Some Spring Photos from the Farm

 

This is our little nigerian dwarf yearling, Bitsy. She’s out enjoying our new bit of pasture.

 

These are some of our heritage breed hatchlings enjoying some fresh veg.

 

Here’s Lulu, our un-farm cat, doing what she does best.

 

Yup… there was a lot more amphibian lovin’ this spring (I knew everyone needed another dose of that–note the passion in those eyes!)

 

We hatched out our own chicks this spring with eggs from our own flock. we had noticed a much higher viability rate compared to the hatching eggs we ordered last year… I mean look at the spunk and attitude in that chickie’s face! “I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille.”

 

We’ve been very fortunate to have minimal predation, but this has been our farmstead’s primary predator. Introducing the black rat snake (Elaphe obsoleta obsoleta). Thankfully it’s a constrictor and not venomous, but it’s kind has consumed too many of our young rabbit kits, chicks, and turkey poults.

 

I found this gargantuan yard beast in a wheelbarrow filled with blackalicious compost!

 

And finally, our wonderful american guinea hog’s gave birth, another bit of new life at Beacon Farmstead this spring.

 

Jeepers Peepers!

Some will probably argue it, but spring is here–or at least the frogs and toads seem to think so!

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For the past few weeks, our days (and especially nights) have been filled with the chirps and cricks of the “spring peepers.” I hadn’t really heard of or noticed these little ones before, but after experiencing them out here on the farmstead in such symphonic surround sound, I will forever perceive them as a sign of the season.

Just so you are aware, if you play the video below, you will certainly witness some frog-on-frog-on-frog action (viewer discretion is advised 🙂

Here is the start of a lovely biology lesson that has unfolded before us. We’ll include more pictures as the tadpoles develop.

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These helixes started forming in our garden swales and really perplexed me before I took some time to look closer. Those aren’t chia seeds, folks. We’re expecting…tadpoles!20140419-203203.jpg

We couldn’t ask for a better home-education lesson for Judah. Julia and I both had what would typically be considered excellent educational experiences while growing up, but neither of us had witnessed anything like this before (note Judah’s reflection in the water)!20140419-203223.jpg

The tiniest tadpoles just after hatching.20140419-203437.jpg

Starting to beef-up.20140419-203452.jpg

In permaculture, we make use of the abundance and productivity found in the edges of systems because it is nature’s tendency to do so–this concept is made quite clear by the actions of the tadpole!20140419-203520.jpg

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Here’s what these serious swimmers can do (it’s quite mesmerizing to watch):

Stay tuned. There’s more to come!

Gobble, Gobble!

While on a break at work I received a message from Julia: “Coordinating pick up of six turkeys, raised with non-GMO feed.” Lo and behold, we’ve got Turkeys!

One fine bunch of toms!

One fine bunch of toms!

You all must know that I truly adore my wife! While many years back she was hesitant to adopt the idea of getting land this early in our lives, she is now fully on board! Julia has been the catalyst in the acquisition of all of our animals here on the farmstead and I can’t express to you how amazing it feels when I see that excitement burning in her eyes upon realizing the potential for further animal diversity. We both know that it means a deeper variety of fertility for our land, an opportunity to further our knowledge in animal care, and, in this case, the daunting task and learning experience of processing an animal by our own hands. Yes, that’s right. These birds are destined for the table (but first, the freezer).

I am definitely not a man of bloodlust. I do not look forward to “harvesting” these turkeys, but I do feel deeply that if I am to eat meat, and I do, then I should be responsible for the animal’s death, or at least be as intimately involved with the process as possible (knowing and visiting your farmer on a regular basis or even volunteering on processing day at farms that offer such an opportunity). There are many objections to this idea, and I’m not saying that this is for everyone. It is just something that is extremely important to me considering the condition of our current food system (a topic that I will explore in many future posts).

For now, we are just enjoying these amazing creatures, watching their natural behaviors, interacting with them, and learning from their presence. We have 4 toms and 2 lady birds. The females make a high pitch, single-note chirp, while the boys, of course, do their famous “gobble, gobble.” The most entertaining part is that no tom gobbles alone. They all call in unison, like a flock of birds moving as one, darting about the sky as a dynamic avian cloud.

A very handsome tom! You can tell he was ready for his close up.

A very handsome tom! You can tell he was ready for his close up.

Little lady bird.

Little lady bird.

These birds, however, are far from dynamic. The man who sold them to us said that they dressed out at 40 lbs! Jeez! I can corroborate, too, considering I had to lift them in and out of their crate in the back of our pick up. They are monsters! but very gentle though, for how enormous they have become.

They're almost as big as the boy!

They’re almost as big as the boy!

So, we have six new members in the Beacon Farmstead family (although, their stay here will not be a long one). It seems that I wake up every day with new tasks to accomplish (and new animal friends to entertain), and while life can seem a bit crazy at times, we’re all having a lot of fun (especially Judah)! If anyone is a bit stressed, all it takes is a nice forage walk with Judah and the goats, and everything seems right as rain again.

 

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Be well, folks. Talk to you soon.

Welcome!

I’ve been flirting with the idea of starting a blog for years, but it just never seemed like the right time. It wasn’t so much a matter of being too busy or not having a story to tell–for some reason I just felt like I needed to wait it out…and now I know why.
With this blog we intend to unveil our lives out here on the farmstead so that others may join in on our joys, accompany us in our accomplishments, and share with us our struggles as we assemble a beacon of regenerative agriculture in the woods of Mineral, Virginia. We will post secret gluten-free and paleo family recipes, personal poetry, art, ideas in home education, thoughts on parenting, lessons in permaculture, tips on natural health, 1001 ways to use a Vitamix, and so much more. Each week you will be reading posts from me (Josh) or my lovely wife (Julia). We might have some guest contributors as well, considering that we have many friends who have a great wealth of knowledge!
However you might have found us, be it a google search or by word of mouth, you are here and we would like to welcome you to our journey here at Beacon Farmstead!