Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Some Pig!

Sarah and I are very excited to announce that the Buffalo News came to interview us, and Morgan-our Vietnamese Pot Bellied Pig, for an article in the Buffalo News!  It was very exciting.  Morgan had a day at Spa Sarah to get her ready for the press.  We were interviewed about what it's like to own a Pot Bellied Pig but more importantly to rescue one and how she came into our life.  The SPCA gave the News our name and we jumped at the chance to do the article.  They even had a photographer come out and she got some great photos of the 3 of us together.  The article is targeted to be published on Thursday May 13th but it could go earlier or later.  We'll keep you updated.  It is a weekly series that Anne Neville writes for the paper.  Sadly it's not one of the series that is online but I promise to scan the article and post it here as soon as I have it.  Morgan is some pig!

Tree Planting Update

This is the view that one of the Austrian Pines will have for the rest of its life from the back corner of our property.  Not a bad view!  Took this photo standing right over the seedling.

Every time my brother, Todd, asks me how many trees I have left to plant I say about 40.  I feel like someone may be adding trees to my bunch when I'm not looking!  The truth is that my dad and I planted close to 120-130 of the 170 over a 5 day period.  Couldn't have done it without him.  Got to a point where we just couldn't do it anymore though, for now anyway.  I planted the rest, temporarily, in a compost pile until we have time to plant the rest.  I certainly wouldn't get so many at once again.  It takes time to plant each because they are bare root so you have to be incredibly gentle with them.  First the hole must be dug, then gently set in so as not to injure the delicate roots, dirt back in, then you have to flag them, write the species on the flag and the date, give each a fertilizer tablet and then water each.  Let me tell you that watering over 100 trees on 3.5 acres takes a while.  When it finally rained, poured, I was so happy!

Douglas Fir transplant.  Some of them were ~ 2.5 ft tall and the root systems incredibly long.
White Pine transplant.  One of the faster growing species that we got.
Somewhat difficult to see in this photo but these were the first of the trees that we planted on day one.
Once I finally get them all planted I promise that I will post a post planting map.  My next project is to get the vegetable garden done so that I can get some of the plants in that I started from seed.  It's close but not ready yet.  The next project after that is to ready the chicken coop for the baby chicks; they arrive May 11th!  Tomorrow after work I'm off to Russell's Nursery to get some ornamental grasses!  Love them!  Have been doing a lot of landscaping, still.  It's amazing what a little rain has done for everything.  It's all refreshing, and green.

Horse Arena Improvement

A few weeks ago my cousin Tim came out with a bobcat and helped me lay nearly 20 tons of road sand (the same stuff that is used on the shoulder of the road) in the outdoor horse arena.  It is a larger particle sand that helps with drainage and reduces mud!  Had it not been for him this would have been done with a wheelbarrow.  Moving 40,000 pounds with a wheelbarrow is more of a prison sentence than fun or even work so, Tim, thanks!  You are a lifesaver!!!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Tree Planting Day at Czar of the Woods Farm

The trees that we ordered from the Erie County Soil and Water Conservation District arrived today.  Actually my Dad and I picked them up at 8 am at the Erie County Fair.  There were a lot of people getting a lot of trees.  It was really nice to see.  People excited about planting trees as opposed to cutting them down.  All trees had to be ordered by March 17 but they had extra trees to purchase on site today.  In addition to the white pine, douglas fir, streamco willow and river birch that I ordered, I bought some white spruce, norway spruce, austrian pine, scotch pine, eastern red cedar and hemlock (which I will be sure to keep away from the horses as it can be toxic to them).  All in all we got 170 trees!  They vary in size due to species and some are either transplant size (bigger) and some are seedling size (smaller).  All are bare root.
My Dad and I planted from 9am-11am in a mixed precipitation weather day.  Yes, some snow in April.  We then went to the Sabres playoff game (afternoon game, kind of weird) against the Bruins.  They lost 5-3 but it was some intense playoff hockey.  The series is tied at 1.  GO SABRES!  Because you need to get the trees in asap we came back after the game and planted for another 2 hours.  All in all today we planted somewhere in the neighborhood of 60 trees so far.  It was snowing pretty hard by the time we finished.  We were beat.  More planting scheduled for after work tomorrow.  It was a great way to spend the day with my Dad while Sarah was out of town.We have these trees that will be here forever to remember the day by.  Thanks Dad, for all your help.  I will post more photos of the actual trees in the ground as soon as I take some photos.  For now these photos are of what 170 trees look like all bundled together.  It was a huge amount of work.  I will also post the plan and map of the property where all the trees are.
Earth day is coming up soon so this felt good to do this.  So in honor of that I encourage all of you to plant something or start recycling if you don't do so already.

and ps: please check out the links on the right hand side of the blog.  I am lucky to know, many of who I am related to, some incredibly talented people.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Baby Horse! Sorry, Not Here Though :(

On Monday night our friend invited me over to the barn where her friend's horse delivered a foal half an hour prior.  It certainly was the youngest horse I have ever seen, a little boy.  Not sure what his name will be yet.  It was pretty incredible to not only meet such a young horse that will still be alive when I am old but also to see them work with him right away.  They imprinted him with the human touch so that he will be more tolerant of it as he gets older.  The more he struggles the harder you hold on.  When he relents so can you.  It's a pretty cool concept.

Mom's name is Sultress.  She, for a first time mom, was excellent!  Very loving, gentle and attentive.
Hard to tell in the photos but his legs are not much shorter than mom's.  They have to be ready to walk and run within minutes.  Think of them living in the wild.  They need to be able to run from predators almost immediately.

