Friday, December 31, 2010

Sittin' on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere

This was not what I thought I'd be writing for my final post on this blog.... but it is what it is.

Yesterday we loaded up Hazel, Whitey and Will - milk cow, beef cow, and our Dexter bull. Packed a gilt in a crate. Packed sheep and Peaches the LGD into very large dog kennels. Loaded up watering troughs, pig panels, cattle panels and some chicken wire. Filled the cooler with farm raised poultry and pork and set off for Stamping Ground KY.

Why? you may ask. Well, we were helping Anders and Emily move all their new livestock to their new farm.

Mile marker 22.8 on I64, the truck died.

Many calls later Brian finds a very kind wrecker service to tow the truck. NOT the trailer. More phone calls to Anders, who enlists Emily's Dad in this adventure. Thank God for Jim! He found a truck to borrow with the right hitch in the bed.

More waiting. ... The wrecker shows up and I go off with the wrecker/truck to the garage leaving Brian standing by the side of the road with a trailer load of critters.

Jim picked Brian and the trailer up and came in to the garage to meet me. Mean time the nice folks at the garage checked the thermostat on the engine. That's what we all thought was wrong. Brian jumped in the truck when he got there, fired her up and she ran. .... Then she stopped. .... Then he tried to start her again and antifreeze shot clear up to the ceiling. Now I don't know much about engines, but I do know that's bad. :^(

To make a long story at least a little bit shorter- the engine is blown. The truck is dead. I called my DSIL for a ride home. My daughter married well. Travis just said ok and could we meet him and my daughter, Lydia at the on ramp for 64 in two hours.

So with our taxi on it's way, we leave the truck at the garage and head out to the kids' farm. By now it is pitch black dark out. We drop the trailer and the critters in the field. Anders will let them out in the morning when he can see to keep an eye on them. Emily gave us a quick tour of the house.  It's going to be wonderful when they get it all cleaned and spruced up.

Than Jim ran us out to the interstate to meet our ride, treated us to burgers at the DQ. (No it's not farm raised grass fed beef but we were starving!) Two hours of good conversation and leg cramps in the car and we were home. We both fell into bed and slept hard for a few hours.

Right now Brian and his dad are headed to KY to bring the truck home on the car hauler. And I'm gettin' ready to go in to the hospital for a 12 hour shift.

By the way. . .

Anybody want to buy a truck cheap? It just needs an engine. :^)

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Mass Migration

Today the sheep, Pyrennees, piglet and cows go south to Anders' and Emily's new Kentucky homestead. We are really excited for them in their farming adventure!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Count down to the new year...

Well folks this is it. Christmas is over and the New Year is around the corner.

So begins the count down to closing down this blog  and Kiss My Grass Farm. On New Year's eve we close this chapter of our lives and open a new one.
We've turned over our Red Wattle preservation program to our DSIL - the bacon fanatic. We're sure he will do just great with the RW's.
The Buckeye chickens, the ducks and the cattle will be moving south to Anders & Emily's new farm in Kentucky. The guineas will stay - nobody could catch them anyway.
Brian will be concentrating on school. He is doing very well and has just been notified that we will be able to do an independent study in biology this semester. We'll keep downsizing our cache of accumulated stuff until we move to Crawfordsville in May.
So here we go to our next great adventure!!
I'm already counting down the days until Brian graduates and we can get back on a farm!!!

Wish us luck!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Winter butter

Dear old Hazel the milk cow is dried up. So this week when we went over to take a couple of piglets to our friends Donna & Keith, we came home with 8 gallons of their yummy raw milk.
So this morning I skimmed all the cream off before I froze the excess milk to use later. 

 I make butter using my blender. I find that the food processor doesn't work well at all. It heats the cream up too much and it seems to break up the butter fat instead of encouraging it to clump together.

My blender has a High/Low switch at the bottom. I set it to low for butter. Then I only used the 2 slowest settings- Blend when I start the cream. Grate when it gets to the almost butter stage. The cream looks like this when your first whir it in the blender.
When the butter fat begins to gather it looks like this. Now it's time to strain the butter milk away.
We feed the buttermilk to the piglets. They love it!!

