Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Top 10 Reasons I Love to Live on A Farm!

Our barn and corral

This is a different type of post for me.  I've never written a top 10 list before.  But here goes!  The top ten reasons I love to live on a farm!

The General Store where we hold our "gatherings" and we do some cooking and canning

1.  It is quiet.  We live a half mile off the road, and our nearest neighbors are at least a half mile away in any different direction.  So that lends itself to quiet living.  Quiet, that is, if you don't take into account the roosters, guineas, and peacock.  The cows who MOO every time they see the pick up truck, and the sheep who love company.  But people noises, we don't have a lot of that.

GrandBoy moving a "brand new" just born goat!  He is so proud.

Our "girls"

2.  There is plenty of room for any hobby or activity your kids want to pursue.  Our daughters are all grown up now.  But we are starting on the next generation!  GrandBoy wants to be a tractor driver when he grows up.  I remember when we first moved here, the girls all took up special hobbies and interests.  Daughter #1 decided to raise goats, and she called herself the "Goat Queen"!  Daughter #2 bottle fed a Brahman bull calf one summer.  That bull recently sold for $1,700 at the cow sale.  And our youngest daughter decided one day that she was going to find out how the chicken laid an egg.  She stood by one hen for a couple of hours,  pulling her rear up off her nest, until she finally saw an egg.  From then on, she was convinced that eggs came out of chickens!

GrandBoy making juice with our fruit press.  Pappy is helping.

3.  There is always room for a large garden.  We plant a ton of stuff each summer.  By the end, I'm pretty much ready for the garden to be done.  But we eat organic and try to produce as much of our food as possible.  We (I should say I because the girls are grown and don't help much any more) can and freeze as much of our food as possible.  Daughter #1 and Pappy are mad at this statement and just reminded me they canned peaches last summer!  So I'm thankful for our garden.

Pears waiting to be canned

4.  We have plenty of fruit trees and berries.  The first summer we were here, we started planting fruit trees.  This year Pappy is planting blackberry and raspberry patches.  We have peaches, grapes, apples, and pears.  Blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries.  So it's nice not to worry about what has come in contact with our food.

Just bottled wine

Within hours the balloons inflate, and you know it is working

5.  We have learned to make our own wine.  When we moved here, I found the Welch's Grape Juice wine recipe on line.  I made wine, and we enjoyed it with our friends.  When Pappy retired, he started making wine out of our fruit juices.  People still love it, and we do this every year.  Some flavors are better than others, but we live and learn.

One of my favorite quilts on our "downstairs" clothes line.

The front yard clothes line.  This one gets used the most.  But some days call for both.

6.  We have room for a clothes line.  Actually we have two!  I like to save on the utility bill anyway we can.  Most of our tenants' utility bills are higher than the one we get for the whole farm, farmhouse and all.  We try to conserve where we can.

Some of our Black Angus herd

Sheep and goats

7.  We raise our own meat.  I just asked Daughter #1 what her favorite thing about living on a farm was.  I was actually afraid she would say, "nothing".  But she said that her favorite part was having our own food and meat.  We are beef cattle farmers.  We take at least one cow to the processor each year.  This year Pappy ended up processing a cow that went down while calving.  She was paralyzed, and if a cow can't walk, the processor can't take it.  We also raise our own chickens, rabbits, sheep, and goats which are all used for meat.  Occasionally the hunters who park here while hunting, will bring us some venison.  And most years we buy a pig from the processor.  We are very well stocked for meat, and Pappy gets mad at me if I buy any.

More cows!

8.  We have our own goats' milk, and may be expanding to cows' milk soon.  We have had dairy goats for a few years now.  Probably about four.  But last night Pappy told me that a friend had bought a herd of miniature cows, and there were a few jerseys in the mix.  So we may be getting a dairy cow.  And if so, I'll never buy dairy products again.  That is really what most of my grocery budget is for.  Dairy, produce, and bread.  When I retire, I am going to go back to making my own bread like I used to when the kids were small.  We make some of our own cheese now, but its hard to get enough goats milk for much cheese if you want to drink any.  Most of our goats are meat goats.

