Tuesday, February 12, 2013

It's back

I recently got my first fleece back from the fiber mill and I am hooked!  I didn't get Agnes sheared myself but she came with the bag of her sheared fleece since her farm's shearer had come a few weeks before.  With help from youtube I skirted the fleece and chose a preferred yarn weight.  I love this yarn so much and it's great fun knitting with wool from your own sheep.  I've lined up 2 more sheep to enter the farm this summer and possibly a few more, all different colors of merino.

Since this was a yearling fleece, I've decided to wait until the next shearing to test the micron count and comfort factor ratingof the fleece. Until this fall, we'll be knitting all things white :)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

It's What they call the Wind

Thanks to some money we had saved up and some Christmas money from Manta (Grandpa) this year we bought something we've always wanted, a class A miniature horse.

She is trained to pull a cart and is wonderful with children. Since she is so small we only ever lead little kids on her but she can pull up to 750 lbs which is more than our whole family.

"Mariah" has competed in national shows and can be driven by anyone.  We found a used harness for $80, bought a bit on eBay and are looking around for a cart. She follows the kids around, lets them braid her hair and brush her, and will jump little obstacles while they run beside her.

I foresee a very fun summer ahead!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Bad Day for Cows

It all started around 6:30am with a series of extremely LOUD moo-s. At about 7:30 I yelled out the window, "I hear you" which doubled the mooing frequency.  I got up, went out and threw 5 flakes of hay in the cow pen.  Before I got back in the house about 60 seconds later the mooing had begun again.  This happened last month, in fact I emailed the breeder about it, when I checked that date and counted up to today it was 21 days... the average length of a cow's cycle. 

I called the A.I. guy and thankfully on the Saturday of Labor Day weekend he was willing to bring the 'goods' over and put them in. The moo-ing continued and it so SOOO LOUD, like at least 3X louder and longer than normal mooing. I put her on the back of our lot to be as far away from neighbors as possible. Good idea right? Wrong.
This is my street.  Look closely. See anything?
Yes, that's right, it's my husband leading our cow home. After our afternoon of shopping we arrived home to find a police man and the animals control officer about 4 blocks from our house holding on to Blackie.  The animal control was not impressed at all.  She had ripped the tether out of the ground and taken off looking for...well, you know.  Somebody caught her, tied her to a stop sign, and called animal control who apparently need police back up.  I got a warning this time and next time will get a fine since livestock on the loose is supposedly a pretty big deal around here.
About 2 hours later she got what she wanted... well not exactly what she wanted, but kind of in an 'end justifies the means' kind of way, got what she wanted. This guys was super fast and really professional and won't let me pay him until we get a positive test back.
Hopefully in 285 days we'll have a 'Good Day for Cows'.

Monday, July 2, 2012

We Made It

Well, we made it. 
We went from a 840 square foot apartment in Philly...

 to a 6 bdrm/3 bath stand alone home with over an acre at our disposal.  
 Not bad right?

Every morning I get up at 6am and milk Blackie.  I get a bucket of cracket corn, udder wipes, teat spray, and my stainless steel milking bucket.  The first morning took me 1hr15 to milk her out... a painful process and completely pathetic.  It's been almost 2 weeks now and I'm getting faster.  She is also getting used to standing tied to the fence instead of having her head locked into a stancion. I am currently getting a little over 2 gallons every morning.

 So far we have all of our poultry except the chickens here right now.  I have eggs in the incubator and also an order of chicks coming in the mail in exactly 17 days.  The pony is here and we had our first riding lesson today and we also got a darling little heifer calf named Daisy that keeps Blackie company.
Our ducklings are growing up and are sooo friendly.  It has been very entertaining to watch them our in the little pool and foraging on the property.  When I'm sitting on my milking bucket in the mornings they come over and sit by me on the grass until I'm done.

The kids are in heaven and are loving the outdoor fun and the larger living space.   Our rental is a little run down and needs work but we're making great progress and bringing the barnyard back to all its glory.  More updates to come.

Monday, June 18, 2012

T- zero

I have to say that I am really grateful for our time out east.  

I will miss my friends so much. I really have a fabulous group of smart, caring, and wonderfully supportive people here.  

I'll miss how green everything is and having all four seasons.

I'll miss how much every achievement is celebrated because in Philly you have to fight for everything.

I'm going to miss turnpikes,  township lines, villages, rolling farm country, the shore, living close to a real city, the Poconos, cheesesteaks, rare livestock, auctions, and being surrounded by so much history.   

