Monthly Archives: January 2009

Random Things

Wow, you guys are great! I rarely ever miss a day of checking in and reading comments but yesterday I never made it to the computer. It was so comforting to find such positive comments waiting for me this morning. And people ask why I like blogging!

Anyway, among the comments Abbie over at Farmer’s Daughter tagged me for the 7 facts about yourself doodad. Here’s how it works:

Link to your tagger and list these rules on your blog.
Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog – some random, some weird.
Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blog.
Let them know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Alright, here goes…

1. I love 4x4s. Especially diesels. Not very environmentally friendly, I know, but trucks are my weakness. I’ve had 2 trucks and really want another one. I sold the last one to go back to college and I really miss it (that’s the one up above). Our first Christmas together I even had a license plate made for Brian that says “She Thinks My Diesel’s Sexy”.

2. Lucky for my wallet one of the only things I want more than a truck is to be out of debt. I strongly disagree with people who say, “You’ll always have a _____ payment.” Unfortunately I don’t think farming is very compatible with debt freeness!

3. I went through a 1 month Horseshoeing course. I don’t do much shoeing but I do some trimming on the side.

4. I wanted to be a web designer! How I got from there to Veterinary Technology, I’m still not sure. Actually, I’ve always wanted to be a stay-at-home mom (and still do), but my parents and my husband had this crazy idea that I should plan for a career instead!

5. I’m a VERY picky eater. I don’t eat: pizza, tomato sauce, hamburger, soup, ketchup, mayo, mustard, dressing, etc., and I don’t drink pop. Ever. It makes my eyes water. I like my food separated in neat little piles. It is very annoying but I can’t make myself like those things. I’m worried my kids will be picky eaters if I don’t change!

6. I used to drive horse drawn carriages in Frankenmuth, MI. I still fill in occasionally. Maybe I’ve mentioned that one before.

7. I love to dance. I mean fast dance, or booty dance, or whatever they call it now. If Brian is gone for the weekend anyone stopping by might catch me blaring Kid Rock’s “Cowboy” and shaking my ass, making the dog dance with me.
Trust me, she loves to dance! 🙂

So, I’m tagging:

-Farm Mom at Children In The Corn
-Joyce at tallgrassworship
Green Resolutions
Green Ranching Mom
-Abby at Life by Sugar Creek
Fleecenik Farm

It’ll probably be a bit before I get around to mentioning this to all of you so if you see your name here feel free to start sharing! 🙂

Farm Update

No particular topic today, just thought I’d fill in with the latest happenings in our life. I thought this blog would be more of a day to day journal of the farm but it seems like every time I sit down to type I feel the need to find a specific topic. Well, not today.

I considered titling this post “The Downside of Farming” because things haven’t been the greatest around here lately. Brian found 7 baby Holstein calves for sale last week and we bought them. They were cheap and we thought it would be nice to have some calves around again since we still don’t have a place to bring our bigger cattle home to. Anyway, cheap isn’t cheap when they all die on you. Brian’s sister took 2 and we kept 5, but we only have 2 left. The other 3 basically died of scours which is a broad diagnosis in calves. I fought hard to save the last one, taking his temp and tube feeding him milk and electrolytes. Didn’t work. I am pretty sure now that they probably never received any colostrum which gives them very low chances of survival. They remaining two are doing okay although the one acts like he may have pneumonia. I’m going to call our large animal vet tomorrow and try to get an antibiotic injection for him. I hate using antibiotics but don’t much like watching them die either.

I have mentioned before (to Brian) that I would like to eventually start a small herd of cows and raise our own calves that way instead. It is hard to justify that when there is such a surplus of Holstein steers in our area. In any case, we both agreed not to be tempted to bring anymore calves home until we can find an honest, reputable farmer to deal with. It is too hard and too disappointing to lose them, and it isn’t helping our financial situation much either!

Our 4 ewes have been doing well. They are full of energy. It is very heartwarming to watch them jump around like babies when it is time for dinner. However, there is bad news there too. One of the ewes we purchased at the MSU sale developed a few wart-like lesions on her face a couple weeks ago. I initially thought it was either a pyoderma (bacterial infection of the skin following mild trauma) or a papilloma virus (causing warts). I’m still not exactly sure what is going on but when I inquired about it to the previous owners they “mentioned” that she had a case of sore mouth as a lamb so it could possibly be that. Sore mouth is a very contagious sheep disease that can spread to humans and can be life threatening for lambs. This is obviously a big concern since all 4 ewes are (hopefully) due to lamb in the spring. I am still not convinced that she has, or every did have, sore mouth. The signs seem more consistent with a papilloma virus. I’ll update here when I figure out more.

