Friday, March 27, 2009

Adopt -a- Goat

We didn't realize that animal adoptions would be part of our farming/tourism business, but why not. Some kids adopt endangered species, but Lou wanted a goat, a dairy goat. After observing our goat herd for several days and much deliberation, Lou decided he would adopt Ingrid, a LaMancha goat. Deciding everyone's responsibility in this adoption was a key question. Thus far, we've asked the six-year old to think of her often, and he has sent a new collar and lead. We've promised to send photos and we plan to post a copy of the official adoption certificate in the barn.

We love sharing our farm and if animal adoptions help kids (or adults) enjoy our Vermont Farm, we are all for it.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Napping in the Sun

Even the pigs can't resist a nap in the sun as it warms up. While some parts of the country are already into the warm, flowering days of spring, here in central Vermont spring is a bit slower to arrive. But spring has arrived. This year much of our snow is already melted and the sun has a bit more strength. It means during their naps, instead of burrowing deep into their pile of hay, the pigs are seeking the sun. And how cute they look.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Spring

Spring has arrived officially by the calendar and as I noted in Hens Walk About , we can see the signs here in Central Vermont. We have put away this year's winter slideshow and are now posting spring pictures from our farm. We will keep adding to this slideshow all season so you can see spring evolve here on our farm.

If you miss the snowy shots you can still see them all in our Picasa Photo Albums. Happy Spring!

Hens on Walk About

Clearly, spring has arrived here in Central Vermont. Signs are everywhere: the sun has warmth and strength, snow is melting, the sap is running, new birds at our feeder, the brook is rushing, Geese heading north, muddy roads and our chickens are venturing out from the hoop house.

Spring, at least early spring in our part of the world, still has cold nights (and sometimes cold snowy days too) and snow covered areas. But, the snow has melted under trees and at the edge of paths and driveways and on warm afternoons are chickens are drawn there.

The chickens, like many Vermonters, have spring fever. Thrilled to get out of the hoop house, which is pretty posh winter living, and scratch in the leaf litter and the dirt to find....Well, I don't know exactly what they are finding, bugs and grubs and seeds I suppose. But whatever they are finding is making them VERY happy.

One warm afternoon this week, I returned from the Barn to find 5 hens on the slate patio at the front door...of the house. It is a warm sunny spot, but otherwise surrounded by snow (which the chickens do not like to cross). It was as if they had arrived for an afternoon snack, at the house. Apparently, the open ground near the hoop house wasn't enough. Perhaps they knew we still had some winter squash in the basement. I let them be for awhile, soaking in some sun on the patio for myself too, before I herded them back across the snowy yard and back toward the hoop house. Soon enough, they will be back out pasturing on our fields full time.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Doodle is Back

Doodle, our first sow, is back from breeding camp. We sent her off to Hogwash Farm, where we got her, to get pregnant since we don't have any boars here. Boars can look a bit scary, they are big and they have tusks. When Mari saw Bruce the boar she noted, "we don't need one of those". That was just in the moment, we aren't ruling it out, but he was a bit intimidating.

Anyway, Doodle is back and getting to know the Redcoats. Unfortunately, despite some coaching to welcome their new friend, they were a bit skeptical and chased her around the pen a bit when we first introduced them. Not helping matters, as soon as Revere, Madison, Fife or Drum approached her, she bolted. So....now they are getting to know each other with a boundary in between. It is how we should have started, but the snow and frozen ground have us a bit limited on pen options.

Doodle is enjoying some extra attention from us to help her transition. She really loves to be scratched behind the ears and once you start rubbing her belly she'll roll to fully expose it. She has a cozy spot with LOTS of hay to burrow in and keep her warm. And we expect in a few days all the pigs will be able to be together...or at least so we hope.
(check out the slide show for more recent pictures)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Sometimes Farming isn't Glamorous


Bedded pack is the handy euphemism for hay and/or wood shavings mixed with animal poop & pee that builds up for several months, generally in the winter. It is quite a convenient method and ensures we capture those nutrients for compost. Well it is convenient until you have to remove it. One day recently Mari decided it really was time to clear out the goat pen, she even offered to do it while I worked on other things. I felt mildy guilty leaving her in their pen with a pitchfork and a large wagon, but she does love physical work and she is chief of compost.

But all good things do have to come to an end, so after lunch I was drafted and we had a long way to go. Amazingly the pack of hay, poop and pee was over a foot deep in some places and it was already composting. It was quite satisfying and the compost pile is now hopping, getting ready for our plants this summer. And when the goats came back in to their pen from outside, their reach was no longer quite as high. And us farmers were tired and needed a hot bath. But one project that had been lingering on the to-do list was done, always a good feeling.

I am also happy to report that the goats have slimmed down and they haven't even been that grumpy about it. Though they do comment, sometimes loudly, when they hear the pigs getting grain.
(Photos: Mari 2/3 of the way done; the goats back in their clean pen)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Happy Hens


Our hens love the sunny days. Today, it was definitely spring in the hoop house (their winter home) and possibly even summer by the temperatures at least. The hens roam in the snow-free hoop house all winter. In addition to organic grain, we give them hay and some vegetable scraps for entertainment. In the photo and video, the hens are scratching in the hay finding some treats, seeds and I suppose maybe some bugs and such. The photo shows three of our Golden Laced Wyandottes, one of our prettiest hens, I think. They keep themselves busy, and mostly out of trouble, and they are always curious as to what you might be bringing them.
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video