Monday, November 7, 2016

Six Things to Consider Before You Move Next to a Farm...

Thinking of moving out to the country?  Would you love to have a good ole' fashioned farmer as a neighbor?  I don't want to bust your bubble or knock the wind out of your sails, but before you move take a look at what you might encounter and my suggestions to get you prepared.  Cuz I'm here for ya.  Really.

1.  There will be four a.m. rooster wake up calls and all day thereafter, rain or shine.  If you aren't used to this lovely sound, I suggest you set your ringtone to a crowing rooster before you move.  In fact, go ahead and set your alarm to go off about every fifteen minutes with the rooster crowing sound on your phone.  That'll definitely get you prepared.  Although you might develop a twitch of some sort.  But hey, I've got an oil for that.  

2.  Sometimes farmers will wean their baby farm animals off of their mothers.  This can cause quite a ruckus and you will hear some pitiful babies bawling, baaing, neighing, etc. for their mamas.  Just remember, they are not abusing these animals.  I would suggest a box fan to drown out the noise.  I will warn you though, baby goats(kids) can sound like human kids crying.  Don't mistake it for your own child and run outside with a baseball bat, ready to take on whoever is messing with your baby.  That'll get the other neighbors talking for sure, especially if you still have that twitch.

3.  You will have a farm animal escape in your yard at least 1 or 2 or 3 times a year and that's if you're lucky.  We're talking anything from a horse, cow, herd of goats, maybe a pig or two or three.  A good way to prepare for this is to not landscape your yard too immaculately.  The more elaborate your landscaping looks, the more it will look enticing to farm animals.  They have a tendency to know which plant is the most expensive.  I would suggest learning how to shoot a Red Ryder BB gun just in case and don't buy any plants that cost more than $1.00.

4.  And then there's mating season.  If you aren't ready to explain the facts of life in the animal kingdom to your kids, well, you just better or you'll end up making up some silly story that will come back and bite you in the rear end.  Trust me.  It's not fun to have to dig yourself out of a hole you dug.

Life on the farm includes mating.  It's inevitable.  God made it this way.  Except for a buck(in this instance I'm referring to a male goat).  I think it's weird mating behavior developed after Eve ate that forbidden fruit.  So, yeah, when your child sees this strange creature flapping it's tongue up and down, grunting and 'quenching his thirst' with his own urination, it might be a good idea to make something up at this point.

5.  Oh, and how could I forget butchering time.  I would suggest either two options here.  If you are the hands-on person who really wants to learn about this process, ask the farmer if you can help or watch.  If you are the squeamish type, just go on vacation and get the heck out of dodge at this time.

6.  I would suggest that you rethink your move if you are a die hard perfectionist.  Trust me, please.  For the sake of the farmer and for your mental health.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it will get you thinking about things for sure.  Let's recap on what you have learned so far.

Lot's of crowing, baaing, mooing, neighing.
Get a rooster crowing ringtone.
Learn how to shoot a BB gun.
Buy cheapo landscaping plants.
Be prepared to explain the birds and the bees.
Bucks are weird.
Plan your vacation around butchering time.
Invest in a box fan or noise maker.
Perfectionism = DON'T MOVE

Stay tuned...

Btw, I do have an oil for pretty much everything here on the farm.  For real.  Find out more HERE!

Monday, October 24, 2016

Utilizing Chickens, Goats and Horses for Fall Garden Maintenance

Manure.  It's a wonderful thing.  I wonder what the horses would think, them being emotional creatures and all, if they knew that their manure is the only thing they're good for(besides recreational and therapeutic purposes of course)?  Would they be angry?  Sad?  Happy?  Shocked?

Anyway, back to manure and gardening and fall.

I'm feeling a little giddy right now.  The kids are in bed, the baby is sleeping, hubby is snoozing right next to me and here I am.  Just me and my thoughts.  I don't get to hang out with me and my thoughts too often as of late.  In fact, it's pretty rare.  And being an get the idea, right?'s officially fall as we have the first frost warning tonight.  I still have some things in the garden like okra, peppers, kale and green beans.  We picked all of the beans today, peppers and okra yesterday and because the kale can withstand some frost, it's still out there looking big and green and pretty.  I usually plant a fall garden but this year, well, you know, life happens sometimes and this is it.

Once I get tired of picking kale(it has a tendency to go on forever), I will start to use our animals to clean up and fertilize.  The key to making this work is to have a fenced in garden.  Ours is about a 1/2 acre, including some grass in between garden beds and four apple trees.

I like to use the goats first by putting them in the garden all day.  Usually in November we take them off our bigger pasture for the winter to give it a break.  That is about the time our garden is done so the goats hang out there for a couple of weeks. They do a great job of eating down weeds, vegetable plants and fruits that didn't get a chance to ripen.  An added bonus is we save a little bit on hay while they are in the garden as they don't need any during the day.  Once they have eaten down as much as they can, we put them in our smaller paddock for the winter.

I break out the chicken tractor and put several old hens or roosters that were hatched on the farm in there.  Depending on the weather, we move them about for a couple of months over garden areas that did not get fertilized with the chickens in the tractor last year.  The more ground we cover, the less manure we have to shovel in the spots that didn't get covered.  We also move them around the apple trees to clean up any rotten apples and bugs.

When the goats are done cleaning up the garden, we usually let a horse or two graze a bit.  They don't eat a whole lot of garden weeds or leftover plants, but they do eat the grass surrounding the gardens.  They keep the grass short, and again less hay is given while there's plenty of grass to eat.

