Friday, October 29, 2010

A Haunted Farm?

It's that time of year farm friends.  The time for witches, goblins, ghosts and ghouls to have their special night. Halloween comes only once a year, but hauntings can happen anytime, anywhere, to anybody. As an adult, I'm not sure I believe in ghosts. However, growing up in a family of storytellers, especially during the witching season, sure made me think about the possibility.  And, Hollywood's contributions didn't help much either.

Two of my nephews when they would dress up in sweet costumes
As a child, I was scared of pretty much everything.  When the "Amityville Horror" was released my parents wouldn't let me see it,  I was only 10 years old.  Eventually, the movie came on television and I begged and begged to watch it. I could be quite overbearing when I had my mind on something and they finally agreed, with one stipulation-- I had to sleep by myself afterward. Well, that is no big deal. I won't be that scared. Deal!

Me preparing for piano recital around 10 years old
That night, I sat glued to the little TV in my parent's room. I was terrified by the opening music. By the time the Lutz family fled the house, I was beside myself. Off to my room I went, leaping into bed and under the covers in case something was underneath. I fashioned a small slit through the sheet to breathe. I couldn't and wouldn't expose my face to anything on the outside of the covers.  Of course, I was a sitting duck--blind to whatever monster, creature, ghost, goblin or Jodie the pig decided to do to a shivering figure breathing through a slit in the sheets. Never mind the  clock tick, tick, ticking away the moments until 3:15 a.m. I hated 3:15. If you watch the movie, you know why. I never made it to 3:15, however. This witching hour would come and go with me under a blanket, in the floor next to mom and dad's bed, clutching a pillow.

The Amityville Horror House
My intense desire to watch scary movies and then regret it afterward continued into my adulthood.  I've spent many nights awake, when my husband was out of town because I had to watch a crazy, scary movie.  Now, my husband on the other hand, he won't watch anything like that.  He is not one to bring on a scare.  He has had a few brushes with the undead over the years, according to him.  Me, nothing.  I would almost beg to see some wisp of a figure walk through the hall.  Him, he doesn't want anything to do with it--but he often smells unexplained odors, such as cologne or cigar smoke, or unlocked doors will magically lock themselves. Sometimes, he hears footsteps or the back door mysteriously open. I always have an explanation for anything he throws at me but he insists I am wrong. Now, I attribute most of this to his eccentricities, but from time to time he's made me stop and think.

The barn is where he often feels things are "off," so to speak.  Many nights he puts the donkeys in their stall with the doors closed and when he feeds the next morning one of the donkeys will be separated and in the second stall with the door still closed.  This has happened so many times.  I just poo poo him, but last New Year's Eve my sister and her family came to house sit for us.  She called to tell me she got the strangest feeling in the barn.  She said she closed down the barn the night before and the next morning she found the closed doors open and the donkeys moved.  When she told me this, I have to admit, I got chill bumps.  The husband is used to it. He even thinks he saw it one time, calling it the black haired farmer. Whoever/whatever is just simply mischievous and loves the barn, Richie said.  I like to think it's the old farmer who built the barn many years ago, but I don't really believe in spirits.

Haunted Verde Barn?

How about it. does your home go bump in the night? Is your barn inhabited by an opaque, donkey moving, black-haired farmer, or some other poor and restless soul?  If so, don't worry about it too much, unless you start waking up at 3:15 a.m. and your walls are bleeding. In that case, flee by the 28th day!

Happy Halloween All!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Our Home

When we decided to purchase our home in 2007, the idea of having a "farm" had never crossed our minds. We simply wanted to find an older home with some property and restore it to its original beauty, something my in-laws had successfully done a number of times.

Verde Heights-Traditional American Four Square
My husband and I bought a great house, in 1998, when we moved to West Virginia--my home, from the mountains of North Carolina, his home. We loved our house in the suburbs and really believed we would be there until we died. However, I couldn't shake my longing to live in an older home, one with stories, history.

I love houses. I love to look at houses and I love everything about decorating them.  One evening, I was flipping through our area "Homes" magazine to see what was on the market when a certain house seemed to leap from the pages. I fixed my gaze on a beautiful, brick house, built in the early 1900s, including 11 acres of land. I had to see it.

