The ‘Down Side of the Year’? We think NOT!!
It’s kind of funny – we’re on the ‘down side of the year’…the leaves are mostly off the trees (except for the oaks and beeches), the color is muted and the days are short…so how is it possible that there is so very much going on?!?!? Last newsletter was all about the birds and that means our 4-legged-farm members decided that they needed to be heard from…
Life with animals is often a challenge. Lots of folks have pups that know the second you open the door in the morning, that it’s been raining (or snowing!) and that they are having nothing to do with it. Our dog is psychic about wet feet (although he does like the snow!). And then there are the rescue cats that are still semi wild 10 years later (abandoned on our road in an ice storm…very LONG unprintable night) and have never left the house since they came out from under the bed.
Now add a 30-year-old horse who loves the colder weather and has an eye for the main chance …slipping out while the stall door was closing in to get some fresh apples and grass - when she wasn’t cantering around the property. And let’s not forget the Nigerian dwarf goats who have made it their mission this fall season to find ANY possible hole in the fence line to exploit – although – in fairness!!! – that’s pretty normal behavior for goats.
You could add to the mixture the challenge of getting in hay this year. We have the advantage of a barn large enough to hold a year’s worth of hay. The last load came in this week and we are exceedingly grateful to our hay dealer and grateful too for all our friends who helped us eek out our hay supply until it came in. One of the wonders of our hay dealer’s operation is that they load the hay in (which is very helpful when you’re working) for an additional fee. We went into the barn the evening after the delivery, looked up at the loft, said “Fabulous it’s here, we can breathe again, and how in heavens name are we going to get any down as they left us no maneuvering room!” But – the hay IS IN!!!
And then there’s breeding season – the classic norm for goats is fall into early winter and Nov-Dec are the months that get you April/May kids on the ground. Late spring is the safest time for baby animals if the humans are distracted (which we are as of late!). This means that we’re trying to catch does in season and picking the bucks to use for breeding (and breeding at the end of VERY LONG days!!). As the herd manager, do you look for milk volume, milk quality, ease of milking, udder construction (teats and attachments), free range browsing ability, personality, color (NEVER our first thought!)? No doe or buck has every trait that we’re looking for – even if we could afford the top animals in the breed (which we can’t!!). It’s always a genetic lottery with our best analysis being proved out through time. We’re proud of what we’ve accomplished and know just how far we’d like to go… Sometimes owning a small farm is a challenge, but we’re up for the joys as well as the challenges 😊
And here’s what’s going on at the store
Let’s start with workshops… There will an entire holiday list but I wanted to highlight the one coming up on November 18th. This is not really a workshop, but it’s an excellent opportunity for you to have your hand tools (clippers, loppers etc.) looked at by someone who knows them well and can teach you how to sharpen them. Our FELCO tools contact (Andy) is coming to the store from 9:30-1:30 on that Saturday to sharpen hand tools, repair Felco clippers and shears (for the cost of the pieces) and to oversee an early holiday sale of 10% off on all Felco tools and pieces. These make EXCELLENT gifts for people who really work with their gardens, trees and shrubs. FELCO tools are one of the backbones of the landscape and horticulture industries and you can check them out here. I’m planning on getting my three oldest pairs of FELCO’s looked at (oldest is 25+ years old!! And still working!!).
And now we’ll move on to the world of green plants. Yes, our outside season is going to sleep but that just means our inside world has to wake up with its own level of green. This means you get to check out the new houseplants and the CRAZY new planters that we’ve found! We can even plant one in to the other to spare you the mess – or to create just the right kind of gift for that plant loving friend. We’ve also completely restocked our indoor potting mixes ready for any kind of project you have in mind. And – remember – plants are super healthy for winter households…they clean the air, soften corners, make you smile…that’s a lot from a simple green friend 😊
And finally - COUNTRY ROADS STARTS ON FRIDAY, November 10th !!! This is THE chance to find out how much is going on here in the central region of our state and to support 19 locally owned businesses.
This year, 19 North Central Massachusetts farms and businesses are participating in the month-long tour. Starting Friday, Nov. 10, and ending Sunday, Dec. 10, Central Mass residents can grab a stamp card from any of the 19 stores and begin their tour.
The grand prize winner receives a gift certificate bundle of $50 to spend at each participating business, a total value of $950. There will be 19 second-prize winners, and they will receive a $50 gift certificate for one of the 19 businesses. Each business donated two $50 gift certificates for the event.
We have all kinds of local Makers (the in-vogue word for crafters) with their products proudly displayed. Look at this list of products! Goat milk soap in molded form (cute!) or block, herbal supports for horses, goats and chickens (support the WHOLE animal), skin foods (soothing!), honey (tasty!), maple syrup (tasty!), wooden gifts from more than 5 wood crafters, beeswax candles (cute!), dried flowers and arrangements (pretty!) and the list goes on and on! You can see a full list of our vendor's HERE. We’re proud of all of these Makers and hope you take the time to check out what they’ve created and learn a bit of their story.
So – stop in, check out all the wild changes we made to display these local gifts (we’ve turned our oil tank into a locomotive!!), collect your stamp card, get it stamped and head out to tour our wonderful towns. See you at the store!
The Good Earth