“The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings.”

Masanobu Fukuoka, The One-Straw Revolution

Best Horse Ever!

 Life changed for Moonie this past December.  Losing his eye was an adjustment, but he came through that ordeal with flying colors... and our relationship has deepened.

Using his hearing to compensate for his left sided blindness, he pays close attention to what is happening around him.  The amazing thing is, however, he is totally relaxed.  The loss of his eye has not affected his temperament at all.  I make it a point to always talk to him when I am in the yard with him.  My voice lets him know where I am in relation to his body.

He is the most trustworthy horse I have ever encountered.  I have never witnessed anything but kindness from this gentle giant.  Nothing upsets him.  I have no worries when children are around him.  He is just an all around sweet natured fellow without a single bad habit.

I remember when I met him for the first time - the Amish family who had him had several children.  When I walked into their barn, there was Moonie getting brushed and cleaned with children climbing all over him... and a toddler in and out of his legs.  I knew at that instant that he would be the perfect horse for our farm.

He is, however, a shameless beggar... and loves his treats.  I...

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Gardening With Guineas

 There is a book available with the same title - "Gardening With Guineas"

Every time I see that book I laugh to myself.  Obviously, my guineas have not read that book.

It seems like every summer, even though I close the guineas out of the garden with an 8-foot fence and gates, these crazy helmet-shaped birds find their way into the garden and cause a little mayhem.

Research "Gardening with Guineas" on the internet and some educated soul will tell the following:

They eat insects (true, true, true!).

  They don't dig up your plants (false).

They don't dig holes (also false!)

In all fairness, they do not dig up established plants.  However, tell my cucumber seedlings that guineas don't dig up plants, and they will beg to differ.

Apparently, any semi-bare piece of ground is fair game for digging a dust-bathing hole... not to mention the countless hoards of eggs that I have found (too late to harvest for eating) in nests, hidden deep within the produce.  Most of the time, in my experience, a clutch of eggs is laid and then abandoned.

And then there was the summer that one of the guinea hens sat on a nest of eggs and actually hatched some out.  Sadly, without our protection, the keets never...

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It Might Be Time To Open a Produce Stand!

 If you have ever planted a large vegetable garden, then you will understand when I call harvest time an explosion!  If only the vegetables would ripen over a period of weeks, instead of all at one time!  And yes, I know that you can plant things in waves, but still you always end up with way more than you expect and have to deal with massive quantities all at one time.  

This summer I planted two zucchini plants and one yellow squash plant.  By the looks of my harvest, you would think that I planted 20 plants.  And... if you don't pick a zucchini when you see it, by the next day it has grown to a humongous size (or so it seems).  Right now I seem to have a few almost-too-big-to-use zucchinis on my plants.  I've made zucchini bread, and ratatouille.  I've grated and frozen zucchini for future use.  I've given some away.  And still... I am overcome by zucchinis.  Next year I will just plant ½ a zucchini plant!

In the coming days I will make spaghetti sauce and serve it on zoodles (spiralized zucchini noodles).  And still... I have more zucchini than I can possibly use and more growing on my extremely healthy plants.  Finding myself in this abundant predicament left me no choice...

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It's been a while since we chatted.  And though it was good to take a break from the pressure of having to write a daily blog... I have to tell you - I missed our chats.  This has become an exchange that I look forward to each day.... a mutual sharing from which I hope we both benefit.  Although just living life without documenting it is liberating... I find that I miss the company of my friends.  And we are friends, aren't we?  Some I have met - some not.  Many of you have shared snippets of your own lives - and I appreciate that more than you can imagine.  And... some of you remain silent - and I understand and respect that as well.  I tend to be a "silent" reader, myself, but I am trying to work on that.

After 15 years of writing this blog, it is so much a part of my life that I cannot imagine not writing it.  However, there are times when life throws its little curve balls and I find myself lacking inspiration and fearing that I have become stale.  It's in those moments that a little self-doubt creeps in and I feel the need to retreat for a day or two.  And so... I retreat and regroup and resurface!

Balm for my soul is always spending time with my grand-loves; and this past...

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A Break Needed

Dear Farm Friends,

I am taking a little break this week for an inspiration re-charge.  It's a thing that happens to those of us who try to bring fresh content on a regular basis.... we sometimes just need a break.  