On a lighter note, the chickens are continuing to lay very well despite this cold weather. We get 5 or 6 eggs a day from 6 hens! I’ve been sharing the eggs with our friends and family since we have too many for us but not enough to sell.

It is always hard to post about the negative side of farming because A) I don’t want people to think badly of us, and B)I don’t ever want to come across like I’m asking for sympathy. However, I know that we all make mistakes and face hardships. It has really helped me to follow other farming blogs and see that even when you are uber prepared, animals still get sick and things happen. Check out my sidebar if you’d like to see the obstacles others are facing.

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Our Winter in Pictures!

I’m away from home at the Michigan Vet Conference this weekend. I want to get a post up but don’t feel like saying a lot so I thought it would be a good time to post some pictures. These are all from the last few months (some are from fall). I’ll take advantage of the hotel’s wireless and upload these now instead of fighting with my connection at home. Enjoy!

Brian’s grader, our grain setup in the background.

Our first batch of Seventh Generation TP, Maci apparently wanted it out of the box!

The TP neatly stacked in the cabinet. We really like it BTW.

Sam doesn’t help much when I’m sewing.

Our Christmas tree with all western ornaments this year.

It is hard to see but look close: you can see Maci’s paw about to clock Baxter upside the head, and him about to fight back. They box all the time!

He crammed himself behind the printer to recuperate.

And they’re friends again…usually not this cozy.

This is from early fall. Brian built this calf shelter in one day. I had mixed feelings about treated lumber and decided it is better for us than replacing/rebuilding every few years. I was so proud of him. 🙂

My first every meat loaf. I’ll post the recipe someday. It was a special request from Brian when I announced that I’d like to start making a meal plan. He said it “tasted like meatloaf” which is what I was going for!

Our new logo, many hours in the making. What do you think?

An interesting pic I thought, it shows how badly we need to insulate around our basement.

Brian’s latest project – a new sheep feeder!! We used the plans found here and he made it in just an hour or two. Works great and saves a lot of hay waste.

Rocky & Shady, our two Arabians.

Pistol & Pooh Bear, relaxing in the sun.

They have hay 24/7. That is how they stay warm. They have been doing great even in this extreme weather, with only a couple wind blocks. The four of them can eat a round bale in 2 or 3 days in this kind of weather.

This is a typical Sunday, when we’re lucky.

Funny, I have similar pictures in all four seasons now. Don’t believe what you hear – chewing is not always a phase!! 🙂

I hope you enjoyed getting a glimpse in to our life during the past few months. It can be kind of crazy around here but we (usually) think it is worth it. How do these pictures compare to scenes from your own life? Which pictures do you like and want to know more about/see more of?

I’ll have a more substantial post up sometime soon!

Waste Reduction and Chocolate Muffins

I am very excited to be taking on the the Food Waste Reduction Challenge hosted by Crunchy Chicken (see sidebar for link). To start out I tossed any old food that I found in the fridge so that we can start fresh. Most of what I tossed were old dressings and sauces that we never use and brought here with us from the old house. I also threw out some shrimp and cocktail sauce from Christmas and one thing of leftovers from a restaurant. I plan to use my postal scale to weigh anything we throw out in February.

When I got to the freezer I was relieved not to find much that needed to be tossed. I did pitch some leftover cheesy potatoes we had frozen from our wedding. Then I came across the several bags of frozen shredded zucchini from last years garden. I had yet to use any of them. So, what’s a non-wasting girl to do with all that zucchini?

Make muffins! Yeah, chocolate muffins to be exact. I pulled together a recipe from a few different ones to come up with the following:

Chocolate Muffins with (Shhh!) Zucchini
2 2/3 cups whole grain pastry flour (or whole wheat flour)
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
1 1/2 tsp. salt
3 eggs
1 cup shredded zucchini (could also use applesauce!)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream (or milk)
1/2 cup oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped almonds and/or 1/2 cup Andes baking chips

I mixed the wet ingredients together first then added the dry. This was enough to make 24 muffins. I filled 12 muffin cups then mixed about 1/2 cup Andes mint baking chips in to the remainder. After filling the other 12 cups I sprinkled some tops with more chips and others with the almonds. I left some plain as well.

Bake at 325 degrees F for 20-25 minutes. These are delicious!! Let me know if you try them. I froze 8, took 8 to work, and left 8 for us to eat.

Selecting Heritage Breed Chickens

I’ve been pouring over my new Sand Hill Preservation Center catalog since it arrived. You wouldn’t think that a black and white text only book could demand that much attention but it has.

My goal for the poultry sector of the farm is to expand the laying flock and add some broilers this year. We started in the spring with 25 conventional straight-run chicks from the farm store and through a disastrous attack from the dog, housing issues, culling some roosters, and losing one “outsider” last week, we now have 6 hens and a rooster left. The flock consists of: 1 leghorn rooster, 1 leghorn hen, 1 barred rock hen, and 3 rhode island red hens. The Rhodies are by far my favorite. They are friendly and seem to be doing well in the cold winter weather. The barred rock rooster we had was very mean and I don’t think the hen is the friendly bird either. The leghorns are flighty and the hen doesn’t lay incredibly well.

After researching heritage poultry I have found 3 breeds that I would like to try out in the laying flock. I like the idea of helping to expand some of these old breeds that have very low populations currently. Plus, they seem to have some features that would be beneficial in our environment.

Buckeye: This breed was developed in a neighboring state, Ohio, and seems to be well suited to cold temperatures. They are a dark rich red color and, according to the Sand Hill catalog, have a gentle temperament despite being very active. The Buckeye is also on Slow Food USA’s Ark of Taste.

: Sand Hill offers the Barred variety of this breed. They are supposed to be smaller than Barred Rocks, quite hardy, and lay nice white eggs. Multiple sources name them as one of the rarest living breeds of American chicken.

Buff Chantecler
: This is a Canadian breed developed in 1918. The other varieties, White & Partridge, have been admitted to the APA standard and seem to be in a bit more demand. I think the buff color is gorgeous and I don’t have any intention of showing them anyway. The hens lay pale brown eggs, are supposed to stand harsh cold well, and be calm and gentle.

These three breeds would give us a good supply of brown eggs with some white as well. They are all listed as “Critical” in the ALBC. I have been doing more research before placing my order but hope to send it out soon. The plan is to purchase 25 chicks: 10 Buff Chantecler, 10 Barred Holland, and 5 Buckeyes. I am most excited about the buffs and really hope there are some left, it seems like the hatchery sells out quickly.

The goal would be to have them in an eggmobile during the warmer months with access to pasture during the day, then keep them inside during the colder months.

If you would like more information or are looking for the best breeds for your operation, check out the following sources:

Slow Food USA’s Ark of Taste
American Livestock Breeds Conservancy
Chicken Breed Chart

Homemade Garlic Shells

Alright, here’s the recipe for homemade garlic shells that I’ve been using. My friend at work gave me the idea and the basic ingredients. I’ve been experimenting with it and like the results. My husband and I both like the Lipton garlic noodles in the bag but they are expensive and full of preservatives and other junk. I doubt I am saving much because this recipe uses heavy whipping cream, but when all the ingredients are purchased on sale (or if you have a family cow!) it should work out to about the same, plus you know where it was made. The recipe is not real exact but tweak it to your liking and it will turn out fine.

The taste is a little bit sweeter than I was used to at first. However, today Brian made the bagged kind again and they tasted quite bland to me. I guess taste buds adjust pretty quickly!

1 cup heavy whipping cream
1-2 cups milk or water
1 Tbsp butter or margarine
Garlic powder or salt
Parsley for color
Medium sea shells (pasta)

Pour the heavy whipping cream in a medium saucepan. Add 1-2 cups water or milk (or a combination of the two). I add about 1 1/2 cups initially and a little more if the noodles start to stick later. Add the butter and a generous portion of garlic seasoning. We’ve been using Lawry’s garlic salt with parsley in it plus I add a little extra parsley for color.

Bring contents to a boil, then add noodles. I’m sorry I’ve never measured them, I just eye it. A little less than 1/2 of a 1 lb. box works well for two of us, sometimes with a little left over.

I turn the heat down and just simmer the noodles until tender. This is the point where you may need to add a little more water or milk if the noodles start to stick. Once the noodles are tender turn the heat off and let the sauce thicken for 5 minutes or so. I you find that you’ve added too much liquid you can always stir in a little cornstarch for thickening before turning the heat off.

Enjoy! These are really good with pork chops or a basic chicken dish. Let me know if you try it.