Archive for ‘weather’

January 21, 2014

A week in photos

It was such a busy week! I managed to finish Rachel’s quilt for her 10th birthday, a project that’s been 2 years in the making. I fall into UFO (unfinished object) funks and quilts in particular fall to the wayside unfortunately but finishing it has given me renewed vigor to finish a few that have been on the back burner.

This was a sentiment I heard at one time. I don’t know the author to credit but suffice to say, these are borrowed words.

101_1307

King and Snow doing what King and Snow do. The sun’s out and it’s day time which means they snooze and relax and keep watch.

king

snow

Sunday was gorgeous and the goats were thoroughly enjoying the sunshine. We finally got the round bales off the trailer. The girls had pretty much eaten one entire bale down to 1/4 of what it started as. We unloaded it into the barnyard so they could munch on it. Most of them just turned in into a cozy bed . Most of the does are bred, some further along than others. It’s a time of growing good healthy babies!

Mother Daughter Flicker and Bourbon

Mother Daughter Flicker and Bourbon

hay bale free for all

Granite

Granite

While there isn’t a whole lot to eat from the looks of it, the pigs enjoy nibbling the grasses and rooting up tasty things. Ann is due to farrow around February 14.

Ann

IMG_20140119_154433

101_1268

The chickens still range in the winter and find tasty tidbits to eat, there was still a little snow on the ground last week.

101_1254

Sunday Jeremiah and I finished the greenhouse by installing the back window and the plastic on front and back. we also put pipe insulation over the end of the panel and maybe that will cause a little less wear and tear. The strips of lumber that the plastic is rolled up in seems to be doing a good job. We had some pretty forceful winds last night and all it all looks good.I am so eager to start seeds. I went through what I saved from last year and what was left over. I hope to start a lot of flower seeds this year along with all the veg.

Front

101_1323 Front

101_1321

back

101_1324

greenhouse window from inside

Em kidded on Sunday while we worked on the greenhouse. I checked on her every so often. The first kid (boy) was totally breech but he delivered fine. The 2nd kid (doe) was still encased in her sack. I am glad I was there. Usually they are not delivered in their sack and there is no obstruction. When they are, if the doe is not attentive or there isn’t anyone there, they generally suffocate. The 3rd kid (a buck) was delivered about 20 minutes later without incident and Em looks fantastic. Shes enjoying a stall to herself to get to know her kids. I’ll post more photos later, these kids are super flashy!

101_1340

The following photo was not taken last week, but it is a reminder that we have our nuc colonies ordered from Butler Bees. Jeremiah and I are going to tackle the top bar bee hives and leave the langstroth hives to the construction class.

Well, there it was. We were at an auction Saturday and managed to bring home a pretty decent haul of lumber, a huge miscellaneous lot of trim/moulding/baseboards, 125 sheets of sheet rock and 13+ new bundles of shingles. I haven’t yet decided if we’ll shingle the new milk house, I’ll have to chew on that some more. We’re trying to stay somewhat color & material coordinated, the shingles on the house are brown, everything else is metal. We’re going with metal.

Advertisements
January 13, 2014

Weekend = Greenhouse

Ahhh, always such great expectations as to what we can accomplish in one weekend. I will say that with really getting into a good cardio routine, I am feeling SO much better! I’m not waking up feeling like my back is about to break, no pain in my hips (probably because my legs feel like they’re going to fall off from the post-workout burn HA HA!) and around about the 3 o’clock hour when normally I would really want to take a nap I am feeling just as perky as the 10 o’clock hour. That coupled with our dietary changes, a week’s time has really made a difference! Thank heavens! Not to mention I am daily getting a good look at the fencing along the property line as I quickly make my way around. I always said I need to check it more. What was fun was seeing it with snow on the ground. There were so many different prints including a bobcat and from the looks of it, he/she was hot on the trail of a bunny.

