Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Wordless Wednesday...Playing With the Quails

Hamp may have found himself a "quail house" to get into...

Visit Top Mommy Blogs To Vote For Me!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Our Roaming Hens

Our hens got big enough to move to pasture a few weeks ago. (Read here to see what they looked like when they came in.)
Hubby worked really hard at getting a pen built and it was a big one!

The hens loved it!
They are so happy to be out and on grass.  They scratch and feed on every bug that they can find!
We are putting them in this movable pen until they are big enough to not be easy prey for hawks.  (Neighbors dogs we didn't think we had to worry about!)
They have been thriving...
It won't be long before we are collecting eggs!

Visit Top Mommy Blogs To Vote For Me!

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Graduate

On the last day of school, Hubby and I attended a graduation.

The first of many that we will be attending (we hope)...

It was Knox's graduation from Big A Elementary!

5th Grade graduation with the opening by Mr. Sanders.

For me, I get emotional at these type of things.  I cry at every high school graduation (except for my own) I have ever been too...being a high school teacher that is about every year!  So of course I got emotional at this one!

I got emotional not because my little boy is growing up (I'm excited about him getting to adulthood) but because I remember all the hard times.

Knox with his teacher Ms. Housely.

I remember the fighting to get homework done...

I remember the tears that came struggling to understand a new concept...

I remember the stress of studying for spelling words we never got...

I remember the calls from the front office...

I remember having to interrupt for his teachers until the speech came...

I remember all the practicing speech every night and every day...

I remember finally getting the diagnosis of ADHD and realizing that our world would never be normal...

I remember struggling with medication and worried about if that was the right choice are not...

I remember the tears of stressing over CRCT testing...

I remember the days of waiting for test results...

I remember all the homework that had to be redone until we got it right...

I remember finally getting the diagnosis of a learning disability that we knew was there... 

I remember all the extra time spent working on basic concepts that I'm not sure we have gotten yet...

I remember all the extra meetings and phone calls to help Knox get through the year...

I remember all this and the fact that Knox learned.  He made it through 7 years and has come out ready to tackle 6th grade!!

From Pre-K to 5th grade, Knox has had to work harder than his classmates to get the same results.  Whatever he struggles with, we struggle with it together.  He has learned to compensate and has amazed us with his accomplishments!  

Knox with his speech teacher Ms. Mulkey.  She has been teaching Knox since 2nd grade.

For 7 years, I had kept the tears of those struggles bottled away...

But that day those struggles came out in my tears for his accomplishments!

I am so proud of him and all the obstacles he has faced and stared down!

Now comes the hard part....

Knox and his friend Andrew.

Being a parent of a...

Middle Schooler!!


Visit Top Mommy Blogs To Vote For Me!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Wordless Wednesday...My New Friend

This is what I saw the other day when I got out of the car...

No...we didn't kill him!

We actually watched him go all over the yard until he found a hole to go in.

He is a black snake
and he has a job at our house....

He keeps the rats and chipmunks in check!!

Anybody else got a friend who sneaks up on you?

Visit Top Mommy Blogs To Vote For Me!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Lost Chickens

Last week was rough.

Thursday we lost fifteen hens.  They were killed by two neighborhood dogs.

Now I realize that having pastured poultry that we might loose some chickens to animals.  I expected the loss to coyotes, fox, opposums, and hawks.  But I was not expecting to loose chickens to neighbors dogs!

Unlike coyotes and foxes, these dogs killed our chickens and just left them!  They killed for sport, not to survive.  And that is what burns me up more than anything!!

So everytime I go to the pasture, I look like Annie Oakly!  I am carrying a shotgun with my summer hat on.  I know one day I'll come up on the dogs again...

The one bright spot of this was that Hamp got to help Daddy with digging a pit for the birds with the big backhoe...

Let's just hope that we won't have to use this again!

Visit Top Mommy Blogs To Vote For Me!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Our New Brood

As I have said before, we are getting into raising Pastured Poultry.   Our newest chicks arrived the other week.

