Seeing as the time of year it is we have been throwing our money at the yard. We are working on our garden as well as covering up the ugly fence. At the home improvement store my sweet dear husband found a plant he could not live without. I warned him that deer love to eat this particular plant, but he could not be detoured. We forked out the $30 for a HUGE honeysuckle vine with special pink and red blooms. I will have to admit that it is a really pretty vine and so I was not that hard to convince. Well, to make a long story short we came home and immediately planted it. I did not want it to sit around and die while it awaited planting. Not 10 min. after we stuck it in the ground look who showed up. He just knew that we had put out a special treat for him to enjoy and would not leave. We tried all the tricks in the book and it just lead to him following us around the yard. He was even trying to walk up to the children. Much to their disappointment they had to watch from the windows and the safety of the house after that. My husband, in the mean time, set a bad example by frolicking in the yard with the deer. Oh, and he put a deer fence up around the vine that evening.
It seems as if mice have moved into our compost heap. I was bad all winter. I added to it with out keeping it nice and damp, and with out turning it. I know, I know it is all my fault and my lesson has been learned.
Now to the problem at hand .... how exactly do we get rid of them?
We sat down as a family, discussed our environmental concerns, our price limitations, and then we came up with a lovely plan. It was not only free but environmentally sound. Two wonderful and exciting things around here. How do you ask did we rid our compost heap of mice. Well, it involved my 3 men with big sticks and mallets and me with a hoe. I turned the pile, my main man wet down the pile with a garden hose, and all 3 of them jumped into action when a mouse ran out. I felt really bad for the poor little mice, but they really had to go.
The other day I took the kids and the dog and went on one of our frequent walks. I thought I would take you along since this is one of the reasons I really love our town.
We headed out for the one mile walk to the post office and I told the kids we could also pick up and ice cream at the general store. Nothing like a little ice cream to get us all motivated. We took our dog, Freckles, with us off leash. There is no reason to leash her on the low traffic roads around our house.
The first encounter we had was with a nice couple who stopped us to see where we lived. They were headed home from the church at the end of the street and had not run across us before. They were thrilled to hear a " nice family " had bought the Marshalls old house and welcomed us to the community. It is a bit of a late welcoming since we have lived here a year and a half, but a nice thought anyway.
Then we ran across Leon and his wife out messing around in their yard. We stopped to chat and he took us on a tour of the old store building where he grew up and which was the center of life in the town at one time. It was fun to hear the old stories and take a tour back in time. We also found out that a few people in town have chipper shredders and would be happy to loan us one so we will not have to rent one.
Heading around the bend and down the hill the family who has a pick your own orchard and also a pet camel where out working in their orchard. Of course the kids had to corner them and ask exactly how Matilda was doing as I dragged them across to the post office.
Now the post office is a whole nother can of worms. We don't have the luxury of mail delivery. Yes, that is right no post man comes any where near my house. In our rural area you have to haul your lazy carcass all the way up to the post office to get your mail every day. The postmistress wanted to know how our new goose was doing. Oh, and yes the dog went in the building with us.
We then headed across the parking lot to the general store. You can do your laundry, get your hair cut, buy something to eat from the grill, sell everything from your fresh eggs to your fresh produce, buy any type of grocery item that you need, rent movies, and get gas. We picked out an ice cream for all of us and chatted with the clerk. She had given me the number for the handy man who installed our fence and was wanting to make sure I was happy. Then we popped our heads into the salon and said "hello " to the hairsylist. She, of course, had to check out my oldests hair since she had just dyed it the day before. Her current client just loved our dog and made sure we knew she thought she was " the sweetest dog".
Heading home we ran across some people hauling brush to the dump. They stopped in the middle of the road and we talked about how nice a day it was turning out to be.
Then my oldest just had to ride ahead a bit so he could catch up with some friends and make important plans for playing later that day. You see their grandparents live next door so when they are visiting they hop the fence a play for a bit.
Like I said earlier this is why I love this town. We took a little stroll to get our mail and ice cream and it took us 2 hours. We ended up having a wonderful adventure and it seems to work that way every time. We may run across different people on different days but it is all a little, well Mayberry. Every walk seems to root us more firmly in the community. I wonder what the next one will hold.
Things around Skunky Acre have been quite busy lately. My oldest boy decided ( much to my mothers chagrin ) to dye his hair dark brown, the cat has gone on a killing rampage with the local song birds as her chosen victims, she then leaves them at our door step so something big has been coming up at night to eat them, and something has decided to dig up our dead goose. I guess this all means spring is in the air along with dead stinking, rotten goose.
That said we had a wonderful Easter this year. We had brunch at The Lodge and then we spent the day just hanging out as a family. I hope your families Easter was as wonderful and relaxing.
As you can see from the picture above my relationship with chickens began long ago and far away.
And now I am pleased to announce that I have now taken over the egg business from my oldest son.
Yes, I am now the Emperess of Eggs ( evil laughter )
which sounds better than being the crazy bird lady. He has decided that he would rather get a weekly allowance than to tie his fortunes to the whims of a chicken. I think the ups and downs of the egg world where a bit much for him, not to mention the work involved. What he does not realize is he could make so much more money if he would just ride out the rough spots. But that is his choice to make and my choice to run with. I think I can really expand this business and do fairly well. I have already gotten the general store to up the amount they give us for a dozen eggs and expanded our customer base by 2 people. All of that in only 1 week.
Now if my working girls out back can just keep up.
