Sunday, September 30, 2012

"pigs out, pigs out!!"

The pigs are growing up fast. I've already started telling the kids that the pigs won't be with us for long, that when it gets really cold the pigs will go away.

I know some people think I'm crazy because I love raising pigs. But there are several reasons I enjoy them, they are adorable when they are young.

They are playful, they run, they chase each other, splash each other and frolic about.

Last time we had pigs it was a constant battle to keep them penned up. We have been pretty lucky this time or we have gotten much better at building pig pens.  The pigs broke out once when they were pretty young but haven't gotten out again.  Fortunately for me I had reinforcements the day they got out.  I happened to be hosting a playdate at my house so I had a few extra moms to help out.  I couldn't get the pigs back into the pen so I was just trying to keep them out of my garden and out of the road. We had some memorable moments, namely my neighbor and I racing through the pasture and scrambling over fences trying to head off the pigs as they were making for the road.  We quickly decided we had earned a glass of wine, besides it was so much more entertaining to sit and drink wine while watching the pigs explore the yard.
I sent out an S.O.S. call to my husband asking that he come home early to help wrangle pigs and rebuild the pen.  He rushed home only to find several moms lounging on the patio, polishing off a bottle of wine, laughing hysterically at the pigs routing around in the yard.

Lest you think we were tipsy or neglecting our kids I can assure you we were not. The kids were later found safe and sound digging in the dirt pile. No harm done.

'til next time...

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Last gasp of summer...

The other day the temperature was in the 60's and all I could think about was warm food, apples, soups.  But the past few days have been warm and I've been trying to enjoy those last tomatoes off the vine.  

There are still a few peaches and nectarines at the Farmers Market but we are at the end of that season. This year I tried a couple new recipes using peaches and nectarines for dessert. One of our favorites was from Aiden at Conjugating Irregular Verbs.  This recipe for poached nectarines was absolutely delicious and I look forward to using it again next summer!  I didn't have as many nectarines so I cut mine in half to serve, her picture of the whole nectarines looks even prettier. 

Poached nectarines in Herbes de Provence with simple syrup

The simple syrup definitely makes this a dessert fruit and is a perfect end to a summer meal.  Head on over to Aiden's blog to check out the recipe, click here for the link.

'til next time...

Monday, September 24, 2012

Fauquier Heritage Day

This past Saturday was Fauquier Heritage Day.  Though it includes all history there is a strong focus on the Civil War era. Or, as I was corrected later that day, "the war of Northern Aggression".
Moving on...

There were several lectures and tours around the town that we didn't see.  It is hard to get a 4 year old and almost 3 year old to take a real interest in lectures about the 'Union Occupation of Warrenton' or 'Robert E. Lee's Strategy and Defensive Plan in the Battle of Fredericksburg'.  They were however excited about the parade.

Color Guard

Town Council Limo

Scottish bagpipes

Iraq & Afganistan Veterans

Confederate Cavalry


After the parade we walked over the the Warren Green building. Here they were holding a re-enactment of General McClellan's farewell speech to his army.  

Before the General spoke President Lincoln gave a speech thanking McClellan for his service. This was not a re-enactment, considering that Lincoln was relieving McClellan on his command I'm not sure if he did thank him for his service but if he did it wasn't from the Warren Green building. 

President Lincoln's speech

General McClellan on the balcony of the Warren Green building
General McClellan's farewell speech to his soldiers

hospital tent with medical supplies
Did someone say trains?
 On June 29, 2012 we were hit by the Derecho storm that caused so much damage on the east coast. During the storm a large tree was blown over, hitting the Mosby memorial and knocking it off of the base.  Fortunately the monument wasn't broken and was able to be re-seated.  A re-dedication ceremony was held for the re-seating on the monument.

  Later that afternoon we headed to historic Buckland Farm to continue the festivities. This is a private residence normally closed to the public.  It is a stunningly beautiful farm, acres and acres of beautiful fields with horses running across the pastures. Buckland Farm is known for its horses, going back over 200 years.  One of their thoroughbreds, Pleasant Colony, won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes in 1981, he is buried in the field at Buckland Farm.

 The owner was at the house to answer questions and talk about the history of the house and farm. The house has been visited by many historic figures over the years.  In October of 1863 the Battle of Buckland took place here.  While shielding Robert E. Lee's army J.E.B. Stuart's cavalry attacked the Union cavalry, chasing them nearly five miles in a running cavalry battle. In the words of Stuart, "I pursued them from within 3 miles of Warrenton to Buckland, the horses at full speed the whole distance, the enemy retreating in great confusion."  This battle was later referred to as the "Buckland Races".
Buckland Hall built in 1774

driveway leading to the house

cavalry demonstration at Buckland Farm

I bet this tree could tell a tale or two...

 The owner was at the house to answer questions and talk about the history of the house and farm. The house has been visited by many historic figures over the years.  In October of 1863 the Battle of Buckland took place here. 

