Wednesday, March 31, 2010

What I learned from little house on the prairie

We have really come to enjoy the Little house on the Prairie (LHOP)show and books. I have even bothered to google the people in the stories as it is loosely based on the life of Laura. I remember when I got to the book "Farmer Boy" it seemed so odd to have it placed in the middle of the other little house books. I mean there was nothing about the Ingalls, but it was wonderful. That book teaches more than any of the others, if you want to be a sustainable homestead/farm.

It was talking to my boss one day that it really clicked. We were talking about all the rains in Oklahoma last year and how it destroyed the beautiful wheat crop just before harvest. I felt like I was inside a scene from LHOP, I could just see it, Charles is looking out at the wheat as it is ripening and he is making plans for all the money that it will bring, the week before or a few days before the harvest the rains come. The entire crop, formerly golden and glistening in the sunlight, now broken and unusable. The farmers here suffered the exact same fate and from talking to a few people it is a continuous struggle every 3 years.

I began to look at the life of the Wilders, they had so much success and why wouldn't they, they had their hand in just about everything. There was no room for failure when you diversify. I went to wikipedia and looked up Almonzo Wilder (Laura's husband) and it turns out that he began their married life doing just as Charles (and most farmers today), with a single crop. After years of failure, debt and illness they had to give it up. I think it is fortunate that his family had moved from New York to the Midwest as was able to spend year with them to recuperate.

After the move he began to farm the Wilder way, he diversified and was able to find success. No one is going to get rich off of farming in a hurry, but diversifying ones farm (no matter the size), is the only way to grow it and make it sustainable. Well, I'm off my soap box now, lol. There are still more changes to come around here, we are growing this little operation as we can get the money :)

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Life is good

Quick note on the political situation: there are no free lunches in nature and while this may seem like a wonderful victory for people like me who don't have health insurance, have special need children etc, this most certainly is not. Entitlement programs are oppressive by nature to the very people they are intended to help.

I will not be discussing it further than that.

The cows are doing well, they are enjoying their freedom to roam and have lots to eat. The chicks have not faired as well as we hoped :( There is still such a huge learning curve for us to overcome with this one. The layers on the other hand are LOVING the warm weather and we had 30 eggs the other day, lol. Last night something must have spooked them though, because we had to go find them way past their bedtime . . . very odd.

Buttercup appears to have been bred back to Quinn, and a potential buyer came to look at her yesterday. We are gearing up for resuming milk sales but it is a process. We will be moving Mag from the rest of the herd so that we can keep the calves off of her.

My potatoes and onions went into the ground this week as it snowed last weekend, I pray that they do well. We will also be looking at what other thing we want to plant in the coming weeks.

symptoms of pregnancy

Oh and did I mention that we are having a new baby in November? Well, most likely at the end of October. We have decided to have a homebirth and will go the self pay route. We will talk to the dr in the coming weeks to weight the cost with her vs the midwife I found.

I am so excited to see Pickle, Dolly and Blackbird's babies this spring/summer :) It will be nice to get an angus bull to breed the girls back. Quinn is currently scheduled for the freezer, as is Missy. We found another freezer at a great deal so now we have room for both :)

Friday, March 19, 2010

Picky eater

Well Mag had once again decided that she is not interested in the feed combo that we have and have all but refused it. We called the previous owner and found out a bit more about what he has, our co-op does a similar mix (sold by the ton however). We decided to just bite the bullet and order a ton. Thank goodness we have the 2 grain bins. :)

UPDATE: SHE LOVED IT!!! She licked her bucket clean, YAY!!!

The chicks are living in a 250 gallon water trough, we had bought 2 for the cows. The seem to like it just fine and there are 2 heat lamps to keep them warm. They are adjusting nicely to their new digs and aren't dropping like flies any more.

