Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sunday on the Farm

Last Sunday, November 15th, 2009.
From the inside looking out.

The Camellia Sasanqua is blooming; a wonderful introduction to winter days and chilly nights -
such a cheerful way to greet old man Winter.
It has not been a typical November here on the farm. Last Sunday was stunningly gorgeous. Seventy-some degrees, flip-flop and shorts weather. The grass still has some green to it, and while the leaves are turning and falling, and it feels like an Indian Summer.

There have been a few changes. The North side of the barn has had a makeover, and while we're not finished (is one ever finished?), we're happy with the improvements.

The North side of the barn was once walled in by cedar posts and a lot of tin that had seen better days.

Farmhouse husband removed said tin, replaced said posts, and made just a shed, so to speak, and at the East end, made a shelter that can house horses.

Attached to the horse-shelter, is a section of log-fence that meets the round-pen; essentially making a 'corral' between the NorthEast corner of the barn and the round-pen.

We fashioned a gate at the wall where the shelter door is. (It's unofficially one of those moments where describing something is inherently more complicated than looking at have to be here. Hey! that's not a bad idea! Coffee or Tea anyone?) This makes it so you can lead the horse(s) in or out of the corral gate, or the shelter.

Now you can also see the six posts buried in li

near fashion in front of the corral fence. Those are going to be my cross-ties. This is a terrific way to tie horses so that they, 1. can't twist themselves around a pole inviting all sorts of interesting injuries. 2. learn patience while digging to china. and lastly 3. can't scoot over to
kick the daylights out of the horse tied next to them just for (drum roll please...) "kicks and giggles".

Of course, here is farmhouse husband and child using the gate after dumping a load of pine shavings into the horse shelter. The horses can enter and exit at both ends of the shelter, that way nobody gets trapped inside by an alpha horse (Slater...yes, I'm talkin' to YOU.)

This is another view, which also shows the gate from the horse corral into the cow's stall, pond and hence, the area that leads out to both pastures.

Well, that's it for this blog-post. I'm somewhat disenchanted with the picture loading process.

Until next post.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

housewives, the almost-desperate kind

I thought housewives were supposed to lounge around in pajama's until noon, pile the dishes in the sink and wash them right before the husband gets home and in the meanwhile, do things like paint toenails, watch soap opera's and eat bon-bons....?

Somewhere, I missed a memo, because my glamorous life is busier than ever.

As evidenced by this here neglected and underfed blog.





It's not necessarily that I have nothing to write about. We've repainted the kitchen, re-arranged the dining room, and the living room. FINISHED the living room, speaking of which, and it's lovely.

The fence is done. The barn is in order. The grape arbor has been put up. The leaves have been put into a compost bin. The walnuts have been picked up.

It's just that because all of this stuff is getting done, none of it is getting written here!

Supper's almost ready, got to run.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

where i have been

not here, obviously.

June, July, August - no blog posts. Who runs this place anyway? Ahem.


That would be me.

This has been the busiest summer on record. And now that there is an official Pre-Schooler attending school, it has been the busiest start of a school season yet. Anyone still reading here?

Don't give up! I'll be back. (take that as fair warning!)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Captain Strong Arms and his Queen's toutings....

This man, Captain StrongArms, has built, and continues to build, the nicest home and property a girl could wish for.

And we have the cutest little boy a man and wife could ever wish for.

There just isn't anything he can't do.

I think I'm in love.  It's good to be Queen.

Friday, May 15, 2009

almost forgot

to tell you that I milked Dory - the first time and got a quart!  An entire QUART!!  

Her and I were learning together - it was a rough first few minutes, but we both got over it.  Good thing we like each other.

The piglets, they LOVE the milk.  Farming is really cool.

I just

want you all to know that I quit drinking coffee creamer.  Yeah.  Seriously.  It was like continuous PMS for a couple weeks straight.  

I'm better now.  I only have the shakes now and again on days that end with Y.


More useless information.  Hey, it has to go somewhere.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

a month of sundays and two calves later


ahem.  uh, where were we?  ah yes.  calves.

here, have a go at this;

The first pictures (horizontally) are of BraveHeart.  The two pictures following are of Flicker.  When they arrived, they were full of energy, curious, and hungry.  We had a couple steep hills to climb, with the stress of transport and some other not-so-glamorous stuff that shall remain un-named, but all-in-all they're both doing great.  Growing, eating grass, knocking me down for their one bottle of milk a day and generally being calves (read:  LAZY!).

I can honestly say that flip flops are not really the desired footwear when one has two calves.  The poop just doesn't come off very well.  

Here's a video of the "Barnyard"  

and, we've added a couple kids to our farm as well.  

Life is good.  Now if I could just carve out some time to get the garden started.....

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

a brief visit from two angels

I am exhausted, and grieving, but life on a farm goes on.  Last Thursday we were visited by two angels.

  CJ, the dog, wouldn't leave the barn.  Apparently, since he is indeed part "cattle dog" he found his calling.  He wouldn't let the chickens near the calves.
He was diligent.  It was endearing.

I have seen week old calves, but have never spent much time with them.  They are so, so, so cute - it's nearly indescribable how very precious they are.  

