Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Baling hay, and hoping for no rain

Before we moved here, the field had been farmer in either soybeans, or corn, for many years. We knew we didn't want to continue with that for a few reasons, but mainly because we like to do things as chemical free as possible, and aren't big fans of GMO's. Growing a big old crop of Genetically modified corn and beans didn't fit our life goals. We have 2 goats, and goats eat hay, so it made sense to go with hay. 
Normally, people spray roundup before planting. We didn't, and we will probably regret that decision. I'm hoping we don't. 
We planted alfalfa on half the field, and a pasture mix on the other half. 
When you're a hay farmer, you watch the weather closer than you ever have in your life, I think. We need a 4 day window of no rain in order to cut, flip, and bale. In July, you'd think that would be no problem. But of course, there have been rain threats nearly every day. Well, we finally got our chance, so we called up our neighbor and asked him to cut it. They said no rain until Wednesday, so we felt safe. 
You can never feel safe in regards to weather and hay. 
Tuesday was baling day, so I went to pick up the kids from my moms and was planning on heading back in the evening to help bale. But all of a sudden, at 1pm, thunder started and I freaked out. I watched the map, called all the local friends, and made sure it hadn't hit my house yet because I was an hour and a half away. We got so lucky. The neighbor rushed home from work to bale, and hubby rushed home to start stacking. I got the kids in the van as fast as I could and safely drove home. 😉
When I got here, I saw they were almost done baling and had begun collecting. Such a beautiful sight. 
The rain threatened, close. We hustled as fast as we could, stacked it as high as we could, got a tarp on, and hauled it to another neighbors barn. At 8pm we were done, the hay was safe, and we were tired. But we now have over 100 bales of hay, and that's a good feeling when you have livestock. 

Monday, June 27, 2016

Goat update

In March, we got our first goats.  2 Lamancha/Nubians, and I was so excited!  Once I started milking, my excitement waned.  It was not good, I posted about our milking woes here, here, and here.  Oh, and here.  And here.  Needless to say, it wasn't easy for me and I had plenty of challenges.

So, how are we doing now that it has been almost 3 months?  I don't want to jinx myself, but it has been better!  Here is Miss Aurora this morning after milking.  She loves her feeding time.  See her standing nicely?  It doesn't always happen this way, but the majority of the time, she is being a good girl.  She still tries to kick her back legs or dance when she is out of feed, or needs to poop...

I give her 1 pound of Dumor pelleted goat feed, and mix in about a half cup of Alfalfa pellets, 1/4 cup whole oats, and 1/4 cup sunflower seeds.  It is making her coat so shiny and she looks great.  I haven't weighed her in a long time, but I need to.  

I swear she looks like she's smiling.  :)  The pic is a little fuzzy because she was moving her head back to her bowl.  


After milking, I release her back to the pasture and let out her baby, Millie.  Millie is huge already!  I need to weigh her as well.  She is still nursing, so I only have to milk in the morning.  They crushed my dog crate that I was using to keep them separated, so I haven't been separating them.  Even so, I've been getting just about a quart a day, sometimes 3/4.  We really can't use more than that at this point.  My friend is going to teach me to make cheese and soap, I can't wait!  She is the goat queen and runs Solstice Sun Farm and keeps all Nubians.  We might be using one of her boys to breed the ladies in the fall, or she may practice with Artificial Insemination.  

Millie is a bit of a stinker.  Her horns, even though they were disbudded 3 times, have come back as scurs.  Thankfully they don't look bad, but she does use them to her advantage.  She also eats holes in the tarp, sticks her head out, tries to headbutt me, and is generally naughty.  I'm hoping this passes when she gets older.  She also loves a good scratch and some occasional bites of grain.  

I won't lie, I tried hard to sell them.  I listed them all over Facebook, because I just couldn't deal with the kicking and small orrifices.  I guess it just wasn't to be, because every interest fell through.  I've accepted that they are staying, and have gotten into a routine.  If she was still kicking as bad as she was, I would reduce the price and try harder to sell, but for now we are doing good.  

Friday, June 24, 2016

So many roosters!

In February, a friend hatched Barred Rock eggs for me.  Out of 24 eggs, 12 hatched.  And out of those 12, 9 were cockerels.  I purchased 3 Easter Egger pullets from a friend, 1 died, and 1 ended up being a cockerel!  Apparently this is the year of the rooster for us.  All said and done, we ended up with 10 cockerels and 4 pullets.  Insanity!

It has now been 17 weeks, and they are crowing.  It is adorable and soothing - maybe some of ya'll wouldn't agree, but I love the crow of a rooster.  (Ask me again in a few months.  ha!)  However, we only have 5 hens - 1 of which is currently broody.  That means, these poor ladies are getting quite annoyed at all the attention, and it is time for the extra roosters to go.

