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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Things are changing

Walking home from the bus stop last week, I noticed that leaves are starting to change color.  This red was vivid against the green of the leaves.  As much as I don't want to admit it, Summer is over and it is time for Fall to creep in and color our world in preparation for the Winter months.  I cherish Fall because I know that it is our last hurrah of any color before the bland gray and brown, mud covered world we will experience for a good 4 or 5 months.  I've heard various predictions about the winter - as usual, I'm hoping for a steady stream of snow - about one inch daily to keep my husband busy and our business steady.

Other things around the farm are changing too.  Animals are coming and they are going.  We've experienced a tremendous sale season this year.  All of our goat kids born on the farm this year have been sold.  We've even found some regular customers looking for farm fresh meats - chickens, ducks, goats, etc.  Erik has been keeping busy attending various auctions at night trying to keep up our supply!  Here is one of our old mama hens. She's got a slew of eggs under her that she is protecting.  A few months ago, another hen hatched out 5 eggs and she kept them safe and we recently sold them to a new family who will raise them and eat their eggs!  That's cool!  She is fiercely protecting her eggs from the new Silkie chickens Erik bought at the auction last week.  These silkies are very soft and fluffy.  They are Maggies birds.
Another change here on the farm is the addition of "Sniffy."  That is his unofficial name.  Sniffy is a 10 month old Alpaca that Erik got "for a steal" at the auction.  We're not sure if he is going to become a permanent part of our farm, but he is definitely something new.  Rest assured, if he stays, I'm changing his name.  Oh- and he got his name because by nature, Alpacas are curious and sniff at anything that comes across their path.  Everytime Walker goes into the barn with him, Sniffy puts his nose in his face and sniffs away.  If he was a girl, I think Gertrude would be a front runner for the new name, but for now, I'll have to think about a good boy name.  Our general rule is that we only name animals names we wouldn't name our kids.  
Here's another shot of Maggie's silkie chickens.  The white ones are really pretty. 
This poor Mama goat is depressed.  Her baby was one of the last to be sold and ever since, she has not been eating well and she spends her day roaming the pasture, bleating for her baby to come to her.  She is the wildest and meanest goat we have, but she sure is a good mama!  Her unofficial name is "Crazy Mexican" because she is a mexican/spanish cross breed.  
Erik picked up these unusual ducks at auction last week.  Unfortunately, they have already departed the premises - they are probably now tucked away in some lucky families freezer.  I know many people will find that unappealing - but that is our business.  The majority of the animals on our farm are here for a specific purpose.  Either they are to breed, to eat, or to sell for someone else to do one of those things.  We don't oppose having barnyard animals as pets - they just don't seem to work out as pets at our house.  Probably because we have so many dogs and cats already.  
Here is a picture of our number one crop here at Goodness Grows Farm . . .  Poison Ivy.  We have poison ivy everywhere!  To say it is prolific is an understatement.  I only wish we could somehow turn this noxious plant into a profitable crop.  I believe that the US military has underestimated the potential of this plant as a biohazard.  Erik is severely allergic to the stuff - basically if he looks at it he breaks out in oozing sores.  He recently had a horrible reaction to it.  I don't feel too sorry for him though because for the most part, he avoids it.  The #1 way he gets poison ivy is by handling the goats (who, if you've read this blog before, LOVE poison ivy and eat it like candy) or by playing with the dogs.  Two Sundays ago, he was playing with the dogs, batting at them and rolling with them in the grass.  Monday he woke up with huge welts and they swiftly turned into extremely annoying and itchy sores.  My reasoning for this plant being underestimated is that not only does the allergy affect an individual, but it also affects anyone sharing sleeping quarters with this individual.  All night long, I hear Erik scratching.  We've had the air conditioning on in our room for over a week now because we have to keep it so cold in our room so Erik doesn't get overheated and itchy.  Not that I mind the air - it's just funny that we are running the air conditioning more now than we did all summer.
Here's our barn.  Can you tell we keep the doors slid open to the right and the left most of the time?  My goal is to someday paint it a deep, traditional barn red.  I'm just afraid of how much paint it will require.
Here's Willie James - he climbed into the dog kennel with Hank/Roscoe.  He looks up to something.
Basically Will's philosophy is that if he bothers Hank enough, Hank will become his BFF.  I believe Hank perceives this treatment as torture.
Finally - the changes that matter the most . . .  our outdoor living space.  We finally got our fire pit area set up.  Erik used this stone that he salvaged from a wall in Fox Chapel that was built over 150 years ago but was falling down.  The owners wanted a new "modern" retaining wall, so he hauled all the rock here in anticipation of what we could do with it.  We decided to use it as our fire ring because the wall had been mortared with cement at some point and we could not break off all the mortar.  Erik is especially proud of his "stick rests."  He's placed four rocks on top of the ring so that when we have a campfire, we can rest our sticks on those rocks and use them to turn the sticks without the stick touching the actual burning logs.  I have to admit it works really well.  That man o mine has some smart ideas!

