Saturday, December 20, 2008

Frozen Farm Part 2

We are still covered in snow, today it's been a week. We got a little more snow on Thursday morning which brings our totals to about 4-5 inches. But it's been so cold that it's still around.
Some of the kids love to go out and play in it and others last only a few minutes. The problem is we just aren't prepared for it. The only boots they have are mud boots, rubber and rubber only, they just don't do the trick, even with 2 pair of socks.
We've been having to haul hot/warm water out to the barn and coop. Every morning I go out and things are frozen up.
Joseph all bundled for snow. He'd stay warm if he only had warm boots...moon boots would be great. Remember moon boots? LOL

The picture above is of our driveway after the snow Thursday morning.
The picture below is of the neighbors driveway.

The goats are in search of greenery. Nicholas has found them some.

Below we have 2 furry friends visiting the sunflower seeds.

And the kicker of it all......
we have this in the forecast for the weekend!

Winter Storm Warning

I've never seen this kind of weather in 15 years I've lived in Western Washington.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Frozen Farm

We've plunged into the arctic here in Western WA. This is something we just aren't used to. I'm having to haul warm water from the house several times a day to keep the water buckets for the animals thawed out. I have not water out in the barn or coops and have had to disconnect all hoses. Sunday night we went down to 20 and a high of 25, right now the thermometer says 21. Starting tonight we have a "winter storm watch" with more snow--maybe. They do know if precipitation moves in it WILL be snow because it is not suppose to warm up at all. This has been the longest cold spell I've ever experienced in my 15 years in WA. And it is NOT expected to get any better before Christmas (which means we could have a white Christmas).

Here are pictures from around the "Frozen Farm".

The chickens do not like to go out in the snow at all.

Frozen water and chicken tracks.

Great shot, Kelsey. She took most of these pictures. I love this one. This used to be a big mud pit and is now frozen solid. One thing is for sure, everything looks cleaner now.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Milking and Chicks

My mom came out to the barn with me during milking time yesterday and snapped this picture of me. I don't think I've put a picture of milking on here in quite some time.The baby chicks are about 6 weeks old now and doing great! they are all feathered now, or at least enough so that if the power goes out they will be fine without heat for awhile.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


We woke to these sounds again. But this time....Butter got lucky. We started out yesterday thinking we should try because I knew she was coming into heat, but when we arrived and put her in with the buck she wouldn't have a thing to do with him. She ran and bucked at him and wanted out! So we went back today know it had to be the day and sure enough!!! She ran in and just stood! What was so funny about it was that she just stood there and acted all standoffish and whatnot. She stood but if he tried sniffing her head and ears or licking her face she'd turn her head the other way. It was kind of funny. If the breeding took than she will be due May 1st!! Perfect...12 days after Pascha!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Fall on the Farm

It's fall on the farm and it's been fall for quite some time but I like the title. It flows. And I finally have taken some time to take pictures of "fall on the farm". I cannot believe it's been 2 weeks since I've posted anything. Gee, I wish I could be more consistent about that. I'm still learning how to make everything work together and "flow" nicely (home, school, farm). The above picture is looking up our neighbors driveway, I just love their driveway. If you turn to the left 45 degrees you'll see our driveway and house.

I caught this picture of the goats frolicking in the leaves. :)
Below is Charissa with her goat Brie.

As we move into the garden you can see the chickens have made great progress in their attempts to eliminate the grass and weeds and fertilize every square inch of dirt. They've done a great job! They deserve a raise and they got it when I switched to all organic feed several weeks ago. Our "subscribing" customers all voted to pay a higher price to have organic feed.

Here some ladies have found spot in the garden that is pure sand and they are "bathing" themselves in it. I thought it was funny because it was nearly dusk and quite cold outside. I'm sure that sand was wet and cold!

And now our baby chicks! It never ceases to amaze me how rapidly they grow!!! They are nearly half feathered already. I always make great proclamations about how I can't believe they are this big already and then I remember back with our first flock and how they were completely feathered by 5 weeks when the power went out for 5 days and they could stay in the coop without heat. At any rate....they have really changed since we got them just 2 weeks ago today.

I encourage the kids to hold them as much as possible so that they are used to human contact as they grow, hopefully turning out to be very friendly.

