Thursday, September 29, 2016

Mother Earth News Fair

Goodness time flies between blogs!

I was fortunate to attend the Mother Earth News Fair at Seven Springs Resort down near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania this past weekend.

Wow!  What an incredible event!  My brain is absolutely stocked full of information and I feel as if I got my "farming mojo" back.  I think I was getting the seven year itch and getting a little worn by the rounds of chores, successes, and defeats.  But now I'm excited to get back into it again!

Below, I've made a copy of the schedule of workshops for Friday.  Which, on Friday, began at 1:00 p.m. and ended at 6:30 p.m.  Saturday and Sunday's schedules began at 10:00 a.m. and ran until 6:30 p.m.!  

This doesn't even begin to count the couple of hundred vendors loaded with more information and interesting products (I bought two mushroom logs!  You'll hear more about them later) and the off-stage demonstrations (for example, a demonstration on how to castrate a pig)


Stage Name1:00-2:00 p.m.2:30-3:30 p.m.4:00-5:00 p.m.5:30-6:30 p.m.
Extending the Season at Both Ends
Eliot Coleman
A Tiny Home to Call Your Own: Living well in just-right houses
Patricia Foreman
New Frontiers in Organic Gardening
Barbara Pleasant
Understanding Your Renewable Energy Options
Dan Chiras
Grit Stage
Whole Family Nutrition
Maureen Diaz
Fruits in the Edible Landscape
Michael Judd
The Nature of Power
Erica and Ernie Wisner
From Skins to Leather: Home tanning
Dennis Biswell
Heirloom Gardener Stage
The Road to Health Is Through Your Stomach
Dawn Combs
Mushroom Cultivation for Everyone
Tradd Cotter
Grow the Most Amazing Microgreens, Sprouts and Wheatgrass
Janet McKee
Herbs for Hens
Lisa Steele
Lehman's Modern Homesteading Stage
Common Sense Natural Beekeeping
Kim Flottum
Modern Homestead Q and A
The Wranglerstars
Simple Small-Scale Tools
Eliot Coleman
Preserving Tomatoes
Andrea Chesman
The Livestock Conservancy Stage
Hopping for Fun and Profit with Heritage Rabbits
Jeannette Beranger
Raising Pigs on Green Pasture
Dave Cronauer
Handy Cows: Multipurpose cattle for modern farmsteads
Kendy Sawyer
Forage-Based Family-Scale Food Production
Shawn and Beth Dougherty
Mother Earth Living Stage
Beauty of Essentials Oils
Claire and Rusty Orner
Medicine Making
Jennifer Carman
Herbs and Fermentation for Digestive Health
Linda Conroy
Herbs for the Mouth: Everyday safe, effective and affordable oral care
Leslie Alexander
Organic Gardening Stage
Square-Foot Gardening with Children
Joanna Joseph
Guinea-Keeping for Organic Pest Control
Cindy Gibson
Vegetable Gardening: Got flowers?
Lisa Ziegler
The Herb Lover's Garden
Sue Goetz
PASA Stage Presented by Yanmar
Garlic: How to grow, harvest, and preserve it properly
Ron Stidmon
Farming with a Single Horse
Leroy Keim
Keeping Backyard Bees
David Avvisato
Sticking with It: Surviving the '7-year itch'
Michael Kovach
Real Food Stage
Preserving Your Garden's Bounty
Lorree Cummings
Join the Soda Revolution! Make Your Own Fermented Ginger Beer
Rachel Armistead and Luke Flessner
Farmstead Chef: Organic eating on a dime
Lisa Kivirist
Healthy Homestead Homebrews
Dawn Story and Brian Neitzel
Sustainability Stage
The Woodstove/Off-Grid Lifestyle
Roger Lehet
Simple Solar, Your Way
Arden Steiner
Extending the Harvest: Creating a four season garden
Ira Wallace
Backyard Composting
Nancy Martin
Utne Stage
Infants and Toddlers: The mouths of babes
Leslie Alexander
Bioshelters: Ecological greenhouse design and management
Darrell Frey
Creating Your Own Farm Airbnb
Matt Wilkinson
From Fast Food to Whole Food: How to simply and systematically transform your diet
Andrea Merrill
Natural Building Demonstrations
Making Cob: How to build with mud
Uncle Mud & Family
Cheap Sturdy Buildings from Straw, Clay, and Pallets
Uncle Mud & Family
Open Mud: Spontaneous hands-on building demos
Uncle Mud & Family
Building with Straw Bales
Uncle Mud & Family
Kids' Treehouse Stage
Herbs for Kids
Linda Conroy
Colorful Paper Chicken Friends
Melissa Caughey
Garbage to Gardening
Claire and Rusty Orner
Medicine Making with Kids
Jennifer Carman

