Thursday, July 28, 2011

Is this really all for us?

Long before the goats ever came here, we were getting ready for them, the fencing was a big job.  Here are the goats looking out over their new pasture.  They are more deer-like in what they eat, and are browsers more than grazers, they love to eat salmon berry and blackberry bushes.  The pasture is meadow and forest with salmon berry and blackberry bushes edging almost the entire pasture.
Jersey has won over everyone's heart,
she will just come and stand beside us to be loved, scratched and petted

Looking the other direction of the pasture.
My new Lucky Star Lamancha saying "thanks Mom"
She is sweet and beautiful, and produces a gallon of  the most delicious milk a day,
I never thought I'd own a Lamancha,
 now I'm so glad I do. Her little ears are called elf ears.

Joon bug is such a sweetheart,
she stands perfectly still on the milk stand, and let's little Kaley milk her twice a day.
She likes having new friends to share her pasture with.

Bluebelles's baby Snowdrop

Bluebelle and baby Snowdrop

Sister's and best friends

These are  one week old nigerian doelings, aren't they the cutest ever?  About a month ago I put a reserve on a doeling out of Bluebelle from Rhodie Ridge Nigerians.  She was pregnant, and we weren't sure if she'd even have a doeling, but she did, not one but two.  Tuesday Kaley and I went to go pick out which one we wanted, we picked Snowdrop.  She will be Kaley's 4-H goat to raise and show.  She has good bloodlines, her dam is out Poppy Patch and her sire is a Pecan Hollow buck. 

Jessica the owner is local, and her children are also in 4-H too, so it's nice to have a new friend in town.  She has chickens, rabbits (I'm also getting a Champagne d'argent buck from her the end of August) and she raises Nigerians.  I have met the nicest people in the goat world, and am having a lot of fun.

Snowdrop will be ready to come home in about two and a half months, when she's weaned and old enough.  I didn't know when I put reserve on her that I would also be getting the Nubian and Lamancha.  Now she'll have a whole goat family to come home to.  Goats like to be in  herd of 5 or 6 or more, just having two seemed kind of lonely for Stormy and Joon, they seem happier with more friends.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

settling in

We picked up our 2 new goats and supplies this morning around 10:30.  Jarin built a goat pen in the back of the truck to haul them in, and Tessa  and Kaley came for the adventure.  We loaded supplies, went over instructions, got the goats to go up the ramp (not an easy task) and into the truck cage.  Once loaded they quietly waited, while the milking stand was loaded, buckets, mineral salt containers, a hay rack, grain, and alfalfa pellets, all were loaded.

Once we got home we carefully got them down the ramp and into the paddock.  I had separated Joon and Stormy so they could watch and sniff behind wire to acquaint themselves slowly.  It only took a couple hours and I let them out together and watched everyone, there were only a couple minor skirmishes in the beginning, and then everyone seemed happy and got along. Stormy of course wins over everyones heart he's so friendly and funny. We all went for a walk around the property and over to the pasture, where they ran around and ate salmon berry greens.

I introduced them to the dogs, who were all over themselves in their curiosity of our newest members of the family.  Of course Joon acted as the greeting leader, and even let Sierra sniff her as if to tell the new girls that she's ok, especially because she was tied.  We never let the dogs loose, as I didn't want to scare them on their first day.  They were calm, quiet and curious all day as I spent the day showing them all around their new home.  The first day you get goats, you just spend it with them, helping them to be comfortable, so they know where their food will always be, where they can lay down out of the rain, and how the new milking routine will be.

The Lamancha's official name is Lucky Star's Acceptance, they called her Ace.  I may change the Ace part and call her something a little more exotic, as she has that look about her, and she is also the leader, even here she challenged Joon, as Joon looked at her size, she backed down.  This evening I milked her and got 2 full quarts.  Can you even believe one goat can produce a gallon a day?  The milking went well, we bonded some more and she learned to stand still, because moving and kicking would do nothing to stop me from milking her.  Then she settled down, and I just kept milking and milking her. 

Tonight I made yogurt with our first 2 quarts  The reason  I made yogurt is because I didn't do as the seller recommended and take out the milking pail with filter sitting inside, within A larger pail filled with ice water.  Because it takes some time to milk, getting the milk to chill faster is the whole idea behind great tasting milk.  Tomorrow I will milk for us to have for drinking milk.  We are all excited at the prospect of not having to buy milk from the store again.  Hopefully I'll always be able to stagger the breeding's to have one of the girls always in milk.

