Monday, May 27, 2019

No More Turkeys

In my efforts to downsize and do better at the things that I do I decided to give my turkeys - the adults and babies - away to a young man whom I know to be very good with animals.  The turkey pen had become a muddy mess and I thought hard about the time and effort it would take me to get it into a nice living environment and decided I didn't want to put in the time.  

The turkeys were cool as could be and I'll miss listening to their gobbling and watching them strut.  But it's time.  

I have a dear family, horses, beekeeping, an enormous vegetable garden and yard, fruit trees, chickens, swimming pool, cats, dogs, maple syrup production, community involvement, and running a house to keep me very busy.    

The husband and I have become empty nesters and would also like the opportunity to do a bit more traveling! 

Hence the decision to downsize one more thing. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

This And That

Lots of odds and ends to talk about.

I've been working with Lochlin (Loch) with desensitization training and part of that is taking him for walks.  We were going through a forest and suddenly his head went up and he snorted.  I never realized how much this log looks like it has mean eyes.  

We looked at it and walked gradually closer until he realized it was nothing scary - just a log.  But it sure does look kind of like a scary monster eyeballing you. 

My turkey hen has been laying eggs and I've been gathering them.  I gathered six eggs before one of the other turkeys decided to bust the rest.  Very frustrating.  Out of the six, I was able to hatch two little ones.  I didn't expect any because there had been a problem with the heat source to the incubator.  It was a surprise when one of the eggs started cheeping.  Here is a picture of turkey chick number two hatching.  I apologize in advance that you have to turn your head sideways.  The tricky part is raising these little (I hope) girls to adulthood.  Turkey chicks can be very delicate.   


We have now added our second Viszla to our family.  Our adult (almost two-year-old) is named LadyBird and our second girl is named Anna Belle.  She's as sweet and mischievous as can be.  I've heard Viszlas called "Velcro dogs" because they always want to be with you and that is definitely true!

We've gone through horse shedding season.  Bandit is a furball any time of year.  But at the end of the season, one could stuff a mattress with the amount of hair that comes from him. 

Maple season is over now and garden work and mowing has begun.  Sometimes I feel like my nose is just barely above the water.

I was looking at my description on the right of the blog page and realized that it's a bit obsolete.  My children have grown up and are both members of the U.S. Air Force - stationed in Washington state and Germany.  I'm so very proud of them.  

Go Air Force!

Monday, April 29, 2019

(Im)Patient Bees

Saturday, April 27th, was bee pick up day.  Unfortunately, the weather did NOT cooperate for the bees to go in their new homes.

Temperatures for Saturday and Sunday night were predicted to go down to 30-degrees or lower.  I surely didn't want to take the chance that my poor queen bee, trapped in her queen cage and waiting to be released, would freeze before the workers could get to her.  

So the bees have languished in my dining room until today - Monday - when temperatures will climb and the nighttime lows will not be deadly.

It's kind of freaky in your home to hear thousands and thousands of bees humming.  I"ll be happy when they can get in their new homes. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

The Battle Against Predators Continues

The battle against nature continues here on the farm.  

Yesterday, I found a bunch of white feathers and knew they were from our very old rooster, Foghorn Leghorn.  He's been around for at least five years or more.  So I was very sad to see that it looked like "something" got him.  

I thought it might be a red-tailed hawk because there wasn't any sign of a trail leading to the forest.  The chickens have a huge area in which to forage, so putting a cover over them is impossible.  I've put up this version of a "scarecrow" before and it seems to keep critters away.  I hang the dress on a double shepherd crook plant stand and the sleeves blow and the dress bottom blows so it looks like it's moving.  This year, I put a plastic Halloween pumpkin head it to make it even scarier!

The dogs kept sniffing at a small hole that goes under the chicken coop and we thought maybe there was some critter under there running out and grabbing up my chickens.  Did I mention that I'm down to seven adult hens?  I have a bunch of chicks in the barn to go out to the chicken coop, but they're not quite big enough yet.  The live trap comes out every time we think something is trying to get my girls... last time it was old Mr. 'Possum

We tore open the bottom of the barn and got out our heavy duty flashlight and looked in and what did we find? 

