Saturday, November 30, 2013

Massacre at the Farm

This week, Myron finished all the stone work and re-chinking of the logs. He is completely done. Hooray!

Ghon survived the Black Thursday/Friday madness! Hooray!

A neighbor's dog killed 9 of our chickens and our rooster. Say what?

Rest in Peace, Bullseye.

About a week or so ago, Ryan was hunting on the hill, rather, attempting to hunt. He later called Ghon and told him that a dog had been zig-zagging over the mountain and through the trees, always in hot pursuit of deer. Much earlier this year, we had lost the majority of our chickens due to a dog of the same breed. We were on alert.

As a side effect of his holiday schedule, Ghon was unable to hunt on Thanksgiving, which is usually an annual event. Despite getting home late last night, he hit the tree stand this early this morning. I missed the texts, but several angry messages made their way through. Ghon had a shot on a 6-point buck, until the dog showed up and spooked the deer. He raced by several times. Ghon left the woods without a shot.

After home for a quick breakfast, Ghon took Jonathan along for manly errands, and Genevieve came with me for our shopping. On the way out, Ghon started introducing himself to our farmhouse neighbors. Ghon found the folks in the first house friendly - and knowledgeable about where the dog lives. Seems this dog is outside all the time and allowed to run free. Another dog in the home is more of an indoor dog, and contained by an electric fence.

Ghon went to the house and found a dead chicken in the front yard. There were feathers abound. Ghon knocked on the door - and no one answered. It was then that Ghon realized that the chickens were gone. His intent was to warn the owners about hunting and trapping on our property. Now, it was game over.

After slight encouragement, Ghon called the Sheriff's Department, who then contacted Animal Control. The officer talked to Ghon, got the scoop, then provided our options. First, we could press charges for the murder of our chickens, go to court and prove to the judge what happened and potentially be reimbursed, or two, have a warning issued to the owner, and if the dog came back, we could take any course of action we see fit.

Ghon chose option two.

The officer contacted the owner, issued the warning, and notified the owner that if the dog came back onto our property, that it could be killed, at no penalty to us. At that point, charges would be filed, and we still could end up reimbursed for our losses. The owner indicated that it would be contained, but according to the officer, seemed ambivalent to the entire situation.

Ghon has since notified Tim and Ryan, that the dog was fair game.

Let's hope that dog stays far away. Our smaller chickens, in their own separate enclosure were unharmed. But they don't lay eggs.

Once the call was made, Ghon and Jonathan had a little one on one time. They went to Gander Mountain, the local sportsman store, swung by Ghon's old store, and had some lunch together. Genevieve and I did all the grocery shopping, along with Pop. Ghon headed back to the woods for a little evening hunt.

The plan had been to start preparing the support timbers so we could relay the floor. I even picked up the finishing nails and nail set kit for Ghon to use. The kids and I grabbed dinner and headed to the farm, but Ghon had headed home. No work tonight. But it's getting closer!

Monday, November 25, 2013

16 degrees

Ghon worked an afternoon-evening shift tonight,  so early this morning he went hunting. 

He was 18ft in the air while it was 16 degrees out. And he wasn't the only one, Ryan was there too. 


Ghon came home and made several cups of coffee.  Took almost an hour before he peeled his coat off. There were multiple layers underneath. And of course, another cup of coffee.

Deer count remains. They all survive another day.

Oh, Myron was there today too. I can't wait to get to the farm tomorrow. He was going to be finishing his work!!!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Stop. Pallet time.

I find enough time is wasted on laundry, dishes, and Facebook, that I really try to limit my time on Pinterest.   When we first bought the house, I was on quite a bit, pinning neat ideas for decorations, choosing my favorite staircase storage, and finding ways to organize like I've never organized before. More like I just needed a lot of help doing it in the first place.

Recently, I kicked up the Pinterest time wasting habit again. One of the things Ghon does try hard to do is reuse and repurpose materials we have around the farm. And it's an admirable goal. A week or so ago, my pinning gained new purpose with words Ghon spoke when he got home late from work, again, and his reuse philosophy went into overdrive.

I had to go to the farm to drop off the pallets.

What? We have new lumber, old lumber, a crap load of trees, and now you are bringing home pallets? Apparently, Ghon thought that a couple pallets would be a great place, off the ground to store chicken feed on.

So he brought home twenty.

