Sunday, August 30, 2015

Turkey's in the Midst!

The song "I've Been Everywhere" by Hank Snow fits these fellows.

As usual we made plans, did research, revamped our plans and then, finally, placed our very first poultry order. Meyer Hatchery was our final choice for this very first farm poultry order. Ordering at this time of year is less common and selection is different. We also found some interesting differences in how hatcheries describe their birds.
Ralph wanted Australorpes, his experiences with them have been good and he knew them as very broody and versatile. We have read a lot of information contrary to this, people who find Australorpes less than ideal for a homestead bird. Murray McMurray states their Australorpes as 'Not broody'. Meyers list theirs as broody. We made the decision to try Meyer.

 Australorpe Hen

Then hatching dates and availability came into play. We wanted the chicks to arrive at Cub Run, we have to get the power to Cub Run. So more figuring went into organizing what was available, what we wanted and when they would be shipped and when we would have electricity.

We decided on our breeds of Chicken: Black Australorpe, Buff Orpington and Buckeye. The Buckeye and Australorpe arrive in Cub Run on September the 8th. The Buff Orpington are unavailable.

Buckeye hen and Chicks

 Buff Orpington
Then we decided on a mix of colors for the guinea hen order. We knew after all the ticks we picked up while we planted and worked the new garden area, that guinea hens were a must.
 Pearl Guineas

 Lavender Guineas

 Royal Purple Guineas
 White Guineas

The Duck choices are Cayuga, Khaki Campbell and Blue Swedish.


Khaki Campbells

Blue Swedish
Then came the turkey order. We both enjoy turkey however there are only two of us so we knew the commercial White turkey's were out, I mean 27 or more pounds of turkey is just too much! I have loved the look of Royal Palm turkey's for years. So since they are a smaller breed they made the list.

Royal Palm
Bourbon Red turkey's were on our list but unavailable, and availability became our biggest issue. It seemed if we wanted turkeys that would be able to start laying in the spring...we only had until August 28th to order them. We knew we would not have possesion of the farm yet or have the electric hooked up. The advantage of having grown birds by spring would be huge, but would they travel? Could they deal with a move after getting settled in New Castle?

 Bourbon Red

To get the number of poults we wanted we decided if we could not get the Bourbon Reds we would get the Slate Turkey's.

Blue Slate
The final selection was Chocolate, I had not heard of them but they fit our requirements and are beautiful too! Imagine eating 'healthy Chocolate'!

Chocolate Turkey's

This decision was very difficult, one of us would have to turkey sit. We had always envisioned taking our new keys and just spending time together assessing our tiny corner of God's world. I knew getting the start on our turkey flock would pay off so, gritting my teeth, I told Ralph to place the order.

Now today I am listening to the peeping of poults, 30 of them. These little balls of fluff are going to be well travelled. We received a tracking number from Meyer. The poults come all the way from New Mexico to Virginia. They travel by air for part of that distance. We will then haul them to Kentucky.


This is the first set of heritage breed poults I have had anything to do with. They are way more active than what we are used to. On their own, without any help at all they found the water right away, set to eating with gusto and even try to catch the odd fly. They race back and forth and flap their little wings. When we approach the brooder set up they come running and are so curious, looking up at us, pecking at our fingers and being very social.

I might have got the best part of the deal, Ralph is on the road to the farm, he has to unload books, canning, chairs, and other assorted stuff. Yes he does get the keys but I get to watch these marvelous little creatures. I get to laugh at their antics and of course listen to the cheerful peep peep peeping from the porch.

The decisions we have researched, looked forward to and finally made are crucial to our physical and mental health. The poultry we have purchased is more valuble to us than gold. You cannot eat gold and it most certainly does not reproduce itself. So starts the learning curve on our farm. And the lively little turkey poults are in the middle of it all!

