Chickens, Farming, Greenhouse, Maple Syrup, Meat Animals, Meningioma Tumor/Healing, Rhubarb

More Changes at the Farm

I’m telling you, this has been some crazy kind of year for the Lee’s!

Recently our septic system failed, so a new summer project came up as well as changes for the farm. We only have an acre of land and apparently our old septic system was severely undersized for the number of bedrooms we have. This means that we can’t just dig up the old system and put down new pipes and fill etc. We have to actually move the entire septic system to a new location on the property. The only space that is available is the one at the bottom of our hill, which is where the laying hens were and the gardens. This means that we have to cut down several trees in the area and we got rid of the chickens. We were planning to have these chickens until fall then put them in the freezer and build a new coop before we got any more chickens, however, we had to get rid of the chickens before we could get a septic design so, the chickens are in the freezer a little sooner then anticipated.

We were planning to have meat birds again this year. We changed our mind and decided not to do them as we have this big project on our hands now. Our friends at Mahalo Farm right down the road will have two pigs for us and that is the extent of our animals at the moment. They would also be happy to sell pork to you in the fall.

I am only planting in our greenhouse and at our away field (about a half mile down the road). Our away field will be squashes and pumpkins in the entire field. We grew potatoes there last year, and squash is pretty low maintenance, once it gets large enough.

In the greenhouse we will have, tomatoes, peppers, basil, green beans and possibly some lettuce, but I might put the lettuce in pots on the porch instead, we will see how that pans out.

Overall it is a big change for the farm. This is both a relief and sad for us. We were trying to simplify after my surgery and this is a forced simplification.

We are still planning to ramp up our syrup production in the spring of 2020.

Meningioma update: I had my first follow up MRI and it looked great, the doctor had no concerns and this will be my new baseline MRI. Hopefully there won’t be any growth detected ever or at least for many, many years. This is wonderful news and we are very grateful!

One thing that came about since my surgery is that one of my knees really started hurting. I had fallen down the stairs while holding #3 when he was just a couple weeks old (about 4 years ago) and twisted my knee. This seemed to have repaired itself and had not caused me pain for sometime, until one of my children rammed into me a couple of years ago and my leg twisted again. I had some pain and a constant uncomfortableness, but it was not unbearable nor did it impede my motion or walking etc. About a month after my surgery, when I was done with any drugs and not taking even advil daily and began moving around more, my knee became so painful I couldn’t walk for a few days and had trouble sleeping. Apparently my head had been hurting so badly that I didn’t realize that my knee was badly injured. I had torn some cartilage and meniscus in my knee. Hoping to avoid another surgery, I am now doing physical therapy to strengthen the surrounding muscles and it is working very nicely.

Since my surgery I have come to find out that I was really, really lucky not to have any life altering problems after my surgery. I still have trouble when there is a lot of overwhelming noise and commotion sometimes and I have trouble remembering words on occasion (ok, sometimes several times a day if I am tired – but that could just be because I am getting older right???), but this is so minor compared to other complications. It could have been so much worse. River knows of someone who was diagnosed after me and had surgery and it is like she had a stroke since her surgery, she has a droop to one side of her face and has trouble with one side of her body working sometimes. I feel that we were remarkably lucky that I did not have any complications with the surgery and recovery. Amazing.

I will be selling seedlings at the bottom of the driveway beginning next Saturday. I will have, tomatoes, pepper seedlings as well as rhubarb plants that need to be divided so if you need any rhubarb plants for your yard come on over! We also have maple syrup still available.

Enjoy the week, hopefully it will warm up soon!

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Chickens, Farming, For Sale, Maple Syrup, Meat Animals

Changes

This has been a year changes for our family and it is only April 1st! We have decided that we need to change our focus on the farm.  Since I am still recovering from my surgery, I tire easily, we decided that we needed to shift our priorities to spend more time with our children right now and less time farming. We will still be growing meat for ourselves on the homestead, but we have decided not to grow meat to sell anymore.

Instead we are going to focus on growing our maple syrup production! This is a wonderful venture that we are undertaking with a lot of excitement and joy as it is our favorite part of the farm; from checking the sap lines and installing new ones in the forest, identifying animal prints in the snow, sitting in the sugar house while sap is boiling away, smelling the sweet steam, watching the water vapors rise to the cupola and drift out of the sugar house on rays of sunshine, seeing the beautiful colors of the maple syrup as it is bottled and cleaning up after each run, getting to taste the drips and the extra bits of each batch of syrup, to our big Maine Maple Sunday party! We just love this part of farming so focusing on this seems like the right direction for us to go.

We still have meat in the freezer from 2018 that we would love to have you put in your freezer instead of ours. We will have the freezer in the sugar house open for the rest of this week then we will be moving the meat to our freezer inside and it will only be available if you call ahead or stop by when we are home.

The seedlings are started for tomatoes and peppers and some flowers that A wanted to plant. Greens have been planted in the greenhouse (I found one tiny kale plant that had seeded itself, growing in the greenhouse when I was planting this years springs greens!). I may have tomato seedlings for sale in a couple months – I planted way too many tomatoes and peppers!

Spring is for new beginnings and we are beginning with a new plan for the future, we look forward to seeing you all soon!

