September 2010

Lots of exciting things happened this month. We spent most of our waking free time clearing the trees out of the
goat paddock. The paddock is about an acre in size (~43,560 square feet) and was completely overgrown with
white pine, white and red oak, maple, and birch trees. A hundred years ago this was an old hay field, it is still
bounded by the remnants of stone walls that farmer long ago moved to the side of the field so they wouldn't ruin
their plows. Because of the shade from the trees, the undergrowth (which the goats love) grows very slowly. The
goats had eaten most of it in a few weeks. So instead we are going to clear the trees and plant a pasture mix next
spring. We will need to hire an excavator and a bulldozer to get rid of the stumps, but the trees and brush can be
done by hand with some hard work. This job is absolutely torturous. Basic steps are: Cut down the trees, limb
them, cut the trunks into 2 foot sections (for the wood stove) stack the logs, and burn the small limbs in a bon
fire. We have about a half acre done and this has taken two months of weekends to accomplish.

My batch of 17 Australorps chicks were moved out of the brooder and into the small pen within the chicken run.
One of these "hens" looks suprisingly like a rooster at this point. The neighbors are already mad about the two
roosters I got by accident in the last batch of Rhode Island Reds. I really don't fancy yet another bird crowing at
4am, but I guess I got one. The raccoons and foxes are absolutely determined to get in here and get these guys.
They have started digging around the edges at night. So to prevent any chicken massacres I layered the entire
floor in chicken wire and stapled this to the bottom rail of the fence. This should foil even the most determined
predators out there. Speaking of predators, I ended up catching a baby possum in my "fox trap"... well..
possums are known to eat chickens from time to time, but I let this little guy go. I am only after big game at this
point (fox and coyote).
The next project of the month was to get some shelter for the new tractor we plan on buying. I opted for a
"Garage in a Box" from Tractor Supply Company. This was by far one of the worst projects ever regarding
undestimating the time investment here. This beast is 12 feet wide, by 20 feet long, by 8 feet tall. It came in a box
of about 2,000 pieces. It took me an entire Sunday to put it together. Basically, I cleared a small spot off in the
woods, mowed it down a bit with my Craftsman, and settled in for 6 hours of construction. Although it went
together well.... I am a little worried about how it is going to stand up to a New Hampshire winter (and a few feet
of snow on the top). I have my doubts, but we'll see.
Back on the farm, the garden is on its last legs. I have a ton of updates on the vegetable pages. The squash are
mostly done, the corn is toast, there are a couple watermelons and cukes lurking among the weeds, only the
carrots are still going strong. The potato crop was a particular disappointment. We only ended up with two five
gallon buckts of potatoes, this is only about three times the weight of the seed potatoes we planted back in April!
We should have gotten about 10 times the amount of the original seed potatoes. We are blaming this on the
abnormally dry summer we had. It won't be long before the first frost, and then we will put the garden to bed for
the winter.
The beavers also made yet another appearance. They have once again started damming up the pinch point over
by the old mill. So, we sent farm hand Dan over to get rid of the dam and also dig some of the rocks and mud out
of this pinch point. The beavers had put close to a ton of rocks and mud as the dam foundation that we
laboriously shoveled out (first picture below). Above the "foundation" the beavers then tend to then top the dam
off with sticks and logs. The basic plan was to dig the ENTIRE dam out, and then lower the water level to the
point that the beavers won't be inclined to dam it up again. So, far so good.
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