Monday, March 06, 2006

free-range coonhound

My dog Slick joined the young roosters for breadcrumbs on the lawn. Neither party seemed too concerned.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

daylight hours

The hens are really ramping up their egg production now that the days are longer. Today, there was a huge egg! Someone was working hard on this one for sure. Usually an egg this large has twin yolks.

Here are the girls getting some sun. The white hen in the upper right corner is Big Mama and she is 5 years old! I will dedicate a blog entry to her soon. She is quite a chicken.

Also, the turkey hens have begun to lay! The center egg is from a maiden Red Bourben Hen. It is only the size of the chicken eggs it is flanked by because the hens are so young and this is their first lay.
But, soon enough the eggs will reach full size and be quite large. We end up eating the first month of eggs because fertility is very low. Once the eggs are a decent size and the turkeys are mating successfully, I will hatch some in an incubator. Some I will sell as fertile eggs to other folks who want to hatch their own. And then finally in late May I will let the hens go 'broody' and hatch their own clutch. Last year, my hen Gretta hatched a clutch of Red Bourben poults all by herself. She let Pearl, our semi-blind turkey, help her raise them.

This is my Red Bourben tom 'Erik the Red' trying to impress one of his ladies.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

books, books, books

I was tagged by bugheart but sadly I don't have 5 people to tag. So, I will answer anyway because I do love and collect books.

My 5 favorite books:
I have so many favorites but here are five

1) Jane Eyre by Ms. Bronte
2) Wuthering Heights by the other Ms. Bronte
3) The Razor's Edge by Somerset Maugham
4) The Encylopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery(she even tells you how to deliver a baby in a pinch! a human baby! good stuff.)
5) Storey's Basic Country Skills

The last book I bought was on ebay:

The Social Destiny of Man by Charles Fourier

Last three books I read:

1) Storey's Guide to Raising Dairy Goats (yesterday on the train)
2) The Mushroom Cultivator by Stamets and Chilton
3) The Long Emergency by James Howard Kunstler (still reading)

Five books that have been meaningful to me:

1) Nickled and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich
2) Freakonomics--especially the chapter on baby naming in the US
3) Stolen Harvest by Dr. Vandana Shiva (all of her books in fact)
4) Ten Acres Enough by Edmund Morris
5) Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life by John Lee Anderson

Books I am dying to read:

1) Against the Grain by Richard Manning
2) Bait and Switch by Barbara Ehrenreich
3) The Backyard Orchardist by Stella Otto

Friday, February 24, 2006

never a dull moment...

On wednesday morning, fox came in from walking the dogs in the back field and said to get out the first aid stuff b/c Fort had cut himself. He seemed a little frantic, so I stepped out back to see the damage and nearly fainted. Fort had torn the entire front of his paw open! I saw tendons, bones, the whole deal. Luckily, I am super equipped for a variety of animal emergencies and was able to quickly assess the damage, flush it out, wrap it, and off we went to Tufts.

The good news was that none of the tendons had been lacerated and they were able to put everthing back together. The bad news was that Fort would have to go under anesthesia (a little scary for an old dog). But, all turned out well and Fort is home recovering as we speak. He is not amused by the collar he has to wear to prevent him from chewing at his stitches. In two weeks, I will remove the sutures and Fort will be back to normal. Here he is still groggy and not happy about his Elizabethan collar...

and here is his Frankenstein-looking paw! Poor Fort!!

In other news, the mushrooms did indeed flip open and they were incredible. We had them with some kale and garlic and they were literally the best mushrooms I've ever had! So, fox and I have officially put building a mushroom house on our list!

I received the wonderful, hand-made tea cosy from bugheart! It is my first official piece of donkey paraphernalia and it was bugheart's first tea cosy! I love it, truly, not only b/c it has a donkey on it but because it is made from recycled, felted wool sweaters AND it really works!! How I've gotten this far in my tea drinking life with out a tea cozy is beyond me!

Thanks bugheart! You rock!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

creme brule

I need to branch out in my usage for all these eggs. So, for valentines day fox and I made creme brule. I love creme brule so if I can master it with my own eggs all the better. It is really funny how yellow everything is that I make with my eggs. Many commercial egg producers do not feed actual grains to their birds--or any plant materials for that matter. Commerical layer mash is mainly animal bi-products. When you feed chickens actual corn, soy, grass, tomatoes, squash, etc. some of the carotenes and other plant pigments come out in their yolks. I am talking bright orange yolks! Also, as eggs sit on the shelf they lose their color. Fresh eggs have brighter yolks in general.

And, the mushrooms keep coming. We ate a bunch for dinner last night and now we are going to let these big ones keep going. In a day or two they will invert like an umbrella in the wind, and this is supposed to be the most nutritious stage for eating. Stay tuned...

Sunday, February 12, 2006

snowed in

What a storm! Eighteen inches and still falling. And freezing out there!!

Fox and I decided to stay in and make pasta. Lolly helped, too.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

busy, busy, busy

Here we are in the middle of the weekend and I finally have some time to blog...

Fox came home from a trip to europe on wednesday with a full supply of Ritter Sports in all my favorite flavors.

The very next day, our third and only running volvo broke down! You know you are in a tight spot when 3 out of 3 of your volvos are off the road. But, good news, it wasn't terminal and volvo #3 is back in action today. What to do about the other two is still undecided.

