Progress on the Gardens

IMG_20150418_141347_239 IMG_20150418_143012_951Today I had a couple of new friends, Noah and Christopher, come visit on the farm and help me with the flock and the garden. First we corralled the goats in the barn to keep them out of trouble while we went out to feed the sheep. After last weekend’s shearing and then several “scary” visits from strangers this week most of the sheep were feeling pretty shy. Elizabeth and Larry were happy to come say hello and get treats and scratches though, as always!     After that, the guys and their mom Natalie and my friend Alicia helped me fill the raised bed boxes with sticks. I borrowed this idea from “hugelkultur“, a German method of building raised beds with wood at the core. As the wood rots, it slowly composts and feeds the gardens. Usually hugelkultur raised beds are built into mounds, not boxes, so I’m not doing “true” hugelkulture, just borrowing one component. DSC_0122 Then came the hard part– digging up piles of composted llama manure out in the pasture and hauling it back to be dumped in the boxes. Thankfully we have a new yard cart which is much easier to use than our rickety old wheelbarrow. Assembling it was our morning project. IMG_20150418_124021_278 Still, it takes a lot of shoveling. We only got a few loads done, but it was a good start. DSC_0123In between heavy lifting and water breaks, Christopher and Noah collected a jar of violets for me to make violet vinegar. Ever tried it? I haven’t but am eager to see how it turns out after sitting a few weeks! IMG_20150418_204526_933 After the boys left, Alicia and I installed a gutter on the roof of the garden shed (much harder than anticipated due to the crazy bush that kept attacking us, and the ridiculously hard wood of the roof eaves) .DSC_0124And then set up a rain barrel to collect water from the shed roof and feed it into the raised garden bed irrigation systems. DSC_0125Hopefully tomorrow I’ll get more manure moved into the beds. I’d like to have at least a few plants in the ground before the weekend is over!

Happy Holidays from Square Peg Farm!

christmas_ farmThanks so much for following along all year long. We appreciate every click, comment and “like” we receive. Mostly we keep this blog as a sort of journal for ourselves so that we can look back over projects that have succeeded, and those that have failed, and make plans for future projects. Its been such a fun surprise to find that we have “followers” and regular readers. Its really neat knowing that when we learn something new on the farm there are other people out there learning through us. Hopefully we can help prevent you from making some of the mistakes we have made, or at least let you know what you are getting yourself into!


From our family to yours we hope you have a Happy Holiday and a Wonderful New Year!

Getting into the Holiday Spirit

entryEver since we moved to Kentucky, 7 hours away from family, in December we struggle to get into the holiday spirit. All of our old traditions had meaning because they were shared with our family and the communities we grew up in. Thankfully our parents and my brother will be traveling to spend time with us right after Christmas so we are looking forward to that, but we are still left not sure quite what to do in the meantime! Little by little each year we are creating new traditions and ways of celebrating either by ourselves or with our new Kentucky friends.



Tonight, our friend Alicia came over to bake Christmas cookies, listen to Christmas music, and decorate the house (or at least get the decorating started!).

DSC_0222We made two types of cookies, ginger cookies (Chris’s request) and cream cheese sugar cookies in the shapes of farm animals! Alicia and I did most of the baking and Chris made us festive Christmas themed cocktails with sprinkles around the rim!


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We got a good start on the decorating. The front entry way including the banister is done. The mantel is mostly done, it just needs a new wreath to hang in front of the mirror. Chris made the candle holder on the mantel using a stave from a bourbon barrel. I’m thrilled with how it turned out and I think that after the holidays are over I’ll swap out the red candles for something more neutral, take down the Santa and stockings and leave the rest in place until spring!


Alicia brought her pug, Tater, and she and Avi spent the evening competing for attention and putting up with their silly humans trying to dress them in Christmas hats.

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Story Book

I am so excited to be able to share the BIG NEWS with all of our farm followers. Over the past year my mother in law, Dianne, has been working on a beautifully illustrated children’s book all about Elizabeth the sheep and all of her friends on the farm. All of the characters in the book are real animals on our farm and most of the scenes are taking straight from photos Dianne and I took around the farm.


In the story, Elizabeth looks around the farm at all the beautiful colors and is inspired to become and artist. You’ll never guess what she decides to use as a canvas!


The book is scheduled for publication in January but we are already taking pre-orders. Books will ship as soon as they are received from the printer which- hopefully- will be before Christmas!