A friend from church

9.  If someone is coming down the long, dusty driveway, you know they must want to see you!  You will know long before they get to the house, and can come out to greet them and see what they want.  I say that but there was a time when we had three teenage girls and Pappy worked third shift.  I swore I was going to buy a drive way alarm system.  I found out that teens had been up and down our drive one night, and a wrecker even came and picked up one girls' car!  But that is the exception, not the rule.  At least, I hope so!

Independence Day!

10.  We have lots of "Gatherings".  Friends are always wanting to meet and spend time with us on the farm.  They want to bring their own company to meet us and see our home.  We are like a tourist spot!  Pappy's Police friends are always "gathering" here to rest, relax, and spend time enjoying each others company.

New baby goats

Meat Rabbits

11.  This one is a bonus, but we meet lots of people who drive down that long driveway to see if they can bring their kids to see "real" farm life.  When I had a Child Care Center, we brought the children here each Spring.  Now families come around Easter to buy rabbits.  Home school families stop by and say they have heard about us and will be back. All year, people knock on our door, and ask what we have for sale! 

Stop by soon to see us!  We can't wait to see you!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

We are Going to Test our Water

I was talking to Pappy again today about the baby sheep and goats.  We decided that I should get our water tested.  We are on a spring fed well.  Our house water is filtered, but the rest of the farm isn't.  So I am going to test the unfiltered water first, to see if anything shows up.  I will take a sample to the Health Department.  We really should do this yearly, but haven't done it since we moved in.

Another plan is to wait and see.  We are fixing to start having calves here.  If we start losing calves, that would be an expensive problem.  So if the same things start appearing in the calves, Pappy will call the farmers, and ask if they have made any changes in the chemicals they use on their crops.  We are literally surrounded by 100 acres of cotton and soy beans, so run off of what they may be using is a real possibility. 

Ok.  Now we have a plan.  I'll keep you posted!  Honey

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Lost Sheep .... and Goats

This year we have had something happen that we've not seen before.  We have been here on the farm since 2001.  This year we have lost half our baby goats, and two of the baby sheep, born on our home farm.  We've never had this happen before.  And it is not happening at the other pastures we rent. 

We have never had a problem with our sheep.  Sheep are the easiest thing to raise.  They have their babies and they take care of them.  We just have to check on the new ones if it is extremely cold outside.  Otherwise they do fine.  The baby lambs born at our other pastures are fine.  But we've had two here at the farm house so far, and both have been found dead. 

The baby goats that have died, acted a little off.  And their mothers had no milk.  We started to bottle feed, But the goats continued to go down hill.  We've never had a year like this.

We've tried to figure out what is different that could be causing this.  We looked at our feed, and at the hay.  I wonder if the farmers around here have changed what they are spraying on their crops.  We live in the middle of a 100 acre farm place.  The farm was split up about 15 years ago at auction.  We go the farm house and 15 acres and the pond.  The other land is still crops.

So I have no answers today.  Just questions, and sharing our story with you.  Hope you stop by again tomorrow.  Honey

Monday, February 20, 2012

"Shopping" from my Food Storage

Thursday evening, I needed some things that I had run out of in our kitchen.  Used to, I would have made a grocery list on Thursday evening, and stopped to buy groceries on Friday afternoon on my way home from work. 

Well, I've really been trying to stop buying as much as possible.  Food has gotten so high!  I don't know how people who have to buy all their food, can afford to do so.  So I proceeded to get my gathering basket and my list of items I was short of.  I went through our food storage, and these are the items I was able to find in my own home food storage, without spending a penny!

1.  Coffee - I had half a large can left, which is enough to fill my coffee canister.  I added it to our shopping list for next grocery trip.

2.  Tea - We make a gallon of tea every day.  This is the south, you know!  So i added a box of 100 tea bags to my basket. 

