Wild Things Farm

  (Crab Orchard, Tennessee)
Farm life adventures of the Happy Hoer
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Keeping busy on a cold wintry day

Cabin fever?  Not me!  I am ready for spring, but there's lots to do indoors.  I had taken a bunch of neat pics of the snow all around the farm, but somehow they got lost in between the camera and the computer--I'm sure you know the feeling :-(  Just imagine everything around covered with about 5 inches of snow.

After tending to "the girls" this morning, I collected almost 2 dozen eggs.  They've begun laying more and more each day.   During December and January I was only getting a half dozen or less.

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And there were no green eggs during the winter.  I mumbled something about "soup pot" with an Amerecauna in my arms last week and suddenly they started laying!  (haha)

With the back porch stocked with firewood, (thanks to my boyfriend) I'm all warm and toasty for a day's worth of piddling.  A couple of weeks ago my sister gave me her stash of jewelry-making supplies......oh my....she created a monster!

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I did have a few things of my own, and of course I had to go purchase things I didn't have, but it's SO MUCH FUN!  Here are a few things I've put together so far.....

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A bracelet made with memory wire and a pair of earrings to match.  I gave these to my sister for sharing all her goodies with me.

jewelryinprogresswebHere are a couple of wire bracelets I'm working on, and of course I need another size wire to complete the design in my head.  Another pair of earrings is in the top of the photo and a necklace pendant (just above the beaded bracelet) is in progress.

It's amazing how time flies when I'm fooling with beads and wire.  Another batch of blackberry wine was started this morning and of course Pinterest grabbed an hour or so of my time :-)  What's the old saying "Make hay while the sun shines".....I say "make jewelry when it's nasty outside"!

One thing on my "winter list of things to do" was to tie dye a Wild Things Farm sign for the farmer's market.  I came across a nice piece of heavy fabric last summer that I've been saving for such a use.  This afternoon I tied up and dyed the background for the sign.

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It's a rainbow, grass, and a big sunshine....can't you see it?  Well, it has to sit in plastic for a day or three then rinsed out and washed and THEN we'll see if it worked.

The snow is melting quickly and tomorrow's weather forecast is for rain.  I'll be in the high tunnel harvesting greens for a Saturday "crop drop" as my youngest son has affectionately named my veggie deliveries.

Stay warm and keep busy.

 

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Life in the Country

Life in the country is somewhat different than life in the city, or even in the suburbs.  If you live in the country you have to get used to seeing, uh, well, dead things.

Theres'a perpetual spring really near the farm, called "Baker's Spout" .  It's a spring that runs under the county road that my farm is on, and someone has plumbed a pvc pipe into the spring so it is running out of a "pipe" and it runs all the time....24/7.  It's been a local "hot spot" for many, many years, and folks still gather water there for drinking.  I drank it once when I first moved out here and, um, I'm won't drink it again :-)

That makes it a favorite for local hunters to bring their fresh kill to clean under fresh running water.  Do they take the carcass, guts, and bones with them when they are through?   Nooooooo they don't.  The local dogs go shopping there quite often.  Every dog I've had since I've lived here has frequented "The Spout" for supplement to what they are fed here at the house.

Hattie is no exception.  Just a few days ago I was working over at the new high tunnel at I noticed her prancing about and was able to get a shot.......

hattiewithribcagewebShe had confiscated an entire rib cage and was carrying it about looking for a place to bury it.  Some people say "ooooh, gross"!  I say....It's life in the country  and someday she may stumble upon it and have a tasty snack to munch on :-)

 

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Living lightly

Did you know that if everyone unplugged their clothes dryers ALL the nuclear plants could shut down?  Interesting........

laundryonrailwebIn the winter I hang laundry on the stairway railing, in the summer on the porch railing.  Haven't used the dryer in.....6 years?

 
 

Brrrrr! Cold Chicken Toes

That's the only suitable title I could come up with for this post.  Sunday was fairly warm for January--in the upper 40's actually--then the wind blew and blew and the bottom fell out of the thermometer.  Monday and Tuesday night were both 8 degrees below zero and the high yesterday didn't get over 6---SIX!  That's not much.

Then, then.....the power went out about 3:15 yesterday.  I had a gut feeling about it so I put a pot of chili on the woodstove....

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Oh, and the reason it looks so light in there is because of the camera flash.  It was really dark, but I had candles lit in my awesome scavenged wrought iron chandelier that couldn't be used electrically anymore......