Obviously, this is not twenty pallets. It is what I fear the yard will look like before long.

I've tried to take a walk down memory lane with Ghon, to figure out how the idea of a pallet or two for feed migrated to an entire pickup bed of pallets. He blames me. He must have listened once 8 months ago when I showed him a cool pallet pin.

A week later, he brought home 20 more. We now have 40 pallets, waiting for some love and crafty attention. 

I have not investigated the pallets to see what kind we have. Other than knowing at least one reads "SAMSUNG" down the side. Who knew there were so many pallet types!

I've now been busy creating new pins on a new board on Pinterest. Check them out and let me know what you'd like to see us attempt, or rather what you would like to see Ghon attempt to make. 

Perhaps this diagram, which I like to call "The Anatomy of a Pallet" will come in handy during project time.

In our current neighborhood, someone built a house, a vacation home, entirely out of pallets. Well, except for the door and windows. It was a little sketchy at first - they were doing it all at night with headlamps - and maybe we thought it was an undercover meth lab or distillery. Now that it is complete, it does look kind of cool. I found a picture of a large shed made from pallets (yep, it's pinned!) that I am trying to get Ghon to consider when we rebuild our out buildings.

He had the nerve to tell me it was a lot of pallets.

Dude, they are free. You just brought home 40 in two weeks. I'm sure the store here in town will give you some too. We can start a collection now and be ready for spring.

Who wants to come to a pallet barn raising???

Hunting Season Update:
Tim - 2
Ryan - 1
Ghon - 1

Friday, November 22, 2013

Grab the popcorn

Video time!

Ever wonder just how big the farm is? Or how far away "down the power line" or "up the hill" is?

Now is your chance to see at least part of the property, up close and personal. Put a fan on your face and watch the video Ghon made with his new gadget, the Go Pro Hero 3 camera.

However, if you are prone to motion sickness, I wouldn't recommend viewing this video.

Earlier this week, Ghon and I prepped a ton of wood for splitting. Ghon also used the Go Pro to make a time lapse video of him splitting some of the wood. There is no blood and no shakiness, so motion sickness folks, you are in the clear.
So there you have it, a property tour of Hummingbird Farm!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013



It's amazing how quickly I can spend $3500. We decided to have Chelsea creamated, so I picked her up and took care of that expense, dropped $100 at Wal-mart for a trail camera and accessories and ordered our Yodel. I mean Jotul.

Jotul comes from a Norwegian heritage, which Ghon will not deny is the main reason we looked at the brand. They've been around for over 150 years and have a spectacular reputation. When we started the fireplace and hearth repair, we measured the opening to fit a Jotul. By chance, I happened to find out that one of our friends, a Mom at our daycare, worked at Aqualogix/Unique Heat, a pool and stove shop that is a Jotul distributor. Ghon and I stopped by a couple weeks ago to check out the options. Always out for the bargain, I was able to negotiate a discount for a cash purchase. :)

While the company is based on Norway, there is a manufacturing facility in Maine. The unit we chose is the Rockland,named for the town in Maine. We are getting a plain black surround that is trimmable, just to close off any gap between the stone and insert. We were originally going to get a fancier trim, but the stone is just too pretty to cover!

Once finished spending money like it was free, I headed to the farm to work on the yard, preparing for winter. There are a few things around the yard to pick up before the first snow, and I wanted to trim back the lilac and forsythia bushes. I'd planned to do that on Sunday, but the kids and I had a lazy/work at home day. However, Ghon had other plans for my day.

Cutting down trees and hauling them down the hill to prepare for splitting and stacking. Oh joy.

We used the farm truck to head up the hill. This was the first time I recall riding in it, and I was not thrilled. It is a mess. It is a work truck, yes, but goodness it is a mess. It smells. It has trash in it. The seats have mouse poop on them. Disgusting, but it was sort of inherited with the farm and it runs. Barely. I think there is only one gear that creates forward motion. But, it does what we need it to do, which is drive up hill and haul stuff. Ghon used it to haul all the stone down that was used on the fireplace and hearth.

Before we went up to get to work, I had to take a picture of the plant life growing in the truck bed.

Dodge truck bed - let's add that planter to Pinterest!

I forgot to grab a pic, but the weather has been so crazy here, with fall then winter temps, that our forsythia bushes have actually started blooming again!

