Monday, February 28, 2011

Red Gate Farm-Thank You

Hi farm friends, hope you had a great weekend and enjoyed Farm Friend Friday (FFF) as much as we did. We made new friends this week and were so impressed with all the wonderful posts. We were also excited to have 65 participants. I would love to get 75 this coming Friday for FFF #5. If you have thought about joining, this week would be a great time. Spread the word and invite your farm/ranch friends to join the celebration. Now, on to the story at hand.

A dreary Feb. was recently brightened in an inspiring way, coming when the winter seemed heaviest. I’ve been fortunate in the past few months to have found a wonderful blog, Red Gate Farm, I’ve been reading and loving. Chris and her family are fun to follow and examples of hard working, creative, innovative people. That hard work and creativity is on display at their picturesque farm, which I envy. This dear blog friend celebrated her first year in the blogosphere by having a giveaway--and boy was it a dandy. I was so excited and wanted to win.

One evening, on the road, away from home, in a hotel, sort-of feeling sorry for myself, I opened an email from Chris informing me I had won. I was so happy I actually did a cabbage patch dance, right there in the hotel room.

The package soon arrived and as I said before: Boy it’s a dandy. Two boxes filled to the rim with goodies. She carefully wrapped some of the pretties in awesome, vintage dress patterns and fabric ribbons. And, it’s as if the gift box was bottomless. Like a magician pulling handkerchiefs from a top hat, I kept on and on pulling gifts from this wonderful box, becoming more thrilled with each find. I had hot teas, a vintage teacup and saucer,  Lindt chocolates, a garden planner, colored pencils and so much more. It came in a fabulous burlap bag with a cute flower. Wow.

So far, I have enjoyed the chocolates and half-heartedly allowed farmer to have a piece. I’ve been looking through the 2011 garden magazines, as well as a vintage seed magazine and my next step will be to put pencil to paper and start my special garden journal/planner. I will also dig in the wonderful dirt with the cutest garden tool you’ve ever seen and don the best garden apron around.

Chris, I can’t thank you enough and I am so thrilled with this wonderful, generous, lovingly shared giveaway that has truly brightened a gloomy, grey month here at Verde Farm.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart,

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Farm Friend Friday #4 -The Muscovy

If you are like me, it’s likely you’ve never heard of a Muscovy duck. When I set out to purchase my first farm critters at Verde, I knew I wanted a few ducks and some chickens, but I knew nothing about the myriad of choices awaiting me.  Three-years ago, I simply thought ducks were...ducks. I have since learned differently.

I visited a farmer who lives “out Wayne,” in Wayne County. “Out Wayne” means it’s a drive from Huntington--but I digress. Anyway, I always love visiting this little farm and looking at the different animals. The Wayne farmer primarily sells chickens, ducks and rabbits. I was looking for chickens and ducks on my first trip. What I found were muscovies.

I saw these large “ducks” with varied colors and big red masks on their faces with warty growths, cute right? I didn’t think so the first time I saw them. Honestly, I was a little frightened by them because they looked and sounded very Darth Vaderesque--especially the breathing. Is that James Earl Jones or a muscovy? "These are muscovy ducks,” the farmer said.  “They’re great for farms, eat a lot of flies and are quack-less." Hmm, quack-less ducks that eat flies? It has to be a good thing.

I brought home three muscovies that day. Two of them were black and white pied, and one was grey and white pied. At the time, they were “juvies” or juveniles because they were in between the duckling and adult bird stages. None of the three had the red mask either. I later learned those develop in adulthood. Once I got home, I did some research on the muscovy and after three years of raising them, we truly love these interesting birds. So, here is the low down...

1. Muscovies are not really ducks at all. Of course they look like ducks, but they don’t sound like ducks. According to conventional wisdom, then, these webbed footed, water loving, waddling walking creatures were not ducks. In order to be a duck, you have to look and sound like a duck, right? These birds are tree perching waterfowl that come from South America.

2. The red masks on their faces are called caruncles. At first they seem bizarre but once you get to know your muscovies, you fall in love with those beautiful red masks.

3. They really don’t quack. They make a puffing type sound and it’s not a loud sound at all. Sometimes they squeak. It’s actually quite pleasant and sweet.

4. They forage for most of their food and eat a large number of flies daily. Farm studies have repeatedly shown they can reduce the fly population by 80 to 90 percent. It’s fun to watch them eating, the way they move their heads to catch flies on the wing is quite funny.

