At Last Sunshine

After the past week to ten days of volatile weather, we are experiencing sunshine. Our area has been through weather extremes and now we need days of sun and warmth to drain and dry our soggy land. It appears that all of our plants and fruit trees are surviving. The animals are fine but they are yearning for the sunshine. Oh, to walk out to feed and not have to wade through water and mud to get there.

Still Raining!

Well here we are a week later and it is still raining. We have had the real gamut of weather. Within the last week we have had severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, strong winds, torrential downpours, and now flooding. We are getting record amounts of rain and it is leading to flooding in the region. The predictions for today range from three to eight more inches of rain.
We are fairing pretty well. To this point we have been able to control the flow of water with logs, and earthen dams we have constructed. All of the animals are safe but not especially happy. We will be fine just have to keep up the preventative actions.

Wow! Time flies!

Here we are more than a week since I have posted anything. We had our second week at Farmer’s Market. What a great crowd we had. It so wonderful to see all of our customers again. This is our second season at the market and we are just loving the fellowship with our farmer friends as well as being able to provide a service to our community.
This week we have experienced lots of stormy weather. Our friends and neighbors in adjoining communities have suffered great devastation. Our hearts and prayers go out to all of these families. This will be a trying time for all those affected.

On a lighter note the goats all have a different way of handling the weather. Some of them just slosh through the water, a couple gingerly tip toe to the feed and one refuses to leave her dry home and we have to take food to her.All of the momma goats tuck the babies in a warm dry place before the head out to eat. We have two of the babies that totally listen to momma and stay where they are put, the rest, well, they do like most kids and as soon as mom is out of site, they run outside and pay! It is amazing to see all of the personalities.

Visual Tour of Farm

Today I am sharing some pictures taken on the farm. Hopefully this will give you a mental picture of our farm and the daily happenings

These are two of our beautiful plum trees
Our happpy girls' home
Inside here is where all the magic happens
Girl goats favorite station, food
While the girls are getiing fed in the front, they are getting milked in back.
He is our guard llama, protecting the heard
Our tomatoes in their tropical surroundings
We bake our fresh bread here
Some of our younger set of chicks

Opening Day of Farmer’s Market

Today, April 16, was the first day of the season for our Argenta Farmer’s Market. It is a day we have been looking forward to since January. As fate would have it, we ended up with a free day yesterday to prepare. We bought a new tent, the very best we could find that fit the city code. We made lots of soap and lotion, secured a refrigerator, to meet new state law about selling eggs. Re-potted and spruced up tomato plants. In short everything we could do to ensure a great opening day. Last evening we spoke with a couple fellow farmers, pep talks for the morning. By eight o’clock, all chores done, truck loaded, in the house for a good night’s rest to be our best for the big day.
We woke up on time, got all animals fed, watered and happy before we left. It seemed a bit chilly while we were doing chores, but it was very early, so we chalked it up to the predawn hour. All chores accomplished and we were on the road on time.
Driving at six o’clock a.m. on Saturday, you do not encounter much traffic. However we had one pushy little man behind us. We were trying to go slow, as were carrying fragile tomato plants, but we didn’t have a sign that read that on our car, so how was anyone to know. Anyhow, the pushy little man was on our tail so were wanting to add a little speed, to reach speed limit and help him feel better, not a good idea. The road changed about this time and we were forced to break harder than expected. The cargo in the back slid forward…onto the tomato plants. We pulled over, readjusted and went on. Well about a mile down the road, another problem, had to break hard again, more sliding. It was not looking good for the fragile tomato plants. Again we pulled over, readjusted and again we went on. By the time we arrived, we had ten minutes until the market opened. Not much time to unload and set up. Imagine our surprise when only two of our plants were broken and we had only lost a leaf or two on a couple of the others. All in all not too bad. Now at our market, you cannot act like you don’t know they are ready to open as a big cowbell is rung to signal the opening. So, cowbell rings and we are still setting up. Well it seems other farmers are also having an eventful day. One farmer has locked his keys in vehicle with all of his product. One farmer pulled in with a flat tire on his van and one farmer is fifteen minutes late. Now add to this that chilly weather I mentioned earlier. The temperature has dropped to forty five and we have a fifteen mile an hour north wind. In a word, it is bitter. Will the customers, show in this weather? That remains to be seen. In a few hours we shall know. The early run is quiet. But by about nine the people start coming. As it ends up, we have a super opening day! All farmers are happy. Keys out of vehicle, tire changed, all is well….until we try to start our truck…dead! Happily we have friends and get immediate assistance. Everyone is loaded and on the road by twelve thirty. This is an opening day to reflect upon.

