Saturday, May 30, 2009

My Truest Love

Tomorrow I am taking a trailer down to the butcher and getting rid of two sows. I partially decided to downsize on the pigs. I am sad to do this, but quite frankly do not see an alternative with the work load we have. I meant to take my two white pigs, but the black one hopped in the trailer...So I shut the door and went up for dinner. I became the saddest, most irritable grouch knowing my beautiful, big girl (Big Momma) was locked in for the butcher. About an hour later the door was opened, and I let both pigs out. She is going to stay on the farm. I love her too much. She is such a lovely pig. She doesn't test the fence line, she is gentle even when I grab a piglet. She lets me pet her belly, and lay my body against hers.

So I devised an idea for quick construction for a summer pen at the new place. I am going to try rotating Big Momma, Priscilla, Berta and the new piglets on pasture using a central house, with rotation of paddocks around the fixed pen. I'll run an irrigation line out to them for water, and electric fence them in. For added security I will double line with sheep fencing.

Big Momma rooted the foundation of a small shed before. So I was tentative to build much for them. I think- not sure but think I have an idea that will work. I am going to stack some hay bales on their sides and drive rebar down through them into the ground so that they are fixed in place. Then I will use the rebar that is exposed to use as a base to bend plastic conduit over. In this way I will (hopefully) have a semi-pig proof hoop house for my ladies.

As for the pasture I am not sure. I have had a lot of luck rotating pigs on pasture before. The key is to move them quickly. I think the best bet for this summer is to realize that I am busy, and that some of it will become sacrifice ground. I will just plan on having the area become a small garden the following year.

Above is a picture of Big Momma as a piglet. My little sweetheart love. =)
-Guy who fell in love with a pig.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Mary Oliver

I spent today with Mary Oliver. She sat in my pocket; the one on the left on my backside, which is so rarely used as the wallet is designated to the right back pocket. I took her out here and there to read her wisdom of being In Blackwater woods.

I love poems, and I have had a rather late introduction to Mary Oliver and some of her wonderful thoughts. Today was a very productive day. I bought grain for all the growing and very hungry chicks, moved some baby bunnies to the new farm, cut out the edges of the field, dropped the septic design off at Concord, picked up bread, finished up the middle piece of the garden and with some mostly hopeful thinking added some lime before the rains, then separated a pregnant pig, and now am inside with you- and Mary Oliver. Throughout the day I would pull out her work and enjoy the smooth words in between work and being nervous about the many things that need to be done on the farm and house. Below is her poem, In Blackwater Woods- and I hope you enjoy it.

Look, the trees
are turning
their own bodies
into pillars

of light,
are giving off the rich
fragrance of cinnamon
and fulfillment,

the long tapers
of cattails
are bursting and floating away over
the blue shoulders

of the ponds,
and every pond,
no matter what its
name is, is

nameless now.
Every year
I have ever learned

in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side

is salvation,
whose meaning
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.
Mr. Collins looking down (condescendingly) at the camera. I left a candy on top of the bales, and leaped, and landed on the top bale with my knees, but slid off. You stared down on me as if apologetic of my non-fluidity- my inability to place my body into the curve of a movement that loses itself over space.

Grandpa showing me how to weld on a jack to a trailer I picked up for my tractor. Zac did alright, but definitely needs some work.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Check Valve And Asparagus

Marianne and I planted the asparagus yesterday. I bought 2 bundles just to have a foot in the door policy with the vegetable. I love it, and wanted to get started with a small bed right away. In the Small Farmer's Journal by LynnMiller- a horse farmer said that he would flop a furrow, and then plant his potatoes tight in that furrow, and then flop the next furrow right over to cover the potatoes. He went on until all the potatoes were planted, and then harrowed right over.

My grandfather and I thought it was a wonderful idea. So we retrofitted the idea for asparagus. It was a little late to plant, but it went quick, and planted very deep. I am going to go over the top with the tilled to cut the surface a little tomorrow, and then toss on a load of composted manure.

