January 22, 2013
Sonny and I are always looking for ways to repurpose old or worn out things. He had a pair of muck shoes that were still in good shape except that the sole had cracked at the bend of the shoe. Every time he stepped in water or mud his sock would get wet. So we bought him a new pair, but what to do with the old pair. It seemed a shame to just throw them in the trash. There must be some job they could fulfill.
People are always using old boots as planters or bird houses, why not use an old pair of muck shoes as a bird feeder? Sonny nailed the shoes on the side of the tree stump and then filled them with birdseed. The birds love it! Especially the little nut hatches. I’d say its a job well done.
The shoe feeder
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.
January 17, 2013
The Ancient One
She’s not pretty and appears to be as old as Methuselah with her bent and twisted limbs. She is frightening to most when they see her lightening strike scared bark and she could be the star of any horror film with a group of black crows resting upon her craggy branches. The sapling youth of this Sugar Maple is long passed, but the sweet sap of life still courses through her veins.
She’s a hard worker this one, producing the sweetest and largest quantity of sap than any of our other trees. Hopefully the old girl will continue to work for us for many more syrup seasons. She has stood strong for these last hundred or so years, through many a violent storm, but I fear her time is coming. Each year the storms tear a little more of her away.
So think on this the next time you open your bottle of sweet Maple syrup. Remember that a scary ancient tree gave you the best syrup you ever tasted. And we all know that would be Pot Hole Farm Maple syrup. So get your taste buds ready. Its Maple Syrup time.
January 10, 2013
Friday morning we will have just enough Maple Sap to start our early boil. The last 3 days or so had been pretty good weather for a sap run. Typically you need temps like 20’s at night and 40′ during the days for the flow to start. Unfortunately it looks like the next several days it will be too warm for any sap. The 120 gallons collected is just barely enough to fill the evaporator but it is still new so what the heck.
So far most of our 120 gallons has come from the east side of the farm, that area receives some the first sun of the day. The Maple trees on the west side never get much and really warm up and received only a small amount of sun late in the afternoon. It may pick up later in the season as the sun starts to stay out a little longer.
Collecting sap from one of five tanks on the farm.
If it turns out that the west side is a low producer I will concentrate on the east trees for next years expansion. I guess time will tell. The picture above shows how I use a D.C. powered pump to suck the sap from the collection tanks through out the farm.
Transferring sap to the indoor holding tank.
The above picture shows how I transfer the sap from the 65 gallon transport tank in the back of the Kubota into the 100 gallon tank in the Sugar Shack. This process so far beats carrying 5 gallon buckets and pouring them.
100 gallon storage tank in the Shack.
Here is the 100 gallon holding tank that is sitting on a 6 foot platform. It feeds the sap into the evaporator via the float control. Notice the sight gauge on the side. it seems to work good but I still climb up on the ladder to see the level in the tank. That may get old in a year or so.
December 29, 2012
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.
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.
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.
December 3, 2012
During the summer one of my barred rock hens was beaten up by the rooster. She had a few gashes in her head and along her back. I found her by the strawberry patch and thought she may not make it, but she surprised me by stepping in front of me, looking as if to say, “Will you help me?” I nursed her back to health, her comb is now bright red and her feathers are thick. She is completely recovered other than being blind now in one eye. Anytime danger comes her way she runs to me and I will pick her up. Long story short I separated her and her twin sister who is also disliked by the rooster Captain Jack and put them in their own coop.
When the turkeys came along we tried to put them in with the two henny pennys, but the girls were not happy with their new house guests. Unfortunately it was the only coop with a fence to keep the turkeys confined until they became accustomed to their new surroundings. Since the hens were less than gracious hosts they had to be put back in the main coop until we could build another. Everyday the one eyed henny would stand outside the fence and look wistfully at her old home, wondering why these long legged birds had displaced her.
A few nights ago as evening fell we went to close up the coops and found that the back of the now turkey coop had been opened. The turkeys had escaped and decided to roost on top of the pole barn. We have no idea how the back hatch opened up, but the turkeys have never returned and choose to roost with the guineas or chickens.
Today I put the blind hen back in her home. She strutted around the pen, taking a bite of food and a sip of water before entering the house. She perused the inside with her one good eye then fluffed her feathers as if to say, “this place needs a good cleaning.” Of course I cleaned it for her, scraping and sweeping out the old turkey poop and putting down fresh hay. Later we brought her sister in to keep her company.
Sonny built them a new feeding station with a roof to keep their food dry and clean. I don’t think there could be two happier henny pennys and I’m almost sure I heard a sigh of grateful satisfaction as we closed the hatch tonight. All is right with the world for these two girls tonight. Content once again in their home sweet home.
New feeding station.
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.