Thursday, August 7, 2014

Farming Around

We are still harvesting plenty of tomatoes here at the farm!  Have you ever wondered why farmers have rabbits?  Not only for their meat, but for their droppings…we ammended our garden soil this year with a couple trailor fulls of rabbit droppings and this is the result!…large amounts of tomatoes! And everything else is producing just as well!
Ellie is just smitten with her kitten!  Our cats have no lack of love and attention, that's for sure!
There is always a need for more laying hens when you own a farm that sells its eggs.  One big step we have taken towards being a more sustainable, self-sufficient farm is incubating our hen's eggs.  It has enabled us to step away from the need of a hatchery.  We currently have 11 chickens growing that we hatched from our incubator!  A few are visibly roosters, but they are needed as well to continue our ability to hatch eggs :)
We have 3 more piggies growing in our woods!  We have a couple different breeds this time, one being the heritage breed Tamworth. They originiated in England, and are a lean pig producing leaner pork!  We have researched and have learned that they do take longer to grow, but they truly forrage and have no need for grain supplements which we are excited about.  Again, another step towards being sustainable and self-sufficient!  We are also investing in a mamma Tamworth that is pregnant with her 2nd litter.  We visited the farm she lives on, and she is being raised the same way we raise ours…out in the woods forraging.  Can't wait to make her part of the family! 
Our turkeys are plumping up.  Their have grown in their beautiful feathers, and the males have already started puffing themselves up to show off around the females!  Can't wait to hear the first "gobble, gobble"!

Jason purchased a tractor for our farm!!  We have several projects it will be used for, but our oldest son, Nathan, has already put it to use a few times.  We move the hens around our property so they have new places to scratch and we usually have to push/pull these "hens on wheels" to their new place…not anymore!  Great job Nate!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

How to Rob Your Bees of Their Honey

I must begin with a disappointment.  We lost one of our hives to moths…
"It happens to everyone," says our beekeeper mentor friend Mr. Dover, a local honey-selling, bee-keeping extraordinaire. He has over 70 hives on his property and he lost 30 this year to moths.  "Once they get in, there's no getting them out."  
We didn't even know we had moths until a few days ago when we went to rob the honey.  Last I checked, the hive was great…I spotted the queen, and our supers were FULL of honey!!  This was the one hive of our three that had 2 supers on it, both loaded with sweet honey.  Our other 2 hives only have one super. This was our strong hive as well!  I always was able to spot the queen, the bees were always plentiful, and there was always good larve production happening and the supers were well organized with honey production happening on all 9 racks.  Here are some pictures of what those nasty moths did to 18 months of hard work from this colony.

Well, at least our hens had a heyday eating all those moths and their larve!!
We were blessed to be able to rob the honey from one of our other hives!  This was quite the first time experience, as everything has been with farming!  We opened the hive and smoked the bees to calm them down.  I removed the   entire super box and took it with me to the barn.  There were still some bees on it, but as I took each rack out I gave it a good bang on the side of the barn…that got rid of the bees! We recieved council from our friend, Mr. Dover, and he taught us how to build our own honey strainer for less than $30!  No need to buy expensive extractors!  Very simple method:
2 five gallon buckets
 -one with a spicket put on the bottom and the top lid inner part cut out
 -one with 1/8th inch holes drilled all over the bottom
Method: put the bucket with all the holes drilled on the bottom on top of the other bucket and let it rest in the top that was cut out.  Into the top bucket cut out the honey from the supers.  Ben has taken an interest in the bees so he helped me with this.  These perfectly cut pieces of wax and honey we saved to put in our jars.  See all the white caps?  That's how you know the honey is ready to be taken!

Next, break all the caps.  Again, no need for expensive equipment…just a cheap pair of gloves and some good old fashioned squeezing!
 Put the top on the bucket and let it sit for 2-3 days to strain out of the wax.  See the comb we kept in the jars?  Yum!
 After a few days, fill your jars!  We robbed 9 frames from one hive and ended up with 2 gallons!!  Very thankful for every last drop of it!  The wax remaining in the top bucket is going to be placed in a homemade glasstop box where the sun will melt it and all the impurities will be strained out. 
This is considered raw organic honey because we did not heat it to purify it.  We didn't even filter it!  The more wax bits and pollen the better!…more health benefits with all that!    A bit of wisdom we have learned…honey cannot be labeled non-GMO because there is no way to guarantee the bees have not taken from GMO seeds.  Bees have been recorded to travel up to 90 miles to get pollen!  Their normal range to travel is 3-5 miles, but they will do whatever is necessary to survive!  If you are in need of supplies to make this contraption visit

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Kornertone Eggs at Stomping Grounds Coffee House in Greer & a new buck named Charlie!

