Monday, April 28, 2014

Highlight of the day!

There is nothing quite like making time to break away from the normal hussle and bussel of every day work of being a Grandma and enjoy the great outdoors. You can tell from her face that Grammy loves to do the chores. The day got away from us with many unexpected tasks to accomplish. There was an announcement made at lunch letting the family know that we needed to work together to tend to the animals. Grammy spoke up first, "Want me to help??!". Of course, thankful for her delighted spirit to help, we are most thankful to be present to see her wonderful smile and witness first hand her love for caring not only for her family, but for these wonderful animals the Lord has given us!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Bee swarm in a box

We have been waiting for our strongest hive to swarm,  and they finally did today.  We found the swarm on one of the bushes near the front hives. 

Unfortunately the new top bar hive we had waiting to receive them was not assembled yet,  and as I was assembling it I discovered a missing piece.  So....  No spare hive!

Instead,  I built a temporary hive out of a cardboard box and the extra top bars.   To protect from the rain we raised it up and put a table over it.  That should hold them till the missing piece arrives.

54 sheep moved to foothill!

Finally,  after 2 months of delays and issues,  we moved all the sheep to the foothill property!  We are very excited to finally be making use of the land and free grass!
The head count including this year's lambs is 54 head.  They will be living in a moveable pen with enough grass for a week. Once the ground is trampled and fertilized, we will move the pen, till lightly, and plant hog and chicken feed.

Teaching kids life skill on a family farm

One of the huge benefits of the family farm lifestyle is being able to teach out children useful skill and principles firsthand.  Hunter spent a day learning about the physics of pulling tposts from the gro7nd with a tractor and chain.

How many wraps does it take to hold the post?

What angle should the chain be at relative to the bucket and post?

Is slack or tight a better starting position?

What is the most efficient manner to run through the motions?

What is required for safety?

It may be one skill,  but it is a host of principles and concepts to learn.  By the end of the day he was proud of his accomplishments and could pull a post safely and efficiently in about 30 seconds. 

The project was on the foothill property,  moving the sheep pen for fresh grass for the new arrivals.  Pictures soon!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

8 more little piglets born today

Our second litter of pigs have arrived!  They are so tiny,  so cute.  These are put large black...  8 born today and all look perfectly healthy!  Great time to come visit.

Soon we will be taking reservations for whole and half hogs.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Big brother TOBY

Toby (who is now 5 months old) has been sidekick to the baby ducklings since they first started popping out of their eggs. He has been seen as a shadow for the individual bringing ducklings from the incubator to the brooder, and also with his nose inside the brooder sniffing and getting acquainted with these adorable animated puff balls. Taking on the protective big brother role, naturally he joined us in the grand adventure outside this afternoon. In the pictures below you will see him looking after and protecting these precious babies. Good boy Toby, its a BIG world out there!

The last picture is of Oliver and Everett on second guard shift. Toby has taught them well!

Bees swarming?

It looks like our strongest hive is readying for an early season swarm.  There are Lots of bees outside the hive preparing for....  Something.  Must be time.

Problem is,  we just filled all our hives with packages so we have no place to put this swarm if it launches tomorrow.  I would hate to miss it,  this is the best colony we have ever had.

We shall see what tomorrow brings.  Too late to do anything tonight but watch.  I suspect at sun up will be a cloud of bees.

Nurturing little gifts

While bringing a few ducklings out of our in home brooder area to get some sunshine this afternoon, our 3 year old son Everett noticed one of them unable to open one of their eyes. Unsure if it was slightly gummed up or if it had been a victim of a sibling pecking at him, I suggested we problem solve how we might help this little creature. Our first attempt was for him to put a tiny amount of water on his finger and gently place it on the closed eye. His face lit up like a Christmas tree when the precious duckling opened his eye! "It worked! He can see!" We were so thankful. What a blessing to be here to serve.
Here is also a picture of us enjoying the babies take a dip in the children's water table. Although we only let them swim for 5 minutes at this age (they get cold), they are thoroughly enjoying themselves.

Its the little things..

