April 17, 2011
April showers bring May flowers but they also make it difficult to get caught up on outdoor jobs. All weekend we have been dodging rain drops while attempting to catch up on some projects. Of course Friday was the usual trip to town to give Lowes and Tractor Supply their weekly cut of our paycheck. Throughout the week I make a list of things we need to pick up and am usually jotting down add ons while Sonny steers Festus down the highway. That old truck has carried so many loads from those two stores that it should be able to drive us there all by itself.
Friday afternoon we took a ride on the four wheeler up the back hills of our property. The four wheeler has been a life saver…literally… It has saved us from huffing and puffing and whining every step up the hillsides. We aren’t as young as we used to be. For two years we have wanted to clear away some of the trees that the logger let fall across the paths. Sonny was on a roll using the chainsaw to cut up the fallen trees like a seasoned lumber jack. It was a good thing I ate a big breakfast because I expected to roll the logs off the side. We were making excellent headway until the chain came off the bar. Of course all the tools were back at the house.
We were able to clear a good portion and some of the logs, most were so rotten so we were able to just break them apart. Just because the chain saw was out of commission didn’t mean our work was done. We walked the steep property line and put new ribbons on the trees to mark our boundaries. We actually enjoyed working up there and it was nice to see the buds starting to show on the trees, especially the red bud trees.
The greenhouse is on the mend and moved back to its original location. Sonny and I used ropes wrapped around the base on each end like a handle. We then lifted it, taking shuffling baby steps as we turned it completely around and settled it into place next the garden.
Back in place and looking better.
Sonny replaced some of the broken parts with the new ones we had ordered, but there are still more needed. He marked all the pieces with a silver marker so we could keep track of what we will need to order. It is looking much better and he was able to put in a few of the panes. Before long it will be as good as new and I think we may not need the roll of silver duct tape after all.
We brought the lawn mower out of storage and gave the grass a trim taking just “a little off the top”. PHF is beginning to shed its winter robes and is stepping into the festive colors of Spring. One of the steps in that direction was to clear away the wood bins from the porch, giving it a good sweep and putting up the SWING! You heard right. My swing is back and I couldn’t be happier. I think I hear it calling me for nap.
January 23, 2011
The other day Linda and I found a local farm that had Guineas for sale. After several emails and phone calls we headed just north or our place to find Two Lynns Farm in Shirley, WV.
There we met Sandi and Lynn Hopper. They had moved from the West Coast about 8 years ago and got their local Organic farm up and running. They gave us a tour of their place. Chickens, Ducks, Guineas, Cows (beef or milk) and even got a overview of their Maple Syrup processing. We talked for hours and quickly realized they were good down to earth people.
We picked up three guinea hens and one rooster. On the way home it dawned on us that we really didn’t have anywhere to put them. We could not put them in with the chickens because we needed to keep them locked up for a few days to help them figure out they had a new home. So we keep them in the dog cage (a big one) in the back of the Jeep overnight while we figured out what we were going to do.
The next morning it was a cool 20 degrees but we decided to get started. We put on our winter gear and went to the barn to gather all the scrap metal, left over 2×4’s and a old pallet. After about 5 hours we got it completed. We decided to use a tarp for the door until we can got to Lowe’s for more supplies.
Guinea Coop in the Garden
January 17, 2011
It may be January with snow on the ground and more to come, but it is already time to start thinking about what to plant in the garden this spring. Our garden did pretty well last year considering it was our first one. We learned a lot of lessons and I’m sure still have many more to learn.
As soon as the weather begins to warm we plan to get a load of donkey manure from my cousin’s farm and spread it on the garden. We probably should have done it in the fall but we ran out of time with other projects that seemed to run together. We still need to get a rototiller and it has moved up on the list of must haves. A nice load of nutrient rich manure mixed into the soil should be a good boost of fertilizer to grow all those scrumptious veggies.
This past weekend we ordered our seeds from Heirloom Organics (http://www.heirloom-organics.com). We wanted to try growing plants that we could gather the seed from after harvest to dry and use in the coming years. I don’t believe you can do that with hybrids seeds or maybe its that you can only save them a few times.
We don’t plan to grow any pumpkins this year. I was able to can up enough from last years harvest to last a few years. Sweet potatoes and white potatoes are off the list too. Ours just didn’t seem to do well.