I'll be back Monday with more tales to tell... promise!

If you have any particular stories you'd like to hear in future days... drop me hint!
Otherwise... more of the same coming your way!

Yes, Bobby looks angry in this photo... but he looks this way in every photo.  It's his resting cat face!!

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A Lot of Little Things

 There are days when I have a story to share with you, but more times than not, I have just a collection of moments from a given day.  It's the posts with a lot of little things that best represent most of my days here on the farm... days made up of moments.  I love sharing those moments with you.  It's in these moments that life's magic lives!

Most mornings include a walk of the edge of the woods... both for me and the ducks.  

Me - looking for ripe berries for winter jams, the ducks - foraging for the remains of Cicadapalooza.  Blueberries are almost finished.  Raspberries are over now (it was a great harvest), and blackberries are ripening.  With the abundant rains we have gotten, the berries are the plumpest they have ever been!

The fruit trees are packed with fruit as well.  I can hardly wait to harvest these pears!

I believe we are in the midst of sunny weather, but it is very hard to tell.  A grey haze hangs over the sky each day... smoke that has drifted across the country from the wildfires out West.  It is a sad state - these fires - which only seem to get worse year after year.  The smoke from these fires only adds to our climate crisis.  And yet... there are those who...

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Little Surprises

Yesterday afternoon, after chores were done, thunder rumbled all around us.  Several storms were moving through the area... and me with my fingers crossed that one of them would dump a little rain on us.  At the time of this writing, that had not happened, but the thunder just rumbled quite close... so, fingers crossed!

All of the animals had their afternoon snacks and waters were refilled.  The pigs were happily grazing in the front pasture.  

Just prior to the storm being close, I decided to head down to the pond, a shady refuge, to see if any of our normal visitors happened to be there.  The pond, with its two summer residents, is a peaceful place to visit and sit for a bit.

As I approached the duck hut on the bank of the pond, a brown head with very large ears peeked around the corner to see me, then disappeared behind the duck hut.  In a moment, she dashed off into the woods, and I could only catch a small bit of her as she disappeared into a tiny ravine.

Once within the shelter of the woods, she stopped, and turned to consider me.  I sat there taking photos and she stood perfectly still.  I talked to her for a minute and she watched, curiously - then sauntered off up the hill...

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A Field Of Sheep

 Just as I had hoped, we enjoyed a much cooler, cloudy, quiet weekend here on the farm.   Aside from doing a bit of mowing and laundry, I was not terribly productive.  I did, however, do a lot of knitting and tried to recharge my batteries!

Sunday we took a long, meandering bike ride through our local countryside. 

 It was a 21 mile circuitous route, up hill and down,

through forest, fields, and farms...

and just thoroughly enjoyed the beautiful vistas along the way...

We stopped to visit with a large field of sheep. 

 They were busily grazing with this season's babies close by.

There's nothing cuter than baby animals... of any species!

As we stood there watching, a few of the mamas "Maaaaaa" 'd their disapproval... asking us to kindly move along!

This poor sheep was weighed down by a mass of "dreadlocks"... much in need of a good shedding!

As we pedaled along on empty country roads, we enjoyed the flora and fauna of our corner of the world... bunnies, chipmunks and squirrels, and deer grazing in fields at the edge of the woods.  I tried to get photos, but nature is so much quicker than I am.  As I fumbled for the camera in my bike basket, each of the critters would disappear from...

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Rafter Tales

"Optimism is not the ability to live on the highest branch. It is the faith to learn to fly."

 Just in case you have never seen a barn swallow up close... here are two of the babies - the last (two of five) left in the nest - ready to fledge.  They have become my favorite bird... just look at these precious faces!

Mama Swallow spent the day flying in and out of the barn... with encouragement for her two youngsters who failed to launch.  Meanwhile, the rest of her family soared and swooped through the front pasture, busily catching their own meals.... insects.  After weeks of being fed by their parents, these youngsters are on their own to feed themselves.

You've got to admit... he is quite adorable!

Later that day, as the sun set, pink, behind a distant ridge, I again checked on the two little swallow grumpy-pants.
They still had not budged.

Curiously, this summer, the swallows had built three nests.  The two outer nests were never used... until now.  I guess they serve as extra bedrooms when kids get a little too big. 

