Ohiofarmgirl's Adventures in The Good Land is largely a fish out of water tale about how I eventually found my footing on a small farm in an Amish town. We are a mostly organic, somewhat self sufficient, sustainable farm in Ohio. There's action and adventure and I'll always tell you the truth about farming.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Finally! The sound of silence.... they are gone.

Finally!  That sound you hear is not The Loud Bugs... I can finally say they are gone. Dead. Quiet. At last. I am not interested in hearing them again in 2033.

Summer is finally back on track.

About mid last week we finally had a decrease in the volume of the cicadas... then one last burst of loud buzzing... and then magically they were gone. Now we are finding the dead ones everywhere. But finally I can work outside without the constant noise.

Was it really that annoying? Yes. It was hard to be outside all day because it was so stinkin' loud. Normally nature doesn't bother me but this was totally off the charts. Some of my non-believing friends had a reason to drive to where The Loud Bugs were... and then they became believers.

We have a little damage in our trees. One of the old timers around her said that the dead new growth on trees was from the cicadas.. there is nothing to do about it. I remember what my orchard friend said about how the real damage is from the larva that are burrowing down and eating the tree roots.

But I am glad they are gone. Thanks to some very heavy rains most of the bug bodies have been washed away. I've even been able to let the dogs roam around in the woods... as there are no bugs to eat and so no tummies to be upset. 

The only downside of the bugs being gone? The chickens are banging on the door demanding to be fed. It was nice to save all that money on feed and just letting the hennies free range this whole time.  We have a lot of fat and happy hens.

So now I can get back to working outside longer during the day instead of coming in the house and watching really loud movies to drown out the sound of the bugs.

We are going to have a tiling project in the house very soon. It's apparent that we are not carpet people. We just have too many feet for regular carpeting... and we are about to start ripping it all out. In truth, the carpet needed to be replaced when we moved in. But we knew we *points to cats and dogs* would just ruin it... we are to the point where it is really ruined now. I'll be researching this project and will be getting it underway.

In the meantime, the garage mamma and her nine chicks are doing great, the goats still refuse to get up off their duffs and free range, the garden needs some attention, and no one misses the two ganders that I took to the auction. I am also covered in poison ivy from trying to get it removed from near the house.

All in all I think we are finally getting back on track. Finally!

Happy Monday, everyone! Are you back on track? Are you getting your projects back on track?

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

I revenge-bought a lot of zucchini in response to being hornswoggled by an unscrupulous produce purveyor

You know, I get that locally produced produce is better quality than store food and I'm OK with paying a bit more - especially given the recent food safety recalls...  but think it is also true that there is such a thing as taking it too far. I found out the hard way about artisanal pricing recently.

I was at a local farmer's market recently I figured I'd get me one of those beautiful looking early season zucchinis a vendor had on their table. I marched over with a dollar in my hands thinking that maybe the price for the smallish zucch would be maybe $0.75.... or maybe even $1... but that would be pushing it. I can get zucchinis from my Amish neighbor for $0.25 during the season. Heaven knows I am the only person in the mid-west who can't grow their own damn zucchinis.

"How much on the zucchini"" I asked already holding out my dollar.

"$1.50" She replied.

I stood there stupefied. One DOLLAR and fifty cents? For one small zucchini? I was so stunned I actually paid it and then skulked away.... ashamed at being hornswoggled. Usually I'm a pretty good negotiator but this caught me so off guard I couldn't even defend myself from such piracy.

I took it home and cooked it up for dinner. I have to admit that having the first real, fresh veg of the season was pretty good. But I was still mad. So I took action.

Later that week I went on down to local produce auction. I shoved other people out of the way so I could be in the front row. I stood defiantly near a peck box of zucchs. When the bidding started no one would match my aggressive buying.

"Sold!" Called the auctioneer. "What's your number honey?"

"298!" I said, "I'll take two boxes!"  And then I marched off, victoriously, to the office to pay for my purchases.

This is what I got for $6. Six whole dollars - why it's more zucchini than any one person could eat...

Two glorious peck baskets of farm fresh zucchini. $6 total. Not each, total.

