Monday, August 18, 2014

Farm School

We woke up this Monday morning to rain and thunder. It was one of those mornings when I could have slept in if I didn't have 7 kids and a farm to look after.

Instead we all met in the kitchen to enjoy fresh donuts (thank you Krispy Kreme) and hot coffee. Today we started back a full load of school. It was a day of math, geography, language, reading, handwriting, science, dog injuries, and torrential rain while milking cows.

OK, those last two are exclusive to life with farm animals. Duke was laying in garage with a considerable puncture wound to his side and scrotum. It seems he had a scuffle with some sort of critter and stitches would be needed. Journee kindly drove him to the vet before she had to at her classes.

                                  ***Duke's side injury***

I waited and waited for the rain to let up before we ventured out to milk the cows, but it just never turned to a light rain. We all came in soaking wet and needing a hot shower before the day's lessons could begin.

The day went rather smoothly, at least as smoothly as it can be with a 3 year old running around. I am happy to be starting back to a routine, and now I wait for the vet to call and tell me I can go pick my bulldog up.

Of course the rain was over by noon and by 1pm the sun was out, hot as ever. I think the humidity is the worst it has been all summer.

In the meantime, the cows are really needing a new area to graze. I must keep them off the front pasture until we get the hay cut, and their current fenced paddock is eaten down. It needs a rest.

*cue music* Today I sing the praises of electric fencing.



I ran an electric fence wire all the way across the front yard, preventing the cows from reaching the front pasture. They have my entire back yard and woods for grazing now.

Not only does this give them new grass and more room to roam, but it also cuts down on the mowing we must do, which also saves us in gas.

I also let Ivy out to free range with the big girls. Her areas of rain rot are doing much better.


Dead skin has fallen off and new skin and hair are growing. Good food will help her get back to health.

Of course I had to make sure some hens were out to follow the cows around.


There is nothing better than hens to scratch up cow patties by pecking and scratching for fly larva and undigested grain. True Joel Salatin style farming.

Happy Monday Ya'll!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Face Punch

Just when I think I have it all figured out and running smoothly, I get a big fat slap in the face.

Life as a farmer.

Earlier this summer I moved calves out to the front pasture. Although I did a head count from a distance, I never went out there to physically inspect everyone.

This past week we moved them back near the house and discovered that the humidity and rain really took a toll on one heifer calf.


This is a severe case of rain rot, also known as rain scald, also known as "crap, my poor cow is suffering."

Her chest and belly and thighs are all affected, as well as the tips of her ears.
She is otherwise healthy and is eating well, but this must be cleared up pronto!

The vet instructed us to give her a penicillin shot once a day for three days and to wash her down with iodine.
I will also put some aloe vera in her feed to help boost her immune system.
Here's hoping she makes a quick recovery...poor thing.

****************************

I spent the weekend gathering all of my sewing and spinning items and placing them in a room in the basement.
My fiber hobbies were contained within 2 closets, my bedroom and my laundry room. I have a new fiber project (a BIG one) that I am now starting and really needed the space to spread out and work so I took over a spare room in the basement.

This room was originally going to be a spare bedroom, but it has been nothing but a place to throw "junk". I changed all of that Saturday.


Although I still need to organize the stuff now that it is down there, I have ample room for cutting fabric and sewing quilts. I have an empty wall to hang a design board as well.


These cabinets and shelves were already in this room serving no purpose so I packed them with books, fabric and yarn. My spinning wheel is within easy reach too!
I also found a microwave , from Devin's med school days, that I plan to use for dying fleece and yarn. All I lack now is some organizing, an ironing board and  a small table.

It was a great motivator to get me to sort through junk and to get things put away too!
In a few months I will be ready to share the big project I am working on, but first I have to get busy sewing and planning!

*********************

We started school back this week, but we are moving at a slow pace. The kids have new math programs that they use on the computer. This week I have been showing them how to load their class and work the program.
Next week we will add the rest of the subjects and get back to a real schedule. I like being able to start back at our own speed!

I woke up with my jaw hurting badly. Devin think I might have been grinding my teeth in my sleep. The result is my right jaw joint throbbing with pain. I feel like I have been punched in the face. Oh yeah, I am a farmer who thought everything was running smoothly!
 All of this to say that it hurts to eat and it hurts to talk.
So it will be quiet around here while I starve:-) ....or maybe I should make a milkshake run about lunchtime.

How is your school year starting out?

