Friday, June 28, 2013

Building (New) Fences

A good fence makes good neighbors. Or so the mantra goes.

Beside the obvious It keeps our animals on our property, we hope that the fence will keep all animals (wild and domestic) on their respective sides. Some of the fencing is to keep Wile Coyote and his family on their side, other fencing is to keep our own animals out of areas that are off-limits to their garden-destroying tendencies.

After mapping out the property again and again, trying to figure out what we wanted and where it goes, we landed on a supposedly final plan. Well, at least, final enough to call some fencing contractors to bid the job. Yes, this job we hired out. We contemplated doing it ourselves, but after looking at how much fencing we were talking about and glancing over at our previous attempts at fencing, we decided that if we wanted something that was going to last, we'd need to hire it out.

So the fencing guys came and went, and got the job done faster than we ever could have. ;) If we were to do it, we would have hand-dug the holes for the posts. These guys brought in the heavy machinery. That's what that diabolical looking hunk of metal is. It's their time and back saving machine. It attaches to the back of their lovely green and yellow tractor and just pounds in those posts like it's no one's business. Boom. Done.

If you ever need a quality fencing job done, I highly recommend going with Northfield Fencing Co. :)

Now that all that fencing is in, it's time to get going on the grand plan for the property! :D 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Little Joe

 I don't think I'm ready to write this... but it needs to be said.
Life on the farm is a very far cry from those golden sunsets, a gentle breeze, a nostalgic cock-a-doodle-doo in the morning, a sweet sparrow's song, happy chickens clucking away that you find on Pinterest. When someone says 'farm,' you immediately go to all these pastoral images from a children's book. Yes, those moments exist, and you relish every one of them. But there are days where life feels more like a Jack London story. Where there is life, there death lies also.

Remember our Star Wars day present? I left you thinking the kids' names were Luke and Leia Skywalker. Well, Mom used her veto power and they were redubbed Little Joe and Rita.

You could described Rita as one of those illegal fireworks - she's quite the little fuzzy ball of energy that cannot be contained. She could be the poster child for a healthy goat. Her brother on the other hand... ever since day one he struggled. He almost acted like a preemie. Actually, I think he was. His sister was ready to come into this world, but he needed some more time in the oven (so to speak). Things looked bad enough that we wouldn't let my sisters out in the barn the morning after he was born since we didn't know if he'd survive the night. He had trouble nursing; he couldn't stay on long enough to get any milk. And he was puny. His sister must have been the favored twin since she practically came jumping out. Well, he survived that first night. And he fought for survival for almost two months.

We did everything we could as different issues came up. We used a syringe to get more milk into the little guy. When his mom started putting them on a regimented schedule, we supplemented even more milk. He had trouble with mucous and milk coming out of his nose; we, ahem, cleaned his nose. As he started trying to add in more solid foods into his diet, that would come up his nose too. Do you know how hard it is to get your fat fingers into his tiny nose to get that stuff out? We used essential oils to help with respiratory issues, but he still had baby gunk in there that he couldn't cough out. We did a round of some antibiotics to see if that helped then we turned right around and gave him probiotics to replenish his intestinal flora. You get the point. He finally started gaining some weight and was starting to bounce around with the others. We thought that he had turned a corner.

Tuesday (June 25th), we noticed that he took a turn for the worse during morning chores. He had a flaming fever and just looked pathetic. We knew that it was pneumonia. He was primed for it... So we called the vet to see if we could get in that day, and they had a slot later that evening.  With the way our existing schedule was, I almost had to be the one to take the little guy in, but things shuffled around that I didn't. I was grateful - I'd rather go see a movie with a friend than spend it wringing my hands at the vet's. By the time I got home, Mom and Em had already left, and Jess and Eli were out in the barn welcoming our latest kids. Those baby goats became a much needed distraction in the next hour. I hadn't been home long when we got the call from Mom at the vet - we had to put him down.

What was going on? He had a congenital defect called 'cleft palate.' This has opened up a whole slew of questions and thoughts and second-guessing our whole dairy goat venture. We're still looking and researching what it's all about and how he ended up with such a horrible case of it. His whole life would be spent coughing and sneezing out whatever he just ate, fighting infection after infection.

No one was prepared for that phone call. We thought, We'll just get some antibiotics and IV fluids to get him back on track. Nope.

Looking back - that could have been me instead of Mom at the vet. I would have been the one staring at those papers debating whether or not to put him down. I would have been to one to have to filter the information, and it would have been me trying to console my sister. I wish I had gone instead of poor Emi...

Guess what color our newest buckling is - yeah. Black. Just like Little Joe. I see God's mercy in that.


I wanted to post this the other day.
Here come the excuses...
- I didn't have pictures
- I was whooped
- It had been an emotional roller coaster sort of day

So after enough procrastination, here's the official birth announcement!
Jill had her kids! :D :D :D 
A little black/silver boy and a black and white patched girl. 
They were born on the 25th.
Mom and Emi were at the vet; I was spending quality time with a friend at the movie theater.
It was up to Jessica and Eli who got to play midwife. ;)
As for a birth story... there's not much to tell. We'd been watching Jill for any signs that she might go into labor soon, but she was just being quiet about everything (true to her character I guess). Jessica went out to check on the pregnant goat, and there was already a baby. Jess got to help with the second.
By the time I got home from the movie, I had missed the whole thing by 30 min. Yep. Only half and hour. 

I'll stop gabbing and let you soak in the cuteness. ;)  
She is a very opinionated little girl. ;)

He's got to be the most chillaxed, contented little dude I've met. He's the kind of goat who would love being a pet. 

Monday, June 24, 2013


She's doing it again... Mother Goose has made a nest in a quieter corner of the barn and is sitting on almost a dozen eggs. This makes Daddy Goose a grumpy goose. 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Turkey Trails

Some say that turkeys don't have brains; that they're 'stupid.' I guess you could say that they have a bad case of bird brains. Yes, they're dorky, somewhat resemble certain politicians, make a sounds like 'Derp!' and remind me of dinosaurs. Despite the odds stacked against them, they're smarter than they're given credit for.

It all started with the fencing guys replacing and expanding part of the chicken yard. One corner of the fence is included in part of the pasture that the derp-derps were in. Let's just say that I forgot about the little fence issue that morning while doing the turkey chores, and they were quick to find the lack of a barricade. They couldn't have been happier. They trilled and chirped their way around the house, barn, and yard. The chicken also didn't have an enclosure, so they were relishing their new-found morning freedom as well. Things were rather noisy, as you could imagine.

We thought that the dino-birds would hang around their pasture since they hadn't really had the opportunity to roam. But then, we couldn't find them. It was all hands on deck to find Thanksgiving dinners #1-14. We checked the road heading up to the neighbor's, we looked in the someday vineyard, we scanned the service road and the some-day vineyard. Nothing. Eli was unimpressed with our turkey searching skills, so he headed up the hill to conduct his own. The next thing we hear, "I FOUND THEM!"

Take a guess as to the turkeys' whereabouts. Just take a guess. Yep, they were in their pasture trilling and chirping like nothing happened.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

"Farm Girl Fancy"

Picture from here
Life on a farm equals a life of dirty fingernails, poop on your boots, slobber on your pants, hay in your hair, and a light spray of wet dog on your shirt, with a few flecks of mud on your face if it's been an especially productive day!:) 

Once you head indoors you can replace that mud with dough from kneading bread, strawberry jam instead of wet dog, and flour instead of hay. Phew! What a day!

It's very easy to NOT want to put too much effort into your personal appearance with a farmgirl's daily routine. What's the use?

Well, we owe it to ourselves and to our husbands to keep a little pretty and femininity in the barnyard! Just because our days are not glamorous doesn't mean we have to be as unglamorous as shoveling manure is!

I wrestled with this problem recently. I found myself living in t-shirts, jeans, and muck boots. How was I supposed to be feminine and still collect eggs, clean the pig pen, weed the garden etc. etc. etc. in a skirt or a dress? Sounds like a whole lot-a trouble to get all gussied up just to visit the animals.

Skirts and dresses has never been my thing to begin with, but I really felt the Lord leading me to strive to be more feminine in my dress. 

I gathered inspiration to help me be a more feminine farm girl from around the web.

If your a farm girl desiring to be more feminine in your barnyard and in the field here is some farm girl fancy inspiration............




From The Fancy Farm Girl, petticoats and aprons!

This post is quoted directly from The Chick 'n Coop:

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Dinner's Ready!

 Batch #1 of our 2013 meat chicken adventure has been stashed away in the freezer. 42 Cornish roasters were loaded up into the pick-up before it got too hot on the road. A couple hours later, the nicely packaged poultry products were about as snug as they could get in the deep freeze. ;) That's the nice thing about taking the birds to the butcher instead of doing it ourselves - we take them in and get dinner back. No 'processing' on our end of things (which would take us all day, maybe even all weekend...). We just raise them.

Redneck enough?
And I would have gotten this all written up this morning, but after we got the birds sent off to meet their destiny, those of us at home did the rest of the chores and piled up a bunch of big branches from some trees we felled... I came in, ate breakfast, took a shower, and then collapsed on the couch for a good long nap. Thus is life with limping adrenals...

Friday, June 14, 2013

Trimming Troubles

The lawn was about a foot tall. That was several weeks ago.
So we tried to fire up the old(er) mower, but it wouldn't even sputter to life. It's dead, Jim.

Since no one in the clan is overly handy with machinery repair, we heaved it into the back of the pickup and headed down the hill. After they did some basic tune-ups, we brought it home and gave it a test run. After 1 1/2 laps around the yard, it started to lose power. :face palm:

So we loaded it up into the truck again. While waiting for repairs to be made, we made do with using the line trimmer and brush mower to hack the lawn to a tolerable height. 

What was the matter with it this time? The transmission. I guess you learn something new every day - riding lawn mowers have transmissions. And they're not cheap. After deliberating between getting a new mower and getting our old one fixed, we banked on a new tranny.

