Thursday, May 7, 2009


My ever present companions. I have few pictures of them. They are usually so close underfoot it is hard to get a picture.Or they are running so fast all you get is a blur.


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Thunder Chickens

When we first bought the farm 6 years ago, my husband brought home 2 puppies.Were they cute! They are litter mates,brother and sister. We named them Molly and Manney. They are cattle dogs,Blue Heelers . I had little experience with large dogs, much less cattle dogs.All my dogs were small indoor dogs ,including Mindy a Jack Russell Terror/ier whom we still have. I got to work and did my research, which was not encouraging."Slow Maturing ,aggressive,energetic,hard to work with" YIKES! He had brought home the "Franken dogs".How could such sweet faces be so terrible? Then we found out the guy gave them away because they were inbred, that's another story.

The first year I came to know what was meant by "energetic and hard to work with". These dogs love to run. When we would go to the cow pasture for a walk they would chase each other and their faces would light up as they ran full speed (they have been clocked at 30mph) .Tongue flapping,drooling,tail flying ecstasy.Oh the joy, and then Manny would plow Molly under at full speed. They did listen when I called them to come, and took joy in going into their crate at night, anything to please me.The energy is why they are hard to work with.They loved to run straight at me.Getting plowed down by two 40 pound fur balls at 30mph is no fun.I had my feet knocked out from under me too many times. I kept waiting for them to grow out of the playful puppy stage.(here is where the slow to mature part comes in)They finally slowed down a bit at 4 years old.They did quit knocking me over when I started carrying a big stick for them to run into.I have yet to see them be aggressive towards a human, but kitty cats watch out!

I also found out they are very loyal ,loving dogs ,but not in the lick your face ,rub my belly,pandering sort of way. They have bonded with me, but they are not part of my family , I am a part of their pack. They like to be close at all times, touching me if possible,if not touching, they place themselves between me and the world. If I walk they are on my heels .If I am in the house they are outside the room I am in.I can look out a window and they are there.Go figure? They like their ears rubbed and will thank you by gnawing on you the same way they gnaw fleas.They don't mind to chase a stick but driving herds is what they love. They beg for the opportunity to put the horses up.They sneak and do it sometimes when they shouldn't.
The biggest problem is they think they should drive everything away from me. If you work with that its okay, but if you are trying to catch the horses ,you had better remember to put the dogs up.

They are 6 years old now and still love to run ,in small spurts, mostly they just lay near me. They are not protective ,but highly suspicious of strangers,and look protective. I wouldn't test it. Molly bit me one day trying to "help",( and I use that term loosely) ,me put a goats head back through the fence. They have jaws like vice grips. I wouldn't want one to bite me intending to do harm.They love all children. In fact that is the only time you will see them lick and wag their tails.
They are independent,burly, fierce looking dogs, until Tim yells at them, or worse yet it thunders.You know an hour before a storm gets here because they will hide up under me.They will knock you over to get behind me.Molly ,bless her soul, has even tried to jump her 60lb butt into my arms.That is why we call them "Thunder Chickens".

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Confessions of an Egocentric Schizophrenic

All of my life I have been caught in between 2 different worlds. My mother was raised in rural Wyoming on a ranch in the middle of nowhere. My dad was the son of a well to do Lumber Baron in Wisconsin. My dad always wanted a son, but he got 2 girls instead . My sister and I were raised in the South with parents not from the South. All of you southerners know what this means. I was a tomboy ,but not good at sports ,I liked boys,but was not attractive ,I liked girl stuff ,makeup,clothes,going to the mall, but I could never quite be giggly and cute.I could go on ,but you get the picture. I never quite fit in anywhere.

When I was young my grandmother would try to get me to sit still and act like a lady,be polite, and wear a dress. Now how can you stand on your head in a dress and be polite and lady like ?? I was sent to ballet to learn grace and restraint. I found a note after my mom died that was written by my ballet instructor.She said I needed to learn to control my exuberance and have better concentration.I probably would have been medicated in school today.I had a poem written about me that was basically about a square peg in a round hole. At that age though I was not concerned about acceptance.

