Archives

A stranger cometh Christmas Eve

CAST OF CHARACTERS

Joseph — Lord of the Land
Rousseau — Faithful Dog, Protector of the Lord’s Land
Cat 1 — Lead Hunter of Small Mammals
Cat 2 — Lead Hunter of Indoor Insects
Cat 3 — Lead Hunter of Elusive Birds viewed through Stalking Window
Husky-Girl — Lost Maiden

As written by Jacqueline, Scribe and Lady of the Land
Scene: Late evening on the longest night of the year, in the foothills far to the east, on a rural farm

Joseph: Lord of the Land

Joseph: Come, faithful dog. It is time to do our rounds in the fields.

Rousseau: I am at your side, my Lord.

(they walk)

Rousseau: The cows are moving in the field. They should be sleeping. Something is afoot. A rustling in the grasses. There! Behind the blessed cows.

Rousseau: Faithful Dog, Protector of the Lord’s Land

Joseph: What is it, Rousseau? Have you found something?

Rousseau: My Lord, do you hear?

Joseph: No, but my ears are not as fine as yours.

Rousseau: And there, on the wind. A strange scent, like no other I have smelled. My Lord, is it in your ken?

Joseph: No, but my nose is also not as fine as yours. What is it you sense?

Rousseau: Stay back, my Lord! Someone runs in the field. Await me here. I shall run and see who hides in the darkness.

Joseph: Be safe, my faithful one!

Rousseau: My Lord! My Lord! I have found a stray dog here. She has the scent of foreign lands. I shall sniff her thoroughly.

Joseph: What is here, dear dog? Are we safe?

Rousseau: I am sniffing her lady parts, my Lord. Such strange and exotic scents. Wait, my Lord. Another minute, perhaps more.

Husky Girl: Lost Maiden

Joseph: Rousseau, you have found a female dog. Perchance, she may be of nobility and her family in woe that she is lost. She is of the Northlands. We must search for her house and inform them she is found.

Rousseau: Is she from the land of the Danes, my Lord?

Joseph: No. She may have travelled through Denmark to get here, but she hails from lands further north.

Rousseau: A Pyrenees from France? Or a Brittany?

Joseph: No, she appears of good breeding, but further distant to our lands. Perhaps across the great ocean.

Rousseau: The noble Newfoundland? Or could she be a Labrador from the icy water-lands?

Joseph: Please ask her, Rousseau. Dear maiden, where come you from?

Husky: (My Saviors, I cannot speak your language. I am lost. I am at your will.)

Rousseau: Alas, the language is foreign to my ears. Though she does appear to be especially energetic and athletic.

Joseph: She must have travelled a longly ways. Come, we will head back to the manor.

Husky: (I am found! I am found!)

Joseph: I believe she most resembles a breed I have heard tales of, but until now have never seen. I believe she is a HUSKY, a lineage from the far northlands of the Americas, Let us bring her to the manor where she can dine and rest while we seek her family.

(Joseph brings her into the garage where he takes a photo to post on Facebook and thus seek her noble house.)

Joseph: Maiden, it is late, nearly midnight. Eat of this food I have prepared for you. And I have made you a bed where you can rest while we seek your family.

Husky: I shall sing the song of my ancestors until they are found.

(Joseph brings Rousseau into the house and they ready for sleep.)

(1 a.m.)

Husky: Ancestors, I call out to my family. Tell them I am safe but not yet found.� Rousseau: Dear maiden, I shall echo your calls until your family hears.

Cat 1: Master, awake! There is a dragon in the land. We must flee!

Cat 2: Lady, awake! Come this way, under the bed!

(2 a.m.)

Husky: Ancestors, awaken and find me. I call and call you.

Rousseau: Arise! Arise! My Lord, she needs more of us to call with her.

(3 a.m.)

Husky: Ancestors, Find me. I do not suffer as I have my keen hunting skills. I have miraculously found a covered metal bin that smells rich in reward. I am doing my best to unlock the canister.

