<![CDATA[BOTL Farm - Blog]]>Mon, 13 Aug 2018 13:27:53 -0400Weebly<![CDATA[Goats!]]>Mon, 13 Aug 2018 12:10:04 GMThttp://botlfarm.com/blog/goats
Dearest believer in the BOTL, 
Have you ever awoken at the break of dawn, stepped out of bed, stretched your legs, and thought to yourself "I really wish I could hear some screaming right now"?  Oh man, you should get goats.

Goats serve an uncountable number of uses on the farm.  Really just two.  They eat poison ivy, and they make a delicious osso buco [Editor: At BOTL Farm, we have no expectations that our goats will learn to cook].
You may have seen the viral videos of screaming goats complementing Taylor Swift in her top 40 hit pop songs.  If you haven't, hit up the googles for a chuckle or two.  If you have, you'll understand why farmers begin their search for goats by looking for quiet breeds.  You might be surprised to learn that even the quiet breeds are.... really quite loud.

A good goat can eat a good fraction of its body weight in poisonous plants each day, is resistant to disease, and grows very large horns.  Like, at least 4 feet in length and curly.  We  wanted to get merino sheep [Editor: no, some of our wool-loving family members wanted us to], but since they are sheep and not goats, we decided on Kiko breed goats.  Kikos are known for being large, delicious, good eaters, independent, worm-resistant, and very pretty.  They are not quiet.
We built a custom isolation system in the back of our farm truck, which is actually a Honda Fit.  The back is the part where the rear seats fold down.  We went to pick up two Kiko goats, and the goat breeder noted this was not the worst goat transport setup he had ever seen.  That made us feel better.

We kept the goats together for the first sixteen weeks, until the male goat began peeing on his face... which, as we all know, is an obvious sign of goat foreplay.  Then it was time to separate the goats and pair the male with two ram lambs (we have sheep but we'll tell you about that later) and the female goat with the rest of the sheep herd.

In the future, we hope to sell goat meat, but for now we're raising our breeding stock and trying to encourage them to eat metric tons of plants that we don't like but they seem to enjoy.

If you drive by BOTL Farm, roll down your windows to hear the distant screaming of our new goats at all hours of the day !
<![CDATA[​Cluckin and pluckin]]>Mon, 06 Aug 2018 18:11:07 GMThttp://botlfarm.com/blog/cluckin-and-pluckinHi there, poultry connoisseur.  We should have told you long ago, but BOTL Farm has chickens.  A lot of chickens.  We've had them for so long that they wander both the pasture and the freezer.  You may ask yourself, why have we been keeping this information from you?  We have no excuse.  All we can offer you is apologies, and the story that follows... a story of the birds and the bees.  Just kidding, the bees all died last fall.  Let's talk about the birds.
Once upon a time, BOTL Farm received a delivery of young chicken-lets.  If you've ever been a steward to such a flock of tiny dinosaurs, you know they will occasionally plug up their poopers and die, and that you have to wipe off the pastie butt like five times a day.  We did that.  We kept their bottoms as clean as the morning is early.  When the chickens were old enough to leave the cast iron bathtub and head out into the brooder, we built a square brooder.  Chicken books tell you to avoid square corners, because the chicken-lets will pile up in the corners until they crush each other, but who could build round corners without a sawmill that can cut quarter inch bendy boards?  We did not have such a thing.  Yet.  We cared for each chicken, but nature must take it's toll like a pile of tiny chickens in the corner of a foam insulation box on top of one poor tiny chicken.

We tried to get the chickens to lay eggs in January.  They normally don't lay as many eggs in January since it's dark and cold.  Like Sweden.  We tried light therapy, giving them wooden eggs to sit on, reading them poetry, showing them anatomically accurate Youtube videos of chickens producing salable sized eggs with minimal shell defects, and gently massaging the chickens over top of the egg laying boxes.

