Shades of Ireland

Monday, April 30, 2012

Stormy Evenings

Last night, we had some pretty dramatic thunderstorms. By morning we had gotten four inches of rain. Looks like we re getting a replay again tonight. So far, the bad stuff is still south of us. Several of the counties on the Oklahoma line are under tornado warning--- meaning that one has been spotted. Right now, we are under a sever thunderstorm warning as well as a tornado watch.

I had a very hard time sleeping last night for a variety of reasons and the storm didn't help. As a result, I was dragging pretty low all day. I even tried to take a nap but could not drop off to sleep.

There was some small hail last night and I am hoping that we dodge the bullet again tonight. Our wheat is looking magnificent and a strong hailstorm could just wipe it all out.

On a good note, the garden is looking great and I am thinking that I will be making strawberry jam by next weekend.

Since I am so tired and I still have kitchen duty to do--- I am going to cut this post short......

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Executive Decisions

This morning, Noelle passed her test. I have not been faithfully milking her. The idea is to dry her off. She is still thin (probably normal for a Jersey but I like for them to carry more condition than this.....) While sitting there between the two big girls watching the milk flow through the tubes into the bucket, I made THE decision. Something about sitting there just induces deep thoughts...... I am pretty dang sure that Holly is bred and carrying a heifer. I like Noelle but I LOVE Holly! So, if I keep a replacement heifer it will be from Queen Holly. Good enough. I officially declare Noelle "dry". She is making very little milk and not enough to stress either one of us. As soon as we finished and hauled their milk bucket to the barn kitchen, I turned both of them loose into the cow pasture---- with the borrowed Angus bull. Holly is pregnant so she is just out there for unlimited grazing and will be waiting at the gate for me at milking time. Noelle is out there for unlimited grazing---- and romance!

I was planning to butcher those last four roosters that are haunting me and causing all kinds of trouble and extra work over at the barn. I decided to procrastinate for one more day. My kitchen needs some clean up and organization before I jump on that. I am going to butcher them and then cook them all in the pressure cooker. After that, I am going freeze and can the meat for future meals....... that is the plan anyway. To do all that, I need better working space and to find enough jars and freezer containers. Right now the counters are covered with cooling jars of crock pot marinara sauce, cheese draining and another batch making. I also bought a few groceries yesterday and somehow they did not all get put away. On top of all that, I delegated last night's kitchen duty and...... let's just say I still have work to do!

It is still morning....... we have gotten all the barn chores done and my milk customer came. I haven't made it out to the garden yet!  

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

No Response

Apaprently the Russians are content to be a silent audience...... oh, well!

I thought this pretty pretty well summed up my day yesterday. Something was out of whack the whole day. This is our future herd sire ( the goat --- not my hubby) and he was determined to stay on the deck. I had no idea how many holes and gaps I had in the fence but I think that we have them all fixed or blocked now. He followed Neil back into the goat lot last night at chores and he hasn't been back to the house in almost 24 hours.

When I got up yesterday to do morning chores, Seth was gone. His bed was empty and I could not believe my good fortune.... maybe he was already doing chores??!!! No such luck. When I got to the barn, I noticed a saddle and a horse was missing along with Seth. They stayed gone until mid afternoon. He had been with the neighbor working cattle and somehow I did not get the memo.

I spent most of my day working in the garden. I have to sit down tonight and update my garden planning sheet before I forget what I planted and where I planted it...... nothing like mystery gardening!

Remember those Alpine strawberry seeds? They are a flop! I feel robbed! Out of ALL those seeds that I planted and have faithfully kept watered, I think there is a grand total of SEVEN very tiny plants that have emerged.
The good news is that tomorrow, I will be picking the first strawberries of the season..... probably 4-6 berries but it is a start. I am closely watching those blueberries,too. I am thinking that I will get to eat a few before Saturday.

I took this picture of the lambs in ICU just before we moved them to outside pens. All of them have something wrong with them--- mostly a bad leg or foot. They have all improved dramatically. Basically, they have a 24 hour milk bar, full feed, hay and water. On top of that, they have a waitress that keeps the buffet well stocked. Now, they have a room with a view. How much better could life get for a gimpy lamb?

