Monday, June 28, 2010

Handsome fellow

My son and I rescued a handsome fellow from a very busy street. He was just sitting in the middle of the road, pulled in and scared. We stopped to help him along and something told me to pick him up. It turns out he is a pretty good sized male 
Wood turtle, Clemmys insculpta.

My violin teacher, Jane, alias, 'turtle freak',
was so excited when I told her why we were late for lessons.

He is so beautifully colored. Males have a concave shell and longer claws. Wood turtles have shells that look very engraved and pyramidal. They don't usually get this big, they typically grow to 5-8 inches. They eat berries, tender vegetables, insects, grubs, worms and snails. Their shells aren't hinged so they can't pull their legs or tail in too far. You can count the scutes on a wood turtle to calculate its age, just like the rings of a tree. Our guy is 13 or 14 years old. The place that I found him is being rapidly developed so we decided to let him go on our farm. We have the perfect habitat, slow moving, sandy bottomed streams, woodland fields and only one or two cars a day, at most!

Jane said that she has seen two in all of her years. Bob, our mountain man friend who spends weeks in the woods has never seen one his whole life....

They are considered a friendly, nice turtle. Not feisty like a snapper... When Jane and I were flipping through some books we read in the Anna Botsford Comstock's book, "This is one of our most common turtles." She wrote her Handbook of Nature Study in 1911. In the E. Laurence Palmer, Fieldbook of Natural History written in 1949, it said that they are not as common as they once were and now, the NH Fish and Game considers the Wood turtle a species of special concern...

One handsome guy made it.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Living the good life.

We got our little baby broiler flock last Sunday early. We drove to Vermont to pick them up! Thirty-five little, fluffy babies. It is our second year, I know the routine. I give them love, very good food and lots of grass and bugs and they give us meat. It is the reality of our food. My husband and I decided last year, the night before the harvest that if we couldn't do this we HAD to be vegetarians... some one else is doing the harvesting somewhere and at least we know that our babies are raised humanely, with love, good food and no stress or pain. We rarely eat beef and we try to only eat fish that we have caught in a river or lake that we know... and I have to say that our chickens are the most delicious we have ever eaten.

Our mobile chicken coop, totally made with beg, borrowed and recycled material. Not too cute, yet. A little green paint and oh well, you know, I will make it cute! We are going to move it out behind the horses in the field. We are trying to be good grass farmers and have the pasture well divided. So to keep the field healthy, I bought an old scythe last winter and we plan to cut/save some grass for the geese the old fashioned way this summer. And for the chickens we use our electric webbing fence that just sticks into the ground so that we can protect our flock and they can move around freely!

Have you ever read Small Farm Journal?

We want to wean ourselves off of corporate, industrial food. We try to eat like localvores, it helps being so close to Vermont and all of these farmers up here. It is like stepping back in time to live in New England, they are very proud of their farming, small town heritage. It is truly amazing and wonderful, especially for a flat lander like me. So every summer we are getting closer and closer to our goal of living simply and feeding ourselves for the entire year. We are hoping to build a root cellar in our basement this summer and green house out back... fingers crossed. So far we have a big chest freezer, a dehydrator and natural drying box.

Here are two of our four baby turkeys, two Bronze Breasted and three White Breasted. We hope to start breading the bronze and Narragansett next year too. This is our first year raising turkeys.

My darling holding one of our two lovely, sweet, kissable, huggable, Toulouse geese. He is holding Flory, Toulouse is in the pen. We got these two just as pets, no foie gras... they make great watch dogs and they are the cat's meow....
We hope they will keep our lovey goose company this winter...

And me, farmer girl, in clean clothes, such a rarity these days... you can't see the dirt on my hands, always have them in the earth these days! Life is good....

"Do the best that you can in the place that you are, and be kind." Scott Nearing.
Ah, my mantra.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A bag for Hannah

I made a bag for my dear friend, Hannah, so that she can carry her work with her on her trip through life. I hoped it would be a bag Jane Austen might have liked. I wanted to add some of my old sewing notions that I had picked up over these many years. I had them hidden away, here and there, through out my sewing room and wanted to gift them to her so that she can share in their energy too. Just think, some women, some where in time, created something useful or beautiful with these tools. They had been hidden away in some one else's sewing room a long time ago and they continue to live now in Hannah's bag.

Little knitting needles that I fixed up just for her. They were an old wooden pair without tops, so I added happy faces instead...

I sewed lots of little pockets to carry all of the little treasures I had collected on my journey through life... old darning thread, darning tools, Victorian snaps and latches, a very sweet, old thimble, a bit of hemp line and some vintage clothes pins to hang dry her work out in the Colorado air.

I also made a little needle case and tucked in a few very old pins and needles just for the fun of it!

Every girl needs a stash of fabric and some linen. A few fat quarters that I had hoarded away, some linen, I added some old buttons, beads, floss, old spools of thread, three new embroidery hoops, and voila, it became a bag for Hannah! Made with love just for her, my dear friend. I thought of her with every stitch. I smiled as I thought of her energy, her passion for life, her creativity, and her Joyful soul, that is the magic about making something by hand for someone else... the love that is woven into the work.

May your work be filled with love.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The first wild strawberries...

This is a small sample of the little treasures hiding under the grass in fields right now. Millions of them. They are much smaller than our cultivated crop but each tiny jewel is more succulent and sweeter....

I was imagining Helen Dodge in the mid-1800's out picking berries after a long winter. What a wonderful gift.

I was in competition with the ducks this morning as we all raced to find the biggest, ripest fruit. The ducks kept looking over at me as if to say, "How did you know about our secret?"

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


Monday, May 24th, I started mulching with old, bad hay from winter. Tied up the peas with baling twine. Finished the cucumber bed. The carrots, leeks and celery in the patch are from my winter cold frame. Eliot Coleman is right, the carrots are oh, so sweet.

Sunday, May 30th, my neighbor's old tractor.
They tilled up the yard for my "new" garden. Emily is 76 years old and still digging B I G rocks out of the soil with me. Notice all of the rocks I dug up in my border bed? It was part of an old foundation wall and I found lots of treasures in the earth.

Tuesday, June 1st, new garden and new chicken yard is getting closer to being done. The rest of the asparagus is in, lots of seeds. This is the week to plant the seedlings up here in New England.

The old bath tub is a gift from Emily, my neighbor, it is going to be my water feature....

New raised beds. The sawyer cut the boards from local hemlock, they are very sturdy and hold up in the cold winter freeze and thaw.

Progression towards filling our freezer with our own food,
from 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m, every day.
I have let everything else go, especially housework! I promised myself I would heed Scott Nearing's advice and take a day off every week. It is raining today, guess I will take that day off today and let the garden grow.

We smelled the fires from Quebec all yesterday morning. It was smokey and hazy... our poor, dear planet earth is fighting to make it with us on her back. We are like viruses spreading out and touching every stream and valley.... I was thinking the other day while digging a deep hole in rocks that there is an easier way to do this without a shovel and sweat but what is the cost? We do use petroleum but we try to use it sparingly, and for big jobs. It is a challenge being post 50 and late 40's doing this hard work alone, no big family of boys or large community willing to barter labor... Re-building a farm infrastructure from scratch is very hard, exhausting and expensive. We try to do our very best every day, in every way, in every decision we make, knowing that we are touching the earth with our "progression".