animal friends? chicken and squirrel edition
April 4, 2014, 2:14 pm
Filed under: chickens, farm, goats

Oof. One of these days I might actually have a heart attack when I open that door to the chicken coop. This afternoon, I went out to check on the girls. It’s pouring rain and the run door is open and the chickens are out and about somewhere. So I go to check. I open the door and EEK! Something runs out of the coop. I look over and knuckles is sitting there on the nest box trying to lay, while a red squirrel is in there eating all of her food! WHAT?!! I hopped into the run to see what was going on, and the little dude (trapped inside the run) was really giving me the whatfor. He was hanging on the wall on our new chicken wire wrapped run, chitting and chattering away. Dumb thing. Eventually I let him go and he made a break for the open door.

Between the possums, coons, mice, deer, turkeys, assorted birds and squirrels–the goats and chickens have some fun (and sometimes scary) interactions with their fellow wild animal friends. But seriously, heart attack. Yeesh.


water is the new black?

Water is an issue that at the top of my mind these days. Surprising perhaps, as I’m in a place which seems to have a lot of it. Last year I actually set up a drip irrigation system for my tomatoes thinking it would save them from some of the blight issues that come from watering. Alas, our summer had more than enough rain, and we hardly used it at all.

But seriously, I am thinking about water issues a LOT these days. First, naturally, we have a well, and well, we also live in Marcellus Shale land, where drillers are coming at us from all sides. The threat to possible water contamination is real, people. So that’s scary.

But then I’m also thinking about California, where my in-laws live. They live in the central coast, a cute little town, and they are under serious restrictions. They were always metering and using grey water for the garden, but this winter, they’ve been reduced to using grey water in the house–to flush the toilets. They have been shlepping buckets up and down through the house, saving shower water for the toilet, dish water for the toilets, etc. It’s pretty grim. 3 months of overusing and your water could be cut off.

It’s just interesting when you go from the individual level to the industrial or governmental level. So for the in-laws, schlepping and saving, they got this great story. The local water district spilled 168,000 gallons of water in February. They didn’t know there was a leak in the tanks. As one resident points out, each individual is allotted 49 gallons a day, and the amount the water district has lost over the past 6 months equals 24 YEARS of individual permits.

Then there’s the weird case of New Mexico. Today I was reading a story about regulations being lifted for the copper industry. In New Mexico, don’t you know, 90% of all water comes from groundwater sources. That’s kind of scary stuff. Especially when you hear that the copper industry is now pretty much exempt from dealing with the regulations surrounding pollution of ground water, an amendment passed in 2013. That just doesn’t sound like good sense for a drought-plagued state like New Mexico?!

Especially when you also know that the dairy industry is the largest industry in the state. Huh, you say. Yep, that’s right. They got a lot of cows making milk in the desert out there. Makes sense to me? They have the largest herds of any state (average herd size is 2088–big cafo productions). That’s 7 billion pounds of milk! Can you believe that?

Of course, all milk means that these dairies  use (and pollute) a lot of groundwater. 60% of dairies in the state have polluted their nearby groundwater, and like the mining example, they haven’t been required to clean it up.

It just seems like we’re really helping ourselves get to the breaking point even faster than climate change could. It no makey sense to me. All I think I can do, is to try and buy local milk products and avoid those bigger chain brands that are no doubt getting their supply from the desert.

a hard winter
February 22, 2014, 2:49 pm
Filed under: bees, chickens, farm, gardening | Tags: , , ,

Yep. We’ve all heard it. It’s been a hard winter. I believe it! Luckily for us, we were able to escape for a week. Hawaii. Mmm hmm. We were lucky indeed. We’ve never done that winter sun holiday thing, and yes, it was nice!!!

Now we’re back. And without our constant pressure, the wildlife creeped ever closer. They were hungry.

Hard work for naught

Are you hunrgy enough to eat a garbage can??

Are you kidding me? Someone ate a hole into the garbage can?? We’re not meat eaters. We compost. What the heck was it smelling?


recycle bin

Check it out. It even tried the recycle bin. Guess the yellow plastic doesn’t taste as good as the green?

