Friday, December 26, 2014

No short cuts, Ducks are work!

 I LOVE my ducks.. I think they contribute so much to our farm! Amazing eggs, amazing meat (at any age) lots (and lots!) of stinky manure thats great for my garden, pest control , super soft down and they are highly entertaining ... I find 'most' ducks easier to manage than chickens...ease of management is huge on a farm..huge! An animal thats hard to manage can suck the time and motivation right out of you!

I've said before they work out better for us for many reasons and more economically than chickens...I have great land for all poultry... good mix of pasture and wood lots.. natural water sources and our highly prized LGD's that do not kill ANY poultry!

.... and maybe we have had the wrong chickens in the past..I mean chickens and goats are the most used livestock animals in the world.. what have I done wrong for them to not work out??? I found out what I did wrong with goats for them not to work!
...maybe the wrong bloodlines (yes bloodlines matter in poultry too!! don't be fooled by thinking all of the same breed will possess the awesome traits you've read about in those romanticized homesteading magazines!
I tried half a dozen different chicken breeds (there are so many breeds) before giving up and stepping away from chickens for awhile to focus in on ducks as our main egg/poultry meat source. Which works extremely well for us here in the southeast.... some better than others.... but the main thing you gotta know... they are WORK!! Like any livestock..and maybe abit more than other poultry...

These lovely ladies are part of my muscovy flock, I have 4 bloodlines... out of those 4 lines these girls are the first to try new foods and have a wider range of vegetables they will eat... they are also my only line of muscovies that lay in the winter so far! Making them extremely valuable to me because most muscovies are seasonal.

But lets talk about work... 
Ducks are more work in a way because they have large super stinky slick wet poop, that builds up and their flat feet pack it down... making the deep bedding system much used for chickens not very practical or healthy.
Now let me just say I'm not a fan of the clean up every 6 months deep bedding systems with chickens either.. I think its way less work to shovel out the bedding/manure every couple of months .. six months of poop is a nasty undertaking ...
my large coop below takes me just an hour to shovel out and clean if I do it every 6 to 8 weeks.. thats with ducks...
when I did the deep bedding with chickens it would take us pretty much 5 hours of extra hard work! I can't imagine if I let duck poop pile up that long (gag!)

Heres my large coop after 8 weeks of packed down duck poop...I have only 8 ducks in this large 16 by 12 house!

Ducks are very messy with their water thats also more work to clean up... when I lock them up at night they only get a bucket of water to wash their food down with .. they can make quite a large mess with a small amount of water!.. add the slimy poop in the mix , flattened down by their feet it can be alot of work to scrap up.

I set their water bucket in a rabbit tray to help keep the watery mess contained to one area and save my floors from rotting out.. it gets quite gross.. very quickly. I typically add pine shaving every week to soak up the mess.
 I've read some people say they do not give ducks water at night in their pen so they will not have a mess to clean up.. sorry, I think this is totally cruel ... one of the most basic rules of healthy livestock... *Provide fresh water at ALL times! 
Esp, cruel to with hold water from waterfowl... seriously if your not going to provide an animal with basic care because you're to lazy to clean up after them, maybe reconsider raising animals. Most small farmers/homesteaders goals are to provide a better life for the animal and better meat for their family than a commercial farm can... if you're not going to do that,,whats the point? Doing it to save money??
I can promise you, saving money raising your own poultry is probably not possible until you get into growing their food with proper pastures and protein feeding systems...which,,,, ha, is even MORE work...way more than the task of cleaning up messy water areas... think about that. 
Don't ever start up with an animal if you're already thinking about ways to short cut its care. Its fine to try different methods and see what works best...its fine to try an animal and it not work out for reasons you didn't foresee ...just don't ever fool yourself... if you're not up for the work to begin with, don't go there!
'Best thing about getting good advice...knowing when you're getting it.'
For those who like sugar coated romantic farming stories... you may have now realized... you are on the wrong blog :-)

My coop has provided a large cooler and 2 large garbage cans of manure that needs to compost about 6 months. 
Its a wonderful thing... but let me tell you.. it stinks! All poultry poop stinks so bad... way worse than rabbit or ruminants! But the gardens love it!

