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Farmette1769's Blog

by Monica Melograna-Ward

Category Archives: weather

It has been raining here on the outskirts of Charlotte, North Carolina for days and days and days and… Our honey bees had been taking advantage of the wildflowers we let grown in the front and back most fields. And, there had been a significant slowdown on feeder provision usage. But, since the onslaught of wet weather has come upon us all here @farmette1769, the bees have been sucking up lots of sugar water.

The following three photographs are of the somewhat quiet hive on this rainy Friday night.

  1. Sunset – This shows the standard/traditional beekeepers hive. It was converted and uses top bars instead of frames. The long-style top bar hive (unused ATT) is currently a stand for the in-use standard hive.
  2. Darker – Entrance to the hive during wet weather.
  3. Dusk – Extra sugar water mason jar holders to feed the hungry masses.

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There are still not many honey bees in the added super. It doesn’t seem to be quite as overflowing in the main section as it was. Yet, the original box is still pretty packed. If any of the bees swarmed and left, it could not have been half the population. But then again, a queen bee can lay 1500 eggs per day…

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What I want this year is to get back up on my horse.

The Big Man Dakota sporting his shaggy winter coat

The Big Man Dakota sporting his shaggy winter coat

“The Big Man Dakota” (I call him “Bigs”) is officially a pony, measuring 14 hands even. The standard for a horse starts at a height of 14.2 HH (at the withers).

While the weather is nasty and cold, I am slowly beginning stretching exercises, attempting to get my bad, upper spine to be more flexible and less painful.

This is quite the uphill battle, since progress can be non-existent at times. It seems that every day I am back to square one (I know – everyone is tired of hearing me whine). If I were a horse I could whinny instead, which is a much more pleasant sound.

Pony Stallion Yell Plus Bonus Duck Quacks

My Quarter pony’s yell is much more about getting food than his attachment to me. Yet, Bigs does trust me. That took quite some time. He arrived here as a blind, 5-year old stallion, and the blindness due to the frustration of his original owner.

Bigs3

Yes, Bigs is a stallion aka intact male. There are two mares across the way, yet Bigs has never attempted to visit them. Blind or not, 90% of stallions would try. Due to his calm demeanor, it seemed pointless to take anything else away from him.

Rocky the pony is already inside, taking advantage of the run-in with its new weather-proofing  (readied for the Arctic blast of Jan. 6, 2014).

Rocky the pony is already inside, taking advantage of the run-in with its new weather-proofing
(readied for the Arctic blast of Jan. 6, 2014).

Bigs's tendency towards claustrophobia leaves him hesitant of the change, but grain coaxes him in shortly after sunset.

Bigs’s tendency towards claustrophobia leaves him hesitant of the change, but grain coaxes him in shortly after sunset.

Although sightless, Bigs functions well and sometimes acts as if he can see things coming. It has taken me up to 45 minutes to get his bridle and bit on. He tosses his head about with a total lack of cooperation (even with a Hackamore). I have a feeling this is why the former owner got so upset with him.

Blind Pony Navigates Pasture

Bigs can’t see, so he has the fields memorized by feel, getting around quite well. He no longer breaks through fences in a panic. He no longer flees from being patted. Bigs’s overall behavior is actually quite good. I can get easily get on his back and could likely lay down to take a nap too.

CCsaddle

I purchased a very cool, used, close-contact training saddle this past fall of 2013. My aches and pains, enhanced by stress and aggravation got the better of me this season, so I only completed a parked test drive. It fits well and will work for both Bigs and I splendidly, once my hurdles ahead are cleared. In the meantime, Bigs and his companion Shetland pony “Rocky” will keep themselves busy doing what they do best – eating.

Bigs1

Being already run down from physical unrest, my hair-trigger temper has lately become long-term negativity. It has me wrapped up in my own mind, unable to break free of disparity in the human world. There are 7 billion people on the planet. Half of them live without running water or electricity. Therefore they have little or no access to health care, education, law enforcement, transportation, etc.

As one who attempts to follow Buddhist teachings, I must continue to practice not only patience, but also perseverance – and with this new year of 2014, get back up on that horse (pony).

nota bene: I am not looking for a Pep Rally. There is no need for anyone to cheer me on. If I get back up on that pony, that is what the future will bring. If I don’t, something else will happen next.

Chinese New Year 2014 begins January 31, 2014

Bigs2

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Last week’s storm #1 of Winter 2013 was wet and got extremely windy, but by the time the temperature dropped below freezing the precipitation stopped. Better to be safe with extra weather-proofing!

The ponies were out early in the morning, even though the sleet had already started

The ponies were out early this morning, even though the sleet had already started

Hard to see start of the storm sleet building on the ground

The hard to see start of the storm sleet build-up on the ground

This week’s storm came in icy. It has been running below 32 degrees at night this week, so at least it did not start off warm & wet with that potentially fatal drop in temperature that quickly becomes wet & flash frozen.

