Farm Update: Early Summer

A Swarm Of Bees In May is worth a load of hay...

We moved the hives to a different location closer to the orchard and in the shadow of huge pines trees. Nathan and William have been checking on the new bees to make sure they’ve been settling in and making themselves at home. No stings yet!

A was an Apple pie; B bit it; C cut it; D dealt it

Nathan and the boys planted eleven new apple trees this spring. We love that they’re mostly heritage apples which one can’t find in the grocery store. The happy little trees are Harrison, Orleans, GoldRush, Early Fiji, Cox’s Orange Pippen, and Russet. Even though it will be a few years until harvest, the kids are putting in their orders for pies and crisps!

Mary Had A Little Lamb

The sheep are very low maintenance during the warmer months when the pasture is thick with nutritious grasses. Harry is our ram, and the four ewes stay pretty close to him. We expect that two ewes are pregnant and due in August! Larry, the llama, still keeps guard, but Harry has mostly taken over moving the sheep around the pasture.

This Little Piggy…

We’re discovering that Holly has a temper sometimes. When she’s annoyed at the flies, she squeals lets out a loud grunt. Holly gets so excited when one of the kids is coming near and when Nathan pulls up the drive way. She’d been in a temporary pen, but just a couple of wees ago moved onto a bigger and better abode. She shares pasture with the sheep and the llama, and they don’t seem to care. You already heard that we added little Rosie who follows Holly around.

More news about the pigs: We are borrowing a boar (a mature male pig) from a nearby farm in hopes to have piglets in early September. The boar has made himself at home, for he insists on eating first. He also tilts the water trough enough to make puddles and cool off in the mud.

There was an old woman, Went blackberry picking…

The raspberries have been unkempt and overgrown, and finally this spring, Nathan tilled a larger plot and has been transplanting them with the boys. It’s a larger raspberry patch now and has room for growth.

Mary, Mary, quite contrary, How does your garden grow?

We planted the garden in May which seems late to other hardier zones, but not much earlier than that we still have nights below freezing. We have become used to this rhythm, and it works well for us because around that time, we are finishing the longer schooldays. Also, waiting till May allows for less careful watch over the seedlings. We plant everything at once, even the hardier varieties that would stand lower temperatures. This simplifies the process for us, and we still enjoy a hard day in the soil with as many hands as are available to help. This year, Nathan’s Dad shared his insight and labor all afternoon. It made a huge difference in how much we were able to get planted!

I’m enjoying putting a blog post together about vegetable and herb gardening. It will be ready soon!

with love. Damaris

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Meet Larry

A couple of weeks ago, we welcomed a new addition to our farm. Meet Larry the Llama!

For Nathan and the boys, his name was a no-brainer. Eva and I suggested Lawrence, though, isn’t that far more sophisticated? But I realize that’s not what we’re going for here, so – Larry it is!

To be honest, Nathan and I both have always thought llamas to be…well…ugly. We didn’t know the difference between alpacas and llamas, and we thought, frankly they just look like bug-eyed, goofy-haired, skinny camels. Well, turns out llamas are in the camelid family and cousins to the smaller alpacas, which are bred for the finer fibers in their fleece. Llamas are a domesticated animal native of the Andes Mountains of Peru. They can pack (carry) 30% of their body weight, are very hardy, and surprisingly low-maintenance.

Our Larry is quirky and independent. He’s attentive to our small flock of sheep and in constant alertness. He seems to be happy and at home grazing out in the pasture.

So…why a llama?? Ever since we’ve had sheep, we couldn’t leave them in the pasture over night due to coyote predators. Eva would let them out of the barn in the morning, and Nathan would put them in at night. This was not what we wanted for the long-term. It’s unnecessary work (who needs that?!) and unnecessary cost (ditto!) in feed and bedding. The way to fix the problem is get the sheep a babysitter…err guardian.

We considered several options for guardian animals. We narrowed it down to a dog or a llama. The down side of using a dog is that it would need dog food fed separate from the sheep, whereas llamas eat the grass/hay just the same as sheep. Also, while certain breeds of dogs can make great livestock guardians, they can be noisy during the night. So there you have it, process of elimination is effective in decision making- ha!

Timing was key – Nathan had an out-of-state work conference coming up, and we wanted to go with him to make it a family trip. Just in the eleventh hour, Nathan found a young male llama a half-hour away ready to join our farm! We tried to coordinate a delivery, but Nathan ended up renting a U-Haul trailer and picking up the llama after work. We introduced him to the sheep three days before our trip! We didn’t even know how he and the sheep would get along, but it went really smoothly, considering.

Now that Larry the llama has been here a few weeks, he really is a great guard animal and a wonderful addition to our farm! He’s bonded well with his little flock…now to bond with us…eek! More to come, I’m sure!

with love. Damaris