Fodor Farm Community Garden

There is a community garden in the next town over from where I live that for as long as I can remember was an abandoned house and overgrown yard. It was purchased by the town a few years ago and now holds 220 4′ x 12′ garden beds plots that resident families can rent for a mere $5 a season, which is kept low by an obesity prevention grant under the Connecticut Department of Health.

I drive by this garden frequently, but a few weeks ago I happened to have my camera in the car and the evening light was just beautiful. When my girls said they didn’t mind, I stopped in for a quick photo session. Although there were only two people working in their gardens when we arrived, there were probably as many as 20 people working away when we left.

So here you go – a little porn for the gardener

The cabbages I’ve seen around this year have looked pretty awful; probably due to the crazy weather we’ve had. The cabbages here however were beautiful.




A blossom of a butterfly bush


A bee gathers pollen from a coneflower


The lovely colors of Swiss chard



This zinnia has so many textures and colors when looked at this closely.


I just love allium flowers



Onion blossoms


Sweet Peas


Sweet Peas


Lettuce


More lettuce


This was no dumb bunny. He clearly knew where to find the best fruits and vegetables around.

Rush Hour

I had to go to Home Depot this morning, and while I was there they had some pretty nice flowers at the gardener center. Although technically it’s a little early to plant them, our winter/spring have been so mild I figured I’d take my chances; I can cover them with a sheet if there’s a frost threat.

Since I was going to be hanging out in the yard and it was a beautiful day, I decided to let everyone out for a little free-ranging to keep me company.

This is what rush hour on my farm looks like. When I open up the gates for some free-ranging, it's pretty amusing to see them all rush out. I find the chickens particularly entertaining, because all they really have to do is jump the fence any old time they want to, but they always rush out like it

Bumper-to-bumper traffic, farm style.


Last year Melina was the only threat to the window boxes as Kate was still too short and Grace and Kiki were just babies. The middle and far right box aren’t in too much jeopardy due to the slope in the ground, but I don’t know how I’m going to keep them out of that left one.

The drive-up window.

Oh dang - there's a line at the drive-up.

As you can see by her curvaceous figure, Melina likes to try all of the fast food options available.

The finished, and nibbled, window boxes on the goat house.



I ordered these great prayer flags on Etsy to protect my bees. Since I’ve lost my entire colony two times now, I’m hoping that this will help them. I’ve got two colonies ordered that should be here soon, so I’ve got to get this one cleaned up and ready for them as well as getting the outside finish complete on the top bar hive I made last year that has a built-in viewing window. I cannot wait to get that colony going and be able to watch them in action undisturbed.

My new prayer prayer flags hanging over my bar top beehive. The new colony should be here soon.

Look how much the garden has grown since the last post!!

Dinnertime on the Farm

Since I’ve shown you what the morning routine looks like on the farm, I thought everyone might also enjoy watching what the dinnertime routine is like.


The goats and chickens were out free-ranging when Maia and I called them for dinner tonight. I have a certain whistle that I do for the farm, and when they hear it they come running from all corners of the yard. As I walk into the fenced area you’ll note a whole other bunch of chickens jumping the fence from the back neighbor’s yard where they’d been foraging in the woods. The groaning and grumbling you can hear towards the end is Maia; I had the goat’s food bowls in my hands, and she was being attacked by the goats (in an I’m hungry way – not in a dangerous way), who finally succeeded in knocking the bowl of chicken scratch grains and vegetables out of her hands.

I’ve been doing it for years now, but I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of watching them all run to me. It’s more dramatic when most of them are in the fenced area, because so many come running at once, but I always prefer to watch them running from all corners of the yard. If I have visitors over that haven’t seen it before it’s fun to watch their reaction — especially if they’re not animal lovers — always good for a laugh.

A Weekend of Hoof Trimming, Worming & Easter Free Ranging

We had beautiful weather this weekend, so I took advantage of it on Saturday and decided to make it a productive farm day. I let everyone out to free range for a while, then I hit them with the bad news – it was time for their worming and hoof trimming. I don’t worm my goats monthly, but on an as-needed basis. The guys I bought Princess Kate from at Whitmore Farm taught me about the FAMACHA eye color chart as an indicator of worms and was what they used for their large herds of Tennessee Fainting Goats and Katahdin Sheep. Upon researching it I discovered that sheep and goat are suffering resistance to treatment for worms due to the overuse. This FAMACHA chart has been proven to be a good indicator and is how I now treat my goats on an as-needed basis. However, the new spring grass growing virtually guarantees the need for a preventative worming. They don’t like the taste of it, but I think they enjoy putting on a show for me more than anything.

The hoof trimming, however, is another thing. I’ve never done it without assistance from a vet before, and after a futile first attempt, I decided I could finally put the milking stand to good use for this. Once I got their head’s locked in with plenty of food in the bucket, I didn’t have too much of a problem. Like trimming a dog’s toenails, you just have to be careful not to cut down too far, so you take off a little at a time.

The gate is open!

Grace, Kiki, Princess Kate and some chickens out enjoying the new spring grass.

