Monday, September 28, 2015

Crazy, Busy, Wonderful

I am here. I am still here. I have been unbelievably busy.

The farm responsibilities have been one reason life has gotten hectic these last few weeks. Milking cows and moving pastured chicken can eat up some time.
We actually built a new chicken tractor to move the chickens in and I have been quite pleased with it too!

 This tractor will hold 100 birds and I can move it with my lawn mower. It has a rope that I loop on to my ball hitch and I slowly pull it forward. It is tall enough inside that Willow can move with it, making sure no birds get squashed in the process. It has, so far, been a great tractor with lots of ventilation.

These birds had been in a barn stall for WAY too long! I was glad to get them on grass and get my stall mucked out. After I cleaned it out, I spread a fresh bale of straw down.

I also moved my sheep up to this paddock near the house. They will be ready for shearing in a few weeks, but I did notice their eyelids look a bit pale. This, of course, means they likely need to be wormed. I will get some natural worming remedy on order so that I can take care of it sooner, rather than later.

The new calf Annie is 2 weeks old now and doing great, AND she now has a friend.

Yesterday we were preparing for Fletcher's birthday celebration when I noticed Belle was in active labor! 12 minutes later she had a new heifer calf! This one is also part angus, but she has some white on her belly. Such a cute calf!
I let the middle girls name this one, so they named her Twilight.

This brings me to milking 4 cows in the morning and 2 in the evening. I have one more cow due this fall, but she will not calve until early November. (I think)

I was glad to notice Belle in labor so that I could call the kids outside to watch. It was quite a busy day!

Of course the increased amounts of milk we are getting is requiring that we step up the cheese making. I bought Indiana her own set of turkey roasters so that I could teach her how to make cheese. She started by making her first wheel of Havarti. I made a batch of Camembert and together we used up 12 gallons of milk! It will be nice to have some cheese making help.

In addition to the increased farm chores, we have been busy with school. Journee has officially started nursing school and Quinn has started duel enrollment.
I admit that I was scared Quinn would really struggle with her classes because at home she was not a super dedicated student. However, she has done quite well and really enjoys her classes. I write this as an encouragement to any home school moms who worry about their kids doing well in college. Quinn has seemed to embrace her education and has taken great responsibility with her assignments.  Perhaps she was bored at home and needed a challenge?

Finally, I am in a local theater play that opens in October. I haven't done any theater in a very, very long time but decided to start back, or at least try. I was given a great role and am very excited to be doing something outside the farm and house. Of course this means I am very busy several nights a week at rehearsals, but it has been well worth it!

This is why I have not been updating as I should. So much has happened that I wanted to share, but I am exhausted by the end of the day. Hopefully, now that some cow calving is done, I will see a slight slow down to my daily routine. ( I just made myself laugh out loud!)

Here's to a great week for everyone!

Happy Monday Ya'll!

Friday, September 11, 2015

A Good Day

There are days that home schooling is just plain overwhelming! It is difficult enough on its own, but if you add in a farm and a milking cow (or two or three) it can be a daunting task to accomplish anything some days.

Then there are days like today when it all becomes clear again. You remember why this path is the right one and the tasks at hand are worth the effort.

 It's not everyday that you can wish outside with all of the kids to witness a new calf being born. Then you have all of the topics that come up for discussion such as colostrum, afterbirth, milk fever, engorgement, and umbilical cords.

Hands on science.

 Lucy finally had her calf, an Angus cross baby. A heifer. I have not named her yet.

She is a strong girl and is up jumping around and playing and searching for her first meal. This is the biggest challenge too, as Lucy is quite old in age and her teats are very low to the ground.

She is an attentive and protective mother, though, so I am leaving them alone for a few hours.
The world is a classroom and a farm is the only place I would want my kids learning their science and math and reading.

It is a good day.

Plus, we can always have lots of opportunities to learn about the various bugs while we wait for the new calves to appear.

Happy Friday Ya'll!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

How Does Your Meat Grow?

Oh beef! Do you know what's in your beef? Unless you buy locally from a farmer, there is a good chance your beef has more in it than you want.

There is a new Consumer Report hitting the stands next month, and it contains results from samples of ground beef from all over the US. The findings are not all that shocking to those of us who raise grass fed beef, but there are some surprising elements to the article.
You can read the article online HERE!

This has brought back to the surface many questions and debates regarding grass based farming, organic beef and vegetarian diets. I have joined in some of the discussions and have been answering some emails regarding all of these topics.

I think there is a HUGE disconnect in this country between ourselves and the foods we eat. As long as the food is packaged pretty and readily available at the store, we don't give much thought to the actual process required to supply the food.

If someone discusses home butchering or processing of an animal, many people get squeamish and grossed out.  In general, folks just don't want to know how their food was raised or how it is slaughtered.

How is this picture even legal? If you buy pork from a store, there is a very good chance that this is the farming model you support through your dollars. This is NOT humane.
We are accustomed to not thinking about the life of the animals we consume.

Imagine that we all decide not to support this farming model and decide we want to buy from local farmers. This would require that more people farm, that more people get back to the land. There is plenty of land for more farmers too if we only utilize it.

