Saturday, February 18, 2017

One Extraordinary Life

"The only difference between an extraordinary life and an ordinary one is the extraordinary pleasures you find in ordinary things." ~ Veronique Vienne

 Such was the year 2016 on our little piece of paradise...

We raised two hundred meat birds, 50 laying hens, eight hogs, and four cows. We built outbuildings, harvested from our big garden (bringing contentment to this soul of mine), dreamed dreams. Our freezers were full but our hearts even more so...

Right after my last blog post, I found out we were expecting a little November baby. I found myself battling the fear that comes after loss, and enjoying each precious stage of pregnancy like never before. So priceless is this little one, so near to our hearts. To love is to take a great risk.

This was my first pregnancy while farming, and in spite of the first 18 weeks battling nausea and fatigue, the sunshine, hard work and nutritious food kept me fit and rosy. Even now, 3 months postpartum in mid winter I have had little struggle with the baby blues!

 Our little farm lassie, Shaye Lynn. Sweet as a rose, this one...

It was a beautiful, crazy, extraordinary year.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Busyness on the Farm

There is hardly time to sit around here, spring has sprung and we have countless small and large projects all clamoring for attention.

Using salvaged brick to edge an area of landscaping...

The garden area is showing signs of progress! We moved the black plastic to the last area of sod needing to be killed, and neighbors helped out with their skid steer to spread a pile of topsoil over the area. Compost arrives next week.
Cows are out on pasture... idyllic sight.
The not-so-fun discovery of the week is a whole bunch of tansy ragwort growing in the 8 acre hay field, due to the soil disturbance when the previous owners spread excavation dirt out over the field. This will be a long, slow process of eradication until it is under control, and may change our plans for haying this year. Our methods of pasture restoration will eventually allow for better sward density and will eventually eliminate most of these toxic weeds, but until then it poses a risk for our animals.
 Cow noses...
 It is harder to get these three to all look at the camera at the same time than it is to get a family photo! Aren't they sweet, though?

Thursday, February 25, 2016

First Taste of Spring

Can you guess what this is?

Last year I bought these supplies to make an 8' x 10' chicken tractor for broilers and never got a chance to finish/use it. 

Well now it is almost finished, other than the roof, door and wheels which can be added closer to go time. All told, it cost about $130 in supplies. We bought supplies to make a second one, so that we should be able to raise 100 broilers at a time. 

It went up pretty fast, Isaac and I built the frame in about three hours and I spent a couple more hours attaching the wire and cutting pieces of tarp.

And I LOVE the design so far! It is nice and light, but rigid. Compared to the wooden rectangle designs I had in the past or our heavy A-frame, it looks like a good compromise of function and easy moving. We shall see if it stands up to backwoods Willamina conditions... 

...please deer, do not decide it is a trampoline or a bed. You have already not been kind to our new fence, you lazy fleabags.

Here is the website where I found the chicken tractor plans.

Baby broiler chicks will be arriving in just over 3 weeks!

Now please turn to my handsome Hubby here, surveying the weekend's other project...
 ...and my handsome son, helping his Daddy (he was bursting with pride at being allowed to help and use real tools).
 We put up a semi-permanent pen around the calf shelter so they could get some fresh sunshine and a taste of spring grass. They loved it. Tentative at first, then grazing systematically in earnest, then running around kicking up their heels.

I love cows. Wayyyyyy muchly.

In fact, I had a chance to sit outside their pen, cows came over and started licking my offered hand, beautifully feathered chickens curiously came up to me, the sun was warm, grass was green...

... heaven...

I missed these moments intensely the past 4 years, though I tried not to dwell on it.

THIS is the good part of farming. Makes all the effort worthwhile.
I can't wait to put up our electric fence paddock system and get them out there grazing daily, but that baby grass needs to gain a couple more inches or else a first graze will shock them and stunt the rest of the season's growth.

The temperatures have been so warm the past couple weeks, looks like it will only be another week or so until I can move cows out!

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Of Calves and Chicks

We got some new chicks! Two dozen golden sex link pullets. They are quite the entertainment around here...

So much fluffy cuteness...

Oh... and did I mention I am a proud cow owner again? Thanks to a quickly and cheaply constructed pallet shelter (my husband hates it, but for a girl it was the best I could manage on my own with the materials available at the time), these 500 lb beef calves are quite comfortable in their deep bedding where they will stay for 1-2 months until the active grass growing season.

It is so neat to see our boys - not even 3 and 2 yet! - surrounded by dogs, chickens, cows, and already learning about caring for animals. I am so grateful to God for providing this wonderful life for my little family.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

New Layers

Yay! First eggs from the new layers. It always seems like a long five months of waiting for the rewards from so much purchased feed and diligent care of these birds, but it is fun when the eggs start pouring in. We should start getting a dozen a day soon!

Feathered creatures and human creatures alike have been soaking up some warm, spring-like January days here on the homestead.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Winter Projects on the Farm

Miles and oodles and bunches of fencing... okay, not even a mile, but it sure feels like it. Three sides of our 10 acre plot are fully fenced thanks to some hard working guys (and gal). We still need to fence parts of the fourth side which borders the seasonal creek, and fence our garden area and hog pasture.
I like chickens. Do I need a better reason for frequently featuring fowl on my blog?

 The back fence line of our property. Such a beautiful, secluded place.
 The garden fence - t-posts laid out and ready. I am seriously stoked about having a huge garden this year! Way lot of work, but I love gardening with a passion, so it's worth it :)
 Isaac and I... mostly Isaac, that might be more accurate... put together these new nesting boxes. The chickens seem to be big fans ;)

Our Homestead

Moving day! Our hearts full of dreams and plans for our new place.
 Loving my new kitchen!
 We immediately started some new laying hens.
 The hoophouse we built for the layers.
 The boys, playing on their trampoline :)
 Gorgeous views from the living room... feeling like we can breath again on our own little piece of country :)