Thursday, November 7, 2013

Chores

Having sold all the fluffy Silkies makes chores much simpler. Everyone has a communal heated water bucket and one building. We rearranged the potable corral panels so the pony and goats can get into the barn yard with the chickens.
Feeding hay also got easier as we baled small square bales. About a third are stacked in the barn where we kept rabbits last winter. The chickens certainly think we put them inside for their enjoyment. I am looking forward to feeding hay inside during the blizzards this year.

Muffin and her daughter Socks sharing the milk station.

Currently working on finding a buck to get the goat girls bred. We'll be milking later next spring but life with a baby makes farm tasks lower on the priority list

Barn yard occupants:

16-20 laying hens


2 goats



one pony



And one cat Louis



posted from Bloggeroid

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Smartphone test

Hopefully if this test works there will be many more posts here.



Cute Silkie Chickens



posted from Bloggeroid

Friday, October 4, 2013

Potatoes!

Final garden update. All was not lost in the garden as I had once thought. We have potatoes! Lots and lots of potatoes, big ones and small ones. Purple and Yukon gold. Approximately 6 five gallon buckets full. Storage could be an issue as we live in a trailer house that is notorious for spoiling potatoes. I'll have to stash them in a few different places and hope for the best.  Oh and a ice cream pail of carrots, my favorite. 

All else in the garden was considered a loss - produce wise. We learned that weeds will take over an unattended garden, springs can be too cool and wet for good green beans and finally giant sunflowers will shade out squashes. speaking of sunflowers they were also a success, all grew well over 7 feet and eventually flowered. 

We just finished 'Operation fewer winter chores' by selling 5 goats and 10 chickens. The barn is half filled with small square hay bales and the other half is for the few critters we will care for this winter. That would include 2 goats, 1 pony and about 12 chickens. Hopefully the smaller space will be easier to keep everyone warm and my goats should be much easier to catch.

On a personal note: Kidlet was born July 25th healthy baby boy. Now at just over 2 months he is growing like a weed and we are getting to see his first smiles. 

Monday, July 8, 2013

July update

First some nonfarm news.

Richard and I are expecting our first child due the middle of the month. So if you have been wondering why posts and farm activities have been slim – now you know.  I’ve had a relatively easy pregnancy, no morning sickness or other baby weirdness. Now at the end of things swelling and numb tingly fingers are my worst complaint.



Now on to the Farm Stuff:  Milking

Muffin looking smug about not being milked

We decided that as much as we loved wrestling our goat Muffin every evening and catching bouncy goat kids – one quart of milk wasn't worth the effort.
Socks the littlest doe, my sweet favorite girl

Especially when Richard got stuck with the work and all I did was morning milking. So we sadly quit milking in the beginning of June. It was an experiment to begin with and one we both agree was a positive learning experience and will continue again next year. Our goal for this fall is to purchase a milk breed female – preferably a Sanaan , Alpine or Toggenberg. I have made a few contacts with breeders in Minnesota so hopefully we can get a good tame girl.  Our herd will get bred this October. Not sure what buck, we’ll probably borrow the neighbor’s again.  The two female babies are growing fast and are very friendly, I look forward to keeping them catchable all winter in preparation for spring milking.  As for the boy goat babies they got castrated and two are destined for a date with the freezer.  All the goats are happy not to be bothered and graze mostly in the pasture.

Strussecel and Patches 
Chickens

The main laying flock is a mess. They hate the barn (their coop) and spend all their time outside roaming.  They refuse to come inside at night and we have given up chasing them. Most are on the two year plus age mark and only lay sporadically. The rest lay mostly in the nest boxes. I feel there must be some hid out that the others lay in, but have yet to find it. I had a broody hen, or so I thought then she quit. As happens with all my hens, they are too stupid to stay on a nest. We have mostly given up on the hens, and if a fox wants them so be it. The plan for this fall is to butcher the ragged looking hens and only keep a dozen or so over winter. Starting fresh in the spring.

Silkie chickens

Remember the cute balls of fluff I bought so many of last fall after the fox ate my breeding trio? Well they grew up beautifully.  We only lost a couple over winter and this spring I sorted out pens to be sold at the small animal sales we have in the area.  I happily made back my investment on those birds.  Thanks in part to many more roosters my end total is 10 birds.

Happy birds



They live in a very secure four foot by eight foot coop with a run that is three times that size.  I faithfully lock them up every night and they get all the commercial feed they want (unlike the hens, who mostly forage on grass & bugs).    I might even have my first actual broody hen. Silkies are known for their willingness to sit on a nest of eggs.  And I’ve got a cute brown one who has been sitting on a small nest the last three days.

Garden

This wet cool spring we had did nothing for my garden. I planted plenty, but the patches didn’t germinate well. The only bright side we have are the potatoes. The 12-25 foot rows are coming up strong.  Some of the plants are already blooming. I can only hope the plants put more energy this year into actual potatoes than last year. Last year we had huge healthy looking plants and very very few potatoes. The carrot patch finally came up as well as the row of marigolds I planted next to our tomato plants. My plot of swiss chard even made a strong appearance, even the second plot is coming up. I got worried and planted more, so there should be lots for us and the goats to eat later this summer. The downside is I can’t weed anything very well.  Being pregnant sitting flat on the ground is the only way for me to reach the weeds.  I didn’t plant my rows wide enough.  Hoeing only kinda works in our rocky soil and I am afraid to hit the small seedlings.  Mostly I try to keep any thistle pulled and hope for the best.  