No More Mondays

No more Mondays!This is my new statement. The past two Mondays have been stressful, to say the least. Last Monday was a disaster filled day. This Monday was quite stressful at school. It was one of those days that you wonder what you are doing, and why.

But then I have the drive home, and as I leave the city and ease into the countryside, the stress just melts away. By the time I get home, I am a different person. Each day requires and inspection of all critters to see if they are alive and well. Right now that includes the thirty baby chicks and the just born kids. The very first order of business is to feed my bottle baby. As I am feeding him, I make a visual inspection of the other goats, trying to get a quick head count. Oops, one is missing. Time to take a further look. As I am working my way around the pen, I hear a very faint baa, and lo and behold, a new kid. Okay, I should be on top of this by now but we weren’t sure this particular goat was pregnant. We had checked stats on Sunday night, because we have one that is so immense, we can’t believe she is still walking. It appeared she will be about a month yet, really? So as we go down the list of bred goats we observe that, oh yeah, Oreo may be pregnant and due in the next day or two. I guess Oreo was pregnant and we now have the spitting image of Oreo, or Oreo Part 2. This little one is cleaned, dry, up and feeding, wow!

That took a whole lot longer than expected, so off to baby chicks. Oh no, security breech, we have several chicks that have escaped the cage and are running in the large coop with the others. This can be bad as small as they are. One of my escapees is the one we affectionately call road runner. She has a top knot, long legs,and a wiry body. She is running around the cage and can’t seem to figure out what the deal is. Why are all the others inside and she is on the outside. Easy fix, open the door and she runs in with all her friends, wow scary out there!

Well all babies are happy, and now off to the grown critters. The rest of chores go off without a hitch. By 7:00 we are all finished and heading for the house. Dinner and off to bed.

Spring

Finally a warm and sunny day. We are now seeing the sun and feeling the rays. This past weekend we got our pots planted and our hanging baskets out. It appears that they have doubled everyday in size. Spring amazes me. We can see life emerging everywhere.
In our classroom this year we hatched chicken eggs. It is such a wonder to take a simple chicken egg, put it in an incubator and in just twenty one days see life erupt from the shell. We were able to watch a couple of complete hatchings. Before the chicks even pip the egg you can hear them peeping. Then there is a small peck in the egg, soon it is a small hole. At this point the chick will rest a bit. It can take several hours to have the chick fulling out of the egg. When they get out and are drying, it is just impossible to believe that the baby you are looking at ever fit in the shell.
One of the other parts of spring on the farm I just love, is watching the kids play. We know have two sets of twin kids. They have just gotten to the stage where they are out and having fun. When they run, it is like they are springs. The mommas are never far from the young and each mom has a distinctive call for her young.
Right now the trees are really pushing the leaves. The spring flowers are up and the bees are very busy pollinating everything to include people!
Happy Spring!

Better Day

Bright sunshine, warmer temperatures and a much improved disposition. All of these things make for a better day. Upon arriving home from school, only one chicken out of pen. Not really sure how that happened, must have done the chicken run during all the excitement of the previous day. When I entered the house, no sick dogs. We only had half a dead frog and a mouse tail to greet us. Walking down drive to feed horses, half of dead mouse, but with tail, so must be different from mouse in house. When gathering hay for horses found a complete dead mouse. I surmise that the cats are definitely doing their job. I guess that is not good for the mouse population.
As much as my day was better, my poor husband had a very unpleasant task. He had to disbud the new kids. It is very necessary but it really hurts him to do it. For everybody’s safety he has to remove the little horn buds, so as to prevent the horns from growing. The first baby we had we took out to a large goat farm to have her disbudded. The process goes like this. You put the little kid in a small wooden box with a hole for the head to stick out of. The next step is to shave the area where the horn buds are. Once this is done you have to use a hot iron to remove the bud and coterize the area. The kids cry like crazy and it really plays on your heart. Once it is over, they totally forget about it and forgive you but the process is still difficult. I ache for my husband when he undertakes this task, as it not anything I am able to help with. I am a wimp when it comes to these things.
At the end of the day, the kids are disbudded, all critters in the right place, fed and happy. Wow only 7:30, now we can make dinner.

