Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Onward to October

It's a rainy and damp morning here, much needed and much appreciated. It's been so dry that the lawns have burned brown from sunlight, hay has grown slow, baes becoming scarce, and the creek is dry in places. Not anymore. Over an inch of rain slammed into the county last night. No damage here though, not even a power outage.. Besides a poorly-working tarp in the barn wetting some bales - most of the farm is dry (those bales are going to be used FAST though...) Can't complain. The coffee is hot, the dogs are toweled dry, and every animal on the farm is sun and safe. Colder weather is coming by the weekend but right now it is nice to know we don't need a fire to stay warm, we can cuddle beside the jackolanterns.

I am working on what is in store for this winter, which is my main concern. Still have a ways to go on hay and firewood, and soon as I can afford another cord I will order it. But in the meantime I am working on selling pork shares, logos, the usual. Sales are slow but not dead and it's encouraging enough. I didn't end up making the September house payment yet but hope to before mid October. If I stay frugal and keep things close to home it should be possible. All of this keeps me going. 

I got to ride Merlin solo up the mountain yesterday. The leaves here are in full color in some places and the winds with the pre-rain bluster were downright magical. It felt so good to run up those paths, the old boy still has it. And if there are ponies to ride and leaves to feel rushing past your face in the wind, I will be here to do so. Onward into October!

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

New Birds!

A few weeks ago one of the Buff Orpington Chicks we raised in the spring went broody. It was a pleasant little surprise after both another hen and the little flock of geese didn’t hatch a single egg during their incubation attempts. Nine little homebrewed chicks were born and we brought six indoors to brood ourselves and are leaving three with the young mother to raise outside. It’s so nice having a little brooder in the living room again. At night its warm glow and the soft light of the evening fire in the wood stove has been making the entire home feel more comforting as the nights grow colder. Already there has been two frosts here. Walking outside for morning chores means sweaters and hats, soon gloves. 

That isn’t my only bird news, either! I was able to trap a small male red tail hawk in Salem, NY a few days ago. He’s been doing so well! I never get tired of training a new bird and the journey we go on from strangers unsure of each other to friends. We are just in the first days of learning to eat, live, and walk together but at the rate he is learning he should be able to fly free well before Halloween, and that is very exciting for me! Lots of pictures of him on Instagram and Twitter!

The farm isn’t yet at the place it needs to be for hay and firewood to exhale with a safe feeling of completion; but there are 80 bales in the barn and a cord and a half stacked outside, and that isn’t nothing. I am hoping to order more hay and firewood soon. It all depends on sales, but the August mortgage was paid and slowly I am working towards September.

So things are slowly getting there. New lives and friends and fire stacked for the cold nights. I am happy I didn’t breed these ewes young and their only job is to eat and be fat and happy all winter. The little goat Cade isn’t so little anymore, but is a sweet addition to the herd and loves scratches under his chin. It’s not a bad life, folks. Not bad at all.

Friday, September 11, 2020

Pork Shares for 2021! Reserve Now!

Offering shares of pork for 2021! Limited quantity available for next summer and early fall. Selling shares in advance helps this farm plan it's year ahead. I offer a flat rate that includes butchering, smoking, vacuum sealing of meats in 1/4 and half hog. Please email me at to get details!

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Winter Prep Update!

With September well underway this farm is slowly meeting its winter preparation goals. There are around 75 bales stacked in the barn, lining the entire base floor of the small structure. This is the most hay I've ever had in that little barn because in the past I only needed to store a max of 40 or so bales at a time since I could constantly resupply that same space from hay banks around the area. Now with being in charge of an entire winter's worth of hay I need about 200-250 bales to get through the winter. Possibly more. But I want the lion's share of that stacked and dry by the first snowfall. 

There is still a cord and a half of wood stacked and under cover, and I will want another 2 cords or so by end of October. But I have a dependable and trusty wood delivery guy and time to accomplish that. Even now, just that small bit of hay and wood is a comfort. It's paid for and stacked and waiting for use. 

My days here are good. This is the first winter I am prepping for not to spend alone with the animals, ever. The needs of another person need to be figured in and letting go of preferences that don't serve the whole of the farm fam need to be let go. So I am learning to adjust to all of it, and very happily so! When you're stacking wood to keep someone you love warm, you stack better. Simple as that.

