Saturday, December 3, 2011

Giving Thanks....

What a lovely Thanksgiving celebration we had! Our feast was tasty, the company was fun and cheerful, and we played outside with the animals. We had beautiful clear weather, and the fall colors were GORGEOUS!

We are grateful for our abundant blessings....

Thursday, October 27, 2011

LOVELY October!

We are experiencing a wonderful warm October this year! It has been in the high 70’s during the days and down to a misty 45 at night. The air is scented with the smoke of wood fires and burning pine needle piles. The light falls at a steeper angle and the shadows turn purple. It feels like fall.

My garden is still doing pretty well and my new bed is ready for the onions, which should be arriving at the nursery in a couple of weeks. I learned from my Farmer’s Market friend Robert that I was not watering them enough, so I am excited to try my hand again. I have some greenhouse lettuces coming on, along with a few that I planted out in the “chicken free” zone. My cabbages are doing great surrounded by their little fence covered with snap peas. My broccoli have been devastated by chicken blight ~ you know, it is that thing that happens to them when you take their cages off to weed the bed and then TURN YOUR BACK for a ½ hour. On the other hand, that hen must be REALLY healthy, because broccoli leaves are filled with lovely vitamins and minerals.

The apples are getting bigger and I can’t wait to sample the Arkansas Blacks. This is the first year for this new little tree to bear and there are only four or five fruits. I fantasize about planting a whole orchard of fruit trees up on the hill. It would be a challenge to keep the critters out of them, but how pretty it could be!

All is well at FiddleSong Farm!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Meet a real Cowboy Artist....

 Every summer Ron Scofield and his wife Marie put on weekend barbeques showcasing old-time cowcamp entertainment under the stars at the Red Mule Ranch in Fiddletown, California. Guests enjoy a chuck wagon tri-tip dinner and cowboy music, poetry, and story telling in an 1880's setting.
I was thrilled to meet Cowboy Artist Ron Scofield at the Fiddler's Jam. He had set up his artwork for sale in the Cowboy Church in Fiddletown.  The Cowboy Church is an old saloon, the perfect venue for this interesting gentleman and his wonderful depictions of life in the Old American West. I almost drooled over his pen and ink drawings of mule trains, and cattle drives, and his oils were painterly and lovely. Most of all, I enjoyed comparing the art experience with him. Ron and I seemed to strike a chord when we were chatting about the excitement we felt when a painting or drawing began to take on a life of it's own, and how it feels like God steps in and finishes. I met a kindred spirit, and I am looking forward to seeing him again soon. Perhaps at a Cowboy Campfire at the Red Mule Ranch!
There are prints offered for sale on his website:

"Art sweeps away from the soul the dust of everyday life"...Pablo Picasso

Monday, September 19, 2011

Fiddletown Fiddlers' Jam

Saturday was the 60th Anniversary of the Fiddlers' Jam.  Rick and I moseyed down the hill to have a peek and a listen. It has been a few years since we have last gone, and I won't miss another one!  It was a fun opportunity to visit with neighbors, explore this little Gold Rush town, and listen to some genuine hill country music.

 I couldn't help but think "Jenna should be here!!"

Extended Roots is an all gal group that demonstrates their passion for the music of America's roots. 
Their beautiful music made my angels sing!!

Here is a sample of the nice croud that gathered...

Sage's Body Care offers an excellent assortment of yummy soaps and lotions!  Wonderful products, nice people :)

Now, I freely admit that I was already a fan of fiddle songs :) I love hearing the old folk songs, hoe downs and waltzes. They just feel like my kind of music. They make my heart swell and tears come to my eyes. As I wandered down the middle of Fiddltown Road, I had a strong sense of belonging that I have not felt before. We have lived in this small community for nine years, and this is the first time it truly felt like home. year there will be a FiddleSong Farm booth :) See you there!?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

NO coyotes, but BIG thunderstorms....

I haven't seen a coyote since my last post, so I am starting to relax my vigil. Was it scary me running up the hill yelling with my pack and my brave goat Bella? Or was it the unmistakable "marking of the territory" by Jack?  Or did it just get smart and decide to leave the crazy lady's chickens alone? Unknown.  I love a mystery.