Here are a few pictures of the progress of my kitchen. It seems like I have been working on it for ever, and we still have some more to go. I am thinking of painting a small line around the glass in the cabinet doors black. I also still need to paint the trim around the kitchen window to match. Heck, if I listed all the things yet to be done we would all be here forever. Just know I am still trudging along and will soon be finish with this project.
On another front we made it through the night. The temps got all the way down to 33 but we still have good blooms on the trees. I am very hopefull !
Look what my son can do ! It is so cool, he can reach up in the air and catch a bird flying by. How he taught himself this I do not know but I am rather impressed.
Today is it is freezing cold. It has yet to reach 32 but is very close and we are holding our breath. All of this is new to me a dyed in the wool city girl. We have only been here 2 years and last year ( our first spring ) we had a late freeze and lost all our fruit. That is right no apples, no pears, no plums, no cherries. I really missed all the wonderfully ripe fruit last fall and we do not want to repeat the incident. So here we sit watching the temp. gage and hoping. I don't know how real farmers, you know the ones who lively hood depends on their crop, do it.
A good friend had a post this morning on her blog that got me thinking. First let me give you the address it is
She bought a canner on Craigslist and was thrilled with the relationships that have resulted from such purchases. The whole thing has inspired my own little rant on the subject.
I to have been making an effort to watch where my money goes. I have always watched my pennies but that is not what I mean. I am talking about when I do spend money who gets it and what they do with it. We have been buying our feed from an actual feed store, not Walmart. Yes, I live far enough out in the sticks that Walmart carries all sorts of low end, low quality feed. By purchasing feed from a real family that owns a real business I not only get a higher quality product, but I help support a family and the local economy. Not to mention the grain is grown in the United States, not China. I don't need a whole flock of chickens with melamine in their eggs and bodies. We have cultivated relationships with the local organic farm, the owners of the general store in town, even candle makers and may other business people. All of these things my cost a few cents more, but the product far exceeds anything a big box store can do for me.
I am learning this is a two way street, and boy does it feel good.
My chickens have been misbehaving. They are not laying very well and when they do lay they have been hiding the eggs. Now I have them trained to lay in their nest boxes so this should not be a problem. I think the fence has thrown them off as anything different confuses a chicken. One would really expect more from the closest living relative to the T-Rex. Any way, I am having a hard time meeting the demand for my eggs at the moment while we retrain our chickens. I will have to say at this point I expected pissed off customers, but the opposite was true. They have been kind and understanding. They have even paid me for a dozen eggs when all we had to give them a box of 9 eggs.
I think the point of this whole ramble is that every time you purchase ANYTHING it is a vote. A vote that you like the people, the business, and the product involved in the transaction. So think about what relationships you are forming with your vote, and most of all where you money is going.
We finally called and ordered our " eaten chickens " from the feed store. I went with a heritage breed known as Dark Cornish. They are suppose to have deep breasts and good meat. I guess we will find out as our grand experiment continues. I think we have a huge learning curve with this one.
I also put in an order for a few more laying hens. The elementary school is going to hatch some of our eggs, but I am unsure of how many good hens we will get so I thought I should order a few. We are trying a new breed called Golden Laced Wyandottes. I know very little about them other than they are from Wisconsin and should lay right through the winter. We will have to see how the work out.
As you can see from the picture above it has been beautiful around here lately. The boys have been really enjoying the weather and have to be called in for bed time, dirty as can be. Does life get any better ? We have consistently been up in the 60's so my youngest has decided ( like any good mountain boy would) that shirts are just a big waste of time. At least I he still wears pants and I expect that will fall to the way side as the weather warms even more.
Everyone is enjoying the new fence. I thought we would all hate it, but instead it gives us a nice boundary to work with. We still find it to incredibly ugly but that will change as the plants grow up around it. I expect that by this time next year we will have a nice insulating wall of privacy going on.
It is true... I have crossed over to the other side.
It all happened the day they put the fence up on our little piece of heaven. That day I was not only referred to as " the egg lady", but I also called and ordered more wood when I was told at the general store that there was more snow expected. Oh, and I got a discount on said wood when I sold them some eggs . So as you can see I have truly and ultimately become a big fat hick.
At least I don't have to climb a pole to make a telephone call, or open my closet door and look out side.
Free at last, free at last, glory hallelujah, we are free at last !
The chickens here a Skunky Acre are at last free to roam at will and boy are they happy. It has even inspired a little "activity" on Rockys part. And here it is the HUGE fence that could keep in a giraffe, rhino, or other zoo animal. I really hated to put it up, but it became clear that my neighbor and my chickens needed a little privacy to get along. The fence runs right up against her back door and kitchen window since her house is built right on the property line. I plan on growing a nice big vine on it to hide it's ugliness.
It feels as if spring has sprung here at skunky acre. We have been enjoying the weather and starting our outdoor projects for the season. We called the fence man and scheduled the installation, spread compost on our flower garden, and rocked part of the pond with found flag stone. I have been greatly inspired by my friends with green houses and so I started some seeds in a sunny window. Lettuce, corn, tomatoes, black eyed peas, oh my ! We have even been motivated enough to take some long walks around the area and see what has changed over the long winter.
But alas, it is not to last. They are predicting snow Monday.
I have no wood left and the fence installation scheduled for that day. But maybe they are wrong..... Maybe, just maybe spring is really here.
Located at 6700 feet above sea level, Skunky Acre Farm is the home of farm fresh eggs, several different varieties of apples and cherries, with dogs, cats, and our two free range boys. We moved from the city to the country and are living the good, if not a little crazy, life.