A week from Thanksgiving and where have we landed thus far? The three pigs (Wilma, Betty and Blossom Dearie) are fattening nicely in the lower pasture on organic feed from local grain carrier Countryside Organics. They were too small for the elaborate electric fencing I had set up for them originally so I have them in a makeshift enclosure until they get a little bigger. The house we built for them is beautiful. It moves well on its skids and they seem to like it.
The plan for the pigs is to let them winter in this lower pasture in hopes that they will both fertilize and turn up the soil for planting in the Spring. So far they are rooting fairly well, we will see if they can make this entire area suitable for planting without machine tilling.
We had to have the floor drains in our basement re-dug as they did not accept water and the flooding down there is an inevitable trade off for the beautiful stacked slate foundation of our home. So now when it rains it just goes through the new floor drains faster than it can fill. Our washing machine also empties out through these drains and we have taken the end of the drain pipe to the lower pasture in the hopes of being able to utilize our gray water in irrigation over the summer. We are also lucky to have our pond sitting right over the lower field so we will be able to gravity and flood irrigate as well.
The Guinea Hens are not fully mature but are enjoying the full space of our property as they walk the perimeter each day ending back at their enclosure each evening for a regular feeding. I feel as though we have been pretty lucky with keeping them around -them being free to go as they please and all.
The Chickens enjoy the upper pasture and have learned to stay within the confines of their electric Poultry fence. Ever since we moved them to this pasture they having been growing at such a tremendous rate. I cannot wait for eggs in the Spring. They are also fed organic grain from our local supplier. Their fencing is moved with some regularity so that they can spread the sheep poop in this pasture around a bit and help fertilize.
The sheep are Border Cheviots and we are looking for a Ram so if you know anyone with one, please contact us. I have a few leads in NC but prefer to not make that drive. The make shift Run in for the Sheep is finished and it looks good. The opening is narrow however and does not allow them to see much outside of the shed itself. Because of this they are a bit nervous to enter. This is mostly due to the fact that they have not bonded with The Great Pyrenees we have put in this pasture to protect them and the Chickens.
The Great Pyr. (Named ‘Scout.’ Nicknamed ‘The White Wookie’) is awesome. I feel as though I have already spoiled her with too much affection. She is supposed to be a hardened guard dog. Her bark is good and deep, quite ominous in fact, but she becomes friendly with anyone who approaches her. Moreover she jumps and plays like a docile puppy every time I enter the yard. I figure what the heck? I really like having her around and the constant deep bark has got to be doing something …right?
The ducks still won’t swim or even use the pond. We were given two Beautiful Toulouse Geese as well that I thought would teach the ducks to swim but they won’t swim either. My personal theory is that waterfowl who have never experienced a natural water body with other animals living in it are afraid when they sense fish and things swimming around beneath them. There are snapping turtles also but they are down for the Winter so I cannot figure it. Every now and then I will chase them into the water to remind them it’s there. The frustrating thing is that they habitate an area right on the pond bank and every day I have to walk the 3 feet from where they like to sit over to the water and scoop out a fresh bucket of the water to bring back to them so they can drink and dunk in it. They have grown more used to me though and they let me pick them up much easier when I need to. They may be my favorite animals to have around so far, I just wish they would swim.
We dug 16 large holes in the pasture 15 feet apart and have ordered Heirloom variety Apple Trees to arrive in a month. It will be at least 5 years before we can start producing from these trees but our main focus will be cider (mostly hard). We will also be putting in a sizable berry grove and in the strip of land below the upper pasture I intend to plant a small cut your own Christmas Tree patch but this may take some time as I am pretty booked right now.
Other than that the Beagle has continued to step up and be a useful farm animal keeping the other dogs and animals off the property by day and at dusk. Unlike the Great Pyr he has free run of the place but will not leave the property, who knew?
The majority of my work is dedicated to Alston who just recently turned 2. He is a tremendous boy, full of life, laughs and fun and although it is difficult to get any work done when he’s around or awake, I am slowly learning to wind down a little. It is difficult to not get things done in a day but when I see him emulating me being on the phone or the computer it strikes a chord with me. The weather has stayed nice this Autumn and I am slowly drawing him into some of the work around here. He will sit on the hay bale and get a ride to where I need to spread the hay. He sits on the Duck house roof and watches me chase them around and around to close them up at night. He stands with Scout at the edge of the poultry Fence while I close up the chickens and then we all roll around in the grass for a while. Alston is always the first to point out the Moon and the first Star of the evening, they are so exciting for him and his enthusiasm is contagious. We watch the moon for several minutes, chase the Geese back into the Duck pin, call the cats home and then go inside and wait for Lisa to get home at 6pm.
These are long days but good ones. The farm is beginning to come into its own.