Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Best Day Ever

Susan and I spent most of Saturday in the garden and kitchen. It was great!

We started around 8:30 with a walk to get plums. This is our first time harvesting plums though we have known about them for a couple years. With two little girls helping us, we actually picked the plums, spilled them, and picked them up again.  But in the end, we ended up with enough to yield six cups of pitted ground plums. More on that later.

Walking back, we decided we better get into the tomato patch to get rid of bad ones and pick the good ones. It was hard to not notice some green peppers that were ready, so we picked those. Then we could see cucumbers and found quite a few small ones to make those little pickles.

After checking the carrots and picking a few of those, we moved on to green beans. As we were finishing those up, we noticed our broccoli was ready too.

Eventually we decided our other plans had to be put on hold so we could process a bunch of this food.

Susan made five pints of salsa creating her own recipe in the process. I don't know why we canned all of them, we should have just started eating one.

After cleaning a few of the vegetables, I spent hours watching college football while simultaneously pitting plums. I ended up with eight jars, some pints some half pints, of a tasty plum jam with allspice.

I also made a couple more quarts of pickles when I was done with the jam.  I postponed green beans until the next day, but managed four more quarts of beans out of this picking.

Susan and I were commenting during all of this how much fun we were having.  She even felt guilty since we had other things "to do" and we had put them on hold.

In reality, we were doing what we needed to do.  We were collecting and preserving food that would feed our family for the near future.  In the process, we got our excercise in and didn't even have to pay a gym membership.  Plus it was just the two of us with plenty of time to talk and visit.

Sure four cans of green beans and a couple jars of jelly could have been purchased in much less time for only a little more money.  We find that we enjoy the time together and feel good about the work we do in providing for our food.  Instead of going somewhere else to work all day, and then using that AFTER TAX money to buy food, we will continue to eat as much as we can that is grown, harvested, or hunted on the east half of the southwest quarter....

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Bountiful Harvest

Here is my harvest from yesterday.  Another good day in the old truck patch yielded green beans, carrots, cucumbers, zucchini, onions, tomatoes, and green peppers.  If only I didn't have a day job and four kids, the tomato harvest would be much better.  I bet as many as picked are already rotten because I didn't get to them soon enough.

I don't know if this picture does it justice, but a full size grocery bag is 2/3 full of green beans.  Again, my tardiness in harvesting resulted in a few undesirables, but I still yielded 7 quarts of canned beans and a four gallon bowl of fresh beans in the fridge.

Here are the good, or at least partially good tomatoes.  I'm running seriously low on canning jars, so I think there will be a lot of fresh tomatoes eaten in the next week.  Really wishing I had signed up for the farmers market!
 We have eaten quite a few cucumbers, and yesterday's harvest was substantial.  So I made 8 pints of pickles.  These are garlic dill, and half of them have a dried habanero pepper in the bottom.  We have a quart jar with a habanero that is ready to eat.  I am waiting for Uncle John and Aunt Linda to visit to open that up and see how well we like it.
This is my carrot harvest.  Funny, it looks like a couple more cucumbers slipped in with them.  Kind of like in the garden where the green bean vines are climbing the tomato plants and mixing in with the sweet potato vines.  Note to self, more spacing next year.

I am excited about this first harvest of carrots because it means my picky eater, Logan, will finally enjoy something we grew.  Grace is picky too, but likes a fresh carrot.  Definitely a side dish on tonight's diner menu.

The only thing ready that I don't have pictures of is our sweet potatoes.  They are still in the ground, as that is where they will keep the best until we need to eat them.  Next time I'm out in the garden, I'll snap a shot of them as they are bursting out of the ground they are so big.

We must truly be blessed with good earth, because after all the dry weather in June and July, we still are managing a bountiful harvest.  We don't want it to go to waste, so if you are nearby, come visit and I'll send you home with some.  The food tastes better when grown on the east half of the southwest quarter.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Freely Given, Freely Received

We spent $73 on seeds for our garden this year.  It was a lot more money than I would have thought we would spend.  However, we do seem to be getting our money's worth.  We have made 5 quarts of pickles, 4 quarts of spaghetti sauce, 9 quarts of green beans, and 7 quarts of tomatoes, and frozen 3 quart bags of corn.

