I thought while Amanda is on her tour of the lovely Pacific Northwest, I would say hello and do a quick tour of the goings on as spring quickly turns right into summer.
Buttercup and Bluebell continue to be our pets as we haven't yet stepped up into the breeding and milking of dairy goats. I consider all of the work that they do to be more than fair trade for safe room and board. Most days I clip a collar on them and tie them to a picket line which I can place just about anywhere and they will graze to their hearts content. And they eat it all from Multi Flora Rose to Poison Ivy to anything they consider worthy of a nibble. So, if you're driving along through Maine and notice crop circle patterns in the prickly bushes, that might be our house.
This has been a very dry spring thus far and the pastures have been a bit slow growing for our flock of twelve sheep. One of the solutions has been to continue cutting trees but only at the rate which the sheep can eat the leaves. When we started rehabbing this homestead almost five years ago I didn't realize how many trees needed to be cleared to make healthy pastures and allow enough sunlight. I'm now officially the tree hugging logger. So, I lay down trees and the sheep and goats eat every leaf and eat most of the bark on some of the trees and they even eat pine needles if they're bored...or hungry. I use most of the tree for firewood to heat the house or boil sap and then we either chip what's left to use in the gardens and around the fruit trees or we burn it to help the soil along. The animals do their part by eating and pooping pretty much constantly. Voila - Soil is born!!
The kids are making good use of all the branches laying around as well. A fort in progress inspired by Andy Goldsworthy - we had one like it at our old house that got really big and looked kind of like a beehive. It makes me happy to see another one getting started here.
Speaking of poo, meet this years pigs. Well, before introductions let me just say that I placed them directly behind the halfpipe only because I felt like torturing teenagers that day. They particularly enjoy it when their boards go flying into the pen and they have to wear their cool kid skate sneakers in to get it...Being Dad has its little perks.
Freckle Face, Belly and the big guy is Kevin. Kevin wandered into our friends yard and didn't leave. He slept in their barn under the hay and snored the night away. They couldn't locate his proper owners so we're raising him for them. Maine can be a funny place, especially for friends from New York City.
15 laying bird pullets with plenty of room in the tractor. I pull it each day to give them fresh forage. Once they get big enough and get ready to start laying I'll mix them in with our other twelve layers. Yup we're down to 12 after peaking at about 40 when Calvin had his egg business (remember Cal's Gals?!). We've given them away, eaten them when they've stopped producing and lost a few to predators so we're adding some this year.
Lil' Turkeys x 7. I only wanted turkeys x 2 because they get big and messy and eat a lot. Amanda wanted 15 because they're an awesome amount of meat on one bird. So I won because 7 is closer to 2 than it is to 15.
So that's a good portion of the Soule Farm animal tour. I'll save the balance for next time as things are really hopping and starting to grow around here and it all changes so quickly. We're all looking forward to Mama being home at the end of the week...especially me!!