Friday, June 23, 2017

Sheep find greener pastures.

This time of year our land has no grass and little way to grow grass through the summer months, which is a big problem for sheep! We have not yet found an appropriate vegetable that works for grazers like sheep. So each year we must resort to buying hay (which gets incredibly expensive) or moving the sheep to greener pastures.

Fortunately... This year divine Providence has once again provided for the farms basic needs. We "ran into" a property that is beautiful, available for use, at a good price, and offers more grass than we could possibly need.

So... Here we are at the hottest day of the year so far... First time hitting triple digits, and it's time to load sheep!

I wish we had videos... This is one of most fun activities... Sheep rodeo! You would laugh right along with us at the trial and error as we try new ways to entice sheepish sheep into a small stock trailer.

Highlights from this year:

Dad caught a sheep in the air, mid leap. Not a good idea. Turns out dad finished the leap with her... Ouch!

Hunter did a few rounds with a ram... Thinking he was in charge when the ram was seriously taking the young boy for a ride.

Everett learned how to he a fence post, holding a stretch of not activated electric rope and standing incredibly still as sheep try to figure out what that curious sight is.

Kaelyn and Levi try desperately to close the trailer door when at one point a literal sea of sheep try to load at once with Dad caught in the middle, not realizing it is sheep holding the door open.

Rainey (the llama) decides to take a break down the driveway at one point to reflect on the experience he just witnessed.. them returns to the yard to take a shower. Yes.. llama standing in a yard sprinkler cooling down, refusing to move away. That was a sight!

Dad playing rodeo inside the trailer with a couple dozen sheep that decided the back corner of the trailer is safer than the open door to a pen filled with tall green grass.

At the end of the day, after three trips between our farm and the property... We had all the ewes and youngsters moved. 57 girls and one boy. The 13 Rams stayed at the farm for now. We will figure that out later. The rama can't be with the girls until around August, to prevent having to deal with babies born in the cold muddy period.

All in all a good day!

Now on to soothe the rodeo soreness!

posted from Bloggeroid

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Tonight's menu...

Here is a look at tonight's menu at the farm...

For starters we have a selection of fresh baby greens, a variety of green plants and weeds from the garden. Succulent, just picked with roots and all.

Then we move on to the main course... Our own mix of soaked, sprouted, and fermented grains. Not one grain... but multi grains. And when we say sprouted... We mean really sprouted with 1 inch tails!

Then to finish, a dessert of another batch of greens (weeds).

These guys eat well!

posted from Bloggeroid

Friday, June 16, 2017

Poultry Bedding, well almost!

Here is a quick pic of our poultry bedding... we make it ourself!

We collect brush as goat feed. This can be tree trimmings, landscaping projects, etc. As long as it is grown organically and good for goats to eat, we collect or accept donations and let them have at it! Great source of minerals and nutrition for the goats in milk.  

Once the goats consume all the leaves, small twigs, and bark.. the branches go into a pile to dry. Then through the chipper and into bird bedding!

Please remember to contact us when you are trimming trees, to see if it makes sense to collect it!

Tomatoes Everywhere - but what a day!

Yesterday was a very full day, but with a successful ending... Lots of tomatoes!

We were given almost a thousand tomato starts, needing to be in the ground ASAP. So what do we do? Drop everything and get those plants in the ground!

The "chicken transport" trailer was still together, so we were able to load all the flats of starts into the trailer, utilizing the second deck quite nicely. It was wall to wall plants on both levels!

Then yesterday, the fun started. The first step was to prepare a plot of ground becasue of course, there was none ready! We decided on the original pig pen. It should be decently fertilized, out of the way of other activity, close enough to water, and  "doable" this late in the season.

To till the hard dry clay dirt requires the tiller to be in top shape.. so that meant a couple hours rebuilding the tiller.  The back cover had fallen off while preparing the melon spot (sorry, missed the chance to blog that one), some of the tines were shot, and it was again covered in rogue baling twines. So this was the first order of business.. rebuild the tiller. Sorry again, no pics.. was racing the clock! But we managed to clean the tines, replace the worst ones with the old semi worn tines I had kept from last time, and reattach the cover. Took a couple hours of work.

The tilling went pretty good then... until the 4wd went out on the tractor! Yep, tractors ALWAYS break when you need them most. It's some type of law of nature! The thing is.. with a reverse tine tiller it is possible to turn a hard dry clay pasture into plant-able soil in a couple of passes IF in 4wd, but totally impossible without it! the rear wheels simply dont have the traction required to pull the tines through the hard dirt. There is a weak C-Clip in the driveshaft, which only gets weaker and keeps popping off, letting the splines separate. This happened in the middle of the second pass. So, off to repair the tractor! Unfortunately, I know this repair all too well! Took about an hour underneath and it was all back together.  That allowed just enough  working time to get it barely sufficiently deep for tomatoes before it happened again. Ok, fine.. good enough! Time to move on...

Then the transplanting started... this takes a while. 900 plants?  Takes a system! Fortunately the farmer who grew the starts let us borrow his "auto-transplanter" which is a really great invention.  A tool that cuts a hole just the right size and depth, open the hole, drop a plant in the top, and almost fully buries it.  Pretty nice! We set up an assembly line with the kids and it worked beautifully! The kids loved taking turns dropping the plants into the hopper to let them fall into the hole.  Farm Fun!

