Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Feeding Our Food

The morning went something like this:

Step 1. Make bottles.

Step 2. Distribute bottles.

Step 3. Give grain to goat.

Step 4. Lock goat in.

Step 5. Pick up bottles.

Step 6. Get hay.

Step 7. Pick up bottles.

Step 8. Deliver hay; lock goat back up.

Step 9. Pick up bottles.

Step 10. Hold bottles.

Step 11. Collect bottles; unlock goat.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

So You Want to Be a Farmer

What does it take to be a “real” farmer? To have a “real” farm?

A huge garden? Check.

Chickens? Check.

Bees? Check.

Goats? Check.

Sheep? Check.*

An orchard? Check.

And cows.

According to one daughter, who is away serving an 18 month mission for our church, we waited to get the “cool animals” until after she left. We bought two calves.

Cows, are dumb.

Case in point.

We've named them T-bone and Stew, but I still refer to them as Thing 1, and Thing 2 because we got them on different days and that's just how I keep track. Anyway, this morning, I went to give them their bottles, and Thing 2 is the only one around. The goat, who is sharing his enclosure with them for now, is blissfully ignorant of my comings and goings, and Thing 2 promptly latches on to his bottle and ignores me as well. Thing 1 is still missing.

Their enclosure isn't that big, where can he be? I find him up in the top corner, under some brambles, patiently trying to find the exit; he's looking at me expectantly, like I know where it is. I duck under the blackberry brambles, thinking it will be easy to bring him to the wide opening that he obviously went in through.

Not so much. Like I said, cows are dumb.

I find a piece of wood that I saw in another area; I might be able to beat the brambles back with, but it’s useless; so, I go get a rake and our long handled pruning shears—this is supposed to be a farm, we have random tools.

By this time, Thing 2 is finished with his bottle, and since I am the bearer of his food, he thinks if he sticks close to me, very close to me, he might get to have more. The goat who was blissfully browsing, has decided there is something exciting going on, and he wants in on it too; he is also sticking very close to me. So, here I am, cutting brambles and pulling them away one at a time; then, I start to beat them with the end of the shears, because I have a goat and a calf helping me and I just need to get this over with.

Success! Out comes Thing 1 and high tails it to his bottle. All is well.

Thing 2, spies Thing 1 and, seeing nothing better, mistakes his boy parts for something that might just give him that extra little nip of milk that he’s been bugging me for; and Thing 1, lets him because he’s in blissful milkdom of his own.

Like I said, cows are dumb.

*Late edit; I forgot the sheep.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Back in the Saddle Again

Well, figuratively speaking that is.

I've been away. Life has thrown me a few challenges; however, thanks to my Father in Heaven I have come out stronger, with my faith burning brighter than I ever thought possible.

Our little farm, despite the lack of written documentation, has puttered along, and we've had big changes. We bought milk goats; due to arrive in a couple of weeks, they'll be our primary source of dairy. We bought two bottle calves, both of whom will be lovingly referred to as “food storage on the hoof” until such a time as they are no longer hoofing about.

We’re making a journey into “real food” vs. processed, and I’m itching to learn to make cheese and grind my own wheat. Eating fermented foods is on the goal sheet as well; eating being the key word. I think I can ferment them easily enough; gaining the taste for them will be another thing entirely.

We have high hopes for the near and faintly distant future; I hope I can make the ‘Chronicles’ worth your time.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Hard at Work

Dad gave the children the assignment to ready the garden for winter; pull up the black landscape cloth, remove all the tomato cages, collect all the netting  and stakes, and generally get things ready to put the pigs in there to do our plowing for us.
I went to the feed store to get feed and hot wire for said pigs; when I left, things were coming along nicely.
This is what I returned to, and the first photo looks deceiving:

Does this mean I can't leave them alone, trusting the job to get done?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

What We Do For Fun

We love living in the country; however there isn't a whole lot to DO some days, once you have chores done; it's not like we can run over to the bowling alley for a couple of games, so we find, honestly, more rewarding activities...well, more rewarding for ME, I'm not sure Mower Man found it so rewarding; although, it was his idea, and he was smiling.

It's not much, but we do stay entertained.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Tale of Two Banshee's

Have you ever heard a scream that sounds as if someone were being boiled in oil while giving birth and, simultaneously, having every bone in their body extracted through small orifices?

I for one had never experienced this; ditto City Boy, until today that is; today, we bought pigs.

A frightened pig (actually five of them) let out a blood curdling scream that rent the air and caused me to wonder, momentarily, if I might wet myself; fortunately this did not happen.

While these are not technically wild pigs, I’d be surprised if the dictionary doesn’t come up with a special category for this kind of pig:

1. porcine domesticata wildus: domestically reared pig, essentially unhandled; beware of screams emanating from such beast, equaling that of a throng of wild banshees

Good Heaven’s

Once we got them home, they seemed to settle into some sort of cat and mouse game with us, as we tried to finish construction on their shelter before the rain tonight. We puttered and hammered, coming and going; they grunted profusely, and took great care to each cram themselves into the same corner of the pen as his or her litter mate (I’m still not sure of the gender of one of these little porcine darlings); on top of each other as necessary to accomplish this goal.

Lest anyone here be under the delusion that we bought pigs because we like the way they smell, I’ve named them “Ham” and “Bacon”; Ham is the larger, red pig; Bacon smaller and black; these names are designed to evoke thoughts of the table and possibly some particular holiday with gastronomical significance. We are not, I repeat, we are NOT raising pigs for the heck of it, the fun of it, or because we can’t wait to have the aroma of fresh pig dung wafting through our home like a warped air freshener; on the contrary. We are raising pigs to eat. Period.