 One of the siblings had returned to the nest on the left side and rested for part of the evening. 

 The fourth and fifth siblings were cuddled together on the...

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Guard Guineas and a Cat Scan

Free ranging birds always add a bit of worry to life on the farm.  We do everything in our power to assure their safety.  And though I hate keeping them closed up in their yards, we are lucky that we have these safe areas during times of predatory hunting.  Lately, though, predators are well fed and uninterested in our birds.  And so... the chickens, ducks, and guineas have free-range of the farm - spending their days in search of tasty insects and vegetation.  It's amazing how this lifestyle improves the taste and quality of the eggs produced.  I can't help but think that this improves the nutritional value of the eggs as well.

For the past several days, I have seen only five of our six remaining guineas.  I wasn't terribly worried, though, as this happens every summer.  A guinea or two will decide to lay on a clutch of eggs - hidden from sight.  A clue that this is happening is the fact that the rest of the flock stay fairly close by the laying hen.

Yesterday morning, as I was working in the garden, 

I must have gotten a little too close to Guinea No. 6 - let's call her "Ginny".  Well, Ginny let out such a holler and stood her ground looking at me and squawking her head off.


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It Should Come As No Surprise....

 Based on our long history of raising chickens and ending up with more roosters than we can handle, it should come as no surprise then that yesterday as we were doing morning chores,

this happened.....

I opened up what used to be our old turkey house, which is now housing The Girls' two chickens Poppy and Posie.  I said good morning to the two hens, and picked up Posie for a little lovin' time.  She immediately hopped up onto my shoulder...

and pooped over top of the pony tail that was hanging on the left side of my neck.  Actually, she pooped three times in rapid succession... leaving my t-shirt with a couple of poop stains.  (Yes, I immediately headed to the house, jumped in the shower and threw my shirt in the laundry.)

Meanwhile, Hubbs was opening up the rest of the chicken houses and out came our hens, our Roo, Elwood, and the teenagers.  Houses were cleaned, feed and water were replenished, and Hubbs moved on to check on Poppy and Posie. 

 Now, back to the beginning of the story.... it should come as no surprise, then, that Poppy began to crow.  Poppy is much larger than Posie and has very sturdy (manly, you might say) legs.

Yes, lovely Poppy (whom we all thought was just a...

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A Quick Adventure

 We've been absent - missing yesterday's blog because we were out of town.  While the farm was in the safe, loving hands of our number one helper, Anna and her little girls..... And... "the girls"- long-time friends- Maggie and Macy and their mom, we left town for three days for a quick, cool getaway to our dear friends' lake house.

With Maggie and Macy came the three chickens that they had hatched out early this spring.  Only two, the two hens, are staying here at the farm.  The white rooster, who turned quite mean - and at such a young age- is being re-homed to one of Maggie's teachers.  We definitely cannot have a mean rooster here on the farm.  It's too stressful to chickens and humans alike!

The two new faces, who, by the way, are very, very tame, are Posie and Poppy.

So, while we were biking....

and kayaking...

swimming, paddle boarding, and floating to our hearts content on this beautiful lake -

 at the top of a mountain, making it the highest altitude lake in Pennsylvania....

and staying in a home that felt like a resort...

our wonderful helpers were enjoying a (hot) farm weekend.

Macy brought her rescue dog, Mamma B., and Sammie was in charge of keeping her close.

As for the...

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The Aftermath

 Several days ago we noticed something curious in all of the local forests.  Many of the trees had dying branches.  All of the dead branches were located just at the ends the limb; and some trees were much worse than others.

We wondered what the cause could be.  Could it be drought?  That seemed unlikely given the amount of rainfall we have received.  And then it occurred to Hubbs...  Although the brood X cicadas did not eat during their "out-of-the-ground" state, they did make tiny slits in the smaller branches to lay their eggs.  Hubbs reached up and broke off one of the dead branches, and sure enough, there they were... tiny slits along the length of the branch.

Brown branches dotting the green forests are all that is left of these red-eyed, noisy insects - and the tiny eggs that will grow and hatch within those branches.  It will take another seventeen years to complete their life cycle - and I suspect that seventeen years from now, folks will be wondering why there are so many dead branches on the trees in the local forests.

