NEW ACCESS ROAD

April 14, 2012

Saturday

Linda

Bill Guinazzo has proven himself to be an expert in the art of road grading. We noticed the nice job he did on making an access road on his own property and asked if he would do the same for us. We didn’t have access to one of the pastures that connects up to the neighbors hay field other than crossing the creek and its too difficult to get the tractor across it. Of course no one lives there and the only time you see anyone there is during the hay season.

We have permission to cross the field only after the hay has been cut so that we don’t pack it down or destroy the grass. Lost bales of hay equals lost money. That limits our use of our adjoining pasture, so Bill cut in a road that leads off the main gravel road directly onto our property.

Nice job Bill.

Back up the hill.

Now Sonny will be able to keep the pasture bush hogged and we have the potential to fence it in for goats.

The nice thing about living out here is that each one of us has skills that can help another, whether its construction, planting gardens, canning or making roads. There is all kinds of knowledge floating around these hills and all you have to do is ask for help. Its a code of neighborliness that was here long before any of us recent transplants showed up. Its a nice feeling to know you can count on one another.

Speaking of that, John and Sonny are planning another project here at PHF. We are going to build a lean too addition onto the right side of the pole barn. Now that we have more farm equipment than will fit in the pole barn we had to expand. We can use the extra space to park the tractor or the Kobota RTV and the four wheeler.

Sonny and I ran to town this morning to pick up the building supplies. Now, this afternoon John is going to taking us to see a guy who is selling his bee keeping equipment. It doesn’t hurt to go see what he has to offer. Right now our bees seems to be doing just fine, but we want to have another hive available for them to expand into.

 

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THREE LITTLE PIGS

April 4, 2012

Wednesday

Linda

Sonny and Bill set out on an adventure yesterday to pick up four piglets. They purchased them from a farm located a few hours from here near the town of Farmington. I’m not sure why it took all day but I believe the directions may have been a bit difficult to follow. Out here in the country roads are not always labeled and landmarks are often used instead. If you are not familiar with the area it can be quite a tail chaser to find your destination.

But despite that Sonny and Bill came home with four piglets. Two are blue butts and two are Hampshires. We will be raising the three females and Sonny delivered the hampshire male to Twolynns Farm where he will be treated like king.

Our three girls have already made themselves at home and are quite the princess piggies. I went down to the pig palace this morning and they were still asleep in their house, stretched out on a thick mattress of soft hay. I poured their morning rations into the feed trough and sweetly called out for them to come to breakfast. One of the girls raised her head slightly and gave me a look of royal disdain. How dare I wake them? I left them to their beauty sleep and figured they would eat when they were ready. So young and already full of attitude.

Who are those two guys? Are they our new footmen?

Checking out the new digs.

What...no truffles hidden under this hay?


A MISHMASH OF NEWS

March 31, 2012

Saturday

Linda

Its only the last day of March and the daffodils are already dried and withered. We have experienced one morning of frost, but we were prepared and covered all the berry bushes. The only problem is we forgot about the Hydrangea bushes and the newly sprouting leaves got a little burned. I believe they will be fine and recover.

We have extended the garden even more. Now it wraps all the way around the smaller PV array. Sonny and Bill have been busy putting up fencing. I planted about a hundred yellow onions and about thirty red onions. We didn’t plant near enough last year, so hopefully we have enough to graze on through the summer and be able to harvest a good many to put up for the winter. It sounds like a lot of onions, but what survives in a garden is always a gamble. The chickens already got in there and unearthed a couple of bulbs by doing the chicken dance on top of the rows.

We made sure we planted the rows wide enough for the rototiller to pass through. Hopefully this will help keep the weeds under control. We will still have to hand pull the weeds around the plants but we won’t have to kill ourselves weeding the walkways. We barely had the rototiller home and unloaded before Sonny had it out in the garden tilling up between the rows of onions. He did this even though they haven’t popped through the soil yet.

If all goes well we will raise some more pigs this year. Bill and Paula found some piglets for sale in the trader paper. We plan to go check them out tomorrow and if they appear to be healthy we will bring them home. Sonny has been scrambling to get the hog pen ready. We dragged out the feed trough this morning and scrubbed it out. It needs a little repair after the beatings it took from the frat boy’s (last years pigs) wild wing dings.  We still need to make sure the fence is in good order, clean the water trough and set up the water tank. Bill is going to come over tomorrow morning to help get things in order before we all head out on our piglet excursion. I can hardly wait to have my ears drilled through with the shrill, nails across a chalk board, ear deafening squeals of those piglets as they are loaded onto the truck. (thats sarcasm if you weren’t sure). Maybe I’ll take a pair of ear plugs along and save myself a 150 decibel  headache.

