Archive for ‘farm life’

November 4, 2013

Snow’s fall litter

Snow delivered a very small but very healthy litter of 2 pups 4.5 weeks ago, a male and a female. The male pup will be following us to California in December to his new home. The female pups is unspoken for at the moment reserved. Friday they ventured into the main part of the barn. They are at the age where everything needs to be explored and time always needs to be taken out to play wrassle!

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September 9, 2013

Farm update: September

What a busy summer it’s been! Each morning as I begin l livestock chores there is almost a smell of fall in the air. It’s not quite here yet but I expect it very soon.

Garden:

The garden has done very well for us this year and continues to. This morning I cut the dying sunflower blooms off of their stalks and will dry them to use the seeds next summer. We had very lovely sunflowers this year!

Some of the heirloom tomatoes are just starting to ripen while the cherries, romas and “standards” have been producing for a while. In fact, I have a pot of water on the stove as I type this getting ready to sterilize some jars as I made tomato sauce on Saturday that I need to can. A friend of mine gave me a gallon of homemade grape juice from her own grapes that I will be making in to grape jelly too.  I intend to start a verde sauce today with the Anaheim chilies. The pepper plants did extremely well this year and we’ve been eating jalapeno poppers quite often which is quite OK by us, we love them!

We’ve been enjoying melons for several weeks and green beans and eggplant. The potatoes are ready to dig. I dug some about 2 weeks ago and we had tasty fried taters with steak that night!

The bugs have been very bad this year though, no doubt due to the all the rain we got in August. I lost most of the broccoli and cabbage but I left the plants and they seem to be coming back so I think grasshopper season has passed. We put “Turkena” the turkey in the garden and she did a good job keeping the bugs down but there’s only so much one turkey can do! The carrots are just about ready to pull up and they look really good. I planted them in May and just put another hand full of seeds into the ground for carrots later on. I should get some cabbage and broccoli and all the cool weather crops started soon too.

Growing the cucumbers and melons vertically this year turned out to be a very great thing! I was super happy with the results and it’s something I plan to do again next year.

The greenhouse will need a little help before next season, I think we’ll go ahead and board up the “front” and “back”. The wind was quite unkind to the plastic in that area but over the hoop it held up beautifully and it did such an amazing job for us getting our seeds started early.

Animals:

2 of the does were bred last month for late January kids but after reading the Farmer’s Almanac Prediction for this winter I have to wonder if holding them to kid in July may not be better =). The first fresheners who kidded in June are producing beautifully. We weathered all the kids and I think I will try to see if I can keep them in milk over Christmas when we go to California so we have milk again when we come back. Though it does mean I won’t get a break except while we’re gone and I really enjoy that break! I guess we’ll play that by ear.

The piglets are growing so well, this weekend the boys who are not going to breeding homes will be castrated and next week they will head off to their new homes. I have really enjoyed them tremendously…so active and lively. Ann has been such a great mother and milk producer and it’s just been such a wonderful experience. I really look forward to another litter some time next year.

We have a fox back that has taken a few chickens. One morning about a month ago I was enjoying coffee at the kitchen table looking out onto the back yard around 6:30 in the morning and saw one jet across the yard with a chicken nearly in its jaws. I screamed bloody murder at it waking the entire house and it was either do that and have it run away or not scream at it and have it run away with my hen in its mouth…either way there was little chance we’d get a shot off. It stood there for a while and looked at me like ‘what did I do?’.

Jeremiah has been calling it in for several mornings now and saw it yesterday but it’s was just dark enough he couldn’t tell for 100% certainty that it was indeed a fox so he left it be and it’s not responded to the call since,  little bugger.

We’ve scheduled to butcher up this second batch of meat chickens for several weekends now but it’s just been so hot that it wouldn’t be at all fun but temps look like they’ll be in the 80’s this coming weekend and it’s now or never. They are small turkeys at this point and need to be processed. They all still look fantastic though and I was happier with this batch over the last and I was really quite happy with the last batch too! But I think with all the rain we had in August, the grass was so green and there were so many bugs these grew so very well. It’s definitely something we’ll do again next year and I even considered doing another batch this summer/fall because I had more customers than I had birds but I worry about volatile weather and the grass is starting to turn and I think it’s just best if we call it a summer on those.

Speaking of this weekend though, it’s the dairy goat show at the Kansas State Fair. We’re not going. I was worried I’d be sad that we weren’t but to be truthful, it’s a huge relief! We’ve just been busy and thinking about clipping everyone up again is just not on my top list of things I want to do. Everyone is milking well and I’d like to keep it that way. Not to mention the cost involved and the running back and forth and hugely early mornings and late nights, I’ll be happy to be the spectator and the helper, if it’s needed…if we even get down there for the show once all the chickens are done and there’s a lot of them…for us anyway, over 60 but we’ll have a butchering trailer this time with chicken plucker. I don’t mind plucking and it doesn’t take me very long but if I can save my hands and joints the work for as inexpensive as it is to rent, I’m all for that.

Rachel wanted specific chickens to raise for 4-H this year and after a few delays our local farm store finally got their chicks in this past Friday. I went down there and picked out 6 for her- 3 buff orpingtons and 3 barred rocks. I also have a batch in the incubator right now that will be ready to go on lock down tomorrow. I put in 16, one didn’t look to be fertile after a week and another just quit growing so of the 16, I have 14 left and they all look very good. Each new batch seems to better and better in the incubator and maybe this time we’ll be close to 75% hatch rate. I like raising chicks this time of year because it’s still warm enough most days not to need a heat lamp and by the time it turns cold they are ready to be outside with the other chickens.

General:

I’ve chosen a design for the new milk barn and we intend to start on that once the weather turns a bit cooler. I don’t know that we’ll get it done before winter but the mere fact the water and electric is in was one big step for us.

All this work around the farm means sometimes the house goes to the wayside and we’re always in a constant state of remodel. Several weekends ago I drug out the paint brush and paint and got to work putting high gloss white on baseboards and trim. We completely gutted and remodeled a 2 bedroom rental house in town and after painting nearly that entire thing alone, I seriously have a bad taste in my mouth for painting and have a hard time bringing myself to even think about putting a drop of pain on anything! But, I figure if I do a little at a time eventually it’ll all get done….maybe! Maybe though the stuff that was painted a long time ago will need to be RE-painted again! UGH!

We’ve been talking for the past couple of years of putting in one of those really large stand alone wood stoves  and piping it into the house via the existing duct work. This may be the fall to really do it instead of just talking about it.  As October approaches we start to think about wood cutting and splitting and that’s a chore that will be upon us soon. We had very little left last season. It seems we went through quite a bit and by all accounts I think it was a pretty mild winter…long, but mild. After taking a weekend in March and gathering rounds and logs from the woods and putting them in our wood cutting area, it’s all ready to go into the wood splitter.

The children went back to school just after Labor Day and I am back to being alone during the day, it’s a little lonely but I get a lot more sewing done. I am back to quilting on Rachel’s quilt and have just the smallest amount left to do. Then I can bind it and it’ll be ready! It should serve her well if it’s real cold this winter. The batting I used was bamboo fleece, it’s a heavy quilt! Several other project have been keeping me busy along with the cloth diapers.

Well, I promised the children I’d take them to the fair today and tonight is the demolition derby we intend to watch with friends. I don’t understand how people can visit the fair every day but it seem there are lots and lots of people who will go nearly everyday. It’s just too hot and crowded for me to do that more than once!

I suppose that’s about all for now. The pressure cooker is whistling at me so I need to start timing my ‘mater sauce and switch over the sprinkler for the garden. I hope you have a wonderful rest of the week!

August 24, 2013

Saturday Humor

August 19, 2013

Monday in the garden

 

August 14, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Frog Friends

August 11, 2013

Flashback photos: Kids

August 10, 2013

Wouldn’t have a girl any other way

July 17, 2013

Vacation from the farm

Anyone who has animals knows how hard it can be to leave for any extended period of time. For those with dairy animals in particular it can be downright impossible. My family lives in California (northern and southern) and Jer’s family lives in Wv, Ky. and Ohio (mostly). Living half way in between (or close enough to) makes it extremely difficult to see them and boy do we miss them greatly.

