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Knucker Hatch Farms is not responsible for any noxious amounts of Hydrogen Sulfide that may be present in the air on Christmas Day. Knucker Hatch Farms would also like to add that it will not be liable for any mass extinction that may take place due to the toxic levels of Hydrogen Sulfide (as is theorized to have happened to the dinosaurs.) Please send all complaints to Global Warming.

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Confession: Our garden we spent so much time on this year, turned out to be almost a complete bust. We planted corn, beans, peas, tomatoes, pumpkins, yellow squash, zucchini, cantelope, carrots, scallions, peppers, strawberries, and blueberries. Our harvest included a bushel full of corn (with worms), one zucchini (I never had a chance to cook with), and five pumpkins.

NOT ONE TOMATO. I babied six beautiful Roma tomato plants which always had a nice set of green tomatoes, but I still have yet to witness one red tomato on the vine. I have my own two year old, and a plethora of deer to thank for their own version of harvesting. (I’m completely embarassed.) Next year, it’s time to bring out the big guns – more fencing!

The garden has long overgrown (with weeds, not vegetable material), but the magical pumpkin plants have sprawled an acre in all directions. Now I know why pumpkin plants end up in fairy tales! They truly are unbelievably resourceful plants. So you can imagine our excitement when we finally decided to pick our own pumpkins from that magical pumpkin patch. What a rewarding experience. Those few moments beat going to any roadside, parking lot pumpkin patch by a long mile.

I highly recommend growing your own pumpkins: nothing eats them, they require little care, the kids love to “claim” them, and they grow so fast that you can practically see them growing.  If I can grow them, you can grow them. 🙂

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Deer Friends

If I had to pick just one thing I have really cherished since moving on to this gorgeous piece of property, I might just have to pick our daily doses of deer. We have never tired of standing at the window or on the deck with our binoculars, while “Shhing” the one child that can’t resist the temptation to make noise. The does are beautiful, the frolicking fawns make us laugh, and the bucks stir emotions of awe. We’re a little deer happy as of late, as they disappeared for a month to give birth to their babies, and now their back with cuteness and entire family in tow.

Almost every morning, a foggy mist settles in over the back of the property. I am a captive witness to this stunning view from our breakfast window.

And then the mist lifts, and the deer are revealed. This weekend, we had two familiar bucks emerge from out of the fog. I finally had my camera ready. Meet “Buckshot” and “BuckFudder”. These are the times that I wish I had a ba-gillion dollar camera with a gia-normic sized zoom lens.

Tom Builder always makes the lovely comment that if we ever are in a bind, we can always go deer hunting from our deck. (Such a man thing to say.)

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Where was I?

Well, I fell off the face of the Earth. Yep. Sure did. Let me tell you, it was quite a drop. While I was falling, I tended to two months of what I’ll call “Pet Projects” while I tried really hard not to feel guilty about dropping the blogging ball. There is very little wiggle room in the day with all of the wigglers on the farm AND Pet Projects. I just couldn’t do it all. Blogging had to go.

Nope. Didn’t work. STILL feel guilty about it. But let’s move on.

Let me introduce you to our first Pet Project on the farm. We were incredibly late this year, due to the delayed arrival of a tractor tiller, but we’ve given it our best shot. Our first family garden. The plot is gynormous and could feed a small country if it wasn’t for the amateur gardeners running the show. I confess that even with two years working for Monsanto, half a botany major under my belt, and a PH.D plantpathologist as my father, I have never, ever grown a single veggie. A legion of flowers, yes, but nothing worth grazing.

And so, our family began the adventure of starting a garden. We soon learned, as with most things, our eyes were much bigger than our stomachs or muscles.The tilling was an exciting event, that required no grunt work at all. Tom Builder toodled around in circles on the tractor, while the children followed at a distance sinking their rubber boots in 8 inches of freshly pulverized soil. Subplots were planned and laid out with string and stakes. If plowed dirt could look lush, this was the moment.

Hills and rows were very easy to create thanks to the prep work from the tractor. But the intense heat of almost 100 degree temps 1) Mocked us as it jeered that we were half crazy to start a garden now 2) Sent us running for jumps in the pool with all of our clothes on. However, Her Highness discovered a timeless tradition for keeping cool when no one was looking…Mud pies anyone?