Today was blazing hot and I know that it hit the 90 degree mark. Tomorrow is not supposed to be quite that hot at about 85....... Chances of rain are increasing for the rest of the week and I am trying to figure out how to re-arrange my rain barrels. They are too low to the ground for me to get gravity to force the water all the way out to the garden. All this walking and carrying water back and forth is doing wonders for my figure but ..... I want EASY.

I had a doctor's appointment early this morning and got a good report. Blood pressure is down and I have lost a little weight ( emphasis on little.....) I go back in 3 months. Then we made a run into Walmart. That pretty much wipes out three hours of my day and I needed a nap when I got home. Half the day gone!

I had lost all track of my days and Neil told me that tomorrow is first I didn't believe him.... LOL!!

I almost forgot to show you our newest bottle baby. The folks that we raised the last bunch of Boer kids for left me this one. Right now, he is camped in a small pen in the front yard under the shade tree. He is not any brighter than the last group but at least he is very cute..... he also has a hurt foot. That seems to be normal for the strays on this farm.....

Monday, April 23, 2012

Russian Blog Interest???

Ok--- I am very curious. For the last few days, there have been more people from Russia reading this blog than Americans...... What in the world is going on? I would appreciate if some of you would leave a comment or two......

Sunday, April 22, 2012

One More Thing.....

We have gotten an amazing amount of things accomplished today with actually planning much of anything. I love days like this that just seem to flow......

It started out with us telling stories and remembering the morning that Adam was born. I had Adam at home and the older kids can remember what they were doing at the time...... Charlie and Salena were milking goats --- of course! Seth had gone to Sunday school with another family. They brought him home early so that he could meet his new brother. It is very hard to believe that it was eleven years ago!

The boys ( Neil and Seth) handled the barn chores and milking for me this morning while I got milk pasteurized and started a gallon of yogurt.

Then, Salena and I plotted and planned how we were going to get her to Yellowstone Park this summer and back home in the fall. The Internet is a wonderful tool for price checking and research!

Then Seth got most of the cows coaxed up into the lot so that the guys could wean a couple of calves. I let them handle all of the cow working so that I could spend some time in my garden.

Meanwhile, our weekend house guest slept until 10:00 am. She was really tired and it is pretty peaceful and quiet out here in the hinterlands. She slept like a rock and we just let her.

The kids did a little target practice with their guns. That was a new experience for Rachael but she did very well. Then they enjoyed a few rounds of skeet shooting before the girls had to head to school. Both of them had to work this evening so they had to get back before 5:00pm.

Adam and I went to a "plant swap" at a friend's house. We had never done this before but we had a ball and made out like bandits. We each dug up 3-5 plants from our garden and flowerbeds and took them to swap. Some of the ladies were very generous and brought buckets of daylillies, iris and other neat plants. We came home with many more than we took and Adam has promised to help me get them all planted tomorrow.

Neil and I went out and found a spot to plant two pecan trees that I could not resist buying earlier in the week. While we were planting, we talked about his Uncle Howard who continued to plant trees even after he was very old and knew that he would never live to see them produce a thing. We decided that when you plant a tree, you aren't planting it for " just you".......

Spent some more time in "my happy place" garden planting sweet potatoes and talking with Charlie.

It has been a nice Sunday........

Saturday, April 21, 2012


It has been action packed this weekend--- and we still have Sunday to go!

Friday night, the family came to pick up the goat kids that I raised for them--- Thank goodness! They have three young children and stayed for quite while. It was fun to visit and Adam had a blast with their kids. They seemed to enjoy watching me milk Holly. They asked me if I would sell them one of those roosters that are still hanging out on Death Row..... I was delighted to give them one. All that I have left to butcher are 4 monstrously big guys..... I keep turning them out to free range but they all keep coming back. If they were hens, I am sure the owls and hawks would have carried them all off by now.

As soon as this family left, my milk customer came to pick up their weekly gallon of Holly milk. About the time they got out of the driveway good, Salena and her friend, Rachael, drove in.

