The Slowcook at Spydog Farm The Slowcook at Spydog Farm


February 24th, 2014 · No Comments · Posted in farming


Are you tired yet of hearing about the weather?

It’s been downright balmy the last few days here in Upstate New York with temperatures climbing into the forties. Lots of snow has melted, but then it freezes again overnight making my morning chores a real hazard. On go the cleats again and I gingerly make my rounds to feed and water the animals. Those deep footprints I made through the snow earlier have turned into individual ice caverns, each requiring careful attention to avoid a fall.

The chores remain basically the same, but each day brings something slightly different. I stand in the batter’s box waiting for nature’s next pitch, hoping just to make contact and not strike out. Striking out is not an option, because the animals depend on my being there to dole out the hay, the feed, the water. Since the last nor’easter passed through, they’ve been confined to fairly small areas. Their paths through the snowscape are littered with manure. This should be called the ugly season, because it certainly isn’t pretty.

After chores, I retreat to the house to prepare meals, read, clean up after my 14-year-old daughter while my spouse is away on business. Slowly, thoughts are beginning to turn toward spring and where we go next with our farm venture. Other than eggs, we are not producing anything at the moment. So much time is devoted to just caring for the other animals and waiting for the far-off day when they can be bred, then actually give birth. It’s nothing like planting a garden, when the results of your efforts begin to show within a few weeks of the initial planting.

We are making plans for a few pigs. We would love to stock our chest freezer with our own home-grown pork. And perhaps we will be able to sell some as well. A woman not too many miles away has placed us on her waiting list–meaning we have to wait to see what emerges when her sows give birth. We’ve tentatively ordered three piglets, for which we will have to arrange housing and a long-term plan integrating them into our grazing scheme with the other animals.

And my wife is determined to start raising chickens that lay colored eggs. She loves the idea of marketing green eggs and ham. Luckily, we have the coop that the guinea fowl abandoned last summer. We’ll need to building nesting boxes. And since this is a stationary coop, some kind of fencing scheme is required.

Meanwhile, I’ve been given permission to use the brooder in the basement again to start layers and broiler chicks. We’ve had so many friends and clients tell us our Freedom Rangers were the best chicken they ever tasted. We figure it’s time to increase production, so we will be building a second tractor, increasing our order for chicks, and hopefully timing things so we can maximize sales.

Slowly, slowly, we are growing the farm, improving the land and feeding a growing customer base as well as ourselves. It’s all about managing the number of chores we give ourselves each day. And what about the garden, you ask? Well, that is now my wife’s domain and she is making plans for something spectacular. But I’ll save that one for later.

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