American Meat is a documentary worth watching regarding the American farming system and how we can change it for the good of the consumer, the animals and the land.

I realize that not everyone can farm or even wants to farm, and that's okay. I am not insisting that everyone move out to the land and start raising their own food, however, I do think we all need to step back and consider the implications of supporting a commodity farming model. Take some time to find a local, grass based farmer and support a sustainable farming method.

It's time we take responsibility for our health, the health of our children, the well being of farm animals, and it's time to take care of the land.

Here is a video soapbox regarding the topic!

Happy Tuesday Ya'll!

Buy Local and Grass Fed

You can read the Consumer Report article HERE.

Friday, August 28, 2015

New Friends

We made new friends this week. Real life and in person friends.

There is a family from Georgia , now living in Ireland, and visiting the states for the summer.
We were blessed to meet them and spend a day with them here on the farm.

The Creech family lives in Ireland, serving the church and bringing people back to Christ. It is a worthy mission for sure and it was fascinating to learn more about the culture of Ireland.

Between lunch and visits, we walked the farm and introduced the many animals to the children. The Creech family is planning to start some homesteading on their property soon and wanted to see how I manage my many, many critters here in my space.

They already have hens back home but the girls still enjoyed picking up and holding my hens for a bit. In Ireland they must deal with issues such as frequent and often times strong winds. so building animal shelters and structures can be more challenging.

Although I think they will be venturing into a dairy goat, their son made friends quickly with the cows.

This is where I get on my soap box and let it be known that the internet has done some wonderful things in this life. I have made many, many friends via the web and this is another shining example of how we can connect from far away. Sure, there are the Ashley-Madisons in the world, but I still feel that most people use the web for good.

Kids played games, gifts were exchanged and hearts were connected. It was a great day, and now Ireland is on my list of places to visit! I will have to time it around a big sheep shearing event too!

Thank you, my new friends, for spending the day with us and sharing your life in Ireland!

Happy Friday Ya'll!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Enjoy the Ride

I have been up off my feet for a week now. Today my foot is only slightly swollen, but it sure does throb still.

I am referring to my wild weekend, a week ago. It was my high school class reunion weekend, and like everything I do, I have a great time. Here is the picture from that weekend, and it perfectly sums up me and Devin. Life is nothing if it is not a big, fun adventure.

It started out nice enough with a dinner and a local music club. My BFF brought her family up from Atlanta and we headed out for a fun night with high school pals.

After dinner, we headed to a local joint that was featuring an 80's cover band. Who could resist that kind of excitement? Well, not us.
The next day we decided to throw together an impromptu back yard gathering at the farm. We had a spread of food, lots of marshmallows and chairs tucked in around a fire pit. Add some great friends and conversation, and you have the makings of a fabulous evening.

Then there was Sunday.

                                     ****My cheering section during the volleyball match****

Sunday was the day of the Alumni Volleyball match. I played volley ball back in the day, so very long ago. Among the more young alumni, there were was me and 2 other gals. We were the "oldest" of the players, but we had a great time playing. I had a fabulous time playing until I experienced my very first sports injury ever.

I fell on my ankle and tore the ligaments. Although I am very happy a bone did not break, my week has consisted of limping around in pain.

It was a memorable weekend. It is lovely how friends can be separated by so many years, and yet feel like the best of friends still when they are together. Years can separate us, but history keeps us close.
We are planning a gathering for October and hope to keep meeting every couple of months, despite our busy work and parenting obligations.
Finally, because I wanted to branch out and get back to my interests rarely followed since having kids, I rested my foot all day Monday and then attended an audition for a play at a local theater. I am finally at a stage in life when I can leave in the evenings for an activity, so the timing seemed right.
I am happy to say that I got a part and will be performing in October.
This, of course, means only one thing. I must get my schedule ready and planning in gear for the school year and farm year. We will begin some lessons the first week of September and I suspect Lucy will be calving by that time, or close to it.
It's all in the logistics and planning. I will be busy this week planning meals, lessons and activities.
The Shiitakes have been fruiting this week as well, so I hope to get some dehydrated for winter use.
We also got a new batch of meat bird chicks to process in October and placed an order for pullet chicks to be delivered in 2 weeks. My laying hen numbers are low and I am hoping to replenish my flock by spring. The farm never stops.

Sometimes you just have to hang on and enjoy the ride.

Happy Monday Ya'll!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015


I am recovering from an eventful weekend, but today I wanted to talk about Zebulun.
Last week Zeb celebrated his 7th birthday, so naturally we had a family party.

He specifically asked for a treasure chest filled with goodies. We had a treasure map made up and everything, but Mother Nature decided we needed lots and lots of rain instead. Of course he also got the traditional box of fish crackers that each child loves to receive from grandma. Those crackers are a real treat around this house.

This changed the party from an outdoor pool party to an inside house party, but the boy was happy to celebrate in any way!

Rose made cupcakes and I set out snacks. We also grilled burgers, which are always yummy.

Happy Birthday Zeb!!!

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