Foghorn Leghorn!

All we can guess is that maybe a predator went after him and he flung himself through a tiny hole under the coop... or maybe one of the dogs was being very, very naughty and found him outside the chicken fence and thought he might be fair game.  

We left the hole under the chicken coop open so that Foghorn could find his way out and later he was in with his girls.  

I swear this rooster is like a cat with nine lives!

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Spring Is Coming And Things Are Happening!

The grass is greener, the horses are fattening up and losing their winter coats, chickens and turkey are laying eggs, and the temperature is rising.

Spring is coming!

Red Bourbon Turkey has laid eight eggs.  I took six and put them in the incubator because domestic turkeys are notoriously bad mothers.  Hatch date:  May 18th.

Lots of little seeds have been planted and the garden plan is done.  

Now for the threat of frost to go away!


I love the spring.
For every day.
There's something new.
That's come to stay. 
Another bud.
Another bird.
Another blade.
The sun has stirred.

~ Unknown

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

No More Idaho Pastured Pigs

For many reasons, one of which is that we've become empty nesters and don't need the amount of pork that one pig brings in, and because I'm tired of feeding and watering pigs during the wintertime, we've got out of the Idaho Pasture Pig business.  

Also, our pigs didn't breed for two years and we're not keeping them as pets.

So to the butcher, they went.  

We plan to raise one or two feeder pigs each year and sell all but a half of a pig each year. 

That means we'll get a piglet in the spring and raise it until the fall and then have it butchered.

I'm happy to say no more piggy winter care!

Friday, March 22, 2019

Maple Weekend Success And More!

Thank you to everyone who showed up to make the Potter-Tioga Maple Weekend a success!  We had so much fun showing you the sugar shack and the rest of the farm and I hope you liked it as much as we did!  Bones N Banter provided lunch with their delicious brisket and pulled pork sandwiches.  I hope everyone got one because you really missed out if you didn't!

We were excited that our little sugar house made the Bradford Era!
Fitz is explaining how the evaporator works.

The maple season came late this year.  We had a few good runs of sap and then it got cold again.  The positive side of the cold snap is that it kind of "resets" the maple season.  Yesterday was a good run and I hope to have a lot of sap in the tanks today.  There's a specific sound that makes the maple syrup producer's heart soar.  You can hear it below:

The sound of sap running into the tanks!  We're not "on vacuum" which means all the sap in our lines is fed into the tanks by gravity instead of a vacuum pump pulling the sap from the lines.  So that sound is pure sap running downhill from many, many trees.

Just in time for the Maple Weekend I had some new chicks delivered.  I wanted the children coming to have an opportunity to look at the cuteness.  The new members to my flock will be buff orpingtons,  easter eggers, dominique, cochin, barnvelder, welsummer, and giant whites.  

Finally, some sun and the animals sucked up the sunshine!

The turkeys have decided it's the breeding season and are courting the poor lonely hen!

And the horses are getting to go across the road to their summer pasture during the day.  

Here, they follow me to the gate from the barn...

...And here, the walk off into their ten acres of grass.

The old girl, Sassy, is 31 years old and she's having a harder time with the cooler weather.  As an old horse, she's starting to get gaunt looking. She wears her blanket to give her a little more warmth so she doesn't shiver off her weight.

I don't know if it's possible that the animals are happier than me that SPRING is coming!


Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Potter-Tioga Maple Weekend with Bones 'N' Banter! March 16th and 17th

We are working hard to get ready for the Potter-Tioga Maple Weekend on March 16th and 17th.   We sure hope the maple sap flows for us to provide some freshly made maple syrup to you.  

The temperatures should be warm and lovely this week and then Saturday will be a little bit chilly.  This is a good thing because hopefully, the farm won't be as muddy.

