Monday, November 6, 2017

Busy Farm Day

A dear friend arrived this morning to help me get some overdue chores done. We spent the morning cleaning out the barn shed side where I keep feed, the milking stand and the skirting table. Over the summer feed bags had stacked up and garbage cans were full of hay twine. After 1 1/2 hours the truck was loaded and ready to be hauled over the the dumpster hubby keeps on the equipment yard. We stopped and enjoyed a yummy farm fresh salad before unloading.
Once that was done we swept and set up the skirting table so that in the days to come all the fleeces can be finished and readied for shipping to a local mill. We also hauled the milking stand in from under the trees where I have milked over the summer and put it to bed for the winter. The girls have been dried up and kids are expected in March.
Then it was time to separate the sheep. I am doing limited breeding this year with just a few select ewes. I am retiring a couple of old girls, ages  9 &10. They can live their life out on green pasture with no babies to look after! With the purchase of the additional 16 acres we have a lot of work ahead of us and I feel like less will be more next spring. As of right now the girls are with the girls and the boys are with the boys. The rams are extremely pissed with decision as there was a lot of gate bashing this afternoon ;-( !
After my friend left, I had to prune the blackberries, pull up the dead zinnia row in the garden, gather eggs and feed the chickens.
A busy farm day for pics since I have yet to get a new memory card for my camera. That will happen tomorrow after 2 sheep will leave for their new home.
Check out the FB page for pics!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Fall Shearing and Sheep Sales

We are shearing tomorrow. And wouldn't you know when I needed to get pre hair cut pics, my memory card for my camera went kapooy. So for those of you that have been patiently waiting on the sales page to go up, I apologize! I was able to get some decent pictures on my phone and have posted them on the farm facebook page, Maple Lane Homestead. So check it out and if any of these gorgeous boys and girls catch your eye let me know!

Friday, October 20, 2017

Fall Canning

This morning I plugged up the crockpot and started a batch of caramel pecan apple butter. It had to cook all day so while that simmered away I canned jalapenos.The pepper plants are still loaded with peppers of all kinds. Lots of banana peppers are ready too. I'll freeze some of them but that's another day!
At the end of the day 16 jars of jalapenos were canned and 1 large bag was frozen. To freeze them I simply core and drop in a bag. Perfect for adding to salsas and other recipes calling for fresh.

Several jars of apple butter were canned as well. This recipe is SO delicious!! I will definitely be doing another batch before apple season is over.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The Fall Garden

Our big garden was in need of some added nutrients so we decided not to plant our fall garden there. Instead we seeded it with rye grain that can be turned in the spring to enrich the soil. The smaller garden by the barn (future home to hoop house) was turned into a beautiful patch of greens! We planted kale, collards, swiss chard, spinach, mustard, lettuce and arugula. Of course, broccoli and cabbage went in along with beets and a late row of green beans.

We have been happily munching on farm fresh salads for the last couple of weeks. Another day or two I'll be picking green beans. Pretty cool considering it;s the middle of October! 

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Photo Ops or Not!

I had hoped to get some good pics of the lambs and sheep we will be offering for sale this year. Instead all I got were backs and butts. Oh well, another day!

Friday, October 6, 2017

Fall Fields

The boys came in early today. With a good chance of rain from Hurricane Nate we needed to get some seed out. The pond pasture will once again be winter rye grass. The sheep graze it all winter. The upper field will be crimson clover again as well. One for the bees to forage and two for the green manure it adds to the soil when plowed in. The previous landowner stripped all the topsoil from this area years ago. Over the last year we have added back to the soil with clover, buckwheat and sunflowers.


And so what have you been doing you may ask. Well, a lot. I'll recap some of the highlights and follow up with some more in depth posts.
The number 1 thing that keep us busy was a huge landscaping job. We put a pool in about 10 years ago and over the years the soil had washed and built up along the stone wall around the pool. The last 2 years have been an absolute nightmare because every time it rained heavily water and mulch would cascade over the wall, cover the drains on the decking and proceed to go in the pool. Last Fall I threw up my hands, said enough and shut it down. Hubby drew up a plan over the winter and once it warmed up the project began. We had to have several large trees removed. Doug and I spent every weekend for almost 3 months working out there. We also had to drain the pool since it became home to thousands of tadpoles and 2 turtles. I relocated bucket after bucket to the pond. Mud had to be shoveled out of the bottom, the sides scrubbed and new water hauled in. We laid a stone river bed to slow the water, retaining walls were built, dirt hauled in, sod was laid. The end result is absolutely beautiful.

