Archives

Sadie is Growing Up

Sadie at 3 1/2 months

This has got to be one of the most loving pups we have ever had in our home.  She came to us with some bad habits but in three months they’ve all been corrected or being worked on.  Sadie will be eight months old next week and she has stopped chasing the chickens,  she’s learning not to jump up on everyone that comes to the farm, she’s treeing squirrels and she not afraid of Donald our drake anymore.  She has learned to stay away from the cattle and she alerts us to new guests that arrive.  She does get overly-excited when anyone comes to visit especially our kids and granddaughter.

I still bring her in the house at night or we would get no sleep. She barks at everything that moves!!!

I’m sure this will change once she becomes more aware of the wild animals that are lurking about at night and the not so wild ones!  In the meantime, she’s our baby and some hunting/training will begin more strictly once hay season is finished and Eddie has more time to train her to a lead and get her out in the woods on a more frequent basis. Until then I will keep up the simple training in the yard and on a daily basis.

Sadie sits peacefully with me as we had our breakfast.

She is not full grown yet and has so much energy.  Norwegian Elkhounds are wonderful dogs and very protective of their owners.

New Chicks On the Farm

Our farm is constantly growing something whether it be crops for the cattle, the garden, the herd or the flock.  Each spring I try to add new chicks to the flock so that in the winter months I can still have eggs while the older chickens can take a break.  Most chickens start laying at six months of age.  I recently added eighteen bitties to the farm.There are six Buff Orpingtons, six Speckled Susses and six Columbian Wyandottes.

Unusual Bird

 

We had a visitor on the farm not too many weeks ago and at first glance we did not realize it was a crane that had come in during the night with the fog.  We see them all the night but had never seen one preening itself on our boat house.

He looked so very short sitting up there and I was convinced it had to be something different until. . . .

It flew off and set atop a broken down locust tree in the bull lot next to the boat house.  These birds are huge, endangered and eat lots of fish from our pond and we think are probably the cause of the demise of our frog population too!!

They are huge yet elegant birds with extremely long legs.

He sat in the top of that tree for most of the morning and I don’t think we’ve seen it since that morning.

 

Heifer Calving Issues

March plagued us with unusual calving events but not due to weather events.  First and previously posted was the “trouble” issue from a first time mother and a calf to large to deliver normally.  Eddie assisted in that delivery which produced the largest calf we have ever delivered and to date the largest calf this year.

This is Trouble. Biggest bull calf ever raised on the farm. He was born to a black angus heifer which means it was her first ever calf. We don’t like for our heifers to have large calves but apparently she was fed well which helped him grow. The sire was a two-year old Angus with small head and shoulders. Can’t imagine what he will look like fully grown or his son!!

Our second abnormal delivery was an older cow in our spring herd and she had never had any issues in the past.  This time she delivered a normal to small bull calf that was dead.  Shortly after this delivery she had another small dead bull calf and then all of her insides came out.  I’m not talking about prolapse, this was all of her female organs and intestines.  Eddie put her down quickly after to prevent ANY suffering.

Then about 10 days later another heifer delivered a huge bull calf that Eddie and I both helped deliver in our holding.  This calf lived but mother and calf were weak for about two weeks but the calf is growing.

First time heifers are always a challenge but this has been quite worrisome

VERY GRAPHIC::

The last one born was also a five-hour labor ordeal with a heifer and we had an issue after the deliver that Eddie assisted.  About an hour or so after the delivery the calf was never able to get up to nurse.  We have found in the past that if the new babe and mom are left alone things usually go as expected.  We watched this calf and mother from our front porch and Eddie decided to take the heifers some grain to keep them away from the new mother and babe.  After pouring the grain he went to investigate the situation and found all of the calf’s intestine had come out of its belly button/naval.  NEVER had we seen or heard of this!  We called a neighbor and they had never dealt with it but had heard of it and was willing to come assist.  In the meantime, I googled it and how to fix without a vet’s assistance (the cost of the vet and having to take to a hospital would far out weigh what we could get out of the calf IF it survived).  We got a clean tarp and put it in the bucket of the tractor and Eddie and I lifted him into the tractor bucket without issue.  We then hauled him to the garage where our neighbor found us to work on the calf.  First we sterilized all the equipment with 100% alcohol and then poured it all over the intestines and tried to get as much dirt and debris from the navel and the intestine without bursting them.  This took lots of time and Andy was so meticulous about cleaning everything.  Inch by inch he started pushing the intestines back into the body cavity and at one point he had to make the navel opening a bit larger and after about an hour he was ready to close up the opening.  During this entire process Eddie was holding the back feet & legs and I was holding the front legs and feet, the calf did not move even being on it’s back during the entire time.  Andy cleaned the incision several times more and then closed it all with vet staples.  He gave the calf a large dose of antibiotics and covered the wound with more alcohol. We took the calf back to his mother and she started cleaning him all over again.  You have to remember that his calf had never been able to get up to nurse.  We tried to give him colostrum to no avail and in the next three days he got up three times that we saw but we NEVER saw him nurse even with mom’s encouragement.  On the fourth day he died and as an afterthought we think we should have used a system that you put a hose down their throat into their stomach for nourishment or may should have put it down immediately but we always try to save them after the mother has gone through nine months of keeping them alive.

