Friday, April 30, 2010

Buckeyes are here

Not the nuts, the chickens! We picked up 28 little Buvkeye peeps and 32 hatching eggs from Matt Johns on Thursday evening. The peeps are happily making themselves at home in the brooder behind the garage. And the eggs are incubating on the second shelf of the incubator in the basement.

Now I have to get in gear and remodel the shed behind the garage into a chicken palace. I have 300 ft of chicken wire riding around in my Honda, and I've got a bunch of kitty litter buckets saved for nest boxes. Now I need to collect up posts, find a nice long pole or 2 for a roost, a few boards and a couple of cast off windows. Then an afternoon of banging and pounding, measuring and pulling and it will be ready to go!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Woolies, woolies everywhere

There is nothing quite as heart warming as little lambs romping in the spring green grass. There are 4 sets of twins and 1 single lamb. One set of all black twins. Two pair with one white and one black.  One pair that are black with white spots.
 We still have 4 ewes expecting. They are huge! I wonder if one of them will have triplets.

Pretty little cows all in a row

After the rain, the calves found a nice dry hay pile to settle down on for a nap. The perky little calf on the right is the only heifer in the bunch. Isn't she cute?  But my mother still has not decided on a name for her... So for those of you that sent in names... stay tuned.



Lucy the Red Wattle gilt was hamming it up for the camera today. She will replace her momma, Jenna, when she is old enough to be bred.

Peep, peep

These are some of the chicks we've hatched out from our incubator. Anders supplied the fertile eggs from his hens. Right now they are in the brooder behind the garage where there is a heat lamp food and water. It's a nice place to be if you are a chick. These little peeps will go over to Anders and Emily's place as soon as they have enough feathers.
Now I'm hoping the Muscovy duck eggs I have in the incubator will hatch well.

Earth Day Delivery


This is Taylor looking through the fence at Hazel's new baby. Hazel finally decided to have her calf on Earth Day. She was born in the little paddock next to the barn some time after noon while we were all up at the house baking.
We all paraded out to the barn to see the new baby. It's a beautiful reddish brown heifer. She has soft eyes with long eyelashes. She looks like she has on mascara and eyeliner.
Emily commented how appropriate that she was born on Earth Day. So we've decided to name her Gaia.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Baking day- making a tradition

My great grandmother and my grandmother and my mother taught me to bake bread,   rolls, pastries, cookies, and pies. I loved spending time in their kitchens when I was little. So this week I decided to carry on that tradition of passing down cooking skills and recipes by starting a baking day with my daughter, Lydia and Anders' fiance, Emily. So Thursday we got together in my kitchen.
I especially enjoyed holding Joel, Emily's baby, while she was cooking. :<) 
This is Lydia enjoying holding Joel while I do some baking.

and this is Emily rolling out Pita bread. At the end of the day we had 4 loaves of bread, Pita bread, Penuche bars, Hearts of Darkness Brownies, pizza dough. The pizza dough we divided up and put in the freezer. For supper we brought in the pork Brian had been smoking all day. We threw together a 3 bean salad, and warmed up a hashbrown casserole. My kids and their families all around our dinner table.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

What a day!

After spending most of the day chasing after a part for that apparently they only made one of and it's on our big tiller... we stopped by Anders & Emily's to help them put up a tent. They are living in a teepee which means they don't have much storage space. They had one little pop up tent already that they use for a playpen. The baby is just starting to crawl and it gives him a safe cozy place to try out his new skills.

Tent up and back home... put up the horses, our lady Hazel the cow and all the momma pigs... then out to the garden for an hour or 2, balance the check books, do some RWHA paperwork, blog....

Geeze! I"m making myself tired just typing this... better wrap it up so I can go check the expectant momma pig one more time then off too bed.

Garden update

Brian got the garden area tilled this week. He used our new grader blade to create raised beds. The first couple of beds are sort of crooked, but once he got the hang of it the rest are beautifully straight.
So far I've planted some broccoli, 3 kinds of cabbage, white and red onions.
Tomorrow I'm putting in peas, lettuce, radishes and 100# of seed potatoes. And that's before lunch.

Lydia and Emily are coming over to bake tomorrow at noon. We're planning on bread, noodles and crackers for tomorrow. That will take care of the baking for our 3 small families for the week. I'm really hoping this becomes a weekly ritual. It's a great way to pass down the baking skills my grandmother taught me and to have some girl time too. :)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Wooly wonders

While I was at the hospital tending to my life saving duties.... the sheep were busy bringing new little wooly bundles of joy into the world. We now have 5 sets of twins and one single lamb for a total of 11. I'll add pics to this when I get my camera charged tomorrow morning.

Bringing down the house!

When my nephew, Johnathon, was a teenager he built a tree house - for his Grandma. That's right he built a treehouse so his grandma could go up and sit to watch the sunsets. He built it very well: spacious, solid floors, no leak roof, nice stairs, wrapped it in green lattice around the lower half of the walls. He did an awesome job. We all called it Grandma's Castle.

Fast forward to last summer, our almost tornado. Winds that ripped down 2 dozen trees on the farm including the main support for the treehouse. We debated several options for the Castle: tear it down, shore it up, just let it fall. ... none were very satifying. Then Brian suggested that we could use 2 tractors and their front end loaders to lower it to the ground. Sounded scary to me!

Well, Sunday my middle brother, Dan, came down with his tractor and he & Brian brought down the house.
Gently, slowly, in perfect coordination. Whew!

Now the Castle is going to get a second chance as our farm store. We'll be moving it over by our driveway, adding screening to the sides to keep bugs out, a screen door,  shelves for produce, a fridge for eggs and a freezer for our farm fresh meats. If all goes as planned the farm store will be open for business around May 15th.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

When I grow up...