Here are a few photos.  I sure wish I'd taken more!  Next year I'll overwhelm you with photos, promise!

Pig Castration

Men photographing pig castration - note the very serious faces!

Picture of a slide from "Keeping Your Bees Alive" workshop.
Around the farm we're gearing down for winter.  

The meat chickens have been butchered.  I'll admit that although I can do it, I choose not to do it.  I happily take my live chickens to an Amish person and later in the day pick up coolers filled with processed birds.  

We're trying to get the fences put in for our pasture across the road.  But when the man came with the post pounder, he found that, after a summer of very little rain, the ground is far too dry.  It's like trying to pound posts into solid rock.  So we're waiting for some rain to soften the earth.  

Our horse, Willow, went away for a month of training at Rainy Day Farm.  She's an awesome horse and she and I need some fine tuning to work together.  

The pigs are being readied to go to the butcher at the end of October by being fed good field corn and apples.  

We're bringing in the garden harvest and putting up everything that we can.  Then I'll clean out the high tunnels and put the garden to bed.   

We're cutting wood as often as we can.  

I feel like the ant in the story of "Ant and the Grasshopper"!  

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Seed: The Untold Story

This movie is at the top of my watch list:  

Seed:  The Untold Story

Friday, September 2, 2016

Mushy Eggs

Sorry, this isn't a recipe!  

When you buy eggs from the grocery store, you just don't get to see all the many different eggs that are laid.  Anything that is not symmetrical or the wrong size is culled out.  When you have chickens though, you'll get many different variations on egg shapes and sizes.  We've had little tiny eggs no larger than a grape and giant eggs that makes you wonder how the hen even managed to lay it!  We've had long skinny eggs that definitely don't fit the definition of "egg shaped" and very squat eggs.  Sometimes eggs will have a very rough pattern and sometimes they'll have a hunk of calcium stuck in/on the shell.     

And every once in awhile you get an egg that is laid without a shell!  The membrane that's inside an egg holds it together, but no shell.  Hence, mushy eggs.  

I handed this egg to the hubby last night and he was utterly repulsed by the texture.  

We don't eat them because I'm pretty sure the shell is the barrier between nasty bacteria and the inside of the egg and who knows what passed through that simple membrane?  

Pretty freaky, isn't it?  


Monday, August 29, 2016

Duckling Update

A few days after my last post, I went to feed my chickens in the morning and found two tiny little ducklings sitting right in the middle of the flock.  One had an injured leg and I couldn't find mama duck anywhere - I also found no signs of struggle (usually there will be feathers left if a predator gets a chicken or duck).

I decided I better catch the ducklings and put them in safe place.  Boy did they give me a merry chase!  It is amazing how fast a little duckling can run!

I did finally catch them, and now the little ones are growing up in my "nursery" swimming pool inside the chicken coop.  The little one with the injured leg has healed with no sign of weakness.  I'll put them out with the other ducks and chickens as soon as they grow too big to fit through the fencing.  They seem to be a bit more "wild" than other baby ducklings and are very afraid of me.  I think that they'll warm up once they get out with the other fowl and see how they react to me showing up with food.   