Today we got water over at the place. Actually, I am now getting pretty sleepy so the post is going to end, but lets say finally! and woohoo! It will be very nice to get water to the tomatoes in the hoop house.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The bun-buns are happy tonight. Cutting grass with a hand scythe is a blissful way to end a long day.

Today, Zac and I planted asparagus root stalk right behind the barn. Zac is at ease with his tractor he knows many important things about it: how to get it to move forward, how to put it in reverse, how to drop the doohicky that lowers the harrows, and how to stop the thing!
Me? Not so much. haha But I got on it anyway and tried my hand at harrowing. I wish I had a picture of the outcome to show all of you, but right there next to Zac's beautiful straight rows was a wiggly wobbly, caddywhompus "row". Apparently you have to go at a certain speed in order to get the grass to flop over. Oh well :) shovels work great.
We also had fun when we tried to stick the plow onto the tractor. Once again I took a seat on the tractor. This time I got to put it in reverse! I won't say much about this escapade, but I am glad that Zac has quick reflexes! (and a great deal of patience, he is a wonderful man)

Friday, May 22, 2009

Stuff Stuff...Hot

Well, I found out where the poison ivy that maliciously infected my hands and forearm for the last weekish is located. There was a very good looking hickory on the roadside of our property that had a tight growing vine proceeding up the trunk of the tree. I just assumed that it was either Bitter Sweet or some nasty parasitic plant whose fate was destined to be cut apart. I grabbed the thick vine, and cut away with my pocket knife till I could pull it away from the tree. Two days later my fingers swelled up from poison ivy. Today I noticed some large poison ivy vines on the wall and went "aha! There it is."

Taking the rest of the day off. Cousin's bday is today in Goffstown, and making a dual purpose trip to pick up a shallow well pump in New Boston. Tired, and hott from the day, so thus the early post.

I found Marianne's camera which is a good marital move. I had safely placed it on a shelf in the barn, but could not until today find which shelf in which barn I had placed it. So I would like to finish this post with pictures, captions, and a goodbye!

Lights in the barn. Very nice. Less tripping at night.
Hens on even newer pasture. Poultry netting working even better than expected. Their mobile cover is now working well. I put up two wooden purlins (not shown) which stiffened the structure right up. The whole thing is very light, and can be pulled with ease by one person. I made the mistake of not putting the chicken water and feed underneath it. We are down about 20 eggs a day right now, and I think better location of the nests, water and feed to their midday rest areas would improve our egg production. Just a hunch. So I moved a water bucket over to the cover, and will condense everything tomorrow.
Almost 16 days old and already in a halfway house. This is the name of our second stage housing for the broiler chicks. They get moved from the brooder to the half way house. This allows them to get outside, and use their wings and legs, and become introduced with pasture while still keeping the ability to go in out of weather.
First attempt at a hoop house for tomoatoes. Not bad. Couple changes needed, but really should work well. Will finish ends and sides tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Tired With Grrrr

Tired with Grrrr is my super-masculine way of saying there are a couple things irking me. Although I do not think I should dwell on any particulars since: 1. I do not have any masculine/super testosterone driven way of saying "grrr" and 2. I want to keep this a happy blog and 3. I really just need a back rub and a good nights sleep.

I ordered a shallow well pump on Northern Tool and as I clicked the checkout box I noticed it was back ordered for up to a month. Anyways, I can cancel the order tomorrow, but have to call in, which leads me to having to find another pump....

May sound odd but was hoping to have a more "poetic" summer, with some literature tucked away at nights and moments with the farm, and new trees to explore, but at the moment....There has been more driving than I am used to, which is something different for me to become adjusted to. I keep tabs on my driving and thoughts of global warming as they exit my tailpipe. There has just been a lot more of it on my end as we travel between farms, and drive to pick up equipment or materials. Today most of my day was spent driving. I went up to Grantham to pick up a hay conveyor- a coworker sold it to me, and was a very nice piece of equipment to add to the farm. However, the one ton eats up gas, and I like to keep that down. I'd show a picture of the conveyor, but I cannot find the fault don't tell Marianne.

Last year I spent most of my summer on the farm with relatively little driving. This year it seems like the driving will be a standard part of every day. I didn't drive for the first three days after I graduated college. I made it an integral part of how the farm worked last year. Unfortunately I still work off the farm- hopefully in the nearish future driving can be reduced and then taken out of my daily life.

I would LOVE!!! to show everyone pictures of the farm, the new temp cold frame, the kittens playing on a hay stack, the baby chicks, but I have NOOOOOO clue where I put Marianne's camera! Eek. It is around, somewhere. =)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Midge of Death!

Hahaha We laugh the laugh of the sinister man who lurks under the stairway of a poorly directed B film. We have aphids on our plants in the greenhouse. Inspired by Greg Berger at Spring Ledge Farm and their wonderful pest management practices, we went and called an IPM lab and they suggested a small predatory midge that preys upon aphids. Those vicious little creatures that suck the phloem of life from our precious little basils and peppers.

Anyways, we knew we wanted to go in the direction of a dynamic method of taking care of pests, so this was a nice way to start. If it doesn't work, then we aren't out much, and the plants are going outside very soon. If it works then spectacular they can keep us ahead. Sleepy.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


My dad came in two days ago to give me a hand with the house/farm for a few weeks. Yesterday we spread 4 loads of well composted sheep manure onto the field/garden. Later that day I finished harrowing up the garden.

Today we cut out more of the back field, transferred some items from grandpa's farm to the new one. An order of chicks came in a day early which threw me off a bit. Anyways, we planted the potatoes! First thing in the garden this year. 1050 row feet of the tuberous buggers. Tomorrow I am going to play a quick gamble with some beans, and Marianne is going to harden off some cool weather crops and we'll drop them outside.

My ladies have been staying in better. The car battery I had hooked up to the mobile charger was weak- I went ahead and hooked up the big boy charger that puts out 20,000 volts. Long story short my ladies feel quite content at home. I ran the main line onto the ground- so the charger is actually only putting out 11k, which is a little nicer for the girls to retrain them to the fence.

I sat down for about 20 minutes the other day trying to see what they ate first when I moved them onto new pasture. Unfortunately I had just fed them so most we not interested in coming onto the new pasture. I noticed one hen ferociously eating a clover, but another was just pecking on a blade of grass. Nothing definetive, but it was fun to lay down and have the ladies walk across me on their little pasture grazing strolls.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Chicken Excavation

Well, we did not excavate with chickens nor did we excavate chickens, but we did have a day in which both chickens were a focus and excavation was a focus.

Chris Bentley is our local Salisbury Construction guru and came over with a mini-excavator to do some much needed site work, and to quickly dig a test pit for the septic for the future house. I missed out on taking any action photos, but the end product is very nice. A farmer neighbor told me a previous owner used to rent equipment, have drinking parties, and then play around with the equipment- I wasn't very excited to hear about this, and quite honestly wondering what side of the sperm bank his little originator woke up on....Anyways, Chris came over and took care of the mess that guy created.

So Chris came over and fixed up the mini little hills, and depressions the guy created. In between we found some buried metal. Nothing of concern, but some oddities like a finish mower and a furnace arch. I was amazed at that little excavator. It had a rubber track. It did not tear up the field nor create any ruts. Very happy with that "low impact" approach. Now the area around the barn is useable again. This is HUGE since I wanted to start planning some of the greenhouse locations and perennials.

The other big thing of the day was the chickens. They kept getting out which infuriated me. So I left and did some errands in New London. When I went back they were out of layer mash. I poured some inside their portable pen, and my ladies came running back. Then spent 20 minutes laying in the new pasture with them.
I am quite sleepy, and do have to drive to go pick my dad up at the airport.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


One of my co-workers had a kitty who had kittens two months ago. Well, they were fine with a couple of the kittens becoming barn kitties and let us pick a couple out. So we did, and are excited/happy to have our new future mousers on the farm.

