Andrew's Blog

A City Boy Making His Way in the Country
August 2012


I know everyone thinks I lead a glamorous life. But I don’t. I’m eating macaroni and cheese (with tuna) at 9:00 at night after debating for a good 15 minutes whether I should lock up baby Snickers for the night, or let her be free in the pasture with her mother. That was, of course, after making 80 bottles of jam and ensuring our guests are comfortable.

Oh, and today, I dealt with some manure that would make a retirement home nurse blush. I also spread enough castor oil in the fields to send even the hardiest of voles heading for the hills. My dinner now over, I’m catching up with my good friends, Dorothy, Sophia, Blanche, and Rose, while planning my Tuesday. Wally has grown unafraid of his citronella collar, barking as carefree as a meadowlark. So, I’m thinking of looking into “alternatives” tomorrow. And that means a trip to Easton. And J.Crew:)

Tomorrow I’m also thinking about pulling up some tomato plants and seeding some lettuce. A cool weather crop could be fun, like wearing white shorts or brushing a donkey. I also have to scour the kitchen and cook a breakfast that makes-up for my lackluster performance this morning. I got flustered. The pancake batter didn’t look like it should and I became deflated. Who would’ve thought a batter could destroy your self confidence?!

Another life lesson learned. Now, I’m sleepy. Snickers, enjoy the pasture for the evening. I’m going to drink a glass of wine, pet my Bob Evans, and listen to the wit and wisdom of some elderly ladies who took Miami by storm.

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Baby Watch

When I was born, I think my father was watching a Philadelphia Flyers game in a waiting room. I guess waiting can take its toll on an individual. Lord knows, we’ve been waiting for an alpaca baby for weeks. We were unclear whether she was, in fact, pregnant for quite a while. Our animals are well fed at Orchard House, and I was concerned maybe she was just morphing into a larger-than-life alpaca because of some undiagnosed grain addiction. But now, it’s clear she’s pregnant. And a baby is imminent.

I become frantic when I know babies are imminent. Never having been at the birth of a human, I can only imagine the spectacle I would be. At the birth of a lamb, I require someone to slap me back to reality with the firm hand of a stoic Scarlett O’Hara. I’ve made enough “excited” phone calls to veterinary offices that I can now feel eyes rolling on the other end of the line. But I can take the perceived criticism, as I don’t mess with the birthing process. If you’ve taken the time to gestate something, I’ll take the time to see it has every chance of living.

The average alpaca gestation period is 355 days. Humans are born quicker. Unfortunately, there’s no great calculator for predicting an alpaca birth as they can come thirty days earlier or later. And since I know nothing about birthing camelids, we sit and wait. Every morning I open the barn door with some level of anticipation, both happy and disappointed whenI don’t see a cria. Disappointed because we’re waiting for this little monster to appear. Happy also, because I don’t have to drop everything I’m doing, make a frantic call to the vet, and know that someone’s eyes are rolling on the other end.

So, we wait. Alpaca are nice enough to have their babies in the morning. I appreciate this kindness, as I don’t have to keep a watchful eye all day and night. I have the time to tend the other babies of the farm, as well as the adults who sometimes demand more attention.

At Orchard House,the barnyard currently housesĀ 8 llama, 4 alpaca, 6 goats, 8 sheep, 3 donkeys, 2 pigs, 18 chickens, 6 guineas, 4 ducks, 2 peacocks, and 4 rabbits. Lord help us, let me add that up again. 65 animals! In the end, I guess, what’s one more? If people can manage 18 children, I can handle workings of this farm. It may get tiring some days, but fiddle-dee-dee! After all, tomorrow is another day!


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And the winner is…

I know, I know, you’re all waiting with heightened anticipation – so I won’t keep you in suspense any longer…


Donkeys! Sophia, Dorothy, and Blanche have happily joined the family. Apples and hay for everyone! To our contest winners, congrats! We’ll be in touch with you so you can receive you lovely Tilton Hollow soap.

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I smell a contest…

Tomorrow, we’re getting a new resident (or two) at Orchard House. But who? Wait, what?! The suspense is painful, I know.

If you leave a guess in this blog entry comments section (not the Facebook entry players) and guess correct, you may win a bar or two of 100% goat milk soap from Tilton Hollow Farm in Frazeyburg, Ohio (one of our favorite things!).

I’ll narrow the field a bit…it’s a farm animal (or two)…it’s not too exotic (no zebra yet)…and you will die of a cute-attack when you see the pictures.

Good luck and guess well! I believe in you.

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