5. Muscovy are hardy birds and disease resistant and require little effort to keep them. We feed them a little chicken scratch in the morning and evening and they do the rest. It’s funny to watch them come running to the barn porch at the sound of the cowbell, which means it’s feeding time.  Suddenly, the farmer appears from the barn holding his feeding scoop and sometimes they’re so excited they meet the feed in the air as it’s falling from the scoop. It’s as if the farmer is a maestro and they are  an extremely captivated audience waiting for the music to begin.

Farmer and Shep are up on the porch
6. Male muscovies are called drakes and girls are called ducks--some call them hens.

7. It’s good to raise them with shelter. They are cold hardy, but because of predators and extremely low temperatures, it’s best for them to have a safe haven at night. I can tell you this is sometimes difficult because once they find water and outside roosting, they don’t like to come in.

8. They like to roost. Every evening, just like our chickens although maybe a little later, they fly to their roosts for the night. Some will stay on the pond, but most prefer a roost on our fence, bear cage or rock wall.

9. Muscovy mothers are wonderful and systematically teach their babies to clean their down, eat and most importantly, swim. There is nothing cuter than a mama and babies walking to the pond for the first swimming lesson. I cried when I saw it. And as if they weren’t wonderful enough, muscovy ducks are often used to sit on chicken eggs, and are also able to raise baby chicks, too.

10. Daddy’s are very involved in raising their young. It is a rare sight to see mama and her ducklings out wandering around without the male drake supervising and ensuring safety. He usually waddles along the perimeter and herds his ducklings wherever they need to go.

Class is in session
So, what can be better than a quack-less duck that eats most of your flies and needs very little care from you? I can’t think of a thing.

We are doing a post next week to follow up on the great questions you asked about peafowl. Stay tuned.

This button is available to grab in our sidebar
Welcome to our fourth Farm Friend Friday (FFF). We are so excited to have you join the party and visit the wonderful posts shared here. Spread the word, and feel free to copy the code below so you can post the entire list of linkies to your post, as well as ours--which makes this a blog “hop.” I would love to see us get 75 farm lovers to join us for our next FFF, March 3. Simply click below and follow the steps. Be sure to visit the partygoers and leave them comments so they know you stopped by to see them.

Let the farm fun begin...

Farm Friend Friday #4-coming this evening

Hi farm friends, just a friendly reminder that we will be posting the link for farm life lovers to join up for a Farm Friend Friday weekend. Share this with your farm/ranch/country life buddies so they can join too. The participation has been great and we've had all kinds of feedback about the great posts being shared. Look forward to Farm Friend Friday #4...coming this evening and open through the weekend.

See you then,

Monday, February 21, 2011

Peafowl 101

Hi farm friends, hope you had a great weekend. Once again we were thrilled with the participation of Farm Friend Friday and the many great posts. I hope you were able to visit some of them, as well. I read each one and learned a lot, laughed a lot and cried a bit--all good for the soul, I think.

Today we want to share a little about our peafowl, Zephyr and Chloris. As it goes here at Verde Farm, I must say we knew very little about these interesting creatures before I set out to buy a pair. Yes, “I” set out to buy them. The farmer wasn’t sold on this endeavor, but I knew I could win him over in time. We are "learn as you go" kinda folks, and believe me, that is not always a good way to proceed, yet we used this method and jumped into the world of peafowl. We’ve learned a great deal. However, in the beginning we didn’t know a thing.

First of all, we thought all peafowl were called peacocks. Now, that was silly considering we have chickens and know a boy is a cock, and the girl is a hen. We never considered a girl “peacock” is a peahen. The first thing to know is boys and girls together are called peafowl. Boy peafowl are peacocks and girls are peahens.

As with most feathered creatures, the peacock is the one with all the gorgeous plumage. Wonder why God didn’t stick with that plan in the human species (sorry guys-just had to say that). The peacock also has a very long train. The girls are more diminutive and have shorter tail feathers. They lack the bright colors of their more well known male counterparts--think NBC. Most people are taken with the vibrant colors of the peacock but I think the peahen is absolutely beautiful too-- but less flashy.

Do you know the old saying “shake your tailfeathers” originated with our peafowl friends? Peacocks are known for spreading their beautiful tails--but we were unprepared for the accompanying intense shaking they generate. It’s as if our Zephyr’s shooting a death ray toward the chickens, ducks or even Shep. This glorious display is quite mesmerizing and could easily induce a trance. He puts on quite a show every evening about 5 p.m. and the heavy eyed chickens never miss a performance. It’s quite a show and I can see how the Vegas showgirls copied these great birds with their style and dance.

