Irene was a dud here. I am glad for that. Some beach erosion and trees down that’s it. The weather has me thinking of fall and beach plum jelly. The last few days I have gone out to several beach plum spots I know of and haven’t found a one. Not one. In the spring there was a bevy of flowers. But, now no plums. I don’t know how to explain it. I have asked others that have their own spots and they are having the same issues. Today I tried one more and there was an empty bush. This spot is an old farm. There are also apple trees here and they were naked. I did find some grapes. Not ready of course, but I’ll be back. There are a couple more beach plum spots, I’ll try them tomorrow. All I need is one good bush full. Crossing my fingers. There’s nothing like beach plum jelly on chicken or pork on a cold winter night.
Sunday, August 28, 2011
Yesterday afternoon Husband and I had a big date. We went up to Menemsha on the north west side of the island and had dinner at the Galley. The Galley is great, I should have taken pictures for you. I forget sometimes. It’s a take out place with all sorts of good food at reasonable prices and you can sit on their back porch and enjoy your meal with a view of the inner harbor. It’s covered in case it rains and they have pocket windows that tuck into the sills for colder and windy days. It was eerily quiet for an August afternoon and they had taken the awning off the front of the building in preparation for Irene.
After dinner we got some soft serve and drove even further up island to Squibnocket Beach. Squibnocket, or Squibby as some call it, is on the south shore. This is where some of the surfers go and it is known for good waves when there is a storm to the south. It is a town resident only beach and is manned until 5pm. We just happened to arrive at 5:08 :) and got a parking spot facing the water. This is a great place for surf watching. You can sit in your car to watch the waves and the surfers without getting wet if it’s raining. The parking area is built out of cement up on top of a rock bulkhead so usually you are above the waves and have a nice view.
There were about seven surfers out and the big waves were coming in groups. There would be about five minutes of little waves and then a group of big ones. I got some pictures but it was raining and a little hazy so please excuse the quality.
It looks dreary but it was quite a happening. The lot was full of vehicles, half with surfboards on board. And there was a parade of cars in and out. People were hanging out sitting on the wall or a rock, leaning on a car chatting and having a cold beverage while watching the surf. Kids were running to and fro giggling and throwing rocks in the water and marveling at the waves. At about 6:15 the waves decided to visit the parking lot with a splash. One poor granma got soaked by the first wave. She laughed it off, but they moved quickly. The tide was coming in. After a few more minutes we saw this was going to be a trend and left for home before the waves got much worse. We have four wheel drive but no one wants salt water all over the car if you can avoid it.
This morning the gusty breezes started about 3am. Well that’s when it woke me up. It has gotten a little breezier since. But, that’s it. Just a gusty breeze. Some smaller branches have fallen off the trees and there are leaves in the street. Nothing big. I am roasting a fresh chicken I got yesterday now just in case it gets worse and we have no power later. Also the windows are open so it wont get as hot in the house doing it now instead of later.
Husband has gone to work. The island bus system is still running. The ferries are not running and have all been hunkered down in New Bedford except for one they left behind. The chickens are hanging out in the house. It’s quiet.
Saturday, August 27, 2011
The Atlantic Ocean this morning on the north side of the island is like glass.
I suspect the south side is different because I have seen a lot of surfboards heading in that direction. It’s the kind of dark haze where it’s hard to tell where the ocean begins and the sky ends. It’s beautiful to me. This is one of the reasons I love living here. The view changes everyday but it’s always a beautiful one. Even with a storm coming.
They are running extra ferries so all the people that want to
make a run for it evacuate can. It has made it quiet here which is a rare thing in August. It’s not quite winter traffic but, it’s not hectic and all the hostility seems to have lifted. I think the storm is not going to be that bad for us. But, we will see.
Friday, August 26, 2011
As many of you may know, earlier this month my regular raw milk provider, Mermaid Farm, stopped selling their raw milk. I found out later at the farmer’s market that their girls were slowing down production and they only had enough for making feta and yogurt. They anticipated an increase in production in late September. This was very disappointing due to how my digestive system reacts to pasteurized homogenized milk. I have been getting by with tiny amounts of organic half and half in my coffee and no cereal or other milk including items since.