The Nubian doe's official name is My Enchanted Acres "Jersey" Girl.  We are keeping her name Jersey, because someday she will be like my own small jersey cow.  Nubian's have one of the highest butterfat of any goats, but I think the Nigerians might even have a little more butterfat.  I plan to use the Nigerian milk for butter, ice cream, yogurt and cream.

Tonight as I tucked all the goats in, we sat and talked softly, they nickered quietly as I told them this was home and that they'd be safe here, and that we'd always take good care of them and love them.  It was a good day for settling in. 

Thank you Beverly and family for blessing us with these wonderful goats and almost everything under the sun that we could need for raising them.   

Sunday, July 24, 2011

big goat news

The Nigerian Dwarf goats we have Stormy and Joon are both doing well, and have settled into their normal routines.  I have continued to milk Joon twice a day since I got her and she is producing more and more milk at every milking, we're now up to about a quarter pint per milking or a half a pint per day.  We have all drank her delicious, creamy milk and I have a couple pints that I'll be using to make yogurt this evening for the first time with Joon's milk.  Yogurt just takes a starter and about 8-10 hours and is super easy to make.  I'll do a separate post on it later.  The problem I've been having is that to make all the dairy products I want, I need milk, not just a little, but a lot.

Friday I was trolling Craiglist like I always do looking in the farm and garden section, and I came across this ad that jumped out at me, not once but twice within a week.  The ad stated they were looking to find homes for their 2 goats one a Lamancha doe milking a gallon of milk a day, and one a Nubian from a local farm that I have followed  for years, there were no pictures, but I had a gut feeling about them.  They also said they had supplies and a milk stand.  Well this girl jumped on it quickly and emailed the very nice lady.  Come to find out she lives in the same town and  I scooted over there Saturday morning on my way to work, and of course fell in love with these 2 girls. 

I gave 3 bars of home-made soap as a deposit, and made a deal to buy them and the supplies.  I am so excited and plan to keep both of these goats long term as part of my foundation breeding stock.  I also just found out from a local Nigerian breeder that I have a new doeling that was just born that I put a reserve on about a month ago, she will be ready to come here in the Fall.  So we'll go into winter with 5 goats, a perfect little herd for this family.

Now I will finally get some milk to make all the dairy products I have been dreaming of making.  Here is a sneek peak of our newest additions, we're going to pick them up tomorrow.

A beautiful one year old Nubian doe, ready for Fall breeding.

Excuse the photo of her back end, I'm just trying to show the size of her udder.  This is a one year old Lamancha doe, and she was milked shortly before I took this photo, still look at the size of that udder.   This is a "Milk Goat"

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

harvesting winter warmth

Kaley learning to chop wood like her big brother.  The kids help every year to bring in the firewood, they chop and stack as a team.   We've had a solid week of gathering and harvesting our firewood for this coming winter. This is a yearly ritual that is never missed, it takes us a week to bring in a years supply of firewood
 A burn pile to clean up the limbs.  After the tree is felled, the next step is to remove all the limbs, any big limbs will become firewood, the smaller ones are all burned.  Notice the foxglove in the background, it borders most of our 10 acres of forest, wherever there's enough sunlight.

J with the chainsaw hard at work.  He fells the trees, removes the limbs,
then cuts the logs into sections the right length to fit in the wood stove. 

About half the wood was harvested the end of May and put in piles and the rest we are getting in late.  Ideally all firewood should be cut, chopped and stacked in May, so it can dry and cure throughout the summer, then it will be dry wood for the winter.   Well, better late than never, some of it is already dry because it's called standing dead.  We harvest smaller Douglas Fir, (if we ever harvest the big stuff it's used in beams and building materials) and larger Alder, simply because that is what we have in our wood lot, Alder is like a weed in the Northwest, it grows everywhere, but when it's dry it's considered a hard wood. 

farmer boy

Yesterday I took this candid shot of my son Jason, he's 16 years old and is truly a farmer boy, he enjoys the country, the animals, hunting and nature, a son after my own heart.  You'd be surprised how much he knows about survival and self sufficiency, I hope when he's older he pursues his dreams of living from the land.

One of my favorite all time books is also called Farmer Boy, by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  If you've never read it, you will enjoy it.  It was my favorite of all her books, and is about her husband Almonzo's childhood.

