Friday, December 31, 2010

A New Year Upon Us

Looking back over 2010 we are thankful for the happiness and blessings we’ve experienced this past year at Verde Farm. Our foray into farm living has provided us inspiration and purpose. We wish you all a safe, happy, healthy and prosperous 2011 and fulfillment in your life’s journey.  

Here is a sampling of some of our blessings this past year.

New Year’s Reflections
Looking back on the months gone by,
As a new year starts and an old one ends,
We contemplate what brought us joy,
And we think of our loved ones and our friends.

Recalling all the happy times,
Remembering how they enriched our lives,
We reflect upon who really counts,
As the fresh and bright new year arrives.

And when we ponder those who do,
We immediately think of you.

Thanks for being one of the reasons We’ll have a Happy New Year!
By Joanna Fuchs

Monday, December 27, 2010

Shep’s Christmas Eve Adventure

Well the big day is over and I sure hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. We were very blessed and enjoyed a memorable few days with our family. However, Christmas Eve brought an unexpected event this year. I was settling in at my sister’s where we spend Christmas Eve night. My husband decided not to spend the night because of the snow, cold and our animals. I was settling in for the evening with my step daughter, nephews, sister, brother-in-law and mother. We were playing games, wrapping presents and laughing.
Shep our Great Pyrenees
I decided to call Richie to see how things were and to tell him what time to be at my sister’s the next morning. He sounded short of breath and worried. He quickly told me our dog, Shep, had disappeared right after I left and he’d been looking for him for two hours. Words can’t describe what Shep means to us, he’s more than a pet--he’s a fixture, a part of everything being in its place. His guardian instincts and deep bark, while on night patrol, far from keeps us awake, it allows us to sleep. He’s also my husband’s best friend. Richie jokes that he spends more time with Shep than he does me, and he’s not far from the truth.

My brother-in-law Jason and I quickly got up to drive over to the farm and help look for our lost guardian. With Presley, my step-daughter and my oldest nephew Perry in tow, off we went in a heavy snow.
Shep protecting his flock
When we arrived, Richie was searching around the pond area with a flashlight. We all divided up and the cold and the wind not only made our search bone chilling, but also exacerbated our worries about Shep. We had no idea where he was, we didn’t know if he was hurt, cold or something far worse. It was difficult enough knowing he was gone.

The area near the pond
I decided to get the four-wheel drive utility vehicle out and head into the woods. The snow began to fall even harder. Magnified by the headlight beams, it looked like giant cotton balls floating in two tubes of light.  Even though Presley, Perry and I drove every road and path available in the woods behind our house, there was still no sign of Shep.

Back at the house, we shut off the engine to gather our thoughts. We heard a dog barking in the distance. It’s Shep! Is it Shep? We started the four-wheeler and barreled down the snow covered and desolate main road toward where we thought the barking was coming from. It was midnight, Christmas Eve. We pulled into a closed convenience store and listened for the barking. Now, the bark seemed to be coming from the hill behind our house. It was difficult to locate the barking. Every time we moved to a different location, so did the sound of the barking. Our four-wheeler doesn’t have a windshield and our faces were exposed to the elements. I was afraid of frostbite so I decided to take myself and the kids back home and let the men continue to look.
We came in to warm by the fire
Finally, at 12:45 a.m., I headed back outside to see where Richie and Jason were. I hadn’t seen their flashlights in a bit. I yelled for them, but no answer. I yelled again. Ok, I admit, at this time I was getting a bit panicky. Here we were, it was almost 1a.m. on Christmas Eve, the snow was falling even harder, there was no Shep, and no response from Richie or Jason. I suppose I’ve watched too many scary flicks, but I began to think perhaps we had a serial killer who killed our dog, killed the men and was now going to come get me and the kids. While running this doomsday scenario in my head,  I heard a whimper and then my beautiful dog came running to me from  the woods. Shep was home.  I called my husband’s cell and thankfully they were coming up the front of the property and couldn’t hear me yelling for them. What a relief.

We all piled into the Jeep to go back to my sisters. There was still so much to do. Richie went inside to warm up and go to bed. I didn’t get in bed until close to 3 a.m.,  but I can honestly say it was a Christmas Eve we will remember forever.

