Monday, February 28, 2011

Chick love...

The new girls are here and have settled in.
The sounds of little peeps ring once more at my humble homestead.
It's chick love.......
I'm smitten.....

On an entirely different note, Shane, our 15 year old, became very ill yesterday.  We've been to the vet and are still waiting on some interpretations of the tests they ran today, but, I have a heavy feeling in my heart about this. 

Please keep Shane the Ruler in your thoughts.  He's having a rough spot.

Quite honestly, after I picked the chicks up this afternoon, all I could think about is the circle of life.  Theirs just beginning as another one may end.  I know this song, but, it doesn't make it any easier.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Peaceful Fridays.....

After weeks of running every weekend, we have this weekend free to ourselves and time to relax around the castle. 

We have a lovely concert we're attending on Sunday afternoon of a dear friend at a lovely old stone house in Pennsylvania to add to our "weekend of us".

Oh, the wind may blow and the rain may fall, but, we have a weekend of us.....

Except for replacing the hot water heater, dusting off the chick brooder and getting ready for the new chicks, housework, paperwork for taxes, band practice, etc., etc., etc.,.....

Sounds like a grand weekend to me 'cause my honey will be by my side through it all.

Have a more peaceful weekend than us, y'all..........

*photo of Trim Castle, Trim, Ireland taken by moi*

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Bee surprise.....

The hubsters got a phone call this week from the husband of one of our friends who comes to hear us play at the session about putting a hive on our property!

Back in the fall, we had a cookout/jam here at the house and most folks brought their families along to enjoy the evening.  Pretty much everyone took a stroll around the homestead and obviously on this gents stroll he found a place to put a "satellite" hive for his main hive not too far away.  Bottom line - he's coming over later this week to discuss putting the hive in and what we will need to do (and not do) to help him keep the hive here.

The hubster and I have talked about bee keeping, but, that's as far as it went because quite frankly, I'm a little leary of the stinging buggers!  I'm not flat out allergic, but, I do react quite a bit by honey bee stings.  So, with that being said, I'm excited and nervous all at the same time!

We are fortunate here at this little homestead in that the honey bee population seems to be on the rise and considering the problems honey bee's are facing, that's a very good sign that a hive would be very successful here.  The world needs pollinator's and if we can do our small part to help them thrive I say bring them on!!

Fingers and toes crossed for us, everybody!  And, we'll keep you posted.

*image taken from the net*

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Having a laugh.....

The moon and I are having a laugh.  A secret laugh.

We know this will be the last snowfall for us.  So we laugh our secret laugh, just the two of us.
Would you like to laugh with us?

Ah, but at the end of the day, it's just a wee bit snow, so.....

Monday, February 21, 2011


Soon we shall enjoy the darling buds of May,

But for now we must endure yet another snowy day.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Peaceful Fridays.....

Wanted - one border collie to help crazy lady running in circles.
Only experienced border collies need apply.
Besides organizational skills, applicant must provide tail wags and little doggy kisses.

Have a peaceful, organized weekend, y'all..........

*cartoon from the Farside collection*

Why you should go local......

On Saturday I did one of my favorite things - I went to Green Akeys Farm to pick up some of their pasture raised beef and lamb.

Going to the farm and experiencing first hand where your food is coming from, seeing how the animals are raised, etc. is a huge part of why I eat local and shun the feed lots.  Plus, hands down, it just tastes better!
But, here is what I feel is one of the biggest reasons to eat as local as you can and know who your farmer is  - the sense of community. 

A visit to the farm is never a quick one.  I'm glad.  This time wasn't an exception as I was greeted with conversation and then was proudly shown the new lambs.  As I stood in the barn surrounded by pregnant ewes, Grace the goat came over to get scratched and her fair share of love.  Not to be outdone, Rocky and Rosie, the herd guard dogs came over for their portion of scratches and rubs.  Standing in the barn amongst the bleets and the baas, the cackles and crows, the Belted Galloways were out in a far pasture soaking up the afternoon sun.  Serendipity to this irishlas.

Another reason I feel such a strong sense of community is that they openly share their knowledge and answer any questions I have.  I was able to ask about trying my hand at meat birds and given great advice.  Advice you can't find in any book.  Advice that comes from first hand knowledge.  Advice given freely even though it may mean a loss of business for the farm.  Advice because they want folks to be more self sustainable.

The conversation is a two way street.  I listen as ideas and plans are shared for the future of their farm.  Even though I can't offer a lot of feedback, I am humbled by how they make me feel included as part of the growing process of their farm. 

When is the last time you bought a package of meat at the grocery store and left feeling as part of the growing process?  Try and ask the grocery meat department where the meat comes from and you'll be entertained by a little dance.

I can't stress this enough - if you are able, know your farmer!!  Besides, where else can you go to get your bounty whilst watching a chicken hitch a ride on a sheeps back?

Don't think you'll find that at the Safeway....

*On a side note, this has taken me all week to post. This thing called work has been a monster.  Hope to catch up with everyone soon!*


Friday, February 11, 2011

Peaceful Fridays.....

This morning was still, not a breath of air moved amongst the boughs of the pines as I made my way along the well-trodden path to the coop.  It was 15degrees this morning - almost balmy since there wasn't any wind and I embraced the quiet journey to do morning chores.

The sun was just breaking the tree line and I could feel a tease of warmth in its rays, letting me know that soon the season of mud would be upon me.  I smiled.