We're very excited that Tadd Ostroski will have his marvelous Bones 'N' Banter barbecue set up with us again this year.  I know that meaty deliciousness draws a lot of people.  
He says he hopes to make it on Saturday AND Sunday!

The horses look forward to horse treats from our guests.  New chicks will be delivered on Thursday and be out in the barn to view their cuteness.  Piggies are making a final showing before heading to "freezer camp".  And chickens, turkey, and ducks can't wait for extra sunflower seeds.

P.S. In your travels around Potter and Tioga counties, if your navigation attempts to take you on a road that has a sign reading "No Winter Maintenance," do NOT go that way.  You will most likely find yourself needed to be towed out of mud or snow.  Please allow yourself to be redirected!

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Go here for a link to the brochure above.

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We look forward to seeing you!

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Snow Bunny Tails and Tapping Thoughts

The Potter Tioga Maple Weekend is coming up fast and we'll have sap boiling in time to bottle some nice, freshly made maple syrup!  

We'll have lots of sample recipes for you to try and a walk around our mini farmyard for the kids (I even have chicks coming a few days before the Weekend)!  

Although it's listed, we're sad to say will not have the bourbon maple for sale because we sold out and we haven't made any new maple yet.  Once we make the new maple and put it in the barrels we need to let it age! 

It's crazy! Last year the season pretty much ended before the Maple Weekend and this year it's barely starting!

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Tadd Ostraski will be set up again with his prize-winning delicious barbecue!

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Come early because he sells out fast!

The snow and ice continue to come down here... but it looks like spring may start and the maple season will begin this weekend!  The above freezing during the day and below freezing at night temperatures needed for a good maple sap flow are in the forecast!

Walking out to our sugar bush I noticed that the snow had the perfect fluffy texture to create what (to me) looked like bunny tails at the bottoms of slopes.  Each step would start a little avalanche and it would roll it to a puffy little "tail". 

The little rolling balls freaked out my dog, Ladybird.  

We like to carry our maple tapping tools in a five-gallon bucket, but I got tired of fishing around for the tool I needed.  I would drop the pliers that I use to pull taps in the pail, then drill my sap tap hole, then root around for the rubber mallet to pound in the tap, and then turn around and dig for the pliers that had sifted to the bottom of the bucket.  So I invested in the "Bucketeer".   It definitely makes it a lot easier to find the right tool.  I found it on Amazon, here.

One of the things that I hate about working in the sugar bush is a nasty little growth that here in North-central Pennsylvania they call redbrush.  Growing up in upstate New York, we called them "prickers".  You pick which name is more fitting!

And they are all over the place.  And nine times out of ten, just as you're drilling a sap tap hole one of them gets up between your thighs and starts scratching the heck out of your inner thighs.  The heavy snow has held them down a bit and we have a bit more protection because the weather has been cold enough that we have to wear our winter coats, but in previous years my arms have looked like I got in a fight with a wild cat.  I can tell you, there's nothing that wakes you up faster than getting goosed by one of these!

Monday, February 25, 2019

A Rather Blustery Day!

Image result for winnie the pooh windy day quotes

Along with the rest of the northeast, we are experiencing very high winds!!!

Winds are at least 23 miles per hour with sideways snow!

We won't be working out in the sugar bush today... too much concern over falling branches and trees!

I sure hope I'll be able to find the pig's feed dishes!

I may be looking in the next county!

* Update: the feed dishes weren't in the next county... just halfway across the yard!

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Call Me! Honey Bee Swarms

Call me if you see this!

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When you see bees in a cluster like this, it is due to the fact 2 queens were together in a hive and it got cramped in there.  The mother queen left with half of the colony. They cluster like this near the hive they just left until searcher bees find a suitable new home. They usually leave fairly soon. If not, NEVER call an exterminator. Call your local beekeeping society. They will send a keeper to relocate the colony.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Microgreen Success!

I started growing yummy microgreens as you probably remember from my earlier post and they grew wonderfully!

So I decided to use them on a delicious Caprese sandwich.  Toasted French bread, olive oil, fresh mozzarella cheese slices, cherry tomatoes, basil leaves, microgreens, and a balsamic vinegar drizzle.  Yum!

