Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A bundle of Buckeyes

Recently the Buckeyes were released from their chick yard and allowed to pasture.  Like the goats, they have been entertaining in their own right.

It's hard to believe that the chicks are only three months old.  The girls are still too little to be laying however the boys are already trying out their crowing.  At this age, Bucky & Party Boy's crow sounds more like someone blowing party horns than a rooster fiercely defending his flock.
The Amerucaunas, Party Boy and his girls, have been separated from the other chicks and moved in with the older girls.  Things were a little busy out in chickenland, while they worked and reworked the pecking order.  It's all been worked out now and the chicks are cuddled in next to their new friends.  Bucky is now the big boy in charge of troop Buckeye.
Whenever the buckeyes go outside, they stick together.  Watching them reminds me of the book/essay 'Everything I needed to know, I learned in Kindergarten'.  Those few basic rules seem to apply to all sorts of critters.
  • Share everything.  (whenever a tasty bit is found in the pasture, the chick loudly announces herself and the others come running.)
  • Play fair. (arguments are short and settled quickly)
  • Don't hit people. (no tussling)
  • Put things back where you found them. (not a strong point)
  • Clean up your own mess. (not something chickens are known for)
  • Don't take things that aren't yours. (that's what the pecking order is all about)
  • Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody. (the girls calm each other by grooming and preening)
  • Wash your hands before you eat. (preen before and after having snacks)
  • Flush. (chickens like to be in a clean place.  My job is to keep it that way.)
  • Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you. (the chickies get garden scraps and bread bits: yum!)
  • Live a balanced life - learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some. (play, graze, nap, and preen: remember: life is good)
  • Take a nap every afternoon. (those shady places near the fence can be a lovely place to settle down for a nap with a friend.)
  • When you go out in the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together. (nearly all the buckeyes  graze together as a group.  Within that group, one can quickly spot the subgroups of chicky friends: groups of two or more chickies that share, play, and groom each other.  If someone calls an alarm, they all bunch together and run as a group for the nearest shelter.)
  • Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: the roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.  (Yes, even chickens are curious about their world.  This is why we have to watch over them to keep them out of trouble.)
  • Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup - they all die. So do we.  (It's a hard fact that life on the farm means celebrating life and accepting death.  Chicks are resilient little things but sometimes the unexpected happens.  The others will look for their now missing friend.  A few days later, things will settle back to normal.)
  • And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned - the biggest word of all - LOOK.  (It can be a bit funny how they follow us about, watching what we do.  If allowed they will get right under our feet, looking and scratching for tasty treats.  this is what makes the Buckeye a great, all around chicken: they're friendly, curious, and fairly self reliant.)
Bucky the rooster

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

So Happy, I could just roll in it

In order to keep the pastures from getting chewed to the ground and the girls provided with a continuous source of fresh browse,  the goat kids get moved each week to a new area of the pasture.  Some portions of their grazing areas are lush with grasses.  Some are flush with clover.  It seems however that their favorite areas are those that have honeysuckle, thorny stuff (including thistle, blackberry, and multifloral rose), and poison ivy.
Poison Ivy
I'm glad this makes them happy.  It will eventually remove these noxious plants from the pastures making them more acceptable to other grazing critters. In the meanwhile, a little caution will need to be exercised by Mom.  Happy goats sometimes roll around in the stuff they love so much, coating their fur with poison ivy oil.  Absent mindedly reaching down and giving someone a pat or a scratch, may result in a nasty rash on the arm or hand.  One learns quickly.
***Nice to know: if exposed to poison ivy: wash in lots of soapy, warm water.  Use a soap designed to cut grease, such as Dawn dishwashing soap.  Remember, too, that if it's on your hands it could also be on your clothes.  Tossing dirty clothes in with the rest of the laundry may result in transferring the poison ivy oil onto the rest of the wash.  So keep them separated, again washing in warm to hot soapy water and rinsing thoroughly.
It's hard to keep from scratching but a liberal application of hydrocortisone cream may help relieve the itch.  Other natural remedies include Jewelweed.  This plant grows in profusion in Central New York.  Mashed up and applied directly to the exposed area, Jewelweed is said to help heal the inflammation.

