Posts Tagged ‘holiday’

For us here at Spring Mill Farm, Memorial Day is often associated with two things – making hay and a day at Lake Gaston.

Due to late week storms, we’re late on starting the hay making process (and thus, will not be at the lake on Memorial Day).  HB spent Saturday afternoon cutting hay, and is back on the tractor this morning at a leased property about 10 miles from the farm.  HB’s big John Deere is undergoing an overhaul, so our friend doing the work let us borrow his tractor and haybine to cut hay.  The picture above (taken with my phone, hence the poor quality) is from the leased property.  I think HB has fallen in love with the borrowed haybine.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed for no rain the next several days.  It could severely hinder the process of making hay, let alone potentially ruin the hay (depending on how much rain we receive).  Our plan is to cut hay twice here on the farm, turning everything into square bales for using for the horses and goats.  The hay from the leased property, as well as the hay off the neighbor’s property will be round baled and used in the pastures during winter for the field horses when the grazing gets low.

For those of you unfamiliar with the process of making hay I’ll do a simple outline:

Step One:  Cut hay, using a tractor and haybine.

Step Two:  Rake hay using a hay rake.  This year, HB has borrowed a two-headed hay rake to speed the process along.  The hay rake is used to fluff and turn the cut hay so that it facilitates and speeds the drying.  You don’t want to bale a hay when it’s wet! because it can cause a bale to mold, or worse, combust into flames due to the contained heat!

Step Three:  Bale hay using a hay baler.  Balers come in various sizes, from those that produce small square bales that can weigh 30-40 pounds to large round bales that weigh several hundred pounds.  Our square baler consistently prodcudes 40-50 pound bales.

Step Four:  Collect hay from field.  Our process is pretty simple and requires a lot of helping hands.  We attach a hay wagon to the truck and creep slowly across the field while one person stands on the wagon stacking hay and at least one other person follows the wagon, picking up bales and throwing them onto the wagon bed.

Set Five:  Store hay.  Hay needs to be protected from the elements to prevent mold setting in.  It also needs to be able to “cure” for a while before using.  We store our square bales on wooden pallets inside a metal carport shed with walls keeping the weather out.  It’s important to keep hay off the ground to prevent mold from forming on the bottom of the bales.  By elevating the bales, air can circulate underneath.

That’s a pretty basic outline of the hay making process.  Other equipment can be used at various stages, tedders are a common occurrence, but we don’t have one so we skip that step.

A lot of farmers in our area are cutting hay along with us.  It’s slightly risking, since there is the possibility of heavy rain on Tuesday … with the amount of hay we cut, we should have it out of the field by then.  Some people aren’t cutting hay yet, but it’s getting to the point that if we wait too long the grass will be past its prime and the hay will have nutritional value.

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Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching and in case you need a few ideas of thing to do or places to eat this weekend in the Lynchburg area, I thought I would share my favorites.


Saturday, the Lynchburg Community Market is host to the 3rd Annual Chocolate Challenge.  I blogged about this earlier in the week, and now have some official news.  Tasting tickets are $5 each and available the day of (ie: Saturday, at the market).  Tasting starts at 10am so get there early and purchase your ticket!  While you’re at the market, check out the local vendors both in the Heritage Crafter’s Gallery and the weekly market vendors with delicious produce and baked goods.  There was talk of a joint chocolate and wine pairing between Chocolates-R-Us and Chateuau Z Winery!

Local Eateries

Main Street Eatery is hosting a special  Valentine’s Day Gala Menu as well as their regular menu AND their special OysterFest menu.  I’ve only eaten at Main Street once, the night of our wedding, and it was delicious.  A little on the pricey side, perhaps, but well worth it.

Other fun places to celebrate a special day around Lynchburg includes Mangia, dish, Bull Branch, Waterstone Pizza (and be sure to get the hot crab dip!), Robin Alexander, Isabella’s, Millstone Tea Room (with a focus on fresh, local, and humane), and Machu Picchu.

And for a special brunch on Valentine’s Day (since it is on a Sunday this year) check out Basic Necessities in Nellysford (reservations necessary for this lovely small restaurant), Neighbor’s Place, and Isabella’s (with a focus on local ingredients).

Great Gifts

The Lynchburg area is home to a wonderful group of artisans each with unique interests.

