Saturday, March 29, 2008

Everyday I learn something new


Since I started blogging the times that I post are always off by hours and I finally figured out that I could change the setting over to Eastern time... hello.

On Wednesday we finally received our chicks, all 2oo of them as you can see in the videos. We have only lost 2, 1 was DOA (dead on arrival...sorry can't help but use my ER terminology) and one passed today. That is not too bad considering they were in the mail for 2 days. Usually they are only in the mail one day but someone messed up and they were shipped to a post-office up north. With the birds we received a handout and it said "do not feed fruit to layers, since it can cause them to stop laying and it may take six weeks for them to start again." That was news to me! In the summer we often throw out scraps of fruits and veggies to the birds. I guess I will be a little more selective because I want these chicks to lay at their potential this summer.

I had to put the picture in of our first cucumber, it is about 3 inches long, yeah we can grow veggies inside! John had a GREAT idea, he said instead of putting up a greenhouse we should just add on a sun room to the side of the house. We will get more use of it rather than a detached building and it will be easier to heat. I am afraid for financial reasons it will have to wait but it is a good plan for the future. We need to do a lot of work on the sheds & barn and we need a tractor and I must have a pool this summer, priorities.

2 days until April and we are still freezing. :(

Ok I am off to finish reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. Great book, must read for anyone who is interested in becoming self-sufficient and/or eating locally. Lots of great recipes I look forward to using! The author talks about drying vegetables, something I never thought of before and we all have dehydrators. Her husband talks a lot about making homemade breads with his bread maker which is another dusted over item most of us have stashed somewheres. My goal for tomorrow is to dig it out of the barn (still packed from our move 1+yrs ago) and see what kind of mess I can make. Check out their web site http://www.animalvegetablemiracle.com/
video video

Friday, March 28, 2008

Goat update

Annabelle & Oreo (the goats) are getting big! They have been a great addition to the farm. They are still in the mud room but do go outside on field trips. The kids walk them on a leash and they take them out under the maple trees where there is some grass to play on. They are drinking Sav-a-Kid 4 times a day (6oz) plus they nibble a little on the hay and they have started to eat grain. We have had some issues with diarrhea but it seems to be getting better after some Pepto and watering down their feedings a bit. Because of their sensitive digestive systems I think I would reconsider bottle feeding again. They are not lacking attention and if they feel they are they let us know They are well kept including daily face & butt washings. Today John & I gave them a half a bath (the back half of course) and they really didn't seem to mind. Annabelle & Oreo come in to the house a few times a day for their feedings and fortunately have not made too many messes. But they are mischievous little buggers sneaking in cupboards and even attempting to get into the fridge. Callie (naughty dog) does not know what to think of them, she just keeps her distance. I think she will have a blast with them this summer running about in the pasture. Maggie (our almost 15 year old black lab) is totally unimpressed. They jump on her when she is laying down and make attempts to jump over her when she is standing. She lets out a bark and they back off for a few seconds then they are right back at her. It is amazing how high they jump. Annabelle has successfully jumped over the side of their pen a couple of times, it is 2 1/2 feet high.
We received our chicks finally on Wednesday Morning, John picked them up shortly after 3 am at the post office. I will post some pics and a video of them sometime this weekend.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Mother Nature


These pictures were taken by John on one of our ice fishing trips to.. They were waiting to see what we would leave behind.

Today was a beautiful Spring day but not quite warm enough to melt the snow...what's up with that? I cannot believe we will be going into April with a few feet of snow still on the ground. I should not complain they have 7-9 feet up North so our chances of seeing grass by May is a little more likely.
I did manage to go for a 2 mile jog down the snowmobile trail this morning. There is nothing like getting your cardio workout done outside rather than on that monotonous elliptical in the gym. I didn't even turn on my MP3 player. My goal is to do some type of exercise EVERY day off! Ok, now that I have announced I am committed.
I feel very fortunate to have this land to work out on. I never have to worry about a crazed dog chasing me.....just the coyotes checking me out on the back 40 thinking it's been a long winter. I do not have to worry about cars splashing me or running me over...just have to avoid all the mud holes that are inevitable after this Springs thaw. I came home many days last year with sopping wet sneaks.