Extreme high temperatures have once again settled over the farm.  This weather is brutal for both man and beast. 

 I try to get the outside work finished...

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 The clock read 5:55 - the latest time until which my internal clock allows me to sleep.  On this particular morning, unlike most, I wanted desperately to roll back over and go back to sleep.  However, that idea is a luxury not afforded to those of us upon whom so many souls depend for their nourishment and care.

I took a deep breath, and hopped out of bed - ready to face another day but thinking back to the old days, when I was up before the sun getting ready to work either at the hospital or the Orthopedic office.  In those days, I dreamed about retirement and all of those mornings that I would be able to sleep as long as I wished.

Chuckling to myself, I pulled on my jeans.  "Sleeping in" was never in the cards - and is certainly not a sustainable retirement plan, given my current lifestyle.  Don't get me wrong - I'm not complaining.  "Au contrare" - I wouldn't do life any other way.  Like our rescue dogs, I am living my best life.  And part of  that best life is greeting the day as early as possible. 

 As the sun begins to rise above the hills to the East, and the birds are welcoming the day with song, and a cool breeze rustles through the woods, I am grateful to be awake and...

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Our Fourth

 Take nothing in life for granted, for there are no guarantees.  This is something that the past year has etched in my psyche.  Last July 4th, we stayed home - no picnics, no gatherings ... just a surreal sense of isolation.  

Contrast that with this year... and what a difference a year makes!

This past Saturday we had a summer celebration that will live in my memory forever.  We combined a Fourth of July picnic with a double birthday celebration.  Four generations of family (36 of us)... adopted family and extended family - in-laws and out-laws (ex's) came together to share a picnic meal, great conversation, and lots of laughs.  It was nothing short of wonderful.

Unfortunately, our out-of-state kids could not attend- but everyone local came for the day.

There were kids of all ages - and a fun gal gang that spent the day running wild and free - adventuring around the farm.

Griz tried his hardest to be in the midst of the party, but with his chronic upper respiratory infection, we decided not to risk him sneezing all over the tables - so he stayed closed up in the tack room during our meal.

Mama Bernadette was the favorite pass-around lap dog - seen here on my sweet Mama's lap.


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Peace Like A River

 Thank you for all of your ideas, suggestions, and personal stories regarding our discussion of flies in yesterday's post.  A really great point was brought out that I had not considered.  With cicadas being more than plentiful this year, the birds and reptiles that normally eat flies are satiated with larger meals (cicadas) and most likely are not eating the amount of flies that they normally would.  I think it is highly likely that this is the principal reason for the hoards of flies that are so abundant around our farm this year.

I have witnessed that our runner ducks spend a lot of time each day combing through the tall grass at the edge of the woods.  I am assuming they are looking for cicadas.  By the end of the summer, we are going to have to change our name from BeeHavenAcres to the Fat Farm!  Our birds are all going to be plump from their abundant cicada meals.  And we already know that the pigs are going to be plump from the mulberries they are consuming.

It's been an amazing berry year so far.  I have been picking black raspberries almost daily and have frozen at least a dozen quarts of them.  What yummy jam (and maybe a pie) these will make this winter!

I enjoyed a few...

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How Far Do Flies Fly?

 Battling flies in the summertime is a given.  Some years, though, are worse than others... and I have a theory about that.

We've used every known means for battling flies at the barn.  We've used fly spray on the horses... they hate it, and I have never found one that truly works.  I swear the flies have little tiny gas masks!  

The horses spend their summers with fly masks on during the day to keep them out of their eyes and face.  We also keep multiple fans blowing in and around the barn.

We have about 15 of these solar fly traps around the farm - that start catching flies in Spring and continue until autumn.  We catch billions of flies this way.  Eventually, the sun bakes them and they end up in a pile inside the solar catcher.  The traps are eventually dumped into the compost pile, where those flies provide necessary protein.

We keep fly tapes on hand and change them liberally.  Lately, we catch this amount of flies on a fly tape in a single day.  We hang them around the barn, in the henhouses, in the duck house, in the donkey house, and in the greenhouse.  They are effective, but need to be changed on a daily basis... and, even through they are fairly inexpensive, we could...

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It's been a summer of abundance - and one I will not quickly forget.  We've had abundant sunshine and abundant rain- resulting in an abundant harvest.

