Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Community and the Farm

Wow! What a week!! I'm not sure how many people know this, but I came down with a nasty case of vertigo a couple of weeks ago. I've never had this happen before. I woke in the middle of the night and my world was spinning. Not one to go to the emergency room, I told Mark that I thought it was time to go - thinking it was an issue with my heart (my father had heart surgery at age 45...I'm 38)...or perhaps it was a stroke. Glad to hear it was vertigo and is just something that happens. I could still touch my nose, even with my eyes closed. I could still rub my belly and pat my head at the same time ;-) I got a few prescriptions and a pat on my back and was told to follow up with my practitioner (thanks health care in the United States). When I did follow up with my regular doctor, I also mentioned this foot pain I was having. Apparently, I have Plantar Fasciitis AND two bone spurs in my heel (one stretching toward my toes and the other toward my calf) - GREAT! I'm kinda a mess right now. I thought that the vertigo had subsided, but then Sunday and Monday it came back. It's such an unsettling feeling to have. So here I sit on a Tuesday morning, trying to work and stay rested at the same time. Another reason I am thankful to have a flexible job where I work from home. If I need to take a rest, I can do that, as long as I put in the time later tonight and am available for my employees, should they need me.
We also ended up with four baby squirrels - we were able to release three, but one just didn't make it. With all of the animals that come and go around here, I'm amazed that the three were able to be successfully released and although it was sad to have him die, At least he died with a full tummy and knowing that he was safe and loved.
On a happier, more exciting note - things are really falling into place here at the "farm". As I've mentioned before, bees are coming to the farm...soon! This coming Spring, we are hoping to add both chickens and bees to Fresh Egg's Farm. We've been trying to answer the following questions...
How many hives should we start with?
Where should we put the hives on our property?
What if I'm terrified of bees?
Oh, you read that right! I'm so so scared of bees. I've been stung - by wasps, bumble bees and a yellow jacket - never a honey bee. However, I still put them all in the same category. I KNOW the importance of honey bees - because, well, wouldn't it be great to support the honey bee that has been so affected by humans and our use of pesticides (damn you CCD - Colony Collapse Disorder), AND isn't it awesome to have hives filled with pollinators right on our property, AND we get the benefit of sweet, warm, golden honey. So how do I get over my fear of these bees? Well, we attended a beekeeping meeting - they started the meeting IN THE BEE YARD! This yard contains 4 healthy hives - the hives are surrounded by screen panels, so people that feel comfortable with the bees can go behind the screens and be close up to the hives; however, for scaredy cats like me, we can stand behind the screen and try to find our mental happy place while they open the hive for the first time. But wait, it wasn't what I thought. The bees aren't swarming around, trying to sting everyone in sight. Out of the 20 or so people standing there, not one single sting happened...in fact, a bee even found its way up the pant leg of the meeting leader and didn't sting! They were too busy to worry about us. I learned that if we all stayed calm, so did the bees. The kids started the class with bee jackets on - but as they got more comfortable (and more hot) the jackets were stripped off and they were standing near the hives, just in plain clothes.
Cora is in the front, looking for mites on that paper. Drake is standing to the left of her. Gage is toward the back/left, with the blue shirt.
*Note how in the photo above, I'm still behind the screen...Go ahead kids - you get stung, Mommy will be wussing it out over here.
Yup - still behind the screen.
Getting brave! I'm pretty close to the bees - look they're even coming out to say Hi!
Taking a frame out of the brooder box to make sure that the queen is doing what she is supposed to be doing. Laying, Laying, Laying.
Finally, I felt comfortable to come around the screen. You know what? It wasn't that scary. It was actually pretty freaking cool. The bees were busy doing their work and didn't really much care about what we were doing.
Drake ended up picking up a drone (no stinger), very gently, with his bare hands! Two others (non-drone) crawled onto his hands and he didn't get stung. If there was any doubt in my mind prior to this meeting, whether we wanted to get bees or not - that is gone. They are a definite addition to this farm. Come spring, we'll be building out our hives (if they aren't built and ready to go already) and getting our bees settled in...and I couldn't be more excited! Pollinators working our land AND free honey - I don't think we could ask for anything better.
Then - what a weekend we had. Saturday was the Wool Gathering, in Yellow Springs (Youngs Dairy) - we had a couple of goals for that event 1) find a contact for a shearer (preferably one that would shear all of animals...but at least the sheep and angoras) 2) to talk to people about Steve and see if they had ideas why we always have issues with his legs and 3) find a master spinner to help us learn to spin. But we found so so so much more!
  • Shearer - the man that comes and does shearing demonstrations each year said that he travels around, down into Kentucky and up into Michigan. He said that he'd be willing to stop into our place and shear our animals for us. In the next couple weeks, we need him to shear just Itty and Frankie - but in the Spring, he'll need to shear all six fiber animals (Itty, Frankie, Steve, Jester, Blossom and Josie). He said his set up fee is $50 and I followed that up with "...and how much per head...and how much for mileage" - his response: NOTHING! The set up fee includes travel and the first 10 heads. He even said "I hate to charge you the full $50 for the angoras, but it's a minimum set up fee" - Um, sir, I would have paid you $50 each animal! So the fact that for $100 a year, I can have my angoras sheared twice a year and my alpacas and sheep done in the Spring - is amazing.
  • Master Spinner - Done! My friend Maegan...duh, of course Maegan! She owns alpacas and spins beautiful stuff. But, until recently, she has lived pretty far away. Now, she lives in Oxford - like 20 minutes away. Master Spinner = Maegan = perfect.
  • Steve - oh Steve, rumor has it, that you might just be a baby...a spoiled rotten little brat. While, I'm not going to give up just yet, but I'm thinking that extra, extra love and attention that you get from your legs being sore? We might be easing away from that. Time to grow some balls my friend. You are ok.
  • Speaking of balls - that is another bonus we got from going to the Wool Gathering - one of Maegan's friends was there and she mentioned that she castrated her sheep using the banding method. They did it themselves and said it was pretty easy. I don't know if our ram boys are too old for this or too...Ahem...large...but it's worth a shot to talk to the new livestock vet at our vet's office and see if it's an option.
  • Also, we might be adding a new animals to the farm - Drake seemed very fascinated by the angora rabbits - as we all are every year. But this year, he came home and made a plan to build a hutch and put together a list of items he'll need. I think he wants to take the earnings from his acorn and butternut squash sales (later this year) and put it toward an angora rabbit. That will give him some time to think about it and make sure it's what he really wants.
  • Finally - I got my shepherdess crook! $15 and it's a beautiful wooden crook, with the perfect curve at the top. LOVE!
  • ...and I got a Wool Gathering t-shirt - Awesome!
Best Wool Gathering EVER!