After the butter milk is strained away the butter has to be worked to remove more of the milk. The milk hides in little pockets in the butter so I use a wide bamboo spoon to work the butter against the side of my big crockery bowl.
Then rinse with cold water and repeat working the butter until all of the milk has been worked out and the water is clear.

Then add sea salt to taste. Mix it in well and form the butter into balls. My hands are small and I've been doing this for a long time so I know my butter balls are about 1cup each. There are butter molds or the butter could be put in plastic wear. Butter will keep for about 6 months in the freezer.
Because this is winter butter it is pale yellow. The cows don't have fresh green grass in winter so there is less carotine.


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Magic Mushrooms

I went back to work on Friday evening. Several things have changed along my route to the hospital. The construction zones have moved south on SR135. There is a new detour around the "Drainage Improvement Project" ( That's what the signe said.) on Bluff road. But the strangest new thing on the way to work is the magic mushrooms... ok the sign doesn't say that. In fact there isn't any sign explaining why almost a dozen technicolor mushrooms or are they toadstools have sprung up next to the I70 underpass just before you get to Lucas Oil Stadium.

You can't miss them. They are really quite large and unusual. They sort of look like they've been sculpted by small children using a large amount of taffy instead of clay. Some of them look as though the "cap" is melting. You gotta love public art!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Sunny Day

The sun is shining the birds are singing and it's a balmy 10 degrees out this morning! I think the birds are singing to stay warm.
Our Corgi, Miss Honey Shortlegs, loves this weather. She comes out of her dog house and rolls and rolls in the snow on mornings like this. Silly dog. She even likes to tunnel in the snow using her nose as a shovel... hmmm you don't think she's been taking lessons from the RW's, do you?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Snow Kitty

I swear she looks like she's trying to catch snowflakes on her tongue!!

Hazels winter wonderland

Hazel never misses a meal she's always the first one to the hay when Brian puts out a new bale. She is nice an and fuzzy right now with her winter coat.

I think she's really starting to show that she is going to calf this spring. I'm hoping it's a heifer. If it is the new little girl will be going to Kentucky to become the future family cow for my son and his growing family.

Oh Goodness Look!!


Guinea Roost

 The four surviving Guinea fowl have decided that the peak of the barn is the place for them.

You see Brian was almost done with the roof on the barn when his shoulder got so bad he just couldn't finish it. It short 6 sheets of metal.

The Guinea girls have decided he left this nice open space for their roosting enjoyment!

 Even when it snowed they insisted on roosting up there.
 Barn Alarm system! They set up a horrible racket when anyone or any thing comes close to the barn.
 There they are in the snow and wind.

I swear if they could talk that pearl gray would be saying, " What do you think you're lookin' at?, HUH!"

Silly birds. But they do keep the weed seeds eaten up so they don't sprout new weeds and they do eat ticks and other creepy crawlers in the summer.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Winter is here at last

 It finally snowed and I stuck my nose outside to snap a couple of pictures. It's so pretty!!
 The persimmon trees in the back yard
This is our magnolia tree in the south yard just outside the picture window. See the buds waiting patiently for spring?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Downsizing PHASE II or When the heck did we get all this stuff?

Phase I was moving into the smaller house.
Phase II involved several long talks with my husband and  three type written pages of lists.

List one: Things that can go now.

List two: Things to give to my son and his family.

List three: Things to give to my daughter and her family.

List four: Things that we will need to sell later - still using them or just not ready to part with stuff. You know we might need it. This will be Phase III

After all the list making was completed and carefully reviewed and cussed and discussed I spent several hours posting the things we either don't need, don't use or just can't see how we will ever be able to fit it into an apartment when Brian gets into Vet School - the things on list one.

Then I spent the better part of today answering emails and returning phone calls and answering the door.

Gotta love Craig's List. :^)

Most of our horse stuff is gone. The compressor and tools are gone.
I'd list everything that's still here but I'm tired of typing. So if you're curious go to and pull up Bloomington, Indiana. Look under Farm and Garden, Tools and Arts & Crafts. You'll know the stuff is ours because we are the only people who list Bean Blossom as our location. LOL

Maybe you'll find a treasure!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Reusable canning jar lids

My son and I were talking the other day about how nice it would be if you could reuse canning jar lids instead of throwing them away. Today he presented me with a website for a company that offers reusable canning jar lids. I think it's such a great idea I'm going to share it here:
According to the company website TATTLER reusable canning jar lids contain no BPA. They are safe for pressure canning, water bath, and vacuum sealing.

"Tattler Canning Lid's proven success, as a reusable product, has earned them the distinction of widespread customer satisfaction and acceptance since their origination in 1976. The years of development of this product have brought to the home canner a jar lid that is truly reusable. In fact, the longevity of TATTLER Canning Lids presents the likelihood they will be handed down to the next generation of food preservation enthusiasts!"
"Properly used, with any standard Mason jar and metal screw band, these reusable lids will last a lifetime. If you ever wear this lid out, we will replace it free! Follow standard directions and procedures, for two piece canning jar lids, with any normal home canning process, and obtain excellent results."
A package of 3 dozen regular mouth lids and rubber rings costs $20.95 from their online store. Replacement rubber rings cost $2.50/dozen.
They also offer bulk packages in 500, 1500 or 2500 lids each

I'm looking forward to trying them with my next canning project!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Talkin' Turkey

We have two whole pasture raised turkeys in the freezer waiting for their big day. Brian wants to deep fry one. I confess that much hot oil over an open flame scares me. He says "Just don't look."

The second bird will be prepared by my daughter - in the oven. I'm sure she will put some new twist on the traditional bird. And I'm equally sure it will be delicious.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Buckeye Update

Buckeye hens- notice the rose comb?

When we decided to transition over to a sustainable flock of Buckeye chickens we looked at our current poultry system and found it lacking. Rare breed birds are farely costly and well.... rare. We love the concept of free range chickens, but there is a  large population of hawks on our farm. The hawks think that mobile chicken pens are like kitchen cabinets or the refrigerator in your kitchen - it's where you store your food until you're ready to eat it. So this year when we ordered Buckeye chicks and hatching eggs, we made the decision to renovate our first hog shed into a chicken coop.  So we gutted the hog shed. Cleaned it all out. The building has three separate sections. One we finished for my mom's Auracauna chickens - Green legs the rooster and his party colored harem girls. The other side is for the Buckeyes. The third section is yet unfinished. I'm planning to close in 2 sides and add chicken wire to the third this spring for the chicks we hope to hatch in our incubator.
We did all these improvements to the building so we decided we would put what we know about feeders and waterers together to automate the chicken chores as much as possible. We invested in 2 oil catch pans - the plastic one you use to catch the nasty old oil out of your truck when you change the oil and 6 bolts with washers and nuts. We already had a couple of lidded plastic buckets. Brian's little zip roater made fast work of cutting out holes along the bottom edge of the bucket sides for the feed to flow out. Then a few holes drilled in the bottom for the bolts, slap on the pans, tighten down the nuts and VOILA!  A chicken feeder that will hold enough feed for about 4 or five days for full grown birds... much longer for chicks. So after successfully engineering feeders we turned our efforts to self-waterers. All the waterers commercially available were expensive and too small to really reduce workload much. So once again we took our experience with cattle, sheep, goats, horses, pigs and various watering setups and  put it all together.

Closeup of the spigots on the holding barrel.

We have been using 55 gallon plastic barrels as water reservoirs for our hog waterers for years and we had a barrel that wasn't in use. Brian added two taps and set it up on a sturdy stand about 30 inches from the ground. Two sections of hose and gravity carry the water from the barrel to the water cups. We had those laying around too. They were left over from our short experiment with goat keeping. The drinking cups work with a float shut off and are just the right size so several birds can drink at once. We just mounted them to the side of the new coop with a couple of screws. Of course in the winter the watering system will need to be drained. We'll be using rubber pans during the winter so we can empty out the ice daily. For now we water about once a month.

Hens coming up to the drinking fountain.

 We moved the chicks into the coop as soon as they were ready to come out of the brooder. Three dozen or so fuzzy Buckeye chicks and about the same number of Auracaunas with a few wing feathers looked pretty small in all that space.
Now they are full grown and magnificent. The buckeyes are some of the handsomest birds I have ever raised. The hens are lovely dark russet red and the roosters with their iridescent green/black tail feathers are striking. The hens should start to lay nice brown eggs next month.  Then in the spring we'll start hatching chicks. I love spring!

My friend Donna is writing her second great American novel this month during NaNoWriMo - National Novel Writing Month. Since I can't go anywhere I thought I'd start my great American novel and I did.... then I got sidetracked.
My son and his family are moving to a homestead in Kentucky close to Emily's parents and my SIL has been bitten by the Red Wattle Bug. No not hog lice!  Ewwww!
He loves the Red Wattle pork and wants to raise his own.

So now I am writing Everything I know about farming or What not to do cause it don't work... believe me I tried it!

I hope to have it done by Christmas so I can tuck it into their stockings.

My Anchor

On October 29 I had knee and foot surgery. Then spent 10 days in a leg splint whining on the couch. Now I have a "Barney" purple cast to anchor me down so I don't overdo things. The crutches are interesting too. We have an old house with narrow doors, odd heighths on the steps to get out to the sunroom and a narrow open staircase to basement. I'm not even going to attempt the basement steps until I'm walking without the crutches. I'm getting pretty good at going sideways through doorways and balancing down the 2 steps from the kitchen to the sunroom though!
The cast is supposed to come off on December 1. Then a walking boot and physical therapy. 
All I've gotta say is I wanna go to the barn!!

Piggy"s Night at the Library

Last year for Christmas I made all my grandkids soft, stuffed Red Wattle pigs. This year on Halloween weekend Taylor's pig went to a stuffed animal slumber party at the library. The kids all dropped off their stuffed animals on Friday evening and then came back on Saturday morning to pick up their animals, a treat and pictures of what their animals were up to during the night.

This is Red Wattle Piggy listening the Charlotte's Webb on tape. I love it!
Taylor's daddy said it would have been funny if Piggy was reading a pork cookbook!

I wonder what else he was up to all night?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

National Small Farm Conference and Trade Show/RWHA Annual Meeting

After spending half the day pulling together reports, printing cards and brochures, hauling piglets to the vet, filling out health papers and generally dashing about madly, Brian & Kacie headed out for Missouri. Ok so all the dashing about madly was done by Brian and Kacie. It's hard to dash about madly in a splint with an ace wrap up to your thigh and crutches. I was limited to organizing the paperwork and supervising.
I had really been looking forward to the conference and our annual RWHA meeting. It's one of the few times during the year that so many alternative/heritage breed farmers gather in one place. And the RWHA annual meeting is the one big RWHA gathering for the year.  Not for me this year. I just couldn't see myself hopping around the exhibition hall when just bumbling out to the bathroom exhausts me.
So here I sit snuggled up on the couch with the laptop for company, my son and his little family sleeping in the next room because I can't be left alone in case I should fall or worse yet - not be able to carry food from the kitchen to my little nest on the couch. Contrary to popular opinion, I think I could live on the bowl of apples on the end table for 3 days quite nicely and I've learned to hang my lidded travel mug from the hand grip on my crutches.
It could be worse, I suppose, but I do miss being outside and taking care of the animals.
Oh well. Hopefully, Kacie will take lots of pictures and Brian will remember to turn on the recorder for the meeting. I'll just have to wait and see.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

This little piggie went to market....

We are off to take 3 not so little piggies to the processor. Then we will have Red Wattle pork available again at Double Oak Farm Green Grocery, located at 1120 Washington in downtown Columbus, Indiana.

The folks at Double Oak offer locally raised beef, pork and lamb as well as seasonal local produce and preserves. They are expanding their inventory all the time so stop by and see what's new!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A new farm record!

We put 120 chickens in the freezer today and we were done before the sun went down!! It sure feels good to have all that meat in the freezer.
Guess what we had for dinner>>>>>


Chicken has to wait for a week before I can face it again. :^)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Prep for the big day

The vats are scrubbed and the knives are sharpened. The birds had their last treat this afternoon - sunflower seeds. We are ready to start bright and early tomorrow morning.... off to bed for me.
My alarm is set for 5:30.

Bye Bye Birdies

Tomorrow is butchering day. We will be putting 120 birds in the freezer. Our friend Arthur and my son and his fiance will be over to help. Brian will be at school. Hmmmm you think he planned that?

It will be nice to have all that chicken in the freezer and it will cut down on chores for the winter. We're hoping this is the last year we will be buying meat chicks. Next year our Buckeyes should be producing enough fertile eggs for us to hatch and grow out our own Kiss My Grass Farm pasture raised all natural chicken.
Sustainability here we come!!

