Sweet Harmony Farm blog
I love that part of summer when you head out to the vegetable garden and seemingly overnight all the plants have grown to double in size, and also have a bud of something starting to grow. It always feels like I’ve just accomplished something big. And even better is finding your first tomato, well hidden amongst all those leaves, that is ready to pick. In July no less! Picking tomatoes in July in New Hampshire is, well, really wonderful. So is not having the plants eaten by the deer!
Some days, during the quiet times of farm life, we like to reflect on the wonderful things and the simple joys that have happened and continue to happen to us. We sit back with a big smile and thank God and the Universe for all of our abundance.
Being thankful is a simple joy. Being thankful is good karma.
To some, we seem to have so much; to others, we seem to have so little. To us, we are just grateful, and continue dreaming of a wonderful future full of simple joys and that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
I happened to be listening to National Public Radio this afternoon, when on the 4:00pm news they stated this:
'The ... oil ... has ... stopped ... leaking.'
Huge sigh, a big smile, and tears of joy!
This is the usual scene in the barn in the evenings when we arrive to do chores. The tack room door is in the upper right corner of this picture, and the fan is to the right of the door, just a few feet away. And there's the gang all cushed in front of the fan! The fan not only helps to cool them down, but it also keeps away those nasty mosquitoes and horseflies, making their lives much more comfortable. Happy alpacas = healthy alpacas.
Last summer we had just one day where the temperature reached 90 degrees. I heard it’s been about 8 years since it’s been 100 degrees. Well, this summer we’ve had several days of 90+ degrees weather, and yesterday, it was 101 degrees here in New Hampshire!! Yes, folks, it was record heat. The weather people are saying it will be just pretty darn hot for several more days.
Our alpacas’ barn is really a 3 sided run-in style shed with an awning that doubles the space. The awning has really neat walls/doors that fold back but we’ve been keeping them closed to provide as much shade as possible. And with windows across the back wall, there is plenty of cross-ventilation. The boys have remained in the barn most of the day, but sometimes they’re silly and still go out to graze and sunbathe. Yes, wooly alpacas lie in the sun and sunbathe! In the afternoons, they all cush in front of the fan which we have running 24/7.
Yesterday was so darn miserable that in the morning we decided to try hosing them down. The alpacas saw Dan coming across the yard with the hose, all ears went up and in a somewhat single leap, they all greeted Dan in the paddock. They know what the hose is for! Dan sprayed and sprayed alpaca bellies and Guinness and Bo eagerly turned around so Dan could spray under their tails as well. Guinness and Julio cushed in the mud puddles. Arlo was trying to drink from the hose at first while Dan sprayed his belly, and then realized that getting sprayed under the tail is a wonderful thing. Each was trying hard to push in front of the others to get sprayed again, although Coty was a bit unsure, until Dan got him good in the belly and then he was the last to walk away.
They were so obviously happy and we couldn’t stop laughing at their antics. I tried to take pictures of the whole gang but Arlo was the only one willing to pose.
Home of the free, Because of the brave.
Enjoy the picnics and fireworks as we all celebrate our beautiful country's 234th Independence Day.
We’re really late this year planting the garden. Usually I like to have everything planted right after Memorial Day weekend, but this year we’ve moved the garden to the back yard, near the corner of the pasture fencing, and behind the old shed that was here when we bought the property. A garden near the garden shed sounds logical! And now the hose will reach every part of the garden easily, and I can see it from the house. Dan built 4 more 4 X 12 garden boxes, and we’ve moved 3 of the 4 from the old garden in the side yard. The last box has some rogue lettuces and scallions that sprang up on their own (I love when that happens!), my huge garlic chive plant, and my really, really, huge oregano plant. I’m waiting for the lettuces to bolt and the scallions to be ready to be picked, and then I’ll figure out how to best move the oregano plant and then we’ll move that last raised bed. The oregano plant is more like an oregano bush, and I want it to continue to do well.
We filled up the new boxes with compost from the local nursery, and I’ve been busy planting and planting. I’m hoping that because I’ve planted a few weeks late, and during the week of the summer solstice, that the bugs will be few and far between this growing season. Dan put in several stakes around this new garden area, and tied white plastic trash bags to them. This is my neighbor's trick to keep away the deer; hopefully it will work for us too! What a beautiful week we’ve had, these longest days of the year, warm and breezy and perfect for planting.
Now I have 8 large raised bed boxes, arranged somewhat in a square, with a four foot path going down the middle both ways, sort of like 4 small squares with 2 raised beds in each. I wanted the paths to be wide enough to accommodate the garden cart. The north side of the garden is the side closest to the pasture fence, and Dan will probably build me a long, narrow garden box, and eventually I’ll grow vining veggies there, like sweet peas or maybe pole beans, with some morning glories mixed in. Around my veggie plants I’ve always planted marigolds and petunias, both for bug control as well as color. Bright red tomatoes are great, but we won’t see them until late August!
The little garden shed that is here was surprisingly painted purple (!). It’s in need of some repair, mostly to the roof, but basically serves its purpose. Dan even thinks he may be able to build a small chicken coop right off the back. Fresh eggs!
The best part is that I’m really close to the alpacas now. Coty and Arlo love to graze together at this far end of the pasture. I can see right into the barn and watch the others cushed in front the fan, my ‘vampire’ alpacas that they are on these hot days. I call out to them easily, and they all look up at the sound of my voice. They watch me curiously, as I work in the garden, Stella sleeping in the cool grass under the maple tree nearby.
