Sunday, April 10, 2011

Farm and Garden Report - April 10

I checked back to see when I last wrote a farm and garden report, and it was seven months ago almost to the day! The reason is that there simply isn't much to say in the winter. Tom comes home at night and does the chores - feeds the animals and chickens, and fills water buckets. They spend all their time inside the barn or within four feet of the back door. Many, many days I don't even catch a glimpse of them.

And now it is spring. Spring with just a few patches of snow. Spring and the air is filled with bird song. The robins returned on March 31. This morning I heard a phoebe. Tom thinks he saw a woodcock up in the woods, though we haven't seen or heard the nightly dance yet. The winter birds have slowed down in their eating from the bird feeders.

Every spring I think to myself that I should have planted some crocus bulbs in the fall for the treat of seeing that color just now. We do have daylily shoots up three inches, but that's about it in the flora department.

The baby chicks have been ordered and sixteen of those dear little soft creatures shall arrive the first week of May. I did a blog entry the last time we got new chicks in May, 2007. Though the girls slowed down in their laying over the winter, we never had to buy eggs, and now they've picked up so much that Tom has begun selling eggs at school again. As I've noted, we don't eat our chickens, and they just gradually die of old age. But Dominiques are a very hardy, trouble-free, long-lived breed. They don't get sick.

The leek seeds were planted under the grow lights weeks ago, and get stronger each day. We'll be planting the tomatoes any day now. I think I've written about our off and on situation with the lights. Well, we've finally found just the spot for them - in the new butt'ry area off the kitchen. They aren't too obtrusive. They are near the woodstove for warmth. And we love seeing the bright green plants underneath them. I occasionally bring some houseplants over to give them a little 'spa' treatment in all that great light.

For the first time in 30 years our spring has been giving us trouble. Tom thinks there is rust buildup inside some pipes but can't check them until the weather warms up. If we aren't careful in our use of water, we lose pressure. Like say for instance, I take a shower and then do a laundry too soon afterwards. The reservoir must fill up after a big usage.

Tom is going out to bury our beloved, and sorely missed Ben today. I can't be part of it. I've never felt such sorrow at the loss of a dog. I wrote about how special he was, and there's just a hole in our hearts now. Sadie was very quiet, very subdued for, I'd say, almost two months after he died. We've been trying to do some different things we couldn't do with Ben, like taking her for rides. Ben hated riding but Sadie loves it, and I got her one of those back seat liners that plugs in to make it warm.

Matthew and Margaret are going to get a couple ducklings in May at the local feed store. They have a little pond, and we have a big old duck house from when we had ducks years ago. Ours wandered to the far ends of the pasture and got eaten by something, and after two attempts we gave up. We loved those ducks, though. They had such personality. I hope the kids have better luck.

We have big plans to put in more raised beds this year and extend the vegetable garden out into the field. We want more boxes, as Tom calls them, for potatoes, corn, and peas. He is also hoping to build a second patio; this one outside the kitchen door between the house and the beginning of the vegetable garden. It's a kind of ragged area with some old walkway stones that have been covered over with grass, and flower gardens which are overgrown and need to be redone. I just saw that I was talking about this area a year ago in a farm and garden report! Time to deal with it!

This morning for the first time I went out outside and sat on the patio to read. I've just begun Wish You Were Here by Stewart O'Nan. I wanted to read it before his newest one Emily, Alone because though it isn't billed as a sequel, it does carry on the story of Emily from the first book. I have read some excellent books lately and have five book reports to write!


  1. I always love to hear your first farm report of the year. It's cheerful and hopeful. Your spring takes such a long time to come way up there. We are heading into a dry summer I'm afraid, yet again. Happily, no pool to be adding water and our new house will be more xeroscaped than our old. No suburban grass for us there. Just the native stuff. Not as pretty, but you don't have to struggle with it.

  2. Every spring I think to myself that I should have planted some crocus bulbs in the fall for the treat of seeing that color just now.

    Me too!

  3. I wondered if you would have another topic than potatoes and what it would be. This is a lovely breath of spring....I don't keep any animals myself except my little dog Bo and my son has two gerbils and a mouse, but I do belong to a CSA farm and can visit the chickens there, and I have some years bought bees for the hives. Last year they made it through the winter. I'll have to check this year....Really enjoyed your post today.

  4. Lovely to have your report and to be able to visualise it all up at Windy Poplars. I really hope the feelings are beginning to ease about Ben now, the burial being the last farewell, it takes ages to recover from the loss of a beloved animal I know it well.
    Heatwave here in the Cotswolds!

