10/24/14

And.... October.


*Tap tap tap*
Hello? Anyone still out there?

Thanks to those of you who have sent emails checking up on me and making sure everything was okay. I never meant to be away so long....
So much has happened since my last post; along with the usual "busyness" of summer, my aunt and uncle were involved in a very serious car accident in July. They have both recovered for the most part, but since they are in their late 70's, it was a long road for them. Hubby and I tried to help them out as much as we could, so along with taking care of their place and my Dad's yard as well as our own, summer came and went before we knew it.

In August, we had to have Daisy put down. Those of you who've read my blog for a long time will remember her story~ she was our very first sheep; a bottle lamb. One day I found her limping very badly on her back leg, not able to put any weight on it it all. I wasn't sure if it was a hoof problem, so I checked it out but didn't find anything. By the second or third day, it was clear she had either dislocated her hip or worse, it was broken. And by this time she was in so much discomfort, she had stopped eating. We had a vet come and look at her but she advised that any type of treatment would have a slim-to-none chance of working. So, I made the decision no one wants to make, but in the best interest of the animal, you know it's what you have to do. It's been almost two months, and I still look for her every morning when I go to the barn....






On a lighter note, guess who just turned four years old last week? 
This gal.



Remember the "spring chicks" in my last post? They're all grown up now.
And one of the chicks turned out to be a rooster.....
Meet "Big Otis" and his girls.



And the silkies? 
Well, they have such a sweet life, they might just outlive us all. :)



Happy Friday!!

5/23/14

Friday Farm Fotos: Spring chicks


It's just part of having chickens. They get old. And stop laying.
And die.
Of course, around here they always die of natural causes....
Once a hen's laying days are over on the Fraker Farm, they get put "out to pasture" so to speak. In other words, I turn them out every morning and let them spend their days roaming and foraging to their hearts content, and I figure if they become a meal for a predator at least they died happy, since most chickens think it's heaven to get to free-range at all, let alone all day long.
I usually don't keep more than 4 or 5 laying hens at a time anymore simply because I stopped selling (and giving away) eggs and the feed is too expensive to justify keeping more hens than we need to in order to have enough eggs for two people.
I bought four Red Star chicks a few years ago, after having only Rhode Island Reds as my primary layers for many years. I fell in love with these calm, beautiful girls right away. Even as chicks they were so sweet and curious... I could stick my hand down in their box and instead of freaking out like most breeds do, they would come to my hand and peck at my wedding band along with any mole or freckle they thought might need inspecting.
The Four Hens of the Apocalypse (as they came to be known after what they would do to the mulch in my flower beds) lived the good life... they were almost five and their egg-laying parts had slowed down considerably so they started spending their days outside the coop. Unfortunately, one fell victim to a predator, and I lost two more to some mystery chicken illness soon after. I only have the one remaining hen, and she prefers to spend her days hanging out in the sheep barn, but occasionally she comes to the back door and waits for a treat.
Ah, the golden years. :)


I knew this would probably be the year I would need to get some new egg-layers, and I'd already made up my mind to get more Red Stars. Besides, the feed store where I always bought chicks never has a big selection of large breeds to choose from.
Wouldn't you know, this was the year they decided to carry some of my "dream" chickens... Buff Orpingtons. I've always wanted some of these big beautiful birds... sometimes just saying the regal name "Orpington" would make me smile and sigh over the dream of one day having a few for my very own.
I know this sounds hard to believe coming from me, but, well... I went a little overboard at the feed store.
*snicker snort*
I came out of there with six Red Stars and three Buff Orpingtons, which I held in my lap on the way home and all the while Hubby had that look on his face... you know the one~ the "guess I'll be building a bigger coop" kinda look. Poor thing.
Men just can't say no to a woman who loves chickens.

*Sigh* 


I'm happy to report that not only are these Red Stars as sweet as the last batch, 
but the Buffs are just as sweet if not more.
They're going through that awkward "teenage" stage right now, where they're all legs and feet. 
Love their hearts.



Their favorite thing in the whole world is just to perch and watch the world go by.


And my favorite thing in the whole world (other than baby chicks) is waiting for the day those fresh brown eggs start rolling off the assembly line. *squeee*

Happy Friday!!!

5/16/14

Friday Farm Fotos: Plow, Plant, and Pray


Lily and Tiny share a moment at the fence.



I found a quote on the internet not too long ago in which the beautiful Audrey Hepburn once said,
 "To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow." 
I love that. 
I also know firsthand how frustrating it is to plant one day and then the weather make you lose all hope in your garden the very next day. 
Ugh. Thanks a lot, Mother Nature.

(Sorry, I'm a child of the 70's. :)



Hubby plowed our little garden spot in early March. 
Here he is at work with the sheep cheering him on in the barn behind him. 
Gotta have teamwork to make a garden.



The ground was so beautiful and dark.... thanks to some heavy doses of manure.



Hopes were high for our little garden this year! 
We planted onions, broccoli, and cabbage near the end of March.




Then it snowed.



Aaaand we had a frost. A hard one.

And our poor broccoli... eh, it didn't look so good.




The blossoms on my apple and pear trees didn't fare so well, either.
No fruit from them this year. *pout*




Hubby left the broccoli alone, and it actually came back to life after a few days of warm sunshine. 
Yay!
Here he is working the rows with "Cubby".


I think everything will be alright after all this cold weather. Time will tell.
We put corn in the ground this week~ 
I'll be anxious to see if it makes it "knee-high by the fourth of July."

My strawberry plants made it through the winter and cold snaps just fine and dandy.
This picture makes me smile like you would not believe.
In fact, I'm smiling as I type this. *giggle*




You know what else makes me smile?
Baby chicks!
*squeeeeeeeal*



But we'll talk about that next time. 
*wink*
Happy Friday!!!



5/13/14

March, April.... May? Hey!


*tap tap* Hello? Anyone still out there?


Yes, it is I.... slinking back into this blawg after neglecting it for, well... all of 2014 so far. *Sigh*
No excuses, really... just can't seem to cram enough into each day lately, let alone post updates on here.
But that is all about to change! (Really?) Yes.
I have a rather large and growing collection of pictures from the last three months I'm just about to bust to share. With anyone. Just not today. *Insert evil laugh* I'll be posting them on Friday Farm Fotos over the next few weeks, spreading them out so it will be more exciting that way. Kinda like a cliffhanger. Or not.
I'm also going to start something new around here; I started writing in my journal again back a few months ago, and I'm thinking of sharing some of my short stories from it with you. Sometimes I just write nonsense~ well make that most of the time~ but some of them are memories from my childhood and other musings that I want to put on here if for no other reason than to put it out there for someone other than me to read.
Oh, and something else~ I'm trying to familiarize myself with all this social media stuff by posting a picture every morning on Twitter or Instagram or both. Usually it's a picture of a chicken, a sheepie, or Lily; so if you can handle critter cuteness first thing in the morning, look me up. Click here to find me on Twitter, and here to find me on Instagram. Oh, and here for Facebook, if that's your thing.
I've got a lot of catching up to do with all my blog friends, so I'd better get started.... can't wait to see what's been going on with YOU!
Happy Tuesday!

2/21/14

January, February....


Time has a way of getting by without realizing.....
I haven't written anything on here since the first of January, and now I'm wondering now where the last seven weeks have flown to. *Sigh*


Everyone around here is okay, including the critters; but the weather sure has been keeping us on our toes lately. 
For instance, this was what it looked like here last Thursday~


And yesterday? It was 74 degrees and thunderstorms. 

Warm enough that even the bees came out of their winter slumber 
and were venturing away from the hive, looking for water.





A few weeks ago everything was covered over with ice as the temperatures stayed in single digits and teens here for several days.... here I am trying to thaw the sheep's water out with a torch.


The sheep did not like my torch and ran out immediately. 
(No doubt fearing I would blow up the barn...)



The chickens got to stay inside for a few nights in the Holiday Hen (laundry room) 
when the temperatures were near zero.
As you can see, Lily is checking on them to see if the accommodations were to their liking. 
(She did this every few minutes until I finally had to close the door.)




The weather has been a great excuse for spending lots of time in my new sewing room... 
I've finally had the chance to go through my fabric piles and sort them and organize all my tools. 
This is my cutting table/area hubby fixed for me~ 
I have all my rulers, scissors, and rotary tools here close at hand plus a huge self-healing cutting mat. 
I also love that he put casters on the bottom of the cutting table, 
so I can roll it around the room if I need to. *squeal*



Of course, Lily has supervised all this organizing from her favorite spot.



