down on the farm — 14 april 2014

Wow, I knew it had been a while since I posted, but I seriously had no idea it had been that long.  We’ve had a bunch of things going on — none of them super huge, but all combined, it’s made for a rather busy spring. 

I’ll try and get you up to speed as to what has been going on on the homestead front today and then go from there.

The baby goats are so BIG and so CUTE.  Here they are eating scratch with the chickens. 

ImageThey’re only going to be with us for a few more weeks.  A very nice family bought Isabella and Ferdinand as well as put a hold on Mansa Musa.  We’re going to miss them something fierce.  They love to run and play and chew.  I thought puppies were bad. 

Speaking of goats, we added a MiniToggenberg to our herd — Marigold.

ImageThey jury is still out on her.  She is definitely an in-charge kind of girl.  She took over as soon as we introduced her.  After the first couple of days, things finally started to settle down.  Unfortunately, a couple of weeks ago, she started to get a bit aggressive again.  This time — with us.  Not so good.  Maybe she was just hormonal.  She’s due to kid in about six weeks. 

The rabbits and chickens are doing great — not much else to say — they make eggs and babies.  Lots of both.

The garden is growing like crazy.  Our second round of cool weather crops was a complete bust.  It just got too warm too fast here.  I know it’s not totally accurate, but last week, the outside temp reading in our car was 100 degrees, yup, summer is almost here.  You know it’s on its way when you think that being in the high 80s represents a cool front.

ImageImageHere’s an up close of the sunflowers.  Are they amazing or what? 

ImageI think we got them in early enough that we’ll be able to do a second round.  Let me tell you, goats LOVE sunflowers — the seeds, the stocks, the heads — nothing goes to waste. 

Our poor little citrus trees look pathetic, but we have a ton of little clementines appearing so I’m holding on to my hope of a garden miracle.

ImageNice bird poop — I just noticed that, sorry.

Last but not least, I have to make note of our alfalfa.  A project that totally worked.  I love it as do the animals.  It’s a win-win.

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How many people do you know that live in the big city and can walk out their front door and see this every morning.  I highly recommend it. 

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down on the farm — march 11

Time is going by so quickly.  Spring is here and everything is popping with life.  10 days ago we finally received some rain.  Not just a little sprinkle mind you, but an absolute deluge. 

ImageA few days later we had irrigation, so we were trudging through mud for about a week.  It was well worth it though.  Our garden looks smashing.  We’re so excited.

ImageOnions — they take forever, but that’s okay.  Patience.  Patience.

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Swiss chard — still going strong.  The goats and rabbits love it.  As do the chickens, but chickens eat just about anything.

ImageWe pulled out all of our lettuce to make room for some new guys.  I hope they grow before it gets too hot.  I sure miss having fresh greens right outside my door.

ImageHere’s our lettuce going to seed.  This is a new one for us, we’re keeping our fingers crossed that we’ll figure it out.

ImageThis is our broccoli going to seed.  Neat.

Speaking of seeds —

ImageThese are our sunflowers.  They look awesome.  We harvested these seeds last fall.  Hurray, something to check off our list — grow, harvest, and grow sunflowers.

On to the animals —

ImageOur baby bunnies graduated to their own hutch.  Joy’s getting a little break before she gets to go on another date with Adam.

The chickens are doing great.  Most of them are laying now, unfortunately, they haven’t quite mastered laying in their boxes yet. 

ImageI have a feeling it’s not due to a lack of trying.  I’m pretty sure the big girls won’t let them use the boxes.  Bless his heart, Greg’s building them a set of their own.  Hopefully, everyone will be happy.

Last but not least, the baby goats.  Oh how we love our baby goats.  They are so much fun.  They too moved this past week.  Now they’re in with the big kids.  Everyone seems to be getting along just swimmingly.  Forget every boy needs a dog, every boy needs a goat.

 

Thomas actually took this little video.  I thought he did a good job.  I should make him the video editor.

 

That’s what we’ve been up to — hope all is blissful wherever you are.

holy cow, i mean holy goat

What an exciting day for us yesterday.  Flame Princess took us all by surprise by giving birth to three beautiful kids.  Two little bucklings, Mansa Musa and Ferdinand, and one darling little doeling, Isabella.  We decided to go with names of royalty after their mom.  It just so happens that we studied Spain and West Africa over the last couple of weeks, hence the names.

