3/25/11

Friday Farm Fotos: Broody



It's springtime on the farm.

To a banty (or bantam) hen that means only one thing-
time to hatch some babies.

It doesn't matter if they are sitting on their eggs, someone else's eggs, eggs that are bigger than their bums can possibly cover,
NO eggs.....
These broody girls are dedicated to the cause of motherhood.



































































Quick- snatch that egg before someone puts their bum on it!









 





Of course, it's not always such a bad thing...
there is a perk that comes from all this madness.









 




*SQUEEEEEAL*

Happy Friday, everyone!

3/21/11

Welcome to the Poor House


I usually don't discuss current events in my posts because I like for my blog to be a happy place to visit.... but we're feeling the pinch of the bad economy around the farm these days. Those of you who have any kind of animals, whether it be cats, dogs, or farm critters know feeding them is not cheap- and getting more expensive all the time. Our feed bill is becoming higher than our grocery bill and it's not that our animals are eating more because we carefully ration everyone's feed to eliminate waste- but the price of feed is going through the roof. Grain prices have almost doubled in the last year.... a bag of scratch feed for the chickens was around $7.50 just a year ago- now we're paying over $11 a bag and layer mash (which is vital to the hens egg-laying parts) is an unbelievable $14 a bag. The sheep feed is also higher than it was just a few months ago, but thank goodness the pasture is starting to green up which means the sheep will be eating mostly grass now.

But even that isn't free- we need to put down a bag or two of seed mix in order to have quality pasture.
At $40 a bag. *Sigh*

I had high hopes last year when I bought some new laying-breed chicks to raise that by now I would be selling fresh eggs on a regular basis to help with the feed bill, but it hasn't worked out the way I had hoped. The local farmer's market wanted so much commission off what was sold I wouldn't have made enough to break even. I also thought about trying a "fresh eggs" sign at the end of the driveway, but since we live off the beaten path I'm a little afraid of strangers driving up to the house with me here alone during the day.
So, it was with a heavy heart I decided over the weekend to sell off my 6 Rhode Island Red hens to help cut back on feed..... it was not an easy decision, but one I felt was for the best. I still have my green-eggers and the 4 young New Hampshire Red girls from last year, and that will be enough to keep us in eggs with a little left over to give to some of the elderly ladies at our church.
And of course I still have my fuzzy-bottomed Silkies who I love having around just for the entertainment value, and they don't eat much so they're not expensive to keep. (Although they would like to think they are...)
We are also hoping gas prices don't skyrocket any more than they already have... we have to fill up the diesel barrel for Hubby's tractor to cut and bale hay this summer. Yikes!

What about you.....
Are you feeling the pinch more than usual these days?

Sorry for the downer post today...
I promise this week's Friday Farm Fotos will be a happier place to visit!

3/11/11

Friday Farm Fotos: Looking for greenery


The sheep are starting to venture out into the pasture more these days, snatching up every little fresh green sprig that pops up.
And after eating dry hay for the past 4 months, I can't say that I blame them....

It's such a funny sight to see- they all come out of the barn at the same time, then split up to check their favorite spots.

Sweetie and Tiny head straight for the bottom of the hill....




While Lucy's twins, who are inseparable, go to the very far end of the pasture.





Meanwhile, Baby, Molly, and Dolly cover everything in-between.




Fret not, my little woolly flock,
Though dreary it may seem....
Soon all of the brown will disappear-
And give way to a field of green!

(And I do hope it's soon- we're almost out of hay! *Yikes*)

Happy Friday everybody!

3/8/11

Home Time Tuesday: Chess pies, chickie bags

 
Mr. and Mrs. Barn Swallow are back to hatch some spring babies, and are rebuilding their nest of mud and leaves in the highest peak of our hay barn.



Happy Tuesday, all... we had rain most of the weekend, so the fence we were working on last week hasn't been touched since Friday. We'll have to wait until the ground dries out before Hubby can get his tractor in the yard without the tires tearing it up... so for now, we're holding our breath the cows stay home.






From the Kitchen:


Since I always have a surplus of eggs I'm constantly looking for new recipes that feature them as one of the main ingredients. One of Hubby's favorites is an old-fashioned Chess Pie recipe I found in a church cookbook several years ago. I make it at least once a month, sometimes more... it's not a very rich pie, and occasionally we will have a slice along with breakfast.

Chess Pie
3 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup half and half (or use 3/4 cup milk instead of 1/2 cup)
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp cornmeal
Mix all ingredients and pour into a regular (not deep-dish) pie crust; place 3 or 4 small slivers of butter on top of the pie (optional) and bake at 400 degrees F for approximately 35-40 minutes. Do not over-cook.





From my Sewing room:

I found this cute reversible bag pattern online a couple of weeks ago and have been trying to find the time to make it ever since:


It's from the allpeoplequilt website and the pattern can be found here.




I think this is the fabric combination I'm going to use for my first attempt at making it... what do you think?








