Saturday, November 16, 2013

Farm Happenings

We have added to our goat herd…actually I should say we have replaced a buck.  In the summer we were blessed to receive 7 female purebred Alpines.  Alpines are a larger goat, and the 3 bucks we have are a smaller breed.  The one we have replaced was a purebred dwarf Nigerian and the other two are our babies, born in February, that have dwarf Nigerian in them.  The females have been in heat for the past month…Pongo (the one now gone) even broke through the fencing to get to them so he could "do his duty"…ahem.  Well, after allowing all 3 bucks a chance to do their thing with the girls in heat we quickly realized after observing (yes, this is something you have to do when you own animals :) ) that none of them could mount the girls properly because the girls are all too big!  Our neighbor, Mr. Jerry, who is a goat owner himself, suggested we get an Alpine buck to mate all the gals.  He actually personally knows the owner of Split Creek Goat Farm.  So after a phone call, we were on our way to pick up this handsome guy!!
 He wasted no time in becoming familiar with his new gals!
He's handsome, isn't he?!  We will put the females in with him when we notice they are in heat.  We are going to try and spread the mating out so we have a good supply of milk too.  The addition of baby bucks to sell will be a good supply of income to our farm since we now have purebred females and a pure buck.  Of course we will need to purchase another Alpine buck to mate any females that come from him.
Graycie and Ellie's sunflowers have gone to seed!  We have left them on the stems to dry, and now that they are wilting we are going to do a couple different things with them.
We cut all the heads off.  We're going to keep several to continue to dry them and save the seed for next year.  This year we only planted a handful in a box, but we have decided to plant them along the entire fenceline next year…it will be beautiful!!  Can't wait!
We are going to feed some to the hens as well!  Off Ellie goes!
We don't let anyting go to waste here!  We pulled the stalks up and are giving them all to the goats!
 They loved it!  I bet the stalks tasted sweet like the seeds!

This was actually really fun!…we rubbed the sunflower heads and let the seeds fall out everywhere.  The hens were appreciative, as you can see!
I didn't even notice Ellie dipping hers in the waterer until I posted this picture…ha!!
A bit time consuming, but a fun learning experience :)

Big brother Ben telling Ellie how to do it…she did her best ;)

Now that the kids have shared a treat with the hens it's time to collect eggs!  Seeing so many hens in the pictures you would think we are getting a lot of eggs every day, but all the reddish hens, our cinnamon queens, are still considered pullets.  They are not mature enough to lay eggs yet.  We should start getting eggs from them in February.  We have 35 laying hens total right now so when they do start giving eggs we will be getting quite a few!!  And they will be for sale :)
We checked our 2 bee hives today.  One colony has loaded up with honey…15 frames were full!  And it tastes sooo good!  The weaker colony only had 7 frames of honey stored.  We will be feeding them both over the winter with sugar water.  Everything we have read has said to do so.  Neither hive had a queen though!  No brood!  Not sure how we lost both queens AGAIN, but both colonies successfully replaced their leader last time, I'm sure they can do it again.  We will be seeking advice on what to do about this dilema since it's winter and it could possibly take a greater toll on the colonies not having a queen to be laying brood.  Here you can see all the honey capped off, stored for winter.

So thankful for all we have here on our farmstead, and we LOVE sharing all we are up to with everyone :)

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Fridays (Saturday) on the Farm

The chicks are here!!  100 more broilers have arrived...they will be ready for you some time in January.  You will be able to reserve your chickens, and we will have our discounts as well...all that coming soon!

The piggies are here too!!!  We have been anticipating this for awhile!!  We went with an American Yorshire-Duroc cross.  We're not too conerned about the breed really...raising them right is what we're after here on our farmstead!  The big one is 12 weeks old, then we have 2 sisters that are 10 weeks old, and a little wee one that is 8 weeks old.
We will keep one to breed with a friend's hog, and the other 3 will be butchered sometime in May-June.  Can't wait for a freezer full of bacon and sausages!!  Keep your eye out for our pre-order on pork.

Pigs being pigs...rooting!!  They are in a holding pen for now for protection, but once they are big enough to fend for themselves we will move them around our acreage monthly to allow them to freely root and graze like pigs are created to do.  This will be done using the Salatin model...with a simple line of electric fencing about 12 inches or so off the ground to keep predators out and pigs in.  Understand, yes, a coyote or fox could jump the line of electric fence if it really wanted to get to the pigs, but the pigs will be large enough nothing will mess with them!
Caitlin decided the eggmobile needed a facelift!! (it used to be white) I LOVE it red!  And I love even more seeing Cait take the initiative to fix something up without being asked to!  I'm sure the laying hens appreciate it as well :)
And we've had our first injury to one of our goats...our baby Jesse.  Cait noticed a big bloody gash right above her hoof.  So we cleaned it up, gave it a good bandage and put her back in the pen.  We will keep an eye on it for the next few weeks.
Graycie and Ellie planted some sunflowers a few months back....they have been faithfully watering, weeding and composting them.  As you can tell, they are very tall!  And....
....Don't they look beautiful??!!  I was afraid we planted them too late and weren't going to see their beauty, but here they are!  Our honey bees are all over them constantly...we planted them right next to the hives.

