Thursday, March 31, 2011

Farm Friend Friday and Farmgirl Friday

Hello farm friends, hoping you had a great week thus far. It has been consistently wet, cold and gloomy here in western West Virginia. Although spring is officially on the calendar, we are still awaiting her arrival. I think spring must be a “her” since it is filled with color, blooms and renewal. How about you, is spring a female or male season to you?

Fond memories of spring 2010 in all her glory

Well, we are kicking off a blog party by combining Farm Friend Friday with Farmgirl Friday for the first time this week. We all share the love of farm living and farmgirl heart, so marrying the two seems to be a natural progression. The combination will bring together more bloggers that share an interest in all things farm and country living. Tell your friends and invite them to the party.

Hosted by:
Verde Farm
Dandelion House

We know there will be animal talk, great recipes, crafting, spinning, country decor and much, much more.

  • Click on the “click here to enter” below
  • Follow the steps to link your post and picture
  • Link back here with a shared link or use our button or the Farmgirl Friday button 
  • Visit your neighbors by hopping around to all the posts shared
  • Say hello, so they know you came to visit 
  • Become a follower if you like
  • We will leave it up all weekend to give everyone plenty of time to enjoy the party

Let the Farm Friendzy begin...

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Farm Friend and Farmgirl Friday

Hi farm friends, I wanted to drop you a quick note to tell you about something exciting and fun we are trying this week. Farm Friend Friday will have an added blog party hostess. Deborah Jean, at the Dandelion House, and I are going to co-host our Friday parties. She hosts Farmgirl Friday and of course we have Farm Friend Friday here. What fun would it be to join these two parties and amp up the Farm Fun?


FaRm FrIeNdZy FuN

We sure hope you will join us and share the Farm Frenzy with your friends. We had 83 farm lovers last week--an all time high. Aren’t you enjoying reading all the great posts and meeting new blog buddies?

If you don’t know Deborah Jean, you will want to stop by and visit her at the
Dandelion House and be sure to join us Friday for Farm Friend and Farmgirl Friday!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Farm Friend Friday #8-Our Shetland Sheep

Hello farm friends, hope you all are enjoying this first few days of spring. I just got home from Philadelphia and old man winter was digging in his heels up there. He even left me with some snow on my car, this morning. It was the same story at Verde Farm, cold with highs in the 30s. Oh well, one thing is for sure, spring weather will soon take care of old man winter, who will certainly need a few months rest.

This week, we want to introduce a couple of our shetland sheep to you--Rain and Burdock. They came to us from Bluff Country Shetlands and Backyard Chickens. We knew we wanted to add sheep last summer but weren’t sure which breed to choose. Nancy Krohn helped us make our decision. She has a wonderful farm for her shetlands and incredible love for this heritage sheep breed.

Shetlands come from Britain and are called a heritage or heirloom breed. According to the Sustainable Table Blog/Website, heritage breeds were raised by farmers in the past, prior to the rise in industrial agriculture that reduced breed variety among many farm animals. In the past 15 years over 190 farm animal breeds have gone extinct, and 1,500 others are at risk. Amazing huh? Many folks don’t realize some farm animals are going extinct, in addition to animals living in the wild.

"Wait, what’s going on over here?"

"That’s Farmer’s Shoe?"

"Burdock, come smell Farmer’s shoe"
The rams are wonderful and just the kind of animal we like to have here at Verde. Rain has a latte colored fleece and the sweetest bah you’ve ever heard. Burdock, on the other hand,  has a very dark fleece and sounds like he has been smoking a pack a day for years. Hello doll. They have completely different personalities, but agree on treats, running, playing, lots of love and good scratches. They have both been fixed, so they are wethers. Rams that aren’t fixed don’t make great pets and are much more aggressive.

"That smell makes me happy Burdock"

“You know what we do when we’re happy” Butt heads!

Hope you enjoyed our boys and will read up on endangered farm breeds. A few good breeding programs can really make a difference.