We hope to pick up at least three piglets. One for Bill and Paula, one for us, and then we will split the last one. Oh, and if they have another extra one available we will pick one up for Twolynns Farm. I’m definitely gonna need a those ear plugs.

The tomatoes and green peppers we planted in the greenhouse are sprouting up. Its been pretty cool at night so I have been bringing them into the house. They need temps to be at least in the 60’s to get a good start.

Green pepper sprout.

The beginnings of a tomato plant.

These warmer afternoons has had us hankering for a rest on the porch swing. We cleared away the stack of leftover winter wood for the wood stove and hung up the porch swing in its place. We weren’t the first ones to get to lounge on it though. The moment our backs were turned Moby The Immobilizer had taken his place on the slated seat and stretched out full length. Ahh, a mouse snack, a warm sunny afternoon, and a nap. Life is good for a farm cat.

Zzzzzzzzzz


SNOW DAY FUN…PHF STYLE

February 19, 2012

Sunday

Linda

This winter has been extremely mild and has felt more like spring than winter. Our daffodils are sprouting up and I noticed yesterday that one of our crocus plants is in full bloom with a crown of mustard yellow flowers. Old man winter may be in a romantic mood this year but his heart was on the frosty side last weekend when he blew six inches of snow across our hillsides. It was a perfect time for Harold and Clarissa to come out for a visit and the snow was perfect for some winter fun…Pot Hole Farm style.

Harold and Clarissa wrestled Duke into his blue snow suit and boots. Duke was pretty good about the ordeal, but I still think his parents deserve a gold medal for patience. All you parents out there know what its like to push boots on a kid’s feet who doesn’t want wear them. Once dressed Duke floundered on the bed attempting  to pull himself up. He reminded me of  Ralphie’s little brother from the movie “A Christmas Story”  when he fell in the snow on the way to school and couldn’t get up because his snow suit was so bulky. Duke finally gave up and imploringly looked at his parents to pick him up. The whole snow suit ordeal would soon be forgotten once he was outside and ready to play in the snow.

We were like a bunch of kids when we saw the snow piled on the hill across from the house and ideas were thrown back and forth on what we could use to slide down it. A toboggan would be the best mode of transport, but unfortunately we don’t own one of those. A trip to the garage was in order to find a substitute. How about one of the metal trash can lids on the feed cans? Nah, they have a handle and if we tear them up we won’t have a lid anymore. How about some cardboard? Don’t have any. Then I spied the chicken feed bags we had stashed in the corner. The labels on the outside were shiny and slick. Perfect for sliding.

The air was clear and cold as we trekked up the hill, our feed bags clutched in our hands. Moisture from our breath swirled passed our child like smiles and crystalized into the air. With pink cheeks and gleaming eyes of anticipation we crested the hill. The games were on.

Harold held his feed bag in front of him, took a few running steps and did a belly  flop. He sailed down the hill, snow flying up and over him as he cleared a trail.

Go Harold Go!

Clarissa followed close behind, gracefully doing a belly flop onto her feed bag and riding it like a magic carpet down to the bottom.

Here comes Clarissa!

I was not about to belly flop for fear that I would just bounce right back up, so instead I sat on the feed bag and pushed off. I ended up sliding down on my back, feet in the air, sliding out of control until I was flying backwards.

WAHOOOOOO!

The sounds of my screams echoed through the holler sending every coyote in the neighborhood scrambling for the protection of its den. Sonny was a little out of practice since it had been years since he slid down a hill, but he still managed to look smooth… for an old man. Sorry there is no picture of Sonny, but he was on Duke duty at the time and the photographer.

Duke got to take a ride with his mama and daddy. He wasn’t a bit afraid and sported a big smile between his apple red cheeks. It was too cold for him to be outside for very long and Clarissa took him in to put him down for his morning nap. He had no complaints and went right to sleep. Now it was free time for the rest of us big kids. Sonny challenged us to see who could go the farthest. We slid down on our stomachs, in sitting positions and Indian style. It didn’t matter how I started out I always ended up backwards. Harold was the victor and slid the farthest.