That said, part of our weekend was taken up with a trip to town to the hardware store to gather a few things to fix up the greenhouse. We had also hoped to get wood splitting in there and while the weather was absolutely gorgeous, the prior evening’s rainfall coupled with the existing snow made for a bit of a small lake which made access to the green house a pain! The wood splitter and pile was still covered by snow too so Saturday was kind of a wash. I opted to clean the house instead. It was a good trade, I guess. Jeremiah visited the neighbor to weld a tow bar, I think. Although I think a lot of his time over there was spent chit chatting…and they say women yack a lot! Shew.

Sunday we made up for Saturday’s lack of outside work and we got to work ripping the 2×4’s to make the new greenhouse door, and what a mighty nice door it is. We unintentionally framed for a window when we originally built it but covered it up with plastic last year and did not opt for a window. I thought I might like to have a window this year so we can get a bit more air flow in there on the very warm days so we built one of those too.

The window isn’t completed yet. We ran out of screws to attach the strips (top and bottom).

The biggest issue with the greenhouse was the plastic being torn off the frame. We stapled it last year but the wind proved to be too much. Friends of ours mentioned putting up a high tunnel. I looked at the plans for it and took a queue on how their plastic was attached. (Here is the link if you’d like to check out the link on how to build an inexpensive high tunnel: http://www.sare.org/Learning-Center/Project-Products/Western-SARE-Project-Products/Constructing-a-Low-Cost-High-Tunnel. There is a PDF file that goes a long with it with a materials list and what not). I love this idea, I’ve seen a lot like them and we often think about putting something like this up for year round gardening. For the moment however, our little greenhouse is more than sufficient.

At any rate, they cut their plastic larger than the opening and rolled thin strips of lumber up in them and attached with screws. I think we had thought about doing that last year and we did along the bottom frame but ended up not on the upper portion. I’m convinced the strips are the answer.

We also cut a diagonal to go from the door frame to the top of the shelf just as a additional location to attach the plastic (not installed yet). It’s not needed for structural support. Hopefully this fix will last us a few years.

We never did get to the wood pile and the greenhouse isn’t completely put back together but hopefully after just a couple more hours and I’ll be ready to start seeds. Lots of other little tasks were completed though and I am grateful for that. The weekends pass by so quick and particularly this time of year, the weather can make or break it.

This spring-like weather has me feelin’ the spring fever. I think it does for a lot of people but there’s still a lot of winter yet left. Seeds still need to be planted soon though and it’s nice to think about spring being on its way anyway!

Have a great Monday!

Tags:
November 20, 2013

November now…

Last week the wind howled here in central Kansas and we were watching the last of the leaves fly off the trees. Two mornings were bitterly cold with wicked wind chills in to the teens and 20’s. I don’t mind the cold but the wind chills just cuts right through everything.

The animals don’t seem to mind the cold yet too much. One of the bucks got his head stuck in a feeder last Monday night and stayed stuck until I found him Tuesday morning. It took a bit of manipulation to get him out and fortunately he was no worse for the wear though they did say the windchill over night was something like 13 degrees and he didn’t have a single bit of protection. I did not have kind words for him as I tried to wrangle him out of that feeder from the outside of the fence. I was not about to get in there with 3 other bucks intend on having their way with me. I preoccupied them with some alfalfa which sent the stuck buck into a frenzy wanting some too which made getting him out even harder! I was eventually successful however!

Last week we got a roof put onto the small roving coop that I use as a grow out pen for the chicks. We also put in a few roost rungs. The Sept. chicks have nearly outgrown it and we need to move them into the roving coop we made for the meat chickens, but that needs roosts too.

I expect to be putting new eggs into the incubator about January. A few of the last incubated Sept. batch were roosters and of the 2nd batch, 2 of the 6 chicks I picked up from the farm store were roosters as well. I feather sexed all those but they were already a couple of weeks old and it’s supposed to be impossible to tell at that point so I was taking a shot in the dark on a straight run. They’re 2.5 months old at this point and left for their new home yesterday and now the roving coup is a little more spacious =).

