Saturday, October 20, 2007

And then there was....change

When I started to write this blog, I was employed as a trainer and curriculum writer of material for the Human Service field. Farming was incredibly interesting, and was my real love, although I couldn't see any clear way to making it my least not yet.

Based on my years of good performance and written material, along comes a multi-million-dollar contract, which made my administrators drool and ooze from every bodily orifice, and for which I was to dedicate the bulk of my work time, although I still worked for The Agency. Somewhere along the way, I was sold over to The Contract, and like a Vegas marriage, I was hitched along with no clue how I got there.

After almost a solid year of frustration and bureaucracy in which the bull-shit-o-meter registered almost constant 100, The Agency had already spent too much of the multi-millions, and despite regular warnings from me to start pushing back and making clear our concerns with the behavior of The Contract parties, The Agency found themselves in a bind. So with a ruthlessness and desperation that was reminiscent of a fox that chews its own paw off in the trap, or the lion that will eat the cubs to eliminate any trace of a former rival, my boss (and former best-friend) cut me loose. That Vegas marriage had obliterated all of my former good works and value to The Agency: I was unemployed.

Now anyone that does any farming at all, even the Wee amount we do, knows that does not mean I had nothing to do. I simply spent the first two weeks trying to catch up on necessary chores and pre-winter projects around here to allow the blood to clot, and the sting to heal. (A bit...)

And in a strange twist of fate...I find myself working again. For a farmer! An organic farmer! A woman-run business, organic farm! A woman-run, organic, MAKING MONEY farm! (Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus...)

So, I have stepped off the edge and am going for it. Yeah, making a living at farming. Or making my best effort to, so I will never have to look back and wonder, "Could I have...?" Much of what my new employer/mentor does is what I want to do, only on a much grander scale, (with bigger machines), but knowledge is knowledge, and I learn something amazing every day.

And I'll keep you posted...

Friday, October 19, 2007

Talkin' Turkey

Something new on the farm - turkeys! We have never tried to raise meat poultry on the farm, because we've never had anyone to "process" them in the end, but circumstances have changed, and here we go!

First, I had to build a pen. So from this:

(the old pheasant pen...a 4-H project...)

To this:

With old or green lumber, no power tools, no concept of level, and no's fantabulous! Or at least Madison and the poults think so...

That's one Narragansett, and three Bourbon Reds. Sex unknown. At least for now...

These guys were the first installment on the new career (more about that coming), and a new "mentor" for the farm, and well,'ll see.

Sunday, October 07, 2007


The Northeast Shetland Sheepbreeders met at Maple Ridge Farm in Vermont a week or so ago, and I've been holding off reporting so as not to "leak" news of our project, but I think it's safe now...

We are a small group, but this year we hailed from New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, and New York.

We discussed all kinds of sheepy stuff like marketing our fleeces, composting animals, testing hay, but the discussion that was most lively was around breed standards and especially colors. Shetlands come in a rainbow of colors, 11 recognized for showing and registering purposes. But there is much debate about what's what, and people are constantly trying to make up new names to describe the subtleties they see in their flocks, and it makes it challenging for breeders and anyone trying to promote the breed yet stay true to our Shetland roots...Just look at some of the variety in Linda's flock (her rams):
Her ewes:
It was after the potluck that we got to go "play" with some of Linda's sheep. Here is one particularly friendly ewe (the Walmart greeter of the flock):

Fleece inspection:
And it was during all this activity that we formulated the "project"
We're going to collect fleece samples and try to get the definitive, "scientific" scale of Shetland colors...or something like that. I'll post a link to the group discussion when it's posted.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Meet Gomer

For those of you not running around with a copy of Poultry Breed Standards tucked under your arm, this guy is an Old English Game Bantam Red Pyle. (Nod if you understand the choice of second choice was Rock, and my daughter hates them both.)

He is a chicken with no real purpose in life, other than to look good. Perhaps someday he will father other little Pyles, (if I take a blow to the head and decide raising bantam chickens is one of my newly discovered passions) otherwise his coming to the farm was just another rescue/acquisition for the stash. Apparently, the concept of stash does not only apply to yarn. His previous owner is going away to college (in a large city where they frown on poultry in the dorms, no matter how small or handsome) and had to find a home for him. In his current state, which is with comb and wattles (a flaw for Old English Game bantams) no one wanted him, and so home to the farm he came. I have no plans to take scalpel and cauterizing iron to his head just to make him "right".

But you have to admit, he is handsome. Doesn't he look just like the model for half of the chicken/country brick-a-brack you see lining the walls of _________(fill in name of the large box store of your choice)?

We think so. Now to build him a coop....