Ducks and goats eating garden scraps... I find ducks to be much better at eating garden scraps than chickens (maybe it was my breeds again)
 Esp. the mallard derived type ducks.. but my muscovies are also learning to appreciate greens. This is good.. but I also have to stay on top of keeping their wings clipped or they will fly in any garden or pond and help themselves to things I may not want them to eat! more on duck breed comparison in a later post.. they all have their pros and cons.. 

Nice clean duck house! Another thing... ducks are notorious for nasty egg laying habits! They have bad habits of dropping eggs where ever, walking and pooping on them... my older girls will lay in a nest 90% of the time.. I sprinkle new shaving and bedding in the nesting areas they like every few days to help keep eggs cleaner.
This coop used to be a chicken coop... so lots of the 'furnishings' here are for chickens.. ducks do not roost (muscovies do though) and they like to lay in ground nests.
The furniture will be put to good use in a future chicken coop... yes, I'm adding chickens back! Ducks are my favorite but I have some breeds in mind I would like to try... after all.. I've not even tried half of the hundreds of chicken breeds available! haha! (I hope my husband doesn't read this)
I really enjoy raising poultry...I've got the land for it and I'm up for the work... and experimenting with different kinds of poultry is way easier than experimenting with different ruminants! Though we've done more than our fair share of experimenting there too... thank goodness ruminants sell well for us and/or taste good when they didn't work out..though the financial loss can be much greater!
Chickens sell well too, but not for alot... depending on the breed I've heard some people (they must be very special!) claim they can pay their feed bill though chick and hatching egg sells on small farms.
I've personally found the waterfowl to be very, very hard livestock to sell... much more so than chickens.. 
but they are easily processed for food if they don't work out... and very much enjoyed that way.

So thats abit about my tiny 3 years of duck raising experience... they are work.. like anything else on a farm.. but very very worth it to us... and after all my favorite saying is 'I didn't move to a farm to be lazy' ... work is not the issue for me with poultry that don't work out here... mostly its management or inefficiency. 
if ducks can work for your type land and climate they can be a very valuable addition to any farm...
As our farm changes and grows some of my current duck breeds may change...but I can't imagine not having ducks here.
Poultry in general is all challenging, but managed properly with the right kind (and right bloodline) they are such a wonderful addition to a working subsistence farm.

The most important thing part of anything.. Prayer... and being flexible. Its not always about what you think you need and what you think will work....
Have a very Blessed day!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Free chocolate & cheap paper towels please!

How I stumbled on couponing...
One Saturday of cooking I flipped the tv on for some background noise.. An old episode of extreme couponing was on.. Fine.. Nothing else is on.. Next thing I know I was starring at the tv, couldn't take my eyes off these obscene savings... True a lot of it was on things I wouldn't want to eat or even feed the dogs .. What really got me was the paper towels, toilet paper... Cleaners!!!! 
And I admit ... Chocolate! 
So I decided to give it a go. I had my doughts it would work... Surely this can't be!
 I googled extreme couponing help and come up with a few step by step websites that led me to printable couponing sites and match ups for stores in my area...
Organizing is the #1 rule in the game... So I was a bit put off right from the beginning.. It's Something I struggle with unless I'm highly motivated ... Well cheap paper towels and chocolate does motivate me more than I had ever imagined ! Lol!

Baby steps.... A list with few deals from a circular and coupons in hand I hit the store .. Pretty sure this wouldn't work!
I bought these things for $4.97!!!!
If I had paid full price ...$18.55!!! What!

It works... It seriously works!
Ofcourse due to super coupon savvy masters most stores and manufacterors have things fixed so you can't clear the shelves and hoard 1,000 tubes of tooth paste . Which is fine with me! 
I also scored on another trip free head bands and pack of 38 diapers for $3!
Even at our local health food grocery store I got 5 full size organic food items and a gallon of milk for just $11!!  Retail was over $30...
Just wow !
Now the other big part of making this work is not buying anything in the store that you do not have a deal & coupon for.. I gotta work on that one!
I can't wait for next weeks couponing project :-) 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Bringing back chickens and Adzuki bean fudge brownies!