Two Jersey bull calves were delivered Thursday evening.  They were less than a week old.  We started them on Milk Replacer and I taught the littlest one (with the bottle above) to drink out of a bowl.  After they ate, the bigger one (in the picture with CJ) lay down.  We put them in their comfy stall and bid them goodnight.

The bigger calf (#1) died just after noon.  

the culprit:  e. Coli. infection

read more about bottle calves here

The littler calf (#2) died Sunday night.  

If you ask me, I think there is a major problem with the way that bull-calves are handled.  This article parallels my thoughts, somewhat.

Dairy Calf Management…
Early care determines what you get for your bull calves
Part 2 in 5 part series

This 5 part series is provided by the Veal Quality Assurance Program.  The series suggests ways of managing calves to increase the value of bull calves, but the techniques discussed will benefit heifer calves as well.

Calf care is a major area of lost economic opportunity in dairy production.  Many producers do not realize that what is good for the heifer is good for the bull, and what is good for the bull calf is good for dairy herd profitability.  Improved management of ALL calves on the farm will benefit the overall herd program, the milk market, the calf market and the producer’s farm income.  How calves are managed in the first hours and days of life determines their potential as dairy replacement or veal grow-out.
Today, 80% of the nation’s veal supply comes from dairy calves going to special fed veal growers where they are raised to about 20 weeks of age at a weight of 400 to 500 pounds.  Only 14% of Holstein bull calves leave the dairy farm in the proper health and condition.

Industry and university studies indicate that calves which acquire a higher level of passive immunity in the first hours after birth are worth $20 to $25 more in their first four weeks of life, based on this single management factor.  Not only are they healthier, less likely to die or incur treatment costs, and more likely to reach their potential - they also demonstrate faster growth and better gain, using less feed than their counterparts with low serum antibodies.

The quantity, quality and timing of colostrum feeding accomplishes far more than any vaccine or injection in protecting calf health and promoting long-term production and profitability.  Four to six quarts of colostrum should be fed daily for at least the first three days of life.  However, time is of the essence.  The calf’s ability to absorb these antibodies from the lining of the small intestine directly into the bloodstream diminishes every hour as cell structures mature during the first 24 to 36 hours of life.

At the same time, calves are most vulnerable to ingested bacteria or viruses because these molecules are also absorbed easily into the bloodstream before gut closure.  Whatever gets there first - antibodies or bacteria - are immediately absorbed by the calf to determine its future health and profit potential.

First colostrum is the only antibody source for disease protection in newborn calves.  It also contains vitamin E necessary for the four to six week process of immune system development.  Colostrum is a source of important growth factors and hormones.  The quality of the colostrum is determined by herd health, nutrition and immune status and the dry cow management program.

That's all for now.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

be careful what you wish for...

A while back (last year?) I was frustrated with my goats.  Nanny (as pictured at left) was particularly a handful and, being relatively new at goat wrangling, I was working with less-than-to-be-desired fencing conditions (read: no fencing)

Nanny was tough to handle.  We kept her stalled in the barn at night and tied out on a 30' lead
 during the day, which we would rotate around a couple acres.  What made her tough to handle was that 1. she had horns, and knew how to use them. 2.  she weighed about 120 lbs. and was very, very strong.  and 3.  she was afraid of Ed so that left me to bring her out and back in everyday.  

On January 5th, 2008 she had two babies - both bucklings, in the picture.  The lighter colored one was,  (drum roll please...) yes, you guessed it, "Billy" and the darker brown colored babe was named "Willy".  Not because it rhymed with "Billy" but because he failed to thrive, yet had a strong will to live.  He was my favorite.

Right after Dory, that is.  We got Dory a while after Nanny first came to reside at Hope Farms.  Dory was just a few months old in the summer of 2007.  I know, you're asking "you have a favorite goat?"

It's true, I do.  I love her.  

There really is a point to this post.  Now, what was it?

........................................OH! yes, I remember.  Be careful what you wish for.  I was so "done" with these goats!  What a pain!!  I wanted to trim down the herd to just two.  Maybe just one! (Dory)

Last summer a friend of ours said he needed a new nanny for his herd.  I told him Nanny would be perfect (he has fencing) and so we struck a deal.  That left me with two bucklings and Dory.  Well, buckings get big.  They have horns.  And...they stink a little bit.  And, they're procreatively driven.  Poor Dory.

I sold Billy.  I can't remember when, but I was wearing shorts when they guy loaded him up so it must not have been winter.   Wait, I'm wearing shorts now...nevermind.  Billy was used for meat.  (see disclaimer in last part of post)

A few months ago, Nanny had twins.  One lived, one died, and because of complications, she died also.  As much of a pain in my heiny as she was, I grieved for her.

  Then, two months ago, Willy got sick.  I thought he had an intestinal blockage as he was off food and water.  I diagnosed him wrong.  What he really had was urinary calculi and you can read all about it here .  When I finally figured out what was wrong with him, I was heartbroken, and amazed that he's survived as long as he had.  Usually, the goat will die within 24-48 hours.  Willy hung on for 5 days.  It was completely my fault.  They were allowed to eat too much corn, which offset the calcium to phosphorus in his diet.  (I knew as much with horses,  to avoid the
 combination of well water, and feeding 100% alfalfa hay, but had NO IDEA with goats what that could mean.)

