Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Hipper Chicks

We at the farm want our followers to know that just because we've been getting down with the earth, it doesn't mean we don't appreciate the asthetic value of what can be produced by the human hand.

It has come to our attention that some of our fellows, who shall remain nameless, think that since we've moved to the 'burbs we've lost our appreciation for edgy cool and can no longer blend ideas like abstract and realism. There is a suspicion among this nameless sect, that somehow, having kids and planting stuff means that very soon we'll be hiking the pants up high and ironing the pleats in those w-i-d-e mom jeans. We state here and now, this is not the case.

To prove that we can still go toe to toe with the hipster set, we imported an artist - from Brooklyn no less- and commissioned a mural for the chicken barn.


You can tell our artist is hip 'cause he has a beard.

And most importantly, the chicks dig it.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

New Babies on the Farm

Yesterday I was jolted from a mid afternoon nap by excited shrieks. "Mom! Mom! Come quick! They've hatched!"

I ran through the long list of animals we own and racked my brain to figure out which one could have possibly laid an egg in the last twenty minutes. Then I remembered.

Here at the farm we appreciate the unusual. We have a resident insect specialist who tends to broody spiders in the bushes and ensures that ant colonies thrive and, more importantly, survive thorough waterings when they build too close to the tomatoes. So when we were on a trip to Wolf Hill Garden Center a month ago and noticed a small cardboard cup on the counter labeled "Praying Mantids," we had to snatch them up. We brought them home for our oldest boy Percy to mother over.

The egg casings, called ootheca, are odd looking; brown and crunchy. The sacs are adhered to a stick by some bizarre substance that only a mother praying mantis could produce. The instructions said to hide the egg sack in a bush, but Percy needed to watch over them. He lovingly placed them in one of our many bug houses and laid soft material in the bottom for safety.

When I reached Percy on the porch, baby praying mantises were everywhere. And they were tiny. Percy gently scooped up a few at a time and found new homes for them all around the garden.

So while the yard is teeming with baby mantises, it seems that we have added a new addition to our zoo. Inspired by the book Pet Bugs by Sally Kneidel, Percy has decided that "Blade" will be an excellent new pet.

Praying mantis facts:

Praying mantises are the only insects that can turn their heads a full 180 degrees.

They can see up to 60 feet away.

Nymphs eat flies, aphids, moths and other insects. A large adult of some species can eat frogs, lizards and even small birds or rodents.

Contrary to popular belief, females do not always kill the male after mating. The post coitus decapitation and cannibalism occurs more commonly in captivity than in the wild.

For interesting reading, check out Sally Kneidel's blog. She writes about green living, ecological travel, and, our favorite, insects and scientific method for kids.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

A Long Silence

Okay, things beyond our control at the farm have kept us from posting. We are hopeful that these distractions have hit a lull and we are now ready to let you in on all the news.

For the most part, all news is good. We still have six chickens.







Our crops are going well too. In fact, they are growing so well that we are planning an expansion for fall plantings as well as next spring. This August we will remove the rest of the lawn and plot out more permanent plots for next year. Anyone with suggestions for how to make this happen without looking like poo, we'd love to hear from you!

Here are a few highlights of what's growing:

Thai Hot Peppers







We also have brussel sprouts, bok choi, cabbages, tomatoes and more herbs than we can list going.

Aside from eating our own lettuce and watching the rest grow, we have been lucky enough to enjoy the strawberries that cover our yard where ever we're not growing something else.

Coming soon: The coop gets some art, concrete mushrooms are growing, and making seed bombs...