I know I've been absent...

absent from writing this blog, absent minded...

Well I'm going to try my best to work on that. I know I keep saying that.... but I mean it this time. LOL

So updates:

We traded houses with my daughter. We are in the little yellow house at the front of the property. Most of our things are still in boxes, but slowly I'm digging out. My mom is staying at the big house and will be living with my daughter and her family.

The garden was a bust this year in the draught. We had to decide whether to water the garden or the animals. We decided on animals.

Next year the gardens will be small, raised and hopefully will produce enough for us to get by. With Brian in school, we are really pulling back our production.

We'll still have pork available and eggs when the hens cooperate.

So now it's time to get out and milk Hazel. .. so gotta go!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

And then they were one

And now our wonderful grandbabies are one year old!! Wow time sure flies. That is Joel with the chocolate cake face. He was really getting into the fun of a first birthday cake!
And this is Miss Emma munching away at an icecream cone from her birthday cake decoration.

Quick list up date

1. Brian has started his schooling to become a large animal vet. 4 days a week all day in class plus homework and studying.
2. Brian had shoulder surgery on Friday last. Big cumbersome sling with a bolster to maintain the proper angle.
3. Brian starts physical therapy next week.

Wow when I write it down it doesn't take up nearly as much space on the page as it does in our life.
4. We have 2 RW sows waddling and moaning about being very pregnant. They can farrow any day now. In fact I was sure they would pop last week.
5. We are moving. Well we are trading houses for the time being with my daughter and her family. We get the little house to live in - privacy, and quiet for Brian to study. They get to spend time with Grandma and live in the big house. We'll see how this works out.
6. There are not enough hours in the day for me to get everything done. So this list will have to suffice for now. And admittedly this is not the whole list of what is going on... but if I list it all out I'll get overwhelmed and go back to bed. :^)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Deer, Oh deer, Oh deer

Yesterday, Anders and I went out and picked sunflowers in the bed along the front of the farm. We noticed the deer had gone through the electric fence and knocked it down. I hustled back and turned  the electric off and Anders mended the fence. Then we turned it back on. All the cows were still in the pasture so no harm done.
This morning as I groggily stumbled through the kitchen with a glass of OJ, I happened to glance out the north window.
That's odd, I thought, as I glimpsed a black and white shape heading at high speed across Wagler's alfalfa field.
"Honey," Brian said as he came into the kitchen. "Sarah Wagler just left a message on your phone. She says our...."
"Cows are out again, " I finished for him.
Not only were they out, but judging by all the unusual places we found cow manure, they had been out for most of the night. Luckily, this time Brian was home so he called them into one of the page wire paddocks by the barn. At least the deer can't knock that fence down.
Now you may well ask why is it so much easier for Brian to call the cows in? I have a theory, but I'll have to back up and explain. When we bought our White Parks and Belties the man we got them from called his cows with "NOW, NOW, NOW!" 
Don't ask - I don't know why. I do know that those cows wouldn't come to anything else so we changed how we call all of our cows to "NOW, NOW, NOW!"
My theory is: Brian has a Southern Indiana twang that makes NOW sound almost like a two syllable word. I just can't match it. Believe me, I've tried.  My NOW! just won't cut the mustard when it comes to our cows' discerning ears.
Who new cows were so picky?
But back to the deer problem - the hunting season is approaching and I'm practicing with my bow...jerky anyone?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Ahhh the green leafy shade on a hot day

The other day it was 104 and our cows decided to go on walk about looking for some shade that was cooler than the shade they had in our field. They decided that breaking down the fence was a good idea.

Anders called us as we were headed from the doctor's office to drop Brian off at school. I told him I was at least an hour away. He said he had already tried to get them back in - no way were they cooperating. I told him to keep an eye on them and I'd be home as quickly as possible.

At home I  loaded up tools and a bucket of feed & headed out in the pickup to find the breach in the fence and our cows. It turns out our neighbor has a beautiful forest of mature pine trees, with a lovely carpet of green at their feet. Our cows thought it was a lovely place for an afternoon nap.