On the last morning he was alive it was a sunny day and about 45 degrees.  I sat with him in front of the barn and I had with me a small tote bag with pretzels, a book, lip balm, and had a cup of coffee with me also.  He laid his head on my lap and bleated a soft, sad and telling noise.  He was done.  I made arrangements that morning to have him euthanised.  Not the "city slicker" version of euthanasia, and there are some gentle (?) readers who might not like what I'm about to say, so be warned that there is an honest and potentially offensive description coming up.  

It's no secret that the Hispanic  population around here eat goats meat.  I have heard that it is delicious, and I have heard that it's not-so-delicious.  Either way, I knew that Willy had no 'disease' and he was otherwise healthy and I didn't want him to go to 'waste' so Ed called a guy and he and his father came to get Willy.  

I told him what was wrong, but that his meat should be good and that I'd taken good care of him.  (later, they guy told Ed that Willy had excellent meat, and no parasites - so indeed I had taken good care of him)  I carred him to the truck (I think he weighed about 60 lbs. and he felt like he weighed 100 lbs. by the time I got him to the truck.  I hugged him and told him that he lived a good life and that I was doing the best thing I knew how to do for him (aside from spending
 thousands of dollars on surgery, and post-op care) and thanked him for his life.  He bleated one last weak cry and then I bawled my head off.

So, all three of them are gone.  The moral of the story is:  be careful what you wish for.

The bad news?  Sometimes even when we have good intentions, and try with all we have, our animals suffer from our lack of knowledge and money.  

The good news?  After I grieve, and allow myself to feel what I feel, I'm better for having learned and loved.  And....Dory's Pregnant!!!!  She should kid this next week, or the following.  I'm guessing March 21st. 

Then, I'm going to milk Dory.  Goat's milk, goat cheese.  BAAAAAA!!

These are three of my most favorite people in the world. 
I think our friendship transcends the "reason, season, lifetime" label.
And I also think it revolves around good food and good drink.
And of course, our kids.
And extreme goofiness.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


I started looking up National Historic Landmarks and Historical Society information this morning - and I'm overwhelmed.  There are of course, National, State, and local levels of historic preservation categories.
I live in a house built in 1890.  We are trying to restore it, within reason, to as close to original as possible.  (no, I'm not taking out the bathroom in favor of an outhouse, but I DO know where the outhouse used to be!)
There are applications, fees, picture requirements (which are extensive and at least a page long of instructions, restrictions, exceptions, and lots more "tions") and I am already exhausted.  

I've only been looking at this stuff for two hours.  Sheesh!!

There's the National Historic Landmarks site, and then there is the North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office and now I'm off to research grants and Flora Macdonald.  

I'd like to apply for this house to be put on the historic map, if you will, as soon as possible.  In fact, I'm making it a goal to at least the the application rolling by September.

Monday, February 23, 2009


I want you to know that I started some seeds today:  
Bell Peppers
Hot Peppers
4 O'Clocks

and tomorrow I'm going to start more tomatoes, tomatoes, and tomatoes.

The asparagus patch has been weeded.  The pear trees have been pruned.  

No Farms, No Food.

right about here Eddie would say, "and Amen".

You're Crazy!

One day, I got a new old stove.  And on that day, I was very happy.  Until I got shocked.  Dear Husband didn't believe me.  And so I cooked, and got shocked for about 3-4 weeks.

On another day, I complained about being shocked.  (side note:  I used to get shocked with the old stove too.)  He said, "you're crazy - this stove isn't shocking you - you're imagining things.".

Hmph.  (at this point, one IS asking oneself "are you SURE you're being shocked?")

And so I cooked some more.  And bzzzz'ed myself some more.  And, of course, complained some more.  While I enjoyed especially the new arrangement of the kitchen and the improved "flow" of all things related to cooking and spending time in one of the most used parts of the home, I was not enjoying the sporadic correlation between the oven being on and the burners intermittently working, or...not working.  Let's not forget the electrical figments of my imagination coursing through my fingers.  (smile)

One day (I'm sensing a pattern here) it happened.  I told him about the burners not working on medium, low, or warm.  So he started investigating.  He got shocked.  (secret smile)  So he worked on this stove and cleaned switches and removed stuff and put other stuff on and took something else off and then put it all back together again (technical terms, I know).  But it still didn't work right.

Then, an electrician guy that Ed works with (his boss) told him to check the ground.  Sure enough.  It wasn't connected properly.  Which would explain my insanity, er...uh - I mean, my getting shocked.  

Fixed.  The thing works like a dream.  And my husband not only thinks I am the best cook he also doesn't question my sanity (as often).

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Snow Day

It snowed the night of the 19th of January - into the morning and throughout the day of the 20th.  

We had a lot of fun!

When life gives you peeler cores,...

make this;

My very own round pen.  65' diameter.  

I love my husband.

What is this leisure time of which you speak?

my grateful button