September 30th, 2010 §
I was on a walk a few nights ago when I looked up and lo and behold, right before me was a holy grail I’d searched for since moving to the farm. Native persimmons, or the poetic diospyros virginiana!
This particular tree was maybe 20 feet tall and growing at the edge of the woods along a road. Its branches were full of orange fruit. I picked up a persimmon that had fallen to the ground and took a bite. It was a delightful taste I’d never experienced—and very different from the cultivated Japanese persimmons I’ve bought in stores and greatly enjoyed. This wild persimmon tasted like jellied honeysuckle, if you can imagine that.
I couldn’t believe my fortune and gathered a couple of the less-rotten looking fruits and ate them for dessert tonight. I kept the seeds and will plant them to try to grow my own trees. Though research tells me that the optimum fruit-bearing age for native persimmons is 25 to 50 years, with luck I may start to enjoy fruit by my mid-forties!
In the meantime, I plan to brave the ticks to again walk my woods looking for my own wild-growing tree. And last year I planted a tiny Fuyu persimmon tree, just to hedge my bets!
September 29th, 2010 §
One year ago today I started BonafideFarm.com, the blog you’re now reading. As this anniversary approached, and I’ve been thinking a lot about why I started the blog and where to take it in the future.
Last year I knew I was about to embark on a pretty big construction project, and I wanted the blog as a way to keep a journal of the house being built. I am so glad I did—it’s really been remarkable to look back at some of my posts from the past year and marvel at how far I’ve come. It provides a good dose of perspective—I tend to always feel as though I am behind and should be doing more, so much so that I fail to appreciate what I’ve actually accomplished. The blog’s been a good tool for developing this awareness in myself.
I’ve also enjoyed how the blog has in its quiet way encouraged me with two activities I love, writing and photography. I will probably always write and make pictures, but what I like about the blog is the immediacy of it—how I can snap a photo and within a few minutes (satellite internet connection willing) have it online where everyone I care about can see it. I like being able to so easily share my world with friends and family spread across the globe.
I have been kicking a few ideas around for where I’d like to take Bonafide Farm, both the physical farm and the .com. Nothing’s yet ready for its big reveal, but stay tuned. I realize there are only so many guinea pictures I can post before I bore you and have to come up with something fresh. That said, enjoy this Happy Blogiversary Guinea:
September 28th, 2010 §
I came downstairs early this morning to make my tea and was greeted with the most stunning sunrise I’ve seen in weeks. We got two inches of rain yesterday, and the departing clouds made for a riotously beautiful sky. I could feel the relief of the trees and plants and grass as they exhaled well-scrubbed air.
I’ve never been a fan of rainy days. They make me sad and slow. But since moving to the farm and experiencing a summer of drought—and seeing and sensing drought’s physical and psychological effects on plants, animals and people—I am coming around to appreciate the days when no sun shines and water falls to earth.
It was a beautiful morning to celebrate an anniversary. A year ago today I “broke ground” on my house. Well, demo began on the old house, which at that point I was still planning to renovate. A year ago today I thought I was in the remodeling business, not new construction, as I would learn a day or two later with the discovery of all that termite damage. Isn’t it amazing what a difference a few days can make in the direction of our lives, and on a larger scale, what can be done in a year with the right resources, creativity, determination, and moral support?
And with that, I dedicate this post to my parents, without whom I would not have made it through this last crazy, terrifying, wonderful year, not to mention the entirety of my life. Thank you for farming with me.
September 27th, 2010 §
Came home tonight to a note in my mailbox:
We are running the hounds tomorrow at 9-00 clock. hope that’s ok. if not, give us a call at xxx xxxx. Thanks xxxxx.
September 24th, 2010 §
September 23rd, 2010 §
I was on my way to bed last night when the full moon drew me outside onto the front porch. The September full moon has the very autumnal name of harvest moon, though with the recent heat and drought—mid 90’s temps today—it still feels like summer, not fall. I love it.
But fall is definitely coming. I felt it as I drove home late tonight, in the way the air grew chill as I drove across in the gullies and over bridges, but returned to warm and dry along the ridge lines and across the open pastures.
September 20th, 2010 §
Friday night I watched the most delightful movie I’ve seen all year, Fantastic Mr. Fox. I loved it, but must admit I’ll take a suave, animated George Clooney-voiced fox over the real one that showed up on the farm yesterday.