So I've come full circle on goats , though in a much different light, with more realistic goals as a small farmer.... And now , back to chickens too!!!
Truth be told I do not need chickens, at all! Depending on the breeds, The ducks are better at meat , eggs & foraging than chickens... most importantly we like their meat & eggs much better.
They are Much More efficient for us..and I find them easier to manage.... BUT,,,
I miss chickens...
miss the cackling when they lay an egg... miss roosters crowing! and watching them scratch around for bugs..
So in an effort to enjoy the things I like about chickens on a tiny level.. cause ducks do rule here, I added Silkie chickens for a few reasons... the number one reason is I always wanted them but read they didn't do well in a mixed flock because they are super docile(chickens are kinda mean to other chickens!some breeds are bullies)... well perfect! I don't have any other chickens and now coming up on almost 5 years of figuring out the homestead I have much better means on managing breeds separately. They are small (easier on the feed bill) ,  non flyers( also making management easier) and they are broody (you can never have to many good mommas!)
so, starting small I bought 5 straight run chicks from a local breeder! Adorable!

Winter has slowed down outside work,,, not so much the cold.. it hasn't been super cold yet,, but its been windy and rainy.. no fun working in wind and mud . Which is fine because I've had a surge in orders for the farm business, Praise God! making Christmas presents and future grandbaby presents!
Oh... and more time to COOK! Until I learned to balance (and sometimes eliminate, ex. high production dairy animals) all the farm chores I had NO time for cooking... here I had all the best ingredients I could imagine.. fresh veggies, homegrown gourmet meats, fresh milk and duck eggs.. but no time or energy for cooking. Another Praise to God for helping me get all that straight... I think The Bald Man (my husband) is quite glad for this balance also.. though he is a great cook himself! No one wants to cook ALL the time when there is so much daily work.
You will want to try these... healthy... yes! healthy Fudge brownies.. made with adzuki beans! I have made plenty of desserts using both black beans and adzuki but adzuki beans are sweeter and don't leave a 'beanie' taste in the brownie at all... esp. if sorghum is used as the sweetener.
I came up with this recipe a few weeks rave reviews from the people that matter most.. the people I'm cooking for!!
GBF Fudgy Adzuki Bean Brownies

1 cup cooked and rinsed adzuki beans
1/2 cup high quality cocoa powder
1/2 cup real sorghum
2 TBSP espresso or strong black coffee
pinch of sea salt
1/2 cup walnuts (or other preferred nuts)
lard for greasing the pan

Preheat oven to 350 F, grease 8 in. square pan.
In food processor or high speed blender combine all ingredients but nuts. 
After batter is well blended and smooth add nuts and pulse until mixed.
Pour into pan, bake approx. 45 min. Cool the brownies. They will be soft and fudgy when cool. You can put the in the refrigerator for a firmer brownie if you like... we like them soft :-)

Now writing this has made me hungry...
Y'all have a blessed evening :-)

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Basic Goat Milk Soap recipe

After over 4 yrs making & selling soap.... goat milk soap, lard soaps, tallow soaps,herbal soaps, vegan soaps, sheep milk soap...etc., I have alot of formulas for soaps!
But this formula/recipe right here started it all!
It makes a small 1 lb batch of soap.

Basic Goat Milk Soap 

10 ounces Lard
4 ounces Coconut Oil 
2 ounces Olive Oil 

2.3 ounces lye 
3.08 ounces water
3 ounces Goat Milk

1 ounce fragrance/essential oil (optional)
color can also be used, I use natural colorants from herbals or minerals 

Basic Cold Process Directions: 

1. Wearing rubber gloves/ safety glasses and a surgical mask careful not to breathe in fumes. If weather allows I do this outside.
Measure your goat milk/water into one glass bowl.
Measure lye, Pour lye into the water/goat milk SLOWLY while stirring with a whisk (never pour water into lye) - this will heat up quickly, Set aside to cool
*To keep milk from burning and turning orange I use some ice cubes as part of my water measurement . Lower butterfat milk such as Alpine seems to blend better and not turn as bad.

2. In another pot , Melt oils together 

3. When oils are approximately 110 degrees Fahrenheit and lye water/milk is approximately 100 degrees Fahrenheit, gently pour lye into oils (never pour oils into lye) Blend with stick blender... 
please have safety glasses and gloves on!!!