I'm really glad we cut extra firewood last winter, 
because we have been using it up quickly just keeping the house warm. 
Fires are so cozy...




Getting water to the animals in the winter can sometimes be a headache, especially since the outside spigots had to be covered in insulation to keep them from freezing. When the temperature was near or below freezing, we had to carry water in 5-gallon buckets to the barn. 
If you want to know how out of shape you are, try carrying two at a time up a hill. 
Trust me, it is a humbling experience. *UGH*

Here is my sweetie, carrying water to the sheep barn for me when he got home from work. 
I think I'll keep him. *Swooon*




I think I can safely say we are all looking forward to Spring this year... I hope it arrives soon.
Especially since I think the sheep (Daisy, in particular) are thinking about moving to Florida.


Happy Friday, everyone~ I have lots of catching up to do with all my blog friends!!
♥♥♥

12/27/13

Final Farm Fotos of 2013: A Look Back


Since this is the last Friday of 2013, I thought it would be fitting to take a look back at the farmy highlights from this past year. Last Christmas Hubby gave me a brand new camera and I didn't realize just how many pictures I'd taken with it until I went back into my archives. I ended up spending a couple of hours just looking through them all, enjoying the change in the seasons through the lens of my camera.







Lots of spring rains brought the pasture out early, and the sheep couldn't wait to start chowing down after eating dry hay all winter. This picture was from April and the wildflowers were popping up everywhere. That was perfectly fine with the sheep, they just ate them too. :)
















Speaking of the sheep, they made it through 2013 very well, with the exception of me getting a late start on shearing them. Poor Tiny had to suffer through the humiliation having his wool halfway off when the clippers fell apart in my hand. The job was soon finished once the clippers were fixed, but I'm sure he was not happy about the other sheep laughing at his half-done hairdo.
(Which I have no doubt they did.)


















Also in the spring~ fuzzy bottoms were hatched. *squeeeeeal*



















Summer of 2013 will be remembered as the "Summer I spent on the mower." I don't think I have mowed this much since we moved here.... we had so much rain this year the grass was literally growing overnight. I think we spent more in gas for the mower than we did for the car all summer. *Whew*














Hubby's beautiful garden in June... we had very good luck with almost everything he planted~ but some critters called all their friends and relatives and helped themselves to our cantaloupe. *UGH*














I was so proud of my beautiful sunflowers, though... they brought a smile to my face every time I looked at them.




















We only lost one member of the farm family this year, but it was my favorite big hen, Lucille. She was sickly in the spring, but seemed to improve over the summer. Then, in early fall, I found her lying motionless on the ground one morning. I will always miss her quirky chirps and seeing her running towards me, hoping I had a treat for her.
(And I always did...)
Sleep tight, sweet girl.














The bees did very well in 2013... Hubby and I took off nearly 9 gallons of honey in August, and we still left 2 full supers of honey for them to eat this winter.
Fingers crossed they make it until spring.....



















The hummers were late arriving in the spring, but they also lingered late into October before finally leaving for the winter. I miss them.... and I hope they show up at the feeders early in 2014.




















And January through December, 365 days a year, you can always find Lily doing her favorite thing.

















Thanks for taking a look back with me! 
As we watch the sun setting on the old year, I get to say it one last time in 2013.....


Happy Friday, everyone!

12/24/13

Christmas Eve Preparations




Christmas Eve is here and my day will be filled with baking and some last minute gift-wrapping while waiting for Hubby to get home from work. The utility company he works for lets them off a half-day with a full days' pay, so he doesn't mind having to go in for just a few hours. :) Once he gets home, we will be traveling to spend time with family, then on the road again tomorrow.





I made a big batch of hot tamales for my family get-together... I've been asked before if this is some way we celebrate a family heritage and the answer is no~ it simply started many years ago when my mom and her two sisters wanted a break from the usual holiday ham and turkey, so they started making huge pots of chili with cornbread and hot tamales and the tradition has continued for over 30 years. As you can see in the background, the food inspector approves. :)




Speaking of Lily, she got a new sweater for Christmas.



And to all who read this blog: 
A wish for a safe Holiday season along with much love from all of us here on the Fraker Farm~ 
Merry Christmas to you and yours!!!