Happy Hump Day Ya'll!


Saturday, August 9, 2014

Zeb

This will not be a super long post, as I have a big project today. I am clearing out a basement room to create a fiber studio...more on that later next week. In the meantime........


This week we celebrated Zeb's 6th birthday.
He was the first boy after 5 daughters. Yep, he has a house FULL of mothers!


Zebulun King was named after the Grandpa on the show The Waltons. King is a family name. It also seemed appropriate that we name our 6th child after Zebulun of the bible, since Zebulun was the 6th son of Jacob and Leah.


Zeb has always loved the outdoors and the animals. He is *all boy*, as the saying goes.


We took him out the morning of his party so he could pick out a new bike and pick out goodies for the party.
Like all of his siblings, he loves video games....especially Halo and Minecraft.

It was a fun and simple family party.

My boys, my hippie long haired boys.
They are the best of friends. The are constant pals. They are brothers.

We ate a yummy dinner of crock pot chicken tacos, homemade salsa and chocolate birthday cake. Who said a fun party needs to be complicated? Or expensive?

Here's to another year of being all boy. This year Zeb will also begin formal home schooling. It will be fun!


Happy weekend ya'll!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Monday Molly

What a busy weekend we had around here!

My Rock Star, Indiana, had a concert Saturday at a local small town festival.

This one was a bit different in that several kids played new to them songs. Everyone did great but what stood out to me most was how much fun everyone had.



Of course a good chunk of my time this weekend was spent getting Belle used to being milked again.
The first week after calving is always the most stressful for me.

Not only must you make sure the calf is nursing and getting enough milk, but there is always the concern of mama getting mastitis when she freshens.

Belle has been clear of any mastitis but she has one quarter that seems dried up. It gave just a small amount of liquid and the quarter never did get full. I know this quarter was working previously when she calved so I am not sure what to think. It was negative of mastitis so I decided it would be best to make sure it dries up completely.
I am the queen of 3 quartered cows it seems.

Milking is going well with Belle once I can get her locked into a stanchion. I am hoping today gets even easier.

I also got in a shipment of more meat chicks and also some baby turkey. I plan to raise them all on pasture and process them this fall. I have not pre-sold any turkey yet because I have not raised them before. I have heard stories about how difficult they can be so I am waiting to make sure they all survive.
Yesterday I did notice they like to pile up on top of each other, leaving the bottom babies to get smashed. Only one has died so far.

My Monday consists of a long list of chores, including the cleaning of this messy house. More coffee might be in order.



Happy Monday Ya'll!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A Full Circle

I was sort of dreading my post today. Yesterday was a sad day here because our sweet dog of 16 years passed away.
Raven.
She was a faithful companion and she loved to swim and jet ski. Until this summer, a day at the lake would perk her up and cause her play like a pup again.
We took her to the lake July 4th but instead of being a lively youngster again, she was confused and didn't act like she knew where she was. Her hearing was gone and her sight not very good either.

We knew her time was coming to a close, but it was still sad to discover she had passed away in her sleep.


But then the cycle of life makes a full circle. If there is one thing I have learned by farming it is the circle of life. It's the lesson that there will be death but then there will also be life.

Devin and I went to lunch this afternoon and came home to a wonderful sight!





Belle had her calf while we were gone. It is a large, healthy heifer too!



Although I wish I had another week of once a day milking, I am glad that calving went so well and that the calf is healthy.

I am still sad that we lost Raven, although she had a wonderful, long life.
I am happy and blessed to see a new life on the farm.

What will we name this heifer?
Well, I have a special friend in Huntsville and her very special daughter, Molly, has a birthday today. I think it only fitting that I name this sweet calf after her.
So, welcome to the farm Molly!



Happy Hump Day Ya'll!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Large Family Meals: Fast Food

*This is not a paid review. The authors of this book have not asked me to review it. This is just my opinion and experience, hoping it can help others families.*

Like most large family moms, I spend about half my day (everyday) thinking about food and meals and grocery lists. It can be an exhausting aspect of running a large household but it offers many lessons in being prepared and organized.

Of course there will be days when activities consume the day and meals are difficult to prepare. There are also days when one or more family members is sick and meals are difficult to get on the table.
Ya'll I am the first person who LOVES a greasy fast food burger, seriously, but I really do try to eat healthy and I haven't the cash to be buying burgers for 7 kids at a whim.
 Prepared moms have a plan, and after a few hours of work yesterday I am once again a prepared one.

