December 29, 2011

Wrapping Up 2011

One of my favorite sayings is our farm is a work in progress, always something to do and something always needing done. Each year we plan for improvement. Looking back 2011 brought very few changes to the farm, there were no great accomplishments or significant improvements. Finances were tight and we struggled along just like everyone else.

What Worked & What Didn't

The garden didn't produce as well as we had hoped due to the heavy rains in spring, then the extreme heat of summer and of course the poultry and peafowl were of no help. There were no bumper crops, though we did manage to can, freeze and dehydrate a decent supply of veggies for winter.

We retired Sarah Beth our 2 gallon a day Saanen milker due to old age. We replaced her with Barb our purebred LaMancha and Maybelle a LaMancha cross (Barb's granddaughter). The two girls together produce 2 gallons of milk a day. Maybelle was a bit of a drama queen when I broke her to milk. She is the first goat in all my years of being owned by goats I have found to be a biter. Instead of kicking and river dancing on the milk stand to avoid being milked she would bite me. Believe you me that came to an abrupt halt!

As hard as it was for me to part with them, we downsized the Angora herd. We kept our foundation girls and sold all that were 2 years old or younger. After careful consideration we decided to breed Jacob (white Angora buck) to the 4 foundation girls one last time before we sell him. This will give us another small group of kids to sell in spring as well as possibly keep another white color carrier doeling. We have decided to stop breeding all goats other than the dairy girls from here on out.

The sheep were a definite upside to the farm this year. We had a small but oh so beautiful lamb crop in 2011 and added a BFL wether, Sherlock, who we adore. Our fleece and fiber sold well at the craft/fiber events we attended during 2011. Vending at the fiber events, visiting with new and old fiber friends, seeing other people's creativity at work has inspired me to retreat into my craft room and get seriously busy again with our fiber biz.


If you want to follow our fiber biz...visit us at our new and separate fiber blog

There were no vacations or weekend trips away from the farm. Though my parents went on a once in a life time trip to Scotland to visit my brother who recently moved to Scotland to teach.

We had to say good bye to Indie our son's Great Dane. She developed bone cancer in her elderly years. RIP Indie we miss you.


Our guardian dogs are also aging. They will be 8 years old in 2012. Their life expectancy is about 10-12 years. We decided to keep a pup from last years litter as a replacement...just in case. Tootie is a handful as a pup. Though she shows promise and I am sure her mother and aunt will train her well.


2012 New Years Resolutions

Every year I make them...

1 - What we can't grow on our farm we resolve to buy local products and to reduce “food miles” (the distance food travels from production to plate). Attending the local farmers market each week will not only reduce food miles, it will keep our purchases local. I read somewhere that if each household in your state would purchase $10.00 of local or farm products weekly it would generate $1.65 billion in your states economy. No more purchases from chain stores.

2 – Do More With Less.

I know that sounds like a broad statement, but for us it isn't. When we moved to the farm 13 years ago our goal was to be as self-sufficient as possible. Over the years we have stayed our course, though need to re-evaluate and improve in some areas.

We raise our own meat though we need to resolve to raise a larger variety.

We have our garden each year, home can and preserve what we grow, though here again, we need to consider gardening with a larger variety of produce.

We need to grow a more diverse flock of sheep. Our fiber animals are my passion, I love the Shetland breed of sheep, however we need to add one or two more versatile breeds for a variety of wool, plus meat and milk production.

We will never be totally self-sufficient, we like our electricity, computer, satellite TV and such far too much to go totally off grid, though I need to concentrate on cutting those expenses a bit more also.

We plan on spending a quiet New Years here at the farm. To bring the new year in right, we will be cooking up black-eyed peas, ham and cabbage. The peas are a symbol of luck, the ham a symbol of wealth, and the cabbage a symbol of money.
I am placing a coin out on the porch on New Years eve. I have heard if you retrieve the dime on New Year's day before the dew has dried, it means we should have no problem waking early throughout the rest of the year in order to get an early start on the farm work.
Hey, every little bit helps :-)

Wishing everyone a healthy, happy and prosperous New Year!