That doesn't even count the vegetables eaten fresh or used in recipes directly from the garden.  For sure we have used 4 dozen ears of corn, 2 dozen green peppers, a quart of green beans, 2 dozen onions, 10 heads of garlic, 5 pounds of tomatoes, 2 dozen zucchini, and 2 dozen cucumbers.  I would say I am light on every one of those estimates.

In addition, we have bartered or sold vegetables, receiving $22 of value in return.  If I add up the cost at Kroger of the above amounts, the cost would be  $175.00.

That means that for our time and effort, we have profited $114.00.  Non monetary benefits include eating produce that has a greater quality taste, free of pesticides and chemicals, and learning more about the food we are putting in our body.  Plus, we are a little more in shape from the exercise of tilling and preparing the garden, pulling weeds, and picking vegetables.

But all who know me well, know that I can't leave well enough alone.  Just imagine if I could find a way to get the $73 worth of starter seeds at no cost to me.  Why my profit margins would sky rocket!  Let's see, how could I possibly manage this task?

Oh yeah, these are plants.  They freely give me their seeds at the end of their production!  So with a little research, (learning something new keeps the brain sharp right) and a little bit of effort, I am planning on saving my seeds to start my garden next year.

First up, asparagus.  Pictured to the left is the drying process for the seeds I discovered the other day.  I am particularly excited about this venture for a couple reasons.  One, most things I read say we mostly have non seed bearing asparagus being grown, so I feel lucky to have found one plant in our patch that was seed bearing.  Second, this patch was originally planted by Fred & Marian Worrell, my wife's grandparents.  They planted it around 1975 and we are still eating from it.  By propagating seeds from this patch, I believe that their great-great-great-great grandchildren will be eating asparagus as a result of their efforts.
Now this is a long term project.  I dried the seeds for planting in early 2013.  We will have to see how well it grows, and if it does well, we won't be able to harvest until spring 2015.  Progress reports shall be forthcoming as we continue to become more self sufficient here on the east half of the southwest quarter 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Hunting & Gathering

We are in harvest mode in the garden.  Yesterday alone we picked 40 pounds of tomatoes and 8 pounds of green beans.  We are still getting zucchini, cucumber, green peppers, onions and garlic.  I found a spaghetti sauce recipe that is fantastic and I can make it entirely with contents from our garden.

With so much we decided to get busy canning right away.  We put up 9 quarts of green beans, 7 quarts of tomatoes, and 4 quarts of the spaghetti sauce.  Previously we had frozen a couple bags of corn and some grated zucchini.

Speaking of the freezer, deer season is rapidly approaching.  We have been working hard at cleaning out the freezer by eating what is left of last year's deer meat, and other frozen items from last year.  Squirrel season is already in and we made squirrel and dumplings on Friday.  I made my dumplings from scratch using a double batch of J.P.'s Big Daddy Biscuits.

It is so fun to be partially self sufficient.  Many of our meals lately have come from things that we have preserved, saved, harvested, or hunted.  In addition, like the biscuits, much of our ingredients we start from scratch.

We have always composted, but now a bunch of our fresh vegetable scraps go to the animals.  My hope is to plant our own hay to be able to feed them next year instead of buying it.  I guess if the Mayan's were right about December 12th, we will be prepared to survive here on the east half of the southwest quarter.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Good News Bad News

I went out early this morning to pick a few ears of corn, which I was sure would be ready.  I intentionally left them during the last picking, thinking they needed a couple more days.  Well, there are not any good ears left.  Something is eating them.

Based on the fact the stalk isn't knocked over, I think deer not raccoon.  I found plenty of deer tracks near my tomato plants and peppers as well.  While that isn't good for the vegetable garden, it is about to be hunting season.  With the drought, we were worried about the health of the deer population.  With them eating out of my garden, I think hunting season will be just fine on the east half of the southwest quarter.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

My Animals Eat Better Than I Do

Here is a picture of today's harvest, excepting the sweet corn which I already put in the fridge.  I intend to eat it tonite.  I had been looking forward to eating the corn we harvested two nights ago.  We were sure I brought it in, but neither Susan or I could remember seeing it in either fridge.  When we harvested those nine ears, we gave away all that we already had figuring we had enough for our family.