We kept 12 meat chickens back for ourselves when we butchered in Sept. to grow them out a little longer. Some do tend to be on the slower growth scale as they do not get as much food as the others. We butchered 6 the weekend before last and left 6 seeing as how most of them were really close to laying eggs. I felt kinda of bad actually to loose laying age hens but they didn’t start out as intended layers anyway. I really never planned to keep these as long as we did but they all look so great so I’d like to see how they do.

The pigs are well,  they spend cold mornings burrowed under the straw in their shelter. We’re thinking about possibly butchering out the boar but still haven’t made a final decision on that. We may have piglets again as early as Feb 14. Kinda wishing I had kept them separated a little longer for a March litter but February it may be. We’ll just have to see.

Snow and King’s 2 pups are reserved. The male will be hitching a ride with us to California when we go for Christmas and will be going to a friend of mine and the female will be staying somewhat local in Marion, Ks. Her new family came to meet her on Wednesday. They’ll be fantastic for each other.

Goat breeding has been entirely strange! We went about 2 months it seemed with few of the does coming in to a good strong heat and now its seems like it’s one right after another. I don’t know what that’s all about, maybe the weather. I have just one doe due in January, 2 in Feb and 2 in March. I don’t particularly like kidding in the freezing cold but I do like the earlier kids. The first doe will bring milk production back up as we’re winding down on the other does now and drying them off one by one except the yearlings who are still going really strong and should right on through Christmas.

We’re having the high school building construction class build our milk barn. Time is slipping away for us while we work on other projects and we’ve been waiting for the 2nd trimester to start for them as to give them ample time to get it done. It’s a great experience for the kids. We went and looked at metal siding and roofing last Friday so everything is ready for them to start and hopefully by January we’ll have it delivered and it’ll be ready to milk in once babies start hitting the ground. More than anything I want the separate processing area with counter and sink instead of having to lug the milk bucket up to the house. Making cheese and soap out there is also part of the plan as well. I’d love to find a small wine fridge for cheeses to put out there!

Jeremiah and the kids spent part of Sunday splitting wood and got the majority of what was in rounds completely split with the help of the 3 girls who belong to a friend that are staying with us for the week. The log splitter has been a life saver this year! It was a life saver last year too but it has been especially handy this year as we’ve been behind and didn’t even start the bulk of the cutting in Oct. like we normally do. We pulled several large logs this out of the woods this past spring but have mainly just had large piles of rounds waiting for the time to split it. After last winter being so long, we had maybe 2 weeks worth of wood left to burn that was pre-split and stacked this spring when all was said and done. We’re nearly through that now but have been building up the supply right behind it and we’ll do more than we normally do if the weather prediction is any indication of how much we might need! They all did a terrific job.

Last year I joked with the kids that it would be really nice if we could get enough split and stacked to cover us for the winter plus half of another so we were always ahead if we continue to split at the same rate. Well, last winter proved to require quite a bit more than the previous. So much for being ahead half a year =).

The evenings get dark so quickly that doing anything outside with any decent amount of light after Jeremiah gets home from work is pretty much unheard of so we try to take full advantage of the weekends, especially the nice ones! 

There are several craft fairs coming up that we’ll be at and a community project that we’re gearing up for. Today I am hitting the machine to make a few quick craft projects that should be really fun! It hardly seems possible that Thanksgiving is nearly upon us! Once school starts in the fall the days just fly by. My Grandma always used to tell me that time moves even quicker once you are grown up. I never did understand her…until now. Gosh.

The broccoli and cabbage in the garden are looking pretty bedraggled after last weeks over night temps and I think it’s about time to put the pigs out there to clean it up. All of the garden tools have been put up now and the yard cleared of summer things. It’s time for the earth to rest and renew.

And with that said, it’s time to start a new day!

Have a great week!

 

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!

