Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Early Fall on Our Tiny Farm

What a glorious fall we are having in western North Carolina!  After the hottest summer on record, I think we are all enjoying the cool temperatures, gentle breezes, clear blue skies, and the brilliant colors that our area is so well known for.  If you have never visited western North Carolina, this is the time of year you should choose to come.  This is when those of us who live here walk around thinking to ourselves, THIS is why we live here. It is SO BEAUTIFUL!
Our chickens enjoying fresh corn from the garden.
Life on the farm keeps us all busy.  The chickens are in various stages of molting.  They look so pitiful at this stage.  Makes some of them a little nasty, too.  We are fortunate this year that they aren't all molting at one time (that's what they did last year), so we are still getting some egg production. We have already replaced the chicken wire and sheet plastic on the coop and run, so all we have to do for the winter yet is throw a fresh coat of paint on. 
Our own Japanese hulless popcorn.
We grew our own popcorn for the first time this year.  We grew a heirloom variety that I picked up at a seed swap.  It is called "Japanese Hulless Popcorn".  It did great!  Easy to grow; no worms.  We harvested it all when we thought it was dry.  Then we spread it out on a table in the house and test popped a few kernels every few days.  When better than 90% popped, we shucked it and put it into the glass jars like you see in the picture.  It is very good popcorn.  One ear is ruby red, so we are saving most of it for planting next year.

The fall garden is producing spectacularly!  We have an abundance of Seminole pumpkins, butternut squash, bok choy, lettuce, peppers, end of season tomatoes, and leeks coming off right now.  The basil, broccoli, cauliflower, and summer squash are still growing.  And there are lots of herbs tucked up close to the house where they are protected from the early frosts.  The cellar is packed with pumpkins, winter squash, and potatoes. The freezers have a rainbow of great looking vegetables stacked neatly inside. The honey is in jars and waiting on the shelves for hot biscuits and cups of tea.  Life is good.

  Donkey had an abscess!
I'm happy to report that Murphy's Law is still functioning well at Our Tiny Farm.  Early in the month my dear hubby and I were all packed and ready to head to Charlottesville, VA for the Heritage Harvest Festival.  We went out to feed the animals before we left when we discovered the donkey was lame.  This is the donkey who has never been sick or hurt in his entire life.  But the one and only day this year that we both plan to "get away for the weekend", the donkey is lame.  We were so fortunate that the vet could come right out, find and treat the abscess, and reassure us that it really was okay for us to leave for a few days.  The fun would be when we got home and had to soak his foot for fifteen minutes twice a day for about five days.  That was an interesting experience, but no one got hurt!

  New flashing put on the barn.
Last winter was long, cold, and very wet.  We had snow on the ground from mid December through mid March.  That is very unusual for us here in the southern mountains and we really weren't prepared for it. Much of the winter the barn floor was a muddy mess.  It was not comfortable for the animals and I worried about their feet all winter.  So we decided to remedy that problem.  We are raising the floor of the barn.  We put more treated lumber on the bottom of the walls, put on flashing to prevent moisture damage, raised all the doors, graded away from the building, put a very thick layer of fine gravel inside, and built new ramps to the doors.  Tomorrow the new sawdust arrives to spread over the gravel.  It was quite a task, but now it is a very nice barn!.  
The big pile of "screenings" used to build up the barn floor. 

The next tasks on the list include building a run-in for the cattle, getting in our hay, and putting up a small greenhouse.  We never seem to run out of things to do around here! 

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