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October 31, 2010

Chicky, chicky, bok, bok! Farm chicks!

Today we replaced the hens (all the previous ones were massacred by raccoons). We ended up with 12, all are laying now except for 3-4 of them which should start laying in a month or two. Dave completely rebuilt/recovered the outside enclosure last week, and sowed rye seed. In a few weeks, when it is not a dirt patch, we will let them out in their run area.

Several hours after bringing them home I went to take them some treats and found a treat for me--the first egg!
I puttered in the garden a little bit, mostly winterizing the veggies by bedding around them with spent hay. The tomatoes are growing so vigorously they are lifting up their cages out of the ground. The little green tomatoes and blooms are too numerous to count. Now we just have to be mindful of checking the weather forecast daily so we don't get surprised by a frost. That would really stink!

As you know our heifer Ginger is due to calve in May. I have been dying for more milk to be able to make cheese, yogurt, butter, etc. So, I have been on the hunt for a healthy, sweet cow in milk (and used to being milked). I am not sure how it will work if we end up having a heavy producer and fitting that into the job (traveling out of town every week). I don't know what the situation will end up being with the job (they have asked us all to reduce traveling) but I figure we can always get a foster calf or two to take care of extra milk, and still milk 3-4 times a week for the house. Despite search Craig's List and the KFC forum daily for weeks, I did not find one. Thankfully though providence brought one to us--the opportunity to buy back a cow we sold last spring: Vera! She is dry now and due Jan-Feb. She is bred to an Angus bull. We are picking her up the second week of November. I am thrilled! She is sweet, healthy, good at milking, has a bangs tag, etc, etc. The fact that she is not in milk is by far outweighed by the fact that we know her and love her.
Here are some recent pics from her current home:

The only other major happening this week was the A/C (furnace) compressor and the septic (pump) deciding to die on the same day. Thankfully they were both fixed the next day. These things run in three's don't they?......Should I wait for the other shoe to drop, or live in bliss that both are fixed. Hmmm, I am a "cup is half full" kinda girl so I'll just be thankful that all is well.
Here's hoping all is well with you too!

October 24, 2010

Happy Sunday!

I have had a great time today catching up on all the blogs I follow. You all inspire me so much with your cooking, farm activities, animal husbandry, and just life in general and how you manage it all.

All is well on the farm, animals are happy and healthy and the garden is growing like crazy.
The kids are so busy these days with work, friends and activities! It is a challenge to keep up and spend time together on the weekends. (I think the homemade ice cream I made may work to my favor this evening!)

Lately life has been a constant balancing act between needing to travel and wanting to be home. The special reward this morning was quiet time on the back porch before heading out to feed the animals. I jotted this down:

Observe. Morning sunlight streams across the farm. A barn cat basks. Cardinals shift in flight at the feeder. Cow bell chimes in the distance as she grazes through tall summer grasses. Dew drops cling to garden leaves. A pig crunches acorns. Coffee aroma. Rich, overwhelming peace.

I wish you all peace this week, and many special moments!

October 17, 2010

Anyone know a good rain dance?

No rain this week, or for several weeks. The pastures are very dry and crunchy. This is the time of year to sow rye or winter wheat or clover, but without any rain in the forecast I don't dare throw seed out.
Despite the dryness, we have had a pleasantly mild fall with crisp air (40's) in the morning. So nice!

I survived the learning curve with the live trap, after having the bait stolen for several nights. After I changed how I was setting it up (bottom was resting on the ground) and oiled all the moving parts I trapped a feral cat. Then a couple of nights I was gone and on Saturday morning there was a growling opossum in the trap! Not a nice fella. The next night the feral cat returned (I let it loose the first time). Both have been relocated and now I hope to capture the raccoon that left its paw prints on the hen house door.

I need to call the guy we bought the hens from and see if he has any more.
Ginger and her pasture mate Black Beauty (Black Dexter cow) are getting more friendly by the day and have begun hanging out in the pasture adjacent to the garden when I am out there working. Their efforts are rewarded with comfrey or whatever weeds I have pulled.
I have tried giving them pumpkin and cantaloupe, they don't care for either but they do like bananas and apples. ;-)

I found a huge Wolf spider in the tomato bed this morning. (pic attached) She is absolutely stunning!

The majority of the basil leaves have been harvested and frozen, made into pesto, or dried. The house smells lovely. Kind of like our favorite Italian restaurant!