Chickens, For Sale, Maple Syrup

Woolwich Day’s

We are planning to be at Woolwich Day’s on August 4th from 9 to 2. We will be selling Smoked, Pulled Chicken BBQ sandwiches, frozen chicken, fresh garlic and the last of our maple syrup.

Join everyone for crafts, fun and food at the Woolwich Day’s event, we hope to see you there!

If you come to the farm this Sunday, July 29th to Saturday, August 4th to buy chickens we will give you 5% off, buy ’em fresh by calling me before tomorrow to reserve a fresh one or buy them frozen starting Sunday. Our flag holder for the open sign by the road broke, but our self serve store is still open!

Chickens, Life, Vegetables

As our three year old would say “I have troubles”

Today, Thursday,  has been a day for chicken troubles. River came in this morning saying that three of our 100, two and a half week old meat birds were dead and that several sounded wheezy. This is not a good sign, things like this can wipe out a flock pretty quickly. I did a little research and reached out to a poultry group I am part of on Facebook. What I have done so far is change the bedding, (I paid T and a buddy $5 each to clean the coop, totally worth it). I added Vet RX and Apple Cider Vinegar  to the water and so far no more dead chicks, but I still heard some wheezing so we aren’t out of the woods.

From my research it would seem it is either a bacterial lung infection which could be caused by some sort of stress or drafts. Drafts is my best guess as nights have been chilly even though days have been hot and perhaps we should have been closing the window sooner in the evening. Or it could be gapeworm. Treatment for gapeworm is generally a dewormer for every chicken. I also read that Apple Cider vinegar can help. I went with the ACV as I am still not sure which it is.

We went to Mitchell Field in Harpswell today, this is a beautiful spot that includes a community garden and had a jetty we could fish from. It was a great spot to catch small squid. They are removing the jetty, apparently it wasnt safe anymore, where will we fish for squid now? As a person with celiac it is hard for me to find fried food so making our own fried calamari and clams is a treat.

It was low tide so there was a large beach and the boys had a fabulous time looking around the rock strewn beach, finding crabs, baby eels and shrimp, and some mussels. It was a fantastic morning!

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One of the larger crabs the boys caught, they had so much fun!

When we got home, the laying hens were out, for the fourth time in a few days. Even though I have staked the bottom of the fence and it is now about 8 feet tall, they are still digging out under the fence. This is incredibly frustrating. Before we got home they managed to destroy our beautiful bean plants that were looking so nice and we’re beautully mulched and started to dig up some tomatoes and strawberries and a couple garlic plants that were in the middle of the bed not close to other plants.

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Our dug up bean plants, oh the pain of seeing the battered and destroyed plants…

I spent some time nailing boards to the bottom of the fence. As soon as I was done the chickens were at it again, so I started putting rocks on both sides of the boards. I think this will end up being the solution, rocks both in and outside the fence. There are many large tree roots in this area so we can not easily dig the fence in deeper and add a barrier in the ground. It isn’t pretty, which is disappointing as we have been working so hard to keep it tidy and nicish looking.

The greatest frustration is all the work we have been doing We have to do over. Tomorrow the boys are going to be hauling rocks in the morning. That is our goal, rocks around the entire fence perimeter.  Wish us luck!

Chickens, For Sale, Meat Animals

Roasting Chickens

Folks, we have about two hundred chickens growing right now. Our first batch will be available for roasting on July 7th!

Come join us on the 7th to pick up a fresh chicken, or starting the next day a frozen chicken. We do the processing right here on our farm, feel free to check it out!

Chickens, Farming

Chicken Fencing

We really wanted to have free range chickens, but alas, I couldn’t stand it!

We fenced in the big garden, but we have a lot of gardens around the yard. Every bed had to either be fenced or repaired almost everyday as chickens are diggers.

The new rhubarb looks like poop as the chickens ripped away the soil everyday, I had to cover it with deer fencing as the chickens were eating rhubarb leaves, which are poisonous to people so I didn’t think the chickens would eat them. Jokes on me they ate them…and they all lived.

The chickens started ranging further afield as well, on the edge of the neighbors property and I didn’t want them to become nuscince to the neighbors.

We also have a fox skulking around. I scared it away one evening, she was definitely close enough to kill one of the chickens that were out. It was a nice evening so I had the window open and heard the chickens getting riled up, looked out the window and saw the fox. T and I went out and rounded up the chickens and they went right in…few.

A fox will come back if they see easy pickings so our best bet to keep them alive is to keep them caged as we don’t have a rooster. We have had roosters in the past, they were loud and they all got mean at some point and ended up in the stew pot.

We had some chicken’s that were jump/flying the fence and some that found the darndest holes to squeeze out of around the base.

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Roosting in the honeysuckle

We tried electric fencing, which was a flop and plugging holes and running a higher string around the top of the coop. They were getting out of everything. Finally we took some fencing that we had used to create extra run space last summer in an attempt to give them fresh pasture often, without free ranging, and River attached it to the top of the other fencing, making the fence between 8 and 10 feet tall in some places. The Littles and I staked the bottom of the fence about every foot with tent stakes. I am happy to say that for the first time in months, the chickens stayed in the run all day! Whoot! I was so happy, I didn’t need to do any bed repairs yesterday and I can start building up the rhubarb bed again!

Hopefully the chickens have done enough damage to the tick population in our yard that we won’t have a major recurrence this year, our yard has been remarkably tick free.

Here’s to garden beds that don’t get dug up and ladies safe from the foxes!