I have lived here longer than any other one place in my entire life.

Here we've had good times, and hard times but never bad times.

Goodbye Philadelphia. 

Saturday, June 2, 2012

That's How We Roll

This came home from school the other day.  I'm used to getting flower pots, or pinch pots, or paintings. Most parents know that when you see questionable child art you're never supposed to say "what is that?" since to the child it is obvious and you could squash some confidence right? 

Child: Look what I made in art. It's my own little monster.
Me: Tell me about it. (see I know the parenting rules)
Child: I can't discuss it right now. 
Me: Why not? 
Child: Because I don't know much about it like what it eats and how it moves but this is how good I am at art.
Me: tell me about its mouth?
Child: Those are teeth. They red because there is blood on them. The blood is from his mouth since he has a bloody mouth.
Me: why is his mouth bloody?
Child: it always has been bloody. There is a broken artery in it.
Me: I thought that there aren't any big arteries that run through your mouth
Child: this monster's body is different. 
Me: I noticed he has green eyes just like you. 
Child: They are actually like turquoise
Me: What do you want to be when you grow up?
Child: a pilot or a pizza maker.
Me: Good. You can go play now.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Begin Dream Sequence

Well,  anybody who knows me knew it was coming.  Last week I completed a transaction for a family pony.  He will arrive in Utah about a week after we do.  The kids are thrilled and I am too even though he's too small for me to ride for real.

He is bombproof, loads, clips, ties, stands for the farrier, has done shows, eventing, jumps, does bareback, can be ridden double or just with a halter and lead rope.  He is a little dappled palomino registered Welsh pony gelding named Chief.

I found a saddle, bridle, stirrups, and saddle pad on eBay and we plan to make a day of visiting the western store to buy brushes and accessories once we get out west.  I still need a girth, a bit, and a hay supplier :o)
Yeah for homesteads!!

Animal count:
1 pony
1 goat
1 sheep
17 chickens
9 laying ducks
8 perching waterfowl
1 goose

Friday, May 25, 2012

I Can Almost Taste It

We are exactly 24 days away from our big move. I'm getting more inquiries about this move from the kids than I did about Christmas countdown last year. They are so excited and each one has been busy with their own plans.  Nine years is a long time to be supporting somebody else's occupational dreams and it's almost surreal that our formal educational journey is so close to being done.  

As we are preparing for our little farm and our move, I'm so glad to be supported by a husband who can hook up our new wireless this week AND has a sense of humor.  Can you tell which user we are?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

First Things First

Could I just start by saying that I'm not really a rural person.  I like the serenity and beauty of the country/farm existence, but to date I have not really lived on a property that also had serious, real, livestock.  When I was teeny tiny there were two neglected shetlands on our property, and then I stayed with my grandma for a few short weeks one summer and then there was the whole 'back yard poulty' adventure.  Sooo I think the closest thing that I've had to farm living was probably the back yard poultry which lasted 2 summers and took place in Philadelphia county.  Not super farm-y.

The property we are moving to is is 1 acre but has an adjacent lot that is around 1/2 acre that we are free to use.   It seems like it will be a MUCH better transition into homestead life than some bigger.  

There is a duck breeder in Michigan who I have been watching for about 2 years.  She almost never sells ducklings and claims that this is her first offer during that whole time.  When I saw the 'for sale' I just had to buy all 8!  They arrived USPS today and although they were not cheap, they are beautiful specimens of the breed and are show quality birds.  Wonderful and birds to start a breeding program :o)

I assured the postal carrier that they wouldn't be kept in the apartment and we were moving to a farm. Turns out he is trying to move to a farm himself!

Homestead count so far
1 goat
1 sheep
15 chickens
9 laying ducks
1 goose
and these 8 "perching waterfowl".

p.s. Blackie hasn't calved yet!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day #9

Today was a great day.  I ate my favorite breakfast, the dinner of my choice, a great dessert, and got presents from the kids.

Present #1

My mother in law got me a necklace in this box about five years ago.  Today it contained an adjustable ring with a very large pink plastic jewel in it.  Sadly, a yo-yo had to die in the presentation of this gift but on the flip side somebody is getting very good at tying bows. 

Gift #2
I have finally gotten my very first coupon book made by a child.  I expected "one free hug", "one special date", or "helping with dishes", etc.  Both my husband and I were surprised to see that these vouchers offered something oh, so much better. 