April 12, 2013

Springy farm update

      The first real day in the garden in what seems like a VERY long overdue time! Strawberries were planted last week in barrels, the starts were given to us by a very generous neighbor, a much appreciated PIF (pay it forward).
     When we clean out the barn of waste hay and manure, we pile it into a big mound in different locations and it’s left to sit. It gives us absolutely gorgeous compost! Goat manure can be put straight onto the garden but with all the waste hay and bedding, we think it is a lot better when left to sit for 6 months to a year. This morning I hooked up the garden trailer to the garden tractor (riding lawn mower) and took several loads of this lovely compost to the garden to fill my raised beds for the herbs and potato pots.
     Despite the nasty ice storm we just had, nothing really seems to be too worse for the wear and we got a lot of moisture out of it to boot! I overheard someone recently say the tally was 1.5″ of rain but at least here at our place, if the buckets and bowls are any indication, it had to be closer to 2.5 if not 3″! That’s certainly a blessing!
     The grass is green, it’s a lovely spring day and just this morning -while examining the fruit trees to see if they were any worse for the wear (they’re not!)- I noticed the oats are about 2″ tall! Boy has this moisture just worked miracles for everything! It seems we got everything in at just the right time. The orchard looks amazing, the strawberries survived the ice storm and the blackberry bushes we got on clearance at Lowes for being frostbitten -despite being forgotten and left out during the ice storm, whammy #2-, they look just as dandy as they did before being frosted in ice! What’s (almost) worse, we left them in a vehicle for about 3 days after we bought them because we were lazy apparently. I thought, “OH NO”! when I realized they were still in there but come to find out, it had the greenhouse effect and those things grew new leaves and they looked lovely after a few days in the heat! You’d never know they looked dead only a few days before.
      The orchard was one of those things on the “someday” list. I am sure you know just the list, right? It’s not always easy to remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day, but those ‘somedays’ DO come! Jeremiah just mentioned the other day how amazing it was that the ‘someday’ orchard is now a reality, just like that! It didn’t come without work, oooooh no. But, as my Grandma still says to this day, you appreciate things more when you have to work for them. How true.
     The pigs did such a great job tilling the garden in for us last fall, I seriously doubt it’ll need much more than a quick going over with the rototiller. One less chore, though secretly, it’s not a chore, I very much enjoy working the soil for the first time each year =).
     I so very much want to move the 2.5 month old chicks out of the chicken tractor and into the great big world but after the hawk attack several weeks ago that took one of my Golden Wyandottes, I am so reluctant to until they are bigger. I move that tractor several times a day (rotational grazing, so to speak) so they have fresh grass to chomp on but I know they’d very much like to be able to truly free range. Hard job, doing what’s best for them =).
     I cannot tell you how lucky and blessed we feel to be where we are at. This is a life long dream of mine, a continuation of life for Jeremiah and despite the days where it just seems like there’s entirely too much work for entirely too few people, there is entirely too little money or too little machinery, in the end, we have entirely more blessings than we probably deserve…it’s hard not to take that for granted sometimes.
     This weekend there are no farm auctions, at least none we’re going to. I am pretty sure this place will be 90% built with used items. We got a great deal on about 25 cattle and hog panels and not a minute too soon. We need to get fencing put back up between the main barnyard and the eastern oat pasture before the goats discover what’s out there and that’ll be the end of the oats and we need to finish up the fencing to the orchard. I also still don’t know what we’re doing with the pigs, we go back and forth. Some days I’d like to just send them off to freezer camp, other days I think we should move them out to pasture. I really would like the space to extend the garden for goat goodies. <sigh> One more slot taken on the ‘someday’ list, when we just got finished bumping one off, ha! This afternoon I intend to cook up a storm, despite how gorgeous it is outside! Having MRE’s (Meals Ready to Eat, only entirely so much better tasting and better for us than military MRE’s =) made makes it so we can get so much more done without having to stop to come in to make a meal, or worse yet, GO GET ONE from town because I’m too tired to fix something.
     From my kitchen window I can see the does headed to pasture, Ann in particular lagging behind who may kid today -and a lovely day it would be!- and that prompts me to end this and get back to work. Have a great weekend!
April 10, 2013

This is April?

Yesterday brought some weird weather over much of Kansas. The kids and I were in town, Rachel is shorts and a t-shirt. It was so warm and humid during morning chores I was sweating! By the time we walked out of Hobby Lobby the temp. had dropped 30 degrees to 46 and we were none to happy to be out without jackets! It sprinkled some and by 2 o’clock pelting ice-hail balls were smacking the roof  of the house.