Hen proof lettuce bed :)

Last weekend was a good one for gardening. I watered like mad on Sunday, because everything was thirsty.  Then Sunday evening we had a noisy thunderstorm and it rained nearly all night.  It was GREAT! I pruned and chopped weeds and planted some cabbages and peas. I cleaned out my greenhouse and reorganized, then I filled two flats with herb cuttings. I spent five minutes lamenting the failure of my pumpkin plants this cold, wet spring, but vowed to plant EXTRA next year. We are still enjoying our excellent green beans from the first row, and the second row is already trying to bloom!  I have decided to try and save some bean seeds for next spring, I'll let you know how that goes. The tomatoes are EXCELLENT this year.  My favorites are German Queen and Pink Brandywine.  The German Queen is a solid beef steak type with hardly any seeds.
Both have rich, old fashioned flavor.

I am considering expanding my veggie beds.  You  know what that means?  I would be taking out several established beds of ornamentals.  I like to transplant, and usually have good success if I wait until the fall. I will definately need to fence it with hen proof fencing :) 
I have to figure out a better choice for my garden paths, though.  The gravel is pretty but it requires too much maintenance!  Thinking about a new scarecrow, it is almost that time....

...FiddleSong Farm is anticipating autumn....

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The hens held 5...

In order to thwart the hunting efforts of that sneaky coyote, I have been keeping the chickens penned up every day. I was out pretty early watering this morning and by 9 I was feeling hungry for breakfast.  I put down my hose and went inside, and popped an English muffin into the toaster. I heard goats snorting in alarm. I turned and saw that coyote creeping down the hill toward Little Crow, our bantam hen.
Now Little Crow and I have an understanding.  I leave her alone, and she will continue to live at FiddleSong Farm.  She heartily and VOCALLY disapproves of egg stealing, and she gets to pick where she roosts. She can fly like a quail, so she has the run of the farm, and she loves heirloom tomatoes, thank you so much.  There is no controlling Little Crow. But I LOVE that hen.
When I saw that coyote after her, the hair stood up on the back of my neck!  I ran out the front door and yelling for the dogs, ran full speed down the path and burst through the gate. Little Crow ran unharmed into the barn, right betwen the legs of highly alarmed goats. "GET THAT COYOTE!!!!" I yelled to the dogs. We all ran up the hill. "GET HIM, GET HIM, GET HIM!!!" Jack was slow, because he didn't want to leave me, but Sheila saw that varmint and streaked up the hill barking!  Tilly got into it too, although she looked like she was barking at Sheila. The coyote shot under the fence and took off, while Jack ran along and peed on all the fence posts. So helpful :) As I finally arrived at the crest of the hill, I was surrounded by three excited barking Aussies and.....a goatBella, my favorite doe of the day, had left the security of the herd and followed me up that hill as fast as she could.  There she was, standing calmly at my side amid a pack of three jumping, snarling, barking dogs, looking across the road trying to catch a glimpse of the departing coyote.

I have given her an extra helping of grain and a well deserved new title....

...Bella the Brave

Friday, September 2, 2011

goat sustainability....

Tonight, I am dreaming of fresh sweet milk, creamy goat cheese and warm snugly newborn kids.  And I am dreading telling Rick that today I placed an ad for "Goats for sale" in the Buy N' Sell. I have been thinking that I need to slim my herd down, to make room in the barns, and to shrink our feed bill.  With hay being $15 and more all summer, it is a necessity. So today, I made a list of who was staying and who was going. :(

When we decided to invest in this herd in the beginning, the whole idea was to make the goats help support themselves and the farm.  In lots of ways, they are already doing that, but now we want to take it to the next level.  Sustainability is about balance and efficiency. It's about making it work. The goats produce rich, creamy milk. The goatberries feed the garden which feeds us and also the chickens. The chickens give us fresh eggs and (maybe someday) meat for the table. To have the milk, you must breed the does.  When the kids come along, they are sold to new homes.  RIGHT!?

OK, I think I have convinced myself. Now if I could just keep myself from adopting any more cats....

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Coyotes BEWARE!