Enter freezer meals.
I admit right now that I am not a lover of casseroles. I am not a fan of processed cream of anything soups. Many of the freezer meal plans have never worked for me, until I found this book

.
This book does have casseroles, but it also has food such as Sweet Asian Chicken. This meal consists of chicken pieces frozen in a homemade marinade that, once thawed, is cooked as a stir fry you can eat over rice.
I also made Pecan Crusted Chicken. This dish is again chicken frozen in marinade. The instructions include a separate bag to freeze that contains a special panko and pecan breading to roll the chicken through once thawed. The result is a delicious crispy baked chicken strip.

Of course those two examples require a minimal amount of preparation for a home cooked meal. For days when I just have no time at all I did prepare a couple of casseroles. I made lasagna (my kids' favorite), chicken enchiladas (my favorite) and a chicken-broccoli bake that is served over rice.

A new recipe I also made consisted of making and pre-baking Salisbury Meatballs that have been frozen with a made from scratch Salisbury sauce. Once thawed it can be reheated in a skillet and eaten over mashed potatoes.

Finally, I decided to prep for quick lunches, especially for Journee, who is working 2 jobs and attending school full time. I cooked up refried beans and seasoned ground beef to make 30 bean and beef burritos. These are wrapped individually and ready for a quick heat up.

You will not find any cream of soups in this book either. All of the sauces are made from scratch and are simple. There is also advice on exactly how to organize a grocery list for this type of bulk shopping and meal prep.

I chose foods that can be eaten with rice because I have a rice cooker. Families need rice cookers! It is an absolutely easy way to cook wholesome rice without making a mess and it is very quick. Rice in bulk is inexpensive and versatile. Rice cookers will also keep the rice warm after cooking, so you don't have to be perfect in your meal timing either.

A few hours of kitchen time resulted in 18 entrees and 30 burritos. This will be a great supplement to my  weekly meal planning, and on hectic days I know that I have meals ready to go.


Of course I now have the task of organizing my freezers and making sure I have everything where I can see it. This picture of my freezer is just what I made yesterday, but I still need to pack my roasts and chickens back in the space. My morning should be interesting.

Now all I have is to finish going through school books that arrived via my favorite brown truck yesterday.

Happy weekend ya'll!




Monday, July 21, 2014

It's a Bit Crappy

The chicken fence fell down yesterday. I speak of the fence that goes around my egg mobile, that is currently in the front yard. We have had lots of rain and the soft ground gave way to the fence posts and it fell over.

No big deal, really, because as a farmer (albeit small scale) I realize that poo is no big deal. In fact, poo is a big part of farm life.
If you are thinking of starting a farmstead, be prepared for lots of poo.

What happens when my fence falls is all the hens decide to free range. It's quite a party, and like any big party there will be a mess to clean up. The hens especially love my driveway and sidewalk and porch.
Of course this time there were some new kids at the free rage party.


Yes, the geese enjoyed the party as well. One thing that is always true about geese is that they poop.
A. Lot.
So, after the fun was over and all of the birds headed back to the egg mobile for the night, I pulled out the water hose. It only took 45 minutes to wash the driveway and sidewalks off.

Word must have gotten around that we were throwing flock parties because some real wild ones showed up the next morning, looking for some food and companionship.


Fortunately the Canada geese didn't stay long and didn't walk across the driveway. They stayed long enough to chatter with my hens and geese and then left.

Of course we also have lots of cow poo here as well.


I expect there will be even more in the future since this lady is due to calf in early November. More calves mean more cow patties.

Belle is due to calve anytime after Aug 1st, and I noticed today that her udder is starting to fill out some. I will spare you a photo of her lady parts, but she is getting ready for calving within the next month. Her belly is looking nice and full as well.



Since we have been milking twice a day for 8 months now, I decided to cut back to once a day milking. Honestly, I need the break. I usually cut back sooner but was afraid to since Lucy had so many mastitis issues when she calved. So far both cows are doing great and I am enjoying my milking-free evenings.
We will soon be back to twice a day with Belle once she calves, so I am going to this break while it lasts.
More calves=more poo, but also=more milk=more cheese.

Ah, the muck, the mud, the poo. That's a farming life and I admit that at times it can be a bit crappy (pun intended) but somebody's gotta do it, right?
I am glad to be part of it.

Happy Monday Ya'll! Make the day count!


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