Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Hello Again!

A word of clarification:  This is a really long post because it is a compilation of several posts on my farm blog, hence the emphasis on farmy subjects.  Still, I hope it is fun to skim through the pictures and get an idea of what we've been up to.


Hi Everyone!
Sorry I have been away from blogging for so long.  It seems like over the course of the last few months I've been so busy doing things that I haven't had time to write about all I've been doing.  Well, it's good to stay busy, but it is also good to keep up with my blogs, so this week I have tried to focus on sewing and computer work.  So far, this is the first computer work I've done, except for a little writing on my current book, but hopefully I will be able to pile quite a few more languishing computer projects into the next few days.

If you have subscribed to my newsletter, you are already aware of what has been going on in our lives; it's been a lot!  Two siblings have been married, two calves have been born, one goat is due to kid soon, and Cleone is ready to be bred for her first litter of puppies, to name a few!  If you are not subscribed to the newsletter, you can sign up now via the form on the right hand side of this blog.

Below are a few pictures of life on the farm.  Enjoy the update!
Warning:  There are a ton of pictures in this blog post, so if you are not interested in looking at a long pictorial record of our year, then you may want to stop reading here.

If you are game for an update:  Welcome to January!

The sun rises on a new year...

Fenella (hopefully) enters a new level of training.

The dogs work the cows, and cut several more notches in Buttercup's ears.  (I am trying to work with them to keep them from using so much bite...  They are getting better!)

The goats enjoy their first taste of homegrown cabbage, and decimate the patch a few days later when they get loose.

I work out in the back pasture with my younger siblings to spread mulch.  We got a lot done, and hopefully this will help our grass grow thicker.

A goat's version of a roadblock...

Sunday afternoon walk with friends; some two-legged, and some four-legged.

"I'm not biting Frieda, Missus, just exercising her."

We spent an afternoon hiking in Gothe State Park, and I took a ton of pictures of the dogs (and siblings) in the beautiful scenery there.

My handsome pup.

 Discounted, really big calf/ goat sweater, anyone?

Chicken yoga.

 Puppies!
(This one requires some explanation...  Inez surprised us with a litter of pups after I thought she had gone sterile.  Sadly, all but one died.  The last one was barely kept alive by our best efforts, blessed by the Lord to save her life.  Now she is fat and healthy, though still about a week behind her actual age.)


That's it for January.  More coming soon!


February:


For those who are interested, here is a pictorial, high-speed description of the month of February.


I got to experience what having a pack of four high-energy dogs is like when I "puppysat" a couple of my sister-in-law's Aussies.
(They are great dogs!  palacepupsaussies.weebly.com)


Anna-Frances enjoyed it too.

 Frankie loves to wear this colander...


We decided to sell Pansy, due to our old enemy, lack of grass.
(Asking $1,700)


A picture of Fenella's sire...  I think he becomes more beautiful every year!
(Contact me if you are interested in using him for stud, and I will put you in contact with the owner.)


We are planning to keep Bayberry - yay!

Waiting for Buttercup to calve..


And it's another heifer:  Hurrah!
But we must sell her.  :(
$1,500


Buttercup is always willing to give a milking lesson...



Cleone discovered that mulch is a cool, damp place to take a siesta in...

"What on earth is that?"

And began learning about puppies...

"I love it!"
And now she is Flossy's best friend. 


I had the privilege of spending a day over at Shepherd's Hill Farm, in Lake City.  It was a lot of fun spending time with our friends and church family up there!


Bottle feeding Flossy...  This will be the best socialized dog on the planet!



Flossy's markings betray her parentage...



The dogs take a refresher course in leaving chicks alone.


Frieda decided that she likes to sleep on the hay bale...  But the cows don't want to eat her bed after she's slept in it for a while, so I need to figure out a way to cure her of this lovely habit.


Anna-Frances is always game to try new things; especially if it's difficult and she is too young for the job!  She actually did a very good job flipping and removing pancakes from the griddle, even though she's only three!


I decided to start selling one of my favorite skirts:  the Paneled Riding Skirt


Liberty took singing lessons...



Emaline learned to milk (video).


Duncan and Flossy got baths on the same day.



I did not cry over spilt milk...  I fed it to the dogs!


Our plum trees finally blossomed!


Frankie watered the garden...
and himself!



One happy little singin' cowpoke...


I borrowed a tiny Nigerian buck to breed my big Saanen doe.  Hopefully it worked!


And we finally cross fenced part of the front pasture.  Yippee!
I had lots of help from Bo, William and Justice.


Justice checked the height of the posts and leveled all of them.


Stretching the fence.