Rocky - Still out in the weather

Rocky – Still out in the weather

He thinks I am funny for calling him in

He thinks I am funny for calling him in

Our Shetland pony “Rocky” is made for this type of weather, but I still tempted him into the shelter with snacks (“Bigs” had already given up on standing out in the ice storm).

They will do anything for treats

They will do anything for treats

In the morning, one of the ponies had apparently made their way through the iced surface to the water. The troughs and chicken drinkers sometimes have to have hot water poured on/in on days like this. If need be for your area of the country, you can get special water heaters to use during cold spells.

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Ice forming a shiny coating on items like branches and roofs always looks interesting. I took the rare opportunity to take a few quick pics before escaping back inside.

IceRoofW

Icicles in Southern, North Carolina

Icicles in Southern, North Carolina

If the ice gets heavy on the electrical lines we could lose power. I do not mind losing TV or electronics, but our heating and well water runs off of it, so I hope it stays on.

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Winter storm "Iago" January 2013

Winter storm “Iago” January 2013

For the most part, we have pretty mild Winters here on our Southern farmette. But, although nothing like where I used live in the North East USA, some Winter storms can be especially bad in the Charlotte region of North Carolina.

extra "just in case' shelter

Spare “just in case’ shelter

What I have noticed about this area, is that the temperature will drop in unison with lack of precipitation. And the weather will warm up when it is wet out. So you go along, not really worrying about your animals since you yourself are comfortable out in the weather. Then, out of the blue, a weird Winter storm materializes.

Front yard coops

Front yard poultry coops with weather guards

A few years back I was driving along the road. The day had started out warm and rainy. It had gotten chillier as the day progressed. That seemed odd to me. This never happened up North.

Sleet started coming down. I continued home along our windy, country road. There was a little dog in the middle of the road. I stopped and picked up the tiny canine. It was a mini Beagle covered with dirt and scrapes but friendly/happy.

Later in the day I was grateful that I had brought the stray home. It had gotten colder.

Well shed aka goat shelter

Well shed aka goat shelter with entrance tarp in place

The two goats I had in a pen on the far side of the house had two dog houses to go in. There had been a shelter on stilts too, but the male billy goat (Billy Bob) had enthusiastically broken it apart with his horns. I was pretty new to goats and chickens at the time and rested easily since everybody outside had shelter, water and food.

That was a mistake. We had a slush storm. It reminded me of icy Summer refreshments, except that the sweet drink was, instead, falling from the sky. The goats had been out getting wet before going into the shelter for the night. The temperature dropped more.

Front pasture pony run-in

Front pasture pony run-in, also with extra tarps in place

I ventured out early in the morning. The young goat (Luna) that was out back in the fenced area was fine. That side of the house is uphill and drier. But in the side yard pen, the boy goat was shivering and the female nanny goat (Stella) was dead.

When I read other farm blogs, books, etc. this type of loss is, unluckily, common. Livestock often becomes Deadstock in a vast variety of ways – storms, predators, drowning, accidents and so on. But, I will always feel incredibly horrible about Stella.

More chicken coops

More chicken coops

So, when the weather reports start predicting COLD and WET weather at the same time – BEWARE! And get to work. I was outside all morning. I drove to the farm store and bought more tarps for extra protection on the little goat and pony barns. Fresh square bales of hay have enticed them all into their shelters.

And for the poultry – nylon feed bags work great when cut flat and stapled to the chicken coops. Extra tin was added to the goose/duck pen. We are all set now, but I will be checking on everyone every few hours. And it is likely be a restless night.

Free range rooster will be caught and garaged shortly

Wet, free range roo

This big guy will be caught and penned in the garage shortly, unless roocicle sounds good to you!

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In the United States of America, Christmas has become a holiday that includes a variety of customs. They stem from the melting pot of people that live here. Although based in Christianity, these traditions are the culmination of many different cultures. The ones we take part in are based on the hopes and dreams of all mankind.

It is a time to remember that we have much more in common with each other than we have differences. It is a time that helps us to become closer to our family, friends, neighbors and colleagues. It is a time to make bright the eyes of children, show extra kindness to those less fortunate and to share with everyone the warmth of the season.

In our home and on our land, Christmas is also an earthly reminder to gratefully finish up the current year in preparation for the new. On the farm, we end it with hopes of a warm Spring bearing little chicks, baby goats and a fresh garden.

My favorite expression of this splendid holiday is the lights – lots of lights, pretty lights. It has over-spilled into the rest of the year, as we always keep strings of them on our front porch. They were recently added (in a year round display) to our pony run-in.

