Saturday, October 10, 2015

The last couple of weeks has brought some much needed rain. About 7 1/2 inches has fallen. Our poor neighbors to the south though have experienced devastating floods and our hearts go out to them. Here on the homestead just the normal damage from that much rain. Washed out driveways and lots of fallen branches. The farm looks green and happy.
Though happy to finally get rain, it has put us behind in getting fields planted for fall and winter grazing. Only one winter rye pasture was planted before the rains set in. One is left to plant but we have yet to even get it plowed. With the hay shortage we are facing for the coming winter we hope to get it done and established as soon as possible. Our crop fields that are to be planted with oats for spring hay need to be plowed as well. It looks like the coming week will be dry so fingers crossed we can get them done.
The new website is up and running! It is absolutely awesome and we want to thank Ronna at Launched Design Firm for all her hard work. If you have yet to see it check it out at .

Monday, September 14, 2015

The End Of A Long Hot Summer?

Today felt like the beginning of  Fall. A long awaited and welcome change. It has been one of the longest, hottest and driest summers I can remember. We are still almost 7 inches below our normal rainfall and almost broke the record for days numbering 90*. The homestead has muddled through though. The garden has suffered but we have still managed to can and preserve a good quantity of vegetables. An early good crop of cukes made pickles, tomatoes, though late, have been bountiful and a good supply has been added to the pantry. There was no corn or onions at all this year but our late peas have managed to survive and have done surprisingly well. I am freezing those and sis is canning. The jalapenos are hotter than heck due to lack of rain but I am just seeding them before canning!

It has been an extremely busy summer. All of the old fencing is being replaced. Another 14 acres has been purchased and added to the farm. Lots of clearing has been done to make way for new pastures and (hopefully) cattle in the spring. Luke has moved back from college and has been a tremendous help but in doing that, Doug and I have had to spend several weekends getting the townhouse in Wilmington ready to sell.

Sis and I have added to the Kune Kune herd. Her hubby has been very busy building the Kune Condos and we had our first litter born.
Mom and Dad are building a house on the compound and Luke and his future bride will be moving an existing house from one of the new properties back off the road to remodel at the end of the year.

A brand new website is being designed and is slated to come out in the next couple of weeks. An Etsy shop is in the works and should follow soon after. If you haven't checked out the Facebook page do so. A lot of quick blurbs of summer happenings!

Some things were accomplished that we had hoped for. Others not, but new and exciting things took their place. It was a hot, busy, crazy summer here on the homestead. but as always a blessed one. I have missed blogging and am glad to be back!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Barn Day

Today was a long barn day. It's time to wean more babies, rotate pastures and do a parasite check. First chore was to go through the dairy goats and give them a good check up. Except for my oldest girls they all looked really good. The older does are really having a hard time with keeping parasites in check. I refilled the mineral feeders and got everyone seperated. As is the usual a new pecking order has to be established.

 Even among the youngsters!
However, once chow came out, all was well.
Next was to bring the sheep up. I guess because we have had so little rain and the pastures have all but dried up, I found no evidence of parasite problems in them either. Oh happy day!
They were sent to a new field as well.
Then is was off to the garden. Lots of basil to harvest. Only 2 plants clipped today. Several cups of pesto were frozen and I tried a new method of preserving. Layering salt, basil and olive oil in a jar, packing between each layer and covering the top with oil is supposed to keep it fresh for up to a year. Yum. Perfect for topping pizza, making an infused oil for pasta and salad dressings, oh, the possibilities are endless!
Will keep you posted on the outcome!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

It has still been another hot, dry and brutal week but at least we got a half inch of rain early in the week. There is a promise of some rain for the next couple of days so we headed to the garden early today to put some late crops in. A late row of green beans, squash, and cucumbers were planted. A friend managed to find some purple sweet potato slips for me and we got them in as well. A little weeding and cultivating with the tractor and things are in good shape.
The soaker hose has gotten quite the workout and it is starting to pay off. Finally we are starting to harvest more than a few squash. Actually, in the last week the squash has exploded and we are gathering an armload a day.
Lots of little cucumbers coming along and it looks like making pickles will be on the chore list next week.
The eggplant are doing well. I think they are such a pretty plant, Beautiful blooms that turn into food!

Green beans are starting to bloom, peppers are coming in and the tomatoes are setting fruit. It is going to be a late harvest but that's ok.... we are happy to have one at all after a rocky start.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Harvesting Oregano

Early this morning before the sun had a chance to hit the herb bed I harvested a nice batch of oregano. This is one of our favorite herbs. We use a lot of it and ran out over the winter. I had to bu a small bottle (ouch! so expensive!) to get us through. I will be drying a lot this year!
Not sure yet if I will pull out the dehydrator or just let dry naturally this go round. Either way a good start to stocking the herb cabinet!