Based on the artisanal pricing at the market my $6 would have only gotten me four of these little beauties. Four.

Four. Ha!

Who is laughing now, Zucchini Pirate Lady? Who? ME! That's who.

So now we've been having zucchini, in many different iterations, every night for dinner. And lunch. And even breakfast also. All my friends are getting zucchinis just because... it's a thoughtful gift. Pretty sure we are set on zucchinis now for a while.

From now on I'm going to stick with farmstands and the produce auction. 

Happy Tuesday, everyone! Did you ever revenge buy a bunch of zucchinis to get back at an unscrupulous produce purveyor?

Friday, June 17, 2016

Nine chicks, lemon cake, and a Bubby-bee....

It's been an adventurous last several days....

 Just a few of the new peeps. They are a hoot!

We ended up with a bunch chicks under the garage hen... they are doing great and the momma may, in fact, be part piranha. I was able to snap a few pix before she fluffed up and charged me.

Since we are supposed to be reducing our poultry numbers we were surprised to find there were... nine. Ooops. This news was not met with wild enthusiasm.

So, of course, we made lemon cake because that fixes everything. I'm sure I'll be making a trip up to the livestock auction.

The cake was really good. However, I frosted it a bit too soon and the cake was still too warm. So we had a cake-valanche and the top slid off. We had a good laugh, I put it all back together, and secured it with toothpicks. It's now in the fridge. Even tho you aren't supposed to refrigerate cakes... I gotta tell you, a cold lemon cake is extremely refreshing. 

And then we had some of this. Really, little slug? Get out of my salad.  Ew!

We also had a minor crisis here with Zander. It's always something..Poor Bubby got stung in the face by a bee. His poor face started to swell up and his eye was almost swollen closed.

My handsome Zander before he was done in by a Bubby-bee.

Good thing I have the vet on speed dial. They always answer the phone, "Hi, OFG, what now?"  I told him to either give me the right dose of Benadryl or to tell me when to start driving to them. We got the dose and I fixed my Bubby right up. One of my friends said that he got stung by a "Bubby-bee." It was very funny.

Bubby was back to rights the next morning. We walked the Dog Moat to make sure there wasn't a nest of mean ground beez... but I think the sting was from Zander always leading with his nose.

We've been having some hot days so I've been working outside early. I really love this time of year... the long days are so fantastic. The garden is growing....and I think The Loud Bugs are starting to die off. What a great week!

Happy Friday everyone! Do you like lemon cake? Did your biggest dog get stung by a bee?

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

So much for reducing our poultry numbers....

Yeah, so..... this happened.
Hello, baby! (click to zoom this pic)

I dunno what happened.... but I completely lost control of the hen house and now we have a new swarm of peeps out there.

I just can't even. 

I don't know what happened.....but I had a lot of explaining to do....

But hey! New peeps are fun so there is that...

Happy Wednesday, everyone! Do you have surprise peeps?

Monday, June 13, 2016

It's hot, Nicholas saves me from a Loud Bug, and more on those goats....

Saturday was a hotsy-totsy... the weather guy said it was the hottest day in three years! And swampy... it was hot and swampy. After a while we gave up, went inside, cranked up the air conditioning, and watched loud movies. My hubs' choice for movie? The 1953 version of War of the Worlds.... the alien noises sound just like the bugs. I can't get away from it.

 Guess what she is looking at?

The other day I walked inside and there was a Loud Bug on me. I flung it off me in utter terror. Then I realized there was a bug in the house. I needed an assassin...because I sure wasn't going to touch it.


I called The Grey Terror by name exactly once. He arrived on the scene, killed that bug, ate it...and stomped off twitching his tail. I honestly don't get the "cats are jerks" thing. Based on results my Nicholas is better trained than half the dogs I see.

My hero. He's a little lazy most of the time but definitely a man of action.


I had some further interest in my post about why we are considering becoming entirely goat-less.  The long and short of it is.... they have outlasted their usefulness - at least in our case. For now. One of the things that changed was that my husband got a new job. Without saying too much about the details of our life, the old wisdom about 'why by the goat when you can get the milk for free?" still holds. So since our household dairy needs are mostly met we no longer have a pressing need for tons of milk.