This morning just as I was slipping on my sandals, and getting ready to head out on my way to work, I heard a funny noise, turned and saw Rick moving faster than I have ever seen him move. He rushed out the front door yelling for Jack, our big Aussie. I KNEW there was something wrong and I started after him, my brain working in such high gear that everything seemed to be moving in slow motion.
"WHAT IS IT?"  I yelled. 
"Coyote!" he said as he hustled right down the path to the barn. The hair on the back of my neck raised, and I shifted into a higher gear as I chased him down the path! As I burst through the gate leading to the "Back 4", Rick had stopped and was looking up the hill.  I was counting goat heads. "Bella, Hummingbird, Whimsy, Zip, Honey......" my heart was pounding as I expected the worst.
Rick said, "Darn thing got one of your chickens."  I looked up the hill just in time to see a fuzzy pair of ears disappearing over the rise.
"You are sure that was a coyote?" I asked.
"Yup," he said, "I saw it happen."  He turned and looked back at me with a sad look.  He knew how much I treasured my flock. He said "What were you going to do with that?"
I was very surprised to see my wicked sharp pitch fork in my hand. I must have grabbed it as I ran down the path. There I was, wearing my nice work clothes and sandals, with my hair and makeup all done, holding a pitch fork.  I was a little embarrassed.
"Well", I said sheepishly, "I guess I was going to kill the heck out of something."

All of us who have the care of a herd or flock know that feeling of protective instinct.  It is a powerful, primitive feeling, and people have been protecting their livestock for hundreds of years. (Yes, even with pitchforks :) On my drive to work , I thought about my forebears, and how hard they worked to carve their living from the land. My own Granny had a wonderful garden and hens on four acres until she was well into her nineties, and only gave them up after a nasty fall that she never quite recovered from. She had climbed up a ladder to turn on the irrigation water from a standpipe.  She only fell because that rickety old ladder broke. Granny gave me my first mama hen and chicks when I was just 13, and loved to tell me stories from her farm and how the fox or raccoon had gotten a hen or favorite rooster. She lived to be 97. She would have LOVED that I am living such a similar lifestyle.  It was largely her experiences that created in me the drive to live the farm life. Granny would have been very proud of my green beans.
For now, I am considering buying a 22.  Then, look out coyotes, you just might wind up with a bullet in your butt!

...armed and DANGEROUS!!!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hot August days

This weekend has turned out surprisingly HOT!  Yesterday, I wilted after watering and collecting eggs, and spent the rest of the day learning how to make zucchini chips in the dehydrator. (Yes, it can be done :) Rick is spending this weekend installing another new window. We are going to have the best lookin' cabin in Fiddletown.
My Black-eyed Susans have never looked better!  They are one of the easiest plants to grow up here, and I let them grow wherever they decide to sprout up... of my other favorites are Purple Cone Flowers.  Not as freely self-sowing as the Susans, but they never fail to bloom, even when they have skimpy sunshine. The bumbles and butterflies love them, too, and they keep producing their gorgeous blooms right into the fall.

Our newest FiddleSong team member is 'SkippyJon Jones'!  Anyone who has read that wonderful children's book will recognize the attitude.  He is a bright, fun loving little guy who just walked to the farm after spending a couple of days alone in the woods, and made himself at home. "Whew" he seemed to say, "glad I finally made it." The dogs LOVE him, the Grandchildren love him, and the other cats tolerate him.

SkippyJon Jones.  Welcome home!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

....tasty, homey, simple....

On Sunday morning, I sanded the pine plank countertop on the kitchen island.  It was feeling kind of sticky and I had been wanting to do it for quite a while. It took 1 hour to finish, and about two more hours to clean up the sawdust mess. But it turned out GREAT!  Now I just need to seal it with a coat of mineral oil....  

...then in the afternoon it was time to attend to my garden chores.  I gave everything a good drink and found that my Baccicia beans needed picking. THESE are the best beans ever!  They are tender and flavorful. Even Rick likes them :)

Now, if I could just keep those pesky hens out of the garden....

....the best things in life are the simple things.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Organic pest control!

I was hand watering a few plants this morning while it was cool and comfortable.  While admiring a nice potted red bud tree, I looked up and noticed some chewed leaves. "What the heck??" I said. "Something is eating you!"  As I looked a little closer I saw a few plump caterpillers munching away.  When they saw me they froze~ pretending to be twigs. "Yeah, right. If you don't move, I can't see you...." So I went and found a bucket and started picking them off the leaves, one by one. The more I looked, the more I found, and I patiently dropped each one into the bucket.    