We stand firmly behind economists that subsidies will encourage specific behavior, which may have unintended side effects.  So we decided to raise our chickens on a diet that is free of corn and soy.  Our chicken feed is 100% organic all natural corn free, soy free, GMO free, bits of delicious chicken dinner.  They love it.  And they look good eating it too.

Further, chickens, like DJs, like to scratch.  Both records and piles of wood chips.  We faced the challenge of putting our chickens out to pasture in a way that allows them to dig around and be happy chickens, and also allows us farmers to periodically move them to new pasture land.  We needed something that was a large chicken coop on wheels... something like... a $200 RV from Craigslist.  That's right.  That looks like a chicken coop to us.

After a year of herding birds and collecting eggs, we decided that what we needed was even more chickens.  So we collected our top 200 eggs and put them in an incubator.  The incubator was a plastic tote we had to rotate 6 times a day.  After just the right number of days, out of the eggs popped... tiny dino-errr.. chickens!  And such it was that we turned 200 eggs into 130 chickens!  Magic!
As math and genetics would have it, that was a lot of roosters, so we went ahead and transferred about 61 rooster from the pasture to the freezer by way of the ole plucker.  Not too many feathers left on those roosters.  We hope.

So BOTL Farm now sells eggs and chicken!  Stop by today for an infinite supply of eggs, sold for $6 in a lovingly made carton of 10 or whole chicken for $5 a lb.  Corn free, soy free, GMO free, good for your conscious and good for the world!  Spread the world and eat the bird products !
<![CDATA[Life on the Live Edge]]>Wed, 18 Jul 2018 01:51:56 GMThttp://botlfarm.com/blog/life-on-the-live-edge​​Today we begin with a poem:

    There once was a sawmill from the north,
    A tide of joyful lumber it brought forth,
    It sawed with a study blade,
    A feat of board feet it made,
    And now we sell lumber of course !

This concludes the poem.  Now we will move on to a hypothetical scenario.  Imagine you were a young farmer with stars in your eyes, a dream in your heart, and two mortgage payments.  What would you do?  That's right, you would watch the sun rise each morning, watch it set each evening, and try to monetize everything around you.

And so it was that we wondered if we could sell trees.  Building 4400 linear feet of perimeter fence and clearing two potential barn sites had left us with piles and piles of logs:
A dog is a device for meeting infinite friends, and a sawmill is a device for turning tree trunks into dimensional lumber.  To lumberify all of those logs, what we needed was a sawmill.

BOTL Farm maintains a full time staff of professionals in a variety of occupations that provide services, consultation, and manual labor.  Usually we pay them in beer.  One member of our staff is a full-time wood worker who part time works with wood and occasionally does it for us.  His previous exploits include building 16 bee boxes and a farm sign/stand.  Once he also made a set of gears out of plywood.

If you've ever gotten bored with your reality, had a mid life crisis, and taken up wood working to try and fill that gaping void in your soul that your day job leaves, you might know how much hardwood costs at the homeless despot.  Then you might go to a farm and stare longingly at all the trees just sitting on the farm... growing.  Why not put them where they belong, on a table saw?

So it became that BOTL Farm's contract wood worker decided the farm needed a sawmill, and through sheer force of manifest destiny and the four basic forces of nature as identified by gravity, a sawmill was selected and ordered and came to be installed upon that which is the farm.

Meet the Woodland Mills HM126.  A pinnacle of powder-coated box tubing and the infernal combustion engine.  Our lumber mill was ushered into existence and began with a steady input of logs, gasoline and human labor has begun to produce an infinite pile of sawdust, firewood, and sale-able lumber.

If you too are an aspiring wood worker, or somebody who watched one too many Youtube videos and now wants to build something with a live edge, stop by BOTL Farm today to purchase lumber for your next great project !
<![CDATA[Establish a Perimeter!]]>Mon, 25 Jun 2018 13:53:50 GMThttp://botlfarm.com/blog/establish-a-perimeterGreetings, fellow livestock enthusiast.  You may recall that just a few short months ago, our heroes of BOTL Farm ran a long and difficult campaign trail to seek election to the highest office in an 1820’s farmhouse.  The office is on the first floor.  However, one of the campaign promises made by our farmers-elect was to build a big, beautiful wall to keep all those unauthorized raccoons out and to prevent them from picking our fruit.  In the orchard.  Not only did they promise us a wall, they vowed that the state of Connecticut was going to pay for it.

