Monday, November 30, 2015

To all the livestock that didn't work... I still loved ya!

Yes... We've been through the livestock.. Just about every breed of goat available in America , 5 breeds of sheep,, so many chicken & duck breeds , a couple of different hogs, many breeds of rabbits and so on.. Searching for the right animals and/or breed to fit our land and climate with the lowest input possible and greatest use of available natural  resources...

 Ha! And livestock that I can put up with!  

2015 saw a couple of animals make their exit..

Utility pigeons being one... Turkeys...And then goats.. Again!

There are many pros to keeping meat pigeons... And Ofcourse cons like any other livestock I could get into .. But overall they are pretty great!

 .... On a personal level that may or may not effect the individual that wants to raise them... the number one reason for me to let them go was because we grow all our vegetables and grain corn .. So summer is a very bad time for us to have to drop everything and slaughter something.. any animal that isn't born in the winter or spring and has a 6 to 8 month grow out is a management problem. Pigeons tend to be very prolific in the spring and summer eggs take 2 weeks to hatch , then squab are ready to eat in 3 to 4 weeks... They are super fast to process but I don't like anything to take away from my garden and preserving in the summer... And when you get 4 or more ready at once that does take some time! 

Another reason..

 I just can't keep all the poultry I would like,, with bringing chickens back because I needed more egg layers something had to go. The pigeons happened to be in an aviary that would be perfect for my silkies...

I need my egg laying ducks too ( we love eggs!) and my geese certainly aren't going anywhere! So on the list of most needed poultry they needed to go..

I do admitt I miss them....I really miss them.. Their cooing and bathing .. Such beautiful birds! Birds I searched for years to purchase,,, it was a little heartbreaking for me to let them go..But I have to realize I can't keep ALL the livestock animals and breeds.

I'm 1 person .... With 24 hours a day like anyone else.

I do think I squeeze a lot of of my days when I really try but animals will take ALL your time if you let them! 

Which is why... One more time, I say , buh-bye to goats.

Y'all little time stealers just don't work out for me...true I have 'goat land' plenty of browse and hills.. But you guys are drama queens.. Even the most laid back of goats still find their way to trouble here... So annoying are goats to me... And I love them,, I do! But I do not like owning them at all!

I brought them back after being very very happily ruminant free all spring and summer.. 

Seriously it was bliss not having goats or sheep here to deal with!!!

But...always a but!!!  late summer it was obvious we could not keep up with the weeds !!! Geese don't eat weeds once they get to big and fiberous .. And there are areas I just do not want pigs in!!! Not that most pigs are awesome weed eaters but they can help... Not much but some.

My husband can't give up days of his time in our busiest season to weed wack our acres!! A lot of our land can not be mowed at all ,, it's way to steep! So we need something to eat those weeds and be useful . 

Plus, Fresh raw milk is nice to have... I can do without goat milk on a regular basis , that's not a big problem. I seriously do not need as much milk as daily milking goat gives even with the goat milk soap business ... Nor with my milk sensitivities should I consume that much. Regardless... I bring goats back.

 The weeds were such a problem !!! A big problem... So the goats go to work eating weeds.. At a much pickier slower pace than I would like , but still, it's something! My farm was turning into a jungle!

And then... I bring in one of my all time favorite animals.. Donkeys!

 With the addition to the farm of donkeys I can let go of goats again!!!! Yay!!! far..... Donkeys are great weed eaters and I do get along with them way better. My rough land works fine for them and They are much lower input for me and fill more roles here. Example: they don't need a guardian .. They are guardians and I want to get away from using high input dog guardians.. So that's a good fit...

their feeding requirements are less demanding (The larger donkeys eat a lot of forage and hay but still do not require the higher quality legumes and grain most goats need to be productive... However I've found the small standards and minis eat very efficiently!! And way way less) and finally 

The mass amounts of manure they make is amazing for my ever growing gardens! 

So I think.... I hope...I Even pray that donkeys may take the place and job of ruminants here! 

They may have other uses too.. Riding, pulling, packing, milking and in some countries (also now legal in the USA meat) but that's another post in the future perhaps.. Lol! Can you tell I'm beyond excited to have them here!! 

Do not misunderstand though...

Goats are great useful livestock for the right people and farm!! Just not this farm ...

And I come to turkeys... Back and forth I went on keeping them.. My husband even really liked them! And he's not really into the poultry at all. 

The turkeys are wonderful , interesting , beautiful birds  like pigeons. They are certainly tasty and easy to process too!

Ultimately they had to go , because again, I can't keep all the poultry I would like too! Managing 4 separate flocks of geese, chickens and 2 flocks of ducks.. Nope! No time, no space for breeders. 

I was going to make time and space but they kept getting into my garden.. And that was the end of that!!!

Turkeys must go :-( 

I brought in a few other chickens to try.. We will just say Bantams & utility silkies are by far my number one choice for my chicken flock. 

So I'll just have to miss the chickens that didn't make the cut, turkeys and the pigeons .. Goats.. I will probably not miss them... But I will enjoy buying local fresh goat milk when I can and ha! watching others put up with them ;-)

Have a wonderful day and God bless!!! 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

When the low tunnels come out ...winter is here

We had our first hard frost a few days ago so I decided to pick the last of my carrots and a bunch of mustard & turnip greens that I didn't want going to cover...
But even with it getting down to 20 here my other uncovered beds were fine!
It's amazing how cold hardy some of the greens are!
Went ahead and covered this bed.. Just in case!
Last year I had 3 covered beds with more variety. This fall I couldn't get my cabbage, kale and collards past the rabbits and I couldn't get broccoli past the cabbage moths... Next year we have plans to try and avoid these pests..,
But for this year I'll have to make do with mustard and turnip greens .
I may try sprouting some cold hardy veggies in the green house .. See if I can get some variety going!
Plus it's an excuse to grow something..
At the end of summer I'm so tired and burnt out from the garden and harvest I can't imagine having to prepare ground and plant anything else!!
but within a couple of weeks I'm ready to plant again, wishing for spring ...
Our wood cook stove is finally here!
One of our goals on the farm is try to eliminate using the central heat .. It only makes sense to get a wood stove also set up for cooking. Put that wood to good use!! This stove also has a water tank for hot water should I ever need it.
It's early thanksgiving morning as I write this .. Our dinner will actually be tomorrow night. Really looking forward to cooking because I grew a heritage turkey this year...we grew almost everything that will be on the table!! 
Only four little ingredients had to be purchased!!
I am truly thankful... 