We should be getting our chicks tomorrow so I will have a video posted by the weekend, Im working the next couple days.


I will end this post with a few quotes.


The richness I achieve comes from Nature, the source of my inspiration. ~ Claude Monet


Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you. ~Frank Lloyd Wright


There is a way that nature speaks, that land speaks. Most of the time we are simply not patient enough, quiet enough, to pay attention to the story. ~Linda Hogan

Sunday, March 23, 2008

HAPPY EASTER

We had a great weekend with friends and family. The Easter Bunny was well prepared this year. It has taken me years to come to the conclusion that early planning allows me to have a greater appreciation for the holidays. On Saturday night as I was tucking Luke in that dreaded question was asked. "Is the Easter Bunny real?" I said, what do you think?" he said "Well...I know Santa is real because I saw his sleigh when I was looking out the window one night so I think he is real." We said no more.
Later that night as I was in a deep sleep and thought I was dreaming I was awakened with Luke tapping on my chest, it was 3 am and he was ready to get up, I sent him off to bed but as expected he was up at 5. I will say he was patient and waited for us all to get up. By 7 am we were all geared up and out side for a Easter Egg Hunt. This was the second year in the snow and our second year here on the farm. Later Easter morning we went to my brothers for lunch, ham dinner my favorite! I made a daffodil cake for a first, it was very good. The recipe comes from recipe.com
DAFFODIL CAKE
6 egg whites
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
3/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. flour
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. lemon flavoring
Beat egg whites until foamy. Add cream of tartar and continue beating until eggs hold a point. Add sugar gradually and continue beating. Fold in flour which has been sifted with the salt. Add lemon flavoring. Pour into large ungreased tube pan.
YELLOW PART:
6 egg yolks
3/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. boiling water
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
Beat yolks until light and fluffy. Add sugar gradually and continue beating. Add flavoring, then alternate boiling water with the flour which has been sifted with the salt and baking powder. Mix smooth and place over white layer. Bake in moderate oven (350 degrees) for 45-55 minutes.
One issue, I think it is missing the lemon flavor and flour on the "yellow part" so I used the same amounts as called for on the "white part"
LEMON GLAZE FOR DAFFODIL CAKE
1 c. confectioners' sugar
1/2 tsp. grated lemon peel
1 tsp. lemon juice
About 2 tbsp. milk
1 drop yellow food color
Mix all ingredients until smooth. Spread on Daffodil Cake.
For the frosting I made a double batch because to me that is the best part!














Friday night Melissa, Jeff, Cam, and Abby visited. We had lasagna made with a few farm ingredients, batam eggs, zucchini, and deer meat (ok not quite a farm animal) It was nice to get together as always!

Annabelle is hoping there is some milk inside of that finger.


















To the left is my Big Brother Steve, Joni, Meagan, & Jillian

Thursday, March 20, 2008

First day of Spring...and it is still snowing!!



It is really hard to believe that today is the day that marks the change of seasons. You'd never know unless you were looking at the calendar. In January it is exciting to look out the window as the snowflakes are descending and the snow banks are rising but in March it is down right depressing! I guess Spring will come when it is ready. The Easter Bunny will just have to utilize her winter boots.
This morning I took the goats to be debudded. That was an experience I do not want to remember. It is done so that the goat will not grow horns which are potentially dangerous if you have dogs or children around, we have both so I opted to have this done. First they prep the area by shaving, then they burn it with some round instrument, then the round hard area is removed and the instrument is reapplied to the underlying structure which is the beginnings of a horn. I watched Anna Belle get done and I could not bare to watch, hear, or smell Oreo being dehorned. Anna Belle and I headed for the Subaru and as I comforted her we could still hear his cry. I took them home right after and fed them and they napped, a couple hours later they were jumping around the mud room as if nothing ever happened. Now I work in an ER and inflict pain and watch people suffering daily, you would think I could have handled goats in distress but I could not! I took pictures but they aren't pretty so I decided not to post.

