Sunday, November 21, 2010

You need a dog!

So, just before Halloween, John and I went to Crystal Bay Farm for their celebration of art and music.  They're just down the street and even though I buy strawberries from them all summer, through SCLF, I have never been to their farm!  It was great fun! More pumpkins than I knew existed (I'm going to have to go back to get identification for a few of them).  We marveled at how their crops could have done so well with the crazy summer weather that left our melons and pumpkins in a mushy pile!  We were also surprised to see that they have no deer fence. No fence at all!  Although we had no deer problems for the first 8 months that we were here, they managed to find us in August, just as the tomatoes were coming on full force!  What the foggy weather didn't get, the deer did.  So we asked what the secret was, and Farmer Jeff said, "You need a dog!".  They had 3 of them running around and never had any problems.

Now, it's not as if I never thought of having a dog. I have tried it many times with no luck. I don't have the patience or time that I think it takes to raise a puppy, and dogs that someone else has given up...well..there's usually a reason for it.  One time I got a dog after a family friend passed away.  She was perfect! 85 pounds of loyal, fluffy, fun.  I loved her so much but then she got inoperable cancer. She died in my lap, on the vets exam room floor.  So I feel dog-cursed.  Nonetheless, John and I decided that it would be better to get a dog than to try to deer proof our rented property line.

Enter AFRP.  We saw on Craigslist that they were having an adoption day that weekend. They had a litter or Catahoula pups, 8 weeks old, that had been dumped in the SPCA night drop when they were only 4 weeks old!  One of them, a Red Merle with different colored marble eyes, just melted my heart, so I filled out adoption papers and we planned to stop at the adoption site on Saturday.  Just to see.  I had NO intention of bringing a dog home when we left to run errands that morning. I expected a long process.  When the foster people walked in with the puppy, it was love at first site!  Paperwork was quick and we spent the rest of the morning running errands with a puppy and adding pet food and toys to our shopping list.

Her given name was Pebbles, but that wasn't working for me, so now she is Emma Bean.  She looks like a little freckled bean, and one of my girl Nia's favorite books when she was little was Emma Bean.

Emma Bean is all love! She follows me around, loves to snuggle, is a quick learner and and sleeps all night in her crate!  As an added, although maybe unrelated bonus, there have been no deer attacks in the 2 weeks that we have had her.

Jeff was right, we needed a dog. I just had no idea how much!

Welcome home Emma Bean!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Milagros Pequeños

Miracles are natural. When they do not occur something has gone wrong.

-author unknown

I was having a less than happy day today, so when I got home from work I rushed to the garden for some Horticultural Therapy...

Here are the Little Miracles that awaited...

potatoes, planted from seed in March

The first full size tomatoes! (we've been enjoying the cherry varieties for weeks now) The bigger one is an heirloom, Costoluto Genovese... Seedling from Green Planet Organics.

The smaller one is Stupice, seedling from Annie's Annuals

And onions....lots of onions (this is only about 1/4 of them, the rest are going to stay in the ground to grow bigger).  It's hard to tell the size of them, but the biggest ones are a little bigger than baseballs!

And please forgive my excitement, but here is another, more artistic shot...can't you just smell them??  Those long ones are Heirloom Italian Red Torpedo.

And here they are, my Little Miracles of the day.  Oh, and one egg, different color and size from the one we got yesterday...

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Our First Egg!

This morning, I stopped in to say hello to the chickens and found one of my Cuckoo Marans

making herself a nest!

This evening, while I was making dinner, there was a ruckus in the coop and my boy said,"Sounds like someone's laying an egg!"  We rushed down to find this beautiful thing

Our first egg from one of the 35 chicks we got back in March! Yay.

Her reward (and that of any one of the chicks that would eat them, one by one out of my hand)  was the last of the peas on the vine (except for what I'm saving for seed next time)

Even the ever suspicious, Sir, my French Blue Maran rooster tried one!

It's a good day to be a farmer...

Sunday, July 25, 2010

This week in pictures

Just a few of the sights on the farm from the past week...

Baby Hales Best Cantaloupe

One lonely Fig on the tiny tree that wasn't supposed to fruit for 2.5 more years!

There are loads of frogs in the greenhouse. I made them a little pond hoping that they will stay.

One of the Woodpeckers nesting outside

Adventures in canning, part I

The joy of Dirt Bathing

When my kids were babies, I used to love to watch them sleep. I could easily hold them through an entire nap, tracing the outlines of their little noses, kissing their perfect lips and loving them to depths previously unknown... Now my first born is 18 and stands 6'5". My last born is still sweet and cuddly, but at 11 years old, she no longer qualifies for naps.