I hollered out my morning greeting to the girls and they responded with their clucks and clatters, telling me to hurry so they too could enjoy the warmth of the rays dappling through the pines.
After letting them out and refilling all the pertinents in the coop I stood for a moment listening to the sounds of the morning.  As I stood there surveying the snow still heavy on the ground an owl sent out his morning greeting - whowhowho-who-who.  I smiled.

Turning to make my way back to the house I was greeted by our resident stray cat waiting for her breakfast.  I filled her bowl and let her eat as I stood once again just to enjoy the stillness of the morning.  She ate her fill and then came to me, rubbing against my legs, purring, waiting to be scratched.  I obliged and was rewarded with sweet meows.  I smiled.

I came back into the warmth of the house and reality and I am greeted by three black noses and wagging tails.  I smiled.

I've smiled this morning for all the peace and love that surrounds me.
May this weekend bring you smiles and love...

Have a peaceful weekend, y'all........

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Friday, February 4, 2011

Peaceful Fridays.....

What lies beyond your cottage door this weekend?

Is it dreams of blooming wisteria?
Or a mug of hot cocoa and a good winter read?

I, like many of you, am dreaming of the wistful, perfume scented, days of Spring....

But, in the meantime, I will take time this weekend to appreciate the beauty that the Winter season has given me....

It's around you everywhere if you just look....

Have a peaceful weekend, y'all............

*photo from the Internet*

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Living simply - the debate in my brain.....

On days when I make the commute into the city, I have around 3 hours of travel time with nothing but my thoughts and the latest tune currently playing in the CD player.  I've found on these commutes that my mind typically wanders to playing out a dream I've had all my life - raising my own food and living more self contained.  My thoughts loop over and over like footage in an old film reel on how this can be done - if it can be done.

The Capricorn part of me - the earth-based, stubborn, goal oriented, woman doesn't have an inkling of a doubt.  The doubting Thomas side of me has many, many issues.

I guess my first and most important question would be - can two people who work demanding full time jobs realistically have the time to homestead, even if it is only 3 1/2 acres? 

This is a fair question to ask myself.  There are times when we feel overwhelmed with just what we have now.  Why in the world would we take on more?  But, then, the argumentative side of me convinces me that if we are already out and about doing chores, what's one more thing?  How much more time would it actually take to take care of a few sheep?  Move a chicken tractor housing meat birds?

Right now, the typical routine is simple - wake, take care of dogs, go out take care of chickens, feed stray cat, back to coffee then work.  This is the winter routine.  Soon, the routine will adjust for gardening.  It will soon change to wake, take care of dogs, go out take care of chickens, feed stray cat if still here, check seedlings and water, back to coffee and work.  Once the garden is in full swing, I check that every morning, too.  So, will adding move the chicken tractor and feed lambs really add that much time on a daily basis?  I'm not talking about the heavier, weekend chores like mucking, mowing, and so forth, just the daily routines of morning and evening.

This is where I look to others and hope they can shed some light.  Are there any of you who work full time and still are able to accomplish living in this fashion?  What are your routines and what animals do you care for? 

I'd love your thoughts, advice, input to help me get through this middle-age homestead crisis I'm having. 

It's either sheep or a lover,to get me through my middle-age dilemma, but then, maybe they're one in the same... 
(sorry, my warped sense of humor couldn't resist)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


One month from today I will be able to go get some new chicks to replace the hens I've lost this past year. 

I'm excited at the prospect of hearing all the little peeps and chirps in the brooding box again!  I won't panic this go around, or, not as much when I see a chick do a head dive into the pine chips and wonder if it died!  I'll know it's just taking a wee nap. 

Currently the hens I have are Plymouth Rocks  - two white and one barred.  They are a great cold hardy breed that lay medium to large brown eggs.  This time around I want to get three Americaunas (Easter egg hens) and three Rhode Island Reds.  Just want to mix it up a bit and they'll also be easier to tell apart!

The plan for 2011 layers is to acquire six new hens which will start to lay in the fall while the remaining three get us through spring and summer.  Just as the new girls start laying in earnest, the biddies will be ready to retire and let the young ones do all the work!  The biddies will be two and a half years old by then and their egg production should drastically reduce.  If not, I'll just have more eggs to share and eggs to freeze for later use.

As we nurture the youngs ones along here at the house, this will give us time to enlarge the current run.  The run and coop are more than large enough to house nine hens, but, the more room outside the better!  Currently the run is 8' x 20' and once we are done, the permanent run should be double that size.  Happy chickens lay tasty eggs! 

I would also like to talk the hubster into possibly making two chicken tractors this spring - one to let the laying hens free range safely around the yard during the day and one for the meat birds.   I'm sure if I ask real nice he'd be more than happy to construct two tractors...  maybe a lot of beer would be a better persuasion, eh?  I'm sooo bad....

In the meantime I have plenty to do to keep me occupied while I await the arrival of chicks to my local farm store which makes the employees of the store happy because I'm not constantly bugging them for the arrival date. 
I'm also happy to report I've gotten three eggs in the past week from the girls.  I haven't had eggs in over two months.  They must have seen me sneak that dozen eggs in I had to buy last week and started talking amongst themselves - "oh, we'd better stop slacking off", " I told you she had other hens hidden in the big house", and my favorite overheard cluck - "the sky is falling".

There's one in every bunch....