Monthly archives "September 2010"

getting settled in…

 

 

mushrooms from the woods --maiitake and sulphur shelf!

 

 So, we are here, and it is amazing……nothing much more to say. But I will say this: we worked our butts off all of September, quite beyond belief. Packing up the old farm, new fences going up, stuff moving here and there, posts going into the ground, feed being ordered from new sources, areas being cleared, animals being moved (goodness that was the most difficult and worrisome part of this whole process!) But we’re here, and it is starting to feel like home finally. A place where we’re building our future and a sustainable farming system. Pretty beautiful, I say. We are now the stewards of this beautiful land, and we are not taking it lightly.

cedar, our giant buck goat with forces beyond nature, had to be moved into more rigid fence panels than than turkeys require, here he is with little blue. The girl goats' phermones were driving Cedar nut-o, so he had to be moved away from their vicinity. And his welded panel fencing had to be reinforced with extra posts to keep him in. Wait til later in October dude!

 

Some of the other goats, snuggled with giant hay bales and pine branches we cut for them to snack on.

 

the site of the hoophouse, hopefully going up next week!

 

the pigs, always hungry and interested in what is going on! They have 20 days before harvest day......feeling a bit nervous about this, but it is all complete in the life cycle of the world.

 

a gorgeous night to be brewing all grain style!!!

 

andrew and our all grain brewing set up

 

fresh butter we made from some delicious cream we got from our neighbors! living in the country has some major perks! we're thinking of adding a milk cow to LTD Farm next year just for the BUTTER!!!!!!

settling in….and fresh duck anyone?

We’re harvesting the last bunch of male ducks NEXT MONDAY—-I can deliver to Minneapolis on Tuesday. These guys are nice and fat, and will be $30 each. There are only 10 available, let me know if you want to order one!

jeanette and amery plucking ducks last year

 

As we have been settling in a bit here, the main things are in place, but you always have to be prepared for updates…..farm set up that is. We spent alot of money of goat fence, and the goats are showing it no respect. All the better to climb on, they say. So we set up electric fence lines today inside it to train them to knock it off. We’re prepared for some other adaptation we’ll have to do soon. The buck goat Cedar, at near 250 lbs, showed the fence NO MERCY- so into a custom corral  in a brushy area he’s gone. It’s made of steel welded rods, called cattle panels. He’ll keep busy clearing brush as his dates with ladies nears in about a month. We’re aiming to have kids born late March this year, not early March. That means you set breeding five months from the beginning time you want kids. The goat does go into heat every 21 days, so this can be tricky. What I’ll do is put him in with all the girls in late October, and as they come into heat, he’ll do his job. Last year all my lady goats must have been in heat simutaneously, since almost all the babies were born in one week! madness!

Cedar, last year! he's even more studley this year! Below- my friend Heidi, with Rosie- one of Cedar's Daughters

Sad news is, the ducks are NOT laying since they moved here over a week ago….The flock of 160 ducks are laying about 10 eggs a day, which will hopefully fill my CSA customers’ prepaid orders, but that does not provide enough eggs for retail sales, unless their systems settle in and they start laying again. Another factor in play is the shortening day-length, now that we have hit the fall equinox. We don’t light them artificially, as many producers do.  This lack of laying since we moved (when normally they would lay into December) is quite devastating for the farm account, as it costs over $20/day to feed them all (including the new group of girls who haven’t quite reached laying age) certified organic feed. What to do? Well last year when the ducks weren’t laying, from December to Feb, they received non-organic feed. During those COLD months, it is impossible for them to forage for anything supplementary to their rations as well, and it is cold, so they need a bit more to heat their little bodies and keep up their fat reserves. We’ll continue on with organic feed, singing to them and keeping our fingers crossed this is just a little post-moving glitch for egg production, but it is possible that we’re mostly done with duck eggs for 2010. So sad!!!!!

Precious duck eggs, frying gently in olive oil. Note the gorgeous orange yolks, and the double yolker on the left!

here we are! almost done!

here’s the work the pigs did in one week, tilling up our soon to be planted garlic patch! 

 

goats in the subaru- they are SO excited and LOVE car trips!

they also love getting OUT of the car, onto the new land!

 

hilariously surveying their new paddock and scenario! these are the milking goats, who I had to move to the new farm before I could be there fulltime- I milk every 12 hours!

 

part of the goat pasture.....

 

a beautiful batch of goat milk soap- paprika, rosemary and lime

 

the day our farm set up began, about a month ago, with 200 fence posts from Fleet Farm

 

me with the turkeys in the horse trailer, which was a life saver for hauling animals! thanks to tanna and dan for lending it to us!