I'm happy to say the pool was in swimming condition for part of the summer, more so by others, but that is ok with me!!

We spent a lot of time cleaning up debris. Storm after storm rolled through and each time we would have trees down. It was so wet early on that we were unable to really tend the garden. The potato harvest was pitiful as was the onions.I did manage to can 4 batches of salsa, green beans and freeze tomatoes. But all in all it ranked up there in the top of worst gardens ever.
We have added 17 more acres to the farm.
I have retired from bread baking as well as my job.
The dog kennels and new fence was put up.
I have become a foster for a local rescue.
It was a sad summer as many of my old animals crossed the rainbow bridge. The latest being a 13 year old saanan. :-((
My soap business has really ramped up!
A friend had to get rid of her livestock so we bought back the 2 goats we sold her along with her flock of chickens, 2 more ducks and a goose named Ed.
The Fall garden in in.
The fields have been plowed and are ready for seed.
After 3 1/2 weeks of no rain we may possibly get some this weekend.
And there ya have it! Life on the homestead!

Monday, July 17, 2017

A Busy Summer!

This morning's harvest.
Though it's been several weeks since my last post it has not been for lack of happenings! It has been a busy chaotic summer (what else is new ;-)) Huge landscaping projects are being completed, animals and garden to be taken care of. So hang in there friends...updates coming!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Spring Hay Is Up

Today we finished the last of the hay. A total of 1498 bales were loaded into the barn and sheds. It was a good year. Doug has tweaked baling for the last few years. We had all the wagons in the field. Load one, drop, load the next. Ummm.. I vote a water cooler on the tractor. No breaks!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Adding To The Herd, New Goats

Mom and I went to pick up 2 new herd additions today.This handsome guy will be our new herd sire this Fall.

And this loudly colored young lady! She most likely will not be bred this year as we tend to wait until a year and a half or so. However she is quite a big girl so we shall see.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Bees, Hay and Mother's Day

Busy times here on the homestead. But first we made the rounds to visit our sweet Mamas and deliver small tokens of our appreciation for the ladies that have shown us love and support all of our lives. We are blessed to still have them with us and are thankful each day!

 Back home, at the top of my to do list was checking our new bee hives. We knew the queen was out but needed to make sure she was laying. Yes! Lots of beautiful brood.

More hay was mowed.

After all the chores were done, hubby cooked a wonderful dinner and I was the one that was blessed to have my boys and sweet daughter-in-law spend the evening with me. A great day!

Friday, May 12, 2017

We cultivated the garden today trying to beat yet another storm forecasted for tonight. As it was we finished up in a misty rain. Everything has settled in nicely and it was a pleasant surprise to find baby squash and cucumbers!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Chicken Drama

My intention was to get up early and make strawberry jam before I headed out for a haircut. Oh it got made but not this morning!

The chicken ordeal continues. Let me explain. So, we built a fortress for the crazy birds. Two reasons, one to keep them out of the garden and the other to keep them safe. We have a family of foxes and they have discovered the buffet over here. We have done well keeping them at bay but if I don't find and put up every single bird every single night you can bet they will. The last week has been relatively quiet until 3 days ago. The fox dug under the fence and snatched yet another hen. I filled in the hole and put stuff over it and the next night put the LGD in with the birds. Still not feeling 100% comfortable I decided last night to cover the doors to the houses with bales of hay and put the dog in. Well, I went in one way and blocked the holes. However, I had to leave through another gate since I couldn't cut back through the house. As I opened the gate dog bolted it. Enough said. He would be loose on the farm for the night because well, LGD's don't come when called. By now it was getting really late and I was thoroughly irritated and of course I completely forgot that the front of the hen house was wide open.  

