Monday, August 29, 2011

There's a Big World Out There People

My facebook friends, largely still without power from Tropical Storm Irene, have been posting cell phone pictures of the (admittedly lovely) Sunset this evening.

Late Breaking News: Sunset happens - Every.Blessed.Day. Right about sunset, in fact. Shut off your TV and go outside! Marvels await you, I promise. At the very least, you'll be less depressed than if you stay inside watching the evening news.

In other developments, Sunrise happens with alarming regularity as well. In my life, the alarming happens before Sunrise, courtesy of Mooney, my puppy. If he fails to go off by 4:30, Insomnia, my rooster, has his back. They should perform a duet at the Met, country-style. People would flock to see it. (flock, rooster, get it?) So when my bleary-eyed self stops stumbling and cursing and leaves the warm nest to feed the inmates who run the asylum, my reward is the Sunrise. It doesn't eliminate the pain entirely, but it helps. A lot. So do farm-fresh eggs, by the way. Don't get me wrong, coffee is still the elixir of life, but coffee doesn't occur until well after Sunrise.

Here's where I get all preachy on your ass. Experiencing Sunrise and Sunset regularly helps regulate both mood and sleep. I know so very many people who could do with a large dose of Sunrise and Sunset. I'm the happiest and healthiest I've ever been since I lost my mind I mean moved here. Last winter was the first one in forever that I didn't get winter blues. Because I was - gasp - outside every frigid miserable freezing snowing blizzarding icy sleeting damp gorgeous day.

Thus Endeth the Sermon. Go Forth and Get Out-Of-Doors.

***Gratuitous Sunset Picture Deliberately Omitted. Go See It For Yourself!***

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Crying Uncle

Winter from hell, tornado (too close for comfort), earthquake, and now a hurricane? UNCLE!!!!

Preparations start tomorrow. Gathering anything in the yard that might take flight and stuffing it indoors - somewhere. Putting a new tarp on the two-stall barn roof. I was hoping this one would hold until I buy new metal roofing for it this fall, but last week's normal drenching proved otherwise. Leaky leaky. Cutting down two trees, both in poor health due to damaged trunks, that would undoubtedly land on the barn if the wind is bad enough. Hoping to temporarily relocate two ponies to the neighbors' sturdy barn for the duration, due to my unwillingness to cut down a big beautiful elm tree that could land on their housing. What I'm going to do with the chickens I don't know. Stuff them in the garage too I guess. I'll probably wind up chasing them around the rafters for days afterward. That'll be fun, I'm really looking forward to that. Groceries to buy, propane tank to fill, every water-holding container to be filled. Generator to start, since it hasn't been fired off for a while. Like, over a year awhile. Candles to find. I refuse to buy more, I have so damned many, it's just a matter of what box they're in. Hope I labeled it :) Batteries, of course. Stock up on dog food, horse grain, hay. Make the doggies wear their collars with their little name tags and my phone number - Just.In.Case. They hate collars. Oh well, I hate sobbing for lost dogs more.

I hope this all turns out to be unnecessary, but am inclined to assume the worst at this point. Stop the ride, I wanna get off!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Not Eggsactly What I Had In Mind...

Right now, at this very moment, there are no less than twenty-nine eggs in my refrigerator. There may be more, it's entirely possible that one or two may have rolled off behind the cheese or the lemonade (I stocked up on Newman's Own - on sale at Big Y this week). Note to self - buy egg cartons on next trip to the co-op I'm one person. My seven hens are laying anywhere from three to five eggs per day.

Send egg recipes immediately.

Until yesterday, I suspected that my Ameracauna (aka Easter Egger) hen was a dud, as I had only been getting brown eggs. Then yesterday, and again today, I got a lovely little light-blue egg! Yay! I think I would like a few more Ameracuanas. They are pretty and docile birds with the bonus of pretty eggs. I would also like a Welsummer, that lays eggs so dark brown they are almost chocolate-colored. How much fun would that be in your egg carton?

Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Weight of the Weekend

Stacked 800lbs of hay. Ditto for 600lbs of shavings. Cleaned 20 stalls - each day. I don't want to know how many pounds of manure that is. 40lbs of dog kibble. 150lbs of horse grain. 100 of chicken feed. 50lbs of stall deodorizer, 50lbs of rock salt for the well water softener. 9 precious eggs from my newly laying hens - 1lb? Installed half the siding for the new hen coop, inventing some amazing new yoga contortions while wielding a sawz-all while I was at it. Lugged 20 water buckets - each day - at 40lbs apiece. Again, I don't want to do the math. Picked 6lbs of luscious blueberries. Ate that much too, I'm sure :)

But the twelve ounces of prime steak hot off the grill, accompanied by the 750ml bottle of wine that I just shared with a good friend, is what put me over the edge. Goodnight. Hope your weekend was a good as mine!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Males ARE the Weaker Sex

Meant to hit publish on this post days ago, so please humor me and just pretend it's last Friday and you are wilting in the heat wave...

Good news and bad news on the farm today. Day two of some serious heat, and I hurried home from the office, worried about the animals. I left the horses in their stalls this morning, with fans running and extra water buckets. Made sure the chickens would have shade all day, and plenty of water. Yet I came home to two of my four meat birds dead. The two roosters, noticeably bigger than the hens, just couldn't take the heat, so they opted out of the kitchen they were destined for.

I've been meaning to write a post about these birds, now eight weeks old. They were/are due to go to the processor tomorrow, having reached their harvest weight already. I am sorry for their sake that they succumbed to heat, and sorry for mine that I had to throw away two enormous roasting birds that would have provided me with enough meat for many meals. These are frankenbirds, no joke. They have spent the past eight weeks sitting in a circle around the feeder, gaining weight around the clock and only moving as far as the water fount. Very freaky, even when they do move they walk funny, heaving their whole body form side to side to shuffle their legs. I hated watching it, and hated it more when they didn't move. These birds on a factory farm would spend their entire lives in a space smaller than an 8.5x11 sheet of paper, so I guess they had it pretty good between my big brooder box and then the outdoor chicken tractor, moved to fresh grass every day, and always shaded from the sun. But it still really sucks to lose half of the first meat crop to come from this farm. Hopefully the remaining two hens make it through the next 24 hours of continued heat.

The good news is that my flock of hens have started laying eggs! I found the first batch of their teeny little pullet eggs today, there were 15 from 7 hens so they must've started a few days ago, a bit ahead of schedule. I can't eat these, I don't know how long they were out there for, but every day form now on I'll have my own fresh eggs! Such good girls :) They are lounging in the shade but still be-bopping around to the feeder, the water, the grass I cut daily and put in their coop for them. The heat does not seem to be adversely affecting them, thank goodness! I can't let them free-range yet due to our abundant fox population. Once I get a better perimeter fence in place they will have acres to roam, but for now we make due.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


I just came in from feeding horses and chickens, but stood outside with my dogs for a few extra minutes in the downpour, and marveled at the perfect silhouette of the huge old elm tree in the fading dusk. Light like that isn't possible without the rain to suffuse the glow.

Monday, June 6, 2011

I should not be left unsupervised any sort of livestock show. Yesterday morning it was the Boston Poultry Expo. I just went to look, I swear. I was hoping to find that someone there raised a particular breed of dual-purpose chicken that I am interested in acquiring, a hard-to-find breed called Blue Orpington. Buff Orpingtons are everywhere, and Black Orpingtons are fairly common as well. Blues, however, were nowhere to be found. My intent was merely to make a connection and acquire some chicks or mature birds at a later date. Seeing no Blue Orpingtons in the show cages, I wandered on outside to the parking lot where there were birds for sale. Still no Blue Orpies. But, sticking out like sore thumb was one lone blue bantam Aracuana chick in a cage of ducklings. Sooooo, long story short, I bought it. And because you can't raise a chick alone, I got four Cornish Giant chicks too. Little chick blue is henceforth to be known as "Storm", because I don't know, or care, whether it is male or female. The Cornish chicks are named Potato, Carrot, Onion, and Gravy; and are destined to become dinner.

Cornish Giants are a purely meat bird, and if allowed to keep growing past slaughter weight they quickly reach a point where their legs and hearts cannot support their bodies for a normal chicken life. So they are frankenbirds, not what I envisioned raising on this here piece of earth but they're my first try at raising my own meat, and I hope it will help to know that if they are not slaughtered, their quality of life would be horrible. That's my theory, anyway. I'll let you know if it works out that way three months hence.

Here are the little fluffballs, comfortably ensconced in the brooder box: