New Beginnings

May has wound to a rainy, windy close, and it’s clear, even with some chilly evening temperatures, that spring is in gear as we head towards summer. Everything’s coming up green and bright, and people going about their morning and evening rituals are serenaded by the hum of insects and the sound of new life all around.

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This month has been full of new additions to the farm, with a scampering, bleating multitude of lambs joining their mothers in the pastures, as well as quite a few new (and very adorable) piglets. Baby birds add their songs to the mornings when we get up to start the day, and if spring is supposed to be about new life and renewal, then Fox Hollow has fallen neatly in line.

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This spring is heralding an exciting summer, that’s for sure, and there will be plenty to show and tell about as things really start heating up. This is the perfect time to follow us on Facebook and our new Instagram (insert link), if you haven’t already. We’re excited about everything we have planned, and we hope you will be too.

Summer has arrived; The cycle continues

The ponds in front of the house are now filled with tons of baby frogs
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where there used to be only tadpoles. The yard is filled with baby birds hopping and flying all over the place as their frantic parents try to keep them fed now that they are out of the nest. Even the lambs born this winter are almost as big as their mothers and looking fat and happy!

This time of year is also when we get some surprises. The potatoes we planted too late came up anyway, and they are growing incredibly fast! The prairie nursery that showed no signs of life now has 6-inch tall grasses poking up. And the leeks we planted in the garden (half of which I was sure were going to die) are growing so well that even the weeds can’t compete! Now all we have to do is let the growing things work their magic!

Trying Buckeye chickens

Hard to believe it’s the 2nd week of June already! The tomatoes, zucchini, and other vegetables are almost all in the ground and calving is well under way. Everything is bright green and the wildlife is out harvesting the grass along with the cattle and sheep.

To better harvest the bounty of our pastures in the future, we are trying a chicken experiment. The broiler meat chickens
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we raise on pasture do eat some green stuff but on the whole they have too little of their natural instincts left to do more than scarf down feed and grow large breast meat. To try and move away from these chickens we are trying Buckeyes, a native Ohio breed (and created by a woman, an unfortunate rarity in the livestock breeding business). The Buckeyes are smart and nimble dual-purpose chickens, able to lay eggs and be meat chickens. They can forage for a large portion of their own food.

They will take longer to raise (16 weeks instead of 8) and they will have less white meat and more dark meat. However, they will be able to live happier, healthier lives, get more of their food from our great pastures, and we hope that the flavor will be excellent. Let us know what you think about the Buckeyes!

Visitor perspective

Though rain soaked the farm last night and clouds still hang heavily above, it is like paradise here. Granted, I am not a farmer (nor even a good gardener) and I am not the one with dirt under my nails nor with the tang of tractor fuel stinging my nose, but the knowledge that the very stuff of our lives—the soil holding the seedlings, the pastures feeding the animals, the sweat-equity making up the farm—that all these things are being held in tender and hardy concern by Bruce & Lisa and Chelsea & Jesse is somehow as comforting as a breakfast of fresh eggs and bacon. Full of these thoughts (and that breakfast), it's time for me to pull on some mud-boots and get out there and see how it's done.

Written by Chelsea's Mom!

Cacophony of birdsong

As the grass reaches more than a foot tall, the nesting season gets underway for the bobolinks and red-winged black birds.
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Bobolinks in particular need tall grass for nesting and it can be hard for them to find tall enough grass in modern agriculture where everything is mowed or grazed short. Because of our grazing system that recreates prairie-like conditions with lots of tall grass, we have a flourishing population of these little birds.

Walking out to move the fence for the cattle is rewarded with a cacophony of birdsong. The yellow and black male bobolinks can be seen all across the fields, perched on grass stems, declaring their dominion over the land. I’m not sure if having more of them around provides us any benefit but they sure do make wonderful music.