Archive for July, 2010

We’re 5 weeks or so past the solstice and it shows on both ends of the day.  Not so long ago, when I would go out to do my chores just before 6 a.m. it was already light.  On the other end of the day, we could work in the garden until about 9 p.m.  Not so, now.  This morning, I was cleaning rabbit cages by the light of the full moon.  If there had been no moon I would have needed my headlamp.  In the evenings, we pretty much need to be in the house or working by artificial light by 8:30.  Between the shorter days and the now empty raised beds, It is visually obvious that the year is past it’s peak.

On a related note, I’m not sure it will ever cool down.  After a near record cold winter, we are pushing heat records nearly every day.  Looking at the extended forecast I don’t see any relief in sight.  The silver lining is, we are getting rain.  The upside of that is, our yard and pastures are staying nice and green.  The downside is, high temperatures plus rain equals humidity.  And, boy howdy, is it humid this summer!

Last evening I experienced a real kodak moment and I couldn’t get a good photo to save my life.  We were getting ready to leave the farm after the evening chores and head back to the burb.  The sun was setting, gloriously.  The goats finally emerged from the barn and were browsing the fence line.  Butter, the cow was standing under our chestnut tree, chewing her cud.  The chickens were on the other side of the field scratching away and the sheep were gathered around B jostling for position to get their ears scratched.

The entire scene was in my field of vision and it was incredible.  All of the day’s work and stress melted away in that instant.  For several moments, I just sat in the cab of the truck and gawked.   Then. I closed my eyes and thanked our great God for the blessing of sweat.  The beauty and serenity of the moment was the payback for all the effort.  And, oh what a rate of return on the investment!  I am a fortunate man.

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Wow.  What a weekend!  Drama, excitement, mayhem.  All these words apply.

It began with a trip south of Atlanta to collect our new Dexter cow, Butter.  We hitched up our makeshift cattle transport trailer (don’t ask how we did it, but we put McGyver and the A-Team to shame) and headed down Interstate 75.  We arrived in plenty of time.  Our hostess did not.  She was stuck in Atlanta, so we visited for two hours with her parents.

Once we finally hit the road home, it was dark.  Driving north on the Interstate in pitch black, towing a cow in a contraption held together by rope, chain, a wing and a prayer was a real adrenalin rush.  I believe every 18 wheeler in America was on the road.  But we made it home without incident.  Brittan may challenge the last sentence.

Saturday we went north to pick up Sunny and Fawn, two Nigerian Dwarf Goats.  They take cute to a whole new place.  Both of them fit in a single dog crate.  How cool is that?  They are mother and daughter and have been together their whole lives.  So far, they are uncertain about us and their new home.  Time will take care of that.

Saturday evening, battling a major downpour, B and I went out to the farm to feed, move the sheep and chickens and take care of our new critters.  A part of our chores was mucking out the stalls of the old barn on our place.  Two stalls are full of old horse manure.  It’s very light weight after a couple years of composting, but still needs to come out.

I was working one stall and B the other.  We tethered the cow and goats outside so they could eat without getting in our way.  After several minutes of sweat, dust and shoveling, Brittan let out a war hoop, “Wasps… help me.  They are stinging.”  She ran like an Olympian out of the barn and down the pasture.  “Water.  Throw water on me.”

I grabbed the cow’s water bucket and doused her, then proceeded to knock yellow jackets off her back and legs.  I didn’t count them, but they were plentiful.  She received 8 or 10 stings to her arms, back , legs and head.  It was pretty intense.  I was unscathed until I went back to untether the animals.  At that point I took several hits to my hands and on on my left knee.  But I couldn’t leave them tied up while we took care of ourselves.

At that point, we decided our evening’s work was finished.  We returned home to have some dinner, pop some Benedryl, and reflect on the day’s dance.  Fortunately, no serious harm was done, and Brittan showed some new dance moves.  The girl’s got style.

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Catching Up On Chores

I’ve been gone since Sunday.  Fortunately, B is quite the farmhand and handled the daily operations splendidly.  Today is catch up day.  We need to move the sheep and set up a new paddock for our Dexter heifer calf.  Tonight we go pick her up.

