. . . there is beauty and peace on the farm!
Unbelievable how fast these little birds grow!
I haven’t released them from their birthing box yet, waiting on the latest cold front to push through. She’s a good mama but I know she will dragging them through the cold, wet grass. Just a little chill will kill them regardless of all that mama does, so for now they’re safe in the little coop.
Until they can get on the ground I’m feeding them tender grasses with roots attached, starter/grower, old-fashioned oats from the kitchen, small worms I find around their coop, fresh water and a chunk of cantaloupe from the table (they gobble it up quick).
Once they’re out of the coop I’ll be able to get better pictures of the little ones!
On another note, the other two hens did not hatch at all. Probably in the next couple weeks I’ll have to go pick out some bitties at the farm store to raise on my own but MUST wait for the weather to calm down.
I have the one hen from last year that just hatched out the three babies and I won’t get any eggs from her for at least three months and I have a Buff Orpington that should hatch any day.
Farming is fun and educational!! Coronavirus doesn’t slow things down on this farm and I love being home everyday!
Sadie is full grown now and we love her to death! She’s become quite the huntress and catches squirrels, possums and coons along with all the mini creatures you find on the farm. She’s protective of the chickens and ducks though she still likes to run through the flock at times just to get their attention!
She’s my baby and loves everyone she meets!
Daisy has been laying one large egg for me since the spring of 2019. He took one 20 day break during the month of January 2020 and has been going strong ever since.
Her eggs are beautiful and twice the size of a large chicken egg.
Donald is becoming a little aggressive with the adult people on the floor by trying to lead the way when you’re trying to walk somewhere. He seems to hate shoes and pecks any near him. We thought he was being aggressive with Sadie but we now know they are quite chummy! He will come up to her face and lay his head against Sadie’s neck! They chase each other in and out of the pond and if Sadie is laying out in the sun napping Donald climbs up on her back, then the chase is on.
I’m in the process of looking for a couple more female ducks for him. I think Daisy wants to set but Donald keeps breaking up her nests.
So, the word is out, Rita is looking for three or four Daisy’s to add to the farm.
Our breeding bulls purchased in 2014 have outgrown their herds. Their size was a problem and one was throwing a lot of twins and the other was missing opportunities!
One of our neighbors, Andy Hutton, had some beautiful young bulls ready to put with our breeding stock and he gave us a great deal on two and hauled them to the farm which was about distance of 3-5 miles away.
We have two herds that will come into their breeding heats in June. These guys will be put with our four year old herd along with two of our more mature bulls, Mick and Arby. Each herd will have a young bull and a mature bull. In about 10 – 11 months we’ll see what kind of calves are on the field with their maams!
I spent a lot of my down time during the winter months browsing seed catalogs. Hubby bought me a greenhouse for Christmas and my mouth was watering going through every catalog that came in.
These are only the top ones that I perused every night while watching TV. I was so anxious to pop the first seed in the ground.
The weather put a big delay on putting up the greenhouse and then the Covid-19 delayed orders. You would think this would have delayed the garden but I know that nothing is put in the garden around here until late May and early June. Hubby and the kids got the greenhouse erected but rain, ice, and cold winds prevented much from growing because the greenhouse is not heated, nor does it have electricity. BUT it has been so much fun digging in the dirt and planting cold weather seeds.
The seed catalogs are still coming in and I’ve found more to send for. This will give me many months of pleasure planning and saving for next year. I started a diary that I keep records of everything that has to do with the greenhouse.
More pictures and posts on the greenhouse, flowerbeds and garden after the weather turns sunny!!
Long term power outage, I know I’ve posted about the things that we do to prepare for such a thing during storms,summer and winter. I got to thinking about this in regards to our current situation with the coronavirus. Of course the power grid can’t get the virus but those brave men and women that work for the power companies can get it! Our local power company, Craig Botetourt Electric Cooperative, is awesome! There is rarely a time when the power at the farm is off more than 30 minutes unless there’s a storm that has taken down poles, transformers and lines. Our guys are constantly working to make sure we have power!! This family appreciates everything they do!
BUT, what if something unforeseen happened and we were without power for hours, days, even weeks??? It happens in other areas of the United States all the time. There’s always a “what if” situation and please don’t be naive enough to think it will never happen.