The farm's gardens are small and fighting their own battles against groundhogs and other pests, but the squash seem to be doing well enough and there's a nice little crop of butternut and pumpkins coming along. There's also herbs to dry for winter herbal teas, seeds to save, animals yet to butcher and sell. But it all will get done. So far half of our meat birds have already been harvested and we are hoping to sell a good amount both to get a return on investment and make some freezer space available for pigs this winter. This has been the most successful meat bird year in memory. No losses at all to predators and the birds we already harvested... shoot, some were nearly 8lbs! We have the first chicken feast on our own kale, potatoes, and herbs coming up with friends this Monday. Pretty excited about that!

Falconry season is coming up, fall and winter. I don't have a bird yet but have been trapping whenever I can find the time. So many juvenile red tails and kestrels are out and about! It's been a whole new experience trapping with someone who has never seen the whole process of making the trap to getting the hawk to starting training that same night you bring it home. Lots of trial and error on this hawk trap (I have never made my own trap until this year and just learning some of the skills that make it work was a bit of a challenge. I had to follow directions, which I am horrible at. Don't try anything I bake that requires measuring.) But just seeing so many birds out is comforting and encouraging! Soon I'll have a new charge on my gauntlet. Exciting!

I'm still slowly working towards the August Mortgage. I hope to take care of it soon. It'll take a lot of frugality and luck and planning to pull it off, September's house payment, butcher bills, hay and wood... but so far I am okay. And as long as sales keep coming in I should be. I can certainly eat here at the farm for next to nothing, and eat like a queen this time of year, and I'll tell you that for free. It's a grand way to save money - eating your own butter roasted squash, potatoes, and chicken!

So that is where the farm is at. I'm slowly getting in hay and wood. I am behind on the mortgage but not scary behind. I am excited about small things like birds and foliage. I am worried but optimistic. I'm in love and hoping for a calm and gentle winter, warm and safe. I wish the same for you all. 

Friday, September 4, 2020

A Small Adventure

Monday night was an evening I'll never forget. One of those perfect little trips that make your heart whole again after a hard few weeks. I got to get outside with everything I needed to be safe, warm, fed, and comfortable in the wilderness alongside my Love and my two very good dogs. We hiked in cool late-summer weather and spent the night without wifi or cell service on top of a mountain. The Japanese have a phrase for this sort of medicine. It's called Shinrin-yoku, to us, Forest Bathing. And if a regular walk in the woods is a bath, then we had a soak in Nature's most glorious hot tub. 

This was a short escape. We planned our freelance work around just 24 hours away from the farm. We left around noon on Monday and were back by noon Tuesday, but in that time we managed a small six mile loop backpacking trip in the mountains of Vermont. We had arranged for the permit and farm sitters in advance. We planned our gear, meals, and the needs of two very happy dogs (who carried their own packs, might I add!) and we set off into the wild. Just driving away with your backpacking gear loaded up and a plan to be outdoors all night fills me with a quick rushing happiness. And once our bodies start huffing and puffing with trekking poles in hand and muddy boots beneath our feet all the worries about money, the farm, anything but that night's home and dinner fade away. It's primal. It's good.

What I love about backpacking is it is right here. It's nearly free. Our permits to camp at that amazing spot were $5 a person. The gas was already in her car. The gear and the food already in our home. The gear I have nearly all was on sale, slowly collected over the years. Some of it I got for gear tests for magazine articles. But even if you wanted to buy gear today online to backpack, you could do it for far less than a weekend in a nice hotel and reuse it over and over. Since I had what all four of us needed, all we had to do was arrange time to get away. We did. Forest Bathing, here we come!

We were so lucky to have the trails almost entirely to ourselves with the weekend folks back from their hikes and many kids back to school. So we talked, walked, sang, and listened to podcasts as we carried our heavy loads up and down trails and along gorgeous views of the Green Mountains and Adirondacks. When we arrived at our campsite it felt almost too good to be true. The campsite jutted out like a little peninsula of earth high in the air surrounded by sweeping mountains on all three sides! The site had a picnic table and room for our three person tent so we rested with happy hearts and shaky legs. We were both of tired from the day's work both at the farm and on our feet, we enjoyed the most beautiful sunset of my life and ate a warm meal of potatoes and stroganoff as the sun melted away into the sky.

It was such a reminder how lovely this world is even during all this hardship. I hope you are all finding time to do what you can with the resources, energy, and space you can give your heart. It does us all good to get away a little when we can.

And since home, it's back to winter prep and hoping to cover August's mortgage before mid month. One day at a time. One hope at a time. One amazing view at a time.