We missed the first one coming, but we were able to help her along with the other two — not that she needed much help. 

We managed to get a few fun videos.  I have to apologize in advance for the running commentary.  Sorry, that would be me. 

Here’s teeny tiny Mansa Musa.

Here’s number two coming into the world.  I’m terrible, I can’t remember if Isabella or Ferdinand came next.

Last but not least, some first steps.

We weren’t expecting them for another couple of weeks — somehow we got our dates off or she just had them early.  So they weren’t born in the most sterile environment.  Thankfully, Greg was able to quickly get their private nursery pen ready complete with plenty of comfy straw. 

Everything went really well, good thing, I’m not sure what I would have done if we had run into problems.  Mansa Musa is pretty small and had a wee bit of trouble at first.  After a quick drink of milk from a bottle, he figured the eating thing out and by this morning, he was running around with the rest of them.  Thanks Heavenly Father. 

We’ve had a lot of ups and downs with this homesteading thing.  I have to say, I’ve enjoyed the whole thing, but the ups are definitely more fun.

down on the farm

It seemed like it was just yesterday that I was writing about our new baby bunnies then I realized it wasn’t just yesterday.  Woops.  Anyway, check out these little cuties. 

ImageSome have even started wandering about upstairs with their mom.  They’re having fun, I’m not so sure mom is too excited about it.

ImageImageImageI could have taken pictures of them all day.  But alas, there’s work to do like feed the chickens.

ImageImageOur little chicks are so BIG.  They should start laying any day.  It’s been fun having such a variety this go around.  The White Leghorns are super light making them excellent flyers.  Greg, Thomas and Hunter had fun this weekend clipping some wings.  Sorry ladies. 

The garden is super bare right now with the exception of a few lettuce and swiss chard holdouts and our beets and onions.  We’ve planted our second crops of lettuce, chard, and peas.

ImageWe had one of those learning experiences with our peas this year.  We let them go too long and they got really starchy.  Boo — thankfully the goats liked them so no waste, but I certainly would have enjoyed them on my plate. 

We also have some rouge squash growing.  Several weeks ago we gave the animals some fresh squash.  Some of the seeds made it into our worm patch and compost pile.  Tah-dah we have a bunch of squash growing. 

ImageOh, and how could I forget — sunflowers are coming up which means summer for us is just around the bend.  Our high for today is supposed to be 86.

ImageOur biggest news is that Greg and Hayden harvested our first batch of alfalfa.  We started this project almost and year ago removing all the grass from our front yard, tilling, dumping soooo many pounds of cow poop, tilling some more, waiting, tilling again, planting, watering, hoping.

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Here’s the first strip down, and here’s what it looks like now.

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It needs to dry out for a few days, and then we’ll gather it up and start feeding our goats beautiful non-gmo, organic alfalfa.  Life is good.

Even with all the fun we’ve been having on the farm, we’ve managed to get out and about a bit.  Here we are at our new local park.  Image

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And then of course we’ve been doing school, but that’s another story for another day.  Hope all is well where you are.

down on the farm

Just thought I’d post a little glimpse of what’s going on around here.  I know much of the country is wondering if spring will ever come, here in Arizona, I’m trying to figure out what happened to winter.  Maybe it will come this weekend.  The weather guy said we were only going to have a high of 67 on Sunday.  Brrr.  Better pull out my thermals (actually, I just may). 

It’s hard to believe, but it’s time to say goodbye to our winter garden and start looking forward to spring and summer.  Greg and the boys have already planted our sunflowers.  It’s probably a little early, but we’re taking our chances.

This weekend we’ll be picking peas for sure. 

ImageOur super ugly tomato plants have some nice fruit on them.  Although, these are supposed to be a heinz tomato similar to roma tomatoes.  Uhh, call me crazy, but I’m not sure they were labeled correctly, oh well, they look good.

ImageSome of our lettuce has started to bolt, and I think I’m going to try to harvest some seeds. 

ImageSo far we have successfully harvested and planted peas, calendula, marigolds, sunflowers and corn.  Go us.

Our big news this week is that Joy had her babies.  Phew.  Last go around she only had one baby and it didn’t make it.  I’m happy to report this time she has seven very wiggly kits.

ImageOh and this is my favorite picture of the week.  Daisy on top of the chickens’ water — the lid is only about 12 inches in diameter.  I’m not quite sure how she managed it.  Boy, I love that goat.

