Monday, February 23, 2009

Learning to Plaster

Renovations in our barn are well underway. The end result will be a wonderful guest retreat, complete with a full kitchen and views of the farm. Last week, we learned about plaster. We added color and texture to the event space and finished the new wall. We used plaster as a finish coat, and it looks great. It was fun to put on too. Though, Mari & I are still learning. Fortunately, we had a skilled teacher (and lead plasterer). Here are some before, during and after images. It is a thick paste and you just spread it on. The goal is to add some texture, so we didn't have to try and get it perfectly smooth. Then there is some smoothing and spreading. Then a little time for it to harden and another bit of smoothing. And that is it. Only 1 coat, and voila, transformed. Tiling the new bathroom is next. Then on to the guest room upstairs. We are creating a sleeping loft so there is room for an entire family to visit. We'll let you know of the opening date, but we anticipate being open for guests in late spring or early summer.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Perfect Ski Day!

Saturday was just a perfect ski (that would be cross-country, but it might have been a great alpine day as well). We had sun and the previous few days had left us with about 8 inches of nice snow on top of our impenetrable crust. Our neighbor Kati joined us for a brilliant morning ski and led the way to the Pleasure Dome, a location her father and some other folks had named many a year ago. What I know is the snow was lovely, the weather perfect and the company just delightful, making a wonderful and needed excursion for all. Our farm is designed for play as well! Now, we have even more snow for outdoor play.

Friday, February 20, 2009

White Pine Needles, Yummmmy!

Well, the goats think the white pine needles are a delicious snack. If I hadn't watched them choose twigs, thorny raspberries and tree bark at points this summer, when they had access to tasty grasses, I might think it was just out of winter desperation. Of course, that is probably also true. When the meals every day are hay, hay, hay..and more hay, some pine needles start looking good. I think they would irritate or tickle my throat if I ate them. But the goats were thrilled to have some fresh greenery. (Josephine on the left and Molly on the right)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

How much do those pigs weigh?

The pigs' weight is often a curiosity. Any guesses? We track their weight as a guide to how much to feed them, their overall health, estimated finishing date, and for fun. This batch is growing like weeds as they say. When we brought them home from Hogwash Farm, the Redcoats were 6 weeks old and weighed about 25-30 lbs. They were tiny, by comparison. Today's measurements reveal:
Revere: 288 lbs
Fife: 237
Drum: 219
Madison: 212
That means, they have gained on average 1.2 -1.6 pounds per day. Yikes! Talk about putting on your winter weight.

People often ask how we weigh the pigs. Funny images of them lining up to get on the scale come to mind. But, alas, their weights are estimates based on measuring their length & girth and doing some math. Given they never stand perfectly still, it does mean the above measurements could be off a bit. Revere is notably bigger than everyone else, but I wouldn't have thought Fife was 20 lbs bigger than Drum & Madison. Hmm.

Friday, February 13, 2009

You Girls Need a Tractor

When we started this adventure, we both had the purest of intents. Figure out what our property was suited for, instead of forcing an idea on it; Grow & raise healthy, sustainable food; Establish balance in our lives between work & play; and do it all without a tractor or other big equipment. So far...we are 2 for 4. Balance isn't our strong point...never has been and Santa brought us a tractor, a small one, it did fit in his sleigh after all, but a 29hp gasoline powered tractor none the less. Perhaps fortunately for Mari, the blog didn't start last year, when she adamantly (and perhaps a bit righteously) would tell those that inquired that no, we weren't getting a tractor - after all we wanted to get in shape as well. One of our neighbors would often say, "You girls need a tractor". We were convinced, and we were not all wrong, that one way to establish a profitable farm is to avoid debt and major expenses, like a tractor. However, another way to become a profitable farm is to get to most of your work done. Our little tractor is helping us achieve that. Turning compost takes minutes instead of hours and we can keep the hoop house clear of snow. We both enjoy leveraging its power, but Mari is the star tractorista.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

A double yolk

This photo of our eggs -- well, our hens' eggs, shows both the nice dark yolks and a double one. We aren't sure which hen is producing these mammoth eggs, but every once in a while they appear. It is always fun to find them. I wonder if there are recipes which benefit from double yolked eggs? (Thanks to our neighbor Tad for the photo)

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Who could get fat eating hay?

Our goats having been putting on their winter seems. Which was a bit surprising to Mari & I because, all they are eating is hay and some minerals, ok and the occasional bit of grain (which is their equivalent of crack cocaine). We wondered if they weren't getting some of the nutrients they needed from our hay, so they were eating more. It is true that they get a lot less exercise in the winter, they aren't roaming the hillsides, clearing ski trails and such. But our vet says, no they can get fat on hay, they won't all self regulate. So the goats are on a diet. And they don't like it very much. They get especially vocal when they hear the sound of the pig's grain being poured into their feeder. They know the sound and they want some too.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Good Morning Redcoats

Warning, yawning is contagious, even among pigs. While the pigs are often silly and loud, they can be quiet, soft and cuddly. Most often, this is when they are sleepy. On this chilly morning (only 4 degrees), the Redcoats weren't in a hurry to get up from the cozy pile.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Pig Sounds

Many people have been amused by the sounds our pigs make. They do whine, snort and talk back a bit. And only get quiet when sleeping or being scratched. For those who need more than just the pictures of our Redcoats, here they are this morning asking for food, attention, and whatever else they can get. We will work on some additional videos introducing the animals.