I want to thank our wonderful neighbor, Andy Hutton, for all he did that day and help he has given us in the past.  He hauls our cattle, helps us find good buyers for our stock, helping in repair our equipment and there for us to answer our questions.  Though we’ve been farming for 40+ years it’s always good to get first and second opinions.  Andy is our “go-to-farmer”!!!

We only have two more heifers to calve and about 9-10 older cows in our spring herd to deliver. Wish us luck!!

TROUBLE

This is Trouble. Biggest bull calf ever raised on the farm. He was born to a black Angus heifer which means it was her first ever calf. We don’t like for our heifers to have large calves but apparently she was fed well which helped him grow. The sire was a two-year old Angus with small head and shoulders. Can’t imagine what he will look like fully grown or his son!!

His mom was in labor for five hours and I was alone on the farm with her. I tried several times to get close to her to help by pulling the calf but she would have nothing to do with it. Finally when Eddie got home from a doctor’s appointment she was tired enough to lay still and he pulled the calf. Immediately she got up and walked away having nothing to do with the pain she had been in.

Of course, he was also born on a very cold and wet day and was covered with mud. The other heifer mothers came to the rescue and cleaned him up while Eddie got a bottle of milk to warm his insides.

His mother finally came back to him the next morning but would never let him nurse. She was and is protective of him but would not let him eat. Trouble is now a bottle baby and doing really well.

He was born on March 4th and instead of one month old he looks like a three-month old spring calf. Unlike most bottle fed babies he is not pot-gutted, he’s very strong and doesn’t play with the other calves though they try really hard to get him in on the racing they do each day!!

We’ve not decided if he will possibly become a sire on the farm but he definitely looks and acts like a full-grown young bull!

 

Sadie

She’s growing like a weed, smart as a whip, and so very, very affectionate.

Sadie turned five months old this month and it’s hard to believe we’ve had her for a little over a month!  She has turned into quite a guard dog by barking when someone comes in, if she sees someone walking along the road, if the bulls move from one side of the bull lot to the other, and especially if the newborn calves are running and playing.

Last night we had a stray dog come to visit and the hair was standing all along the top of her back, from head to tail.  She was going to eat it alive!  We don’t know who it belongs to but it soon left.  It was solid black with a blue rhinestone collar that lit up when our spotlight hit it.  Sadie yipped  and growled until we went to bed.

She’s just as beautiful as she was when we got her and we’re just as in love with her now as we were a month ago.  Her favorite toy our is our coonhound Mischief and they will play all day.  She has learned that it’s not polite to run the chickens and ducks and now we’re concentrating on NOT chasing cars from our house or anywhere for that matter.  She’s a bit intimidated by the tractors and she still does not like riding in the vehicles or the gator but we’re still working on that.  Sadie loves walking in the woods and when there’s no wind we go on family walks with her.  Eddie hoping we’ll eventually run across some squirrels during our walks.  She has already treed one below Mischiefs doghouse but didn’t stay with it very long since she couldn’t find it once it went up the tree.

More updates to come on her growth and progress!  Enjoy your animals!

What A Difference A Day Makes

Yesterday and Saturday the rains were pouring down and the fields were saturated and overflowing.

Today it’s almost back to normal.

Thursday morning the timber was frozen and the ground was covered with ice.

The next day it’s totally different!

We are having a whirlwind spring or end of winter and we don’t know from one day to the next what the temperature will be.  Last night we were experiencing 35-60 mile per hour wind gusts.  Thankfully there was no damage to anything that we have found.  We deal with this while waiting on baby calves to be born!!  Farming is a challenge, especially beginning this year.

This heifer delivered her new babe on one of the worst days of the rain and cold winds.

This little black-white faced bull is a survivor!!

