Snowstorm

We’ve been asked how we are weathering all the snow, and we’re happy to say all is well. Starts are coming along nicely, the greenhouse is standing in spite of all the snow, and somewhere under the new snow, there are little green daffodil shoots! 

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The Other Blog

cedar in Tilton

My daughter took this of me, and everyone seems to like it.

It occurs to me that when I comment or otherwise chime in on other’s blogs these days, there may be some confusion when you check me out and find a farm blog (or these days, slice of life family blog). I also write, and that blog is here: http://cedarwrites.wordpress.com. My name really is Cedar, that’s not a pseudonym. OK, that’s the faq’s, Ma’am…

Bear Kicking

Bear Munchies… Dad's honeybees.

Bear Munchies… Dad’s honeybees.

Bears have a curiosity bump. I went for a walk early one morning, and took the camera with me to take pictures of dewy cobwebs. All the way at the back of the pasture I found a patch of lovely ones, and was bent over taking pictures when I heard a rustling in the brush. I immediately thought “Oh, Dad’s moose!”

 
See, Dad had been sleeping out in his tent for a week, and the day before this had awakened to a moose crashing through the brush in the ravine below his tent. He’d crept to the edge and watched the south end of the moose proceeding north up the creek. So it was a natural assumption on my part to think that this large crashing in the brush was also a moose.

 
I swung the camera up and took a shot from the hip, flash and all. The flash was my undoing. I might have gotten away with it, but Mr. Bruin saw that light and stood up to see what the light was over the brush. At this point I realized that he was bigger than I, and although not known to attack humans often, I am not going to trust a bear further than I could throw it. Dad got away with kicking one in the…um. Well, you know. But that one was a yearling, a lot smaller than he, not a big ol’ bruin looking at little ol’ me.

 
So I went. Toward the house, wishing that I were a sprinter, not an endurance runner (and that a decade ago!) I am pretty sure he went in the other direction, but I wasn’t really looking. All I know is that he didn’t follow me home!

 
Talk about adrenaline to start your morning – that was a little too much. Coming back to Dad’s bear, the yearling, I just have to tell that story along with mine. Dad keeps bees, and even with an electric fence, the bears just can’t resist all those delicious grubs and sweet honey. One warm summer night, Dad heard a ruckus through his open window.

 
He knew just what that noise was. I was awakened by the sound of his feet thundering down the stairs. I ran out of my room to see my mother in her nightgown, carrying a pistol and a handful of cartridges. Dad told us later what had happened.

 
Once he got out to the garden and could see by the moonlight that there was indeed a bear in his hives, he’d stopped briefly. Unarmed, wearing only his briefs and wellingtons, he then charged at the bear. He’d decided, in that split moment, that if he could be bigger than the yearling who was plundering his hives, he could scare it off.

 
The bear, oblivious, his head as far in a hive box as it would go up to his shoulders, munched on. Dad kept coming. The bear’s first clue was a size 12 foot, encased in rubber garden boot, making violent contact with his north end. He pulled his head out and ran, squalling like a baby, toward the edge of the garden. After a few jumps he stopped and looked back to see what had hit him.

 
Dad told us later: “he just had this look, like ‘What did I do?” All injured innocence aside, Dad raised his hands up over his head and roared like a bull. This did the trick, and the bear made for the woods, possibly leaving behind what bears are said to do in the woods.

 
My mother and I arrived in time to see the bear high-tailing it in the moonlight. Mom had grabbed the wrong cartridges, and was feeding .357’s into a .44 and wondering why they were falling out as fast as she put them into the revolver. So the bear escaped with only his dignity injured, and Dad earned the nickname Bear Kicker, which he will never live down.

Wildflowers in June

One of my favorite things to do is to take a walk in June, camera in hand and a child or two with me. I take pictures, they frolic, and we usually wind up at the brook dabbling our toes in the water. Yesterday was a perfect day for this. Bright blue sky overhead, green everywhere, and flowers scenting the air. Rosa multiflora is a miserable weed, but oh, does it smell good. Like roses dipped in honey, the thick, sweet perfume fills a June afternoon.

