Country Girl Through & Through
I'm a country girl from the western part of Virginia in a small community of New Castle/Craig County. I've lived in Craig all my life-eighteen years with my parents and siblings and forty + years with my wonderful husband.
We have two children, a boy and a girl, and two grandchildren, all of which we love very much. We live on a 500 acre+ farm that has been in my husbands family for over 200 years. We are raising beef cattle, chickens, rabbits and a couple dogs.. We grow pretty much all we eat or harvest from the farm and I can't imagine living anywhere else.
I love to create, craft, quilt, read, write, decorate, crochet, candlewick, bake, bow hunt, cook, garden, farm animals and walking/hunting in the woods. I love sharing our home with family and friends.
I hope you enjoy the posts that I enter on my blog and hopefully will be helpful and/or fun to all that read it.
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Post Archives for the Country Girl
Preemie to ONE Year OldThe Big DayJuly 8th, 201712 days to go.
Some of My Favorite Blogs
- The House Yeti
- The Webb Homestead
- Easy Peasy Pleasy
- All Glorious
- Life is a Party
- Life In The Lofthouse
- Author Karen White's Blog
- The Lazy Homesteader
- The Cape Coop
- Robby Robin's Journey
- Homemade Happiness
- New Garden Homestead
- The Farmer's Wifee
- Fresh from the Farm
- COUNTRY LINKed
- Sew She Sews's
- The Ranch Wife Chronicles
- Life, Old Fashioned
- One Grace Filled Life
- Roxy Moto
- Chris' pilgrimages
- The Make Your Own Zone
- Misty Meadows Homestead & more!
- The Professional Domestic
- Putterboo Farm
- 3B Brae's Brown Bags - Braeden Quinn Mannering
- Rise and Shine Rabbitry
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Sampler QuiltCompletion of the King-size Sampler QuiltDecember 31st, 20176 months to go.
Category Archives: Farming
They’re wild and ripening!
We’re thinking ice cream and jelly, nothing to beat fresh made ice cream with raspberries mixed in. I have to pick them daily because the chickens have found the stash and are eating what they can reach. We’ve picked about a gallon so far and should get at least that many more from this small patch.
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.
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!!!
officially begun! Two small meadows were mowed yesterday along with a corner of one of the large fields. Today and tomorrow will be a mad rush to get all of it baled into 4 x 5 bales before another good chance of showers rolls in.
Unless our summer turns really dry we are going to have a bazillion blackberries this year!!! I’ll can them, freeze them, make jams and jellies, make some blackberry wine and juice and share with our friends. Here’s a few pictures of our wild patches of blackberries that the honeybees and other bees are making good use of now from the bloom.
This is going to be the summer of fruit for us unless Mother Nature takes a severe turn. The only fruit that didn’t make it through the last frost was our pear trees. Apples, peaches, plums, rhubarb, and berries are abundant and I will be a busy farm woman!!
The farm is alive with little animals everywhere, domestic and wild! On April 2nd my two rabbit does, Cleome and Marigold had a total of 16 little ones and 13 survived. I weaned them this week, placing them all together in a large pen and they’re so much fun to watch with each having their own personality and playful attitudes.
They can leave the farm this week
We have black, tan, tan and white, white, white with black spots, white with black eyes, It’s hard not to fall in love with such beautiful creatures.
My daughters very good friend from Norfolk VA came to visit over the weekend for her birthday. Ashley and Heather grew up together in elementary school and only recently have they found each other again and I’m so glad they did! Ashley loves it here as much we do and as much as most of our visitors do. I thought I would share with you our farm through Ashley’s eyes.
Yesterday was the first pretty day I’ve had in over a week without the wind trying to blow me off the mountain!!! Hubby was turkey hunting and our daughter was working on the yard at her new house so I decided to tackle the rest of our yard and it was bad!