Some of the property.  The corrals were added by us.
A few days later, I made an appointment to see it. I really didn't think it would go anywhere, but within a few weeks we owned the place. The house and property were filled with a peaceful, sweet spirit, we couldn't deny. Something like that isn't easy to define, it's just that when we visited the property and the house between the time we purchased and actually moved in, we felt better about life in general.

The house itself is a traditional American four square with three levels, which is a very common style in this area, and a simple design at that. The floors were original and in good condition. A recent addition, including a kitchen and mud room on the back of the house, was a plus. The walls needed a lot of plaster work, bathroom remodels and some electrical upgrades, but overall it was a project we not only wanted to tackle, but one we needed to tackle, as well.

The parlor pre-move in.  Original wood floors.
The parlor at Christmas after restoration.
The house and property have a few unique and interesting landmarks, including the first in-ground pool  in Huntington, WV.  The old pool had seen better days, however. It hadn't been used in about 40 years so its once precise lines and curves were now reduced to gray rubble, cracked and lying beneath a jungle of vegetation.
The old pool as we were digging it out.
The same pool restored.
Down by the pond, an old iron cage, rusted and rickety, stands silently still. It has seen 80 years pass in this spot. Some people wonder why we keep it. A few reasons come to mind. The morning glories sure love to climb it, and in the '30s, it was home to a bear on the lam from the circus. We wanted stories. We wanted history.  How could we get rid of the bear cage?

The Bear Cage on left during winter. A favorite spot of the ducks.
A long time ago, a master gardener from Pittsburgh, Pa. traveled to Huntington, WV to design a rose garden for the lady at the home on Ohio River Road. The vintage roses are long gone but the garden's potential remained.
The rose garden this past summer.  We just added the fountain.
The garden entrance in early spring
The evergreens, by the hundreds, sent from overseas and planted on the property provided the inspiration to call the place, Verde Heights.  Verde translates to green, olive, emerald-thus the name.The cedars, junipers, hemlocks and spruce, some you can't find anymore, just knocked us out. In addition, the hardwoods, such as oaks, maples, beech, walnut and chestnut with dogwoods and redbuds excited us further. But, all the trees were being taken over by honeysuckle, wisteria and grapevine.  Many of the trees were being strangled and had started to die. They needed us.
A shot from last summer with trees in the background,
standing here for many years.
We've been here about four years, and really feel privileged to be stewards of this great property for a time.  It's as if we borrowed a little history, privacy, land and spirit--if only for a little while. As we continue to live here we are also becoming our homes history.

Does your house have a history? Are there any unique stories hidden in the walls that you call home? Happy Monday Farm Friends.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

There's A New Kid In Town

One beautiful fall evening, a new four-legged friend came to live at Verde Farm. Porter the piglet came from far, far away--California to be exact. And, the little fella didn't waste any time trying to make new friends.

All the animals were a buzz about this piglet. They gathered to look at him. The guineas said he was from California and likely thought he was better than the rest of them. Rumor had it he was going to be Pansy's new beau, as well.

Porter first met the chief of security, Shepherd. The old boy was cautious, but after a good sniff, Shep knew the kid was ok. Within a few minutes, a new friendship had bloomed.

The new piglet really startled the old timers by running all around the farm, in front of the barn and anywhere else his little legs took him. Good lord, he even went down to see the duck pond. He seemed to have no boundaries. The gang couldn't believe it. What was happening here? Who does he think he is? However, everywhere the new kid went, the old timers followed.

The ducks started to reconsider first, thinking, "he seems pretty nice, not the Hollywood type we expected. Those guineas said he was an extra in "Charlotte's Web". We don't even know if that is true," they squeaked.

Detective Zephyr pecked the ground after the piglet went through to see if he could find clues to indicate the real intentions of the new kid. He couldn't find a thing.

Word started to spread rapidly, "the kid seems all right," the gang mumbled. Some were heard saying, "those guineas are just troublemakers, the way they run their beaks. If he's good enough for the big guy, he's good enough for us."

After flying from California, waiting in a crate at the airport all night, and a three hour drive from Columbus, Ohio, the new kid was pretty tired. "You know, it's not easy making new friends," he said to Shep. He then collapsed on the ground from exhaustion and began to close his eyes. Just as he drifted off to sleep he said to the big guy, "I think I'm gonna like it here."

The End
We are linking with Farm Friend Friday. Hope you enjoyed this post from early in our blog’s life. Check out all the other farm life posts shared.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Fall Weekend

Wrapping up a beautiful weekend with colors vibrant and plentiful.  We enjoyed many hours outdoors with family the last three days and stopped to take it all in as the seasons quickly pass and so do the weekends.