Fortunately, I now have several small, fluffy baby chicks to amuse and endear me.  They are about 12 weeks old and just discovered the joy of dirt bathing on a Summer's afternoon.   Although it seems contrary, chickens use dirt or dust baths to clean their plumage. It is vital to their health, and especially fun to watch as they roll, wiggle and flap around in the loose dirt, collecting the dirt under their feathers.


When they are done, they puff up, shake it all out and take a nap.  It is an event that I never get tired of because it reminds me of so many simple afternoons, so many years ago, spent watching my babies snooze.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

First try at canning…

Yesterday I got an obscene amount of Cucumbers and Wax Beans from Santa Cruz Local Foods so that I could try my hand at pickling. I have to admit that I was nervous (mostly because my mom kept warning me that "botulism doesn't give second chances...") that I would blow something up, put my eyes out, or kill my family and/or friends with the dreaded botulism, but I forged on.   I remembered Barbara Kingsolver writing about the joy of hearing the "ping" when the jars sealed...I figured that if I could just hear that, my loved ones would be saved from a horrible death at my inexperienced hands. 

It took all day, but in the end my girls and I were pretty proud of the results!

We're sure to do it again soon!

Oh, yeah, and I heard the pings...2 dozen of them!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Chicken Mahal

The post office called at 7AM, March 30th to let me know that our mail-order chicks had arrived...
I had ordered 31, they gave me one free "exotic" chick (with a B for Bonus on her head..guess what we have named her??) and 5 roosters (with blue dots on their heads) for warmth! Thanks Mc Murray Hatchery!

They were so tiny! I felt like they needed a Mommy, so I donated Annie's Gecko to the cause. They took right to it, snuggling up under it in a very "Are You My Mother?" sort of a way...

On Easter weekend, the eggs that I bought on eBay started to hatch. It was beyond exciting, as they popped open over a 3 day period. The Annies and Cash were here with me, again, to cheer them on with words of encouragement.

We added 12 chicks to our brood, the Goose eggs were a bust. :-(

Now, the race was on to get the coop done, luckily John was up for the job, with some extra time on his hands...
Here's the horse stall that we started with, rotted and falling down

In progress

And, finally, what John calls "Chicken Mahal"

Jade came over to visit and said that, if she was a chicken, she would love to live in there. We like Jade!

Annie and I had a fun Chick Photo Shoot with some of the hatchlings

And now, all of the chicks are living like Queens (and/or Kings) in Chicken Mahal, enjoying fresh clover, warm sun and dirt baths...

Garden updates soon...

Friday, March 26, 2010

Chicks and eggs and kids, oh my...

So, 2 weeks ago today the mailman brought us a pile of fertile eggs to hatch...

It was a rainy Friday afternoon, so the Annies and Cash were happy to help with unpacking (and popping the miles of bubble wrap)

Now we have been incubating and the chicks should start hatching over Easter Weekend. The Geese (hopefully) will follow a week later.

Meanwhile, in our bedroom (I know...) the 5 Aracuanas that I bought 2 weeks ago are out of control! The need to move to bigger quarters ASAP!

They used to be all small and fluffy

Now they are master escape artists.

And curious...

John was going to spend the whole weekend getting the coop finished (because, after all, I also have 31 chicks arriving next week) but I have convinced him that we NEED to go to the San Francisco Garden Show instead...just for a little while tomorrow... Gotta love him!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Goodbye city life, Green Acres we are here....

We are finally moved in, so we spent the past weekend nesting in the yard... We started demolition of the falling apart horse stall, chopped up lots of overgrown and dead trees and much so that we had a burn pile going for 2 full days. John went to pick up a long ago abandoned piece of wood siding to throw it in the pile and found this little nest of moles hiding under it. I threatened to kill them, but I know they only eat bugs, so I was able to spare them and they are So cute! I also found a fat little toad and started thinking about Thumbelina...I've had the story stuck in my head ever since...was the Field Mouse pimping her out to Mr Mole?? I say yes. Ewwwww.

Today I ordered 30 chickens from Mc Murray Hatcherynow I have chicken fever...I couldn't find the more rare varieties that I wanted, so I ordered fertile eggs for them. Now I have to rush to get an incubator, as they'll be here in a couple of days and, I think, I will be up to about 50 chickens. Oh, and 2 Sebastopol Goose eggs.... I may have lost control...a tiny bit... maybe...anyone want to buy chickens???

Oh, and I also requested 2 feral cats from these people, to keep the gopher population down.