New Furry Babes and One of Cast Iron.


With the arrival of warm weather brings with it fluffy babes of gold.

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babes

Buff Orpington chicks.  They are so sweet and docile, and after our experience with Mr. Nasty, ( one time he jumped up, thrust his feet forward – right into my husband’s…yup. Right there.)

So, I did a bit of research; I wanted a more docile friendly breed. I thinks these will do just fine.

We were also lucky enough to add this beautiful girl to our pasture.

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Darby.

She is a half sister to Our Phantom of the Opera; a  big boned, heavenly fine, lustrous fiber. Delicious. Would you just look at that face. ( Go ahead, I’ll wait.)

Last fall she had a haircut, a full body haircut. I can’t wait to see her fiber when it has grown out a bit more. (insert little girl squeal here).

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When I put her in the pasture with the other girls it was clear I’d need to move the Angora goats girls to another pasture; she had no clue what they were and she was not eager to be friends.

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So, they ate my dress. Well, not all of it, just a nibble; but it was an ancient cotton dress and tore easily. I was a little embarrassed to be walking about the pasture with my bottom wobbling in plain daylight. They didn’t care, they gave a look back, stuck out their tongues and walked away.

Do you think that could be a goats version of pants-ing someone? Let’s move on. No need to give them much attention for bad moves.

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We get a little giddy around here when new animals arrive, but I have to say I was over the moon with this arrival.  A vintage 1970’s era, cast iron, work horse of a tiller.

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Troy built. Please dry out this week, garden, please. I wanna till.

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Isn’t she lovely.

Be well,

Jess

It’s Spring, Let’s clean.


The gardens of course. You didn’t think I was dusting, did you? ( I clean a bit every day, so no big spring clean for me.)

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Back to the task at hand. The gardens. (How quickly I am diverted). March weather was so fickle and was terribly miserable here in Upstate, NY. Not much could be done to tidy the garden, really it was mostly covered in snow until the last week end in March. No telling what havoc Old Man Winter has wreaked ’til the snow is gone.

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I have to resist, there is temptation to pull back the mulch protecting fragile plantings, eager to see any sign of new growth. The mulch, the protector, I so carefully lay before the frost, gives shelter from sudden changes of temperature and chilling winds, keeping cozy this fragile growth. It’s still winter here, essentially. The ground was white this morning. (If I quietly turn away, maybe it will take its leave.)

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(I thought of finding a more attractive picture, but this is really how it looks – ugly. Let’s keep it real)

Tempering myself, I’ll slowly remove the mulch as the days and weeks become steadily warmer,
I tell myself, it is much better to remove the mulch a little later than to remove it to early. I try to hurry Mother Nature, to no avail. I love Spring anyway.

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Don’t forget to clean out your birdhouses early before the birds begin nesting again. I haven’t seen the bluebirds yet, but others have.

While it will be awhile before the season of blooms arrive, my garden list is readied for season.  I can’t plant  during this early spring, (I haven’t even been able to get peas in the ground); I bide my time.

Maybe this weekend there will be enough of a thaw.

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Finn Remembers.

The frost line was very deep this year. Even inhibiting maple production) there are some chores I’ll do to get it in shape before the real gardening begins.

Give my old clay pots a wash; a good scrub using a solution of baking soda and water.
I’ll clean around and map out the area for new garden beds. (that may be a good job for the girls, they live for this sort of thing. Don’t you Simone?)

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Don’t let this photo fool you, they really wanna help.

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This is how they work, great team aren’t they?

While I’m at it, I should try to remember where I planted spring bulbs. Do you remember? You were there, weren’t you? If you remember, please share; I wouldn’t want to dig them up.

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I don’t think they were paying attention. Chickens can be like that you know.

Alternating thawing and freezing can tear plant roots and even force the plant right out of the ground. If I notice any plants that have heaved, I push them back right back where they belong – into the soil, and pack the soil lightly with my foot.

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Ooh we can’t wait for green, Revie and I. Of course, she’ll be more interested in nibbling than helping. But, who can blame her.

As soon as I see new growth,  I’ll divide and transplant summer blooming perennials and fertilize (with llama beans) the plants in there forever beds.

Is there a forever in gardens, nah, let’s just move on.

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Spinach, Chard, Cabbage, Cauliflower, and other hardy vegetables will be started from seed late in the month. Lord willing and the creek don’t rise.

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Well, come on girls, we have work to do.  Hey, wait; where are you going? Girls? Girls?

Be well,

Jess

In Winter’s Cold Shadow…There is Gold.