But what about the barnyard? Don't we need all that free milk for the pigz and chickens?

Well this summer is shaping up to be somewhat different than before. Based on our freezer space and our projected needs.... we may not get pigz this year. We had a pig-free summer before and we loved it. It was quiet and not stinky. Of course we were over run with turkeys that year - which was hilarious. But not having pigz is just fine by me.

Nibbles. Looking majestic.

So if I do the math, *OFG holds up piece of paper covered in scribblings.....*  then you can see here that goats may not fit into the equation. Especially if they are not milking and probably will not be in milk ever again.

Both Debbie and Nibbles are kind of on the old side... and poor Debbie had such bad congestion in her udder the last time I'm just not sure it would be good for her to be in production again. She had a couple of very hard births so her days as a wildly successful milker are pretty much over.

Remember that farming is a series of hard choices about managing your own situation. Not every body gets to stay. We are looking down the barrel of hard choices this summer and our thoughts of being entirely goat-less is one of those decisions.

Don't ever be afraid to critically examine your situation and make adjustments. What worked for you before may not work for you now. Effective farm management means there will always be changes. 

Happy Monday everyone! Was it hot there? Did your biggest cat save you from a bug?

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Lovely lettuce lunch!

Finally! For the last several days I've been able to have a salad for lunch - entirely from my salad bowl planters. Look how beautiful!

Just look at that lettuce!

Altho they won't last long... I've really been enjoying the sugar snap peas - both the pods and some of the shoots. The celery is perfect right now, and I'm finally getting some basil. What a joy to have salad back!

In other news... The Loud Bugs are still loud. I've taken to watching really loud movies inside, with the windows closed, and the air conditioning cranked. Town people still don't believe me about how loud it is..... the constant alien noises are super duper annoying.

But The Loud Bugs don't like the cold.  The other morning it was 44* and stunningly beautiful - and silent. Today will be really hot and so they are already loud.

Also, I have completely lost control of the poultry. Starting on Monday I need to whip the troops into shape. There were some bad nests in the hen house, a duck and a hen fighting each over over a nest, and apparently one of the ducks is down on the pond....where she won't last. Once the troops find out you've gone soft it's nothing but work work work to get things sorted back out.

Happy Saturday everyone!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The Loud Bug continue to vex...and it doesn't look like it will end soon.

My continuing coverage of The Loud Bug Invasion goes on..... in today's news, they are still here. Being loud. Very loud. There is a new and more annoying noise now.

Our poor trees are covered with bugs.

There is also some new activity. The bugs are now flying all over erratically - which means they are landing on me. There is a lot of hopping around happening. It's totally gross.

The erratically flying bugs is also making the inside cats even more insane. There is a line of cats at the windows watching the bugs all day long. Little Mo even tried to climb on one of the window screens to try and get one....and he was sent to do hard time in time out because of it.

The bugs end up everywhere.

Mercifully the bugs don't get going until after the sun comes up...and they are mostly quiet in the evenings. In the afternoons I've started watching really really loud movies, inside, with the windows closed, and the air conditioning on. It's really annoying.

It's worse because the folks in town don't hear them so no one believes me.

One of my pals posted this video... it's supposed to be about the tragic life of Loud Bugs but all it did was make me mad. The "new" noise is at 6:42.... it's worse than the other noises. It's like living in an angry jungle.

I thought this bug thing would be over within three weeks of them first showing up.... but the video said the whole thing will last about SIX weeks. I don't know... I might have to go somewhere.

Bug bodies and shells...everywhere. Thousands of them. I need more chickens.

Meanwhile, the outside work continues. I've also lost complete control of the hen house. Nothing but chaos and I need to get a handle on it. One of the hens is fighting with one of the ducks to have a nest but neither one of them is doing a good job. I need to take up the (ruined) nest and make everyone go outside and eat bugs.

Happy Wednesday everyone! Are the bugs bugging you?

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

We lose power. And remembering Blow Hard 2012...

As typical with this part of the country we had some storms develop last nite with the unstable atmosphere. Just before it all started I checked the radar and we decided to run right out there and get the masses shoved in before it was too late. We got done just in the nick of time.

