O Christmas Tree 2018

Christmastree2018

Two years ago we planted two Carolina Sapphire cypress trees to be our living Christmas trees. The young’uns fulfilled their duty of decorating the trees. Can you tell how tall the oldest is? And the eye level of the youngest?

Christmas at the farm with chickens, dogs, kids… best ever!

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Sunbathing Chickens

Sunbathing Chickens Sept 2018

Some of the chickens from the West Coop are taking advantage of the hot sunny day.  There are nine girls enjoying the sun. Penny, the white Delaware, will soon pester someone so she can have the prime spot, defined as wherever someone else is comfortable.

When they’re splayed out on the leaves and sticks, it looks like a chicken slaughter until somebody decides she needs to be in the middle and makes everyone move.

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Chicken Art

Chicken Art.jpg

One of the princesses was obviously feeling her creative side when she laid her egg. I see a grinning smiley face winking at me. I don’t know how she did it. The design didn’t wash off or rub off. I’ll bet it was Cinderella. She’s such a jokester.

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Faith and Hope

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-10-24,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-Y

FAITH is in the Bitter Barn because she is super broody. Don’t let her sweet look and cute floppy comb fool you. She’s a raving banshee. All the chickens and even Malfoy gives her a wide berth. She snuggled down with her imaginary eggs and occupied a nest box for two days with no break – no food, no water, no break. After four or so days in the Bitter Barn, she’ll be her old sweet self.

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-10-24,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-Y

HOPE is convalescing in the South Coop. Two days ago she stood in front of Farmer Man and chirped. Chickens cluck. Baby chicks chirp. He reached down, picked her up, and was shocked at how light she was.  When a chicken is sick, she is relegated to the bottom of the pecking order and frequently isn’t allowed to eat. We fed her medicated baby crumbles and put her in with Buttercup. Buttercup is at the bottom of all the chickens’ pecking order. She doesn’t mind a little company, and she’s enjoying Hope’s baby crumbles.

FAITH is in the Bitter Barn, and HOPE is not well. Good thing we don’t have a chicken named CHARITY.

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A Dozen Dozen Farm Eggs

Eggs Feb 2018

Four days’ worth of eggs – ready to be washed and put in the Egg Refrigerator. I have an egg washing process that would bore you senseless, but it works for me. I only wash the eggs I sell or donate because the state health department requires them to be washed. Silly gumment.

I don’t wash the eggs we eat – that would be silly. Washing washes off the egg’s bloom, which protects the egg and keeps it fresh. The Ameraucanas lay the green and blue eggs. The Marans lay the dark, dark brown eggs. The Buff Orpingtons lay the darker tan eggs. The Black Australorps lay the tan eggs, and the Delawares lay the lightest tan eggs.

A dozen dozen – Gross! (farm humor)

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Spray Icicles in Florida

Burst Pipe Jan 2018

A water pipe burst in the yard overnight, transformed into a spectacular fountain, and sprayed the surrounding area, including shooting into the trees. The icicles are glistening in the sunlight. Not the usual Florida landscape.

The water to that section is turned off. Farmer Man will replace the broken pipe when daytime temperatures warm up to 60° or 70°.

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Bed and Breakfast for Small Birds

Bird house for small birds Nov 2017.jpg

 

Farmer Man is building nest boxes for small birds. The opening is wide enough for our small birds — chickadees,  tufted titmice, bluebirds, wrens — but not large enough for the house sparrow or other larger birds.

The diet for a small bird like a chickadee and tufted titmouse is 80-90% insects, spiders, ants, wasps, stink bugs, and caterpillars. And the acorns are the other 20%. Our yard is a regular smorgasbord for our visitors.

Our nest boxes are an open invitation to our fine Bed and Breakfast establishment —complete with an all-you-can-eat spider buffet.

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Little Chicken with a Lot of Spunk

Donna October 2017

Every evening, Donna sits in the doorway, watching the sunset.

