Starting out five days premature and not knowing how to or be strong enough to feed from mama, Pokey… Cause she took two hours to get her first meal… is doing really well. She is now feeding from mom on her own and she’s even exploring the other white animals of the barn! She is 75% American Alpine from our new ADGA guy Sycamore-Acres PP Charlemagne aka Chuck! This is going to be one heck of a milker!
It feels like spring has snuck in the back door, and that means there are plenty of babies for the farm! But our season started a little early this year. The Villa’s first 4 kids were born healthy and have been bottle trained and are headed off to their new homes as 4-H goats!
Year two of our garden “by the road” is in full swing. The tomatoes, peppers, cukes, squash, corn, beets, beans, lettuce, swiss chard, radishes and watermelon are in a race to grow faster than the weeds. Last year we learned that we definitely needed to remove the root systems or the original pasture that grew there (the never ending battle of course). This year we’re learning that this patch of soil has a lot of clay. We’re farmers so we know that we have to figure out how to fix it on our own. Luckily we have plenty of nutrient rich barn waste to mix in!
Between trying to keep animals healthy, barns and silos repaired, our kid entertained and somehow manage to squeeze in a vacation to see some friends we’ll be eating well and sharing our good fortunes with neighbors, family and friends. So if you want to pull some weeds, pick up a shovel, hammer some nails, dig a hole and eat some yummy food come on by and say hello. We always appreciate talking to things that talk back to us instead of just bleeting or quacking!
April 8, 2014.
Curt has been living on the farm for over two years now. Tim was still in SF for another three weeks. We knew we wanted to start a farm. Year one was great… easy… we can do this! Year two… not so much. All of the rain made for great pasture, but all of that moisture was also great for the parasites living in it that the goats consumed. It made the vegetables grow, but also the weeds. We couldn’t keep up. We just had to let the weeds grow and pick the vegetables around them. We had our only regular milking goat die so we didn’t get any fresh milk for most of the year. She was one of our first goats. That was hard to see happen. We had our first cutting of hay bailed, but needed to unbail most of it because it was too wet. We manually took apart 60 bails of hay and threw it back into the field to be be rebailed once it dried. (Curt actually did most of this on his own. He’s the hulkster) We got the structure of the grain bin built that will eventually become our guest house before the cold set in. This was a hard winter. Some say the worst in Michigan in 130 years. For us, it meant a frozen water hydrant in the barn so we had to truck 6 buckets of water from our tub in our new remodeled bathroom outside twice a day. We learned our driveway drifts… a lot. But we tried to find the beauty of it all. Even with our three layers of clothes on!
But, Spring 2014 is upon us… we’re full steam ahead! This is our third spring and we hope we keep getting better every year. We bought a new John Deere tractor. We’ve had 5 kids so far. A set of twins and a set of triplets. We’re bottle feeding our first boy! He was one of the triplets that was rejected by his mother. Apparently this is somewhat common. Three of the five have already been reserved to be purchased! All baby goats are adorable!
We have three more mama’s due hopefully within two weeks. We have 20 duck eggs in the incubator. It’s amazing how ducks in the wild can get most of their brood to hatch, but we still only have about a 50% rate. (We’ll work on that for next time!) We have about 100 plants growing in our little greenhouse in the dining room. The dining room is going to get more full when the ducklings move in there next week. Our third barn cat, Betsy, got to see and wanted to play with Alex, our other barn cat. He wasn’t so excited about it…
We’re going to pick up two large volume milking goats tomorrow so that we can start making more soap and Curt’s delicious cheese! We built a climbing ramp for the boy goat pen and raked a lot of the goat paddocks last weekend. We have one of the triplets who scratched his eyeball already. Neosporin applied by the finger is much easier than by the applicator tip! He’ll be fine. We dehorned two already and three more are scheduled for this weekend. We’re going to the Michigan Dairy Goat Association annual expo for the first time this year on Saturday. We need to get up at the buttcrack of dawn to do chores, drive an hour and still be there by 8am. Not sure how they expect farmers from all over the state to do that, but we’re going to try it this year. We hear you learn a lot though!
It’s going to be a crazy busy spring. Will it ever get any easier? Will we ever be able to keep the weeds out of our garden? Will the racoons eat our baby corn again this year? We’ll see. But we’re up for it. Want to come see us? Want to come help? Just let us know. We love visitors!
For our trial run at our new garden up by the silo, with no electricity and no water near by, I think we did pretty a-ok. We learned that you definitely need to remove the weeds when you till it up the first time. We also learned that weeds take nutrients from the soil that the the vegetable plants could use. Finally we learned that pepper plants can be very prolific. This is the last round of weekend harvesting. More butternut squash coming up though!
Later this fall we’re going to cover the current garden site with cardboard and put our barn waste on top of it all winter. Next year we hope to have bigger badder veggies! Can you say road side stand! Nick sure can since that may be his job!
It all started memorial weekend when Curt thought that we would only have one baby duck hatch. So after a fun trip to our friends over at Feral Foods in Willis, Curt and Nick decided that not only would they want to make sure our probable one hatched duck would have a buddy, but that turkeys are awesome so we needed one of those for a while. While Tim was away working for the weekend and Curt sent pictures of not one, not two, not three but four baby ducks and some other mysterious creature, we were now raising two hatched ducks, two bought pekin ducklings and also a heritage breed turkey. It was decided that he would be named TG in honor of our favorite belly stuffing holiday in the fall!
Yesterday, TG finally strutted his stuff and showed his true colors. It was a beautiful sight to see! He acted like he didn’t know what was going on. He has this look of “um guys… Could you please make this stop.” But we loved it! Now, let’s see how things go for the next month. After Curt has now processed six ducks and TG makes the grossest poop on top of the duck house, Curt says he’s ready the the annual harvest feast! These are the signs of true farmers…
It’s been a busy few months on the farm. Still plenty to do, but with most of the garden planted, all of the kids and moms healthy, horses getting taken for rides, yesterdays rain created a time to pause and for Lil’ dude to chill on the tractor seat for a while!
Some of our friends, family and neighbors think we’re crazy, but if you live on a farm you should grow things right? Why not make it other animals??
So far we’re not sure what it is. We have a feeling that it is probably a Khaki Campbell / Cayuga Mix, but we’ll find out sooner than later! Same thing for if it’s a boy or girl. That will come with time, But in the meantime, we’re certainly enjoying hearing the quack quack quack as it’s anxiously waiting for it’s new friends to be born!
TSC Purchase #754 – Egg Incubator… Success!!