ImageThere you have it.  Hope all is blissful wherever you are.

down on the farm

I’m finally starting to come out of my Christmas sugar coma and thought it might be time to post something.  You think I’m exaggerating, but no, I think I ate more treats over the last three weeks than I have in the last three years.  Gross.  I’m hoping I’ve learned my lesson.  Good thing our garden is still producing treats of the healthier kind. 

ImageLook at the blossoms on our peas.  I’m so excited.  We have a few pods popping up here and there as well.

ImageOur slightly frozen tomato plants are hanging on — they don’t look very pretty, but who cares — we have fruit.  Hurray.  Even if we get three tomatoes, that will be more than last year. 

ImageOur lettuce and swiss chard continues to be our most productive crop.  We have huge salads several times a week and are still able to give bunches away. 

ImageThe animals are doing great.  The goats are as fun as fun can be, and we’re looking forward to babies this spring.  We were a little worried about how everyone would get along with our new set up, but it seems to be working.  We even managed to introduce the baby chicks into the adult chicken run without losing a single bird — in case you didn’t know, chickens are mean to each other.  Hen pecking is real — often to the death. 

ImageSo that’s about it.  I sure am looking forward to 2014.  We’ve had some pretty big projects hanging over our heads for the last several years, but it feels like things are finally settling down.  Here’s hoping that the economy can limp along for just a little bit longer.  It would be nice to have a little peace before the poop totally hits the fan.  How’s that for a Happy New Year wish. 

down on the farm

Oh wow, it’s been longer than I thought.  We’ve had all kinds of craziness around here.  We headed up north to spend Thanksgiving with family (holy cow did we have a good time) and got home just in time to put the finishing touches on our congregation’s Christmas party, bite our nails as Hayden tried out for Heritage’s production of Phantom of the Opera (first ever high school production in Arizona), and get Taryn out the door for winter formal.  Once I get all my photos in some kind of order, I’ll share.

So now, we’re buzzing around trying to get our house ready for Christmas in between holiday parties, concerts, and other various and sundry obligations.  I’m not a big holiday decorator, but I do like decorating for Christmas — nothing crazy, just a few things here and there.  In my imaginary world, I was going to have it all done by this morning.  Umm, no.  So you’ll have to wait for those pictures as well.  Don’t hold your breath, you may not see them until New Years.

Our biggest news comes from the homestead front.  A few days before we left for Thanksgiving, we received word from the state that the quarantine on our property had been officially lifted.  HURRAY!  We quickly made arrangements to pick up our new goats.  With that, we pleased to introduce the newest residents at Blissful Homestead — Strawberry Shortcake, Flame Princess, and Daisy.

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Strawberry and Princess love playing on their chicken poop covered table, and Daisy is sweet as sweet can be.  All come from awesome milking lines and we’re really optimistic.  Strawberry recently miscarried a kid, but there’s a possibility that she is still pregnant.  We’re going to try and have an ultrasound done to find out for sure.  Princess may be with kid as well, we should have the pregnancy test results back tomorrow.  Daisy, well, she’s too young to be going on any dates, but by this spring, she should be good to go.

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All the animals seem to be getting along great.  It was kind of funny watching the chickens after the goats moved in.  They didn’t quite know what to think.  Oddly, the goats and rabbits really seem to like each other.

The little chickens are getting huge.  Pretty soon they’ll be ready to move in with the rest of the flock.  They’re not quite a skittish as they used to be and will even pose for a picture or two.

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We did run into a bit of trouble this week.  We had a few nights where we dropped below freezing.  The peas, beets, and broccoli, seemed to fare the best.

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The lettuce and swiss chard did okay.

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The tomatoes, corn, and zucchini — not so much.

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Pretty sad looking.  Oh well, we’re happy to chalk it up to another learning experience.  We planted a little too late this year — timing is everything.

Speaking of timing — I better run — that count down to Christmas clock is really moving fast.

down on the farm 2

It’s been an eventful couple of weeks around here.  Fall has actually kind of settled in — fall meaning temperatures in the high 70 and low 80s.  Nice, I know, and I’m super grateful for it.  It’s way nicer weeding the garden when it’s 75 degrees as opposed to 115 degrees.  Speaking of the garden, here it is (notice the weeds, obviously, I didn’t do as much weeding as I should have.)
ImageI’m so excited to have that lettuce on my plate with a little poppy seed dressing.   Oh, and did you notice the new fence.  Greg worked super duper hard this weekend, bless his heart, preparing for our new goats (no, we still don’t know when we’ll get cleared, buy we’re hopeful).  You can also see the new chicken coop — told you he worked hard.