This morning, Seth and Salena took Racheal for a short horseback ride. She did very well for a total greenhorn.

This afternoon, we had another houseful of children come for an early celebration of Adam's eleventh birthday. My friend, Brandi, and her hubby came with their three kids plus a nephew. They had fun on the trampoline, running races, shooting targets and eating lots of cake..... speaking of cake-- Adam made his own birthday cake and frosted it all by himself.

In between all this, I managed to get a little gardening done. Neil and Charlie even got some of my new rows tilled and ready for seeds.

By the time we got barn chores done as well as a bit of kitchen clean up duty, I am ready for bed.....

Friday, April 20, 2012

Swimming Upstream....

I read this post today and it resonated with me. There are a couple of points that don't fit in my situation but basically it describes me and my life pretty well.

It is not easy and I don't mean to whine but ........ dang! Sometimes, I wish that I could just blend in a bit more. My whole life, I just haven't done things the way that everybody else has or thought that I ought to.  When I was younger, the rejection and ridicule stung quite a bit. It didn't cause me to change whatever it was that I was doing at the time but it did make me a bit quieter about it. Now that I am older and considered wiser ( HA!), I could care less. Honestly, I don't get much face-to-face flack anymore because I intimidate the stuffing out of most people. I am a very nice old gal but I just seem to give off those "don't mess with Mama" vibes.

 While I have been very lonely at times, this way of life was a calling for me. It didn't make me treat people who choose NOT to live this way badly or disrespectfully. I find myself able to accept other people's choices.

Recently, I became aware of a situation. Apparently, there was a family that we barely knew that told wild tales about our family. They didn't just tell a few people, they spread this stuff far and wide. This was years ago and I had heard a few rumblings about it but I did not know the extent of it until very recently. Frankly, I could care less what that family thought of us and after all this time, the end results have proven to be in our favor. What really sting my heart is the people who believed that nonsense. People who knew us much better than the liars and I thought regarded us as friends----- and never said a word to us or in our defense.

Now years later, when most of my kids are grown and turning out as productive, well rounded citizens...... this stuff has surfaced. I guess the best revenge is living well.......after all.

Like it or not, I am exactly what I am....... and frankly, there are enough people that I respect and care about who seem to like me just the way I am....... and that is quite enough.

Sheep-- Again!

I have just about all that I can sanely take from those bottle baby goats. They were Boer and BoerX kids and I swear, I do not believe I have ever handled more mentally challenged livestock before-- other than sheep! These goat kids just can't seem to figure out how to be real goats. It took forever to get them to eat anything solid like hay or grain. All they wanted was MILK and lots of it. Finally, I began to wean them and they started following the rest of the herd and grazing. I have had them for over 10 weeks and they have been escape artists the entire time. On top of all that, they are incredibly noisy and sound as if something is killing them---- when they are happy to see me! I reached my irritation thresh hold earlier this week and called their owner to come get them. He is coming tonight and we are going to throw a celebration!

I still have way too much milk and with these guys leaving, it is going to get worse. My lamb guy/dairyman has given me some of his problem children to raise. The lame, the blind and the halt---- literally! Last night, we picked up two bigger lambs that are weaned but having problems. One is blind and one has a serious leg injury. They will not make it on the big dairy because of the competition with the big groups of lambs. My plan is to feed them out and put them in the freezer. This morning, Seth and I went over and picked up four "dinks" from the nursery.

These poor babies have serious leg injuries and I can give them a little more attention and plenty of milk. If they recover, they can go back home to be milkers on the dairy. If not, we will have plenty of lamb for the freezer!

This has been a week for company on our farm. My friend, Rachel, came down and to spend the night and attend a track meet for her college aged daughter. The meet was at a nearby town so I took the day off and went with her. It was really nice to sit and enjoy the warm weather and just get off the farm for a bit.

This is an excellent picture of Emily throwing the javelin. Of course, I didn't take it..... but it is still good! LOL!

While I am posting pictures, I'll go ahead and post one of Elsa's pups. Prepare for cuteness....