It's been a great year for berries and fruit trees.  I've picked gallons of wild raspberries, and sour cherries and blueberries.  The apple, pear, and peach trees are weighed down with developing fruit, so an abundant fruit harvest awaits us at Summer's end.  We'll enjoy a winter filled with delicious fruity treats!

Sour Cherry Jam

Over the past few days, we've had several storms pass through with heavy rains.  Each day we have received almost an inch of precipitation... making watering the gardens unnecessary.

In fact, the gardens are all looking a bit like jungles right now.

So much is blooming... gladiolas...

and day lilies provide fresh pops of color.

Many of the flowers are on their second set of blooms... delphiniums...

The pond is finally full again...

and fungi are popping up everywhere!

The profusion zinnias have filled out the log planters nicely.  

Turkey tail fungi adds yet another dimension...

And though the weather is quite humid most of the summer, we are lucky in that there's been plenty of rain.  I worry about our western...

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A Grammie's Heart

There is no doubt in my mind that kids and farms are a match made in heaven. 

 And there is nothing that pleases me more than to watch my precious Littles as they roam our acreage with nothing more than their imaginations!

We had Mackenzie and Easton with us Thursday evening through Saturday evening.  Because we missed our summer vacation at the beach with our family last summer because of Covid, I had wanted to plan some special day trips with the Littles this summer.  

Friday we took them to a wonderful little amusement park, not-too-far from us. 

 It is the perfect family destination - a cool, woodsy setting- not crowded, and rides payed for with tickets that never expire (we still had some tickets left from when Tyler was little.). 

Without paying an admission fee, there is no need to stay all day to get one's money's worth.  

With children of a younger age, an entire day at an amusement park is overwhelming and exhausting... often resulting in someone having a melt-down by day's end.

  So, spending just a couple hours riding some rides ends up being the perfect day.  We all had a blast, and none of us was worn out by the day!

In fact - we spent the evening playing outside in the...

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Checking In

Today’s blog is super short- but I suppose that is more than obvious!  We picked up our Littles yesterday and will have them for a few days.  We have several fun adventures planned!

It will be a fun weekend… and we’ll be back to on Monday to share it with you.
Have a lovely weekend!


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A Pond Mystery

Pond life is peaceful these days.  Only two ducks are calling this space "home" during the summertime... 

in stark contrast to the almost 50 wild ducks who populated this waterway last winter.  There are hidden residents here as well... several large fish, frogs, turtles, and snakes as well as transient raccoons, deer, and all sorts of small mammals who stop by for a drink (or to fish for a meal).

So much happens in this place when there are no humans around to witness it.  Game cameras give us some insight as to the daily happenings and are quite handy when a little detective work is needed....

Join us for a video, as we solve a pond mystery....

Yesterday's mail brought an item that I recently ordered.  Because farm work is done outside, and often in the bright sunshine, too much sun exposure can be an unwelcome side effect.  I typically wear a hat when I am out in the sun for prolonged periods of time.  Then, I came across this in one of my social media feeds, and thought it a wonderful idea to decrease sun exposure to my forearms....

I ordered a Sm/Med and it fits perfectly.  What a great idea!!

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It's All In A Day

 Pinch me.  I keep thinking that these beautiful days, this week, are a dream. 

 Summer has arrived (perhaps not quite on the calendar, but definitely here on the farm) and it is a stellar one! 

 It's days like this that leave my heart so full of contentment, I long for them to never end.

Yesterday, with a clear, azure sky above, a cool breeze, and a slightly lower decibel level of cicada song, I plunged headlong into the business of the day.  Happy to finally be feeling back to normal, I eagerly busied myself with farm chores. 

 After spending the previous day cleaning every surface of my house with detergent/bleach water to rid it of any remaining contagion, I was excited to spend more time outside.

As we finished up morning chores, the farrier came to work on the herds' hooves... a necessary service every 8 weeks... done to keep feet and legs healthy.  These visits are always uneventful, as far as the herd is concerned.  Everyone minds their manners and does what is asked of them.

Everyone, that is, except Sammie - who insists on slinking around beneath hooves looking for tasty (stinky) hoof trimming treats!

