Andrew's Blog

A City Boy Making His Way in the Country
March 2011

I’m like the Octomom over here!

This is Camilla. She is one of 5 chicks that arrived at Orchard House this morning at 6:20. She (or he, who knows!) is eating well and chipper. Cute too! The chicks are all Silkies – my chicken of choice. Filled with fluffy feathers, a sweet disposition, and a propensity to be named after British royalty.

Please forgive my blogging absence for the past few days. Our lamb was born last night. I feel bad for our vet as I was a little Terms of Endearment over the phone. The baby came out backwards after all. I cleared the “sac” and wiped mucus from his/her motionless face. He/she then moved, and breathed, and is nursing like a champ. And he/she as an amazing fleece! I can’t wait for their introduction with the baby goats. It’s gonna be sweet. Hopping and running and cuteness will definitely ensue!

Another surprise event – our male llama Basil, the new one, has some…issues…getting up in your grill when you enter the fenced area and spitting. Really! NOT appropriate behavior for an Orchard House resident, even if he’s a llama. He was apparently raised wrong. Tomorrow, in an attempt to halt this negative behavior, he will be castrated. On site. YIKES! It sounds extreme, but apparently its the first step to…cut off this problem (ew!). If that doesn’t work, he’ll need to find a new home. I’ll keep you updated as events ensue! Major llama drama!

For the time being, Orchard House is done with babies. We have tons. Too many! And one more is expected. Our new llama, Sybil, is due soon. Very soon. If I was Shirley McClain on the phone for my ewe, I imagine something between Sally Field in Steel Magnolias and Uma Thurman in all the Kill Bills for this delivery. But a baby shall be born. And he/she shall be sweet.

If you’re in the neighborhood, stop by! We have baby ducks, petit chicks, and a lamb that is too school for cool! Oh, and some baby goats. They ate all my chicken food today. Darn you Marvin! But I forgive you. You may not be British royalty, but we love you all the same.

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The grass is always greener…

…at Orchard House. Today, after gray skies and a tremendous thunderstorm, suddenly, we have green grass. I’ve noticed green shoots appearing with more regularity for about a week. But after today’s storm, with the sun shining, a green blanket embraced Orchard House. We are a lean, green, bed and breakfasting machine!

It’s odd how nature can just hit you.  Literally, green appeared from virtually no where. Amahzing! And the animals are loving it. Whether you’re a llama looking for some fresh shoots, or a crazy Bob Evans seeking exposed roots to chew and rip from the ground, this is your moment. Earlier today, Bob found two newly planted large blueberry bushes and ripped them from the ground, decimating them in the process. $30 for 15 minutes of heaven. Many have payed more for less.

As an aside, no turkeys this year. The hatchery we ordered from has some problems and couldn’t get them to us until June. Daddy can’t wait that long. We may be able to snag something from, but we shall see. With everyone here already, and the impending births, we may be at our (or my) comfort level for the moment. After all, I’ve never birthed a llama…have you?

But we are green. Algae is good for you. Kale is the new spinach. Limes are delicious with gin. Green is the new black. Baby llamas and lambs will be welcomed into the fresh re-birth of spring, shoots linking arms to form a cashmere blanket of love. Ok, that’s cheesy, but drop a baby llama from 3 feet, and have him injury-free, that’s love from Mother Nature. Like a catcher’s mitt. But with worms. And a barking Bob Evans in the background.

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Garage gone. Bummer.

For the past two days I have toiled away building a temporary shelter much like the one pictured to your right. It was meant to hold hay. Hay and other animal foods. Today, as I was moving some trashcans with animal food to the new “tent,” the ram attacked them and they are now sufficiently dented. He knew what was inside. Don’t give him a pinata. It could get ugly.

It was windy today. Very windy. After putting some hay in the shelter, I noticed it was lifting off the ground because of the wind. But surely it couldn’t fly away. 2 ft long iron spikes were screwed into the ground to ensure such a thing didn’t happen.