Looks very much like the pictures of the last litter, doesn't it? The blue merle/spotted puppy has blue eyes. I am seriously considering keeping her.

Today, we are doing our usual chores plus trying to tidy up the house and farm a bit. Salena is bringing a friend home from school and we don't want to scare the poor girl too badly or embarrass Sis too much. It is going to be an interesting weekend. I am not sure what to feed the guest..... she is a vegetarian! If nothing else, we will keep the bread makers busy and feed her lots of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches!!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Fruit On The Way

I showed the voluptuous strawberry beds earlier so let me show you what else is happening in the fruit orchard.

The four grapevines down the hill have survived! I have high hopes that they just might begin to reach the top of the gazebo this year. If you look very closely just left of center in this picture, there is what passes for grape flowers! I am not counting on getting very many but we should be able to snack on a handful this year.

Blueberries!! Two plants have quite an impressive number on them. If I can keep the boys from accidentally whacking them down with the weed eater, I just might get enough for us to have on a few bowls of cereal.

And finally---- peaches! Apparently the last frost did not do as much damage as I feared it would. The plum tree lost all of it's little blossoms and fruit but two peach trees were tough enough to set a few.

The tame blackberry thicket has not bloomed yet but I have turned the goats in on it to help thin it down. It is soooooo wild that most of the fruit is unreachable. The goats really haven't improved that situation..... I am just going to have to steel myself to mowing part of it down. Maybe in my spare time I could transplant some of it........ LOL!!

I have had a pretty full day already. I zipped over and milked the cows a bit early to catch milk for a customer and to leave early with Charlie. He has a job interview coming up and needed to buy new clothes. I went along for fashion advice--- for what it was worth. It was fun but..... I am dragging. I bought a new book from Kobo last night and downloaded it to my eReader. Big mistake! I stayed up too late reading it and now I am going to have to take a nap!

I just sent the boys over to check the goats. Scatter brain that I am, I turned them out in to the big pasture and forgot about them! That pasture is not fenced to keep them in---- the fence is just a suggestion---- but there is so much brush and weeds that they can graze with out getting into too much trouble....... for a little while anyway! It has been about an hour. I am hoping that they are not on their way down the highway towards town.......

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Strawberries Galore

Some of my projects just don't work out as I planned at all. This one has turned out wonderfully-- for a nice change. Seth and I terraced this hillside just off the back deck in the first few weeks we were here. I bought and bummed old railroad ties from the farm store and my neighbors. I decided herbs and strawberries. I stuck in a few iris' and daylillies in the corners.

The strawberries have just thrived. They put out runners and draped themselves over the railroad ties and have spread to all three tiers. They are absolutely loaded with blooms and young berries. We are anticipating making strawberry jam!

Something in Red

For most of my life, my favorite color has been red. Most of my clothing through out the years has sported the color red. I have been noticing over the last few years that I seem to have mellowed to pink....... Several shirts and shorts are not red but PINK. Someone recently commented on the amount of pink in my wardrobe..... I hadn't noticed! LOL!

Not so in my kitchen. Salena ( bless her) came home this weekend and almost immediately went ot work in my kitchen disaster area. I have been overworked and moving in slow motion while trying to get accustomed to this new medicine. After she got it tamed down a bit, I moved in to get the cheese finished up.

 I have at least a half dozen stainless steel pots but I always seem to use this lovely enameled pot that Seth got me for Christmas. When we would walk throught the store and pass this display, I would lovingly rub my hand over one of them..... but I felt that it was too expensive to buy since I had all those other cheese making pots. Seth said he just couldn't stand it....... what a guy! I wish that I could remember just where I put the lid that goes with it!!

I have a stainless steel colander, too. But isn't this one just beautiful???? I know, I know...... I am slightly nuts for thinking that a colander is beautiful---- but it is!!

When I spied these bright red dish pans at Dollar General, I HAD to have them. I used them almost exclusively in cheesemaking but I am pretty sure that I will also use them this summer when I am canning stuff.