Peafowls roost. They prefer to be high off the ground so their tails drape and won’t crumple and break. Many, including ours, prefer to roost in trees. It is almost impossible to get them inside once they get on the roost. Ours have spent some incredibly cold nights outside this winter. I would not recommend this at all. They have, only once, gotten out of the tree and moved inside during the middle of the night.

Their wings need to be clipped to prevent them from flying. It’s like clipping a duck or chicken wing, only longer. You clip one side, and this causes them to be off balance when they attempt to fly. Our pair have been here almost a year. They wander around the yard and pasture areas, but they don’t go too far. It is important to contain them for a few weeks, or months, in the beginning so they know where their food is and thus where the home fires burn.

Ok, so that’s a little bit about these amazing birds. I can honestly say we enjoy watching them every day and they do not disappoint. Farmer, as predicted, did come around and loves Zephyr and Chloris--as I knew he would. If you are considering peafowl, read up on the internet, talk to others who have them and make sure you have the right facilities to accommodate them because of their large size and domineering personality. Feel free to ask us any questions about the wonderful peafowl that you would like to know and we will do our best to answer.

Today we are linking up with Angela at WV Treasures for Show and Tail. You will enjoy all the animal posts shared there each Tuesday.

Have a great week,

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Farm Friend Friday #3

Hello farm friends, it’s that time again. Farm life lovers can join together for a weekend of Farm Friend Friday. Everyone is welcome to post about farm life related topics and you don’t have to live on a farm or have animals to join up.  I will leave the link up all weekend to give you plenty of time to visit each of the party goers and as you do, leave them a comment to say you stopped by. It’s also great to share the posts you like on facebook or twitter. So, let the fun begin...

It’s very easy, just click below and follow the steps. If you would like to share the Farm Friend Friday button, feel free, it’s available on my sidebar.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Verde Farm Chicken Picks

Hello farm friends, it’s time again for the chicken branch to leave the coop and share some of their favorite recent posts with you. They’ve been busy, busy, busy reading and choosing just a few they think you shouldn’t miss. Our consistent chickens have once again made great choices. So, without further adieu, Verde Farm Chicken Picks...

A little background for the hen picks this week:
Sometimes, random actions simultaneously occur for no reason. For example, you were just thinking about an old friend when lo and behold the friend calls--out of the blue. It’s always after the fact we might search for the reason or meaning behind “coincidence"--but usually there is no obvious explanation. Some things weren’t meant to be understood. Anyway, these topics have been flying around the coop lately because of two posts that happened in a serendipitous way. 

Sunny D-Light’s Pick:
Sunny D. and Charlotte were so excited about the post attached by Kim at My Field Of Dreams , which included a wonderful poem called “All I ever learned in life I learned from my hens” by Michael Oleson. They were beaming with pride once they read it and felt honored such a wonderful poem had been written about hens. We all decided to type it up, print it on pretty paper, get a nice frame and put it in the Heartbeak Hotel as part of Charlotte’s home decorating plan. Kim’s posts are always inspirational, spiritual and touch you deep inside. She often shares stories and poems she’s read and relates them to her own life. You won’t want to miss it.

Lady Charlotte Pedigree’s Pick:
Now, the serendipitous part: Kim posted on “Farm Friend Friday,” a blog party for farm life bloggers to get together and share posts. The poem Kim shared--which Charlotte, Sunny and I thought was an old one, and certainly written by farm women of long ago--actually wasn’t so old at all. In fact, the lady who wrote this poem just happened to join "Farm Friend Friday”the same day and saw Kim’s special post. Michaele Oleson from Sprout “n” Wings Farm was surprised to find her name and poem at “My Field of Dreams,” circulating many more miles than imagined. Coincidence or what?You can read Michaele’s post about this below. She also has a wonderful blog about her life as a single mom restoring a farm house and farming with animals and trolls. You won’t want to miss her either. 

Plato’s Pick:
Plato also found something he  knows you’ll love. He’s crowing about  Barn Charm by Tricia at Bluff Area Daily. This wise old rooster loves history. He’s spent many years studying old barns and books on farming in America and this blog is right down his alley. In fact, he gave it three chicken toes up. He is also thrilled to recommend Tricia’s blog party Monday evenings and continuing to Wednesday mornings, every week. Another don’t miss blog. 

Well, that’s it from the chicken coop.