    I don't ordinarily let insects in the garden bother me. I strongly believe in the natural order of things. They may make a few ragged edges and sometimes they can be bothersome, but for the most part, I leave them alone. In fact I enjoy seeing the balance of nature in progress. But these guys can eat literally EVERY leaf on a small tree like this. So I collected every one that I could find, feeling a little guilty, but determined to save my tree from further damage.
"Well, the hens need protein, don't they?" I said to myself.  I dumped the bucket full of wigglers into the coop and BOY did they love the treat!!

FiddleSong Farm hens LOVE their protein :)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Day Lily days

With all the late spring rains, my garden is exploding with color! I have planted several varieties of day lilies over the years and just LOVE their clusters of huge, bright blooms.  Now, I have to find other places to plant them out in the yard. Problem is, if Lucy has access they will be cool, comfy cushions for her big pig butt.
My next problem to solve is how to cut down on watering waste and time.  Rick says he has enough old hoses to "reach to Fiddletown" so I aim to fashion those old leakies into a sturdy soaker sytem by laying out the hoses and punching holes in the places where I need the water to leak :) THEN Rick will hook them up to the automatic timers and we'll be in the money!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Madi sighting!

Madison came for a weekend visit, and BOY did we have fun!  We had a delicious BBQ at great Grammy and Grampy's house.  We found lots of treasures to look at, even a Mary Poppins umbrella :)

Soapy piggy!

Lucy received a nice pig shower on Sunday morning. Madi was the BEST grape applicator. Grandpa Rick said "Amazing!"

Goat hugs...

Goat friends are good to find!  Ones that hug...priceless!


Madi digs for worms and makes new friends, Dude the goat and Oscar de la Hoya the rooster. We had SO much fun!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

...growing, GROWING, GROWING!!!!

I am so thrilled with the new greenhouse!  Look at those veggies GROW! These four large galvanized tubs are filled with rich potting soil, then planted with tomatoes, eggplants, squash, cucumbers and lettuce. I also planted some sweet allysum to encourage some beneficial insect visits as soon as the weather warms enough. The tubs are holding the moisture well so far.
 On the right side, more tomatoes (heirlooms) paired with a variety of peppers, and more lettuce.  The little three inch peat pots are planted with several kinds of seeds including some cilantro, peas, summer squash. They are starting to sprout now, but are still small.
Here is one of my big mixed planters.  I wonder if the squash will require more water than the tomato will, so this is an experiment. I know that eggplants and tomatoes grow well together :)

Tomorrow I will plant my little celery starts.  I tried some last year, but I really neglected them.  This year I will try harder!

It smells rich and sweet inside, it smells like spring!
We are one step closer to self~sufficiency...

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Early morning greenhouse...

The new greenhouse handled the snow beautifully!  My tomato starts, cucumbers and eggplants were snug and warm, and the humidity inside made it downright balmy. Buddy the Barn Cat says, "HEY, I like hanging out in here!"


On Thursday we received a gift of beautiful fluffy snow!  We had about six inches in places, but it was nice powdery fluff, not much moisture, and it disappeared quickly.  This view shows Lucy's Pig Palace.  Lucy does not like the snow.

Monday, April 4, 2011

New Greenhouse!

We found this 8'x6' greenhouse at Lowes.  It has a nice sturdy frame and two doors for lots of ventilation. It took about an hour to assemble :)

Little Crow gives her approval!  So far I have planted tomatoes, eggplants, cucumbers, and squash. I will add peppers when I can find some.

Here is the garden,  ready to plant :)

Red Hen says....

"Do I look pretty with my leg up like this?"

The garden was the main focus this weekend.  I planted some lettuce and beets, some swiss chard seeds, some brussels sprouts, bought a new greenhouse....YES!!!

Friday, April 1, 2011

It's Spring!!

The day Rick proposed to me, he was seated on a garden bench surrounded by yellow buttercups. 
Every time I see the buttercups blossom, I will remember.