Monday, July 18, 2011

letting go and soaring

Soaring denotes flying with one's arms outstretched covering a lot of ground with very little energy expended.  It also means there's wind under your wings to give you that energy.  Sometimes we have to let go of things to truly soar.  You have to get higher than earthly thoughts and behaviors to catch the wind of Wisdom, that voice that speaks of truth, patience, kindness, forgiveness, love, and then gives you a dream to believe in. 

I've been learning so many life lessons about letting go, over the last several years.  I've learned sometimes you have to let go of other peoples doubts and unbelief...dream thieves I call them.  They're usually people close to you, listen patiently, set boundaries and limit exposure.  If anyone ever tells you, you should let go of your dreams, learn to be careful what you say around them.  I am talking to myself, as I have just had another issue with facebook and family this morning. I solved it, by simply letting it go, I cancelled it... and That's that! This was an important step for me to let go and ask God to be the wind under our wings to soar forward with His plan.

One thing I know, is that I believe the still small voice that gives voice to your dreams is a pearl, and to those naysayers...don't ever give them room to trample your pearl, and plant negative seeds.  Write out all your dreams, because it's a funny thing, somehow as you speak them and write them, they become your reality.  The other's...those who have never learned to dream, let them go, perhaps someday they will learn, pray for them to believe that dreams can come true.  And be sure that your own words and works are salt and light to others, be the biggest cheerleader to those who are trying to live their dream, give them some wind.

If you're on a similar path as we are here at Applegarth Farm, know that I'll be here writing to you, and cheering you on.  Hopefully by giving a voice and words to my dreams, they can unfold through God's grace and His mercy.  

Country Mouse

The chicken coop has new birth with a new mom.  One of our Americana hens went broody 3 weeks ago, and now the eggs are beginning to hatch, last night we were up to 5 little ones.  New birth is a miracle, and a special time of bonding for the baby chicks and the new mother hens.  We also have 9 chicks running around that are about 6 weeks old.  The moms have recently decided that the're old enough to snuggle together, and have resumed perching up high with all the other hens and rooster at night.  It won't be long and all the chicks will begin to move upwards too.  I am happy to report this year, now that the chicks are in the upper part, we finally have a totally predator proof coop. It can take years and many losses to get to the point where you realize, every wild animal wants to eat a baby chick, or small chicken.

We've had to learn the hard way to keep predators at bay.  Last spring it must have been a weasel or small rat that got more than half our baby chicks.  This took place in the bottom of the chicken coop that has a dirt floor.  I dug down and put the smallest hole stock wire to keep out all rodents, somehow they still got in.  We have literally had to create Fort Knox to keep the chickens safe.  If they are let loose outside, there is chance for a hawk to fly overhead and snag a baby chick.  They are vulnerable, and we don't let them run loose unless we are right their with them.  As the chicks get older and don't peep quite so much, they don't seem to be as vulnerable.

Rats can reek havoc on your farm.  I always wondered why old farmer Al used rat poison and not traps.  Now I know, it's the most effective way to get rid of them.  We've set traps, we've lived with them, we're finally resolved to have a rat control program in effect.  Particularly during the warmer months of summer, when their numbers seem to swell.  I buy the peanut butter flavored rat poison and put it out at night, by morning it's all gone.  You have to keep doing this for 7-10 nights until they don't take it anymore.  I can tell when we have rats because of the holes in the chicken run.  When I do put it out, I make sure none of our pets can get into it, or the chickens in the morning.  This is the time to be double checking.

Why do I have a rat problem?  Well, probably because I feed corn and grains in the chicken run, the coop is also where I have all my feed stored.   It's stored tightly in bins behind strong doors but inevitably some of it drops out of the bag, goat food, rabbit food, and chicken feed when I'm filling feed bowls. The rats and wild birds stick around where there's food.  I don't like setting traps for mice or rats, but set them I have. 

A house in the country will also be a welcome place for the country mouse.  They like to be dry and well fed too, just like we do.  Indoors we use mouse traps, and sometimes will catch several mice in a night.  We set traps every month or two, and go in spurts until we know they're all gone.  You don't want to put out mouse poison inside, because they may go crawl in somewhere and die, then you will have the most horrible smell ever and will have to find it to get rid of it. 