There are plenty of other tasks that are backing up, but this heat wave is putting a strain on productivity.  For example, we have trees to trim, with some very large limbs that need to come off.  But I’m just no going to tackle that in near 100 degrees with humidity over 80%.  It may be October before I get around to it.

It’s really great to be home and back to normalcy.  Whatever normal means!

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I wanna be a macho man…..  Well, not really, but I can hear that snappy little disco number thumping rhythmically through my mind while I type.

Here’s a question for you:  Why is it that people never listen and/or learn from other people’s bad experiences?  Even when it will end in sheer pain, people just have to try silly things.  Here’s an example of what I mean.

Last week I delivered a bag of dried Ghost Peppers to a customer who lives near us.  Inside the bag was a note – a disclaimer, if you will.  It reads

Ghost peppers - the hottest known pepper in the world!

as such:

Thank you for purchasing these dried Ghost Peppers (aka. naga jolokia).  A word of caution: these peppers are the hottest known pepper in the world – each pepper is roughly 10 times hotter than a habanero.  Use extreme caution in handling and cooking with these peppers – wear gloves.  These peppers should not be eaten alone, and only used sparingly in foods until you know how they will react with your taste buds and stomach…

Now, if you’d read that, would you feel inclined to try one of these peppers on its own?  If you’re like most of the population, your answer would be a compulsive ‘yes’.  I suppose it’s much like putting a kid in a candy shop and telling them to keep their hands off the glass.  No matter how many times you warn them, they’ll still lean in for a closer look.

A day after delivering the peppers to our customer I received this email:

Thanks! I chopped one into fine pieces and told {my husband} that he would need to mix a very SMALL amount in with his fajitas. Of course, being the macho man he is, he ate a small piece by itself. Then {my daughter’s} boyfriend (not to be outdone by my husband) did the same thing! They finished off a half gallon of milk in record time and then ate what remained of some ice cream. I wish that I had my camera because it was hilarious! I guarantee that next time they will follow directions!

That’s boys for you I guess.  No matter how many times you warn them, they’ll put that pepper in their mouth every, single time.  Truly people, these peppers are the hottest in the world – I’m not kidding.  This is the same pepper that goes into making pepper spray.  But I’ll admit, I do get a good chuckle watching others sweat, cry, and wish for death when they don’t take my advice.  I know, I have a sick and twisted sense of humor!

If you’d like to take the ghost pepper challenge, visit our website, East of Eden Farms and click on the Store to order your very own bag of dried ghost peppers – they’re just $3 each (plus shipping if you aren’t able to pick them up).

** We have a limited supply of peppers, so order NOW if you’re interested.**

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I’m writing this post on Thursday afternoon because I know by Saturday I won’t be able to type out the words.  Even now my eyes are brimming with tears and my throat is tight.  I’ve been choking on emotions for the past three days already, and I know the next several will be even more difficult.   But our decision has been made.  It has been an agonizing one, I can assure you.  Sam and I have both dreaded this day for months – the day we’d have to make the right decision for our beloved collie, Dream.  The deed has been done and she’s finally at peace and pain-free.

Lounging in the sun - April 2008

I’ve posted before the story of how we rescued Dream from a horrid puppy mill while we were living in Maine.  That was nearly seven years ago, and I can say that she’s been the best dog we’ve ever owned.  In a way it feels like we’ve owned her her whole life, and in her mind I believe that’s true.  Certainly the last half of her life has been far superior to the first half and I’m so glad that dogs only live in the moment.

There are so many of Sam and I’s memories as a couple that include this girl.  We’ve taken countless walks with her.  We’ve watched her tear headlong through the woods of our Maine house – searching for skunks and running her legs off in utter glee.  Sam and I were certain she’d run head first into a tree, but she never did.  We’ve taken her with us on vacations.  We’ve gone hunting and snowshoeing with her.  We’ve put her on our Christmas parade float.  We’ve even taken her to the beach to chase seagulls and play in the waves of the Atlantic, which was probably the best day of her life.