By 3 PM it poured rain, much to my delight. The rain tapered off around 6:30 PM only to pick back up violently by 8 PM with a lovely thunderstorm, big old drops of rain and the sky lighting up and and over and loud cracks of thunder! I LOVE a good thunderstorm.

I walked out to do evening chores yesterday between pelting ice hail and the goats were nowhere in sight. Odd, I thought, since the weather was awful, it was not like them to be away from the barn! The neighbor called just then to say they were in the next door neighbor’s woods happily munching away on the new rye grass sheltered by all the trees. Their house sits up on a hill and they can look down into parts of our proeprties.  The wind must have popped the chain loose on the walk through gate we have between our neighbor’s property and ours, or the does learned how to unlatch the chain! “Oooooooooh girls!” , I yelled. They all came a’runnin’, babies in tow. They know a tasty meal when they hear it, and when they don’t too =).

Last night the show outside was too good not to watch. We opened the blinds in our bedroom to a window that faces north and fell asleep listening to the the rain hitting the thirsty soil, the wind howling, the thunder clanging and the lightening lighting up the night sky.

About 2 AM the power was surging and the carbon monoxide alarm kept going off to alert us that the power had it working again. Yeah, thanks for that!

I suited up at 5:30 AM to check on everything/everyone in the barnyard.  The gate was frozen shut and I had to virtually wade through a lake to get to it. The dogs – who rarely venture into the barn except on very hot days to catch the breeze blowing through or during very bad weather- had made themselves right at home in amongst the goats. The goats were very pleased to get a very early breakfast to replace the dredges left over from the night before.

I was worried about our 2 month old chicks in the tractor as they have a tarp for cover and with that wind, I thought for sure it would go and I’d have chickencicles out there this morning but no, just a thick later of ice over the whole thing so much I couldn’t see them but heard them screaming for breakfast and water just the same! The doors were iced shut, fortunately the small door facing south had ice only on the inside so I was able to punch it open and get them a bowl of water and food, they were pleased and punch!

It’s really quite pretty out with a thick layer of ice incrusting everything, but also fairly dangerous as well! Two trees in our eastern pasture have broken. One at the trunk and another has broken a very large limb. The willow trees that normally have branches that hang low are weeping on the ground and other trees are waning their limbs very low nearly to the ground from the weight of the ice.

My Red Bud Tree out front that I so look forward to coming back to life again was just about to be gorgeous. Now, it’s frozen in time.

I planted strawberries, 4 big ol’ pots of them, 2 days ago. They were the only plants I forgot to cover. Our neighbors generously shared about 40 starts with us. Jeremiah and I dug them up Sunday. We picked up some lovely 15 gallon pots at a farm auction a couple of Saturdays ago. I had planned to make them potato pots, but I took 4 of the 12 and planted strawberries instead. So we get a few less potatoes =). I should have put straw over the strawberries, I sure hope they are okay. Their saving grace was being flanked on the north by the greenhouse so I did not really see ice on them at all this morning. The pots are much too heavy to move into the greenhouse but I did go out last night and put the blueberry bushes in.

We’ll see how the fruit trees do. A couple of them are leaning but should right easily once the ice melts, which may be tomorrow. Some of them already had buds on them, some did not.

Our 2nd round of chicks started hatching on Sunday. The “dry incubation” method worked SO much better than the “no hatch” method that we followed on the incubators directions. It’s a shame to loose chicks!

The tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, broccoli, and cabbage are all up in the greenhouse. Quite a few herbs are up as well. Even with a thick layer of ice, it was still warm in there this morning. Gotta love that!

It’s still very cold out and overcast. We may get a little snow on top of the ice before it’s all said and done but, it’s April right? Things HAVE to get warmer from here, right?

Have a great day!

Tags: ,
October 17, 2012

Fine fall day

     It’s a right bit windy this fine fall day. A good (clothes) drying day, as my Grandma would say. Good drying day indeed, if you can keep the clothes on the line that is!