I’ve also dyed up some kits for the patterns included in the book and they can be ordered here.

Lovefeast Season

I received the neatest surprise package in the mail today. A few days ago I entered a drawing on the Facebook page of my alma mater, Wake Forest University and- shockingly- I won!


You see, every year before classes let out for Christmas break Wake Forest has a Lovefeast service in the campus chapel. For a lot of Wake students, this is their first time attending the Lovefeast service and becomes cemented in their mind as a particularly “Wake Forest”-y experience and a memory that they take with them into their adult lives. For me, the Lovefeast service means a bit more. The Lovefeast service is a Moravian tradition.DSC_0056 If you haven’t spent a Christmas in North Carolina or Pennsylvania you might not have ever heard of the Moravians. If you want to hear the history of the Moravian people and Moravian Church, my dad would be a great person to talk to. But in a nutshell, the Moravians were a group of Germanic people who, led by Jon Huss, formed one of the first Protestant religious communities  in the 1400s (long before Luther came along). After decades of hardship and persecution the Moravians eventually found their way to the colony of Pennsylvania in 1741 and, shortly afterwards, founded a small settlement in the wilderness of North Carolina. My ancestors were among these first settlers in NC and my family has lived in (what eventually became) Winston – Salem ever since and remained part of the Moravian church. DSC_0051So- what does all of this have to do with a Christmas Lovefeast service, you ask? Well, the story goes that in the early 1700s things were looking pretty grim for the Moravians. They were living “underground” since it was illegal to be anything but Catholic in Moravia at the time. But then a wealthy but generous noble man – Count Zinzendorf- gave them refuge on his estate in eastern Germany. They were so happy to finally have a place to live and worship safely and openly that they came together for a service of worship and celebration. According to the story, they were so filled with love for each other and for God that they couldn’t tear themselves away from the service. It went on so long that they started to get hungry, so some members gathered up loaves of bread and coffee (okay, it was probably actually beer being Germany in the 18th century but as a kid I was told coffee). Then it started to get dark, so they passed around candles for light. This was the first Lovefeast.


The tradition has continued to this day. Lovefeast services are actually celebrated throughout the year at Moravian churches, but they are best known for the Christmas service. My family’s church always celebrates the Christmas Lovefeast on Christmas Eve, but other churches in the area – including the one on WFU’s campus- have Lovefeasts earlier in December. People from throughout the region attend the Christmas Lovefeast services, even if they don’t attend a Moravian church during the year. It has become a distinctly “Winston-Salem” experience for a lot of people and for many of us, Christmas wouldn’t be the same without the taste of rich coffee (with plenty of real cream and sugar)and soft buns of bread and the smell of beeswax candles.


As a child growing up in the Moravian church, Christmas Eve was the Big Day in my family and Christmas Day was just an afterthought. We basically spent all day at the church, sometimes rushing home for a big family lunch in between services, because my parents were both “deniers”. These are the people who serve the coffee, buns and candles to the congregation. Once my little brother and I were tall enough to reach the door knobs, we found a job as “door openers” — the deniers with their hands full of trays of food and candles always needed a little helper to open the doors to the sanctuary. As we grew older we were trusted with greater responsibilities and eventually became deniers ourselves.


Now that I live in Kentucky I’m often not able to travel back to North Carolina for Christmas. Thankfully, our family is able to travel to visit us when we can’t make it back home and we are forming new holiday traditions, but Christmas isn’t quite the same without attending the Christmas Lovefeast. This year I’m looking forward to tuning into the Wake Forest live feed of the annual on-campus Lovefeast Sunday Dec 7 at 8pm. I’ll be ready with my cup of coffee, beeswax candle and even a printed program so I can sing along. Chris has promised to see what he can do with the Lovefeast Bun mix so maybe I’ll even have a bun to dip in my coffee!