Are you ready for Farm Friend Friday? This blog party is a place to share posts about farm life and country living. You don’t have to live on a farm or ranch to participate. Country cooking, crafting, history, gardening, photography and anything else you can think of can be shared. Won’t you join us?
  • Click on the “click here to enter” below
  • Follow the steps to link your post and picture
  • Link back here with a shared link or use the Farm Friend Friday button in my sidebar
  • Visit your neighbors by hopping around to all the posts shared
  • Say hello, so they know you came to visit 
  • We will leave it up all weekend to give everyone plenty of time to enjoy the party
Happy Farm Friend Friday,

Sunday, March 20, 2011

What Are Your Signs Of Spring?

Hi farm friends, hope you had a wonderful weekend with beautiful weather and a great view of the super moon. Many blog friends were able to capture it in picture form and it was fantastic. We don’t have window coverings in our bedroom yet (almost four years after buying the house) and it was like sleeping with the light on last night. We didn’t mind, the view was nice and we knew spring was coming today!

Spring “officially” began at 7:21 p.m. EDT on March 20, 2011. “The vernal equinox, day and night are each approximately twelve hours long (with actual time of equal day and night, in the Northern Hemisphere, occurring a few days before the vernal equinox). The sun crosses the celestial equator going northward; it rises exactly due east and sets exactly due west,” according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac.

Don’t you just love the signs that guided farmers of the past to till, plant, pick and so much more? Many still use these signs today with great success. So, what are “signs” of spring that you always pay attention to? Signs that tell you spring is here or it’s time to till your land or plant your first crop?

Here at Verde Farm, forsythia is the first true sign of spring. They start to bloom, bursting in bright yellow buds, prior to any other blooms only surpassed by early blooming daffodil varieties. The bright yellow is the perfect color to start spring for us as it is such a happy, bright long lost friend.

Another sign of spring is the hatching of chicks. We don’t have any just yet, but we do have Smoke, one of our Silkie hens sitting on a nice clutch. She looks a little worse for wear minus her head feathers but they will be back soon. We are excited to get our first Silkie chicks, so stay tuned.

Won’t you share your signs of spring with us?

Have a great week,

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Farm Friend Friday #7-On The Run

Well, hello farm friends, hope you have had a lucky St. Patty’s Day. I felt lucky with the gorgeous weather and all. We reached the low 70s today with lots of sunshine and blue skies. Can’t ask for more than that. I also think I’m very lucky this week because all my wonderful blog buddies sent me their prayers, support and encouragement after we said goodbye to 25 of our wonderful chickens. You all are just the best! We are much better today and the farm is getting back to a normal routine- except for a few pitched battles by the roosters trying to fill the power vacuum. Blessings to you all.

Now, for Farm Friend Friday we have a special movie clip for you. We like to call it “On The Run.” It reminds me of Don Knotts and Tim Conway, although the stars of this short film are lesser known actors. We do apologize for the film quality but couldn’t resist. Turn up the volume, click the arrow and enjoy.

We hope you got a kick out of our silly guineas, Jekyll and Hyde, filmed today here at Verde Farm.

It’s time for Farm Friend Friday #7 and we hope you will join us. It’s quite simple:

1) Click on the button below
2) Follow the directions
3) Link your post back to Verde Farm so others can easily find all the great posts shared
4) You can use the Farm Friend Friday button in the right hand sidebar or a simple link in your post works too.

Let the farm fun begin...

Sunday, March 13, 2011

A Sad Day at Verde

Ok farm friends, all you real farmers, please forgive my weak constitution with this post. As you know if you have been following our blog for a bit, we have many different animals here at Verde. We love them all and name them and know them by name. We have many chickens and over the last three years, the chicken population has grown more than we intended. Thus the reason for a sad day at Verde.

We bought two roosters as our very first animals, Mack and Bucky. We also bought three muscovies that day too. That was the beginning, five birds and we were tickled pink. We felt sorry for Mack and Bucky as they needed a girlfriend so it didn’t take long for us to buy a beautiful hen we named Pearl for her Pearl coloring. Life was good. We had roosters crowing in the mornings and loved to see them running around the farm.

Flash forward three years and a few more chicken purchases and multiple hatches we had around 70 chickens late last summer and fall. Winter cost us a few due to the extreme cold temperatures and we had lost a few to predators, as best we could tell. My dear farmer and I knew we had to reduce the flock size before spring.

