Sunday, January 16, 2011

What's Been Happening

I went through our photos to see what I haven't written about yet. Turns out there's a lot to tell.

Peter has been doing well with his cow share program, and decided he would look for another cow. 

It wasn't easy to find a purebred Jersey, but with the help of friends he was able to locate a bred heifer at a dairy farm about 3 hours from home.  She arrived with her name on her tag:   Introducing Della.

Our horse Calliope has not been the nicest since Della arrived, dominating the barnyard. She hasn't allowed our cows to eat until she is finished herself, which is not good. Our solution has been to keep her in the stall David built for her in the barn until the cows have gotten what they needed in the morning, and then allowing her out to eat. She has plenty to eat in her stall, but of course now she doesn't have the pleasure of bullying the cows.

Della will freshen the end of March.

Jim has been working on a new project.  This involves turning barley into barley grass.  I guess the name for it is fodder. 

I'm not sure where Jim first read about fodder, but there were some articles on the Internet from someone down in Australia.  After emailing the author they actually talked on the phone, and Jim received some valuable information. 

One of our front windows has been turned into a mini greenhouse.  Jim has to be careful and not place too much grain in a pan or it spoils and smells terrible.

The fodder can actually be pulled out of a tray all in one piece and rolled up just like a bale. 

So far everyone but Sandy the cow enjoys the new source of nutrients.  In order for Sandy to be willing to eat it, Peter has to cut the sprout portion away and then she's willing to eat the greens.  

If this works we will save a lot of money since not as much grain has to be purchased.  We would also have to figure a better place to grow fodder, since our front windows can only produce a limited amount. 

We've had lots of snow this winter -- and that's an understatement!  The first winter we lived up here we were wondering how we would ever get out of our 1/4 mile driveway once winter hit, since we didn't have anything to use for plowing.

Thankfully the county plows do more than clean off county roads.  They also come into our driveways.

It was just before sunrise when the plow came in the day we needed to be out to head for Bismarck.

As you can see,  we have quite the piles of snow. 

Late last summer our cat named Funny Face had a litter of five kittens.  We were so busy we didn't take time to tame them, so they were afraid of us and made quite a show whenever someone caught one of them.  We managed to give two away to someone heading back home to Montana and one died in an accident with the car.

One day we noticed one of the remaining two kittens had disappeared.  We wondered if something like a coyote had gotten it, since about that time we had trouble with them near the house.  The remaining kitten stayed close to Henry, our barn cat.

Just recently Andrew discovered the lost kitten sitting on a board near the entry to our shop.  We have no idea where it had gone or why it left, but it's been hanging around ever since.  One night last week our dog Samson woke me up in the middle of the night wanting to go outside, and as I looked out the window in the door I saw this kitten walking away from the dog house (which should now be called the cat house) and heading down toward the barn.  David feeds the cats in the dog house, so it must have eaten and then headed back to wherever it is staying. 

David, Andrew and I are determined that next time we'll make sure the kittens are tamed.  They are much easier to give away that way!

Below is a photo of our grain stealer ... One morning Andrew went down to the pigs to give them some hay and heard a noise but didn't see anything out of the ordinary.

When it finally was light he discovered that deer were jumping into the pig pens to eat up the grain which has been spilled by the pigs!  They kind of quit for a while, but lately it's been happening again.  

We have very deep snow and the deer are getting desperate for something to eat.  So far Zorro and the two sows don't seem to mind. 

 Last fall Jonathan decided to construct a hoop structure to be used as a chicken coop.  He could have purchased one from Farm Tek, but after finding a source for some type of tool to bend pipe in Farm Show magazine he decided to purchase the materials and build it himself -- with a little help from his family.

There are 2 layers of plastic on the structure, and Jonathan has a fan that continually blows air in between the layers for insulating purposes.

 The chickens seem to enjoy being in there, especially on sunny days.  It's always enjoyable to go in  and listen to them contentedly clucking away.

On two sides there is a way to roll up the sides to provide ventilation as well as keep the temperature inside the structure more in line with what's going on outside.  At first on a sunny day the temperature inside was about 78 degrees while the outside temperature was much colder.  At night it can get pretty chilly in there, so the key is to keep the chickens at a more even temperature.
Jonathan's Rhode Island Reds were hatched last spring, and just as they were placed in this coop they started laying.  The number of eggs fluctuates, but lately he's been getting about 5 dozen per day.

This very bumpy terrain is actually our hay bales under a cover of snow.

We had some trouble with our hay this year, since our neighbor was unable to get the hay up when it was ready.  The boys have been finding moldy hay, which is not good for anything.  So, they have to dig out a bale and check it before feeding it to the animals.

Another project that probably should have been done before the snow flew was putting up firewood for the winter.  We have plenty, but it still needs to be split.