The old adage: 'Leaves of three, leave them be' is good to know however not always reliable.  The simple, 'If you know know for certain what it is, don't touch it' it probably a better rule of thumb to follow.

more about the treatment for poison ivy exposure can be read here:

Poison ivy treatment tips
Natural methods for the treatment of poison ivy

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Summer's bounty

The garden has been productive again this year.  As long as we're able to keep the bunnies at bay, the vegetables will continue to be available.  Yellow and green beans are coming in delicious profusion.  Cold three bean salad is a lovely refreshing side dish and a welcome picnic treat.

 Everyone enjoys a special treat.  As we weed, the Chickenland girls all get the fresh tender leaves that they love so much.  The coarser grasses and Honey Suckle are a delight for the goat girls.  Of course any new food needs to be introduced little at a time.  Otherwise the girls would all have their bellies full of candy, followed by tummy aches and crying babies. 
But for today, a few servings of Honey Suckle is just the treat for all to share.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Who left the door open?

I could have sworn I closed that door.
 Don't worry Moma!  I'll help you open it.  Jellybean isn't big enough to open it yet.   But not me!  I'm a BIG girl.  OOOOOOphhhhhh.
Let's see: bump and push, bump and push.
No fair!  Some day when I'm big, you just wait, I'll figure out how to open this!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Out in the orchard and down the hill

There is always something to do on the farm.  Surprisingly enough, most of the tasks are not manual labor but rather planning and evaluating for the future.
The Brookfield Gala and Gold Rush apples are all doing extraordinarily well.  We've been keeping a close watch for trouble this year.  Trees are individually inspected for signs of insect activity as well as any disease such as mildew or fire blight.  It is unfortunate that some people believe that not spraying their trees is healthier than taking preventive measures.  What happens is that their trees become hosts and sources of disease that ends up spreading to their neighbors' trees.  Organic does not mean not spraying.  Organic means using methods that are gentle on the environment and meet the EPA/FDA standards for Organic growing.
There are many excellent resources available for those who wish to follow organic guidelines when taking care of their fruit trees.  One of my favorites is by Cornell University: A Growers Guide to Organic Apples.
Provided that we can keep both the deer and the bunnies at bay, we may have some new varieties of apples this year.  Fingers crossed...

Friday, August 1, 2014

Children of the Corn

No this is not a story about some creepy, spooky children in some isolated town in the country.  This is a little story about the first sweet corn of the season and how good life can be...
Although we don't grow sweet corn at My Happy Acres, we are happy to refer people to the farm stand just down the road from us for some of the finest, freshest, most delicious sweet corn grown in New York.
What makes this corn so good, is it's almost guaranteed that the corn you purchase right now, was picked less than just a few hours ago.  That means that those lovely complex sugars have not started to break down as the picked corn ages.  The reason some corn on the cob (aka Wally world) tastes bland and chewy is that it was picked days and days ago.  The other reason is over cooking.  Real sweet corn only takes about three minutes, plunged into rolling boiling water, to cook.  I like mine with just a touch of butter.
Although the girls would love some fresh corn, too much corn is bad for little goat tummies.  Instead they get something better: the green shucks and silks.  Fluffy and Franny dove into leaves with gusto.  Fluffy carefully picked out the silks to eat first, while Franny preferred the tender inner leaves. 

"Yum! Yum! Crunch! Chunch! Thanks Mom!"
Dorothy waited patiently, then helped herself to a bouquet, tossing it about to break off a few choice bits.  Little Jellybean watched her sisters, then took a big crunchy mouthful, bleating gleefully bite after bite.
"those goats are spoiled!"
 Not to be neglected, the girls out in Chickenland also recieved their share: when the people finish their corn, the cobs are given to Missy and her girls to pick clean.  Happy days for all the children in the corn!