The kids have gotten me red measuring cups and spoons, dishcloths and our dinner plates are red, too. They are calling it my "red phase"!

On a different note, we are heading over to the barn about 2 hours early this evening to do our chores. The weather man is warning that we may be "in the red" tonight. They are forecasting extremely bad storms and tornadoes. I am really hoping that they are very wrong but we are preparing as best as we can anyway. Our neighbor is 90 years old and she lives alone. If the alarms go off, we are heading to her house. She has an indoor cellar but is unable to lift and open the door. We don't have a cellar--- yet.

Hoping and praying that everyone in tornado alley stays safe and sound tonight!!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Better Day!

I haven't been doing very well for a couple of weeks now. I suddenly have developed problems with my blood pressure and it has been high enough to make me feel unwell and even scare me a bit...... well, honestly, it has scared me a lot.  I have had other issues as well and it seems that I may have abruptly jumped off into the change of life. I am not going in to the gory details but after a few trips to see my local physicians assistant, adding a couple of new medications and then changing them around, I think that I may be on the mend. Basically, I have to get serious about losing this last 45 pounds and I have to just let some things in my life go..... I worry about things that I can't change or fix and that has to stop.  

Today has been a better day. I have spent a big portion of it in my garden. I had started some lettuce in flats just to see if the seed was still viable. I transplanted all of that, planted some new lettuce seed and even got carried away and planted four long rows of green beans. I have my whole garden plotted out on graph paper and almost immediately ignored the plan and did something else! I did have sense enough to make a copy of the plan and when I made the changes, I replotted it on the sheet....... it is sprinkling rain right now and I just remembered that I left the sheet out in the garden...... Luckily, the copy is still lying on the printer!

Now for the VERY BEST NEWS! Exactly three weeks ago, I bred Holly. Guess what!!!????!!! She is NOT back in heat today and shows no indication of coming in. I am cautiously celebrating...... there are plenty of things that could happen over the next few weeks but as of right now---- I think that she is bred. I used a purebred Jersey bull but the best part is that it was what is known as "sexed semen". There is a better than 90% chance that my beloved Holly will have a heifer calf! 

With a little luck, I will be able to get Noelle bred, too. She is not cycling regularly. She has slicked off and her coat is a lovely golden tan color but she is still having trouble gaining weight. I have decided to stop milking her and dry her off. I don't want to do this abruptly so we are not bringing her in to eat in the evenings. I normally only milk her in the mornings and now I just don't milk her out completely. This will cause her to stop producing as much milk and I hope to have her dry by the first of May. If this works, then we will not be taking her to the county fair in July. That is not all bad. We already have plenty to do there and it is usually just miserably hot. One less animal/project to worry about will be a blessing. 

Seth is working on repairing the horse fence and we are hoping to get those renegades back out in the pasture tomorrow. They have grazed off every single blade of grass in the barn lot and it looks more like a golf course than a pasture. I have finally gotten the barn kitchen clean enough to work safely in. My plans for this weekend are to build my working tables and finish washing it down so that I can begin painting. I may be a bit ambitious on this project but it has taken waaay too long already. I need that work space to handle all of this milk. My house kitchen is just not able to accommodate all my projects!

I'll close with this picture of part of my herd heading out to graze in the morning after milking. I love how eager they are to get to the wooded area.......

And stop at the pond for a drink as I am heading back to the house......

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

What do I Want to be When I Grow up?

I need to making up my mind here in the near future about just what my role/goal in life is. I have to figure out how to organise my time better or let go of some of this work.

Am I going to be a major gardener/food preserver/preparer?

Just how much of a rancher-ette am I going to be? Fence fixing, brush clearing, and cattle working seriously cut into my Suzie Homemaker schedule. Frankly, I am a much better Rancher-ette than Suzie Homemaker....

How about Milk Maid as my main occupation? It takes a bit over 3 hours a day to get everybody milked and all the equipment cleaned up. On top of that, I really need to be doing something with this milk ..... Right now, I am feeding all kinds of babies, selling a gallon or two a week, force feeding my kids milk and cereal and fertilizing the pastures with it.