We moved to an Upper Middle Class neighborhood when I was a teenager. I struggled here as well. I enjoyed my girl friends, we went skating and to the mall ,but I liked to fish ,hike in the woods ,and climb trees as well. I tried to fit in but I was tall and lanky and not very girlish. I tried sports but coordination was not my strong point. I did well in swimming but quit when a friend told me it would make my shoulders big.I just couldn't find my niche.I did well in school but not excellent (that goes back to my problem concentrating).

I still struggle. My upbringing was you were nobody if you weren't somebody. "Somebody" being measured by what you had. A nice house in a good neighborhood,nice cars,good clothes(name brand),etc. I communicate and socialize with these people , all in all , I feel more comfortable with them. I also socialize with and belong to the "nobodies". Which is basically everyone else in the world.

My "nobody" half is the happiest. I enjoy being outside and digging in the dirt. I don't mind living in the tiny trailer with a leaky roof as long as I can get outside.I love my animals and my countrified husband.I like being able to do for myself. I like drinking beer with my friends..Then my "somebody" side asserts itself and I feel ashamed of my living conditions. My high school friends would be appalled at living in a trailer (My sister is). I should go further in debt and have a nice house,white collar husband, drink wine and lay by the pool. Either life I would be missing the other.

Hope I didn't offend with the "Nobody" label but since I am egocentric it really doesn't matter since its all about me anyway.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Rain and Planting

We managed to finally get the corn in the ground along with the melons and winter squash.I helped my granddaughter learn the step 5 (she has short legs) drop three method of planting the melons and squash.She did a good job, talking non-stop while she planted.We are going to plant the tomato plants and pepper plants today.We need to come up with some sort of trellis system for the tomato plants.We bought them at Lowe's. YIKES! Expensive. I will be starting my own next year!Then it will be weeding and watering.

We had a nice rain last night to water in the new seeds. It should really make the seedlings that are up jump out. It looks like the grass grew an inch overnight. Probably the weeds too.

We finally got a check yesterday. Yahoo! I can pay the bills and then try to budget for a month. I still am not really good at that. I ,unfortunately ,am not very list oriented. I make lists and then never pick them up again . I am a seat of the pants kind of gal. This doesn't work well when trying to budget money for feed,food,fuel,and supplies for a month. We came up about a week short last month.I need to come up with a system but it is hard. The checks are never the same from flock to flock, or month to month, and there is no predicting how well or bad the chickens will do.Any suggestions?? Most of the expenses are fixed ,except the power bill which depends on the weather. I think they should teach budgeting in school. The only thing I learned about money growing up was how to con my daddy out of it.I was pretty good at that.Then of course I was good at spending it too.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Goat Care

We have a really nice crop of new kids.The kids were all born on or about the 5th of March. I have Boer goats and Boer/Nubian cross. I also have one Oberhasli doe. My goats are tame if you have feed in your hand but hard to catch otherwise. I don't milk and normally they are just on browse and hay. I don't use alot of feed. So I can't get near any of the kids right now to check them for worms. It is time to check my does for worms and do some hoof trimming.I do have several pesky does that require scratching behind the ears every time I go in the pasture. These are the first ones I will catch ,worm and trim.
I use cydectin pour on cattle wormer for the goats . This seems to be the only wormer that works in my area for stomach worms.Stomach worms will bring a heard down in a hurry. We unfortunately learned this lesson the hard way the 3rd year we had the goats.The stomach worms cause anemia,bottle jaw, and death. We use the pour on orally as this is safer for the goats.

We use a method called FAMACHA to tell when the goats are in need of worming. You can usually get a card from your Veterinarian.We check the color of the eyelids and gums. This indicates anemia and its severity. We worm accordingly.We only worm the goats who need it.We are trying to build resistance to worms in our heard. The goats will not build resistance with monthly wormings.The worms however will ,and right now cydectin is the only wormer in this area that is effective. I use a drenching syringe that has a metal tip and put the wormer at the back of the tongue so they have to swallow. Not too messy this way.There are alot of web sites that describe wormers and their dosages for different areas of the country.I would find a web site specific to what ever area you live in and use the wormer that works best for that area.Being a wet warm spring so far I had to worm all three does that I caught.They are all also in milk with kids so I need to make sure and keep them in good condition so they can raise the kids.