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It is hanging over the table in the "wining room" (the room where all of my wine is in various stages of fermentation) formerly known as the dining room.   It's actually part of the "great room" so the candles worked great.  Who actually uses a dining room that much anyway....

After staring at the fire, chunking wood, reading "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" with my tiny flashlight, and eating a bowl of pretty darn good chili,  the power came on--just about 5 hours after it went off.  I've lived off the grid before and really, I like a little electricity.  I don't use my clothes dryer, don't have tv, I heat with wood, am stingy with hot water.....but I do like electric lights...oh, and the computer :-)

Today I had to get outside.  The temp had gotten up to 30 so it was time for an excursion to the high tunnels to see how the veggies had held up to the brutal temps.  Lettuce, chard, spinach and kale all did well.  The broccoli raab and arugula succumbed to the bitter cold--BUT they were sort of on their way out anyway so it's not a big deal.

When I went to the empire of the Happy Hens yesterday to water and feed, I saw blood in the snow around the water and feed pans.  Oh no!  Not blood.....not now!  I looked at chicken toes until I found the problem.  One of the hens had broken a toenail into the quick and it was bleeding pretty profusely.    I gathered her up under my arm and headed to the house to the first aid kit.   I told her to not tell the others that she had actually been in "the house".  I grabbed some gauze and peroxide but couldn't find any adhesive tape, so here we go to the shop.  She behaved fairly well and didn't try to attack me or anything.   I was able to clip off the damaged part, pour peroxide over it a couple of times, then bandage it with a gauze pad and------electrical tape.  Maybe it will stay on long enough to heal a little.  Even  a small problem seems amplified in bitterly cold weather.

This morning when I went to water and feed and collect the frozen eggs I saw no blood and I didn't see a bandage on any chicken toes, so maybe all is well.   Their feet do look awfully cold in this weather though.

A lot of the country is experiencing this brutal cold front called, what, "Ion" or something like that?  Stay warm and pore over the seed catalogs.....spring will be here before we know it!

 

 
 

A little more protein than I bargained for

Yesterday morning, instead of the usual yogurt, fruit, and granola, I opted for a fresh pear that I picked from a friend of a friend of a friend....well, somebody's tree, and a piece of Friendship Bread with cream cheese on top--a little indulgence to break the routine.  Okay, I was out of granola.

I lightly toasted the bread, shmeared (yes, that's "sh"meared) the cream cheese, cut up the pear and sat down to enjoy a light breakfast.  I finished the bread first, and got to the last slice of pear....took a bite.....and there was a worm pulling itself back into the center of the slice.......

wormonplate

 

See it there in the lower right hand part of the plate--I put an arrow next to it (I think it's an arrow, anyway).

I'm glad it was a whole worm.

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Little Miss Muffett

I know why the spider frightened Miss Muffett away....it was probably a Black Widow.

Today was one of those "piddling" days where there are some things on the to-do list but nothing really pressing (finally!)  I had gone to the big high tunnel to remove unneeded items for the winter season and store them where they are supposed to be stored--flower pots, a stray gourd, a sprayer, and a sprayer box with attachments inside.  The box had been flattened during its abuse this summer, being tossed around out of the way of summer harvesting.

I took all the "stuff" to the shop to sort out and properly store.  I opened the sprayer box and noticed that the owner's manual brochure, warranty card, and plastic bag with spray tips were all glued inside the box with spider webs, including about 2 dozen acorns and some leaves.  I swiped it all out with my hand (bare, no less) and cleaned off the book and other items and put them away.  I had thrown the box down in the floor of the seed starting greenhouse and when I walked back out there, this is what I saw:

blackwidowwebsize

The spider is just to the right of the peanut butter lid.  I know it doesn't look like much here, but in real life it weighed 2 pounds!  Well, it WAS about 1-1/4" from tip-to-tip.  I was REALLY, REALLY close...can't you tell?

And I was lucky she didn't bite me while I was sweeping her house clean with my hand!

P.S.  The peanut butter jar lid is what I used to trap her while I ran to get the camera.

P.S. again.....she's a lot smaller now.

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Out of the Box

Everything on a farm doesn't have to do with dirt under the fingernails.  Sometimes it's grease under the fingernails.  The Subaru Veggie Wagon has been letting me know for the past few months that something was going on with the front end.  So, like the frugal person I am, I drove it until it had to be fixed. A few weeks ago I did get an estimate from a mechanic and from the description I gave him he thought it was an axle--about $200.

