October 29, 2012

Hurricane Sandy

One of the problems with maintaining a blog is the time it takes to do it. Not since August have I done any updating, yet the busiest time of the year - Autumn - has come and gone, without the slightest detail of what we have done. Autumn is flying out of here at hurricane speeds (literally) as I write this. We are hunkered down with Hurricane Sandy (tropical storm of epic proportions? nor'easter?) battering about outside. We are lucky to be inland. Our family in Niantic will be dealing with what the news is calling, "flooding of epic proportions" on this October day with a full moon hiding above these raging clouds.

Here at the farm, horses are snug in the barn after a morning braving the winds and light rain, now that the winds are reaching 50+ mph and climbing. At 4 P.M. in our little corner of Connecticut, the storm hasn't technically hit us yet. Highways and bridges have been shut down, towns are evacuated along the coast, and I eagerly wait for updates from my son in New York and my daughter at her fiance's house for news from those locals. The newsman says that a tall ship has sunk off the coast of North Carolina, in seas burdened by waves above 26 feet. Our trucks, trailers and other vehicles were strategically placed last night, to offer some wind resistance to the barn doors, and to remain out of reach of big trees, should one fall. While moving bird houses and feeders from the garden I found, to my surprise, violets growing. It has been an odd season, with irises blooming is September, and now violets for Hallow'e'en. What is becoming of our seasons? Will our winter be mild again, or miserable? Last year at this time we were staring into almost a foot of snow in places. This year, a Monster Storm that is affecting pretty much the entire eastern seaboard has given us pause. It feels good, however, to be as ready as we can be. If worse comes to worse, we will hook up a team and drag away any downed trees, seasoning the wood for next year's fuel.

August 27, 2012

For those of you keeping track of our 'babies", Leila and Jessie - they are coming along BEAUTIFULLY! As most of you know, Leila was born here at Cedar Knoll Farm to our mare, Dolly. Jessie is Leila's half-sister (same stud) and we have had her here since she was about 3 or 4 months old. Now over two years old and 17.2 HH, they have been working the fields, driving on the road, and even being ridden some. They have a lot of filling out to do, however (in spite of their good height), and we won't put them to commercial use until later next year. Meanwhile, we will continue to go down the road with them, take them to different places, and do light farm work with them. They are quiet and obedient - I have a feeling this team will do us proud!

August 15, 2012


We got a new paint pony! We named him "Snickers", since we already had candy-named ponies, Skittles and Buttercup. He is a good hand taller than Buttercup and a little less refined, but still cute as a button. We took him all the way into Hanover yesterday to visit with friends Joe and Tina. He's a quick little mover and very willing to go the distance! I think we are going to like having Snickers!

June 25, 2012

Cedar Knoll Farm: Full Swing into Summer

Looking back at our most recent blog entries (recent being about a month ago) I marvel at the change in scenery, and, of course, activity. Winter colors of browns, greys and hazy pinks have given way to lush green landscapes, splashed with a hodge-podge of botanical colors and glazed with turquoise skies. The weddings are in full swing, with Baraats nearly every weekend, too. Special events, like the Intermodal Transportation Center opening in Norwich with the Governor this past weekend, are popping up here and there. Victorian Days in Willimantic, parades, and the Pony Train in Coventry keep us hopping all over. We are loving it!

May 25, 2012

Spring Preparations are Done

An annual event, "Plowing the Community Garden" in Wilbraham, MA,
prepares 2 acres  of vegetable gardens, all by horse power. Our all around best team,
Danny & Dakota, on our hydraulic plow. The photo is by friend, Tory MacDonald.

Terry, harrowing with a line of five. This field of 20 acres or so will grow tobacco.
The harrow is a pin-tooth harrow.

June is just about here. Almost half way through 2012. Fields have been plowed, pin harrowed, disk harrowed, some already planted by their farmers. First cut hay was put up last week. As you can see from previous blogs, Spring was loaded with acres and acres of work and preparation for us and the horses. Now, the organic, community, and commercial crops can grow, and the fun stuff  - carriage rides, weddings, pony train - can get into full swing!