The other day I got good news. There is another local farm called Grey Barn that I knew sold pasteurized milk. Well they have now been certified by the state to sell raw milk at the farm only. Which is how the state law goes anyway. No raw milk can be sold off farm for instance at the farmer market. You have to visit the farm. So I went to visit but didn’t make it in. The President is staying next door and the Grey Barn farm and Blue Heron Farm (which is the President’s summer rental) share a drive. So when I got there the Secret Service had a checkpoint and the State Police were there. It was a big to do and quite intimidating. I will return when they have left. Which should be soon hopefully. So close and yet so far.
Thursday, August 25, 2011
Little Gaia started out as a normal adorable Speckled Sussex chick. But, as she has grown she has had some issues. She seems to be tired at the drop of a hat. She has almost always squinted at you. There is nothing in her eyes. They are clear and she can see you. No puss, not goo, no sneezing. It’s just the way she is. And as she has grown, her head seems to have stopped while her body has continued. Her feathering is not smooth, it’s rough and uneven. She’s just……….special.
Well I think her specialness has caught up with her. Today she was downright lethargic. I gave them all vitamins in the water hoping that would give her a little boost. She drank and ate heartily. She always does. I haven’t separated her out. I believe that this is genetic not any kind of virus. If it was, the other girls would’ve gotten it long ago. There is no sign of worms and only a couple of lice I saw. I did give her a DE dusting just in case. It couldn’t hurt. Poor Gaia. She’s such a sweet little girl. I hope she rallies.
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Monday, August 22, 2011
-We have a pantry in the basement with supplies of water, nonperishable food, preserved food, and paper products.
-Enough chicken feed that if stretched can last us as much as three months maybe more if they forage enough. Enough cat food for the same period. They probably won’t forage. They are spoiled indoor darlings. Also, kitty litter. Lots of kitty litter.
-There is also a barrel of very dry kindling and a box of fire starter logs if needed.
-Two oil lamps and several candles.
-Chicken, people, and cat first aid kits.
-Our house is above sea level by quite a bit so storm surge will not effect us. It’s also only one story and sturdy.
-Gassed up the car and the chainsaw
-Lots of books and knitting projects :)
My only real concern are the oak trees with all the leaves still on them and if the chicken coop and run can stand a stiff wind. I think it can. It’s lived through a few Nor’easters so far. The posts are buried three feet in and the hardware cloth is buried two feet around. The run is also covered. The house windows are hardware cloth right now. We built the new bigger house in the existing run in the spring and I have the windows. I was just waiting until fall to install them. Maybe we will board up the outer ones and leave the one inside the run for ventilation. The backup is a temporary pen in the basement. We can’t do anything about the trees.
Because we are prepared, nothing will happen.
Well I broke down and got Betty some eggs and wouldn’t you know it, the day they came she decided she didn’t want to be broody anymore. I came home from the post office and she was out and about with the other girls. I didn’t want to waste them, we were now committed, so I put them in the nest anyway to see what would happen. Well it took a day or two for her to get serious and settle on them, but she is now stuck to them like glue and shrieking like a pterodactyl again. She is the proud protector of nine lavender orpington eggs. I really hope at least one girl comes out of this. Because the parents were so pretty. We will see what happens in a couple of weeks.
Sunday Morning Stinkeye
The goddesses should start laying soon. They are going on 18 weeks now. This means I had to take out and install the extra nest box. I took the separator out of the nest box in the house because last time Betty’s chick kept ending up on the other side and couldn’t figure out how to get around. I left it as one big nest box and we built another one in the run while Betty was in the house. We took it out for more run space when they left the nest box in the house and others could use it again. But, I told Husband to hang on to it just in case. Well it seems the time has come to put it back. Betty does not take well to nest box neighbors. I tried to give them a washtub to lay in but Doris didn’t like it and has started laying in the run. The extra nest box is not pretty, but it works. It tucks right under the ramp and doesn’t take too much space.
We added the panel in the front as an afterthought. They didn’t want to lay in there without some privacy. Hopefully Doris will take to it again and will teach the goddesses that is the place to lay. It’s funny how the dynamic of the whole flock changes when one hen is out. Doris is getting along with the goddesses and she’s the substitute head hen until Betty returns to her post. Betty does like to remind them who is really in charge when she comes off the nest for a break though.