These two have been my best garden helpers.

Just as we were settling down when we were safely back inside..... we lost power. I figured it would just be for a couple minutes..... then a couple more. Then I just gave up and went to bed.

It was 8:30pm.

Pretty sure that was my punishment when I was a kid but an early bedtime...when it was technically still light out.... is a luxury.

We finally got the power back about 11pm...that is really when you find out how many lights you've had on in the house.

It reminded me about the huge storm we had several years ago and how well our storm preps have always served us. We were not even concerned last nite. We have a couple ways to keep the freezers cold, plenty of water and food on hand, and the house had been cooled down so we didn't even bat an eye.

It was a good reminder, tho, to stay on top of your storm preps. Remember, fast food is not going to save you during an emergency.

Happy Tuesday everyone! Do you have a plan for power outages? Are your summer storm preps ready for action?

Monday, June 6, 2016

Thoughts on becoming entirely goat-less.

I'm having thoughts of becoming entirely goat-less. You'll remember that I took a load of useless and annoying goats up to the auction last fall. 

 Betrayed looks by Debbie. Yeah I staked her to a post.

It turned out better than I expected. I didn't feel (that) bad and I got a pretty good price for them. I also ended up not being annoyed by them all winter... and the Turkey House was not destroyed.

Nibbles half heartedly eating one leaf.

We kept Nibbles and Debbie because they are good grazers and we felt that after all their years of service that we'd just retire them to a quiet life here and everything would be just fine.

Yeah.. no. It's not really working out.

In addition to the five things I don't like about goats it turns out that retiring to a quiet country life is not really a thing for dairy goats.

But she didn't like THAT leaf... she wanted a different one.

A couple things have gone ....not entirely as expected. Such as, naturally the goats continue to cycle thru their heat cycles.... which makes them irritable, loud, and likely to fight each other.

Then we had the incident which has been come to be known as "Debbie Does Hot Doc." Which turned out to be hilarious but was certainly not funny at all when it was happening. I need to tell you about that one... it was something.

Finally, mercifully the stupid wintered ended and we got enough browse out there for the goats. So we pointed them in the direction of all that lush greenery and told them to "get out there and free range, ladies."

They just stood there all cow-eyed and confused. I grabbed a leash and let them beside still waters and to green fields. They screamed and fussed. They took one bite then turned and ran away.

Friends, I do not have the time nor the patience to stand there and watch a couple of stupid goats decide they don't want that leaf... they want THIS leaf... but only half a bite. Then they want this other leaf over there and just one solitary blade of grass.

If I tried to move away they panicked. If I tried to walk up the hill they screamed some more and ran.

"Then be hungry!" I yelled a them as they ran away.

They were.

So then Nibbles started getting out of the goat yard because every one knows that the leaves up by the house were much better than all the leaves down by the pond. We defeated her with a reconfigured, highly charged electric fence. She doesn't think it's so funny now.

I'll also point out that I wasn't staking them out by the road. This was THEIR OWN YARD that they've been in many times before. There is no danger. None.

Later I'd check on them and they'd be standing by the goat house crying because of how no one will feed them. I grabbed the leash, led them down to the yard filled with every shade of green ever seen by the human eye... one bite, two bites... me trying to skulk away..... goats screaming and running back up the hill.

There are somethings in this life that I do not have time for and pandering to annoying and picky goats is one of them. As a confirmed "goat tolerater" and not a goat-lover, my sentimentally about goats extends only to the point where they are wasting my time....and not helping with the brush clearing. We say around here that "everyone works" and if you are not then what are you doing here?

So I'm having thoughts of being entirely goat-less.

Been doing a lot of thinking around here.

Happy Monday everyone.... are you having thoughts of becoming entirely goat-less?

Friday, June 3, 2016

End of week report.

Wow what a week! A lot has been going on but the very very best thing is that it's finally summer! I love summer so much. I wish it was summer all the time. Spring - just means that summer is coming. Fall? Nope don't care, sure it's nice.... and winter is the absolute worst. But summer? The absolute best.

