Monday, November 19, 2012

Opening Day

   First day of shot gun season.  The first blasts echo across the fields around 6:45 am.  The scene out the kitchen window is crisp with frost and very still.  Suddenly a young buck darts at full throttle from the back acreage and up the hedge line between the woods and the cemetery.
   I am not a hunter but understand the deep roots of hunting in this area.  The deer population has exploded over the years due to the lack of natural predators.  I know it is healthy for the deer population to be controlled.  All the hunters I know use the meat to feed their families and give extra to neighbors like myself.  I love a hearty venison stew brimming with roasted root vegetables and a loaf of crusty homemade bread served steaming on a winters eve. 
   There is a balance to life on the farm and in this community.  With the turmoil all around the nation and world there is comfort in knowing that pockets of such balance still exist and will be defended.  Summer and Winter; Life and Death; Times of Struggle and Times of Peace. 
   I am reminded of the buck again, strong and beautiful running past my window.  I am happy for him.  He has another day to walk this beautiful earth.  It is 8:00 am.  The sun is burning the frost off the grass as it glows large and orange in the east.  I am also thankful for one more day in the sun. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Early Spring Morning

It's early morning.  The light is dimmed behind heavy clouds.  The air is heavy as I walk across the damp grass to the barn.  The horses stand quietly in their stalls as I put on their halters.  They perk up as I carry hay down the aisle and out the south door to the winter pasture.  This weekend we will finish fencing the south pasture with it's thick spring grass.  When I do, there will be no need to throw hay in the morning.  They wouldn't touch it if I did with the choice of tender foliage all around them.  Last night when we finished baking, we put on our muck boots and spent time brushing our herd of four and led the two babies Colby and Tess past the garden beds and into the orchard.  Their training is progressing well and we will be taking this walk on their backs soon.  The orchard is progressing as well.  I will make time tomorrow to tie soap packets on the branches to repel the deer.  My thoughts leave yesterday and return to my morning chores. The chickens are happy to stretch their wings and greet me and their layer crumbles.  Lucile and Betty are not morning hens so I gently coax them out of the coop.  Three eggs this morning. I cook one for breakfast with two slices of homemade bread that was baked last Saturday.  I will have to knead another batch this weekend.  Always something to attend to at Stonehollow.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Changes

Unusual weather has marked the spring of 2012.  The warm temperatures in March brought early blossoms to the farm.  The weeping cherry and wisteria that enhance the front garden bed were tricked into thinking it was time to throw out buds of white and lavender. A sudden cold snap in April killed the emerging flowers.  Even sheets draped over the shivering trees couldn't stop the damage.  Today there are snowflakes in the air.  I am reminded that growth is most often slow and comes with repeated effort.  The blossoms may have fallen but the plants are strong and shimmering green leaves are taking their place.  The peas are well up in the garden.  They are made for the changeable weather and remain unaffected.    We are in the process of adding eight new trees to the orchard.  I fertilized the four we planted last year and added rich dark mulch around the bases of the trunks.  Before the foul weather crept over the meadow I was able to plant two of the new additions.  One healthy young Liberty Apple tree and a Veteran Peach.  I am reminded that I am imposing my will on this tiny bit of earth that is under my care.  Like the land we tend,we are growing and changing with the seasons on Stonehollow Farm.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Early Spring

     This has been an unusually mild March.  The spring flowers are already well out of the ground and the spring peepers fill the night air with their constant singing.  I just read an article about the effects of pesticides on the frog population and I am thankful that the pond is not affected.  I would miss this herald of warmer weather. Just one more reason to grow things without chemicals.
    Jeanna and I spent some time in the afternoon setting fence posts for the new south pasture.  The ground is so soft that the metal posts easily push into the ground.  Only 14 to go and we can string the wire.  It needs to dry up more before we let the horses out to enjoy the new grass.  The yearlings hooves especially will tear up the ground.  Our pony Sarah Jane has small feet too but she is a much more reserved lady of 24 unlike the babies who will no doubt kick up their heels and run around wildly.  We took a break from working to brush some of the mud off their coats and Jeanna tried her new bareback pad on Sarah Jane.  We also saddled up Molly and she took a few turns in the riding area.
     It was warm enough to pull a table out onto the back terrace and start some seeds.  We completed the yellow onion sets and brussel sprouts.  Both heirloom varieties will fill our needs and hopefully be popular at the stand and market.  Our favorite way to prepare the sprouts is simple. We toss them with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast them in the oven at 400 degrees until tender.  Today I start double digging the vegetable garden bed to ready it for the spinach and peas.  They will go in the ground this weekend.  It won't be long until  we taste the first fruits (or vegetable in this case) of our efforts.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Weekend Enjoyment

Saturday morning allows for a leisurely cup of coffee gazing out my kitchen window accross the backyard to the trees and meadows beyond.  The sun scatters the shadow of the white picket fence accross the bare lawn with golden yellow stripes.  The sun was up before me and I woke to the sound of grackles perched on the chimney of my bedroon fireplace.  It acts as a megaphone streaming down their clicks and whistles as they warm themselves on the air that escapes up the chimney.  They are the beneficiaries of a less efficient furnace.  The kitchen table is scattered with tasks left for the weekend.  I take a moment to start the fire in the living room then settle back at the table to plan a new day.  First I prepare my tree order to Schlabach's Nursery.  We have decided upon 1 Liberty Apply, 1 Veteran Peach, 2 Jubileum Cherry(tart), and 1 Black Gold Cherry(sweet).  They have been selected for their cold hardiness , disease resistance and storage life.  That makes 10 trees total in our fledgiling orchard.  We dream of the day when it supplies all of our needs for the bakery and our own pantrys.  I will not rush the days until then, or today.  The seasons pass quickly enough.  The sun is already higher on the horizon.  I am on my second cup of coffee and it's time to leave contemplation for more productive thoughts.