4. Mix until soap traces. 

5. Add essential/fragrance oil and color (optional)

6. Pour into prepared molds ..I use wood molds, they need to be lined with freezer paper.

7. Cover with plastic wrap. 

8. Allow to stand covered and out of drafts for 24 hours

9. Remove form molds, let air dry another 24 hours and cut as desired

10. Allow to age in open air for about 3 to 4 weeks before using 

From this point you can take this basic recipe and make it your own... different scents,, colors,, make it with different milks... coconut milk, cow milk... camel milk! ha!
Or no milk.. just use all water... or half water , half cucumber juice makes a wonderful soap!!
If you Do not want to use lard,, replacing it with palm oil works for this recipe too. It will not be as gentle of a soap, but it will still be nicer than anything you can buy at the store!

Happy soaping! If you have any questions just ask :-)

By popular demand: Sourdough Starter recipe

After my post to facebook about my fabulous Chocolate Sourdough muffins I had quite a few asking for the starter and the recipe... so to save myself some time ...all info is here!

First the starter.. which was insanely easy to do! 
This starter was shared with me by this guy
Check out his gorgeous photography!

I am so thrilled with the results. Here ya go....
2 tbsp. rye flour (or flour of your choice if you’re baking other than a rye bread)
2 tbsp. water

Add flour and water together in a Pyrex measuring cup or small jar and cover with plastic wrap. Stir daily for about 3 days and you should begin to see activity (bubbles usually within 24 hours) and detect a slightly sour smell. Once you begin to see bubble forming in the starter, you need to start feeding it daily.

To feed the starter, add 2 more tbsp. of water and 2 tbsp. of flour on the first feeding. By the second day, you'll now have about 1/4 cup of starter. When you feed it each time, you are doubling the amount you're feeding it so now you'll need to add 1/4 cup of water and 1/4 cup of flour. As you can see, you can end up with a lot of starter very quickly so what you do is when you get the amount the recipe calls for, you throw out half of the starter each time you feed it. If you have 1/4 cup of starter, throw half of it away (1/8 cup) and add 1/8 cup of water and 1/8 cup of flour. You can give the discard starter to friends or refrigerate it for later use. You only need to feed it monthly in the fridge. Always make more starter than the recipe calls for so you can save some back for future batches. It will keep a long time in the refrigerator and the older it gets, the better it gets.

At some point you'll pull it from the fridge and notice a grayish liquid on top and it will smell like alcohol. It is alcohol and it’s because your starter is very his is because it’s hungry. This is part of the flavoring so stir it back in and start feeding the starter again for several days to get it nice and active for your next baking day. The alcohol cooks off during baking.

Now for the Chocolate Sourdough muffin recipe you need to go here:
Sign up for their newsletter and download the awesome sourdough e-book! Full of recipes and tips...
I want to say the Lacto-fermented vegetable book is also amazing, and really, so are all of them!

Remember, the right kind of carbs are not the enemy.... the ones that come in pretty packages, with 30 ingredients and fancy singing commercials .... those carbs are the enemy!
Getting and staying healthy in America is not easy... stay focused , pray for strength and get moving!
The human body is a beautiful machine that needs whole foods to preform its best....and if you're eating whole nutrient dense foods, you don't need to eat as much as you think you do!
As a former fatty that has battled my weight my whole life I would know ;-)
And as a naturally lazy person , It is truly only through the grace of God I am able to stay on track, eat right and have the energy to run this crazy farm!! Which is way more work than I thought I was signing up for that great day in 2010 when we bought the place! haha!!

Now be blessed and Happy Baking!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

And the fall harvest rolls in!

For those of you who really know me.. You know my obsession about the garden has grown over the last 4 years...