Last month, Ghon and I started a wood cutting day, and I used the chainsaw for the first time. We headed back to the same spot, but Ghon manned the chainsaw, and I loaded the truck with what we cut previously.

My lumberjack at work,

If anyone needs a workout, please feel free to visit. It was hard work. Back and forth, back and forth. There were some huge logs to load into the truck. For the first load, I think there was only one that I needed help with.

I couldn't help but take notice of this one log. On one side, there were two rings and the other, only one. Wicked cool how trees grow!

Both sides of the same cut of log.

After the first truck load was filled, then emptied at the bottom of the hill, it was back up to load the wood Ghon cut.
The tree Ghon cut was huge. Loading these suckers into the truck did require a bit more assistance. We rolled quite a few closer to the truck before hoisting them into the truck. One banged me pretty hard in the shin, so as a result, I let out a series of colorful expletives. A few may have slid out lifting them into the truck too.

Two different truck loads - and the pile we accumulated at the end of the day.

The wood pile was near one of Ghon's tree stands, so I attempted to climb it to check out the view. However, the ladder was a bit shaky and I chickened out halfway up.

Later, Ghon showed me up and headed up.

Eventually, I made it. Up two different stands. Ghon thought it was funny, so he kept snapping pictures.

Two different tree stands - enjoying the view.

While I was in the stands, I couldn't help but take a few pictures of the view.

It was pretty breezy on Monday, and at one point, I was able to watch the tree I was sitting in sway. Yeah, I turend around after that. Didn't need to see that for long.

Ghon has now proclaimed that he will have me hunting by the time I turn 45. His claim is that half the battle is climbing into the stand. That I already know how to shoot. The next step would be to hunt. I reminded him that I don't eat deer, so it would not be good for me to hunt - it's not appropriate for my mindset. He countered with the notion that anything I harvested, I could donate to hunters for the homeless or something like that. Yeah, not so sure about this. Not sure I could actually do the deed. I do like pink camo though.

In the end, we loaded the two truck loads of wood, then unloaded. Wednesday, Ghon has off work and will work on splitting and stacking the wood. With the insert ordered, we are hoping by December we can start working in the house, and heating by wood while we are there.

I never got to trim back the bushes. The yard still needs picking up. But hey, I climbed a tree stand and hauled wood. I'm getting there, but still not a country girl! Yodel-ay-ee-oooo!

Saturday, November 16, 2013


Ghon and I have a confession to make.

We are horrible chicken owners/farmers. Our chickens run wild and are underfed. They do not have appropriate shelter, especially in these recent cool nights. The lack of proper nutrition keeps them small and under weight.

This week, we were reported for it.

I leave my cell phone in the car when I attend meetings off-site. When I returned on Tuesday, I found a missed call from "Frederick County Non Emergency," the local number for the Sheriff and State Police non emergency issues. We have to call whenever we have a fire at the farm, so I have it stored in my phone. I also have a text message from our friend who works in the dispatch at the barracks. This was not looking good. I relayed part of the message received by text to Ghon, also by text.

Once back in my office, I listened to the message and returned the Deputy's call. Turns out, a lady was driving by our farm that morning and saw our chickens out by the road. She was fearful for the chickens as well as the safety of others. Somehow, she pulled off to the side of the road and took it upon herself to "shoo" our chickens back into our yard. Satisfied with her good deed, she then called to report the issue and notify the authorities that some of the chickens seemed kind of small and undersized.

While I am on the phone with the Deputy, Ghon is texting our neighbor Daniel, who goes and checks on our hens. All of our larger chickens are accounted for, but he didn't see the younger ones. I explained to the Deputy what we knew, and that I would check on them on our way home, as well as letting her know that we do have some younger birds that may appear, well, "small."

I head home and stop to check on the chickens. As Daniel reported, all of the big chickens were in their run and accounted for. I looked next at the younger chicks. The day before, Ghon and Eric moved a small box in the run to give them shelter during the cold nights. There is a heavy piece of plywood covering their coop - and it was all in place. The kicker...the chickens were all safely inside.

This Good Samaritan shooed a flock of wild turkeys into our yard then called the Sheriff's Dept.

Our chickens never run free.

Our chickens are not "small."

There are several flocks of wild turkey at our farm and in the fields surrounding it. Some, have seemed a little tamer than norm. We really think this lady chased wild turkeys in our yard.

