Wednesday, February 3, 2016

More Land, More Fun

It's been an adventurous week. Well, to some it will seem like a normal or less than adventurous week...but to me it was quite a ride.

Journee and I took a loom beading class with my mother. Chattanooga has  fabulous new bead shop. A bead shop.
It has tons of fabulous beads and plenty of classes to go along with their inventory.


I am quite happy with my first bracelet and have made another. Journee is starting her third bracelet.
Rose even drew up her own design on graph paper so I could teach her. She did a fabulous job.
Never stop learning folks!


There is no question that my herd of cattle is growing each year. I have 30 acres for all of my cows and sheep and horse. Usually we have a neighbor bale hay from the front 15 acres and then I rotate the animals through several other paddocks. It works quite well, but we are feeling the strain of having more and more cows each year.
Fortunately, we secured a lease on the neighboring property that sits exactly next to our acreage. We will need to repair some fencing and add a new gate, but this will give us an additional 20 acres of grazing possibilities.

This is just a lower section of the acreage. We walked it out so we could scope out breaches in the fencing. I was pleased to see some green grass.


There is a creek, but we will be fencing to keep the cows away from the water. The owner who is leasing us the land doesn't want to see cattle from her side of the creek. I thought that was a funny request, but we will able to get water to the cattle from our side of the property line.


This is a picture of the railroad trestle over the creek. Our land is surrounded by the creek on 3 sides and the railroad on the other. 

Finally, Devin started a new job last month. He is back in the ER. He did enjoy his time at an urgent care clinic, but the ER pays better and he is able to work fewer hours a month.

More time at home means he can work on projects, such as fencing, and he can also take us all out more often.

In fact, we decided to take the kids bowling!


The kids had a really good time. This is an activity we do not get out for nearly often enough.


We rented out 2 lanes and used gutter guards on one of them. The boys probably had the most fun.


Fletcher had quite the time getting his ball down the lane. He tried using the metal roller a few times but preferred to toss the ball himself.

We are enjoying very warm temps this week before the cold returns next week. The bees and the frogs and the crickets all think spring has arrived. I wish it were true, but we have a few more weeks of cold.

Happy Hump Day Ya'll!


Saturday, January 23, 2016

Excessive Cow Selfies

I do take lots of cow selfies. I can't help it, really.

One of the benefits of having milk cows free range all over the property is that we get to know them very well. They have personalities and they know their names.





                                                       *Lucy is doing quite well!!!*

It feels very natural to snap a picture with my favorite farm animals.
They follow us around everywhere and we are able to notice more quickly when something is *off* or they don't feel themselves.

This morning we woke up to a very slight covering of snow on the ground combined with some ice. The wind is gusty and brutal, especially for a Georgia farmer.


                                                *Annabelle is due to calve in 2 months!!!!*

The chores today included extra food for everyone and knocking the ice off the water troughs and dishes. We milked the cows and made sure everyone was present and receiving a good scratch under the chin.

The calves spent each night locked up in a barn stall and the youngest, Red, still has a heat light in his stall. The babies did fine overnight but were happy to see us this morning.

                                         *Annie has grown a ton! She will be a great Angus mama one day!*

The big cows decided to cram themselves under the back deck and next to the basement door. I suppose that was a nice wind break for them, but it did mean we had to shovel cow patties off the concrete and around the door.

Now that most of the chores are done, we can spend the day inside and warm. I have chili cooking and brownies are baking. The dogs are sleeping on any soft rug or bed they can and I am hoping to sew today.


                 * I decided to burn feed bags and now the cows are thinking of making S'mores*


Everyone stay warm!
Happy Weekend Ya'll!!






Wednesday, January 20, 2016

That Cold

That dreaded cold.

Usually I can shake it off in a few days...but not this time. I literally spent almost my entire days in bed for 7 days!
Then I attempted to be better and  act myself for another 3 days, failing miserably. I would manage to make it until about 2 pm and then have to crawl into bed and take a long nap.

Needless to say, not much happened here for a couple of weeks other than the basics. I am ever so grateful that Indiana can manage the cows and did ALL my milking while I was inside a warm house.


My ambitious list of projects and activities have been pushed aside until I get my house back in order and school work caught up.

Today we had hoped to see some snow. Yes I hoped for the white stuff. If it is going to be cold, at least give us something pretty outside.


Instead we got sleet and rain. Unfortunately there are several more weeks of winter, so we might still get some snow...a rare sight in Georgia.

