27 April 2010

Special Delivery

Look what arrived yesterday!

They say not to count your chicks before they're hatched but when you mail order them you always get what you ask for... plus one "to keep them warm." This is our mystery chick. He or she would appear to be some sort of bantam with a very upright walk and calm demeanor.

He and his 25 buddies are living in a box in the garage because, well, I'm a little slow when I build stuff. Mr. Fuzzy tweaked his back the other day and, you know, it takes a lot of thinking to build and hang a couple fairly simple doors out of really scrappy scrap materials by yourself when you've not done it before. (Dogs make lousy helpers, by the way.)

On the good side... my chicken shed will only have set us back about $60 and I've learned how to use a little circular saw. Score one for Mrs. Fuzzy conquering another useless tool phobia!

12 April 2010


So... I couldn't locate the battery charger for my camera for 2 weeks.... Here's a visitor from back in February and a view from the hotel when we went to Ohio in March. Also a little video of our new foster dog.

Mrs. Fuzzy

Lady Sheba Mae... our Plott Hound foster dog.

11 April 2010

Great neighbors

The temperatures have returned to a more season feeling than we have experienced in several weeks; it is cool at night (about38F) and warm in the day (72F) with much sun to warm the earth. The sun and the warmth have sped the flora of Stratheden along rapidly. The dogwoods are just opening, the cherries are in their greatest glory in capes of sparkling white, the maples have bloomed, the tulip poplars are but days away from blooming and the grass has become even more green and thick.

Although the average frost is in May, it is time to prepare the gardens for those seeds which can be directly sown at this early stage. Our kind neighbor Bob loaned a 1951 Dearborn plow (made by Ford in Dearborn, Mich.) which needed a little care before use. Mr. Fuzzy put an aggressive wire cup on an angle grinder and removed all of the rust from the chisel, moldboard and plowshare. Then a light coat of silicone. With these two 'tweaks,' the soil will part most readily from the metal.

Mr. Fuzzy plowed the new garden out on the knob, removing stones after each pass of the plow. Then our truly wonderful neighbors came with a modified tiller on their tractor... after several passes in each direction, the result is a gorgeous raised bed. Mr. G spent two hours manipulating the tiller to and fro across the new garden and also on last year's garden (which was expanded by 50%). So, gentle reader, if you need a final settlement, the farm now has three gardens: Mrs. Fuzzy's raised beds, Mr. Fuzzy's below and to the west of the house and then the new large garden on the knob.

The old fence had to be pulled on two sides of Mr. Fuzzy's garden to facilitate the tractor and tiller to enter and exit; that proved a good deal more work than estimated. A new expanded electrical fence shall soon be completed. The new large garden will be fenced a bit at a time as other agricultural chores permit.

We are so very grateful to have such wonderful neighbors. Thank you all.

07 April 2010

The Buzz on Bees

Yes, Davie, bees are in the offing too. Not honey bees, though. Well, not yet. The design of the lean-to I am enclosing as a temporary chicken house includes an outer wall with wood blocks drilled for native bees to lay their eggs and some blocks for ladybugs to overwinter.

For all the fears of "total honey bee die-off" you might hear it must be remembered that all pre-contact new world crops were developed without the honey bee. Corn, beans, tomatoes, potatoes, sunflowers..... you name it .....were all pollinated by native (solitary) bees, flies, wasps, butterflies, moths and other bugs. One of the benefits of encouraging native bees around our home (rather than a honey hive) is that they are not subject to colony collapse disorder. They also tend not to sting.

06 April 2010


I recently wrote to you of the recent arrival of spring - a mere fortnight later, it is now summer with temperatures in the 80s. No one of whom Mr. Fuzzy has inquired can remember such a rapid transition from snowy winter into spring and thence into summer, all in less than four weeks; recall, if you will, it was on the tenth of March that our post was regaling the disappearance of the last snow.

The trees are exploding into bloom. Today the large peach tree showed just a hint of bloom at sunrise; by sunset it was entirely bedecked in a pink cape of flowers. All three types of cherry tree are in full bloom. Only the apples have proven reluctant. The heat at this early date is extraordinary and the cool weather crops not ready to consume a week ago are about to bolt. All flora seem well beyond their average displays - this has been attributed to the genteel sufficiency of subsoil moisture from the winters snows. Also unusual has been the reluctance of the clouds to shed their load or even to form -so many cloudless dry days of late.

Our farmer-neighbors all pray that this rapid warming and low humidity are not augurs of a summer drought in formation. Likewise, the Fuzzies hope not as well.

01 April 2010


Spring has sprung beyond any doubt. The high temperature yesterday was 71F (21C) and not a cloud in the sky. Today is forecast to be even warmer... this while our Fife and Glasgow friends are burdened with an extraordinary late season snowstorm that paralyzed much of Scotland.

The Fuzzies were hard at work yesterday. The first priority was cleaning out the walled garden in preparation for planting season. Leaves and sticks were raked into piles then fed into the 10 H.P. chipper that Mrs. Fuzzy found on Craig's List last year. Feed the leaves into one chute and the sticks and branches into the other and viola, you have finely shredded organic material that will enrich the gardens. It rather seems ironic that we have to first remove it from the garden in order to enrich the garden...

The chipper is an effective machine. In several hours of operation, it consumed a fraction of a gallon of petrol. Although Mr. Fuzzy wore ear protection, Mrs. Fuzzy declined - it was actually sounded more like a lawn mower than a chipper - even the dogs were unperturbed by it. It started first time, every time, which is good - the compression of the engine makes pulling the starting cord a two-hand effort.

Our garden has begun producing food for the table. Mrs. Fuzzy prepared a salad with our home grown lettuce. Mmmm, fresh, crisp, delicious and chemical free. The greenhouse is overflowing with wee green sprouts seeing the sun for the first time - I can taste the tomatoes already!