I find that I am not as patient as I once was; sometimes, I feel as though I am attempting to strain the mud puddle rather than patiently waiting for the mud to settle and the water to clear….Do you ever feel as though you are treading water, when you should be swimming?
Feeling over whelmed, me? “Why”, I ask myself. I know there is no easy road, no magic bullet. I am well aware the frustration I feel is of my own making. . . yet as I concentrate so much energy on my objectives, my world, …stumbling through endless lists.
I have always had lists. That can’t be it; am I just getting older and grumpier? Is this what mid-life, what 50 feels like? If it is I don’t like it one bit. Is it just the solitude that winter brings? Could it be I just need to idle my motor, wait for things to happen as they should, when they should?
Or maybe, just maybe; I like these cold, gray winter days. Days like these that let me savor a bad mood….until the afternoon sun turns it to gold.

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Mercedes’ shadow cast on the barn wall.

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Intent on supper…”oh, are you still there?”

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Mercedes, always so graceful , never in the front, never pushy, or needing to be the first…always patient and full of grace. I want to be like her.

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Andy, is so frail; he did not have the benefit of his mother’s milk and nutrients pat the age of 2 months. I worry about him in the cold; he is wearing 2 polar fleece vest, a goose down vest, and a rain jacket with the arms cut off, ( all zipped up across his back) to protect him from the frigid temperatures. He sleeps, always, between KatDoll and Camille…they keep him warm.
I am going to have him gelded, so that he never has to leave them.

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Even the chickens head to the llama barn for warmth and protection.

The winter blues. How do you deal with this issue? Or is it not an issue for you? Where do you find your patience?

Be Well,
Jess

I get up every morning determined to both change the world and have one hell of a good time. Sometimes this makes planning my day difficult.


I am not complaining, I love my little farm, and all of its critters…yet, there are mornings I would rather not venture out quite so early. Like this morning all damp, and cold. Once I step out of the kitchen door, everything seems as it should and I relax in to the morning’s flow of activity ~ happily ~ if not admittedly a  skosh weary.

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Mind you this is not a glamorous undertaking.
This is how I usually go about my chores:

Farm Fashion, or early chore attire

By the time I get out the sun is usually cresting just above the east hills; the roosters are crowing, the ducks are squawking; and the llamas are chewing their cud quietly greeting the new day. They all know the routine; the girls (llamas) line up at the fence line. The Chickens and ducks come running full steam ahead to greet me raucously at the fence gate; ducks scurrying past the Roosters so as not get pecked.

I call him Mr. Nasty...this could be an entire blog. Let's just say he makes egg gathering an adventure.

I call him Mr. Nasty…this could be an entire blog. Let’s just say he makes egg gathering an adventure.

We use large round bales, and have a covered shed for the girls to munch at their leisure, just outside of their barn. This morning it was empty, wiped clean…guess that is where I will start this mornings chores… The farm truck is at work with Howie, so I’ll cut the twine surrounding the huge bales, then pull down the hay that peels off in fragrant sheets, layer by layer; fill the wheelbarrow and head up the hill to the girls shed – repeated as necessary. Gym membership, who needs a gym membership? My blood pressure is 112/60, my pulse is 62! Who ever would like to save their membership fees…come on over.
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Morning goes something like this…
smooch big dogs
feed big dogs
love
start tea water (and/or have a cuppa coffee)
fill water buckets
fill dog and cat waters
lay out 14 feed bowls
measure out sweet mix for all llamas
measure out beet pulp for all llamas
fill bucket with layer pellets
make tea..(if I haven’t had coffee)
let dogs out
Andy Claus
carry 12 of the bowls to the girls pasture
carry 4 bowls to stud pasture
fill poultry grain feeder
gather eggs as I defend my legs against Mr. Nasty (bantam rooster with king sized attitude) – no eggs today :(
carry water bucket to replenish girls water
carry water bucket to replenish studs water
carry water bucket to replenish poultry water
bring hay to the girls
pick up all bowls
pick water buckets
dogs and I head in…In that moment – animals fed and watered,on this damp cold morning, the smell of hay and the sound of llamas chewing contentedly,dogs frolicking in the yard… I am at peace. Maybe mornings aren’t so dreadful after all.

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Note to self…remember to enjoy tea!

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Have a blessed day,
Be well
Jess

Say YES!