  • The Community Market is home to the Heritage Crafter’s Gallery, open daily, with a variety of vendors selling everything from goat milk soap (Dixie Soaps) to bird houses to beautiful paintings and greeting cards to doll clothes to hand crafted furniture (Sticks and Stones).
  • Brookneal is home to Night Sky Farm, a local Grade A Goat Dairy producing fresh cheeses, goat milk soap, and even laundry soap!  Jennifer has designed some lovely soaps with Valentine’s Day in mind.  It’s also that time of the year when Jennifer puts out her Chocolate Raspberry chevre! (I tasted it at the last Chocolate Challenge and it’s good!)
  • Local goat milk soap producers include Shantara Acres and Delectable Hills.  You can buy Shantara’s soaps online, but Delectable Hills soaps are only available on-farm at this time of the year.
  • Give the gift of great wine.  The Lynchburg area is home to several great wineries.  Chateau Z, in Amherest sells at the Lynchburg Market.  Also, in Brookneal, there is Sans Soucy Vineyards, available at the winery’s on-site tasting room and at the Lynchburg Market.  Sans Soucy is a member of the SoVA Wine Trail.  Both wineries at the Lynchburg Market offer tastings.  The Lynchburg area is also extremely close to the Bedford Wine Trail, hosting unique wineries such as Peaks of Otter (specializing in fruit wines, not necessarily from grapes).  In nearby Nelson County, you can find a host of fine wineries and breweries with delightful offerings — including some of my favorites, Lovingston Winery (by appointment only) and Devil’s Backbone Brewery.
  • A gift of luxury?  What’s better than a massage or pedicure?  Luckily, Lynchburg is home to some amazing spas and salons.  Acorn Hill Lodge & Spa offers a chocolate truffle body wrap that is divine.  Trust me, I know, HB gave me one for my birthday last year.  And if you’re looking for a manicure or pedicure (or both!) in Lynchburg, look no further than the Parlor Spa downtown.  The Parlor Spa offers their signature mani and pedi which is amazing, complete with a massage.  The Spa is small and inviting, offering you a glass of wine or a bottle of water while you enjoy your pampering.  Their heated massage chairs are the BEST!  While you’re at it, include lunch at the new Market at Main (I’ve heard their sweet potato pancakes are amazing) just around the corner.
  • Need a last minute gift?  Check out these fun local stores!  The Beeswax Candle Company has a beautiful selection of candles crafted from beeswax, some made right here in Lynchburg!  Their store front downtown has more than just candles, featuring local artists’ paintings, jewelry, and housewares.  Looking for a big gift?  Check out Lynchburg’s own Thomas A. Johnson Furniture Co. for a selection of beautifully crafted furniture.

*Vintage Valentine’s cards from Curly Wurly and Vintage Holiday Crafts.

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the new girls

Jacqsonne, Abba, and Memphis - ready to hit the road!

After a whirlwind trip, we’re back in Virginia with the latest, lovely additions to the farm – our new goats!  The trip was pretty uneventful, but somewhere in the last leg of the trip we blew a tire.  Luckily(?) the trailer has two axels, we blew a front tire and we didn’t even know it until we got home.  Weird, eh?  We’ve used the trailer a lot this year – with big trips just about every other month – and it’s only a matter of time before you lose a tire.  Luckily, everything went smoothly.

We left the girls in the trailer while we set up their stall, opting to keep them separate from the boys for a while until they settle in.  I think they’ve had enough stress for a few days —  picked up by new people, then enduring a 7 hour drive in a strange trailer, only to be put into a stall with new smells next to a horse with a rattling hay bag!

The girls have settled in nicely, I think.  Jacqsonne looked a little stressed when we stopped halfway home, but she has relaxed in the stall.  They are all EDPP as we say in endurance riding – eating, drinking, peeing, pooping – showing functioning metabolics.  After finishing the other evening chores I sat in the stall with them, a few raisins in my hand.  Their unique personalities are already apparent.  Jacqsonne is definitely the queen of our little herd and she bosses the younger does around.  Memphis is sweet, but aloof, and yet, playful all at once.  I think she already has the complexity of a “middle child syndrome.” 😉  Abba, the youngest (she turns 1 in February), is the most outgoing.  She has a sweet innocence about her, a curiosity to check out everything new.  Abba is also the only doe willing to take a chance on my raisins.

I’m not too offended by their lack of interaction at this point.  At their home farm they were all very sociable and curious.  They’ve had a big change.  My wethers were the same way last year when they first came to the farm.  Now they’re big pets and very interactive.

This will be Jacqsonne’s third freshening and you can tell she’s kidded before.  She’s HUGE!  I can’t help but wonder how many kids she’s toting around in that belly of hers.  She makes the other doelings, both of which will be first fresheners, look petite!  Hard to believe their all due within 2-3 weeks of each other when you compare sizes.

