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.