Frog Song

All of a sudden, it's spring!  Tonight as I write, the frogs are croaking wildly out in Pig Squeak Creek. They sound much bigger than the little tree frogs I usually hear.  The tree frogs are staying on the other side of the road , and these bigger frogs have taken over FiddleSong Farm territory. These bigger guys are not bull frogs (Shaun would know what they are.) Sudden noises or movements make them quiet, but they seem to love the sound of a Harley.  Go figure :) 
Every morning the birds wake me.  They are getting earlier and more musical every day.  In the evening, the robins sing until dark.  There is no better place to live in the entire world. Will I feed the hummingbird hoard this year?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

New kitchen window :)

Shhhh, it didn't snow OR rain today.
On Saturday, Rick and I went down to Jackson to Lowes. It rained. We chose and bought a new kitchen window. Then Rick the Super Handy man installed it.

The hens say it is ALMOST spring at FiddleSong Farm.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

....more chicken scratches...

It has been rainy for YEARS.
 Chickens hate mud.  They detest it.  It sticks to their toes and forms little mud toe balls.  If you are a Cochin, it sticks to your leg feathers.  You cannot take a decent dust bath when it is muddy.

Houdini hardly crows on dreary days, and he takes his hens to roost early.

The two Barred Rock sisters are very aggressive "scratchers", and easily adapt to change, and even they grouse and grumble in rainy weather. "What exactly are we supposed to DO in this stuff?"  NOBODY lays an egg.

I am SO READY for spring.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Chicken scratches....

Today was the only sunny day we have had for almost 2 weeks.  So you know what that means?  Time to get hay. So I dashed out of the office at five, and headed to Jackson to my favorite place to shop,

  What a great business these folks do! I spend a LOT on feed there, plus they have a good selection of vet supples. They have a very good selection of all animal feeds. They have fencing and feeding equipment and hardware. They offer a nice line of tack and western wear for all ages.  And in the spring they offer several varieties of chicks for sale.  OMG, I know some of you may understand what a challenge it is to go in and buy hay when you REALLY want a box full of new peeps! What is it about those little fluffs that is so exciting to me?  Anyway, today I just bought hay....

...but I had to stop to admire these three lovely hand crafted chicken coops! I said to myself  "I have to take some pics of these for Rachel to see, she'll go wild!"

This was the largest and is about 4' x 8'....MAN, wouldn't this look cute in my yard?
I mean in RACHEL's yard!???  :)

I am fascinated by the workings of such things, I have to look at all the hardware and open and close all the doors...these all have hinged lids for the nest boxes, the wire work is nicely finished and the craftsmanship is very fine. So this time, I came home with four bales of hay. Next week? Who knows? I'll keep you posted!

All is well at FiddleSong Farm...

Sunday, March 20, 2011's Spring?!

"Hey, Rick, this is your neighbor Cecil.  Did you guys know there is a tree across your fence?  Looks like your goats could get out."  The message was left on our voice mail.  Thank heaven for good neighbors :)

We had a surprise snow storm that started Friday and has not let up since. It was a surprise because the weather lady said the snow was going to be "up around the 5000' level."  Uh huh.  (I TOLD you they are just guessing.) We had 6 inches in the first hour ~ just enough to make the roads ugly. Then Saturday it snowed and melted all day, until sundown, then a HOWWWWWLING wind kicked up and lasted until about 4 am Sunday morning  I know, because I was awake listening to it.
I kept thinking, "Boy, it is a good thing I didn't get that greenhouse put up yet...." We rarely get high winds in our area.
The good news is that the tree that took out our fence was from across the road :) The snow had been washed away for the most part by the time I got up.  So then we had squish.  You know mud mixed with slush = squishy, slimy, squelchy slippery. Give me nice firm snow any day.

Pig Squeak Creek (River?)

So Rick and I hauled on our boots and heavy jackets and trekked up the hill to look at THE DAMAGE. Oh good, more fence mending. I found the broken section. As I stood and waited for Rick to return from his inspection of the rest of the property, the snow continued to fall. It is quiet in our woods.  As I rested and waited, the wild birds started to come out of their hiding places and busily began their hunting and exploring.  There was a Towhee, several Juncos and a warbler of some sort. These happy winged people didn't mind that it was snowing and cold.  They busily checked every leaf and twig, their soft chirps and cheerful trills filled up the silence of the snowy forest. Soon, it will be time for nesting and rearing chicks.  Soon, the snow and rain will make way for lush spring growth, green and fragrant. The trees will flower and leaf....soon!
It is snowing again, but Spring is coming, I can't wait!