The fun stuff just happens to be part of the deal; I’ve heard pigs are smart, and that they tend to be the clowns of the barnyard. I’m counting on this, because my children are less than happy about the prospect of helping with their upkeep.

Wait! GOATS are the clowns of the barnyard! Too late now; just please don’t tell City Boy, or those of the Seven Dwarves who still live at home; maybe we’ll have fun yet.

Ham and Bacon

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Potato Day!

It didn't start out to be potato day, but that's how it ended. We harvested almost 100 pounds of potatoes; we also harvested about 20 pounds of onions, roughly 15 pounds of zucchini and one huge cabbage.
I'm extremely excited, as my previous gardening success has been limited to tomatoes and, well tomatoes.
The soil here at our new house is fabulous and we have a plethora of worms working night and day to help us out.
We still have onions in the ground, and we have cabbage, brussel sprouts,  zucchini, peppers and tomatoes coming on. It's been a good garden year.

Who knew my children enjoyed harvesting potatoes?

The Winning Potato

Potatoes Drying

Beware of friends bearing zucchini

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Better Homes and Gardens

This is my adorable grandson:

As adorable as he is, he's only 15 months old, and needs constant supervision and contained spaces.
We live on five and a half acres; while it's fenced completly, it's not what you'd call "contained", especially if you have a rambunctious toddler.

Here is how my husband, said child's loving grandfather "contained" the child:
 We live in the country, we have cattle panels; while we don't have cattle yet, we're ready for them. Cattle panels are great for all kinds of things, like staking peas...and containing toddlers. And yes, those are mini bungee cords holding this to the deck.

I think Better Homes and Garden's will be calling me soon.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

A Cautionary Tale

We have chickens that we bought at our local farm store as chicks; we bought several last spring, and have 8 left. We won't go into the myriad reasons why, after buying 15 chicks, we only have 8 left; we just won't go there right now.
Suffice it to say that we have 8 chickens; one is a rooster; we didn’t want a rooster.

If you’ve never had experience with roosters, count yourself fortunate and move on.

My rooster has earned the name “King Louis”. If that rings a bell with you, it’s probably because the original King Louis met his fate with “Madame la guillotine”, and my king Louis is about to meet the same fate.

One cannot go outside if the chickens have been released from their common yard, lest Louis take the advantage of sneaking up on you and attacking you from behind, at calf height.
The preferred method is for him to fake you out. Yes, whoever said chickens were dumb obviously never kept chickens.
King Louis will go about pecking the ground, keeping a beady red eye on you, but seemingly minding his own chickenie business; you happen to take your eyes off of him, turn your back on him, and WHAM, he’s lunging at your shin or calf, flapping for all he’s worth.
I have developed the habit of keeping Louis in front of me at all times, and, having the Border Collie right next to me--he wants to herd the chickens, so he herds them away from me typically.

Tonight, the rains had died, the clouds had begun to clear, and while it was pre dark-thirty, daylight was waning fast. I went to let the chickens out of their yard, you know, to poke around before dark. I had my camera with me, as I had been taking sunset photos from my deck, so the natural thing for me to do was to try and snap a few photos of my flock of chickens.
King Louis was having a peaceful time, pecking at my feet, me watching him, watch me. It was a pleasant encounter until I started clicking away.

Apparently chickens don’t like the click of a shutter, because they walked away from me; all that is except King Louis; King Louis backed up and ran at me before I knew what was happening, so he got mud on my PJ’s (ok, so now you know, I go out into the yard in my jammies to take pictures and to liberate chickens). Thankfully I was paying enough attention to the beast that while he muddied my jammies, he got a swift kick in the chest. “Off you go beastie” I said; but no, here he comes again! I got a full kick at him this time, being fully prepared with my swaying jammie pants and my faux crocs out in the mud. I hope someone, somewhere got a good laugh.
The beast wasn’t dissuaded at all from attacking my leg and while he attempted one more time, I began to call for the absentee dog; for all his trouble, King Louis got another swift kick about the time I look up to see stupid dog sitting on the deck WATCHING me kick the beastly bird.
“COME HERE you!” I call, and dog dutifully comes to my aid; King Louis is banished from my presence.
“Finally” I call to the dog as I make haste to the deck, knowing if I take my eyes off the fearsome fowl I will regret it and so would he.

The moral of the story is don’t get a rooster; if you happen to get a rooster from the feed store, I hear they make a fine stew. I’ll get back to you on that.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Welcome to Morningside

Welcome to my little corner of the country. I hope here to chronicle the life on our five and a half acres of heaven.

I've wanted a "farm" since I was about 12. My parents divorced, and I went to live with my grandparents on 40 acres of Oregon mountainside; outside of a little tiny "town" called "Mountaindale".

I loved "the farm", and after I married and began having children, I knew that I needed to be in the country again. This need wasn't just a physical need, it was a spiritual need; the need to have space and privacy notwithstanding, I needed to be an active participant in an agrarian lifestyle.

After a couple of false starts through the 1990's, we finally have a piece of property that has all the elements I felt were needed to really, finally, have a farm.

So far, our little farm has 8 chickens, including one bossy rooster; two sheep, three dogs,  four cats and one beehive*. We had a bummer lamb that we bottle fed, cuddled, diapered and babied until she was big enough to join the big boys in the pasture; the coyotes got her this last week, which was quite a blow; the realities of farm life can be difficult to say the least.

My goals are to raise a milk cow, with her calf being our yearly beef; to raise our own pork, to grow most if not all of our own vegetables and to become as self reliant as possible. I also know that these are lofty goals, and won't come about without much trial and error.

My hope with this blog is to journal our ups and downs; our adventures and misadventures as we make this journey; I invite you to come along.

*Late edit; I left out the bees. Pfffllllttt