Monday, November 7, 2016

Catching Up Is Hard To Do: Some Fall Duties

Fall is well upon us and most of the trees have dropped their leaves here in north-central Pennsylvania.  The poplar trees hang on until the final end and give us one last blast of color before we settle into winter's dreary palette of grey and white.  

As always, I'm behind schedule and am desperately trying to put the high tunnel garden to bed before the really cold weather sets in.  Last week, I moved in about a half ton of composted horse manure and pulled out the very last of the vegetables I have growing.  

I dehydrated the last of the parsley.  I love the vibrant green that isn't found in commercial herbs.  This is a blend of flat and curly leaf parsleys.   

And pulled the last of the carrots.  How about the vitamin packed orange color!?!

In another blog I read that one should try to leave the fall garden the way you want to find the spring garden.  That's a pretty solid goal!

Here is a partial list of the chores still to be done: 

Finish cleaning weeds, leaves, debris out of high tunnel. 

Partially prune fruit trees in high tunnel so that they don't poke through the plastic roof.  

Trim bushes out front so that they look neat for the winter. 

Fix horse fence where the horses have stuck their heads through and pulled down the wire.  Added to this is get horse fence electrified so that this problem doesn't occur again. 

Cover swimming pool. 

Move rest of manure to area of future you-pick outside raspberry patch. 

Clean up bee yards.

And so on.....

The two little ducklings are all grown up now and looking for a name.  

This one I think might be a male.  He? has the temperament of a male duck but hasn't exhibited the behavior of a male duck... yet. 

I love his coloring.  For some reason he makes me think of a man dressed up in very formal dinner wear - maybe a tuxedo?

This one I think of as a female.  She? is much more demure and timid than the male.  

She has a very interesting defect.  Her tail goes sideways.  You can kind of see it in the photo.  Instead of sticking out straight, it sticks out to the right.  She's mostly white with a  patch of black on her head and tail areas.  

Does anyone have any suggestions for names?  


Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy Halloween!

Our town had it's Halloween Parade on Saturday.  As a Rotary member, I was fortunate to be one of the judges for the "singles" category.  What fun!  And I'll tell you, it was almost impossible to choose the most original, scariest, and cutest!  They were all so incredible!

I have to admit that this was one of my favorites.  Very original!


Scary and cute in one bundle!

Even the Coudersport High School Flag Team joined the fun!

I was told by one of our members that this parade has been held every year since 1929.  I think I would like to go into our town's historic society and find Halloween parade photos from old newspapers.  Wouldn't that be unbelievably interesting?  

Thursday, October 27, 2016

We Don't Have Frost On The Pumpkin...

...We have snow!  And freezing rain!

I'm not a fan of winter, but, since I live in north central Pennsylvania, I know it's inevitable. 

I've alway heard the phrase, "When the Frost is on the Pumpkin" but never knew from where it came.  So I searched and found references for it in a couple of songs and in this poem.  I think it's really cute.    

When the Frost is on the Punkin 
By James Whitcomb Riley

When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock, 
And you hear the kyouck and gobble of the struttin’ turkey-cock, 
And the clackin’ of the guineys, and the cluckin’ of the hens, 
And the rooster’s hallylooyer as he tiptoes on the fence; 
O, it’s then’s the times a feller is a-feelin’ at his best, 
With the risin’ sun to greet him from a night of peaceful rest, 
As he leaves the house, bareheaded, and goes out to feed the stock, 
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock. 

They’s something kindo’ harty-like about the atmusfere 
When the heat of summer’s over and the coolin’ fall is here— 
Of course we miss the flowers, and the blossums on the trees, 
And the mumble of the hummin’-birds and buzzin’ of the bees; 
But the air’s so appetizin’; and the landscape through the haze 
Of a crisp and sunny morning of the airly autumn days 
Is a pictur’ that no painter has the colorin’ to mock— 
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock. 

The husky, rusty russel of the tossels of the corn, 
And the raspin’ of the tangled leaves, as golden as the morn; 
The stubble in the furries—kindo’ lonesome-like, but still 
A-preachin’ sermuns to us of the barns they growed to fill; 
The strawstack in the medder, and the reaper in the shed; 
The hosses in theyr stalls below—the clover over-head!— 
O, it sets my hart a-clickin’ like the tickin’ of a clock, 
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock! 

Then your apples all is gethered, and the ones a feller keeps 
Is poured around the celler-floor in red and yeller heaps; 
And your cider-makin’ ’s over, and your wimmern-folks is through 
With their mince and apple-butter, and theyr souse and saussage, too! ... 
I don’t know how to tell it—but ef sich a thing could be 
As the Angels wantin’ boardin’, and they’d call around on me— 
I’d want to ’commodate ’em—all the whole-indurin’ flock— 
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock!

Doesn't that poem just make you feel, hear, smell, taste, and see every part of autumn? 

Happily, the temperatures are going to climb again later this week and the forecast for snow or rain is low.  I need more time to finish putting all of my outside things to bed!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

No Rain Means No Fence!

 We've been slowly but surely getting the property across the road turned into a proper pasture. 

We had lots and lots of poplar trees removed.  You can see the piles.  They'll be cut up and used in our maple sap evaporator.  

We've seeded with pasture seed and mowed again and again to cut back the baby poplar trees that keep wanting to pop back up.  

We've had the Amish build a nice runout for the horses - doubling as an equipment winter storage shed.  

But we're still waiting to put in the posts for the fence.  The fence you can see is on this side of the road and the new fence will go on the other side of the road.   

We've had a summer with very, very little rain.  Without the rain, the ground grew harder and harder.  And as my dad says, "we have bony soil", already!  Lots and lots of rocks.  

So the man brought out the post pounder, attached to the back of a tractor, has twice tried to pound in the posts.  You can see the results below:

When the ground is this hard, the poles split instead of go into the earth.  

So for now, we wait for rain and hope we get enough before the ground freezes!

Friday, October 14, 2016

Jack Frost Has Come

After a lovely, warm, albeit, very dry summer, winter is starting to edge it's way into the scenery.  

The trees are changing and last night the high tunnel thermometer registered in at 29-degrees.  Brrr!

View from my back deck.

Although it's lovely, I always feel the tiniest bit of despair.  Winter is coming!  

Nothing Gold Can Stay
by Robert Frost

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Remember the Ducklings?

Remember the cute little ducklings that came walking out of the underbrush with their momma?  

I put them in my swimming pool "nursery" after their momma disappeared?

Now they are outside with the other poultry and growing fast!  

They're growing actual feathers instead of the cute fluffiness - but they're still adorable!

On the home front.....

See this despondent dog?  

That's our lab, Daisy.  She was banished outside until I could give her a bath with vinegar, baking soda, and Dawn soap because she decided it would be a good idea to say hello to a skunk.  

She still faintly carried the smell after her bath but it wasn't a knock your socks off assault to your nostrils!

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"!