They are Jumbo Cornish X.  They are nothing like our Rhode Island Reds!  The heat has not helped us either.  

Eventhough baby chicks need to be kept warm, it's been so hot, we have had a tough time telling if they are too hot! 

We also had some issues with an intestinal parasite.  With some new feed and water additives, the chicks are finally looking good.  We have lost 7 and another one this morning but I am hoping that that will be the last chick we lose!

These are our first try at growing broilers.  They are growing MUCH faster than the hens did.  They will be moving out to pasture in another week or two. 
We have to get the pen built first!

Stay tuned to the chicken story...

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Wordless Wednesday...Stuck on the Tractor

I heard Hamp crying one day and this is how I found him...

Don't ask me how he got in this predicament but this is a normal day for him!

Happy Wednesday!

Visit Top Mommy Blogs To Vote For Me!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Pickled Pastured People

As we are starting this pastured poultry adventure, I had been doing a lot of reading on the subject.  I have read and am really impressed with the Polyface, Inc. model.

Hubby and I would love to go and see this model in action, but right now that just is not going to happen.

Polyface, Inc. is in Swoops, Virginia in the Shenandoah Valley.

As I researched on the web for pastured poultry and organic farming models, I found a farm not too far from Toccoa.

They have a beautiful website with lots of pictures and slick videos.  I was impressed to say the least!  They do pastured chickens, turkeys, hogs, sheep and cattle.  They also have a diary with a cheese making facilities.  They had really done a good job and had learned what worked and what didn't.

As we started putting our chickens on pasture, Hubby and I were not seeing eye-to-eye on how to build and move our chickens.  We also were curious as to how to handle our hot summer weather.  With Polyface, Inc., their summers are warm but the Shenandoah Valley it not as hot as what we have.

Well, as I read the blog of the farm close to us, I read that they had made the trip to Swoops, Virginia and had "looked" around the Polyface farm.  The blog told that they were able to watch and see how Polyface did their everyday chores.

This gave me an idea!

Why don't I email this farm and ask if we could come and "look" around their operation to get a feel for what they were getting to work?

I noticed that they had farm tours.  I looked to see about doing one of these.  They charged for them and you had to reserve a spot.  All the ones that we could do were filled.  The next one available was on a date that we had something already scheduled and this was the last tour they were doing.  They are not doing any tours next year.

They also had farm dinners.  I looked into those and soon realized they were way off the budget!

So I sent an email explaining what I have just described above.  I noted that we did not want a tour but just to see the operation in its day to day activities.  I also let them know that we did not want to stay very long.

Well I got a response....

The response said that because this farm was their home, they did not like people coming and "looking" around.

I was perplexed.

Now what really caught me off guard was the fact that these people talked all through their website and blog that they wanted an "open" operation.  But the email said that they didn't want people to "look" around.

I was really perplexed.

I started realizing that they wanted to "charge" for their ideas.  The only way they wanted to allow you on their property was to charge you admission.  I started to see them as an amusement park not a farm.

I was really, really perplexed.

I grew up in a commerical greenhouse that my parents started in the 1970s.  I can remember people coming on Saturdays and Sundays, on holidays and any time in between just to look at their operation and get new ideas or learn new tricks.  My parents never turned down fellow growers!

Now I was just plain upset.

These people didn't want to share what they knew with others.

They are just like the rest of corporate American; hiding behind locked doors to corner the market.

Are they afraid of competition?

Are they afraid of people using their model to make a profit too?

I don't know.

Maybe I am reading too much into this email.

Maybe it is just their way.

Maybe they are just what my Daddy called "quar" people.

Maybe they don't like to have people around.

Now we are looking for another farm that we can come and "look" around to get ideas and see what they are doing that is working so that we can improve our model.

I just hope I remember this and never turn down someone who wants to learn how to better themselves and their farm.

Visit Top Mommy Blogs To Vote For Me!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Our Hertiage, Our Lives

In the early 1940s, my Popa and Mom bought some land and built a small home.  Popa had a job in the local tread mill but still worked each evening making the land they had "profitable".