I started raking around 1:00, I think, and finished about two hours later. I hauled my big wheelbarrow away with six packed-down loads. Now the entire yard has been cleaned up and I’m ready for some gorgeous flowers to brighten my life!!
Have you ever heard of petoots or spring peepers? It’s those noisy little beings we hear every spring when it starts to get warm! I love hearing them but I’ve never seen them or ventured out to see what they looked like. I’ve always assumed they were little tiny frogs. This year I found out!!!
I went with hubby one morning to feed the cattle and in our back field we have a small pond that’s never gone dry (yet)! As we drove by the pond we could see the pond just wiggling with life and the noise was deafening. We went to the back-end of the field and dropped off the hay to roll off the hills to the cattle and then drove back to the pond. I had my camera with me and finally got pictures of hundreds of the little noise-makers and they weren’t a bit afraid as I took their picture! You can click on the photos to enlarge and see what I’m talking about.
Now all I have to do is find out why we don’t hear the whippoorwill anymore!! I love listening to them as much as the petoots and grouse drumming in the spring!
Hubby and I have been working everyday on the pen when the weather permitted. We were delayed in the beginning due to problems finding the lumber we needed. One of our neighbors, Mr. All, has a portable sawmill and sold us 20 of the 1 x 6 x 16 boards to get us started. We then finally found a sawmill that took private orders and we bought 100 of the boards. Most sawmills that we contacted don’t take private orders anymore and only sell to commercial builders such as mining operations.
This all I have for now but will continue the saga when the pen is completely finished and we can send a load of fall calves that we’ve weaned and been holding for the completion of the pen and hopefully a price increase. I’m hopeful it will be completed this week!!!
April 15th is my deadline for putting out the hummingbird feeders. Last year I was late getting them out and didn’t have near as many. This year I’ve got the jump on them I hope by putting out two feeders on the front porch this morning. I’m early but they might be too!!
Last year the few hummers that I had loved the butterfly bush, geraniums, bleeding hearts and the columbine.
Get those feeders out this weekend and let us know how many you have and when you first sighted them!
Here’s my recipe for the feeders, all natural: 1 cup sugar to 4 cups of water. I mix it up in a pitcher and put it in the microwave for 6 1/2 minutes to sterilize it and keep it from fermenting. I let it cool to touch and then pour in the feeders.
Although it’s been cold here this winter it’s been nothing like last year and the before. We only had a total of six inches of snow the entire winter. That being said we still have a woodhouse two-thirds full of seasoned firewood.
From several downed apple trees and locust trees we think we have enough cut for next year.
Apple wood is a good wood if it’s dry for getting a fire started. Most of the wood in the woodhouse is oak and from trees that have died on the farm and were already seasoned. If you need a hot fire that will last overnight we use seasoned locust and there are times it has run us out of the living room at night because it heats up so fast and lasts so long.
Another neat thing about having the splitter is all of the kindling that builds up under it while you’re splitting. I gather all of it into feed bags and store it in the woodhouse for starting our fires.
REMEMBER: Season your firewood!! No one needs their home to burn down at any time but especially in the middle of winter.
Warm weather has us in the mood to clean even though we know there’s probably still some winter weather ahead of us. I’ve worked in the yard several day and got some help from hubby to get those maple leaves out of my flower beds and around the house.
We have cleaned out all of the yard except for the corner of my rose garden.
The rose in the very corner and tallest stems you can see is an old-fashioned rose planted by our ancestors shortly after the house was built. The bloom is white with a hint of pink around the edges and they’re about two inches across. It blooms most of the summer if I keep it pinched back (faded blooms). Another one just like it but much smaller is at the entrance of the front gate. I have to clip it back all summer long. The fragrance is divine!!
This corner will soon be cleaned up and I’m hoping to add a couple new roses to it during late spring. I don’t have a lavender or a blood red rose in that bed and think it’s time. I had a hibiscus in the middle of the bed and it just towered over all and lots of pretty bloom was missed unless you walked through the bed. Last year I planted some sweet william in the front row and they have survived the winter. I hope they will add some color while waiting for the roses to bloom.