Miss Positive Britches here isn’t trying to be negative, I’m trying to be prepared for the “what if’s”! Here’s a list of a few things that I think we ALL need to have on hand in the event of a “normal” off grid situation:
Flashlights w/matching batteries (update those ever so often), candles, oil lamps with lamp oil and wicks, radio or jam box with batteries (update those ever so often), stickup emergency lights, camp lantern and stoves with fuel, heavy duty garbage bags, duct tape, generator & gas (small ones aren’t that expensive and worth the cost if you have freezers), at least two heavy duty extension cords to use with the generator, filled propane tanks or charcoal for the grills (you will still have to fix food), full & complete first aid kits, cash on hand that’s only used for emergencies (doesn’t have to be much), emergency stash of socks and underwear, kitchen matches, lighters, hand sanitizer, canned goods, water (buckets of, bottled or your owned canned water). This is just a short list and there’s so much more you can think of if you’ll take the time and ponder on it!
I know the last time that part of our county that’s not on Craig Botetourt was out for a couple days. Panic and unkind words were the norm! Power companies don’t just shut down to aggravate you, it’s an EMERGENCY. They work as hard and fast as they can.
Now some of the reasoning behind this list would be if that power goes out early in the evening you will need the flashlights and candles to find your emergency supplies. If it happens before dinner is prepared or in the middle of that preparation, you’ll need another source of heating that food and that’s when the camp stoves, grills, etc. come into play. The buckets of water are a necessity at my house for flushing the camode (no power, no way the pump can pump the water to flush). Oil lamps and candles aren’t a necessity but a comfort if you want to do something like read or write letters, play board games, just look at whoever is with you and you can see who you are talking to! REMEMBER, television isn’t the end all of our life! I have friends that don’t even watch TV! Duct tape and garbage bags are a necessity WITHOUT an emergency, don’t you think? That generator can be used to keep your refrigerated appliances from spoiling, it can run that water pump when you run out of water for cooking, drinking and bathrooms. Radios and jam boxes are for entertaining but more importantly for keeping in touch with the outside world and the reasons for the emergency situations.
There are a few other items you may want to consider investing in for such emergencies and they are solar battery chargers (for cell phones, tablets) or a crank flashlight, radio and phone charger, butane stoves with extra tanks, a Mr. Heater with extra tanks. I hate to mention guns in this article but it really wouldn’t hurt to have some protection on hand for those bad guys that like to take advantage of situations like these. Here’s a couple links to some of these items: https://www.amazon.com/Emergency-Flashlight-Survival-Magnesium-Compass/dp/B01MU55O1B https://www.amazon.com/Solar-Power-Charger-Flashlight-Splashproof/dp/B07FDXDB3W/ref=sr_1_4? https://www.amazon.com/Coleman-Portable-Butane-Stove-Carrying/dp/B00FGPXVSM/ref=sr_1_1?crid=21UAMG6WQS6W2&dchild=1&keywords=butane+stove&qid=1588699342&s=electronics&sprefix=butane+sto%2Celectronics%2C224&sr=1-1 https://www.amazon.com/Mr-Heater-Corporation-MH18B-Portable/dp/B07Q82MG8S/ref=sr_1_2?crid=15EEPAJYIGC40&dchild=1&keywords=mr+heater&qid=1588699405&sprefix=mr+heater%2Celectronics%2C317&sr=8-2
There’s an article in a magazine called Acreage Life, February issue 2020, pages 17-19 that is really worth your time to read and be prepared. We really enjoy this magazine and have learned a lot from the subscription.
Think about it, be prepared, make the most of every situation. God is watching over all of us but we need to learn to take care of ourselves too. A POSITIVE attitude goes a long way and makes bad situations a little bit more bearable!!
If you’re received my posts lately and things look weird or spelling issues are everywhere, forgive me. My WordPress Dashboard where I write these posts has gone quirky on me and I have sent out a help request and waiting on a response.
The screen looks like it minimized within itself and I don’t know what I did or how to fix it. This issue is why I haven’t posted much since the first of the year.
Yeah, a little crazier than usual!!
HUBBY GOT ME A GREENHOUSE FOR CHRISTMAS!!!
We have just in the last three weeks been able to get out and start putting it together. Eddie had to dig out a 12 x 16 foot area to place it in. My son-in-law poured the footers to mount it on.
It took a month for us to be able to even begin the building of the greenhouse due to the frigid winds and cold rains. Three weeks ago my son, Shawn and daughter, Heather came up on a beautiful Sunday and helped us start the constructions. You have never in your life seen so many parts and pieces in one box !!
Friday was beautiful and Eddie and I decided we should have a run at it and we got the pitched roof frame on.