Melina on the milking stand. As long as we kept food in the bucket, she was fine.

You use special hoof trimmers, similar to garden pruning shears, to trim the hoofs.

Gracie was sure she was missing out on something big when Melina was first one in to get her hoofs trimmed.

I had to be extra gentle with Kate so she didn't faint on me.

And Kiki, at 10 months old, is still such a peanut she couldn't reach the food bucket/neck lock! India had to straddle her over her legs so I could trim her hoofs. Again, as long as there was food in the bucket, she was happy.

Grace hops up on the table outside to offer Evan some computer tips.

This picture is a perfect example of why most people don't let their goats free range. Look at the difference in this tree from the bottom up to about the middle (where the goats can reach), and how green and healthy the top is.

Some ladies enjoy some free range scratching in the shade.

The raspberry bushes are leafing out!

The grass IS greener on the other side!

I ordered the most adorable kitchen flour sack dishtowel recently. The Victory Garden of Tomorrow has a very cool series of prints based on historical poster propaganda and the prints are based on their commitment to civic innovation and social progress. I thought some of them framed would look very nice in a grouping. I ordered off of their website, but when I just came across their Etsy site, it turns out they did too!


And here’s the dishtowel I just had to have. After only one wash it’s nice and soft and absorbent.


So use this post as your reminder to let your goats and chickens out for a little free-ranging if you can, and don’t forget the spring worming and hoof trimming!

Some Unexpected Free Ranging

I looked out the window this morning a little a little after 9 and saw this.

The Grump

The goats were out.

I must not have latched the gate properly this morning after I fed the farm. Look at Melina. What a grump. If she gets any fatter she can just roll around like a ball. I love her though.

Princess Kate enjoys some spring grass.

They were so excited to be out that it made my heart ache for last summer when they roamed the yard free.

For some reason I think Kiki looks like a bunny as she

Beautiful Grace.

They were not happy when I locked them back up in the fenced area.

And remember my last Farm post where I said I’d hung up a sign at the end of the driveway and put a cooler out there for general egg sales? Well, I came home one day less than a week later and my sign was taken down and had been put by the lemonade stand with a note saying that “Signs of any kind are against association rules and are NOT allowed!” I was pretty miffed. I guess the neighborhood association has rules against that sort of thing. But, sales will continue without the sign, and I have to say that business has been pretty good and word seems to be getting around even without the sign, so poo on them.

A bountiful basket containing just 2 days worth of laid eggs!

I can feel summer coming in my bones. I also know that summer is on it’s way because I’ve started making pickles! For some reason when the weather starts to get warm I get an overwhelming desire to can things — perhaps to try and preserve the long lazy days of summer.

The first pickles of the season; Refrigerator Dills; the spears will be ready in 2 weeks and the whole pickles will be ready in 3 weeks.

I’ve been playing with different pickle recipes for a couple of years now. This is the first time I’m trying “refrigerator” dills. Since they don’t go in a hot water bath for sterilization, they should retain their crispness. I also made dill pickle slices today and an indian-inspired cauliflower pickle.

My garden is really starting to grow now. The host, astilbe, anenome, and bleeding heart are really getting big. The flowering quince is getting green and leafy in preparation for it’s beautiful peach colored flowers, and Evan planted 8 more strawberry plants for me last week.


A beautiful male cardinal stopped by for some leftover scratch grains on the ground. They never stick around long though, do they?



So that’s what’s been happening on the farm lately!

Eggs for Sale

I haven’t posted about the farm since before vacation mostly because there isn’t that much going on at the farm lately. Also because until yesterday my kids were still home on vacation and I always find having them home messes with my normal farm cadence. I love my family, but I have to admit that after 9 days of my entire family 24/7 rolling right into an additional 8 days of the 3 younger kids 24/7, I’ve frankly been teetering on the brink of sanity for the past few days. I am too much of a loner to spend that much time with anyone.


I’ve mentioned before that I normally sell my eggs through an email list I’ve put together. I call it “Free Range Friday at Crafty Farm Girls”, and I send the email out on Thursday nights, listing eggs and any other things I have available for sale. Early Friday mornings I put everything out at the lemonade stand I made a few years ago, and people come if they want anytime during the day.


I am now getting so many eggs that Free Range Friday’s just isn’t providing enough sales. The local gourmet cheese store has offered to sell them for me, but I’d really rather keep the sales in-house if I possibly can. I finally thought of a plan. I have this great rolling cooler that I’d bought at Home Goods last year that I often use to hold the eggs on Free Range Fridays. I took an old wooden box I had and cut a hole in the top for people to put the cash into, screwed on a latch with a padlock, and then screwed holed in it and bolted it on to the cooler. While I can’t be sure everyone will be honest and actually pay for their eggs, I can at least try to prevent them from taking the cash with them (unless they want to stick the whole damned rolling cooler into their car).


But in case you were worried about her, here’s Gracie, still smiling.


And since I don’t have much to say about the farm today, I’ll show you some other animal-related things.

