Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A True American Hero

Although it is the day after Memorial Day, I would like to post this link, with permission from his wife, Sara, a memorial tribute to a friend and True American Hero.   

We are so grateful to Mike and send so much love to his dear family.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day 2011

Don't forget to proudly fly your flag......


And never, ever forget!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The 2011 Coudersport Courthouse Square Farmers Market Opens!

We finally opened yesterday!  I didn't have much to sell due to the cold, wet spring we've had.  I had my free-range eggs and some beautiful, almost ready to bloom chives (try them chopped up in your scrambled eggs or use the pretty blooms in a salad, yum!), but I filled out my booth with Carol Jackson's wonderful jams, jelly, and preserves and with Brydonson Farm's maple syrup and maple mustard. I also put out handmade cherry and oak hampers, potato and onion bins, and cutting boards made by Carol's son and soy candles (so much better for you).  Unfortunately the hampers and bins will only be offered the one day because they are hard to  move and I'm afraid I'm going to damage them!

Hydeaway Farm was there with tons and tons of beautiful flower baskets and plant six-packs.  In the next few weekends he'll be bringing more perennials and small shrubs.  I think, with the warm weather, that people are finally getting the fever to plant!

We did pretty well.  I pretty much sold out of most of my jams and jellies.  You know you're doing something good for the world when you can buy something that is made or grown, from start to finish, right near where you live!

Coudersport Farmer's Market
Courthouse Square
Coudersport, PA

Saturdays, 9 a.m. - 2 p.m.

Come and see us!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Bear With Me.....

Please bear with me this week.  I'm trying to finish the high tunnel planting and start the outside garden planting and working feverishly between school and sport commitments, rain and time!


Monday, May 23, 2011

Bees are A-O.K.

Here in the Northeastern United States we have been having day after day of rain and more rain.  It has made it very difficult to get out and check the bees.  Finally, on Sunday, I was able to get out and do a thorough inspection to see what the girls are doing.  They are all doing very well!  There was LOTs of capped brood, larvae, and eggs.

I found that some of the hives could have done a better job of pulling out the comb in them, but this year I'm kind of going with it. ( I will take pictures in two weeks when I go to check the bees.  My camera batteries died after one photo).  In the past I was told that I should scrape off any comb that is not pulled out perfectly - and in the past I've always done this.  I've wondered if this puts the hive behind some, so this year, in the brood boxes (the two big boxes you can see on the hive pictures below), I'm giving the bees a break.  The brood boxes are where the bee eggs are laid and the babies are formed.  Later, you'll see some honey supers on top of these boxes.

The honey supers are a shallower box and the honeycomb has to be formed correctly so that the extractor can take out the honey.  But I'll only be scraping off honey and beeswax when I clean these.  I won't be scraping off any brood!

When I went to check the hives, my biggest worry was about the hive that the bear pulled over a few days ago.  He hasn't been back (that I know of), but I was concerned that the queen could have been killed in the tip over of the box.  She wasn't!  Not only did I find eggs and fresh larva, I actually saw her big beautiful body!

I hoped you would be able to see all  the bees flying in and out, but it didn't show up as well as I'd hoped.  These hives were busy!

Don't forget to go to the Barn Hop at Homestead Revival!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Mystery Creature

My neighbor and I were talking yesterday when all of the sudden my miniature schnauzer, Candy Cane, started going crazy after something under the porch.  We have a big roll of snow fence stored under there and whatever it was had climbed into the open section in the middle of the roll.  Candy Cane pulled out the center part with her teeth forming a sort of cone shape and, I think, squeezing down on and trapping the creature inside the tube.  We could hear it making "chuck chucking" noises every time we got close, but my neighbor and I couldn't imagine what it could be.  My biggest worry was that it would be a skunk or a small porcupine and the dogs would get sprayed or stuck!

I waited most of the day for the animal to leave, but I think it was crushed in there like in a Chinese finger trap.  I feared that if I left it, and it died I would have a nasty smell coming from under the porch.  So the kids and I unrolled the entire roll of snow fence - about 300 feet! - and as we reached the end a very relieved (and dizzy) squirrel shot off into the woods.


I hope the bear that attacked my beehives has learned its lesson.  The hive was intact yesterday.  I was concerned that he would come back again during the night.  We've been having a lot of rain, so I hope that if he did come to get the hive, his wet paws acted as a good conductor and he got a nice big zap off the electric fence.  Hopefully, that will deter him!

P.S.  Be sure to check out the new Language Translator in my sidebar!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Dandelion Season! And Beehive Maintenance - With Some Bear Trouble.

What is there to not like about dandelion season?  We just get past the cold, dismal, tones of grey, white, and black winter and suddenly, with the greening of the grass we have all these fuzzy, golden, lollipop-sized faces popping up out of the grass to help us greet the sun!  How can one not help but smile?