Front garden

Biggest news is the one lonely iris I planted the first year we moved in finally bloomed. Thanks to the wet spring the color was mostly washed out but I do believe it was a orange with purple center variety. Of course I cant find the one picture I took, and now it is done blooming, Yay for blooming perennials.



I have two half whiskey barrels that each got a tomato plant and basil seeds planted in them. I went with herbs and edibles this year for my front garden.  The only splash of color is the purple and orange Johnny Jump up’s (violas?) I received from my mom on Mother’s day.  The basil took its sweet time coming up, but now that we are having warm weather it will be like a weed (I hope). There is pesto in the future. I also planted mint, rosemary, and citrus thyme in large pots. 




Please forgive the grass, I just can’t keep up with trimming it this year. The family (aka my dad’s) big wheeled string trimmer is broken (hateful small engines), and we don’t have a small weed –eatter.  Typically I use a hand sickle and feed the grass to the rabbits, but I just don’t have the energy. 

Last little Bit

Bernie the pony is doing well, we are trying to get the farrier out to trim his feet. Hard when there is only one guy and farrier work is his second job to ranching/farming and being a dad. Hopefully he'll get out here by the months end. Bernie took one look at me carrying the camera and fled, I usually make him work so he wanders off when i come by.


The girl bunnies got a new cage! a big out door space and a hidy hole. So far they seem very happy. I hope to breed them soon and get freezer rabbit. Yum!


Finally Louis came back. The neighbor said she saw him at her place. Silly boy, I thought the vet took care of that wander lust. Glade he is back. We spoil him even more now bringing him inside at night in an extra large dog crate, where he gets supper and breakfast. Most nights he comes running to get his food. Plus he has still brought us mice and even a gofer. Good kitty.



Thursday, June 6, 2013

Farm Life, Not Always Easy

Going away for the weekend is much simpler in the summer. We fill feeders, extra water buckets, double check fences and pens, then ask my parents (our very close neighbors) to keep an eye on everything.  Pretty simple and rarely do we have problems. This time was the exception. Thankfully nothing major just a dead rabbit and a missing barn cat Louis. The rabbit probably died of old age, bought her last summer at a sale unknowing of her age.

 Louis the barn cat, not completely unusual for him not to turn up when we come out, but he usually is out later when we call. Especially in the evening when we feed him. So I wasn't very concerned last night when we got home and didn't see him, figuring he was out hunting and I'd see him in the morning. Well I got a late start to my outside chores today and still didn't see or hear him. Not too worried I went to chat with my parents and see if they had seen him near their house. Sometimes he gets into their garage to play with the dogs. That is when Mom told me she saw him on Sunday morning but when she went to feed him Sunday evening he wasn't to be found.

Louis first exploring the barn

Today is Thursday. I walked around our whole property  the front bush/tree row by the road, the old established tree row next to my parents house, around the small pasture, calling and shaking a can of cat food.  It is very unlikely I"ll see Louis the barn cat again.





Louis always was under foot when we were outside. He liked to run ahead and lay in your walking path to get attention. He played chase and wrestled with my parents dogs. He'd sit on the freshly tilled spot I was about to plant seeds. He was mostly afraid of the chickens and could get around one or two but would run away if I was feeding the whole flock and the birds came running towards him.

There is a chance Louis is just lost and will come back, but I have to be real and honest.

Barn cats come and go, I know this from Grandpa & Grandma's farm - one summers pet barn cat wouldn't be the same pet barn cat the next summer.  The life of even a pampered barn cat like Louis is rough when living outdoors. There are is the road with cars and trucks, predators like coyotes, hawks and eagles. Just didn't expect to lose him in the summer.

Louis, I'll miss you 

Friday, May 31, 2013

It has to end soon

The Rain that is. We have been getting April showers now in the end on May. I have managed to get most of the garden planted. It takes more time then I'd like and I've had to spread planting between rain days. So far I have 10 - 25 ft rows of potatoes - a solid purple variety and Yukon gold; 6 - 10 ft rows snow peas - plan to  blanch and freeze for stir fry; 6- 10 ft rows of green beans - plan to can these; 4 10 ft rows of red Swiss chard. At the south end of the garden is for squashes: 6 hills of cucumbers, three pie pumpkins, three hills blue Hubbard squash, three yellow early summer squash. And as a added bonus I planted giant sunflower seeds around each hill of squash. Maybe I can get the cucumbers to climb the sunflower stems, if not it will at least give a cool vertical element to the squash section.

One of the rare sunny days I got to garden. Louis the barn cat  helped.

