Thursday, December 27, 2007

Chicken Love and Costume Dramas

I was watching an old copy of a BBC costume drama. I watch them in the cold winter. They make me dream of being somewhere other than the arctic tundra. Maybe I am just an old sap. That or I miss my youth and the ability I had to just go when and where I want. Cannot just go to Paris on a whim for the weekend with a farm, child or husband to find sitters for. I don't like soaps or romance novels but some Bronte or Austen and I am there through two or three VHS tapes even with poor sound quality and my reels needing cleaning! My peace at horrid hours of the evening for a dairy farmer!

On the couch as I am getting up I find one of Claire's new Poultry mags. The british small holder one with the children in it. She loves that one. I like chickens. They have this peaceful thing about them like sheep do. A kind of equilibrium with the world.

When I was little, our neighbors had this farm. We lived in this cul de sac on the edge of their farm. The farm was eventually an island with developments surrounding it with possible roads ending on the edges of their fields. The place had tobacco sheds, a tidy New England barn with halls and rooms they said their father and uncle hid things during the rations in the war. In the cellar they had this chicken area. Not so much a room if I remember. Nests were wooden with tobacco leaves in them to keep the bugs out. Like everything else on the farm, tidy...

It was their place. The pride they took in it that got me into this "farm thing". We could set the clocks to Stanley mowing his lawn. My mother liked to watch them bring the milk cows (a guernsey and a jersey if my memory is correct) up the lane. They had this horse Chubby. A cross of Belgian and something. Maybe 15hh. I'm thinking Suffolk, but who knows anymore. They used him to cultivate tobacco. I use to love to watch Adolph cultivate tobacco. When the horse was tired, he'd step on a few plants.

Back to the chickens (I'll tell you about Katey, the jump roap and the heifer later). Britt and I were exporing as was our job at the time. It usually meant going to the farm to see if we could beg a tour of the grey barn. We saw this hen. She was limping or something. Just not right. We figured that to be nice, we'd catch the hen and show Stanley or Adolph so they could fix her. To make a long story short, we were caught "chasing chickens" and sent home. I was horrified. I was in love with everything about that place and it stuck that I was thought as mean enough to do that to them.

If I had Claire with me then... things would have been different. She doesn't have this fear of failure and she has this uncanny ability to walk up to any chicken and pick it up. She has even trained one of her birds (Salea) to swing on a swing with little protest. Chicken chores generally mean she hasn't collected eggs yet, or fed or watered them. She is basically on the floor of the chicken coop talking to and holding one of her birds... Mean old mum then has to open the window and ask if chores are done yet! She loves those birds.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007


It is dark and cold in Central New York in the winter. I dread going down to the lower shed to feed animals. I love to watch them eat and to visit with them, but the blast of cold coming down from Rte 20, across the pasture and slap into my face! We have changed buildings and slopes of things, so the drifts and wind currents are different. That and Dave snapped the dog run line with the spear and never found it necessary to fix it (it was a mistake you see), so my only support life line going down the hill from the side poarch to the sheep shed is, well gone. I tried the sled that I use to bring grain down, but well... a 50# sack of grain on the stomach hurts after taking a spill over a bank.

I think I mentioned my lack of grace once before... Marge is even naming a cheese after me "Grace". At least the wheel chair ramp is down. Poor Marcia has to be lifted into the house, but at least I don't do any more splat dives...

The aging/farmstand structure is done. Well the structure is. I am awaiting the final $$ to give to the great contractors on that project and to finish the guys that installed my boiler incorrectly and charged me for doing it wrong and then just looking at it! I got some aging shelves for Christmas. Thank you Dave. We dug the ditch by hand and pick on Christmas Eve. The ditch will be for the electricity line.

Hank still hasn't paid me for the bank charges he caused after bouncing a check to pay for the workshop I did for his organization back in August. I gave up a Farmers' Market and everything! I am becoming cynical about non-profit agencies that are here to help the poor disadvantaged farmer. If we get paid for product and services, we aren't poor then are we? I think he missed the idea. Well live and learn. I will not do workshops for non-profits unless I see the money up-front any more.

Shaun Lord bought two of the IN Kerry cows from me. She is a great person and I like how she has consistently improved her herd of Dexters. I have Kelmscott Larry up to Dependa Bull. I have to run up there to visit him and to get those measurements and all. Patti Adams is drawing Kelmscott Seamus at K State right now and Dana Wakefield has drawn Mountain Shade Ebon. They represent the three Kerry families in the US.

Looking for an intern for 2008. Someone interested in doing Farmers Markets, working on rinds and who is interested in developing their own cheese. With David's health and Marcia not in the best physical shape, I need to have more flex time while at the same time expanding the cheese side of the business. I think that there is real potential for someone who is really interested in becoming a cheese maker to try some things out while someone with more experience can help. That and they will have access to awsome organic milk, markets, etc...