Monday, March 3, 2014

Lambs everywhere!!

The ewes have finally finished lambing.  I am quite frustrated with the new ewes, they are not very good mothers.  Out of the 15 new ewes 9 decided not to care for their babies.  I have never had a ewe refuse all of her babies.  It seems that these girls just have no clue what the little ones are trying to do, they will not let them nurse and butt them away.  I even restrained several ewes hoping once the little one got a good drink mama would take such luck.  We are bottle feeding most of this years lambs which really sucks the time.  I am not a happy farmer.  I wish I knew why they will not take the babies.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Farm Fact Friday

Dairy cows drink 25-50 gallons of water each day.  We have 5 dairy cows right now so in a year (if they drink 25 gallons) they drink  45,625 gallons of water a year.  Wow!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Good Bye Plastic Wrap

 I have always had a love hate relationship with plastic wrap..I love that it can keep my food tidy and fresh.   The thought of that plastic being cozy with my food kinda un-nerves me a bit.  Now I know that  plastic people swear that it is totally safe for my cling wrap to contain my food items,but still I worry about the long term effects of such items.  I also hate that plastic wrap is pretty much a one time use sort of thing. I like wax paper but again one use and in the trash it goes.  I thought I would give waxed fabric a try and see if that would work.
 I have a collection of old feed sack cloth, it is 100% cotton and the old prints are so fun.  I cut out a square of fabric and ran it through the serger to hem the edge.  Then I shaved some lovely beeswax.  I bought a old cookie sheet from the thrift and layed my fabric down.  I sprinkled my shaved beeswax over the cloth and put it in a 250 degree oven for about 3 min.
 After I took everything out of the oven I used a cheap paintbrush to push the wax down into the fibers of the cloth.  I hung up my wax infused cloth to let it set.
 After just a few minutes the wax was set.  I love that the wax gives the fabric some body and it sticks top itself just like the plastic wrap.  It does a lovely job clinging to casserole dishes and it looks so pretty surrounding one of the kiddos sandwich.
If the fabric gets soiled I just give it quick swipe with a soft soapy cloth and we are back in business!  I am loving not having to fight that silly plastic wrap!
Linking up with New life on a Homestead

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Home school our way

Homeschooling can be scary.  We started down this path a few years past, and I was terrified.  I had no clue what to do or how to do it.  The amount of information about homeschooling is overwhelming.  I  had met some home school families that were so organized (and seemed to have their second graders doing algebra) I also met families that seemed to not have any structure and the kids ran a muck. Both families were happy with what they were doing and the kids were doing great.
  I started trying to be very structured.. I had everything planned each day down to scheduled free time.  UGH! that was such a failure.  If the phone rang or a customer came everything fell to pieces.  I liked the schedule but it just was not working.  The guilt I had at the end of the day if we got off track was motivation enough to toss the schedule.
My kiddos are great kids but not self starters.  They will gladly do whatever I ask, I just have to ask.  That means I assign math then reading then science then get the point.  Once again If I got busy and did not "ask"them to do math they would just skip it.  I am working with them to work on their own but it is a slow process.  I hope that with time they will learn to do more on their own.  As for right now we have a schedule that is loose,sometimes school does not get finished until after afternoon chores and some days we are done by lunch.  I am not happy the days school goes late but it does get done.  I love homeschooling, the opportunity for the kids to learn in a way that is fun and exciting has really changed their attitude towards learning.  I do not get the whining and complaints like before when they went to public school they love to do school.  It makes me so happy to see them thriving in their education.  #4 has had a wonderful time raising rabbits as part of school.  He has done a great job learning about different feeds and how to care for the bunnies.
I am sure we will continue to have ups and downs with school scheduling and curriculum, but for now it works for us.  Do you homeschool?  How does your day go?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

We are pretending it is summer.....

 We have had quite a bit of snow here on the farm.  The kiddos and I have made snow ice cream and decided something new was in order.    With more snow predicted for our area we were desperate for thought of summer.  Snow cones!!
I made a simple syrup of sugar water and drink mix.  It was super easy and the kids LOVED having something a bit different. We made two flavors Tropical Punch and Grape.  They turned out perfect (although I really wish they would not put so much food coloring in the drink mix)

                                                               Snow Cone Syrup
                                                                     1 Cup sugar
                                                                     1 Cup Water
                                                                     1 dry drink mix packet
                                                         Combine all ingredients in a small sauce pan
                                                         Stir mixture untill sugar and drink mix are dissolved
                                                         Boil for 1 min.  Let cool and pour over fresh snow. YUM!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Celebrating #4 with #6

Oh dear can she really be 4?  I feel the time slipping away from the joys of toddler-hood and moving on to full blown little person.  #6 was a surprise... it took me a bit to wrap my head around the fact we were expecting again those many years ago.  There are 6 years between #5 and #6, that is a very big gap for our family.  I am so very thankful for the gift of  this sweet little one.  She is full of hugs and I love you's, just what this mama needs.  Happy Birthday sweet baby.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Farm Fact Friday

Of all major dairy breeds, the Jersey's milk boasts the richest content. The milk is very high in butterfat, which provides a better-tasting product. It's also used for making cheese and butter. According to the American Jersey Cattle Association (AJCA), compared to the average glass of milk, that produced by a Jersey contains 15 to 20 percent more protein, 15 to 18 percent more calcium and 10 to 12 percent more phosphorus, along with high amounts of vitamin B12.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Never take your kids with you to a small animal auction......