She should have just hit one with her car - Thanksgiving dinner could have been free. Instead, she found a place to park her car, on a windy, two lane road with no shoulders, just to keep the "chickens" and other cars safe.

Lord help us all when she sees a "pack" of "large skinny dogs" on the side of the road at night.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Another one bites the dust

After dropping the kids off at daycare Monday, Ghon went hunting for a few hours.

So did his friend Ryan, who shot himself a doe.

Let's see that score card:

Tim - 1
Ryan - 1
Ghon - 0

Now taking bets on when Ghon will harvest his first deer of the season!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Deer history is made

This morning, Ghon got up early to go hunting. He had off today, but the afternoon was going to be spent shooting a wedding.

About 11:30 this morning while we were in town, I received a text from Ghon with a picture of a 9 point deer, shot on what he calls the lower road on the mountain.

According to Ghon, this is the largest deer shot on the property since it's been in the family.

On our way back home,we swung by the farm to see the deer.

Ghon showing Jonathan how to pose for a shot with the deer.

Jonathan was excited to see it, and although a little apprehensive at first about holding it, he also gave it a pet. He had asked me a while ago what they felt like, so this was his chance.

Genevieve was a mess, completely afraid to go near it. The only things she could mutter when not whining was "No closer Mommy!" and "What does a deer say?"

Now, if you are paying close attention, and check out the attire, you'll notice that our friend Tim is the one in camo.

After Ghon got up this morning, he ended up not heading to the farm to hunt, and instead, played around on the internet and edited wedding photos.

He was next to me when he forwarded me the text Tim sent him.

Not only was this the largest deer harvested from the farm, it's Tim's largest deer - ever. Congrats!

Smart technology

I am planning to have a charging station/nook in the kitchen.  We will definitely have these.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Critter Cam

Forty-five acres. Five tree stands. Two game cameras. Yep, hunting season!

Tonight, Ghon took a look at some of the recent pictures his game camera caught. There were pictures of squirrels, crows, of course deer, and these gems.

Five more raccoons to kill! Look at those evil glowing eyes!

Gobble, gobble, gobble! Ghon needs to get us some Thanksgiving dinner!!

It's raining...

Rain in Winchester means work on the fireplace!  Well, since the fireplace is done, it's work on the hearth. I can't wait to go home and see it tonight!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Fruit Trees Part 2

November 1 was a hard day. It started off with a little rain and the hard decision that it was time to put Chelsea to rest. We did have a little positive note - rain brought out Myron! Jonathan had a book/costume parade on Friday that I attended in the afternoon. On my way to his school, I saw Myron's truck at the farm. On our way back from the veterinarian's office, Ghon and I stopped for a quick peek before picking up the kids.

The stone work is now all the way up to the ceiling. The fireplace itself is done, and the next step is the hearth and re chinking of the logs. Some prep work was done to the logs Friday as well. It was so exciting to see!

Ghon and I also made a design change that day. We have what we believe is the original mantle in the house and planned to reuse it over the fireplace. Myron included a few small wood sections in the stone work to give us something to secure the mantle to. After seeing the beauty in the stone work, it was really hard to think about covering it up with this huge mantle. Myron felt the same way. We asked if it was too late to remove the wood or lay stone over it, and it's not. We will add a wood ledge mantle rather than a full piece. I suggested that maybe we use the old mantle in our bedroom as a headboard. It's about the right size to slide a queen bed in the opening. We could add a little lighting overhead for reading and still keep the mantle in the house. It might be a plan...

It took almost a month, but on Sunday, I finally planted the ten new fruit trees that we purchased through Cindy. Over the last week or two, Ghon managed to get 6 out of 10 holes dug. Last weekend, I bought all of the soil, compost, and mulch. Ghon had to work all weekend, and with colder weather coming, I was determined to get the trees in this weekend.

I really don't consider the end of Daylight Savings Time as gaining an hour of sleep. It's more like adding an hour to the day, for one day. Sure, I was able to lounge a little longer in bed, but when you are up and everyone has a good breakfast and is dressed by 9 - on a Sunday - you can get a lot more accomplished.

After a little more house chores, the kids and I layered up and headed to the farm to "play in dirt" and plant trees.

Planting trees is only so much fun to a five and three year old. Playing in dirt is much more fun. It's all about presentation.