When I was in the garden today, I found seven of those nine ears.  The bag I put them in was still sitting in the garden.  The remaining seven ended up going to Norbert, Rocky, Donkey, and the chickens.  At first I was a bit upset, but realized, I wasn't wasting any food.  I was feeding food I grew to the animals, meaning I don't have to buy feed.

Part of the goal of growing our own food is being self sufficient.  I have to remember that I don't have to actually eat everything.  We have bartered food this week for things we are short of.  We have given food away, knowing that our generosity will be repaid at some point in the future.  My mood changed as I watched how much the animals enjoyed the semi fresh corn.

So in this drought, where we have had slimmer pickings on sweet corn, we missed out on one meal.  But our loss was the animals gain, here on the east half of the southwest quarter.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Gardening in a Drought

So with July having been the hottest month since 1871 according to Paul Poteet, our garden has had mixed results.  We watered every couple days since planting late in May.  However, with a vacation at the beginning of July and concern over running the well dry, we have backed off that schedule.

Our peas didn't tolerate the heat well and we only ate a few ripe ones while standing in the garden.  We had good results from our lettuce, but didn't continue to pick it enough and it has all gone bitter.  The radishes did well and we pickled quite a few along with some "non-garden" vegetables like cauliflower, carrots, and asparagus.  You can see them in this picture as they age amongst my collection of growlers.

Cucumber and zucchini seem to be the hit of the garden and we are working hard on keeping up with new ways to cook zucchini before it gets bad.  We pickled seven quarts of cucumbers just this week, using dill from our herb garden and garlic from our own garden.  Fairly self sufficient, wouldn't you say?

Finally we ate sweet corn out of our garden this week too.  The first couple dozen ears we probably waited too long, so we froze most of that for use in winter soups.  The second batch we picked was exactly what we hoped for; tender, sweet, juicy corn on the cob!

Tomatoes and green peppers are coming along nicely now too.  We made a small batch of salsa with the first pickings, and have been eating tomatoes with about every meal this week.  In my future I foresee a lot of tomato canning.

We are still waiting on our carrots, and our green beans.  We watered again because our beans have flowered and we think we are only days away from a tremendous crop.  More updates to come as August arrives on the east half of the southwest quarter.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Mirror Recycling Project

I like re using wood I find on the property.  It has a great weathered look, even when machined and treated.  Plus, I am not taking more of the natural resources than I need since I am re using previous resources that have been discarded.

For this project, my raw materials came from a couple different places.  In the picture, the boards are old fence boards from the property. The grey square behind them is the back side of a mirror I salvaged from a bathroom remodeling project.

I have planed the boards to remove the old really weathered wood, plus make them uniform thickness.  I cut them to size and joined them together to make a frame for the mirror.

My goal was to make this an entry way mirror with hooks for coats or decorations.  Keeping with the recycling theme, I decided to salvage some insulators from the old electric fence on the property.

Grace and I went and retrieved some this morning.  They are soaking in some vinegar and hot water to clean up a little bit and then they will be ready to attach.

I still need to stain the frame before final assembly.  I attempted to use black raspberries from the property as a stain, but it is too purple a finish for me.  I am going to end up with a store bought stain for this project.

I finally wrapped this project up.  Here is the final version, hanging in my kitchen.  I ended up with a polyshades that worked really well on that old oak.  Two coats gave me the color I wanted and the protection level I was after.  We bought vinyl lettering to apply to the bottom. I found the saying while searching for recycling quotes.  Once I found the saying, I also found a blog with that same title.  I will give a shout out to that blog as it espouses many of my beliefs and the core of this project.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Knee high by the fourth of july

So we weeded and thinned our lettuce and radishes today.  Overall I'm pleased with the growth and our efforts at weeding.