On a lighter note the kids had an early release day so we decided to decorate some eggs. We first experimented with natural dyes getting the idea's from the latest Hobby Farm magazine. We used turmeric to color the eggs orange and I had some cranberries (that were no longer good for human consumption) to make the eggs red and we used spinach in attempt to have green eggs. The first two ingredients worked as planned as you can see below but the spinach did not work so we turned those into egg salad.


















Then we decided to do a little painting as you see Ms. Leah deep into her work. She loves to paint!

In the next week or two we really need to get some plants started. We were a little excited with spring fever to say the least and we started some tomato & cucumber plants. We may be harvesting before they can be planted outdoors, check out all the flowers on the cukes. Our goal is to someday grow vegetables year round in our green house heated by an outdoor furnace.

Moving on... I want to share with you all a cool website I came across this evening. Some friends and I have been e-mailing meaningful discussions initiated by Amy. The topic was based on what we are all doing with the rising prices of fuel, how are we getting by and what are doing to save. It was a great discussion and we learned a lot from one another, networking is a great thing! Anyway, you must all check out this site. The part that you HAVE to look at is the video, it truly is inspirational!


http://www.ecospace.cc/food/100-foot-diet-0108.htm

On a final note I must share with you what our little naughty dog, Callie just did. She loves butter and we often find wrappers on the couch as John is notorious for leaving it on the counter. John just headed out the door to work and the minute the door slammed she came over to the counter (not thinking that momma is at the computer and has a great view of the kitchen) and she put her two front paws up scanning for that stick of butter. The look on her face was priceless when she heard my voice, you had to be here! :)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Our Flock

Rhode Island Reds & Barred Rocks @ 1 mo. old, should be laying by June


Chukar Partridge
Bantam Hens...average 5 sm eggs a day

Bam Bam & Pebbles

Quail


I'd say John likes his birds. I actually initiated it all. This past summer the kids & I went to a local animal park and on a whim we decided to buy the ducks to put in our pond, they were babies and very cute. They grow fast. They stayed in our pond until the ice started taking over. John had a heck of a time catching them. Luke and him ended up using a canoe to get to the ducks because they wanted no part of that net. They were pretty to watch and we enjoyed going out to feed them. John caught them doing the naughty today (..so he thinks) so we are hoping to incubate some eggs. Anyway, we also bought 6 chicks at the animal kingdom and they ALL turned out to be roosters so John gave them to a friend and he turned them into stew. The bantam hens were given to us as chicks when the kids and I went to visit the goat farm last fall. John can take credit for the rest of the flock. He has had a change in plans for his next arrival of chicks, he is now getting 200 Rhode Island Reds and Barred Rocks (100 of ea), he will sell most of them I am hoping. I say he is starting to have a bit of a chick addiction!

I started some bean sprouts two days ago. Placed them in a canning jar covered with cheesecloth.
I have never done this before, if we like I will see if they sell them at the natural food store. I am sure I will be able to get a lot more beans for my buck, these I bought at Agway...can't walk out of that store without seeds. John has that issue too, he has quite a stash going.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