I let the birds out around 2:30 in the afternoon, and watched them while I puttered about the house. I sat at my desk, working on the computer while they hung out at the line of brush, cedar trees and old fence that divides my property from my neighbor’s.
I glanced up from my work around 4:00 to see what looked like a small red dog weaving and ducking among the flock, which was roiled up in a fluff of feathers and flying birds and alarm calls. What’s this?! I didn’t order a border collie!
I jumped out of my chair and onto the front porch, yelling the entire time without care for how my neighbors must have perceived this raving lunatic, and I pulled on my boots. Then I lit out into the fracas, screaming as I went, trying to chase off Mr. Fox. I was successful, and managed to fight him off into the woods behind my house—without a guinea clenched in his jaws.
I hung around the guineas for a while as they calmed down. About six—way too few in my opinion—had actually done the right thing and flown into the trees. Eventually they came down, inelegantly tumbling head over talons through the branches and landing hard. While we were all catching our breath, I heard movement in the woods and turned to look just as a bushy fox tail flew over a fallen tree and out of sight. For now.
The guineas didn’t manage to put themselves to bed as early as they had the night before, and wary from the fox attack I went out as it was getting dark around seven and was able to herd them into the coop. So we end another weekend with 16 guineas, about a half a dozen new tick bites (including one in my bellybutton, indignity of indignities), and one wary farmer who’s now researching livestock guard dogs.
September 18th, 2010 §
I witnessed my first attack on the guinea flock today. It came from the sky.
I let the birds out around nine this morning, and they spent all day wandering the yard, being very good about staying away from the road and sticking close to the coop, house and garage. They were actually right in front of their coop when I stepped onto the front porch and saw a small bird hovering among the guineas. They were wildly sounding the alarm, and the attacker wasn’t exactly being subtle with his high klee klee klee call. As annoying as it is to think something was after my birds, I have to give this little guy props for trying. After failing to cart off a bird that was at least twice as big as he was, he flew to a tall tree at the corner of the property to collect his dignity. And then he took off, presumably to pick on somebody his own size.
I broke out my bird book and figured out that I’d been visited by a kestrel, a small hawk about the size of a jay. I think he was one of a pair, as during this whole encounter I heard another bird flying over the woods making the same call.
The rest of the day passed without incident, though I was nervous about how I’d get the birds back in the coop at nightfall. After one weekend of allowing me to herd them into their coop, last weekend the birds decided to rebel on the very afternoon I needed to put them away and drive out of town for an overnight trip. They started splitting into two groups as I got them close to the coop door. As just one person, it was impossible for me to play defense. Thank goodness my neighbor noticed my frantic jogging about the back pasture and rode to my rescue on his mountain bike. With his presence, the flock fell in line and everyone jumped right in the coop.
So I was hoping I wouldn’t have a repeat of that situation. I figured I’d leave the birds out all day and then see if they’d be smart enough to put themselves to bed at dusk. And guess what? Almost as soon as the sun dropped behind the big oak at the woodline, throwing the farm into shadow at about half past six, I looked out the window and saw half the birds in the coop. The rest were milling around, and I went out to “assist,” which really just made them anxious. So I walked away, and not a minute later returned to find that they’d all hopped in the coop. I scurried over and shut up their door, feeling a massive wave of relief wash over me that I didn’t have to track down errant birds in the dark. Now if I can just keep up this trend of them not getting eaten, staying off the road, and putting themselves to bed, I will be a very happy guinea farmer!
September 17th, 2010 §
We’re 12 inches into a rainfall shortage now, and all the trees are surrendering their leaves earlier than usual in exhausted dehydration.
Tonight I went to check my rain gauge on the off chance that yesterday’s cloudiness produced something. This is what I found.
September 13th, 2010 §
I was cooking dinner tonight and looked out across the field at this:
In the last week or so, a switch seems to have been flipped and we are officially in another season. I mourn the loss of light and not being able to work in the yard after work until almost bedtime. Even though we’re enjoying beautiful, clear warm days and open-window nights, it feels as though things are drying up and closing down as I think ahead to what’s the hardest part of the year for me.
I am not really sure what I am going to do during these long, cold nights. I better come up with a plan, fast, or I might make a grave mistake and order satellite t.v.