ImageIn order to work on the new coup, Greg had to pull the laying boxes out of the old coup.  So we had to do a little improvising.

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Don’t laugh, it totally worked.  He’s what I found this afternoon.

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Yesterday I found six.  I think they must have figured out that I had just plopped down 7 bucks on two dozen eggs at Costco.  Stinkers.  Guess we’ll be having eggs for breakfast this week — every day.

The baby chicks are doing great and are not really babies any more.  Their fluff is mostly gone and has been replaced by feathers.  Sad, they were so cute.

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I have to sway, these birds are kind of freaks.  Every time we walk by, they totally spaz out.  Oh well, as long as they lay eggs.

Ooh, check this out — no more poop in our front yard, just beautiful green grass and a field of alfalfa.  Hurray, it worked.

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What a difference a few weeks make.

That’s about it on the farm — here’s what’s going on with the fam.

The week before last was homecoming for Heritage (the high school our kids attend).  It was quite the night for both Hayden and Tayrn.  Hayden helped lead the team to victory as the quarterback and Taryn was crowned homecoming queen.

The evening was not without its hiccups however.  You see, Taryn is student body vice president so she knew already that Ben, her date to homecoming, had won homecoming king (although she didn’t know that she had won, for sure anyway).  The coach had been told that Ben won as well and sent Ben over to where they were making the announcement.  Unfortunately, the person who announced the court wasn’t given the right memo and announced Ben’s best friend, McKay, as homecoming king — confusing?  Yea, which brings me to my favorite picture of the night thanks to Ben’s mom over at Denton Sanatorium.

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Thankfully, everything worked out in the end.  McKay was happy to turn over his crown and they all lived happily ever after as seen in these lovely pictures, again, thanks to Ben’s mom.

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Their 1940s themed dance was held in an airport hanger — how cool is that?

Of course, we also celebrated Halloween — well I use the term celebrated loosely as I really can’t stand Halloween (I know, who hates Halloween).  I managed to get one picture before we ran out the door to our neighborhood “Fall Festival.”

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Nice use of tin foil huh?

Last but not least, just in case you feel an ever so slight bit of jealousy creeping in because I am enjoying sunny 75 degree skies, check out this picture.

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This is an Arizona Bark scorpion.  Last Sunday, one of these nasty little guys stung me on my hand.  It hurt — not like I’m going to die hurt, but I don’t want to get stung again hurt.  So here’s your little preparedness tip for the week.  If stung by a scorpion, wash the affected area with a mild soap and then apply a cold compress 10 minutes on 10 minutes off for a long time.

It took a good 24 hours for the pain to go away and about 36 for my had to feel normal again.  On the positive side, it got me out of making dinner.  Thanks family for taking care of it.  Phew, all done.

our week — 7 october 2013

I love October — crisp mornings, beautiful blue skies.  Here is Arizona, it’s also fall garden time, and we’ve got things coming up all over.

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Our second crop of corn has popped up.

ImageThe zucchini is off to a great start.

ImageGive this a couple of months and it will be a beautiful green salad.

ImageI’m not sure what this is, but I don’t think it’s a weed.  I’m going to let it grow for a little bit longer to see if I can figure it out.  I’m open for suggestions if anyone has one.

It’s been a great week for the animals as well.  Joy’s babies are HUGE, and when I went out this morning, they had finally opened their eyes and have started exploring their basement home.

ImageWe sold eight of our chickens this week.  I love it that they are going to some really nice families.  I feel like we have been super blessed to have these chickens and am thankful we can pass those blessings along.

We kept most of the younger ones for ourselves.  We’re hoping they’ll start to pay rent soon.  We’re close that’s for sure.  Greg found this little starter egg on Saturday.  I used a ping pong ball just to give you an idea of how big it is.  I would have used a standard egg, but Greg ate the last of them for breakfast this morning.  I’ve gotten totally spoiled not having to add eggs to the grocery list.

ImageIsn’t it cute?

