Tuesday, July 20, 2010

New TV!

...You all might be thinking, Anna and the North Branch Farm gang don't seem to be the TV-watching type! But looking at a noisy box with little things moving all around can be quite calming and mesmerizing. Here's what I mean:

I highly recommend it over the conventional type. It's cheaper, more interactive, and provides food for the belly as well as food for the eyes. In this picture you can see 22 of the most precious baby chicks in the world: 16 Barred Rocks (those end up black and white striped and lay brown eggs) and 6 Araucanas (hawkish-looking blue egg-layers).

The cows have given us trials and tribulations for the month of July: Psycho-killer Sadie Rose (picture a cow from Ghost Riders in the Sky: "Their brands were still on fire and their hooves were made of steel/Their horns were black and shiny and their hot breath he could feel) threatened anyone attempting to milk her after her calf was born with a well-manured hoof deep into the eye socket. We decided to let her be; she is a good cow in her own way. Filet Mignon and Earl of Hamburg, the two beef calves, were happily in a little calf pasture until they learned to break out and started roaming the farm (both sides of the road), and so as not to be outdone in mischievousness Mara, one of the yearling heifer calves, made escaping from the main herd a routine. That was only mildly inconvenient until the three of them started stampeding the garden and hanging out in the road. They are now in quarantine in the barn, which brings new complications, as Mara enjoys beating up Earl most intensely while we undertake our twice-daily milking of Maple, causing the normally placid mama cow to stomp, roll her eyes, kick, and give concussion-worthy swats with her tail to the head of whoever is milking. The flies don't help. Cow drama makes an okay blog subject but doesn't do much for our quality of life; we hope the bovines fall back into their quiet old routines soon.

The garden, on the other hand, has been a pleasure. The CSA is going beautifully, and while snow and sugar snap peas, spinach, scallions, and the other spring veggies are on their way out, we have early summer root crops like baby carrots, baby beets, and new potatoes to usher in the high summer vegetables, notably cucurbits (cukes, zukes, and summer squash) and nightshades (tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant). Portraits of some of the upcoming garden stars:

Green zebra tomato

Daikon radish top

Bell pepper


To finish up, the previous two weeks' CSA boxes:

And lastly, if you want a little bit of backstory on my agrarian interest and move to Maine, you can look at a piece I wrote in the newsletter of the school I went to from preschool through 12th grade at http://www.cfsnc.org/uploaded/News_and_Events/We_and_Thee/2010_Summer_W&T_Summer_2010_%28web%29.pdf

Thursday, July 8, 2010

If you give a mouse a cookie...

Making hay reminds me of the picture book "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie." As in, if you want to make hay, you're going to need a side-delivery rake:

And if you need a side-delivery rake, you're going to need a forecart to hook it to:

And if you want to pull the forecart, you're going to need some hardware, and if you don't have it already, then you're going to have to blacksmith it up at your forge:

And you're definitely going to want some horses to pull that whole rig, and aren't they just beauties:

I've had requests for a belly picture, so here it is, 6 months big:

Friday, July 2, 2010

CSA and Hopefully Potable Water

Unfortunately, no photo for CSA boxes on week 1.
CSA box week 2:

Spinach, head lettuce, walking onions, garlic scapes, parsley, and radishes.

Here, Seth is digging a trench from the new well to the house with the Kioti tractor and his own strong back--multiple cave-ins and re-diggings later, the line is run, pump and pressure tank installed, and we have new running water in our house as of yesterday, 7/1/2010! We still have to wait until we have all the silty gunk is purged out of it until we can test it and find out if it's good to drink, but at least we have 60 psi of pressure. In the words of the well-driller, that's enough pressure that "you won't need no soap to get clean in the shower." Sweet.

CSA box week 3: Lamb's quarters, spinach, radishes, parsley, cilantro, and scallions. Yum!

New Arrivals

Well, I experienced long minutes of frustration on the new blog host and decided that maybe later I will venture again into the wordpress realm, but for now we'll stick with the tried and true (and reliably speedy) blogspot. Sorry for the long absence, but despite so much to catch up on this will be a relatively short entry due to blazing sun and my excitement for weed-killing.

On June 23, this little guy was born. Elsie took a Rose Family portrait (Ella Rose on the left, Sadie Rose and baby bull Rose on right) right when she and Tyler found him; still wet and nursing well. He has major spunk and will plow through most any fence in search of tall grass or shade to lie down in for a nice nap; I think he's a rabbit-deer-cow hybrid, with long ears, strong legs, and a cute snub nose.

The other new additions to the "farmily" over the last couple weeks are April and May (named after their birth months in 1995), sister 15-year-old Percherons who have spent most of their lives so far in Saco, Maine. Now they grace our farm with their massive bulk, power, and patience. So far they have eaten a lot of grass, pulled people around for a cart ride, and raked a few acres of hay with a side-delivery rake. All in their first two weeks! They have far outstripped Dolly and Riley, our bossy attitude-y work ponies, in terms of both productivity and mellowness. And in the size of their feet. Just imagine dinner plates. Seriously. April and May are pastured across the road from our house, and when the flies are bad they tend to stomp a lot and you can hear their stomps while sitting here at the computer.

Three butts.

At the watering trough: April has white and face and feet, May is solid black.

Gearing up for some real work.