Poultry and More

The pigs are getting bigger.

 

The little ducklings are getting bigger, and we moved them outside.

 

Chickens in the shade, the rooster is named Theodore.

 

We've moved all the fowl into an electric fenced area to keep them safer.

 

The farmstand motto

Planting trees

This week I have been planting a lot of things. Yesterday it was raining and I was hurting, so I didn’t do much. Dad and Uncle Mike came down and walked around the garden and farm with Mica and I. Uncle Mike hasn’t seen it in years, as he lives in Wisconsin and visits rarely. Dad had been gone a week, which seems like forever. He was moving a little slowly, but true to form, he wanted to open the beehives and check to see if the queens had gotten out. When you receive a shipment of bees, the queen is kept separately in a tiny cage plugged with candy. Normally it takes 3-4 days for the workers to release her. One of our hives hadn’t gotten the queen out, and it’s been a week. So Dad pried the mesh off one side of her prison and let her free. Now, I had gotten him his veil, but when he started moving beehives I jumped in to help, as he’s not supposed to lift. I got stung right on the upper lip, which made my eyes start to water up a storm. I retreated and got a veil. Bees don’t like being disturbed in the rain, even a light rain!

Christmases yet to come. Planted in an area tilled by the pigs.

I wanted to put some pictures up I took earlier this week, of the trees we were planting. It is soul satisfying to plant trees. They look like sticks now, but I can’t help picturing them when I’m an old lady, tall and stately. I may not be here in NH then, but they will be. The sugar maples won’t be tappable for 20-25 years. Johann will be all grown up and maybe with kids of his own when he taps them some spring. The Christmas trees will see us through all the kids growing up. We got 15 Balsam Fir, and plan to put in another 5 every year to keep our house and a few others in trees each holiday season.

Baby tree... All those rocks came out of the hole I dug for this tree.

The roots of the sugar maples were much bigger than the twigs on top. Pippa had fun helping water the trees and herself!

The pig tractor experiment has been working beautifully. We move the pigs every other day, and in 48 hours, they leave behind lovely turned ground we can plant in. We’ve been using field peas for cover crop and nitrogen fixer. I need to go buy some more seed, actually. The pigs get so excited when we move them they will leap about and frolic, which is funny to see. I don’t know what they are finding under the grass, but I know when we move them to a spot where there’s a rotted piece of wood or log that’s the first thing they go for, crunching it up with those strong jaws to get the grubs that live in the wood. We all like to lean on the fence and watch them work.

Happy pigs in new grass.

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…

Pigs!

We’d planned to get pigs for a while… they were supposed to be piglets, you know, little 20 pound babies that would elicit adoring “sqee!’s” from my daughters. Well, I finally spotted a litter on craigslist that wasn’t too expensive (the price of piglets around here is outrageous!) and pounced on them. Yesterday we were supposed to prepare for them, and today pick them up. Well, best laid plans often go awry, and we had to order the pig panels for their panels. They will be in on Wednesday, but for now we had to improvise. and old chain link dog kennel will do for a couple of days.

One of the piglets is almost a hundred pounds… we’ve named her big Bertha and we may very well keep her for a brood sow.

Two pigs in the back of the truck

So once we got the piglets pigs home and settled, we started in on a little spring cleaning… the front of the house. Everybody but Dad pitched in, as he went down to the sugar camp to boil maple sap.

Johann meets a pig

 

First Crocus!

 

Chickens outside the greenhouse finally.

Jerusalem Artichoke

While we were working in the front bed, Pippa figured out she could pull the stalks of last year’s Jerusalem Artichokes out, and the tubers would come with it. She shouted “Look Mama! I’m fishing and I caught two fish!” as she brandished a stalk with two oval tubers dangling from it. I told her that was great, and whatever she caught we would eat with dinner that night. Glady made dinner, a cheeseburger soup, which we added the chopped tubers too in lieu of potatoes. It came out very well. Rich and satisfying after a hard day’s work.

 

Raking the beds out for the daffodils to come up.

 

Cheeseburger Chowder

1 onion, chopped fine

Brown that in the stock pot with a drizzle of olive oil. Then add:

1 lb ground Beef

Brown that and drain well.

Add:

29 oz (give or take a few oz’s) Chicken Stock

1 can pepper jack soup

1 can cheddar soup (or just 2 cans cheddar soup)

salt and pepper to taste

10 shakes (more or less, to your family’s taste) Chipolte Tabasco

7-8 large Jerusalem artichoke tubers, well scrubbed and peeled and diced

After it has simmered for 15-20 minutes, until the tubers are fork-tender, add:

1 c milk

1/2 lb grated cheddar

Stir until melted and serve.

Topping ideas: Relish, sour cream, shredded cheese, chopped tomatoes. It’s great served in a bread bowl, but Juliet is allergic to gluten, so we eat gluten-free a lot these days.

 

 

%d bloggers like this: