SNOWFLAKES AND MANURE

January 21, 2013

Monday

Linda

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.

Spreading Manure

Spreading Manure

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.


NEW TURKEYS IN TOWN

November 14, 2012

Wednesday

Linda

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.


COUNTRY ROADS

January 22, 2012

Sunday

Linda

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.

Country roads.

Moby by the trickling water.

 

 


REAL FARM

December 16, 2011

Friday

Linda

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.

 


HOLD YOUR NOSE!

October 23, 2011

Sunday

Linda

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.


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?


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!


AUTUMN DAY DREAMS

August 10, 2010

Tuesday

Linda

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.


PICKIN’, GRININ’ AND CHICKEN FEED

August 8, 2010

Sunday

Linda

As you remember, I missed my home cooked meal that Carol had prepared because of the storm.  She must have felt sorry for me and invited me over for left overs on Thursday evening.  Either that or she needed to clean out the fridge.   Believe me the dinner was worth waiting for. Carol is an excellent cook and can make a wonderful meal out of a few ingredients. We had a succulent ham baked and glazed with squash conserve, made from scratch macaroni and cheese, and garden grown succotash.  Is your mouth watering yet?  If you don’t know what squash conserve is, it is made with thin slices of summer squash, ginger, pineapple, and sugar.  When it’s cooked together it makes a sweet and tangy glaze that is delicious on ham, pork chops and chicken. Very tasty.

After dinner we went down to Salem’s old train depot for some local music.  The depot was converted into a pavilion with bench seats and on the first Thursday of the month they have a concert.  The house band is called Pickin’ and Grinin’ and they play a lot of the old country tunes.  Often times there are other bands that play country or blue grass music.  It makes for an enjoyable evening after a hard day of work on Pot Hole Farm. Especially when we topped the evening off with a stop at the Dairy Queen for a cool and creamy ice cream cone.

Great "House Band"

Saturday was a bit of a run around day for Sonny and I.  Salem was having their annual town yard sale. Well of course we had to check that out.  It’s a chance for people to clean out things they no longer need but others can use.  Then it was off to the Tractor Supply for some chicken feed and then finally home.    We unloaded the Jeep and left the door open as we took things into the house. We got a little side tracked and left the chicken feed bag in the Jeep.  When Sonny came back out to get it, what did he see?  Our miscreant pit pup chewing into the bag with yellow chicken feed sprinkled all over his snout and a guilty as sin look on his face.  I can’t imagine that the chicken food smelled so enticing that he had to have some.

Who knows, maybe he thought a chicken would pop out if he got far enough into the bag.  Kind of like a box of Cracker Jacks.  Ahhh, it’s just part of the circus here at Pot Hole Farm.


CRAZY AUGUST STORM

August 4, 2010

Wednesday

Linda

A loud rumble of thunder was my alarm clock this morning. It was 0630 and the overcast sky was dark.  We already had a good storm last night with rain and thunder clappers and lightening.  It appeared this morning may be a repeat.  I threw on some clothes, let the dogs out and hurried down to the coop to check on the chickens.  I wanted to make sure they had plenty of food and water in case this was going to be an all day thing. The storm passed but the sky was still cloudy.

I thought I better turn on the generator for a while since we didn’t have much sun the day before to charge the house batteries.  I hit the manual start button. Nothing.  I checked to make sure that the main switch that connects the generator and the charge controller was in the correct position.  It was.  Tried the manual start switch on the generator again. Nothing.  I checked the propane tanks. Full.  At this point I was at the end of my trouble shooting abilities.  I emailed Sonny at work to see what he thought.  Apparently we left the cut-off switch on the generator panel “on” and it ran the primary generator battery down.

So Sonny called John (since we don’t have a phone yet) to come over and hook up a external charger to it.  In the meantime I dragged our backup gasoline powered generator out of storage and hooked it up and with a couple of pulls on the rope it fired up.  It worked just fine.  I let it run until John and Carol showed up. I was already supposed to be at their house this morning.  Instead they had to run over and rescue me.  Once John got everything set up they went home and I let the battery charge for about three hours.  I think we’re fixed now. I won’t be leaving that switch on again.

The sun popped in and out for a while and I headed over to John and Carols for the afternoon.  Carol was going to make me a home cooked meal.  We spent a nice afternoon in her studio.  She’s a great sculptor. She is working on a bust of John.  I’m amazed at the likeness.  While the artist was at work I played with some clay myself.  My fourth grade art teacher would have been proud of the Magnolia flower I created.  I didn’t intend for it to be a magnolia but that’s what it turned out to be.  You can’t argue with art.

I was getting hungry and looking forward to that ham and homemade macaroni and cheese.  John came in and informed us that a big storm was on it’s way heading East from Ohio.  Sonny called shortly after that and said it was getting real close.  Around here the roads can quickly flood and there is always a chance that a tree can get washed out and fall across them as well.  I had animals at home to think about so I hightailed it home.  I was getting close to my destination, about two miles away from home when the sky became angry and drops of rain hit the windshield. The wind was beginning to whip up and blow leaves and brittle branches off the trees.  I prayed a tree wouldn’t fall on top of the Jeep.

Cold Front

When I reached the mile mark there was a huge limb across the road. Thank goodness it wasn’t a full sized tree.  I really hate backing up (my tracks look like a snake).  With some maneuvering I was able to drag the big branch to the side of the road.  When I reached home the wind had blown over my patio chairs.  Once again I let the dogs out before the storm really hit hard and ran down to check on the chickens.  They were safe and sound in their little coop and I battened down the hatches.  The dogs and I, and of course Annie the cat were safe and sound while the storm raged. I just wish I could have had my ham dinner first, but that’s August.

Heat, humidity, and big storms to remind us that we are pretty small in the scheme of things, and the Almighty has the reins.


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