We are linking up with Mary at Little Red House for Mosaic Monday.  You should visit Mary's wonderful blog and check out the beautiful mosaics shared there.  Happy Monday.

Friday, October 15, 2010

When Pigs Fly

"When pigs fly," is an old saying we've probably all heard throughout the years that means something is impossible or never going to happen.

This figure of speech took on personal meaning this past week at Verde.  Of course, pigs can't fly but they can be flown by plane across the country, arrive on time, meet their new owners and live happily ever after. Right? Well, as it turned out, the "happily ever after" would have to wait.

We've been anxiously waiting on our boar piglet, Porter, to come to West Virginia to wed our precious girl pig, Pansy. Finally, word arrived, Porter was ready to make the trip from California to West Virginia.

We chose Continental Airlines as our carrier because they have a good reputation for quality animal care.  However, our plan hit a snag when we discovered that non pressurized propeller planes were the only ones flying into West Virgina that evening. Animals require a pressurized compartment for fear of death from extreme temperatures, or lack of oxygen among other risks.

Pressurized jets were flying into Columbus, Ohio, though, and Columbus is only about three hours from Huntington so that seemed reasonable enough. I figured I could knock out two birds with one stone because my car needed repair work, which is only available in Columbus, and I could pick up Porter later that day at the airport.

Tuesday was the big day. I left for Columbus at 8:30 a.m. to make my car appointment at noon. I would simply sit at the dealership while my car was being repaired and then fill the remaining gap of time with a trip to the Cheesecake Factory for dinner, a stop at Barnes and Noble and just enough time to pick up Porter at 6:45 p.m. The pig and I would then drive from Columbus to West Virginia, arriving back home around 11p.m. It was going to be a long day, but doable and worth it.

At 6 p.m. I received word that Porter's flight was delayed. At 7 p.m. I learned it had been delayed, yet again. Another hour passed prompting another delay and an idea that I had perhaps ought to start looking for a pet friendly hotel. At this rate, I could be sitting in the cargo parking lot all night. So, I adjusted my plans, which meant I would drive back the next morning with my little pig in tow. I found a room near the airport.

I contacted the hotel and was asked what kind of pet I had with me. I just knew if I said pig there would be no room at the inn.
"Uh, puppy?" I said.
"No problem," the clerk said.
Why did I tell them puppy, I thought to myself.
Once I got to the hotel and began to check in, I knew I had to be truthful. It would either set me free, not a good thing in this case because I had nowhere else to go, or maybe the attendant would shed pity on this weary traveler.
The desk clerk asked again, "What kind of pet?"
"Well, I said puppy on the phone, but in all honesty, I was afraid you wouldn't let us in if I told you the truth." The clerk's eyes grew wide and her forehead began to crease.
"I'm actually waiting on a miniature piglet."
After a brief pause, a smile began to cross the face of the clerk who became excited and agreed to let us stay only if she were able to pet the pig when we got there. Done deal. Whew, relief.

In the meantime, in my room, the calls kept coming from the airline, delay after delay. Finally, around 10:30 the flight was cancelled. Little Porter would spend the night in Newark, NJ. The same little Porter who earlier was running free with his brothers and sisters on their farm in California. I worried about him. I wondered if he would be fed and watered. I wondered if he were scared.

The next morning brought new plans. I left the hotel about 9:30 a.m. en route to the airport to pick up Porter who was due to arrive at 10:15 from NJ, to Cleveland, and then to Columbus.

At 10 a.m.,  Continental called to tell me the flight from Cleveland was delayed. Thirty minutes later, I was told the flight had been cancelled.  Ok, I am thinking this can not be happening. He has been on a plane since 6 a.m. Tuesday morning when he left LAX.  He needs food, water and to get out of that crate.

Thankfully, USA Kune Kune's Lori Enright, who was also the shipper, was on the phone with them,  as well. Between the two of us, we got them to put him on a flight of cargo coming from Cleveland to Columbus around noon. When pigs fly, right?

At 12:15 I received a call from my new buddy Mark in the cargo bin to tell me the news I'd been waiting to hear, "your piggie is here." I was there within five minutes and sure enough little Porter had finally arrived.  He was fine,  but ready to get out of the crate. Unfortunately, we had a three hour drive back to the farm, but he was a good little fella all the way.