I love the look of these lovely ladies – I decided on my evening walk with Huck (my horse) that these girls are the Arabians of the goat world.  They’re slender and elegant, with beautiful long necks, and little etched faces.  I love them all for different reasons already, but Abba is very striking with her big white belt.

Already we can see the need for some improvements in our facilities – starting with a second hay manger to keep hay off the ground and elevated feeders for the alfalfa pellets and their grain.  Projects to accomplish this weekend.

But for now, all I can say is wow, what a way to ring in the new year!

Best wishes for a Happy New Year!

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photo taken 12-20-2009

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Dear Blog Readers,

As a special treat, Sweet Roll and Donut have asked to wish you a Merry Christmas in their own special way.  I hope you enjoy 🙂

On the first day of Christmas my owner gave to me a pile of old dried leaves!

On the second day of Christmas my owner gave to me two scoops of barley!

On the third day of Christmas my owner gave to me three pine branches!

On the fourth day of Christmas my owner gave to me four trimmed hooves!

On the fifth day of Christmas my owner gave to me five pounds of chevre!

On the sixth day of Christmas my owner gave to me six buckets of grain!

On the seventh day of Christmas my owner gave to me seven milking pails!

On the eighth day of Christmas my owner gave to me eight copper boluses!

On the ninth day of Christmas my owner gave to me nine bars of soap!

On the tenth day of Christmas my owner gave to me ten flakes of alfalfa!

On the eleventh day of Christmas my owner gave to me eleven goat berries!

On the twelfth day of Christmas my owner gave to me twelve milking machines!

We hope you enjoyed it!

Santa Donut

Santa Sweet Roll

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Since HB and I started living together three years ago, I’ve insisted every year that we go to a tree farm and cut down our Christmas tree.  It’s been a fun tradition we’ve started.

Last weekend we went over the river and through the woods to Nelson County, home of  Kris Kringle’s Tree Farm.  We arrived at the farm to see families and dogs bustling around the farm, all in search of the perfect tree.  After getting the layout of the farm and picking up a saw, we set out to find The Tree.

Kris Kringle has 4 different varieties of trees growing, and several acres of each, so it took a while to decide.  We immediately ruled out the Norway Spruce, which we had selected last year.  We found its needles sharp and painful!

What tree to choose?

A White Pine?

Native to the area, beautiful soft and full branches.  But unfortunately, the branches are not very strong.  HB grew up with this type of tree, and has fond memories of it.  I found it hard to support many of our heavier ornaments.

A Scotch Pine?

Another beautiful tree, with full branches, stronger than the white pine, softer than the firs.

A Norway Spruce?

No way, it was ruled out after last years painful tree experience!  (Just try putting lights and ornaments on those prickly branches!)

In the end, we picked a beautiful Scotch Pine.    HB has a beautiful angel tree topper he purchased while living in Vermont that always sits atop our tree.  It’s beautiful, but I always felt it looked awkward on our tree with colored lights.  This year I asked HB if we could use white lights on the tree (much to his dismay; he said his mother would be proud of me) and honestly, I think it ties everything in beautifully.

Viola, our Christmas Tree,

We call him “Chuck”

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Obviously, the blog has a new look.  Welcome, my friends, to the newly-revamped, but always the same, Cornbread and Chickens.

My work schedule was arranged this week so that I have the pleasure of having Thursday and Friday off.  In return, I have to work Saturday, which will mean an early, quick trip to the market before work.  I’ve spent the better part of this morning, after the animals were tended, working on the layout.  Overall, I’m pretty pleased with the updated look.

If you’re looking for the list of blogs and websites that used to be to the right of the screen, you’ll now find them under the “Favorites” tag at the top of the page.  Information about me, the family, and the farm can be found under the “About” tag.  Soon I hope to have a page devoted to the animals as well.

Entertainment this morning has been provided by the movie, Cold Mountain, on the television and one of the farm cats, Buddy, romping through the barn apartment.  Almost two weeks ago Buddy did a number on his paw and had to have sutures put in above his paw.  Because of his injury, he’s been inside with us for the past week and a half.  I’m pretty sure HB can’t wait for Buddy to go back outside.  I think Junior (the other barn cat) is incrediably upset that Buddy gets to live inside while he remains outside.  Junior is always trying to get inside.