I have not been overly domestic this weekend since I had a major project due for school (celebrating tonight when Dave gets home from work!). This semester ends Friday and the next starts Monday. The 8-week semesters march right along. I have 4 more semesters to go, and then I will have a BSN. Not sure what I want to do when I finish this 20+ year college plan. Something besides "official" school. I don't think I will have any problem devoting my time to family, farm, cows, garden and maybe some sculpture or pottery.

Have a great week friends and family!

October 11, 2010


I discovered in the settings for Blogger (on my dashboard) that I can post to the blog via text from my phone--this will be handy when I am traveling! Also, I had not ever enabled the notification to let me know when someone comments--I should be a little more responsive now!

Just posting this in case it can help any fellow bloggers!

A few more pics

Lantana bloom


Yesterday was extremely productive here, we got 130 bales of hay put in (165 total now), Josh and his friend Victor were a tremendous help.
Melissa picked up one of her cows that is due to calve soon and she brought me Spottie the GOS! Very sweet and curious pig so far, she "talks" too. (and is driving Cooper nutty). She does have brown stains from where she made herself "as happy as a pig in sh**"! That was literally the first thing she did--find something to roll in!
I also cleaned out/weeded/edged all the beds in the backyard, I can now appreciate how ratty it was looking, and have taken stock of what plants need to be replaced (more Knock-out roses).
A very busy, productive weekend and I hurt in places I haven't in a long time, add to that the blisters and sciatica and I am thankful for every bit!!!

October 9, 2010

Gorgeous weather

Much of this week I spent in Atlanta with the nurses at strategy meetings (pic above: Vanessa, Kathleen and Marty). The weather there was gorgeous! 40 at night with a high of 80, very little humidity--very nice! The only down side is Dave said the weather was identical at home, and I wasn't there to enjoy it. It has been warmer since I got home on Friday, but still very nice.

I spent the day today cleaning out and organizing the tack room. Very productive. Max and Cooper thought they were helping but really it looked like chasing of cats and carpenter bees. Max is one of my favorite subjects to photograph, and he is usually pretty close to me.

I took off Ginger's halter and gave her a bell, she did not seem to mind at all. I am looking forward to the day when her horns come off and the attitude adjustment that comes with it. She knows she has them and has lowered her head at me several times. And then she sulks when I stomp my foot and tell her BAD GIRL!

The garden beds are thriving, the tomatoes are blooming! The lettuce and herbs look and taste delicious. The carrots and peas have not come up yet. I think I will have to look for some onion sets and broccoli plants, the seedlings did not germinate.
We lost 3 hens and a duck to a predator, most likely a raccoon. We found a spot in the netting that was torn open. Since then we have been closing the hens in at night. Yesterday when I went out to shut the door I noticed it had raccoon prints on it!(pic above) The nerve! I set the trap tonight and will see what we have in the morning.

While visiting a friend today she offered me her Gloucestershire Old Spot pig (gilt). She is friendly, healthy, and cute! Spot will be coming tomorrow if all goes well. This is a very hardy heritage breed that is on the list of dwindling numbers. I hope we can breed her (AI) and not have to eat her. I did not get any pics yet, but I will. ;-)

Dave is in LA at Steph and Emile's camp hunting, for what I am not sure since teal and alligator seasons are over. I have no doubt they are having great fun no matter what they find to do!

The spider lilies are blooming! It is cheerful to see bright red clusters popping up in yards all over the neighborhood. (pic at top)

October 1, 2010

Happy Friday!

Ok, so it is late-ish on Friday. The weather here in SE TX has been absolutely the best it ever gets--highs around 80 most days this week and lows in the 50-60 range. We actually turn off the air at night and most of the day now! A little crispness to the air and less humidity....all this adds up to FALL! It really is here! Wow, it just feels so refreshing.

Besides the weather, all is well. Ginger is used to her routine (go stand in stanchion and don't flinch when they close the head catch, don't flinch when being brushed and eat like a pig!). She will definitely be a back pocket cow someday. She still has a flight zone in the pasture when she is approached, but it is noticeably smaller.

Work was work-ish and a little intense this week. Not so much on the travel, just mental angst and stress. Next week I will be in FL for one day then the next day go to Atlanta for 3 nights. All the Nurses are getting together to brainstorm, strategize and well, be together for a few days. I am looking forward to that trip, there are 5 of us and it should be a lot of fun and pretty productive too.

Only half of the beans I planted came up this week so I replanted that side of the bed with shell peas. Claire posted a pic of some on her blog and they look so great, I hope ours do that well.

Next week the kids have Homecoming, woohoo!

The weather is supposed to be gorgeous this weekend so my goal is to get my homework done early and not be indoors writing a paper the whole time!

Have a great weekend!