Rousseau: Dear maiden, I wish to be at your side and assist you but I am trapped in the Lord’s house. Nonetheless, I shall call and encourage you to further your efforts.

Car 1: Lead Hunter of Small Mammals

Cat 1: Master, awake! I cannot find our brother. I fear the dragon has done him no well.

Cat 2: Lead Hunter of Indoor Insects

Cat 2: Lady, awake! We have made room for you here in the closet. Come quickly!

(4 a.m.)

Cat 2: Master, awake! We have searched everywhere for our brother. He is lost.

Cat 3: Lady, awake! I am here! I have found a hiding place from the dragon. Follow me into the basement of the manor where it is dark and there are many hiding places.

Cat 1: Master, awake! Indeed it is a good hiding place. And there is plenty of room for pooping, which we all shall now do to show we have claimed this territory, free of dragons, as our own.

Cat 3: Lead Hunter of Elusive Birds Viewed Through Stalking Window

Husky: I have succeeded at last in opening the canister. It is, indeed, filled with many smells. Alas there is little food. These farmers, they are composters and they do not have much surplus. What they have I shall spread throughout this garage so they know I have given my best to this discovery.

(5 a.m.)

Husky: Ancestors, I am here.

Rousseau: I call with you. We shall not sleep until we find your family.

 

(6 a.m.)

Husky: Though the skies are still dark, I shall keep up my song.

Rousseau: Likewise, I shall sing the ancient chorus of all lost dogs with you.

(7 a.m.)

Husky: I am hoarse with barking. As the light comes over the mountains, I shall rest my bones.

Lord Joseph and Faithful Dog Rousseau

Rousseau: While you rest, dear one, I shall keep up the call with sporadic yips and trills asking if you are back awake yet.

Cat 1: I continue to growl through the window to keep the dragon at bay. Sleep, Lord and Lady. You are safe under my watch.

(8 a.m.)

Phone rings. The husky’s family has heard of the miraculous saving of their lost daughter and they hurry here to accept her back into their care. Joy! Joy!

Rousseau: Be well, fair one. I am grateful the song we sung through the night roused your family and you have been rejoined. Joy and happiness, I shall sing long this day.

— Jacqueline Freeman, Friendly Haven Rise Farm

Chickens take a dirt bath

I planted spring bulbs at the end of our walkway. I imagined how beautiful they will look in springtime, joyous irises in multi-colored bloom, the fragrant waft of scent carrying to the front door.


Surprise! Surprise! The next day I find these hens and a rooster smack dab in the middle of the new bed with different plans. My little landscapers decided to turn the rich soil into a dirt bath. 

Dust baths are how chickens keep crawly things off their skin. They poof up their feathers all fluffy and then powder puff billows of dirt all over themselves. This is the chicken version of spa day.

I can’t get upset about it. It’s marvelously entertaining. Look at their little chicken faces. They love it so much they get all dreamy-faced while they’re bathing. I guess I can plant my bulbs elsewhere.

This entry was posted on December 1, 2010, in Farm Animals.

Twin Fawns in Daisy Field

Twin fawns in our upper field. They’d been sleeping between the compost beds when I startled them. Notice how well their spots blend them in with the daisies in the field.

Moving the Cows in January

Miss Amelia and Harmony in the field

This is a video of us getting ready to move the cows from the east pasture up the road to the high field. Miss Amelia loves getting a carrot. Harmony checks Joseph’s pockets for more. What sweet girls. Our neighbor Susan came down to pick up some eggs and took the video. 

It’s been rainy, no surprise since we’re in the Pacific Northwest. Still, we have no complaints because we rarely get snow, which is fine with me. Since we moved our giant beef cows to our friend Vickie’s pasture, our pastures are doing better. At least this winter we’re not getting our boots pulled off when we walk through mud. 

Evenings are quiet. We bring Missy into the barn, wipe her udder down and set the bucket under her to milk. When we’re nearly done we let Harmony in for what’s left and that’s always a fun time. We love these girls.