A few months back, I wrote about my wonderful, winter-worthy muck boots for doing barn chores. They’re still wonderful, but mighty hot now for this time of year. It’s time to get a different pair of boots for summer. I’m still wearing the Muck Boots brand, but now I have lightweight purple clogs!
Purple! My favorite color. And much, much cooler on the feet.
Like so many of you, the growing disaster of the oil spill in our country’s beautiful Gulf Coast region is continuously on my mind. If you are new to reading my blog (and thank you) and are curious as to what the oil spill has to do with alpacas, please read my prior blog post here. Today, I simply want to vent.
I love our beautiful planet Earth with all its magnificent treasures. In an average human’s lifetime, there would probably never be enough time to see, hear, feel, touch, taste, or otherwise experience all there is on planet Earth. I’ve always felt it is important to appreciate nature and how it intertwines with all life. I’ve always felt it to be very important to take care of the Earth and do all that is possible to keep our planet safe and healthy, which in turn keeps all of us safe and healthy. Why wouldn’t we want to take care of our planet? This is the only place we can live.
The Gulf Coast oil spill is shaping up to be worse than the Exxon Valdez oil spill. There is no shortage of depressing broadcasts and video. I am a happy American, and I do believe in democracy, capitalism, personal wealth, philanthropy, and a free society. I believe that these ideals are worth continually striving for, that they create a better life for all. This disaster is heartbreaking, yes mostly for the residents in the Gulf Coast region, but also for the rest of the Earth’s inhabitants, human and otherwise. WE WILL ALL BE AFFECTED AT SOME POINT.
The blame game is going on now and who is to blame? And is there just one answer? Is it BP, and/or the companies they worked in conjunction with? Is it our elected government and/or its appointees? Is it us, the American citizens, with our insatiable lifestyle? And right now, who is going to clean up the spill? Oil is gushing out daily by the thousands of gallons, ruining more and more of the Gulf Coast region, and spreading out of the region. It seems like everything is working in slow motion while oil is spreading out polluting the ocean at the speed of light.
I think of all this while I quietly take Stella for a walk, plant and weed in the gardens, pick lettuce and herbs for dinner, hang out laundry, skirt fleece, weave and knit, watch Dan work the pastures and build gates and hay bins, and take care of the alpacas. In my lifetime I have tried to only drive fuel-efficient vehicles, car pool, turn off lights, turn down the thermostat, open windows and use fans instead of air conditioning, shut off the water when brushing my teeth, use lukewarm water for washing clothes, hang out my laundry, grow a lot of my own veggies, plant perennials which attract pollinators, garden without pesticides or herbicides, buy organically grown food and products, compost and recycle everything I can, promote solar and wind power and renewal energy, etc. I always wonder if I’m doing enough, or too much, or if it really makes a difference in the big scheme of things, whenever I see a large environmental disaster unfold. I am trying so hard to remain optimistic as well as realistic, and I will continue to do what I’ve done with a better focus, and continue to find new ways to keep our planet safe and healthy.
The best way to clean up the Gulf Coast Oil spill, and to prevent future tragedy, is a positive outlook and a 'we can do it' spirit.
One of my favorite environmental protection groups is the Natural Resources Defense Council, www.nrdc.org. I’ve always found them to be very effective. Their blog is continually being updated regarding the spill ~ http://switchboard.nrdc.org/gulfspill.php. One of their writers also writes her own blog and has this post on a similar theme as to what I’ve just written today ~ http://www.nrdc.org/thisgreenlife/default.asp.
Thank you all for listening.
Today's post is written by my friend Val of Crown Point Alpacas. Thanks Val!
There in the field was a little treasure. Adorning the green, green grass of spring, was this beautiful bright blue birds' nest. It had fallen from its lofty throne, sometime during the winter months when the last of the winds blew the last leaf off the bare branches, leaving only silhouettes of trees. I thought about that little nest as I picked it up. It was so beautiful. It had been carefully and thoughtfully constructed by a master at the art of recycling! The main part of this blue nest was an old tarp that had been covering some wood. This little bird had used the blue tarp as her main weaving material. And then there was a fishing string found from a nearby brook. And then I saw the ribbon; it was the ribbon from a child’s balloon. I imagined that perhaps it was a child who'd had a special day. The balloon had floated away as the child watched, soothed by loved ones with gentle words, and a hug that the balloon would find a happy home.
Little did they know that the ribbon would weave a home, safe from winds and storms and give a family a chance to soar. As I held this tiny little nest in my hands, I then looked into the nest, and there inside the nest was a thickly felted layer of alpaca fleece! Soft, and felted to perfection! I imagined how the nest was at first lined with fluffy fiber which swaddled the tiny eggs, and kept the little bird warm while she warmed her eggs. Then as the eggs hatched and the tiny little bird feet started to pitter and patter when mama brought them their food, they felted the nest! Teeny, tiny baby bird feet felting away!! This little nest had been a wonderful home, protected them from harm and kept them warm and safe till they were ready to fly.
This nest is a lot like our lives; we weave it together. Our relationships, some like the old tarp, some the fishing string, some the ribbons, and our families, they are like the felt. We keep them close to us. Sometimes things change, sometimes our lives take turns, but the stuff we are made of, and what we choose to weave into our lives, gives us all the chance to “soar.”