They are just so cute!

Charissa was picking them up and letting them fly down from her hands. I caught some really amazing shots of this.

My favorite! Isn't that cool?!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Chicks have arrived

We only got 25 Rhode Island favorite. They are so cute.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Monday, October 27, 2008


The weather has been gorgeous but I haven't gotten much done outside due to so many other obligations.
Yesterday James did start on the new goat yard gate. We want to move it back some to get the goats away from what seems to be the place all the rainwater gathers despite the french drain we installed last winter. I'll post pictures when it is done. Kelsey was actually the one that designed this idea.
The big news this week is that our new set of baby chicks should arrive Friday. I'll definitely post pictures of that.
I also hope to work on my cold frame today or tomorrow and get some seeds in the ground for winter harvest. I'm going to plant some greens and try green onions and carrots. We'll see how that works. I might just be dreaming. :) I got a book from the library called Winter Gardening in Maritime Northwest.

Have a great week!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Butter is in heat....

...and driving me crazy! She hasn't shut up since about 530AM! She is yelling NONSTOP and sounds like this. (It's so funny...the file is actually called "goat in heat(nubian)"'s EXACTLY what she sounds like.)
But I know what she is really saying....

Chickens & Eggs

Ever since I moved the chickens to the garden where they have much more room and so much "green" to eat the egg count has slowly been rising!
I also switched over to all organic feed shortly after moving them to the garden.
Saturday I got 28 eggs!
Also, I noticed that the whites of the eggs actually have a slight hint of green/yellow color from all the green they are eating. Ohh, they are such healthy eggs!
I have such a demand for these eggs, even after raising the price to $4, I've decided to order 25 more chicks. I'll put them in the small coop, it can hold up to 32. We'll divide the garden in half like last year. I just hope Belt Hatchery has some left in their last hatch for us.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Juice Making

My mother-in-law arrived Tuesday and brought with her this crate full of juice/wine grapes. The picture shows fewer grapes than we started was mounded. I researched juice/wine grapes and I believe this variety might be called "Delaware" grapes.
I decided to juice them using my Saftborn Steam Juice-Extractor. I've only used this neat gadget one other time with great results. The neat thing about it is that the fruit does not boil in water, thus diluting it. It has four parts: the water reservoir, the juice catcher with hose attached for draining, the fruit basket and lid. The steam rises into the basket rupturing the cell walls of the fruit and releasing the juices. The benefit of this method is that it all the vital minerals and natural acids, vitaminds, etc. stay unimpaired, they are never boiled off.

I spent a good part of Wednesday working on the mound of grapes to extract. Taking them off the steam and rinsing them and steaming them. The chickens loved the pulp that is left over after steaming.
I only got about half done on Wednesday so finished on Friday.

The juice that comes out, as a result, is very concentrated; thick and sweet.

The children LOVE the juice and have even told me it's too sweet. So we dilute it about 1/2 the water as juice. And yesterday I bought a bottle of sparkling water and the kids had sparkling juice with their dinner. They loved it!
I got 10 quarts, which means I'll have about 15 quarts of drinkable juice if I dilute slightly. It will go in the freezer today.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Feta and John update

We just got an email from the new owners of Feta and John, our last two kids to sell.
They look great and seem to love their new surroundings. I wish my goat yard looked like that.

Monday, October 13, 2008


The chickens are free to roam the garden now. They have twice the space plus they have plush grass and garden waste. See their very well worn summer run on the very upper left corner. I've blocked them from this now and we will clean it up this week and possibly sow some winter wheat type of grass in there to be ready for February.

Speaking of chickens. Take a look at this egg one of my hens laid. OUCH! The egg next to it is a large egg. The bottom picture shows you how big it is compared to an egg carton. It won't close.