Come on over here and see what classes we are teaching on the farm…

This entry was posted on January 9, 2010, in Farm Animals.

Porcu-puncture

Let me start this tale about a porcupine and a cow by mentioning that we NEVER can go away when we’re milking because I’m the one who milks Miss Amelia and you can’t skip a day or the milk will fill her udder and that’s uncomfortable as well as unhealthy. Unlike feeding a dog or parakeet, milking a cow is something most friends can’t do easily. (If you can and you live nearby, I’d like us to become better friends.)

I was scheduled to teach a bee class at a farm festival in Oregon and we wanted to stay overnight so we taught our farm intern, Lane, to milk Missy and Joseph showed Andrew, our other farm intern, how to take care of anything else she’d need. 

Off we went. Don’t most tales about mishaps start with something like that? …. thinking we had everything handled, off we went.

 

The next day, 20 minutes before I was scheduled to teach my class, we got a call that Miss Amelia had a run-in with a porcupine.

 

    

 

When a cow is curious, she’ll get quills in her nose, just like a dog who’s been sniffing around. Miss Amelia, however, decided she just plain didn’t like the look on the porcupine’s face, so she tried to bump it with her head and horns to tell it to get out of her yard. 

The porcupine took advantage of this situation to give her a PORCU-PUNCTURE treatment.

A quick call to our vet (on a Sunday) who suggested if we were handy with pliers, that’s all he was going to do. But he said to do it soon as the quills would cause swelling and it would be harder the longer we waited. We were four hours away even if we left that minute so we asked our neighbor Brenda to step in and cover for us. Brenda did and here are photos of how that went.

   

Brenda brought her needle-nose pliers and removed 148 porcupine quills from Miss Amelia’s forehead. Lane and Andrew, our farm interns, helped steady her.

Apparently the porcupine handled that situation well as we didn’t find one anywhere out in the field. I’m going to guess Miss Amelia will rethink that idea next time she sees a porcupine waddling across the pasture. Live and let live.

Brenda, Lane and Andrew gave her a clay masque to draw out anything that might be itchy.

   

I think the quills did some acupuncture on her cranky point — she’s been sweet as can be ever since. The clay masque surely helped, I know she felt special. The only thing she didn’t get was the little cucumber slices to go over her eyelids. We took her halter off and sent her out in the field with a bin full of cow treats (carrots, cabbage and beets) to take her mind off the whole thing.

Miss Amelia got the cow version of a spa treatment and I think she kinda liked it.

warmly,

Jacqueline & Joseph

Calf born with white heart on forehead

Miss Amelia birthed her new calf Monday morning at dawn. A beautiful fawn colored heifer with a big white heart on her forehead who we’re calling Harmony. Sweetheart she is.

Amelia is a brown swiss and jersey cross who gives delicious creamy milk. We bred her with a guernsey because we’ve heard guernseys have delightful personalities and also have high quality milk. The new calf will become a milk cow in a few years after we breed her for her first calf. That’s how you start the milk cycle, the cow has a calf and the milk comes in. 
The first few days we leave all the milk for the calf so she gets the immune system boost that come from drinking colostrum. Colostrum is only there for the first three days. We’ll start milking on the fifth day. 
On the second day we found the calf had somehow gotten under the wire and was outside the fence. Miss Amelia was standing guard on the other side, quite distressed. 
Joseph and one of our farm interns, Chad, got on either side of the fence, picked up the 65 lb. calf and handed her over the fence, back to Amelia.  
Joseph and I have spent many hours hanging out in the field with the new calf. The spring grass is coming in and growing a few inches a day. The swallows are courting in the air above the pasture and we watch their swift arcs and dives as evening comes on, then see the stars come out and pepper the sky. Love is in the air.

New Calf at the Farm!

Remember when Miss Amelia had her calf, Possum, last January and we hung around for 35 hours waiting to see the birth and be there in case she needed … hmm… moral support? cheering?