April 30, 2012

The Pony Train

Our new venture, the Pony Train, is taking off! Skittles and Buttercup have the dubious job of being the locomotive for our colorful collection of train cars!

April 9, 2012

Philomel Gardens, Prepared

As most of you have noticed from recent posts, we have spent the last few weeks quite seriously plowing and discing, almost every day until now. Twenty - two (plus) acres have been readied for planting, and Philomel Organic Gardens will begin their CSA program! We were excited to have been a very big part of this energetic farmer's quest for an earth-friendly way to prepare the ground for planting. We look forward to sharing in the bounty of our labor!

March 19, 2012

A Season for Harrowing

Normally, our plow first  breaks the ground here around April 1st. With the weather being so uncommonly warm, however, we have been out plowing and discing for more than a week already.  This three acre field, rented by a local farmer in Preston, will bear a large vegetable crop for resale. The plans of the farmer is to labor as much as possible with horse power,  rather than tractor. Two days worth of work and much of the ground is plowed and disc harrowed, although there is far more acreage to harrow for cover crop. 

Yesterday, we put four of our horses to the harrow, and these pictures show the result of that. For those of you who would find interest in the mechanics of driving four under the "Ohio" or "Midwest Amish" system of lines, go tot this video - Terry explains it all!  http://youtu.be/YRQa0Jwh1N8

March 15, 2012

Ponies, Ponies, Everywhere!

I think you would be pretty hard pressed to find anyone who, at one point or the other in their lives, didn't dream of having a pony. It is funny how after years of owning big, bold, beautiful draft horses, I am suddenly realizing how fortunate I am to now have PONIES! All the obvious things aside, like the ease of keeping them, cleaning up after them, and harnessing and hooking them, what I love about ponies most is that they are spry, willing, and plain adorable.

We bought Buttercup last summer, and as most of you know, he has been a fun addition here. Skittles was given to us, completely unbroke to harness. Less than four weeks of training has turned Skittles into a wonderful carriage pony. We have terrific plans for these ponies. Stay tuned to see what is in store!

February 24, 2012

Training the Fillies

 It is late in February, but it feels like Spring. The temperatures have been in the upper 40's, some days high 50's. It has been a lousy winter for sleigh rides but a good winter for most everything else. It is nice not to feel the bitter cold when doing chores. It is nice that the wood pile hasn't had to work so hard at keeping us warm this year.

Another benefit to the warmer winter weather has been the ability to work the youngsters and the ponies. Leila and Jessie are in the early stages of training, now being harnessed with Diesel and ground driven. They are learning to keep up with him (although often failing miserably), learning to stand patiently (doing exceptionally well with that skill, I must say), and learning that cars, trucks and mailboxes on the street won't eat them up. The mailboxes have been a bit of a challenge for Leila but she has caught on fast.

Soon, very soon, the girls will make their way to Pennsylvania to work the fields. They will learn to plow, harrow and spread manure. They will be expected to go to market. I expect them to do very well. Once they return, it will be light work until they are three. Then, we will have a sharp pair of black Percherons on the job!

Leila and Diesel, day one.

Laila and Diesel on their way for training in the back pasture, day two.

Elaine with Diesel and Leila, day two.

Jessie on her first day with Diesel.

January 22, 2012

Sleigh Ride

Yesterday, we finally had some accumulative snow. I had heard we had a little snow earlier in the week, however I had accompanied Terry to one of the big draft horse sales and missed the only snow to have fallen up till that point since that strange October blizzard. Temperatures rose enough the next day to melt most of it, and our barnyard looked like a chilly desert of frozen earth when we finally got home later in the week. Saturday's snowfall gave us something to work with, though. Sleigh rides ensued through the fields, blanketed in light, fluffy snow. Tomorrow promises to send temperatures up near 50, and heavy rains are forecasted to fall in eastern Connecticut. If you didn't get a sleigh ride today, you may need to wait for the next "snow event" to cover New England!