Foust Family Farms

  (Whitsett, North Carolina)
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Baby, it's cold outside

Brrr....what else is there to say. It's cold outside - and inside [for that matter].. My wood-fired water furnace isn't working right, so I've had to fall back to using propane. Just two months ago the price of propane was $2.56 gal. I bought some yesterday and it had gone up to $3.56 gal. Until my water furnace [heatmaster] went on the fritz, I hadn't needed to heat w/propane for the last four years. 

Then my toilets decided to stop flowing. I was afraid that the lines to the septic tank were frozen. And it doesn't help that a tree grows 10 feet to the side. Four days of "goin' to potty"  the old-fashioned way, a la the good old days...some memories are best left forgotten. i only wish i could get my body to get the urge [to go] during daytime, when it's close to being above freezing.

On the other-hand, my chickens are faring much better than i could have hoped. The roosters got a touch of frostbite on their combs. But the boys are a tough bunch. I'd built a platform two feet off the ground in the coop, but they prefer the ground...so a couple bales of old hay was put in. May throw in some fresh manure / bedding for a little added warmth.

Chick-chick [my sole hen]...I took her out of the rabbit hutch and let her run "free range"  just the other day when it was, what? 60F?  Yet, the day after, the high was only 28F?. North Carolina weather sure can be fickle.  The plastic roofing I put on the side of the hutch (facing the sun) lets in enough sunlight to keep her toasty...and except for yesterday - her water hasn't froze. I gotta take fresh water to the boys each day. 

 My cats seem unfazed by the cold. There are just so many places around the farm where they can find a warm place to hole up in. Though, more often then not, I'll spy them sitting out on the porch mat against the kitchen door. I'm guessing there's a little heat seeping out under the door.

I am thankful that only 2 inches of snow dropped. And that my bees are still alive. Two of my hives didn't fill the super I'd placed above the queen excluder. I'd filled those w/plastic frames. Apparently, the honeybees don't favor plastic. I took advantage of the 60F day to put sugar in the tops of each hive. One of the gals hitched a ride on me when I wasn't looking   and - almost stung me after I came into the house.

The wind was blowing so much that I had trouble pouring sugar in one hive and so several bees managed to focus on me [wan't wearing my bee wear]. That hive will have to get  more sugar in a week. I'm hoping for warmer temps that day. Bees can get quite "ornery" when it's cold out.

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...and Life goes on.

 Has it been so long, since my last entry? My, how time flies, when you're working on a farm...or not!

Hmm,...life goes on. what can I mean by that.  for all its tranquility, a farm is a site of Life and Death, on a regular basis.  Seed is planted in the ground. Crops sprout and then harvested. Killed - they die. Animals likewise are brought forth into a farmer's life. Raised, fed,...and dispatched. sometimes for food, generally for profit. But sometimes, out of compassion; not all farm animals are here to benefit the farm. Sometimes their presence benefits the farmer and/or his family. These critters are what you'd call "pets". Be they chickens, goats, horses, even snakes - for some.

For me, right now,...it's cats. I was a dog-person for a great many years. but even before then...cats called our farm home. I have fond memories of them critters. But one day whilst I was still a teen at home, [mom called]. Mom was calling from the home of a friend. A friend with a  dog...w/pups. My brother and sis, just had to have one...and so begin a long line [a dynasty. perhaps?] of dogs in my life. 

Sadly though,...dogs and cats, don't always mix. They may get along for a little while. But when dogs far outnumber cats...sometimes,...sometimes not so good. And so it was, just, dogs, for the next 30+ years....till...

It's sad how cancer can touch a dog's life. Or kidney failure. Or pneumonia. Or a car's bumper [at high speed] - sometimes deliberately. I lost a lot of dogs to cars that "accidently" ran over my streetwise dogs.

 But before the last one died, a cat,..a stray, showed up at our farm one day. And as we had always done w/strays that came our way. She was adopted into our family. and she and our little dog got along - well enough.

Then our little dog [Charly] got cancer. she had an operation to remove the tumors [lots]. But one grew back - with a vengeance. She's buried, [in the front yard], in her favorite dog bed. But we were not left alone,..for the stray, now called "mama kitty', was still with us. And a mama she was to be; three times over. Till one day she disappeared,..and they disappeared. But one stayed behind.