Friday, August 19, 2011
It’s a busy time of year here on the island. This week alone is filled with many end of the summer events. But, I was able to fit in a visit to the first day of the fair yesterday. It was dusk so please excuse the lighting in some of the pictures.
My first stop was the fair hall. This is where you can see all the items people bring in for competition. I like to see who won ribbons and who didn’t for what. My achievements were thin this year. My socks lost blue ribbon to a pair of faire isle socks which were fabulous. I didn’t mind a second place to them, they deserved it. I love that the knitting judges leave you a note on your entry tag. I got a “nice job”. A friend got a “pattern off”. It helps understand why the judges made their decisions. My dill spears got an honorable mention ribbon. Maybe if they tasted them they would have done better. The judges don’t taste the preserves or pickles and sometimes it’s frustrating. It’s a visual judging only and again the ones that won did look nicer.
After viewing all the prizes, I moved on to the animals. I love to see other people’s chickens and the large animal we can’t keep. On the way, there was a young man exercising his horses in the ring. I like the cup holder in the back.
To finish off the evening, I watched the Flying Wallendas. They’ve never been here before and were very entertaining followed by some dinner of local smoked chicken with tomato and corn salad. It got too dark for pictures before the Wallendas took to the high wire. But, I got some juggling and clown antics before the sun went down.
The fair is on until Sunday. Tonight are the fireworks in Oak Bluffs. Let’s see anything else going on……Oh yeah the president is here. He usually keeps to himself. I just wish his helicopters wouldn’t fly over my house and scare the chickens. There are a few a day. I assume they are cabinet members and such. Last night there was one at 10:30pm just as I was drifting off to sleep. Thump thump thump thump. How long until September?
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Today I bring you to the lovely Beaumaris Castle in Beaumaris, Anglesey, North Wales. It was built in 1295 by King Edward I. It has the classic moat and outer and inner walls with built in arrow slits and ramparts. It was never quite finished and was abandoned in 1298 when the king was distracted by other matters.
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
So I have returned from the NOFA Summer Conference and boy was it an experience. I learned so much and there were so many people of all farming walks of life. It was so interesting talking to other chicken owners who varied in chicken numbers from 20 to 2500. Imagine 2500 chickens! I guess at that point they don’t have names or anything. Anywho, everyone was so nice. I don’t think I met one mean person. Everyone just seemed to be there to have a good time and learn something new.
There were many accommodation options. For higher budget people, there was the campus hotel or the dorm suites with kitchenettes and a/c. I stayed in the regular dorms which was the posh price of, I believe, $30 per night for a single room with no a/c (bring your own bedding and fan) and I was lucky enough to be given a corner room. I’ve always thought of dorm rooms as cold, cave like rooms. Well the extra window added a world of difference and there was even a bit of a cross breeze. I felt quite special. It doesn’t take much.
If your wallet wasn’t up to that, there were camping areas. For $12 per night you could pop up your tent or park your adorable little camper and still use the shower facilities in the dorms and the restrooms in the student union.
I want it. Too cute.
In addition to all the classes and speakers, there was a contra dance and a fair. I enjoy contra dances thoroughly. All ages were dancing together having a great time and there were quite a few people that liked to throw in extra spins here and there and leave their partners quite dizzy. The fair was an old fashioned type fair. There were wheelbarrow and three legged races, pie eating contests (blueberry of course), a guess where the cow plops raffle, and a parade mostly manned by children and two cattle brought up the rear.
There was also a dog that herded ducks, some goats, and this mule. He was huge and I wish I had taken a picture of his sign that said what kind of mule he was. His ears were lovely and longer than my forearm.
The big tent had all kinds of organic vendors and groups that support organic agriculture. There was also a silent auction and a book sale. It was my dream book shop with all the books you could want pertaining to all things homestead and farm. I bought three books and then had to stop. If my pockets were deeper many more books would have come home with me. I was surprised there were no yarn vendors. But, that will just give me the excuse to go to the New York Sheep and Wool Festival in the fall. Now that’s another fabulous get together. Overall, I will definitely go again. I will cover the classes I attended in other posts.