Friday, July 3, 2015

It's been an interesting month on the homestead. Mother nature has been a tough old lady. June was more like July with temperatures hovering at the 100* mark for days on end. We seem to be living in our own little dust bowl, getting no rain for several weeks. We watched as the fields dried up, the pond level went down and crops literally died before our eyes. Our grand plan to be able to rotate pastures has been put on hold since the summer millet crop is severely stunted. On the up side, the heat and drought has kept the parasite load down in the animals.
We finally got the meat birds processed. It took them  an extra 3 weeks to grow out. Because of the heat, they preferred to hang out in the shade instead out eat. Butchering this year was so much easier since we finally finished our processing area. We purchased a large stainless steel sink and poured a concrete floor and have created a permanent area that does not have to be set up and torn down each time. Since this cuts the processing time down by about two hours, we will most likely be doing more birds each year with the hopes of selling some again in the near future.
The garden has been a dismal failure. Even though we have tried to water there is nothing like rain. The corn crop and onion crop produced nothing. We finally just plowed them up. Most crops have been planted 2 or 3 times. Our new saying is if at first you don't succeed plow, plow again. Late green beans seem to be doing ok and the tomatoes are hanging in there. We have started harvesting squash and a few peppers and the eggplant are blooming so we are hopeful for some late summer preserving. Fall crops are already being planned and started.
However, as tough as things seem, they could always be worse. We are thankful for all that we have and know that this too shall pass. Life on the homestead is good.


Monday, June 1, 2015

Last Lamb

The last lamb was born today. A huge fellow that was not going to make it into the world without some assistance. A friend was here helping worm the goats and with her help he was delivered a short time later. He is quite handsome!

Saturday, May 30, 2015

I think I shall change the name of my blog to the "Ramblings of a Mad Farm Woman". Mad as in crazy mind you. It has been absolutely nuts around here lately! And as a result I'm feeling a little nutty myself. Let me explain-
We have managed to trap 3 more raccoons. They have managed to annihilate almost every chick and chicken in the barn. No matter how tightly I have things locked down. I have cried a river over the devastation. The first we trapped I called animal control back out thinking that being the previous one was rabid they may want to check this one out, though they took it, I was informed that in order to trap raccoons I would need to get a permit. Can you see me rolling my eyes? No problem I told them I have a permit for something else and I will take care of things myself. Which I have.
And so on my nightly checks I keep running into other crazy happenings.

This was the first one. My oldest antique dairy goat, that was retired 3 years ago, managed to get herself with child...or should I say children. Yes. Here is the problem. She has terrible hoof issues and doesn't stand for long periods of time. That means I get to go down there 3 times a day, get her up and let the babies nurse. Like I needed ONE more thing to do!
After one 9 o'clock feeding I was wandering back to the house when I heard a distressed peeping noise. One of the newly hatched turkeys had fallen through a storm drain grate. I yanked and pulled and couldn't get it off. I went for hubby and a flashlight. He said no way to get it off without a backhoe cause it weighs 100's of pounds. Ok well I'll crawl through the drain pipe. No can do. You will get stuck. By this time I'm blubbering about not loosing anymore animals. I stomped to the house and came back with a wire ladle and a coat hanger. You have got to be kidding my doubting husband said. Am not and laid on my belly. It took several tries but I finally managed to scoop it up like in a rescue basket snare it's little foot and return it safely to it's mom.
And then there was last night. At 9:30 I was making a final check on babies, turkeys, coon traps and chickens when Luke met me in the driveway. A baby bat had fallen from the nest and was laying there squeaking. Dear Lord. We have a colony of about 31 living under our shed roof and personally I am ok with that. In the house I go. Gloves, shoe box and blankets were gathered. Little Squeaky was gathered up, fed some water and put under a light until morning.
Today I was informed that it is illegal to rehabilitate bats. They are also protected so it is illegal to kill them. I found this all to make perfect sense, don't you? Grrr... after much hullabaloo I have placed Squeaky and hopefully in the near future he will get to come back and join his colony here on the farm.
And so goes life on the homestead!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Well we have made it through 12 days and we have no growling goats or slobbering sheep. The rabies threat seems to have passed thankfully into the past. Today was the first day I did much hands on with the animals other than feeding and watering. Some hoof trimming was in order.
We are still trying to capture the critter that has been making nightly visits and trying to eat the baby chicks. Unfortunately, no luck so far. Only a cat to release this morning.
I also spent some time in the kitchen. For the last few days I have had the crock pot going non-stop with bone broths of various kinds. It won't be long before we butcher chickens and I am trying to make room in the freezers. Saturday was chicken made with an older rooster butchered last year, yesterday was lamb stock and today a large pot of beef stock with some bones that have been in the freezer quite a while. What we aren't drinking, which happens to be a lot, I am freezing.
A hot but busy day on the homestead!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Happy Mother's Day!