We got the Udderly EZ milker to try out with Mag and I must say that it has been a real disappointment :( DH hasn't been able to get a single drop of milk in the thing. Looks like we will just have to go a different route on this.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The new fence is up :)

I am so happy that we finally got the fence put up. We had a guy come out and hook an electric fence around the majority of the property, so that the 2 pastures would be connected. Finally the animals will have use of the east pasture and the pole barn :) All of the cows were excited by their new found freedom, they began to jump and run and play. The ground wire was initially unhooked and the calves got out but dh was able to round them back up and fix it without a problem. We got a great charger from a farm out by Wichita. This should allow us to pace the cow on the hay they use over the next few weeks :) We have calves due soon, so it will be exciting to have them around.

Most of the chicks survived the trip, we were surprised that 100 chicks come in such a small package. Well I took pics, so I will post them soon. It will be nice to see how many girls we get in the bunch :)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Things are moving along

Curriculum for the upcoming year has been ordered, the chicks should arrive today (we got 100). I plan to get some seed potatoes in the ground this week, in our raised beds. Mag is milking beautifully, even though she has adopted 2 calves (Coffee and Spot), we still get a gallon a day. We got alfalfa pellets by the ton from the Co-op in Oxford and she is really enjoying her treats :) Coffee's cough seems to be improving without the newflor (?sp). So much to do so little time :) Well back to taxes I go so that we can get them out the door.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Meet Mag

Mag (pronounced Meg)is the sister (same Sire) of Treva. She is a smaller cow and so far seems to be bred (Quinn has passed her on the sniff test thus far) lol. She gives 4 gallons a day but doesn't seem to like our feed. :( We'll be working on finding an acceptable combination for her. As she settles down more, she's currently not too keen on the stanchion and just lays down. She is getting a bit more used to the idea, and she stands beautifully. I expect great things from her while she's here :)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Those girls can eat!

Well we put a new bale of hay if for the cows on Saturday and it is done. I mean they have picked it clean, there isn't even any hay waste left. It is amazing how much those cows can eat, good thing we stocked up and got us 16 more bales. :) We will have to get some more in the next few weeks. Beef cattle eat a ton more than their dairy counterparts or at least Jerseys. But to be far they are larger animals and those big girls have to eat to keep their strength up, lol.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

She's gone

Well they were supposed to pick her up yesterday but with all the rain they couldn't get out. I guess I must have forgotten the whole thing because I forgot to say goodbye this morning :( When I called home at mid-day, my girl was being loaded and was soon on her way to her new home.

A few years ago I had the opportunity to go with EE to a farm tour south of Wichita. It was an amazing farm and I really felt encouraged that I wanted to get into this life. I learned a lot on that tour, I asked a ton of questions. It was a great family place, all the kids worked there with their parents and the grand kids are now coming up.

I told you that story, to tell you that amazingly that is the farm that bought my Treva. I am so glad that she will be well cared for and that others will have a chance to see her and learn all about cows and milk. It is a wonderful place and though I didn't recognise them when they came out to see her, I do remember the conversations I had with each of them that day a few years ago, and how it changed my life.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

In a surprise turn of events

We had planned on selling Buttercup, though we were not actively committed to that end. A potential buyer emailed us and we agreed for him to come out and look at her, well sure enough we got an email this morning saying that he found another cow yesterday. I was a little disappointed but no problem. A few minutes later I got a call from someone asking about Treva, it seemed really odd since we had not advertised her yet he knew all her information. I eventually asked, "who are you?", "have I met you?" He explained that he had placed an ad on craigslist some time ago, then it clicked. I had read an ad of someone looking for a gentle milk cow and I called. The guy told me that the price was a bit more than they had wanted to spend so I said ok and didn't bother. Anyway, he wanted to come see her and he picked the same time that the other buyer was supposed to come out. He and his wife came and met Treva, who was not too thrilled to meet new people but was much better once she was out of the Angus cows way, they have been giving her the evil eye. Anyway, they poked and prodded and tugged and petted (a very good idea when looking at a cow that is supposed to be gentle). Finally they said good bye and we figured we would never hear from them again. Well they called to say that they want her, she is as gentle as ever and just what they've been looking for. They didn't even try to get the price lower, she's quite a bargain even at that price. :) We will miss our girl but it will be nice for her to be an only cow, where she can be spoiled with all the things her little cow heart desires :)

Saturday, March 6, 2010

A few more pics

Spot (the surprise)

Shadow (the pretty pony we met picking up the ladies)

The girls enjoying an ice cream, it was such a nice day yesterday.

