Category Archives: Homesteading

Voyeuristic moments

This time of the year, the woods surrounding our farm allow for voyeuristic peeks. This is especially true if there is a light layer of snow on the ground. The floor of the forest loses the scrub brush that obscures it during the growing seasons. The deer and turkeys can be seen slipping in and out of its edges into the fields. If our local neighbors followed the state guidelines to wear blaze orange, visible 360 degrees, we would be able to see them as they move through the woods beyond our property on their hunt for the deer.

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Today is the first day of firearms hunting season for deer. Today is gray, hazy from fog and from smoke from two wildfires a couple hours away. Today is the kind of day when we normally see the deer and the turkey in our lower field, but it almost as if they sense their imminent danger and they stay hidden from our view. Perhaps it is just their superior vision and sense of smell that make them scarce.

Personally, I will be glad when they again make their appearance, as I love to watch them graze and move about the woods and fields.

Mountain Morning Gifts

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A faint rainbow just before the storm.  A huge Tom turkey strutting his stuff in the hay field; 2 young orphaned raccoon that that have been in our area this fall, looking for food or shelter before the weather; and snow flurries.  All beautiful and welcome sights.

Life is good on our mountain farm.

The Last Hurrah

This morning is glorious.

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The sky is a beautiful shade of blue, nearly cloudless.  The fields and fir trees still wearing the greens of summer, the deciduous trees bare of their foliage, a light haze on the distant mountains, the haze that named a nearby mountain chain The Blue Ridge.  It is mild this morning, only the lightest skim of ice on the chickens water tub and expected to reach near 60f today, the fierce winds of yesterday have calmed.

In the mountains, weather systems don’t last long, this beautiful fall weather will end today.  Tomorrow, the weather prognosticators say we could see up to 2″ of snow.  It is early for snow, the earliest recorded measurable snow for nearby Roanoke was October 10, 1979.  The average first snow is December 15th.  Meteorologic winter begins on November 21st, my birthday and the winter solstice, the official first day of winter and the shortest day, a month later.

Regardless of the season and the weather it brings, this is still the most beautiful place in the world.  We love it year round.  Life is good on our mountain farm.

A (Half) Week on the Farm – November 9, 2013 (Goodnight Garden)

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After a half week in Northern Virginia babysitting, this afternoon is the best of this season.  Azure skies, wispy white clouds.  Mild mid 50f temperatures.  Knowing that the season is moving on toward winter, threats of snow showers to accumulated snow in our forecast for mid week, I decided it was my opportunity to plant the garlic for next year and put the rest of the garden and orchard to bed for winter.

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The last of the broccoli was harvested, the cabbages still hiding under a row cover. The garlic was planted in two square beds, about 85 cloves, a combination of three different red hardneck varieties.  They were heavily mulched with straw then covered with row covers, not to protect it from the weather, but rather to protect it from the chickens.

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While mulching, the grape, berry and other vegetable beds were given heavy layers of straw as well, mulch placed around the now dormant fruit trees.  While I was working on this, the chickens were free ranging and trying to undo my work as fast as I was working to put the mulch down.  The tomato cages and garden stakes were put to use to hold down the straw in the beds.  The fruit trees may get rings of fencing if tomorrow as mild as predicted.

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The chickens were given a bed of mulch in their pen to give them something to scratch in for entertainment to try to keep them out of my work.  In spite of the nights that are consistently freezing the top surface of their water tub, they are still providing me with 5 to 8 eggs each day, except for the one who lays green eggs, she seems to be on strike, not having produced an egg all week.

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Hunting Season

Living in a mountainous rural area, we often hear gunfire.  The frequency of this noise increases as the various hunting seasons roll around.  Most of our neighbors hunt, wild turkey and deer primarily, but also bear, raccoons, squirrels and rabbits. Bow season for deer began in early October, this is followed by muzzle loaded gun hunting in early November then on to other firearms for the last couple of weeks in November, then the seasons reverse, ending in December.  When this begins, we see fewer deer on our property, it almost like they go into hiding.  One doe has been hanging around for a couple of years.  We know she is the same one because she has a gimpy left hind leg.  In spite of this, she has raised twin fawns last year and a single fawn this year.  She sticks close to the upper part of our property and we often see her with her current young near our barn.  As we drove out late this morning to deliver eggs and to resupply the various animal foods and get a few items for our larder, she and her fawn were grazing near the barn. It surprises me that she has survived the seasons.  I hope that she makes it through this cycle as well.  This evening, there is one in the lower hayfield.   During this season, we don’t venture far from the house without wearing a blaze orange hat or vest even to go to the chicken coop or garden.  We consider putting a blaze vest on our mastiff as he is of similar size and coloration to the local deer.

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A Week (Not) on the Farm – October 29, 2013

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For the past week this blog has been silent as we left home on October 19 to drive to Virginia Beach, spent the night at our youngest son’s home with his family and all left the next morning to drive to Baltimore, Maryland to embark on a week long Bahamas cruise together. Their two children believed that we were taking them home with us after their parents left on the cruise and were surprised when the ship horn blew to leave the dock with all of us still on board.
Two days at sea followed by one day in Port Canaverel, Florida with an airboat ride siting 2 alligators and hubby getting to hold a 17 year old dwarf alligator upon our return, he was only about 3 feet long.
The following two days were spent in Bahama ports of Nassau and Freeport. Very touristy, docked in industrial areas and requiring taxis to get to a beach, but an excursion on a semi sub over a reef by all of us was fun.
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A short day in Freeport with a beach trip.
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Another at sea day and a half and we returned to Baltimore.
While away, our doggies were in camp and a neighbor chicken watched for all the eggs she could carry home. It was our first cruise, maybe not exactly what we expected, but fun and with the use of Bonine and Sea Bands, I only got queasy once when the ship was cruising at 24 knots in windy conditions.

A week on the Farm – October 9, 2013

This has been another slow week as far as farm chores go. My garlic for the garden still has not arrived, so the garden has been neglected. A few beans have been picked, just enough to eat, not to freeze. The broccoli is ready and needs to be harvested and frozen.

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The meat chicks have mere days to gorge, and indeed that is what they do, before they all go to freezer camp this weekend.

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They don’t quite look like small turkeys this time, but several are substantial.

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The daily egg hunt continues to amuse me, especially when 1 is very round or very pointed or speckled, this girl had a faulty dyer yesterday.

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My shawl is coming along.  I’m on the last lace panel and it will be done. I’m hoping is blocks out larger than it appears now. I’m considering adding a final border to make it a bit larger.

Life is good on our mountain farm.