Then of course, water... we rushed to build some headers (were out already). Of course the glue got spilled onto the soil, so I was literally dipping the ends of pipes into the liquid glue puddle resting on the soil and successfully gluing the ends on. Quite a site!

We did manage to get the water lines in and "lit up" right at sundown... But didnt get time to fix all the leaks in the one year old lines. Instead, I just turned the water flow very low and let them drip slow all night.  In the morning, they look bright and tall!

The finished product. A patch of about 900 tomato plants getting their first real drink and sun in the "wild". As you notice.. planted VERY close with no stakes or trellis of any kind. We are going for a "natural" tomato patch where the vines "do their thing". Low maintenance!

Believe it or not.. THIS is what the patch looked like just 6 hours earlier! This is the beauty of a reverse tine tiller with 4wd trator. 

The slow watering all night seemed to be just enough to perk them up.

This is the nifty trans-planter tool that we borrowed. What a timesaver!

for the curious

Saturday, June 10, 2017

The Chicken Transport!

What do you do when you need to haul over 300 chickens?  Build a chicken transport!

Thats what we did last weekend... we ran across a golden opportunity to acquire a set of over 300 laying hens that met our standards, so we purchased the entire set to jump start this year's egg harvest.  But getting them home on short notice was quite the challenge.


I turned the stock trailer into a chicken transport with few 2x4s, some pallets, two pieces of vinyl house siding, 2 sections of vinyl lattice, and some bailing wire.  the whole process took about 2 hours and worked beautifully! There are now two floors in the trailer, upper and lower.  And all the wind and escape routes were blocked while providing just enough ventilation.

Here are some pics!

The drivers side finished. The grey is the vinyl siding to block wind and escape route. Right below the siding is the top of the pallets that form the second floor. 

Looking into the rear door. Yes, the door still opens! Across the back is the lattice for ventilation, and a 2x8 to fill the gap (scraps dont always match the perfect size!). Below that is the pallet of the second floor, seemingly hanging in mid air. 

You can see the 2x4s that stretch across from left to right and hold up the pallets. The 2x4s actually just go right through the center of the pallets to hold them. Then 1x1 strips screwed on the inside hold the 2x4s in place. 

View of bottom floor looking from the rear door. The 2x6s on the floor are for when we transport grain pallets, allowing them to slide across the wood floor without hurting it. 

Here is the roomy second floor! Three pallets make this floor an almost perfect fit. Look closely on the edges and you can see the 1x1 strips that hold the 2x4s in place. 

Here is the support setup. 2x4s slid through the window, then 1x1 screwed across them to hold them from sliding in either direction. This provides solid support with no holes in the trailer!

One little patch of lattice covers the leftover hole in the front beyond the siding,. Then.. the ultimate.. a chicken ladder from the bottom to the top made from 2 wire shelves. 
The whole odd setup performed extremely well! We were able to transport about 250 chickens safely and comfortably without any double stacking of passengers. They all made it home perfectly fine.

Sad to dismantle this crude work of art, but it's use is over. Perhaps I will store the pieces away for use in a couple years ?  Who knows!

Watermelons in the ground!

Early this week we planted the watermelons. Three different types this year, red, white and yellow.

Here is a pic of the kids setting the drip lines to sprout the seeds.

This watermelon patch is exactly twice as big as last year. This will provide even more delicious melons to finish the hogs on for the incredible pork flavor only at Little Sprouts!

As of this weekend, the sprouts are mostly up already and looking healthy!

Fava Beans looking good!

The fava beans are growing wonderfully!

They are actually covered in beautiful white flowers now, and lots of tiny beans.

And oooo.. all that goat feed! (weeds) in between the rows. We are harvesting a load per day of beautiful organic goat feed from in between the beans. Some of the weeds are too small to harvest efficiently, but they are growing!

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Bee Swarm #8 ! What a spring!

Amazingly... our one lone hive has now produced 8, yes 8 swarms this spring!

Swarm *7 got away. It landed in a tree for only an hour or so and before we could get set to catch it, they left and traveled over a mile to a new unknown location.  Cant catch them all!

But today, in the midst of feverishly working on another time sensitive project, swarm #8 emerged and landed in a tree in the front yard. This was .. was BIG. the biggest swarm yet.  (sorry, in our haste we did not get any pictures).

We managed to repair one of the old damaged hives, and clean it up in time to catch this one.  IT was an easy catch, simply brushing them into a box worked. We put them into their new home and they immediately went to work. This seemed the strongest queen, attracting the bees from far away as we moved them to the waiting hive. It was quite a sight!

So now, there are not one, but seven working healthy hives on the farm. And.. they are all emerged from the genetics of that one hive! Very calm, efficient, dedicated bees!

We checked the main hive, the one that produced all the others, and it is becoming quite sparse. maybe 1/5 of the number of bees there was originally. checking a few of the combs showed that the swarm had taken most of the honey with them. We took this opportunity to remove some old twisted empty comb so that they can start fresh now.  And WOW.. the little bit of honey left in those combs... nothing short of incredible! The flavor of truly aged honey.. aged in the hive, is indescribable. I have never tasted honey from any store that even comes close!

So stay tuned! as soon as we can, we will be offering what I consider to be... the worlds best honey!