I love everything about summer!

I love the way summer looks - I love the lighting, I love the colors, I love the late summer sunsets. I love the food, the tastes, the smells... everything. If I had my druthers I'd live somewhere that I can get up every morning, put on my shorts, and go be outside all day. 

Our huge grill up from the other weekend.

In my Heaven it is the Eternal Summer where the sun always shines, there are tons of fireflies, the sun stays up late and gets up early, and everyone is happy. The drinks are cold, the grill is hot, the skies are bright, the growing season never stops, and no one ever even thinks about snow.

What if it gets too hot? Just go inside and cool off. In summer you can always get up early and enjoy at least some of the day. In winter, it's all just one big misery all day long.

My work crew. They don't do much planting but they love to dig holes.

Last nite I had to go somewhere and came home when it was just about dark. It reminded me of that one time I was nightdriving. Yesterday was the reason that I love summer - the whole thing. The dogs and I worked outside, I didn't have to mow the grass, and I got to be outside until just about 9 last nite.

What's going on here? A lot.

Nibbles has been getting out of the fence which has greatly vexed me. However, I think my husband solved the problem yesterday by adjusting the hotwire. I hope to hear her screams as she tests the fence today. She's already been threatened with The Auction if she doesn't knock it off.

The broccoli and celery is doing great.

I took our Shine, King of Barncats, to the vet yesterday for a tune up. Mercifully, it did not end with a soul crushing emergency vet bill. He just needed some shots and is doing great. He got an A+++.

Speaking of Shine, The Bunny Menace has returned. Shine has been doing a lot of hunting.... and we've been chasing after him taking away his bunny kills. So we've been sending My Fighting Uruk-Hai to bring my vengeance. But she needs to run a little faster or she'll never get any of them. It's big fun for everyone.

The bugs continue to bug me. They are loud. And now they are starting to die. It's gross. Their dead bodies are everywhere. Piles of them. Ew! Zander continues to eat the bugs.

I really thought this would be some cool science thing.. this whole once-in-17-years-bug-hatch-thing. I thought, "yay science!"... but all I got was a big tooty, poopy dog and a headache from the noise.

Salad. Just out there waiting for me.

And finally, I have enough lettuce to make a salad! I'll get some happy snaps today of my big victory. My salad bowls are really working and are my best thing so far.  I'm really looking forward to more produce as the growing season goes along.

Happy Friday everyone! Are you enjoying summer?

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The bugs.... they are loud. Really really loud.

So The Great Cicada Hatch of 2016 continues... loudly. I don't know how I missed this whole loud bug thing earlier in my life but I did. I had no idea this happened. But it is..and it's annoying. I thought it would be cool to see but all you do is hear it. All. Day. Long.

This is about how loud they are. All stinkin' day. 

I thought I should document the whole bug thing... you know, for science. This is why you are getting the bug update. It's actually kind of interesting. But loud. For the record, the chickens are loving this whole bug thing. They are all fat and happy and can barely walk because of how many bugs they are eating.

I learned a few things about this hatch - which is entirely different then when the "regular" cicadas come out at the end of summer and predict the frost. This hatch has nothing to do with that. It's just a thing that happens.

 We are finding things for Bubby to do that do not involve eating bugs. Like digging to China.

So far they aren't causing any damage...other than to Bubby's tummy. We have to keep him out of the woods because he likes to eat the bugs which then make his belly upset. His new project is to dig to China under the Turkey House.

My orchard friend said these cicadas don't do any real damage to their fruit trees. However after the eggs are laid, hatched, and then drop into the ground near the tree the larva (or grubs) will dig down and chew on the roots. He said that is the real problem for their fruit trees.

The bugs are now loud enough to hear them inside with the windows closed..and my hubs said that he could hear them when he was driving yesterday. Pretty much it's like living in a special effects sound stage where The New Guy is playing with the  "alien noises" button and just keeps turning it up and up and up.

This morning I noticed a huge pile of bugs and bug bodies near the base of one of our trees. I suspect there will be a clean up effort involved. Until then the chickens are all fat and happy.

Happy Wednesday everyone! Are your bugs loud?

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