Best Friends: Shep and Richie
Shep has never run off. He’s as consistent as day and night. But somewhere in his dog head he decided Christmas Eve was the night. Perhaps he was trying to do some last minute shopping or was worried he hadn’t been a good boy this year and Santa was going to pass Verde without stopping to see him.  Whatever reason he decided to run, we were so happy he was home. He got a mighty good meal on Christmas just to let him know how much.

Hope your Christmas was a bit calmer and filled with more sleep than ours. As we wrap up 2010 we wish you and your families a happy, healthy, prosperous and blessed new year.
Our boy...Shep

Monday, December 20, 2010

All I want for Christmas is a Chicken?

When the thought of  Christmas gifts come to mind some may think of diamonds, pearls, electronics or stylish clothes. Others might go for the whole package in one swoop and wish for stylish clothes emblazoned with diamonds and pearls, which electronically sing Christmas carols.

At any rate, I suppose a lot of people wish for those types of items, and for good reason. However, some of us are inspired by nostalgia, things rural--the farm. Born out of love for the aforementioned and necessity, we think of buckets with heaters, tractor supply gift cards, Carhartt clothing, muck boots--and  chickens. Chickens? Yep, that’s right. All I want for Christmas is chickens.
Snowball Silkie
We absolutely love our feathered fowl at Verde Farm. When we bought our first two chickens, "just for fun,” we bought two roosters, Mack and Bucky. We didn’t want to deal with eggs and by no circumstances did we want baby chicks. A few months after the roos came to live with us, we felt so sorry for them we bought them a pretty cream girl named Pearl. Verde had a population explosion. We started reading, buying poultry magazines and learning all we could about these interesting entertaining and hilariously fowl birds.
Some Mixed Bantam Roosters 
It didn’t take long to realize there are thousands of chicken breeds and variations. I started looking for unusual and fancy chickens and stumbled on some great resources. Silkies, Polish, Tolbunts, Red Combs, Mille Fleur, just to name a few, caught my eye.  We decided we really wanted to breed some beautiful birds and specialize in selling some of them in addition to our colorful, mixed bantams.
Last year, we ordered a pair of Polish white crested black chickens. They were gorgeous and we named them Edgar and Betty. We’ve had them for a year and a half and never gotten one egg from Betty. Not one. Edgar has fathered a few mixed chicks, Brighty being one of them. Edgar’s affairs can only be interpreted as a lack of support for poor Betty’s barren ways. Shame on you Edgar.
On a side note, Edgar lost his beautiful white mane when Betty and the rest of the hens pulled out his head feathers, one by one, and pecked his head until he, in a daze, had to be removed from the chicken house. Poor Edgar.

Our first foray into chicken breeding obviously didn’t go well. Edgar and Betty are separated. We are back to square one.

Henpecked Edgar
We were not deterred. Instead we decided it was time to jump in with both feet and get the varieties we wanted. In the fall, we ordered a beautiful trio of calico mille fleur from Nancy Krohn at Bluff Country Backyard Chickens. They are gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous.

Chaucer and Lydia
Chaucer and his girls (Betty is visiting)
In November, we also ordered a group of polish, silkies and tolbunts from a wonderful place in Maryland called Bare Necessities Farm. Now, my friends, maybe I am biased, but we have some of the prettiest chickens you’ve ever seen--real beauties.  It may be difficult for some to imagine a beautiful chicken--unless accompanied by gravy and biscuits. All I can say is this: I’ve never seen an ugly one. To me, chickens are a lot like butterflies. They are flitting, flying, running bursts of color, decorating and brightening even the dreariest day.
The Silkie Gang
Pretty birds, pretty birds
With the arrival of 14 new chickens, we knew we had to house them. We ordered a chicken chalet, which was scheduled to be delivered this week but now has been pushed back because of the weather. The chalet is a link to spring when I’ll paint it, name it and plant flowers around it.
Smoke Silkie
If the good lord’s willing and the creek don’t rise, we’ll have these breeds for sale in 2011. I can’t wait to see what we get.  If you are thinking of adding or starting to raise chickens, you may want to pick one of ours in the spring. We do ship.
Lad and Blue
So, this Saturday, when you’re opening your felt covered jewelry boxes, packages wrapped in pretty papers and bows, just think of us. Our “fowl” packages may smell a little funny--but we will be just as excited.