Behold citizen, our farmers-in-chiefs have delivered upon all these campaign promises and more.  We’re not talking about a partial prototype in the southern California desert or multiple decades of eminent domain disputes with the owners of Cards Against Humanity [1].  No indeed fair reader, for what we have here is the Biggest, most Beautiful wall the world has ever seen:
In our early days of herding meat rabbits on the shores of the Jersey coast, we learned what security researchers have long known: multiple concentric layers of defense are the foundation of any reliable system.  This became clear to us the day the rabbits dug a hole under the electric fence, and we ran all over town with a butterfly net trying to catch them.  This lesson was re-enforced the day we lost electricity and the rabbits got out, the day the rabbits found an old woodchuck tunnel system and got out, and all the other times we accidently altered the local rabbit gene pool.  A perimeter fence around animal paddocks is critical to the success of a livestock farm.  Fences are like onions.

Our goal was to fence off 19 of our 40 acres with an electrified perimeter fence, so that in the inevitable event animals escape their individual paddocks, they are contained within the 19 acres.  We budgeted $15,000 to build the perimeter fence and all animal paddocks.  We received quotes from several contractors, and after reviewing our original budget the phrase “hotdog down a hallway” came to mind.  The cheapest quote was $47,000 to build only the perimeter fence and did not include land clearing or electrification.  We began seeking alternative plans.  As we often say here on the farm, “you’ve gotta swing to miss!”

The revised plan was to do all the land clearing ourselves, do all the design work ourselves, do all the post and panel sourcing/distribution/installation ourselves, and do the electrification ourselves.  We believe that we’ve built ourselves a one-of-a-kind farm fence, and we’re writing a whole separate blog post to talk about all the parts that went into it.

Since we never back down on a campaign promise, we still vowed to get the citizens of Connecticut to pay for our big pig wall.  Now we understand this could be a controversial goal if, for example, you live in CT and pay taxes.  Don’t worry, you can tour the outside of the fence at any time.  Please don’t touch it, that hurts like really quite a lot.

We found the Farmer’s Land Grant Association of North Eastern CT and wrote up a proposal to the state on why they should help build our wall.  The proposal quoted the scholarly body of Subaru Outback bumper stickers including “no farms, no food” and “galvanized T-posts are expensive”.  After being compared to an uncountable number of other proposals, our proposal was selected!  Our fence was inspected, high fives were issued, a commemorative selfie was taken, and we look forward to receiving a $20,000 reimbursement for 50% of the fence cost installation any day now.  In fact, I should go check the mail box right now.

Good neighbors, help you make your fences good.  Shout-out to all of our neighbors.  Sorry about those post pounder noises, we should be mostly done with those now.  Cheers everyone!