It's not enough to have a great summer garden.. I want a four season garden!!!!!
Living in southeast TN lets me achieve this fairly easy really. So many things grow well here . 
It's one of the reasons I have scaled back our livestock profile from high input/high producing dairy goats & sheep to low input heritage goats... Which can still be milked but are way less maintenance. 
Plus I truly believe fall/winter gardening is easier than spring/summer gardening!!! No there's not as much variety ... There's also not as many pests or weeds to deal with!!!!
I am growing garlic, onions, carrots, chard, spinach, lettuce, broccoli , aragula and many kinds of kale , mustards and collards. Some of these will be harvested through out the winter.. Some early spring 
I'm still learning about the best ways to get the most out of my fall/winter garden..
I think the trick to any successful garden is growing the right variety for your area ..  Which is hard sometimes if you don't like what grows in your area !...I don't like chard but I am learning ways to cook it so I will eat it! Chard grows so ridiculously good here for 3 seasons of the year! If I plant it in the right area it will grow year around!
Variety is so important also for taste...and can help you love what will grow...
For example, okra... My Yankee husband hates it... My southern self loves it ...
For 2 years I just grew what was most popular ... A lot went to the goats because I couldn't eat it all! But then I found this amazing tasting heirloom okra that my husband loves and I like better than any other okra I've had!!
So.. As for chard... Ive always grown rainbow which I think tastes like dirt unless in get real creative or totally hide it in quiches! However with a little research and thanks to those who save seeds I think I may have found a chard that doesn't taste like dirt :-) 
Now if it can be productive ....

Until then...praise God & Have a blessed day!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Fall... Time for farmers to take it easy ...

Lol!!!!! Yeah right!
There's no taking it easy here... Every year... Spring and summer I tell myself I'll get more free time when fall gets here ...
What a laugh!
This week along Had been so busy with getting livestock ready for winter.. My husband & son have built me a ton of new raised beds which I have been informed every square inch better be planted!
We had 2 litters of Baby guinea hogs born this fall! 
I still have 17 baby muscovies and 10 other ducklings growing out ...2 king squab have hatched..
Keeping the ram happy has been a challenge to say the lest...
Today alone I cut up 2 lbs of marinated lamb stake for jerky.. Juice 1 gallon of apple cider , planted 240 onion bulbs.. A pound of garlic and made a nice winter squash soup...

And I still haven't done my daily chores ....
Having a healthy body to keep up with all this is a blessing and that glory goes to The Lord ! 
Thanks for the healthy nutrient dense food I am able to grow !
Have a great weekend everyone ... Eat your veggies ... Fried in duck fat Ofcourse ;-) 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Once again,,,there be goats !

The such is over! The long 4 year search for Utility king pigeons.. Is done!
I have 2 proven pair and 5 squabs I'm hoping to get another 2 pair from.

Pigeon has long been in my brain because it's soooo tasty. I was starting to lose hope I would have the chance to raise my own squab plus enjoy the benefits of owning these guys! 
This is a blessing ... 

And I did it... I said never... Never would I ever have goats again.. Dairy goats were just to hard to raise , to rowdy and destructive , to expensive to feed and broke my heart to many times .... Losing my Nubian/sannan Miss Jackson was the last draw...I was done! But....
I now have 1 very myotonic buck and 4 beautiful myotonic does... Aka. Fainting goats !
They will serve the purpose of eating browse and weeds sheep won't eat..and young bucks will be used as a healthy meat source .. As well as leather! I think my body misses the high iron in goat meat honestly! It is a super healthy meat very high in iron,, which I always seem to be low in...and makes the best sausage I've ever had when mixed with our guinea hog ground pork.. Yum, I have missed that!!!
 I owned a small herd of fainters before and I really liked how calm and non destructive they were compared to my dairy goats .. But at the time my main focus was on milk and fast growing meat.. Myotonic are slower growers..said to dress out better and grow on pasture only... And Ofcourse not a dairy animal! Although I did milk my favorite fainter ,, she gave me a quart a day for about 3 months... Not bad for a meat goat ... still not what I was looking for at the can bet one or two of my new girls will probably end up on the milk stand at some point if they have a nice udder and it look milkable!

These guys are exactly what I'm looking for this time around.... More on my does later.. For now enjoy my picture of buck T-pain ... In the rut.... And be thankful you can not smell him!!!!
Y'all have a blessed weekend :-)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Harvest & the rut

Canning season in full swing is taking up a lot of my time these days!
The garden is slowing down ... Of course now it's time to plan the fall/winter garden!
The boys are getting rowdy ... Rams can be extremely dangerous during the rut! I had 2 ram lambs together ... As you can see it's time to start running them seperate! 
East Friesian ewe lambs... I've been blessed with some beautiful sheep!

