Thursday, April 25, 2013

Hit a Wall, Please Help!

It's been a week, yet again. I think it's the spring chores and activities, but yesterday I felt like I had hit a wall.
By lunchtime I was exhausted. I was beat. I put the baby down for a nap, plopped my other kids down for a long movie, put on my nightgown, crawled in bed, and napped for 2 hours.
I had hit a wall and needed to recoup.

There's my dose of real life for those of you who think I run non-stop 24/7/365.

                   **These three made bows from sticks and twines. They actually work !**

Today Belle was a great cow at milking time. Although she is still skiddish and gets a little nervous, she is no longer kicking. We are careful to move slowly and quietly around her though.
She is only giving us 1 gallon of milk a day, BUT half of that gallon is cream. HALF! I think the fresh spring grass is to her liking and as a result I will be making lots of butter this weekend.

Lucy loves having a companion and will bellow for her when she cannot see her at milking time.

The pasture chicks came in this morning and I am happy to report they were all healthy and alive! I switched to a different hatchery and could not be more pleased with their quick shipping and healthy birds. In case you wanted to know, I used Central Hatchery in Nebraska.


I need everyone's help. My best friend is a Human Rights Activist for North Korea and she is trying to get a petition signed. You see May 2nd is North Korea Refugee Day. We need this petition asking the new Chinese president to join the rest of the world in supporting NK refugees by granting them safety in his country. (For more information see the petition.) You can sign it HERE!

Did you get all of that? When people escape the horrible North Korea they usually must cross into China. Well, China will send them back if they are found. When these people get sent back they are usually killed or tortured and placed into a labor camp. I just ask for a quick signature. Thank you in advance!!!!!! I thank you, my friend Lisa thanks you, and the refugees from North Korea thank you!


We went through some bee hives today and I was able to make a couple of splits. Afterwards the kids played outside. They played tag, hide and seek, and they played with scooters and rocks.
While on their hunt they found some wild periwinkle and made a nice crown or wreath from the flowers.
                                                       Zelda looked great wearing it!

                                                  ****Journee and Zelda****


Friday, April 19, 2013

Belle and Daisy the Family Cows

It has been a week! In fact last night I made dinner for the kids and then proceeded to lay on my bed for a quick 15 minute nap so that I would have the energy to milk the cows.

It's been THAT kind of week. Chores, chores, laundry, housekeeping, laundry, cows, sheep, name it!

It must be spring! :-) The pollen count here has been into the THOUSANDS, and so everything is a yellowish-green color.  This would include all of my furniture and floors in my house since I have been keeping the windows open all day and night.

Now to the nitty-gritty:

The new cows are here! I bought a mama cow and her heifer calf. This here is Belle. Actually her name is Lucy Belle, but I cannot have 2 we are calling her Belle.
She and Lucy have become instant friends, as Jersey cows usually are the best of mates.
Belle is more of a hand milking type family cow. She actually hadn't been "milked" since she calved in November so we are getting her used to being milked and getting into a stanchion for grain, etc. She's not super kicky, but if she gets startled or if she runs out of food she will panic and kick. Journee has some fine bruises on her own leg as proof!
I expect that after about a week she will be more adjusted and familiar with the routine around here. We have been very spoiled with Lucy's calm demeanor as an older cow. Belle is still a spirited soon to be only 4 years old cow.
We also bought Belle's heifer calf and named her Daisy. She is a very cute little girl and last night was the first night she did not bellow for her mama. We have Daisy out with the steer and ram until she is fully weaned. This made for several nights of listening to Belle and Daisy bellow back and forth all night long. It was quiet last night so I think everyone is adjusting some.


We've had a couple of nights of heavy, heavy rain here It makes for very wet and muddy paddocks but it also has made the grass green up quite quickly. I think after we get through a little cold snap tonight (Dogwood Winter:-)) we will be well on our way to warm days and nights. The garden is tilled and my vegetable plants are slowly hardening off.

I can honestly admit that I sometimes think I might be wishing for punishment with all of these activities going on but I also know that I feel like this EVERY spring! It will all get done eventually and I will have some days to sit by the pool and relax...eventually:-)


The sheep will arrive at the end of this month! We re-strung the electric fenced area and made 5 paddocks that are a bit smaller. We will rotate grazing each week in order to force better grazing and to help keep pests like worms (sheep) down. I plan to run my pasture chickens through these paddocks as as well to clean up and scratch in manure. This is a huge benefit of having electric fencing that can be moved around and adjusted. This will allow us to see how this new grazing system will work, and we can change it a bit if needed. So far the cows have done a much better job thoroughly grazing an area.