Then on Sunday - we went to our community Pork Festival. It's always a nice time - it's funny though, you would think the "petting zoo" filled with goats would lose it's luster, considering we have a petting zoo in our back yard...but it doesn't.

In other farm news - we found a local farm that would be be willing to let us borrow one of their bucks to knock up Mabel (and Flora?). They agreed to let us have the buck over here for a month or so and hang out with the ladies. The buck is an Oberhasli breed - which should make a nice cross with our alpines....did I mention that since we are newbie farmers - this farmer is going to let us borrow her buck for free...well for the cost of feeding their buck for a month??? Amazing. The kindness of strangers...is that what community is all about?

SO last thing...from time to time, we partake in scratch off lottery tickets and I got not one, but TWO entries in the Cash Explosion TV show - Now, they still need to pull one of my tickets out of the hat to see if I appear on the TV show...I'm definitely NOT counting on it - but if everyone can think happy fresh egg's farm thoughts on Saturday it would be MUCH appreciated. Imagine what winning could do for the farm!

I'll let you know!


  1. So cool to go to the wool gathering for real info pertaining to our life now! All these things that we're living or so close to living (bees and chickens, especially), letting us go to the festivals seeking real stuff, rather than the window shopping we usually do. Pretty successful week for the farm :) I Love You!!

  2. Awesome post Shelby - Well done on being brave and going with the bees - good example to the kids. Isnt it amazing when things that were worries all come together and turn out well. I'd love a little angora bunny to cuddle but I have a little Maltese to cuddle that would definitely be jealous. Foot - oh my Shelby, I have just gone through about 8 months of hobbling around with PF and I can tell you it hurts. I still wake up with tight calves that I have to stretch out before putting my feet on the floor but if they tell you to get cortisone injections - you will have to grit your teeth big time. I had one injection in the heel to enable the next one to go through the skin on the bottom of my foot to deaden the foot so they could blunge the big one right in - that's 3 needles. BUT - there was istantly no pain which lasted for about 3 days and then it was back and gradually over a few weeks left all together. Good luck with the breeding plan - good deal - sperm for food! The alternative here would be to buy a tube of sperm and do AI. Yes, this is what community is all about and you are so lucky. I dont even have a friendship with my neighbours and there are 5 of them touching our boundary. I miss my small home town. Hence, I live vicariously through your blog.

  3. We know all about AI here (that's how we got pregos with our kids :-)) But I think that if the farm is willing to let us borrow one of their young bucks - it is essentially free and more natural and we have a resource to reach out to, if we have complications....
    The bees were pretty neat. I do try to push myself out of my comfort zone, in order to help my kids be more open to trying new things.
    Ugh - PF is terrible. I'm hoping for no injections. I've always had tight leg muscles - but didn't realize how much damage it was doing. Lots of stretching in my future :-)