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My life as a young wife to one, a mother to many and a flawed yet faithful follower of Christ.

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Farm Update

Posted by AFarmhouseFull on September 21, 2011 at 6:00 PM Comments comments (0)

I have been procrastinating on posting about the farm because quite frankly other things have been on my mind.  I don’t think I actually had even SEEN the pigs in a week – thank goodness I am not in charge of feeding them!  Also, we had been taking a “wait and see” approach with the bees.  After we had added the honey super their expeditious proliferating had slowed drastically and I wasn’t sure if we were losing the hive.  At that point I decided not to worry about it and was at peace if they ended up not recuperating.  I was, however, pleasantly surprised when I opened the lid again today and found that their numbers had increased and many new larvae were almost ready to take flight!  The top honey super is still virtually untouched, but their numbers are a lot stronger now.  I am not as fearful for them.  That said, we will NOT be extracting honey from this newbie hive this year.  Although a little disappointed, it probably worked out for the best since we really don’t need to spend then money on a honey extractor when we are saving for a much bigger purchase (a tractor/loader!)


The chickens are laying and their smaller pullet eggs have been replaced by HUGE brown eggs that taste OH SO HEAVENLY!  We were pulling about 9-12 a day from them for a little while, but we have recently lost a few layers.  We are now getting between 8-10 eggs a day.  Anyone who lives in the area who would like eggs let me know; we are selling them for $3 a dozen or 2 dozen for $5.00.


“Bacon” and “Sausage” are getting nice and meaty!  I will be glad when we aren’t paying to feed them and rather they are paying to feed us!  Bacon looks near ready while Sausage is a couple of weeks behind.   They are SO playful!  Here is a video of them acting like dogs playing with an old feed bag.

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As for the dairy animal I longed for mere months ago…..well, I have decided that it is not the season of our lives to be adding it.  And I am at COMPLETE peace with it.  Actually, looking back, I would have been very regretful had I went ahead and took the plunge to get one.  This season in my life is a fleeting one and a dairy animal would be taking precious time from those babies that are growing up WAY too fast (yeah, I have said that a thousand times before……but they ARE!).  Possibly when they get a little older and are a little more independent we will reconsider, but for now we are going to stick to low maintenance animals that we can leave for a day or two without a big upheaval.  I wasn’t willing to give up my frequent trips the cabin – I am spoiled, I know!

The garden…..what garden?  Ahem.  We did get a good harvest of red and white potatoes, red and white onions, jalapenos, salad greens and carrots.  Our sweet corn failed…..miserably!  I ended up buying a large amount from a local source that we blanched and froze.  Our first crop of green beans was decent, but we never got around the second crop.  Our peas did okay, but again we didn’t get around to a second crop.  As of now the chickens have had the pleasure of scrounging the leftovers tomatoes that are not ripening in the cooler weather.   The argument arises each year (within MYSELF!) whether making and canning tomato sauce is worth the effort.  Each year I start by thinking it is and by the second large batch of grinding, boiling and canning sauce I become doubtful again.

Do you find canning large amount of sauce worth the time and effort?  If so, why or why not?

 

 

BEES!

Posted by Farmhouse Family on April 25, 2011 at 10:53 PM Comments comments (0)

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The bees are here! They arrived here Saturday after a 6 hour car ride by my very patient and very wonderful father-in-law and husband.  They drove over in the morning and were home by about 2pm with a buzzing package of bees.  Mike took care of shaking them into the hive (he informed me that veils and a bee suit were for sissies! LOL!) and we are all just buzzing with excitement here at the farmhouse about our new adventure.  By the way, the bees are actually VERY docile!

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What an AWESOME science study!  Where else can kids get such hands on learning that they LOVE?

Farm Plans

Posted by Farmhouse Family on April 1, 2011 at 3:34 PM Comments comments (0)


Over the last five years we have been slowly (as the Lord has supplied) been adding to this modest, little homestead of ours.  I thought I would share with you some things we have here and some that we will be adding in His timing.  The red line outlines our property and the green line is our mowed walking path.  In the summer we do evening walks around our property.  It is nice to be able to let the kids roam while Mike and I leisurely walk, not having to worry about cars zooming down a narrow country road.  The blue line is the river that runs adjacent to our property.

Our "path"

 

Lets start at the front of the property (top).  The drive winds up about 300 ft or so from the road and I am thinking about adding a turn around to the “parking lot” part of our drive.  (Right now the drive winds under the tree there and can hardly be seen.  The really white part is what I am planning on adding.) Maybe mulching the center of it and adding a dwarf fruit tree and some berry bushes.

 

Herbs: I am going to be installing a small gated area to house my herbs.  They are just not fitting into the regular garden anymore and since some are perennials, putting them in a garden that gets tilled and turned over year after year is not an option. I will be using a picket fence to enclose it and natural arbors for each entrance (possibly climbing some morning glory or honeysuckle up the arbors).  

 

House – self explanatory – the farmhouse, already existing.

 

Woodshed – houses all our wood for our stove in the winter.  We heat our home with wood and while we do have a propane furnace, it only runs when no one is home to stoke the woodstove (which doesn’t happen very often).

 

Orchard – We have 4 apple trees and 1 peach tree.  We used to have 2 peach trees but we lost one last summer.  We are planning on putting at least one more peach tree in this year and maybe a cherry tree. For the last few years we have been gathering apples from the farmer's apple orchard which is right next to our land.  He doesn't live there, he just houses his tractors in the barn on the property.