Athena got a good scrub down and bath this week too. Journee spent an hour scrubbing and brushing her to get the rest of her winter coat gone. She then spent a good while riding her around and working with her.
We did discover that our "bomb proof" horse has at some point been shocked by the electric cow fence and is now scared to be on that side of the property. Oops!
Journee will have the pleasure of working on that fear with Athena. Good thing Journee can hang on well:-)


My plans this weekend include finishing a knitting project and maybe getting the pollen cleaned off my front porch! It might also be a great weekend to fire up the grill for dinner.

If anyone local is up for a rodeo, feel free to stop by at milking time:-)

Have a fabulous weekend!!!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Spring Newsletter

Hey ya'll! I promise to write a regular post with fun pictures just as soon as I get through my last Bee Keeping class tomorrow! Until then, here is my latest newsletter!
I hop everyone is having lovely spring weather! Lots going on here and I promise to catch ya'll up!

xxoo Sami:-)

Spring Newsletter 2013
My Barefoot Farm
Dear Friends and Customers,
Although it has taken its sweet time getting here, spring has finally arrived! We have been very busy putting up more fencing and making splits with the beehives. We have also built a shed roof for the storage building and have plans to build walls around the milking area this summer.
There are a few other happenings I wanted to share with everyone. First, we will be getting some new animals within the next few weeks. We have purchased three more sheep from the same breeder as before in North Carolina. These new sheep will all be ewes and will help get us established breeding wool sheep. Two of the new ones will be black, and I am excited to have some colored fleece in addition to the white fleece. I expect that I will have fleece for sale later this year and then again next year.
Next, we have purchased two more dairy cows(Jersey). These two additions will arrive next week sometime and so we will be increasing our milk supply. One of the new cows is actually a heifer calf and will not be bred or in milk for another 18 months. The older cow, however, is a second time mother and is in milk. She is a gentle cow, although it will take her a week or so get used to our routine and surroundings. We felt like it was time to meet the demand of fresh, healthy milk.
Even though our cows only get about 1 pound of grain during milking time, we have also decided to switch them to being totally grassfed. Instead of the usual grain at milking, they will receive certified organic barley, wheat and alfalfa that has been sprouted. I will sprout the grains and then they will also continue to eat grass throughout the day and night. For winter we will build a fodder system so that they can get fresh grass all winter through again the certified organic barley and wheat. We have always felt our cows and their milk were of top quality but this new change will ensure that they are free of all GMO foods.
We are accepting some new customers at this time and plan to make it easier for pick up by placing a refrigerator outside at some point this spring. This will allow customers to pick up milk orders at their convenience. If you refer a friend to us we will give you a credit for one free gallon of milk. We also have been working on monthly milk purchase plans that offer a slight discount. Contact me if you are interested.
Back to the GMO issue at hand. Our pastured poultry is raised using the Joel Salatin model of pastured chicken. Our birds are healthy and are not treated with any drugs or hormones. Although the birds are on pasture they do still require a food source as well. I have always used a top of the line food but this year I do feel compelled to switch to a certified organic feed that is free of GMOs. This has been a difficult task with much research to weigh the benefits with the cost. It costs almost three times more to buy GMO free food.
I have already sold more than half my birds for this first batch and do not feel I can raise the rates after the fact. I am going to offer my customers a choice. I will divide my birds and feed half of them my usual top quality grain and still charge $15 each for the birds.
I will also have birds in seperate tractors and feed them certified organic grain (GMO free) from Countryside Organics. These birds will cost $18 each to make up for the price difference in the feed.
I will notify all my customers of this change. If any of them want to pay the extra $3 for the GMO free food, then I will certainly mark them down for that chicken.
This will allow us to offer GMO free chicken while still upholding our original prices and offerings. If it happens that all of the pre-order customers want GMO free chicken then I will raise all the birds this way.
The issue of health risks with GMO foods is certainly gaining attention and I want to show my support for the organic movement and remove my support of the GMO model. As always there is a financial cost to raise a farm organically but I think we can do it!
We had a fabulous Bee Keeping workshop this weekend and I am excited to see more people gain an interest in keeping bees. They are truly a valuable species and they need our protecting!
As the weather starts to warm I have been starting to harden off my vegetable plants. I will offer some plants for sale to those who are interested. All of the plants were heirloom seeds purchased from Baker Creek. I will have three types of tomatoes and two types of peppers for sale once they are hardened off and ready to be planted outside.
Thank you for your continued support! Feel free to stop by for a visit! Please keep up with our latest adventures
and contact me if you are interested in milk, eggs, chickens, or anything else!!!!
Blessings and Happy Spring,
Sam and Devin