December 28, 2011

We Had Puppies

Hannah one of our GP guardian girls blessed, well, surprised us with a litter of 6 (2 males, 4 females)pups on Dec. 1st. Daddy is the neighbors GP.

They had just opened their eyes in these photos.

I am so happy to say that ALL pups have been placed in working homes.

December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas and Bring on The New Year

Don't you love this photo? I do, I snagged from a friend, Romney Ridge.

Now that I am back from my extended blogging hiatus, lets can get on with it.

Don't want you to think I have lost interest in sharing farm life, I haven't. I won't blame it on or say time flies (goes without saying and we all know that it does) as I did in the last blog.

I will admit I make more short and frequent visits to Facebook than blogland. It's the time factor I honestly believe there. It only takes a few minutes to scan my page to see what everyone's updated status is, then I am off the computer and running non stop. When I visit blogland I want to read what everyone has been up to, check out links that take me to other blogs or sites that are good reads and before you know it hours have passed.

Surprisingly I have found some very helpful groups and interesting online fiber friends on Facebook. Plus I can see what the family has been up to. Believe it or not, everyone but my elderly parents has a page there. Easy, peasy to message them all at one time, poke or check on them.

I hope that everyone is prepared and is finished with their holiday shopping. As normal, we have to make one more trip into the city for last minute items tomorrow. We will be leaving early after morning chores hoping to miss the crowds, then back home as quick as we can to have Christmas here at the farm.

Wishing each and everyone of you a very Merry Christmas!

March 15, 2011

We're Still Here

Really we are. Though you couldn't tell it by the date of the last blog eh?

I could bore you and ramble on about this, that and all the other that has happened around our little peace of heaven called the farm though I won't. It's just life happening and sometimes it gets in the way of and can stop my blogging all together.

Spring is just 6 days away. I will do my best to add more frequent updates, posts or add new information. I noticed I lost a few followers which I totally understand and can't blame them for dropping us off their lists. I do want to thank those of you who continue to stop by and read.

Doing the "happy can't wait for spring" dance here! You couldn't tell spring is so close at the moment. Yesterday's weather was rain, snow, sleet, repeat that process, plus freezing. Crazy that just 2 days prior it was almost 70 degrees.

Looking forward to planting the gardens, the piglets arriving, shearing, our yearly fiber events and so, so much more! Hopefully so much to share with you in the upcoming months.

We have finished kidding for 2011. Barb our La Mancha dairy goat kidded with 2 beautiful white doelings, we named Belle & Star. Barb is back on the milk stand and milking like a charm. This makes me so happy! Once again farm fresh dairy products for our table!

Star a few minutes after being cleaned.

For the Angoras, Bella Mia began by blessing us with a set of beautiful black twins. One of each, buck & doe. Little buck(soon to be wether) is Butch, doeling is Cassidy. Fairchild followed with a single jet black beautiful doeling we call Calamity Jane. Bonnie Lass ended 2011 kidding by adding 2 more adorable solid black doelings. We are calling those two girls Annie & Oakley.

Imagine you are seeing a trend in the names. This year our black Angora herd sire, The Sundance Kid, did his job and did it very well. We wanted color and color was what we got! Five solid black fiber babies, 4 does, 1 buck.

Bella Mia cleaning little Butch

Calamity Jane with her mom Fairchild.

Bonnie Lass and her twin girls soaking up the sun.

Scarlet, one of our hair sheep began 2011 lambing with a set of twins. One of each, ram & ewe lamb. The ram lamb is reserved, the ewe lamb we are keeping. We named her Miranda (the sheep are not included in the Women of the Wild West name theme).

The little ram lamb has the brown patch on face, Miranda the smaller of the two.
On baby watch with possibly 5 ewes to lamb within the next 4-6 weeks. Waiting to lamb and broad as barns are Pitty Pat & Eartha (hair sheep). Then the Shetlands-Whirlwind, Rummy and Lark. They are filling out, if not pregnant I suppose they are just looking large due to having full heavy fleeces. Will just have to wait and see.
We used both rams this year. Jackdaw with his awesome spots and Jasper with his beautiful black and silver fleece, hopefully they will give us patterns and spots. Looking forward to seeing what colors our lambs will bring.
The chickens began to lay about 2 weeks ago. YEAH! It was a long eggless winter. I dislike buying those pale, tasteless eggs from the grocery. I also dislike feeding the layers all winter long and they not produce. We are researching breeds that are good winter layers and will be adding a few to the flock this spring.