     The girls were antsy to get out to the pasture this morning after milking. I took the children to school and as soon as we stepped outside, I noticed that the wind had been busy blowing the leaves off the trees overnight. I hope I have enough time to collect all those leaves before the wind takes them to the neighbors! It makes excellent fodder in the dead of winder when hay seems rather redundant.

     No sooner had I finished milking the last doe that they all took off for leafier pastures. They’re no fools, they know what awaits them beyond. The bucks didn’t even stay to finish their hay. What, with all the mulberry, ash, cottonwood and locust leaves that have fallen, can you blame them?

     The pigs, on the other hand, preferred not to come out of their warm straw bedded shelter this morning for leaves until I started calling, “Pig, pig, piggy!”. At that point they know soups on. Or rather, warm clabbered milk mush is served and they best not be straggling otherwise the others would be happy to eat their portion.

     It’s always so funny to hear the commotion of the barnyard at different times of the day. In the morning, the milkers are calling from their side of the barn, urging me out to get on with the day. The chickens throw an absolute hissy in the coop if I do not let them out as soon as the pigs are fed as they tend to like to get in on the vittles. The pigs have a fine way of scooting just the right amount of wheat up and over the trough and onto the ground and boy are the hens happy that they are so generous. Never-mind that I also take pity on the pour souls and toss them a few handfuls of wheat as well so they’ll stay out of the milk parlor looking for the dregs. Mind you, the goats aren’t so willing to share their goodies from their feed bowls. It’s been too nice not to leave the door open while I milk, but then, this invites visitors and Lordy knows I can’t stand the chickens in the barn, let alone the milk parlor.

     The pigs are pretty perturbed if they are not fed on my way out. Occasionally I have my hands too full of milking supplies or barn supplies that I forgo feeding them first thing and stop to open the chicken coop and those piggies just squeal and yell and carry on until I walk back to pick up the trusty food pail. Most mornings I also have a bowl of goodies- left over from the previous day’s meals. Or, even better, fridge cleaning day!

     With the freeze that came, the garden is kaput and so I picked what I could, mostly to save seeds for next year’s garden and then opened up one side of the fence so the piggies could get in. Boy were they in hog heaven! Except, nothin’ is ever good enough and last night I went chasing one spotty pig around the orchard (or what will be the orchard. We call it the orchard, some day there will be trees in it). Rachel said it was great fun to watch me out the window trying to corral that unwilling piggy into a corner so I could grab a leg and get it back into its pen. It wasn’t all that willing to play along. Course, it didn’t help the goats were there “helping” by sniffing and leaping in my way while trying to figure out what this creature was doing on their side of the fence. Finally I was able to hook a back and leg and while it didn’t squeal as I expected it too, I knew I’d have a devil of a time holding it while it whipped around trying to get away so my best option was to grab the other back leg and wheelbarrow style move it back to its pen. That seemed to work pretty good.

     You wouldn’t believe it, but this morning while I was walking up to the house after chores, there was plain evidence it wasn’t the first time at least one of those piggies was out where it was not supposed to be which was made clear by the rooting marks in the dirt where there should be none. Darn piggies. I had to fix them, it didn’t help that the garden gates were not latched at the bottom. I guess I was asking for piggies to take liberties. Ahhhh well, all’s well that ends back up in the pen, I guess.

Tags: ,
October 24, 2011

Winterizing

There are pros and cons to an open front barn. I think I’ve solved the con- in this case, even though it faces south, cold air, snow and rain still blow in during the worst storms and the wind just makes it miserable. Cold is one thing, cold wind is another.

Photobucket
 On the left hand side the gate to the barn is holding the tarp open enough for the girls to get inside. This gate will be closed more during bad weather and with grommets along the bottom of the tarp, it will help hold the tarp more securely with clips so it doesn’t flap about so much. The right side gate is completely closed as we have some round bales in there I don’t always want the girls to have free will at. But this gate can/will also be slightly opened during bad weather to allow them to come and go but still be sheltered.