And what did you get?


Saturday, May 9, 2015

Another Ewe Lamb!

Another new arrival today. A pretty little moorit ewe. Lamb count is at 7 with 2 rams and 4 ewes!

The triplets are growing like crazy thanks to their mom's abundance of milk.
One ewe left to go..

Friday, May 8, 2015

A Full Barn

With about 800 bales stacked in the barn and 1 more field to go we have the barn full and are set for next winter. Part of the next field will be sold to cover fertilizer, twine and labor expenses. Depending on the summer we hope to get a fall cut and will top off the barn.
Certainly not the best hay year but definitely good enough. Once the last field is down hopefully we can turn our attention back to the garden. Food for critters, food for us!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Another blow at the barn. When checking on the new laying chicks I discovered the brooder had been practically ripped apart and 12 of the new chicks had been killed. We placed plywood over the top and secured the sides and last night we set a trap. This morning upon checking I found the creature had revisited and managed to totally move the cage around, eat the bait and spring the trap. Only it was not in it. grrr....
We will continue to try and catch this nasty varmit, most likely another coon and dispose of it.

On a brighter note, another 2 hay fields down today. One looks way more promising with a much thicker crop. The rye grain is drying nicely too. Tomorrow we will get some of it baled and in the barn. A stocked hay loft is as nice as a stocked pantry!

Monday, May 4, 2015

2015 Hay Days

The weatherman has given us several days in a row of clear weather. This time of year that can be hard to find and so as I write the first fields are being mowed. Tomorrow we will drop another 2 fields. Wednesday and Thursday they will be baled and hauled to the barns. It looks to be another year of sparse fields though. With a cold spring the grass grew slowly and then this last week of heat caused it to bolt and prematurely form seed heads. And so goes the farm life.
In addition to the fescue, Doug mowed a couple of smaller rye grain fields planted last fall. Some research says rye grain hay with the seed heads not opened can yield an 18% protein hay. That would be an excellent feed source for the Kune Kune pigs. On the down side it takes twice as long as regular hay to dry and so we will cross our fingers it comes up before a chance of rain on Friday.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Fears Confirned

The dreaded phone call came today. The raccoon that we shot on Wednesday tested positive for rabies. I was stunned. The officer that called said he was unable to give medical advice but ran a few things by me and suggested I call our family doctor. He seems to think all is OK since no one was bitten and no cuts were on any one's hands.
I called to let our small animal vet know and she is pretty stressed about the situation. She suggested I vaccinate all the sheep and goats. Unfortunately, that is not realistic as we are fast approaching 40+ animals with all the babies. I assured her I would call the large animal vet. He left me a message and was not quite as concerned. If we see no physical evidence of an attack and nothing was in that stall he would take a wait and see approach. So, I have voluntarily quarantined the farm for the next 10 days.
It has been extremely stressful, but I am holding on with positive thoughts and prayers. For those of you who pray, maybe send up an extra one for us for the next few days!

Thursday, April 30, 2015

More New Arrivals!

Two more lambs have arrived. Both little ewes thank goodness! One is going to be a solid moorit and one a moorit gray. If their mom holds true they will both be polled as she only puts horns on her ram lambs.
This cutie was the one born earlier and finally was ready for her photo debut!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

An Interrupted day

What was supposed to be a day of yard work and more spring clean-up became a day of madness. Mid morning I was raking up fallen limbs and debris out of the flower beds when I heard Tucker our 11 year old English setter frantically barking at the barn. I wandered down thinking he had a cat cornered. Nope. There was a coon laying in a stall face down in a nest of eggs gasping for breath. I quick grabbed all dogs and headed to the house. Once everyone was locked up, I checked him over and found no signs of a confrontation. I went back to the barn and with a pitchfork moved the coon and found no evidence on it either. That done, I made a call to the vet. She wanted Tucker and Ludovic there in 2 hours for booster rabies vaccines. Ziva had her's last week and was good. In the meantime, Doug came in and shot the coon.
I arrived to the vet and after weighing Tucker discovered he had gained 10 pounds and for the last year I had been under dosing him for heart worms. Oh yay. So in addition to getting his booster I had him tested. He was negative thank goodness. Just an added expense.
Now came all the questions. Did you touch Tucker after coming up from the barn? Yes. Cuts. No. Touch the coon, no, but Doug picked him up by the tail. On and on they went.
On the way home I called animal control. They met me at the barn and picked up the coon. More questions. By this time it was 4 and I still had chores to do. We should have the results in a couple of days. Earlier this week a few miles down the road a coon tested positive so we shall see.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Planting Blueberries

The blueberries finally got in the ground today. I have to confess Doug and some of his guys planted most of them. I had to work and arrived only to help plant the last 8 or so. I did help rake down the dirt and mulch with a bit of straw to help conserve moisture. Since we don't have a well on that side of the property we we'll have to haul a large 200 gallon water tank over every few days until they are established. This Fall the pine needles should fall from the surrounding trees and finish mulching the patch quite nicely.