Same thing happened this time. We had Delilah on baby-watch all week, visiting her in the pasture a few times each day to see how she was progressing. Finally Saturday morning Joseph said, “Nah, she’s not coming due any time soon. I say she’s still a week away.”
How do they do that? Sure enough, we showed up to water them a few hours later and Delilah was standing over a still wet baby boy.
  
Today we took our five cow herd up the road to the east pasture for winter. We gather together a group of friends, no matter if they’re cow-savvy or not. We post someone at each driveway and orchard along the way with the task to wave arms and shoo cows back onto the road if they shuffle off. But shuffling never happens. The cows get excited about the road trip the minute their hooves hit the pavement and it always turns into a herd of galloping bovines racing to crest the hill before we catch up. They always get there first. Luckily they remember where the gate is and by the time we arrive, panting heavily and doubled over from laughing, they’re already inside munching green grass.
This should be the last move until spring. They’ll get this last bit of rich green grass and then frost will hit and they go on hay for winter. Our herd will get smaller in a month as Maurice is nearly big enough to butcher. We may take Possum then, too. We’re still debating that. We’re thinking of finishing up with the beef cows and just having dairy cows which would be simpler. Hay has gotten so expensive that taking cows through winter is a real expenditure and sometimes it doesn’t pencil out to keep them going. 
We had a very good hay season this summer and managed to put away 180 bales but that’s not enough to take us through winter. Because of the huge spikes in oil, production costs went way up. Bales here are $7-8, up from $6 last year and $4 the year before. Our cows can run through quite a few bales in a week. if you’re buying beef, be aware of this. We feed our cows only grass and hay, nearly all of it from our land. That makes them what’s called “grass fed.” 
Commercial grain and corn growers put fertilizer on their fields and costs for that have skyrocketed, boosting prices for feedlot owners who raise grain fed cows. Since we don’t do that, that’s one cost we’ve avoided being caught by.
In case you didn’t know, grass fed beef is significantly more tasty and better for you and the cow than grain fed beef. Grass is what cows have always eaten. Their digestive systems are designed to process grass and hay, not grain. Commercial operations feed grain because you can put weight on a cow a lot faster and raise more in less space. Problem is that grain gives cows indigestion which makes them less healthy, needing more antibiotics and medicines, some of which stay in the meat. The indigestion they get causes flatulence ripe with methane. In plain language, their poop stinks.
Grass fed beef doesn’t have that. On our farm you can walk right up to a pile of manure and you’ll notice there’s hardly any smell to it. We spread the manure on our fields and it helps keep the pastures lush. Our grass fed cows don’t need medicine to keep them functional. They eat what nature intended and they do just fine. The compromise we make is that grass-fed beef doesn’t grow as quickly but they are significantly more healthy overall.
Next time you buy beef, try some that’s grass fed. Way more flavorful, less fatty and more tender. If you slow cook it like we do — put it in the crockpot on low in the morning with some veggies and dinner’s ready by evening — it cuts with a fork. Knowing what organic, grass fed beef tastes like, we can’t order beef in a restaurant anymore.
Our chickens are out in the garden cleaning up frost damaged, limp lettuce and mushy, green tomatoes and happy as can be. Nothing a chicken likes better than finally being allowed into the garden!
 
These cooler days mean we dress warmer and I get to wear my insulated farm boots which I love. Joseph bought some early last winter and liked them so much I got a pair for Christmas. Warm, dry feet on a cold, wet morning is a real joy.
A full moon came up over the field as Joseph and I closed the hens into the coop last night. Everything’s turning:  Bronzed yellow and scarlet orange leaves, newly sweet apples, fragrant purple grapes ready for pressing. We’re fully into cider-making season. If you come by, we’ll pour you a cup of sweet fall ambrosia.
This entry was posted on October 19, 2008, in Farm Animals.

How We’re Doing: An Annual Update

If you’ve been on this list for awhile you know we bought this farm seven years ago and have been learning, little by little, how to work with it. We’ve been growing our farm with the intention of creating as much personal sustainability as we can and educating those who come our way with open and inquiring minds in how we do that. Alongside permaculture ideas we’ve also integrated biodynamic principles in the way we work with our land and animals.

