Sunday, March 19, 2017

Counting Down

255 days until Thanksgiving. Time to get started right?

These are turkey eggs from the Hurd farm  in my  new incubator, doing their thing.  As you can see, it has some nice features which I appreciate, including a turner.  In this photo, the gauge on the left is telling me to add some water to get the humidity up. 

The turkey eggs will be followed up with some eggs from my own flock if our new rooster gets on with the job.  You may recall that my last rooster, Rubio, did not last very long. Before he came to us though, Rubio made a stop at another farm and fertilized some eggs - Julio here is one of the results of that.  So he is a young guy - big and awkward looking - and I have yet to hear him crow although he has been here a week.

Another countdown, and that is about 10 days to kids.  Many of our farmer friends have spring babies - calves, lambs, kids, etc. but we just have to be patient.  If I don't blog again for 2 weeks, I'm thinking there will be kid news.

Another spring activity is getting plants started.  I don't get going as early as some gardeners - I do not see a lot of value to having big and lanky tomato plants.  I do have some lettuce going which will be transplanted into the greenhouse pretty soon.  Today it was nice and warm so I moved the flat out there, although it will come back in the house when the sun goes down.  I also have started the peppers, some herbs. and some flowers.  Patience, patience...

So, we wait.  Until then, be well friends.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

A little this and some of that - General People and Critter Updates

There isn't much to say about the weather that hasn't been said before is there?  The old worn-out saying "if you don't like the weather in Minnesota, just wait a minute" is as good as any.  Since my last post, we have had really warm weather which melted most of our snow and transformed the farmyard from glacier to mudbog.  Then it got cold, then it snowed ... on and on it goes. We had snow last night which continued for a good portion of this morning - then it turned sunny and was just really lovely out.

People who have goats quickly find out that the old adage that "goats will eat anything" couldn't be further than the truth.  We recently acquired some really nice alfalfa hay through a hay for straw barter.  You would think the does would have been delighted.  Hmmm, not so much.  The chickens however, are delighted.
 Vinca has four more weeks to carry her babies...

 The hens were all indoors after lunch but quickly came out to check out the slabs of hay.
 First just a few...
Then the rest of the flock.

Later in the afternoon this is what was left:

People are seeing a LOT of deer around the area lately.  These were south of the house this afternoon - nine of them and there were more across the road.

With the warmer weather you would think that Spot would be wanting to get out of the shop.  In reality, she is quite content to say indoors, thank you very much.  Spot's "thing" is that she loves riding on people's shoulders.  She surprised Kevin the other day at chore time by launching herself onto him unannounced!

Hoover generally wants to be where I am but he is NOT allowed in the "laundry basement" (not to be confused with "Kurt's basement" or the "way-down basement" - we have an unusual house!) which houses not only the laundry but also the cat food and litter boxes.     

One more thing to say... if you really want purple hair... go for it!  You rock Kori!

See you in a couple of weeks - be well!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

It's always something, right?

Life gives us obstacles sometimes.  Today it is the pump - no water and of course it is Sunday.  Something so ordinary becomes so precious when you don't have it.  We are pretty fortunate (in many ways) to live so close to Ardis & Rollie's house.  Kevin hauled water from there for us and the animals; also washed a load of laundry and we had supper and our showers there this evening.

Hoover and I are really on low mileage this winter.  This morning it was about twenty degrees so we went out to the highway only to find it very icy due to the warm temperatures yesterday that had melted some of our snow.  We ran on the shoulder off the ice a little but there was a brisk breeze that was freezing my cheeks so we didn't stay out too long.  This photo shows you what our dirt road is like:

 Yesterday we were gone all day to the Minnesota Sustainable Farming Associate Annual meeting - I was surprised to see how little snow they had in to the south and west of us - although we have had a couple of days in the forties, we still have snow cover:

The lads enjoyed the sunshine today.  The does I had to coax outside with treats to get photos.  Vinca's picture is fuzzy anyway, but you get the idea... wide load!  Her kids are not due until April poor thing!  Echo is not nearly so bulbous and sometimes I wonder if she is even pregnant.  Kevin reminds me that I wondered the same thing last year.

Some of you know that I am an avid composter.  Some of my co-workers probably think of me as the nut-job who hauls the coffee grounds home every day and who scolds them (politely I hope) when I catch them tossing a banana peel in the trash.  I noticed today that the pile has sunk somewhat so took the thermometer out - it read about seventy degrees.  This thermometer does not have a very long probe on it, only about four inches so I would suspect it is much warmer lower down.   Pretty neat - at least I think so!
Garden gold in the making! 

So that is February.  I probably won't have a post again until March and then we will really be thinking about spring and the garden and goat kids coming - Yeah!!.  Until then, be well friends!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

The Second Ice Age

It's been three weeks since I posted here last so I figure it's about time.  My title tonight refers to the condition of our farmyard and the township road that we live on.  I don't think I even posted about the first ice storm we had - have been trying not to post about weather all the time.  I'm giving in though, the ice is terrible; I just had to mention it.  We basically have to shuffle around or risk falling on our butts. 

Pretty typical winter stuff going on here - woodcutting, etc.  I have some photos here from a walk in the woods last Sunday - a beautiful day.  Kevin showed me a huge oak tree he had cut down the day before.  It was dying and the middle was all rotten - a tricky and potentially dangerous tree to drop.  I don't worry about him out in the woods too much - as with firearms and hunting, with woodcutting Kevin is all about safety.

 Hoover came with us and had a good time frolicking around on the logging roads. 

I also got Roye to pose for a photo-op on the hood of "the baby truck". 

I am devoting quite a bit of time each weekend to making soap, making labels, etc.  I am trying to build up an inventory so I (maybe) won't be so crazy busy next summer and (hopefully) will have more time for the garden.  Today one of my tasks was rendering lard.

I don't have any new goat pictures today - maybe next time. There are kids being born already on some area farms but we are not looking for any until April - soon enough.

So that's it for this time.  I probably won't post here again for at least 2 or 3 weeks but don't give up - I'll be back!  Be well friends, and stay upright!

Monday, January 2, 2017

Welcome 2017

It’s happened again – another year gone, a new one begun.  Like most years, 2016 had highs and lows, pain and sadness, excitement and happiness.   Did we learn anything?  I think so.  I hope so.

I was thinking of a recap of  farm related events of the past year for this post, but now in the moment of writing it, I’ve changed my mind.  Not that there aren’t memories to cherish or hard lessons to remember about 2016, there certainly are, but today my mind is more into thinking forward, not back.   So, instead of a “year in review”, you are getting some random notes:

It was about time to get the Christmas tree out of the house.  Kurt and Kori took care of that task on Saturday– first undecorating it, and then shoving it out the window - an annual ritual for the two of them.  By the time they were done with this one, there wasn’t much green left on it!

 The pigs are finally gone- off to the butcher to be turned into delicious cuts of meat.  Their last pasture and shelter are right by the driveway and I must say it gives me a little pang to go by it – it’s kind of a lonely place there now, although the wild critters have been visiting to clean up the grain scraps – birds, deer, and even a squirrel.  You might not think a squirrel is noteworthy, but they are really a rare sight around here.  The cats make them feel unwelcome I guess.

There are plenty of deer around post- hunting season.
This small deer wandered around the farmyard yesterday.

Very close to where the lads are wintering, checking out some sunflower stalks
Out in the goat pens, Vinca is drying herself up -  less milk each day and soon we’ll be done for a few months.  Ranger got his scurs trimmed today – those are the deformed horns that he has.  One of them was touching his head and the other one was just getting too long – easy to catch things on, so we shortened them both up a bit.

 Woodworking is an on-going task in the winter.  
Kevin and Rollie unloading wood and stacking it in the shed this afternoon amidst swirling flakes.  I noticed that they were both wearing blaze orange hats - Kevin said that is so they can find each other! 
 Kevin has also been working on cleaning grain.
The fanning mill - an antique to some people.  A useful tool to us.
The result - wheat to grind into delicious flour

So, that’s about it for today I think (ha, not one word about the weather – this doen't count, right?).  I’ll probably post again in a couple of weeks or so.  Until then, be careful  out there, and be well folks. 

Sunday, December 18, 2016


We are having one of those cold snaps that the ice fishing folks love for building ice on the lakes, but the rest of us could do without.  -29 degrees when we got up this morning, shortly after 6:00 (slept in - thank you dogs!) and we waited a while to go out to do chores - then it was -31!  Milking in the pole barn is actually kind of interesting due to the cloud of vapor that rises from the milk pail. My hands don't get cold until I am done since Vinca is so warm.
You can see that Vinca, along with the other goats, has really gotten furry!

The lads have moved out to their winter bachelor pad.

Our indoor/outdoor dogs are indoors quite a bit these days.  When not being generally underfoot, they do a lot of this.

This week they spent their most of the daytime hours out in the heated shop.  We have a kennel built into the corner with straw bedding so they are pretty comfortable and Rollie stops by to let them run out and take care of business during the day when he has time. 

Lilly is showing no signs that she regrets moving into the house.  I wondered what she would think of the Christmas tree...

She otherwise leaves the tree alone.  Hoover is another story - he is not allowed anywhere near it as he seems to think that ornaments are chew toys.

The pigs are still here - we are waiting on the butcher but the weather hasn't been cooperative for him either I guess. 

I'm still making soap weekly but will be taking a break from that for a bit.  Today I made my 53rd batch of the year - wow!  That's a lot of soap.  Last weekend I made charcoal soap for the first time - can't wait to try it but have to wait a few weeks while it cures.

Is that enough farm news for this week?  I'll be back in a couple of weeks with the next update.  Until then, I wish you all good health and a good holiday with your families.  Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and Be Well!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Settling in for the Winter

Greetings Blog Visitors!  I have been posting weekly since last spring, but the time has come to cut down a bit.  Funny how in the winter when I actually have a little more time for this sort of thing, there just isn't that much to tell you about! 

The last post was all about the big storm we had.  The weather since has been a weird roller-coaster.  It got warm, then it rained, and all the snow but a few snowbanks are gone.  Now we have snow again, but only 2-3 inches or so, and at the moment (7:09 PM no matter what the post time says) the thermometer is reading 33 degrees - so it's melting again.  Later on this week highs in the teens are forecast - I'm  not looking forward to that!

I am still keeping busy with my soapmaking and selling, and woodworking has begun.  Rollie, Kevin, and Kurt were out on Saturday to do some buzz sawing.

Saturday evening we opened up our first aged cheese.  This farmhouse cheddar has been tucked away in the wine fridge for about 6 weeks; we just couldn't wait any longer!

I am please to share that it is really, really delicious!

I don't have any critter photos to share this week.  They are doing fine with the exception of my new rooster Rubio, who wasn't with us very long.  Sometimes chickens just mysteriously fail and go into a decline, and that was the way with him.  Fortunately, he made a stop at another farm before he came to me, so I am hoping to get one of his sons here to keep company with the ladies. 

Dogs, cats, goats and pigs are all good - by the next post the pigs will be at the butcher and Kevin will have less chores to do.  I have stopped milking Echo completely now, but will continue with Vinca one time a day for a while yet. 

So that's about it - thanks for stopping by the blog - check back in a couple of weeks. Until then, don't let the holiday season make you crazy!  Be well all.