Sunday, May 27, 2012

Now There are Two

Now there are two. . .
Our guinea population has been reduced in size yet again. A week ago today we lost our 4th guinea--the first to a vehicle rather than a predator.  At first the two remaining guineas seemed to be mourning, wandering around & aimlessly chirping for their flockmate, but they seem to settling down to be a flock of two. It has been quite an experience starting with six keets (the name for a baby guinea), watching them grow, and interact with the chickens. We haven't even had them a year yet; when we do acquire more keets, we'll begin with about twice as many and hope to have more survivors.  Maybe these two will still be here to instruct the young ones.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Early Peaches!

Small peaches developing on the branch 
The peach trees which were here on the property when we moved in did not produce anything last year. We pruned them and allowed the chickens to roam through the orchard depositing their manure and eating bugs.  We considered taking the trees down but, fortunately it seems, we were too busy during the winter months to do so.  Much to our surprise, this year the 2 old peach trees are LOADED with fruit! We suspect these trees are an early variety of peach, but are not sure as to what variety they are.
Full branches of small peaches!
Between the warm weather and the likelihood of these being an early variety, we may see some peaches in our near future--unless the squirrels get them all first!
Peach tree

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


Garlic scape twisting off the top of the garlic stalk
Our hardneck garlic has started to produce scapes and we were excited to take some to the Farmer's Market recently! What are scapes, you might ask? Scapes are a part of the stalk of the garlic that forms the seed head as the stalk grows taller. When the scape is young it curls up at the top of the plant, and can be harvested and eaten as a tasty addition to a stir fry, made into a pesto, or added to a soup (and many other things!). The scape has a mild garlic flavor. As the stalk gets taller though, the scape straightens out and becomes less edible as the seed head develops.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Tomatoes in the Ground

It has been a warm spring, so our tomato plants went into the ground a little earlier than what might have been recommended with more normal weather. The temperatures have been ranging from the 40s (Fahrenheit) to the 80s as early as March and April. We hit 90 degrees on the second day of May!
Dew on the tomato plant

Morning beads of dew on the tomato plant
We did have a few troublesome situations early on though.

Shortly after getting the tomatoes in the ground we had a frost warning. The previous frost/freeze warning we had resulted in 31 degree temperatures in our greenhouse and a neighboring farm, Emmaus Farm, lost many of their tomato plants in their greenhouse to freezing. With this thought in mind, we frantically gathered as many buckets and covers as we could in order to get everything sheltered for the night. Luckily, this second frost/freeze warning did not result in really low temperatures. A few of our early varieties of tomatoes already have blooms, too, so we may have some big, red tomatoes by early summer!

We've been so busy planting that this post is a little late getting posted.  The tomatoes are so big now we'd never be able to cover them!  We now have green tomatoes on many plants--that post is coming.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Guineas and Chickens

The guineas and Dottie the chicken roosting together
The three guineas that remain from our original six have taken to living with the various groups of chickens on the farm. They spend their nights in Hen-a-Bago II and their days generally wandering with the group of chickens free ranging near our house. We have had a few close calls with the road being nearby, but no accidents thus far.
Guineas poking their heads out of the Hen-a-Bago II

Guineas in the chicken roost
They still haphazardly wander around the farm making lots of noise, but, until recently, always found their way back to the chicken coop for the night.  For some reason they've decided to roost outside again.  At first they alternated between a large cedar tree and the fence-top around the coop.  Now they choose to stay in the vicinity of the stationary coop near the tool shed and, so far, they're surviving.
Guineas wandering the lane

Sunday, May 13, 2012


Josh and the goats

Livestock guardian dogs may not be playmates to humans, but they are playmates to one another. Having two livestock guardian dogs is often recommended as it keeps them from trying to "play" with the animals they are intended to guard and protect. It is also helpful sometimes to have a "team" of dogs to work together.  Sofie and our newest guardian dog, Josh, are bonding as Josh grows larger. Josh has been penned up with the goats in order to learn about living with them and vice versa.  We put Sofie in with Josh and the goats daily in order for the two dogs to bond as well. They enjoy romping with one another and chasing each other in the pen. When Josh grows big enough & learns his job, he and Sofie will be able to work the pastures together.
Sofie and Josh romping

More romping


Relaxing after romping

Friday, May 4, 2012

New Staff Member!

Meet Josh, our newest staff member. Josh is an almost 4 month old Great Pyrenees/Maremma mix and is the 2nd of our livestock guardian dogs. He is currently living with the goats in their enclosure to help him adjust to a new home.  He and his litter mates shared a pen with kids--the baby goat kind.  Josh is bonding with the goats and they, in turn, are learning to trust him as an ally and not a threat.  As he grows & matures he'll have additional opportunities to work with the chickens under both our and Sofie's watchful eyes.  We expect Sofie and Josh to share the responsibility of protecting all of our animals from predators.
Sofie showing concern for Josh when she hears him crying from his encounter with the electric fence
Josh met the goats as well as the electric fence netting.  The goats were less painful.  Poor Josh, what a shock he received when his wet nose hit the fence.  Ever vigilant, Sofie came immediately to see what had happened! The goats stood on their house and watched Josh for a while from a safe distance.

A funny thing about Josh is that he has six toes on his back paws. Our vet assured us that this is not unusual for Great Pyrenees breeds, but it is still a sight to see! We imagine his paws will be quite large when he is fully grown!
Josh's back paw with six toes