We hope to see you at Farm Friend Friday this week.
Cluck, cluck

Monday, February 14, 2011

Love, Love, Hooray For Love

Happy Valentine’s Day farm friends. This is the day couples celebrate their love and romance with cards, candies, gifts and flowers. "One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome,” aaccording to "When Emperor Claudius II decided single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men — his crop of potential soldiers. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine's actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death."

Many legends and stories have sprung from this special day, but one thing common to all is a romantic Saint named Valentine who was willing to put himself at risk for love. I don’t know about you, but I’m certainly glad he did. Valentine’s Day and romance are not only for humans, in fact we have many romances here at Verde Farm each day. So, in honor of love and romance everywhere, I give you the affairs of the heart at Verde Farm...

“For it was not in my ear you whispered, but into my heart. It was not my lips you kissed, but my soul.”
-Judy Garland

“It takes a minute to have a crush on someone, an hour to like someone and a day to love someone-but it takes a lifetime to forget someone.” -Unknown

“Laugh as much as you breathe and love as long as you live.” -Unknown

“Love is not blind; it simply enables one to see things others fail to see.”-Unknown

“I love you not because of who you are, but because of who I am when I am with you.”
 -Roy Croft

Today we are linking with Mary at Little Red House. Check-out all the beautiful mosaics there, you won’t be disappointed. 

Thank you, St. Valentine.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Farm Friend Friday #2

“I need to laugh, and when the sun is out
I’ve got something I can laugh about
I feel good, in a special way
I’m in love and it’s a sunny day"

Hi farm friends, remember that happy song? Well, I heard and felt it beaming through my window all day long. None of us here at Verde have seen the solar ball or felt its warm rays for weeks. We’ve been worried we may never see him again. I know Jimmy Dean has kept him busy with those breakfast commercials, but seriously, it’s time to get back to work-- and today, he did.

Let’s take a walk and see what’s going on out there, shall we?

Jeckle and Hyde couldn’t wait on us to get outside. They kept knocking, knocking at the door and then started to ring the bell they were so excited to let us know it was a “Good Day Sunshine” kinda day.

"Good day sunshine
  Good day sunshine
   Good day sunshine”

Burdock was waiting for us at the gate. I am pretty sure he was hoping for a cookie and a nose rub. He got both and bounded into the pasture humming along.

"We take a walk, the sun is shining down
Burns my feet as they touch the ground”

Chaucer told Lydia it was ok to come out of her hiding place at Heartbeak Hotel. “Good Day Sunshine," he said. Hesitant Lydia reluctantly came outside, but quarreled about the residual white stuff clinging to the hard ground. 

"Good day sunshine
  Good day sunshine
    Good day sunshine”

This fowl group didn’t have to be told to come outside, they were out in full strut and sun bathing for the first time in a long time.

Cogburn was glowing when I snapped this one. See the rainbow ring around him? He was crowing with such pride. He was looking for a hen and singing...

“Then we lie beneath a shady tree
I love her and she’s loving me
She feels good, she knows she’s looking fine
I’m so proud to know that she is mine”

Rain was happy, too. Golden in the sun, he hid behind the fence looking for place to shade his eyes. However, he wasn’t complaining because it was a “Good Day Sunshine” kinda day.

"Good day sunshine
  Good day sunshine
   Good day sunshine”

Now it’s time for Farm Friend Friday. Can’t wait to see who joins us this week. Let’s get this farm party started because it’s a “Good Day Sunshine” kinda day.

1. Post your Farm Friend Friday story
2. Copy the link to that post from your URL browser
3. Click below on “Click here to enter”
4. Type your name or blog name in the Linky box
5. Paste the URL for that post in the Linky box
6. Right click on the Farm Friend Friday button and click “save as” to your computer
7. Upload the picture/button to your post and add the following link: or
8. Link back to Farm Friend Friday by posting the link
9. This will allow others to come back here to see all the other posts shared

Happy Friday,

Farm Friend Friday -coming this evening

Hi farm friends, just a friendly reminder that our Farm Friend Friday post will be up this evening. Hope all you farm life folks will join us for a great kick off to the weekend. Remember, you don’t have to live on a farm to join. Farm life can happen in many ways: cooking, photography, travel, quilting, spinning and so on, so don’t be shy. See you then.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

An Overdue Tag/Award Response

'Rainy Day Farm' tagged me a few weeks ago and I am finally getting it together. The questions were fun and I hope you enjoy learning a bit more about me. I have the most difficult time getting these types of posts up, and I want to say thank you to all my friends who have nominated us for blog awards and tags. I love doing them, but have a hard time getting them written, maybe because I have to soul search more. I thank you for the 'Versatile Blogger' from 'My Field Of Dreams' and the 'Stylish Blogger' from 'Lazy On Loblolly,’ 'Red Gate Farm,’ 'Beyond The Garden Gate,' too. Please know, I so appreciate the thought and support from each of you. 

