Wednesday, December 30, 2009

My first trip away from the farm

I haven't been away from the farm overnight since we moved here over a year ago. Mark and Logan have, but I haven't wanted to leave the animals. I decided I wanted to go to Virginia to see family for the holidays. My grandparents are still alive but their health is starting to suffer, so I wanted to see them. I arranged for a neighbor to come in the mornings and Sandy to come in the evenings. I divided up the chores between the 2 times so no one had more than about 10 minutes worth of stuff to do.

After a great trip, we arrived home yesterday evening. I told Sandy not to come yesterday so I could do the evening chores and check on everyone when I got home. I went down to put everyone to bed and everyone seemed fine. But I noticed all the waters were empty. Not good. The neighbor doing the morning was in charge of filling waters. But I gave him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he filled them the morning before and decided there was enough water left yesterday morning to get them through the day. I decided I'd take care of the water in the morning since it was already after 9 and all the animals were asleep.

This morning, the neighbor must have been confused about when we were coming back because he came by before we got up and let the animals out. I thought good, I won't have to fill all the waters and can concentrate on cleaning the extremely dirty stall and the coops. When I got down there, all the waters will still empty and the chicken's food hadn't been filled! The chickens are locked in the new coop and can't get out to forage for food. They are reliant on us to feed them. When I went into the coop to feed them, they attacked me! They were clearly very hungry. Now I'm wondering if the neighbor ever filled the food or water. Luckily, I got big water containers and filled them to the top before I left, so at most they should only have gone a day or 2 without water. But the chickens could have gone the whole time without food.

I appreciate that he was willing to help out, but you need to be able to rely on people to do what they say they are going to do. Especially when animals are involved! I'm the type of person that takes responsibility very seriously. If you ask me to do something I will do beyond what you asked. If you wanted me to feed and water your animals, you'd probably come home and find I cleaned the barn too ;). It is just how I am. It is really hard to learn that others don't take their word seriously.

Luckily, it is winter and not summer. They could have died without water for 2 days in the summer. I was planning on going to my family reunion in July, it is every other year and family from all over the world go. I don't want to miss it, but I can't put my animals in danger either. I will be looking for a new morning person and setting up a redundancy system where waters get filled twice a day. I hope I can find someone I feel comfortable trusting to take care of my animals. I trust Sandy but don't want to ask her to come twice a day, that seems like it is asking too much of someone. Thanks Sandy! The animals appreciate the care you gave them.

Update: Sandy filled the food and water for the chickens in the coop when she came in the evenings. It is clear the neighbor never did the whole time. Thank goodness I had Sandy coming in the evening!!! Thank you again Sandy. I really owe you!

Friday, December 25, 2009

The best Christmas present ever!

Turns out Lisa was right. The hawk did come back a couple of weeks ago. This time it got my sweet, wonderful Calendula! We were upset about Dusty because he was fun and roamed the street. Even all the neighbors liked him because he would visit them. But he wasn't friendly. When I found Calendula's feathers, I was seriously pissed! She was MY chicken. She was devoted to me. I nursed her back to health. I picked maggots out of her 6 or 7 times. She ran to me whenever I went outside and rode around on my shoulder.

I decided right then that I wouldn't lose anymore chickens. Mark talked to the neighbor that day about building us a coop on the side of the run-in. He built our house and the run-in originally so he seemed like an obvious choice.

The coop got done Tuesday and it is beautiful! We had it built in a way that if we want in the future, we can wall it in and have another stall. The chickens are all safely tucked in. They aren't thrilled with being locked up, but they are safe. I let them out when I am out with them.

This coop is my Christmas present from everyone. They are all donating money towards it. It is the best Christmas present ever, but my rifle last year is a close second.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Pumpkin Cider Bread

It has been a long time since I've posted a recipe. I've really missed baking. I'm looking forward to the slower times of winter so I can bake more. The neighbors will love me! I like giving my baking away so we don't eat it all ourselves.

I was trying to think of what to make the neighbors for the holidays. We had apple cider sitting around that needed to be used up, so I kind of made up a recipe. It turned out really good! It is moist and spicy. I made 5 mini loaves. It would make at least 2 full size loaves.

Pumpkin Cider Bread

• 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree (I did use store bought, my pumpkins never grew)
• 4 eggs (collected that day if possible)
• ½ cup vegetable oil
• ½ cup apple sauce (I used my home made cinnamon apple sauce)
• 2/3 cup apple cider
• 2 cups white sugar (pure cane of course, don’t want any genetically modified sugar in my bread)
• 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
• 2 teaspoons baking soda
• 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
• 1 teaspoon ground ginger

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Prepare pans
2. In a large bowl, mix together pumpkin puree, eggs, oil, apple sauce, cider, and sugar until well blended. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. Stir the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture until just blended. Pour into the prepared pans.
3. Bake for about 50 minutes in the preheated oven. Loaves are done when toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

I also made brownie bites today. Man are those good! I'm not sure if I ever shared that recipe or not.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Target Practice

No self respecting farm blog would be complete without the occasional gun post. Over Thanksgiving, my dad and sister came to visit and we pulled out the pellet guns for a little target practice in the front yard.