After touring the house there were a couple of guest speakers, both Civil War historians. Robert Trout spoke first, he spoke about his new book "After Gettysburg: Cavalry Operations in the Eastern Theater July 14 1863 to Dec 31 1863" and discussed in more detail some the roles the cavalry played in the war.  Lt. Col. Joe McKinney spoke next, more about the role of Buckland during the war.  Unfortunately I missed most of his lecture because I had to pull myself back to 2012 and tend to my children. They were behaving beautifully, playing quietly in the grass for the past 45 minutes while the adults listened to the speakers. But then my daughter tripped and fell, skinning up her knees again and by the time we got her cleaned and bandaged up the lecture was over. 

After the lecture everyone walked to the cemetery for a short ceremony. 

cemetery at Buckland Farm
   During the battle of Buckland Mills the dead soldiers were buried in the field. The U.S. government later removed the Union dead but several Confederate were left.  The area has always been preserved by the owners but there was never any gravestones or markers.  Due to the work and efforts of an Eagle Scout they were able to put up a monument to the Battle of Buckland Mills and the soldiers buried there.

revealing the monument - David Blake, owner and Alex Grey, Eagle Scout

 The soldiers are buried in front of the monument. They now believe there may be a few more soldiers buried behind the monument but that is something they are still working on establishing.  The house was used as a hospital at one point and supposedly fighting broke out here at the field hospital before the second Manassas engagement. They believe there are dead buried behind the monument from that skirmish.
After the dedication ceremony they fired three shots from this cannon.  I wasn't able to get a picture of the firing because my hands were busy protecting my children's ears. As my children are frightened of the noise of a hair dryer I believe this artillery fire may have taken a few years off their life.

Buckland Hall

That ceremony was the end of the activities for the day. We were all tired, my kids had been incredibly cooperative in indulging their parents in over eight hours of Civil war history!
walking through the pasture, all tired out
'til next time...

Friday, September 21, 2012

Eggs, eggs, eggs...

A week or so ago I posted that we had finally gotten our first egg.  I also explained that we couldn't eat it because it was worth about $375.  (you can read about that here)

It was odd but nobody rushed to our door in an attempt to buy the $375 egg.  But I have good new for those that may have been discouraged by the high price.  Due to the fact we have received about 3 dozen eggs I can now offer you a deal.  Instead of one single egg at $375 you can purchase one dozen eggs for a mere $125.00.  Deals like this don't come along everyday so hurry before they are gone!

nothing like fresh eggs...

As a special deal to my local friends we are offering a deal of $3.00 per dozen. However, quantities are very limited at this point so you better place your orders now!

'til next time...

Golden Polish hen

When I ordered my baby chicks this year I decided to order some polish chickens.  I have long admired them, who wouldn't love that cap of feathers??

I ordered two of the Golden Polish chicks, they are distinctive even as babies.

Golden Polish chicks - two days old
Unfortunately, this batch of chicks had a really rough trip through the mail and one of the polish chicks died the next day.

a casualty of being delayed in the mail

The remaining chick was adorable

Golden Polish chick - three days old

Golden Polish chick - three days old

Here she is at two weeks old. She is almost completely feathered out but only has a tuft on the top of her head.
Golden Polish - two weeks old
At three weeks old her markings are more distinct. the feather cap on her head has grown a lot also.

Golden Polish chicken - three weeks old

Golden polish - three weeks old

When she was about four weeks old I purchased some black polish chicks.  No matter how I tried to keep the babies separate she kept finding a way to jump in with the babies. She wasn't aggressive, she was very protective and nurturing.  We joked that she was partial to the babies because she recognized them as fellow polish chickens. Whatever the reason, she was a good surrogate mama to them.  The odd thing is that I have read several accounts of how polish chickens are not setters, not nurturing, so this was definitely unusual behavior.

Golden Polish 4 weeks old, mothering 5 days old chicks

Being such a fashionable chicken she had fans. 

At five months she is pretty much full grown.  I love her feathers, the markings are beautiful.  We have a fairly big chicken house, a portable coop and we let them out to free range often.  I think she would be content to be confined. While she likes to run out and stretch her wings a little she usually stays close by the chicken house.  She is a pretty calm chicken but seems on the timid side, this is typical of the breed, some people attribute it to the limited visibility they have to the the feather cap.  I have never seen any types of aggression from her, she never battles other hens but she also isn't at the very bottom of the pecking order, probably near the bottom though.  She is a sweet temperament and I'm hoping to have more of these hens next time.
Golden Polish hen

Unfortunately a few weeks ago she disappeared.  I searched everywhere for her and couldn't find a trace. About a week later I found the scene of the crime, a pile of fluffy down and a few feathers. 

I was sad to lose my favorite chicken but that is the risk of letting your chickens free range.   I will definitely order this breed again, they are a beautiful addition to your flock. 

'til next time...