This is exciting…
Our eggs from our free ranging hens are in a storefront!!  This is Stomping Grounds Coffee House; a quaint coffee shop located in Greer, SC.  We were approached by JP and Chad, co-owners of Suburban ShareCrop in Greenville, back in March about offering our eggs in this coffee shop.  JP is a barista there, and Lisa, the owner of Stomping Grounds, gave him the green light when he presented her the concept of a mini market in the coffee shop to help make local produce more available to the public.  The idea has been a hit!  Our goat milk soaps are there as well!!  Next time you're in the Greer area, stop in Stomping Grounds for a fresh cup o' joe and some local produce and eggs!!
Ben is our nightly egg collector…
He gathers, counts, washes, dries, weighs, grades, packages, dates and labels all our eggs!  Whew!!  That's quite a job for a 10 year old, but Ben does it with excellence.  He takes his work around here very seriously!  I took him along for our first delivery to Stomping Grounds so he could present the eggs to the owner.  I also wanted him to be the one to experience selling them so he could see the fruit of all his labor.  It was awesome, and he did great.  I am once again so thankful for all the learning experiences farming is providing our family.  Also, we are investing in 25 more laying hens so we can provide other storefronts with our farm fresh eggs!  And for anyone interested, we will always have them available at the Woodruff Farmer's Market every Thursday 3-7pm right here in Woodruff!
This is Jerry, our neighbor and friend.  He is a goat lover!  And I must say, he is very kindhearted…he is also the one who gave us our first buck, Pongo.  His beautiful doe gave birth to twins back in March.  He generously offered us the buckling!  
One thing we have learned when purchasing goats…always look at the momma's milk sack and teats!  Well looky here!….all I can say is, I would be thrilled to milk an animal like this!!  She is loaded and this is her first freshening!  I'm sure that all sounds silly to most of you reading this, but for someone who milks goats every day, and relies on their milk for several things, this is super exciting!!  Seeing this doe and knowing this is the milkline of the buck we've just been given is fantastic!
Isn't he handsome?!?  Jerry had named him Charlie so we are keeping that name.  He is an Alpine crossed with a Nubian, which are both great breeds for milk volume, and Nubians are my personal favorite!  He will make some pretty babies!!
Here he is being greeted by our girls before he's even in the pen.  We are keeping Charlie in with the does for now because our 2 bucks are much older and bigger, and they have horns.  Males like to dominate each other and we don't want to risk him getting hurt so we will wait a while.
Now we have 2 bucks from excellent milklines, our other being a Saanen/Nubian mix whose mamma gives a gallon a day!  Wow!  Now to find some does from superb milklines….

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Farm Happenings...

Our goat herd's kidding season turned out pretty well!  First of all, we didn't even know if we had any goats pregnant.  We had let the bucks in only once, but it turned out to be enough! We had 3 goats that gave birth…2 of our Alpines, and our baby from last year, Jesse!  Here she is, her first time kidding, to a buck who we named Joseph.  This was the first time we had to step in and help with the birth itself…I'm very grateful we were there and noticed what was going on.   The kids watched it all!
 So sweet!
 Joseph is a favorite!
There were 4 kids born, but we sold one Alpine buckling.  Joseph, as cute as he is, will be sold as well.  We will keep the 2 girls to breed and eventually milk.  Tamar is on the right, and Miriam in the middle.
 One of our bee colonies had 3 swarms within a week! The first swarm landed low in our grapevine, and we were able to capture it.  We simply put a box under it, sprayed the swarm with sugar water, then gave the vine a really good shake that made the bees fall into the box.
 The following day after we had assembled a new brood box for the swarm we opened the box, put it upside down on top of the brooder and let them move themselves.  It was a success!  

 We have a barred rock laying hen who has gone broody…she is sitting on 18 eggs!!  Hopefully they will hatch and our flock will grow!
 Back in March we started some seeds inside.  Everything has been transplanted into the ground now.  This year we added rabbit droppings to the soil to boost plant growth.
 Peas already grasping the trellis handmade by Megan and her friends, Taylor and Olivia!  They put it together and planted the entire garden for us on a service day for school!…thanks girls!  Now please come help me weed it all!
 Cait's onions!
 Ben's corn!
 Gracyn's tomatoes!
 We have also planted…
spaghetti squash
green beans

Meet Cotton, one of 2 great pyranese livestock herding dogs we have now!  Our other one is her daughter, Candy.  We've lost several laying hens to foxes and coyotes…these dogs will put an end to that!!
 We currently have 2 batches of pastured broilers growing…first batch will be processed this month, and the next in June.  We will continue to process once a month, each month, thru October.    To place an order contact us through email or Facebook or give us a call!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Meet Moses & Miriam!!

Our Alpine, Mary, gave birth on Sunday, February 16th, to two kids!  One billy and one doe!  Moses, the billy, looks just like mama, and Miriam, the doe, looks just like papa who happens to be Jack, our first billy born on our farm the same day of last year!!  Isn't that neat?!

We have been in need of a container for hay for our goats so Nate and Christian got busy with some free pallets!  They simpy attached 2 pallets on opposite sides to a base pallet with L brackets, then nailed on 4 pieces of a disassembled pallet to the other parallel sides.  Nate added a top with 2 hinges to keep the goats out of their hay becuase they love to lay in it!!
 Nate then sawed off every other pallet board to allow bigger head space for the goats.

There you have it!  A little planning and a few tools, and lots of free pallets equal a great addition to our farmstead :)  Great job boys!!
More animals also means a need for more shelters…yet another way to use free pallets!  Ben and dad have started the shelter, and I will be sure to post pictures of the finished product soon!