Mark took a turn.
My sister, Maile took a turn.
Logan took a turn, he prefers the pistol to the rifle.
Nice shot! Thanks for the targets Grandpa Joe.
Time to re-load, this was my job most of the time.
Logan got his sling shot out to try. The gun is much easier.
Maile doing her Sarah Palin impression.
Me doing my Sarah Palin impression.
Logan showing Grandpa how to use the gun.
Grandpa takes a turn.
I took a few turns too, but you guys have already seen pictures of me shooting. Pellets guns are a lot of fun to practice with.

We have a friend who wants to come over and do some target practice. We're exciting about this because they have better guns than we do. We're thinking about getting a pistol someday but would love to try a couple out first. Hopefully, we can find a time to have our friend over.

Cute animal pictures coming soon.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A beautiful foggy day

Yesterday we extremely foggy. The farm was earning it's second name Foggy Bottom Farm.

Here is the normal view of our neighbor's barn.

Here was yesterday's view. This was the thickest fog we've had since we moved here.
Aurora on a spool.
The house from the road.
Our neighbor's cows.

The amazing thing is these pictures were taken at 3 in the afternoon. The fog was like this all day.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Another nasty rumor

There is another nasty rumor going around about me. I don't know how these things keep getting started but I have to put an end to it! The latest one is that I was giving the goats rides in the wheelbarrow this morning. That is ridiculous! Who would do something like that? I even heard people are saying the goats were waiting in line for their rides. Please....

Now, I was using the wheelbarrow this morning. I have to move 6 months worth of waste hay and goat poop so we can have another stall built on the run-in Monday. It is a huge pile! I worked for an hour this morning and I didn't even make a dent in it. Mark is hiking so it is up to me to get it moved. Sometimes I think this is not the lifestyle for a small woman. And as goats like to do, they were helping me move the pile. But come on, this rumor is crazy!

In case you've been hearing other rumors about me and missed the last time I had to debunk them, go here.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Last week we got alot of rain. Our creek and the neighbor's creek flooded. Logan and I decided to go down during the height of the store to see how it all looked. We got very wet. Maybe not our smartest decision ever, but it was fun.

Here is the neighbor's creek. Usually you can't see the water from this point in our pasture. This day the water was about 1/4 of the way up his pasture.

I had a creek in my garden. That isn't normal

Our creek, way over it's banks. It is up into the pasture and everything around the creek is under water. In the summer, our creek went totally dry so this is a lot of water!

I have some videos we took of our creek during the rain, I'll post them tomorrow probably. Today, the rain finally stopped, but the farm is earning it's name! The wind is insane out there.

Lastly, I want to apologize for not reading anyone's blog for the last week or so. I'm feeling overwhelmed right now with work and just don't have time to read blogs. I'm not ignoring you all! I'm having to work during all of Logan's activities just to keep caught up. I'm not done most nights until 10 and then I have time to pop onto Facebook and that is about it. Classes end next week, so things will calm down again then.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Funny animals

This morning I went down to do morning chores as usual but the animals were being funny. First Calendula jumped on my shoulder and just rode around. Sweet Pea the sheep is in heat, so she was glued to my leg, we call her velcro sheep when she is in heat. Because she is the leader and spent the morning stuck to my leg, the rest of the animals also hung around instead of going down on pasture. So, I'm trying to clean the stall and fill water buckets with a chicken on my shoulder, a sheep on my leg and the goats chewing on my pants. Nebula, the sheep that is scared of us, was also hanging around in the stall while I tried to clean it. I literally couldn't turn around without tripping over an animal, and every time I turned around and tripped, the chicken on my shoulder had to flap her wings to keep her balance. It was an interesting morning in the stall! The chores did get done, although they took longer than usual. As I was walking back up to the house Sweet Pea was crying at me the whole time. I felt terrible about coming in but I can't spend all day out there, I have papers to grade.

To top it all off, all the girls who are laying decided instead of laying in their normal, individual spots, that they all wanted to lay in Buttercup's spot. I'm not sure how Buttercup feels about this. It does make collecting eggs easier for me though. I'm not sure why everyone is acting funny today, maybe the change in the weather?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Green eggs and ham

We have green eggs! Dr. Suess would be proud. (Ignore the dirty window sill, that is embarrassing)!

Our beautiful girl Sweet Cecily has started laying. Being an Americana, she lays colored eggs. Her color is this pale green.

We still have another Americana that isn't laying yet. Logan is hoping for pink eggs from her. 5 of our 8 girls are now laying. Soon, we will be rolling in eggs and begging people to take them. I never meant to have this many layers, but the chickens just seem to find their way here.