One afternoon about a year ago, the rooster chased and attacked her. The rest of the hens surrounded Donna, trying to fight the rooster off. Her back was raked, her tail feathers were gone, there was a large laceration on her head, and she couldn’t walk. She looked and acted like her leg or hip was broken. We had two other hens, Delawares just like Donna, die suddenly. We realized after we saw the rooster attack Donna that he must have attacked them too, and they died of internal injuries. Rooster was dispatched.

We put Donna into Sick Bay, treated her wounds, and made her as comfortable as possible. She moved around her crate using her wings to push herself. She ate baby chick crumbles and applesauce. We thought she would succumb from her injuries, but she kept eating and drinking water and scooting so she could see us.

After a month of baby crumbles, she graduated to chicken pellets. We moved her into the ‘Castle Annex’ when we partitioned part of the Castle off for her because the weather was getting too cold for her to stay outside in the crate that was exposed to the elements.

Even though she couldn’t walk, she would scoot over to the doorway in the evening to watch the sunset.

She’s just a chicken – a bird. But every evening she watches the sun go down. It’s almost like she’s thanking God for giving her another day.

She can walk now. She’s a little shaky, but the other three chickens who decided to join her in the Annex look after her. Annie, Molly, and Emily – each one of them left the West Coop during free-range time at the end of last year and walked around the corner of the Castle to be with Donna in the Annex.

And in the evening when my Farmer Man goes out to close up the coops for the night, he sits on the steps to talk to Donna. And they watch the sunset together, thanking God for giving them another day and another beautiful sunset.

 

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Not Store Bought Eggs

Sweet potato egg Oct 2017.jpg

We love our chickens, our farm eggs, and our gardens. Our chickens are hard workers – in addition to laying eggs for our breakfast, they also turn over the compost pile. They dig for protein treats (bugs) and fight over their favorite kitchen scraps, especially pieces of fresh tomato.

We had an amazing harvest of sweet potatoes a week or so ago. We dug up 30 pounds of sweet potatoes from our 4-foot by 8-foot raised garden bed. I peeled the sweet potatoes and canned them. The peelings, of course, went into the compost.

One of the young Buff Orpingtons, and I think it was Emma, grabbed a peel and ran. Six other young Buff Orpingtons chased after her. The older Buff Orpingtons stayed behind at the compost, feasting on sweet potato peels, even though Emma must have taken the best one.

Don’t know who, but one of the hens definitely enjoyed the sweet potatoes. Do you see the difference in the color of the two eggs?

If we are what we eat, then one of our chickens is a Sweet Potato!

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Three-Day Brisket

Brisket Sept 2017

Wait for it…wait for it. That’s the motto for our famous Farm Three-Day Brisket.

Day One

I give the slab of brisket a nice olive oil massage. After it’s feeling nice and relaxed, I follow up with an invigorating After Five Dry Rub. I double-wrap the meat in plastic wrap and aluminum foil to allow the oil and spices to fuse into the meat.

Day Two

The aluminum foil-covered brisket looks like a misshapen cake that fell on one side.  It takes up a whole rack in the refrigerator. It sits. And fuses.

Day Three

He starts the fire early in the morning. After about an hour, the smoker is ready for the brisket. He mops the brisket every 45 minutes with the After Five Smoker Mop – a thin sauce that keeps the meat from drying out.

After about five or six or eight hours – it all depends – the meat reaches a temperature of 185° F.  He wraps the brisket in aluminum foil and puts in a cooler with a tight lid for two hours. The last two hours allow the brisket to finish cooking, or soak up all the sauces, or just relax after the day in the After Five Sauna.

And finally – ready to slice. We enjoy our brisket with After Five Sweet and Spicy BBQ sauce, After Five Beans, and a fresh salad. Yum.

It was well worth the three days’ wait. Why famous? See that classic smoke ring? It’s the favorite of everyone who has tried it! Even the dogs get a taste or two. After all, they spent three days supervising the prep and smoking.

 

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