We’ve had over three inches of rain in the past week, which has quite an impact on the farm.
The pond has swollen over its boundaries, creating a small stream through the middle of what will be our garden. As you can see, Alston rather enjoyed this development. Unfortunately, that means it will be at least another week before anyone can attempt to plow. The upside is that the weather brought out a pair of wood ducks and a pair of hooded merganser ducks, so now I guess we’re ornithologists.
While we’re waiting for the lower yard to dry up, we have plenty of other post rain work to tackle. Between the water running down the hill and the saturation of the ground, the floor of the chicken coop is soaked, so all their hay needs to be replaced. While we’re at it, the ducks and pigs could use fresh hay as well. Poor Barney’s house was never completed last weekend because of the weather, so he rode out the storm in what barely qualifies for a lean-to, the poor boar. And then there’s the normal home owner post thunderstorm chores, like clearing the fallen branches and checking on the gutters.
Also, the guy is coming to sheer the sheep tomorrow. And Will’s attending a seminar on growing produce. It’s going to be a busy weekend. Busy and muddy.
I assumed that moving to a farm would help me downgrade my shopping habits. After all, what use would I have for another J. Crew blazer? Largely, this assessment has been true with one major exception – shoes.
Because 80% of our land is either covered in poop (thanks sheep, pigs, ducks and dogs) or mud (hello, garden), my footwear is now categorized as farm shoes vs. not farm shoes. This is leading to some duplication. For example, in the rains of the past few days I slipped on my Hunter boots on my way to work. Once I got in the car, I was overcome by the stink of pig shit and doubled back to the house for more office-friendly attire. So now I’m contemplating a pair of non-farm wellies. Will keeps a pair of farm shoes by all of our exterior doors, so every attempt to do a chore isn’t preceded by a ten minute search for boots. Even the toddler has school shoes vs. yard shoes to keep the poop factor at bay.
Largely we’ve been able to repurpose old shoes or pairs we never liked anyhow (what else do you do with Danskos where the heel is completely worn down?), but some purchases have been required; 3 wellies (2 for Will, 1 for Alston), 3 boots (2 for Will, 1 for me), and two pairs of play shoes for Alston (high tops for spring mud, and crocs for warmer weather – they are just so easy to hose off). Add to these the two pairs of repurposed clogs and we now own 10 pairs of shoes we will never wear off the property. I know each pair has a purpose, but my mudroom is getting out of control.
And now, when I’m tempted to buy non-farm shoes my first thought is “I will be so pissed if these get shit on them!”
Yup, I have famous ducks. Kinda crazy, aye?
Speaking of the ducks, Will and I have independently arrived at the same tactic for herding ducks into their house each night. After months of chasing them around the yard to catch them and toss them into the safety of their home, or simply waiting until it was late enough for the quacks to put themselves away, we now use a trusty flashlight. Despite their stint on the local news, it turns out these ducks don’t like being in the spotlight, so you can coax them from the pond into their pen and then straight up the ramp to their house using the skills honed working the spotlight for high school musicals. Now I can officially say drama geeks have a place on the farm.
It’s been raining since last night, the sort of March rain that is two notches down from torrential but never lets up. It’s a marathon rain.
The good news is the basement isn’t flooded. The bad news is that there’s still some water getting in. The ugly? We’ve run out of ways to entertain the toddler indoors and have resorted to old Disney movies.
All the animals seem different in the rain. The pigs are joyous, and for once appear clean. The sheep resemble wet dogs, and shake the same way. The chickens look pathetic, and will probably need to be toweled off before we close them up for the night. Okay, maybe not all the animals – the ducks and geese are largely unphased.
Will is in the basement, building a new rabbit cage for our soon to be here bunnies and I’m shopping for a good toddler raincoat in preparation for the rest of March. And April.
At least the daffodils have finally bloomed. Spring is certainly on its way here in central VA.
Now that we own a farm (farmette, really), it’s amazing the animal-related opportunities that fall into our proverbial laps. This weekend, it was a pair of what we believe are New Zealand White breeding rabbits (1 buck, 1 doe).
You know that phrase “breed like rabbits” – the origin becomes pretty clear when you dive into bunny reproduction. These critters have a gestational period of 28 to 31 days. That’s right, while we humans carry our unborn around for nine plus months, rabbits pop them out in one. And they pop out 6 babes a pregnancy, on average. They wean at about 3 weeks, but you can get your doe pregnant at about 2 weeks post partum, meaning you can have a new batch of bunnies every 45 days or so.
From what I’ve read, rabbits are ready for slaughter at 8 to 12 weeks, which is not as fast as conventional cornish cross chickens but on par with dual purpose chicken breeds.
And now for a confession. While I do find rabbit meat delicious, I was worried I wouldn’t have the chutzpa to raise meat rabbits. I have to admit that the creepy red eyes of these albinos alleviates a lot of the cute factor. If anything, I look at them and imagine some chemical engineer testing out eyeliner vs. children frolicking in the yard with their favorite pet named Fluffy. Who would have thought my inherently suburban sense of aesthetics would come in handy on the farm?
Our rent-a-ram Zeus first “serviced” the ewes on December 14, which means if any of them got knocked up that first day, we’re looking at a due date of May 10, with a “be on the lookout” range of May 1 through May 22. If any of them got pregnant on his last day at the farm, the due date is July 5. Meaning our window for lambing is May 1 through July 17. That sounds like a really long time to be at the ready.
Given Barney the Boar’s recent exploits, we could have piglets on June 20.
This was just too good not to share verbatim.
Barney got into the ladies today. He could not have been in there more than 2 hours before I got him back into his pen and shut tight.
He did try to mount them all though.
He also hurt his nose, I think the ring got caught on the fence as he was scooting under it. Some blood and torn flesh.
I tried to clip the thing off but he screamed and ran, I should have waited until it healed. He’s depressed now.
What do other people do when they have a cold?