For the best farm news yet... I have found a spinner to spin our very own farm grown wool into yarn! Happy, happy, joy, joy! I had originally planned to invest in a new wheel and take spinning lessons. In our neck of the woods finding someone to instruct me in the proper ways of spinning is like looking for a needle in a hay stack. So finding someone to spin and not want my first born grandchild in exchange was amazing! I have been busy washing and carding fleeces to send to my dear spinner.
Family matters have brought about some surprise changes. My dear brother the PhD, accepted a senior faculty teaching position at the University of West of Scotland. Yep, he is moving to Scotland. A once in a lifetime opportunity and dream job. My parents are looking forward to and hope to go to Scotland to stay with him for an extended period of time. I hope they can, at 80 yrs. old this would be a dream come true for them also.
My niece accepted a promotion within her company, which required her to move to Nashville, TN in January. My nephew (her brother) just announced that his wife accepted a promotion with her company and they are moving them to...who would have guessed it...Nashville, TN. I am happy for the kids though will miss them.

I think I have hit the highlights, the other happenings are just everyday, run of the mill, it's probably happened to you too, kind of stuff.
Hope to add more fiber and sheep related items, possibly list the livestock we will have for sale in an attempt to keep more frequent updates coming to the blog.
Until then, hope everyone on your end is healthy & happy. And I hope you have a great rest of the day!

January 4, 2011

Happy 2011 To You

A little late in wishing everyone a Happy New Year, eh? Better 4 days late than never I say. I do sincerely hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas and Happy, Happy New Year. We did.
Life has been busy good here at the farm. We had lots of visits from family and friends. Spent the holidays with my parents, though mainly stayed home enjoying the peace, quiet and our animals.
I really enjoyed not having to travel this year, having small groups of family filter in and out over the month of December and the quiet little holidays at home. The only snags to our perfect holiday season was a trip to the emergency room on Christmas morning and a bruised buttock and tail bone 2 days after Christmas.
On Christmas morning Jim woke in severe pain. His arm and elbow extremely swollen and hot to the touch. He couldn't tolerate the pain so dear son took him to the ER while I stayed home preparing Christmas dinner for the family that was to spend Christmas day at the farm. Six (6) hours later, the guys were home. Only about an hour later than we had planned to have Christmas dinner. Turns out Jim had his first attack of bursitis. Hopefully he will not have another. Is this a signal we are getting old LOL

Dad was feeling well enough to play Santa for a few of the local organizations in December. My great niece went along as Santa's helper.
My youngest nephew from Texas came for a farm visit and helped me with the chores.
My brother came for a weekend. That's 3 generations of my guys in that photo.
We have a new addition to the family. My son's girlfriend. Hope she stays for a long time. I really like this one :-)

As for the bruised buttock and tail bone, well that is the reason I have not been on to wish you a Happy New Year before now. Rather hard to sit comfortably. We had a small bit of ice and snow at Christmas. Really nothing major. I have trudged through so much worse, many many times to do the daily chores. This year I suppose I am not so sure footed as I have been in the past. While pushing a wheel barrow of hay down a small incline to the sheep pen, I lost my footing and fell hard with my rear landing first, then my back, head hitting last. It hurt so bad it scared me. It took me a moment or two or three to gather my wits about me. Thankfully I could move and I didn't break anything.
You know what is really amazing is how things are connected...try to lift anything over 5 lbs. you feel it in your bruised tuckus. Bend over to pick something up off the floor you feel it in your bruised tuckus. You take those muscles for granted.
It's slow and steady for now. They say I should be 100% 3 or 4 days. So for now I am off to the sofa to surround those muscles in ice packs and maybe a nap. Til next time have a great rest of the day.