Friday, October 31, 2008

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Yeah, Yeah, I know.

So it's been more than a few days, and I have no pictures. That's just the way it is sometimes, I'm afraid. I completely forgot to take the camera with me to the goat class. It was pretty great, though - I learned a lot, got to try my hand at milking, and got to meet some very sweet goats. I have a similar class this Saturday, but involving cows, so we'll see how that goes. I'm excited about that too. I'm pretty heavily favoring goats right now. I found that I wasn't drawn to sheep nearly as much as goats and I'm really not into fiber crafts, so I may consider adding them down the road but for now sheep are off the table. I like the idea of a cow, but that would be a considerable amount of milk to deal with, so I'll have to think about that some more. Goats are looking good, though! Milk, cheese, butter, soap!

Everyone else here is doing well. The ducks are looking much better these days and are getting less timid all the time. A couple more weeks and they'll be ready to come out of their house. The rabbits are happy for the cooler weather, the garden bed is dug and half-fenced and cooking up nicely for spring, the bees are buzzy and the chickens are their usual silly selves. We're spending more time indoors now, getting the house organized, doing lots of cooking and canning and generally getting ready for winter, which seems to be coming sooner than usual this year.

Speaking of winter, I'm working on ideas for homemade Christmas gifts that aren't too hokey. No one seems to have much to spend this year, us included, and we really want to give some gifts that truly came from us. I don't knit or sew, so that's out. We've got some other ideas in the works, though - it's just a question of whether we can pull them off. What about everyone else? Any homespun gifts on the horizon? Any ideas? I'd like to try blown egg ornaments, but need to do some research on that.

That's all I have for now - hopefully next time I'll actually have something to talk about.

Friday, October 17, 2008

We'll Be Right Back After These Messages From Goats

Folks, I'll be out of pocket for a few days, so the blog will be quiet. I'll be spending tomorrow taking a class on goat care - I'm hoping I get to try milking, but we'll see. I also hope to get some pictures.

After that, I have some social engagement every day until, uh, Wednesday, plus the usual workload, so I just don't anticipate having time to post anything until later in the week.

Have a great weekend!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Close Encounters With Wildlife

I just had my first snake sighting since moving to the farm. Actually, calling it a "snake sighting" sounds rather mundane, like "Oh look, there's a snake." Hardly. This could more accurately be described as a perfect storm of creatures inadvertently scaring the piss out of one another, and everyone backing away slowly. I'm still breathing hard.

I just took a walk (a long walk) out to my mailbox, which turned out to be in vain, since it's Columbus Day (I forgot). On the walk to the mailbox, there's an area of the property we like to call "the scary, snaky place". We'd never actually seen a snake there before, but it's densely overgrown, with a line of trees behind it, and if I were a snake, well, that's where I'd live. I had nearly reached the street, and it was just at that time of midday silence, when not many animals are out and about. All was quiet, the air was still, the sky was overcast, and about five feet in front of me I heard a very loud rustling in the trees, followed immediately by the thump! thump! thump! of GIANT beating wings. Apparently I had startled a large, LARGE bird. I didn't get a good look, but it was certainly a hawk or a turkey vulture, which are plentiful here. This did not just startle me out of my reverie. This scared the living daylights out of me. I jumped and stumbled backwards a bit, and when I did, I felt something sort of soft under my shoe. That just scared me again, and I jumped and stumbled a second time and saw a flash of movement on the ground - a copperhead streaking out from under me and into the tall grass. Holy Sh-t. I mean, really.

Let me see if I have this right. I surprise a vulture, vulture scares me, I scare a snake, snake scares me (again), all parties make a quiet and hasty retreat. All I can say is that I'm SO glad my snaky friend opted to retreat. How lucky for me.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Another Trip Around

Today is my birthday.

I bring this up because I took a bit of time to reflect on where I've been, who I am today and where I'm headed, and I'm happy to report that I'm right where I want to be. I'm not too old. I'm not too young. I'm not wasting time and I'm not working too hard. I have the family I want and the home that I want. I feel like I'm doing just what I'm supposed to be doing. I'm just right, and that feels great.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Help Us Name the Farm

It's time for our little slice of heaven to have a name. We've been loosely calling it all sorts of things, but so far none have really stuck. We'd love some suggestions, if you care to offer any.