Aren't they handsome?  

I hate doing it, because so many of them grew up to be absolutely gorgeous, they all have a nice crow as well.  But I can't keep 10 roosters, and like I said, we have a broody hen sitting on 11 eggs right now.  *Please* let us have a better pullet ratio!  

A friend is processing her extra chickens Saturday and invited me to bring mine.  I am so nervous!  I have never processed a chicken before.  When we did the cornish cross, we took them to a local Amish family.  I guess it's time to "farm-girl up".  Ugh.  I'll let you know how it goes.  The temporary drop in the feed bill will be nice, and I'll be adding to my freezer supply - so that's good.  My hens won't complain about the break, I'm sure.  

Thursday, June 23, 2016

This is why you don't go barefoot into the chicken yard...

I love being barefoot.  It's not always possible around here with all the glass in our field, but the yard is mostly safe.  We recently put the chickens in the yard so they could have shade while Lucy broods. Sometimes I forget, and go barefoot into the chicken yard, and this happens.

They were quite interested in my aqua toes and, let me tell you, they can peck hard!

Strawberry Jam

Is there anything that says summer like strawberries?  I look forward to them every year, but this was our first year making our own, homemade jam.  It was easier than I thought, and more delicious than any store bought jam I've tasted.  The recipe came from one of my favorite blogs, The Pioneer Woman.  It isn't the healthiest recipe (7 cups of sugar!) but it sure was delicious.

I just love canning.  There is something so satisfying about preserving your own food.
 Cooking the strawberries, all supplies prepped and ready.  

Into the water bath for 15 minutes.

Isn't that lovely?  I heard the "pop" of them sealing almost immediately after removing them from the bath.  *swoon*  Of course, our water is crazy hard, so I wiped much of it off, but you can still see where the glass looks a bit frosty.  

Spread on freshly baked sourdough bread.  Mmmmmm.  Look how red!  Only 4 ingredients and zero dye!  Makes you wonder what the heck store strawberry jam and jelly is made of, because this sure doesn't need any dye.  

Do you have a favorite jam recipe?  I'd love to try a healthier version next time.  That may not be until next year though, with strawberry season being pretty much over.  

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

How quickly would my friends turn on me, if I were the mom of that little boy at the Cincinnati Zoo?

This isn't a normal post for this blog, but I felt compelled to write it.

Many people are sickened about the events that took place recently at the Cincinnati Zoo.  I am, too.  The whole situation was awful, and had a horrible ending.  As bad as those events were, what I am most sickened about is what happened afterwards.  

Somehow, it still amazes me how people are so quick to place blame, even when we weren’t there.  How quickly a good mom can be perceived as a negligent one who should have her children taken away from her, and be forced to pay for the damage done.  There are actually people out there who believe this mother should have the same fate as the gorilla.  Death.  

All of the comments I have read and heard causes a question to linger in my mind.  What if I were this mom?  How quickly would my friends and perfect strangers turn me into an unfit mother?  How many would beg for my persecution, for me to be held accountable, for me to lose my children.  What if I were receiving hate mail while trying to be with my child who was injured in the traumatic event.  

I know what would happen.  I would be crushed.  I would cry.  I would hide in my house (or hospital), lock the doors, disable the internet and television.  I would feel so, so guilty and wonder - are they right?  

In schools, we are fighting against bullying and suicide.  Is this not a form of bullying?  Saying or doing mean things to another person is bullying.  All of you people blaming her, condemning her.  YOU ARE BULLIES.  You were not there, armchair jury.  With your hateful words and superior parenting skills.  You can watch all the videos you want, read all the commentary you choose, watch the tv and read the articles.  But you are not that mom, and you are not the one dealing with the repercussions of this.  

What if, instead of the hate mail and comments, we lifted this mom and her family up?  What if we said “Hey, I am so sorry that happened.  How can I help you and your family get through this?”  What if we sent hugs and love to her instead of begging for someone to bring her to center stage so she can be stoned or crucified.  

We don’t know what kind of a mother this woman is.  We don’t know what kind of a child the little boy is.  And you know what? Neither of those things matter.  People make mistakes and accidents happen.  Each person sending hateful comments has made plenty of their own.  But, theirs didn’t get publicized.  Lucky them.  

I hope this never happens again.  The trauma the boy, his family, the spectators, the zoo, the gorilla and his family have had to endure is awful.  Let’s make it a little less awful by offering love and grace to all involved and letting go of blame and hate.  

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

JTL Farm Mobile Chicken Coop

When we first built our chicken coop, we lived in a subdivision and designed it to fit perfectly under our deck.  It was actually a pretty awesome setup!  We moved to the country in September and took it with us, and it is now working wonderfully as a mobile chicken coop to pasture our chickens!  Here is a video tour.