Fast forward to me grocery shopping. I received a call. It was from our lovely neighbor.  The temporary structure, yes the one that is to your right, had ripped itself out of the ground and ensnared itself on the fence next door. It had to be cut free. CUT FREE! It’s over. It’s done. It’s Mel Gibson. Two days and $200 later, I have a pile of junk.  And now, must purchase a new – wooden – structure asap.  As soon as possible. And the worst part? I was embarrassed our neighbor, with the gorgeous horse barn, saw my measly stack of 8 bales of hay, exposed for all to see. Weird, but I guess, like in the city where I irrationally cared about clothing labels, here I am concerned with those items that give me farm “cred.” And, just so you know, with 8 bales, I might as well have been caught shopping at Old Navy. Escandelo!

And what I have learned from this experience? We have wind. And a lot of it. Dare I say, I bought a llama shelter that will be similar to this failed “tent.” Gulp! Hopefully it will work out better. If it stays on the ground, it will be better. We have a low threshold for success here at Orchard House. But we shall overcome.  We have Bob Evans after all!  And a ram that will head butt away any troubled waters that look to flood our barn…or our hearts!

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Today I dug. And dug some more. To be honest, I dug yesterday as well. My quest?  Much like a knight in Camelot.  To dig up an old satellite T.V. dish. The dish itself?  Mounted to a pole with stripped nuts. The pole?Possibly reaching to China. But have no fear. It didn’t make it to the Orient. Or even close! But it was below the water line. Set in cement. In clay. I got dirty. Real dirty.







But I persevered. I won! A special thank you goes out to my apprentice Auggie. His help was invaluable. And what shall I do with my trophy? Stuff it to hang on my wall? Eat the flesh for dinner? Keep digging in the hopes of finally eating an authentic egg roll? Eh, who knows. It’s lying in the field right now, waiting for the vultures.

And in its place? A new tree. A Red Bud – indigenous to this great nation. And pretty darn handsome to boot. So another tree is added to the orchard, albeit a non-fruiting one. And I took a second shower. Covered in the soil of Orchard House, today, I determined, was a good day. I also planted some rosemary.  Too soon, perhaps?  Who knows.  I also planted some bulbs and a new evergreen. I love the spring.  I love the flowers.  I love the mild weather.  Renewal is sexy.  Sometimes it works, like the blueberry bushes I planted last fall with new buds on them. Sometimes it fails.  Poor Whitney Houston.

As an aside, the sheep were sheared today. Napoleon is becoming a sheep-like battering ram. Hey, that battering ram makes sense now! They are naked and embracing their bodies. Eating hay out in the field as if they were still draped in their wool.

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Spring Sprung.

These are crocuses. Croci? It doesn’t matter. They’re growing to their potential here at Orchard House. It’s a sure sign Spring has Sprung. It’s also 6:30 and sunny. And my ram has become slightly more aggressive in his “used to be cute” head-butting routine. All the plants have their buds, and the pea seeds have been sown outdoors. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say this is a farm!  But, amazingly, it’s also a bed and breakfast!

I’m planting lilacs. Like a mad person. I love lilacs. I recently has a conversation with my fabulous neighbor about finding the new, hot flower to grow and make millions of dollars. It could be lilacs. They smell delicious, are very pretty, and are perennials…so they’re economical. I also love peonies. They smell like warm maple syrup on a sunny Sunday morning! Or just wonderful flowers.

Anyhoo, it’s Spring. And things are growing. Beautiful things. Iris bulbs are sprouting. Daffodils are planning to take over the fields of Orchard House. Baby animals are imminent. It doesn’t get any better then this. Drinking cheap wine at sunset, with a beautiful view, in a happy place (and space) can reaffirm life as you know it. I have experienced this a few times: in Kenya solo, St. Andrews on the beach, in the south of France, and in Italy with my bro Rands. And now at Orchard House. There is still something quite wonderful about seeing llamas sitting in a field.

As the leaves return, and as our views become even more spectacular, we offer up the Orchard House experience to you and your loved ones. Smell the sweet air, and help mow the lawn! Seriously, it’s big! It will only get sunnier before it get’s darker. And those are the best times at the ‘ole House.

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