Sunday, April 25, 2010


Using draft animal power on this farm has been a goal of mine from the very beginning. But as a new farmer with already so many balls in the air I don't have the time needed to devote to learning to use horses to work the land. Someday I know I'll be able to integrate them into my farming system but for now I've got plenty on my plate. So, yesterday, on a beautiful cloudless Saturday, I had my friend Carl Russell of Earthwise Farm and Forest bring his team of draft horses, Kate and Ted, over to the farm to ready my fields for the season.
With the use of a walking plow and a good set of harrows, Carl and his team got my fields loosened up and ready for planting into come Monday morning. Carl is very knowledgeable in the field of draft animal power and helps coordinate Animal Power Field Days in Tunbridge, VT every year. I feel so lucky to have him just over the mountain.

In other news, the piggies all have names now. This little girl is Flossie. She's the sassiest out of all of them and also the friendliest. She already flops over to let me rub her tummy.

The other two in the picture with their little house are George and Gladys. George is the most protective of the three. He will probably take the longest to win over. And Gladys is my big sturdy girl who I think aspires to be a professional rugby player. She certainly knows how to stand up for herself.

Overall the farm is coming along nicely so far this season. Peas are in the ground, lettuce, arugula, and spinach are all growing in the green house. The garlic is growing big and strong thanks to my friend Jan helping me weed and re-mulch it last week.The flower garden is getting a make-over as I reform the beds and mulch all the walkways with mulch hay... things really are taking shape!

Just a little look ahead, May 8th is the Fiddlehead Festival up at VTC. The farm will have a booth in addition to lots of other local farms, businesses, and crafters. It's always a lot of fun with great food and good people. I hope to see you there!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Fresh Air

Spring has sprung here at Sundora. This gorgeous weather has both chicken coups outside. Crow and his ladies (above) are all out free ranging around the farm, while Gus Gus and his girls are tractoring on the front lawn.
I've been moving them twice a day so they get new grass and bugs to keep them busy. I bought those hens at a couple months old from another farmer, and when we got them they were not happy campers having been trapped in a small space with almost no bedding and stressful living conditions. All winter they've continued beating up on each other, so I'm hoping that constant moving onto new land, some fresh air, and new bugs to chase and eat will help distract them from picking on their siblings. So far so good.

The chickens have some new friends on the farm now too... the piglets have arrived! I picked them up from Hogwash Farm in Norwich, VT this afternoon!
Here they are patiently waiting in Dora's dog crate in the back of the car. I've got a boy and two girls just like last year, which I am really happy about. It's amazing how surprisingly small they are after having 200+lb hogs in the fall. I haven't named them yet, but as soon as I do I'll make sure to let you know.

So far they seem to be much more trusting right off than my last batch, which I'm sure can be immediately attributed to the fact that they didn't get out of their pen within the first 15 minutes and have to be chased around the farm and caught by my brother Jake and I like last year!
They sat in their little crate in their new pen for about 3 minutes, and then immediately shot out and ran right into the electric fence! After a little squeal and some jumpy running, they were off exploring their new digs. I took that as my cue to go grab some corn and start our interactions off on a good foot. So with a scoop full of delicious treats I sat down in the middle of their pen and sprinkled some kernels in front of me while I waited for their curiosity to get the best of them...
Sure enough within 2 minutes the boy (who I just might name George since he is the most curious so far) came right over and started eating, keeping one eye on me every moment. We went on like that for 15 minutes, me staying very still, them eating, watching me closely, and every so often getting the courage to lean forward and smell my boot, or my pant leg before suddenly turning back to their food to continue their snack time. I'm going to go in their pen and spend at least a half an hour with them every day like I did last year with Herkimer, Flo Jo, and Crysta. Those three pigs last year were some of the friendliest animals I've ever met, and I have every confidence that this group will be just as lovely. They really are my favorite part of the farm. I'm so happy they're finally here!