Monday, September 1, 2014

This Week on the Farm: August 30, 2014

This summer has been a good one on the farm. We haven't had any animal casualties lately (except ones that we ourselves decided on and inflicted), everyone looks fat and happy from all the nice green forage that the pasture is providing, and our ducks have begun to lay eggs! With the addition of thirty-four ducklings to the crew, our current count of outdoor animals is up to fifty-three and that will soon grow as we're expecting to begin breeding the rabbits in the next month or two once the weather cools down.

Tiberius, our Katahdin ram, has been ornery as usual lately but he's gotten easier to manage using a squirt bottle full of vinegar. I spray him indiscriminately in the eyeballs when he gets anywhere near me so he's better about leaving me alone when I'm in the pasture caring for the chickens and rabbits. This weekend we experienced his first real aggression -- he often will lean his head against Josh's leg as a challenge, but he's never tried to butt us. We were out caring for the ducklings this morning when a giant horsefly landed on Tiberius' flank and when Josh went to shoo it off the fly must have bitten Tiberius because he wheeled around and charged towards Josh. We got out of the ram's way quickly, but felt kind of sorry for him since he clearly got his feelings hurt thinking Josh had been the one to pinch him!

Wendell is growing and thriving and I'm 24 weeks along! This pregnancy has been a challenge, as I've had to slow down the pace of life and let Josh help out with many farm and household tasks I'm usually in charge of. It's been great practice in learning to stop rushing, to be present in the moment, to put down my to-do list and focus on where I am today and what I can enjoy this very minute.

Today is processing day for some of the chickens we got as chicks back in the spring. We bought the chicks unsexed (it's hard to tell sex of a tiny little chick) and out of seven we've got at least three roosters -- there may be a couple more left, but we're not positive about those so they get a temporary reprieve. I've enjoyed seeing the roo chicks grow up - these ones asserted their malehood pretty early in adolescence - big bulky thighs and legs and an unmistakable testosterone-driven strut and way of carrying themselves. Unfortunately for them, we've got no use for roosters with our small flock and if we kept them they'd be nothing more than pets, animals that we have to pay to feed but that don't give us anything in return. So into the stewpot they go! They will make some delicious chicken and dumplings.

The horde of ducklings! This is twenty-nine of them, I think. All Mallards (the brown ones) and Muscovies (the black/white/mottled ones). They fit well in the big hoop coop (best $50 we've ever spent on the farm! We've had it for 2.5 years and it's still going strong) and I think will continue to, since we will process ducks in batches depending on who grows out the fastest, so the group will slowly get culled down to just the few Muscovies we will keep for breeding.

The garden has become the hot weedy mess that I expected it to be by the end of summer, but I feel very satisfied with my garden work this year. We've produced about 150 pounds of delicious, fresh, organic veggies and things are still growing! The tomatoes are still producing a little, a second sowing of green beans and bush lima beans are kicking in, and I've got a small spot planted with some fall crops: kale, salad greens, three different kinds of turnips (I realized this year how much I love them!), radishes, carrots, kohlrabi, sweet peas. 

I love these gorgeous Christmas lima beans. I've never grown limas and I didn't grow up eating them, but these were too beautiful to not grow. I'm excited to serve them tonight alongside cheddar scalloped potatoes, grilled lamb chops, and fresh green beans from the garden. It's lovely when we get to enjoy a dinner full of foods grown right here on this tiny piece of land that we love so much.


  1. I was browsing your blog after finding a link to one of you post about rabbits on pintrest. It's really interesting, I love doing things as naturally as we can. But had to say hi because my husband and I have a small homestead in the making {nothing has been profitable yet} and I'm 21 weeks along with our 2nd child, and my husbands name is Wendell. And I just thought that was neat. The only other Wendell we know is the man he is named after.
    I'm going to continue browsing while our daughter naps in my lap. Have a nice day.

    1. Thank you for stopping by and saying hello! We've got so much in common! :) I love that your husband's name is Wendell -- I've never met a Wendell and many folks have been confused by the baby's name because they've never heard it before, but I love Wendell Berry and think it's such a good, sturdy, wholesome name for a fella. I completely identify also with getting a small homestead started and trying to figure out how to make a profit -- we're still in those beginning stages too, just trying to learn all we can and figure out how to keep all the animals alive and feed ourselves!