Wow are things moving fast these days! I had mentioned in an earlier post how I was hoping to start my own "seed library", but wasn't sure when I would get to actually offer any seeds. Well, in just this past week, I have gotten so many seeds for free, and still have many more on the way, I just may get to open my library doors much sooner than I ever imagined! :D
Black Prince Tomato
Goldman's Italian/American Tomato
Purple Podded Pole beans
(Credit for pictures goes to Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds)
Last September I sent in an application to have our farm become Certified Naturally Grown. Days passed... Weeks passed... Months passed....And still no answer on whether we passed the requirements. Then, out of the blue, I got a reply this morning about it! We have almost passed all the requirements needed to get the certification. There is just one thing remaining if we want to become certified. And it depends on our neighbor.
Our neighbor sprays his crops with conventional chemicals, and while CNG (Certified Naturally Grown) has said that we have a adequate buffer between us, they want to know how often he (neighbor) sprays his field, what chemical he sprays, why he sprays it, what he uses to apply it, what the slope from his property to ours is like..... The list goes on.
So now I am undecided; I really, really, really,don't want to call our neighbor and bombard him with all these questions. Should I just give up trying to be certified? Or should I at least try approaching said neighbor?
At last! a flowchart that will tell me what is real food and what isn't, while I'm at the grocery store! ;) Okay, so it's really just to make you laugh, but hey, you could still take it with you while in town....
He he, I have been tickled pink reading through a new book that I got today. The title is 'Healthy Choices', by Miriam Wengerd, and it is chock full of healthy/ natural recipes; everything from cookie recipes, to soap recipes, to the much coveted gardening recipes. ;) Here are a few that I will most definitely be trying out this year:
Garden Hint: Sprinkle salt on your cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli transplants to keep them free from worms.
6 1/2 Tbsp. Epsom salt
3 1/2 Tbsp. borax
5 gal. water
This is for tasteless melons. Apply when vines start to run and again when fruit is 2 inches in diameter.
Pepper Spray for Pests:
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
6 cloves garlic
1 quart warm tap water
Mix, then let stand for one hour. Strain and put in sprayer.
Natural Bug Juice:
1/2 cup Marigolds
1/2 cup Geraniums
1/2 cup garlic
Put in blender and add enough water to blend. Strain. Mix with 10 gallons of water. Sprinkle or spray over, around, and underneath vegetables, especially lettuce.
1 Tbsp. dish detergent
1 cup oil (sunflower, corn, etc.)
Mis 2 1/2 teaspoons of oil mixture into 1 cup of water. Spray on bug-infested plants.
4 cups vinegar
1/4 cup table salt
2 tsp. liquid dish soap
To kill weeds and grass. Combine ingredients and spray where needed.
Recipe for Fruit Tress:
10 lbs. Lime
5 lbs. wood ashes
2 1/2 lbs. sulfur
1 lb. coarse salt.
Apply tight around trunks of trees. Keeps insects from going up trees (and keeps mice away!).
This is another excerpt from the "Eat Wild" website, that I wanted to post on here.... Why is it that we always make the cows eat everything?
"Animal researchers have discovered an efficient way to recycle paper: feed it to cows! In a dubious feeding experiment, scientists ground up telephone books, glossy magazines, computer cards, computer printout sheets, newspapers, cardboard boxes, feed sacks, brown bags, and coasters. Then they soaked the paper in whey to make a sort of paper mache. "Based on in vitro digestibilities," they reported in the Journal of Dairy Science, "we conclude that it is possible to recycle selected paper/whey combinations through ruminants."
Some may say that I'm stubborn.... Some may say that I keep trying until I get it right.... Some may say that I don't back down from a challenge. But which is it? Many people have given me their negative opinions on how our little farm is run, and ya' know what? It hurts. On the outside, I brush it off and laugh; after all, it works for me! But deep down inside, I feel the sting of disapproval.
People think I'm stubborn because I stick with what works for me instead of using their method which doesn't work for me. I don't vaccinate my animals, or use chemical dewormers on them, and am consequently told that I am neglecting them and shouldn't have any animals. My calf if on mostly milk replacer, and people think that I was wrong to buy her since I "cannot care for her properly" (am I the only one who sees something wrong with paying $560.00 every single month for raw milk to feed a calf?). I keep my rabbits in the chicken coop, and am told that they will eventually succumb to mites, so therefore I am a bad person to try such a thing. My dairy goats get a very small amount of grain, and am told that "you just can't do that" and am given "the look".