Last Saturday we got our Christmas tree – I have a post devoted to that coming out soon, but HB has the camera in his truck – and put it up this week.  It looks lovely this year.  I’ve been terrified every day I would come home to find it toppled over, or ornaments scattered through the barn apartment, compliments of Buddy’s boredom.  So far, we’ve been lucky.

We got the culture results back on Sweet Roll’s skin.  Of course, the primary antibiotic we were using is useless – the bacteria is resistant to it.  Now the question is, did it become resistant after a long course of treatment or did is start out resistant in the first place?  Either way, we’re waiting for the pathology report to come in before starting a course of treatment.  The vet is certain there is more to the infection than just a bacterial component.

And so, life continues here on the farm as Christmas quickly approaches.  I was able to meet Becky, who owns the three does we’ve purchased, last weekend at the market.  She was in-town for the day, and it was nice to finally meet her and discuss the girls with her. We’ll pick them up on New Years Day and I can’t wait. 🙂

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We just pulled our turkey from the oven and boy! does it look delicious!  My husband, a dedicated Good Eats fan, used Alton Brown’s turkey recipe as a guide.

A lot of cooking has been going on at the in-law’s, but down here in the barn, the turkey’s finished, the cranberry relish is chilling, the yeast rolls are rising, the dip is setting, and the final batch of chevre is in the making.  My parents requested we bring some chevre for the weekend, and we lucked out and got Anita’s last gallon of milk, as her goats dry up for a few months rest before freshening in February.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Danielle & HB

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Last Saturday afternoon we piled into the car and headed to Gretna for a visit to Our Father’s Farm.  The farm, owned by the Fuhrmann family, is an 1800’s tobacco farm-turned family farm that raises cattle and poultry for meat, milk, and eggs.  We met the Fuhrmann’s a few months ago at the community market and after a discussion with the in-laws, decided to purchase two turkeys from the farm to dress our Thanksgiving table.

The farm was beautiful, rolling green fields dotted with grazing cows and chickens.  The beautiful family of 10 (husband, wife, grandmother, and 7 children) were honest and sweet.  We arrived just as a chef from Isabella’s, a restaurant in Lynchburg, was leaving, his Volvo SUV loaded with at least a dozen turkeys.  The Fuhrmanns informed us that Isabella’s buys all of their eggs, ground beef, chickens, and turkeys from the farm.  We were thrilled to hear of a local restaurant supporting local, sustainable family farms in such a manner.  We love Isabella’s, and I think we’ll try to support them a little more frequently when we can!

The children showed us around the farm, introducing us to the farm dog (Shadow, a lean black German Shepherd) and showing us the animals.  We helped ourselves to some cider and talked “shop” with the adults learning about the farm and how they manage it and offer produce.  As a couple of young farmers who would eventually like to do a similar enterpise, we wanted to hear what they had to say!

As we left one of the younger blonde-haired daughters offered us a loaf of whole wheat sourdough bread, fresh baked by a neighbor.  We enjoyed that bread several times with week, soft and delicious.

My favorite part?  A part I didn’t even think to photograph? (But now wish I had?)  Inside their storage room, the room lined with coolers and freezers for storing milk, eggs, and beef products, was an inscription written into the poured concrete floor surrounded by handprints and the names of family members –

“A land of milk and honey”

A fitting quote, I think, for a couple of married missionaries, raising their seven (soon to be eight!) children on a farm in rural Virginia, bringing delicious, healthful, and sustainable food to a willing community.

Good for them.

And so, our turkey, which a week ago roamed green fields and feasted on green grass and bugs, rests quietly in our refrigerator.  This afternoon we’ll place him in a brine solution and roast him slowly tomorrow.  Tomorrow we’ll give thanks to God for our fortunes and sorrows and think happily of the family who cared for our turkey before us.

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Bubbling Cauldron

William Shakespeare (1564-1616)

from Macbeth

A dark Cave. In the middle, a Caldron boiling. Thunder.

Enter the three Witches.

1 WITCH. Thrice the brinded cat hath mew’d.
2 WITCH. Thrice and once, the hedge-pig whin’d.
3 WITCH. Harpier cries:—’tis time! ’tis time!
1 WITCH. Round about the caldron go;
In the poison’d entrails throw.—
Toad, that under cold stone,
Days and nights has thirty-one;
Swelter’d venom sleeping got,
Boil thou first i’ the charmed pot!
ALL. Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and caldron bubble.

*Picture of our Halloween Brunswick Stew, made with many ingredients from the farm – beef, tomatoes, lima beans, green beans, etc. 🙂

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