Cynicism masquerades as wisdom, but it is the farthest thing from it. Because cynics don’t learn anything. Because cynicism is a self-imposed blindness, a rejection of the world because we are afraid it will hurt us or disappoint us. Cynics always say no. But saying “yes” begins things. Saying “yes” is how things grow. Saying “yes” leads to knowledge. “Yes” is for young people. So for as long as you have the strength to, say “yes’.
Stephen Colbert

Be Well,
Jess

You’ve got the cutest little baby face…well some of you.


It that time of year again, County Fairs, State Fairs and animals on parade. We always head straight to the animal barns, then to the produce displays, followed by Howie’s need to see every piece of machinery known to man…while we were looking about at antique water pumps, wood splitters and steam engines; I came across these honey extractors and thought of Miss C . Wonder if she could use this?

It looks pretty deep, and with her many gallons of honey it may make short work of the extraction process.

I could oogle over these baby faces all day.

This little Jersey calf was born 1 day before the fair…wonder what she thinks of the world?

Some kids, have their own idea of comfort.

While other are just too sleepy to care….shhh…look at those lashes.

I have heard of folks dressing up for the fair; but this is ridiculous! Wonder who his hair dresser is?

Well hello there big guy! He looks too proud to be in jail…(I think I am funny, just smile and nod)

This white peacock is stunning, I think. It was difficult to get a good vantage point, he might have been camera shy.

She’s got legs…I am certain her Mamma thinks she’s cute.

Do you think I could fit this little girl in the back of a Volvo wagon? Well, I could try…but, she probably wouldn’t like me very much after. I guess I have to wait for a Jersey calf, and some cashmere goats, and a few Wensleydale sheep, and, and, and….Might be time to go home.

I will be back at the fair today, spinning with my new friends ( just met Lisa yesterday – smiling really hard.)
Be well.
Jess

Why do they they do it….for love.


Why do farmers farm, given their economic adversities on top of the many frustrations and difficulties normal to farming? And always the answer is: “Love. They must do it for love.” Farmers farm for the love of farming.


They love to watch and nurture the growth of plants.


They love to live in the presence of animals.


They love to work outdoors.


They love the weather, maybe even when it is making them miserable.


They love to live where they work and to work where they live.


If the scale of their farming is small enough, they like to work in the company of their children and with the help of their children. They love the measure of independence that farm life can still provide. I have an idea that a lot of farmers have gone to a lot of trouble merely to be self-employed to live at least a part of their lives without a boss.


“The first supermarket supposedly appeared on the American landscape in 1946. That is not very long ago.

Until then, where was all the food?


Dear folks, the food was in homes, gardens, local fields, and forests. It was near kitchens, near tables, near bedsides. It was in the pantry, the cellar, the backyard.” Joel Salatin, Folks, This Ain’t Normal: A Farmer’s Advice for Happier Hens, Healthier People, and a Better World.


‎A farm is a manipulative creature. There is no such thing as finished.


Work comes in a stream and has no end. There are only the things that must be done now and things that can be done later. The threat the farm has got on you, the one that keeps you running from can until can’t, is this: do it now, or some living thing will wilt or suffer or die. Its blackmail, really.

A farmer friend of mine told me recently about a busload of middle school children who came to his farm for a tour. The first two boys off the bus asked, “Where is the salsa tree?” They thought they could go pick salsa, like apples and peaches. Oh my. What do they put on SAT tests to measure this? Does anybody care? How little can a person know about food and still make educated decisions about it? Is this knowledge going to change before they enter the voting booth? Now that’s a scary thought!


Commercial farming as I see it…but a temporary blip until the land is used up, the water polluted, the neighbors nauseated, and the air unbreathable. The farmhouse, the concrete, the machinery, and outbuildings become relics of a bygone vibrancy when another family farm moves to the city financial centers for relief…


Commercial agriculture can survive within pluralistic American society, as we know it – if the farm is rebuilt on some of the values with which it is popularly associated: conservation, independence, self-reliance, family, and community. To sustain itself, commercial agriculture will have to reorganize its social and economic structure as well as its technological base and production methods in a way that reinforces these values…


Alright, I will come down off the soapbox now…it seems a long time between posts lately; but with tomatoes and squash coming out of my ears and our youngest to get off to college, days have seemed too short. As I harvest the vegetables, I can’t help but think about something I read awhile ago. A writing by Masanobu Fukuoka, The One-Straw Revolution. In this he wrote,” If each person were given one quarter-acre, that is 1 1/4 acres to a family of five, that would be more than enough land to support the family for the whole year. If natural farming were practiced, a farmer would also have plenty of time for leisure and social activities within the village community. I think this is the most direct path toward making this country a happy, pleasant land.” I can’t help but agree.

Be well,
Jess