Sadly, in a week or so, these beautiful little faces turn into not so pretty grey puffs which are the enemy!  (Kids love them though.  How many kids can pass up a perfectly formed dandelion puff?)  Many folks do all we can to get them out of our lawns.  I've accepted them as a wonderful early season food for my honeybees and just don't worry about them anymore.  Just last spring, one of my maple sap collecting friends pointed out how entirely ironic it is how we absolutely love dandelions when we first see the cheery color in the spring, and as the summer wears on we do all we can do to get rid of them.  Funny, isn't it? 

“If dandelions were hard to grow, they would be most welcome on any lawn.”
                                           ~Andrew V. Mason

I had some beehive maintenance today.  As I drove home from substitute teaching at the high school I looked up the hill and saw that one of my hives was tilting at a  dangerous angle.  I rushed home, put on my outside work clothes and went back.  I didn't bring the smoker or any equipment (other than my bee suit) because I thought it would be a quick job of tilting up the hive and putting a few boards underneath it.  I thought one of the blocks the hives set on had settled.  I was very wrong.  The hive had slid on it's bottom board and as I attempted to move it into place the bees came boiling up out of it (thankfully I had suited up!) and they had only one goal in life.  To sting the crap out of me!  So I worked around and got a temporary fix with some boards tucked under the blocks and hive until tomorrow when I'll go back to do a full hive inspection and fix it right.  One of the little buggers stung me on the bicep - right through my suit!   

                                                                   bear line.gif

As I walked back to my van, Rocky, the property owner, came out and told me that the hive had NOT fallen over on its own, but that a bear had climbed the fence and pulled the hive over.  We knew this, because there was a great big hunk of black bear fur stuck in the barbed wire that tops the outer fence!  I don't know what stopped the bear, but it didn't destroy the hive.  We hadn't hooked up the electric fence that we have set up around the hives yet because we were having trouble finding a clamp for the ground wire.  Rocky gave me a hose clamp and with a lot of messing around and rigging up (all with about 50 bees doing their best to sting me in the face through my veil) I managed to get the fence going.  I touched it and it gave me a nice jolt - a three mile solar fencer on about 50 feet of wire has quite a bit of juice!  Now, I'm hoping, hoping, hoping that bear doesn't come back tonight - or if it does, that it gets such a shock that it decides to stay away forever!  

Monday, May 16, 2011

GREAT Repurposing Idea For A Plastic Playhouse

A large part of living sustainably is learning how to reduce, reuse, and recycle things you may have around your house (or that you see someone else getting rid of!).  A few weeks ago I came across the most interesting blog post about how a woman, Chandra, repurposed a Little Tykes plastic playhouse.

Can you begin to guess what it was used for?

You'll never guess....

She used it .....

To create....



A chicken coop!

Chickens may be the easiest of all farm animals to keep and nowadays, as the post reads, many suburban neighborhoods are allowing people to keep a few chickens in their backyards.  Reusing this Little Tykes playhouse makes an inexpensive and very sustainable way to keep chickens in your backyard - and best of all it blends in beautifully to the neighborhood.

Go to Front Porches - Sweet Tea and Old Aprons, to read more about how Chandra created this really cute chicken coop    

And don't forget to Barn Hop over to Homestead Revival!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sunday: A Day Of Rest

Why oh WHY are you waking me?

One might feel like they're falling behind in their tasks if they take a day of the week to do no work.  But in reality, it's the perfect time to recharge your batteries and reconnect with friends and family.  I believe that a day of rest each week makes you so very much more productive for the rest of the week!

Ex.  20: 9-10  Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you.

Please be sure to look for Fitzgerald's Family Farm on www.solomonswords.blogspot.com

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Fitzgerald's Family Farm 2011 Summer Share Program

 2011 Summer Share Program 

Shareholders may purchase large shares (feeds 4-5 people), small shares (feeds 2-3 people) or an individual share for the 18-week season that begins in mid-June and ends in late October. 

Currently we project that the summer share program will begin the week of June 14th. Shareholders pick up 6 to 10 vegetables weekly depending on what’s in season. On Fridays, you will come to the farm between 12:00 pm and 6:00 pm to pick up your share of vegetables or to the Coudersport Farmer’s Market between 9:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. (according to our agreement).  In late May 2011, you will be notified of the exact starting date for the season and agree to your pick up day. Any share that is not picked up on the designated day during distribution hours (12:00 pm to 6:00 pm) will be donated to a participating local food pantries unless you make prior arrangements with us. 