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Getting ready for spring in the fall

Every summer crop has been harvested and the plants killed by frost now.. So preparing for our next spring garden is happening!
Empty beds must not stay empty for long! Putting to bed my raised beds that aren't being used for fall/winter crops are important as fertilizer ... Because in a sense this layer of straw mulch .. Or whatever I mulch with is part if my fertilizer as well as it keeps my topsoil in place and all the micro organizims and earthworms safe and happy! 
Well nourished soil grow nourishing vegetables!! 
Through out the winter other things will be added to the beds.. Layers of chicken, duck or goose bedding and manure,, perhaps a layer of cardboard ,,, layers of donkey manure are sure to be included! 
Dead Leaves are excellent! Layers of egg shells and coffee grounds make their way into the garden also...wood ashes we collect are great for carrot beds !  Everything contributes to well balanced soil. 
Plus all this moving to cover and add matter to the beds through the winter keeps me from getting out of shape and lazy come busy spring and summer! Very important! I get lazy so easy if I allow myself too. 
Another favorite activity for me on the farm in the winter.... Reading up on my favorite and new garden books.. Taking notes and Studying different varities that may work well for us here.. Garden planning!! Yes I do think these things are fun! Lol
This is one of my favorite gardening websites...

It's such an organized site of farming for optimum nutrition...keeping in mind that a healthly vegetable can't be grown in unhealthy soil.. No matter what it is...
And livestock can not produce a healthy food if not fed a healthy diet in the first place. 
I read so many articles that try to make farming for nutrition so complicated ... It's really quite simple in theory .. Though maybe hard to achieve given the modern farming ways most have embraced. 

Meanwhile my fall greens gardens & carrots continue to thrive ... 
I admit to going way over board on the mustard greens....that's ok ,, the geese eat them too! And I'll be experimenting with some green kraut recipes!
Garlic making it's appearance!! Once it gets up a few more inches I'll be giving it a layer of leaf mulch on top of the duck manure compost I added to this bed. 
So even things feel like they are winding down... There's still plenty to do!

It's a chilly today... During the first really chilly days I have to make chili Ofcourse!!
So that Along with some corn chips and rosemary pumpkin humus.. Perfect fall dinner! Fall and winter mean more time to experiment with recipes!!!

So Along with obsessing over next years gardens...Before the madness of spring hits next year , I'm hoping to find time to make lots ginger beer and ginger champagne ... I want to make Real Hominy from our hickory king corn! 
and crochet up some of my handspun yarns I've made over the years. 
I'm going to try my very best to enjoy the slower pace of winter this year.. As slow as it can be here anyways! 
Try to take time and be thankful for all these blessings that are so abundant in my life!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Farm stuff!

Best sweet potato pie ever!!!
We've been chowing down on all the small and damaged sweet potatoes from our harvest since they won't keep very long... Not a bad thing since sweet potatoes is one of my very favorite foods!
I've made a lot of sweet potato pies over the years but this one!!!!
The secret ... Rosemary in the cornmeal crust and using duck or goose egg for the filling... It's a wow moment !
Everything used to make this pie was grown on the farm except the cinnamon.
Very simple recipe with tons of flavor...

GBF Rustic Sweet Potato Pie recipe 

•1 1/2 cup cornmeal ( I use fresh ground white hickory king dent corn)
•1/4 cup of honey
•2 tsp. rosemary
•1/2 cup lard ( preferably leaf lard from a real lard hog will give the best results) 
•enough cold water to make it moist 

Mix and press into a pie dish that has also been rubbed in lard to prevent sticking. Cook until lightly browned at 400.

•2 cups cubed sweet potatoes 
•1/2 cup of honey
•3 ducks eggs or 1 goose egg
•3 tbsp of leaf lard
•2 tsp of cinnamon

I smash the potatoes not purée because I like a chunky 'rustic' type pie.. After I smash them I add all other ingredients, mix well , pour into the crust and bake at 400 for 20 minutes then reduce to 350 for about another 15.

I'm so proud of my pilgrims for laying in the fall!!! Here's a pilgrim goose egg by a chicken egg.
If geese laid eggs all year I'm not sure I would really keep any other birds.. 
Well maybe a few for variety ! I do love the poultry!

And I love my angoras!!!!
Smokey girl is almost ready for another trim!!! Sweet, calm when being groomed.. Just a darling to deal with. Her adult coat is coming in beautifully! I'm very pleased with her lack of matting up even though I have not been as attentive with grooming as I should have been lately. Can't wait to spin it up!! 
Added more donkeys to our farm.. A jack and jenny.
Sweetest jenny I've ever been around and she's the most perfect size!!
Not to big, not to little .. My husband calls her the 'goldilocks donkey ' cause she's just right! So is the jack! 
My first girl is a bit larger.. She will be trained for me to ride if I ever get time!

Farm life is good... But so not looking forward to doing all my chores in the steady pouring rain. Blah!