Here’s a photo album of the rest of the yard clean up:
I forgot to get a photo of the backyard but it was the quickest and smallest area to clean up. All I have to do back there is hang our swing and wait for the hostas, shasta daisy and daylilies to spring up.
Now I need to take care of the outside of the yard including some new planting at the gazebo at the pond.
I just took some empty jars to the cellar and took an accounting of what is left from summer 2016 canning.
We have a huge pile of potatoes leftover and will probably sell them in the coming months. I’ll can about 15-20 quarts but the rest will go in the garden for seed and we’ll eat some more until they start sprouting. They’re bakers and peeling size and have been so good throughout the winter.
Hubby has plowed the garden and we’re hoping we’ll get some spring rain on it before we disk it up for planting.
It also seems to get bigger each year!!! This year we’ll plan the usual crops of green beans, corn, potatoes, tomatoes, squash, broccoli, brussel sprouts, melons, sweet potatoes, cucumbers, and in the fall some turnips and field greens.
Hope your planting season is grand and praying we have an abundant season this year. In the coming weeks I’ll be cleaning off the various asparagus patches we have and watching the rhubarb show its sprouts already. I had six grape vines started new last year and they all survived but one. I bought this red grape to replace it.
We also went to Food Lion yesterday and bought three dwarf apple trees for the orchard at the mansion.
This year I’ve decided to raise some chicks into egg layers. I let three hens hatch last year and out of nine hatched (30 set) we got five hens and four roosters. This is not a good plan!
I went to Rural King with hubby last week and picked up six Barred Rock chicks (hopefully hens) and six Black Sex Link chicks (also hopefully hens). I have them in a tote in our family room for the moment and they’re growing like weeds!
Here it is a week later and they’ve been introduced to a new feed trough. The little buggers were scratching the feed out of those feeder holes and wasting more than they ate. The feeder below doesn’t allow that as much and the quart water bottle was replaced with a half-gallon jar so they don’t run out of water during the night.
They have almost doubled their size from last week and they can actually fly up to the top of the water bottle. I will upgrade to a taller tote over the weekend instead of putting them in the brooder box because of the cold temps and their size.
When these chicks are 6-8 weeks old, I plan to start another clutch of them so that next winter we won’t have a few weeks without eggs. These chicks should start laying at 6-7 months of age and lay for 190-220 days before they molt and take a egg-laying-break for a month or so.
Love my chickens!!!
We’ve had some glorious three weeks of spring-like weather and now the cold and wind is back!!
Along with building a new cattle holding pen, hubby and I have been cleaning up around the farm while waiting on our lumber. We had lots of trees come down during the fall and winter and we’ve been cutting them up for firewood and piling the brush to be burnt (if the wind ever quits blowing). Hubby plowed the garden this week so if we had any cold weather (which we are experiencing now) the freeze and thaw would be great for the disking when we get ready to start the garden.
While he was plowing I started cleaning up the yard. We have beautiful maple trees on three corners of the yard which provide us maple syrup in the spring and wonderous shade in the summer but in the fall and winter they shed their beautiful coats into our yard. It takes lots of time and strong arms to rake it all up and pile on the compost pile.
After the cleanup, the yard starts looking like this before the grass greens, the roses sprout leaves and the perennials show their pretty faces:
Now, all I have to do is the rose garden and the new perennial bed we made last spring.
We just have to wait for another warmup which we hope is on the way next week. We’re also hoping that the warmup we had and this freezing weather doesn’t have any adverse effect on the honeybees because they sure were working hard to find food last week.
Spring means new life on the farm and we’re expecting 20+ cows to start calving in the next two weeks. My hens have picked up on their production and I’m getting a dozen eggs a day now.
My rabbit does were bred this week and we should have kits around the 30th of March. They’re all lops and last years babes were a huge assortment of colors. I think the first batches this spring will go to new homes and the second mating will be meat rabbits.