Shares may contain the following items: beans, beets, broccoli, cabbage, Chinese cabbage, carrots, celery, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, garlic, decorative gourds, Asian greens, kale, green and red lettuce, melons, onions, peas, peppers (sweet and hot), potatoes, pumpkins, radishes, spinach, summer squash, winter squash, Swiss chard, tomatoes (heirloom, hybrid, paste, cherry), turnips, zucchini, herbs (basil, dill, parsley, sage, chives), farm-fresh eggs, local maple syrup, local honey, homemade jams and jellies, home-canned vegetables, and fresh cut flowers.  
Summer Share Options for 2011 

Summer Large Share ( feeds 4-5 people)..........................$540 (averages $30.00 week) 

Summer Small Share (feeds 2-3 people)...........................$288  (averages $16.00 week)

Summer Petite Share (feeds 1 person)...............................$180 (averages $10.00 week)

Payment plans are available.

The items in the share will be pre-determined, by the farmer, according to availability, and boxed for your convenience.  


A minimum deposit of $50 will hold your share(s).  All shares must be paid in full prior to the first week of the applicable season unless a payment plan has been negotiated with the farm.  For information about payment plans, please contact the office.  For those who find it more convenient to pay by credit card that option is available through PayPal on the Fitzgeralds Family Farm website. 
Please send the application page and your deposit to the farm office: 

Fitzgerald’s Family Farm, LLC
144 Snowman Rd.
Coudersport, PA  16915

Make checks payable to: Fitzgerald’s Family Farm, LLC  

Please retain this information sheet for your reference.         

Contact Information 
Fitzgerald’s Family Farm, LLC is located at 144 Snowman Road, Coudersport, PA 16915
The Farm may be reached at (814)274-7825. Visit our website at  www.fitzgeraldsfamilyfarm.com.  We can be reached via 
email at srfitzg@zitomedia.net 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Thank You Potter Leader-Enterprise Newspaper

 A great big thanks goes out to the Potter Leader-Enterprise (our local newspaper) for the great story about the Coudersport Farmer's Market opening on Memorial Day weekend.

In addition to the great story, I'd like to remind everyone that a Farmer's Market is a community project.  Of course the customers are the most important part!  We don't have a purpose without you!

But I'd like to remember all the different people in the farming community who have contributed to helping our Farmer's Market a better place to shop.

For example, there's Wooleylot Farm, who set up at the Farmer's Market last year with the best garlic you'll ever taste and he's working to develop a Potter County heritage garlic!

There's Tadd Ostroski who specializes in fiery hot peppers - and grows some unique varieties - and is branching into specialty black- and rasp- berries.

 A few years ago, Sean McKeone from McKeone's Orchard and Nursery set up with his fruit trees and a wide variety of potatoes.  We purchased stevia plants and enjoyed tasting the incredibly sweet leaves.

Jim Reed and his family have come to the Farmer's Market and contributed with absolutely beautiful, just-picked, organically grown corn and tomatoes as well as a variety of other organic vegetables.

Joe Bailey, Miles Produce, Gobblers Knob Farm, the list of contributers goes on and on.  Over the years they have all helped to keeping the Farmer's Market alive.     

If you come, we will grow!

Farmer's Market Vendors:  Please remember, we ask that to help build the Coudersport Farmer's Market and as a courtesy to our local Chamber of Commerce (so that we continue to receive our Farmer's Market benefits!), that you set up at the Saturday Farmer's Market for three non-peak days before you enjoy the benefit of being part of the Farmer's Market during peak weekends (i.e. 4th of July Weekend, Labor Day Weekend, and during the Falling Leaves Festival)   

CSAs/Farm Shares Are Officially Started!

The pilot program for Fitzgerald's Family Farm, LLC CSAs/Farm Shares is officially started!  Look for our ad in the Potter-Leader Enterprise and be sure to look at our online site at www.Fitzgeraldsfamilyfarm.com

Monday, May 9, 2011

Good News About the Bees

Last week, I was able to check the bees and they are thriving beautifully.  I found queens in all of the hives and I found lots of eggs and forming brood.  I even have some capped brood!

The rain we've been having has made everything so muddy that I wasn't able to take photos while I worked.  I feared I couldn't lift up frames without sliding and falling or dropping them in the mud.  So, this picture is from last year's hive, which sadly didn't make it through the winter.  We had terribly cold weather this winter and the poor bees got so cold they couldn't move to their uneaten honey supplies.  They literally starve to death.

If you look into the middle of this frame, you'll see little gold things that look like Kix cereal all laid together.  That's capped brood and under each one of those caps is a forming baby bee.  The young bees will chew their way out when they are fully formed.   There is not much that is quite SO freaky as to see these little alien-like creatures coming up from their cells.

On a sad note, we heard from the beekeeper from whom we were purchasing our Russian bees.  He was almost in tears as he told me he had put feed patties on his hives and something in them was causing the brood to not emerge.  He would lose many of his hives and had to call all the people who had planned to purchase from him to tell them the bad news.  We're looking around and hoping to purchase some bees from for our back gardens.    