The kids came to the farm around 11:00 and we proceeded with adding the four vent windows in the top and the two sliding doors on the front.
The last step is putting all the panels in and Eddie and I can do that on our own. He wants to do some reinforcing inside and out due to the winds we have here on the farm. There will be four 4×4 posts attached to the interior corners in the floor and the corner framing. He also wants to add some support on the walls inside and out for more sturdy support.
I’m going to have so much fun this summer!!!
We love applebutter but the family doesn’t love it enough to make a BIG batch in a copper kettle in the fall when we have apples. I make applesauce anytime there is new fruit ready to pick. During the summer it’s all frozen and then in the winter I make applebutter in my crockpot.
I have a large crockpot that holds around eight pints of thawed applesauce. I dump it in, set the crockpot on low and let it cook all day or all night, depending on when I get around to starting it. Once I close the lid on the crockpot I don’t take it off but a couple times during the eight hours just to give it a quick stir. It will turn dark as more of the liquid cooks out and it will thicken. At this point I add my sugar which is usually two cups but taste is the best recommendation. Stir well making sure there is no big lump in the applesauce and put your lid back on and continue cooking at least two more hours. During the last thirty minutes you can add spices if you desire. Hubby likes it without spices and I like it with cinnamon or cinnamon & cloves. I use the oil of cinnamon and the oil of cloves but it only takes a couple DROPS. You can overdue and ruin the entire batch. Taste to your liking is a good judge! Once its finished and still very hot, pour into pint or half-pint jars and add your lids and rings. I cover the jars with a towel to keep away from drafts. You should hear the jars seal as they cool. If you have a jar that doesn’t seal, stick it in the fridge and use first. I’ve never had any spoil and family & friends really enjoy the treat!
In about two – three weeks I need to have this little charmer cleaned out, sterilized and a couple small modifications made to house the spring chicks that I get every spring. Usually in April or May I go to our local chick stores and pick up 15 – 20 little chicks. They are raised to pick up the slack when my older hens take a break next winter from laying. It normally takes 6-8 months for the chicks to mature enough to start laying those beautiful fresh eggs. If you have ever eaten a store bought egg and compared to a fresh right off the farm egg you’ll understand why my egg customers check in and buy eggs year round.
I start them out in a large tote that is cleaned daily. Their water and food containers are filled twice a day because they eat constantly. I house this tote on our enclosed back porch and they’re kept warm by an overhead heat lamp. They remain in the tote until they double their size and then they’re moved to the little Red Chicken Barn that has been heated a couple days prior to their arrival.
This is their small surroundings for at least another month and warm weather arrives. At this point I open the upper area door and allow them to explore the lower level of their domain.
About 3-4 weeks later I let them out of the barn to browse and chat with the older chickens. By late June, early July, depending on their size, I will introduce them to the main chicken house and living large with the old girls!! 🙂
Our Sadie has really grown and I had forgotten how smart these dogs really are. She’ll be two in October and she’s fully grown but not as big as I expected her to get. Since we didn’t get her as a new puppy we’re assuming that she was a runt which in our case that’s wonderful. Our runts have turned out to be the best of the breed!
She has become quite the guard dog and alerts us when someone comes on the farm, except for our kids and granddaughter.
She has also started hunting all on her own. This month alone she has treed several fox squirrels and a coon. To our dismay several weeks back she found her first skunk and could not understand why she wasn’t allowed in the house. Daily there is chase after the ever present chipmunks, aka, ground squirrels. She never catches them but she hasn’t quit trying.
She rarely wants to sleep in the house anymore and I think it’s because she’ll miss something. Her crate is just outside the front door and it’s full of fresh hay and some of her toys.
There’s new recipes on my cooking page for you to try. Let me know what you think!
I’ve been cleaning out and reorganizing our three freezers. We have an over abundance of applesauce in pint containers even though we didn’t have many apples to harvest in 2019. We are getting low on apple butter so I remedied the situation! Two batches cleared out 20 pints of applesauce from the smallest freezer and now we have over 30 pints of applesauce in the cellar. I made these two batches with cinnamon and cloves. Good stuff!
