Thursday, September 30, 2010

Fall At The Farm

Hello, come on in and share the fall season with us. I'll get you a cup of coffee and some apple crisp to eat while we talk about the time of year that is "the harvest."

When nighttime temperatures dip into the 40s, and the smell of a wood burning fire drifts over the farm, I know it won't be long until I light my harvest or pumpkin spice candles and snuggle under a soft throw with my dogs on the couch--all sure signs fall has arrived.

Everywhere we look we are beginning to see and feel the signs of autumn. And the gloomy, cooler days of this week are certainly a contrast from the consecutive 90 degree temperatures we had the previous week. It seems summer's last September heatwave only enhanced autumns arrival. This was just the push I needed to insist the hubby make the trek to the basement and bring up the bins marked "Fall" and "Halloween." Each year I can't wait to  dig in and see what all I have in there. You see, I come from a family of seasonal/holiday decorators. We take this very seriously and you will find many bins in our attics and basements labeled with St. Patrick's Day, Valentine's Day, Fourth of July, my husband jokes that we may have a "President's Day" box down there somewhere. Truth be told, he may be right.

So, the stage was set. I put leaves on the mantle, pumpkins all around, mums by the front door, and scarecrows in the ground. All these additions, coupled with the early nights and cooler temperatures outside have certainly made the house feel, warm, cozy and secure.

I have been admiring my bloggy buddies decorations and getting inspiration along the way. Dog Trot Farm has me frantically looking for crows to add to my menagerie but I can't find a cute crow to save my life.  Perhaps if I got rid of the scarecrows I would have a better chance.

Are you ready for fall?  Have you decorated your home, cottage or nest? What do you like to do on a beautiful harvest evening?

Happy Fall, friends,

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Country Living Fair

Early Saturday morning I gave up that extra few hours of sleep to make the drive to Columbus, Ohio for a special event, The Country Living Fair. I wanted to attend in the past and it never worked out so I was determined to go this year. My friend from Farm Tails blog wanted to go too so we decided we would do it in a day trip. We were prepared, took the big truck, a waterproof tarp (just in case) and she made pumpkin cookies so we could snack along the way. Three hours later, we made it to the gates.

Luckily, we arrived just as the fair opened--people were coming in by the loads. Notably, there was at least a three to one ratio of women to men. Not hard to figure that one out, I know.  In we went and we started with a bang. It only took us five minutes to start spending money. Not too shabby. We found this wonderful pottery booth from upstate New York. Farm Tails bought a beautiful cow and I found a wonderful rooster plate, perfect for my kitchen. The day was promising.

The fall decorations were just gorgeous including bright fabric pumpkins with orange, rust and aubergine textures. The straw hat, plaid shirt wearing scarecrows were so lifelike there wasn't a crow within three miles of the place. Farm Tails and I were oohing and awing at ever turn. At one point, we both sounded like Edith Bunker with her "Oh, Archie," we were so excited.  

This was to be no leisurely Saturday stroll at the fair. The sheer size of the event meant we had to maintain a fast pace. But, how to cover the fair and carry our purchases? That's not all, although we had prepared for a large purchase, perhaps a piece of furniture or two, how would we get it to the truck? Unfortunately, for us, a solution came late in the day. We found out the fair offered a porter service which takes purchases and assists with loading. Alas, we were give out. Time had passed us by. 

All in all it was a wonderful day. The take-homes--plates, pumpkins, scarecrows, pictures-- were well worth the trip. The purchases we didn't make will be nagging at us for a few days, at least. We left with our arms full and the walk back to the truck was a little more labored than the walk to the fair. A day of laughter, girl talk and shopping is always a good day. As weary as my feet were upon my return last night, it was worth it!

Tips for next year: take a large bag, perhaps a rolling cart, go for large items first and house with the porter. Wear your best walking shoes and park as close to the entrance as you can get.  Definitely a fair worth taking in. 

Friday, September 24, 2010

Pansy's Betrothed

We just wanted to share a short post to introduce you to our Pansy's betrothed. Pansy is our kunekune gilt pig. We have known for a while that we want to have more kunekune babies here at Verde Farm.  It's not easy to find just the right husband for the world's most beautiful pig and we have been searching high and low for him. We think we found just the right fit. Porter Posie is coming to us from USA Kunekunes in Mira Loma, California. Porter is a beautiful boar piglet and hailed as quite the looker in the California pig world. We know Pansy will be surprised and fall madly in love with her betrothed. Stay tuned for an update on their first date sometime in October. 

