September 24, 2010

quail fail

We awoke to a bad scene the other morning.

Just before we arrived here at the farm, Jen had just gotten some quail. They lay the tiniest, most beautiful eggs. Inside the shell, they're much like chicken eggs only smaller, and with more health benefits.

In an effort to give them a happy living situation, Nate built a little quail pen which is a little house on wheels. It has chicken wire around it and mesh on the bottom so they can forage on grass and their manure can fall through, fertilizing the grass. We move the pen around to fresh grass every day. Basically, we thought they should have a home similar to what we raise our meat chickens in. We moved them outside and though they seemed happy, they eventually started laying less eggs. We thought that maybe it was because we combined males an females, which I'm sure is a factor (we're working on that). Aside from laying less eggs they started looking rough and we found one of them with a nasty gash on it's chest the other day. So we've all been brainstorming and trying to figure out how to remedy the situation.

Yesterday morning after we did our turkey chores we discovered 3 dead quail in the pen. *sad face* All of them missing their heads. *even sadder face* Something, most likely a raccoon, grabbed them in their sleep through the chicken wire and pulled their little heads off. There were 2 others who were pretty injured, one of which we had to euthanize right away. It was a hard lesson but now we know a little more about what's been going on with them. I think the predator has been after them for a while and that's how the one I found the other day got wounded. They have been laying poorly lately because they've been spooked and stressed over the predator issue.

We modified their pen adding extra protection around the edges, put some 'rescue remedy' in their water to help combat the stress of the attack and set a trap.

It's never fun learning lessons at an animal's expense and losing them never gets easier. But we're determined to help those little ones feel happy and safe again. I'll be back to update on 'project quail'.

September 20, 2010

In case you're wondering. . .

. . . where I've been. I'm still drowning (but in a good way, if that's possible) in tomatoes. We're living, breathing, dreaming and speaking tomatoes. We did have the blight and we did think that it would wipe them all out but we're experiencing our own little farm magic here and they just keep coming. We are nowhere near complaining. We love every single one.

Here's a typical week:

pick tomatoes (among many other things)

lug tomatoes out of the field, onto the truck and then off the truck

sort tomatoes

lug tomatoes (among many other things) to farmers market or to CSA drop off

sell tomatoes

lug tomatoes that didn't sell back to the farm

EAT tomatoes

can, dehydrate, roast and freeze tomatoes


I have really been feeling like I need to be blogging about our experiences here and I just have to MAKE time because there really isn't any. I'm flying solo on the farm this weekend so everyone else can go to the Mother Earth News Fair so maybe I can get caught up then.

September 4, 2010

tomato madness

It has been quite a few weeks. *Deep breath* For starters, we are in full-on tomato season. There are oh so many tomatoes. The farm harvests twice a week for CSA and farmers markets so twice a week there is produce, particularly tomatoes, that are left over and need to be dealt with. We have to eat it, can it, freeze it, dry it or we lose it. These organic heirloom tomatoes are so, so divine, we don't want a single one to go to waste. To top things off, late blight has arrived in our tomato field so our days with these sweet, juicy babies are numbered. Considering our level of exhaustion, I'd say that it's a blessing in disguise. And really, we've had quite a tomato season and who could ask for more. We also got a nice storm yesterday bringing some much needed rain. We were so grateful, even if the downpour occurred when we were out in the fields picking.

So. . . we've been spending our non-working hours, which are so few already, preserving tomatoes. We dry most of the cherry tomatoes in the dehydrators and we cook down the whole tomatoes to can.

All of these late nights will pay off. We'll be enjoying the taste of summer in January.