I ordered 50 strawberry plants however they arrived early April when we still had feet of snow on the ground. In a panic I put them in pots in my house, then in May worked on hardening them off.
They did well up to the hardening off stage when most died. Grr, I planted what was left alive on May 17th, I think there are currently only four living plants. I've since learned I could have refrigerated the strawberry crowns for a couple weeks in April to keep them dormant. Lesson learned, that and don't order strawberries from a catalog  who's shipping dates range during our 'winter'.

Now the dwarf blueberries plants I ordered did much better. I got three of these last year, I potted them and let them be outside all summer then brought them inside with my other house plants over winter. Sadly all of last years varieties failed to leaf out this spring. Triming the edge branches proved greenish stems that were dead and brown inside. Sad. This year I planted them in the ground next to a small heirloom lilac we transplanted from my grandparents homestead. Hopefully they will survive and not get plowed under next winter when we push snow.
North Sky variety front, Top Hat variety last two

Butcher Time!

Finally the giant snow bank in front of the pig pen melted and we could get the tractor back to their pen. Now if the stars had alined we would have done the butchering a couple weeks earlier. But work schedules, weather and naughty bunny rabbits had other plans. The first scheduled day we had rain (not a big deal) but the 40+ mph wind gusts stopped us. The next scheduled day we discovered the freezer cord I'd carefully kept away from the bunny cage slipped and they ate through most of the wires, why they are not dead from the live wires we don't know. We spent that day fixing the cord and cleaning the stinky freezer then waiting for said freezer to get cold again. 
 Finally May 21st we took care of those pesky pigs. The day was very very wet rain, fog, mud. Plus we used the hose to keep everything clean making more wet mess. Surprisingly my brother had the day off from his oil field job (too wet) and volunteered to help us. What a blessing having another set of hands was. 

Richard sticking the pig, my brother in the yellow helping.
Everything went very smoothly. It was a long day but we got both pigs down and wrapped in packages in the freezer by just after 7 pm.  245 pounds of wrapped pork - Yum. We left the hams whole and I need to find a place to cure them and the bacon. 



needless to say we don't save the pig feet

Yummy pork!
 

That is all I've got for now. Here is to the rain letting up and my garden growing. 

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Goat Babies and Milking


Since my last post we have gotten more snow and goat babies. I'll start with a picture of the pasture where the goats live. You can see the red-neck shelter and bales we use as windbreak. No pens or many places to corner and catch a goat mamma to milk her. A note, I am standing on the stack of straw bales next to the barn, the edge of the barn roof can be seen in the right corner.


Now for the Goat Babies:

First Streusel had twins, a week early, on a stormy cold windy day and we lost one. Everyone got blankets to keep warm the first few days. We used different colored vet wrap for each set of kids to keep track when they were little.  These are Streusel's first kids, and we planed on milking her however she isn't quite tame enough to catch every day.

Patches here got lots of attention she is a real pet.

Next Muffin surprised me one evening with triplets. Two bucks and the cutest doe ever. Muffin is an sweet doe of unknown age, she has also become our exclusive milking doe.  Kids get put in the chicken coop/barn at night, we milk once in the morning.
Socks is the little black and white doe. She was quite the handful getting stuck and needing rescuing . Her brothers don't have names.
 

Third to give birth was Cake, our bossy older doe. She calmly had twins one evening after feeding.  So uneventful was their birth I didn't take any pictures of the kids after birth. Or any with their cute little blankets. Probably because we are not planing on keeping Cake or her kids. Or more likely I was too tired.

Cake is the one with the green halter. Her twins a black doe I call Star and a tan buckling.
Finally a couple days after Cake, Sprinkles our other first time mom had her baby. As big as she was I thought certainly she would have twins. Nope I found a big buck kid back behind the flax bales wet and cold, Sprinkles only kinda knew what to do with kid, mostly she ignored him. She just isn't very high in the herd and wasn't let into the shelter. We quickly dried the buck off and he spent the night in the house. The next day after a bottle of colostrum (from Cake none the less) I brought him back outside where mom quickly  took over and he happily nursed.

Meet Silly who was born as big as Patches at a week old. He rarely spends time with mom, and  is always trying to nibble on my clothing. Hence why he got the name Silly.

Now on to Milking. 

We had planned on milking at least two of our goats if not three. However we quickly learned that in order to milk one has to be able to catch said goats, said goats have to be tame. Tame has a new definition in my book, like puppy tame, catch-able  not just eat some grain out of your hand or bucket, but huggable, and able lead. This tameness issue and our lack of pens quickly led to the conclusion of only milking our friendliest goat Muffin who has triplets.

 It still isn't easy to catch Muffin everyday, But diligence and persistence are my goal, not a ton of milk production. So far it has paid off. We catch the kids at night and they sleep in the chicken coop/barn structure. Then in the morning I chase Muffin around and around until I can corner her in the redneck shelter or over by the water tank, then we walk/drag her to the milking stanchion where she mostly relaxes and I can milk her. So really it is the catching that we have issues with, Husband works every three days and it is a blessing when he can help me catch her.

One quart a morning is now my current goal after a week and half of once daily milking. I could probably get more than a quart from her, however I don't worry because a) I am consistently getting one quart a day, b) my hands are new to milking and get tired, c) Muffin has triplets so they get anything I leave.

Milking Muffin this morning Saturday March 20, 3013