BigsNHayW

The night is always alive on our farmette and usually with much more than holiday spirit. “Bigs” happily eats his hay just beyond the shelter. A giant night bird, most likely a Barred Owl, flew overhead while I was taking this photo (we have had this species frequent the farmette before). Maybe it was gliding on the aspirations of the wild creatures that make their home here – wishing survival through the cold Winter darkness.

OurFarmetteW

The little barn sparkles, faintly illuminating the pasture (left), as the brighter house lights echo in the background (right). It is not an especially chilly evening, so I linger a bit to watch the light fade from the sky.

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MoreLightsW

As I walk up to the door, I pass the chicken coops on the front lawn. The inhabitants are quiet. Are they comfortable? Are they warm? Are they dry? Are they snug in their nests with dreams of sugar plums dancing in their heads?

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Are they dreaming of new chicks in the Spring to come? I hope so.

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Pumpkin pie is not only popular for Fall’s Thanksgiving, but for the Winter holidays too. In my opinion, the time of year when the light leaves the sky early is always the time for rich, warm pies. So hopefully, this recipe has come in time for you to use it while the festivities and/or weather still invite it.

This Thanksgiving came upon us a bit early, but I managed to get a little, Sugar pumpkin cooked last week in preparation. This was somewhat amazing since my normal style is “habitually late”.

All pumpkins are edible (to the best of my knowledge), but pumpkins sold for cooking have been developed to produce a surprising amount of pulp for their size. They are much sweeter and more flavorful too.

Having unsuccessfully cut it open due to an extremely tough shell, I just placed the raw pumpkin in the oven whole. It was left in at 400 degrees for about an hour. At this point you can just slice the top open like a Jack-o’-lantern and scoop the guts right out.

The seeds in this cooking pumpkin congregated in one spot, making it easy to separate them from the orange flesh. Remember to put aside the seeds. They can be lightly salted, then roasted to make a healthy, crunchy snack.

Pumpkin can be stored in the refrigerator or freezer if not being used immediately. The shell can be dried out for use as decoration.

The pumpkin meat can go straight from your storage container into a food processor/blender or you can mash it with a whisk by hand. I decided to speed things up a bit by processing pumpkin innards and creating pie filling at the same time. You simply throw all of the ingredients in together and mix.

Not being one to follow strict rules, I use measurements as a guide and adjust to my own whims. The following is a list to base your own recipe on;
Fresh pumpkin 20 oz.
3/4 cup brown sugar
3 small/bantam eggs + 1 s/b egg white
4 oz. heavy cream & 8 oz. milk or 12 oz evaporated milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
Spices (about 2 teaspoons all together) – mostly cinnamon plus some nutmeg, ground cloves, ginger and/or all spice.

Pop it in your favorite shell type. I often make cereal or basic flaky pie crust (graham cracker works nicely too). You can decorate with pecans, raisins, and dried cranberries if you feel inspired. Bake in your oven at 350 degrees for about an hour.

There you have it. A  lovely homemade pumpkin pie for your family/friends. Please enjoy the season. May it be comfortable, peaceful and YUMMY for you and yours!

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For a few weeks now, as dusk falls, it has been cooler. We live at the Southern, nearly-middle, point of North Carolina. Our lowered night temperature is in the 40’s – not freezing yet. It is mid-October and the leaves are starting in on their colored dance from tree foliage to ground cover.

Our two ponies now rely on hay instead of the sweet Summer grass they prefer.

A big round field bale actually fits in the back of our little truck.

Big Man hangs out in the run-in a bit more (but still not a lot) since the weather changed.

Some of the flowers, like Black-eyed Susan (Perennial Daisies) are dying off. Goldenrod is just now coming into bloom.

Summer Black-eyed Susan

Fall Goldenrod

We raise bantam (mini) chickens, but we do have one BIG rooster. I had taken him in as a youngster thinking he was a hen and not wanting to turn down an egg-layer. Since he roosts 6 feet off the ground and is mild-mannered, he has become our lone free-ranger. His job is to clean up the spillage grain from all of our poultry pens. He is enjoying the crisper Fall air while I wander around taking pictures.

Our “Big” Roo

The pic below shows some of our up and coming Spring breeding bantam chickens. They are nicely feathered out and can handle the impending coldness. This long coop was re-structured (after the initial re-build from nesting box to pen) to keep them extra dry, since WET + cold = DEAD.

Our miniature roses love the lower temperatures and are gladly gracing us with their blossoms.

Indian corn is an item that I grew up with. It doesn’t really seem like Autumn until it is hanging on our front door. We usually try to throw a Halloween skeleton or two into the mix of decor too.

Lastly is the main Fall display. Our son and I met another home-school group at Maple Springs Farm to welcome the season and pick out some pumpkins.

I am hoping that a few of these big vegetables will still be edible when November begins – contributing to the Harvest season’s celebration.

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