We have the most awesome neighbors and friends ever and we are so blessed to have friends and neighbors who know how individual and needy animals can be. Last Christmas we drove to California and spent 10 wonderful days with family. Meanwhile our neighbors cared for the farm in our absence and this was NO easy task when the high temperature most days were around 22 degrees!!! It made for mighty cold mornings and evenings.

Wintertime is actually not the season I cringe leaving for though, despite the cold. Summer time is especially brutal as there is milking to be done. Let me just tell you, friends and neighbors of ours gladly took on the responsibility of morning and evening chores AND even made a special point mid-day to check on everyone the days we had very hot temperatures. AND AND, a second set of neighbors offered to pitch in too! I find this incredibly awesome because despite doing the chores day in and day out, writing out all of the chores makes me realize how much there truly is. We know each individual animal, their needs, their special quirks and it’s often important to make this known to caretakers. They did it all, happily.

The garden has doubled in size. The children are now on egg and garden collection duty. The goats all look wonderful and I am pleased to announce that Josephine, who had not so much as had a handful of days in the milk stand before kidding, was standing “like an angel” to be milked for a “stranger”. What a sweetie!

The meat birds have doubled in size while we were gone it seems. We butchered the first batch the Saturday before we left. This next batch should be ready in about 6 weeks and that will probably be the end of meat chickens for the year.

100_9541

I posted before I left on our piggy, Ann, and piggy pregnancy. You can read more about that here: https://marmaladehollow.com/2013/07/03/piggy-pregnancy/ . Just before we left I noticed that she was building an udder, much like a dog getting ready to whelp would. Upon returning home it’s quite clear she will farrow fairly soon. Our chore is to get her pen set up and get the boar separated, get her farrowing hut bedded down well and sit back and wait. If you’re looking for more information on swine farrowing check out the following links:

This is by no means a complete list of what I’ve read, just a few I found helpful. 100_9555

Jer and I spent a couple hours in the garden this morning weeding. I looks like we got about an inch of rain while we were gone and yesterday evening the sky opened up. I took shelter in the greenhouse for about 20 minutes until it passed. This morning was humid and I felt like I was back in Ky! I’m glad the weeding job is done, I really thought it would take us a couple of days! we’ll be planting more potatoes soon and before I left I planted more black oil sunflowers which have all popped out of the ground. We made it home in time to see the first of our sunflowers in full bloom. I love sunflowers =).

May 17, 2013

Spigot on a barrel

For those of you interested in our spigot barrel, here it is.

spigot

What you’ll need:

1 barrel (or trash can) and drill & drill bit to make a hole in the side of your barrel/can

1 1/2 inch brass or plastic hose bib

(optional 3/4″ steel washer, depends on how rigid your barrel is)

brass connector with 1/2″ threads on the inside

2 rubber o-rings

plumbers teflon tape

This barrel does not have a washer on the outside, these barrels are very rigid but if you are using a less rigid barrel I would suggest a washer. First apply teflon tape to the hose bib’s threads. Next, put the waster on, then the o-ring. Next you’ll insert the hose’s bib threads through the hole in the barrel you’ve made, place another o-ring onto the hose bib from the inside of the barrel, then the connector. Tighten it all up with a wrench and you’re done!

May 3, 2013

Land of milk and eggs

challah

Challah braids

It’s that time of year, we’re happily wallowing in milk and eggs! What better way to put it to good use (other than making piggies and doggies happy)? Why, make those around us happy too! I love sending yummy goodies to friends, slipping soap samples in with bags for locals who visit for farm fare or hiding little rounds of eventual lather-y goodness in with shipments of cloth diapers to my customers.

Using milk and eggs to make Challah, lard and milk to make soap, pouring gallons of milk or dozens of scrambled eggs into the pig’s trough and dog’s bowls are all ways in which we use the extras!

