Thursday, December 24, 2009

Winter Solstice Egg Count

A hen's laying cycle is coordinated to the amount of light in each day. Generally speaking, the more light in the day, the more eggs. With the passing of the winter solstice on December 21, we pass the mark at which the days cease to get shorter, and begin the slow, steady march to summer. So I thought I'd do an official egg count, and post every week or so the increase in egg production for us all to watch. One central thing I'm interested to note is how long it takes to go from minimal to maximal production. There are roughly 130 hens out on pasture and another 20 or so roaming the yards closer to the house.

On December 21, the egg count was 5 dozen exactly.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Feline, Canine, Avian

Leftovers from a recent turkey dinner, followed by wintertime snuggling as the remaining live turkeys peck snow from the windowsills.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

New Year Guineas

For this turn of the year season, we'll be offering a limited number of fresh guinea fowl for your family's table. These birds have been raised on our farm, very much free range, eating bugs and grains in the fields and trees, down by the pond, in the middle of the road, and even on our neighbor's roof!

These are small birds - much like a Cornish hen - and will dress out between 1.5 and 3 pounds. We're only processing these birds on request, so please contact me if you'd like to place an order. The price is $10/lb.

Bountiful Blessings in Winter!

I've just heard from Edwin Dysinger of Bountiful Blessings Farm in Williamsport, TN, and it looks as though we've made our first connection with a regular CSA. Currently, Bountiful Blessings is providing a full winter CSA and I will be delivering eggs to their weekly pick-up points. Be sure to check out their website, and think about all those robust winter veggies!

Right now the hens are on the far side of the pasture, laying between 5 and 6 dozen a day. Below, Ozark and I attempt to calculate the number of eggs per day versus the amount of grain 144 laying hens and 4 roosters eat per day. The numbers are difficult folks, even excluding the value of my labor. But Ozark figures there are things I have yet to account for.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Farming and Philosophy 2

It is well-known that Socrates wrote nothing, or at least nothing which has been handed down under his name alone. While the main source of our information about him comes by way of Plato, Aristophanes, and some brief remarks by Aristotle, there is another source - Xenephon - who presents an altogether different picture of the Gadfather.

Socrates, according to Xenephon, holds that the art of household management is one of (if not the) highest arts, and that farming is central to its activity. Since the nineteenth century, however, Xenephon's Socrates has been largely occluded from consideration on grounds that his characterization was taken to be too simple-minded or philistine to represent the founder of Western political philosophy. Put differently, perhaps it is his subject matter - home economics and farming - that causes philosophers to ignore him. Perhaps not. In any case, in Xenephon's Oeconomicus Socrates' central claim is that "not even the altogether blessed can abstain from farming. For the pursuit of farming seems to be at the same time some soft pleasure, an increase of the household, and a training of the bodies so that they can do whatever befits a free man." Socrates goes on:

"First, the earth bears, to those who work it, what human beings live on, and it bears in addition what they take pleasure in experiencing..."

"It exercises those who work with their own hands and adds to their strength, and it produces a kind of manliness even in those who are merely concerned with farming, causing them to rise early in the morning and compelling them to move about vigorously. For in the country as in town, the most important actions have always their proper season..."

"Further, the earth stimulates in some degree the farmers to armed protection of the country by nourishing her crops in the open for the strongest to take...."

"Furthermore, the earth, being a goddess, teaches justice to those who are able to learn, for she gives the most goods in return to those who serve her best..."

"At the same time farming educates in helping others. For in fighting one's enemies, as well as in working the earth, it is necessary to have the assistance of other human beings. The one who is going to farm well, then, must provide himself with eager workers who are willing to obey him...The farmer must often exhort his workers no less than the general his soldiers; and good hopes are no less necessary to slaves than to the free, but rather more so, that they may be willing to remain."

"Whoever said that farming is the mother and nurse of all the other arts spoke finely indeed. For when farming goes well, all the other arts also flourish, but when the earth is compelled to lie barren, other other arts almost cease to exist, at sea as well as on the earth."

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Time and Images

some photos from the digital vault: