Working The Farm When You’re Not As Young As You Use To Be!

Never before have we felt our age more than we have this winter. Never before has the phrase “it’s all in what you’re use to” been more fitting.

We have seen temperatures in the single digits quite a few times – no in Virginia we are not use to this. There have been several minor snows but even with the insignificant amount of snow, working outside has been a bear. Hauling water…most people don’t have a clue how heavy a 5 gallon bucket of water really is…its 40 pounds, that is carried 300+ feet, 5 to 6 times back to back, some days 3 or more times in a day. The livestock needs water and it needs to be thawed – the animals are not fond of ice chips. You find yourself getting really excited when the temps are predicted to be in the 30’s only to be disappointed because it’s going to rain for several days. A cold miserable rain!

Once you have a single spare moment it’s time to hit the woodpile for log splitting because Lord knows that fire breathing woodstove must be fed.

It’s at the end of these kinds of days that you become way to aware that 60 is just around the corner for both of us. The farmer seems to always have a personal heat source wrapped around his back during his breaks. The farmHer hasn’t been able to sit or stand without fear that this is going to be the time those knees just stop working. If we aren’t reminding ourselves we’re not 20 anymore our friends are quick to point it out.

As I sit here writing this we have one eye peeled to the up coming weather forecast. Some say 8-12″ of snow with sleet. Others are saying 20+ inches of snow. I don’t think we’re going to get missed this time. That’s okay, spring will come soon and the aging muscles will finally get a break before it’s time to break the earth to plant the garden, cleaning out the chicken house, doing hoof trims, sheep shearing…okay,  that’s enough!

Advertisements

Spring Is In The Air..

Aaaah! Spring! It’s that time of the year when flowers are starting to bloom, trees are budding, the grasses are greening up and the garden is calling.

Now is the time to start moving manure from the barn up to the garden plots and to start tilling that “black gold” into the earth but this year things will be a little different in one of the plots. We have decided to grow potatoes for markets. Soil preparation for these beauties does not include manure as an amendment..so there will be less hauling than in years past. Can’t wait to see the lush green plants starting to pop up!

Each market season we have noticed that Spinach and Carrots are limited, so to do our part in answering the call for more of these foods, we have increased our garden area to add several raised beds for carrots and a second garden spot for spinach. Then of course there will be the usual cast of characters..tomatoes, okra, cukes, squashes, eggplant and lettuces.

On a different note, all of chickens seemed to be loving the warmer weather and longer days already. We have eggs everywhere! Our chickens are totally free range so as a result egg collection closely resembles an Easter Egg hunt each day. That’s OK though it is worth it when we are able to put together a carton of eggs that look like this…

Thank you girls…

Next on the list for our Spring “to do’s” will be sheep shearing. That’s always exciting too..when we get the chance to see what this years growth looks like. By the winter being mild, it doesn’t look like we will have the usual bumper of wool. We will be adding Cashmere this year to our fibers available. Friends of ours are getting out of the cashmere business but they still have 10 goats that need to be combed..so yes, I volunteered to do the combing. Payment for this job..we get the fiber! There will be some pretty cool rovings and yarns available in the fall!

Neeing Hair Cuts...Now!!

Maybe I’m wrong..look at all that wool!

Well that’s all for today. I’m afraid if I keep writing, I’ll wear myself out.

It’s Been A Long Time Again!

It’s coming down to the end of Spring around here. Let me update you on what has been going on at the farm.

Early Spring brought us the joys of lamb and kid births. So many little ones making it exciting and a little confusing too. We almost lost one of our ewes at lambing. Seems her little (gigantic) lamb didn’t want to come out easily and then we discovered she had been physically exhausted to the point that she gave up. We are very happy to say, she is doing fantastic now and so is “Wil” her lamb.

Then there was “Bella”! She was not really a surprise but I had miscalculated her due date of arrival. She and her Mom “Barga” are doing very well. The breeding that produced her was very accidental, which has now led to a 3/4 Angora x 1/4 Alpine Dairy kid. Her fiber is glorious!

We had a broody hen hatch 13 eggs and have 12, 3 month old chicks now.

We have since hatched another 11 chicks which are growing strong..and to our surprise, some of them are actually HENS!

The most exciting addition we’ve made to the farm this Spring are our Coturnix Quail. With the chickens, ducks and now quail we are rapidly becoming an “Egg Farm”.

These quail are actually mature and laying eggs within 8 weeks from their hatching and the health benefits from eating their eggs is amazing. There are now 36 of these little ones here and growing. This is the first week we’ve listed their eggs on our local co-op.

Aside from all of this we’ve just been working on the farm. Cleaning, growing, painting, sheep shearing and more.

Since the loss of Mom, I feel like I’ve been spending a lot of my time recreating pretty much my whole life (not just the farm). I am devoting much more of my time to the sheep and working again with fiber. We are working on a Virginia Grown/USA Grown organic yarn line as well as a line of naturally dyed yarns. Both of these projects are slow moving as it is quite expensive to have all of the fiber processed and natural dying can also be very expensive. Another thing I am doing is participating in special events to share (and sell) our fibers grown here on the farm.

Wow, I’m tired just writing! Until next time…

Chickens!!!

It’s a great Monday morning here at the farm. Everyone is content, settled, and happy. Just lounging in the barnyard. The view has changed over the weekend with the addition of some new girls…chickens to be specific. Every since “Beau Cocks” came here as a stray rooster we’ve discussed adding a few hens and this weekend was the right time. Saturday, we went to a Chicken Swap, something we’d never even heard of and found a couple of really nice girls. Also, we’re pretty much certain that Beau is a Welsumer Rooster. The Welsumer is the Kellogg’s Rooster, so he’s a real honor to have (when he’s not spurring and crowing constantly)..but back to the new girls. Our chicken collection now sports an adult Araucana hen, an Araucana Pullet, a Welsumer hen and an American Game Hen. Here are a few shots of them:

American Game Hen

Araucana Hen

Welsumer Hen

Something else we did was purchase fertile eggs from Araucana hens, several we’re not sure about and 6 Buff Orpington. Since the Game Hen is a huge success in her appearance and temperament, we’re saving her eggs to incubate too. Oh yes, we bought an Incubator! So we are definitely chicken ready now. How, you may ask, is Beau Cocks handling the new girls..well, if you remember from previous posts he thinks he’s a sheep..he still does! He is, however, starting to be protective of them. He’ll learn.

If anyone has checked out our website recently, I’m sure you’ve noticed what a mess it is. For now let’s just call it a work in progress. Just as I was getting the site ready and uploaded, Mom was released from Pulmonary Rehab and it’s been a new drama everyday which, once again, is taking me away from the farm and the business. I hope that very soon, I will announce the new website on the Blog and everyone will have something complete and professional to view. Until then..bear with me.

Have a wonderful day!!


Rooster Antics

You all remember Beau-cocks the stray rooster? Well let me share some of his award winning antics with you this morning. He has developed quite a little personality since he moved on to the farm.

We still haven’t gotten him any girls yet, so he still thinks that he is a sheep unless a human is around..more specifically my husband. These two “men” have developed a very strong and steadfast relationship with each other. Apparently when hubby goes to the barn Beau helps him with all of the barn chores including running interference when the border collies are given a command..he thinks because noise came out of hubby that means he has to do what he says too. As hubby said, “I’m really worried that one of the border collies might eventually notice him and that could end badly”. All I see from the kitchen window is this little “rooster man” following hubby everywhere he goes and when hubby thinks no one is looking or listening, he has little talks with Beau. They make quite a team!

He has now taken to “dog aggravation” every morning along with standing under each window of the house when he sees hubby moving around and crowing. With the “dog aggravation” he simply stands in front of the pens, flaps his wings, crows and flies up on top of the runs, tapping and pecking and then flies down and does it all over again. The dogs run in circles, bark and run in their houses and peek out. Guess you have to be there.

Yesterday, I tossed a buck of water out the kitchen window (that’s another story for another day) and before I could get the screen down, Beau was standing in the window. Needless to say, my spoiled rotten cats freaked and took off running. Poor things don’t know what dinner looks like on the claw!

As soon as the weather becomes more predictable we are going to build a small coop and get 10 or so hens. That should finally give this little guy his own place in the barnyard. Until then I will continue to enjoy hubby and Beau making the trek to the barn together each morning. I have to say, there is nothing as cute as a running chicken from behind!