Thursday, March 30, 2006
The Barnyard Combo has arrived! Those ducks are pretty damn cute and cuddly. I had to stop myself from taking them out of the box and snuggling on the way home from the Post Office. Unlike chicks, ducklings illicit the need to pet. It must be the cute little bills... I am truly, deeply in love with the goslings. They come right up to me when I go out to check on them. Their slight ungainliness and giant feet make them even more endearing. The turkeys are cute at this stage with giant eyes and they love to snuggle under your hand. The chickens may have to kick it up a notch to stay in my good graces...
Look at those feet!
posted by maggie at 3:36 PM
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Pork Pick Up Day is Saturday at Warren Wilson College. We are splitting a half a pig with a friend who is on faculty. So Saturday before The First Annual Chickapalooza I will be three miles down the road (if it were any more local, it'd be in my front yard!) loading pig parts into coolers and rubbermaid tubs. I'm so excited!!!
I'm also waiting for the ducks, turkeys and geese to arrive. Hurry little duckies, hurry!!!
posted by maggie at 9:39 AM
Monday, March 27, 2006
I got a call from the post office at 5:30 this morning. 5:30. I hopped in some clothes and drove to the post office to pick them up. They all look good and healthy. Maybe tommorrow at 5:30 they'll call to tell me that the ducks, geese and turkey have arrived.
posted by maggie at 10:26 AM
Sunday, March 26, 2006
Spring is here - in theory at least. Yesterday, it snowed all day. I used it as an opportunity to finally paint Monkey's bathroom. It needed it. It was dreadful. Big Daddy cleaned the house. I love that man.
Today we cleaned out the studio. A client of his has an antique auction house in Columbia and is taking the "Giant German Victorian Dining Room Which Does Not Fit in Our Country Home" off of our hands. Can I hear a hallelujah?!?!! We inherited it from B.D.'s father and it looked lovely in our home in Kansas City, but it just doesn't work here and takes up way too much space. So I will now have space in my studio. Hooray. I will have room, that is, after the chicks have grown big enough to be outside. For the next several weeks my studio will be the poultry nursery. It's not so bad. I shared it last year with the uppity chickens. I just have to remember to cover everything as chicks create lots of "chicken dust". I'm not sure what it actually is, but it coats everything. Maybe I'll paint some poultry while they are captive subjects.
posted by maggie at 3:33 PM
Thursday, March 23, 2006
Rufus is quite proud of his mixed bag of offspring (some may not be his, but don't tell him that...). They have taken to their little home for the next several weeks. It's Gigi's dog crate, but we'll call it a brooder. They are mutts, but they are adorable mutts.
Tomorrow I'll be setting up the other brooder for the chicks who should arrive this weekend. I've also got to create a nice warm spot for the duckies and goosies. We are having our first annual Chickfest (I should have called it "Chickapalooza", but I already printed the invites) on April 1st.. It will be a big party for friends and future chicken parents. After the party they can take home their chicks and I'll be left with a much more manageable number. Did I mention that FIFTY chickens will be arriving this weekend???
posted by maggie at 8:20 PM
Thursday, March 16, 2006
Here's the view for Wednesday.
And here's a picture of the first chick. It hatched before school started. The others were rolling and rocking and pipping through by the afternoon and one was out of its shell by the evening. Monkey's teacher just called and said seven had hatched over the night with a few more looking like they were trying to hatch. Wow. It worked.
posted by maggie at 7:37 AM
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
Spring begins in a week. So this was yesterday - windy and sunny after some rain the night before. The temperatures in the 70s are gone for now. We're back to the 50's.
Let's start the countdown. No green on those hills yet, but surely it will start soon. The spicebush near the house are beginning to open their blossoms. Bradford pears are blooming everywhere. Buds are swelling and I think the lawn is a little greener. Oh, and the radishes have sprouted!
posted by maggie at 6:52 AM
Monday, March 13, 2006
It has been one busy week - my only excuse for not posting.
The weather has been incredibly spring-like. Yesterday was practically Junish around here - in the high 70's. I've been spreading mulch, prepping beds, transplanting trees and overseeding lawn and pasture areas. I even managed to pop some cute little pansies in the ground.
The animals know it's spring. The fish pond has been cleaned and I found lots of little fish eggs, so maybe I'll have new baby comets this year. The eggs that we put in the incubator should be hatching (keep your fingers crossed) Wednesday. All the kids in Monkey's class are so excited I'm worried they are going to pass out or wet themselves. Seriously. New chicks, ducklings, goslings and turkey poults arrive in two weeks.