Everyone’s favorite part was adding the seed to the soil. What we didn’t know, was that our giant binge over Home Depot’s seed racks was laughable as we probably made out with a mere 40% germination rate even with liberal seeding. Disgusting really. But whether it germs or not, still doesn’t negate the fact that planting seeds is fun.

Here’s where living on a Georgia flood plain becomes important. While the plot is for the most part out of reach, what we didn’t account for was the run off that would occur IF it rained in our drought ridden state at all. For weeks we puzzled over our poor germination while safely watering the miracle plants with a gentle hose from the well.

Then the rain came. Torrents of rain. Day after day. Our garden became a mud field of quicksand portions. Entire crops were washed out. What comes after a flood? Pestilence and disease for the remaining survivors. So here it is July, and we don’t have a single thing to show for our work. One green tomato is on the vine, so there is hope.

One problem. No one here actually eats tomatoes! (They’re supposed to be for homemade sauce…another Pet Project.)

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Duke, our sole rooster on the farm has been sowing his wild oats this spring. I think he has “small chicken syndrome”, and has seen fit to puff himself up and attack anything that moves. This includes every single one of us, which promptly earns him a firm boot to the breast. I wish I could say that he was all Doodle-Doo and no peck, but truth is, he’s a sassy little toot.

Put \'em up...put \'em up...

Unfortunately, he loves getting the boot. It only serves to spurr on his sparring. So we’ve discovered that the worst humiliation on earth for the young buck is to be toted around the farm like a little chick on time out. Sobers him right up! The little man better pull it together soon though, as Tom Builder has threatened that the white pompous puff who “serves NO PURPOSE” can quickly go *poof*.

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And I don’t mean lightbulbs. This is the type of “Going Green” that will set you back more than a few stacks of energy efficient lightbulbs. This is “Going Green” the old fashioned way. The John Deere way.

It took a whole year to pass by before Tom Builder could commit to a tractor purchase. He perused tractors online, while our beautiful wildflower fields grew. He cautiously weighed the options a weekend here a weekend there. Meanwhile, without grazing animals, Fall brought an amazing growth of 2-3 feet in the fields. It was an interesting science project and fantastic study in wildlife. To get to Kansas (the creek), Mr. Incredible mowed a wavy path through our wildlife project that felt like walking on the yellow brick road.

All winter, Mr. Incredible vacillated between used and new tractors. The frost and snowfall that fell out in the field made our mornings stunning; over hot coffee we were greeted with fields of sparkling, delicate tinsle outdoors. However, what our suburban minds did not account for was all of the field mice that suddenly found our acres of brush to be a wonderful place to settle down and raise 600 families. Spring thaw began to hit, and the pressure was on my indecisive man. A few weeks ago, he finally resolved to bite the bullet and make an investment of a lifetime. In the end, he decided on a beautiful squeaky clean John Deere 5300 with enough implements to keep him busy for many seasons.

The children have all had happy rides around the pastures, and witnessed field mice fleeing in every direction for their lives. All barn cats from neighboring locations have formed a posse that convene in the evening to scour the fresh turf. I’m looking forward to my first lesson from the man who now takes his business calls in his new mobile office with a spectacular view.

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All of this chicken managing is still so delightfully new to me. So please forgive me if I bore you with another chicken post. The recent news at the coop is that there is a protest in the works.

It could be over the fact that we are all out of scratch and the chickens haven’t received any table scraps in the last two days. The lack of table scraps was to stablize some chicken systems that had gone a-muck after some leftover enchilladas were served up to the chickens. While chicken may taste great in enchilladas, the same cannot be said for how chicken systems operate after eating enchilladas. Not a pretty sight.

Or the protest could be over the current over achiever in the group. Perhaps.

Today we received a lovely 8 eggs from our 9 hens. But one hen appears to be instigating a protest and trying to rally up the troups. Here was her work for the day:

dwarf_egg.jpg

Your normal size egg is on the left, while the slacker’s egg is on the right (slightly larger than the size of a quarter). Grace ran in from the coop with her 8 eggs and her surprise. Which had us all laughing hysterically at the pitifulness of it all. Of course, we all had to hold it, which, of course, meant that it would sooner or later break. Can you believe it actually had a yolk?

These eggs, we have since learned today, are called dwarf eggs or wind eggs. If they have a yolk, it is usually because it is the first effort of a pullet to lay an egg. I am 95% sure everybody is laying. So I’m thinkin’ there is a chicken trying to stir the pot of protest.  Hmmm…this keeps up, she might be stirring her own pot.

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