Yep I am a softie when it comes to cute faces.  I grew up with horses and really I think that is the only thing that got me through those tough teen years.  We have had a few horses here on the farm and I came to the realization that while fun and sweet horses did not fit in our farm plan.  They were beautiful  and I loved them,but they eat a TON!  So off went all the big horses.
 It has been about 5 years since we have had horses, and this past fall we went to a small animal auction looking for guinea hens.  I made the mistake of taking a few of the children with me.  The auction started and I was thrilled to find what I was looking for at the price I wanted.  We stayed to watch the hogs go through then the sheep but in the middle out comes a few mini horses.  The first was a cute spotted mare she sold for $30.00.  Then out came a mare and foal sold for $35.00.  I was in shock and my kids were making a HUGE scene begging on knees for me to buy a silly pony.  I stood my ground...NO WAY!!  A few more came out the price dropped.  The kids are dying at this point.  The auctioneer is laughing so hard he can't do his job.  The last little horse comes out, a yearling gelding.  The kids are having an absolute fit, the auctioneer is now trying his best to send this little guy home with us...needless to say all those pleading puppy dog eyes got to me. SOLD to the lady with the pleading children.  UGHH!!  What did I just do?  Well he was very cheap at least #4 will have fun brushing him.
  I went to the auction to buy a few birds..I did not drive the home we go with a mini horse in a mini van.
The horse was named Albert and the kids had a blast with him.  He was a pretty good little guy with people...little did I know.
  I know a fellow farmer that gets bottle lambs and often we get some and feed them out.  The kids love bottle feeding anything, and lambs are so darn cute.  We feed as many as 10 some years.  Last spring we had lots of bottle lambs.  The kids did a great job and soon the lambs were ready for the pasture.  Sometimes the bottle lambs take a few days to a week to integrate with the existing flock and they tend to hang out together by the front gate.
We started finding dead lambs.  These things happen, it is hard but sometimes it is a reality.  We got a few more lambs.  More dead I thought a coyote was in the area.  I fenced the lambs in the front pasture at night to protect them.  Weeks go by and all is well so I turn the lambs out...dead lambs.  UGGH by this point I am frustrated and think that the lambs have some illness.  I call the vet but there are no symptoms.  Healthy bouncing lambs one day and dead the was a mystery.
In October Coco had a calf in the pasture.  Coco is a beautiful healthy cow and never has had any issues...her calf was found dead.  We had no idea what happened.
A few months ago we were gifted a few super cute lambs. They were weaned so went out to the pasture.
They were so sweet.  They did great for about a month, then I found one dead.
A few days later I went in the pasture to find Albert swinging the last lamb around by the neck.....He was going crazy over this lamb.  The lamb looked like a rag doll.  I ran shouting in to the pasture, he ignored me.
By time I got to the lamb he was dead.  The mystery was solved and I was sick to my stomach.  I never thought he would do that.  Needless to say he went right back  to the auction house...he sold for $30.00. I got a bill from the auction house for $7.00, this is what I owed after the commission and the coggins test.  So I had to give them $7.00 to get this silly horse that had caused so much trouble off our farm... Best $7.00 ever spent.

Friday, January 10, 2014

I have been away............farming sucks sometimes

It has been a bit since I have written, I just couldn't manage the emotional strength.  Things change so quickly on a farm.  Life is so unpredictable.
 My sweet Lucy was born here on our farm and it was love at first sight for me.  She was the first female calf born here, and I knew she would always be here with us.  I bottle fed her and worked with her daily so that she would be easy to manage.  I spent every day with her.  I learned that cows certainly have personalities and a sense when it comes to their owners.  Lucy was spunky and loved attention.  She would get into mischief and then frolic around acting like a three old that found the candy stash.  She loved to open the pasture gate and come up to the house, she would look in the windows for us and moo like crazy when she found us.  I would go out and scold her only to have her come over and lay her head on me... how could I be angry?  She always knew when I was outside and would come running to see me, we had a milkmaid/cow bond.  I loved to scratch her ears and chin she would roll her eyes back in sheer pleasure.  As far as cows go she led a perfect life.
Lucy had a beautiful bull calf recently, and there were complications.  Lucy died.  I have a huge hole in  my heart and have cried everyday since that dreadful day. She had been a daily part of my life for the past 5 years.  It is difficult to express how I feel and to some it may be silly to be so upset over a cow, but I have invested so much into that relationship.  We treat our animals differently, they are family to us.  We give them our best and they in turn do the same.  There will be other cows, and the hole in my routine will be filled with other farm tasks to ease the loss.  For now I am heavy with grief for my sweet Lucy.  She will be so missed.