This is just a picture of our corn, which meets and exceeds the old adage.  In late July we should have a bountiful harvest.

We harvested two full brown paper bags of radishes and a plastic Kroger bag full of lettuce today.  Anyone in the metro Indy area needs some, call me.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

First Harvest

It's been a while since I posted.  Busy with a lot of things including trying to figure out why all our chickens are gone.  Maybe coyotes, but probably raccoons.  Didn't help that Addison, one of our dogs, killed a few.

My sweet potato experiment is finally beginning to take shape.  I had given up on it, but I finally see some vines beginning to make their way out of the top.  It took longer than I thought, but it is helping me learn patience.  
Since I posted last, our garden has started to come in nicely.  Here is the first batch of radishes we pulled.  We also thinned our lettuce, a variety type that includes arugula.  In the bottom picture, you can see the radishes and lettuce as the bedding for these tuna cakes I made along with some rice pilaf.

 I am looking forward to continuing to eat fresh from the garden as a part of every meal.  The leftover lettuce, we wilted in some bacon grease and included in a frittata the next morning.

We will replace the chickens, after a little more security goes into their coop, and soon a whole meal will be made of food grown, raised, or harvested off of the east half of the southwest quarter.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

How Does Your Garden Grow

It is Sunday morning on Memorial Day weekend.  Our garden was planted about two weeks ago and we are starting to see plants sprout now.  It looks like radish, green beans, and sweet corn are all starting to grow.

This past week I picked up some garlic and asparagus that Lowe's had on clearance.  Cost me $1.50.  We have an existing asparagus patch but at some point it will cease to produce.  I figured with a two year lead time, I better plant before I notice we don't have enough asparagus.  And .50 for three garlic bulbs was too good a deal to pass up.  We can never have enough garlic in this house.

On Friday I went out and bought some tomato, green pepper, and sweet potato plants.  Those are all in the ground now.  Some time ago, I learned that newspaper is good for preventing weeds, it holds water, and you just till it into the garden at the end of the year.  Normally the tomato cages will help hold it in place, but I haven't put the cages up yet.  As the previous night's watering was wearing off yesterday, you could see the papers flapping in the wind.

I got a lot of grief from my brother-in-law Rick and my friend Chuck as they watched newspaper blow across the field towards the pond. Luckily, it was only the extra paper, not the ones I used.  That only stifled their enjoyment slightly.

This picture was taken earlier this week.  This great blue heron seems to be making a home around the pond.  I see him three or four mornings a week right in this spot between our garden and pond.  One morning I caught Addie, our lab mix, watching him.  Then when Addie took off after him, he flew around in circles for a while fairly low. If I had to guess, he is actually a she and is guarding eggs somewhere close by.

This morning while writing this on the back deck, I saw a raccoon at the back edge of the garden.  I had seen him earlier by the pond when I was out by the garden and again on the north side of the pond when I was heading down to the chicken barn.  I love watching all the different animals and listening to them in the morning while enjoying a cup of coffee.  However, if I find out that raccoon is the reason we are missing four chickens, I'll be enjoying my morning cup of coffee with a loaded .410 close by my side.  When I see him headed for the barn, I will make sure he has enjoyed his last free chicken dinner on the East Half of the Southwest Quarter.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Farm Life Fun on Friday Night

Well, we did it.  Finally.  Our schedule, and the weather, finally opened up a window for planting our garden.  So last night we planted green beans, peas, cabbage, brussel sprouts, lettuce, spinach, carrots, cucumber, zuchini, garlic, green onion, radish, white onions, strawberries, and four varieties of sweet corn.

The first thing Susan and I agreed on is that next year we are sowing all our seeds indoors.  We would prefer an earlier start, plus we can accomplish the thinning task when we transplant.  We are still novices at this, so we were a bit unsure of some of the directions.

For example, they kept referring to drills.  We googled it, and found that just means a row or furrow, which we already knew and had done.  I hope that the amount of time between our final tilling and our planting didn't hurt us too much.  This ground hasn't been tilled since at least 1976 and six times through still left a few clumps.  That worsened with some rain.  The ground seemed better the deeper we went so I think the plants will root well.

