Tuesday, June 26, 2012

They are growing up

“Summer will end soon enough, and childhood as well.”  George R.R. Martin

#2 son is 16.  Having just received his learner’s permit he is more than willing to go anywhere with me now!  Grocery shopping is no longer mundane, it is an adventure. 

Before school let out for the summer he signed up for the Army  (I haven’t signed yet but this is what he wants).  If all goes as planned, next summer he will do his basic training and then his advanced training right after graduation.  So this is his last summer of “childhood.”  He says he wants to really enjoy this summer. 

He was talking to a friend’s husband about gardening/beekeeping.  Tobacco was mentioned so he researched different kinds, their uses and curing process needed.  He finally settled on an heirloom variety, bought it, sowed them, transplanted them into larger pots and has now transplanted them into the garden.  Not wild about his choice of what to grow since we can’t eat it.   I am glad that it has sparked and interest in gardening and that he is out there with me a lot more so I can’t complain.  He has been helping more at the barn and the house (dormers are finally being added) along with working his summer job.   I am hoping to bribe him and his friends into painting the milk house this summer! 

#2 daughter is starting her senior year of high school in September.  She babysits several days/nights per week.  Her one customer is taking her along on their summer vacation to North Carolina.  She is going to Florida on her class trip in November.  When not working she has been helping control the weeds.  Of course she is the first to suggest taking a break and going for a swim too!  

But lest you say all work and no play…we have been fishing/swimming.  Jake Owens is playing at the fair in the next county so the kids have tickets for that.  And Jason Aldean with Luke Bryan are playing at the old Woodstock site.  Plans are being discussed for another charter fishing trip…salmon would be nice, just in case they want some input!  One of the man’s co workers went clamming and brought us home some which turned into New England clam chowder. I could get into some clam digging and I want to go to the Corning Museum but scheduling everyone to have the same day off is getting crazy.  For the first time in the twelve years the man and I have been together we have been eating dinner alone!  I am going to have to learn to cook smaller portions or eat the same thing for a couple of days!

So we are only 1 ½ weeks out of the school year.  The garden after a late start has taken off, unfortunately the weeds have too.  Blackberries look abundant if I can keep the birds from them.  #2 son’s boss has property with blueberries which he said we can pick so we are waiting on them.

The weather continues its erratic behavior.  It was in the 90’s last week, 70 yesterday and will be 90 before Friday.  It was 49 this morning.  Some knitting (in front of the fan) is being done when it is too hot to do anything else.  It is the Afternoon Tea shawl.  I have also been carding and spinning some Cotswold.  I have a ton of roving so why am I working on something that needs more work?  I have no clue.

The animals are getting bigger.  I let the duck hatch out some eggs so we have four little ducklings running around.  I truly love this time of year regardless of the weather.  I love the new animals, eating out of the garden, eating outside, fireflies, curtains blowing in the breeze…not so much love going out to the mosquito’s, ticks and snakes. 

So time is wasting so I better go do the barn chores.  Hope everyone is enjoying their summer...before it's gone.

Monday, June 11, 2012


"This too shall pass."

Usually I am mild mannered and while something might bother me today it won’t tomorrow so I tend not to give it much attention....this too shall pass.  However, once in a while things tend to stick in my craw.  To some it might be mundane but this time it is the definition of farmer. 


Last Wednesday, I was reading an article which stated that they (writer and family) could not afford to eat their lamb or eggs as doing so meant less to sell which took monies away from the hay and feed bill.  I guess the farm was for production and not consumption.  The writer spoke in a tone of disgust on the very nerve of  just anyone with a garden and a couple of chickens thinking of themselves as a farmer.  Nose in the air about the whole “know your farmer and where your food comes from” movement with stupid questions, and hobby farmers who don’t require a profit to stay in business and even worse are those whom buy starter flocks from them only to become competitors.

Well damn where to start…
Wikipedia  defines a farmer as a person engaged in agriculture, who raises living organisms for food or raw materials, generally including including livestock, husbandry, and growing crops, such as produce and grain.  But some will argue that Wikipedia is not a reliable source so moving on....

Merriam Webster defines a farmer as a person who cultivates land or crops or raises animals (as livestock or fish)

Business Dictionany defines a farmer as an individual whose primary job function involves livestock and/or agriculture.