We have twelve acres - a mix of trees and pasture. There is a pond, a little white house and two barns. Other than the pond, there are no really prominent landscape features. We plan to grow vegetables and keep a wide variety of livestock, without a strong focus on any one thing (at least for now). Our indigenous residents include frogs, coyotes, rabbits, skunks, armadillos and lots of birds of various types. We are surrounded by cattle and are regularly serenaded by them. We brought with us dogs, chickens, ducks, rabbits and worms (so far).

"Screaming Frog Ranch" was popular among some folks, I know, (and our frogs do scream) but I'm trying to avoid it because I think it has a bit of an "animal cruelty" connotation. We've floated a few ideas already and the only one we like at all is "On the Job Farm" - because we both still work day jobs, and because we're literally getting on the job training with this place. We're not necessarily married to that one, though. We want something memorable, not too goofy (but a little goofy is okay) and not too, I don't know, "peaceful and serene" sounding, if that makes sense.

So let me know what you think - thanks!

UPDATE: As of this morning, we're also liking "Dogfeathers Farm"

Monday, October 6, 2008

The Chickens are Revolting

Yes, it's true. They came running full tilt out of the trees the other morning, cackling wildly. The hen in front had something large in her beak - really quite large for a chicken to be carrying. She was running like mad, making excited clucking sounds, the others right on her heels. When she got close enough, we were able to get a better look at the highly-sought-after prize she was carrying. It was...a frog. A good-sized bullfrog. With no head. The other girls caught up with her and they fought over frog legs for breakfast. To see such behavior from animals that usually peck at weeds, seeds and insects was comical, yet...gross. It elicited many a cry of "Ewwww!" from the two of us.

We were up early (about 4:30) yesterday morning for our visit to the sheep lady. We ended up spending nearly the whole day with her, learning all we could about shearing sheep and hair goats, as well as how to clean wool. She was absolutely delightful, allowed us to make a total mess out of one of her goats, and graciously gave up an entire day to educate a few people she had never met before. It was an incredibly generous gesture. I also learned from visiting her farm that I absolutely adore donkeys! Who knew they were so sweet and personable? I'm sure a donkey or two will be added to the roster here. She warned that they're like potato chips - you can't have just one! It was a great day, but quite a whipping. We finally got home at nearly 8:00 p.m., and couldn't have been more exhausted. Those are usually the best days, though.

Today, while I'm working at home, I'm making a huge batch of homemade spaghetti sauce, which I intend to can. It's a cloudy, rainy day, so it's perfect for a big pot of home cooking. Between my long, hard day yesterday and the gloomy weather today, I'm really finding it hard to want to do much of anything. I suppose I'll just have to suck it up and get to it!

P. S. For those of you who were wondering, the ducks are now named Reginald and Bernice. ;-)

Saturday, October 4, 2008

New Arrivals

The ducks are here! They arrived yesterday and are settling into their new home nicely. We'll keep them confined to the house for several weeks, and after that they'll be allowed to roam freely during the day and swim in the pond. For now, I need them to get acclimated and oriented and learn that this is their home. I'll be anxious to let them play in the pond, though - they do foul their water in a hurry! They're really quite shy so far - they all run to the back of the house every time I approach. They do seem quite sweet, though, and I think they'll be a great addition to the "family". I mean, look at this face:

These are Muscovy ducks, and are the only domestic ducks not descended from Mallards. They are often treated more like geese due to their large size. Adults can top out at anywhere from 17-24 pounds. They don't quack, but will make soft hissing sounds when frightened or upset. These four need a bit of rehab. They have mites something awful and are looking a bit rough from excessive pecking. Their previous home, while not overly crowded, was populated by so many ducks that some aggression was inevitable. Now that they're here, I think they'll be on the mend soon enough and looking lovely again in no time.