Baby chicks and ducks will probably join us in April and our next big project is to get rid of the old chicken house which is in bad need of repair.
Hubby and I spent most of February tearing out our old loading pen. It was well over 50 years old and was worn out. Instead of repairing like we normally do we decided to start over with this section of the pen. The far end with the working head chutes and calf pens are on the opposite end and were redone three years ago.
We’ve rehung some gates, tightened up some posts, and put in some posts. Now, we wait for our lumber to arrive which has been an unexpected delay. Most of the private lumber mills in the area will only cut for commercial folks. Here’s some pictures of the work we’ve done so far and I’ll post more as we get the work completed! I’ve definitely used muscles that have been lazy for some time!!!
NOW WE WAIT!!
There’s a storm coming in so this post is short and sweet with a picture view of what’s going on at Caldwell Farms. More to come!
And on top of all that, spring calving season begins any day now!!
GRAPHIC NATURE!! I went to gather the eggs yesterday afternoon and found one of my last year ISA Brown hens behind the feed barrel dead. Her head was missing and something had eaten all of the meat from her neck.
We are having a spring full of varmints. Hubby has set live traps and caught several huge opossums, three or four skunks and a bunch of feral cats. We don’t have any cats and we think someone is dropping them on our road because they’re everywhere! At night he has seen red foxes and a pair of gray foxes circling the pond. We have a bald eagle, golden eagle and a numerous bunch of red-tail and chicken hawks. I saw a young bobcat my last week of hunting season! We are surrounded by the varmints and my egg production suffers from it!!! I have two young roosters that warn of danger flying overhead but I think they’re too busy being the men of the henhouse to keep close watch on the ground danger!
Egg production has gained strength with the longer and warmer days and I’m getting 10-12 eggs per day out of 24 (23 now) hens. The “eggs for sale” sign is back out at the end of the driveway and neighbors are starting to come looking for fresh, large eggs of many colors.
Do you ever have those days when you have so much work to do but just can’t get into it? Do you have those days when you just need to get out of the house but the a guilty conscience tells you “No, not today!”? Wouldn’t you like to knock that guilt angel off your shoulder and just go?
I have a spot I love to go and don’t have to leave the farm!
That would be woods behind our house where my tree stand is located. I could sit back there for hours with a book and camera and just drink it all in!!! If our world gets much crazier I’ll probably be spending a whole lot more time there too!
This spot is my hunting spot about 500 yards from our house but only a few people know where it is. I hunt there, I read there, I think there, I watch wildlife there and I take lots of pictures there!
Most of my reading is done in this little cottage in the woods! It’s not a cottage really but it is a 5 x 5 building that has windows on three sides, it has a raised seat that sits one person quite comfortably and it has a hanger for my hat, gloves, camera and bow and it has a storm door on the front with a drop down window for shooting. Best of all it’s not up off the ground!!! Hubby made it for me!!
This past hunting season I was privileged to see raccoons, deer, turkeys, bobcat kitten, chipmunks, wild birds galore, squirrels and enjoyed the peace of the woods in a rain shower and a light snow fall. I read four books while waiting for just the right game to come into focus. It’s my getaway from this crazy world we live in!!! Hubby doesn’t mind me slipping off to it occasionally because he has his spots too!
The bag of charcoal is in the floor to absorb any human scent so as not to scare off the wildlife. I have a big 4″ thick swing cushion for the bench so my butt doesn’t get tired or cold. I take it in after hunting season is over so the mice won’t use it for bedding. The step is to keep my legs comfortable and not dangling off the edge. I have a hook latch on the inside to keep the door shut tight.
Do you have a getaway? Tell us about it!
It’s getting close to time to make maple syrup again and Mother Nature split our best sap producer in half back in late summer. The tree is over 200 years old and we have pictures of my husband’s family having a picture made at it when his great, great grandparents had passed away. All of the children were standing/sitting in front of the tree when the picture was taken and the tree was only about 10-12 inches around.