The truth is that all these things work for me. I am not neglecting my animals by not vaccinating them or using chemical drugs. I use herbal methods instead and love the results. I almost lost one of my goats to barberpole worm during the summer, and got verbally slammed for using herbs to treat her. But lo and behold, she (the goat) recovered completely, whereas the person who wasn't happy with me, lost seven goats while using chemicals. I'm not trying to say that I have all the answers here, because I don't. I'm still learning; and am always happy to try something new. But I think sometimes we humans get so caught up in what we believe is the right way to do something, that we get prickly when someone does it differently. I know I'm guilty of this too, and am trying to do better about it. :-/
I think that it's also important to make sure that we are following the Lord's leading in every aspect of our life. Having faith can be hard sometimes! I remember when I first got my calf, I had hoped to keep her on mostly raw milk, but the Lord very firmly showed me that she was to be raised on mostly milk replacer. To some people, it might seem like I'm shirking; I got this calf with all costs thought out and then BOOM! she's on milk replacer instead of raw milk. "My" agenda was to keep her on raw milk, and I probably could have, but that wasn't the Lord's plan.... I can't see His whole plan for my life right now, I can only see what is pretty close at hand. What I do know though, is that I need to just trust Him. Yes, it hurts when people make false assumptions about me. Yes, it hurts when people continue to push "their" way at me, even though it doesn't work for me. But slowly, I'm learning to look past the hurt, and forget it. After all, if it's not in the Lord's will, don't worry about it, right? Easier said than done, I assure you. ;)
No, this doesn't really have much to do with farming, but it was on my mind, so I decided to go for it and type this all down....
For those who don't know me so well.... I am a chicken lover. ;) Well, an all around bird lover really. I'm always on the lookout for odd looking and rare birds to add to my beginning collection, and this bird will definitely be finding a home in my coop come spring....
Please meet, the Creme Brabanter
On a side note, if you are ever looking for pictures of any kind of poultry (from chickens to swans!), I highly recommend www.feathersite.com
Overall, 2010 was a good year. Granted, it was a cool and wet summer, and my garden was a flop, but I sure learned a lot on how to get those veggies growin', even in unfavorable conditions. In 2010 we got another flock of chickens, got into dairy goats again, got our very first cow ever, and I learned how to "harvest" chickens. ;)
I am excited to see what 2011 holds for us this year, although I am already learning that it will be different that what I had hoped for back in autumn...
The Lord has shown me many things in the past few weeks.... What He wants for this farm, over what I want, when they might happen, over when I want them to happen. The farm will be put on a back burner this year. Instead of charging my way into the world of farming and selling our produce (be it chickens, milk or veggies), this year will be spent building flocks and herds, and experimenting with various things.
I had originally hoped to raise 100-200 meat chickens this year, but with feed costs at what they are, it's a little prohibitive. :-/ But instead of succumbing to failure before I've begun, I'm taking a detour in the chicken world. I have never liked using the Cornish Cross birds that are so popular today. Even when raised on pasture, they're kinda' tasteless. I would even venture to say bland. What I want, and maybe it's a pipe dream, is a bird that doesn't need the huge amount of grain that a Cornish X does; I want a bird that does well on mostly pasture, but still grows well. A Cornish X will reach harvesting age at about 7-9 weeks of age, Heritage breeds of chickens are considered ready at about 16 weeks; I'm going for a bird that will be ready at about 10-12 weeks.
I'll be experimenting with different breeds this year, but my first crossing will be with a Standard Cornish hen, and a Buckeye rooster. The Standard Cornishes differ from the Cornish x's, as they grow veeeery slowly, will breed naturally, and live for a long time. Cornish crosses grow quickly, can't breed naturally and usually die of a heart attack before 1 year of age.
I may try introducing other gene pools from various breeds, but I'm hoping to keep my "mutant" (Sorry, couldn't resist that term!) pretty simple, so other people can do it too.
In the rabbit world, I will be working on enlarging my herd to about 10 does (right now I have two). The challenging part will be getting pedigreed stock. My two girls that I have now aren't pedigreed and while they are lovely does, I can't sell breeding stock to anyone unless I have papers that show that they are purebred.