So, next time you hear "when pigs fly," you might think twice...pigs can fly, but it  can be quite taxing and even if you have an airline to assist with this incredible event, it takes quite an effort!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Our Animal Menagerie

Happy Monday, farm friends. This is a collage of our wonderful animals. We love each and every one of them. They all bring something different to the place with their wonderful sounds, intriguing personalities and beauty. Fall is a favorite season for them, as well. They love the cooler temperatures and show it by running, flying and talking much more this time of year. We hope you enjoy.

Today we are linking up with Mary at Little Red House Mosaic Monday.  Take a peek at the wonderful mosaics shared on her blog, today.  

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Sunny's Special Baby

On a recent blog post A Brighter Verde Farm we introduced you to our special bantam hen, Sunny,  or  Sunny De-Light, as cleverly coined by one of our readers. You may remember her determination to have her own clutch.  She tried so many times to have her own biddies, but for some reason or another her babies would never hatch. That is until the day she adopted an errant light bulb left in the coop by the hubby. She also laid and sat on her own eggs.  She had the eggs beneath her and the bulb under her wing.

Sunny D. sat patiently on the light bulb and eggs for weeks. Her big day arrived one chilly fall morning, when her wings began to peep, maybe even squeak, as the feeders were filled.  On closer inspection, her wings rustled. Suddenly a tiny head parted the feathers and quickly pulled back. It's a baby. Sunny's finally a mama.

After Brightie was born, Sunny abandoned her other eggs. The light bulb didn't fare any better. When it was picked up for the trash, it had been pushed to the other side of the coop.

Brightie has a big personality. Her mother is extremely protective. She tries to take the little tyke out to the run but the baby is too small to jump up to the ramp leading outside. Sunny sometimes goes ahead,  leaving the chick behind. But, not for long.  As the baby stands in the makeshift door and cries, cries, cries for its mother,  Sunny D. walks to the bottom of the ramp, turns around and walks back up. In less than 15 seconds, baby and mother are reunited.

We are so pleased with the new arrival and as predicted, Sunny's baby has made Verde a much "Brighter" place.

See a video clip of mama and baby:

Monday, October 4, 2010

Verde Welcomes New Farm Friends

A cool, gray Sunday started with a drive to the southeastern part of the state with my nephews, Cooper and Jackson. It was an exciting day for all of us because we knew we would be coming home with our two new Shetland ram lambs from Nancy at Buff Country Back Yard Chickens. Fortunately, transport worked out well and we were able to pick them up a short two and a half hours from home. What started as an inquiry to Nancy about her beautiful Mille Fleur Calico Cochin chickens evolved into the purchase of a rooster and two hens, as well as the two new lambs.

When we got to the meeting spot and saw the precious lambs for the first time, the boys were smiling from ear to ear. The rams, named Burdock and Rain Man, are small with beautiful coloring. Burdock, a dark brown/black, and Rain a tan, were so soft, we couldn't stop petting them. We moved  them to our truck and put them in temporary crates stocked with hay we brought from home. They settled into the crates well and immediately started eating. They were happy with the hay and managed to eat almost all of it by the time we arrived back at the farm.

Burdock and Rain (Pictures from Buff Country Back Yard Chickens)
We put the trio of chickens in the cab of the truck with us. The boys were tickled to death to have the chickens up front. They fed them some Chex Mix as a treat and the trio were pleased. I mean, they seemed pleased, cooing and looking up at us lovingly, as if to say, more please.

When we got back home, the good hubs and my oldest nephew, Perry, had been preparing the stall for the new arrivals. They cleaned it up nicely and spread a thick coat of bedding so perfect you hated to walk in it. Everything was in order for our new farm friends.

The lambs quickly came out of the crates to examine their new digs. They went straight to their fresh water and more hay. We knew the chickens needed to stay on their own for a few days so we put them in a nice big crate with some corn and a water. They were ready to stretch their legs out a bit and we were able to finally get a good look at them. They are beautiful. I like to say they have "fancy feet" because their feathers stick out all around them. The nephews named the chickens,  Jet for the roo and Dotty and Lola for the hens. We thought the names were perfect.

As the evening settles in, our new arrivals are bedded down in their places and getting ready for their first night at Verde Farm. One of the best things about farm life is sharing the experiences with family and today was one of those great days.