We posted some ads on Facebook and of course we have this blog/website with chickens for sale. No interest until yesterday. I was thinking about Craig’s List for a while but had never tried it. I got on the site to look and under agriculture they had several farm animals listed in my area. I thought, why not? I put an add up for 25 chickens and within six hours I had eight e-mails.

Tonight, the lucky man that I called came to get his chickens. I didn’t expect it to be so traumatic but they knew something was wrong and fear was in the air. Farmer and I were sort of paralyzed as the man and his sons started gathering them up from the barn roosts. We kept all our original chickens and made sure none of them went into the cage. They were screaming and scared and all I could think of was “I want this over with.”

It took about an hour to gather up 25 and he paid me and off they went. I couldn’t help but cry and still have tears in my eyes as I type this. We raised those chickens and they had a certain way of life here and they liked it. Out of the blue, they are now piled in a cage and headed off to another place to live and I really don’t know what’s ahead for them. He said he was going to let them free range and he loved banty hens to hatch eggs and raise chicks. Well, based on our 70 chickens, you know they are very good at that.

We always planned on raising chickens and selling them but this was the first time it actually happened. I know this sounds crazy to some but we loved them and our hearts are gonna ache for a while, especially tomorrow morning when we wake up and the farm is much quieter.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Farm Friend Friday #6-Thank You Tess! Plus: Peafowl/Muscovy Q&A

Hi farm friends. I hope you’ve had a wonderful week. This is one of my busiest times of year with my job, and I have a lot of visiting and catching up to do over the next few days. I look forward to seeing what you’ve all been up to. We have a big thank you to share and answers to your peafowl and muscovy questions. So, here we go...

I met a great blog friend the last couple of months at Idlyhours blog. Julie Marie lives in the countryside and loves her french roots, cottage gardens and her wonderful home. But even more than that--she loves her Tessy. Tessy is a beautiful, stray English Pointer that was blessed enough to find Julie Marie who is now her forever mommy. 

Tess has been so happy with her new home that she celebrated last month with her very own giveaway. My chihuahua, Gracie Allen, heard about it and asked me if she could enter this great contest for the furry, four legged friends in blog land. Wouldn’t you know that Gracie won one of Tess’s wonderful prizes and has been anxious to blog about it since the package arrived. The package included a beautiful red doggie blanket with little black paws, and a bag of her favorite treats, too. It was wrapped so beautifully, and came with a special doggie card we loved. 

Gracie took right to her new favorite blankie and even lets her beloved, George Burns, one of our papillons, enjoy it too. Tessy, Gracie thanks you so very much and George does too.  

Now, onto peafowl/muscovy Q&A. We had a great response to our muscovy and peafowl posts with a lot of good questions. Please note, we are not experts in muscovy or peafowl but will share our experiences with you.

Dog’s mom asked
Q: How do I keep the ducks from going to the river or leaving home? 
A: Well, that is a good question. You can clip one of their wings so they can’t fly, but they will still     wander toward any water source. We have a pond across the street and our muscovy sometimes go over there. However, we decided their really isn’t anything we can do except hope for the best.  The good news is that some, not all, do venture out farther than we would like, but they come home every evening on their own. They know where their bread is buttered. 

Matty asked
Q: Where in the world did you find your peacock?
A: I found him at an Ohio chicken swap. It’s a unique event which happens three-times a year in Lucasville. I’m sure other areas of the country host chickens swaps, but this event had much more than chickens including a wonderful peafowl breeder who has several beautiful varieties. He is from Indiana and knowledgable and caring about his birds. He raises quality peafowl. I went to the swap last April knowing I would come home with a pair of peafowl. 

Dreaming asked
Q: How long do they live? Do they lay clutches of eggs and will you keep them if they do?
A: Muscovy can live to be 15 years or older. Some have lived well over 20 years. They do lay clutches of eggs and we have had two clutches in the past with one on the way. We have kept them all and will be selling the pending hatch.

Mary Ann asked
Q: Can you keep peafowl with chickens? Some people don’t think you can.
A:  Mary Ann, I asked the breeder this question when I bought my pair and he said you could as long as your peafowl have their own area to roost. I wouldn’t put peafowl in a tight space or coop with chickens because they will dominate them and it’s not good for their health, but they can definitely free range together, eat near each other and live on a farm together. At least they do here at Verde Farm.

