Friday, May 31, 2013

Here's the Latest...

1. Summer will officially kick-off tonight with our first Outdoor Movie Night of the year. We are showing The Hobbit and expect quite a few friends to attend. If you are local, come on out! Movie starts at dusk.

2.  A cousin of mine taught me how to make clay beads for bracelets. I admit that they are super cool and will be gifts this year. I might just post a tutorial this fall as well, so all of you can make some. In fact, Rose and Zeb made some a couple of days ago! I needed another hobby, right?

3. My hens have suddenly decided to stop laying. Is it the heat? Lack of food? I have no idea. This happens occasionally, and I will go through my list of possible causes and try to remedy the issue. Sometimes farming can be a pain in the bootie.

4. In another week I plan to get my heifer calf, Stella, haltered and brought to the paddock near Lucy and Belle. We need to start getting her haltered trained and all that fun stuff while she is still small:-)
She will not be bred until she is 2 years old, but it's wise to get her used to us now as a baby.
I bet it will be little bit like a rodeo at first.

5. My pasture chickens are not growing very well on the certified organic food I bought for them. In fact, the food is a huge disappointment to me. There are yellow peas in it that they will not even touch. What a waste of money!
Yesterday we had to separate the small birds (very small) from the larger birds and put them in a tractor pen together. I will feed them extra food and clabbered milk to get them growing properly.

 The kids obligingly crawled into the pens to catch the smallest chickens for me.

I guess I can't blame it all on the food. Some of the birds ARE growing but I do not think they are growing as well as last year. The bigger kids helped catch the birds and guess who helped fill feeders?

                                Yep, even a 2 year old can help with farm chores!

We are expecting a little rain on Sunday here! That is great news for the garden! Until then we will be outside soaking up the sun and fun.

What are your plans this weekend?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Mega Family Memorial Day

Well, we pulled it off!
Several months of planning, and my sister and I managed to execute a surprise birthday party for our mother on Monday.
She was surprised!

                                *Fletcher didn't like everyone singing "Happy Birthday!"

The last several weeks I have been painfully busy trying to not only get regular farm chores and garden chores done...but also cleaning up the yard and house for guests.
I admit that the combination of 7 kids and many, many farm critters can lead to a less than beautiful home and yard. It looked like the Clampits had moved in, judging by some certain nooks and crannies.

Mom had family in from as far away as Canada for the celebration!

My kids had a blast with cousins here and we even found time to chill on Sunday with a cookout and some swimming.

           * The boys were more than needing baths by the end of the day*

Journee took the younger kids on horse rides. Athena has been lavished on immensely these last several days with a thorough grooming and open turn out. She enjoys the grazing very much.

               * Rose got to go a little faster on the horse and loved it!*

Zeb was entertaining by showing off his bantam rooster baby named "Teeny-Tiny."

                                                         * Zeb and Teeny-Tiny*

Now, we are planning the movie night kick off this Friday. We have the outdoor movie screen up and are planning to open with The Hobbit. We look forward to summer movie nights so much.

Who said large families and farmers can't have a blast in the summer? We might not be headed to the beaches of Florida, but we are enjoying all that summer has to offer. We are enjoying the land and the awesome warm nights.

We sometimes even get to go out and visit one of the most beautiful cities around.

* The Walnut Street Bridge. The large boat in the background is The Delta Queen*
Chattanooga is just down the road and we like to eat out and walk the bridge across he Tennessee River.
Rumor has it that Willow wants to visit the Tennessee Aquarium for her birthday in June and that a family pass is being purchased. I bet we have a great family day next month in Chattanooga!

Now that summer is here, what plans do you have for family fun?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Tempting Tuesday

Today Devin finally has a day off from work. He's been working long stretches of night shifts but he's off one day before gong back on another stretch. That's life in the ER.

I promised him that he could sleep and then we would do no projects today. No gardening, no cutting wood, no painting, no work. Nothing. Nada.

                                                  ****The flower bed is blooming****

He's bad about spending his one day off like these working all day around the house. We'll see if he can rest today instead:-) Later tonight we just might hit Chattanooga for dinner and a walk across the Teneessee River.

I think I will use my time to catch up on a few sewing projects. I have done really well  these last few nights of finishing up crocheting projects I had started but needed to finish. I don't sleep well when he's working nights so I have been up late each night.

*** I believe the ants eat through the bottom of the flower and suck out the nectar***

FUN FACT: Ants are loaded with protein and if you pinch their heads off and eat them...well they taste like sweet tarts. My oldest used to eat them al of the time when she would play outside as a toddler. Can I get a "Mom of the Year" award????

I think summer is officially here as it will be 90 degrees today with tons of humidity. The windows are closed and the A/C is running. We had more than our fair share of rain  over the weekend and therefore spent yesterday cleaning coops and animal enclosures. Memorial Day is coming up and we plan to have a cookout with some family.

Belle has become quite the expert at jumping her electric fencing. If she sees better grass on the other side she will escape. It's a bit of a rodeo to get her back in as she loves to run and buck. I am thinking I should have named her Cowgirl.

                         *** Ghost is always quietly sitting and watching from the woods.***

Her calf Daisy is now being called Stella. The older girls wanted me to name her Stella from the start but I really liked Daisy. My oldest has been calling her Stella so much that I have found myself saying "Stella." They got the name from "Street Car Named Desire" and their plan is that one day, when she's a milking cow, I will be outside calling the cows in and will be yelling "STELLA!!!!!!"