* FARM ANIMALS

Let’s start with the TURKEYS …

Last year we again raised a dozen heirloom turkeys, which shows we’re no smarter than the turkeys. They’re a handful and we decided after two years in a row with them that we’d raise them every OTHER year. Sweet as they are personality wise, they’re really not that bright. One out of three evenings they’d forget where the coop was. If we weren’t home at dusk we’d have to climb trees to get them down in the dark. Or, since it was fall and the start of our rainy season, we climbed trees in the DARK and in the RAIN. Now really, how dumb are we?

Joseph would hold the ladder steady while I climbed up into the tree with a flashlight to shake a turkey down, then Joseph would run to catch the 20 lb. pile of wet fluff and feather that fell out of the branches and carry him AROUND THE CORNER OF THE BUILDING and put him in the coop. I’m not kidding. Around the corner.

When we’d see them lost as dusk neared, we’d go down to help them find the coop. First you should know, a turkey will follow you anywhere. It must be a feature in their little brains that says if nobody else can figure out how to lead, then follow the one that does. That would be one of us.

So we’d go inside their pen in the apple orchard and call them. Our turkeys had a two word vocabulary. If something good was happening, they’d trill three ascending notes, beep-beep-beep. If we beeped, they followed.

If they felt lost or confused (I can’t tell you how many times a day THAT happened), they’d do three descendiing notes, boop-boop-boop. Try whining that as sadly as you possibly can. Like on the verge of tears. 

Even if we were in the house we could hear that mournful little boop-boop-boop and we’d always go out to see.

 And what we found was always sad. 

To protect our small orchard trees from deer and bunnies in winter, we put a circle of wire fencing around the trees about two feet out from the trunk. Since it wasn’t winter and the trees weren’t in danger, we had opened the wire cages so we could prune or apply compost. 

More than once we’d hear the sad boop and go down to their pen and see that one or more of the turkeys had managed to get inside the OPEN cage near the tree and couldn’t figure out how to get out. They would keep walking forward and bumping into the wire as they tried to rejoin the flock on the other side of the fence. Stuck. Could not figure out that all they had to do to escape was TURN AROUND AND WALK OUT THE OPEN SIDE OF THE FENCE.

Excuse my caps on these letters but I must have tried to explain this to the turkeys forty times at least. I’d even go in myself and show them. Bump up against the fence, no go. Turn around and walk out in ANY direction behind you and you’re free.

I swear if you ever wanted to hunt a domestic turkey, all you’d have to do is put up one short wall of a fence, no sides, no corners, and just wait for one to get stuck up against it. Done. Thanksgiving dinner on the table.

So every third night we’d go down at dusk in answer to the chorus of nearly weepy boops and call the turkeys to fall in behiind us as we walked twenty feet south, took a right and … the whole flock would suddenly leap into a run-fly, beeping all the way. We’ve found our way home! Here it is!

So that’s why we decided to take a year off and raise them every other year and this isn’t one of them.

 

To give credit to Ben Franklin who wanted the wild turkey to be our national emblem, I’ve heard that wild turkeys are really smart. Ours were not. We raised a few commercial breeds (a gift from a friend) the first year, then tried four different breeds of heirloom turkeys the second year. Hardly a cipher’s worth of difference smarts-wise. 

COWS

Our Jersey-Swiss cow, Miss Amelia, calved in January presenting us with an adorable half-Angus boy, Possum. We learned how to milk her by watching a video on YouTube of an old Slavic woman doing it.

We just did what she did and it worked. We milked every day up until a few weeks ago when she went dry. Now she’s pregnant and we’re waiting for the next calf to start over again. In May we also added two Simmenthals: Delilah is a big black monolith who’s due to calve in the next week or two; and Maurice (“the gangster of love”), her nephew, is our beef cow this year. I’ve watched him in the orchard and I bet he can eat his weight in apples in a day. With Amelia’s delicious creamy milk we made a lot of cheese, butter and ice cream this year.