God Bless you all.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

An Extravagance

Corinthian Bells is what they are called and we have been planning on this extravagance for 6 years. it all started when we first moved here to New Castle. One of the very first Sundays after we had moved into his little house we awoke to the sounds of church bells calling people to service. The sound was wonderful and the blending of the bells from several churches made a comforting and soothing sound as the peals drifted off into silence, then sounds of a normal day in town would start.

I had at this point always lived too far from town to hear church bells and now they had become an integral part of our life. Then there were the wind chimes on the veranda of the big old house across the street. This little town almost always has a breeze and these chimes are of good quality and make a wonderful background counterpoint to birds, children, barking dogs and other town sounds.

Both Ralph and I voiced our like for the chimes on a regular basis. Then one day we stopped at our local Southern States. They had an amazing array of wind chimes. I made the mistake of gently pulling on the striker of one. It was very nice but higher pitched than I really like, Ralph tried one and we grinned, it was better, deeper and richer toned.

We tried a lot of them and I have to admit we probably annoyed the staff! There were three or four we really liked but we had no where to properly hang them and  did we really need wind chimes? This wind chime shopping has gone on almost every time we shop at this Southern States store. One day after finding an especially lovely chime we somehow knew this was going to be our big splurge. These really good chimes are horribly expensive.

We discussed cheaper chimes and that dilemma was solved when our new neighbors to the left of us got cheap chimes. They were and still are dreadful....the best thing we can say about them is they get tangled up and then don't ring anymore. This will last several weeks then the young couple will untangle them, mutter about how annoying it is they get tangled and go back in the house.

Well today, as we got chick starter, we talked to the lady who does the garden centre at the Southern Sates store [It is actually a Rockingham Co-op now] and we went chime shopping in earnest. She was actually placing an order for the store and she invited us to her office where we wandered through the chime selection. The funny thing was the site she had up had an amazing selection of chimes but you could  not hear them. I asked her if there was anyway we could here them as I had found a website or two that had the tones of chimes. She was more than happy to do that and we spent time listening to all the choices.
The 74" Corinthian Bells made the cut. They sound just like the church bells that we hear each Sunday morning and it is such soothing and  heartfelt sound. Our set will be in a color called "Patina", the color of copper left to the elements. One other thing we are so pleased by is these chimes are Made in the USA!

So there you have it, the story of an extravagance and a realistically not needed in anyway purchase for the farm. We are so pleased to have ordered this treat and Ralph is thinking about where to hang them.  We will have "our" church bells in the country and the wonderful tones will sooth our spirits as we make our new world in Cub Run.

PS: Ralph gets the keys to Cub Run today, I am turkey sitting but that is another story!

God Bless you all and remember to take time to listen and enjoy the simple sounds around you in these troubles times.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

A Kind Heart

What does a Marine have in common with a Ladybug Pillow?
This is just a story to make you smile. We were at a Goodwill shopping for clothes that we can use on the farm, t-shirts and such.

I was going through a rack when Ralph waved me over to where he was looking at a bin of pillows and odds and ends. He was holding a big red pillow. It looked like a lady bug. In his other hand he had one like a blue flower.

It looked pretty funny and I really wondered what he was thinking of. We did not need any funny cushions.

Well he asked what do you think?
Of what I asked. The pillows for them. Find one for the little boy.
For who?

Aden's children,  ohhhhh I replied!

So Ralph the Marine was thinking of the Amish children. I smiled to myself as we rummaged to find a third boy colored pillow.
We final found a blue soccer themed one.

Ralph thought these could be used outside under the oak tree and he thought they would like them.

On Saturday evening we stopped by the house for a visit and to drop off the pillows.
Aden stopped his weed eating and Lorena came out to visit.

Ralph brought out the pillows, it was so cool,  the oldest girl grabbed the flower pillow, the middle girl latched on to the lady bug and the little boy dragged of the soccer pillow.

In no time at all they were laying in a pile on the lawn using their "new" pillows and counting clouds, or at least pointing at them!

Happy children, outside, barefoot and playing together. 