Sadly, I still haven't found any sign of mama duck. 

Friday, August 12, 2016

Look What Came Wandering Out Of The Edge Of The Yard

Yesterday, while I was doing my morning chores, this came wandering out of the brushy edge of the yard.  

Look at the two little balls of fluff beside this mama duck.  They're a cross between a peking male and this muscovy female.  I think it's hard for them to produce fertilized eggs, so this may explain why there are only two ducklings.  

We thought that one of our ducks had been taken by a predator or, hoped, that is was hiding and sitting on eggs.  It looks like the second choice occurred!  

It's kind of cruel, but I would like to take the babies and put them under a heat lamp because sometimes predation doesn't give them a chance to grow up.  However, this mama duck is staying well away from me and I'm hoping her instinct to keep these ducklings hidden and away from everyone will keep them safe. 

Turkey update:  It appears that I have three toms and two hens.  The other day, one more started gobbling and fanning at me.

Friday, August 5, 2016

We Have Bourbon Red Turkeys...Again

Do you remember the winter before last when my beautiful bourbon red turkeys were killed by a bobcat?  It killed all five - just for fun.  

We've had the turkey enclosure and never did anything with it.  So I contacted my friend in Altoona and asked him if he had any young turkeys available.  Then a couple of months ago I drove down to pick up five pullets.  When I asked him what sexes he had he said, "your guess is as good as mine".  So we wait for them to mature a bit and even the very young toms start to gobble.  It looks like I have one tom and four hens.  I swear I've heard one other "hen" gobble, but I can't be entirely sure!    

We really beefed up the enclosure and made it, we hope, predator proof and now my young turkeys are growing up and looking really great!  I love, love, love the soft cooing sounds they make!  

Bourbon Red turkeys are different than your regular Thanksgiving Broad Breasted white turkey as they can mate naturally.  Your Thanksgiving turkey has been bred to have such a large breast that this has become impossible for them.  When my turkeys start laying I plan to put the eggs in an incubator (I've been told they don't make very good mothers and will only sit on the nest for about two weeks).  I may, as an experiment, even put a few eggs under some broody chickens.  I hope that I'll have young turkeys for sale next spring!

Aren't they gorgeous?

Did you know?  Here are some turkey facts from

The modern domesticated turkey descends from the wild turkey.

Turkeys are known to exhibit over 20 distinct vocalisations. Including a distinctive gobble, produced by males, which can be heard a mile away.

Individual turkeys have unique voices. This is how turkeys recognise each other.

Turkeys are intelligent and sensitive animals that are highly social. They create lasting social bonds with each other and are very affectionate; rather similar to dogs.

Turkeys have outstanding geography skills. They have the ability to learn the precise details of an area over 1,000 acres in size.

Like peacocks, male turkeys puff up their bodies and spread their elaborate feathers to attract a mate.

Baby turkeys (poults) flock with their mother all year. Although wild turkeys roost in the trees, as poults are unable to fly for the first couple of weeks of their lives, the mother stays with them at ground level to keep them safe and warm until they are strong enough to all roost up in the safety of the trees.

Wild turkeys are able to fly at up to 55 mph, however only for relatively short distances. Most domestic turkeys however are unable to fly due to being selectively bred to be larger than would be suitable in wild circumstances.

The area of bare skin on a turkey’s throat and head vary in colour depending on its level of excitement and stress.When excited, a male turkey's head turns blue, when ready to fight it turns red.

The long fleshy object over a male's beak is called a snood.

Turkeys have 5000 to 6000 feathers.

Benjamin Franklin wished to have wild turkeys as the national bird of the USA, rather than the bald eagle. 

The turkey is believed to have been sacred in ancient Mexican cultures. The Mayans, Aztecs and Toltecs referred to the turkey as the ‘Great Xolotl’, viewing them as ‘jewelled birds’.

The meat from domesticated turkeys is widely eaten by people across the world.