Sadie Is Growing

On February 20th Sadie turned four months old and the things she has learned in the short time we’ve had her is amazing.  She goes to the door and looks back at us when she wants/needs to go out. The potty training is going amazingly!  She has figured out how to get out of the yard gate to go visit with Mischief, our coon hound.  When the ATV starts up she knows Dad is going to the woods or to feed the bulls.  She knows when I go to the kitchen it’s mealtime.  She’s learned the sounds of our vehicles and waits at the door for visitors barking her head off.  She has learned how to wake Mom up to go outside (barking by my bed) or when she thinks it’s time for everyone to get up. She has learned that “down” means to stay down and not jump up on us.  She has learned that there are moles in our front yard and she’s determined to get them for me no matter how many holes she has to dig.  Yard gardening is going to be a challenge this spring!!! 🙂

She is growing like a weed! When we got her on the 11th she weighed about 8 pounds and now she’s up to 10 pounds.

Because we’ve had so much rain and she loves being outside I have to put down heavy paper in the path she uses from the front door to through the kitchen.

The look we get when she wants out.

She does not like to ride in the vehicles.  We took a ride yesterday afternoon on our road to check out the flood damage and she got sick before we could get back home.  Poor thing was as nervous as a cat in a room full of rocking chair!!!

She looks big in these photos but she’s only about 20 inches long and almost 12 inches tall.  She’ll be full-grown before we know it.

We were supposed to keep our son’s black lab this weekend but I asked him to hold off a couple more months because Sadie is so little and Bucky is a full-grown pup that loves to wrestle and I’m afraid he may hurt it for now.  We’ll let them visit before too long though and she’ll have another playmate.

I’m praising her a lot but she still has an issue with my chickens and wants to chase anything that runs so we’ll be doing some heavy training in that regard.  Bucky likes to chase the chickens too and their togetherness might just get a little out of hand.  More updates on her growth and training to come.

 

A NEW GIRL ON THE FARM

Farms always have a lot of varmints and I guess, towns do too but we seem to be overrun with them.  After Sassy died two years ago the varmints have become very brazen and are in the yard as much as out of it!  We’ve wanted another dog on the farm mainly to keep such critters at bay yet we wanted one we would train and not someone else’s with attributes that are not particularly farm and socially attractive!!  I’m not ready for another Sassy (cocker spaniel) yet.

Sassy at three months.

We’ve had several dogs and cats in our 47 years and have always been partial to Cockers and Norwegian Elkhounds which we have had at least five in those 47 years.  We’ve had different people checking in their areas for the Elkhounds and over the weekend we found our new girl!

This is our new girl on the farm, Sadie. She is a Norwegian Elkhound and fours months old next week.

She is so very smart and is learning a lot in the four days she has been with us.

She was NOT potty trained but in four days has learned that all she has to do is going to the front door and whine to go out.  I’m doing a lot of “pooper scooping: in the yard at the moment because we don’t want her to be free to go just anywhere without us.  At six months we are hoping we’ll be able to leave the front yard gate open at night so she can ward off varmints or alert us that they are encroaching on her territory!!  Yesterday she met Arby and Samson, two of our huge black Angus bulls and she barked her little self crazy until they took a step near her and then she was between my feet. The bulls didn’t pay much attention to her.   Later in the morning while we were doing some fence repairs in the heifer lot she decided to let the heifers know that she was the new boss in town.  These heifers weigh around 750-850 pounds each and are due any day to have their first calves and they don’t like dogs!  Anyway, Sadie decided to walk out into the middle of the herd and give them the devil but not even five minutes later you would have thought the devil was on her heels.  She came screaming back toward us and ran into a woven wire fence which she could not get through and headed around the corner of the orchard fence and straight into our arms, peeing and pooping all the way.  She was literally petrified and we were laughing ourselves to death.  She did learn to stay away from those girls because today I took her for a walk with me to put mail out for the postman and instead of staying close to me as we walked the driveway along the heifer lot Sadie made a broad path about twenty feet on the opposite side of the driveway and growling all the way to the mailbox and back!!!

She is a beautiful dog and we hope to have many good years with her.

Our next learning lesson will be to not jump up on us or visitors and to teach her not to chase the chickens or ducks. I have lots of faith that she will learn quickly!!

We are also trying to get her used to riding in the farm trucks with us.  She is scared of riding and of vehicles.  The day we bought her home we had to put her in a dog crate on the back of the truck and I’m so glad we had it because she was very ill riding in the back of the truck.  We will start with short trips on the farm and on our road until she feels more comfortable.  Yesterday during our second trip riding out the 1/8 mile driveway she tried to jump out of my arms and out the truck window.  I also learned a very valuable lesson on this trip, leave the windows up until she is more comfortable riding in the truck!!!

