31 October 2011

Firsts on the Farm

Well, I still have no idea where my charger is and the camera has two dead batteries so you will just have to endure a no-new-picture post from me.

Late autumn is officially upon us and not simply because today is a cross-quarter day. Yesterday morning there was a thin film of ice on the kiddie pool we use to provide drinking water to the chickens. Yep, first real frost of the season and it's a shade early to boot. The last tobacco plants are still ripening seed pods and have, thus far, survived the cold with a little protection. I might need to add more if they are to be successful.

Speaking of chickens, this was a momentous weekend in the evolution of my little project! I sold my first batch of eggs to the Harvest Moon Store in Floyd. That makes Sal's Ethical Eggs (named for our favorite hen, Salvadora) a legit undertaking. The manager, Sylvia, loved the name and my home made carton labels, which show Mme. Salvadora and describe the conditions on which the Clucker's Union would consent to their produce being sold. I can't use the O-word because we've not gotten certified but I can give enough information for a reasonable person to put two and two together.

The label reads:
Sal’s Ethical Eggs
From freely roaming, rooster loving, organic-feed-eating, super happy, self-actualized chickens of several breeds old and new.

I've had to restrain myself from going down to see how many they've sold. Right now the girls are giving us 9 dozen a week, plus a few, but the leghorns have just started laying so I'll have 18-20 dozen soon!

22 October 2011

A benchmark of change

One of those rare definitive seasonal changes has occurred this morning in the pastures of Stratheden - a complete coating of thin frost. If ever there was a harbinger of the onset of colder weather, this would be it. At this very moment, early rays of the sun are now raking across it, simultaneously highlighting and destroying it.

The forecast was for a low of 29F so the dining room floor is covered by potted plants brought inside for protection. In theory, this is the coldest night for the next week so they will go back outside today.

Yesterday, hastened by the frost warning, Mr. Fuzzy cut and hung the tobacco crop along with some mullein (used by the Cherokee in their smoking mix). The tobacco was planted very late but has done well; the leaves and stalks are considerably more robust than last year, attributable, methinks, to the improvements made in the soil. Hundreds of pounds of compost await being tilled into the garden once the growing season has totally ceased; with luck and perseverance, next year's yield will be even better.

Autumn has literally been blown in by the winds of change; there have been periods as long as three days wherein the air has never been stilled. Brilliantly colored leaves have danced all about the farm and have now provided a richly textured ground cover and insulation through the cold spells. Very few trees managed to retain their modest coverings; the maples, which gave a fine display of bright reds, have somehow maintained their glory, and most oaks as well. The walnuts were the first trees to be totally divested of their raiment perhaps three weeks past.

15 October 2011

Autumnal Colours

This weekend may be the climax of fall color on Stratheden's grounds. The trees were stressed by the summer drought and some began melding their summers greens into fall yellows as much as four weeks ago. Many of the noble trees who turn to shades of reds have held their display until recently; the maples have been spectacular this season (note to self: plant more maple trees) and the dogwoods display a superabundance of brilliant red berries this year..

The walnut trees were particularly stressed by the lack of water this summer and have shad all of their leaves already. Nonetheless, the yield of walnuts continues to be prodigious and we will have them to dine on through the spring beyond any doubt. The squirrels must be ecstatic.

Yesterday was a classic fall day: azure blue skies with just enough clouds for contrast, daytime temperatures of about 62F and a constant wind ensuring there were always leaves making their final curtsy on the way downward. Today may be a carbon copy, dear reader, and I wish you were here to enjoy it with me.

04 October 2011

Radford Highland Games

Last Saturday the Fuzzies drove to Radford University to take in their annual highland games. Och, it was such a Scottish day, dreich! The temperature was barely in the 40s, the skies were dark gray and drizzling rain in varying quantities, the wind a-gusting, oh it made me so homesick for Fife.

The core of the event was the games but there was superb live music, vendors of Scottish goods (some from bonnie Scotland!), arts and crafts, herding dog demonstrations, etc. What is a Scottish event with nae sheep? (ans: heartbroken). Even Mr. Fuzzy parted with a guinea or two and purchased a fine sporran from a auld Glasgow firm. Methinks most did well except perhaps the Sno-Cone man who was looking pretty blue, literally and figuratively.

Truly, it made me very homesick for the country and our friends there. I wanted to drown me sorrow with Talisker and oatcakes, sigh, and there was a wee dram of Talisker in the cabinet...

01 October 2011

Some of the people and their cameras in the workshop Mr.Fuzzy taught last weekend. Ah, yes indeed, a whole new group who now know why he is denominated "Mr. Fuzzy."