Remember, goats are foragers, horses are grazers.  So they work symbiotically together.  There are times we have put a portable pig pen over the garden too.  They do a good job fertilizing and rooting up the soil.  We have thought about just letting our pigs have the whole garden to themselves after everybody else is done.  They are getting pretty big now, so we might have some problems getting them from their pig paddock to the garden.  Might be more trouble than it's worth.

I get bad visuals when I think about three 200 pound pigs loose.  In fact, just the thought could very well give me nightmares.

So... once we have utilized the animals and the garden is cleaned up, it's about time for barn clean up.  That means a whole lot of manure shoveling.  Wherever we didn't put the chicken tractor, that is where the manure goes.  We have sandy soil in some spots and sandy loam in most areas of the garden.  It makes for perfect soil and is so easy to work with.  The draw back is that  the nutrients doesn't hold as well as clay soil, so lots of manure is required!

The manure we shovel out is multi-species manure.  We got a smorgasbord of cow, horse, goat and chicken manure.  Each has it's own make up of minerals, nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous ratios.  So when I test the soil in the spring after applying the manure, it is pretty spot on, not needing any amendments.

And that, my friends is how we utilize the critters in the garden.  How about you?  I'd love to hear how you do things!

If you like this post, you might like this book below.  Lots of good ideas for those who like to use what they have around the farm!

Monday, October 17, 2016

A New Phase in Life...

I've gotta tell ya, it feels good to get back to blogging!  Writing is my way of retreating and spending some alone time.  Plus, my introverted mind has to get things written down from time to time.  It's been a whirlwind around here and I have had about zilch alone time!

No, our new phase in life doesn't mean we sold the farm or quit homesteading.  But most of you know we have a new little blessing as of March 3rd.  We also have two new older blessings to add to the family.  My parents moved in last July due to my Dad's diagnosis of early Alzheimers.  We are in the process of adding a room addition on to our farmhouse as I write.

Although Dad's diagnosis is disheartening, we are so glad they chose to move here.  We have the mindset of keeping them out of a nursing home, and Lord willing that is the plan.

I will be posting here and there about Dad's journey.  Hopefully it will help some of you who are in a similar boat.  I would love to know about your journey as well!

Homesteading has a tendency to have phases.  With a new baby and my parents here, I'm just trying to keep up.  I still garden and can and freeze produce but not nearly as much as I would like to.  We have plenty of eggs from our laying hens.  We still raise and butcher meat chickens but just on a much smaller scale.  We raise our own beef and pork and milk our goats.  The homestead is still humming along.

But I've spent more time on organizing and decluttering than anything else.  When you get that itch, you just gotta act on it!  My husband and oldest son built a tack/tool room in the barn, so now the tools all have a home as well as the saddles, bridles, etc. We organized the garage(I imagine there's messy garages to organize in hell, just a guess).  And we plowed through the abyss in the attic. We also decluttered the boys room.  Man, what a pit that was!  Needless to say, we now have a car filled completely with bags of clothes, shoes, etc. to go to the Salvation Army.

It feels pretty daggone good to get that done. 

So, although it's a big change with a baby and my parents here, it's a good change.  I'm eating up my sweet Eliana and savoring every moment with her.  And I'm enjoying my parents' company and their help around the farm.  It's an adjustment for sure, and I hope I can be a blessing to them like they are to me!

That's it in a nutshell.  Many times at the end of the day, we get to witness a beautiful sunset.  My dad has asked me a few times, "The sky seems bigger up here doesn't it?"

Yes, it does Dad, yes it does.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Keeping Up with the Homesteading Joneses

You know, that Jones family just butchered their own cow(raised on pasture and organic grain), canned their 375th jar of vegetables they grew themselves, built a new coop from reclaimed wood they found from an old barn, made their own butter from their goats(with a cream separator), and claimed they haven't been to the grocery store in a year!


Oh to be like the Joneses.

They've got it going on and I'm over here feeling guilty for not butchering our cow and pigs ourselves. Butchering chickens isn't enough you know.  When we ever get to butchering our own pigs, then we will have reached the homesteaders elite.   

Sometimes I feel like a fake.  Like I should be doing more but it seems as of late it's a good day if the animals don't escape.  The Joneses never have that problem. It's like their animals know they are in with the elites. They know they have an image to uphold.  

I should've spent more time in the garden this year.  I should've canned more produce.  My canning shelves should be loaded from floor to ceiling.  Facebook worthy.  I bet that would go viral.  That's what the Joneses did.

I should really spend at least double the feed costs to get organic grain.  So what if the cost we put into our animals far outweighs what we get out of them.  Sometimes I envision there are the Elites watching over me when I scoop out grain that's not gmo free, shaking their heads or gasping in shock.

I really should save more goat's milk and make cheese again.  Never buying milk at the store just isn't enough.  Making goat's milk butter on a regular basis would up my status for sure.

And, we really need a woodstove.  I mean, a woodstove means we're legit right?

I have another confession to make while I'm at it.  I started buying Suave shampoo again.  Can you believe that?  I know, total fake.  I don't know what makes me feel worse - not making my own shampoo or buying an unnatural brand.  I just can't win.  Oh the guilt.

I mean, my chickens don't even have names!  

I don't think I'll ever be able to keep up with the homesteading Joneses.  

But then again, maybe I wasn't meant to.

"A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones."
Proverbs 14:30

Need a lift?

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