Monday, August 15, 2011
Betty has gone broody and it happened incredibly quickly. She did start shrieking like a pterodactyl last week at the girls. But, I wasn’t sure until she sat on the nest overnight a few days ago and has since. Dorris is my one and only nest sleeper but, Betty is always a roost sleeper. She has stuck to the nest box like glue. This would be fine if she just hadn’t gotten over being broody and bringing up a chick. A chick that drove me nuts! She’s a very good mother, I am torn between getting her more eggs and trying to break her. I am also afraid that if I don’t break her broodiness that it will run rampant through my little flock and everyone will be broody in no time. What to do. What to do.
Thursday, August 11, 2011
Our local Agricultural Fair is August 18th – 21st. I have to decide this week what I will be entering. Not many things have been fair worthy lately. The jams have floating fruit. The Dilly Beans are not plumped up yet from the initial canning shrivel. The eggs have a weird crinkle on the pointy end lately. None of the chickens are really close to standard perfect and the little ones are too young. (Plus I think Betty is going broody again) All of these things are fine for everyday. It’s just that you want it to be perfect if you are going to enter it in the fair. Those judges are super picky.
There are a couple of things that have been successful this year that I plan on entering. I have this pair of socks which I am very proud of and I think the dill spears came out nice this year. We will enter them and see what happens.
I don’t usually join the physical competitions, but I have always wanted to participate in the skillet throw. Those ladies can really chuck a cast iron skillet. Also, there is a new competition that involves knitting with chopsticks in a set period of time. I may jump in that one this year. I’ll let you know how it goes.
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Friday is the NOFA Summer Conference in Amherst. It’s finally here. I have never been and am so excited to be going this year. It’s about time to decide which classes I want to take. But with over 225 over three days to choose from, it’s a big decision.
I want to absorb as much as possible and have an ambitious schedule of learning beekeeping, bread making, meat chicken raising, raising a family cow, cultured dairy products, knots, and herbal healing and beauty products. There’s also a fair and a farmer and crafter’s market. I see more yarn in my future.
Monday, August 8, 2011
Betty has been very attentive lately. Not a sit on your lap kind of friendly, but every time I go in the back yard she seems to appear out of nowhere at my feet. Staring up at me as if to say “Where were you? Did you bring anything?”
Saturday she hung out with me on the patio for a good long time while I did chores. She hung out and preened and just watched what I was doing just in case a treat opportunity should present itself. She didn’t want to miss it.
Betty and Doris came to me from a home northwest of Boston. The woman who had them decided she wanted to focus more on breeding a different breed and was finding new homes for the rest of her flock.
Betty is a Langshan/Sussex mix but, looks more Langshan than anything. She has the distinctive “U” shape and the beautiful black feathers with the green blue sheen. Her egg is a deep brown and she has feathered feet. Sometimes she looks a bit like an old lady with her silver feathers around her face and neck. I think that may be her only Sussex feature.
Since we restructured the flock in the spring, Betty has become the head hen and she likes to remind the others often. She doesn’t draw blood like Ginger the last lead hen did, but they know to expect a firm peck if they get out of line. They also know though, that she has their backs if a predator of some sort shows up. She is great at sighting birds soaring overhead, being a survivor of a hawk attack, she will herd them under the bushes at the sight of any kind of soaring bird, even seagulls and has been seen chasing the neighbors’ cat across the yard perceiving it a threat. She’s a great alpha hen and still gives us an egg everyday. Who needs a rooster?
Sunday, August 7, 2011
Hunting blackberries on Saturday, I went to the little visited Christiantown reservation. It’s a lovely spot down a private dirt road that’s way off the tourist track. Christiantown was also known as Manitouwatootan to the native Wampanoag Indians it means “God’s Town”. It was established in 1659 and it is here that many of the converted Wampanoags lived and worshipped through the 18th and 19th centuries. In 1849, it held 390 acres. But, it died out slowly as people moved away to find work and the remaining population was wiped out by a smallpox epidemic in 1888. What’s left today is a small wooded reservation owned and protected by the Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank with 8.6 acres and a small chapel that was built in 1829 after the original burnt to the ground. It is a great place for quiet reflection and a stroll through the woods with a berry basket. Especially, on a busy August morning on Martha’s Vineyard.