I started to town a couple of days ago and decided it was time--the steering wheel was pulling back and forth so I turned around and went home, got on Google (my favorite "how to" go to place), and Googled the problem.  A few Googles later I decided that it was the cv axle, so I watched a couple of videos on Youtube.  The job really didn't look that hard, so I drove the truck to town to get parts--$60--and I had to "borrow" a 32mm socket to take the axle nut off.

Just as I was getting all the parts removed from the car, Shane (boyfriend) pulled up and asked what in the world was I doing.  I told him I was making $140.00.  He told me I was crazy for tackling that job and started muttering things about transmission and oil, and I politely told him that I had watched the video and would get it done, so he left (yay).  The next morning the weather was cold with wind blowing but I donned the insulated coveralls and crawled under the car where it was warm (not cozy, just warm).

I'm glad there was no camera around because I had to keep coming back to the computer to make sure I was doing everything right and I'm glad no one was recording audio, BUT in spite of myself,  by 10:00 I was driving my veggie wagon back to town to return the socket and old parts!  All I can say is that I love the Internet and Youtube and it gave me the confidence to say "yes, I can" get out of my box and do something I hadn't before.

Oh, and there was a reason the guy in the video ground down a punch to knock out the pin in the axle--my screwdriver got stuck and I didn't think I was going to be able to get it out.

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Late winter on the farm

Although mud is still the most popular flooring in the great outdoors, spring is creeping through the cracks.  A couple of freezer burned hyacinths stand amidst the bones and skeletons of the front perennial garden, and the spring peepers have been screaming out their mating calls for the past several weeks.

Several sunny days have been enjoyed by the resident farm dogs, Angus the boxer and Hattie the Catahoula.  Angus cracks me up the way he sits with all his legs sticking out in front of him.  I've taken several pics of him in this position, but his "plumbing" shows too much.  I was able to catch him in the pose in the flower garden outside the greenhouse.  Hattie is snoozing in the background.  He can sleep sitting up very well!

 

The warm sunny afternoons beckon me to the woods for a late afternoon stroll.  It's more fun to walk in the woods right now before the ticks, chiggers, poison ivy, and ssssssssnakes start terrorizing the woodlands.  I caught Hattie posing on a bluff just above one of the garden areas:

 

The small greenhouse is getting full of seedlings on their way to becoming transplants, then to garden plants, then onto some lucky person's plate!


The heart of the farm flows out of the mountain bordering one side of the property.  This stream flows year round and is utilized to water the crops and happy hens that live on the farm.  A resident kingfisher enjoys the bounty of minnows in the small pond and the dogs like to play in the water on hot summer days.  Personally, I think it's too darned cold to get in.

 

 

The high tunnel is still producing great fresh veggies for sale and personal consumption.  This winter the tunnel has produced swiss chard, lettuce, arugula, and one harvest of spinach.  For some reason the spinach just didn't grow at all.  I believe the soil got too wet early in the season and just never dried out.  Next year the spinach will be elevated to new heights!

In the right hand side of the tunnel, the stubborn spinach was yanked out and snow peas planted in their place.  The row covers are handy when the weather outside is frigid, but they've only been utilized like two times this past pseudo-winter.  Early tomatoes, beets, carrots, more lettuce and spinach are going into the high tunnel over the next few weeks.

Whew, to be winter time and the "down season", I seem to be awfully busy :)

 
 

Fall is in the air

Fall is my favorite time of year–always has been. I love the colors of the trees, the cooler weather…..and putting on a jacket after hanging it in the closet last season. You know where I’m going–I put on a jacket this morning to pick peppers and tomatoes and stuck my hands in the pockets and found $6.00 AND a pair of reading glasses. I’m a lucky girl <img src=" src="http://wildthingscsafarm.com/blog/wp-includes/images/smilies/icon_smile.gif" />
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Do you remember?

Do you remember where you were when JFK was shot? I was in Mrs. Watson's 2nd grade class, probably spinning my wooden chair around on one leg, when the announcement came over the loudspeaker.

Do you remember where you were when the terrorists struck on 911? I was in a stress management class. Yes, a STRESS managment class. Imagine that! We didn't have access to TV until late that afternoon but I'll never forget that day and WE need to never forget that day........

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M - I - C - K - E - Y

T - o - m - a - to

 

Well, what else am I supposed to do in the sweltering heat while picking produce?

 
 

How was your day?

Yesterday my son called and the first words out of his mouth were a question.  I must have sounded kind of short with him because he said "You sound like I interrupted something".  I apologized and after we hung up I realized that this time of year is so busy that I have to interrupt myself sometimes!