HENS

Our chickens had the entire farm to range on last year but this spring they were monsters in my flower gardens so we caged them into four big half-acre pens that we rotate them through. They don’t seem to have noticed they’re behind a fence. 

New additions are six chicks, some born this week. Nothing’s cuter than a baby chick. We can easily spend a half hour cooing and ahing over them which we do at least three times a day.

BEES 

We’ve got a lot of bees in the non-commercial top bar hives (TBH) we made. TBHs are more bee-centric than production oriented. I don’t do a big honey production although we always get some. They’re more for pollination and simply because I love bees. They give me extra reason to grow flowers, herbs and clover and to let the weeds go to flower and then seed without feeling I should have pulled them up when they were small.

GARDENS and ORCHARDS

You’d laugh if you saw the gardens right now. Because of the joyful activity of the bees, I let most everything go to bloom rather than pulling it out once the vegetables go by. We have plenty of five foot tall blue flowering lettuces and taller-than-me purple flowered radishes and truly enormous yellow mustards. The beds are full of red and white clovers and purple vetch. When I go to pull something out, I look on top and if there are a few bees there I let it go longer. It makes seed saving easier anyway.

Our tomatoes and basil are delicious. The beans have climbed higher than our corn already but the corn is short so that wasn’t hard. Not sure yet how to grow tall corn but even on short stalks we get ears. Maybe next year we’ll figure that out. 

Beds have chard, onions, lettuce, cabbage, eggplant, blueberries, currants, jerusalem artichokes, potatoes, sunflowers, lavender, rosemary, thyme, mints and celery. And anything else that volunteers like borage and tomatillos.

We just hayed eight acres of our neighbor’s field where we’re pasturing the cows so we ought to have enough to get through winter without buying more. The cost difference is immense. Non-organic hay is about $6 bale, organic much higher. When we hay by ourselves — despite the challenge of hot, sweaty, hard labor — a bale is about 15 cents direct cost. Don’t remind me of the cost of the mortgage for the land because when I look at 15 cents, it sounds like a win.

Orchards are growing. We’ve got about 150 fruit and nut trees so far, many still young. Our old timer trees are laden with fruit. Again, a banner year for apples. Grapes still green, many bunches. Just planted a dozen more varieties of seedless grapes so we can add raisin-making to our fall chores. 

HOW DO WE DO IT?

We earn our income teaching garden, farm and animal-related classes here. Take a look at our class schedule.

Early  Fall 2008 Classes

We also host farm volunteers through the year and they are a big help. We had three helpers this summer, Kat from New York, Jean-Paul from Italy and Andrea from Switzerland. Great helpers!

Everything else we do (like writing this blog) happens alongside the farm chores. I just finished two hours of shoveling in a new compost pile while Joseph installed pipes to hook up a bathtub in the cottage. Our days are always full. Hard work. Love it.

Our volunteers live on the farm with us and help out in exchange for room/board and learning farm skills. Tasks vary. Obviously gardening and animal care is a big part but also carpentry, irrigation, dismantling and rebuilding outbuildings, stonewalls, laying brick paths, fencing, haying … the list goes on.

We did a few farmers markets this year and realized we’re not really cut out for that. It’s a tremendous amount of work and doesn’t always pencil out as profitable. Makes me admire even more the farmers we see week after week hitting all the markets around. I grow stuff yet, for the same reason I overtip waitresses, I still buy whatever I can from local farmers because I know how hard a job it is. 

So that’s what we’re up to right now. Our days are full, animals are thriving, apple trees are so lush we had to put ladders under the branches to hold the branches up. We made our first cider a few days ago and already have a few gallons in the freezers. If you come by we’ll break out a bottle. 

Life is good. Be well.    

warmly,

Jacqueline

Friendly Haven Rise Farm

www.FriendlyHaven.com