Well, it came back home this afternoon, and we took it for a test spin around the yard. It purred and happily trimmed the lawn to as even as it could with all the mole hills and tunnels. Hopefully it keeps trimming for a long time. ;)

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Bye-bye, Ben

We sold our first goat! 
Ben(edict) headed off this afternoon to be with his new family! They were super excited about getting into goats and introducing their kids to the animal world. I know what those kids are in for. :P
Funny thing though, Mazy (his mama) and his sister didn't seem very distressed at the fact that he suddenly 'went missing'

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Overalls vs. Diploma?

I was skimming a money/stocks sort of magazine the other day before it was sent out to the barn to be used as chick brooder bedding, and something caught my eye. There was an article about what jobs will be available in the near future, blah blah blah... but the only word that stood out to me in the entire thing was 'farmer.' Now why would a publication such as this be talking about farmers? I was intrigued. Then I got a bee in my bonnet. In talking about getting a fancy degree so you can sit at a desk job in front of a computer for the rest of your career, they lumped farmers next to burger flippers. They then proceeded to say how farmers and burger flippers didn't have any sort of education, and those jobs didn't require it.

Pshaw! Where's my soap box?

It's this very sort of mentality that has gotten us into the pickle that we're in! Our health as a nation has declined. Our food is nowhere near as nutritious as it used to be. We have this massive disconnect when it comes to how our food (if you can call it that) reaches our plates. Our farmers are aging, and the young folks who want to farm are discouraged from their rural dreams and sent to the city to make their living. The wisdom of tending the land is being lost. And we wonder why we're so sick.

Farmers are not some dumb hicks out there tossing feed out to the chickens every now and then, chewing on a piece of grass, and maybe considering mucking out the barn before someone reports them to the sheriff for the bad conditions that the animals are in.

Every farmer that I've met is a genius in a very special way. Each farmer has his or her niche that they specialize in. Whenever I meet someone who's in the business, I just have to pick their brain for tidbits of wisdom to help tackle whatever is going on. Farmers have countless hats to wear: midwife, botanist, biologist, mechanic, geneticist, veterinarian, secretary, CEO, manager, glorified gardener, food preserver, seed saver, construction worker, machinery technician, etc, etc, etc. You must be aware of what's around you at all times, be it while on autopilot during regular chores, while working with heavy equipment, or surveying your piece of land. Some even have the energy to branch out in other creative outlets (e.g. writing, music, art) that share their small rural world with everyone else. This is all just the tip of the iceberg. To be a farmer you've got to have the creativity, know-how, resourcefulness, energy, and passion to just make it through a basic day.

Being a farmer is a high calling - it's your job and responsibility to make sure that all the food you produce is nutritious and safe. God's first job for man was tending His creation, and He's blessed every farmer since then with a piece of His earth to be responsible for. Now, I can't attest to how well they did their job; different conversation for a different time. The food needs to be clean (although a little dirt never did hurt), every bite that you serve needs to be packed with as many nutrients as possible. The health of the consumer and the integrity of the environment you're in are both in your dirt-covered hands.

:deep inhale:
I'd like to see whoever wrote that article take care of a farm for a week. Just a week.

Edit: I haven't quoted the the article mentioned for two reasons
1. My point of writing this wasn't to completely dis on the magazine. It's to address the attitude that was oozing from it.
2. The article ended up as chicken bedding before I could find it again to correctly cite it...

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Meet the Herd: Genevieve, Elinor, and Marianne

Marianne and Elinor
I'd like to make an apology to all of our neighbors that's just as loud as our goats have been - 'cept I can't. I don't think my vocal chords could support something of that volume (unless I'm on a roller coaster, but that's a different story). If you haven't heard all the commotion, well, you're in luck; we're weaning some of our doelings right now.

We thought that Elinor and Marianne had been weaned (they're over a year old now), and we couldn't figure out why they were so... umm, how to put this delicately... rotund. Then we saw them, the stinkers, nursing. They're bigger than their mama, and they're still nursing?! Poor Genevieve... They're nursing the meat right off of her. It's time to make them graduate from kiddie school and into adult goat-dom - there will be no more milk on the menu. And I must say, they've slimmed down since we've reduced the fat content of their diet.

Every morning my sister and I leash up the chunky monkeys to take them out to a different pasture. They were on to us from day one. Leashes = bad things. Those girls can scoot really well for their size. Then they like to play ring-around-the-hay-feeder with us. Then they go kicking and screaming and kneeling and sitting and anything and everything to prevent leaving their beloved barn. My mom said this is what it's like to have a 2 year-old throwing a temper tantrum in the middle of the store.

So that's why things have been noisy around here. They've got a serious set of lungs. Genevieve does too. Due to our current barn/pasture arrangements, we can only keep the trouble makers separate from their mom during the day. If we don't out to the barn early enough in the morning, Genevieve will be milked dry. We haven't quite figure out how early we need to get out to milk; we're not exactly morning people. ;)

In talking with some of our other goat-owner friends about our most recent conundrum, they've had similar experiences. One friend said that is exactly why she bottle feeds her kids (We'd rather not sign up for every-other-hourly feedings...). Another commented on how she had one mama who was nursing twins from one kidding even after she had the next year's kids. o_O

:raises glass of goat milk: Here's to hoping they graduate from kiddie school very soon.