And then there's my goats.... :) I am hoping very, very much that Capri and Ivy will have at least one doeling each, so that I could keep them for future milkers. Heidi is rapidly rounding out and looking quite pregnant, and as much as I dislike February kiddings (due to temperatures), I am excited to have goat babies so soon. :D
Poppy will be bred this year, probably in October or November. Right now I'm leaning towards breeding her with a miniature Shorthorn bull; that way, the calf will be a little smaller for her, and if it's a heifer calf, she will be a good family milker, or if it's a bull calf, he'll be good for beef. Either way we would win.
The garden is my main focus this year. I so badly want to have a better garden than last year! All my plants will be heirlooms, and I'm going to save as many seeds as possible. The Lord showed me an idea a few weeks ago, and I really like it, but I'm not sure when said idea will go into action. Basically I'm working towards starting a "seed library". Like a regular library, anyone can freely take the amount of seeds they need, but they will have to return the amount of seeds they "borrowed" with fresh seeds by the end of the growing season. For those who have never saved seed before, this may sound intimidating; but let me tell ya', saving seeds is dangerously addicting. ;) It is so fun and easy! Some may say that they don't want to have to give up a portion of their harvest for seeds (sounds kinda' like taxes after all!), well I have good news! Let's say you planted 25 tomato plants (yes I know, that's a lot, but let's be generous), guess what!? You would only need one (maaaybe two) ripe tomato in order to get the needed amount of seeds to return!
Again, I don't know when I will get to call my library doors open, as I'm trying to get a good stash going first, but I'll keep y'all updated! I'm curious about what seeds people might be interested in. I would love to hear your thoughts/advice on this hair brained scheme of mine. ;)
So, what are my overall goals for 2011? To follow the Lord's leading. I can't really say what my "goals" are, because they would be "my" goals. What "I" want to do. I'm learning that when "I" try and do things, they usually don't work out. So this year I'm going to just try and make this farm go where the Lord wants it to go....
I look at the clock and wince slightly. It says it's 8 'o' clock p.m. Milking time. I love milking time normally; it's so peaceful out there... But with the nighttime temperatures hovering around the high 20's to low 30's, I begin to appreciate the morning milkings more.
I don my puffy Carhartt coat and my boots which are frozen stiff, then make my way towards the barn....
As I suspected, it's cold outside. A frost hangs in the air and the wind moans a hollow echo as it moves through the valley. There is no moon tonight, but I can see Orion keeping his silent vigil, the Milky way, and the Big Dipper, which is hanging a little off kilter in the Northern sky...
The animals all look like tiny dragons as their frosty breath makes puffs and clouds. I feel bad for my Nubian goats, who do not have as thick of a winter coat as my Saanen cross doe.
I go to close up the chicken coop, and then realize too late that there is a gate still open next to it. Who should waltz in to see the sleepy chickens, but my heifer 'Poppy'. She has no idea how big she really is, as she bumbles and blunders around amongst the surprised and annoyed hens. I try to take her back to the barn, but like a stubborn toddler, she refuses to move. A bit more pulling and pushing gets her on the right side of the gate. Whew.
My Nubians are put in a small stall, next to the milking area; I don't want them eating Heidi's dinner, or escaping while I throw fresh hay into their manger. At last, after finishing up the barn chores, I prepare to milk the goats....
When everything is ready, I open the stall door and watch Capri dance out. The goats are such creatures of habit that I don't need to say anything; It's always Capri first, and then Ivy.
With no further help on my part, Capri nudges the milking stall door open, jumps onto the milk stand and begins eating her dinner.
Capri flinches slightly as my icy fingers begin milking her, but I soon warm up. The goats radiate body heat, their udders are warm, and steam rises from the fresh, foamy milk that is zinging into the pail; It's like sitting next to a heater... I don't get far with the milking before Capri has finished her small bit of grain that she gets; thankfully, she chews her cud and patiently waits for me to finish.
The same routine happens with Ivy. Everything is quiet, I can hear the goats and Poppy munching on their hay. The barn cat watches me milk; he's under the delusion that I'm there to worship and adore him. Sorry pussycat, I'm just trying to finish up my chores here...
I finish up, and then work my way back outside. It's still cold out there. I lock the barn door, and turn to go into the house. Orion is still where he was.... I hear a lone coyote wailing in the distance, and an owl hooting close by. My boots crunch on the frozen ground, and I can hear the milk sloshing in my pail.
God's in His heaven, all's right with the world....