Above our heads are the barn swallow "row homes"... three this year, 


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The Joy of Home

 Yesterday morning, as I opened each of the animal gates to allow them access to grazing or free ranging, 

I felt that all-so-familiar feeling of joy in being at home.  

After two days of being out of town, and three days of being down and out, I was so ready to get back out with my animals and my gardens.  Moonie lined up, as he does every morning, to get his sun-visor/fly-mask on for the day.

What amazes me is how much things can change in 5 days time.  

New flowers have blossomed.  Delphiniums in the house gardens...

There is so much color in Maven Haven's gardens...

The vegetable garden is bursting with vegetation

 and there are young veggies hanging on everywhere...growing, growing - day by day.

I have to be perfectly honest with you.  Although I was totally fascinated with the Brood X arrival.  I think I might be totally over them now.  They dive-bomb me when I am working in the garden.  Having them fly into my hair with their raspy buzzing and then get caught there creeps me out just a little.  I'd appreciate them a little more at a distance!

Having a day without the constant droning (you've heard the video) in my ears sounds like heaven - a heaven I am going to have to wait at...

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It Was The Best of Times/It Was The Worst of Times

 I know... it sounds like the beginning of an epic novel, doesn't it?  Well, after not having family together at one time since Christmas of 2019, we had a family party last Friday.  Amanda was here, visiting from Colorado.  Her twin, Ryan and his wife, Bekah, and baby, Wren drove in from North Carolina.  All of the local kids and grandkids came to the farm as well.  We had a wonderful gathering of four generations.  Good food, laughter, family communion... all things that had been sorely missed for so long!

Cousins met for the first time.

It was a special day filled by my most special souls on all this earth.

Saturday, we rose early, and headed to Pittsburgh for a family wedding.  We just happened to find an Amish bakery along the way which made Amanda's day.  She hasn't been able to find "good" donuts since moving from Pennsylvania!

  Amanda and Ryan and his family also made the trip to Pittsburgh, as the wedding was Jack's nephew and the twins' cousin.

We had lovely weekend accommodations at this old mansion-turned-boutique-hotel, called the Inn on Mexican War Streets.

It was quite beautiful inside... the inside fully refurbished to the mansion's finest days. 

We met family at a...

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Keeping Chaos At Bay

 I have a confession to make.  I am a bit of a control freak.  Yes, I like my world neat and orderly. 

 I like my ducks in order.  I try to cross all my T's and dot all my I's.

Life is peaceful and serene when I know that everything is completed and orderly.  It's only then that I can be assured that chaos and bedlam will stay far away.

There is just one problem with this philosophy.  This is a farm, and for some reason farm life has a tendency to gravitate towards chaos and bedlam with very little provocation.  It's always amazing how a day can take a turn towards chaos with one tiny omission.... say, like not properly locking a gate.

Yesterday morning started out so beautifully peaceful.  We rose early and finished chores quickly.  We had made plans to golf with friends. (Note:  Hubbs is a golfer.  Me... not so much.  I know how, but it is just not an activity that I feel like putting so many hours into.  And so I play golf once or twice a year and I do ok.... a couple great shots, a few good shots, a few good putts, and the rest... meh!  But, I have fun!)  

As we were finishing chores... lastly opening up the chicken houses, we noticed our resident doe standing in the farm lane...

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Kick Up Yer Heels!

Some days are perfect for kicking up one's heels!  Cool weather is always a welcomed relief for the herd and they show their happiness by excitedly running laps of the front pasture.

Look out!  Those feet fly in every direction.  (Need I mention that each one of these kicks is always accompanied by some amount of flatulence!). Turbo charged!!

"Run for cover!!"

It does my heart good to see old One-Eyed Moonie out running like this with his herd.  Having lost one eye does not seem to hold him back at all!

When looking through these photos from yesterday morning, I had a tendency to concentrate on Moonie.  But, as you can see if you look at the others... they were just as involved in all of the shenanigans.

A pile-up... look out for those hooves!  They are big enough to send a little horse flying.  Although, for all of the kicking and bucking that Moonie does when he is excited like this, he has never directed any of those kicks towards anyone else.

I think he kicks simply as a way to express joy!

It's amazing to me that a horse that weighs this much can get so much of his body off of the ground at one time!

This went on for about 10 minutes.