I was fortunate enough to find myself on Newbury Street in Boston on friday with two hours to kill. I went into a cute yarn shop that I had seen before but was hesitant to go into. We all know that major 'tude one can encounter from those who run these little shops but I was very pleasantly suprised! The owner was both friendly and helpful. I bought three skeins of Noro even though I haven't finished a project all winter. I just couldn't resist the wonderful color combos:

And, finally, the mushrooms just keep coming! It is incredible. Fox made a great sauce with them the other night and they are really quite tasty. I don't know, they seem to taste really mushroomy but maybe I'm just so excited about the whole thing.

Here they are on wednesday:

and then today:

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

sleeping dogs

This is a common scene around here...from left to right is Fortinbras, Slick, and Lolly. Mornings like this make it hard to get out of bed. When these guys sleep, they really sleep.

Monday, February 06, 2006

mushrooms and eggs

I bought a mushroom kit for me and fox for christmas and I just harvested the first mushrooms from it. We are very interested in growing mushrooms with our horse manure. To me, mushroom farming would be the ultimate union between biology and farming. Fungi are just incredible.

Here are the eggs I collected yesterday. I can't believe so many of my girls are still laying. I cleaned out the hen house on saturday and gave everyone lots of new straw. It seems to have sent them on a laying frenzy. Most days I get about 3-4 eggs. In the spring that will change to about 30 a day with everyone laying about an egg a day.

What is so cute about this picture is the difference in the sizes. Some of the new hens just started laying--they are just about 9 months old. Their eggs are so small. Look at the two blue eggs on the top left. The larger one is from a 2 year old and the little is from an 8 month old--both of the breed Araucana.

Friday, February 03, 2006

buckwheat! buckwheat! buckwheat! (for bugheart)

These are guinea fowl. They are odd looking birds that originate from Africa. They are known for their very loud calls tha sound like 'buckwheat'. Personally, I think they sound like a cicadas. Baby guineas are called keets.

They are wonderful bug hunters and can cut down on pests in the garden--they even find ticks!

Check out: Frit's Farm a site by the author of 'Gardening with Guineas'

and McMurrayHatchery sells all varieties of day old keets.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Murray McMurray

Hooray! The Murray McMurray Spring catalog has arrived!

Time to browse the different varieties of poultry available and make my dream list of new breeds to try.

I am thinking about adding some guinea hens to my flock this year. Anyone interested in guinea fowl should read the book "Gardening With Guineas". Outside the loud noise, they seem to be quite useful on a small farm.

This year, I am also going to buy some Icelandic hatching eggs to try and start on my own. The hen and rooster pictured above are Cuckoo Marans an old French breed who lay very dark-shelled brown eggs.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Morning Chores

My donkey was exceptionally lovey this morning so I am posting a picture of her. This is Gina (aka Virginia Woolf).

She is always happy to see me in morning for breakfast. She is not happy about being on a diet. Gina needs to slim down so that she can 1) be healthy and 2) have a baby!

This spring, Gina will be trained to pull a cart.

You laugh now, but when the oil is gone and this country is a parking lot I will be trotting passed you in my grass-fed donkey mobile!

Monday, January 30, 2006

Tag--I'm it!

Thanks to bugheart, I am a full-fledged blogger now!

Four jobs I've had:

1) teenaged slave at Sesame Place (circa 1990)
2) stable-hand
3) lab technician (x2)
4) research associate (what's the difference?)

Four movies I could (I do!) watch over and over:

1) Metropolitan
3) The Life Aquatic
4) The Royal Tennenbaum's

Four places I've lived:

1) State College, PA
2) Tulare, CA
3) Bow, NH
4) Grafton, MA

Four places I've vacationed:

1) Maui
2) Iceland
3) Italy
4) Harvey's Lake, PA

Four websites I visit (almost) daily:

1) ebay
4) google

Four favorite foods:

1) thai coconut milk soup
2) pancakes
3) green papaya salad
4) french fries

Four places I'd rather be right now:

1) Iceland!
2) at home with my dogs
3) riding a horse
4) shopping!

Sunday, January 29, 2006

A New Addition

Two weeks ago I adopted a Haflinger pony named Louise. She is broke to ride and drive and I hope to learn some practical horse farming with her this summer. I've done some research and there are many farming impliments available for Haflinger ponies specifically. I'm not sure how much we can do with her on our small acreage...but I aim to try.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Welcome to my farming revolution!

My intentions for this blog:

1) serve as a record of my quest for a more sustainable lifestyle

2) serve as entertainment or inspiration for anyone out there who is interested in setting up a small farm

Thursday, January 05, 2006

introductory post

"Our objects, as you know, are to ensure a more natural union between intellectual and manual labor than now exists; to combine the thinker and the worker, as far as possible, in the same individual; to guarantee the highest mental freedom, by providing all with labor, adapted to their tastes and talents, and securing to them the fruits of their industry; to do away with the necessity of menial services, by opening the benefits of education and the profits of labor to all; and thus to prepare a society of liberal, intelligent, and cultivated person, whose relations with each other would permit a more simple and wholesome life, than can now be led amidst the pressures of our competitive institutions." George Ripley c. 1840 Brook Farm, MA