell on his skin.
We sprayed the house with every air freshner we could find. We couldn’t open the windows because it was worse outside. The sprays helped a little, but it sure didn’t get rid of it. This morning when we woke up it was much better. Now it is completely gone and my house smells normal.
I rubbed Natures Miracle on Ruby and the jury is still out on how well it worked. I will have a sniff test later. She may need another dose. I’m afraid to keep her out all night again. I may just have to put her in her dog crate. Who knows, Pepe le pew might think last night was a hoot and will want to make his rounds again. I just hope our front door is not marked with a bulls eye.
4 Comments | Dogs, Farming, Off-Grid, Skunks | Permalink
Posted by lkjobe
May 11, 2011
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?