Cha cha chai & tea tree camomile

Cha cha chia & tea tree chamomile goat milk soap

Citrus hibiscus  & natural

Citrus hibiscus & natural scent goat milk soap

shampoo bar

Last week shampoo bars came out of the mold (above), a light lime scent and full of extra Vit. E. for shine, mild but cleansing which will effectively remove oil and dirt from scalp. Nothing artificial in these bars, they do not contain petroleum products or carcinogenic chemicals such as glycol distearate. Healthy oils for healthy hair!

May soaps 021

Also, fresh outta the mold, lime & sea salt (above) because at least there has to be some sense of tropical paradise around here…with it snowing on the 2nd of May and still freezing overnight, we can pretend to be somewhere warm while using it.

We’ve lost two fruit trees to the cold. I won’t even think about putting any delicate garden plants out until I am fully sure we are not in for any more freezes, it’s just not worth it, they are happy in the greenhouse and growing well. I do have to transplant some of the tomatoes and peppers though, they are outgrowing their digs!

A few goats have gone to new homes. One of Mags’ triplets was wethered a couple of weeks ago and Pejamy’s spotted doe kid along with Bear went to their new home in Mo. today.

I can honestly say it has been a true pleasure keeping a few of the pups on here for further training. It’s been amazing to watch them learn from King and Snow and watch them interact with the other animals. One of our visitors today said it was like Noah’s ark here the way everyone cohabitates together, even the dogs like the cats and the chickens can be in the pig pen without fear of being eaten and the cats don’t go after the chicks! Minus the rooster, who will meet his fate one day when he’s gone after me one too many times, everyone is family.  I took the goats out to the far woods today and Eddie followed right along, he comes when called and he’s leaning to sit. I am sure he will be a bit sad and lonely without Bear to play with but I think he is starting to mature in the fact that while it’s still fun to be a puppy, there is usually work to be done and that’s OK.

We’re thinking about attending a show next weekend a couple hours away. I’m still not sure I want to wake up as early as I would need to to get all the chores done and be out of here by 5:30 AM to be to the fairgrounds on time. Oddly enough, even though a dual ring show to include bucks seems like a lot to pack in, and it is, I much prefer the single day shows than the long drawn out weekend shows, it’s just too much and doesn’t turn out to be a whole lot of fun waking up early two days in a row, staying late to keep pens clean, feed, milk, etc. then to have to go home exhausted and do all the same at home before crawling into bed, etc. and it’s hard on my animals, I won’t speak for anyone else. With the weather, I wouldn’t have to do much but winter clip…who can’t appreciate that =)! However, the single day shows are hard to prep for in the milking doe dept….getting udders to fill up on hauls under stress…there’s always pros and cons =). We’ll see.

We’ve been getting good rain about once a week for at least the past 4 weeks. Several weeks ago I noticed the oats coming up in the eastern pasture. I was glad for that. I saw some brome coming up but not what I thought should be there so I was a little disappointed but after this past cold storm, wow (!), boy is it really coming in thick and well!

The strawberries we planted in barrels a few weeks ago are looking fantastic. I covered them up 3 weeks ago with straw when we froze overnight several nights in a row with that ice storm and it’s done them well. We just planed potatoes a few evenings ago, a little late maybe but I was later in getting them in last year. We got some lettuces & beets planted outside as well. I have some in the greenhouse but figured with as cool as it’s been, I may as well see how they do. I am sure they’ll be just fine. Kansas is much different than Northern California for planting times and it’s taking time to adjust to that.

We have chicks popping out of their shells this evening. I think we may do one more round and put the incubator up until later in the year when I can get some pure Wyandottes. Right now the new roosters just aren’t old enough yet but give them a few more months and they’ll be old pros =). The girls have been laying super super well, no doubt do in part to all the yummy bugs out they are getting and the fodder that we’re still growing.

I’ll leave you with a couple of photos from here and there =). Have a great weekend y’all!

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