Friday, May 12, 2017

Cows and Cattails

The problem with being a hobby farmer, having 5 kids, being married, working, having animals, having property, having kids, having property, going to school, animals, and did I mention having animals is EVERYTHING takes time.  I love almost everything we have in our life and wouldn't give it up but between time and money we often are a little short on being able to do everything we want to do.  Pond maintenance is one of those things.  

In 2012 we had a wonderful adventure getting all the cattails out of the pond and dredging it.  It was expensive but well worth it.  We used a dump truck to haul the pond muck and cattails into the pasture hoping the Lowline Cattle we had on loan at the time would eat the cattails.  

Since then we have tried to keep the cattails under control by pulling them by hand, wrapping ropes around them and dragging them up with a forklift or tractor, and even tried to get the cattle to eat them (  Nothing has worked.  

 The cattle spent the last 2 months in  my neighbors pasture until they found a weak spot in the fence.  I have some temporary fencing on order to move them to another neighbor's house next week, then they will probably spend most of the summer at another neighbors.    

I need to repair the fencing the cattle belong in but I am waiting to do it. We all hope that by the time they come home we will have time and money to fix the fences right.  Right now I am letting the cattle wander around the property.

Today I came home and decided I LOVE my cattle!  

Yes they are eating the cattails!   

Crazy Ruby isn't willing to get her feet wet.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Helping with Deer's Twins

Deer is a wide bodied girl.  I never know when she is pregnant because she always looks like she is about to give birth.    

When she didn't eat with the rest of the herd I hoped we would have a lamb.  She chose to stay under a tree at the top of the hill where she could watch the rest of the herd.

Every once in a while she would decide the rest of the sheep wandered too far away and would go round them up and yell at them.  Deer is not a sheep the rest follow but she was in such distress they listened to her.  

I don't normally watch out for the sheep to give birth but she was seeming to be in some stress and it was a beautiful day so I followed her around.

While I was watching her I kept hearing running water.  Hoping it was a neighbors hose I followed the noise.  It didn't take long for me to find the leak.

I got some help digging out the hole.   

While I was digging her labor must have taken a pause because she started eating so I took a break and went into the house and cleaned up.   

Finally she chose a place closer to where the rest of the herd wanted to be and she was protected.  

When she started to give birth the feet were pointed properly but the head was turned.  I might have waited longer to intervene but 2 years ago she gave birth to a stillborn twin, so I broke the amneiotic sac and turned the head so it was facing the right direction and in the next minute the first ram was born.  

She immediately started cleaning it.  He took his first wobbly steps and got to nurse.  15 minutes later his younger brother was born.

She got back to work cleaning the newest lamb.

Proper Livestock Guardian Dog behavior.  Being near the new lambs and watchful but not looking directly at them.  They even are looking in opposite directions so all areas that the lambs could be attacked from are covered (or Natasha is looking at her human).

Luca is so calm and protective of the babies that Deer relaxed when he was close.  That all changed when Champion the Pig wanted a look.  I didn't pause to take a picture just scooped up the babies and took Deer and her lambs into a safe pig proof place.

Here they are 18 hours old trying to keep up with the herd.

Deer will have her hands full with the black sheep.  He already is busy sticking his nose into everything and not following his mom.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Paper Flooring

I didn't take time to blog or work with the animals much this summer.

This summer I hit the "I Can't Take it Anymore" point on the carpet in the main rooms in my house.  I started with buying a 5 of rolls of paper, a wood grain tool, a rough bristle brush, and about 5 gallons of paint.

Darling Husband set up a work station 2 metal doors under an easy up.


I could roll out and tape down the paper the size of the doors.

Then down a base coat with a light cheap paint with the rough bristle brush.

When that dried I would use paint of a different color and using a wood graining tool I made sheets of "wood" about 3 feet x 6.5 feet.
A few of my color options:
  brown with grayish brown on top
light with both dark brown and light on top
 light on bottom with dark on top

dark with light on top

A lot depended on the temperature and wind when I was painting the paper always absorbed a lot of paint so sometimes I would throw some water onto the paper or dilute the paint, so the paint wouldn't dry to work with or get too thick.  I should have diluted the paint more because the papers with really thick paint ended up being very hard to work with.

After I thought I painted more than I would ever need I started cutting the paper into wood strips.  I chose 5 inch and 2 1/4 inch strips because I like the look of wood floors that have more than one size in them and since I was the one cutting the paper I could do it anyway I wanted.

We ripped out the carpet on the main floor of the house and upstairs walkway, cleaned and sanded

the floors.  Then we started gluing the strips.  

Then we put on 3 coats of polyurithane. We have had it for almost 3 months and a few problem spots that I didn't get glued down well enough.  I plan on doing a few patches.


Sunday, October 23, 2016

September and Porter


Aprils heifer September


Ruby's steer Porter.
The calves were born September first and September second.

In the beginning September was much more energetic and curious while Porter was content to hang out with his mom and the other steers.

When the calves were about 2 weeks old we moved them to clean out a neighbors flower field.

Of course September had to check the fence in several places.

Yes it is shocking.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Our First Summer with Pigs

This spring we bought 3 pigs.  1 for sausage and 2 to start a breeding program.

These pigs were fun to watch and we enjoyed them.

So when Darling Husband heard of 3 more for a great price we got them.

They were cute but not fun to watch.  They didn't love playing in the water or happily chase each other they just ate and slept.  Great for fat pigs but I like happy animals.  - proof I'm not a great farmer 

So when I wasn't working we had 6 mostly full sized pigs.  I get a lot of food for the piggies through my work so having 6 pigs during summer when I am not working was expensive.  I was also buying normal commercial grade food for the pigs instead of making sure everyone is mostly grass fed because - pigs eat A LOT.  The 3 Little Pigs were ready to go to Freezer Camp by middle of summer.  We had decided to try to do the butchering ourselves with Darling Husband's friend.  The problem is we needed a free weekend and we were super busy.  Finally end of summer we were all ready to process the pigs.

I wanted a lot of sausage.  I looked up premixed sausage seasonings and realized most were expensive and many had preservatives that I didn't want so I spent days looking for sausage recopies and made the seasoning mixes myself.   

Don't keep scrolling unless you want to see graphic pictures!

Notice the happy dog under the table in this picture.  

The fodder room was a great sausage making room.  We made 120lbs of sausage in one day.  Butchering 4 pigs in one day was a huge job we will never do that many at once again.  
I have discovered the joys of making sausage and I can't wait until I have enough fresh pork to do it again.
I still have a lot to learn.  
We were using a commercial grain instead of me watching the diet like I do with the sheep and cattle so instead of having a meat that is rich in Omega 3 fatty acids I have ended up with a really high in cholesterol pork.  I am thinking of adding flax seeds to the fodder mix and increasing our fodder rooms production.  Don't tell Darling Husband yet! 
All because I LOVE homemade sausage!

Darling Husbands favorite picture.