Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Pig's Momentary Freedom

Yesterday evening I went to feed the pigs and as I was mixing up some water with their feed, one of the pigs walked right through the electric fence and came meandering up to me!   

Horrified, with visions of the three- and a half hour pig chase earlier this season dancing through my head, I tried not to panic.  I grabbed the bucket of feed and shook it around and made a big fuss as I fed the other pigs and, happily, oh, so happily, the free-ranging pig came wandering back.  I took off the top line of fencing and she stepped right into the pen.  What a sigh of relief!!!

Two things make the pigs go through the fence.  Either they're really, really hungry - which means I need to increase their feed - or the fence is shorted out.  

They'll get a bigger breakfast tomorrow.  

The grass has grown up around the pig pen, so I got the weed trimmer and trimmed all around and sure enough, at the bottom side of the field the pigs had rooted up the dirt until they covered the bottom wire of the fence.  I weed trimmed and pulled dirt away from the fence and as I looked at the job with satisfaction, one of the pigs walked up to the fence and "eeped" from the jolt as its nose touched the wire.

No pig chase today.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Another Bee Swarm

We captured another bee swarm yesterday.  The day promised to get hot - so we rushed out when we got the call so that we wouldn't melt in our bee suits.  We moved the swarm to a hive in our backyard.  I think we had good luck getting the queen with this one!

A swarm is just bees who are moving to a new home because their old home got overcrowded or the hive had other problems.  The bees hang in a clump like this with the queen somewhere inside while the scout bees go out and look for a suitable place to take up new residence.  It may take a few days, but when they find it, they disappear within a few minutes!  

A swarm of bees in May is worth a load of hay but a swarm in July is not worth a fly."

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Pig Dance

Every morning and evening I carry a bucket of feed into the pigpen and I'm quickly surrounded by our four squealing, screaming, hungry pigs.  

I begin what I call the "pig dance."

I'm dancing to get away from the pigs who want to slime me with their snouts as I hurriedly dump feed into their food dishes.

Most days, I can't get away fast enough and they "stamp" me with their snouts!

I'll sure be happy when Fitz builds the pig trough!

(they've changed the format of Blogger and this was supposed to post a few days ago and didn't!)

Friday, May 25, 2012

Farmer's Market 2012 Season Kicks Off!

The first Coudersport Farmers' Market of the season will be today!  

Potter County Courthouse Square

Coudersport, PA

Fridays, 2 p.m. - 6 p.m.  (with rain dates on Saturdays)

and on Event Saturdays

We start out slow as always, but as the season progresses the tables get fuller and fuller!  

Come see us!

The Court House

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Spring Work

Spring has come and with it a super load of work here at Fitzgerald's Family Farm.   

The unseasonably warm weather has made for more bees swarming and I've captured two swarms already!  

Planting is going as fast as I can put things into the ground.

The pigs grow fast and I feed them all the time.  They're never full!

Adorable kittens play and I look for new homes for them.  

Some of the chickens get broody and I've started pitching them out of the coop and closing off the nesting boxes to them in the evenings.  

Rabbits grow their lovely angora fur.  I've harvested some and will have it at the Farmer's Market.

First Farmer's Market on the Courthouse Square in Coudersport this Friday, 2 p.m. until 7 p.m.!  

Now, I have to get outside.  There's work to do!

Behold, my friends, the spring is come; the earth has gladly received the embraces of the sun, and we shall soon see the results of their love!

~Sitting Bull

Friday, May 11, 2012

Hives Pulled From Town

We had to pull our hives from town last night.  As we drove past we saw one had been knocked over and found out that there had been a bear visiting the area.  It got into a couple of dumpsters and tore apart a cage and killed a pet rabbit.  

The bear climbed over a six foot, barbed-wire fence, and through an electric fence to get to our hives.  It knocked over and partially destroyed one hive.  We've learned that once bears get a taste of that sweetness they'll keep coming back until all of the hives are destroyed. 

We moved the hives to our house.  Poor hubby got stung a number of times( right through his suit!) by the very, very angry bees!  A bear trap has been set up in the area for the bear to be caught and relocated.  Once that happens we plan to move the hives back.

Illustration of Black Bear eating honey from a bee hive

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Science Fair 2012!

It's been a whole week since I last posted!  Where did the time go?  

For the past 5 years I've set up the Coudersport Elementary PTSA Science Fair.  It's always been on a Saturday and I've seen participation decline dramatically over the past couple of years.  
Parents and teachers told me that sports and other activities contributed to the decreasing numbers.  So for the first time we decided to hold it during a school day.

Information went home to the parents of our elementary school's 500 students (K-6) and I held my breath.  Parents are the backbone of a Science Fair's success.  

The problem with the Science Fair being during the school day was that school things go on... lunch, recess, art, music, academics.  We had to come up with some very tricky scheduling.  
With the help of our school's office staff, principal, and the 5th and 6th grade science teachers, we put together a viewing and judging timetable that worked!

Next, we needed judges.  For seventeen years we used science students from a nearby university as judges - unfortunately they couldn't be available on a weekday.   We contacted University of Pittsburgh at Bradford and they were able to send some of their students and a professor.  Hurray!  But we needed more.  I contacted a friend and her daughter who homeschool - they could help!  Our school superintendent has a science background and she could be there!  Finally, I contacted the principal at our High School and he (on very short notice!) pulled together students from our National Honor Society and we had enough judges to make everything run smoothly.   

Our custodial staffs got tables together from the jr/sr high school and the elementary schools, the elementary physical education teacher kindly gave up the gymnasium, my husband became the master of ceremonies, the tech person put together a sound system, teachers spoke with their students and some really encouraged the students to participate - our 5th and 6th grade classes were required to participate as part of their annual science project grade.  

We ask the students to create a tri-fold board that explains their experiment or exhibit using the scientific method if it applied.  We lined up the boards in rows so everyone could view them and when it was their turn, the students brought their boards to the tables to be judged.  We have the students sit and talk with two judges at different times... no oral presentations!... the final result I'm going for is for the children to enjoy themselves, enjoy science, and not be frightened off! 

Students being judged.

Some of the boards.

More boards

The kids loved this bunny!  

Wow.  Pure pandemonium in the morning and then the scheduling kicked in.  Volunteers stepped right up and got to work tallying scores and helping students get moved around.  The teachers all brought their students through to view the exhibits.  Children came down by class to be judged.  In the afternoon, the kindergarten through 4th graders came down by grade to be judged.  

Can I explain how wonderful it is to see a kindergartener professionally prepare a microscope slide?  The kids get exposed to hands-on science and many of the younger grade students who weren't required to create a science fair project said they wanted to do one next year!  

Nothing has such power to broaden the mind as the ability to investigate systematically and truly all that comes under thy observation in life.
~ Marcus Aurelius