So, without further adieu, my response. 

1. If you have pets, do you see them as merely animals, or are they members of your family?

I have to say we don’t know what it would be like to have an animal that wasn’t a member of the family. We just love them all and give them all names and love so they are our family for sure. 

Silly Shep
George the Papillon 
2. If you can have a dream to come true, what would it be?

To be able to make a living through our farm alone. We just can’t do that right now and I work full time, which is really about 70 hours a week. I would love to be able to have more land and grow our farm and the animals we have, as well.

3. What is the one thing most hated by you? 

Animal cruelty. Of course we love animals, and I know all folks don’t feel the way we do about them and that is perfectly ok, but those who harm them for no reason, don’t take care of them, abuse them or kill them for fun get no empathy or compassion from me. Animals are at our mercy for their care, and it’s a cruel person that harms one.

4. What would you do with a billion dollars?


Oh my, so much. I honestly would love to have a shelter for animals on lots of land with staff to help care for them and love them. That would be a wonderful dream come true. I would also donate a good chunk to two causes that touch my heart, cancer research and Alzheimer’s research.

5. What helps to pull you out of a bad mood?


6. Which is more blessed, loving someone or being loved by someone?

I think being loved by someone. Receiving love is hard to beat.

7. What is your bedtime routine?

Change into comfy chicks rule robe,  wash face, brush teeth and all that good stuff. Watch a little TV, read or blog for a bit until I am sleepy, and that doesn’t take long. 

8. If you are currently in a relationship, how did you meet your partner?

I almost didn’t.  I was out with some friends one night and we wanted to hear some live music. I lived in Asheville, N.C. at the time, and being new there I didn’t know where to go. We saw a sign at a restaurant which read, “Batcave Philharmonic” and passed it by. We went to another place, but no live music, so I suggested we go back to check out the “Batcave" act. My future husband was sitting on stage playing the guitar and singing. Little did I know how important it was that I come back to that restaurant.

9. If you could watch a creative person in the act of the creative process, who would it be?

Sarah Richardson from HGTV’s Sarah’s House. I love every single room she designs. I even dreamed one night I went to Canada to find her and bring her to W.Va. to help me. Tommy too of course.

10. What kinds of books do you read?

I love a good mystery or criminal, serial killer kind of books. James Patterson books are some of my favorites.  I also love Nicholas Sparks and read "The Notebook" on the beach while it was pouring the rain. I was the only one out there under an umbrella, but I would not put it down until I was finished.

11. How would you see yourself in ten years time?

Being able to spend more time at home with my family and farm. I want to be right where I am but not working so much.

12. What’s your fear?

Losing my husband. If something happened to him I don’t know what I would do for so many obvious reasons, and I don’t know how I would take care of this wonderful place we live without him.

13. Would you give up all junk food for the rest of your life for the opportunity to visit outer space?

Nope, that doesn’t excite me that much. I may give it up for a trip to Tuscany, though.

14. Would you rather be single and rich or married, but poor?

Definitely married but poor because I believe you can change your own circumstances, and two is better than one.

15. What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?

Put on my pink glasses. I am blind as a bat without them.

16. If you could change one thing about your spouse/partner what would it be?

I wish he were a movie lover like I am. He can barely sit still for the two- hours and feels like he’s wasting valuable time. I love movies and would love to do that together more than twice a year.

17. If you could pick a new name for yourself, what would it be?

I think instead of Amy I would like to be called Emmy. My uncle called me Emmy my whole life. I think it’s more unique and I love Emmylou Harris. 

18. Would you forgive and forget no matter how horrible a thing that special someone has done?

I would certainly forgive and most often forget as time heals but I think it’s hard to say until you have walked down that path.

19. If you could only eat one thing for the next 6 months, what would it be?

Oh my that is a tough one. I am going to say spaghetti. I just love it and you can make it in so many different ways.

So that’s it, a little about me. I am supposed to pass this on to others and think you all deserve the awards and would welcome anyone to share their answers to the tag. It’s a lot of fun.

From Kim at My Field Of Dreams
From Lazy on Loblolly, Red Gate Farm and Beyond The Garden Gate