Monday, April 27, 2015

It was a busy planting day here on the homestead. It started with the grape vines- 5 Thompson seedless.
Then it was onto the herbs. Some from the greenhouse, others from the local nursery. Several had to be replaced because of the cold winter. New oregano, german and lemon thyme and another rosemary plant went into the herb garden.
Lastly, several clumps of Lily of the Valley that sis had gifted to me were tucked in the woods among the daffodils planted last fall. Next Spring this should be a beautiful combination.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Maybe Baby Turkeys?

For the first time in her laying life, Mrs. Blue Slate Turkey has found a safe place to make a nest. In previous years she has picked low spots where torrential rains have washed her nest and eggs away. I hope we may finally get some hatched babies, though since I have yet to catch her off nest I don't know how many eggs she is setting on.
Proud papa is standing by.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Full Freezers

I made the trip back to Mayes Meats today to pick up the lambs and Kune Kune pig we had butchered. Over 100 pounds of lamb and almost 50 pounds of pork are now residing in our freezers. We were extremely pleased with the pig. Almost completely raised on pasture with a few table scraps, acorns and an occasional handful of alfalfa, the end product was lean and delicious. We a very excited to get our first litter here and be able to offer some for sale.
In addition to the meat, I have over 30 pounds of lambs bones to cook up into a rich stock and about 10 pounds of pig fat to render into lard!  

Thursday, April 23, 2015

More Baby Chicks

The next generation of laying hens arrived today. Mostly black sexlinks with a few araucanas thrown in the mix. My plan is to rotate breeds every year or even every other year so I know which to cull. Right now I have a mish-mosh of various breeds and ages. As soon as these ladies start laying I have someone to take all of the old birds. Since the sexlinks are black maybe the next round will be golden comets or rhode island reds. Such a simple light bulb moment! ;-))

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Lamb #4

A single ewe lamb born today to a yearling ewe. A lovely black badger. Mom not into photos today so a long shot. Close ups soon!

Monday, April 20, 2015

We were up early to haul lambs and our first Kune Kune pig to be butchered. Though we have a plant 20 minutes away I was not pleased with them last year when lambs were processed. So we make the hour long trek to Taylorsville and Mayes Meats. My only issue with them is that they NEVER get in a hurry. We wait to unload. We wait to fill out cutting sheets. I am sure I will have to wait when I pick them up too. There will be lamb available in two weeks for those interested.

It was nice to see some sunshine again after yesterday's torrential rain. But with the sun came afternoon thunderstorms and some areas were hit hard with large hail. I had the news on when they broke in to warn that it was headed our way within 30 minutes. I flew outside and moved all of the blueberries and blackberries undercover. I did not want to take any chances of loosing the fruit that is starting to set. Our current patch was hit hard by the last cold snap and I think we will only get half of what was to be an awesome harvest. The potted flowers were drug to safety too. Panting and exhausted I hurried back inside just as the thunder started rolling. We were lucky, only some pea size hail and no damage done. I guess tomorrow I will move all of those plants back out from under the shed!

Sunday, April 19, 2015


Well lambing has begun and it has started off with a bang! A set of triplets born yesterday. A solid black ram, black and white spotted ram and a black badger ewe. Mom is doing a great job of taking care of all 3,

Saturday, April 18, 2015

A Wet Week

Well rain it did this week. 4 inches were captured in the rain gage. With the first day of sunshine in 8 days it was a busy day of catching up.
First on the list was to move the meat birds to the tractor. Can you spot a dutch shepherd puppy looking on?
Next a quick perusal of the garden to check on veggie status. Potatoes are up. Yay! I was a bit worried that they may have rotted.
Lastly mowing. Doug and I tag teamed the yard that was closely resembling the hay field and got it under control.
Neat and tidy, I am so ready for a few sunny days!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

More Strawberries

The last 25 Evie 2 strawberry plants that had been back ordered arrived Friday. I have kept them wrapped in moist paper and today they finally went in the ground.
We had some windy days this week so after planting them I went back and where we had just made slits in the plastic I made larger holes, The wind had blown the plastic back over top of some of the previously planted berry plants and the heat had burned them pretty badly. Lesson learned, sigh.
But still, there 101 plants in the row. Some are beginning to bloom. Looking good!
The upcoming week looks to be very wet so I raided the greenhouse of peppers and early tomatoes. 39 various peppers and 8 tomatoes went in along with a couple of hills of squash which were planted by seed. Things should settle in nicely this week.