Trying to figure out what to do today... The list is long!
Hope everyone has a blessed weekend! 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

More random farm days

Happy to say I've got 3 hats & glove sets done for the farm store ,,, when I'm not to brain fried in the evening that's what I like to do ,,, crochet with my handspun yarns. I make up my own patterns for almost all my fashion items... I thought of doing a small book of my patterns, but they are so horribly written I dont think anyone but me could understand them!
While cooking down blackberries to can I worked on some speciality yarn for an order...
Draining sheep cheese!
Wild blackberry red wine jam! 
Soooo good!
All this, plus I've had a ram with a limp for awhile... It's not foot rot ,,, so confused I searched the internet and after another closer examination I found what the problem is,,, infected scent gland between his toes... Learning everyday! Let the treatment begin. It will not be pleasant ...,,
Random pic of our dogs, sheep and some geese,,,, 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Beautiful day for a harvest

Another busy day on the farm,,,,Morning milking... Here's sweet Annie.. Such a sweet ewe, she's my oldest girl , originally from Karras farm in NC. She is a joy to milk! And I love her fleece!
Time to move the ewe lambs! They love fresh pastures and browse . Friesians are such easy sheep to work with when you have good ones,,,and so pretty to look at,,,
Then is was time to fertilize the garden,,, some of my plants where running out if steam... Then had to shred and freeze the over grown squash from yesterday's harvest,,,
Random pic of one of our ponds. We have duck paradise here ....
While I worked on freezing the squash and some tomatoes the husband picked more blackberries! It's about time to can some red wine blackberry jam!
I had to package up another order from the farm store,, then I had to pick! Last night we got a large bag of dragon tongue green beans for fresh eating and the freezer,,, but this afternoon I  picked more providers ,,, so time to can more beans..maybe tomorrow.... quite a few tomatoes and peppers where ready ,,,, 
I have quite a bit of damage on some of my tomato plants now that I need to address ,,, always something else trying to eat the garden we've spent so many hours to grow,,,,
Late afternoon, I need coffee and to make some sheep cheese!
Then the usual chores.
The husbands got dinner tonight (and most nights) thankfully! Lamb burgers and fresh veggies!

Monday, July 7, 2014

So you wanna be,,,,

A farmer,,, homesteader,,, more self sufficient ,,,, well get ready to work,,, get dirty,,,sweaty,,, fight ticks, bees and other crawly things !
No romancing the farm life here ,,, I'm to tired lol!
Got up today around 6:30... Had lots of coffee and sheep milk,,, sheep yogurt,, milked the girls, checked to make sure everyone is alive and well,,,by 9 am we drove over to our part of the land that has massive amounts of blackberry brambles,,, picked for an hour,,, got over a gallon! Also picked off 3 ticks, treated multiple torn scratches and some poison oak.,,,
Then,moved my adult sheep and lambs to another area with dogs.... Let out ducks... Gathered eggs from all but a broody girl that hissed at me! 
Got lard and lamb tallow out and started rendering .... Sold Out of soaps again... And this stuff doesn't render itself.... More work than ordering processed oils... but makes way better soap and shampoo bars!! Animal fats are better for the skin ... Esp. Problem or sensitive types . 
The cracklings from the strained lard are a bonus! 
Picked some over grown zucchini and squash.... I didn't check my plants for 3 little days! So they will be shredded and used in breads, cakes and brownies. One little pepper too :-) 
Walked over gardens and checked to see if anything else needs picked ,,, it does ,,, also some things are needing a shot of fertilizer ,,, some need insect control ,,, some are so damaged I need to pull up the plants and plant something else,,, still time in TN to plant late beans and winter squash,,,, if I can find the time!
I have 15 Muscovy duck eggs ready to boil! I have to wait atleast a week to boil these eggs or they are just to hard to peel... I can't wait!
Little pic of my baby Muscovy flock foraging ,,, they are very very good foragers!