Bee Lady asked
Q: Do you clip your birds wings? Do you have to?
A: We clipped the peafowl wings when we first got them to ensure they didn’t fly up in the trees or fly off when we first got them home. We haven’t clipped them since because they’ve learned where to roost and have never strayed off the property at all. 

Phyllis asked
Q: How is their temperament?
A: We find our peafowl to be domineering but not over the top. They definitely use their size and tails to show other animals they are in charge. They know what they want and they will likely get it but we’ve never had any fighting or ugliness. The other animals just acquiesce to them.

Farmer’s Wyfe asked
Q: Do you have trouble with owls? Do you collect the feathers and put in vases?
A: We have been fortunate and haven’t had any problems with owls, yet. I do collect all the pretty feathers I find and used many in my Christmas decorations this past year. They are wonderful!

Thank you all for your questions and interest in our little farm and blog.

Now, let the farm fun begin with our 6th edition of Farm Friend Friday. Just click below to enter your post. Please, be sure to link back to Verde Farm so others can find Farm Friend Friday and all the great posts shared.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Farm Friend Friday #5-A Beginner's Mind

Hi farm friends, I am writing this week from the great city of Baltimore, MD. I came up Tuesday and will be here until Friday night for my day job. Sometimes life is surprising in that it is always teaching us lessons. I had an Aha moment this week, and wanted to share it with you for Farm Friend Friday.

We were talking about Shoshin, a Buddhist concept meaning a "beginner's mind." We are dealing with a lot of change in my work world right now and the challenge is to view things with a Shoshin perspective--a clean slate, a kindergartner's eye. I was thinking on this concept and trying to wrap my head around it when the light bulb went off, "you and farmer have entered the world of farming with Shoshin." It is so true, when we decided we were going to start a small farm we had no earthly idea what to do or how to do it, we just started, we just "did."
Our first farm critters
We started with chickens and ducks and things went pretty well, so we moved onto livestock with donkeys. Each time we added an animal, we were clueless. Yet we've learned so much and continue to learn everyday. We moved to pigs, peacocks, sheep and  all are living, and thriving and healthy. If we had considered, for one second, anything but Shoshin, we would never have bought the first chicken.

We also knew we wanted to plant a garden. We've been around vegetable gardens before, but never actually thought we could raise our own. Again, the beginner's mind took hold and we went out, bought seeds or starter plants, tilled dirt, laid out rows and just "did." What do you know, we saw little sprouts. Before too long, we saw little tomatoes, peppers and pumpkins. Shoshin worked again.

Our first duck ,Jenny

So, how many of you have just jumped into something you knew nothing about and thought "we can do it" or "we will figure it out?" If you have, you used Shoshin.

Now, on the reverse side, how many times have you let your lack of knowledge or pre-conceptions stand in your way? My Aha moment was actually realizing how many times we didn't take the leap. How many times we didn't buy the first chicken, so to speak. Spinning wool, making soap, raising bees, running a marathon even, have you let your thoughts get in the way of doing what's possible?

Our first donkey, baby Otis
Well, I now have a list of things I need to view from a Shoshin perspective. I can't tackle them all today, but in time I will. I just have to "do." Tell me something you have successfully done with a beginner's mind? Have you missed out on something because you weren't willing to view it through a child's eyes? We'd love to know, farm friends.

I hope you enjoyed my philosophical post today for Farm Friend Friday #5. It is hoped we can get to 75 party goers this week.We had 67 last week and it was a great group. Spread the word to your farm life blogging buddies. Again, you don't have to live on a farm or ranch to join, but only have to share a post that relates to farm life in some way. Us farm folk are a welcoming bunch.

So all you have to do is:
  •  Click below and follow the directions
  • Make sure you link back to our page for Farm Friend Friday with our button or a link in your post, this helps others to find the party and join in
  • Visit the other posts and comment to let them know you stopped by
  • We will leave it up through Sunday to give you plenty of time to link up and visit as many as you like
 Let the farm fun begin,

Amy and Richie