I keep telling myself that this chaos is just part of getting things on this new farm set up the way we want it...... I spent several months our first year here being sick. I am going to cut myself a little slack for that.
This is just part of the craziness that I impose on myself because I want everything done NOW......

Still, it is time to re-evaluate the situation and decide what is realistic and what is just too much for this time in my life.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Another Monday.....

It is a beautiful Monday but...... we are recovering from a big weekend. The boys spent most of it at "Easter-Voo". This is a pre-1840 mountain man rendezvous re-enactment that has happened every Easter for the past 27 years. We haven't made it for the last few years but since Seth is back to shooting black powder and Adam has taken it up, this year we decided to go. The boys camped on Saturday night in a cold canvass wall tent but Mama came home to her bed. Besides, I had to do the milking chores early the next morning. The boys had a blast and shot well.

We had an unfortunate casualty on Saturday. Last week, the horses got out of their summer pasture because the calves frolicked through the electric fence. I was busy and so was Seth. I told him just to not worry about it and we would keep an eye on them and fix the fence when we could....... BIG mistake. When Neil and I went out to check cows on Saturday morning, we found the newest heifer calf dead. The horses had just stomped her to death....... It is not unusual for horses that are "bred to work cows" to be very aggressive in a pasture with cattle. We were heartbroken and the horses are back up around the barn until we can get the fence fixed again. This is the first calf that we have lost in many years but it was an expensive lesson about procrastination.

Today, I just couldn't stand it any longer and decided to plant the tomatoes.

First, I went over to the chicken pen to get a bucket of black gold to put in the bottom of hole. I learned a little trick last year from a fellow on Homesteading Today. He breaks and egg in to the hole. The shell provides a little calcium and the egg seems to act as a fertilizer. All I know is that my plants last year did not seem to go through a transplant shock and they did wonderfully. Heaven knows that we have the eggs to spare!

I got this flat of nine planted and mulched. You can't see them but they are in there! I put most of the plant in the hole and only leave the top few leaves out. I still have a bunch more to put out but these were the biggest and hardest to keep transporting back and forth from the house and garage.

Adam wants to go in to the library this afternoon. By the time we get back, it will be time for Seth to head in to work and before you know it--- time for evening chores. Days just seem to slide past.....

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Just Some Farm Stuff

Look at my tomatoes.... I am pretty darn proud of them! They are not quite as green as the ones for sale at Walmart but considering how many times I have forgotten them outside, dropped them on the way in or out of the house, they are looking spectacular.....

The little plants are some late Roma tomatoes and Bell Peppers. I had just about given up on those peppers sprouting and was thinking of planting something else in there and suddenly, it must have gotten warm enough to trigger germination.

Adam and I were browsing around the feed store last weekend and found these strawberry seeds. I had never, ever seen strawberry SEEDS. I have already planted another 50 plants this year and have a really well established strawberry bed but..... it is a known fact that you can never have too many strawberries, so I bought a pack. These little things have a bright orange seed coating to help them germinate -- and help you to see them when you are planting them. I decided to start them in starter pots just to see how many actually do sprout. The package indicates that there are 150 seeds in it. I am having a hard time finding pots to start them in and I am beginning to think there actually may be 150! If this little experiment works, I am going to have to make another hugelkulter bed for them. Maybe even two....

Yesterday, I was watching this cow. I call her Mouse (actually Mousey Lightfoot because she kicked the trailer door out of my grasp as I was unloading her when we bought her). She stayed off to herself away from the rest of the herd for most of the day and I was pretty sure that we would have a new calf this morning. She did a very good job all by herself and has a really nice heifer to add to the herd. The calf is actually grayer than Mouse so I am not sure what to call her.....

We have a full weekend coming up. Salena will haul in from college sometime later tonight. The "little boys" are pretty excited about going to Easter-Voo. Every year Mike and Belinda Adams ( aka Blue Hawk and Morning Star) host a black powder muzzle loader re-enactment. It has been several years since we have gone and this will be the first one that Adam is old enough to remember. At the last one, we all took turns pushing him in his stroller! Luckily, this one is just about 20 miles from home so we will still be able to participate and get home to do chores. They are planning to camp on Saturday night.