But then I ventured out to the garden. The fenced garden. I am devastated.


a girdled apple tree

My little espalier apples–girdled. I am so upset I can’t believe it! 4 of six carefully planted, pruned, tended, perhaps they might fruit for the first time this year, apple trees. All that work. Good bye Newtown Pippin, so long Duchess of Oldenburg. Nice seeing you Calville Blanc. Whatevs Golden Russet. Blech. Gardening is too hard.

I took a spin out to the back garden just to see what else had been going wrong. The two trees out there are without damage. Sydney’s disaster–aka the Gala apple tree she knocked over and broke last fall–showed signs of animal gnawing on the smaller limbs which are now on the ground. But the other two seem fine.

I heard some buzzing. I looked down and saw a lone bee on a branch. Over at the hive, some signs of activity. Silly bees. It’s only 50. And it’s surely not spring yet! But nice to see some activity there.


A few hardy bees testing their flight legs

In other news, that hungry raccoon gave me a scare yesterday too. Unlike the possum sighting, this time I screamed! I opened the feed room in the barn. Goats were in the aisle, and chickens were crossing the tundra to the barn for their afternoon scratch and peck. I opened the door and a raccoon scurried over away from me. The lid to the chicken food was off. ARGH!!

I rushed to get the chickens back to their safe house. When I returned he was gone. But he’s still around. He escaped the trap last night, but opened up a few bags of chicken food. Yes, you really need to put all chicken food into metal bins. With lids that can be locked. He was a cute little guy. Not one of those huge ones, but not a tiny one either. Poor guys are so hungry out there!

It’s nice and sunny and warm today, but we hear that winter is coming back this week. Oh Hawaii, yes we miss you already!

goats in coats 2014 edition

This morning we woke up to this:

looks like minus 10!

looks like minus 10!

This am, both of the goats were shivering. Time for the coats.

sydney can't believe she got the coat too.

sydney can’t believe she got the coat too.

We checked on them later, and alas, the Dongo was still shivering. Time for a new tactic. Enter the sweatshirt.
(Note for Mom: for Christmas next year, Roppongi probably takes a large not a medium, but maybe with 3/4 length sleeves!)

she probably takes a large--but with 3/4 sleeves!

she probably takes a large–but with 3/4 sleeves!

She looks a bit dashing in that shot, don’t you think?
But no, she was glum. This pic captures her mood.

we probably should have trimmed the sleeves for her.

we probably should have trimmed the sleeves for her.

She knew what was coming, the big blue sheet went on over top of the sweatshirt.

We did manage to cheer her up a bit though, with her favorite winter treat–hot molasses water. Mix about a tablespoon of molasses into about 3 litres or a gallon of water. Some people say that their goats really like the water hot and not warm. Today I tried that, and sure enough, Roppongi drank most of the bucket. They love it, and it’s a nice energy boost and vitamins for them.

In other winter news, note to self–this is why they made plastic chicken waterers.

galvanized waterers are not practical for winter!

galvanized waterers are not practical for winter!

I always wondered why people made the plastic ones, the galvanized ones would seem to last much longer. I like this nice big one in the summer in their run. It’s big so I don’t have to keep refilling it. Our plastic one was leaking last night, so I had to use the galvanized one, and lo and behold–you can’t get the frozen ice chunk out of it in the morning. ARGH. So we went out and bought a new plastic one today.

Other than a few small gripes, we’re all doing ok in the big cold. Just waiting it out until tomorrow. The kids had no school today, and they’re on a two hour delay tomorrow. But it should be up to the 40s maybe by the end of the week. Whew!

happy new year it’s cold out!
January 4, 2014, 8:44 am
Filed under: farm, goats | Tags: , , ,

Here’s some pics from trip to the barn this morning.

that's cold. but supposed to be even colder in a few days.

that’s cold. but supposed to be even colder in a few days.

pretty morning light

pretty morning light

sydney aka polar bear

sydney aka polar bear

need more ice in my bucket!

need more ice in my bucket!