Hoof trimming can be frustrating, but hoof trimming alone is a real pain in the back.All three does needed their hooves trimmed.I had to put a goat halter on them and tie them up. They all had good hard hooves but they were over grown.The hardest part is when you tie them up all of the bossy does come over to pick on them. Pesky does.When picking on the does didn't work the started nibbling on me and pulling my hair.I managed to get them trimmed with no blood loss to me or the goats.

Tomorrow I will catch some more

Planting the Garden

It sure has been hot for April. I hope we don't have another record hot dry summer.That might not be good for the first year of the Market Garden. We have most of the larger garden planted.We decided to stick with traditional crops this year.Tomatoes,beans,okra,assorted peppers,cucumbers,melons,and squash.We are only using natural fertilizer and pesticide .We bought an "In Line Seeder" boy that sure made seeding a breeze.Fill the hopper and seed the row. It has plates for different size seeds. It cuts the row,drops the seed , and covers it up. Worked like a charm.Now we have to work on a system to water the whole thing.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Taking control

Our first step in taking control is to figure out where we are going.We both decided we would like to keep the farm ,but hate being broke.We need a way of bringing in some more money with the tools we have.What do we have? Land,garden tools,lots of manure(literally).Hmmmm what can we do with that?

This year we are putting in a small market garden. People are wanting to buy food closer to home and would like to know how it was handled.We decided on a smaller garden. We did the finish tilling yesterday and plan on doing some of the planting today.I still have my small raised bed garden, already planted. If the Market Garden works out I will change my kitchen garden to small fruit production,strawberries and blueberries for subsequent years.We are sticking with the traditional crops this year. This will give us a feel for the market in our area and hopefully some input from the people who will be buying from us.

We got most of the planting finished today .We still need to put in the tomato plants and pepper plants.The garden has nice soil as it was a small horse pasture.Weeds will most likely be a problem the first year.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

How I got to where I am

When we bought this farm 6 years ago I was looking for an escape from my working life. We had a small place ,15 acres and a house. It was on my husbands family farm. After his stepdad died we moved his mom on the back 5 acres. I love his mom but this was too close for me. We also had his cousin next door and his brother within rock throwing distance.
We found a hen farm about 3miles down the road for a steal. It already had a contract on it but we went ahead and put in a backup contract .It was 29 acres and 2 hen houses .There was a small double wide trailer on the farm. The other contract fell through at closing so we got the farm.The plan was to move someone into the trailer to help take care of the farm. We would continue living at the house untill we could build on the farm. How did that go? Not too well...

3 years into the "plan" we decided we had to sell the small farm . Our help didn't work out and I was spending more time at the hen farm than at home . The house sold and what little we made we sunk into fixing things at the hen houses. One month after we spent several thousands of dollars my husband lost his job. He was at the top of his profession and there are not many job openings for Fire Chief. He decided to go into business with his brother(mistake) mowing grass.They basically went broke in the second season when the fuel prices went through the roof.So here we are 6 years into the "plan" barely making ends meet and living in a broken down double wide. The biggest problem we have is we lived the "American" way. We spent what we made.When the job loss/pay decrease hit it put us in a downward spiral.We make good money with the hens, but the banks will only finance farms for a short period .That's alot of money to pay back in a short time so our payments on the farm are huge. We also only get a check monthly for 9 months.We have not yet had time to adjust for this since the job loss. We keep having to play catch up, not to mention with the bad economy we were without chickens for 3 months instead of 6weeks ,so this year we have been without a pay check since Oct. Here we are broke, living in an old trailer with a leaky roof on 29 of the most beautiful acres in the county.

Time to take hold and stop this snowball. We are happy but I can't say there is less stress. Until I get control of the finances again there is stress! We have decided to try and simplify our lives and live on less to keep the life style that makes us happy.