From L-R: Dolly, Notch and Pickle

From L-R: Dolly, Notch and Pickle

Friday, March 5, 2010

The new herd

Well we've been trying to find the right way to take the farm and after lots of prayer we have added beef cattle to our herd. We have added 2 more bred angus cows, 1 bred hereford cow, 1 charolais cross heifer, 1 simmental cross heifer (not the surprise calf) and 1 hereford heifer. We will have 5 more calves this year and plan to take 5 calves to the sale barn this fall, once they are up to weight. Next years goal is 10.

The sorting process of buying beef cattle is interesting if you opt to buy unregistered/cross bred stock. The 3 heifers came together and were among 5 that we went to see. 1 was an obvious (at least to me) jersey cross with jersey conformation (trending toward dairy rather than beef) and the other seemed thin for her age (compared to the other calves being seen and Eva). Those 2 did not make the cut. The hereford is such a sweet calf, she is like a pet. She follows us around, she is so adorable. The guy who had here had bottle fed her and kept her in a separate pen from the others, she even had her own "room" in the big barn, lol. We call her Pretty. The other 2 calves are Coffee (she had a cough) and the other is Patches.

The big girls, AKA bred cows, are Notch (she has a notch on her ear), Pickle (born in her bag and her mama worked very hard to get her bag to break, she looked like a pickle) and Dolly (another hereford that tugged on the heart strings of her previous owner). These girls come from a farm that is selling out and their other cow friends will be on the sale barn floor tomorrow. We looked at the bull who was there and he had been dehorned very young, he is a big boy but though he looks VERY angus, he is an obvious cross with jersey. It isn't that he looked the part, it is that all the calves that he has fathered have a very definite Jersey look (white ring around the nose and a variety of tan, red and brown coloring, mixed with their black fur.

While there is nothing wrong with crossing a jersey and angus, it is not practical to buy a calf that trends this way as it takes more to get them beefed up. We will have to keep looking for an angus bull to make the herd complete. The key to this however is trying to find one at the right price as we did for the females we got, as the saying goes "buy low, sell high".

On a side note: my son has just completed a practical course in investing, he took his birthday money and invested it, he didn't buy at the lowest point in the market but he was able to buy low enough that he trippled his money when he sold his stock today. To say the least he is very pleased with this and is making plans for his new found wealth, lol.

We will be having both pastures hot wired, with a path leading from one side to the other, thankfully we found someone who could do it at a good price. I am hoping that this will end the annual fencing nightmare. We have also ordered more hay to act as a supplement. This year we will be deworming and vaccinating the cows, as we do not want to risk losing any this year.

We were so thankful that the truck was able to handle the weight, the 3 cows are rather big and we have never hauled so much weight before. We were very concerned but it did beautifully, though we will not haul such a heavy load in future with a 1/2 ton truck, we will need something heavier. There was one point where we got stuck on someone's property while trying to turn around and thankfully their neighbor had a 1 ton dually 4x4. That guys truck is VERY NICE, it is both manual and automatic, but boy is it expensive to buy something like that. Everything in time . . .

As you may have noticed we are moving more towards working on the farm over any other ventures. The "business" didn't work as it was supposed to or as we had understood it to be and we have walked away from it. There are issues there that I would please ask that you keep us in your prayers. God has been good, He is truly faithful and we are continually blessed.



Patches and Coffee

Coffee again

Spot and her new mama :)

More pics to come soon, it is pretty dark out so no pics of the ladies yet.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Lots of surprises to come

Stay tuned everyone, there are a whole lot of surprises around here and I'm not letting the cat out of the bag just yet. :) You'll just have to stick around and see . . .