Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Over the last couple weeks, I've managed to sneak up on the turkeys that frequent our farm without even trying, on a few occasions now. They're wiley birds, and are typically seen sprinting for the nearest patch of trees. But for some reason, they just weren't paying attention lately.

This was enough to make me think that I might hunt them successfully, without the usual investment in full-body camouflage, decoys, calls, and everything else which Cabellas will gladly sell me. It's only legal to hunt them with a bow or shotgun, so you've got to get pretty close (about 40 yards max)

Our neighbor Stan just happened to be interested in hunting in our tree stand, so he and I swapped spots for a couple days. He's got a tent blind set up, which makes for a good spot to sit where the turkeys don't notice you. They were so thick around the blind that he was shooing them away, since he was after deer.

I spent the last couple days out there, a bit in the mornings and again in the evenings. It turns out that the tent blind doubles as a mosquito feeding station when I'm in it. My constant squirming and swatting probably didn't help me lure any turkeys the first night, but it got much better once I came back armed with some mosquito netting over my head. I was so stealthy that a chipmunk came and shared the blind with me for a while, but no turkeys showed up. I did spook a bunch of them the last time I walked out to the blind though, but these ones saw me well before I saw them.

Just to rub it in, the turkeys have been hanging out in our fields as if they were a herd of cows. While I was standing out in the driveway chatting with Jim Wetherbee (whose family owned our farm since the '50s), they came walking accross the pasture in the middle of the day.

We've got a new feature this week -- video! They're posted over in the upper-right hand of the blog, along with the photos. One is of Henry singing his "Burrito the Cat" song, which is how he entertains the cats (and Rachel) while he's sitting in the barn during the morning milking. Youtube's processing darkened it a little too much, but you may still be able to make out Henry holding "Burrito" the cat while he sings.

Another video is of Fergus the Rooster, displaying his new crowing ability. He's becoming a real man now, with all the responsibilities that entails. He's been demanding plenty of piggy back rides from the hens, but gets a little confused and stands on them backwards sometimes.

Our hens just started laying this week, and are fortunately returning to the coop to use the nesting boxes. Rachel was watching as one of them finished her business and stepped outside, giving the "Where is everybody!?" noise. Fergus, down near the barn, heard her, and ran in the direction of her call, pausing to crow a few times until they made contact and were reunited.

Last weekend was a little taste of summer again, with temps in the low 80's. The asian beetles took advantage of the warm weather to crawl into every nook and cranny in our house (they like to winter over wherever it's warm), where we met them with the vacuum cleaner. They look just like orange lady bugs, which is what I thought they were when we first moved here. There's also another beetle called a "box elder bug" which has been showing up inside the house, although not quite in the same numbers as the asian beetles. I'm about ready for a good bug-killing frost, myself.

The fall colors are really ramping up now. No good photos yet, but we'll get some posted. I've also been sampling the nuts that grow on our farm. Hickory nuts are supposedly one of the best tasting nuts around, but you have to find a tree producing nuts where the meat come out of the shells easily. I haven't found any of those yet.

Today I tried cracking open a few black walnuts. While they're not particularly easy to extract from the shell either, they are much bigger, and taste great. Better than regular walnuts like those you buy in the store, as the skin doesn't seem to have a bitter flavor to it. Walnut husks stain quite well, as I now have brown fingertips from peeling off the husks. There's some sort of worm that lives in the husks, but they don't seem to be getting into the nuts themselves.

Our pastures are coming in nicely now. Not all the green is good (there's a good amount of weeds in addition to the clover, alfalfa, and grasses), but I've got to say I'm pretty satisfied with how they're turning out. I don't think we'll have much trouble grazing them next summer, or getting a cutting or two of hay.

1 comment:

Shirley J said...

Hi David and Rachel

I wanted to let you know how much I am enjoying reading your blog and watching you build your beautiful farm. What an adventure! It makes me wish I'd met such a farmer in my younger years.

The Murphys (family I had wanted to introduce you to) are off to a good start with chickens and broilers on their 5 acres north of Ferndale. They are looking for more land as they want to farm the Polyface way. Joe interned with Joel last summer. We got the first broilers the end of Sept. My largest was 6#9oz but they had some right around 7#. We also started getting eggs from their Barred Rocks the end of Sept. They're hoping to add pigs next year. Linda's Contemplations is their blog.

I'm getting ready to head off to the Weston Price Conference in San Francisco. I was looking to see if there are any chapters in your area but the closest is Detroit, Lansing or Ft. Wayne, IN. You are kind of right in the middle of those.

Wish you the best of luck. Shirley J in Bellingham