[1] https://cardsagainsthumanitystopsthewall.com/
<![CDATA[Baby it's cold outside...]]>Tue, 20 Feb 2018 23:53:05 GMThttp://botlfarm.com/blog/baby-its-cold-outside​Greetings my fellow classic Christmas song enthusiasts!  Today we’re going to explore another oft-overlooked aspect of farming – winter living in an 1820’s farmhouse.  We’ll also touch on the roles of feminism in firewood splitting, technology to prevent pipes from freezing, the infrared light spectrum, shivery puppies, and providing farm animals with water when the pasture looks like Antarctica. Right then, off we go.
I must speculate, a farmer from 200 years ago was cut from a tough cloth.  Consider a house with no insulation, no modern HVAC system, Thomas Edison hasn’t fought Nikola Tesla yet to invent electric blankets, and you’re basically relying on a few fireplaces throughout the house and whatever wood you split from the back 40 to survive the winter.
During a recent New Year’s Eve celebration at BOTL Farm, our resident hydrologist brought some of her fancy electronics to do thermal spectrum imaging.  We pointed them at the house to see if we could find any insulation.  We didn’t find any insulation, but we did find some amazing numbers.  Here’s a picture from January 1st 2018 of the backdoor into the farmhouse:
​You might notice two things astute reader.  The first is the wheeled firewood cart that we use to bring in fuel for the woodstove. The second is the temperature scale on the right.  We can see the boiler driven hot water heater chooching out an impressive 103 degrees.  We can also see the baseboards around the door are sitting comfortably at 1 deg Fahrenheit.  Please note that this picture is INSIDE the house.
Let’s have a look at one more picture:
​This is the kitchen counter in the farmhouse.  You can see a cellphone cranking out yub dub, a toaster oven, and our set of measuring spoons.  You can also see the electrical outlet in the center of the picture is 33 degrees F (no insulation in the wall), and that the highest temperature visible in the kitchen is the toaster oven and an actively charging cellphone at about 64 deg F.
The heating system in the farm house is a fuel-oil driven hot water boiler, that circulates water through three different baseboard loops.  During our first winter in the farm house, we discovered it costs a lot in fuel oil to keep the farm house at 54 deg F.  This temperature was selected because it is the lowest temperature we can go to keep the plumbing in the walls and basement from freezing.  Most of the time.  The plumbing has frozen at least 4 times.
For this the second winter, we saved by switching to a woodstove.  This was a considerable investment, because a chimney liner was needed to use the 200-year-old chimney in our living room with a modern woodstove.  This does seem to have reduced our fuel oil costs though, and we’re using mostly wood split from the back yard.
Splitting wood with hand tools is a vigorous physical activity, but fortunately our farmers come from a long family line of wood stove users and wood splitting enthusiasts.  There is a certain zen about standing in a 10 deg backyard, swinging a chunk of cold metal, hitting a frozen log, and trying to split it gracefully without inducing personal injury.  The exertion makes one feel at peace with the world, and we might venture it brings more satisfaction than giving the thermostat a turn and watching it slowly light your bank account on fire.
So we continue on, combining as much modern technology as we can to try and keep the farm house affordably thawed through this unseasonably cold CT winter, and trying to keep the chickens and rabbits thawed until that time where we see fit to intentionally place them in the chest freezers.  Everybody stay warm, spring comes soon!
<![CDATA[Sign Building]]>Fri, 26 Jan 2018 13:25:09 GMThttp://botlfarm.com/blog/sign-building
Greetings fellow small farm enthusiast.  Bootstrapping a small rural farm presents many challenges, such as building a sign and a farm stand.  We can learn from the authors of the Unix grep command that the fastest way to do work is to eliminate the work that needs to be done.  Therefore we combined the farm sign and farm stand into a single glorious entity.

Our initial goal was to build a farm sign that could be seen be from space but our local municipality has more specific ideas on allowable square footage and foot print.  After considering our logo, branding, marketing, three tab shingles, the golden ratio, and the sizes of standard construction lumber, we submitted a design that was unanimously approved by the town.

Construction began in earnest.  The initial step was to set posts 4 feet into the ground.  Attempts with post hold diggers and shovels were met with large rocks, and the farmers resorted to tractor-based excavation.  Complications involving a PTO driven auger arose, persisted, and were overcome.  40 bags of cement were poured.  Finally the two vertical support posts for the sign were in place.

The wood working for the sign was commissioned to the lowest bidder/sucker that was found just two states away.  An aspiring, upcoming, novice woodworker who's strong suit was underestimating agreed to build the whole sign in 3 months, and in that time he delivered on more than half of the work.  The wood worker reports that he learned a lot about how to cut out letters using a bandsaw blade, how to change a broken bandsaw blade, how to use a jig saw in place of a bandsaw, what the minimum length of roofing nail is, and how to sort shingles by color.