I thawed the applesauce and filled the crockpot as full as I could get it. I added two cups of sugar and turned the crockpot to high and let it cook all day. Stirring the pot is essential because it will get thick on the bottom of the crock. I also kept the lid on the crockpot during the cooking. The applesauce will start turning brown about half way through the cooking. About one hour before you think it’s thick enough to suit you, remove the lid, stir thoroughly and drop your flavoring oils. I have a very small eyedropper I use that’s about two inches long and I filled it up with oil of cinnamon and about half full of the oil of cloves. Squeeze the dropper of the oil on the top of the applesauce and then stir throughly again and let cook at least one half hour longer without the lid on. Done! Pour it into the clean jars and seal while the applebutter is hot. The jars will seal from the boiling fruit!!
I’ve added several salad dishes to my blogs cooking page if you’re interested. They’re scattered throughout the page and hope you find something you might like. For me, cooking is literally food for the soul!! Check it out – https://countrygirllifeonthefarm.com/recipes-from-my-house-to-yours/
This lovely bird visited the farm during the night and think he may have flew into a wire. He was sitting on the bull lot fence and sat perfectly still for me to get photos. An hour later he was gone!!
He was big and kept clicking his beak together at Sadie!! Love to hear them hooting at night and late afternoon!
Merry, Merry Christmas from the Caldwell Family
There are not enough stars in the sky for all the wishes we send to you and your families during this special season of the year. We wish you good health and happiness! We also wish you much many, many more blessings!!
Here’s a little update for you of what the farm and family have been up to in 2019:
Work continues on Heather & Joel’s new home here on the farm and if all goes well they should be officially moved in spring of 2020. They’re very excited as are we.
Heather opened her new business HCJ Tax and Accounting and has an office in Salem and in her home.
Joel is working himself to death with his masonry business.
Victoria finished her first semester in Radford University and is working as a Behavior Specialist at New River Valley Community Services. She just recently received her letter of appointment into the Education Program at Radford. She also made the Dean’s List the past two semesters.
Shawn is working hard as a Project Engineer at Gay & Neel Engineering in Christiansburg and has been traveling a lot to New Jersey to see his son, Declan. He also just completed and passed the Engineers designation which I can’t remember but what it’s called but very proud of him.
Declan turned three this summer and he came to the farm to visit with his Mom and Grandmother twice this summer. He’s such a beautiful little boy. Eddie and I are so fortunate that our two kids live close by!!
The doctors have given me a couple scares this year with first a breast biopsy for a calcification cluster which turned out benign and then during my annual exam they found an irregular heart beat but all is well with that .
Eddie is well but for a bad thumb which he jammed to the knuckle and after seven weeks he has lost the nail but it has given him a fit and prevented him from doing work on the farm that he hoped to complete. All in good time is my motto for the year!!
We celebrated our 47th wedding anniversary on February 4th with a road trip in the mountains AND he found us a new elkhound pup named Sadie. She’s beautiful and all puppy though she turned a year old in October. Eddie also got him a new hunting pup, Butch, to trail along with his older hound and train him the right way!! He just turned five months. WARNING: Puppies are not good for flower gardens!!! L
We just finished calving season for 2019, my duck is laying beautiful eggs for my baking and we had one bull calf we has to bottle feed last spring and summer. He just went to market and out-weighed all the calf herd!! I raised 18 new chicks for replacement stock & they included Speckled Sussex, Buff Orpingtons and Columbian Wyandottes. They’ve just started laying eggs for us.
We had visitors most of the summer and so enjoyed all of them and hope for the same in 2020.
Dean is doing well and turned 60 in March and Dreama turned 70 this month. Both are happy as clams!!
Our honeybees died out last year but we had wild swarms come to the hives late in 2018 and spring 2019. All are alive and well and they produced over 130 pounds of honey for us and it sold as fast as we could get it off the frames. Shawn and Victoria are taking up the same hobby and hope their hives will do as well for them in 2020.
Eddie had excellent luck fishing during the summer and we have a freezer full of catfish, striper and muskie. (Best eating you ever had, Red Lobster ain’t got nothing on us!!:)
He’s in the process of buying a “new used” farm truck because our old Chevy S-10 just about tripped over 200,000 miles and isn’t sounding very good. The newer one is the same color and make but only has 103000 miles so he thinks it will make it through at least another 10 years like the old one.
I cut off my seven year old ponytail in August and it feels so weird I think I have a wig on most of the time!
I finished Victoria’s 2018 Christmas quilt in October and now trying to finish a Redwork quilt I started five years ago. I’ve decided it’s time to complete all these unfinished works of “art” before I start anymore.
I’ve been very negligent with my blog this year but still keep it going with occasional posts so watch for it at www.countrygirllifeonthefarm.com when you get a chance. I’ve also still got my cleaning business going but not taking on any new clients. I love the ones I have and they’re so special to me.
