Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Because I want to remember...

It's seems like I haven't been in the mood to post lately. I think there are a few factors to has been busier than normal...good busy, but busy nonetheless, home life is always a dance, balancing that work, family, and farm. I suggested to a friend/fellow blogger this morning that sometimes writing a blog post will help you/force you to remember the good things in life...and maybe it will help you move past some of the bad. I thought I would take a moment or two to go through some of the things that have been going on around Fresh Egg's Farm.

I feel like the farm offers us some consistency in our lives. No matter what else we have going on, the animals will need fed/watered/hayed, the garden grows and the lawn needs mowed etc. etc. etc. I'm thankful for that, although at times it's stressful to be in the middle of another project (or blog post) and realize that the goats are bahing for their food and to be let out. I force myself to make time for pasture, from time to time - because I realized that for a bit, I was more or less going through the motions of feeding and letting them out to pasture and not stopping to enjoy them. Now, I make sure that, when I can make time for it, I spend at least a few minutes in the pasture, talking with my animals, scratching their heads, giving them hugs and snuggles and laughing at their antics. They make me happy.

Our birds are FINALLY acting like real chickens! Each day, it's like an Easter egg hunt at our farm. While we have two nesting boxes, which they seem to want to sit in together and fight over, someone (ahem, Andy, our Blue Andalusian...I'm looking at you here), likes to find her way into the turkey's side of the coop and lay her eggs over there. I don't know if the egg laying sneaks up on her and she just doesn't think to get to the nest in time or what...crazy bird. I did have the opportunity to watch her lay an egg though. This time, she was in the nest, I thought something might have been happening and she kept getting comfortable and then wiggling around and repositioning and the next thing I know - she pushes out an egg! I've never witnessed that before. What an honor and an amazing thing to watch. We are getting lots of eggs now - which is AWESOME...but you know has been so busy, we haven't even had the opportunity to TRY them. Can you believe it? My plan is to make some sort of lovely egg dish for dinner tomorrow, so we can all try them together. It's very exciting for us. The eggs are light brown, dark brown and white...hopefully soon we'll get some of the Easter eggers (they lay blue/green eggs) and can round out the look of our egg carton.

Our garden is better this year than it has been in the past - although we still got it in too late and I know some serious changes we need to make...I'm excited about future gardens. We got lots of tomatoes from the garden, although we could have gotten more, if we had staked up the plants like we should year. We finally got some pumpkins - which will make sweet decorations and maybe a pie or two (yay fall), although we've learned about trellising and will likely trellis the pumpkins and year. We've also seen super cute trellis options for beans and such (I think Mark is going to be busy, building trellis options for our garden...I'll help, but he is super builder). Garlic and potatoes were great too, although we know that we could get a better crop with a few adjustments. Next year, our gardens will be different and better.

In extremely exciting news...we are getting ready to harvest honey for the very first time. We have decided to open this experience up to anyone that wants to come out. I hope we'll have a few takers that want to learn about the experience with us. The plan is to take off all the honey frames either the day prior or earlier in the day of extraction, so that the likeliness of someone (other than us) getting stung is limited. Yesterday we got our bottles - we decided to get a case of the 2# glass jars and a box of 50 of the 2 ounce little bears. The bears are more of a sample size and the 2# will be for us and if we have extra to sell. I have no idea how much we will even be able to pull off of the hive...I'm hoping for a billion pounds, but we'll likely get around 20 :-) I'll share another blog post after the extraction party.

So I've had to force myself to look at all of this good, because we also had something extremely terrible happen here. Our LSG (livestock guard dog), Ollie, passed away, extremely tragically and unexpectedly. He had been digging his way out of the pasture lately and we were afraid that he'd get into the road, so we made the decision to put him on a long lead, that would allow him to go between the barn and the pasture. Unfortunately, he tried to jump a portion of the fence that we'd been using as a makeshift barn door and got hung up and ended up hanging himself. The boys and I were coming home from picking up the boys from school and as we drove down the driveway, we saw his body hanging from the fence...we thought he was just struggling...but he was already gone. Our hearts are broken. His body is being cremated and his ashes will be spread under the bush where he liked to lay with his flock.

