Andrew's Blog

A City Boy Making His Way in the Country
September 2010

American Bucolic.

I’ve been thinking recently about what this move to the farm is supposed to represent.  Am I supposed to become an expert in farming?  A farmer, if you will.  Should I learn the intricacies of canning and preserving foods? A grandma, if you will.  Or just maybe, should I buy an old Volkswagen and love my llamas more than my children?  Not far off, if you will.

I know this may sound completely wading pool, but I may be here to bring gloriousness to the country.  I can decorate a fabulous house with incredible skill, style, and sass.  I can cook with ingredients that were only minutes ago connected to some vine or hidden underground.  I can let my dogs run, eat deer poop, and live the lives of their forefathers.  I can build a barn and get alpaca and mini-horses and heritage breeds that will have babies and be treated like royalty.  I can watch TLC while writing for my blog.

While I have taken to wearing my faux crocs and dumpy shorts around town – to the Meijers and the Home Depot, I don’t think I’ll ever be “country.”  (Although, I have considered buying a pack of white T-shirts and just wearing them as a uniform every day!)  That may sound condescending, but it’s not meant that way.  I’ve always drank Pinot Grigio out of a box.  I’ve always loved Kraft Cheese and Macaroni.  And I will always love watching reality t.v.

With all these gays moving to the country, I feel a little cheap.  Like a lemming and not that goose at the head of the “V”.  But I will be at the head!  By doing what?  I’m unsure.  But it will happen.  I’ve worked in The White House for goodness sake!  (P.S. see Don rolling his eyes!)  I’m resourceful!  I have skills!  If spending money and gathering degrees were a profession, I’d be CEO!

Well, enough already!  I’m just sitting here alone with a sleeping puppy for the moment…and I do me for the moment!  (As an aside, I gave the puppy kisses today and quickly realized he had just eaten his own poo!  A vet visit it in order!)  He will be up in a few minutes with his shark teeth and syringe-like nails. Stay posted as my relationship with the farm develops.  We’re just getting to know each other right now.  We’ve made it to first-base.  But we have three more to go!

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The Founders

I thought it only appropriate (as I watch the blog/Streep fest Julie and Julia) to write about the founders of our farm.  I speak not of I or Donnie, of Jack or Ms. Kitty, of Chompers or Mustafa, or even of Cantaloupe and Ginger.  I speak of the farm animals.  The beasts of burden that can be easily had for cheap money on  Those I have over-paid for and care for as if they are my children.

Say hello to our chickens in residence.  Sure, we’ll add a few more…and even some turkeys in the spring…but these girls were my first and will always have a place in my heart.  (Please don’t ask about the three roosters I had since their birth and where they are now – probably dinner, but my favorite is a free-range stud in PA.)  Lady Diana and the Duchess of Gloucester I have had since Day 1 – they are my lovies. We’ve had them for over a year – their birthday is July 24th.

The Princess Royale and Young Victoria joined the family from  a farm in Maryland.  After I re-homed my third rooster, the girls needed some company.  While Gloucester rules the roost, Victoria is the beast of the group. Three of the ladies are Silkies and one is an Easter Egger…blue eggs!  I will only have Silkies from now on – they are sweet, loving, and have spunk!

Our other two ladies – Lady Bird and Mamie Eisenhower – joined the family a month before we moved to Ohio.  They are rabbits – Mamie is white, a mini-rex, and soft as heaven!  Ladybird is black, not as soft, and Polish.  They are both inquisitive, sweet, and love to go where they shouldn’t.  They live outdoors, in a lovely enclosure that lets them be inside and out.  They hop, scamper, and eat, eat, eat!  Ladybird loves her lettuce, and Mamie loves her pellets – different pallets but both discerning.  I would expect no less in my household!

And so you have met the ladies of Orchard House. (Although Ms. Kitty still holds, and WILL always hold, the title of Dowager Queen.)  As we add more ladies, and men, to the farm over the coming months, we must remember our founders, our George Washington, our John Smith!  We are not Animal Farm – we are more Charlotte’s Web – and everyone has a place on the farm and a role to play…no matter your species, sex, or supposed functionality.  We love you all.  Even Wally may eventually find a place in his heart for everyone.  Although he does continue to growl at the stallion next door and stare longingly at the geese flying overhead in formation.