The farm cat is very useful in rodent control, but they need to live in the barn to be the best control, our cats are at the houses, so they are not effective in keeping the chicken coop and run rodent free. 
Rats are a serious issue that you should look at as the primary killers of baby chicks.  I am on night four this evening for being the exterminator.  Today I will buy more rat poison, if I'd been thinking I would have bought the bucket, rather than the package that is small and cheap.   So I say all this to myself to keep it up, and our farm and animals will be glad for it.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

flowers of early summer

 Peonies are one of my favorite all time flowers.
 Salsify blooms in the vegetable garden
Lizianthus is a wonderfully easy perennial.
 Oriental poppies are a bright splash of color
 Bearded iris is tropical looking.
Poppies, poppies everywhere, they are like a weed in my garden.
 I love them and let them grow in many places.
 I have loads of comfrey, and the bumblebees love them.
 I've had all my peonies since I was in my early 20's.
 Lavender smells divine, and the bees love it.
 Coral bells are small and dainty pink.
 Siberian iris's are exquisite.
Foxglove is a wildflower here in the NW, I don't plant it, it just comes up everywhere.  I have literally hundreds of them this time of year that are growing all over the property.

I took all or these pictures one day at the end of June, and have been wanting to share them.  I have some new flowers blooming out in the garden now, roses, delphiniums, nasturtiums and more.  I'll take more pic's as soon as the sun comes out, we've been having rainy cool days this week.  Many flowers like the rain and cool weather, and when the sun gets too hot many of them can't take it and wilt.  As the season progresses I will have more flowers blooming with the warm red and yellow colors.  The early season I have more pink and purple blooms.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Homesteading ~ Self Sufficiency

I had no idea when I started this blog, that the homesteading movement would begin as a small wave that would turn into a very large one like it is now.  More and more people are jumping on board and realizing the need to be more in control of their world by growing food and getting more self sufficient.  There was the back to land movement back in the seventies, but I was too little to know much about it.  Many people now want some control of their food, not just fruits and vegetables, but their meat and dairy too... I'm one.

We're tired of buying food we don't know where it came from, and how inhumane the animals were treated.  We're willing to learn what our ancestors knew for thousands of years.  Meat is special, not for everyday, but for occasions that we can share it, and know where it comes from.  There is a need to learn the ways of old, and to be keepers of the home.

Butchering a fatted young rooster was for a Sunday meal.  Breadmaking was done one day for the week.  Seasonal eating was the norm, and asparagus was a spring treat, just like strawberries and cherries were summer sweets.  Honey was extra special, and herbs were for healing.  Homemakers knew how to make cheese, butter, yogurt and ice cream.  Cheese was often made in the spring when the grass began to grow lush and long, and the cows had rich milk. 

There was no boxed cereals, or packaged foods.  We used to know the source from where all our food came from.  Life and death on the farm was normal, and the kids participated in all aspects of it.  They knew the pig was going to be butchered in the fall, and good ham and bacon would be on the menu.  Everything was fresh, dried, fermented or canned.  Even refrigerators and freezers are new to this era. 

We need to go back and learn, I'm speaking to myself, my squeamish self, that has never butchered an animal, letting my son do the deed.  I want to get meat chickens and raise them for our family to be ready for Fall butchering.  You see I'm learning too, how easy it is to buy meat in cellophane and not think about the animal that used to be alive, where did it live, in what kind of conditions...I want to know.

If you've ever read Michael Pollen's "Omnivore's Dilemma"  you'll get a glimpse of what grocery store food is like.  Corn is the base of many products, way more than you'd ever imagine, even the animals we eat are fed corn.  In reality the best thing for most animals to eat is grass, fresh greens, things that are alive and full of vitamins and minerals.  The ability to be free and live without stress in a small farm with love is what I want to achieve for my animals.  I'm willing to learn, right along with a whole generation who have forgotten how it's done. 

My dream is to be more self sufficient, we're still a ways off, but are on the right track.  I appreciate talking and learning from others and see what small steps they're taking.  Some of you are raising cattle, pigs, and sheep, I'm not there yet, but we are raising animals on a small scale, like chickens, rabbits, and goats for milk.  These can be raised even in most cities now, as more people want grow their own food.

How can you start?  By doing a little every year, perhaps you could start by growing a garden, planting fruit trees, and learning to make bread.  If you're in an apartment you can grow sprouts, possibly even get rabbits.  Shop at farmers markets, source local raw honey and fruits and vegetables.  Know where you're food comes from, meet the farmers and growers.  This could set you on a path to moving to the country and starting your own homestead, or a whole new lifestyle change for the better.  It's exciting to sit down to a meal and know much of it came from your own land.  That is richness to me.  I'd love to hear what you're growing, raising and doing to be more self sufficient?