Such a nice little cover.  The sun is shining and it's stapled on one side to keep the coupons in book form.

...but wait.  It seems that the rules of coupon book creation have been broken.

I asked him if he could put another zero on that number for me when dad wasn't looking.  
But wait, it gets even better.

WOW!  Forget Mother's Day, this could now be mother's week and a half.  
The funny thing was that the 'task master' didn't seem to think there was anything wrong with this system. 

Finally I also got some wonderful books on sheep, goat, and cow care that I'm sure will be indispensable.  Hands down the best mother's day I've had to date.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Ticking Time Bomb

Here she is, my beautiful future cow Blackie.  Don't let this photo deceive you, she in only 41 inches tall so her back is level with the waist of my jeans.

She is due to calf any day now and is a Jersey so we expect incredible milk.  She is halter broken and can be hand or machine milked.  We expect between 2-4 gallons a day (depending on if we leave the calf on her or not). 

If she has a heifer calf it will come with her to our house, if it's a bull calf then she will sadly leave him behind.  When she arrives she should be bred back so we'll have a calf to look forward to next year.  

C'mon Blackie, let's get that baby out already!

(When she calves I'll post an update.  She is starting to bag up so it's coming!)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Another step

Great news, I found a rental with fields, a barn (complete with water and electricity) and .....wait for it.... a two car garage *gasp!  I honestly don't know what I'll do with myself.  It's not that I don't love the 800+ ft2 3 bdrm apartment with 5 kids and no yard (oh wait, I actually don't love it), I just can't imagine this space.

The poultry orders are placed.
15 chickens
9 ducks
1 goose
and 3 dozen extremely beautiful hatching eggs.

I still need to track down a turkey and a pig but other than that I'm getting VERY close to meeting my animal goals.


Friday, April 6, 2012

On a roll

It's trailer time :o) and here she is.
After months of perusing craigslist and dozens of emails we found a great trailer in great condition at a great price.

We can now official transport our livestock although that pet carrier in the back of the minivan with 5 kids was appealing, this seemed like a teeny bit better idea.

It's strange but the kids LOVE playing in this thing.  The side doors, tack room, and back doors are all very exciting for little hands and it's almost like a fort on wheels.  Who knew?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

A Good Week for Aspiring Farmers

This has been a very good week for homestead steps. 

Baby goat deposit is in! It's the year of "C" names for American Dairy Goat Association (AGDA) registration so I'm scouting for good femmy names that start with C.  This little girl will have to go outside of her comfort zone and be friends with a sheep.

The sheep registration doesn't have yearly letters so the sky is the limit on our sheep.
Homestead total: 1 sheep and 1 goat down.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Long Time Coming

Today I did something I've been wanting to do for over seven years. I bought a merino lamb.  She is the first official purchase for the homestead which begins in less than 4 months.  I've been searching the country and emailing breeders trying to find something that is available and affordable that also fits my requirements (ewe, white, show quality, <20 micron count fleece).

Here she is.  White merino ewe lamb 4 months old. 
Twin. 9 lbs at birth currently 70 lbs from two white parents.
I got my pick from 16 white ewe lambs.  I looked through the pics and info and this little girls stood out to me on the first pass.  After creating an XL spreadsheet comparing all info she actually ended up statistically being the best choice.  While I'd like to think I have a 'good eye' for something I know nothing about, it turns out that this is just the sheep for me :o) 

The plan is to use a black ram for her first breeding to eventually produce different colored kids to provide a nice variety of wool colors.  She will arrive in a little over a month.  My husband said I should buy a brown ram lamb at the same time (such an enabler) but I think I'd like to start small so it doesn't get overwhelming.  We are going tomorrow to see other animals so for now our sheep count will happily stay at 1.

*If you live in Pennsylvania it is a very good time to buy sheep since serious breeders from all over the country will be attending the Sheep & Wool fair in Maryland and come from near and far and will bring you animals for a small fee. 