Russell desperately wanted to hammer in a t-post, so I got one down to his level and let him pound it.  He took it very seriously!


"My humans call this a mineral feeder, but it's really my hotel room while I'm banished from the front pasture..."


Swiss chard, carrots and turnips from the garden.  Yum!


Pasture raised broilers.  (Yum!)  :)


That's it for now!  Come back later!

March and April:

Well...  here I am making apologies again.  You can tell when I am staying busy farming, and when I am just writing about being busy, because when I'm truly busy, I don't post on my blogs!  Anyway, thankfully I usually have my phone on me and take lots of pictures, so these will give some idea of what we've been up to.  Enjoy!


March and April were filled with:


Trying to get good advertising pictures of Buttercup (so we could sell her heifer.)


Spending time with younger siblings.





Capturing escaped horses.


Laughing at a silly dog (who wishes she was included in the tea party which was in session when I took this picture.)

Trying to keep the puppy out of the milk.


"Yum!" 


Milk for everyone!


Keeping toes out of reach of Flossie.


The first real rain for several months.


Welcoming a new kid into the world.




Trying (almost too successfully) to fly with an aerial advertising banner.

 Bo ended up with a minor hernia after getting himself dragged across the yard when the banner/ parachute got out of control.  Thankfully he got caught in the bushes long enough for Justice to cut him loose from it.


A friendly see-saw match on Emaline's birthday.  (But how did Evan and Joanna end up on opposite sides of the seesaw, with Mamaw in the middle?)


Flossie meets one of Joanna's Aussie pups, and both are scared to death of each other.


This is the sight I'm met with whenever I stay inside too long in the morning:


"Well?  What's taking so long?"


Selling Paisley and keeping her new family updated on her growth and development.


Cleone mothering Flossie.


Butchering broilers.



Watering Duncan the garden.


(Duncan is such a good boy; he has learned (very quickly) to stay off the garden beds and pumpkin piles, even when he's chasing the hose.  He knows when I'm spraying it for him, and when it's just for the plants.)


Tuesday tea (at three) with Mama.


Making new friends.


(We don't normally allow goats in the house, I promise!  Mayberry was sick and I was trying to figure out what to do for her, so she got specialty treatment while I mixed her doses.  Frankie thought that it was grand having a four-legged friend inside.)
:)



Putting "technology" to work!  Please take note of the full tote of milk dangling (precariously?) from the handlebars. 


Permanently dealing with the surprise puppy problem.



Doing chores after dark.


Hauling hundreds of pounds of manure (in multiple trips) to the garden.


Dressing up!


Putting in snaps.


Swimming!
(Yours truly doing the cannonball; LilyAnn doing a half folded knee hop.)
:)



Friendly wrestling matches.


Training Fenella.


Herding cows.
(Taken on Duncan's 1st birthday.)


Savana's homeschool graduation photoshoot.


Fenella's first time wearing a bit.



Helping out at the annual Wild Hog Canoe Race.  This young man was in the food tent with us.  I believe he handed out drinks.


Daddy even rode the zip line!


Dealing with lice on the goats.
(Just for the record, yellow dusting sulfur gets rid of them.)


Enjoying a (too prolific) crop of Swiss chard. 



Lots of milking -


And filling mineral feeders.


Welding and painting a new grill.
Creation of:



More tea parties.  (And Cleone got to join this time!)
Temporarily, that is...


Milking training.  (Yes, almost four-year-olds can safely milk a cow.)


Milk for all.


Squashing (millions) of squash bugs.


Official herding training for Cleone and Duncan.


Cooling off after the first lesson.


Working on Fannie's harness.


Rooting Trying to root roses.






Dealing with pinkeye.
These pictures were taken less than 12 hours apart.  I treated the eye with colloidal silver, and got back to feeding cod liver oil.  The pinkeye has virtually disappeared!




And the month of April closed with this glorious sunset.  The picture does not do it justice.



 O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.

 O give thanks unto the God of gods: for his mercy endureth for ever.

 O give thanks to the Lord of lords: for his mercy endureth for ever.

To him who alone doeth great wonders: for his mercy endureth for ever.

 To him that by wisdom made the heavens: for his mercy endureth for ever.

Psalm 136:1-5


And now for May, June, and July up to this point:





We bought bees!  Here we are in the shop of the man we bought them from. (Bill Almond:  he's very helpful and knowledgeable.)

 The drought finally broke and it has been raining pretty consistently ever since.


The broiler chicks arrive, and Flossie is trying to figure out what on earth they are.


Bo checks the bees for the first time. 