Monday, April 8, 2013

Happy Monday

Here are some things that made me happy today:

Arwen was a hyper, hyper doggie this afternoon. She was all energy and spent a great deal of time running.

The lambs have lost their tails and they are growing so quickly! They are still nursing but they also take Sarah's lead and try to graze on grass and hay.



Journee has been brushing the winter coat from Athena. Between the belly full of fresh grass, the warm sun, and the brushing the horse nearly fell asleep!

Bee food! When I lived in a subdivision we would try and rid the yard of these weeds. As a bee keeper I LOVE to see them because it means my honey bees have food after the long winter.

Super Man playing outside half the morning with sidewalk chalk!

Happy kids, nice weather, and a cup that overflows!

Happy Spring, Ya'll!

Monday, April 1, 2013

My Ultimate Omnivore Dilemma

"If you want government food, go to the supermarket and buy government food. But for those who want to have a relationship with their food, and the accountability that inherently comes with voluntarily and informatively opting out of the supermarket to go ask around, smell around, sniff around, look around and opt out of the government food system, they ought to have that right."

-Joel Salatin

I can say with certainty that I have a relationship with my food.

It began when I got honeybees. It developed more when I got my dairy cow Lucy.

When we started raising pasture chickens it became more "real." I am more respectful of my chicken when I pull it from the freezer to cook. We raised the chicken, we killed the chicken, we processed the chicken, and now we understand the food relationship. We understand the accountability. We respect the cycle of life. My children know from where their food comes.

Then last week we had to kill and process our two pigs. The farmer/processor/friend called and told us he was on his way to get them. It was a cold and early morning, a "perfect day" for pig slaughter, according to Farmer Joe.

                         ***35 pounds of pork fat waiting to be rendered into lard.***

I was not ready. It was the ultimate omnivore's dilemma. I am not willing to give up my smoked bacon or pork tenderloin and yet I cannot support the horrid and broken commercial system that supplies the local grocery store. I gave that up when I bought my "pigerators." I made a solemn promise to them that I would raise them in their natural environment, allowing them to be pigs. I promised that they would be treated humanely and that they would be "put down" in a humane manner.

It was all handled as I promised. It was difficult to watch at times, but it could not have gone any better. I have replayed it all in my head many, many times. It was the perfect cycle of farm life.

It was a difficult part of farm life. It was the part that makes many "want to be" farmers take a second look at their future farm goals. People often say "That's the part of farming I cannot handle."

                          ***Fletcher helping me in the kitchen as I pack and sort the pork***

Two days later we came home with 375 pounds of pork. I had to clean out my freezer and get it all organized. I have never seen so much pork in my life. We took the hams and bacon to a local artisan butcher so they could be smoked and cured. I am excited too because Link 41 doesn't use those nasty nitrates.

It would be easier to buy my bacon at a grocery store, all wrapped up with no clue as to the life cycle of the sacrificed pig or it's demise. I am , however, a better farmer for not seeking that route, for supporting sustainable farming and the humane, healthy life cycle of my pigs.

I feel like a big hurdle was cleared and my family will eat healthier as a result.

Two years ago I would have never imagined that we would be to this point in farming, to be raising a large amount of our food. I hope that by sharing my journey to sustainable family farming it will encourage others and offer encouragement. This is not always the easiest of jobs but, just as in having a large family...the rewards are tremendous!

We have cooked some sausage and I have to say that it is very good. The meat all looks fantastic and I owe that fact to the natural foods the pigs consumed while tilling my garden plus the large quantities of raw milk and whey the had daily. Later this week I plan to cook a tenderloin.

Have a great week and support your local farmers!
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