To end this post on a happier note, I want to remember this past weekend. Mark gave me a weekend getaway, for my birthday. He purchased a weekend pass, for each of us, to attend the Mother Earth News Fair, in Seven Springs, PA.  First, Mark and I have only been away, on our own - without kids, without it being for work etc., since we've been married - well, this is the third time. In 17 years. We even spent a portion of our honeymoon visiting with our older daughters (their bio-mom still had custody, at the time). So, when I say "We needed this time away" - you know I'm speaking the truth. Second, the weather was a perfect way to enter into Fall. The air was crispy and cool, with hints of the warm sun shining through. A thunderstorm and heavy rain made for perfect snuggle weather on Saturday. We watched the leaves turn colors over the few days that we were there from just a touch of orange here and there to bright oranges and reds streaking through the entire treeline. It's such a beautiful area. We were happy with the hotel and the food we ate. It was such a nice time...But finally, it was awesome because of the content of the Fair. It is a three-day event, at a ski-resort, in PA - there are vendors, both inside and out, showcasing their sustainable living goods. Throughout the day, they offer many breakout sessions with a WIDE variety of topics - from authors highlighting the content of their books to seed saving to live poultry slaughter/processing and everything in between. We walked away from the event with a renewed sense of excitement about our farm and our journey. We've been second guessing our poultry slaughtering methods - but when Daniel Salatin, yes, SALATIN, as in Joel Salatin's son, as in Polyface Farms fame - processes chickens, using the exact same method that we do, I think we are good. And when the person teaching how to make goat milk chevre cheese, is also using the exact method we do, again, we are good. In addition, it got us thinking about the future of the farm. We, as stated above, need to better set up our garden - perfect our seed starting and saving processes, perfect our planting/transplanting methods, add/take advantage of all our spaces by putting in cold frames and raised beds etc. While we are perfecting our gardening methodologies, we need to also perfect our "putting up" methods. When we were at Mother Earth News Fair, we had the privilege to listen to Niki Jabbour - "The Year Round Vegetable Gardener" author and Sherri Brooks Vinton - "Put 'Em Up" author and look forward to ordering their books. While we were there, we bought some delicious kettle corn and maple syrup. We bought Gage some tea - he's been getting into the idea drinking more natural herbal teas. For Cora, we got her a bunch of seed packets to get her started on her bee garden - she wanted a garden of her very own and I think that giving her the bee garden will help her understand pollination, beauty, bees, seasons etc. Drake was honored with a gift from a vendor. The gentlemen were so impressed with Drake's confidence (his willingness to crochet on the bus, without fear of being made fun of etc.) that they gifted him a skein of beautiful light olive green yard (50/50 mohair and wool)...he has already made a hat with the yarn and it's really "him". Finally, it was good for me to see some excitement from Mark, about our farm. He's so even tempered that I'm not always sure what he thinks of all this craziness, but he seemed just as pumped about most things as I felt. Which makes me even more excited.
...and these are just a few of the things that I want to remember.


  1. Great post Shelby, i miss your writing. Im so sorry about your dog. That must have been an aweful sight to see. Your trip sound like it was well worth it on all fronts. I was a bit disappointed in my first year of gardening also but i was always told that it would take 3-5 years to settle in and get my groove going. When i look at my soil i can still see the bits and pieces that i combined putting it together rather than one soil so yes, it takes time. Good Luck with your honey harvest event. So wish i could visit. I bet you give great hugs.

    1. Thank you - I hope the honey harvest goes well too. It'd more fun if you were here, I bet...and you are right, I give a pretty good hug, mostly because when I give them, they are really genuine. I'm sorry that you are feeling the downs of life, but glad you can still look at all the ups. <3 Reach out if you need to chat.