One particularly challenging aspect of sign construction was how to mount a series of sign boards that indicate the products the farm currently has for sale such as eggs, honey, rabbit, and poison ivy.  A series of mounting solutions were explored, approximately 247 solutions in total including eye screws, vertical cables, clamp systems, tiny carabiners, turnbuckles, and a pneumatic stapler.  After the hired wood worker had carefully considered each solution for many hours and built multiple failed prototypes, he invited his only friend over, who studied the situation for 60 seconds and then arrived upon the correct solution.  So it was that the signs were mounted with a horizontal cable system using a remarkably simple tensioning system and some incredibly forgiving hooks and eye screws.

And so it was, the sign parts that were built 2 states away, shipped in a Honda fit, and left in a snow bank for a few days, came together to represent the farm for many years hence:
<![CDATA[Top 10 things about eggs that your farmer doesn't want you to know.]]>Tue, 02 Jan 2018 15:02:39 GMThttp://botlfarm.com/blog/top-10-things-about-eggs-that-your-farmer-doesnt-want-you-to-know​1) No lemurs were used in the production of your eggs.  It is commonly known, that lemurs are excellent wood workers, but they don't lay eggs. It is important to recognize what each of your employees excels at, and set them up for success.

2) Most chicken feed has corn and soy.  Any rich hipster, introspective foodie, or individual who periodically mitigates personal concern for global food supply degradation by getting up early enough on Saturday to visit a farmers market -- knows that the federal government heavily subsidizes corn stalks and soy plants.  Chicken feed is no exception.  We believe chickens prefer to eat really, ridiculously expensive feed.  We buy it by the pallet.

3) Chickens don't like being in cages.  A minimum thickness of impermeable and ideally electrified steel is necessary to keep chickens from being converted to fox treats, but chickens like to stretch their legs and wings in wide open fields.  We believe that keeping our chickens in a protected but open and rotating pasture field, combined with superior quality feed will produce the Highest Quality Eggs that northeastern Connecticut has seen recently.

4) The cost of chicken eggs is a function of feed quality, available pasture, and supply chain overhead.  Since we're maximizing the first two to bring you The Best Tasting Eggs Ever, we will try to minimize supply chain overhead by building the shortest supply chain possible.  This means selling eggs in our front yard.

5) Your farmer wants to sell you eggs in their front yard.  Look at their front yard. Then look at our front yard.  Then at theirs.  Now back to ours.  What do you see?  You see eggs with a cost representative of the quality of the chicken feed and pasture that we employ to provide The Best Tasting Eggs ever.

This brings us back to lemurs.  If you ever need wood working such as a farm sign, a farm stand, custom bandsaw work, or amateur roofing, we recommend hiring a lemur.  Introducing BOTL Farm's combination farm sign and farm stand:

<![CDATA[Meet Puppee, one of BOTL Farm's latest animal additions!]]>Tue, 15 Aug 2017 12:34:37 GMThttp://botlfarm.com/blog/meet-puppee-one-of-botl-farms-latest-animal-additions
We played a rousing game of "name that dog" when our pup arrived.  With her dark fur we strongly considered a name like "Midnight" or "Hello-Darkness-My-Old-Friend".  With her lab heritage, we considered a standard name like "Lady" or maybe "Fluffy".  After consulting the magic eight ball and extended horoscopes, we thought briefly that we should call her "Lucky" or "Kerfluffles".  Throughout this whole process we casually referred to her as "The Puppy" and called her "Pup" for short, and that was when we realized that her name had already been decided.  So mustering all the creativity of an un-seasoned kindergartner, we christened our first farm dog..... "Pup".  Her full name is "Puppee" and many of our friends call her "The Pupperchino" but strictly speaking she just responds to Pup.