She’s been an amazing watchdog and protector, but also a constant and loving companion.  She and I have spent many lazy mornings curled up together fighting over the same side of the bed!  And she’s been my ever vigilant security system during those long, lonely nights when Sam was out of town.  A good dog is always better than a gun, at least that’s what I say.

One day, not long after we’d brought Dream home, the UPS man came to our front door.  This was unusual to begin with because he always delivered our packages to the back door – in fact, he’d usually leave them just inside the door – in our mudroom – since we didn’t have to lock our house (it was northern Maine after all!).  But on this day he was ringing our front doorbell.  Sam answered the door and was somewhat shocked to see the UPS man standing there with no package in his hands.  After a moment of awkward silence the UPS man broke into an apology.  It seems that the day before he’d attempted to deliver a package to us, and as usual he was going to place it just inside our back door.  But Dream wasn’t having any of it.  Somehow we’d left the door that connects the main house and the mudroom slightly open, and when Dream heard the UPS man opening the back door she charged at him and tried to bite him.  To her, he was an intruder who definitely didn’t belong there.  The UPS man on the other hand was happy he had on brown pants that day!  And here he was, standing at our front door apologizing for scaring our dog, who, according to him “was just doing what she was supposed to do.”  He informed us from now on that he’d just leave the packages outside the back door as he didn’t want to have to explain to his boss any further requisitions for new trousers.

So many good memories……

Oh how the years have flown by.  Unfortunately, those years were not kind to our girl – especially not this last year.  In truth it has been touch

Spring 2008

and go with her now for the past several months.  At one point I solicited a fellow dog enthusiast/blogger friend’s opinion on the matter, and her advice has stuck with me and is partially what helped us to make this final decision.  Her advice was for us to pick out Dream’s three absolute favorite things to do, and when she can no longer do two of the three it’s time to start considering the humane alternative.  In this last year we’ve seen her lose the desire and/or ability to partake in all three of these particular things.  So we knew.  It was time.  Honestly we’ve known for a few months now and have just not been able to bring ourselves to make the decision.  Even though I know she’s in a better place now and not in any more pain I still can’t help but let the tears flow freely.  She’s not just a dog.  She was our dog – our Dream – a genuine member of our family…….and I’m going to miss her terribly.

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Bah, Bah, Brown Sheep!

The long hot summer is sure taking its toll. You already know about the trials and tribulations of our vegetable patch, but even the sheep have been affected. Our beautiful white sheep are currently reddish brown like Georgia clay. Our pasture is underdeveloped and will only sustain a small number of animals at this time. It has some bald and very thin spots. First the clay dust coated the sheep, followed by rain and mud. They look a little odd right now. I can’t wait for them to get to some better pasture. They should hit the thicker stuff in a couple weeks. At that time I may consider giving them a bath. Or at least hosing them down.
From our “Does Not Compute” files, I have read several comments on discussion boards lately, and saw some reader remarks in Hobby Farms magazine, that kind of disparage sheep. It seems that some people have not had as good an experience as ours has been. Sure, we only have three right now, but they have been excellent to work with. They are responsive and entertaining. Our ram gets a bit full of himself once in a while and wants to do the head butt thing. He gets his feelings hurt when we don’t respond to that behavior. When his authoritative efforts get rebuffed, he actually pouts. It is a laugh out loud experience. Other times he is like a lap dog wanting his chin scratched and to snuggle up next to us.
I don’t know what the future holds, but I sure hope sheep are a part of the future for a long time.

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The East of Eden store is open for business.  We are taking orders now for pastured chickens to be ready for pick up Saturday afternoon, August 14, between 2 and 4 p.m.  Supplies are limited, so first come, first serve.  We are very excited about this initial offering, especially in a year that’s seen so many setbacks in our vegetable garden.

To order, you can go to the website (www.east-of-eden-farms.com) and click on the ‘store’ button, or, you can simply click HERE.

Special thanks to our son in law, Rene, for getting the store up and running.  Stay tuned for future products and announcements.

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