I went riding this past Friday up in Kent, Connecticut. Although Kent is over an hour’s drive from where I live, I get up there as often as I can to train with Tammy Hoefer. She was the 2008 World Champion in the National Reining Horse Association’s Rookie Professional division. Finding a trainer in the western discipline in my neck of the woods is really difficult. I feel incredibly lucky to have found someone with such credentials and the drive is well worth it.


Evan and Maia came with me and Maia also took a lesson.


My saddle sat on the fence while Maia took her lesson.


Of course while we were up there we went real-estate hunting for the future farm. Litchfield County is one of the few areas of Connecticut where there are still some working farms. We saw lots of wild turkeys while driving around. Didn’t they know it’s chickens that are supposed to cross the road, not turkeys?


This handsome fellow was putting on a show for his ladies.


But then he realized his ladies weren’t paying the slightest bit of attention and instead were hi-tailing it out of there, so he started running to catch up to them.


There was some land for sale that had cows on it…do you think they come with the property?

My Chicken Coops on Houzz.com

My chicken coops were featured on the website Houzz.com this week!

I absolutely love this site for decorating ideas. Their bi-weekly emails are a terrific source of inspiration. The article features other people’s coops as well. I love looking at how other people designed their coops, and although I’ve had chickens for years, there are always new tricks you can learn from other chicken owners.


Bald Faced Hornet Nests

Having just returned home very late last night, I do not have a farm update quite yet, so I’ll leave you with one last look at some of the animals of Mexico.

While we were at the Cenote Dos Ojos outside of Akumal I noticed one of these nests hanging on the ceiling of the cenote cave overhang. It didn’t look like any wasps nest that I’d ever seen, and the first one I saw was unoccupied, but it was quite beautiful.

When I started looking around while taking some photographs I came across several more nests that were inhabited, but they were too far away to tell what kind of bee-like creature they were. Upon researching it tonight I have determined that these were nests of the Bald Faced Hornet, which I’d never heard of before but we do have them here in the United States.




The Dogs of Mexico

One thing that’s become abundantly clear over the past week here in Mexico is that there is no such thing as a leash law here, and they don’t believe too much in neutering their animals, either. As a result, dogs roam the streets; some seemingly well cared for and just out for a stroll, and others painfully malnourished and neglected. Every restaurant seemed to have a resident dog (although not necessarily one that really belonged in or to the restaurant; just hoping to catch a scrap or two from a plate) and the waiters long ago gave up trying to fight a losing battle in trying to get rid of them. The majority of them were friendly but sad and seemed happy for a pet and a kind word or two. Really rather heartbreaking.

This sad doggie was at the Coba Mayan ruins. Painfully thin, he must live off the scraps from tourists.


This dog was also apparently living at the Coba Mayan ruins. Judging by her callused and swollen nipples, she's had more than one litter of puppies in her day. Having nursed 4 children, including twins, I could feel her pain & exhaustion.


I don't know where this mamma was hiding her pups, but clearly she had them somewhere judging by those swollen nipples.


This really old golden retriever had a good collar on, but she was just sleeping on the beach, occasionally moving to a different spot.


This chocolate lab was digging holes in the sand to lay in and keep cool.


There are lots of cats here too. They all seem to be long and lean; long legs with slender bodies, and not just because they are all skinny.


This dog was in the middle of the street and had beautiful coloring.


These two were hanging together on a street corner. Clearly they felt there was safety in numbers, as they were in a rough neighborhood.


This pretty brindle was also on the street corner a bit apart from the other two.


There's some Blue Heeler/Australian Cattle Dog somewhere in what is clearly a long genetic line in this pooch. You can't really see it in this photo, but she'd had a litter or two of puppies too.


This Chihuahua belonged to the BBQ restaurant we ate dinner at one night. Surprisingly, we haven't seen very many Chihuahuas while here.


This adorable dog was wandering the streets of Playa del Carmen.


A pretty dark grey and white mutt wanders the streets of Tulum as the sun starts to set.


This very shy dog stood frightened in a shopfront in Tulum, them skittered away when the kids tried to call it.

Snorkeling

We went snorkeling today in two locations, and thankfully we rented an underwater camera for the occasion.

At the first location we saw a huge sting ray and a large barracuda – thankfully he was heading away from me or you would have seen Aimee walking on water back to the boat!


Unfortunately I got slightly sea sick on the way to the second dive location, so I stayed in the boat while Jim and the kids went out in the second location. They saw SIX sea turtles, with one being as large as Maia they claim, several more sting rays, and a very large barracuda. Maia had the camera for this dive, and she did an awesome job of capturing all the things I missed.









That brown thing is a flounder on the ocean floor.


Maia was determined to get the best photos for me she could of the barracuda, but I can tell you I wouldn’t have gotten that close to one!



And more sea turtles! These fish catch a ride on the turtles and clean their shells for them.






The beach where all these sea turtles is is right in the little town we are staying in, so you can bet that I’ll be headed down there on Saturday before we leave so I can see these turtles for myself. Aren’t they cool?