A Lesson From Helen and Grandma Sophie…

We’ve had such a fun week here at the farm! First of all, my presentation at the Missouri Botanical Garden is now behind me. Whew! I’m not a natural public speaker so standing in front of a crowd and talking into a microphone for an hour is not one of  my favorite things to do but in the end I enjoyed sharing my knowledge about the many ways to preserve the foods one brings in at this time of year. I suppose that when you feel passionate about the subject, you speak from the heart with greater ease and hopefully it came off that way!

Thanks to the many buddies who came and made the audience feel so friendly and welcoming! Also thanks to Joan and Dave who helped carry the equipment that I lugged out for the ‘show and tell’ part of the program. Dave snapped this quick photo of Joan and me as we started setting up in advance…my first slide was already up on the big screen! Yikes, so much larger than it looked on my computer screen!IMG_1385The excitement is over so now I’m back to focusing on the abundance of produce being harvested here as well as processing it all. So far we have brought in over 940 lbs of produce and I feel we are barely in the middle of the season with lots more to go. This bodes well so far but my dear Aunt Helen (who would have celebrated her birthday today and is ever front in my mind) related this story to me not long ago. She had witnessed her mother picking up the fruit from the ground beneath the trees on their farm and saw that she was seriously taking all of it in to preserve in addition to the best fruit that had already been picked from the tree earlier. Helen said she wondered why Grandma Sophie was bothering with the “drops” after such a fruitful and plentiful year. The lesson was that you never know what the future will bring so you need to preserve all that you have so as to be prepared for what might come next season!

As you might remember, we extracted our honey last weekend and I was waiting for some free time to put it into jars. With yesterday’s morning rain, I found time to do this after first putting up 6 pints of tomato sauce and 10 of sweet pickles. Here are the honey results. I managed to get 66 precious jars of honey which are rapidly walking out the door as fast as I can get the labels and ribbons attached.  Sales of these will go toward the purchase of an extractor of our own for use in the future. I have to keep reminding myself that this was pretty good for a first year hive that didn’t arrive here until late April! Crossing my fingers that the new queen in the “boy hive” is turning that colony around so that there will be much more honey in our future! IMG_3365.jpgAside from being with Coulter, my favorite time of day is any time I get to spend with the chicks. I’m thinking they enjoy my visits as well since they follow me around and now enjoy perching on my “limbs”! Perhaps I sneaked my way into their lives through feeding them treats which they can only have in small amounts but which rapidly get their attention!

This routine as well as my daily presence in their run has led them to a greater comfort level and familiarity. I managed to successfully train them to the larger outdoor water fountain after sitting on the wooden stand in the middle of the two sides of the fountain and flicking water their way from the red nipples. I’m so glad they now have the hang of this routine since it is too hot to play around with their lack of an alternative water source. It seemed that as long as they had the other waterer in place, they preferred that one so I had to take it away to train them to this one. When they grow larger, I will also be able to take the stone ‘step stools’ away.   IMG_3368.jpgSo now when I visit the coop, they expect me to bring some treats and they fawn over me in ways that only young chicks can. Of course this puts a huge smile on my face! The Buff Orpingtons and Rhode Island Reds are particularly interactive as are the Barred Rocks. This all started several days ago when I was sitting down observing them and felt one hop up onto my shoulder from behind. Having previously raised parrots, I was not terribly startled. Since then, they have been more comfortable doing this and I couldn’t resist recording some of this activity today even though I’m not ‘coiffed’ for a photo session! Here you see one on my elbow, one on my shoulder and one on my opposite arm and looking at the camera!IMG_3400This Buff Orpington just wanted to nestle on the crook of my arm as long as I would let her! I love the look she is giving into the camera! A little attitude, as if “what are you looking at?”IMG_3442Not to be outdone, this Rhode Island Red had to investigate too!IMG_3407.jpgAnd was joined soon after by a friend…IMG_3372They say that talking to the birds is helpful so I manage to blabber on in a nonsense way to them the entire time I’m out in their coop.

I’m not the only one fascinated with the chicks. As I said earlier, Coulter likes to investigate the coop whenever he visits. IMG_3362.jpg

But given a chance, he mostly loves to play with the hose on these very hot days! He starts out helping Nana water her flower pots…IMG_3131.jpgAnd he ends up soaking wet…IMG_3133.jpgso we strip him down and soon after he is ready for his kiddie pool…IMG_3156.jpgTomorrow we start the first day of our newest project…an official, 7 foot tall deer fence that will be installed in the rear property line. Yes, the deer have finally figured out that the faux fencing we did on the north and south border sides isn’t the only obstacle to the farm and they have been voracious this year which is much what we hear from others as well. Since the deer have traditionally traveled north to south, we didn’t worry so much about the east side until recently and the only way to conquer them on that front is with an official fence. Stay tuned for updates on that project! LOTS-O-WORK!

 

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