In the background is a big metal culvert -- that was given to us by our friend Steve Schadler, and it makes an excellent place to stack fire wood.  Peter has been busy cutting up wood.

David has also been working with our fire wood.  They had trouble last week getting Steve's wood splitter to fire up, and David has been trying his hand at using a maul to split wood.  He will soon have big muscles like his older brothers.

Sandy is our Jersey that is currently being milked.  She was bred last summer and will freshen the end of April.  We will really miss having milk for the time she is dry.  Thankfully Della will freshen a month before Sandy, so we won't be without milk for as long as it could have been.

Below is a photo of our milkman -- Peter.  I'm thankful the hours of sunlight is lengthening now, because Peter has been milking both mornings and evenings in the dark.  One of our future projects is to bring electricity down to the barn. 

In the meantime, it's been working well for him to use a head lamp.

Peter has been diligently working on what will be his milk room.  It is our future main floor bathroom, but we have a long ways to go before we move up there and it will work well for him to process his milk in that area.  Peter has installed all the insulation, dry wall, taping, mudding, paint and tile.  The ceiling needs to be finished and plumbing installed, and then he will be in business up there.

I'm constantly amazed at the varied interests of our four sons.  David has his horse Calliope and has done well with her, but now he's excited at the prospect of purchasing another horse.  He has his sights on a Morgan.  I guess they are considered work horses as well as for riding.

There is a lady in the Turtle Mountains who is the head of the state Morgan Horse Association, and one day she invited Jim and David to take a look at her horses.

In the near future Jim will take David to a ranch a ways from here to check out a Morgan that is for sale.  I don't think it's the horse for him, but it will be good to learn more about the breed by seeing more of them and talking to the owner.  It will also be a good incentive for David to save up a bit more money to purchase the right horse for him.

If you look at the top of the house you will see something sticking up over the top of the roof line.

We finally extended our chimney pipe to above the house!  No more exhaust backing up into the house, no more problems with getting a fire started -- there is wonderful draft to the wood stove.  I am very thankful. 

Jim also brought the sewer exhaust pipe through the top of the house.  So far we've not had the septic system problems we've had in the past, and that is a wonderful blessing as well.

We have one more newcomer to our farm since last summer.

This is Rick, our new Boer goat.  Half of our goats were bred to him, and half to our dairy goat buck named John.  Some people have said they like having a goat that's good for meat as well as milking, and I guess we will find that out for ourselves.  I can't say I have overly enjoyed goat meat, but we'll soon butcher some males that were born last spring (we're a bit behind in getting things done around here).  I better pull up some good recipes for goat meat!


Herrick Kimball said...

What a great post. What an adventure. Such hard work and productivity! I thoroughly enjoyed reading about all you have going on. Thanks.

GrassFarmer Marie said...

Fodder! I've just been seeing this 'crop' up lately but haven't read much. I was wondering if we're too far north as fodder seems to be used as winter food, and the snow covers it all up in our area. However, you are overcoming that snow issue. Now I'll read more. Don't think I'll call Australia; I'll leave that up to you guys. :)
Thanks for sharing your homesteading life; we are inspired to keep going.

Marci said...

There is always a lot going on there. People don't realize the extra work it takes in the extremely cold temperatures. I am glad you have all those boys to help.

Anonymous said...

Hi Lynn,

What a wonderful post full of pictures! The barley grass looks so healthy!!
We were just talking here that we read years ago that you need to make sure that the male goats are nutered very young if you hope to eat the meat. They develope a strong flavor if left into adulthood. I recall laughing that someone took a buck into a butcher shop and the place reeked for weeks afterwards and the summary statement was, "DON'T EVER BUTCHER A MALE ADULT GOAT!"
I'm just wondering if that is why you didn't like the meat? The meat that we had was wonderful!
Keep warm,

Anonymous said...

Great blog Lynn.

Pictures are great and tells a good story also.

You should write a book. Yea right!!, like you don't have enough to do already.

Gp B

Anonymous said...

Hi Lynn & family!

What an interesting post! Thanks for sharing all the info and pics!

I could never get my splitter started in the winter without attaching a magnetic 'block heater' to the side of the engine for a couple of hours.

When we raised and butchered goats, we butchered the unneutered males at 3-4 months of age---delicious, especially roasted over a charcoal grill! Yes, they are small but easy to process and every tender.

I'm doing well. Enjoying the thought that the day length is increasing a minute of two each day---with an increasing rate as the weeks go by.

Let your Light shine!

Laura @ Rejoicing Evermore said...

Please keep us updated on the fodder, I am finding hardly anything about it online and I would love to learn more information about it. I've gotten started doing it for my 5 Nigerian Dwarf Goats, and I'm anxious to see how it does. :)