 

Andrew with the milk stand he built me, and his new chainsaw and coveralls too!

here's the ladies in their new digs-------wish us luck as they stopped laying eggs since the move, but some of them are moulting too, so hopefully we have eggs coming again shortly. Hopefully. Yikes.

 

Cedar settling in with the turkeys until his "dates" with the girl goats later in November!

the girl goats making quick work of their pasture

all kinds of gorgeous fall wildflowers out here!

 

Moving is exhausting, always! Imagine having to set up for lots of animals BEFORE you can settle in yourself! This has been tiring beyond belief, but also quite exhilarating. To see the kids so happy with more space, fresh pastures has been so worth it. As has it been extremely satisfying to be setting up this farm for our future, just as we want it, how it best makes sense for now, with room to grow and adapt and evolve into our farm space in the years to come. We fenced pastures for what seemed like months! Andrew’s been busily making gates, a covered milking area, a new milk stand, painting in the house, etc, and I have been doing what I can while I am still working at River Market.

The moving of the ducks was by far the hardest part of our move. They wanted nothing to do with going into a trailer. Not one bit. I have herded them around before, but into a dark scary trailer…..they were not having it. Conventional ag practice would be to grab them and shove them into crates to move. However, we persevered in herding and being patient, and after hours, we convinced them. And they are happy, so happy now. But they were stressed out big time by the process of being herded and then moving 40 minutes away, and have almost stopped laying eggs entirely. Which is not good. Hoping their oviducts will be back on track soon, laying those delicious eggs. There is a time of adjustment which has to happen. They are safe, secure, and seem settled into their new quarters, but their little systems are still in shock. Cross your fingers that we have eggs again for delivery next week!

the first animals on the new LTD farm land!

in the eve, after the move to the new place! So happy!

in the mornin, before the move….

the pigs new set up on the new farm! in an apple orchard, which will be our garden next year

in the eve, after the move to the new place! So happy!

thus begins the digging, our pig-a-tillers!If you’re on Facebook, find my Farm there- I have some really cute videos posted!

Gearing up for the really big part of the move, the one that my daily life revolves around—- the milking goats and the laying ducks. And then there are the turkeys too, oh boy. This will be exciting. Pictures, videos, stories to come in the next few days!

moving moving moving

the latest soap from one of my classes- cinnamon swirl with anise scent (like biscotti)

 

The past four days have found us busily packing up car and truck loads and heading to the new farm several times a day….and wandering around the place with our mouths open wide with amazement, then painting in the house, pounding posts in the ground in preparation for fencing- which hopefully arrives tomorrow.

the sunrise at the new place!

 

Until we have the fencing up, the animals stay at the old place. The main concern with fencing isn’t keeping the animals in, but keeping vicious predators OUT. This is my main worry, as my animals are my dearests, and also a very important part of making our farm be a farm. I have so many to keep safe; 260 ducks, 15 goats, 2 pigs, and for instance the 25 turkeys being raised for Thanksgiving, and what would happen if some coyote or stray dog, or bear or wolf (?!) gets in there and kills them? I’d be heart- broken to fail at keeping my animals safe, but also at a loss for the farm and all the people looking forward to their bird for their special feast. It is our responsibility to keep them safe from all perspectives. Also- our NEW hoophouse arrived today, which is wild, we weren’t expecting the delivery until next week. My friend Kellie came out today with me to help do some settling in stuff, and as we drove up the hill, there was a giant semi sitting by the driveway.

the semi by the driveway, Andrew, Kellie and the delivery guy Erik, post unloading....

 

WHAT?? Well, that’s right, our 30 x 60 hoophouse had arrived, in pieces of course, which we unloaded with the help of the very nice driver (who wasn’t obligated to help us unload whatsoever). He has sled dogs up in northern WI and is looking for country land as well. He said, so what are you doing with this hoophouse? I explained the diversity of our farming plans for next year, and he said “so you mean like organic?” home sweet homeAmazing how organic and sustainable farming is making it’s way into the mainstream culture. Well, it was not so long ago that this was the normal way of farming- small, localized, diverse, providing for the farmer’s family and then a bit beyond…. giant agriculture, pesticides and artificial fertilizers are all fairly modern. Anyhow, the move is officially started, I want to thank everyone for their offers of helping! It may come that we need some serious help with some projects coming up, but for now, we’re truckin’ along, and getting to know the place . I had a realization that mostly, I want everyone to be able to enjoy this place once we are all settled in. Thinkin’ farm party mid to late October!