Monday, March 23, 2009

Looks Like Someone's Been Phoning It In...

We're going to have to have a chat about this, ladies. If I can figure out which one of you did this, it will be going in your performance evaluation.

I mean, REALLY. I need everyone on my staff to be a team player. I need everyone pulling their weight. This sort of thing will put you on a fast track to early retirement, or at least passed over for promotions.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Farm Chronicles - February

Oh dear. Things have been so busy, I nearly forgot about the monthly update!

February was a very busy month for us. Even though it was a short month, we managed to cram quite a bit into it. Most of our activity was preparing for our goats to arrive, and we expect them sometime today or tomorrow. Hooray! It's finally time! We've cleaned, moved, built, rebuilt, fenced, shopped, you name it. We still have some little things left to do, but luckily they can all be done after they get here. We have also arranged to board another goat for a friend while she tries to sell her house and move, so we'll have four goats for awhile instead of three. The more the merrier!

While we were working on the goat barn, we were blessed with excellent weather. It was sunny and dry all month, and unusually warm - in the seventies and low eighties. This made working much easier, but we discovered that the onset of warm weather means that spring is full on for the animals! One of our ducks decided it was time to bring some babies into the world, so she's presently sitting on about sixteen to eighteen eggs. This apparently put one of our hens in the mood and she decided she wanted to sit on the duck eggs too. After breaking up a few fights, we relocated her to private quarters with her own egg pile, which she's now happily sitting on as well. As if that were not enough, I also ordered 25 baby chicks to be delivered the second week of April - coincidentally, the same time that the resident chicks and ducklings should be hatching out. We will be awash in babies, and you can bet there will be pictures!

Speaking of babies, we managed to finally usher in our first successful litter of bunnies. They're about two and a half weeks old now, and are starting to leave the nest box. Well, at least this one is -

We've also learned that not only have our bees survived the winter, but they have thrived and are in need of larger accommodations NOW. We've got additional supers on the way, but since this is the busy season for beekeepers and suppliers, we might have to wait awhile.

In spite of all my good intentions for the garden, I haven't managed to plant anything except peas, radishes and potatoes. I've succumbed to the reality that my original garden plan was far too ambitious, and our soil is simply too poor, so I've revised the plan for this year. We'll put a couple of much smaller, raised beds on top of our existing plot and plant in those. That should allow us to still get some vegetables this year, and amend our soil in small sections, which will be much easier to manage.

Meanwhile, life has been carrying on as usual. The puppy is getting bigger, work is going along, we still manage to make a little time to socialize here and there. We're getting a bit of a rest this weekend, but I know it won't last long!

Our "To Do" List

1. Clean house in preparation to receive guests. Worry that dogs will harass guests.

2. Praise dogs for good behavior. Apologize to guests for swarm of bees surrounding the front door.

3. Dispatch deranged raccoon.

4. Dispose of raccoon.

5. Break up poultry fights. Get pecked and hissed at.

6. Remove hostile chicken to private quarters where she can do no further harm.

7. Attempt to "herd" ducks into barn and attached yard. Fail miserably.

8. Curse ducks and their uncooperative ways.

9. Patrol yard at 1:00 am to find source of late night dog barking.

10. Curse dogs for barking their heads off at big, scary, threatening...bunnies.

11. Move straw bales out of barn to make room to work.

12. Move straw bales back into barn due to threat of rain.

13. Move straw bales around barn because they're still in the way of something.

14. Curse straw bales.

15. Work fingers raw yet again putting finishing touches on goat barn.

16. Sit down to a couple of huge margaritas, and congratulate ourselves on a job well done.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Living and Dying on the Farm

Here's what's living. Our latest bunny babies are doing well. They're all nice and fat and healthy, and I think we're past any threat of cold weather. I'm not going to get too comfortable, though, until they're walking around and eating solid food.

As for the sad news, we've lost one of our Muscovy drakes. I have to assume he fell prey to a coyote. He simply disappeared - I've walked the area all around the house, pond and barns, and there's no trace of him. It's highly unusual for the ducks to separate - they all move as a single unit - so there's virtually no chance that he just wandered off. They tend to stay very close to the house, anyway. I'm really sad about losing him, and so is Mr. Farm. We're rather attached to the ducks. This also puts us in a rather awkward position. We only had four ducks to begin with (hardly a predator "buffer") and two of them don't even technically belong to us. We had two breeding pairs, one of which was ours and one pair we were keeping for some friends. Those friends are moving and are just about ready to retrieve their pair of ducks. We now have one breeding pair and one single female with a clutch of eggs. I'm not sure how this will all shake out in the end.

The really disappointing thing is that we can no longer allow our ducks pond access, at least not without major modifications. We know that coyotes are casing the pond area, and unlike chickens, ducks DO NOT like to go into a little house at night (I had to put them in last night under extreme diress). It's quite saddening to have a pond and to have ducks and not be able to bring the two together, as they ought to be. I expect some greater level of confinement and a kiddie pool will be in their future.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Sunday, March 1, 2009

A Full Service Farm Store

When you live in the country and have livestock, your needs are, well, different from the needs of urban dwellers. Now, I love living in the country - I mean really love it - but sometimes it can be hard to find the things we need out here...out here. I've found since living here that the feed store I frequented in suburbia was far better stocked that the rural one closest to me. It's not uncommon to find that if I need a certain this-or-that for garden or animal, I must go to the nearest larger city to find it. I do not get this. I've been making due with my local feed store and the Tractor Supply about 15 minutes away, with only moderate satisfaction. Yesterday, however, all my prayers were answered (at least they would have been, if I were the praying type).

I discovered Mann Farm and Ranch.

It's about the same distance as the Tractor Supply, but down a road I'd have never gone down. It also KICKS TSC's BUTT. I had discovered Mecca. They have virtually everything I could possibly need. All the types of feed I like, all the whole grain I'd ever want, every supplement, every piece of gear, every garden tidbit, fencing, feed buckets, chainsaws, tractor parts, everything. Plus boots.

AND, they might have the world's most charming staff. After ringing up a sizable order at the feed counter, I asked the gentleman if they had any livestock panels. I hadn't really looked outside, so hadn't noticed whether they stocked fencing or not. He ALMOST said "yes". Instead, the conversation went like this:

"Do you by chance carry cattle panels?"

(VERY brief pause)

(BIG smile)

"We're a full service farm store, ma'am."

I was giddy. I really didn't think this place could get any better. It is my new favorite place. I'm going to have to restrain myself from making unnecessary visits. Mostly, though, it's just comforting to know that I can travel just a few miles and get everything I need without having to mail order.

We're a full service farm store, ma'am.