Friday, September 30, 2011

bunny love

There's a farmer-family wedding this weekend in good old South Carolina.  Abe and I are spent the evening tonight with relatives from out of town who are here for the festivities.  Tomorrow morning we leave for Middle Of Nowhere, Lancaster County, so you'll have to muddle through the next few days without me.  Here are rabbits so you don't get lonely.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

get rich & get dirty

I was going to post a book review, but surprise! I haven't finished the book, since I only got it from the library on Saturday, and I've basically been at work ever since. Also, I almost died, and I'm very easily distracted.

So coming soon, some sort of discussion about Pay Dirt, which you should probably come back for if you're the kind of individual attracted by the possibility of earning $10,000 by playing in the yard for a year.

Sunday, September 25, 2011


Friday's "Thank Goodness I'm Farming" post is here! This is because yesterday, when I otherwise would have been posting it only one day late, I was instead flat on my back crying in pain like an orphaned, infant rabbit.

baby rabbit, empathizing

I've been getting my yoga on pretty regularly this week, and Friday I did my practice as usual before work. I felt pretty super about myself, thinking: This yoga practice is energizing and refreshing. Tonight I will be as energetic as Abe. And so fit! Then I left for work, which on the weekends is waiting tables at a  a farm-to-fork restaurant. The use of both arms is encouraged, as is lots-o-energy. That became a problem when my shoulder started throbbing in the car. It continued to ache all evening, with sharper pains brought on by deep breaths, laughing, sneezing, lifting, and turning (and by the way, Yoga, thanks for all the help with that deep breathing. That turned out to be extra excruciating. A plague on your asana, Yoga). It was a weird kind of deep pain that I hadn't experienced before, so when I got home I decided it would be a good idea to put a heating pad on it.

That also turned out to be extra excruciating, because obviously I have no idea how to treat traumatic injuries. The next morning I woke up with such stabbing pains that I couldn't stand without Abe's help, so I just lay in bed crying. Then I discovered this new amazing resource called "the internet," and found out that you should only use heat on chronic injuries, and should use ice for the acute ones. After a few rounds of icing (note: unfortunately not the same as frosting), OTC pain-relievers, and a good night's sleep, I'm feeling much better now.

And I am thankful that I even survived at all, and that I will now know what to do for Abe in an emergency situation, like if he gets run over by a tractor, falls off a grain silo, or suffers attack by a rabid chicken (farm hazards). I will STEP AWAY! and then call our neighbor, who is an EMT.

Oh yeah, and farming.  We'll talk about that next time.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

how to feed chickens & alienate neighbors

Open the back door and step outside.  Announce yourself to the birds!  I call them like this:  "bawk bawk bawk bawk!"  Be a little loud about it - some of the chickens really like the shade in the back corner of the yard, and you need to get their attention too.

The chickens will come running. Be sure you have treats. There are lots of things chickens like that you might have around the house, like
  • stale bread, torn into bits
  • crumbs from the bottom of a bag of tortilla chips
  • vegetable scraps*
  • oats
  • cereal
  • bird seed, if you're in to that sort of thing
  • rice cakes**
  • apparently, yogurt.  I wouldn't recommend tossing yogurt at yo birds - although this is supposed to be about alienating your neighbors, so go ahead. Glob it.
  • Toes painted with red nail polish

Chickens love conversation as much as the next domesticated fowl. Advise them about their tail feathers (i.e., to shake them) and how to get the worm (early). Not being certain that chickens speak English, your best bet may be the noisy "bawk bawk bawk bawk" discussed earlier.

Wear closed-toe shoes if you prefer to protect your red toenails.

*Side note: Sort through leftover salad to make absolute certain that there aren't any stray pieces of chicken hiding beneath the tomatoes. Otherwise, you will watch in horror while your chickens turn into cannibals and eat the very flesh of their own kind. They will be enthusiastic about it, and you will not quite feel the same about chickens after.  The guilt, though, will eventually subside. Not that I would know from personal experience. What?

**Now you can get rid of your rice cakes honorably without admitting you were never going to eat them. I was going to eat mine, but there are chickens who are hungry in Africa. How could I eat rice cakes when there are hungry chickens in Africa?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


I interrupt whatever else you might be doing to make this important announcement:
Somebody's online search for "tiny rabbits" brought them to this humble blog.
Not even 9 am, and I can already consider today to be a smashing success.  Round of carrots!  And just when I was starting to think y'all might be tired of those daily bunnies....

Real food & mycology

The baby rabbits  have been eating real food for a little more than a week now. It's so sweet to see how they watch their mama eat new foods before they try them.  They love cabbage and carrots, and sometimes forgo the veggies entirely in favor of their rabbit kibble (made by Purina... who knew?).

And speaking of real food, my camping husband returned from the woods with a handful of foraged mushrooms (mostly oyster).  We ate them with whole wheat gnocchi, charred onion, cherry tomatoes and fresh basil from the garden, brown butter sauce and sauteed kale.  Delicious!