Anyway, things are rocking right along here in the kingdom of Wild Things.  Early mornings are always peaceful before the sound of the tractor breaks the foggy silence

This garden is called the Blackberry Garden and that's because the blackberries are planted over there.  The berries are just starting to show their tasty color and I've nibbled on a few of them....won't be long

This year cut flowers have been added to the crop menagerie at the farm.  The two trips to the farmer's market have resulted in violent thunderstorms, but the flowers are pretty so I'll keep trying

 

 

 

This is the first CSA season with the high tunnel.  It's really enhanced the early part of the season with snow peas and beets in the first couple of boxes, then fresh tomatoes and cucumbers in early June! 

This is one of the wierdest tomatoes I've picked.  It had folds and horns on just about every side--but it tasted yummy!

Some parts of the country are dusty dry and hot, but here at the farm it's rained almost every day.  Some folks would say well, that's good isn't it?  You're growing stuff and they need rain.  Well, it's true to some degree, but I'm worried about the tomatoes getting that dreaded blight again, I lost the only Eryngium yuccifolium in my flower bed (Rattlesnake master), the canteloupe planted in the high tunnel have drowned (groundwater level too high) and some of the green beans are hollering for help.

The weatherman says later this week hotter and drier.....I say good.

Weeding Wisdom

(random thoughts while weeding)

We call a doctor's business a practice and a lawyer's businss a practice......definitely a farmer's business should be called a practice.

 

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Keeping an eye (and bucket, and board, and stick) on the weather

Here we are, "knee deep" into winter.  December around here was as cold as I remember it being for such an extended spell.  At least the temperature has gotten into the double digits now, although still quite cold. 

Back in the fall someone from the NOAA contacted the farm to see if being a daily "weather observer" was something of interest.  The duties include reading and reporting the temperature maximum and minimums and temperature at observation time,  every day, which is all done with this handy-dandy inside unit:

The temperatures are detected by this strange-looking thermometer on a stick in the back yard:  (the blocks are part of the future fireplace/chimney project)

 and when it rains or snows, the rain gauge, a fiberglass snow board, and a measuring stick come into play.

The rain gauge is pretty cool though, because you can measure down to the hundredths-of-an-inch of rain.  A plexiglass "cutting board" is utilized to measure the snowfall depth.

The weather service utilizes observers to more completely get a picture of weather and climate in an area.  It's also interesting to see how many degrees difference there are between Wild Things Farm and the local airport.  Airport you say?  Why certainly---the Crossville International Airport-----just kidding.

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Winter Projects Underway

The summer season is way too busy to work on house-building projects, so each winter there's a list of things to do during the funky weather.  One of the projects is flooring. 

A friend of a friend had oak tongue and groove flooring left over from a project and he wanted it out of his storage so I was so kind to take it off his hands :)  I measured and calculated and "oh my goodness" it was enough to do the bedroom and maybe the closet.  He even loaned me the nailer and gave me nails. 

I've helped on two hardwood flooring projects, did the upstairs floor out of 2x6 pine on my own, but never have I had to actually hit that monster nailer thingee by myself.  I got the first two rows down by drilling and nailing with finish nails and then it was time to drag out the yellow monster (nailer thingee that is). 

After about 15 rows of boards I've gotten just a teeny bit better.  I'm still having to pull nails out that didn't go in far enough and drive others in all the way with a hammer and a nail set.  I hate to admit it, but these manual floor nailers are a guy tool.  I'll get through the floor but I'm not calling for an inspector!

 

After the nailer from you-know-where comes the floor sanders from you-know-where.  I think I'll ask for help with them.  Stay warm!

 
 

Summer Showers

It's been exceptionally hot and dry here this summer.  I've been able to irrigate most all the gardens except for the corn, sweet potatoes and assorted winter squash and melons, but even with regular irrigation, it "ain't like Mother Nature" did it. 

Yesterday, last night, and this morning we were fortunate enough to have showers in Crab Orchard.  The rain gauge this morning measured 2.1" of rain--Yippee!  Summer showers are welcome!!

There's another kind of summer shower that's welcome.  You know, when you've been out all day long, gotten drenched with sweat a few times and dried, then sprayed insect repellant, smeared sunscreen on at least 2 times, then sweated some more?  When I finally decide that I can't stand myself any longer, I head for the shower, and I use that as my excuse to "clock out" for the day :)

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