Author Archives: Caitlin

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Meet Orko!

Category : LGDs , Meet the Animals

I have been quite lax in introducing Orko, our first livestock guardian dog. He is a Great Pyrenees who came to live with us in August, and celebrated his first birthday on November 2. We adopted him from a family whose schedule required that they find him a new home. He had been a house dog with them, but he was born to working parents and exposed to goats as a puppy. He has adjusted remarkably well to life at Double Forte Farm, and we think he is shaping up to be a wonderful working livestock guardian, though he still has a lot to learn.

He came to us with the name “Chico.” We felt that Orko – the ancient Basque god of thunder – was a more fitting name, given his ancestry and his big, deep bark. He started out penned away from (but within view of) the stock, so that we could manage his introduction to them. Then he progressed to being out with the horses during the day and in a pen at night. Now he stays out in the pasture with the horses 24/7, with controlled/supervised access to the goats and chickens for training purposes. At 14 months old, he’s entering the “teenage” phase, and we’re hoping that his behavior remains as excellent as it has been so far!

For two years, I researched LGDs (livestock guardian dogs) before we started seriously looking. I think we were as prepared as possible, but of course actually having an LGD is a very different thing than reading about them! We were not at all prepared for how smitten we would be with this dog, and with this breed. Even with everything we learned and expected, we are continually amazed at how different Orko is from any other dog we’ve had. He is everything I thought he would be, but experiencing him firsthand has been quite remarkable. Though he is friendly and loves people, he is independent and thinks for himself. He’s very smart. He patrols the fenceline, and we hear him barking at night to ward off predators. We’re so thrilled that he is part of the Double Forte Farm family!

For those interested in LGDs, the “Learning About LGDs” group on Facebook is a great resource. I highly recommend joining the group to learn about these fabulous dogs.

Enjoy the big fluffy white dog photos!


Orko, upon his arrival at Double Forte Farm, meets Pixel.


Orko is such a friendly boy! This photo was taken soon after his arrival.


Orko as a puppy.


Orko meets the basset hounds.


Orko was great on his first (leashed) walk with the goats.


Orko hangs out in the run-in shed with “his” horses.


On his first downtown outing, Orko gives kisses to Richard.


Arriving back at the farm after a trip to the farmer’s market in Chestertown.

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Mud everywhere!

Category : Around the Farm

This warm December weather has been so very strange. Today it was so warm that I was working outside in a tank top. the recent rains have refilled the pond (which is nice), but have also turned every part of the farm to MUD (which is not nice). It’s slippery, sloppy, stinky and gross. I’m hoping we get a little break from the rain, although I know we don’t have it nearly so bad as those in the south who are dealing with flooding.

All that said, the warm weather is not so bad when it comes to getting work done outside. Today I cleaned out the small coop, which currently houses 26 young chickens (mostly Delawares, and a few Ameraucanas and Welsummers). These were chicks that came from Whitmore Farm in late September, and they will be added to our breeding flocks in the spring. I spread the dirty bedding on the garden and tilled it in, along with some ash from our wood stoves.

Of course, to do that I had to first replace the wheels on the garden tiller. The poor tiller is probably about as old as I am. It was my father’s when I was a child, and now my step-dad struggles to keep it running year after year. Something is always breaking. I think this thing is the bane of his existence sometimes.

I borrowed it from my parents a couple of weeks ago, and got most of the garden tilled when one of the wheels fell off. What next?! Never mind, it has two wheels and it’s running, so I can’t complain too much.



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Category : Goats , Meet the Animals

After considering it for some time, we finally went ahead and added dairy goats to Double Forte Farm! We purchased two doelings (young, female goats):

11822779_10208184312384633_1865090352949873730_nCalliope was born April 24, 2015 and is a Nubian. Don’t you just love those long ears?! She came from Hock Newberry Farm in Virginia. (This beautiful photo was taken by our friend – and talented artist and photographer – Burnell Yow!)




IMG_6525Tinkerbell was born April 1, 2015 and we purchased her from Josh and Toni Thompson in Delaware. She is an Oberhasli.



They are both just too cute, and fun. We’re smitten already. And we are looking forward to baby goats and goat milk when the time comes to breed these girls.

Visit our Facebook page to see the most adorable (short) video of the two girls meeting for the first time.

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Saber is now a gelding

Category : Uncategorized

[Originally posted September 16, 2014 at]

No photos this time, but I wanted to post an important update in Saber’s life: he is now a gelding!