This week Brian and I were talking about our vet. How he is getting pretty old, how there isn't another large animal vet that's affordable near us. How there are fewer and fewer large animal vets.
Brian said  "I'd like to be a vet, but that's a long time to go to school."
I said "I went back to school after 40 to be a nurse. You should go ahead and go. I'll support you the whole way!"
So now Brian's looked up prereqs and requirement, class schedules and application, forms and documentations. We're hoping he can start this fall.

He'll need lots of encouragement and support so drop him a note at:

Thursday, April 15, 2010

On today's menu

Well, I've already been up and done 3 loads of laundry, run the dishwasher, caught up on some paperwork, made coffee, had breakfast and found 2 new baby chicks in the incubator....

Next comes chores, clearing the new paddock for the Haflingers, emptying the garden shed so Brian can move it to the garden area from the yellow house's yard, then final check for leftover stuff forgotten in the garden patch, bushhogging, then tilling of the garden and take down of 1/2 of the 60 ft high tunnel. We are going to break it into 2 thirty foot long greenhouses. We've learned they are easier to manually ventilate.

And if we get that all done by noon, it's lunch and a siesta... Then planting until supper time. Lydia and Travis are coming over to grill Kabobs or as Brian calls it "meat on a stick".  Better get moving I hear the cows calling for their breakfast!

Hazel is home

This is Hazel in her new stall. We let her out yesterday for the first time in her little personal pasture next to the barn. She should calf in about 10 days. Anybody want to make a guess on the time and date?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Piglets to pasture

 Today was the day that we castrated cull piglets. Ear notched all the piglets and moved the weaners to the pasture. Ear notching and castrating rank right up at the top of the things I don't really enjoy doing but that need to be done. 
On the other hand, moving piglets to pasture is fun! The piglets start out of the trailer tentatively. When they see all the green grass they bolt down the ramp and run and jump and squeal. 
In every litter there is always one piglet that decides it does not want to be weaned. It will run sqealing and carrying on up and down the fence. Usually, the piglet settles down after an hour or 2. 
NOT today. One enterprizing piglet decided if he slithered on his belly he could miss the electic fence wire and squeeze down into a tractor rut to get back to his momma.... We had to wean that piglet twice. ... and plug up the tractor rut. :<)

Wind farm

Monday we went to Illinois to get our new milk cow, Hazel. We drove through a couple of wind farms. This picture I took as we were driving. The windmills went on for miles and out as far as you could see like a garden of giant pinwheels turning slowly in the breeze. Yet it was quiet except for the noise of our truck motor and the tires on the highway.  I think I like wind power.  

Friday, April 9, 2010

Canned Ham

This is Squeek our latest "Canned Ham".

When it's time to wean pigs we use a metal trash can. What? Yep. That's right a metal trash can.
It seems momma pigs can't count very well. And out of site (and quiet) is out of mind. So when it's time to wean piglets, we head in with a metal trash can with a lid. Brian or I scoop up the piglet, plop it in the can & put on the lid. Then we pick it up and walk away as though nothing funny was up. 
The normally squealing piglet quiets right down as soon as the lid is on. Once the piglet is quiet, the momma hog goes back to eating or rooting or whatever it was she was doing before she heard her baby squeal.
We carry the "canned ham" to the piglet lot, lift it over the fence and gently tip it on the side. The piglet strolls out into it's new home.
Simple, low tech, low stress and safe for everyone involved.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Call of the wild

I was lucky enough this week to catch the Canada geese doing their mating ritual on the pond by our house.  Can't wait to see if they raise any little ones!


This is our other White Park cow. She was so huge yesterday Brian and I had to help her roll up on her belly so she could stand up. . .

Today she had twins!

I took this pic when the second calf had just been born. Isn't 10x zoom wonderful? She was still licking it to clean it up. I'm sure it will be just as white as the first on in a few more minutes. 
I'm posting more pics on our facebook page... check it out!

To market to market...

The winter feeders are finally ready to go to the processor. They are fat and slick on new grass.
We will be taking them up on April 12 to This Old Farm, our new processor. We are excited to be able to offer all-natural sausage, ham and bacon.

I'll keep you posted.

Nothing gets a man's attention like...

  . . . a middle aged woman in rubber boots and a straw hat running down the road waving her arms like her hiney's on fire.


Let me back up. Yesterday we noticed a bit of effluent at the outlet for the septic system... EEEwwww! yuck! So Brian called the poop pumper guys. He explained that as far as we  know this tank hasn't been pumped since it was installed in the late '80's. He carefully gave the address and described the driveway and the farm sign.
Now keep in mind we own 2 septics on adjoining addresses. The other house they have been to repeatedly it's system is ancient and demands regular care.

Ok so now you know the background. ... This morning Brian and I were in the farthest pig pasture when we looked up and saw the pumper truck at the wrong house and the guys looking puzzled and  getting ready to get back in their truck.  OH NO!!!! Ok so what Brian said was more of the 4-letter explitive variety, but we won't go there now.

Brian had surgery on his wrist yesterday so all he could do was stand there and cuss. Good thing they couldn't hear him over the noise of the truck. I lit out across the field as fast as a middle aged, over weight lady in barn boots could go... managed to scale the fence and jump the ditch without embarrassing myself too much and  went running up the road toward the truck as previously described.  Just in time.

We got the pumper guys out to the right tank and it was a good thing too. Seems this tank hasn't ever been pumped. The "seal" had never been broken. It was full of sludge... Note to self: get tank pumped more often than every 20 years to avoid fence vaulting, ditch jumping and general pasture sprinting.