I usually write in the mornings for an hour or so, and Frankie likes to come in and say good morning, then listen to music through my headphones for a few minutes.  This morning he brought his bottle along and settled right in!



Bo and William hotwiring a wing: i.e. cutting out an RC airplane from foam with a hot wire.


Anna Frances and I meet our first alpaca.  It was quite an event in her eyes, for she talked about it for weeks.


We celebrated her 4th birthday at Bronson Blue Spring with friends.  It was great!



I found a really good horse training resource which I thought could only be obtained by buying very pricey DVD's (Clinton Anderson's YouTube channel (beware, there is an occasional bad word) and was motivated to get out there and give Fannie a refresher course now that I have a better idea of what to do.  We have also been taking Fannie and Fenella both on trail rides, which has been good for them and for LilyAnn, William and Justice, who are my riding partners.


This is how chickens should be raised:  with a good mixture of greens in their diet!  These broilers are almost ready to be turned out to pasture.


William gives Fannie a quick breather after his first bareback gallop.




Bo designed and sewed most of this paraglider wing, using an old aerial advertising banner for material.  Sadly it got hung up and destroyed on a fence post during an unmanned test pull behind the truck.


Savana helped with some of the sewing.


Painting at the home of a lady from church.  We had so much fun the days that we were helping paint!  Here Bo and Savana share the same step stool while trying to paint two different portions of the wall without pushing each other off.  As you can see, Ms. Sheri was quite tickled watching them!


I rode Fannie to the home of another family from church so I could babysit, and of course pony rides were the order of the day.  Ephraim felt like a really big boy leading the horse around for his sister and brother.  :)


The dogs all go a-squirreling...



Frankie tries to fill the shoes of his older siblings and make Mama a card... 


AND:
We got a big surprise when Farrah and Joshua came down for Savana's graduation!  Mama, Daddy and Bo knew they were coming, but the rest of us were thoroughly surprised.  They stayed for a couple weeks and it was great!



Anna Frances can be a surprisingly capable helper.  Here she is helping me build the outer dog run.

Cleone.


I finally got around to making a video on training a milk heifer; something that had been on my To Do: list for a while.


We began work on the new apartment, now completed and named Pine Loft.  First things first:  Put in the sewer.


One of our bees!  :)


Decorating for Savana's graduation.  I think Little Missy thought she was helping...


Anything can be a competition - even blowing up balloons!


Mrs. Feldman:  "Well, if we move it a centimeter this way..."
Ellen (holding banner on the left):  But we already tried it that way - ten minutes ago!


The hole for the sewer had to be finished by hand and William and Justice were elected for the job.  Maybe the dogs were trying to help too?


Russell drilled holes in the tank for the sewer...


While the big guys, directed by Foreman Joshua, removed the roof of the barn...


And I milked the cows.


Then they built the wooden apartment, sprayed foam insulation on top, and replaced the roof.



There is kind of an amazing story behind this day:  Every day that week had been in the 90's.  Now, Joshua's from Michigan and not used to working in that kind of heat.  He can do it, but it's hard.  It had also rained every day previous to taking the barn roof off.  Now, we could not have the roof off if it rained, but we had to just get busy and get the job done because we had a limited amount of time.  So we prayed that it would not rain.
Well, not only did it not rain (until shortly after the roof was back on), but the weather was actually 10 degrees cooler than the weather in Michigan!  It was amazing!  The Lord gave us the perfect day for the job.


Then they spray foamed the inside walls and put up the wood paneling.  (You can see the first couple panels near the bottom of the wall.)


"Seriously, Alayna? Do you have to take pictures of everyone? That better not go on the blog..." 


Savana graduated from homeschool!


This was an unexpected highlight of the month for me, but I'm pretty sure it became a highlight of the year for this little girl!  I was out working on the dog pen when Pastor Harding, one of sons in law, and his children drove up.  Interestingly enough, the oldest daughter's name is Alayna and she seems to have the same love for horses that I had as a child.  Before I made it over to the van to say hello, she was leaning out the open window, and the first words out of her mouth were:  "You have such a beautiful horse!"  (Fannie had been grazing by the driveway when they came in.)
Well, of course I had to give her a ride, even though she didn't ask for it.  Then her siblings rode, but they were a little timid.  Alayna enjoyed every second of her time, especially riding the horse.





I made farmhouse cheddar cheese for the first time.  We haven't tasted it yet; hopefully it's good!


We dropped off a couple calves at a friend's house to graze, and when I got back in the van, look who was inside:


Cleone, the stowaway!


Farrah craved homemade ice cream.  Yay!
For those of you who don't know already, Farrah and Joshua are expecting their first child in November!