We've ordered all the materials to build fences around the garden and about a quarter acre for the poultry.
This past weekend I attended the Organic Growers School. I picked up a lot of good ideas. I attended the dairy goat class taught by Chris Owen of Spinning Spider Creamery (lovely, delicious fresh chevre and hard goat cheeses!). I thought/hoped it would discourage me from wanting dairy goats (what with the milking, breeding, lots of work...), but it didn't and now I want some so bad I can taste chevre rolled in cracked black pepper. Her farm is not far from us and she was very encouraging, so I may give her a call and see if I can come up and check out the herd and breeds and the more serious day to day work. Her suggestion was that I get two dry yearlings or a pregnant doe. We have enough room for a couple of goats, I would love the milk and things I could do with it. I have to decide if I want the extra work and responsibility. My cowboy grandpa must be rolling in his grave thinking I want to be a chicken and goat farmer...
I took two classes on marketing - Being a Local Food Activist and Value-Added Production and Marketing. The local food class was fun and enlightening. It was amazing to see how many "organic" companies are owned by the giant conglomerates. I don't think I can buy anymore Horizon products. It was nice to network with other growers, students, and those interested in locally grown food. I sat next to a guy who works for a local produce distributor that deals mainly with farmers in the area and distributes to restaurants and groceries here in Western North Carolina. Everyone wants eggs - another reason to up my production. The value added production - sauces, jams, jellies - various processed foodstuffs was also intriguing, but it would mean the need for a lot of start up money and jumping through a lot of federal regulation hoops. Something I'm not quite ready for.
The last class I sat in on was Pastured Poultry. I was hoping to pick up a few hints and insights to make the "girls" even happier. However, the class focused on meat production and meat class birds like the Cornish Cross - a chicken monster mutant, if there ever was one. Those birds are ready to be slaughtered in 8 weeks. They feather out in one to two weeks. In contrast, my good old-fashioned multi-purpose layers take about 4 weeks to feather out and months to mature. The class did cement for me that I don't want to do meat production. And "pastured" basically means they get rolled around in a cage on a pasture. That's not for me.
Anyway, that's what I've been up to. I'll be doing some more planting today and enjoying this weather while it lasts. I just know it's going to snow again...
posted by maggie at 6:50 AM
Monday, March 06, 2006
I finished this painting this morning. So much for my resolution of a painting a month. This was to be January's and it's now, uhm... March. I guess this means that I need to get cracking and do two this month to catch up. This one is of the Monkey in a rare moment of rest. Her portrait is an annual thing. It also looks like I may need to clean my camera lens as the photo appears a little fuzzy. Next up - I don't know, but I better get painting.
I had a dream in which I made a sheep. Now I'm obsessing about it. Not a painting, a sculpture covered in mosaic. I'm not sure how I would realistically accomplish the feat, but it creeps into my mind any time I'm idle. Scary.
posted by maggie at 3:02 PM
Sunday, March 05, 2006
I was beginning to feel by the middle of this past week that I would be in the ground soon. Flu. It sucks. I developed a fever Sunday night and it continued - anywhere from 100 degrees to 102 degrees until Thursday afternoon. My body ached so badly I was sure I had something tropical... My lungs were not happy. I did nothing for the entire week. The bad part was that Big Daddy was out of town for two days and I still had to function on a somewhat limited level. I'd take Monkey to school, come home and languish on the couch, then pick her up and come home and languish some more. So if you wondered where I was, or why was so silent, or why you had yet to receive promised packages, I was languishing away; surviving on takeout hot and sour soup and limeade.
Anyway, I obviously survived and am doing nicely thank you. Today I even felt up to going outside and working in the garden. Actually Big Daddy did all the tilling and prepping the rows and I just sat on the ground and stuck seeds in the dirt. Today the following went into the ground: Radishes - Cherry Belle, French Breakfast, Giant German, and China Rose; Beets - Detroit Dark Red, Ruby Queen, and Scarlet Supreme Hybrid; Spinach - Long Standing Bloomsdale and Rembrandt; Russian Red Kale, Bok Choi, Red Deer Tongue Lettuce, Piedmont Mache, Rouge d'Hiver Lettuce, and Craquante d'Avignon Lettuce. Next up - the peas!
Oh, and it's good to be back among the living.
posted by maggie at 4:30 PM