Mr. Porter Posie

He's tops already, being the brown and white one at the top right.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The 4077 Tops Ratings At Verde

George Burns


My husband and I do love our farm animals and enjoy them beyond words. Additionally, we have three  indoor, furry friends that we love too.  Pappy, 10 years and George Burns, four years are both Papillons and Gracie Allen, four years, is a long-haired Chihuahua. They are our children. We do everything with them including sleep and we don't have a big bed.

Gracie Allen
Little Gracie Allen is quite a unique Chihuahua. She's always been different and we noticed early on that she had a love for TV Land, as her parents do. When she was a puppy, she grew accustomed to the TV Land lineup and often watched it with her dad and me. We noticed she would take extra interest in a few of the shows and became incredibly excited when the theme music would play. Two of her favorites are Andy Griffith and Sanford and Son. No matter what she's doing she immediately stops as soon as the first note of her shows are played. She then looks around to see if we're watching and then begins to run around, howling. However, there is one show that is her absolute favorite--M.A.S.H. When she hears it there is no stopping her. She gets so excited. As a matter of fact, it affects her so much that if we watch back to back shows we often switch the channel until the opening credits and theme music are finished for fear of over stimulating her. It's difficult to describe so we thought we would just share it. Enjoy.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Farm Council Saves Squirrel

This past Sunday morning my husband Richie was out fiddling in the barn when he noticed an unusual gathering in the middle of the pasture. Gathered  in a circle were a group of our chickens staring at the ground. Our Great Pyrenees, Shep, doesn't let "unusual" activity occur without his approval, so he also joined the circle of chickens. 

Perplexed, Richie started to contemplate the reasons for this activity. It was Sunday, so perhaps they were holding their own church service. Maybe it was a hazing of some new unfortunate chicken recently new to the free range gang. Or, maybe they were having a council meeting of sorts to discuss how to take down that peacock that was trying to rule the roost and making their lives miserable. He decided it was best to go check it out for himself.

Shep met him on his way to the pasture, urging him to join the chickens. Shep does this when he finds things he thinks we should check out. As Richie approached the group, he feared the worst. Something was dead or harmed. In the middle of the group laid a small, baby, red squirrel, barely breathing.

He took off his over shirt and picked it up, wrapping it in the denim cloth. He quickly ran to the house to show me. I was quite surprised to see what he was bringing in this time. He never ceases to amaze in this way. The squirrel was precious but traumatized and weak. We immediately googled "caring for an abandoned squirrel." Every site said to find a wildlife rehabber as a first step. It was Sunday and odds were slim anyone would be available. We found hydration and heat to be the two most important recommendations. We went to work. Richie got a cage from the barn and filled it with hay. I heated the doggie bed warmer in the microwave and we mixed 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 tablespoon of sugar and two cups of water. Richie found a small dropper and attempted to give it to the squirrel. Luckily, the baby quickly responded and drank the fluid.  

The next 24 hours passed with my husband "mothering" this little creature. Fluid intake increased and you could see life returning to the orphan. It was even holding onto its dropper. First thing Monday morning, Richie was able to reach one of two wildlife rehabbers in our state. She was only 20 minutes from our home and had another baby squirrel she was rehabilitating. They met around lunch time and our little squirrel was passed on to the expert. "It's a girl," she said. She was quite pleased with the condition and health of the squirrel. She also gave us kudos on rehydrating and warming the little girl. Her plan was to introduce it to the other squirrel she was working with and release them both, as friends, to the woods behind her house. She is going to text us with the progress and we will keep you posted as well.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

A Barn Is Reborn

My husband and I moved to Verde Farm in 2007.
One of the intriguing features of the property was an old barn we eventually restored. We knew with some attention we could shore up its foundation, strengthen its floors, put glass in its windows, and sturdy its walls.
With some work, the barn soon began to shine in the daytime under a fresh coat of paint, and in the nighttime under new barn lights. Its transformation was literally something to see.
But the transformation wasn't complete, we thought, if we couldn't hear our barn. So, it soon became living quarters for a bunch of chickens, donkeys, ducks, guineas, peafowl and cats. And, again, with some work, the barn began to teem with the sounds of life--crowing in the morning and cooing in the twilight.