Erik also leveled out the back and side of our house to create two levels of living space.  The bottom level is our dining area - we'll have tables to one side and the fire pit at the other.  On the top level, just above this beautiful stone retaining wall, is another flat area that leads to our hot tub deck.  We plan on putting sod down on this flat part and using it for our lounge chairs that we purchased three years ago on clearance at Sams club.  They are your typical community pool lounges - perfect for our lifestyle here at the farm.  Someday when we don't have so much mud, dirt and manure, we'll have "nice" things.  The wooded furniture at the fire pit, I bought at an estate auction two years ago.  We've had it stored for these past two years because we didn't have a place to put them so Erik didn't have to mow around them.  Now we do.  I have a whopping $30 invested in those pieces so far.  They cost me $15 (and it may have been less than that) and I had to spend another $15 on chains and S hooks for the gliders.  Next year, I'll restain all of the furniture and strip and stain the wooden picnic tables we have.  But that's a project for next summer!
Saturday, we managed to get the hot tub deck framed out with the help from our neighbor, Keith.  He graciously came up to help bang that out for us so we could get that job done.  It is surprising to me that Erik can tear apart and put back together, or build, he is so hesitant to start a construction project involving framing.  Once something is framed, he can do anything, but the framing just isn't his thing.  

This is Maggie after I told her I thought her she stepped in manure because I thought her boots smelled.  I believe this expression is, "What you talkin' 'bout, Momma?"
In an effort to prove me wrong, she displays the bottoms of her boots.  I do believe that is a little bit of an "I told you so" tongue she is sticking out at me!  
Will and Walker had a great deal of fun helping us get the decking on the frame.  We used an air gun to blow in the nails, but the boys were in charge of hammering in any nails that didn't go in the whole way.  Which to them was all of the nails.  Will, at this point, has stolen his sisters hat.  He doesn't care what color it is.  It's just a hat to him and one he absolutely had to wear to torture his sister.  Will is into torturing his sister.  A lot.  And there's not much I can do to help her because I don't even know that what he is doing is torture until she starts whining and screaming.  
Will looks out the window . . .
Maggie:  "Momma!  Will is looking out the window and I don't want him to." 
Me:  "Maggie, you don't own the outside and Will is allowed to look outside if he wants to."
Maggie: "Well, I don't want him to.  He's not awowed!"
Me:  "Ok, Maggie.  Whatever you say."
Hello.  My name is Will and I am a weapon of mass destruction and extreme torture.  
Be afraid.  Be very afraid.
This is my favorite picture of the weekend.  All three children wanted to help Erik hold boards while he was cutting them so this is the compromise.
My farm girl.  She is such a princess but she will do whatever is necessary on the farm.  She doesn't mind getting her hands dirty as long as she can still get her fingernails painted.
A celebration with popsicles after we finish nailing down all of the decking.
The hot-tub that all of this outdoor living space was created for!  It will still be a while before it is up and running but we can't wait for it.  It will be such a great treat in the winter time.
It was a hard day so the kids had to take a break after all that hard work.   

Lunch on the patio.
What could be better?
Well, maybe having the hot tub running.  Someday . . .


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