So, the way this works at Little Sprouts is twice each day we gather up the ladies (milking goats) and escort them one at a time into a holding area where they await their turn to enjoy treats and be milked. Lately one of our gals has discovered a new talent. She has figured out how to pull out the pin we use to latch our entrance and exit gates. Having two entrance gates it was a bit comical and only a small set back when she would enter the milking room before it was her turn. Keep in mind the rest of the herd were close behind her. About a week passed and she was bored with coming into the milking barn and decided to try her luck at the other gate. Needless to say... we spent some time sorting the girls that had already been milked from those who had been ever so graciously returned to the sunshine!
To my delight, Uncle Bradley has installed a new piece to the puzzle for the ladies to contemplate for the next while. Order has once again resumed in the milking barn.
Take a look at his design, we will be sure to let you know not if, but when they challenge us with their crafty nature!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Night time emergency!

Wow... Did that really happen? As i wake this morning the images of last night return.... A desperate flight across the valley with half sleeping kids in the car racing to save a life. This is farming?
To catch you up.....
Around 10pm we had just put the kids down and were relaxing after a long day of home deliveries in Ashland. Then... The phone rings. It's is was our farm hand and there is a problem. 
It was Rosemary, one of our best goats in the portable pen there. She had apparently poked her head with horns through the 4 inch squares in the fence, gotten stuck, fought so hard that she broke the 16 foot panel free, managed to slip her horns back through another square in the fence and ended up stuck under the panel trapped against the ground barely able to move or even breathe. Her neck was at such an awkward angle that her airway  almost blocked.
To make things worse, this apparently happened hours ago. She was already lethargic and weak. At first sight she seemed already dead. Rosemary could die soon from stress and lack of oxygen. So... Time for the Calvary!
We called in uncle Bradley to stop by Walmart and get a hack saw or bolt cutter and head out. He gladly sprang into action. We also decided to grab the farm bolt cutters and race over.
Brenda somehow managed to get 5 sleeping kids into the little sprouts buggy while i gathered tools and threw on some overalls. Within 10 minutes the 7 of us were racing to foothill in the dark.
Uncle Bradley got there first and ventured as far into the property as he dare with 2 wheel drive.
With All of our help we bent her head back and slipped the horns back through the fence. Finally she was free! Dazed, weak, but free and OK.
Whew that was a close call! But thanks to everyone's quick action it worked out. This is part of farming.
Two hours later we were all back home safe and sound. Ready to see what tomorrow might bring...

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Duck hatching season

Duck season is in full swing here, with cute little ducklings hatching daily. The kids love ducks, wholly different personality than chicks. Ducks are cuddly, loving, and will happily follow anyone. Levi and everett spent the morning with some lucky little ducks

There be bees!

We happened upon a golden opportunity to purchase some bees this year to repopulate our hives.  These bees are retired from a busy season pollinating some orchards in California. Now they live at little sprouts to bring you the best tasting honey available!

Tomorrow after deliveries we will be moving the new colonies into the old top bar hives as their new homes. Hopefully we will get some great pics to share!

Silver Appleyards hatch

The first batch of silver appleyard ducks have hatched! We are excited to bring these fine heritage meat birds to little sprouts. Soon there will be a flock of twenty or so running around the farm.

In a few months these buyers week provide a very unique collection of pastured poultry products, all soy free, organic, free ranged, and heritage. Stay tuned!

First turkeys in incubator

Turkey season is upon us ! Well... The starts anyway. We collected all the Turkey eggs we could find (some from under sitting turkeys) and placed them all in the incubator. Right at 200 eggs total in the first batch. It is likely a lot of these first eggs won't hatch though, so we'd be happy with a hundred from this first batch.

After a week we will candle them and remove any that aren't maturing to make room for there second batch.

Turkeys on the way!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Officially Introducing Uncle Bradley!

You have seen him in numerous blog posts over the last few years... often in the background doing this or that..  and some of you have seen him filling in on delivery routes... so here is an official recognition of Uncle Bradley!  He is going to be continuing to provide part time assistance to us in various things so you may see him around either property from time to time.

Uncle Bradley is the architect and builder of many of our structures / fixes around here.. He is an accomplished carpenter, who can go from a tiny smart phone picture to full size finished piece in days with no plans!  WE deeply appreciate his efforts over the last few years.

Even though he is not an official employee, I'd like to recognize his invaluable help over the last few years. Uncle Bradley is part of the reason little sprouts can exist!