Cockadoodledoo to you and yours this Christmas

Thursday, December 16, 2010

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas-Part II

Hello farm friends, thank you for walking around the farm with us and checking out the decorations and our critters. It has turned quite cold since our last post--and sunny Saturday. The temperatures are now in the single digits, snow is on the ground and wind chills are registering below zero. Not easy weather for farm folk, or farm animals. So, let’s get out of the cold, take off those mittens and go inside for a look around. If you please, have some some cocoa or gingerbread coffee--all the better to take in the Christmas season.

Let’s start in the dining room. This room is black and cream so I use black, cream and gold decorations in here. The flocked tree has pretty black tassels, bulbs, gold ribbons and my very first Christmas ornament making it’s 41st appearance this year. I cherish that bulb and it works well in this room because it’s gold. The mantle is covered with greenery and white lights, but the highlight is the gold letters spelling NOEL. I love the way this room sparkles at night.

Our kitchen and gathering room has a simpler feel. The tree is tipped with iridescent hints of ice, and the greenery on the mantle has the same shimmer. We put red and white birds and lots of bird house ornaments on this tree. Everything in this room is red and silver with touches of green. My sleeping mouse from White Sheep Farm rests in this room.

I call the parlor "Mamaw’s parlor" because I have all her furniture in this room. Last year while I was decorating in here I could smell her perfume and I just knew she was sitting there watching me. She loved Christmas. I like to use vintage decorations in this room. The Santa and sleigh is a replica of an antique decoration. My goose feather tree also goes in this room. If there were a fly on the wall, it would have certainly seen me smiling the whole time I decorated this tree. It just makes me happy. The small mantle is adorned with greenery and burgundy flowers and beads.

Our live tree is a 10 foot tall Fraser fir. It is covered with woodland creatures, feathers, acorns, leaves, pine cone ornaments, pheasants, and lots of honeysuckle vine. I envision this tree in an old smoking library back in the 20s. It is beautiful and smells so good. I love the decidedly masculine feel of this room, and so does Richie.

I love this mantle with the silver poinsettias, clear beads and the reindeer standing guard. The little church, below, was given to me when my father passed away. I cherish it so much.

Well, that’s about it. It is hoped you enjoyed the Christmas tour of our house. What a wonderful time of year we get to share. I love all the decorations I’ve seen on your blogs and honestly haven’t seen a Christmas tree I don’t like. Everything about Christmas brings a smile to my face-except the last minute shopping. Ah, I still have nine days. I think I’ll sit down and have a piece of peanut butter fudge.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas-Part I

Welcome to Christmas at Verde Farm. It’s been a busy month. We started decorating right after Thanksgiving and I still didn’t get everything done. However, I am pleased with the things we did accomplish. We used a lot of natural decorations this year such as pine, holly, magnolia, pine cones and honeysuckle vine, things we had growing on the farm. I love that look. So, you might want to put on some mittens or don a winter’s cap because we’re going outside to take in the Christmas season.

Fresh wreath on the back door with some added embellishments
We had a beautiful snow already and according to the weather report it looks as if a storm is headed our way. Early snows, especially in December, certainly ensure the Christmas spirit for us. It has been bitter cold this past week, but Friday saw an increase in temperatures which rolled into Saturday. The animals took advantage of the sunshine spreading out over the property, running, playing and eating, all excited about the coming holiday. We took advantage of the nice weather, as well, by getting outside and taking some pictures. From sun to snow, here we go.
Flower cart filled with pines and berries
Donkeys in the pasture enjoying the sun but ready for the snow
The animals gathering and talking about a Christmas party they are planning 
The wagon heading home with a tree, packages and decorations
Santa's bag sits ready for the big night
Zephyr showing his tail feathers as he was excited about the decorations
A wreath with jingle bells next to the sled

Let’s look at some snowy shots.  
The barn wearing its wreath
A view of the front porch
Primitive bench on the front porch with a little holiday cheer
We put fresh white pine garland around the french doors and adorned it with red and silver sparkly balls, red ribbon, and white lights.

A simple wreath on the kitchen window

Thanks for walking around the farm and taking in our outside holiday decorations.  We will share the inside with you on our next post.  Until then, enjoy decking the halls, baking, shopping and taking in the reason for this wonderful season.  
Merry Christmas,