We still need to go buy some green pepper and tomato plants and get those in.  We plan on doing a watermelon patch as well.  I went out to water this morning before checking on the goats and chickens.  I was pleased to see that last nights post planting watering was sufficient for most of the areas.

I tended to the goats and chickens, which continue to increase in number.  We brought Gus home this week and picked up a bantam rooster as well.  All told, we should have eleven chickens.  However, I only saw seven or eight.  I am afraid more have gone the way of Bud and Helen, whom we are pretty sure were eaten.  The only thing that makes me sad about that is I wasn't the one eating them!

I thought of posting a picture of the garden, but decided to wait until things start to pop up from the ground.  With the exception of our garlic starters we planted, everything else was seed.  So the only thing you would see would be the few weeds we already need to pull.

By the way, my sweet potato experiment is failing.  I am going to have to look that up again and find out if I have done something wrong.  Anyone with advice on growing potatoes and sweet potatoes from eyes, I would appreciate you sharing.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Sweet Sweet Potato

In the previously mentioned garden (still yet to be planted) we are trying some new stuff.  One of which is sweet potatoes. So today I took a sweet potato from the pantry, and placed it in a mason jar of water.  My understanding is that it will begin to grow vines, which I can remove and transplant to the garden.  Stay tuned for the results.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Asparagus Omelettes

As I type this, I've been inside now for 41 minutes.  I finished tilling the garden at 9:42, after a day of working on some landscaping around the property and doing some mother's day/birthday shopping.  My wife shares her birthday with Mother's Day occasionally, and this is one of those years.

Now, I may be very late in tilling my garden.  In my defense, I am a part time farmer with a day job.  In addition I have two sons playing high school baseball, one son in middle school track, and my daughter plays softball.  So Sunday is my only true free day and given the rain we had lately, it was the first time I could do it.  Plus, I put priority on the purchase of gifts for my wife.  

Which, I might add, she has apparently found one of them, and is asking my son why it is in his closet.  Apparently, she can't remember she asked for it.  Let's give her some time and maybe she'll forget she saw it.

Anyway, back to the farm.  Today Jared found a new hiding place for our egg layers.  20 eggs was the bounty.  Using the "does it float" test, we determined them all to still be good eggs.  We are still harvesting asparagus, and I think breakfast tomorrow will be asparagus omelets with Parmesan cheese.  

It makes me a bit sad to think that if I just plant the garden this week we will be waiting patiently for a harvest from that endeavor.  In the mean time, I will concentrate on the cherry tree and try to beat the birds to them for some wonderful cherry pie.

I also notice the black raspberry bushes in full bloom, so I am getting anxious to see them begin to fruit.  I can't wait to begin to reap the harvest.  Patience is a virtue, but not one that God gave to me.  Next year I am definitely going to have to start my garden indoors so that I can be enjoying it sooner.

Up next, I'll begin posting pictures of the cherry blossoms and black raspberry bushes.  As soon as the plants in the garden begin to grow, I'll post pictures of that too.

Friday, April 13, 2012

She's Closer to the Ground

You may recall my earlier post about finding immense pleasure when walking in the woods looking for morel mushrooms.  My point was that you don't have to always succeed in your original quest, life has many twists and turns and adult ADD only heightens the pleasure experienced around each corner. beautiful daughter Grace, who herself takes more twists and turns in five minutes than any one human should experience in a day, stayed quite focused, and found a mushroom within 30 seconds of getting to our honey hole.  Here she is with a tiny morel that has long since been battered, fried, and consumed.

We had been looking all along the path on our way to the secret location first stumbled upon by Larry Cline.  Here you can see her looking diligently, walking stick and collection pail in hand.   I really felt as though I was doing a more thorough job, in between snapping pictures, and was sure I was going to win this collection competition.
However, within minutes of finding this first mushroom, life (or Grace) changed direction and bloodroot became the coveted prey.  Within five minutes she had three or four in hand and was ready to head back.  That left me without so much as a pecker head mushroom to my credit.