Ralph had nailed it, a simple thought when he saw the lady bug pillow.
He has such a kind heart, and a big heart.

As we were getting ready to leave, the oldest girl who is 5, led her sister up to Ralph and very seriously said thank you.

They do not speak a lot of English but the appreciation was there. It did not take prompting from the parents....but was what she wanted to do.

You could tell how please Ralph was with how much they enjoyed the simple gift.

God bless all of you and be thankful for the kind hearts in your world!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Using the Grillo 110 and the Berta Rotary Plow

We have been working at getting some of the land ready for a fall garden and to plant peppers into. The Berta Two Direction Rotary Plow is the implement we chose for heavy land work instead of a roto tiller.

 Berta Two Direction Rotary Plow [The handle you see on the back flips the plow over]

Single Direction Berta Rotary Plow

It will break sod with one pass although it is not as wide a a tiller attachment. We have been very pleased with the results. You can flip the plow at each end of the row, this makes better use of the tractor with less walking around the field.

Berta Rotary Plow mounted on a Grillo 110 Two wheel tractor.

Here is a short video of Ralph coming back along a plowed row. You can see the Plow throws the dirt over top the previously turned earth. [my video skills do need work!]

Ralph making a return pass along a new row.

We are plowing rows with a trench along one side and sod left between the rows. We hope this will hold a bit more moisture along the plant root area. It is an experiment until we get used to how this soil handles moisture.

 The land is loose and the sod is well worked into the soil, the Rotary Plow does an excellent job.

 Over all it looks like the Berta was a very good choice. Ralph is getting better at using this new Equipment as well. It is much bigger and more powerful than the old Troybilt Roto Tiller.

The Kohler Diesel engine is quite interesting. It may be small compared to what we commonly think of diesel engines but it has all the same personality so to speak!

The Kohler 440 Diesel

It will make that horrible piston out the sidewall noise that diesels make when you start it, once you get it going it does not like to shut off. It will [as they say] Roll Coal! However it is powerful and steady and extremely easy on fuel.

Time will tell but this initial use of the Grillo 110 and Berta plow has made us very optimistic. Now we just have to get the land seeded. Oh yes, there are some rocks...very few though and the plow has no trouble flipping them out of the way!

More to follow as we learn this new land and new equiptment to work it.

Take care everyone and happy late summer!

Pedigrees and Paint Chips

We are so busy the poor blog is somewhat neglected. The family moves out on the 29th, that date took a lot of stress out of our world. We spent 4 days last week at the farm and looking up hardware stores, paint, veterinarians, propane providers, Internet providers and talking to the post master of the tiny post office in Cub Run.

We stopped at an Amish hardware and home supply store and it was a delight, no screaming children, no pushy salesmen and all sorts of good the young Amish gentleman KNEW his store, where things were, what he had and how it worked or if there was something better. We talked paint and flooring and he gave me a giant bundle of paint chips.....he had a wonderful smile on his face when he handed it over! I have been going through the paint colors and I am staggered at the selection and the names!
How does food permeate paint color?
Apple Pie, Baby Vegetable, Baguette, Coconut Crumble, Egg Noodle, Fresh Cream, Marzipan, Pound Cake, Spice Cookie are all paint colors and that barely scratches the surface!

This is spiced cider....I like it.

This is Grape Soda...again food is mentioned!

I wandered through the paint chips until I was simply overwhelmed by the selection.

Other projects loom. We have decided to get Barbados Blackbelly hair sheep, they are not a common breed yet but so suited to our plans and this land. We are now on a waiting list with Lonestar Barbados Blackbelly and waiting for their lambs to arrive.  These sheep are hair sheep and do well in heat and humidity, they do well on poorer quality pasture and are parasite resistant. Plus I love their color!

A lovely Lonestar ewe.