He was gelded yesterday and gave us a few scary moments with excessive bleeding after the surgery. The vet had to come back and stitch him up to get the bleeding under control. Today Saber seemed quite comfortable. His swelling is less than expected he was happy to get back out to the pasture. His stitches come out on Thursday.

He actually seemed more comfortable today than his buddy Casidy. Casidy had his annual vaccinations yesterday and today his neck was too sore to graze. I wish I had gotten a video this morning of Casidy looking at his feed bucket (which was on the ground) and pawing the ground while looking at me as if to say, “Mommy, pick it up!” He was much happier when I held the bucket for him. Soreness after vaccinations is common, and Casidy will most likely feel fine tomorrow. In the meantime, some hay in the run-in shed hay racks gives him an option to eat without having to put his head down.

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Double Forte Farm

Category : Around the Farm , Barn cats

[Originally posted August 10, 2014 at]

After a long silence (mea culpa – I plead National Music Festival, then a concert in North Carolina, then illness, then catching up) I am excited to write this update on our summer activities, and especially on the status of our little farm.

Our most exciting news is that we have chosen a name for the farm! We are now Double Forte Farm. We have a new Facebook page – click here to check it out! – and a website under construction at 

Years ago, I showed horses under the Forte Farm name (and it’s still painted on my truck and trailer). My parents and I hoped that one day we would have a real horse farm and call it Forte Farm. But when Richard and I lived on a horse farm in Virginia and I finally had the opportunity to use the Forte Farm name, we googled it and discovered that there are many Forte Farms.

More recently, we’ve been pondering a name for this farm since we bought it a year ago (a year already?!). None of our new ideas seemed quite right. We thought about going back to the old Forte Farm name, but we wanted something unique. Richard’s brother Philip gets the credit for suggesting Double Forte Farm – which we immediately thought was perfect!

In music, “forte” means to play in a loud or strong fashion. Fortissimo is even more forte, and is colloquially known as “double forte.” It is represented by two letter Fs next to each other. We feel that Double Forte Farm is the perfect name, incorporating old and new, with a meaning that resonates for us. Choosing a farm name is something I have looked forward to and have wanted to do for a long time; now that we have the name, I am excited to proceed with other farm projects.

Eventually, this blog will move over the the Double Forte Farm website, but first we have a lot of work to do to get the website up and running the way we want it. In the meantime, here are some updates from the farm:

We acquired five Chocolate turkeys, which will be the foundation of our breeding flock.


We also acquired too many baby guinea fowl for controlling ticks and other insects.

The two Pilgrim goslings we got in May, now christened Maurice and Collette, are getting really big!


Our rescue horse, Saber, is doing well and is back up to a healthy weight (he was very thin when he came to us). He is available for adoption through the Arabian Rescue Mission and will be gelded next month if he is not adopted first.

We got a new coop a few days ago and painted it today. It will be used for baby poultry.



We’ve planted any number of things, from kale, onions and more in the garden to fruit trees and berry bushes.

On the poultry front, there have been births, deaths (not too many, thankfully!) and sales.


We got barn cats! They are two females: Jennyanydots (pictured) and Penelope Pussycat.


Now that we have chosen the farm name, I am exploring in a more serious way what farming projects I might want to pursue (poultry breeding is a given, but what else?), and particularly what farming projects might actually be income-producing. In my next post I will be asking for your input, so please put your thinking caps on!

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Saber update: Week 2

Category : Horses , Rescue

[Originally posted May 13, 2014 at]

Saber has been with us two weeks today, and is much improved!




His ribs are still visible, but less than they were.






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Weekends on the farm

[Originally posted May 10, 2014]

I try to find a little time each weekend to work on farm projects – although as the 2014 National Music Festival approaches, that times becomes more limited!  Today I planted leeks, Christmas lima beans, Amish Pie squash and Marina di Chioggia squash.  (A few days ago my mother and I planted zucchini.)  Tomorrow I need to plant my kale and onion seedlings, and asparagus crowns.


Last weekend Richard and I installed an automatic chicken door, which is the most wonderful thing! It has a photo sensor, which allows it to open at dawn and close at dusk without any effort on our part – we don’t have to program its open and close times. The chickens (and turkeys) caught on fairly quickly, and it is so nice to wake up and know that the poultry are already out in their pen. It will also make life easier during the Festival, when we will know that they will be securely locked in their coop at sundown, even when we are out until very late at night.

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Also last weekend, I tilled the garden – with some help from hubby and the chickens.


The flowers are just incredible here right now! We are grateful to have found a new home that is so beautifully landscaped!


