Wednesday, April 27, 2011


The garden experiment continues with a late but earnest attempt to grow potatoes in tires. Last year's misadventure ended with a total of 3 potatoes being harvested. They were delicious, but not the motherload we had hoped for.

We are trying a new spot with hopefully better drainage this year. We laid down some landscape fabric, deposited the tires, filled halfway with dirt/compost, and placed 4-5 cut spud eye hunks (eye side up) in the dirt and cover. This is what the "internet" says to do. And of course, if the internet says it, then it must be so.

Once the leaves get 2-3 inches tall, you add a tire and some more dirt. We're hoping that August will bring more starch than you can shake a stick at.

Meanwhile, the brooder is complete and will be delivered to our chick picker-upper, Gary, this Saturday. With all of the drama and rendezvous-ing of a spy thriller, Gary will pick up our chick order from Albright's Feed Mill in Kempton, bring them to his house in Mohrsville, and I will pick them up on May 6. We have 3 Rhode Island Reds, 3 Barred Rocks, 3 Araucanas, and 3 Buff Orpingtons. All are brown egg layers, except the Araucanas which lay green/blue eggs.

I have no experience in fowl. Len has no experience in fowl except for KFC. The internet says that keeping the chicks clean and warm are the most important things at their tender age. And if the internet says it, it must be true. I hope they live, but the reason we got 12 chicks is that there may be some casualties. The casualties are the reason I have not agreed to chickens up to this point. We have 4 hawks that live in the treeline nearby, racoons and I'm sure other nasty varmints I don't even know about. Once they get feathers, the chickens will be housed in the chicken tractor that will be towed about the property so that they get fresh stuff chickens like to eat, don't trash out one area, and stay safe.

Most of the alpacas are enjoying their summer haircuts. Leah and Woody (center) look cool and comfortable. Flirtation and Sonya (white ones on the right) are expecting babies in June. The vet felt it was not a good idea to shear them so close to their due dates. So we're waiting until the babies come and will have the shearer come back to finish. The show animals (Jewel...the white one in the back and can just see her butt) will be shorn at the State show in York on Mother's Day.

It's a busy time here. Lots to do...which means job security.

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Farmer's Desk

(Warning: Post contains vivid descriptions of a weekend of bodily fluids) My desk. Antibiotics on the right for me. Anti-diarrheal on the left for her...We arrived at the Mid-Atlantic Alpaca Show in Harrisburg last Thursday for a 3-day show. Three alpacas from our farm along with our buddies from Almosta Ranch, The Alpaca Cottage, and Sunrose Alpacas. They had sod on the floors of the stalls and we reckon that between her eating the sod and nerves from being away from home, it wrecked havoc on her digestive system. Alpaca "poo" is commonly described as "beans"--looking very much like the name suggests. Anything other than the bean presentation is not normal and suggests something is awry. Poor Jewel went through so many stages of stomach unrest in 48 hours, finally ending with a full blown tidal wave. Fortunately, she had already garnered a red ribbon and was not being shown anymore when that happened. After using various remedies after a call to the vet, a cow doctor (and alpaca farmer who was at the show from Quarryville) came to our rescue with Diarsanyl--a kind of Pepto-Bismal for dogs, foals and calves...and alpacas. It stopped the flow and all was well. During all of this, I got a particularly bad case of bronchitis and ended up at the doc myself. What a weekend.
"Nothing's wrong with our poo," says Leah and her baby Woody.

Over 80 bales...that's what we went through since late August, 2010. We were down to a mere 8 bales, which certainly won't get ya through until second cutting (the good stuff) in June. Enter Alan the hay farmer. Alan grows the good stuff that gets us through the months when the pastures are no more. He's one of the good guys, taking pity on my illness and delivering a measly 20 bales to get us through.I waited for Alan by the coldframe which is surrounded by straw bales in contractors garbage bags. We surrounded the frames with them, which kept things nice and toasty for little plants. The bales also double as a farmer's chaise lounge. I figured that it looked like a good thing to do. Sit and wait for Alan, drink my water, and get some sun. It also invited Stella...a great barn cat who also doubles as a great "people" cat.

Muck boots and cat feet.

Friday, April 1, 2011

April Fool's Day 2011

Now who'da thunk we'd wake up to this..