Not one single definition mentions how much land has to be cultivated or how many animals one has to raise in order to have this esteemed title.  And I didn’t see a thing where it said you weren’t a farmer unless you made a profit.

So far as the “know your farmer”, “know where your food comes from”, locavore movement, it has saved many a farm.  Instead of condemning the very people they market too they should pull the pitchfork out of their sanctimonious ass and find out exactly what those annoying buyers want to buy and then they might be able to eat one of their own eggs.  Many businesses have gone south not because of a poor product but because of the owner’s themselves being small minded and arrogant.  Being bitchy about people coming to your farm and asking “stupid questions” is not a marketing technique I ever heard of.  I was always told there was no stupid question and it was better to ask than be ignorant.

If Mr. Lives down the road wants to buy a starter flock, the writer does not need to sell to them but can market the lambs for meat.  Mr. Lives down the road will buy from someone else and will still be their competitor.  If their product is as good as they think it is than it will speak for its self and any customer lost will return. However, if Mr. Lives down the road makes their flock/product better, markets it the right way and doesn’t talk about their clients like dirt bags than they will eventually shut the writer down.  The writer forgets that they became a competitor to whomever they bought their starter flock from also.

My family is a bunch of farmers.  We lay new/mend/replace fence lines, haul grain/hay/water, are there when lambs are born/chicks & ducks hatch, we give shots, shear, trim hooves, shovel shit, collect eggs, kill, pluck, skin and eviscerate animals.  We till, plant, weed, harvest and can/dehydrate/freeze a large garden.  The man works “off the farm” to provide the insurance and monies needed to operate the farm. There are very few farms around here on which both the husband and wife are able to stay home.  My farm is not profitable because I don’t choose to make it so.  My farm is for my consumption.  If I have extra I sell it.  However I think it is asinine to have chickens that lay eggs only to sell them and then take that money and go buy an inferior product. 

IMHO a farmer was just someone who raised animals/food for their own consumption and sold the extra.  I guess while I was busy shoveling shit I missed the post it that said one had to be self sacrificing in order to be a “farmer”.  

Friday, June 01, 2012

Busy as a bee

"Steady as a clock, busy as a bee and cheerful as a cricket" ~Martha Washington

The past couple of days have been noisy and busy with the house full to capacity.  The kids came home from school last Thursday and didn’t return until Wednesday.  #1, Sir T and Baby O (love being a Grandma!)  arrived Friday evening and didn’t leave until Wednesday night and the man had a three day weekend.

The weather was disgustingly hot and humid but thankfully is back to normal.

A couple of things got checked off the To Do List… The lawn was mowed, a shed came down and was hauled to the burn pile, about 1/3 of the garden was weeded and tilled and a storage trailer completely cleaned out.  But since all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, there were three separate fishing trips to the river, some swimming, some gallivanting with friends, and a family baseball game.

And if that wasn’t enough to tuck into one weekend there was some other excitement.  In the wizard of Oz it goes, lions and tigers and bears Oh My!  Well around these parts it has been… turtles, snakes and bears Oh My!

A box turtle seems to have made my lawn his/her home.  We have carried it up into the woods and yet it returns each time.  So we have to be careful when mowing so as not to run him over.  Snakes on the other hand I don’t mind running over.  And snake skins abounded this weekend, several in the yards and a big one by the river.  But I would prefer to see the skins instead of the live water snakes while fishing or the rattle snake on the road below the barn.

And yet all of these are tame compared to the bear.  #1 daughter was outside with Baby O on her hip when she saw our cat scrunched down as if stalking something.  She walked over to see what he was getting ready to pounce on and less than 100 feet away was a bear.  She came running in and we went to make sure the bear would
leave the baby chicks, ducks, turkeys and geese alone and not make a meal of them.  


Mr. Bear calmly walked up the hill into the woods behind the house.  He was a big bear, on all fours he would have measured hip high on me.   

So things are slowly returning to as “normal” as things can be around here.  #2 son starts his new job tonight, #2 daughter is continuing to babysit several days/nights each week.  They only have eight days left before summer vacation and “normal” will take on a whole new meaning.

But it is 45 degrees now and rain is due so I am heading to the garden to get something constructive done.  Hope everyone has a great weekend.