I coaxed the cows back in with a tempting treat of feed. (Good thing they are all chow hounds!) I felt a little like Hansel and Gretel leaving bread crumbs to find their way home. I had to drop a handful of feed every 10 feet to keep them coming along while simultaneously  brushing off giant black horseflies and wiping the sweat out of my eyes.

When I finally got them back in, Anders and I started to patch up the fence. That's when I realized the lovely carpet of green in the neighbor's pine woods was lovely green  POISON IVY!

We high tailed it in for showers as soon as we finished. I think I did pretty good I only got a little patch of rash on my ring finger and my right ear.  Not too bad for having waded through it and touched it bare handed while patching the fence. :^)

And we waited, and we waited and we wondered...

if the momma duck would ever hatch her eggs. It seems like forever since she set up housekeeping in the corner of Gertrude the sow's stall. Yesterday when I let Gertie out I noticed half an egg shell in on the ground.

OH NO! I thought Gertie finally got wise to the treasure trove of goodies stashed in the corner!

I hustled her out of the barn and went to investigate. Momma hissed at me stood up and spread her wings.

Three little heads peeked out looking for all the world like plush stuffed ducky toys that you see at Easter. They are SOOOO yellow!  So far I've only been able to count 3 but I think there are more. Momma just doesn't want any one to get too close. So I locked the stall gate so nobody  would bother her and relocated Gertie to a stall further down the line. Gertie wasn't too thrilled with her new location but she is adjusting.

I'll post the pics I took as soon as I can get them off of my camera. It's acting a little crazy lately. I think maybe I accidentally changed a setting I shouldn't have. Who knew?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

We bid goodbye to Bonnie & Clyde

As I type this the Haflingers, Bonnie and Clyde are on the road to Michigan along with the wagon and their harness. I am sad that they are gone even though I didn't have time to do much more than admire them and pet them. I know they'll be happier where they have a job to do.

Brian doesn't believe me, but as soon as he gets done with Vet school, I am getting another Hafllinger. Mark my words. I am counting the days. ;^)

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Hazel compromise

This morning my mother announced that she was buying Hazel. Do WHAT? 
That's right she said she was buying Hazel and that Anders and I could milk Hazel for her. That would relieve Brian of responsibility for the cow and she said she is going to buy Hazel's food. I tried to reason with her. I explained that if she buys Hazel that won't really solve our time problem. We'll still have to milk and care for her.

Have you ever tried to argue/talk sense to a red head? Or a stubborn little old lady?

There was no reasoning with her. Hazel is staying. The only compromise I could win was: if the milking gets to be too much we'll dry her off and put her out with the beefers. Then we'll try milking again when she calves in the spring.

:^) I admit it. I'm glad Hazel is staying. :^)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

You are either moving forward or going backward....

...but you just can't stand still or as my Daddy always said "Piss or get off the pot."

So here we are with horses, pigs, cows, ducks, rabbits, chickens, sheep, pigs, guineas and turkeys. And Brian in school full time to become a vet. And I'm working full time. So tough decisions have to be made and followed through on. I hate letting any animals go, but we have to get the chores down to something that doesn't cause stress and anxiety every day.
We've decided to sell the Haflingers - Bonnie and Clyde. And our milk cow, Hazel and her heifer calf, Gaia. Some of the sheep have gone to live at my son's. Some of the sheep are going to be going to the processor for meat.
We've already sold most of our RW's. We are keeping just 3 sows and 1 boar.  We'll still have plenty of RW pork for sale.
We are cutting down the chickens to just my mom's Auraucanas and my Buckeyes - minus all but 2 roosters. So we will have eggs available.  All of the broilers will be in the freezer by mid September. 
The ducks and guineas are self sufficient so they are staying.
The bunnies are no bother & they are Kacie's project, so they get a reprieve. 
The turkeys will be gone when we get close to the holidays - Yummy pasture raised main dishes you know!

I think I am the saddest to see Hazel and Gaia go. Hazel is so kind and gentle. Even Brian,  who has little affinity for cows, loves Hazel. She is the undisputed queen of the barn. Gaia is the princess and will be a great milk cow when she grows up. It's hard to sell a baby you bottle fed from 3 days old. :^( 
If you know anyone who needs a great cow or a sweet heifer, give them our number. 812-521-1063

 We need to simplify our lives as well, so much of our accumulated hoard must go.