Then the next morning, Abe whipped up a veggie scramble with peppers, fresh eggs, and the last of our mushrooms, including a lone dark brown one whose name I can't for the life of me remember. Grandfather something? Maybe Grandfather Gross, because the whole thing tasted like straight dirt. You know that wonderful musty, dank forest smell?  I don't recommend eating it.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Absence make the wife need a farmhand

Things are "off" this weekend at our tiny farm.  Abe is out of town on a camping trip with some man-friends.  I thought I'd treat myself to a little extra sleep this morning, but Franc (that's the cat, remember, not some sexy milkman) wasn't having it.  Since I work weekends and Abe's away, all the animals are clamoring for attention. 15 chickens, 9 rabbits, Franc and Cash (the coon hound) make for a lot of clamor.

We've kept the chickens in their coop and run since yesterday.  There's been a hawk stalking around our yard. All the hens get along fine when they're free-ranging it, but literally cooped up I know they're feeling testy.

It's also unseasonably cold - poor me & baby rabbits!  We all miss our farmer.

Friday, September 16, 2011

T.G.I.F. - the FOOD

This morning Abe told me he's glad for our starter farm because of its impact on what he eats.  We do get spoiled by the persimmon muffins in the winter, baby lettuce in the spring, tomatoes and muscadine grapes in the summer, fig jam and fresh eggs all year round.

It tastes so much better than what you'd buy at the store, or even the Farmer's Market.  I like to think the difference is what satisfaction tastes like, because there's a healthy pride in enjoying things homemade and homegrown.  Abe loves the eggs and proteins that he raises himself, but my favorites are the vegetables we grow.

Franc (the uneasy "farm" cat) longs for the delicious union of those proteins and vegetables, and brings you your daily rabbit:  bunny stew.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

your daily rabbit

Today's rabbit takes it indoors and welcomes vegetarians, vegans, or people who just eat papier-mâché painted and shaped to look like vegetables.

If that is you, please stay for a real tomato sandwich. We still have some lovely tomatoes.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Carolina Backyard Furrybottoms?

Obviously, as busy farmers with busy farming lives, the past few days we have been much, much too busy to blog.  We've had to take very, very important naps with teeny, teeny, tiny rabbits.  We've had to weigh the pros and cons of making this a blog dedicated entirely to pictures of those rabbits.

(Pros:  teeny, teeny, tiny, and rabbits.  Cons: the name might be misleading.)

We might be making this a blog dedicated entirely to pictures of rabbits.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Thank Goodness I'm Farming

Today I introduce what may or may not become a regular feature around here.  It's a little play on words, see, because "T.G.I.F." usually means "Thank Goodness It's Friday, Because I Can't Take One More Day Of This Insanity" (you can see why they abbreviate).  But T.G.I.F. also happens to be the initials of "Thank Goodness I'm Farming," which may or may not become the name of a weekly Friday post about some great reason to farm.

Today's is short because I'm running late for a bachelorette party and I'm pretty sure you have more important work to do anyway.

So thank goodness I'm farming.  I love to raise tiny animals, because they remind me there's a purpose to that giant time-sucking wasteland called the internet.  They also hop much slower when they're little, so it's easier to catch them if they escape.  And extra bonus: bite-sized.

Have a hoppy weekend!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

the farmer and the tax man

We've talked about farming for a long time, but only recently taken some of the big steps to get there. (1. acquire land. 2. acquire hound dog  3. grow stuff?)  I've known that there was some tax benefit to farm land, and now that we've started to grow stuff, I wondered if we might be eligible.

So I did some in-depth academic research and was disappointed to learn that our 2/3 of an acre doesn't even bring us close to qualifying for a North Carolina farm tax ID, which requires that you own at least 10 acres.  I don't think we can include 9 1/3 acres of our neighbors' yards, even though our farm dog and chickens occasionally roam there. But Google didn't seem to know for sure, and tried instead to direct me to invisible fencing sites and forums where people talk about how to stop their dogs from chasing their chickens. Easy: trade in your dog for a house cat.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Labor daily

Labor Day is just another day to labor, even on a tiny farm that's just beginning.  Abe gets up around 7 every morning to feed the chickens and rabbits.  Real farmers the world over may laugh at our sloth, but God help you all the day anyone wakes me earlier.

Would you ask this lady for a day off?

Monday, September 5, 2011

the very beginning

How do you start a farm?  It's hard to know where to begin.  Our interest in growing our own food began, inconveniently, when we lived in a one-bedroom apartment.  We started seeds on our coffee table that first spring, and moved them out onto our narrow balcony when the weather warmed.

We were ambitious, planting everything from watermelon to cilantro.  But our porch was tiny, so as our plants grew, we gave them to friends who had more space (and possibly more sense).

 The next spring, we tried guerilla gardening.  There was a skinny, soggy piece of wilderness behind our apartment complex, undeveloped because it lay in the city's hundred year flood plain. Our garden was accessibly only by a narrow trail and a trip across a sewage pipe, so the deer visited more frequently than we did.  It was overrun with copperheads, and once my dad fell in the creek trying to get there. For our effort, we didn't harvest much except a few tiny carrots.  It made us want more.

Two years later, we have our very own dirt outside the back door of our very own home.  It's a small 50's ranch on 2/3 of an acre. That's just enough space to raise chickens, rabbits, quail, tomatoes, persimmons, cucumbers, figs, squash, herbs, potatoes, muscadine grapes, and hopes, along with an incorrigible red bone coon hound mutt. Keep reading... we're learning to urban farm the hard way.