Garden Progress

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Mom and Dad finally have their fencing up and are ready to put animals on the farm so mom came for a short visit this week and take her goats home with her. Naturally, I put her to work almost immediately. Today we…

  • finished spreading mulch in one of the perennial flower beds
  • reclaimed wood from a falling down fence to use as borders in the herb garden (p.s. don’t get in my Mom’s way when she is wielding a board sprouting old rusted nail…ouch)
  • put together a manure tea pot
  • planted indoor herb gardens so we can keep enjoying fresh herbs
  • emptied one (partial) trailer load of mulch AND went and picked up another load
  • and our biggest job for the day was completely re-doing the area along one side of the house that had been a weed filled mess. We pulled weeds, cut and placed cardboard, pinned down weedcloth and spread many wheelbarrows full of mulch. The difference is amazing. I only wish that I had pictures of the area before we started to show off how much it has changed. We planted some re-blooming Lilacs which will, hopefully, grow  into large bushes that hid the a/c units from view. All that is left to do on this bed is to decide whether we want to edge it with anything. I’d love to use limestone rocks like we see in rock fences all over KY, but am not sure where to get them…

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Flower bed wrapping around screened porch and small “stone” (cement) patio for grilling/smoking


Nearly we just have to wait for the little Lilacs to grow into big bushes!

But before you start thinking that I took advantage of my poor mom, we did feed her well. Chris made us amazing dinners both nights she was with us. First spaghetti with a sauce made from garden tomatoes, red wine, fresh herbs and assorted aged meats then homemade pizza covered in fresh pesto, goat cheese, more of those aged meats and sun dried tomatoes. I added some homemade chocolate goat milk ice cream for dessert. Of course, in addition to the tasty meals we also forced Mom to act as guinea pig for some of our new culinary experiments. The water kefir (both cream soda flavored and cranberry) and gingerale made from a ginger bug were heartily approved as was the goat milk yogurt and my new grapefruit & basil martini recipe. The kimchi, however, got a solid thumbs down from Mom. Chris still insists that its *supposed* to taste (and smell) like that…

Chocolate Ice Cream

Chocolate Ice Cream

Mom will be headed back to NC in the morning with Tinkerbell (who is feeling much better now!), Thelma and Marie loaded into dog crates in the back of her SUV. As soon as she gets home and gets the goats settled into their new home, her two new llamas should be delivered. Its going to be an exciting day on the Bullins farm!!

Entertaining in Kentucky

We have out of town guests coming for the weekend so I’ve been trying to think of things to do while they are here



Alternately we could

  • weed the garden
  • mulch the flower beds
  • make the new raised flower beds
  • fix the holes the goats keep making in the fences
  • give the lambs their vaccination boosters
  • trim the sheep and goats’ hooves

Any other ideas for a summer weekend near Lexington, KY?

Hellos and Goodbyes

grandmaann3This time of year is never an ideal time to have to be away from the farm, but sometimes there is no other option. Last week my grandmother passed away after a very full 86 years. Her death was a blessing; she had a debilitating stroke about 18 months ago and her quality of life has been dismal since then. We did most of our mourning when it became clear that she would never recover from her stroke, so this week when she was finally released from her suffering we used it as an opportunity to gather as a family and celebrate her life. Ever since my generation of cousins left home for college and beyond we haven’t had many occasions to gather together as a group, and even fewer to see more distant relatives. Though not all of us were able to come to town on short notice (missed you Scott!), we did gather a good crowd for what turned out to be a really nice funeral service. It was better than I could ever have expected- all the scripture and song selections were perfect, the ministers said all the right things and my cousin Scott, who couldn’t be there in person, sent in the most beautifully worded statement on behalf of the four of us cousins which my brother read during the service. I had no idea that Scott was such an exceptional writer or that my brother was such a moving speaker (well, I already had a suspicion of the later after my brother’s infamous toast at our wedding…). I hope that I can get Scott to send me a copy of what he wrote and give me permission to post it, because he put into words so much that I could only hope to stammer about.


After the funeral we had a reception / family reunion at my parents’ home. We ended the night drinking wine, playing cards and sharing stories about grandma – some of which were old favorites but many which I’d never heard before! Apparently my naughty cousins got to hear stories about their dad’s misbehaviors after receiving spankings from grandma. Being a more perfectly behaved child, I never had such an occasion for post-spanking bonding. 😉

One of the neat things that might develop out of this family gathering is that I had a chance to chat with my Great Uncle Bob and some other relatives who have been compiling our family history and have extensive records including original civil war era letters and notebooks of journals written by Uncle Bob about his own life and what he has been told about the lives of his parents and grandparents. We are going to work together to make sure that all the originals are kept safe for future generations and make a digital library that can be shared with family members around the country. I’ve posted a few of the family trees and photos that I’ve collected so far on this blog but hope to be able to add more soon.

So that is my update on Goodbyes, my next post will be all about Hellos!