We made a safety spot for them in one of the stalls. Unfortunately they are much bigger then when we first saw the kittens. Long story short the spot I thought would contain them doesn't. So we have a large pet carrier they are staying in when we are not there, and let them run about when we are. After a week we'll just get rid of the carrier, but want to ensure that they know the barn is they're new home first. They fell in love with the blankets, and spent all day yesterday sleeping and cleaning themselves on them.

They are the first pets in our marriage. Of all the animals we have had none of them were really pets. All the pigs, chickens, etc. have a potential date of sale or processing- so it is really nice having something we can cuddle, and see grow with us on the farm.

I'll stop kitty talking now- I do have a bit of work to do-like building application, ordering in greenhouse film, more cutting. A farmer friend Two Mountain Farm gave some good advice when I mentioned I wouldn't get much work done yesterday because of the kittens. She said that they are "soul work" and I couldn't agree more. Feel refreshed.

Friday, May 8, 2009


Chickies in Brooder!!!!!!

Our first batch of chicks came in today. This seems as another one of those landmarks of the season- starting first tomatoes, piglets, first baby chick order, first tomato, first cornish game hen dinner...mmmm

So we got 100 of these little buggers in. Jack bought 20 of them to raise on their farm. So I have 70 left. At the end of two weeks they will get moved to the "half way house" which is a small coop outside that can be completely covered and heated if needed, but otherwise the little chickies get access to fresh grass, and to explore their little world- thus we call it the "half way house". After that they get moved straight out to the fields until yummie time.

We do not have a set date for market day with these birds. I just grab birds that look the biggest, and go from there. Sometimes I overlook a few and the next week we get some real monster sized birds at the market. (Our largest last year was a 13 pounder that snuck in and lived with the turkeys.)

But alas, I am quite excited about seeing our new property and these quick growing, manure making, heavy pooping, grass grazing, meat producing, juicy, delicious, savory, gourmet chickies come in. They fix up the pasture very nicely. They can deweed it, fertilize it, scratch open crowns of plants to grow thicker, and at the end of it all you get three meals out of each one. The only real problem with them is they can be finicky- as little stress as possible the better. So I am going back over to the property now to check on them, and probably to spend the night with them. Come on over if you want, otherwise the 80 chickies and I will just spend the night staying up late and gossipping and what not.
A couple hens decided a pail full of roofing nails was a good spot to use as a nest. I said our hens were antibiotic/hormone free- not smart...

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Ode To the Ugly-Old Tractor

You are ugly,
No doubt from the faded paint,
That was once called international red,
And now that is pocked with surface rust,
And areas where I began to reprime you,
But left before we were finished.
I found a more engaging chore elsewhere.
You've been rewelded,
Several times and in many places,
So that now the arms on your three point hitch,
Do not lower as far as I would like when I use my tiller.
You putter because your carburetor needs tinkering,
But I am not skilled enough to let you breath properly,
So in fourth gear and high range,
You put put up a hill,
But still you run a log splitter,
And start nearly every time I need you.
Your back differentials lock,
Which has saved both of us,
Several times- even yesterday.
You're older than me,
You're older than my mother-
I only wish you had a bucket,
Because there are still some rocks
In that field.

Well, thanks for reading the impromptu Ode to the Old-Ugly Tractor. I like my little tractor. It gets the job done, and needs little tinkering in between. It is tough too. I need to tinker with the hydraulics at some point this year, and get some help with the carburetor. Other than that she runs beautifully- starts- stops, and pulls whatever in between.

Plus, it was simply built, which helps with my limited mechanical experience. On top of that we just set aside money last year to pay for it, and the payment didn't break our back- $1500. I didn't think that was bad considering it doesn't have any major issues. Ugly though isn't it? I think I grabbed the best of its charm in the evening sunlight against the old house. Oh yea- International Harvester- supposed to originally be a B257 Diesel- rebuilt to a 354 I think gas job.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


This is Lydia. My grandfather and I went and looked at her a couple weeks ago. We both wanted her, and he ended up buying her. We brought her home last week. So the secret is out- we have a milk cow again, but.....She is a heifer- She isn't bred yet so we are looking at nine months before we'll have milk again. That is pretty good for me this summer because I think a milk cow would be the straw that broke the Zac's back if he had to milk this season.