New kids video

video

New kids





My favorite time of day, quiet time at last! The kids are snoozing and the house is picked up, well the downstairs is at least and I get to play on my PC....yeah! I am not much for TV so I usually read, search the net and now blogging, my new obsession. I have always been a schemer, now I can do it out loud and with pictures which I love to take and share of course. Today was quite eventful. We received a call yesterday afternoon from Melonie , the owner of Tiny Angels Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goats farm in Benton to let us know that our goats were taking the bottle good and they could be picked up earlier than Thursday if we wanted them. That was a no brainer, the kids and I have been so excited we made it happen. I think John was a little less then impressed as we were initially suppose to get this babes over the summer and then the date was suddenly moved up. Last night he jokingly (at least I took it as a joke) mentioned that I did not quite have his permission for getting these goats. It was pretty funny, I promptly reminded him of my age. In previous years I have been rather notorious for bring home animals without permission, even to my moms house. Since we have been at the farm (1yr) I have only brought home 2 cats, 2 ducks, 6 chickens, and now the goats without prior authorization. Today he mentioned that he was starting his own chore lists, saving for a gun. Well, I will give him credit and I'm sure he'll have that gun earned in no time cause the man does plenty of chores! The kids do chores and they raised a little more than half of the money to buy them. They have been saving since Fall when they put together a little roadside stand selling cornstalks, pumpkins, and squash. After that short term money maker they started doing chores on a regular basis. We use a dry erase board and Luke & Leah earn a quarter per chore, fifty cents for cleaning their rooms, and one dollar for folding and putting away there clothes all week. They usually wait until Sunday and play catch up folding a weeks worth at once. Regardless it gets done and less I have to fold! They saved up $200 for Anna Belle (Leah's goat-black one) and Oreo (Luke's goat-not hard to figure out what he looks like), their Grampy (my dad) contributed $100 as did John and I and they are currently in the red with me by $50 which is unusual because I almost always owe them some cash. We also bought all the supplies which were not too cheap. As you can see they are cute as hell. Leah's has quite a bleat on her, how ironic. They have adjusted well and I am sure we will all have a blast with them. Tonight I just pray they sleep through the night but I guess it does not matter because if they are not up Callie will be doing her midnight whine to go out or the wood stove will be needing to be stuffed...it has been a sleep deprived winter.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

This & That


As you can see the kids have been busy this winter. They went out ice fishing more times this year than ever before thanks to their Dad. To the right here is the fish chowder John made from those critters last night for our family and his parents. It was quite a hit! The recipe came from "Cooking Wild" by Ken Allen who lives in Belgrade. It is a one of a kind cook book that John's mother bought him. Ken Allen is a veteran outdoors man and gourmet cook. The book is based on the wild foods available to us in New England and is sorted out by months. Many of the recipes have a quaint tale that goes along. It includes a variety of unique recipes including bear chops, fricasseed squirrel, and sauteed cattails.

The count down goes on for the goats...5 more days. We are trying to come up with some names. On Tuesday we are getting 100 more chicks (Red Stars). John has ordered over 200 but they seem to be in big demand, so far and we are down to 36, 10 Barred Rocks and the rest are Rhode Island Reds , 12 of them we are boarding. The rest we will keep along some of the new chicks. Our plan is to have our own fresh egg supply and sell some at the farm stand we plan to have this summer.
I am looking forward to loosing this snow and the arrival of the yellow daffodils around the borders of our land. I am also anxious to get the Bam Bam & Pebbles (the ducks) out of the barn and into the pond.
The garden will be bigger then ever before. We plan to preserve and fill our root cellar in addition to selling a little. We were a little excitable and already have 4 tomato plants that are a foot tall and some cucumbers that have several flowers started. I also have started some peppers and a few flowers and asparagus from seed, we should be able to harvest that in about 4 years. I am trying to talk John into building me a greenhouse, we will see.
Enough for now, off to bring the kids to swim lessons.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Cutting wood



This was our first year of burning wood at the farm, and for that matter ever. We underestimated what we need to get us through this winter. We have made several trips via snowmobile to get us by. With the endless rise is oil prices I would much rather get out in the fresh air, get in a little work out and keep the cash in my pocket. I hear gas will be up to $4/gallon this Spring. That is scary!
On a lighter note we are getting our baby goats next week. 2 Nigerian Milking Goats, 1 buck (whethered) and a baby doe. We will be bottle feeding them, they will be a little more than a week old. I think I am just excited as the kids are.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Need to start somewhere's...

I am so excited to finally start a blog of about the adventures of our farm life. This is something I have wanted to do for some time. We purchased a 100 acre farm a little over a year ago. We are starting to accumulate some animals....mostly birds but I see some goats in our near future. Our goal is to become more self-sufficient growing many of the foods we consume.