William's highlight of the day.  Ick!


Burning out a stump that was in the way of the new dog pen fence.


Duncan and Cleone are expecting their first litter in August.  Hurrah!


Mama's newest hospitality innovation:  Roses in the drinking water!


We had to get a health certificate for this calf, since she was sold to a family in GA, so Ms. Harty came over to give her one and stayed overnight in Pine Loft.  I brought Paisley into the barn below to wait for her to come check her over, then...


Emaline helped her fill out the health certificate.


Who says chickens and Border collies can't live in peace?
Granted, it took a lot of sweat and tears (i.e. hard work) to get to this point, but Cleone was penned up with these roosters for a week while she was in heat since I hadn't finished the extended dog pen yet and the roosters would destroy the garden if they were loose.



We got kittens!  Dickon and Chauncey are their names.  Hopefully they will lower the rat population around here, as well as be fun family pets.


While an air mattress may not be an "approved flotation device", it sure does provide a lot of fun!
Here Bo, the pirate captain, tries to sneak up on Captain Joshua while he's distracted by his wife, in the water.  I think she sees the danger though...
:)



We almost drowned in milk.  2 1/2 - 3 gallons a day is a lot, even for a family our size.


Bo "kiting" his new-to-him paraglider wing.  (He bought this one.)




Frankie watching a horse training video with me.



The kitties found a cozy spot for a nap!


Our 50+ layer chicks arrived!  Half will be for us, half for sale as started pullets.


Flavia is not fond of kittens, but Chauncey is rather intrigued than intimidated.


Please pardon my goofy smile...  You might smile goofy too if you were blessed with a bunch of yardlong beans!


Testing the range on the radios Bo bought.
Cleone got to ride with us to Bronson because she is so intelligent and sweet.  I wanted to take her and told her to jump into the back seat, but Bo groaned about the dog riding to town with us. She stopped before she jumped, looked right at Bo, and humbly wagged her tail with a humble, pleading expression in her face.  Bo melted and said, "Well, alright," and she instantly jumped in and settled down on the seat.


Chauncey is still intrigued, and Flavia is still not impressed.




Ocala fireworks, July 4th.



Justice and I found this rattler when we were out riding, so Bo came up and shot it.
William wanted to skin it and found:


A great big fox squirrel inside it!


That same day lightning started a brush fire just down the street from us.  Bo and I were heading to Bronson and found the fire about 5 minutes after it started.  Bo put it out with a shovel.  There was a pretty good breeze blowing it right into more dry bushes.  Praise the Lord we found it!




It's always fun to pile a bunch of little children on Fannie.  Here, two of the Smith boys (front and rear) and Russell take a ride.


One of Frankie's favorite activities:  spraying everything and everyone with soap spray!


One of his not-so-favorite activities:  helping with the laundry.


Broilers eating...
(NatureWise chick feed and soldier fly larvae.)


Broiler (almost) ready to be eaten.
Life is good on a farm.


Look at how the bees have multiplied!  We are up to 2 deep boxes and 1 shallow honey super.



William trying to figure out a clue on his birthday scavenger hunt.


Putting together all the clues to form a map, which leads to:



His first BB gun!




Duncan and Fenella help give a Miami lady a taste of the country.


And here is a different taste of the country:  The results of the tarp blowing off the chicks during a heavy thundershower.
Good news though:  they are all alive and well.  They recovered in about an hour from the effects of their shower.



Mayberry relaxing in the mineral feeder.


Dickon relaxing(?) in the basket - as Anna Frances swings it.



The kitties receive an education about chicks.



We go for a hayride at the Underhills,
and rescue an exhausted Red Shouldered hawk which was trapped in a fernery.


I released him after we took a few pictures and he flew away, so I think he was alright.



One of their adorable Great Pyrenees puppies.


Chesser farm tour the next morning.
(It was a wild fun ride with LilyAnn as driver and Leah as guide.)



Mama and Daddy had their first ride in an airboat.



The Underhill's kitchen in their screened porch - which is now on Mama's list of dream projects for her faithful son in law, Joshua, to build.  :)


Did I mention this is considered an outdoor kitchen?



Dealing with our first episode of ringworm in the animals.
:(


"More, please?"


And now I'm at Mamaw and Bompa's, visiting and helping landscape the yard.  Mamaw did this before I came.


"I'm a tree branch, little birdy.  Just land on me and you can reach my mouth - I mean, the bird feeder - easily."


"Aw, I got caught!"

The snake was relocated to the other side of the road, and it's getting pretty late now, so I think I'd better relocate to bed!
Until next time, 
Adios!

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