  5. Nan I do so enjoy your farm and garden reports. And, may I say, I'm in love with your floors! The wide, warm colored flooring in the butt'ry is just beautiful.
    Re. your vegetable raised-bed garden, do you really eat all your produce or do you share with neighbors, people at school, etc.
    And Re. the chickens...they must supply you with more eggs than you can say grace over!
    And, lastly, are the sheep and the goat in the header yours? Charming. I had two adorable pygmy goats once, Frick and Frack; they kept us entertained.

  6. It sounds like a very peaceful, yet busy life you lead around the house.

  7. Fun to hear what is happening on the farm. I love your header picture. Isn't it great to be able to sit outside! We have been doing that every chance we get.

  8. It's been a long, cold winter and I'm thrilled to see the first Farm and Garden report! It's officially spring here in central NY, too. The ice went off the lake last night... time to start thinking about getting the docks in!

    Let's try and remind each other to plant crocus bulbs this fall. I was wishing for some, too!

  9. wonderful post Nan, I'm so sorry about your Ben, I still miss our family dog from my childhood.

    Both the books you mentioned look good, and I'm looking forward to your book reviews.

    Spring has sprung here as well, saw my first Robin yesterday, although Rob saw one last week or so. We have the beginnings of green, buds, and birds, thankfully!

    Have a great week

  10. Greatly enjoyed hearing what's happening on the farm, and I like the goat on your header. The sheep apparently could care less. We have signs of spring in NE PA as well, warmer temps, spring birds, some green in the grass, lots of mud (yuck), and the rabbits running around with tons of energy. We must do something with the rafters in the patio before the swallows arrive. They always build a nest up there and cause a huge mess. Determined little guys, I must say.

  11. Kay, I will never, ever stop being amazed at the different regional climates. I love the idea of your new garden and cannot wait to see pictures!!

    Raidergirl, maybe I'll order them now for fall delivery and then I CAN'T forget. :<)

    Kristi, we kept bees years ago but they didn't live through the winter. We get our honey from a regional beekeeper.

    Carole, thank you for you nice words. Heat wave!!

    Jill, they are simple pine boards that Tom put down last year. Thank you. What we don't eat from the garden, we freeze for winter eating. Our garden is not huge by any means. The egg sales just about pay for the feed so it is a great deal! And yes, those are our animals. We had three Pygmies years ago, and they were the dearest girls. The two we have now, we bought unseen. The owner said they were Pygmies, but they weren't and we certainly weren't going to say no thank you when they arrived. :<) I've done a bit of writing about these characters on the blog - Esther and Bracelet are the names they came with. They utterly run this place.

    Diane, sometimes peaceful, often busy. :<) But I wouldn't want any other life. I love being out in the country.

    Lisa, it is great to be able to sit out. Not today though. Thunderstorms and rain! And now the sun is coming through.

    Yay, JoAnn, the ice is out!! Such a lake side thrill every year! I told Raidergirl above that I may order crocus bulbs now for fall delivery and then I can't forget!

    Niki, thank you. And it is only fitting that someone named Rob should see the first robins. ;<)

  12. Barbara, that goat cares too much about every single thing, as does her sister. Hyper alert. Stubborn. There is nothing like those two. :<) I've written several tales o' woe about them here on the blog.
    'Our' swallows usually use a birdhouse on the telephone pole but not last year. I don't know if they nested on our land or not. Didn't see them much.
    I can only imagine the mess! What can you do to keep them away? Put up one of those little plastic things that blows in the wind??

  13. So sorry to hear about your Ben. Such losses are always so sad.

    I did, however, enjoy your farm and garden report. I've toyed with the thought of raising chickens, and keep hemming and hawing. Is there anything better tasting than fresh eggs? My biggest problem is Tom. Not a big problem, really. He is an artist and craftsman and I know if I say, let's go, he will spend the next two years making the Taj Mahal of coops. Sigh. Such problems. tee hee

    We finally have spring here! Joy supreme!

  14. Delightful, Penny! The problem most people seem to have with chickens is predators. It would be worthwhile to get really good electric fence and make the taj mahal as predator proof as possible. Our Dominiques (sans rooster - rarely a nice creature) are the best girls. They are cheerful and make wonderful little sounds.

  15. Oh, I love love love this post! I think perhaps because both of my grandparents had farms so there is a definite allure for me in that regard. Thanks for that. A lovely read.

  16. Our daffodils are up and so cheery to see as we drive up toward the house. They've really multiplied over the years and it's quite a beautiful sight after a long, dark winter. The tulips are getting ready to bloom, but only in the backyard. The squirrels have devoured the ones in the front. Maybe this fall, we'll both remember to plan some crocus. :)

  17. Les, my daffs are up four inches!! I've heard of people planting their tulips in pots to prevent them being eaten.


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