Pup is on a raw food diet.  Most modern kibble mixes are soy and corn based, and after trying to feed Pup a steady diet of edemame and cobs, we determined this is not her preferred cuisine.  Being a reformed vegan, Pup strongly prefers her carnivorous streak.  We've been feeding her a mix of raw chicken, grocery store eggs, and.... rabbit parts.  Pup also enjoys eating raw hide bits and playing a game called "shred the rope."  She loves shredding that rope.

We're training her to clean up the kitchen floor when we spill during cooking, not to beg while we eat after cooking, and that it's ok to eat the rabbit parts we give her but not the rabbit parts that are running around out in the pasture.  Life is often confusing when you're a pup.

Stop by and say hello to Pup next time you visit BOTL Farm!

<![CDATA[The rise of the machines]]>Sun, 23 Jul 2017 01:37:30 GMThttp://botlfarm.com/blog/the-rise-of-the-machines​Good day, faithful followers of the bountiful BOTL.  It has been 6 months since we last spoke, and for this we offer our deepest apologies.  The past 6 months have not been lacking in development, so today let's focus our discussion on a specific topic.  Let's talk about the fields, the harvest, but most importantly... diesel powered heavy machinery.  Meet BOTL Farm's latest staff member:
The Kubota L-48.  There's something to be said for working with hand tools. The feel of the maker connected with their work piece.  The satisfaction of molding raw stock into finished product.  We can see this whether we are hand planning boards, digging thirty six holes for orchard trees with a shovel, or kneading bread dough with only the power of our forearms.  We understand the value that only manual labor can bring.  We also think power tools are amazing inventions, and we have a whole lot of stuff to move around on our land.  Mostly the land itself.
If you're anything like us, you may have a rudimentary knowledge of the internal combustion engine, especially as it is used in automotive applications, but looking at diesel powered hydraulic farm machinery is a new experience for you.  We started by watching YouTube videos, making ridiculous Google searches like "what tractor will run forever", and reading about how to quickly diagnose the health of a continuously variable transmission while doing a test drive.
Craigslist is powerful magic, and it was there that we happened upon our tractor.  It was under the care of a fairly well to-do individual to help with their yard work.  We paid three times as much for our tractor as we did for our last car, but with diligent care we hope it will last us for many solar eclipses yet to come.  The tractor came with front forks, a front bucket, a rear mower deck, and a back hoe.
Job number one for the tractor was brush clearing.  A person staring at an endless field of poison ivy feels a sense of calm and control when sitting in a cracked leather seat, riding high above the flowing urushiol oil, and unleashing the fury of liquid dinosaurs to blaze a path down to bare soil.  Job number two was using the mower deck to cut a parking lot in the pasture for our annual pig roast.  The mower deck was renamed "the rock finder" for its ability to smoothly cut tall grass until that fateful moment when a boulder is hiding underneath that grass, at which point a resounding "KAPOW" rings through the fields, and we are truly glad that hydraulic driven mower decks don't have many moving parts to shear off.
The tractor was also employed by our resident hydrologist to trace a state drainage pipe from the road towards our river, which was piled under years of sediment layers [editor comment: sediment is dirt, sand, rocks, and organic matter ... the culvert filled with all of these things].  After using the tractor's backhoe and exploring the layers all the way back to the jurassic era of 1987, we were able to free the end of the drainage pipe, only to find the pipe appears to be itself filled with dirt [editor's note: this is scientifically known as "soil"].  So that complicates things.
We've completed initial maintenance, had several hours of test sessions with all the attachments, and we're looking forward to serving you delicious animals in the future with the help of our new Kubota L-48!
<![CDATA[Big Changes, Big Brown, and Big Dreams]]>Sun, 22 Jan 2017 02:31:56 GMThttp://botlfarm.com/blog/big-changes-big-brown-and-big-dreamsWelcome dear reader, for another adventure in BOTL Farming.  Let's jump quickly into today's agenda:

   1) Contractors
   2) Jobs
   3) Why we are still buying pork but not selling it yet

Before we get to that agenda, let's begin with an agenda.  Today is January, the day after inauguration.  Let us not take a political stance, and instead let us seek that energy which binds all of us together, makes us successful, and breeds strength and positive energy regardless of whether we view ourselves through the lens of nationalism or globalism.  That's right.  Let's sell rabbits together.