These tarps wont solve the cold problem entirely but short of a fully heated barn, which isn’t going to happen nor is it good for the animals anyway, this is the best it’s probably going to get.

A friend of mine makes cattle panel hoop houses from these types of tarps. Believe it or not, they are actually used billboards. The funny thing, in my case, is that ironically the one we used for the front of the barn is an old Comfort Inn advertisement! It’s somewhat funny being on the inside seeing a huge Comfort Inn Logo and whatever catchy phrase they were using at the time to make you want to stay at their place. I should have gotten a photo of that!

I feel badly for the bucks though as they’ll probably end up with a State Farm billboard and one of them has a not to attractive gentleman’s photo on it. Fortunately, I don’t think they’ll care =).

These billboards were purchased from a company in Minnesota. If you’re interested, please message or email me and I’ll give you their name. They ask that you put the advertisement portion of the billboard to the inside or facing down (whichever is the case).

PhotobucketThese billboards come in several different thicknesses but generally they are about 13-17 mil’s thick on average I believe, and literally a fraction of the cost of similar at any farm store and will outlast any blue or grey tarp! Of course, they come in different sizes too.

You will have to install your own grommets, as we did, if you need grommets but that’s a pretty simple and inexpensive task really.Though I do recommend you do it in the sun if it’s a cool day and forget about getting it unfolded if it’s cold! They need to heat up to be pliable, a simple chore when it’s warm out and there’s sun. An impossible task if it’s not which is why we wanted to get them up not rather than later.

Eventually I’ll get enough clips to clip them to our installed eye bolts but for now, zip ties will due. We ran out of grommets too to put them down along the side which will keep them from flapping too much in the wind. I’d also like to make them  roll up for nice weather and to air out the barn/allow sunlight in but we ran out of time to get that all hooked up.

They’ll probably come down in the summer time to prolong their life and there’s no need for them during warm weather anyway. This is a task I can accomplish on my own as they are not so heavy that I cannot drag them to the grass to fold them up. The friend who uses them on her hoop houses is going on a 3rd winter with them and I believe they are out all year long.

I probably could have cut off all the parts on the one side that have measurements on it but to be completely honest with you, as I did some of this alone, I wasn’t in the mood to making it look pretty. It’s functional, and it’s a barn and while I am not opposed to making things look nice,  in the middle of a snow storm, I don’t care what it looks like if it works!

Photobucket
This billboard was cut in half as we had used it to cover hay on a trailer during a bad storm and it was just too big to be efficient. Little did I know that if I had cut it in 3rds I could have gotten 3 tarps out of it instead of 2 and a 3rd that is seamed together but not matter, this can go up on the lean to and the grommets holding the 2 pieces together won’t make much of a difference. They’ll be peep holes, lol.


January 13, 2011

Snow

house & snow
(Standing in the does large pen looking south towards the house.)

We received approx. 8 inches of snow between Sunday afternoon and Monday morning out here at Marmalade Hollow.

Sunday was fun. The newness brought lots of outdoor time. The goats literally stood at the opening of the barn yelling at me. If goats knew how to curse (and perhaps they do), their words would be freely flowing. Monday morning brought misery. My human kids were overjoyed of course. Who wouldn’t be as this is the first time in their young lives they’ve had any real snow outside their front door? I trucked hot water out to the goats at least 4 times between morning and evening feeding. I do chores after my daughter goes off to school. I get my 4 year old situated and suit up myself.

I could install a deicer for both does and bucks but I choose to truck hot water. For one, I get to see them throughout the day and I enjoy seeing them. For two, they really appreciate the warm water! I have two 5 gallon hardware store buckets I fill up in the tub and head on out. I break all the ice out of the water troughs which takes little more than turning them over after pouring a bit of hot water on them except in the morning when it’s been in the single digits or negatives then it takes some breaking. Then I fill them with hot water, add a bucket of well water (at about 55 degrees) and it’s perfect drinking temperature. I have been doing this several times a day. The rest of the week should bring us above freezing temps though so hot water hauling should only be required in the AM though I’ll do it in the PM too just as a treat. They really like it.