Once they all had an adequate aerobic workout,...

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Skipping Breakfast!!

 A most unusual sight greeted me yesterday morning as I opened the door to the pig house to deliver their breakfast.  Normally, as I make my way across the dry lot, I am met by loud grunting.  Each morning, when I open the door, Ginger climbs up on the barrier in front of the door trying to get to the food first.  She has been known to actually jump over the barrier, right into the dry lot.

Yesterday, however, no one greeted me.  The pig house was empty.  I called for the pigs, "Pig, pig, pig..." in my high-pig-pitch.  After a few moments, MaryAnn arrived.  But, no Ginger anywhere.

It wasn't a huge mystery, though.  Lately, I have noticed that the pigs go running into the sheep yard first thing in the morning, as soon as the gate between the two yards is opened.  I had wondered what the attraction was... wondering if perhaps they were eating cicadas that had dropped on the ground (a delicacy for the hens and ducks.). What the pigs had found, instead, were ripe mulberries that drop from the mulberry trees in the sheep yard.  Mulberries have become the pigs favorite food... even better than graham crackers, it seems!

Hubbs did a little research and found that there is no harm in...

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A Garden Tour And More

Summer arrived (weeks ago?) last evening at 11:30 PM (Eastern time, northern hemisphere) .... making today the first full day of summer, here on the farm.  Happy Summer, friends!

Today's blog is a video,  brought to you courtesy of Mother Nature - with a little help from myself.

It's such a beautiful time of year.  I thought you might like to take a stroll with me through the vegetable garden.  We'll re-visit it later in the summer to see how it changes through the season.  Now... it's lush and green and growing by the minute... all to the endless rhythm of the cicada song.  (Truly, though, "song" is a bit of a misnomer if you ask me.)

We had a lovely, quiet weekend on the farm, except for a couple quick trips off the farm.   Friday afternoon was dedicated to a 30 mile bike ride through the countryside.  On the way home, we stopped for a slice of pizza at a local pizza shop.  Truth be told, pizza shops way outnumber any other choices for meals out in our area. 

Saturday we attended Tyler's swim meet.  He placed first in all of his events. 

 But more importantly, his strokes have improved immensely over the past year.  It's obvious that he has worked hard!

By Saturday morning, the...

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The End Of An Era

 Yesterday morning, after 11 years of farm life, we said goodbye to our Old Tom Turkey.  We had watched his slow decline over the past year knowing that most likely he would not make it to the 12-year, 4-month mark,

     needed in order to become the oldest recorded domesticated turkey.

And although we hated to say goodbye to the old fellow who has been such an integral part of life here, we vowed to never let an animal suffer.  Yesterday morning when we opened the door to his house, it was apparent that something was drastically wrong with the old guy.

I can only guess that he suffered a neurologic event during the night.  He was unable to stand without falling over and seemed quite panicked.  We helped him to a quiet place and stayed with him until the injection of sedative took effect.  He passed peacefully, without any struggle or apparent discomfort.

Eleven years ago we brought three just-hatched turkey babies home to the farm.

We watched them grow...

and grow...

until they grew into beautiful adult Bourbon Red Turkeys.  Our original idea was to raise turkeys to eat.  Of course that idea quickly went by the wayside, as we became hopelessly attached to these personable birds, and...

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That's Entertainment!

 There's no doubt about it.  Animals are a major source of entertainment around the farm. 

There's nothing like sitting and watching the natural antics of any given species.  

Right now, the birds are especially entertaining.  After months of being sequestered in their yards (for their own safety... safely tucked away from foxes) - they are once again out and about, enjoying boundless freedom and a bounty of insects.

Each morning, the runner ducks' front gate is opened and they happily scamper out into the world.  Except for a couple of rest sessions, they spend their day canvasing the farm - from the edge of the woods and across all of the pastures - bills to the ground in search of tasty bugs.  I am hoping they happen to wander down to the orchard where a veritable (cicada) feast awaits them!

Naturally, the chickens are happy to be out and about once again.

Yesterday was a very big day for the chicks.  We decided to allow them access to their yards.  Hubbs secured the perimeter with small chicken wire to keep them from escaping and also to keep out any predators. 

 It took a little time for them to gather their courage, but eventually most of the piled out into the yard... if only...

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