Now, I’m dreaming about my gardening projects for spring. Eddie is gifting me a greenhouse for Christmas! I’m so excited and because my granddaughter has also become quite the gardener this year, I’m hoping we spend a lot of time together in it. I’m also looking forward to getting some of our fruit tree and grapevines pruned. The pruning we did last year on our Wolf River apple tree proved to be very productive.
I’m so hoping you will all come visit our country home in the mountains of Craig County!!
Belated Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!! Love ya!! Come see us when you can!!
We had summer in May and June has been on the chilly side a few times and cool weather brings out the country cooking in me! I had a head of cabbage in the fridge that needed to be used so I pulled out my wok and set to work.
We don’t have any purchased berry plants on the farm but are overrun with blackberries. We have a few black raspberries which are my favorite. All of these have been planted by the birds once again just like our asparagus patches around the garden. The black raspberry patch that is doing so well this year is on the back side of our big garage and are protected by the wind and harsh winter because they right along side the east wall. Eddie and I both have been picking a few everyday.
I now have two gallon bags full and have about ten bags from last year. Raspberry jam is very easy to make and no pectin is required because they have their own natural pectin. I’ll work in the morning and come home to make as much jam as I can! Hay season will start again on Tuesday if the weathermen know what they’re talking about and everyone will be busy on the farm!!
I diligently starting working on my yard flowerbed in May starting with my rose garden which has been weeded, fertilized and prepared for new rose bushes to take place of so many that I lost during the winter either to the cold or the wild rabbits.
I’ve worked on the front bed facing the house and to the right of the front gate but waiting on blooms for the later summer bloom. I have a few coneflower preparing to bloom with big buds next to the rose garden.. The lilac didn’t bloom this year and I’ve researched what I need to do before another year. This was it’s first spring since it was planted late summer in 2018. The hollyhock is blooming and the hibiscus will be later. I have one shasta daisy that was transplanted and I’m still hopeful it will bloom once the weather stays warm. I tried a butterfly bush beside the front gate but it did not survive, which I half expected since it was one of boxed bushes you find real cheap in most stores. A new well-established one is on my list for spring 2020.
The bell garden was my next cleanup but a summer cold/allergies/sinus problems slammed me into bed a few days and after 10 days I think I’m near the end of the mess. I sat in the sun in this garden on Tuesday and got a few things done.
I can’t wait to feel well enough to get back in my gardens but Mother Nature needs to slow down the winds and rain just for a few days! We also have about 65 acres of hay left to roll for our first cutting this year.
Here are three of my favorite tips around the home:
If your brown sugar hardens up or get big hard lumps in it before you can use it up, stick a single slice of bread in the container and close it up. In 12 -24 hours your brown sugar will be fresh as if you just bought it.
I bake a lot of homemade cookies and at times I can’t put my hands on a truly airtight container to store them in so I treat those cookies just like my brown sugar. Stick a fresh slice of bread in the cookie tin on top of the cookies for a few hours and those cookies will be as fresh as they were when you first baked them.
Like I’ve said before I love to bake and one of my favorite baked goods is a lemon meringue pie. My oven is not exactly right and there are times that the outer edge of my pie crusts gets over done. To remedy this I keep a long piece of foil by my baking tins. I tear it off the roll about 30-36″ long, fold it in half until I have a long strip about 3 inches wide and I wrap it around the pie crust when the crust is golden so it won’t burn. Make sense?? The next time I make pies I’ll take a photo of the results. This strip of foil can be used over and over again.
More of my tips to come!
Where is summer??? I’m cold!!! Last week I only worked one day and on Thursday I came down with a killer head cold and a lot of congestion. On Wednesday last week hubby and I spent most of the day wearing extra shirts and got a big chunk of our winter wood split and stacked for the winter.
The wind blew all day but I was never uncomfortable and we did this for about five hours taking short breaks every so often.
We were tired but very proud of the big job we got started. I fixed supper that evening after we finished our regular chores, took a hot shower and went to bed. I woke up the next morning barely able to move and a head full of the awfulest mess you could ever have. I started taking meds for it and slept off and on for forty eight hours. I missed this entire week of work and am recuperating but still not able to be out amongst folks. Eddie worked more on the wood pile today but I have been in the house trying to feel better. My inhalers and Muscinex are helping but everyone is telling me it’s going to take time to get completely over it. I truly hope that summer comes to visit next week because this crazy weather is NOT my friend!!
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’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.