3.  4 D batteries.  Pappy needed these for something.  I can't remember what.  I told him I thought I had some left over from the tornado.  And sure enough, I did!

4.  Tooth Filling Repair Kit - Pappy lost his filling, and can't get into the dentist until Monday afternoon.  I was pretty sure I had one of these kits, because I bought one the last time someone lost a filling.  In my basket it goes.

5.  Prescription nose spray - I didn't know I had this sample!  Scratch that off the list as well.

6.  Children's Tylenol product - GrandBoy has Strep, and I was instructed to give him this regularly so he will be more comfortable, until he is well.

7.  Beef - we have plenty of beef since butchering a cow last week, and I need a pound for dinner.

8.  One box of hamburger noodle dinner mix - For a quick supper!

9.  Green Beans - One quart jar of home grown and canned green beans will round out our quick dinner.

10.  Over the Counter Sinus Medicine - I use this daily!

So this list of 10 items that I was able to gather from my home food storage, saved me close to $40 dollars.  And it probably would have been more, cause you know you can't just buy what is on your list!  Maybe you should start gathering up those extra items around your house.  The extra tooth paste and brushes your dentist gives the kids at their check up.  The extra peas and corn you buy during a sale.  Just organize those items, and that is the beginning of your food storage.  I'm going to start shopping my pantry first!  Honey

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Butchering a cow

Yesterday was a busy day around here.  A few days ago, one of our cows tried to give birth.  The calf was stuck half way out when Pappy found her.  The calf was already dead when Pappy pulled it.  The mother cow was paralyzed.  We watched her a couple of days, but she never got back up.  Sometimes they do, but sometimes they don't.  We were afraid if we left her any longer, coyotes or dogs would get her.  So Pappy had to butcher her.  Our processor can only take a cow if it walks in.  If it can't walk, he can't take it, even if it is healthy.  So Pappy had to butcher her himself.  We have done this before, and it is a big job.

Two friends came to help Pappy with this project, and in return he will split the meat with them.  We have wanted a meat grinder for some time, so we took the plunge and bought one.  They can be quite expensive, so I went on line and priced one every where I could find.  We ordered a meat saw and grinder combination.  I was told it would be here in three days, which would have been Friday.  Friday I got an email stating the item had shipped, and would be here in about seven days.  I called the company, and I was told the item weighs 150 pounds, and could not possibly be here in three days.  And that the girl who told me that no longer worked there.

So we are waiting for our saw and grinder so we can grind the meet.  We are pretty much doing all hamburger because that is what we use the most of, and we have other beef in our freezer.  Luckily we have had a cold front come in here, so our meat should be fine until the grinder gets here.

I'll post pictures when the machinery gets here.  See you soon.  Honey

Sunday, February 5, 2012

It's That Time of Year

It's that time of year on a cattle ranch.  When the weather starts to get warm, and the grass has a little green in it, the cows start to get out of their fence.  Wednesday evening, a neighbor to a pasture we rent, called to tell me he had a black cow in his back yard.  Normally, one cow does not get out by itself.  I called Pappy, and he went to investigate.  I had to pick up GrandBoy, and then went to that pasture to let GrandBoy watch, and see if we could help.

It turned out that only one cow was out.  She was trying to find a quiet place to calf.  Pappy led her back to the pasture with a bucket of feed.

This morning as we were getting ready for church, a neighbor called at a different pasture.  He said three cows, two blacks and a red, were out.  He said they weren't in the road, but told us where they were.  Pappy said they must have gone through two fences to get there!  He got loaded up and was off to see about the cows and that situation.

When we got out of church, Daughter #1 and I went by the store.  When we got back to the farm, I called Pappy to see if he needed me to bring him lunch.  He said he was in the drive and would be at the house in a minute.  He had gotten enough done so he could quit up there for today. 

After Pappy had lunch, he said, "Oh, no.  It has started.  It's that time of year, I guess!".

I hope this is all the incidences of this we have this year.