While honey lies in every flower, it takes a bee to get the honey out.

Don't Forget to Go to the Homestead Barn Hop today!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Goodbye to Pants On The Ground

Yesterday, the hawk got poor Pants On The Ground.  I walked back to the chicken coop and saw the red-tailed hawk fly up and away from the ground.  That's very bad and sure enough I found the remains of our top dog rooster.  We've had a long line of roosters and he was the best!

Our white leghorn rooster, Foghorn Leghorn, seems to have learned manners from Pants On The Ground, so hopefully he'll be just as pleasant.  

Friday, May 6, 2011

Why Buy Locally?

Image: Will Etling's "Sustain," originally for GOOD magazine and contributed to Green Patriot Posters.

Yesterday evening, some of our Farmer's Market farmers met with a reporter from our local newspaper, the Potter Leader Enterprise, to talk about the upcoming Coudersport Farmer's Market. One of her final questions was "Why should people buy their produce at the Farmer's Market?"

Less vitamin loss
You know who's growing your food and they hold responsibility
You can talk to your farmer about how the produce was grown: chemicals?, pesticides?, etc
Price - often our Farmer's Market prices are equal to or even less than the local grocery stores
Locally grown = less gas used to bring it to your area

The list went on and on.  

To buy from your local producers is the very tip of an enormous iceberg of responsibility.  When you buy locally you're supporting your local economy.  When you buy locally it cuts down on the number of trucks bringing your produce to you (often all the way from Mexico!) and this decreases national gas consumption, thus decreasing American dependence on foreign oil and gas.  Less trucks driving means less air pollution.  Which means a decrease of the destruction of the ozone layer.  Which then decreases incidences of skin cancer.  Which decreases medical bills.  You can see where this is going.  Socially, politically, environmentally, economically, and more - it really is good sense to buy from your local farmer.  

Buy Fresh, Buy Local
Think Globally, Act Locally  
The Farmer's Market will kick off slowly on May 28th.  The cold and rainy weather has set back our planting season, but we'll have some fresh produce, locally canned vegetable and preserves, and local maple syrup.  We may only be one booth.  But if you come, we will grow!  We look forward to seeing you!  
Coudersport Farmer's Market
Coudersport Town Square
Coudersport, PA
Saturdays,  9 a.m. - 2 p.m.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Piggies On The Loose

The piglets jumped the fence yesterday.

I was at my daughter's track meet in Smethport (about 45 minutes away) and called my son, who was at home with my mother, to tell him to put more hay in the corner of the piglet's shelter.  The temperature had dropped by ten degrees and it was promising to be a very chilly night and I wanted the piggies to have a little extra hay to dig down into.

A few minutes later my son called me to tell me the piglets were out!  He was just putting in the hay and they jumped the fence, he said.  Somehow, I'm a little bit skeptical that they "just jumped the fence."  Sometimes, I think, the combination of 10-year-old boy and skittish piglets that might need to be held or petted can create a situation.  How can a boy resist when the cute factor of baby pigs is so high?

I jumped in the car and drove home as quickly as I could (my daughter was taking the team bus home).  The whole way home I had visions of the piglets getting into the forest and running loose to become coyote dinner.

When I arrived, my mother and John were in the yard calmly following around the piglets and keeping them away from the forest.  They took the very best course of action they could have.  I called the piglets  and they started coming my way - they know who feeds them!

We were able, with the help of some pig feed, a friend's help, and gentle coaxing, to get them into their pen.  Today I'll adjust the fences so there's a smaller gap between the wires and they can't get through it too easily.  Disaster averted!

“"When you wake up in the morning, Pooh," said Piglet at last, "what's the first thing you say to yourself?"
"What's for breakfast?" said Pooh. "What do you say, Piglet?"
"I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?" said Piglet. 
Pooh nodded thoughtfully.
"It's the same thing," he said.”
                                           ~A. A. Milne

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Clean Coop

I was finally able to get the tractor close enough to the chicken coop to clean out a winter's worth of chicken manure.

Wow!  I wear a paper mask for the smell (and bacteria), but I sure wouldn't have minded putting on the full up head covering mask of the old chemical warfare suit I had when I was in the military!

The reason the coop got SO nasty was that for the first part of the year I couldn't clean out the coop because the manure was frozen solid to the floor, then, for the past month, with all the rain, everything has been soaking wet and the tractor would have been stuck in mud up to it's roof!

To say the coop was "humming" would be an understatement.  I think my eyeballs wanted to melt!  I've always kept the nesting boxes clean, but after 10 bucket loads of manure the floor is finally clean and smells... o.k.

P.S.  You know what you get when you mix manure, a day or two of warm weather, and flies... purely disgusting!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011