 

Fenced Area – this is our kids play area.  It is nice to have a fenced area that allows the kids to play within eye and ear shot of my kitchen (have I ever told I spend a LOT of time in my kitchen).  Right now I have raspberries and blackberries planted along the fence and a patch of strawberries in one of the corners.  This makes for an easy little snack when the kids are out playing!  I am planning on moving my strawberries this year though.  I will be using mulched rows this year to make for easier picking.  

 

Fire Pit – This is something we put in a year or two ago and LOVE it.  It is just a small (16’x20’ ish) rock area we put in to place a fire pit and picinic table on.  We eat “camp” dinners out there in the summer and have a lot of evening fires and just hang together.  I am planning to put up a natural pergola made from logs my husband will harvest from my parents cabin.  Growing some vines up it will provide some shade for the picinic table area.

 

Garden – We just relocated our garden here.  If you look really hard you can see were it was last year in the arial photo (just above where it is this year).  The soil is A LOT blacker in the new area and the run off from the farmer’s shed was creating a little bit of a drainage issue in the old spot.

Chickens – this is our coop and our pen for the laying hens.  The meat birds/turkeys will be in the movable pens called chicken tractors.  The laying hens are the only gals the get the benefit of permanent housing.  We will be keeping a cockerel this year in hopes that one of our Barred Rock hens will go broody and hatch us some chicks.


 

Hog – this is a 30’x30’ pig pen with a small shelter for our two hogs that we will be getting soon.  They will be slaughtered in the fall for Christmas ham and lots of yummy bacon, sausage and pork chops!


 

Bees – the hives are here! The bees will be here in a week or two and we have a small area around the hives that we will be planting some wildflowers/clover for the bees.  We will only have one hive this year but plan to add one hive per year for 4-5 years so that we will have LOTS of excess honey for us to eat and to sell.  

 

Barn/Pasture/Hay Field – we are making preparations for a dairy cow.  The breed we are researching now is called a Dexter and they are a VERY small heritage dual purpose cattle that are excellent food converters.  We plan on dividing up our pasture into 3 areas for rotational grazing and also a hay field for hay in the winter.  Total our pasture/hay area is probably 2-3 acres.  We will also need a small barn for hay storage and a milking parlor with a stanchion that out of the cold and wind. We are still in the  praying stage of this adventure, therefore I am not sure on the timing of these things.  Fencing, buildings and animals are expensive; on the other hand 40% of our grocery budget is dairy products! So, in the long run it will save us tremendously with the added bonus of having a beef steer in the freezer in 18-24 months after our cow calves.  "All in His timing" is what I keep telling myself. 


So what are you farm plans this year?

 

 


Backyard Barnyard

Posted by Farmhouse Family on March 27, 2011 at 5:09 PM Comments comments (3)

 

The chickens are getting quite big already, especially the broilers.  We did have one casualty and we are down to 29 chicks now.   I think for our next crop of meat birds we are going to stay away from the hybrid variety and stick to some heritage breeds.  In particular I  found a breed while searching called a Freedom Ranger.  They are known for free ranging for a large percentage of their food, thus lowering the cost of feed and increasing the quality of their meat (because they are eating their natural diet instead of just grain all day).  

 

We picked up the hives Saturday and I am super excited about the bees this year.  The local honey farm we picked them up at sold out of packaged bees already so we will have to order them elsewhere.  Soon we should have a buzzing package to pick up from the post office! YEAH!

 

The pig pen is done!  We found some cheap hog panels on craigslist and got them at half of their sale price which makes momma a happy camper.  The hog house itself is missing only a half sheet or so of tin roof otherwise it is fully functional.

 

Our dairy dreams are starting to get sorted out in evening debates about goat vs. cow.  I am really leaning toward a cow because it’s milk is not naturally homogenized (meaning the cream will separate naturally) which lends to easier cream separation and therefore easier cheese making, whipped cream making, ice cream making and also butter making.  Also, the excess milk from the cow (they will give about 5-8 times that of a goat) can be used to supplement the pig feed and sold to friends of ours who want good hormone free raw milk. I still haven’t decided yet if we will be drinking the milk raw or pasteurized.  If you have a dairy animal and don’t pasteurize I have a few questions for you:

  1.  Do you have a goat or cow?
  2. Have you had any problems with bacteria or anything else making anyone in you family sick?
  3. Does it tase any different raw?

About Me:


 

Hey y'all! Welcome to our family blog. We are a large, loud and Jesus loving family from the rural Midwest. I am Nicci, also know around these parts as "mom" to my brood of a half dozen and as "babe" to my handsome other half.  We live on a handful of acres and have raised chicken, pigs, bees, tomatoes and most importantly our rowdy bunch of kidlets.  We cloth diaper, homeschool, DIY, and try to eat as "homemade" as possible.  My ratio of hobbies verses free time is COMPLETELY unbalanced.  I enjoy crocheting, knitting, sewing, designing, drawing, using power tools, and anything else that involves creating. I also love to decorate and organize when time and money allow - but come on now, it is hard to make it to the bathroom without little people following 2 steps behind me and my grocery bill is comparable to a mortgage payment!  It is a busy, challenging and sometimes chaotic life managing a larger than normal family but ultimately one of God's greatest blessings that I am immensely grateful for!  In no way have I "arrived" or  "figured it all out", but I am humbled to be able to share my experience with others!

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