Now, three to four people holding hands around it can still barely reach around the base of what’s left of it. I’m hoping it may sprout new growth this spring and only time will tell. We got several truckloads of firewood from it and the rotted was carried to the woods to go back into the earth. This loss will make a big difference in our sap production but we do have several of the same size on the farm that we have not tapped before and will during our next production season. We probably won’t have a maple syrup weekend this year due to the crazy season we’re having this winter/spring. Here’s some pictures of the downed tree and the damage it did to fence and gates but thankfully fell to the north instead of on the mansion (family home of our ancestors).
That storm in July broke another of our heritage apple trees which seems to happen with every storm. We had another storm last night but thankfully no damage was found but for one huge pine tree in our back fields. Cattle and fences were spared this time.
It’s taken me a month to write this because I start crying! In January 2004 this little lady was given to me from my husband for a Christmas gift.
Due to the fact that it has taken me two weeks to get this far in the post I will just show you some of our pictures of her as she grew. It’s just too hard to put into words what a special dog/pet/family member she was!!
For about three weeks or more my daughter and her family have been losing a lot of sleep! The culprit:
Jippy seems fine during the day but at night around 11:00 he can’t seem to lay for any length of time on his tummy. He pants from then until 5:00 or 6:00 in the morning. He wants to be snuggled, ears rubbed and he’s constantly up and down. This behavior is causing the entire family to lose sleep which is much-needed when you are working away from home or going to school which applies to all in the house!
Heather asked me to meet our vet at her home on Thursday and Doc Bowman couldn’t find anything physically wrong with Jippy except for being a little overweight which he has been for over a year. She drew blood and hoped to have the results back by today.
Me and Papa decided to give them a big break last night and I kidnapped him and brought him to our house to spend the night. He was quiet and seemed content to be with us and usually is going outside a lot to look for his “mommy” but he didn’t last evening.
We went to bed at 11:00 and he snuggled right in close to me and was fine until 12:00 and he jumped up like something had hold of him. He turned his head toward me and tucked his head under my hand and I started rubbing his ears (both) and it settled him unless I stopped. We did this until about 2:00 and then he wanted to take a potty break. I let him out and he stayed for about 15 minutes. Once he came in he was restless and constantly panting. At time he would get under the bed covers and crash for a 10-15 minutes with no panting and then he would come out from the covers and get right in my face panting and acting like he needed to tell me something. He continued wanting both ears rubbed and they were hot. This makes me think there’s something in his ears. I tried to listen and feel for any tummy rumblings and sometimes I did but not enough to think he had a belly ache. We’ve all been careful about what he eats since this started. I felt so sorry for him and wished he could talk!! Papa slept until 5:00 this morning and let him outside to potty and then sat in the living room with him the rest of the morning watching westerns together. I don’t know how Heather, Joel and Victoria have gotten any rest in the last few weeks. Hopefully, Doc Bowman will find the answer in the blood work and fix the issue quick. Flu season is all over the state and my kids need their rest to fight that off and stay healthy!
Jippy seems fine now, don’t ya think!
I love feeding the wild birds in our back yard during the winter. There’s just so many species that flock to the feeders all during the day including my chickens!
I have 10 feeders in the back yard and the wild birds depend on me during the winter months when they can’t find seeds and other food. I use black oil sunflowers that we raise in our garden, wild bird feed from our local farm supply store, and saved grease from my kitchen which I save in foil pans and stick in the freezer all year round. We also dry any leftover sweet corn from the garden. I pick it, shuck it and air dry it in our grainery and then place in mesh bags which are stored in lidded trash cans until feeding time. I put the corn on a squirrel feeder and the birds and squirrels love it. We had such an abundance of corn leftover after freezing for ourselves and sharing with our family, friends and neighbors. I hate waste and the birds love it and so do my rabbits.