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And so it begins…

We have started planting at Orchard House.  Nothing big yet, but getting the grounds ready for some delicious harvests next year.  In the picture you can see a deep bed I’ve been working on.  Without a gym membership, it seemed a good idea to dig it by hand. After completing what you see, I’ve ordered the tiller to complete the rest.  I’ll get my exercise some other way!

In case you’re interested in what’s been planted, so far we have….

Eversweet Strawberries, Bluecrop Blueberries, Niagara Grapes, Indian Summer Raspberries, and four new trees in the orchard – a Kieffer Pear, a Belle of Georgia Semi-dwarf Peach, a J.H. Hale Semi-dwarf Peach, and a Burbank Semi-dwarf Plum.

I’m sure we’ll be adding more trees as some of the current ones look slightly under-the-weather, but we’re good for now.  More strawberries will be added as the deep bed expands over the next few weeks.  We also have 8 raspberry bushes coming in the mail.  I don’t know what I always order plants from the mail – they always die on me.  But I’ll give it another go…

My final thought of the night…buy hoses.  I forgot one last time I was at the store and for two days have been hauling water in a bucket and watering can to all the new plants.  Wait a second!  There is my new exercise regiment! Who needs the satisfaction of a personally dug deep bed anyway?  Well, actually, maybe I do.  Ugh, back to digging!

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It’s 11 p.m. – what are you doing?

I’m canning.  Yes, I’ve been canning for the past hour.  I found some great plums today and couldn’t let them go to waste.  They were, or are, Italian plums.  Very petit and tasty.  I’ve mixed them with what I have in the house – a little less sugar that needed (about 13 cups), some grapefruit juice (as I don’t have any lemon), and some cinnamon.  I’ve sampled.  It could be delicious.

I also, in my down time, during boiling and such, ordered 8 raspberry plants.  I’ll be the first to admit I haven’t had the best luck with mail-order raspberry plants.  But today is a new day, and yesterday is the past.  Or something like that.  They will be trellised, lovingly fertilized, and watered like we’re in the Sahara.  As an aside, I learned that my newly planted hydrangeas love it if I leave a dripping hose on them for hours.  My well may dry up, but I’ll have 5 foot bushes before you know it!

And so, you can see, I’m canning and simultaneously ordering plants that will produce fruits which I will probably can next year.  It’s a circle of life kind of thing!  And now it’s time for me to go to bed.  Goodnight Auggie.  Goodnight Wally.  Goodnight Donnie.  Goodnight Bob Evans.  Goodnight Orchard House.

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Tractor…and other things.

That’s a picture of me on a tractor.  On my tractor to be more precise.  A Massey-Ferguson made in England, 1965.  Vintage tractors are sexy!  Chic! Amazing!  This picture was taken yesterday.  Today I tried to start it and something was wrong.  There was a weird noise…a not-so-right noise.  I popped the “hood” and a small toad leapt out.  I don’t think he was the problem, but still, an unexpected inhabitant.  And so, my very chic, sexy, and amazing tractor is sitting in the middle of a field while I contemplate next steps.  I don’t know how to fix tractors.  It won’t start.

I also had a run-in with my flag pole today.  I finally decided to replace the old, tattered American flag with a new, freshly sewn American flag.  The rope holding the flag was molded to the pole – so I grabbed some scissor and snipped.  30 minutes later, Don fixed the flag pole.  Lesson of the day – never snip the rope holding the flag unless you’ve thought though the process.  Mayhem and foolishness may ensue.

This week in Orchard House: 1) a new water purification system…good-bye sulfur, hello hydrogen peroxide and reverse osmosis, 2) DirectTV finally comes!!!!!!!!!!!, 3) the formal dining room WILL be painted, and 4) Oprah starts her 25th and final season…even in the county, we can all still appreciate a little Oprah!

A special thanks to Mr. Randolph Briley and Ms. Kimberly Lyons for being our first visitors and for taking the above picture.  I would never have known what to do with a clutch without you!  And we can’t wait for a visit from Ms. or Mr. Buck Wilde.

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