I have been out at least four times and only have two mushrooms.  Grace has half that total in 5 minutes.  I argue she is closer to the ground and they are easier for her to spot.  Now if I can just get her out more often, we could have a bona fide feast.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Gus the Easter Goat

Well Easter Sunday on the farm.  Our newest addition to the farm, Gus the Fainting Goat, made an appearance at the farm.  He had to hurry back to mom later in the day but spent a few hours visiting with his new friends Norbert and Rocky.  This picture is him and the kids just after we returned home from Mass.

I say he is our newest addition, but as I write, Callie is having kittens in the master closet.  So I guess they are the newest additions.  By the way, anyone want one?

Gus can reclaim the title of newest when he finally is weaned from mama and comes to live permanently here at the east half of the southwest quarter of Section 34.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

A Good Walk Unspoiled

I used to golf quite a bit.  Not so much anymore.  There is a book about the game called A Good Walk Spoiled by John Feinstein.  While I have never read the book I can certainly relate to the concept.  When I played, and I was certainly not any good, I was constantly competing.  Either with friends or with myself to get better.  What was supposed to be relaxation turned to frustration.

Now, I spend my walking time in the woods.  Here on the property we believe we have about 40 acres of woods.  They start at the edge of the farm fields and cover hills, ravines, and bottom land that leads to a creek. Regardless of the reason for my walk, I rarely come back frustrated.

Yesterday's reason was mushrooms.  A couple friends met me in the morning with a cup of coffee, and we proceeded to stroll through the woods in a very random manner.  At times we followed trails made by the deer we so love to hunt in the fall.  Then we would roam off the path to search a patch of Mayapples that supposedly contain the elusive morel.  Sometimes we were merely yards apart, and could share stories each trying to make the others laugh.  At other times, we were so distant it was as if we were alone out there.

As social as I am, I very much enjoy that time.  I find myself thinking about everything and nothing, all while trying to find wild mushrooms.  Yesterday wasn't a great success.  I found two pluteus cervinus, or deer mushrooms.  I researched and found they are edible, but easily confused with a couple inedible types.  I am leaning towards not eating them and living to hunt and write another day.

Often when walking, when I stop to focus around a fallen tree or another patch of mayapples, when I glance back up I notice what a beautiful surrounding I am in.  I snap a few pictures like these and take a relaxing breath, knowing even without a bountiful harvest I have communed with nature and my soul is better for it.

Even though yesterday didn't result in an edible harvest, I did manage to not come home empty handed.  Along a ravine on the northern end of our property, I found a few intact old bottles.  Apparently this particular ravine, many on the property contain old metal trash, was used to dump old glass and ceramic.  I waded through, careful to not get cut, and found a variety of bottles and jars which I am sure will decorate our house at some point.

I also grabbed an old well head, I assume from the unused well for the original farm house.  I am going to use it as a chimney on the smoker I build.  I really enjoy trying to reclaim old materials for use in my projects.  There are bricks from the old farm silo which I intend on using for a fire pit in our backyard.  Those were also discovered on a walk, unspoiled, on the east half of the southwest quarter.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Living Off AND With The Land

In addition to growing our own food, we certainly appreciate what nature has provided.  Last fall we hunted both deer and squirrel, and have had many meals provided as a result of our good fortune.  Yesterday we found the first, of hopefully many, morel mushrooms.  Later this year we will collect black raspberries and walnuts that grow naturally on the property.

In addition to appreciating the nature that is edible, we also appreciate the beauty and diversity of nature as entertainment.  We are blessed with seeing great blue heron and red tail hawks and hearing mourning doves and screech owls.  When we mushroom hunt, we teach our children about the plants we see growing.  I don't know if there is a good use for trillium or jack in the pulpit, but they sure are pretty.  I have a couple framed pictures I took while walking the property.

This past weekend we were doing some spring cleaning chores outdoors.  One of those was to move an old bale of hay from the farmhouse crawlspace entrance.  This picture is what we found underneath. We believe, thanks to Aunt Linda and Uncle John who were here for a visit, that it is a Yellow Spotted Salamander.