The news from the poultry front (isn’t there always news from the poultry front?) is that the eldest batch of chicks have figured out how to roost, we got six new chicks to keep our little one with the deformed legs company, and not one but two hens have gone broody! One is sitting on Welsummer eggs, and the other is sitting on guinea eggs that were given to us by a friend. If they hatch, they will be our first guineas!

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We have had quite the turtle migration here recently. I’ve lost count of how many snapping turtles we have relocated. They must have spent a number of years migrating annually between our pond and Sassafras Creek. Last fall, after we put up the horse fence, we found two snapping turtles trying to get out. We didn’t think any more of it until we found two more this spring – this time trying to get in! I think Richard has relocated at least eight snappers recently, maybe more. We have also found quite a few painted turtles trying to get it; those we did put in the pond. And one tiny snapper we allowed into the pond. Always an adventure!


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Saber’s progress: Week 1

Category : Horses , Rescue

[Originally posted May 6, 2014 at]

Saber has been here one week and I think he is already looking a little better!


He seems happy here, and he and the geldings are sorting things out. We look forward to watching him blossom and seeing him find the perfect new home.


On Thursday morning Saber will have his hooves trimmed and blood drawn for his Coggins test. I will post another update, with new photos, next week!






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Meet Saber

Category : Horses , Meet the Animals , Rescue

[Originally posted April 30, 2014 at]

As of last night, we are fostering Saber Bey SV, an almost-19-year-old Arabian Stallion, for the Arabian Rescue Mission. (If you are not familiar with ARM’s great work, please check them out at

Saber Bey on arrival

Saber’s owners lost their home, and he was in danger of being seized by animal control and euthanized. ARM stepped in to help find him a safe place to land, and we are so happy to be able to help him.


He is thin and in need of some TLC, but very sweet:

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Although he is a stallion, he has settled in quite well with my two geldings:



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I will post regular updates on his progress. We are looking forward to seeing this boy blossom!

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Category : Babies , Chickens , Poultry

[Originally posted April 27, 2014 at]

This post is three weeks overdue, but better late than never, right?

When April 3 rolled around, I was checking the incubator frequently and waiting eagerly for the first egg to hatch. As it turns out, I had a much smaller hatch than I hope for, and they hatched late, so I think the average temperature in the incubator may have been on the low side. In total, eight chicks hatched (out of 24 eggs, 21 of which seemed to be developing). Four started to hatch but died before making it out of the shell.

The first chick hatched on the evening of the 3rd; Richard and I were lucky enough to witness the actual hatch and we were enthralled!

A new chick!

The next day, I was reluctant to leave the incubator (by the morning of the 4th, there was still only one little chick, though other eggs had pipped*), but I had plans to go to Whitmore Farm to pick up the chicks I had ordered from them: 10 Delawares, 2 Ameraucanas and two Welsummers. The Delawares will be the foundation of next year’s breeding flock, and the Welsummers, when they are grown, will be added to my current breeding flock so that I will have five hens instead of three to produce chicks next year. The Ameraucanas were something of a whim when I ordered – I know my husband loves them, and I do too – but I’m hoping that we have one male and one female so they can be the start of a third breeding flock.

Box of peeps

It was a nice drive to Whitmore Farm, if a bit long.  My Mom accompanied me and we enjoyed seeing the farm. She held the box of chicks on her lap on the way home, so as to keep them from getting chilled. Richard was at home watching the incubator and sending us regular updates.

We ended up having seven more hatch on Friday and Saturday, for a total of eight homegrown chicks. Not as many as I hoped for, but very exciting nonetheless! I already can’t wait for the next hatch! We got four pure Welsummers, two olive eggers* and two Welsummer/Black Copper Marans crosses. These crosses are little black chicks, and bookended the hatch by being the first and last to hatch.

Welsummer chick

Three of the chicks (two Welsummers and an olive egger) were sold a couple of days after hatching. Four more have been spoken for and will be picked up in a few days. The remaining chick, a little Welsummer pullet*, seems to have some kind of defect in her legs that makes it difficult for her to walk. I’ve been doing my best for her and keeping my fingers crossed that she will be able to grow up and live a happy life. If she does, she can stay at my farm and lay eggs, though her eggs would be for the table and not for hatching as I would not want to risk passing along any genetic weakness she may have.

Welsummer pullet

Three chicks

Already looking forward to the next hatch!


* For those who may be unfamiliar with the term, pipping refers to the first break in the shell made by a chick who is in the process of hatching.

* Olive eggers are produced by crossing a dark brown egg laying breed (in my case, my Welsummer rooster) with a blue or green egg laying breed (in my case, an Easter Egger hen). The female offspring will lay olive green eggs.

* A pullet is a young female chicken.