Saturday, August 31, 2013

A Week of Farming Fun

It was an exhausting week to be sure. We started some school lessons, Journee started her first full week at Chattanooga State, and the farm animals seemed to need something at every turn.

The weather? Well, it feels like summer has finally arrived! This summer has been mild and wet but this week it was hot, humid, and very humid. The grass still feels damp at noon and the air is thick with moisture. Like I said, hot and humid.

Of course there was a quick scramble by every farmer around here to get hay cut, dried and baled before the weekend thunderstorms started popping through.

We have a neighbor farmer who cuts our hay and we split it with him. Usually he bales it into large round bales but it is difficult to move those bales if you don't have a tractor (I have rolled them around before and thought I would surely die from a stroke). Plus, when you only have a few animals to feed, square bales are just the right amount of hay.

We stacked 470 bales of hay into our old barn. Needless to say, my body aches from the hard labor.

                                                 ***Journee helped with hay.***
It was a group effort that involved the farmer friend and his kids and grand kids plus me and a couple of my kids. Devin would have gladly helped but he was scheduled to work and work he must. The ER is not an employer you call out on lightly.

My laying hens have been challenged this summer and we have experienced a huge drop in egg production. Some birds are molting and some birds are young, but overall it has been an unusual drop.
I decided that the constant rain and moisture was keeping their health less than fabulous, at least I like to blame the unusually high amounts of rainfall for many farming woes this summer.

I caught the hens and moved them to a drier part of the property, using my pasture chicken tractors for their shelters. I bought some poultry fencing from Premier and ta-da! Instant new home for my ladies. I can monitor their feed intake closely and make sure they stay on dry ground.

I am happy to report that they are happy and have started laying again. We will build an egg mobile type of house soon.
Meanwhile, I cleaned their coop up and spread hay thick to cover wet areas. I am glad too because it seems that the goats have come down with a case of hoof rot.

We are treating the hooves and they are already feeling better. I decided the best place to keep them is in the coop with lots of fresh hay. The floor of the coop is wood and stays dry. The ground around the coop is what gets wet. We are keeping the goats locked up until they heal. Again, I will have to address the wet ground issue.....if it will stop raining:-) This has never been a problem until this year.

My ram poked his eyeball this week and needed vet attention. It's a pretty large scratch but we are now treating him with an ointment medicine twice a day plus some pain medicine. He looks better and is remaining locked up in my outdoor dog kennel while I treat him.
Since the vet was here to look at the goats and ram I also had him look at Mary.

 Mary has a slight stiffness or slight limp to a back leg. I thought it could be a selenium issue but the vet assured me that my area was not deficient in that mineral. Her hooves looked fine so we can only assume she injured or twisted it slightly. She moves fine except when she first gets up from lying down. She also refuses to stay fenced in with her sheep family.
I must say that her fleece is really, really pretty. She has large, soft curls that are very white in color.
The sheep shearer will be here in a week to give everyone a nice shaving. I have a different shearer than before, and I am excited to see her in action. This shearer is a woman from Atlanta  who shears for hand spinners. I can't wait to meet her!

Now that the hay is up I am letting the cows out loose after milking. I decided that the large water trough we keep in the side yard needed to be emptied and filled with fresh water for my bovine ladies.


There under the trough was a cute little rat's nest with a pile of very sweet ratty babies.
I carefully put the trough back down, placing a brick under the corner so as to not risk smashing the nest family.
Yes, I know they are wild rodents, but I believe in giving them a chance. After all, they were outside and with my cats on the prowl they need every chance they can get!

Oh and speaking of nests....

The ducks have made a nice little nest in my covered area where we milk the cows. Today we had 4 ducks eggs waiting for us. I replaced the egg above with a golf ball so the ladies will continue to use this perfectly round nest. I hear folks say that ducks are worthless but I disagree. Not only are they entertaining to watch, but they scratch up cow patties, eat lots of bugs and  lay fabulous eggs!


We started a light load of school work this week and it went really well. I was exhausted every single night and my house was a mess, but it went well and the kids are learning and having fun.
I am also studying and taking notes for my next endeavor .

I have read "Salad Bar Beef" by Joel Salatin a couple of times, but this time I am letting the information soak in good.
I hope that next spring I can turn this pasture into paddocks to start my own salad bar. It would be great for the land and soil with some fresh beef as a bonus. I will keep you posted as it progresses.
Initially I think I will buy jersey bull calves from a local dairy to run as steers.

I hope everyone has a great Labor Day weekend! We have another Rock Skool concert today! Indiana will be singing lead vocals for one song and guitar lead for another song. It should be lots of fun!



  1. I'm glad you gave the rat babies a chance. I would have, too. I just love that sheep! She is so pretty. It was good to see you Saturday and have a chance to catch up.

    1. Great to see you too! Those rats left the nest within 4 days! I went to peek at them and they were gone:-)

  2. Hi Sam!! I am the mother of Kristin, the homeschooling, goat milking, cheese making, formerly beekeeping, pig raising, hen raising....well, you get the picture, owner of Hammock Haven Farm. We both follow Kris at Outback. That explains how we got referred to your blog. So sorry to hear about your bees. Kristin lost all of her hives this summer and has been struggling with diminished egg production, soft hooves on the goats, and a pretty disappointing vegetable garden. Misery sure does not like company. We are in West Central Georgia and have endured the wettest summer in recorded (since 1948) history here. I start my day by checking on my favorite farming women and you are officially on my morning To Do list. Happy to make your acquaintance. Your family is beautiful. I see why they are all your favorite. :)

    1. Hi Betty Ann! Yes, she left a comment about her bees. My vet told me that the rain has been really difficult this year for the hooves of the animals. My hens are back to laying now that I have moved them to a much drier spot with the help of electric netting fencing. I think my goats are on the mend but I am afraid to let them out because the rain just stays around so often. I am switching my garden technique to one documented on Watch this and let me know what you think!Tell Kristin to hang in there!!!

  3. My hubby and I watched the Back To Eden film yesterday and found it very inspirational. Our family has been using the "cover" method of veggie gardening for years. Any time we need new garden space we use the cover and smother method to kill all grasses. We save all newspapers and collect all grass clippings and fall leaves. We have no good source for woodchips and the price of a chipper is prohibitive. All garden debris and kitchen scraps go to the chickens, goats, and pigs for "recycling". All chicken coop and barn mucking gets recycled back to the garden. It is way more work than the Back to Eden author lets on but certainly well worth it!! Unfortunately the garden could not overcome 26 inches of rain in the three months of June, July, and August! But a gardener never gives up. Fall seeds are planted :) I have forwarded the link to the film to Kristin and her sister, who is also and avid gardener.


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