So for now, I will be kept very busy during our very wet season, mopping the floors and keeping the yard as clean as I can.  We’re expecting the kids to come visit her for the first time this weekend.  I think she’ll love them as much as she loves us!!

BEST FIREWOOD FOR A NIGHT LIKE TONIGHT

The temps are dropping fast this afternoon and the wind is gusting from 20 – 30 mph at the moment. Tonight is supposed to be much worse. We’ll have the stove cranked up and the teakettle full!

We keep a kettle on the stove to put some moisture in the house.

We’ll be burning some seasoned wild cherry

with some green oak and dried walnut before we go to bed.

Right before we head to bed Eddie will fill the stove with some truly dried locust. This is wood has been drying for years out in the fields as fencing.

The past few years we’ve been and will probably continue to in the coming years be replacing all of the fencing on the farm.  The wire has rotted and posted broke off at the top of the ground.  We saved all of the locust post just for nights like tonight when the temps will be below zero when the wind is factored in.  The locust burns hot but slow which makes it hold overnight (almost) and we don’t have to get up every two hours to load the stove when the fire has burnt down.

Everyone stay warm tonight and don’t forget to bed all the farm animals down with extra food and hay to stay warm!!  Bring those pets indoors if you really love them!!

SNOW DAY COOKING

I promised a pictorial today of the what kept me busy during our snow event yesterday and here it is.

One of my snow event creations was chicken salad. My canned pickle relish gives it the kick it needs.

I love cobblers and this one is raspberry-blueberry. I love to warm in my microwave and then pour whole milk over it!!

We used a little more than half of a crate full of firewood last night.

Divine smoked pork loin created by Eddie in our smoker. He cooked it in the garage yesterday during the snow event.

Eddie’s other night-time snack is jello with fruit. This is raspberry.

Four loaves of bread made with honey from our honeybees.

Covered in wrap makes it hard to see but this is a carrot cake with caramel pecan frosting. Hubby is in heaven!!

The rest of the day was keeping the stove filled and the wood rack filled as well.

The wood rack beside the stove is full and holds enough wood for two days if the wind isn’t bad.

We used a little more than half of a crate full of firewood last night.

 

The snow event (notice I didn’t call it a storm) left us with one inch of snow and it got packed down during the night with sleet and rain making for a crusty top.  The chickens wanted nothing to do with it so we left them in the coop and the ducks could have left their coop but decided to stick close to a spot with no snow in it!  Recipes for the chicken salad, cake, bread, cobbler and pork loin marinade will be posted on my cooking page soon.

End of Deer Season

The final week of deer season ended yesterday and our freezers are full.  This year no trophies were taken because we felt we needed to thin the herds (5) due to the small does and too many of them.  We talked about this during the summer and decided the bucks were too small and does were very small and believe this is due to inbreeding.  They’ve had plenty to eat from the grasses and gardens in the summer and the nut crops in the fall.  Only the family participated in the hunts because most of the hunters were looking to kill trophies which there were very few so they hunted elsewhere.  My new crockpot and Instant pot have been keeping our bellies full!

1019:082318:59F:2746:CAMERA1 :3

Those Honery Creatures

During most of the summer of 2018 (when I wasn’t blogging much) I was working hard to make a rose garden in one corner of our front yard that gets sun most of the day.  It was hard work and a challenge to position all of them into one corner.

I’m thrilled with how the rose garden is blooming over and over this year.

There are over twenty different types and colors of roses in the bed and it looks a little different from the picture above because all of the non-roses were also dug up and moved to different areas of the yard inside and out.  Several of them survived the winter of 2017-18 due to the ice and creatures called wild rabbits!  They chewed the bark off of every rose in the yard!!

Bark eaten off of nearly every rose.

I meant to put up a barrier fence in the new rose bed during our first frost but never seemed to get around to it.  My procrastination proved to be maddening, the rabbits got to them before I did.  Immediately Eddie and I started putting up the barrier fence around the rose garden.

This is the same plastic fence we use around our garden to keep the deer and chickens out during growing season and take it down at the end of the growing season.

We have chain-linked fence around the yard so we only had to stake the fence around the roses from the inside of the yard.  I’m glad we found the damage before it was to far gone to save the roses.  We will be having Brunswick Stew if I catch the creatures getting through this!

Fencing barrier around the roses.

I think these are worth saving!!!

I absolutely love this color!Peach, orange and yellow, great idea for a quilt.

New rose in a beautiful deep pink/scarlett.

The wild rabbits killed most of my roses during the winter so my wonderful children gave me 10 new roses for Mother’s Day. This beauty is one of them.

Last years yellow rose is such a beauty and has just began blooming. It will be moved into my rose garden early fall.