Monday was pure hell trudging through the fluff. I fell at least once and slipped countless times. Tuesday and today (Wednesday) would seem as though life was rougher with the temps hovering around zero. My car says it’s 3 degrees. There’s no wind so I cannot imagine there’s a wind chill temp but one internet site is reading negative 3. Folks, I’m a California girl born and raised! I am not used to this cold weather. Granted, the last 4 years we spent in Northern California prepared me a little. But towards the end of this month in Northern Cal. things would start greening up there and it looked and almost felt like spring. My goaties are not used to this cold weather! I have been preparing myself, it’s not as if I am cold. I have good clothes and good boots but gee wiz. All the animals are well bedded down with straw. Which, by the way, we went and picked up 2 round bales last weekend.

The past 2 days have kept all the goats inside. They won’t venture into the snow. They look at it, they look at me and show me their back sides. They just aren’t having it. This morning poor PJ was so cold she didn’t want to get up, even to eat! That’s very unlike her. I made a goat blanket several years ago and this morning she was the lucky gal who got to wear it. I am sure she’s thankful. All of them for the past month or so now spend a lot of time at the front of the barn that faces south and bask in the sun when it’s out.

I know the barn will be a huge mess by the time this is all over. I have been doing a little clean up here and there of the front portion where they eat and hang out. Trudging through the snow with the wheelbarrow wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. Saturday, if the temp holds above 40, I will muck everything out, let it sit for the day with the east door open to air and dry a little and reapply new straw.

Yesterday I took my portable feeders and hung them on the gate of the barn just so I could coax them out a little to show them the snow wasn’t going to kill them.

Goats in the snow

Goats in the snow 1

Today I did get the littler girls to venture a bit farther out but they’re still not sure about all of it.

We’ve got about 4 weeks left until our first babies are due. So very thankful I didn’t breed to kid in January! It’s not the set up, it’s the snow! I wouldn’t mind putting dams and kids in the attached garage but that bring its own miseries. My herd does not like to be separated. 

Lotsa deer tracks in the back yard and across the pastures which is to be expected. I see signs of deer in the pasture all the time. But across the back yard is amusing to me. Every morning they are in new places. Sometimes their tracks from the day before are covered by blowing wind.

snow trail
(On the East side of our house-this is the trail that leads to our neighbors place.)

PJ finishes up her 14 day round of antibiotics today. Poor girl, I’m tired of poking her and she’s tired of being poked I’m sure. She’ll be back in heat in about 7 more days, 3-4 weeks after that I’ll know if the antibiotics has worked. If so, great! It means she had some kind of infection preventing her from settling. If not, well, then it’s blood draw time to figure out if what’s going on mineral wise in her and we’ll wait until the late summer to get her to where she needs to be.  She’s looking good though. She’s been getting special treatment these past few days.

I will be mixing my own grain ration here shortly. I cannot get what I was getting in Ca. and that is a sweet COB (Corn Oats and Barley with some molasses to bind). All I can get here is a processed feed and I don’t like it very much at all. I made my first trip to the grain co op earlier this week. They gave me whole corn instead of cracked. I need cracked corn. We’ll keep the whole for the birds or deer as it’s not that expensive ($7 something for a 50# bag). But I did get a 25 lb. bag of BOSS (Black Oil Sunflower Seeds) and already had a bag of whole oats. Hubby is going to pick up a bag of cracked corn and barley today hopefully and I can get the show on the road with my ration. It’ll be something to the tune of:

 5 part oats
2 parts cracked corn (more specifically for Prince and PJ as I feel they could use the extra weight)
2 parts Barley
1 part BOSS (Black Oil Sunflower Seeds)
Mixed with about  1/4 cup unsulfured molasses.

Since I’ll be doing this pretty often (every other day or so), I can add here and there for specific individuals and even add minerals for those who I do not feel are getting their share. It will make it easier to administer herbs as well. Most of my girls will not freely eat them. They have to be bound to the grains and drenching is not as easy and binding them.