My daughter Grace wanted to keep it.  We explained to her that they are sensitive animals and keeping it may shorten it's life span.  We wanted to give it a natural life, so we found a wet covered place and let it go about it's business the next day.

My hope is that we continue to teach our children about living not only off the land, but with the land.  Composting, recycling, and reusing are common themes in our house.  It certainly adds to the workload of daily living, but in the end it seems worth it to me.  I many only save small amounts of energy or landfill space, but I rest easy knowing I am doing my part.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Goat Eggs?

Rocky (black and white) and Norbert (white with brown) were delivered to us on Thursday.  They were 4H goats for some friends of ours from church and they are done with that.  We decided to get them to protect our baby fainting goat, Gus.
Goats are social animals, and having just Gus might have been tough on him.  These two crazy guys will give him someone to play with and provide a little guidance as the more mature members of our barnyard.

On Saturday, when this picture was taken, we found a hen laying an egg in the goat stall.  When she got up, we found ELEVEN eggs.  Now the chickens would have had to fly into that closed stall between Monday and Thursday.  On Friday it was left open for Rocky & Norbert to go in and out and the chickens could have accessed it much easier.  I still don't know how they managed to get that many eggs but apparently they like their new barnyard mates.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

5/13 Of A Baker's Dozen

We set a new daily egg collection record yesterday.  5 eggs from 6 hens.  That is good because we have family coming in this weekend.  They appreciate the lifestyle of living simpler and living off the land.

My goal is to feed them a breakfast of eggs from the farm, cooked with some of our asparagus picked from our own asparagus patch, with a side of venison sausage from deer we hunted on the property in the fall.  If only I had my dairy goat to put some goat cheese in the eggs.  YUM!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Our Chickens Are Spoiled

I forgot to mention this in yesterday's post.  On Sunday when we were preparing the barn for Gus' arrival, we didn't want to miss the NASCAR race at Bristol Motor Speedway.  The boys and I took a small TV from the house, with an HDTV amplified antenna, and set it up in the barn so we could hear and occasionally watch the action.

While we were discussing the plans for this in the house, my daughter Grace thought we were talking about switching rooms.  She wanted to trade with her brothers since they had a TV.  We told her we weren't talking about switching rooms, and that the TV was going to the barn.

Well, Grace was flabbergasted.  "Our chickens are spoiled" she exclaimed.  When she continued, "Why do our chickens even want to watch TV?", we all started laughing.  I guess if we go down to the barn and find the TV on, we will know that they do in fact want to watch TV.

Monday, March 19, 2012

One Goat Two Goat...Fainting Goat Dwarf Goat

When we first got our chickens, we also planned on getting goats.  Shortly after that decision, we committed to take a baby fainting goat from one of our farmer friends.  We thought we were going to wait for it to be three months, so it could be weaned from it's mother.  Susan has decided otherwise, and wants to take it now and bottle feed it.

That means that over the weekend we had to get the stall prepared for Gus' arrival.  Yes, his name is Gus the goat.  Yesterday Zach, Jared, and I fixed the stall door, and did a few other chores to get the place ship shape.  Meanwhile, on Saturday night at the church fundraiser, I got involved in a discussion with some other backyard farmers.  The long story short, in addition to Gus, we will be acquiring two Dwarf Nigerian goats.  We feel like they will help make the transition for Gus easier and help protect him a little bit.

That means that in our first month of this adventure, we will have acquired 2 roosters, 6 laying hens, 4 chicks, 2 dwarf nigerian goats, and 1 baby fainting goat.  By the way, thanks to at least one of the 3 dogs we already owned, we are down to 2 chicks.  

Next up, more chicks from a science project one of Susan's fellow teachers is doing.  We are also seriously considering a dairy goat.  It's a good thing I like hard work.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Warm Weather = More Eggs

Our hens getting used to their new digs combined with summer like weather produced a new daily record egg production.

We visited our baby fainting goat today too. If we get a little work on the stall doors done this weekend we could bring it home next week.