We begin with contractors, but before that, let's talk about rabbits.  BOTL Farm, at it's core, is about farming, and farming, at it's core, is about raising organisms, which are either plant or animal and less often fungus.  Since we don't sell mushrooms in any significant volume, let's focus on rabbits.  Traditional rabbit dogma says that rabbits should be confined to cages, however we here at BOTL Farm think this is inconsiderate to rabbits.  Have you ever tried to imagine you were a rabbit?  Have you ever spent hours and hours sitting next to rabbits, watching the way they hop, the way they choose which strand of grass to eat next, which squirrel to fight next, and how to negotiate the world?  If you have, you would find that putting rabbits in cages is impolite.  The rabbits want to be free.  They want to eat greenery, they want to eat peas, and they want to stare at the other gender which has been almost entirely separated from them by a high voltage electric fence.  Rabbits are sold by the pound, and therefore an enterprising farmer would strive to raise the largest rabbit possible.  Imagine a rabbit the size of a kangaroo.  This is an ideal rabbit for a farmer.  As farmers, we are however limited to the rabbits our breeders will produce for us.  Breeders are not like a designer rabbit catalog, they do not accept orders, they do not commit to delivery dates, they will not allow customization, and in fact sometimes they won't even use the breeder boxes we provide for them.  Sometimes they dig holes we didn't want them to dig.

This brings us to a special rabbit we call "Big Brown."  We call her that because she is by far, the biggest rabbit we have yet created.  She's also brown. Since rabbits are sold by the pound, as farmers we saw the promise, the intellect, and the sheer gravity that Big Brown could yield.  By stroke of luck, big brown was a female, so she was added to the list of breeders.  Ancient humans civilizations have attempted to produce superior sized soldiers by selecting the largest male and female soldiers they could find and forcing them to interbreed.  These attempts were repeatedly met with failure, because human height is dependent upon multiple aleels, the interactions of which are poorly understood in modern day and were not understood at all in ancient times.  Queens and kings punished their subordinates, and the resulting offspring were undesirable, however the attempts tallied forth in spite.  Here at BOTL Farm, we like to think that we're smarter than the ancient Romans, but honestly we're been trying really hard to breed Big Brown.  After 3 tries of breeding, we were pretty sure she was not fertile.  Because honestly, rabbits breed like... well... rabbits.  If you hook up rabbits, you've got basically a 100% chance that they will produce offspring rabbits.  So after 3 breeding sessions with big brown that did not yield rabbits, we were thinking of cutting our losses and selling the Biggest Rabbit Ever.  But then, we decided to give her one more chance.  And lo and behold, Big Brown began to dig the Biggest, Brownest Hole we've ever seen.  She lined it with metric yards of her fur, and produced six of the biggest, largest, most sizable rabbit babies that BOTL Farm has ever seen.  Stay tuned my friends.  Kangaroo-sized rabbits may yet be within our grasp.

Returning to the agenda, let's begin with contractors.  Home-owners will understand the importance and the dichotomy that contractors provide.  They are important, because who has any idea how to fix their own septic tank, but they are a dichotomy, because who feels like they should pay $248 to fix the upstairs shower drain leaking onto the downstairs couch?  At the end of the day, we're going to pay whatever those contractors demand because we just don't have any other option.  BOTL Farm is much like any other house in this regard, except we have lots of square footage of house, and a whole lot of acreage of not-house.  BOTL Farm has employed a series of contractors recently.  First there were the contractors dealing with stone.  They had the unexpected but highly desirable side-effect of tamping down enough of the brambles and poison ivy to allow us to walk nearly a third of our property.  Second there were the chimney liner contractors.  They introduced us to the phrase "exploratory demolition" and they held steadfast to their goal to protect us from carbon monoxide and to properly route our combustion gases far above the roof line.  We liked them a lot, so much that we bought them Italian cuisine (pizza).  Third came the tree cutters.  The previous curators of BOTL Farm had lacked extreme diligence in monitoring the proximity of trees to our farm house roof, to such a degree that we had very large trees shading the roof in a way that scares us during high winds.  To such an extent that even though we owned the finest chainsaws and had even purchased chainsaw chaps, we decided it wasn't safe to tackle this arborist imponderable upon ourselves.  Fortunately our third contractor was up to the task, to such a degree that they even replaced the window they drove their bucket truck through.  And so it was, that BOTL Farm's capital value was improved, with the help of some of the nicest contractors that northeastern CT has to offer.