Popa worked and cleared the land.  The land produced honey, vegetables, fruits, hay and meat.

I remember large gardens and constant canning all summer.  The gardens were rotated so the land was not completely striped of its nutrients.  Once the crops had given their bounty, they were left and plowed under in the spring adding organic matter to the soil.  Cover crops were used to supply nutrients to the soil during the winter growing season. 

I remember Popa nurturing the pastures.  He feed them twice a year--in the fall and in the spring.  He rotated his cattle and kept the numbers down to make sure the grass was never over-grazed.  Each spring new calves where born with some staying to produce more calves the next season, some sold, and some became meat for our freezers.

With summer came hay bailing time!  It was hot, hard work but necessary to keep the cattle full through the winter.  The fields were so well taken care of that only one field was needed to supply all the hay needed for winter.  Many years, Popa sold hay that was extra.

When he passed away, so did the farming.

His cattle were sold.

The gardens were much smaller and then non-existent.

The pastures became over grown because of the lack of nurturing.

This past year, my husband and I decided to reclaim the farm.

We knew it would take work, but because of the years of nurturing that Popa had put into the land we realized that we could easily get it back into production again!

So this winter we started clearing, bush-hogging, and fence repairing.

We are starting to add fertilizer to the pasture with chickens.

We are hoping to add cattle once we get the fences repaired.

We are looking to get hogs to clear parts of the pasture that have become over-grown and are too rough to get a bush hog on.

We are re-claiming gardens that have been dormant for years now.

But we want to use the land to heal itself.  We want it to produce what we need and what it needs for itself. 

We want the land to also produce a living for ourselves and our family.

We want our boys to learn the responsibility for preserving the land that God has given us.

So we have started our new venture...

Our new lives...

We want to use this land that we are responsible for to produce all we need.  We want to be less dependant on corporate America for our food.  What we can't grow ourselves, we want to buy from our neighbors.

We want to KNOW where our food and fiber comes from.  We want to know the faces behind what products we buy.  We want our boys to know that every product that comes into our home was produced by a person--not a machine.  We want human contact with our producers!

We are also realist.  Not every thing we buy will we be able to do this with.  There are things, like bananas, that we will just have to depend on face-less producers to bring to us.

This will not be easy but it will be an adventure!

I will share those adventures with you and look forward to you sharing your insights with us.


Let the adventures begin.... 

Visit Top Mommy Blogs To Vote For Me!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Coming Back....

I just can't believe I have been away for almost two months!!


I'm Baaack!!

And boy do I have some adventures to share with all of you!

We have started on a new venture and between that and school and work, blogging had to take a back sit for a while!

The biggest changes have been here on the "farm"!

Our "baby" hens are now on the pasture.  They are becoming beautiful Rhode Island Red hens and have doubled their size since my last posting on them.  With the temperature reaching over 90 degrees everyday, we are staying busy making sure they have shade and are well hydrated. 

We also got in 80 broilers.  These broilers are already sold and are going to be pastured in 2 more weeks.  They are Jumbo Cronish X that are becoming a challenge to get through the first few weeks!  The heat is not helping but we are getting there...

The boys are growing like weeds!  We are now in the fun adventure of potty training with Hamp!! Knox "graduated" from elementary school and with be a middle schooler in the fall!  So the family adventures continue...

We are JUST now getting our garden ready for planting.  That is, if we get any rain!  We put our garden in this time last year and it did better than most of our neighbors gardens did, so we are quite hopefully about it...

The tractor show season has started!  I'll be posting about our adventures to some of the shows as we get back from them.  We are not doing as many this year because of the care for our chickens and the cost of gas.  But we are planning to hit some of our favorites to catch up with our friends...

Also I have a GREAT giveaway of a product that I am too excited about and that I can't wait to share with my "groupies"!  So stay tuned...

I'm so glad to be back!

I hope you will be back too!!

Visit Top Mommy Blogs To Vote For Me!

Frugal Tractor Mom Headline Animator

Feed Counter

Visitor Counter

Search Engine

Custom Search