We visited the chickens first, giving them some vegetable and fruit scraps then headed to the orchard. I started with the six holes Ghon dug out.

Desperate to help, Jonathan wanted to help with the bags, so I showed him how to open them with a shovel. Great way for a five year old to expend a little energy, swinging and whacking at a bag. He became the official bag opener for the rest of the day.

Jonathan and Genevieve have matching kid size weapons, I mean shovels.

First step was to lug the 30lb bags of wet soil to the hole, then a 20lb bag of compost, and finally a bag of mulch. We used about half a bag of compost mixed with a 1/4 bag of tree and shrub soil to line the bottom of the hole. Once the tree was in place. I used another 1/4 bag of the soil to fill around it, then added back the soil that came out of the hole. Where Jonathan was my bag opener, Genevieve is my "patter." Her job was to stomp around the tree to tamp down the soil to make sure it was good and tight.

Once the dirt was opened, we mixed dirt and compost in a bin.

Once the tree was happy in the ground, I dumped an entire bag of mulch around the tree. Repeat this process 5 more times.

After the first two trees, the kids were more interested in the playing dirt part of planting trees. No big deal. We all had a great time. Jonathan brought his new Leonardo Ninja Turtle with him, so they played many rounds of "treasure hunt" burying the turtle and digging for treasure to find him. They sat in the holes and begged to be buried. Occasionally they came by to help me push dirt into a hole, but always came to do their bag opening and patting jobs.

My cuties. They played quite well together and had a great time making up all types of games.

I had left all of the bags in a long line, some stacked, at the bottom of the orchard last week. The bags became the next source of entertainment, as they ran and jumped up and down the piles. I requested several times that they stop laying on the bags and walking on each other, but they didn't heed that warning, and instead, giggled the entire time. We were all filthy when we left, but it's just dirt and washes off. They had a good time playing outside and I got some playtime and work in. Who can argue with that?

At one point, I did have to ask the kids to be quiet. Ghon would have been so proud of me. While preparing a hole for the tree, I heard leaves crunching. I listened for a bit to make sure it wasn't the kids, then scanned the woods for movement. After a minute or so, I found a small flock of turkeys walking through the woods! They were too well camouflaged for the kids to spot. We went back to work, then about half an hour later, they were back! I don't think the kids ever spotted them, but they definitely could hear them.

Our truck had a big load of trash for our local transfer station, and we had to get there before 3:00. I checked the time on my pedometer and realized it was 2:15. I wanted to get rid of as much trash as possible, so I quickly started remulching all of the trees already in the orchard so I could throw all of the bags away. Then I realized that my clock hadn't been set back yet and I had a little more time. Once I was done, I pulled the kids away from their dirt fun for a trash run then home for lunch.

We still had 4 more trees to plant, but their interest in going to back to the farm waned. With the time change, it was getting darker earlier. Thankfully, BJ came to visit, and after the kids asked her to come too and she talked Pop into it, they were ready to go!

Thanks to BJ and Pop, we got the last four trees in as the sun went down. The last two we were aided by the headlights on Pop's truck. I was so glad to get them in - the temperature hit freezing last night and I'd hate to lose the trees to the cold. The soil I was using was made for trees and shrubs and is supposed to feed for 6-9 months. I hope it holds true!

There is rain in the forecast for Thursday. Fingers crossed it does rain so the trees can have a drink and Myron will come back to the house.

Saturday, November 2, 2013


Yesterday we lost our sweet Chelsea, a Lab & Akita mix. We adopted her over 13 years ago, when she was just over a year old. Fourteen years is a long life for a dog her size. Her hearing and sight were declining, her hips getting sore, and she was losing control of her bowels. Thursday,  her hips gave out, and she couldn't walk anymore. It was a very hard decision to make, but euthanasia was the best choice for her. Ghon and I were with her to the end. My eyes are still sore from all the crying.  I took these pictures the day she died. I had the kids give her lots of love before they left that morning.  The picture of her I took a few minutes before her last breath.
Rest in peace my sweet Chelsea. You were my first dog as an adult,  and you will always have a special place in my heart. You were patient, you were loving, and so in tune with our emotions.  We will miss having you around.

Chelsea Eckley - June 2, 1999 - November 1, 2013
Genevieve & Chelsea her last morning with us.

Jonathan giving Chelsea some love her last morning with us.