Thursday, October 22, 2009

Busy, busy farm life!

The butchering post is coming but I wanted to catch you up on how we've been keeping busy.

The weather here in East Tennessee has been crazy!  We had over a week of rain and cloudy skies.  I mean lots.of.rain. And even a little hail!


Then the sun came out along with the beginning of our beautiful fall colors.  Before you know it, we had a hard freeze which arrived with a layer of snow in the mountains!  I've lived here for over 10 years and we've NEVER had a freeze in October or seen snow this early!  This part of Tennessee has been in a drought condition for 10 years.  This will be our first winter with "normal" East Tennessee weather and we are excitedly anticipating some great snow days!

I taught my Medicinal Herb class last Saturday  It was a great class and I got to meet some lovely new people!  Some of those students will be returning to attend my Soapmaking Made Simple class this coming Saturday, October 24th.  I still have a few places open if anyone local (or not so local!) would like to come.  I think I enjoy teaching my soap class even more than the Medicinal Herb course!

A sweet couple drove up all the way from Florida to come to my Medicinal Herb Class! We got to spend some time together the next afternoon.  While I chatted with my new friends, I worked on these...

Sweet Peppers!

...and I thought we were done in the garden!  Have I mentioned that I have been praying for a killing frost?  Truthfully, I was thankful to get this last harvest!  We lost everything in the garden just a few days later.  I dehydrated these peppers.  I saved the seeds and then filled every rack in the dehydrator. Once they were dried, they only filled 1 quart jar and 1 pint jar.  How amazing that so much food can be reduced to such a little amount.  I will sprinkle these on our salads this winter - it adds a wonderful "crunchy" texture and the taste!

The boys have been working on barn roof repair - my oldest son had a great idea for the roof and I can't wait to show you pictures when I post about it.  Our animals will have a dry and cozy barn this winter now that we have replaced the broken panels in our roof.  We hope to do the same to our other barn next year some time.

Jeremy has spent almost every daylight hour this week working out in our fields.  He has been mowing one last time for hay.  He mowed Sunday, Monday and Tuesday and began wind-rowing yesterday.  We will be baling it all today.  Jeremy thinks that we will get about 200 bales from this mowing.  That should easily feed our animals through the winter when added to the hay that we have already done throughout the summer.

We will also be moving animals more often during this winter to allow them to eat the grass in different fields.  We will be using some temporary electric fencing with a solar fence charger for both the cows and the goats.  We will be using the goats to help clean our fence lines.  They are the best brush-eaters and thrive on the shrubby stuff!

Once Jeremy got the wind-rowing done, he began bush-hogging the fields that have already been hayed to get them ready for winter.  We have a couple of fields left to bush-hog after the baling and then we will have the fields ready for winter.  He then plans to use the tractor to muck our barn - much easier and quicker than shoveling it out by hand.  He drags it all into the back of the garden so that we an spread it over our garden beds.

After school, Elijah and Josiah have been doing fence repair so that we can move our cattle to a new field.  They have spent the last few afternoons re-setting fence posts and stringing barbed wire.  I'm so proud of them!  They are serious about making this farm a productive and profitable place and they are working hard to see that happen.

We still need to get our ocean of weeds garden to bed and then we can work on our list of winter projects that include some building repairs, organizational projects, figuring out a better way to store some of our field equipment and perhaps even selling a piece or two that we don't seem to need.

We put our buck in with our does this week - this means that we will be looking for adorable goat babies in the middle of March to the beginning of April next year. Elijah did a wonderful job milking goats this year - he is learning to be a good worker and has some wonderful examples in his older brothers.

I am very thankful for this life that our Father has laid out before me.  We are busy yes, but we pull together, work together, love together and in so doing we are growing closer to Him and to each other. What joy this brings me!  Some days I am so filled with joy and thankfulness that I can hardly contain myself!

I'll try hard to get the butchering post up tomorrow - just trying to figure out how to put up a video that is just hilarious!  Guess I'll have to have Jeremy teach me once the rains hit tomorrow!


Friday, October 16, 2009

A glitch and a cow story continued...

Sorry dear boys had a bit of a stressful period the last few weeks dealing with an ongoing situation but our elders did what elders ought to do and really blessed my boys.  I am so glad that they have these wonderful relationships with the men who lead our body.  It was amazing, after 30 years of being a Christian, to see the leaders of a body follow the word and seek to obey Christ. These men prayed, things were revealed to each of them (isn't it cool when the Father does that?) and my boys were blessed by how they handled things. We are so grateful to our Abba Father who is continually going before us, providing for us and blessing us through this body that has become our family!

Back to cows....

We watched Suzie very closely for the next few days.  Mom called one day and said Suzie would lay down for a few minutes, get up, move and lay down again.  Strange. Later that day I was called out to her field by one of the boys - she was down again and couldn't get up....we thought....turns out she was laying in a very muddy spot and having trouble getting her legs under her.  She finally managed and we could throw some hay down on the muck.  Everything else seemed normal.

Early next morning, Jeremy called the house on his cell phone during chores - we get no reception out here so it was very broken up but I thought I heard Jeremy say "it's back!".  I moaned and told him I was headed out.  Grabbed my boots (we've had lots of rain!) and headed out to her field.  However when I got close I could tell that Jeremy was excited...happy excited....then I saw this...

Too cute!

Jeremy was trying to tell me about the new calf and was telling me "it's black". ( Can you hear me now? )  Seems that Suzie had been busy that morning having a baby!  He's an adorable little boy - half Jersey and half Angus.  When the vet had been out, Jeremy had mentioned that Suzie was stringing a little mucus.  I didn't think much of it and neither did the vet.  It just wasn't that much...or so we thought!

When Suzie came to our farm, she was in milk and when we put her in with the bull all he wanted to do was nurse her.  She would go stand in the pond to get away from him.  We moved her out of that field pretty quickly but evidently not quickly enough!

Meet Chocolate!

The boys are calling  him Chocolate because of his color.  I emailed D.J. to let him know his cow had surprised us and  boy was he surprised too!  We've stopped taking milk from Suzie for now but look forward to the time we can milk her again!

In the meantime, we are enjoying his antics as he romps and plays, kicking up his heels as he frolics around his momma.

Next post I'll share how our recent chicken butchering went!


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