Roppongi doesn’t like the cold so much. She was a little bit shivery this morning, and wouldn’t come out. If she gets worse, we’ll have to pull out her goat coat!

roppongi would not come out

roppongi would not come out

We’re expecting temps to fall to minus 12 on Monday. Yeesh, wish us luck on that one. We’re not in the midwest or Edmonton you know!! We can’t handle it!

utility update: big storm!
October 9, 2013, 12:04 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized, utilities | Tags: ,

Well almost a month ago, we got the big one. The storm we’ve been waiting for–you know, the one that officially blocks the road and takes out all our power lines? Yeah, that one!

For some crazy reason I was at the gym when it came. The storm didn’t look so bad from there, but on the drive home I noticed a LOT of debris on the roads. I had to drive over some trees too.  Then, I came to our street, turned in, and there it was.

Image 2

big tree across the road

Image 3

can you see the power lines in that mess?

I climbed on over it, and walked to the house. On the way I noticed that another pole was damaged, listing really! Cracked down to the bottom.


see that tilty pole back there? not good!

And then the kicker, the pole at the top of the line…smashed into many little pieces..

Image 4

pile of rubble=utility pole

I was not too happy, as we had had an outage in the summer that last for a couple of days and it was a much smaller set of damage (a transformer down the street I think). This one was the big one. And all the work we’d gone through to get the lines raised in the paddock, erased. I knew we’d have to start from scratch.

Yeesh. Amazingly they had the power back on after 24hours. Our phone line continued to work with the tree down on it! Poor me, I had to be out of town in NYC for the weekend, and when we came back, we had power, but alas, our phone was gone, and…the line was ominously just lying on the road!?!

It stayed there for about a week, slumped over our utility paddock fenceline, not connected to anything. I kept calling about it and finally someone came in and got the phone back online.

And then, the calls began. AKA the verizon circus. You can’t call and request a lineman, no they will always send a technician (guy who can’t fix anything) first. So…call, automated endless wait for a customer service agent. Explain the problem. Half of the time they drop the call while transferring you to the repair line. Explain the problem. Get a service appt. Wait. Guy comes out –oh it’s the technician. I can’t do anything, i’ll call it in for a line man. Nothing happens! Repeat.

Today was a first, we actually had two service people come out–first one, you know this…a technician (can’t do anything). But then a second one showed up (guess the first one did call it in, thanks dude!), second one was a “troubleshooting technician”. He had a little bucket truck, but not the big ones that can stretch the lines. He said he thought it was weird all the comments about needing a bucket truck (odd that my story gets written down somehow, and they still can’t fix it), but added to the story–he thought he was looking at the line from the barn to the pole (WHAT? we don’t have a phone line going to the barn??) so he couldn’t fix anything either. Verizon really looks like a bunch of dopes. Wasting everyone’s time–are they gov’t employees or something??! Just a big circus. And I’m too tired to tell you about how their attempts to get us on FIOS fit into all this. Another time? luckily for you, dear reader, probably not!

So far, it’s been 2.5 weeks since I called about raising the line. It’s actually gotten lower now at 6.5 feet (I can touch it with my hands, and i’m not that tall, than it was when we initially called about it several years back. We’ll have to see what happens, but until then the paddock is not usable. It’s a safety issue, and it really needs to be addressed. Hard to believe we got over 13 feet clearance back in the day. I hope they’ll fix it all back up.

summer storms
July 18, 2013, 6:38 pm
Filed under: farm, preparedness | Tags: , , , , ,

We’ve sure had a lot of rain this summer.

here it comes!

here it comes!

Came home one afternoon to see this storm coming in. Sure got dark quick…

big storm hit about 2 minutes after this picture

big storm hit about 2 minutes after this picture

While I watched, the wind kicked up and a tree fell down over by the wedding tree!

tree across our trail entrance

tree across our trail entrance

We keep having big thunderstorms that drop a lot of rain. Nice to not have to worry about watering the garden! But the power did go out last week for a whole day. And voila, we were reminded that we really DO need backup power–as we have no water and more importantly no SUMP PUMP action in the basement. Flooding was minor down there, luckily. But we should really think about our preparedness for this kind of thing!