We also hope to get a few guineas to help keep the bug population down. I have heard that they are also good watch dogs and alert you to anyone who enters the property. Ruby does a pretty good job at that already.
Time flies and before you know it, the days will become longer, the birds will sing and the temperatures will be just right for the crocus and daffodils to break through the crusty soil. The hum of lawnmowers will sing along with the bees and the sweet perfume of wild flowers will send our senses reeling. Ah…warm days are coming along with sunshine to melt the ice from our shoulders, and it will be time to brush the cobwebs from the porch swing. Are you ready?
November 6, 2010
We have had our first snow dusting of the season today. Large fluffy snowflakes fell like dandruff from the sky. Someone needs to use some Head and Shoulders Shampoo up there.
Actually it is a tranquil scene to watch through our picture window. Cold and snowy outside, comfy and warm inside. The wood stove has a warm glow showing through its window and a Lodge Pot full of Great Northern beans simmers on the top. The aroma of the chicken broth and ham hock that season them scents the air. It definitely puts you in a grateful frame of mind to have these few simple things… heat and food. Life is good.
First Snow of the Year
August 29, 2010
Pot Hole Farm is in the end of summer phase. We pulled out the string bean plants as they were no longer producing and the carrots I planted didn’t do well. They looked squished and stunted like little orange mutant carrots. Not very appetizing at all. They actually need a more sandy soil rather than the clayish and rocky soil we have here. I recently found out that like potatoes they need to have dirt pushed up on them as they grow, forming a hill. Our garden this year was an experiment anyway and this particular one failed. Sonny crinkled up his nose and carried them to the compost pile as if they were nuclear waste. I don’t think carrots will be on the garden menu next year. The tomato plants are turning brown and dying off. Grass has begun to take over the now vacant areas where the red potatoes were planted and the pumpkins have taken over the squash and zucchini plants. We still have Lima beans and the sweet potatoes and pumpkins will be harvested before the first frost.
This weekend Sonny and I cut up one of the large limbs that broke off an ancient Maple tree this past winter. It was the size of a small tree itself and will help to keep us warm this winter. Our minds are beginning to turn from summer projects to winter preparedness. We need to install the wood stove, put in insulation under the house, and cut wood for our winter fuel. Those are the major projects but there are also small things like painting the root cellar and the door trim of the chicken coop. We need to install a solar panel on the roof of the chicken coop so we can run a light in there during the shorter winter days. Chickens need about 12-14 hours of light to produce eggs. We also ordered and received three more 205 watt solar panels and he plans to order a ground mounting rack for them next. I think he is wanting to try to get a third bank of batteries before Christmas. Sonny wants to make sure that we have enough energy to support the house when grey days arrive.
It’s possible we may have phone service in the near future. I was surprised last Wednesday when a guy showed up with a ditch-witch to dig and bury the new phone cable. At least we are that far now. We have to wait for the phone company to come out and attach the connection box to the house and hook us up. It’s hard to say when that will be but its one small step closer to being able to communicate with the outside world. I know my Mom and daughter-in-law will be ecstatic when it gets connected. The phone lines will be smoking when that day arrives.
August 12, 2010
August is a tough month to get through. If the heat and humidity don’t do you in the crazy horse flies and other bugs eat you to death. I don’t know about other places but here in West Virginia during the month of August the horse flies go ballistic. If they’re not drilling craters into your skin they are dive bombing your head and crashing into walls and windows.
It’s especially hard on my cousins donkeys, and any outside animals. They are just tormented with the stinging bites of these flying demons. Despite August’s fiery disposition it does have it’s good points.
It is a time of harvest and today I picked our first batch of Lima beans. It was only about a half a pint but they are just coming on. The vines are full of immature pods and blossoms. I also picked another load of tomatoes and plan to can them up tomorrow. So far we have canned seven pints of tomatoes from a previous haul.
I hear a thunderstorm rolling in from a distance and the sky is turning a dark hazy grey behind the mountains. Hopefully some cooler weather will tag along behind it.
The cicadas are chanting for more hot weather, but just underneath their chatter you can hear the crickets tuning up for the Autumn concerts to come.
August can roast us, and bite us, and test our endurance, but the cheery song of a little cricket gives us sight of the finish line.
August 10, 2010
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.