Our barn also brays, and oddly at feeding time.
One day I was watching a Martha Stewart segment about gardening and I noticed these chickens running around pecking and scratching. How beautiful. She then teased she would be showing her Miniature Mediterranean Donkeys after the break.  "Miniature Mediterranean Donkey, what is that?" I was hooked.  Sure enough, after the commercial, Martha brought three beautiful mini donkeys into her studio. They were adorable!  She shared how easy it is to care for them and how their miniature size means they don't require as much land as a horse. That sounded great. Stewart's donkey segment demonstrated their love for people and how much they enjoy being brushed and petted. What's not to love? It wasn't a hard decision to make. These donkeys are adorable, they don't require a lot of land, they're easy to care for and they love people. We must have one. 

Andy and Otis
I immediately went to work researching and reading everything I could find. Soon, we were ready to make a purchase. I found this great site on the web called "Got Donkeys" breeder list, I contacted Buck and Doe Run Farm in north central WV. They had a little jack for sell. After talking with  Carol Pippin about how much she loved her herd, I purchased the little jack named Otis.  

Little Otis after he was born
In spring of 2008, Otis traveled south from Buck and Doe Run to Verde Farm. My husband and I could hardly wait. The truck pulled in and we knew our little guy was in the back. When they opened the trailer we saw the most adorable, little, dark chocolate creature we had ever seen. That mini donkey melted our heart.  

Otis was an only child for a very short time. As you quickly learn with donkeys, "a lone donkey is a very lonely donkey." We now have five Miniature Mediterranean donkeys and couldn't be happier. How lucky I was to watch Martha Stewart that day. I will always be grateful.

Otis and his best buddy Samuel D. (D. for Donkey)

We are linking with Barn Charm at Bluff Area Daily. Check out all the wonderful barn posts there, you will love it!


Monday, September 6, 2010

Beautiful Weekend

What a beautiful weekend at Verde Farm.  We couldn't have asked for a more perfect way to spend summers' last hurrah.  The temperature was a comfortable 72 degrees with egg blue skies and white puffy clouds resembling down feathers. Here are a few pictures of this picturesque Labor Day weekend, courtesy of our friend, Angie Martin.

Pansy counting to 100 as the chickens rush to hide in the woods.

Samuel D. patiently waiting on his treat.

Elvis and Brownie finding some alone time.

Checkers getting some rest in the shade.

The tall cedars watching over the farm for many years.

The fish ready for a nibble.

Chestnuts getting ready to pop.


Friday, September 3, 2010

A Brighter Verde Farm

"In the beginning," an unnamed, not so distinctive, some would say plain chick rose from the ranks of the average to assume a lofty perch atop a special egg.
This is the story of Sunny our enlightened chicken.

One thing we have learned on the farm is that you should always expect the unexpected. There are times we have chicken eggs coming out our ears and can't seem to gather them fast enough. Most of our hens just hand them over only showing a slight irritation, and few put up a real fuss.   Sunny is one of the fussers.  She always protests as we take her eggs as if to say, please let me hatch my biddies, flapping her wings and arguing all the way.  Well, after multiple attempts to gather her eggs, we agreed, Sunny definitely deserves to have her clutch.

My husband had been changing light bulbs all over the farm, including the coop.  He forgot he left one of the old ones laying on a burlap sack on top of a box.  The next morning when he went in to feed, Sunny surprised him with a new addition.  She  adopted the bulb as her very own large egg. Yes, that is a bulb under her wing.

He moved the bulb from under Sunny and just watched.  She immediately walked to her big "egg" and tucked it under her wing as close as  she could get it.  She makes no distinction between the bulb and her eggs and only leaves them to eat and drink.

It was then and there--a true light bulb moment--that we decided to let Sunny hatch her eggs. Right now, she is patiently sitting on her clutch and we truly believe Verde Farm will be a much "brighter" place once the biddies arrive. Now you know why we call her "Sunny".  We've been thinking of new names for her chicks and here are a few we've got in mind: GE, Ray Diance, Flo Rescence, Ultra Violet, Ed Ison. Any other suggestions?