Some time during all this, I still have the regular chores to do as well as start working on our taxes...... <sigh> no fun at all! <sigh>


Quick Elsa Update

Seth managed to wiggle himself under the back deck and retrieve Elsa's pups. He moved her and the mongrel brood into the garden shed. We should really just rename that building "the maternity ward". It has had more goat kids, puppies and kittens in it than any garden or yard related stuff....

She was very concerned about her pups but completely trusted Seth not to hurt them and seems content to be in the shed with food, milk and clean bedding.

This is what happens when Australian and German Shepherds become romantically involved.......

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

More babies on the Farm

Yesterday was goat sale day! My neighbor and I "car pooled" to sale since we were both hauling off buck kids. I took 10 bucklings and a cull doe. Now, in addition to the cow and a half, I am milking somewhere in the neighborhood of 8-9 goats. Needed someplace for the extra milk to go so we bought 2 Jersey bull calves. Isn't this one just beautiful??? Too pretty to be a boy, but..... he is and is destined to be hamburger in the freezer.

We are still giving Holly's calf, Mater, a bottle as well as the 7 goat kids on the lambar. Now we add these two Jersey's to the bottle list.

Salena's cow, Wilma, had a heifer calf on April 1st. I am watching our Charolais cow right now and expect a calf by tomorrow--- or trouble....

Guess what else we discovered in the barn???

One of the barn cats had hidden a litter of kittens. This is their first sampling of milk.

I don't have pictures yet but about a week ago, I broke down and bought 10 chicks from the feed store. They are supposed to be pullets so no more butchering for a while. I still have 5 of those monster Speckled Sussex roosters that are hanging around, eating their heads off....

Today, we got another "gift". Despite trying our best to keep Elsa and Hugh penned separately, Elsa had at least 7 pups waaaaaay up under the deck. I swear that she did not look big enough to have two pups and I can't believe she even had pups at all! She is only 10 months old and should not have even come into season yet..... Hugh has gone to live at another home and I do not miss him AT ALL.   

Monday, April 2, 2012


I have been learning all kinds of things thanks to and YouTube. I don't think that I am spelling "Hugelkulture" correctly but I am fascinated by the idea anyway. Basically, it is a type of raised bed gardening. The difference is that first you have to dig the bed out and fill that with organic matter--- preferably logs, limbs, and other woody vegetation that is well on its way to rotting.

If there is one thing that we have plenty of on this farm, it is downed limbs ---thanks to the ever present Kansas wind. Fortunately for us, there was a large pile of limbs just over the garden fence. It was here when we bought the place so I know it is at least 2 years old. It was just too close to the woods to safely burn it in last years drought. I really like the idea of not wasting this organic matter by burning it.

I believe that the bed is actually supposed to be much deeper than this but --again-- we are in Kansas in the foothills of the Ozarks. We also have plenty of rocks! Seth tilled a wide strip and then we shoveled all of the loose dirt out on to the edge. Then he took the tiller down into the trench and tilled again. That is as good as it gets for us! The idea ( I believe) is for this organic matter to provide a nitrogen "sink" and to conserve water. I am a bit skeptical about the nitrogen part of this theory. I have found that in the beginning of the decaying process, woody things actually suck alot of nitrogen from the soil and that is why fresh wood chips and sawdust are questionable things to use for mulch. So, Seth and I trekked over to the barn and raided the hen house. I have been providing these girls all kinds of stuff to compost for me over the winter. They did an excellent job and I had buckets and tubs of loose, easily shoveled black gold to haul back over to the trench full of limbs........ I figured it wouldn't hurt to give this a jump start on nitrogen.

  We put a good dusting of this hen house compost over the whole bed. I had Seth walk over the limbs and try to pack them down a bit and then began to replace the dirt.

It really does look pretty spectacular. I am going to let this settle a bit for the rest of the day and then plant asparagus in it. I am a bit sore and sweaty from my morning exertions but it feels so good to be "farming".