1:30 a.m. Bad LGD stuck his big head in the doggy door of the garage and got every dog here stirred up. That would include the 3 dobermans I am boarding for a friend. I went out and put the cover in the door. 2 a.m. really bad LGD shoved the cover up and once again stirred the dog pot. I rummaged through the fridge, found some meat put on robe and slippers and lured him in a pasture. I stomped back to bed.

I got up early to move bales from the doorways and start jam. Ummm....yep chickens had made their way out of the front of the house. Almost every single bird was wandering the garden and orchard. I have spent the better part of the day rounding up birds.This afternoon after FINALLY getting the jam made I wandered down to catch a few more birds and gather eggs only to discover really, really bad LGD had helped himself to all the eggs he could reach. Shells were everywhere. Needless to say he has been relieved of his chicken guarding duties and now resides back in the goat pasture.

But my jam turned out pretty!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017


Strawberry season is here. We are picking several handfuls every couple of days here on the homestead but not enough yet to make jam. Yesterday a sweet friend left a beautiful basket of berries in my mailbox!
Tonight I washed and capped them and tomorrow morning will be making my first batch of jam of the season. It will be the first of many goodies tucked into the pantry. I am so excited to see the empty shelves of home canned goods start to fill again.

Monday, May 8, 2017

We cut hay Saturday and with the low humidity it was ready today. The first field yielded 618 bales.
Doug has certainly gotten our hay mowing and baling streamlined! This winter we added 2 more hay wagons, for a total of 3, which means we don't have to leave the field, unload and head back. All are loaded and then ferried back. The field today had 4 1/2 wagon loads.

Rain is in the forecast for the next few days but we are hoping to cut the rest of the fields this coming Saturday.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Getting Ready For Hay

I arrived home from dog training to find Luke and a helper busy working on hay equipment and servicing tractors.

 It's that time of year again. We are hoping to drop some fields on Saturday, including the beautiful red clover, If we can get that dry and baled it will make excellent hay for the pigs. This is an experiment, so we will see. The rest of the fields are a fescue mix for the sheep, goats and dare I say cows again? Maybe, just maybe.

P.S. We checked the bees...second queen is out. Hooray!!

Monday, May 1, 2017

Fighting Another Battle, Loosing The War

Well, most of the seeds in the garden have germinated and are looking very good. Except for the corn. Not one green sprig. None, Nada. That would be because all of the seed is gone. And that would be because...
Yep. Here we go again. You may recall last year I trapped 51 squirrels. We did manage to harvest a very small amount of corn after the third try. It is very frustrating to say the least. So, here is #7. We will replant as soon as the ground dries again. I think this time we may try covering with row cover until it germinates. This is NOT a fun game. Grr..

Sunday, April 30, 2017

A Busy Weekend

We spent the whole weekend outside, dragging in around dark. Grass is growing at a fast rate from all the rain and the weeds are even faster. Mowing and weed eating were top priorities. I have yet to finish cleaning out all of the flower beds from debris and leaves from the winter. Another must do. I got all but 2 finished and still have some pots to fill.

We checked the bees. One queen was out and the other was not. We are supposed to go back in on Tuesday,

We also finished transplanting all the the strawberries. Turned out to be a very nice long row and berries are starting to ripen. We got a nice rain shower on them afterwards so that should help them settle in.
Of course all this was done in between feeding,milking and lamb checks! Lots of long treks across the fields led to some exciting baby discoveries. Today 4 sets of twins! Sadly I lost one due to a bad presentation and by the time I found the mama he was dead. I had to finish helping her deliver.
As usual they weren't up for much in the way of pics but here are a few of the new cuties!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

More Lambs!

Lambs are appearing at a rapid rate! 3 sets of twins and a single in the last couple of days!

Bees, Once Again

We are once again adding bees to the homestead. I love them and have missed them since we lost our last hive. I now have a third generation bee keeper that is willing to offer his wisdom and experience so I am very hopeful things will go well and with any luck add more hives next year.

I picked them up yesterday afternoon late and we installed the packages in the misty rain. Today they are very busy. Hopefully releasing the queen and building out brood chambers!