Really?

It was a blustery rainy day yesterday. They had been talking about the potential for severe weather for days. But, you know the weathermen, they love that, sort of validates their job. On the way to school I had to make an egg delivery, stop at the post office and of course make the morning Starbucks stop. The rain began pelting my windshield as soon as I pulled out. I was praying that I could get my done between raindrops. As I arrived at my first stop to drop the eggs, it let up enough to run in and drop eggs and scoot on back out. Then I headed off to the post office to mail my orders. Getting into post office, no problem, coming out it was raining sheets. Okay, so I made it to car without too much damage. I decided to climb to the back of car, to retrieve umbrella. As I was wrestling my way through the car, I leaned on and broke my cute glasses that matched my outfit. Oh well, $2.99 shot! With umbrella in front of car, off to Starbucks. Pulled in and waves of rain coming across street. Decided to try drive through. Pulled up, got tea, pulled away and car window would not go up, pouring down rain. Not fun.
Fast forward….Day at school done….Rain gone….Arrived home. First thing I see is that there are about thirty chickens running around outside of their enclosure. Door is askew. Upon further inspection I observe that there is an eight foot branch on the top of the chicken run. It has ripped open the top and dislodged the door. All chickens are present and accounted for. I will go in house, drop off school stuff and let dogs out, then handle chickens. I open front door and what greets me is that I have had a sick dog in my living room. There is a terrible mess. Obviously someone had something that did non agree with them. Now We have a dog door, so what the heck? Change of plans, clean floor first, then fix up chickens. The dogs are very upset about the mess and push past me outside. Okay will get them under control and then clean carpet. So I go outside with them as they chase chickens trying to get them corralled and back in. This is like trying to herd unruly kittens. One of the hens make the bad decision to go in the pasture with the horses. Cheyenne thinks this is a soccer ball. Not too good for hen. Soon we have feathers everywhere. New plan, feed horses, first to get them busy elsewhere and then dogs will follow to help. Sure hope chickens will go back to their home. Once horses are fed and settled down, all the chickens are back where they belong. So now, back to the mess in house. Oh my, this is not good at all. Twenty minutes later all done and carpet is good as new.
Now it time to get the regular chores done. Surprisingly my husband arrives home, reinforcements! As a team we can get it all accomplished in record time. Whoo-hoo! After about an hour, the chicken run is fixed, all critters are fed and happy, tomatoes watered, house in order. We can have a calm evening. I guess it is just another day on the farm.

Products From The Farm

One of our soaps
Our tomatoes in greenhouse

When we set up our life on the farm, it was a goal to be able to have products from our farm that we offer to the community. This is becoming a reality. Our first product was the eggs that our hens or “girls” delight us with each day. A farm fresh egg sure beats the commercially gathered ones that you find at your local grocery store. The yolks are brighter, and higher. Our eggs are also very pretty, with colors ranging from alabaster, to sand, to pink, brown, and even green.

We also are producing soap and lotion from our goat’s milk. We have been in  the soap business for about three years. Goat’s milk has about the same ph as your skin, so it works with your skin not against it. Goat’s milk has been used as a beauty aid for centuries. Cleopatra was known to bathe in  goat’s milk, to keep her skin smooth.

Our goat’s milk soap is made with soy, coconut, olive oils, vegetable shortening and lye. Each scent has different  herbs or spices as well as fragrance oils. We have had very good success with our soap line. In fact, we have had so much success and requests that we have now added a lotion line. Our lotion is made with sweet almond,  and avocado oil, shea butter, emulsifying wax, distilled water and goat’s milk. It is thick and creamy, very nourishing and will help to heal dry chapped skin.

We are also making and selling hard cheese. It is wonderful. We love the texture and taste of the different cheeses. All of the cheeses are made with the same ingredients, the difference is in how you warm, wash and press the curds. At this point we are only able to sell from the farm, however we are working on becoming a Grade A diary, so that we can sell from the farmer’s market.

In the spring we grow and sell heirloom vegetable plants which we are selling online, to the community, at a nursery and to friends. This is our third year doing this and this is our best year yet. Our plants are absolutely amazing. We can grow some kick butt tomatoes!

Last spring we put in our orchard and are looking forward to producing fruit products. This will be our next adventure!