Heiracium pratense – Yellow Hawkweed

 

Vicia cracca – Blue Vetch

 

Dragonfly on Sensitive Fern

 

Veronica officinalis – Common Speedwell

 

A hoverfly perches on Blackberry blossoms. The little fly looks like a bee, but it’s a fake out… it has no sting.

 

Potentilla recta – Rough-fruited Cinquefoil. Named for the hairy stems and seedpods, and the five-fingered leaves, this plant is a common sight on poor soil.

 

Female mosquito, doing her thing and getting a protein drink. For something so individually fragile (look at those legs!) they do so much damage.

Pig Tractor

We have about an acre of land we’d like to regain from having gone fallow for almost ten years. And, this being New Hampshire, we have rocks. Lots of big, hidden rocks. So hiring a guy to come on in and till isn’t really an option. That, and we are veering toward a no-till, low-till version of farming as we gain a better understanding of the workings of the bacteria and fungus that inhabit our soil and promote healthy, strong crops. So to that end, we are using a pig tractor.

What’s a pig tractor? you ask. Well, it’s a portable pen that our three pigs are slowly moving about over that acre of ground in. As they are moved, a day or two at a time in place, they tear up the ground. We encourage them to root up bushes that have sprung up by hiding a little corn or peanuts in the ground around them. Pigs have amazing snouts, and they can tear up almost anything once they get going on it.

As they move, we are planting field peas as a cover crop, and once the pigs are done, we will turn under the peas and use them as compost to be able to plant our goal crop, a field full of barley. Dad wants to grow his own beer…

Pigs will follow their food anywhere!

The Pig Tractor results after only one day

Spring brings so much to the farm.

I think, based on so many little signs, that it might actually be spring. You see, we live far enough north that spring can be elusive some years. We’d had a patch of nice weather earlier, then Mother Nature played April Fools with us and dropped six inches of snow on the farm that day. I have pictures somewhere of my honeysuckle in full bloom with a quarter inch of snow on the blossoms. Since it usually blooms in May, that was a very late spring indeed.

The crocus are up and blooming in the front yard, I planted peas yesterday, the maple tree buds are swelling… it all adds up to spring on the farm. Add to that the arrival of chicks in the mail today and I know it must be true. Today and tomorrow will probably be the last days of sap flow, and the sugar camp will be broken down for the year, leaving only the sweet memories and gallons of maple syrup for our efforts. We went down yesterday to check on it since we were too busy this weekend to boil, and the snow is about half gone, leaving the creeks full and the taplines high over our heads. We set most of them on snowshoes walking on three feet of snow not more than a month ago. Changes come fast around here.

The raspberries in the main garden have been let run wild for a couple of years, and the resulting tangled patch had become very difficult to harvest, so we moved canes into rows and set up posts to trellis them and keep it neat and open. I am covered in scratches, and Dad almost lost a boot in the muddy part when it was sucked clean off his foot. While moving the crowns, we also found a horseradish plant that was growing in the wet area and moved it. We may be developing a pond there this summer, it certainly stays wet year round. The horseradish plant had actually grown its roots sideways, on top of the water table, rather than down into its customary deep tap roots.

Taplines that were chest height are now over our heads.

Pea Tepees... fun to say and fun to grow on.

The rhubarb is anxious for spring, too.

Glady was trying to convince me that the water wasn't that cold.

One of many clumps of crocus in the yard.

Sugarbush Photo Journal

Sweet Work

All this last month as we were setting up the taps, lines, and buckets to collect sap I was taking pictures. You can see the whole saga unfold at my Flickr account. Check out the slideshow feature!

Early Morning Reward

Life on a farm is early to bed, early to rise. I’ve lived this way all my life, and even when we weren’t actively farming it was a habit I used to be teased about. This morning I got up earlier than I needed to for work, and listening to the radio learned we were going to have snow again. The piglets didn’t have a roof over their heads yet, so Dad and I headed out to create a ‘tent’ for them. We were rewarded in our labors with this view.

It only lasted a few moments, but we were there to see it.

And this morning it did indeed snow, so I know the piggies are warm and dry, and I got to start my day off with that sunrise to sustain my soul while I work in an office. Farming is a pain (literally) and a joy…

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