This is the time of year to be on the farm. There is so much excitement and so many new babies to see. Here’s our highlights from this month so far:
- April started strong with sap flowing full swing. We’re still collecting and will likely continue until Wednesday with our final boil down Thursday and Friday.
- We had two amazing visitors. Jaeden has been here three times now and this time brought along her friend Olive. We met Jaeden during J(une)-Term 2015 through AFSA high school. She and eight others came for a whole week of farm experiences. Her second visit was this last fall when she helped us harvest honey, harvest garden veggies and make jelly. April 3-6, her and Olive enjoyed lots of newborn baby goats, feeding our lone bottle baby, collecting sap, planting onions in the high tunnel, and playing games with our boys. We enjoyed our time with them and hope we didn’t work them too hard.
- Our first new experience this April is our little bottle baby, Prancer. The boys run, jump, and frolic in the yard with him each day and he stays close to our farm dog Ruby at nights. We’re hoping to bring him out to pasture once he’s on two feedings a day. Right now he is 15 days old.
- Peter turned 10 years old this month, yes double digits. He’s an amazing boy and becoming quite the farmer himself.
- Home school continues. My boys are motivated to get our studies done before summer arrives.
- Our second batch of piglets were born yesterday! Mat counted twelve that seem to be thriving. One didn’t survive and one is half the size of the others. Peter can’t wait until they get big enough to ride.
- Our second new adventure arrived on the farm today. She is a Dexter-Jersey heifer calf. Even though she isn’t a year old, she’s likely over 400 pounds. We’re hoping to breed her and have a calf and fresh cow milk next summer. Silas cannot wait. It will be fun to get to know this new addition over the next months. Please comment with any name ideas, for she doesn’t have one yet.
Not even half done and we’ve had lots of excitement. We’re excited for more goats babies, more visitors, more planting, and lots of action as the month continues.
Today we had another adventure on the farm. Yes, we’re full steam ahead again. I suppose you could say it started yesterday. Mathew started boiling down and stayed up all night and all day adding wood to the fire and sap to the pan. After emptying our storage container we stopped around 3pm Thursday and started filling up our bulk tank again with the sap from our two 50 gallon barrels. Then we took those two barrels out to the woods again. It was a beautiful March day at 53 Fahrenheit. After taking a quick look at our new goat babies, we drove through the pasture and to the woods on the other side. Just as the first barrel was filled, a strong wind blew, the temperature dropped about ten degrees within minutes (I’m serious. It got cold quick!), and the rain and sleet started to fall. We were soaked once the second barrel was full. It took about twenty minutes to fill the first barrel and only fifteen for the second since we were cold and hasty. I’m so glad I had prepared a snack at home. Being cold and wet made the rewards waiting for us so much better. I had made some chocolate zucchini cake with maple syrup instead of sugar and promised to mix up some homemade maple hot cocoa. What a treat! Continue reading
Our week in pictures: The boys and I took a week off to help Daddy with a number of projects. Enjoy some pictures from our week. Click a picture to read how it was part of a rewarding week of work.
Who knew a chicken could bring a family closer together? It all happened last November. Peter was out checking on his wandering hens. Urgently, he comes to the door in tears. “Fatty died.” You see, Fatty was not just any chicken (many had gone before her with no tears), Fatty was his favorite chicken. She had a unique crop problem. She made a different noise and was always quite “chatty.” At lunch we would often hear about Fatty’s latest news and what she said about Pecky, Farty, Bossy, Stupid and Baby. Peter made sure she didn’t go to the compost pile, this special hen now has her own place in the yard with a special rock that Peter saved especially for Fatty.
It was heart wrenching to see him so sad. I’m sure it was extra difficult for him because he watched her die. For me, the whole experience drew me closer to Peter. I realize how deep this little boy runs. He’s not a thoughtless, careless boy just going about his days. He has real feeling, real emotion. My other boys wear their emotions on their sleeves, they are lovey and gentle. I had been finding it hard to relate to Peter because I was beginning to think he was hard and didn’t want me close. Maybe that’s just part of a boy growing up and pushing his mother away. Maybe he’s just been stressed out with having imperfect parents that expect a lot from him.
Fatty, in her death has brought us closer. We were able to comfort Peter, reminisce about the great times we’ve had with Fatty (like the times she wobbled up to us as we did schoolwork outside), we were able to gently push into his world. He has been more open and affectionate since this happened. He’s even been more considerate with his words. We all have (children live what they learn).
I likely won’t forget the funeral we had for Fatty. Here are the words from Peter’s writing assignment that week:
“I liked fatty. She was a good chicken. she talked pretty funny, was my favorite ckicken. I liked watching her. Now she is gone.”
It’s time to get caught up on what has happened on the farm these last few weeks. The weather has been beautiful so we have been working outside most days.
Mat worked the ground for a huge garden spot. It took the most part of three days. It is a wet soil, but with some work we hope to have a good plot eventually.
The boys planted a variety of apple trees and a few elderberry bushes around the yard. Silas enjoyed a wheel barrow ride and Peter enjoyed working on his fort once the trees were in.
Last week, the young ones and I took a trip to the post office to pick up our last batch of chicks. Mat was busy cleaning out the brooder and fertilizing our garden with the bedding from the previous chicks. When we got home, Peter, Silas and I worked together moving the third batch of chicks we had to their nice and clean bigger brooder. I am continually amazed at how these little boys take on new challenges. Peter helped catch the little chicks gently and Silas gently put them into their new home.