I'll keep looking for a cow that will be freshening this Autumn, but at the very least raw milk is on the horizon for us. Plus, isn't she a cutie? (Well she is in the barn, and I took the pic before she had time to do up her hair and makeup, but still isn't she a cutie?)

Have a fun drizzly day!

Monday, May 4, 2009

50 Dollars!!!

Picture of Our Ladies on the new farm. Hello Ladies. Looking mighty good there on that grass.

This morning I searched around on the Department of Agriculture website trying to find out how to register our farm name. Silly me did not realize it was through another division of the state government. Silly me did not realize that there was a fee associated with the registration. Fifty dollars!!!

Eek. That is like- a lot of eggs or 4 rabbits- or 2+ weeks of vegetarian CSA shares. I woke Marianne up 15 minutes early to let her know the news. She was more startled that I was waking her up though...The good news is that Sun Hill Farm-which was the winner of the votes- is not taken. (Sunny Hill was a close second, followed by That's a Good Looking Sheep and Ate the Deer that Ate the Lettuce....Farm) There were several inactive accounts with "Family Heirlooms" in the name. We thought that was a unique name and I was surprised to see it had been used previously.

I do like the name Family Heirlooms. Family and Friends are very important to me. Relationships can take so many forms and they are all blessings. I have two wonderful friends at CSC whom I have had dinner with throughout the year on my breaks. I was sad to see them go for the summer, and to not have a season long of conversations, and dinners. Just as we miss the market goers in the summer who delight us with stories and thanks for the produce on Saturdays- or friends from high school which come up once a year to see the farm. I went to Connecticut to get my knees checked out (they cleared whew) and met a friends dad who I hadn't seen in 6 or so years. It was wonderful to see him, and talk the through the evening.

So I would like to make sure everyone knows that they are welcome to come down to the farm-for a stroll or what have you. If we're too busy you'll know, but that will still be alright.
Goodnight-Hope all is well with everyone-
Zac Plowing up new garden. About half the area will be in cover crop- some in strawberries and the rest for the CSA/Market.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

A view of the Weekend

I had a most lovely and pretty productive weekend. Marianne and I spent most of it together including sleeping over the new farm for a night where her perfected art of stealing the blankets are no longer cute. I plowed up about half of what I wanted to get done. My grandfather gave me a 'crash course for dummies who have been hanging around with him for a few years but for some odd reason didn't notice things' course on plowing. I ended up doing a great job, but he showed up and showed me how to do a great job and faster. I looove my grandfather.
The aim is to have half the tilled area into cover crop this year. We're going to try hairy vetch, oats and peas mix, and then till it later.
I also got to try out my new chainsaw. The first day Marianne and I were over there we were cutting down saplings that had started to take over part of the field. We were using bow saws and clippers and suddenly I had a "what the hell are you doing you own a chainsaw" moment. I have those moments often. Like every time I try cutting into a steak that is overcooked...

We also moved our ladies over to the new farm. This was the second time we had to crate them up and put them on the truck. I am sure all their squaeking meant they were sick of it and better be the last. So Saturday night ended at around 9:40 placing the last of the hens inside the portable pen at the new farm before we tucked off to sleep.

Off the farm not much is happening. I've been out straight except for the mini picnic/BBQ on Friday. I have May 6th to June 7th off from work, and hoping to take advantage of that as fully as possible. I was hoping to be working on the house between then, but we really have to think out whether we'll be converting that barn or building a house. Any ideas?


Friday, May 1, 2009

BBQ Time!

We had our first BBQ at our new place tonight! A good time was had by all: fields were explored, tasty chicken was eaten, potty breaks were taken in the woods, a talented 3-yr old spun stories about the dragon who lives next door, piles of poo as big as a person, and who knows what else! :)

I want to thank everyone who brought extra nibblies and victuals, thank you! :)

We are so excited!!!!

Also a special note to my dad. Thank you for the Weber, the chimney starter, the BBQ tongs, and teaching me some of your BBQ "secrets".