Beginning and End of the Day

Sorry that it has been a while since I have posted. Spring is a busy time of year around a house, but especially a first spring in a new house, not to mention a farm. I have been busy landscaping and working on various projects every chance that I get.
One of my favorite times of the day here is the morning because we get the sunrise coming up behind the hill at the back of the property and the light washes over just about everything. The animals are relying on you and are excited to have the whole day ahead of them. Sadly I'm usually in a hurry to get to work in the morning, it's too bad that gets in the way of enjoying it out here. Sarah and I talk about how peaceful and quiet it is out here. Not too far away from other humans so as to feel alone but close enough to feel safe and yet far enough to have complete privacy. It kind of feels like being on vacation all the time. I thought I would share some photos of the mornings here followed by pre-dusk photos. Another favorite time of mine. Again the light is soft, the animals are ready to eat one last time before bed and the sounds change into that of evening. I always felt that winter time was quiet enough to hear. But out here all seasons are quiet enough to hear. Even with the sounds of bugs, frogs, crickets, birds, owls, etc it is a different quiet. We're quite lucky!  I have a busy weekend ahead.  Our 110 trees that I ordered are arriving Saturday and my Dad and I will be busy planting them.  And let's not forget GO SABRES!!!!

This is a photo of a spider plant in our bathroom with the morning light backlighting it.

Czar would really rather I be feeding him than posing for photos in the morning.  He looked so good, again the backlight helps, and I made him wait for his breakfast while I went in the house to get the camera.
Traveler hangs out in the morning while I take care of the barn crew.
This is a stunning image to see when you open the barn door.  I couldn't resist this photo!
or this one.
And this was shot as dusk was approaching and the sun was setting.  Sadly we don't get the sunsets here but it still creates some stunning images.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Quickest Spring Ever!

Spring has sprung and gone and summer is here.  Not really but it certainly felt like it.  The past 48 hrs have been some of the nicest spring days in Buffalo that I ever remember with temperatures reaching above 80 in East Aurora.  Not to be taken for granted.  I actually A) wore shorts today which is earlier in the year than ever before (Tom Burke if you're reading this it probably means nothing to you because you are a shorts all year kind of guy!) and B) I have a tan!  A bit of a burn really.  I usually don't get a tan until August just in time for the milky white look of winter to take over!  
Days like today recharge life!  I literally spent the past 2 days outside working on several projects.  Sarah spent the day outside with me today, helping.  The rest of the weekend is supposed to be just as nice!

Morgan loves to wander the yard, rooting around.  She decided to get a little R & R and a tan on that pink belly.  I found her like this, nope she's not dead.  I checked!
Want a cute picture?  Take one of a pot bellied pig, doing anything!

The heat got to Sarah and Mr. Bad Blake so they took a short nap (choosing not to write cat nap).

Later in the day Morgan was back out and Sarah found some magic spot (I say this because it worked 2 times) on her belly that caused her to lay on her side and want belly rubs!  The two are really bonded.  I may have to have Sarah trim her feet!
And Mr Bad Blake staying cool in the shade, keeping watch.  The life of a cat is pretty good.  Play hard and sleep hard.  Eat and relax in between.  Maybe I'll come back in another life as a pot bellied pig (I too love to eat and sleep) or a cat!  He is our only "outside" cat (aka barn cat) and it will remain that way for both he and those inside.  We struggled with the idea but he seems truly happy out there and has a really good life!
We also had a bon-fire for the first time at the new house!  On April 2nd!  It could be snowing.  It was a nice way to spend the evening together.  Our land is so very peaceful and quiet.  The distant sound of peepers (frogs) and we even heard coyotes again tonight.  I told Sarah that we were like a couple of cowoboys: sitting by a fire, listening to the horses making their night time noises, coyotes all while listening to Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson and Kenny Rogers, all on vinyl-even better!  It was very romantic.  Life is good!

Seed Planting Update...and a Venus Fly Trap!

I couldn't resist this little guy when I went to purchase seeds the other day.  I have always wanted a Venus Fly Trap but even more so recently after having read an article in Smithsonian Magazine (click link to read the full article) that informed me that they only live in a small area in the Carolinas!  I had no idea!  Already fed him some bugs.  Thinking of calling him Silvio, no idea why!
Here are some of the seeds that I purchased and some of those that were given to me by Pat and Dick (those in the baggies).
This is the nice mini greenhouse that I filled with a soil-less growing medium (this prevents rotting).  A clear cover is placed over the tray to keep moisture and heat in.
These are a spring mix of lettuce (aka mesclun mix).  I planted them Wednesday.
They began to sprout in 24 hrs!  I couldn't believe it!  This photo was taken tonight, 48 hrs after sowing.  Also planted tomatoes, peppers, herbs, etc, etc!  

More New Landscaping Projects

Over the past few glorious days I have worked on 2 more landscape projects.  One near the front porch and the other framing the other side of the driveway opposite the other bed that I built a few weeks ago.  Gardening is good for the mind and body!

This photo was taken last September on the day that we first went to see the

...and after...the new bed by the front porch that will be home to ornamental grasses, hosta, etc.  Used the same design so as to tie it in to the beds on either side of the end of the driveway.

Notice the new bed on the left, off set from that on the far right which can be seen in a previous post.  I like the idea of framing the driveway on either side to create a gate or sorts using landscaping and tall ornamental grasses.  I also like that they are offset of one another and not mirror images.  It creates different views from different angles and is somewhat off, but right.  The bed on the left also takes the place of an area that stayed perpetually wet and muddy.  Much more attractive.  I used the sod that I removed from the project by the front porch to create the nice curve of grass along the back side of this bed.