Have a beautiful weekend!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Happy Birthday Ellie!!

Happy Birthday to our Ellie Bellie!!  2 years has flown by!  You are such a joy to us all!!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Goats & Market Stand Preparations

Well, it's been a month since we added our Alpine goats to our farmstead....
We have kept our horned goats separate from the Alpines since they don't have any horns.  Goats are like any other creature...when new ones are introduced there is a battle for who will be the dominant leader.  We didn't want anything getting messy since one "leader" has horns and the other doesn't.  They have now been around eachother long enough, and we believe they are used to eachother...even though it's only been through a fence.  (Plus, I want my garden back!!)  Time to make them one, big, happy family!!
You can see here, Mocha, the horned leader, shying away from the Alpine leader (who we still haven't named!)...look at the hair raised on their backs!!  I was sure Mocha would win and be the dominant one, but I was proved wrong!  The Alpine must be older, or I'm guessing since she is a leader of 6 others she knows she is best fit for the position...she didn't back down once and by the end of the day, it was obvious who was in charge!!
I'm just glad they're all getting along and no one has gotten hurt.
We are working diligently on preparing for The Grain Loft Store Anniversary Celebration!!  Very excited for our friends, Pat & Jacque, who run the's already been a year since they opened their doors!!  We have been invited to have a stand at the celebration, selling our pastured chickens and handmade goods.  
 Can't wait to hang these fun signs!  
Sewing like a maniac!  Lots of market totes, burlap buckets, cup cozies and a new item we just came up with...table place settings made from burlap to hold silverware!
All our sewn items are made from materials we are bean burlap sacks, vintage sheets and wool & cotton sweaters!!  Be sure to come visit The Grain Loft's Anniversary Celebration on Saturday, October 19th!!  See you then!! 
 Oh, and we finally designed a logo and had a banner and shirts made.  Thank you MonkeyDeez!!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

First Day of Autumn!

All the boys headed to Virginia last night for a father-son retreat so the girls and I spent the first official day of Autumn yard saling and picking apples!  It was quite overcast, but we still had a good time together.  Hard to believe it's already this time of the year, but so thankful for it!!
Ellie seemed to be the one to capture the camera today....I think it's the curls!!!

Going to make daddy and the boys an apple pie for their return home tomorrow :)  Happy Fall y'all!!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Fridays on the Farm

We have started our fall seeds. The summer garden is done and we've actually got our 3 female goats in the garden space to clear it all out!  We're going to try and grow peas, more beans, spaghetti squash, turnips, spinach, cabbage and a lettuce mix.

Our farm is growing again!  Meet our 7 French Alpine purebred goats...all females!  Aren't they pretty?!  4 of them are over a year old, and 3 are babies.  You can see in this picture who the Alpha is...she wouldn't let any of them near us until she checked everything out...good momma.
They all came from the same homestead...a veterinarian who kept them for milk, but has decided he's too old to carry the workload anymore.  They warmed up to us fairly quickly and are so gentle!  I'm glad they are hornless.
We separated our 3 goats because they have horns, and that could get messy when they're trying to prove who's in charge.  You can see Mocha up on her shelter...she has been there all day, I think, to prove she's in charge.  I hope they can all get along, and eventually we will have them all in one pen.
 Making acquaintances.
More animals, of course, means more labor for us, but we don't mind!  We are SO BLESSED to have all that we have...the work that comes with it is a joy!  Nate was busy building another feeder to put the hay in...he has become quite the carpenter!  Pajamas and an axe...classic Christian!

More time spent milking for Caitlin and me...but that's one of the benefits of having milking goats!  We were going to let the goats get used to their new home and give them a few days before we milked them, but 2 of them looked engorged to me.  They were having a hard time walking because they were so full!  So we decided to at least relieve that for them.  (As a nursing mom 7 times myself I know just how uncomfortable that is!!)
This first goat (we still have to name them all!) didn't even have to be held down.  She was so cooperative...I think she was thankful we were getting all that milk out!
 Cait LOVES living on a farm!
 3 full cups from one goat!!  Got the same from the next we milked, and we still have to milk our Mocha!!  The milk is flowin'!
Our beagle had puppies 3 weeks ago...6 of them.  2 girls and 4 boys and they are all adorable!  I will take better pictures soon!  They will be for sale in October if you're local and want one!