Continue reading

In Our Backyard

The last two weeks have shown us a beauty of nature that we rarely see.

Lovely little American Goldfinchs gather on and under our bird feeders in our back yard.  The red house finch is in the middle of this little flock.

Adult males in spring and early summer are bright yellow with black forehead, black wings with white markings, and white patches both above and beneath the tail. Adult females are duller yellow beneath.  We normally don’t have them at our feeders or in the fields until late spring, early summer so this is a real treat.

At one time this week I counted over thirty on the ground under feeders eating up the sunflower seed that had been picked out of the feeders.

I love watching all the birds from my kitchen window.
We have finches, sparrows, red-winged blackbirds, long-tailed blackbirds and several mourning doves every morning.

Since they’ve arrived so early I’m hoping with all my heart that spring is truly just around the corner.

Spring Cattle Move

Today a job that should have been done a month ago was completed.  Weather changes and the fact that Eddie and I have been sick for a week prevented us from pulling a bull from our fall calving herd.

Stormy weather prevented the cattle work for at least a month.

Buckshot has been with this herd since November 30th, 2017 and we normally only leave the bulls with our herds about three months.  Moving a bull away from a herd is not always easy but today it was a piece of cake!!  A bucket of feed, a cattle prod and competition down the lane will work every time.  He stood at the gate with 46 cows and calves and all the master had to do was walk him to the front of the line and when he herd his brother bulls down the lane he came through the gate pretty as you please!!  He is now in the bull lot with the other two bulls showing them whose boss or so he thinks!!

Buckshot and Samson back in the bull lot together again for about three months. Arby is in there with them but he would rather eat his “Cheerios” first before confronting big brother!

Now, our mountain long field is opened up and full of the Fall calving herd and hopefully all of them mother’s have been bred.  There’s 23 cows and 23 calves grazing our part of Little Mountain today and it will be wonderful sitting on the front porch watching them graze but not today!

Our Fall herd is enjoying some very precious green grass this afternoon.

The three bulls are playing nice for the moment!

I’m back in the house out of the wind nursing my sinuses and trying to get well!! We’ve been sick since last Tuesday and a week is too long to not be out on the farm or at least on the front porch!  I’m so tired of being cooped up when the sun is shining.  The wind is still blowing so I mustn’t take chances of being out too long.

 

Addition To The Farm

You would think that I have enough to do on the farm but alas NO!!  I have a friend that had a big flock of ducks and she had been giving me her duck eggs because they don’t eat them. They butchered most of their flock and asked me if I wanted the what was left over.

I got seven full-grown ducks from Nikki & Eddie Garey and I appreciate them so much.

I got two drakes and five hens and what a beautiful addition to our farm animals.  It only took one day for them to get use to their new owners and home.    They’re very easy to tend to, all I do is put out feed which is usually whole corn and maybe some leftover biscuits crumbled up for them.  They get water from the pond and in the winter I will keep a trough of warm water out for them to drink.  They don’t like being cooped up, so they’re free to range the farm as they wish!

I’m very lucky to have them because I love to bake with duck eggs and they are awesome when making French toast, cakes and pies.

I’ll be making lots of beautiful and mouth-watering pound cakes for hubby.

Last night I made two egg custard pies, my favorite! The duck eggs helped to fill the deep dish pie crust up to the rim!!  I am getting two eggs a day now and will be using the next ones for making my loaf bread and rolls.

From left to right, duck egg, white chicken egg and brown chicken eggs. Most all of my chicken eggs would be considered large if bought in a grocery store.

This is the last carton of beautiful duck eggs given to me and I stuck a brown chicken egg in the carton to show the difference in size.

These are American Pekin Ducks and the Pekin duck is a domesticated duck used primarily for egg and meat production. We will have them for their egg production and beauty on our pond.

They love the pond and love grazing the lawn around the pond and through the garden searching for night crawlers (WORMS). It’s very entertaining watching them playing in the water and noodling around the pond edge searching for food.

They’re resting now after a good swim and cleaning. I think they’re one of the best birds at cleaning and oiling themselves, especially after a run through the garden. They come out with their breasts brown and yucky and just a few minutes in the pond and they’re snow-white!

From Inside the House

This morning we woke to snow on top of last weeks snow but we had a beautiful blue sky.  Last week we got about 10 inches of snow and the most we’ve had all winter. Over half had melted and this morning we woke to five more inches on top of the leftovers.  It was 25* when we woke this morning and now its 38* now.  The best part – we didn’t lose any calves this time.  Here’s a touch of our beauty in western Virginia and Craig County on the mountain:

It’s melting now and by mid-week we’ll be in the 60’s and rain.  It will be a sloppy mess but needed for our crops and gardens.  We haven’t had snow like this for a couple of years and we all knew it was time.  I’m not saying the spring snows are over but sure hope they are.