All this and it's just past noon,,,,
The rest of the day I will need to strain my fats... Package an order,,, pick a ton of beans and fertilize some droppy plants... 
Feed 50 ducks, 7 rabbits, bring the sheep ( I only have 12 sheep) and dogs back to the main pasture and barn areas  ( my husband feeds the dogs & hogs) 
It's dry this week so some plants may need water,,, fix dinner! ( I'm lucky my husband can cook!)
Praise God for the strength to get through it all,,, ask Him for the strength to  do what needs to be done tomorrow .

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Garden Greats & Romantic Notions

Harvest is here sooner than I expected... I have a run of provider green beans to can ,,, some dragon tongue beans, tomatoes , peppers and zucchini to eat ! Much more to come as long as i can keep the pests out of the way!
So I am beyond thrilled and highly motivated to tackle the next garden project now that most all main garden mulching is done...
Edging the raised bed section of the main big garden with old low tunnel plastic and torn tarps ,,, then mulching over that! Can I just say praise God for the saw mill and cheap mulch down the road again!  There are 4 raised beds in this part of the garden .
I am truly blessed that my prayers have been answered for the stamina and strength to get these gardens in check this year... A big part of that strength is my husband is home to help this year! Huge blessing! 

High tunnels and a more productive strawberry garden are on the list before fall gets here....
Gonna need more prayers for those projects too. 
Gardening is a huge project. It's so hard... Esp. The way we want to garden!
But it's something I have wanted to be good at for along time .... 
It's worth the work,,, even in the hot humid TN summer weather ... It's a thick humid day .... So I told my husband today , 'while we're working this morning let's just think of the outside today as our own personal sauna' lol!  We often giggle about the romantic notions people have about farming... So our own personal sauna,, yes, complete with dirt, dust, sweat bees and a few annoying biting flys! 
So romantic ! Lol! 
But it's good :-) 
And I am thankful to be able to do it!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Just another day

Yesterday I cranked out 4 batches of different Sheep Milk hand made soaps... All made with hand rendered lard from our heritage breed American Guinea Hogs... Which makes the most gentle soaps! I love making soaps like this... 
And my 3 Friesian sheep milkers....6 months fresh... I am only miking once a day now because the freezer is full and there's only so much milk we need a day.... They are cranking out the milk on very minimum feed , primarily eating pasture . Just amazing sheep... So blessed to have them 
Well, more garden work I need to get too,,, have a very blessed day :-) 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Moving right along....

It's hot In TN! Humid... So humid... But the work doesn't stop because it's uncomfortable.  We've been doing lots of garden work and I'm seeing my first green beans forming!  
Things are going really well with the Muscovy reboot and we are enjoying their crazy good eggs everyday now and growing up several extra males for food this fall. 
Took time on a rainy day to get some sheep cheese made... Mexican chilli Cotija! Looks so good in the cave.... Needs 3 weeks to cure.
Got in a fun order from a wonderful lady. She dyes and sells beautiful bamboo and firestar I like to blend with my Friesian wool. Makes awesome yarns!
Tomato plants are loaded!!! This is one if my small garden beds....Amazing what coffee grounds and rabbit manure can do for tomatoes.
More garden work today....and hopefully time to spin a little yarn!
Hope u have a blessed day.

Friday, June 6, 2014

New yarn adventures and sweet ewe lambs

My girl Annie has such a nice fleece to work with... this is a 10 month growth. Its so easy to spin into any weight yarn really.. but I thought why not 'lockspin' it! See what happens....
 Plyed with a serger thread and antique silver beads I think it turned out sooooo pretty!!!!! Love this art yarn...
 This will make a luscious trim for hats and gloves :-)
 Cardi (short for Cardigan) Ashi and Sweater.... Friesian ewe lambs growing up the best way... raised by their moms and on pasture! Not on a bottle in as dry lot.
Thats the big problem with finding good healthy dairy stock... so many are raised in an unnatural , unhealthy way from the beginning....
They need a good start!
Its beautiful and getting hot here in SouthEast TN...

and I'm counting my many many blessings...despite being so tired I can barely keep my eyes open at 9pm!
I used to be such a night owl....

Y'all have a blessed weekend.