Can you believe it's only the second blog topic for today?  Jobs.  Farming full time requires... farmers.  A farmer guides the sheep in the way that a shepherd guides the sheep.  Without a farmer, a farm is just a field of plants.  Or a field of animals.  We've done the math though, a field of animals should be way more profitable.  In either case, a farm purchase is a mortgage, those are expensive, and quitting your job is like .. super scary.  Since neither of us have been fired yet, we've continued working our jobs and using our job money to pay the farm mortgage.  It is difficult to predict how far into the future this will persist becuase our crystal ball is not nearly as reliable as our band-saw's aftermarket adjustable aluminum fence, but it looks reasonably likely that the husband member of our farming team could potentially be approaching the end of his career within a month or so [editor's note: this is not confirmed and highly uncertain].  Of course nothing is for sure, but one thing is for sure.  We won't buy a dog until we both live together, and we both really want a dog.  Fate can only keep us from our dog and thus in our day jobs for so long.  Sooner or later, the farm must be free to farm and be great with Puppy [editor's note: this is the name of the future dog].  Speaking of which, what is your favorite type of dog?  Ours changes daily but is currently the blue-tick-red-labra-pit-doodle-hound.  [Editor's note: in the first reading of this blog post the blog writer nearly peed himself while re-reading this sentence.] What a classic.

Which brings us to the final issue of why BOTL Farm is still buying pork and not yet raising it.  As you can see, we don't have any animals, but we just bouught our first half cow from some delightful cow farmers down the road.  If you've never had happy cow, locally raised, hippy-dipppy, grass fed cow meat, we would super strongly recommend it.  Unless you're vegetarian, in which case you just need to realize that cows are just condensed vegetables (they eat grass).  Since we can't raise our own pigs, and we don't plan to raise cows, we just bought our first half cow today.  Delicious!  Buy local meat, support local farmers, use single stream recycling and credit unions, save the world.

For one final insight into daily life in BOTL Farm, let's review the word of our savior Russel Monroe [1].  This insight, which says we begin to speak the languages of our animals, proves truer than ever.  Rabbits don't have well developed vocal cords, but still have a rich language using their paws.  Dog owners may begin to communicate with each other using only the language of the dog.  Cat owners may begin to communicate with each other using only looks of disapproval and occasional bats of their paws, but rabbit owners begin to communicate with each other using only ear-grooming motions.  It begins with a dedicated swipe of both paws towards the base of the ear and extending firmly towards the end of the ear, with a defining flick of the wrists to rid the paws of collected debris.  It is with this language that we, as farmers, speak to each other in a way that words never could.  #RabbitStuff

Also two more hives [editor's note: we still maintain three live hives] died this winter.  Again.  Have you ever felt personally responsible for killing tens of thousands of innocent creatures that relied upon you for guidance?  We've done that like 4 times now.  Oops. [Editor's note: some members of BOTL farm would like to note responsibility as a separation between husband and wife, but team "Elk Whistle" [note: not a euphemism] asserts teams are teams, and we succeed and fail together.] In totally unrelated news, we might have more honey for sale soon, because it turns out the bees probably don't need it this winter anymore.  Oopsies.

Cheers, mates.  Keep strong, roll on, eat local, support farms, make bees and rabbits, and never lose hope.

[1] https://xkcd.com/1535/]]>