We have six more cows to calve from our spring herd and these mom’s and their little ones could sure use a break.

My chickens don’t like the snow either and a few got trapped under the grainery last night and refused to walk through the snow to their warm house but it looks like they all survived and are ready to see some green grass and mud!

Everyone be safe and spring is here even though it doesn’t look like it!!!

 

Spring Calving Season is Here Again

Our first calf was born on March 4th and since then we’ve had six more, two this morning.  I didn’t get to see any of them until Sunday and those four were quite lively.  They’ve all been smaller than usual and one of the two born this morning in low 20 degree temps and high winds is not doing well.  Eddie says it’s very weak but is getting up, when it’s up his mom is laying down.  He took me to see the spring her and their new babes on Sunday afternoon.

They were spread all over the hill eating grain until they heard the old gray Dodge start down the driveway. By the time we got to the field gate, they were all there except the little guy born that morning.

When the cows see that white bucket they know there’s some grain in the troughs.

This is the spring herd getting some grain and bringing their youngsters to meet the old woman on the farm (me)!

This little gal was the first of the year born on March 4th. She can run like the wind and keeps her mama in a tither all the time.

Daylight Savings Time bought this little guy to the farm.

A closer shot of the newborn.

 

 

 

 

 

After feeding the grain and we were leaving the field I got this closeup and he was looking for mama and bawling.  She went running!!

Mama, where are you???

We went back to the stable to refill the buckets. This gives you a view of the gray Dodge (1970) and the feed wagon.

Inside the feed wagon is three ton of corn gluten. The cows love it!!

The little ones born this morning are doing better than we expected but we’ll keep a close eye on them and in the meantime, we have another mama trying to deliver while I’m posting this little ditty!!

Morning Feed Ritual at the Farm

Our morning ritual around here in the winter season begins shortly after breakfast and I always fix us a good breakfast to start the day.

Hubby heads out to feed the three small herds of cattle.  Each herd is a little different but the two biggest herds (25-30 cows) get two 4×5 round bales of hay every day.  One of these herds also has 24 calves with them which are 2-3 months of age.  They mimic mom and eat some of the hay too but mainly depend on her milk until they’re about 5-6 months old.  The third herd consists of 14 heifers that will be bred in June.  They are fed one 4×5 round bale each day along with a five-gallon bucket of corn gluten/whole corn mixture every other day.  Then we have our herd of bulls which is only three but those guys can eat and get two square bales of hay each day and corn gluten once a week.  Everyone is fat and sassy!

My feeding schedule consists of three rabbits that we use for breeding stock.  They are part Lop but the perfect size for meat rabbits.  Each morning and afternoon they are given fresh water, a cup of rabbit pellets, a carrot and half of a sweet apple.  They love apples and I treat them in the winter time because there is no fresh grass to feed them.  I keep a bat of hay in their hutches for eating but I also keep hay covering the wire floor of the hutch to keep the frigid wind off of them.  They have a nesting box in the hutch in the winter time to get out of the wind. Their hutches are cleaned weekly regardless of the weather.

Sebastian

Marigold

Cleome

 

 

 

 

 

Then I head out to the chicken house with a gallon of hot water, an egg basket and any scraps from the table.  I have 33 chickens, one of which is a rooster.  I have five young hens that tend to roost in the egg nest every night after I shut them in the building.  Each morning those nest have to be cleaned out so the eggs aren’t nasty because chickens just don’t care what they lay those eggs on.  The chickens have a large tub outside of the building for water during the day and a large pan inside that doesn’t freeze often but when it’s in the 20’s it has to be refilled four or five times a day and the eggs are gathered more often too.  They have a feed trough that is four feet long, six inches wide and about four inches deep.  I fill it every day with scratch grain, black-oil sunflower seeds and during the winter laying crumbles.  In the summer they forage the entire farm but there’s not much to be found in the wintertime.  A few times a month they get a treat of dried mealworms which they love.  Currently with all those chickens I’m only getting about a dozen eggs a day but they’re wonderful eggs that are large, brown, pink, green, blue and a couple white ones.  Egg production will pickup in the spring!

                                                                                                                                                

 

Once the feeding is done and the eggs are gathered, I’m off to the wood shed to bring in enough to fill of the stove for the night and if it’s calling for rain or snow, I fill up one end of the porch.   The bird feeders are then filled and then it’s time to come in and make preparations for dinner!!

