Sunday, December 28, 2008

Pit Pickup

I was finally able to catch the truck picking up our straw! Fascinating - and as stated in previous post (see "It's the Pits!"), a great reason to bed on straw. It takes some getting used to bedding that way, but we love it. Here you see Rick, from Guizzetti & Sons of Landenburg, PA. They process our straw into compost - the basic growing medium for mushroom production. Recycling in the purest form!

Friday, July 18, 2008


Before we even dug the trench, we purchased our frost-free hydrant from our local Tractor Supply Company (where would all of us be without them!). Once shut off, the frost-free hydrants allow water to drain back down, away from the metal top, discouraging freezing. And, if they do happen to freeze in really frigid weather, they are easily thawed with a little hot water. Here you see Kenny securing it with an extra post for stability.

In the Trenches

By late spring the barn was built, the horses were in and settled and we were about at the end of our pre-determined budget. Kenny had purchased the electric wire to tie the barn into the house wiring, and rigged it up as a very long extension with one outlet to use for running power equipment while building the stalls. Similarly, he rigged a water line from the house, using heavy-duty plastic pipe that we would eventually bury, letting it sit on top of the ground during the warm summer months (see top photo). But the nights were getting cooler and the dusk was coming earlier and earlier, so we had our excavator, Tim Wise, dig a trench for the water & electric lines. He used a trenching machine, also known as a "Ditch Witch." At one point in the yard, he hit some really hard shale, so the trench took a little longer than planned, but by day's end, he and Kenny had the lines in and we were in business!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Little Pals

We lost our little black & white kitty over the winter. We weren't sure what happened to him until spring when sadly, we found his body near the road. Boo Boo Kitty was lonely, as was Fred the chicken, so the two started hanging out together, even napping together at times. What an odd pair they make, but they ARE room-mates, after all. How funny are these photos? I'll add more as I "catch" them!

Friday, May 30, 2008

Fly Wars

Since we now controlled our own mini-farm, we decided to try predator flies in the new barn. I heard they worked well, and boy do they ever! Some of my friends called it "Fly-of-the-Month-Club" since 5,000 of them arrive each month to hatch and eat the larvae of the pesky biters. Throughout the fly months, my horses have had minimal flies on them! I was and continue to be so excited about cutting down on flies using this approach... I love when the little egg packet arrives each month. I can't wait to release them, because I know they WORK! As you can see from the photo, they're not very big; the tiny specks you can see along the edges are actually the little flies. They don't smell, and the packet is secure and really easy to use. The monthly cost is less than a bottle of fly spray, and it's a safe, totally "green" source of fly control - all natural and no pesticides or chemicals whatsoever!

I purchased my flies from Spalding Labs. If you'd like more information from Spalding, go to this link:

Here is a link to some great Anti-fly articles as well as several Forum threads:

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

By way of China

My sister acquired a brood of chicks from some foreign exchange college students who didn't know it was illegal to keep chickens in your apartment. Those chicks grew into a beautiful flock, providing amazing eggs-big and BLUE! Yes, blue! Araucana (or Ameraucana) chickens lay colored eggs and are also known as "Easter Egg Chickens"-they are like any other egg; they just have a beautiful shell, which can arrive in a variety of colors: blue, green, pink, yellow. "Brownie" came to us due to all her mates being killed off by raccoons. When my sister got new chickens to replace them, they pecked and picked on poor Brownie until she was in danger of death (bottom of the "pecking order"-literally!). Once the barn was built, my sister begged me to take her. Now, mind you, we live 4 hours apart-no small ride for a chicken, especially in the pelting rain that occurred that weekend. Luckily, I was in the area with my truck, picking up rubber stall mats, so they loaded me up with a large, roomy cage for Brownie to make the trip with a tarp cover to shelter her from the rain and highway wind. We all survived, and Brownie, now also called Fred, provides us with a beautiful blue-green egg every day. She lives "free-range" and roosts way up in the barn rafters, away from predators. She digs in the dirt, eats flies and other insects and provides both entertainment and comfort with her soothing little clucking sounds. She LOVES cat food, and comes running when I call her at morning feeding time. We've certainly learned a lot about chickens-and plan to add a couple of chicks soon.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Old MacDonald

What's a farm without barn cats? We acquired Boo Boo Kitty from fellow Bringing Up Baby blogger Michelle Smith. This cute, yellow fluff showed up at their doorstep, wanting to be a house cat. Their barn was already full, and Michelle said NO to a house cat, so Boo Boo came to live with us. She was alone for about a week until Brutus (black and white kitty) arrived from the next-door neighbor's, after an experimental smaller litter-mate who could not withstand Boo-Boo's bullying! As you can see from the photos, they became fast friends, playing and wrestling everywhere! Nothing is more fun that watching kittens play (except maybe puppies)!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

It's The Pits!

We are fortunate to live in a largely race-horse community. There is a sizable breeding facility just a half-mile down the road, housing as many as 150 head during certain times of the year bedding strictly on straw. A mushroom growing company hauls their straw away for free. Because of our close proximity, they occasionally need to top off a load and will pick up our straw as well. A good reason for us to bed this way. We researched this prior to building, and had Tim (our excavator) cut in a manure "pit" in a spot for the truck to have easy access. I'll add a photo of that truck picking up the straw when I can catch them... we don't know when they come--we arrive home and the pit is empty! A beautiful thing.


We couldn't live in a mud hole so we had some stone delivered and spread on the entire driveway. I will park my trailer here as well. So nice to be mud-less--at least in the driveway!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


Both horses took a good 2 weeks to settle in - Reggie more so than Tivio. He acted flighty and nervous - probably due to the new smells. Every other move he'd made with me had been to farms and stalls that had housed horses before. The new wood and strange surroundings took some getting used to.