Then I used them to top a mushroom tart.  Mmmmm!  The addition of the microgreens and some crumbled stilton cheese made this dish!

You can find the recipe for this tart on the King Arthur Flour page here.

I used sliced cremini mushrooms instead of the wild mushrooms called for in the recipe because that's what I had on hand and I didn't pickle the shallot garnish because I felt the addition of strong flavored stilton cheese would give the tart plenty of flavor.  Boy, it was good - and really rich tasting! - we decided this would be best cut into small pieces as an appetizer - or small piece would pair perfectly with a nice glass of a semi-dry white wine. 

In the barn, my boy, Bandit, begs by turning his head sideways when he feels he's not getting the attention he deserves!

Work has begun in the sugar bush (maple trees areas) in preparation for maple season.  Photos will be following!

Monday, February 4, 2019

The Mountain "Sea"

Last week's polar vortex came along with very high winds and left behind a frozen sea -
can you see it?

And then the frozen mariner with her trusty water bucket beside her.

This week we've already warmed up to temperatures in the 40s - sheer heaven!

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Surviving the Vortex

The news is filled with the current polar vortex hitting our region.  We had temperatures down to -12 last night and I can't even guess what that was with the wind chill factored in!

The critters are staying as warm as I can make them.  My three horses, Sassy, Bandit, and Lochlin, enjoy the extra grain they're getting along with plenty of hay to keep their internal fires burning. 

Bandit's coat is so well insulated that the snow doesn't even melt! 

Loch doesn't look as fuzzy, but his coat sticks almost straight out and he looks like a teddy bear.

Sweet horse lips.

Sassy, the old girl (she's 31!), needs a little extra help and she gets a nice warm blanket to give her the little bit extra she needs.   I think Bandit and Loch would be overheated in a blanket!

I have to admit.  I spent a good portion of the day sitting by the wood stove and watched the wind blow snow high across the back yard. 

But that's partly because the morning started off with a soul-freezing challenge!

I said that I would pass along farm life's bad with the good.  

I saw this meme on Facebook and actually laughed out loud:  

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Water is always a problem on the farm.  

I checked the horses' water at the start of the polar vortex and they were great!  Then overnight they must have slurped down half their trough of water!  

My wonderful new water spigot that was run down to the barn this fall froze a week ago.  So I hauled out all the long hoses (I'm smart now and use Magic Hoses that fit in a bucket!) and took them out to the spigot closest to the barn.  I twisted the connections together, laid out the hoses so they wouldn't knot, and reached for the spigot.  The handle was frozen solid and NOT going to turn.  

So.  I reloaded the hoses in their bucket, hauled the hoses over to the other, farther away, spigot and found that just enough water had frozen on the threads of that spigot to make it impossible to twist on the hose connection.  This was the last chance spigot and had to work!  I warmed the threads with my hands and gloves and was finally able to get off the ice and connect the hose.  I turned on the water full force because, at these low temperatures, water will freeze up in the hoses in an instant!

I hauled the spraying hose end through drifted knee deep snow down to the horse trough.  I have a bungee cord tied on the hose end so that I can attach it across the horse trough and not have to stand for 30 minutes filling the water.  But... one end of the bungee cord was tied on shorter than the other in a way that when attached it either sprung off the horse trough (and you know how those Magic Hoses contract back about 50 feet) or the water sprayed out of the trough - and that bungee cord was frozen solid so I had to work with it the way it was.  Finally, finally, I was able to use every bit of strength and attach the hose in a way that worked.  Remember too - this was all done in negative degree weather.  Painful!  Then went on to finish the rest of my feeding chores.  

There's some not so glamorous stuff that happens on the farm.    

One other report of bad news.  We're very sad to say that our old lab, Daisy,
had to be put to sleep this week.  She was having problems urinating and we found that she had an inoperable tumor.  She was a sweet old girl we're going to miss that big old hair, farting, loving soul!