It’s Been A Year

I still can’t believe she’s gone and still get weepy when I think of her. Our Cocker Spaniel, Sassy, died a year ago today and we’re so sad.  Eddie bought her for me as a puppy in 2004 and she has been our baby ever since.

 

 

 

 

 

Rest in peace my beautiful girl!!

 

A Taste of Frigid Weather

I don’t like being unprepared for much of anything but the last two weeks or so of frigid air gave me a real kick in the pants!  We have been used to teens and single digit weather but not with 20 – 45 mile an hour winds.  We were able to keep the house good and warm but had to keep heaters in the cellar and laundry room around in the clock.  We didn’t have any frozen water pipes or lose any of the valuable canned goods.

We did however have to keep chopping holes in the streams that water our cattle.  We had to move two herds due to the mountain springs freezing solid and the feed we gave them was increased by an extra roll of hay each day, giving the two larger herds three round bales and the heifers two.  The heifers and bulls  were given corn gluten every other day.

January 3rd we went to Rural King to pick up salt and feed for the chickens and he bought me a new insulated barn coat and insulated bib coveralls!!!  Along with the Extreme socks Heather bought me for Christmas, the flannel lined jeans Shawn got me and these from Eddie the winter weather coming would not be taking hold of me!!!!

First pair of flannel lined jeans I’ve ever had and they are so comfortable.

Flannel-lined jeans, heavy flannel shirt, black under armor, insulated flannel lined bibs and a wonderful insulated hooded barn coat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I know how the Pillsbury Dough Boy  feels now, waddling around!!!!

January 5th was the worst day and the pickup wouldn’t start, the big tractor fuel was frozen and wouldn’t start, and we used the small Kubota until the hydraulics froze up.  At this point the cattle were fed the old fashioned way by using 15 square bales of hay loaded onto the old Dodge pickup for the larger herds and 10 square bales to the heifers.  We keep bales of hay in the loft of the bull barn for the bulls and they were fed hay and grain.  I had filled up the firewood on the porch and in the house and was constantly chucking it into the woodstoves.  I made a huge pot of soup on the stove and our bodies stayed warm and full on the inside!!! The chickens and rabbits were checked hourly along with Mischief, our coon hound and all were given fresh warm water. Mischief stayed wadded up in her house with enormous batts of hay! We had been feeding her extra food to keep some fat on for just this kind of weather. We take good care of all of our animals. The temperature that day finally reached 12* but the wind was raging and expecting to last through noon Saturday.  With the wind chill the last few days our temps were ranging from -12* to 0*.   Mr. Caldwell was working on thawing the tractor all day in the frigid cold and wind!

Finally on Monday we were able to get out and do some extra winterizing to prepare for the next onset which might be within the next week!

The chickens are out and able to free range again although there isn’t much grass for them to find and they love anything green.

Cleome staying in her warm nesting box loaded with fresh hay.

Marigold is doing the same but she comes out more than Cleome.

Sebastian has two sections to his hutch. When the wind is howling you won’t catch him out in this open area of his hutch.

During the storm they didn’t have this loose hay out in the open part of their hutches but they will now until spring. There is one area of their hutches that has no hay and that’s because it’s their “potty” area behind their nesting boxes..

Marigold likes to sit on top of her box a lot but didn’t during the bad weather! It’s unbelievable how Mother Nature had provided them with such luxiourious fur coats for the winter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So with the rabbits taken care of before the next batch of frigid weather, I went straight to the hen house.  Extra bedding was put in their nests to help keep the eggs from freezing.  There’s not much I can do with their water freezing except take them warm water more often.  Hopefully in the spring the electricity will be added to their house but this new house is much warmer and cleaner than the old one.

The chickens are out and able to free range again although there isn’t much grass for them to find and they love anything green.

The hens belong to this cinder-block building now. It’s warm, easier to clean because it has openings along the lower end of the shed to clean out under the roosts with a pressure hose. It’s cool in the summer and warm in the winter UNLESS it gets in the 20 degree range or lower.

We have a frost-free spigot outside of the building to get their water. No more hauling jugs of water up the hill behind the house anymore!!

We have 36 hens now and Eddie put 14 nesting boxes so that everyone will have plenty of room to provide us with wonderful farm fresh eggs.

There’s no crowding on the roosts but chickens are the worst for having a pecking order.

Yesterday I put a layer of fresh hay on the floor for the older girls to sit in during the day. These ladies are all four to five years old and don’t lay much but they’re my girls so they get preferential treatment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I use a metal pan for their water so that when it freezes I can take it outside, pour a little hot water over the bottom and the ice pops right out.  I do carry a jug of hot water with me when I go check the water for the rabbits, chickens and the dog.  They love that warm water to warm their insides!  I’m keeping the rabbits and the chickens feed bowls full.  If they have plenty to eat their fat stores will help to keep them warm.