We had issues this morning with the milk pump being frozen. Literally, it froze up. Indiana and I found a brood lamp and hung it above the pump to keep it warm tonight. Tomorrow it should work more smoothly.




This winter we have really gone through the hay! I am hoping we can last winter, but we might find ourselves buying some hay from a farmer down the road.
I have been trying to keep the girls extra full and Lucy is starting to look and act more like herself.



We spent a great deal of time outside today moving the hens and breaking ice in water troughs. I admit that it felt good to be back outside and helping with chores. Life is getting back to normal around here.

I even found time to take pictures with my babies. This is Chance. She's still a bit camera shy, but she's getting better.

Happy Hump Day Ya'll!!!



Friday, January 8, 2016

Lucy

She came to the farm as my first milking cow. I bought her from a commercial dairy North of here in Tennessee. She was being culled, at the age of nine, and was surely headed to the slaughter house had I not decided she would be a perfect first cow.



I was right. Lucy had a great deal of age, but she also had a great deal of patience. She is a "been there, done that" type of cow. Each calving with her has taught me how things can go well or not so well. She has had 3 babies here. She has been my very favorite cow since we started this milking cow adventure.

Today she looks very thin. She staggers slowly into the milking barn. She has steadily lost weight these last 2 weeks, and the rain and cold has not been helpful.

Today she looks old, like a soon to be 14 year old milk cow.



We bring her in to be milked but instead decide to not milk her. We scratch her ears, feed her a bucket of food and brush her wintery coat smooth.

This evening we do the same. We bring her in, scratch her ears, give her a full feed bucket and brush her light brown coat.

We tell her how special she is to us. We tell her she is a good girl. A most favorite boss cow.



We remind her that spring will be here in a few short months. The grass will be thick and green and the sun will be plentiful and warm.

We scratch her neck and turn her back out to pasture with her bovine companions.

She staggers out, looking a bit more full and content. Her coat smooth and shiny.

She meets up with the others and they spend the evening grazing and then resting. Tomorrow I hope she feels less old and that she staggers less. We will continue to feed her extra and keep her brushed and scratched. Maybe spring will arrive early.



She is my favorite cow. My first cow.
It doesn't get more special than that.



Monday, January 4, 2016

The Color Green


It's not that life has been uncontrollable, but it was time to sit and decided what I want this upcoming year to encompass.
Farming has taken a new level, with 15 cows, and I have found myself to be consumed with ways to make it all function more smoothly and with more self sustaining qualities.





My beef cow operation is starting to grow, albeit slowly, but that is not a bad thing. I have 3 heifers now that will one day make great beef cow mamas. Slow can be good, especially since grass based farming requires lots of grass. I hope to start leasing nearby land for my cattle this year.



Egg production was very low last year, so I am raising 80 pullets in anticipation of being overwhelmed with eggs come spring. If I need to sell off some of the hens I will, but I am hoping to cover my feed costs with egg sales.

I have yet to decide how many pastured chickens to run this year. I am still feeling the exhaustion from raising 3 batches last year, and it might take a longer break for me to feel the enthusiasm of raising more birds. If you have raised pastured poultry, you know what I am feeling.



I will never be without a few pigs in the forest. They are extremely easy, profitable, and nice for my own freezer. Expanding the fence line through the woods will happen as soon as the weather plays nicely.

As my milking cow numbers increase I am finding ways to manage the lactation and pregnancy schedules a little better. It would be, of course, more simple if I could AI the cows myself, so that could be a potential skill to learn this year. I am hoping to get a few farmers together and have a class taught. Details, details.



Cheese, cheese, cheese! My cave was nearly wiped clean through the holidays, so I am currently crafting cheeses to fill it back up full. Looking for new flavors, I have been inspired by some of the larger creameries and hope to have a few fabulous wheels ready this spring. I have also come to rely on a couple of simple, yet delicious wheels to always stock my personal refrigerator. Ricotta Silata and Queso Fresco have quickly become staples in my kitchen, as they are delicious, versatile and simple to make.



School never really stops. Sure we have days where we sit down with books more than other days, but in reality it never does stop. My goal and hope for this year is to find what they are most passionate to learn and focus heavily in those areas.

I have a fiber studio full of unfinished projects that I am determined to finish this year. That sentence almost made me laugh out loud. :-)



The break from the web was a much deserved and needed rest so that I could spend some time analyzing what I hope for 2016. Farming and family top my list, as they should.  Now I only need get through the cold, dull and lifeless days of winter. I much prefer the days of spring, when trees bud out and the landscape turns green. Green is my favorite color. It always has been.