That's how my Journee thinks, and I am sure she is laughing thinking about the day. At any rate, the sweet heifer calf is now a Stella in my mind, so I think I will play along.

       *** My heirloom lima beans FINALLY started to germinate! It has taken a very long time!***

The garden is slowly starting to sprout life and I decided to plant corn, and so I expect to be planting the rest of my goodies this week. I ordered heirloom corn and hope it will germinate well.

Here's hoping everyone has a great day.

****UPDATE: Devin just walked in the door from work. He stopped at the store and bought tile so he can start tiling the basement bathroom. (sigh) I am not sure when he will start doing the tile work but I bet he squeezes it in between shifts this week. He's a hard worker, that's for sure.****

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

House Chicken

Who needs a house elf when they can have a house chicken?

This little silkie chick just can't seem to handle the weather or the numerous numbers of chickens outside or farm life in general.
So, of course, Journee has her housed inside her room where she leads the life of a princess chick.

Speaking of farm life, it has been a busy one here. The weather is getting nicer and warmer so I am trying to get the garden going, the cows moved to fresh grass and my bees inspected.

My big goal is to be "caught up" by Thursday.

Quit laughing:-) What crazy goals have you got going this week?

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Lake Barefoot Farm

It rained and rained.
We have had so much rain that the ground is saturated, water is standing and the creeks and rivers are flooded.

The weekend was spent piling hay up in coops and shelters and pens so that the animals and chickens would have a dry place to hang out. Some baby chicks even found themselves in the house under warm brood lights to dry off.

Cows were moved around with electric fencing onto high parts of the property. Everything was wet ,wet ,wet.

The ducks were very, very happy!!!!

Here's to a day of drying out! The sun will be out to warm us back up and dry things out!!!!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Naked Sheep, Busy Farm Days

The new sheep arrived Monday, already sheared and naked.

First, meet Mary. She is a about a year old and she has a super sweet personality.

Then there is Solo and her mama ewe Lila. This lamb is very dainty and very gentle. Lila is also a very sweet ewe. They are black Wenslydale sheep and we adore them.

Next was the business of getting my other four sheared. The original shearer I was going to hire (from NC) couldn't make it. Luckily I found a shearer who was in the area (from Augusta) and was willing to stop here.

We had to bring the ram, Whiskey Creek, across the property and lock him up in the paddock where we were going to shear. We decided he should be sheared first.

 When you have a huge ram, you are thankful for a strong shearer. Brett did an excellent job!

His assistant Chris had to help hold Whiskey just a little. Whiskey is now naked and feeling relief in our hot spring weather.

Now he looks a little skinnier too! I used this opportunity to worm him and then we led him back out to his regular paddock, using a lead and a halter.

We also sheared the lambs since their fleece has grown quite thick and it will be a hot summer here. It also gets them used to being sheared and handled.

The little guys did great and only tried to escape a few dozen times!

I took four sheets outside and wrapped each sheeps' fleece in a sheet. I then started to sort and separate good fleece from really yucky fleece. The good fleece will get washed and set out to dry.

It's a daunting task! I didn't realize how much fleece these sheep can grow! What's more, I never realized how much lanolin was tucked into the fleece! I have spent the last few evenings working first Sarah's fleece.

This is Sarah's fleece washed and dried so far. I still have a little more to go and then I will work on Whiskey Creek's.

Needless to say, by the time the day had ended I was exhausted.


The farm in general has been hopping busy this week!
The pasture chicks are still in brooders but they are growing and will be outside in another week or so. I have to make sure we have dry weather in the forecast as rain can be fatal for baby birds.

Speaking of rain, we had 28 inches for the month of April! The ground here is saturated and starting to flood a bit.

This flooded area is actually where I usually keep the cows and sheep. Well, until it all dries up I decided to keep the sheep in the wooden fenced area and I used electric fence to move Lucy and Belle into the back yard.

Temporary electric fencing is wonderful to have with cows. It's easy to move and it's inexpensive. I just move the fence a little each day so that they are forced to graze their given area well.
I also opened the chicken coop door so the hens could easily get out to scratch and clean up cow patties. The cows are dry and happy and the yard needs less machine mowing.  The muscadine vines took a bit of a beating (Belle loves them) but I don't mind much.
I am happy to have a plan, especially since we are expected to get 4-6 inches of rain this weekend!
Maybe we should just build an ark!

We also started working the garden this week. Normally we plant in mid-April, but the weather here just can't decide if it wants to be warm or cold. Yesterday seemed like a great day to get the beds and planters filled with flowers and the garden sowed with a few seeds. Here's hoping the weekend rain doesn't drown everything.

The tomatoes and peppers are finally hardened off and will be ready for planting next week. I will be having an on farm sale day to offer some of these heirloom treasures for sale.
The younger girls helped me with all of these plants and they are planning to do this on a larger scale next year. I, of course, support the idea because I love that they are learning how to garden!

Finally, the honey supers are all in place on top of the strongest hives. I am not sure what this crazy weather will mean for a honey crop, but I supered the hives and will wait and see.
There is quite a bit of clover blooming here, both red and white, and the tulip poplars are starting to open up as well.

It has been a week of long days and late nights, but we are seeing the fruits of our labors and that makes it worthwhile.

Here's hoping for a weekend of rest! Stay dry my friends!!!!

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