We are finally wrapping up our front yard project.  On Saturday, we dug out the last of the grass and tilled the soon to be alfalfa field for the last time.  This morning we dug a trench for the edging we’re putting in to separate the grass from the alfalfa.  We’re so close.  I’m not sure who will be happier when it’s done — us or our neighbors.

ImageOn the home front, we enjoyed our last day of school before fall break.  We celebrated by visiting the Arizona Natural History Museum’s Night of Star Gazing.  Thomas and Muf were in heaven.  Not only were they able to look through several telescopes, but they also faced their fears and walked through the Arizona Territory Jail.  I have to admit, it was a little creepy.

When the guides asked how his evening went, Thomas replied, “tremendous.”  Yeah, he’s five going on sixty.

Speaking of Thomas, he also took his first solo bike ride on the street.  He’s pretty proud of himself and rightly so.

Nice good week, I must say.

 

 

it’s been a while

We’ve had a lot going on here at the homestead over the last couple of weeks — a huge mix of good and not so good and fun and not so fun.  It’s been the not so good and not so fun that have kept me from doing any writing.  Even now, I still don’t feel quite up to it, but I know that if I don’t, I probably never will, so here goes. 

As you know about six weeks ago, we were contacted by the woman from whom we bought our goats.  One of her goats had been diagnosed with scrapie, a contagious neurological disease found in goats and sheep.  It is extremely rare — in fact, hers was the first case in a goat in Arizona history.  A few days after that, we were contacted by the USDA letting us know that they were rounding up all the goats that had come from that herd or had had contact with that herd over the last five years.  Boo.  Our goats were tagged and without any other real options, we turned ownership of our goats over the to federal government (although they continued to be housed on our property at our expense).  A few weeks later, the Arizona Department of Agriculture paid us a visit and place this lovely quarantine sign on our gate.  Little did we know that problems it would cause. 

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Scrapie is not transmittable to humans nor any animals other than goats and sheep.  Sadly we had a neighbor, many houses away, who felt the need to call the city rather than to talk to us directly.  It did not go well, but it is what it is.  On a positive note, the man from the city who came and spoke with us was very nice and while our conversation was not always pleasant, we parted cordially both expressing our desires that we never meet again. 

The next day, the state came and picked up the goats.  I had talked to the boys the day before reminding them that our goats were going to be leaving.  Thomas responded with, “It’s going to be hard, but I’m going to handle it.”  Handle it he did.  I was the one standing in the middle of the road holding back the tears. 

And so, that part of our story comes to a close, and soon a new story will begin.  I hope this next story has a slightly happier ending.

Speaking of happy, our sweet rabbit Joy popped some babies last week.  She’s a little stingy with her babies, only five this time, but they are big, and getting bigger every day.

ImageHopefully, Eve will deliver sometime this week — fingers crossed. 

On the garden front, we were so excited to harvest our sweet potatoes we could hardly contain ourselves.  They had practically taken over a quarter of our garden. 

Here’s what we got —

ImageSad, huh.  Greg has sworn we will never grow sweet potatoes again.  Bummer.  Oh well, the goats and chickens were happy.

ImageHere’s the garden today, minus the sweet potatoes. 

ImageWe added three more rows of corn, two rows of lettuce (we’re big salad eaters around here), tomatoes, peppers, beets, zucchini, carrots, swiss chard and green onions.  The beans and peas will go in this coming weekend along with some medicinal herbs.  Let the praying begin.

On the homeschooling front, we keep moving right along.  I made some changes with Muffa’s reading program, and I’m really looking forward to implementing it over the next few weeks.  Thomas is becoming quite the speller.  He’s read for years, but couldn’t spell the word cat if his life depended on it.  He can spell cat and many other words now, no problem. 

Science continues to be the favorite subject around here.  We’ve moved onto studying the planets.  After reading about Venus, we did a little hands on activity to reinforce what we learned about atmospheres using a towel, a hair dryer and an ice cube.

ImageI cannot say enough good things about our science curriculum, God’s Design for Science.  Love, love, love it. 

We headed back to the Arizona Natural History Museum this past week and did a little panning for gold.  I’m happy to report, we’re officially rich.  Well, not really, but it was fun just the same.

ImageImageImageOn the family front, we’ve enjoyed football games, birthdays (Hailey hit 12 and I made it to 29 again) and just being together.  I think that’s about it.