Lily Mae Photo of the Day:

Lily has lost nearly all her "puppy" teeth now and is cutting some new ones, which can only mean one thing...

My little girl is growing up... *snifff*


I'm caught up on laundry for now (thank goodness) and a roast is in the dutch oven for this evening, so I'm off to start sewing....
Thanks for dropping by today!

3/4/11

Friday Farm Fotos: Bovine Barrier


This edition of FFF is a little later in the day than I usually post, but Friday is errand day around here and *gracious* did I have a bunch of them this time.

Hubby took off yesterday and today to start building a fence.
Not just any fence, but a Bovine Barrier.
(I came up with that catchy name all by myself. *tiny squeal*) 
 After the rather disappointing meeting with Cow Man we decided to take care of business the best way we knew how- by putting up an obstacle that a herd of wayward heifers cannot cross. We've wanted to put a wood fence up in front of the house for a while now to match the one on the other side of the driveway where the sheep pasture is located, so we figured there was no better time than now, since you never know when you'll have... ahem... unexpected visitors. Plus, I'll be able to let the chickens out to roam more freely without worrying about stray dogs coming through the yard.

An auger makes easy work of digging holes.




The fencepost process goes like this:
Dig, tamp, fill.


Aaaand... repeat. Many times.


I'm off to help Hubby get as many posts in the ground as possible before the rain comes tonight...
Thanks for dropping by for a visit today.
Happy weekend, everybody!

3/1/11

Just call me Cow Patty.

I love routine.... I'm happy when every day is the same with no mishaps or disasters. And I always take for granted that when I have to be away from home for a little while, I will return to find everything just as it was when I left.
Not anymore.
Sunday morning started out like any other- I woke up early and took Lily outside while Hubby fed the animals; we ate breakfast, then got ready for Sunday meetin' and we left.
While we were gone, we had some visitors.
Of the bovine kind.


Flashback to last summer:
Early one June morning, Hubby had left for work and I was settling in to my daily routine when I heard Smokey barking and going nuts. I looked out the back window but saw nothing that seemed out of place.
I went to the side windows- once again, nothing out of the ordinary.
Then I went to the front window, and saw 10 or 12 cows in the front yard,  meandering their way up to the porch.
To say I freaked out is an understatement.
I called Hubby and frantically asked him if he knew why on earth a herd of cows would be in our front yard and where in the world they came from. He had an idea they had probably escaped from the farm across the road from us, which is heavily wooded and hidden from view.
By this time, they were making their way across the yard and I knew if the sheep saw them, it would be a disaster. I ran outside, (still in my robe, a lovely sight) hopped on the four-wheeler and started playing cowgirl. I succeeded in scaring them back down the hill, but I had a new problem- now they were running down the middle of the road. While not uncommon to see a cow out in the road in a rural area like this, it is highly unlikely you will see a whole herd of them making a break for it. Thankfully about this same time, a police car came down the road and slowed to see what was happening. He stopped to see if I needed help getting my cows put up (I'm still in my robe, remember...) to which I quickly explained they were NOT mine, but were on the loose and I had no idea whose cows they were. He said he thought he might have an idea who they belonged to and called for backup.
(Backup? *squeal* At this point I'm living my fantasy of being in a police drama. In my robe.)
He said this man's cows were notorious for getting out, and they had taken several calls on them being in people yards and gardens in the weeks leading up to this, and to make matters worse, the man didn't even live close by, he was only leasing the property and actually lived in another town.
Veeery nice to know.
The cows were herded back to their home without incident, and the details of that crazy morning were soon forgotten.

Fast forward back to Sunday:
Sunday was shaping up to be a rainy and stormy day... quite a bit of rain had fallen by the time we headed home from church. As we came up the driveway, we noticed a strange sight: large clumps of mud and sod had washed down the hill and onto the concrete. Then, as we pulled up to the house, we saw the worst of it.
Holes. All over the front yard. Some about the size of your hand, some even bigger. In the grass and all in the mulch and to beat it all, even a large set of muddy hoof prints walking through the carport.
It took a minute for us to compute what we were seeing, and then we both said the same word at the same time.
Cows.
Large cows. Several large cows.
In other words, the Flank-steak Gang had once again escaped and stopped in for a visit, this time with no crazy woman on a four-wheeler (in her bathrobe) to run them off.
The ground was soft and mushy from all the rain, and the hooves from these 1000-plus pound animals had sunk into the ground 4 or 5 inches in some places.
If that wasn't bad enough, they took it upon themselves to fertilize these large holes for us.
We were able to track down the man who owns the cows and found out that he had been informed that they were out again. He was nice enough to come and survey the damage, and although he acted only mildly concerned, he agreed to get some topsoil for us to fill the holes. Needless to say, we have a lot of yard work in our future before mowing season starts.... now I just have to find a place for all these cow patties.
*Sigh*
Fertilizer, anyone?