I received a wonderful email today with sire pedigrees. I used to breed Cattle and Horses and the practice of breeding stock is something I am fascinated with. We felt that breeding and raising purebreds would allow us the meat we want and the potential to help improve and increase the numbers of these Sheep. They are so suited to homesteading and small farmstead requirements. Now I can put my brain to work learning about this breed, it's standards and the bloodlines I will use to make our mark such as it will be, on these fine sheep.

So as you can see a person can mix paint and read pedigrees and enjoy both! Maybe there is a color that would suit these sheep.....say Barbados Beige!

Now I had better get back to work, this week I will finish dealing with the deep freeze, we have used as much as we could have but there is still a lot of squash and of course tomatoes.  12 days until we get the keys to Cub Run!

Take care everyone!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Caves and Fate

Mammoth Cave is a place I have known about since I was quite young. My father loved geology and the shape of the world around him. He always called the twisted strata of the Rocky mountains where he hunted the bones of the world. He imparted this fascination of rocks to me somehow. He knew of small caves in the mountains that he had found hunting mountain sheep or that he had sheltered in when it stormed but he always dreamed of seeing Mammoth Cave in Kentucky.

He read about it and had a book about it but Kentucky was far away and he had a family to raise and a farm to look after.

Now strangely his daughter is in that far away state and very close to the massive cave that so interested him.

The cave most likely has branches under our farm. The tourism aspect of the cave is as large as it is and everywhere we go we see billboards for tourist attractions linked to the cave and the National Park that surrounds it. The cave has more than 400 miles of explored passageways and is designated a UNESCO world heritage site.

However my father would have been horrified at the other things tourists need to have to make a holiday fun for the entire family! As big as the cave is and as beautiful as is formations are commercialism is the way of the world.

Mini golf, haunted houses, rock and gem stores, antique and collectable businesses abound. You can see that tourism has not always been kind to this region. Failed businesses dot the roadside and abandon and moldering hotels along the road are slowly being taken over by under growth and bush. Some of these old motels have been saved and put to use as apartments, a few have been renovated and are still housing tourists and travellers as they roam the country.


Some of the more unique motels like Wigwam Village are showing their age but are also showing signs of hope, new paint and owners lovingly restoring the geometric designs around the windows. These old teepees have seen the style of accomodations change. Now it seems hotels and motels are cookie cutter and run by mega chains.

Everywhere you go you see enormous billboards advertising this or that, stables, ziplines, black light mini golf, paintball and of course the caves.

The relief you get from this barrage of commercialism is palpable when you cross into the National Park itself. The land here is untouched for the most part, hiking paths and bike trails occasionally cross the highway but the woods are untouched and wild...deer graze unafraid beside the road and it is peaceful.

We have not toured the mighty cave yet, but I have to admit I find it a bit strange to be so close to a place father talked of and was so interested in.

We will take the time when things slow down and we are moved properly, until then I will marvel at the strange combination of the commercial cave business and the preservation of the natural world around the cave that dominates this region.

I think "Dad" would have got a real kick out of the Wigwams!

Take care everyone and God Bless.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Its a bugs life.

I am not an entomologist! However it seems we are going to have to learn about different bugs at the new farm.
Coming from the north I do not have a lot of bug experience, one of the advantages of a long winter with hard frost. The bugs do not survive. Well some do but sure not like these enormous fellows!

We found this fellow by the car on our last trip to Kentucky.

Eastern Hercules Beetle.

He was dead and I have to admit I think it was the best way to be introduced to this huge bug! The males have horns and can be well over two inches long. Finding one exposes me to the fact they are around. They can fly well and are basically harmless, I can tell you however if I had come across one without this prior information I would have issued a girly scream for sure!

An example of a live Eastern Hercules Beetle.

This is what I found out about the Hercules Beetle.

 Like all beetles, Hercules Beetles have chewing mouthparts and hardened front wings (elytra).  Hercules beetles are in the scarab beetle family (Scarabaeidae), which also includes Japanese Beetles, June Beetles, and Dung Beetles.
The only Hercules beetle species in Kentucky is the Eastern Hercules Beetle, Dynastes tityus, which is the largest beetle in this part of the country.  Adult Eastern Hercules Beetles typically have green, gray, or tan elytra mottled with black spots (rare individuals lack spots).