Now that the animals are better prepped for the frigid air to return it was time to fill up the porch with two types of firewood.

The east end of the porch has well seasoned firewood. I put one end of a 9 x 12 tarp down on the porch and place the wood on top of it. This protects the porch and the leftover end of the tarp is pulled up over the wood and held in place with extra sticks of wood and bungee cords. The stack when full if about five feet high and fills the eight feet length of the end of the porch.

The west end of the porch has the same amount of wood but this has not seasoned as much and we use it at night to hold the fire for several hours. It’s heavier because it’s not been cut and split as long, is dry but not as dry as the other wood. We don’t have to worry as much about Flue fires with seasoned wood and there’s been a lot of complete home losses in Virginia this year due to fires!

We have two piles of wood outside and one is seasoned, split and covered.  The other is dried but not fully seasoned and not split.  We have plenty more in the woods ready to take down and bring in to the house.

We keep a large rack of firewood in the house beside the stove (about 18-24 inches away from the stove so we won’t have to go out everytime we need to fill the stove.

 

 

 

We have two large ponds on the property and both have 8-10 inches of ice on them now but the overflows water the heifers and the bulls. The other cattle now get their water from some lowland springs that rarely go dry but we have to watch them because with the weather we were having they will freeze and have to be broken up a few times a day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’ve made it through the first of the really cold winter weather but we’re ready for the worst to come in the next three months.  Between now and then I’ll sit with my new seed catalogs and prepare for what we all hope to be an early spring!!   When we expect high winds and possible power outages I keep plenty of buckets of water in the laundry room for flushing the toilets and several gallon jugs of water for cooking and hand-washing.  We keep supplies of candles, oil lamps and matches on hand and small wood on the side porch for the wood cook stove.  Four small tanks of propane are always full to heat the laundry room (holds our main source of water pipes) and the cellar.

Stay warm and don’t forget to prepare for the next winter hit of weather!

Down with the Old

The chickens needed a new home due to the age of their existing house!  It leaked like a sieve.  Critters were getting in no matter what we did and killed eleven of my new chicks that were under two months of age.  The hill I walked to get to it was becoming a hazard for me in the winter months.  We moved the chickens (they were not happy at first) into a cinder block building which has electricity and water and a separate room for their feed.

Old Chicken house is made mainly of wormy chestnut. When we started tearing it down we were able to save some better boards.

After two weeks of tearing off boards when we had an hour to spare, it’s starting to look like a spooky shell!!

As we tore off the outsides, everything was thrown to the inside of the shell to burn.

The only parts of the building that weren’t wormy chestnut were oak and pine replacements over the years.

Even the nesting boxes were wormy chestnut. We saved them to use for nesting boxes in the new house.

Next we cut the main support beams on the interior and wrapped a chain around them which was attached to the tractor and started pulling it down.

Amazingly the roof fell straight down on to the interior debris.

Within two hours the fire was almost finished except for some large beams that served as ground support. It took two days for the smoke to dissapate and then it was time to pile up the tin roof and dispose of it.

Fairly simple clean up!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now the chickens use the remaining area as a dusting bath!  Next spring I’ll spread it out a bit and start a new area for gardening.

Wild Rabbit Comeback

I went out and bought tame rabbits last year and now the wild rabbit population has exploded on the farm.
I love watching them and now the farm is alive with all sizes. I’m sure the coyotes, eagle, hawks and owls will keep the population in check though.

Fortunately for them we have lots of briar patches for them to hide in from predators.

Who couldn’t love that face!!! She never did run.

Snapping turtle

Every year our pond becomes invaded by snapping turtles that eat the fish and frogs from the ponds. A few weeks ago we found where some varmint had found several turtle egg nests on the farm on the side of a mountain spring that runs through the farm to Sinking Creek.

Dirt bank along side the branch where the turtles had climbed, dug perfect holes, laid their golf-ball-sized eggs and covered them to hatch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We think this was probably done by a coon, skunk or even a raven or two.  Every nest, and we counted at least six had been raided and what eggs were left will not hatch. 

You can see the shells along the side of the hole and below it.

But with that being said we don’t like having them in our pond so we set “trot lines”  (heavy nylon thread with a huge hook on the end ) to catch the beast that eat our frogs and fish.  We caught one night before last and our dinner that night was chicken fried turtle. fried potatoes, cantaloupe and asparagus.  So good!!!

Fried turtle is so good!!

Fried potatoes and onions on the left and fried turtle on the right.