We made a feed bag toboggan by splitting the feed sacks long ways so all of us could sit on it and slide down together. Then Sonny stuck his feet into a another feed bag to make the front. Off we went down the hill ending in a pile at the end. It looked like a four car jam up.

The moral of this long story is that your never too old to act like a kid. We had a great day and our spirits were uplifted from it. So play in the snow, kick a ball, swing on a tire swing, or eat a PB&J under a weeping willow tree. It will do your heart good.


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.

 

 


THOUGHTS OF SOLAR AND WIND

January 17, 2012

Tuesday

Linda

A soup of ominous gray clouds covered the sky as Sonny and I drove toward home from Ohio. I gazed out of my side window at the landscape dotted with farms, one connecting to the next as far as you can see. It reminded me of Delaware, my birth state, before the developers raped the farmland and covered it in a cheap coat of houses. Except for a few farms that have held out, there is nothing left of the many peach and apple orchards,or the small family run dairy and vegetable farms. In southern Delaware crops have been replaced with production chicken houses. As you can tell, it is a bit of a soar spot for me, so I gaze out of the window at the flatlands of Ohio and reminisce about my childhood.

As we pass miles of farmland set with nineteenth century farmhouses and barns, Sonny and I discuss how they could possibly benefit from the energy of a  windmill. Solar and windmill power is not the cure all for our nations energy problems, and not everyone can or wants to live off grid, but I think that solar panels and windmills could certainly take some pressure off the power grid. They could all be used in conjunction with each other.

One would think that in a wide open landscape such as Ohio, and I can only speak for the area we were driving through, that there would be the potential for plenty of wind. Even solar panels could be a good choice in areas where there are few trees. Its a bit more difficult in places where the sun has to rise above a high hill or mountain range. It is doable though as we have seen here at Pot Hole Farm. We just get less hours of sunlight to charge the solar panels.

Unfortunately for many who are interested in solar panels and windmills it is  still a costly investment. As the price of electricity rises and the power grid becomes overloaded and feeble with age we may not have many choices left. I think its naive to think that we can continue to add to the power grid we have now and think that it will be able to handle the load. All we need is a summer of sweltering heat and the on switch of air conditioners. We might find ourselves with rolling blackouts and empty pockets. Or worse.

I certainly don’t have all the answers to our power quandaries, but I think solar and wind could be good alternatives. In the future I would like to see businesses with a few solar panels on their roofs. If you think about how much power an office building uses in a day a little sun power couldn’t hurt.

The skies may turn dark and cloudy, but the sun will eventually shine. Good for making electricity and good for the soul.


A WHIRLWIND WEEK

January 7, 2012

Saturday

Linda

Its been a whirlwind of a week. I went with Sonny last Sunday over to Reston, Va. to close out his apartment. He has finally found a job position over here that will enable him to be home every night and NO MORE TRAVELING.

After eight years Sonny ended his job in the city  and starts a new job here this Monday, so we had to wrap up everything over in Reston. Moving is always so stressful. While he was winding things down at his old job, I was packing and cleaning. He didn’t have too much over there, but now we are trying to figure out where to put things over here. I think there will be a few trips to the thrift shop.

It took only about a day in the city for me to wish I was back in the country. I just cant take the crowds and the traffic and the shops now hold little interest for me. I did enjoy a trip to my favorite bookstore and sipped on a Starbucks caramel frappe as I perused the titles on the shelves. I finished my frappe, bought three books and walked happily away from the store with thoughts of curling up on the couch to read my new found treasures. Who knows when that chance will come. I thought I would have lots of time to read this winter and to write a book myself, but the time is slipping away. Before you know it Spring will be here and the farm will come alive, but with Sonny home every night now I will have a true helpmate to get those jobs done.

We have been hoping for a job opening over here for quite a while and he has had other opportunities that didn’t come through. There was no hurry and we didn’t get upset when those jobs didn’t pan out because we have always known the right job would come at the right time. Now that he is here we can really start stepping out on some new ventures. Our hope is to tap a few of the Maple trees we have here on the property and make some maple syrup with the help of Two Lynne’s Farm, and maybe now Sonny will have the time to complete some of our unfinished projects. Maybe… just maybe, I’ll get a chance to read book and to write one too.


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