Happy 2016 Ya'll!



Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving My Style

In many ways I am not a traditionalist. In some ways I am very traditional.
I tend to break rules and go outside the norm and sometimes I walk the line. Lately, though, I am just figuring my path out and deciding which road I like best.

Growing up, Thanksgiving was a holiday spent with my grandparents. My early years were spent in Arizona and my grandparents would either drive up to stay with us or we would drive down to see them. Other times we would go visit my aunt and cousins. I can remember watching my grandma cook cranberries to make her cranberry sauce in her small kitchen.
Thanksgiving was about visiting family.

As I got older, and we moved to the South, it was a holiday at home. My sister would often times come stay for the holiday with her kids, and on occasion my grandma would fly out to stay too.

I remember Thanksgiving as my dad's holiday. He loved the food and the family. I still can picture him carving up the turkey and diving into my mom's pecan pie.

I am married to a healthcare provider, which means he works most holidays. We have always had to work the Thanksgiving meal around the actual day or partake of the meal without him present. Lots of people are in the same situation. That's life.

Lately, though, I have lost my feelings of nostalgia when it comes to Thanksgiving. I read about all of my many friends cooking for days and prepping their homes for family visitors. I have come to accept that we are not that family.
We have no "set in stone" traditions. We have no foods we must eat or desserts we must make. We do not have out of town family driving in to see us.
This year we decided to keep it simple and at home. We do have a few traditions that we decided to move into Thanksgiving, and so we are starting the holiday anew.

Pajamas, food and a movie marathon.

We do movies well and we love to hang out eating and watching movies. What I usually leave as a December tradition is now a Thanksgiving one.
The kids all picked out something to eat and then we agreed to watch the Harry Potter movies. The food menu for the day includes a Chik Fil A platter, mozzarella cheese sticks, bagel bite pizzas, cheese ball and crackers, smoked cheese and summer sausages, apple pie, pumpkin cheesecake and our famous family punch.

It's not traditional by any means, but neither are we...and that's okay.




Thank you to everyone who followed me on Instagram last week while I was in Utah! I had a great time visiting my family and celebrating my nephew's marriage. It is a beautiful state and I was really in awe every time the sun would set behind the snowy mountains.

I hope everyone has a wonderful day and Thanksgiving! 



Wednesday, November 18, 2015

That Day I Updated the Blog

Hello. My name is Sam and I have been absent for far too long.

Community theater, although a blast of a time, really put my chores and household responsibilities behind. Way behind.


 
Farm life has been the same, except for the occasional cow antic. Penny discovered a feed can had a hole in its lid. Apparently a cow could fit her head in such hole. It took a bit, but I managed to pull the lid off.  It was also discovered that duct tape will not withstand the power of a hungry cow.
 
 
The kids have discovered, again, the joys of playing card games every morning. I think the dreary. rainy weather makes everyone want to stay inside to eat popcorn and play games.
Works for me.
 
 

Again, thanks to dreary weather, we have re-discovered our love of late afternoon movies, piled up on the sofa. We actually plan to have a Harry Potter movie marathon over Thanksgiving.




We finally processed our last batch of pastured chickens. It was a cool, rainy day but we got the job done. The kids helped and that made the entire process much quicker.
We then moved all of our pullet babies to the chicken tractor so that I can keep them moved around to fresh ground all winter. The pullets should start laying in late February.

It is always a chore to process chickens, but it is a good feeling to have a freezer full going into winter.
I do expect to get some piglets within the next couple of weeks to run through the woods all winter and into the first of spring. We haven't had pigs in several months, waiting for their paddock and woods to recover. It will be nice to have some again.


The rain? Oh the rain has been almost constant here lately. When you have rain and cows, you get muck and more mucky mud.
It has been very mucky around the milking barn, despite the great drainage. Cows really pack the ground down and the water loves to pool up and cause a thick, muddy mess.
I try and remind myself that muck is better than a frozen ground. The cows don't seem to mind either...as long as they are getting a few cows treats at milking time.

So, the last couple of weeks I have been catching up on housework, chores and school. I am ready for the holidays and our movie marathon, and I hope that we can have some relaxing days around here.

If you do not follow me on Instagram, please do. I am taking a short trip and will be posting updates through my instagram. My name is BAREFOOTFARM. 

Until next time.....

Have an awesome week!




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