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Eggs, Eggs Everywhere!

Growing up on a farm as a child afforded many wonderful experiences.  Meaningful experiences that shaped my values and inspired me.  I remember when I was about 6 or 7 years old, Dad decided that it would be nice to have fresh milk and eggs.  So, he bought a Holstein cow named Bessie and ordered chicks.  I remember sitting in our living room early in the morning before school with an old towel on my lap, carefully cradling a warm, fuzzy chick in my hands–marveling at its tiny body and feet as well as the soft, little sounds it made.  Every morning over the next 2-3 weeks, I would hurriedly get dressed and eat breakfast so I could hold one for a few minutes before the school bus came.  I loved those little chicks! As the chicks grew into hens, they free-ranged all through the pastures and even around the house; but, for some reason, though, they didn’t like to lay their eggs in the coop.  Much to my surprise and joy, while walking along outdoors, I would just FIND an egg laying in the yard or under a bush. It was like an Easter egg hunt!  After making the discovery that the hens were laying eggs all over the place, I remember enthusiastically running into the house and searching for my Easter basket.  “This is going to be fun!” I thought.  And it was. The hens free-ranged and laid their […]

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Force of Nature

  A few weeks ago, I decided to coax cuttings of a flowering cherry tree into an early performance in order to speed up spring. Persuading plants to flower out of season is known as forcing.  You can either trim branches from your yard or buy them from a florist.  There are a number of flowering trees and shrubs that you can choose for your trimmings.  I have a flowering cherry tree in my front yard.  So, that’s what I used. However, flowering dogwood, redbud, flowering dogwood, saucer magnolia, flowering quince, or forsythia work well, too. Here are a few tips to keep in mind: 1.  Prune on a mild, late-winter day.  Branches are more pliable when temperatures are above freezing.  Most spring bloomers form flower buds on the previous season’s growth. 2.  Look for crowded branches that are no more than 1/2 inch in diameter, with numerous round, plump flower buds.  Thinning is okay. 3.  Place branches in fairly hot tap water, and recut at an angle.  Next, place in a bucket of water with floral preservative.  Store in a cool, dimly lit area like a porch or garage to ease the transition indoors. 4.  When buds begin to swell, bring branches indoors.  Set arrangements in a bright area away from direct sunlight and heating vents.  Change water daily. 5.  Celebrate spring early!  After all, you just fooled Mother Nature.    

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The Weekly Bleat: Boogie With Ewe

Farmgirl with Scottish Blackface sheep   A while ago, I wrote a post about having the “winter blahs” and various methods that help lift my mood.  A couple of these mood enhancing strategies included music and dancing.  I even joked about installing a disco ball in our sheep shed, especially since I enjoy bee-bopping to radio tunes as I do farm chores. Well, Farmguy surprised me last week with not one, but two disco balls:  one for the the sheep shed and one for the house.  🙂 Here’s the thing:  Feeling down?  Sometimes all you need to do is “get down.”  So, go ahead, put on your boogie shoes and come on over to Green Hill Farm.  Because, the disco ball is up, and this farmgirl is ready to dance her way right into spring!            

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Tuesday Tunes: Ode to a Butterfly

  One warm day last week, while walking Bizou and Dash in our awakening garden—awash with budding lilacs and daffodils, a tiny, blue butterfly flitted by us.  Bizou, our 10-month-old puppy, promptly jumped, chased, and frolicked after this unwitting insect—performing all manner of twists and hops to catch it. Anyway, it was such a joyful sight that I was inspired […]

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Snow Day

Acrostic poetry by Tonya R. Hengerer “Snow” Softly falling– Not a sound, Only Whirling, whirling to the ground.   “Winter” When Icy, cold weather Naturally interrupts The warmth Enjoyed upon Earth Radiated by the sun.   “Shovel” Something with which one Heaves snow Out of the way; a Very useful, Everyday tool–mostly Languishing in a shed until winter.  

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A World Class Wine from Virginia

  The dream of a world class Virginia wine began with Thomas Jefferson.  Although Jefferson knew that Virginia had the weather and terroir for grape growing and winemaking, he never saw his dream come to fruition.  This is, in part, due to Phylloxera–an aphid-like insect that feeds on the roots and leaves of grapevines.  However, Virginia grape growers now understand that to successfully grow European grapes, they must first graft the vine onto phylloxera resistant American rootstock.  This was the first major hurdle to realizing the dream of a Virginia wine, the next, proving the viability of grape growing as an agricultural endeavor. Officially, the wine industry in Virginia began in 1976 with the Zonin family.  One of Italy’s largest wine producers, the Zonin’s bought Barboursville in Orange, an area near Charlottesville, with the hopes of starting a vineyard.  Underlying this decision was the belief that European grapes could thrive in the Commonwealth of Virginia.  After the purchase of Barboursville, the Zonin’s invited Gabriele Rausse, an Italian winemaker, who is currently the Director of Gardens and Grounds at Monticello, to assist in making the dream of a Virginia wine a reality.  Today, the Commonwealth boasts hundreds of successful wineries and vineyards, many producing award winning wines–including Barboursville Vineyards, Virginia’s first commercial winery.  And, Gabriele Rausse is partially responsible, having consulted on 40 vineyards and 10 wineries in the Commonwealth, including his own.  He is considered the “Father of Virginia Wine.” […]

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