 Adult male beetles have 2 large horns: 1 on the head and 1 on the thorax.  They also have 2 small horns located next to the large thorax horn. Females lack horns.

Eastern Hercules Beetles have "complete" metamorphosis with egg, larval, pupal, and adult stages.  Female beetles lay eggs directly into the soil during warm months.
In about 1 month, the eggs hatch into larvae.  During the next 6 months to 1 year, the larvae live underground where they grow and molt (shed their skins) twice before turning into pupae.  As with all insects, each immature stage is called an "instar."

The adults emerge from pupae after only a few weeks, but will remain underground until spring.  Upon emerging from the ground, females will begin emitting pheromones to attract male beetles.  After mating, females burrow into the ground to lay eggs.

Male beetles often use their horns to fight one another for the right to mate with a female.

Hercules beetle grubs feed on decaying plant material, especially logs, stumps, dead leaves, and rotten fruit.  Most commonly, they are found in tree stumps that they have tunneled into from the soil beneath.  The grubs are a food source for skunks, raccoons, and other mammals, as well as predatory soil-dwelling arthropods like centipedes, ground beetles, and spiders.
The feeding habits of the adult beetles are not well-known, but they have been observed to eat rotten fruit and the bark of ash trees.
Hercules beetles are not pests in Kentucky.

I continue to marvel at the unending variety of things this wonderful world has in it. All around us there are strange and incredible things, from the gifts of plants and animals for food to these amazing insects that help keep the woods in balance in their own way.

I hope when I finally meet one of these beetle who is alive and well I do not issue that girly scream but the jury is still out on that! I am sure there are more bugs that will astonish me in this fertile and rich place we have found for our home.

God Bless you all.


Monday, August 3, 2015

Food Surprises

My first food review....we have been eating far too much commercial food with the traveling we are doing!

I have learned something from this....I am a better cook than I thought. We eat far less salt with home made meals and the food has better flavor, fills us up in a  better way and delivers energy to work longer.

However "Pickle Me This"...have you ever had deep fried Dill Pickles?

I have seen them, batter covered, greasy looking and rather soggy spears...not at all appetizing to me! We are trying to get to know the local business's and we decided to eat at one in Cub Run itself.

Nana And Papaw's. An unassuming little place with everything you could want in a little old building in a tiny town!

We still have to find out what Salvage it separate or does it mean used DVD movies?

This is pretty obvious!

But now on to the report.
The menu is full of basic choices but it has appetizers with Deep Fried Dill Pickles and Mozzarella Sticks in the selection.

A very nice young woman waited on us and we asked about the deep fried dill pickles. She said they were fabulous and she was not just saying that! They are one of her favorite things and she tries them wherever she goes and these really were the best ever!

A Cheeseburger with a side of the Deep Fried Dill Pickles...simply outstanding!

We tried them and it was a revelation! For one they were not spears but thin slices of dill pickle. Homemade Dill pickle with a sharp bite that only good dills have! The batter was light, almost like a tempura, with great crispness to it! I was astonished at them! Gourmet quality in a small town! You could tell they treated their deep fryer with care, there were no odd bits or strange flavors from a deep fryer that does everything! You could dip your dills in a ranch dressing but I have to admit I preferred them plain....they are excellent with Ranch to but I think I am a purist!

The following Saturday we went back and I had the dills with a cheeseburger.  Simple but so good and the Tomato slice came from a real garden variety and was so much better than the cardboard tomatoes at commercial chains. The onion slices that were on the burger and came with Ralph's Pinto bean were awesome, just the right sweetness with a hint of heat and oh so fresh and crisp!

If you ever get to Cub Run.....don't hesitate to stop at this little place and make sure you have the Deep fried Dill pickles...if nothing else! They are a food revelation to this skeptic!