Monday, January 23, 2012

Back in the Saddle

Well I did make the baby's quilt since I have a free minute a couple of weeks ago... oh did I say 'make' a quilt? I mean finish a quilt vision with fabric purchased 2 years ago. Here are the pics. I have a lot of organizing to do before we move. I also had a layer cake of this same fabric which I plan on using for a larger slightly less simple version of this same quilt for my other son.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

It's official...I am a mom

Okay, so it was official about 7 years ago but I have recently surrendered to motherhood. There were a few signs along the way that let me know I had arrived. Here is my personal list. (If anybody reads this please feel free to add your own insights as comments)

You know your a mother when...
  • You've taken a phone message with a jumbo crayon on a napkin
  • Your secret dream is of a government program that awards $0.05 for every time you have to touch poo. Can you say millions?
  • You lie down for your doctor's exam and before they begin they say, "you have a sticker on your sock, would you like me to remove it for you?"
  • You find non-edible items with small human bite marks in them e.g. a bar of soap, a sponge, barbie's feet, play dough, erasers, etc.... the list goes on and on.
  • Tidying your front hallway require the pairing and stacking of 24 pairs of shoes.
  • As you're walking out of the school after 'drop-offs' you stumble and look down only to discover that you are wearing two different shoes.... not kidding this really happened. One was a croc and the other was a brown clog.... how???
  • You take out your pony and realize your hair is 6 inches longer than the last time you noticed.
  • You long for kid's week on Jeopardy and cross your finger for the Nickelodeon category.... it's chosen and you whisper, "come to mama", and then sweep the whole column.
  • Whether or not you feel you can jump on a trampoline today.... Depends ;)
  • When you go through a busy day, run errands, chat with peers, and you get home to realize that you have 6 ranbow flower barretts left in your hair.... all in front.
  • You talk opening about your child birthing experiences with strangers.
  • You washed down your last pill by drinking from a pink Disney Princess plastic teacup.
This is the tip of my iceberg.
I'm sure I'll have more to add to this list tomorrow.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The end of a season

Well it's officially over. The ground is covered with leaves and school is in full swing. This was a difficult summer, but it was also full of many blessings.
It's getting colder here which will bring me inside for more projects other than gardening and building which will be a nice break. Happy Fall!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Even compost can be beautiful.

Pancakes again. Thanks girls :o)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Time for a change

I'm shifting gears with this blog and I'll be making a few changes. Please bear with me :o)
More posts coming soon!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

You've got Quail... (patterned baldness ;)

Yes, you guessed it. Just when you thought our summer couldn't get any more fun, it did. My friend Jeanie lent me an incubator and gave us some quail eggs to hatch. (Such an enabler!) It is so fun and they are just adorable! Here's the blow by blow :o) We got 13 quail eggs total. 6 developed, 1 rotted, and the other 6 didn't develope at all....so
13 Corturnix Quail eggs. Each given a number to keep track of progress. Inucbate 14 days.
On day 14 they all go into the hatcher! Pip, Zip, Pop!

Could you die? How cute is this?

There are 3 babies under the heat lamp and 2 eggs that haven't hatched....yet? This is very fun and exciting. Stay tuned for more hatching posts.... Jeanie also gave us some chicken eggs! :o)-

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Such a thrill

Today we woke up to a surprise from Buttercup (btw she has the sweetest smile). We went to a hobby farm that was selling pullets that had just started to lay and we did not plan on buying a blue/green egg layer. It sort of just happened. When we got home she laid an egg that night, but I suspected that it was already 'en route' when we got her (the tip off being that she was swatting by the nesting box at the farm!)
Well today we got Buttercup's 2nd egg. The color is so beautiful and darker than I thought it would be. There is no mistaking that this egg is green (with a touch of blue). Our next pullet is due to start laying in about 1 month. We can't wait!

Friday, August 7, 2009

New Digs

Today we finished the new coop. Hooray for us (and our pullets). Although the original plan was for 3-4 birds in the end, we have ended up with 6. Each one will lay a different colored egg which will give us a very fun 1/2 dozen. Here are the new digs.

Large roof opens on a hinge for inside access. Small side door opens from the outside to reveal inner mesh door for ventilation, or open the mesh door for side access.

Coop w/o run. White base panel is end of slide out tray for cleaning. Side access door with latch.

Nesting boxes from the inside lined with linoleum tiles
Slotted floor roosting bars remove for easy cleaning.
Floor and doors view from nesting box roof

Coop with the run attached and the girls in there looking around. It took us about 1 1/2 weeks to build the coop. We're happy with how it turned out. My hubs is especially happy to be done with this project.

Monday, July 13, 2009

a Royal upset!

I remember the day that the chicks arrived. Princess was so small and brownish grey, I couldn't ever recall seeing and Easter Egger that color before. Even when Princess got sick (see last post) the family was on pins and needles saying prayers for Princess. We looked forward to the beautiful blueish green eggs that she would lay this fall...