Monday, October 6, 2008

End of the Garden

Fall is definitely upon us. It's cool, wet and blustery. We had the first "storm" of the season with lots of leaves blowing around and small branches all of the roads, etc. In the last week we've had an inch of rain. This has forced me to go out and harvest as much as possible off of the tomato plants since late blight has set in on most of the plants. All but the plants under the big huge tent we built. I think they are fine in there because they have room and aren't touching the top or sides of the tent where they would get wet condensation and never dry. The smaller tents just weren't big enough to allow air flow and the plants grew too big and were touching the top and sides. Not all the tomatoes in the picture will make it as many of them have late blight in them already and instead of turning red they'll turn brown. But we will get some to ripen and enjoy.
It has really been an incredible challenge to learn how to garden in this climate. We had such high hopes for our garden this year supplying a huge amount of food for our winter but it just hasn't worked out. With snow on April 20th ( a full month after the "average last frost") and being forced to start all over with many things and the rain starting so early in August we just didn't get what we'd hoped for. I told James we need to spend the winter reading Northwest Garden books!
I'm going to give the garden one more week (maybe), and then the chickens will have a feast of feasts as they roam through garden for the next 4 months!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Farm Update

Well, I had meant to post my updates on Monday but time got away from me. Life is pretty crazy right now with the farm, schooling, and your everyday basics.
Anyway. On Saturday James made me a cheese press. Well, I shouldn't say "me" because he really did it for himself I think. He has REALLY taken a liking to cheesemaking. I think because it is very scientific! :) Here is a picture of our cheese press. It's pretty cool. We made our first batch of hard cheese. I found a cool website that has all kinds of cheese recipes. It is somewhat different from my books and because it didn't require certain temps and humidity and waxing I just had to give it a try. It's a basic hard cheese and it is currently aging in the refrigerator. We'll let you know how it turns out.

On Friday I harvested this....
...and that is pretty much what we had for dinner. Along with homemade bread! It was very satisfying. The weather has been rainy and cool. I'm still praying for enough sun over the next couple weeks to bring in some more tomatoes and beans! What I need to do is put a cover over my entire garden and then I'd be able to put up enough food to feed us all year. This cotton-pickin' weather in the PNW is just not condusive to a big flourishing garden! At least it isn't for this used-to-be midwesterner who doesn't know how to grow a garden in damp, cool conditions.

As I've mentioned in a previous post, I have a tomato plant that produces very strange creation. Here is another one....

The animals are doing well. I'm still getting a gallon a day from Butter but she has gotten to be quite an annoying creature at 5AM. After I leave the barn she just doesn't seem to get the idea that she is suppose to relax and wait for sunlight. She stands out there and bellows as if she is lost in the wilderness all alone. I've told goats bellow when they are hungry or lonely. She has just been fed, she has just been given more hay and she has her daughter. And yet, I continue to pray everyday that the neighbor doesn't come over with his shotgun and shut her up.

The chickens need to go in the freezer because most of them aren't earning their keep. But I just can't seem to figure out which ones they are. I butchered 2 chickens over Labor Day weekend and despite my inspection of various body parts to make sure they weren't laying eggs anymore, I still managed to butcher hens that were full of eggs! One had an egg just ready to lay! So now I'm afraid to butcher anymore for fear I'll butcher a good one.
In another month they'll have free reign of the garden and hopefully the added nutrients will give them the boost they need to lay more. Until then I'm trying to figure out how to find room for a whole new flock in another area of the farm.

Have a great week...enjoy Autumn!

I'm off to craigslist to find a free source of fencing material, lumber, firewood and pallets.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Why I Don't Like Slugs

There are many, many more examples like these. Slugs are everywhere and love to eat everything. I remembered as I was uploading these pictures that I could have shown you some beans that were nearly eaten through as well.
Did I tell you about the night I was perusing through the garden at dusk and picked up some slugs and decided to keep track!? Yeah, I know, "sick and wrong" is what my husband called it.
Well, I just couldn't stop. They were everywhere. So I picked up a coffee can and actually started counting! As I approached the garden gate (the end of the garden rounds of slug picking ) I was on 104! But I just couldn't stop! So I kept picking them as I walked back to the house and through the front yard. I finally ended when the can was nearly full ( a 3# coffee can!). My final number was 204!!! I picked 204 slugs out of my garden and yard in one evening! And still...look at the damage they are doing.

Despite the ravenous appetite of the slug I had a great harvest yesterday! Yes, that glob on the right side of the bowl is a tomato!! I froze 2 quarts of beans out of this harvest after eating a huge pot of them for dinner.

And we get the funkiest tomatoes!