I Called her Blu. Because I thought her eyes were blue [green]. She was with us, what? five years? six? till a trip across the road one evening changed things. She left behind three kittens. Kittens we'd heard, but not seen. It took me a week to finally lay eyes on them. (after much crawling around and over all the things a farmer piles up in a shed). With the help of my then 10? yr old niece, we got them in hand. I couldn't believe they'd lasted over a week w/out food.

Rocky was the one that lasted. She had two litters, Was an excellent mouser. Left an occasional mole at my kitchen door. Brightened my days, and...was run over last week. She'd had a third litter. The first two kittens had literally dropped out of her within a few feet of me. I put them into a rabbit hutch my brother had built. Rocky birthed the other two in it. And that is were they were - till, Chick-Chick decided [week 2] to lay her eggs in it. 

  So, Rocky moved them, I knew not where. Days of "stalking" her proved fruitless. Then, she was gone for a whole day. Not typical for a nursing mother. I "sort of" looked out onto the road out front. Didn't want to see what I might see. My brother mowed the front yard and said he hadn't seen anything along road...

but later that night when I went to feed the outdoor water furnace, I found her.  I bundled her up and put her into a box. But when I lifted her - there was a 3" long tear in her backside. I could see into her body. There was little blood. I took her to the vet, in the morning. She seemed able to stand, so I was hopeful. But x-rays showed a broken pelvis. That, and the damage to her lower jaw..they recommended "putting her down." 

Last critter I bottlefed was, Squeaky. A runt of the litter piglet, that his mama had rolled onto. Me, brother, and sister were still in high school. Squeaky wound up as bacon and sausages, eventually. Though we bottlefed him, he was still a farm commodity and not a pet. We'd feed him, but then put him right back in w/his siblings...though he did recognize his name when we called. As is oftentimes said of farm animals you intend to eat or sell - don't name them. Or you may become too attached to let them go. And farmers are in it for the money. Sentiment doesn't pay the bills.

..Sending a hog off to the slaughterhouse, or chopping the head off a nameless chicken [for supper] is one thing, but having to "put down" a friend/companion,...whole nother thing...So, now [week 3.6]  I'm bottle feeding four kittens. I hope they are as good a bunch of mousers as was their mom.She made a difference. She was also good at getting rid of the pesky squirrels that liked getting into the grain wagons.

 
 

Ah, it's that time, again...

Well, yes. It is that time again. A new year, cold weather, drought summer. Same old, same old. But,...the greenhouse is going up. Gonna make it longer this year. The smaller one, that is. The big one goes up when it's warmer.

Plan on making one of those chicken mobiles. Got an old trailer.Thing's a bit bent up from hauling logs, but looks sturdy enough. 

I guess, am gonna offer a CSA again, this year. Decided to go two ways with it. a regular 10 week harvest season; will start in May, and run thru the summer into July.  Folks'll get their boxes prepacked, but will still have some say in what does or does NOT go into it. Why waste good food. I'll keep the "exotic" stuff for my own table.

The second way, is going the pay-as-you-go route. Potential members pay an upfront nonrefundable $50 fee and then whenever they do choose to come by, pay $30 for a share box. This way, if they need to be somewheres else [vacation?] they don't lose a share. Can come for as many/few pick ups as they want. Not locked in to full 10 weeks. 

Am cutting down to two farmers' markets this year. One in Greensboro and the other in Burlington.

 

 
 

Kinda nippy, huh?

 major breezy yesterday.Lots to do. Difficult to lay  frost blankets out in the fields on one's own, but managed it  and thought I was done by dark. So.there  I am, sitting in my favorite sofa with my feet up, watching the local weather forecast and they mention how farmers are dreading the next couple of hours and how the blueberry crop might get affected and WHAT???!!!.....

MY BLUEBERRIES!!!   I'd forgotten all about them. AARRRGGGHHHHHHHHHHH.............But what can I do? No more stuff to cover them with, and I'm not set up for throwing water at 'em.

gotta hope for the best. So, I'm  out and about at 2AM this morning, checking on things. Temp gauge was showing 40F.  It was a full moon and dead calm.  The smoke coming out of the chimmey was floating straight up. No breeze. Eerily quiet,...no bugs sounding off or dogs chasing anything.

I think I got lucky this time. But the month of April can still hold a few surprises. Tonight's supposed to be even colder....we'll see.

 
 
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