Sooooo, remember when I was typing away on my last post and saying that hopefully there wouldn't be any more chicken issues in the near future?... well.... turns out this week a shocking piece of news has been revealed to our family...... drumroll please......

Princess is better and back to her normal self and as I compare her to the other chicks I notice...
weird? Princess' tail is pretty tiny compared to the others.... I wonder why?

and boy is she assertive (that's the way that we say aggressive when we talk about girls). And hey, wait a sec.... her comb is sure coming in fast and turning red before the other little chicks...

Here, here. Order in the court. Today we announce to the subjects of our kingdom that Princess is indeed..... a prince. He'd prefer to be knows and T.A.F.K.A.P. (The Avian Formerly known as Princess) but the sad fact is that whatever we call him, he must now relocate to a non-urban home. A few people have shown interest. We will be sad to see Prince(ss) go.
We have arranged a chicken trade so that Princess' former owner will not be left without a chicken (she is now claiming my chicken as her new Princess). So as of today we can now decree that all is once again well in the kingdom. ;)

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Princess is back

About 3 days ago we noticed that my daughter's little chick Princess wasn't acting normal. We watched her closely and she wasn't doing her normal chicken things like scratching and pecking at food. I checked the 'help' forum on http://www.backyardchickens.com/ and did what was suggested for unusual behavior.

On day 3 Princess bounced back. We have heaved a huge sigh and are so relieved since she is such a sweet little chick and loved by all. (you can kind of tell in the pic that she will have a beard when she grows up). We have now had our very first chicken incident. Hopefully this will be the last blog post of it's kind!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

If Rasheeda can do it so can you!

My son was given this bag of chips as a snack at church. I have never heard of HOMEGIRLS Potato Chips (It's All That) before.
The chips had some sort of super spices on them and I couldn't quite place what the flavor was supposed to be unless... it was that when you mix all spices together, you come up with a new flavor ;o)
The whole bag as only $0.25 which is a pretty good deal overall.
Do they have these where you live? Honestly, I've been in this area for about 6 years and I've never seen these on the shelf before..... anyway....
The 3 homegirls mentioned on the front are Kathy, Maria, and Rasheeda and they have a message for YOU HomeGirl.

*******Here is what is written on the back.********

MOTHERHOOD: As we look to becoming mothers one day, we will produce children with good manners and good minds. We are the first teachers.

MARRIAGE: We should save ourselves for marriage. Why should a man respect us if he can have us before marriage? Respect yourself and everyone will respect you. NO RING...NO THING!

THE POWER WITHIN US: The power within us is stronger than the negative forces outside of us. So our message to bad influences is ... STEP OFF!

There is a new bag on the block ... and it's all that ... and a bag of chips
So there you have it. When you down and out and surrounded by bad influences. Think about homegirl chips, say the pledge, and change this thing around. You can do it!

So this is love

We are absolutely loving our chicken experience. Here is the blow by blow so far :o)
The chicks arrived on a Tuesday.
Each of the older children has their own chicken which they picked from the http://www.mypetchicken.com/ website. We did the questionnaire on the website matches chicken breeds to your situation. We ordered 4 chicks total and each chick owner named their own chick. A huge portion of the bickering, meltdowns, and power struggles has ended. I took away a LARGE bunch of toys (the usual fight causing ones) and the children are blissfully happy with their new united purpose. The only care about their own chicks but they have the chickens in common. Nobody wants to hold anybody else's so the there aren't any power struggles or fights. We should have between 18-24 eggs a week when the laying starts.

Yellow Chick - California White (cross between a white leghorn and a California Grey) Will lay white eggs average 6/week. Name "Lulu"
Brown/Grey chick - Easter Egger
Will lay wither Blue, Green, or light pink (unlikely) eggs average 6/week.
Name "Princess"
Brown chick - Welsummer. Will lay med brown eggs with drk brown speckles average 4/week. Name "Lady Windsor"
Black Chick- Australorp. Will lay light brown eggs. Average 6/week. Name "Big Z"

It's been about 3 weeks now and boy have these little girls grown! The novelty hasn't worn off and the children (and I) just love it. I never thought I would feel like I loved a chicken but I do.
Every Monday we take a picture of each chick and weigh them to keep track of their growth. We love the Eglu that we bought and the children have their lawn chairs set up in a row to watch chicks during the day. They sit and narrate what they believe the chickens must be saying. It's all very cute.
We look forward to our first eggs which should arrive late Sep or early Oct. I think I will blow out each chickens first egg to keep. More updates to come :o)