Our new motto is: "When in doubt throw it out." (or sell it or give it away). The most frequently asked question: "Have you used____ in the last 6 months? Can you honestly say you will use it in the next 6 months?" If the answer is no... it must go!

So far we've sold off our pony cart and a walk behind sickle bar mower. We have a manure spreader, several hay wagons and hay wagon undercarriages with wheels and a horse drawn passenger wagon with double harness for sale.

Next we'll be clearinf our the garages. Then it's the house.

We are looking at ways to simplify our daily chores as well. We've created 5 gallon self feeders for the chickens and float controlled self waterers for them as well. We bought miles (actually several hundred feet) of garden hose so we can more easily water hogs and cattle.

Long term we will be reducing the size of the garden and increasing the intensity of the gardening.

I admit there are several things that fail the question test, but I refuse to give up my spinning wheel, loom and kiln. I just can't admit I'll never have time for them again.

All this sorting and moving is depressing but at the same time liberating. I just wish we were already done with it. :^)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Laurel and Hardy (and company) Shear sheep

Before we could start shearing Peaches had to be put on her cable she was a little too eager to "help".
Then it was Laurel and Hardy and company shear sheep. My son, Anders, his fiance, Emily and I got started. Their little one, Joel, joined us later to watch from his backpack. And eventually Brian wandered in to help when the bailer broke for the umpteenth time.

We had the sheep "corralled" in the stock trailer for easy catching. Thank heavens my son is young, strong and has long arms. He caught each sheep and I slipped a halter on. Then it was me pulling and him pushing and sometimes carrying the reluctant sheep to the stanchion.
This is the first year I have done the shearing myself. Some of the sheep look pretty good... Some of them look like I clipped them with the weed whacker. This is our ram we are clipping.
Toward the end he was getting rather impatient and my hands were buzzing from the vibrations of the clippers. It took Brian and Anders to hold him still while I did his chin. Emily was elected official photographer... and no I am not posting the overly closeup pic she got of my backside when I was bent over!
About the time I thought I was really getting a pretty good technique - we ran out of sheep.
Now I'll have to wait until next year to practice.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Brian beats the rain

For the first time in three years, Brian got all the hay he had down rolled up ahead of the rain storms. Granted the bailer is toast and he had to borrow my brother's bailer. But it's done and that is a good thing.
Now if he'd just get his truck put back together so we can leave for Oregon on Thursday that would be icing on the cake.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy Independence Day!

We may complain about out government and rules and regulations, but we still live in a country where we are free to speak our minds.That is something to be thankful for.

Friday, July 2, 2010


They're still green but our persimmon tree is loaded with fruit. The branches are weighted down and several are nearly touching the ground. It's hard to believe something that hard, green and pucker producing will become one of Indiana's best loved wild delicacies. I can't wait 'til fall when they turn burnt orange and sweet. Persimmon pudding is one of our favorite foods around here. You can check out our Persimmon pudding recipe on our website . Maybe this year Brian will create a persimmon icecream. Hmmmm. . .

It's a hogs life

I want to be a pig if I get to be reincarnated. Why? So I can apply  the appropriate amount of MUDD Factor 90 sunscreen and lay around in the sun all day, get free mudd facials and have someone wait on me hand and foot with meals and cool drinks.
;^) lol

This is Star sunbathing in the clover. Life is just sooo hard.


Plants are popping up all over the garden. We may have had a hard time getting the garden in the ground. We feel like everything is in really late, but it's all in now and sprouting like mad. The top pic is bean seedlings stretching for the sun and the bottom one is watermelon seedlings. Now it's mulch, mulch, mulch!

