Summer has brought a very busy time to the farm. The last few weeks have seen the ducks grow a huge amount and we have got a lot of rain. Also we had a farm accident. My husband Matt was unloading our 1987 jacked up F-250, getting ready to go get some pigs from Warren Wilson College Farm the next morning, and stepped into a large hole in our road. He almost broke the ankle. In fact we did think that it was broke so we went to the emergency room which is something we will never do again unless we are in danger of dying. Matt was on crutches for 2 weeks but is now a lot better. The healing process is going to take a bit longer though. A nice older farmer helped me go get the pigs. Farming can be dangerous stuff. I hate to admit that my road is so bad that it can be a safety hazard at times. Private roads can be a pain when there are disputes about road maintainence. If one party is unwilling to pitch in on gravel, then you are in a hard position.
But on to brighter things on the farm. Matt is well enough to start working on the house again. We ordered the glass for the sun room and we should be putting the planks up on the inside walls early in July. After that it is on to the septic system and underpinning. If we get that done then we will have the winter to do all the detail work in the house such as cabinets, hardwood flooring, and trim and molding.
The baby ducks are doing well and do not look like babies any longer. It is amazing how fast they grow. We lost one more so we have 13 ducklings left. The weirdest thing is that they are old enough for their sex to be determined and it looks like they are all female. I would never have thought this could happen. Now we have plans to buy several unrelated male ducks and build a duck house to accommodate the growing flock. If each girl duck we have averages 8 duckings next year we could have as many as 120 ducklings! Luckily there are a lot of nice restaurants in Asheville that might be interested in local free range duck. That also gives us time to get all the rules straight and make sure we are doing things by the book.
Speaking of books, I am working on writing a comprehensive breed guide and how to care for guide on heritage breed cattle. It is going to take a lot of research but hopefully by the end of the winter it will be ready to be submitted to publishers. I have added several breeds in besides those that the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy recognizes as a heritage breed. The Jersey and Shorthorn should be included because they have been the cow for a lot of homesteaders over the years.
Bessie's calf, Biggers' Big Ben or “Benny” as we often call him, is well on his way to becoming an ox. I decided I wanted a Dexter ox instead of a Jersey-Holstein cross. Dexters are just so much calmer. Ben is pretty much weaned but he still is hollering at his Mama a lot. I got the halter on him and have started teaching him to lead. He has been much more cooperative than I thought he would be.
Besides writing the book and some magazine articles I have started to help the American Dexter Cattle Association with their website. I am definitely learning as I go. I had no Frontpage web editing experience before this. I want to do a lot of work on the site but it seems like there is always so much to do and then my computer got hijacked by a virus. My laptop runs Ubuntu linux. If I didn't have to use windows for Frontpage to work, I wouldn't fool with having a Microsoft product at all. On another computer note, we are trying to figure out how to beam internet up to our house. It is just a question of whether or not we have too many trees and hills in the way. We are up at 3.000 ft elevation. The local cable company is hesitant to install anything because we are half a mile up a dirt and gravel road.
The weather has been very wet here in western North Carolina. We have had thunderstorms and rain every day for around a week. It is good for the crops but makes it a bit difficult to get other things done. It has given us a break from the heat though. 70 degree temperatures are better than the 80s and 90s we were seeing. The pastures have greened up a bunch. I am a bit baffled that we have not got a bunch of shiitakes right now but we don't. Hopefully they will fruit soon. The dogs have put on quite a show for the camera here lately.
Now for the really fun part of this blog post. The fine folks at Purina have invited us to take their 60 Day Challenge to see what a difference their feed makes in our animals. We are impressed with the quality of the feed and the animals seem to like it very well. The ingredients seem to be high quality and their coats and feathers have a good gloss to them. As part of the promotion I am giving away a 4 GB Flip Digital HD Video Camera to two of my blog readers. For your chance to win, send me your funniest farm story in 300 words or less. I will put everyone's name in a hat and draw out two winners. Your stories will be posted in my blog with your name or if you wish to remain anonymous on the blog let me know and I won't put your real name on it. All entries must be received in my inbox at firstname.lastname@example.org by July 20, 2011 at 5:00 pm eastern standard time. I will notify the winner via email and get their address so I can send them their camera.
Well I think that is it for this post. Hope everyone is doing well!