Monday, December 31, 2012

Holiday time at the Farm...

Things slow down at the farm during the winter.  The activities and projects  that can be undertaken during more favorable weather conditions are now limited.  It's a good time to focus on keeping warm and planning your agenda, seed selections/planting arrangement, pasture rotations,and budget for the coming year.  It's also a good time to catch up on those nagging deficiencies around the house that were put off during warmer months - the door that locks on it's own, the old kitchen cabinet that sticks, and that pesky pull cord light that isn't functioning.

There was one very pressing issue that finally got addressed just before Christmas - the chimney flue that had cracks in it.  This was of concern since we are now heating the entire house with the old Kalamazoo #23  wood/coal burning furnace in the basement (we are only using wood).
As creosote builds up over time in the flue, it can migrate into these cracks in the terracotta liner and possibly start a chimney fire.

It was decided that the most cost-effective and best way to remedy this problem was to insert a new stainless steel liner (sleeve) into the existing flue.   How to do this?   The chimney is close to 35' off the ground, and on steep angle at one corner of the mansard roof - quite dangerous to access with a ladder.   As it turns out we had a local tree professional out to remove some dead limbs that were hanging over our new barn, so we decided to see if Bob Myers (from Hawley) would be willing to use his 50' hydraulic bucket lift for lowering the liner into place.  Bob was game, and it all worked out great.   Thanks so much Bob!  We even hooked in the old wood burning cook stove in the kitchen.  Our first test fire yielded some awesome blueberry pancakes, but also a lot of smoke in the kitchen - we need to address some cracks in the Old Wyoming stove made by the Pittston Stove Company near Scranton.

The sheep are now receiving a larger ration of grain to keep their body fat up, and also regular bales of first cut hay.  Dave built a really nice hay feeder, and grain feeding trough.  We have also found a use for our old worn out kale and brussel sprout plants - the sheep love to eat them, and they even but heads over them!

We've also found that the pulp left over from the juicing of beets, carrots, kale, apples and oranges is a favorite of the sheep and the chickens - a great use of an otherwise worthless by-product.  At $35 for a 50 lb bag of organic sheep feed and close to $30 for chicken feed, this is a cost-saving and healthy addition to their diet.

The chickens are now laying fewer eggs - about 1 every three days.  This is due to the lower light levels and the seasonal molt some of the birds are experiencing.  We could force higher output by adding a light in the coop during periods of darkness, but we have instead opted to let the birds maintain strength and vitality during these cold months and letting nature dictate output.

Some good news - Al recently spied the brook trout he and the boys had stocked in the new pond last spring - we thought she had become dinner for a hungry heron, but happily we were mistaken.

Even though hunting season is over, the boys still enjoy seeing what passes by our game camera out in the woods.  We have here a link to our video showing a pack of coyotes that were seen up in our newly forming upper pasture area.  We certainly hope our electric fence stays well charged and our flashing predator eye lights keep doing the job for protecting our sheep.

We recently finalized our logo - many thanks to graphic artist, Charlie Layton for his excellent artwork in bringing Al's concept to reality.  We also have a website -  just click the logo here to take a look. It's a work in progress, but it will provide even more insight into the reasons for the farm and what we plan on offering moving forward.  Our first family farm tour/workshop that will feature learning how to build and cook in an earthen cob oven is set for Sunday, May 19th, with our opening Friday Pizza night is slated for Friday the 31st of May.  Check our website for more details as they unfold.  We hope you can pay us a visit in person come spring - we're even planning on constructing a traditional Lene Lenape Indian sweat lodge on the property.

Lastly, we part with a humorous photo of our "invisible" Christmas tree that was dragged out of the woods by the boys and was so void of branches, it is hard to see any green aside from the wall behind the tree !  Thankfully at Christmas time six year old boys don't seem to mind :)

Enjoy this special time of year with your family...

Your Friends at Old School Farm

Note:  If you enjoy snow boarding, click here to see a link of
"Farmer Dave" doing a 360 at the farm!

Below are some additional farm photos for your enjoyment...

Owen uncorks a fastball at Dad.

Giant "Grax" beet with our eggs & potatoes 
Syphoning Hard Cider 

Sheppards tending their flock
Turkeys venture out during snow storm
Dave makes final connections to cook stove
Owen writes his name in the slush forming on pond
Brussels still going strong
Coleman Benner after conquering the "half pipe" jump

"Happy Thoughts" - The caption on the bottom of our "Old Wyoming" 1920's kitchen stove plates
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1 comment:

  1. It is very difficult to all farmers in winter time especially those raising animals and crops. But as I we seen in the photos the animals seems enjoying in the snow. My mind wondering that during the winter time does our farmers lost some of percentage in their wages?

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