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.

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SNOWY RESPITE

December 29, 2012

Saturday

Linda

We awoke this morning to a farm wrapped in a blanket of fluffy snow. Gray tree limbs dressed in white highlights stood out against the darkened woods. Sounds were muffled as walked back to the chicken coop.

The guineas are usually the first to drop from their roosts in the morning, making a daily pilgrimage to our porch railings to beg for breakfast. The turkeys trot close behind them. On the African plains they would be tall giraffes that follow a herd of zebras. Not so this morning. We caught the guineas still lounging up on the pole barn rafters while the turkeys milled below searching for scraps of cracked corn on the ground.

What's all this white stuff out here? My toes are cold.

What’s all this white stuff out here? My toes are cold.

Guineas on the rafters.

Guineas on the rafters.

The bird netting on the twinny pennies coop yard was blotched in snow and the ground was covered. We shoveled out a path so they could get to their feed station. Of course we couldn’t leave out the chickens from the coop next door and shoveled a path for them as well to the feed station in the pole barn.

Snowy coop.

Snowy coop.

Its a day to stay under cover and watch the snowflakes fall. None of the fowl will venture far from their shelters this day, the barn cats are snug in their beds, and Ruby is stretched out by the wood stove. All is quiet…peaceful. Shhhhh. The farm is at rest….for now.


A BLOG READER COMES TO VISIT PHF

May 17, 2012

Thursday

Linda

We had a wonderful visit today with one of our readers, Luann Barbagallo, who stopped by to pick up two pints of syrup and to see just what PHF was all about.

Luann and her family are starting their own homestead in a nearby county. I’m not sure what pearls of wisdom we had to offer as Luann has twenty years of gardening, canning and raising milk goats under her belt. That experience will go a long way in starting a homestead. I hope to keep in touch Luann, you never know, we may need some milk goat advice when we finally get to that stage.

We showed her how the off grid system worked and then took a tour of the farm, stopping by to see the princess piggies. The girls were on their best behavior and allowed Luann to view the pig palace set up. She was interested to see what methods we use to raise our pigs since she and her husband will be purchasing their own feeder pigs in just a few days.

We showed her the smoke house where we smoked eight hams last fall, because if your going to raise pigs you have to have a smoke house. She whole heartedly agreed.

In the past few years we have come to know several homesteading families and one of the nice things about it is that we all share ideas. Everyone has abilities that can help another. We are all folks who choose to live a simpler lifestyle, who choose to leave the whirlwind world of consumerism and depend on our own ingenuity to provide for ourselves.

It was a great experience to meet someone from our blog family of readers. Luann, thank you so much for stopping by, we thoroughly enjoyed your visit. Wish you lived a little bit closer. You and your husband are always welcome.


TWO MORE GUINEAS DOWN

April 24, 2012

Tuesday

Linda

Last night as we closed the chicken coop up for the night we left five guineas resting comfortably in a tree just behind the pole barn. This morning we had three milling around the yard and two were MIA. The raccoons had attacked us with yet another midnight raid, but we were ready.

The night before last we put out a catch cage filled with savory delights to lure in a hungry raccoon, consisting of a can of sardines and a bowl of dog kibble drizzled with fish oil. That should make any raccoons mouth water. Unfortunately he was smart enough to figure out how to get the scrumptious delicacies out without tripping the cage door. I think he just stuck his paws in and pulled out what he wanted through the bars. It must have filled him up and probably his family members too cause they left the guineas alone that night.

Last night we reset the traps, putting out a marshmallow trail to entice the greedy little bugger inside. We also covered the back of the cage with a feed bag and pushed it against the wall. We only have the one cage right now.

This morning we found a prisoner locked inside. That was great, but we still lost two guinea casualties and the raccoons are up on us by seven. This guy had to have had a troop of raccoons with him to be able to kill two more guineas. There is absolutely no sign of the two. So tonight we will set the cage up again and try to place it in a little different location. We really need to get a few more cages. If things keep going this way we will have no guineas left.


LEARNING FROM EXPERIENCE

August 30, 2011

Tuesday

Linda

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!


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.


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