Home dairying

Oh the joys of having our own cow! So far I've made gallons and gallons of yogurt. Brian has perfected ice cream in at least 4 flavors and he's plotting his next creation as I write. I've made baked custard and Rennet custard. And there are several one gallon bags in the freezer filled with lovely yellow butter balls.
So for my next trick I decided to tackle cottage cheese. I read the directions in the Rennet package. It didn't look all that difficult. I thought I sort of remembered the process from when I was little and my mother made cottage cheese. So after the morning milking I strained the milk into a big stainless steel pot. Added the required number of Rennet drops and buttermilk. Then I placed a linen towel over the top and placed it carefully on the counter to wait.
Wait. Oh yeah how long did it say I had to wait? 12 hours... let's see it's was 11am by the time I got everything in the pot... so it should be curd by 11 pm. No big deal I thought. I have to work tomorrow so it will good to stay up tonight and get "flipped".
So at 11pm I was cutting my curd, heating it to 115 degrees slowly in a water bath, stirring every 5 minutes so the curds didn't stick together. Then straining off the whey. Plunging the curd in ice water. Hanging it to drain. At 2 am I decided it was just going to have to be drained enough because I couldn't keep my eyes open anymore. I tucked it in the fridge and crawled into bed.
This morning I added salt, pepper and cream. Yep that's right cottage cheese is supposed to be swimmin' in cream. Then I tasted it. YUMMY! It's going to be great with fruit and for stuffing pasta. Thanks Hazel. :^)


Brian has 4 fields of hay down, 1 raked and he's started baling. Now if the baler will quit breaking we might get it all rolled up before the weather changes again and it starts to rain.
 I want to see pretty big round bales all neatly in a row waiting for the freezy breezes of winter. I always feel better when the haying is done.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The good and the bad and the ugly

While walking through the garden I caught this butterfly with my camera. Butterfly - both good and pretty.
Then I checked my rose bushes only to find these little monsters munching away. YUCK!  Time to get out the Neem-Py and spray at sunset.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

And they call it ducky love....

Ok so my friend, Donna's, fractured musical titles are rubbing off on me. Anyway, the Muscovy's have finally settled in to life in and around the barn. Since we have 3 males and only 2 females, the boys are constantly showing off for the girls. Visitors to the farm are surprized when the males start their hissing and head bobbing and the females trill. One young man asked me if I was sure they were ducks. Afterall, ducks quack right?  We haven't had any viable duck eggs yet, but maybe by this time next year we'll have some ducklings waddling around the farm.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The first tomato

Here it is in all it's red and juicy glory the first tomato of the season from our garden. Hurrah!
I had to grab it for this pick before Brian bit into it. :^)

Growing like a weed!

Joel in his favorite outfit... nothing but a diaper. He's got 4 teeth now. He loves my home made yogurt and cottage cheese. But bananas are still his favorite food!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Butter day

One day a week I clear the milk refrigerator. First I skim off all the cream, then I re-bottle about two gallons of milk into one quart milk bottles. The smaller bottles fit in our inside fridge better and they are easier to handle for my mother who has arthritis. After all the cream is skimmed, I start making butter.
No I don't sit in my rocker and churn like granny on the "Beverly Hillbillies". I use the blender. While the butter's in the blender I empty the excess milk into a "Pig Pale" to be carried out to the hogs. Then I wash all the empty one gallon jars and put them back on the shelf for next week.
You can hear the change in the blender sound when the butter starts to rise. Then I run it through the strainer to remove the buttermilk. I save a little for cooking and send the rest to the piggies. Then it's rinsed with clean cold water and put into a bowl. When all of the cream is butter, I "work" the butter to get as much liquid out of it as possible. Then I add salt, shape it into butter balls and drop the butter into ice water to firm it up.
One butter ball goes in the butter dish and the rest in the freezer.
I'm hoping to have enough butter put by in the freezer to keep us through the time when Hazel is dry this winter. 
Here are some of my buttery creations swimming in their ice bath.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Camp kids

The kids from Camp Palawopec came to the farm today. One young man showed up without his shoes much to the consternation of the camp counselors. Walking around  the farm in bare feet was out of the question so I had to make do.
"What size shoes do you wear?" I asked. "Twelves."
Well, I wasn't going to be able to lend him any of my boots. Luckily Anders had left a pair of very adjustable sandals in the breezeway. After everyone had foot gear we set off for the grand tour. They bravely trekked around the farm in the heat and humidity to meet the animals. It was a lot of fun showing them. Education is definitely the key to preserving our family farms. We talked about what it means to conserve endangered livestock breeds, why we rotate pasture, what makes a Red Wattle a Red Wattle. . .
Petunia was the perfect spokes pig. She stood still and let everybody pet her and feel her wattles, ears and nose.
A group of campers will come out to the farm each week for the rest of the summer. I'm really looking forward to it!