Monday, November 30, 2015

Video: The Economics of Draft Horses

  I despaired of ever getting a post published today, due to our internet suddenly going on the fritz, but lo and behold! At 10:30pm, I'm finally getting *just* enough to put up Monday's educational movie. Sorry it's taken me so long, guys. I've been trying all day.

 Anyway! Look at this amazing video that I found! It's all about the economics of keeping draft horses, and what cases they're worth keeping, versus keeping a tractor. It's super detailed, and is definitely made with beginners in mind. Topics cover choosing a draft horse, building shelter for them, how many acres you might need for a pair, repairing equipment, chores to do when you get your first team, and more. 

  Watching this video reminded me just how much I'm impressed by draft animals and those who work with them. And it also reminded me that this is a farming venture that I am no longer interested in pursuing. *GASP!* I know, I know; for a long, long time I always dreamed of getting a draft horse (or a pair). Shucks, I have quite a few posts about that longing! But in the past few years, I've done a lot of researching and soul searching, and I've come to the decision that I will stick to tractors (much to my husband's relief). Now, if you feel led to use draft horses, then by all means do it! And hey, send me pictures, okay? I'd LOVE to see your beautiful animals doing what they do best! Drafts definitely have a place in this world. As do tractors. And for the specific area that my husband and I are in, tractors are proving to be the most economic/wise choice for us. Plus, I admit that due to some equine-related accidents that have happened over the last two years, my confidence around horses has waned to a degree that would make horse keeping dangerous for me. Confidence is a huge key to keeping horses, and right now... I have none. I'm not out-and-out scared of horses, but I no longer have a desire to own one at present. Maybe someday I'll get over that... I would however, still love to raise a team of oxen; but I'd sell them once they reached maturity, rather than keep them. Again, because tractors are cheaper for us to keep.

  But nevertheless, I will always be in awe of a well trained team of horses. I'll always feel that slight twinge that *maybe* they're something I could do, someday. And I'll always want to pet the Budweiser Clydesdales that live nearby... 

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Pinterest Link-up: Winter Beekeeping

Normally I try to do a variety of topics for my Pinterest Link-ups, but I'm trying something new here, and going with a theme this week! I found quite a few great posts on winter beekeeping, and really wanted to share them! Enjoy, my dear friends!

1. Preparing Beehives For Winter. {Courtesy of 'Runamuk Acres Farm & Apiary} - This is a detailed and informative link that gives an easy-to-understand list of what to do for your hives as winter approaches!

2. Tips For Helping Bees: Blackberry Winter {Courtesy of 'Herbal Academy of New England} - I had never heard of the term "Blackberry Winter", so I guess this counts as "my one new thing I learned today". The term refers to the awful time when we *think* winter has finally ended, and then boom! Right in the middle of March/April we get a severe cold snap again! This article has some handy tips on how to keep your bees alive and healthy if that happens.

3. Common Winter Beekeeping Problems {Courtesy of Mother Earth News} - A Mother Earth News link! I've always loved articles from here! A lot of them are on the same lines as link #1 above, but it's still a great read.

4. A Winter Beehive Candy Board {Courtesy of 'Tilly's Nest'} - This link is what got me started on the whole "winter beekeeping" theme idea! It's a total "Aha!" kind of idea! Maybe I just haven't been around the right kind of beekeepers, but I had NEVER heard of making a candy board for the bees. Shucks, this sounds so much easier than dealing with sugar water when it's 2 degrees Fahrenheit outside... I will definitely be trying this on my hives next winter!

5. Honey Bee Healthy Syrup {Courtesy of 'Eating'} -  This idea is similar to the candy board idea, but it's a liquid syrup that's stored inside the hive, and has some herbal properties added to it to maintain the bee's health. The directions aren't super detailed, but there's enough there that an experimental person could figure it out. 

6. Beekeeping 101: Getting The Right Equipment {Courtesy of'The Elliot Homestead} - Okay, so this link isn't about "winter care"; it's the basic, starting out kind of stuff that every beginner needs to know. Which is why I'm sharing it! If you're thinking about getting bees when spring time rolls around, then here's a great list of what you'll need (with gorgeous pictures to further explain)!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Balancing my Yin and Yang

  This morning I found myself washing dishes while pondering the eight limbs of yoga, and dancing to Dierks Bentley's epic song, 'Drunk On A Plane' (which happens to be the current favorite country song of my husband and I). Soap suds splashed on the floor as the just-washed whisk became an extension of my arm and got waved in the air with unabashed enthusiasm, and this little baby inside me jumped and wiggled along with me as we did an awkward but joyful dance that only a 39-week pregnant woman can pull off.  It was a moment that has taken me months to find peace about. A celebration of finally balancing my yin and yang. Balancing two sides of me that I've felt were incompatible.

  In the months that I was absent from writing here, I found myself really struggling with what sort of person I was. I didn't seem to fit in anywhere, and there seemed to be two starkly different sides of me that were constantly competing to become the "whole Caity". I called this dilemma my "yin and yang" and day after day during those dark months I could be found draped across the couch in a depressed heap, wondering why life had to be so confusing.

  One side of me I knew well; it was the "country girl" side that loved hunting, mudding, farming, big trucks, guns, Chase Rice, and everything else that comes with being a person who loves her eyeliner and rifle equally. This side of me was familiar, fun, and I couldn't help but love the sexy feeling that comes with wearing tight jeans, gorgeous boots, a fitted top, and my beloved Mossy Oak ball cap (I can't pull off the "cowgirl hat" look; ball caps for me!!). 

 Then there was "The other side"... Bum, bum, bum, BUUUUUUM!! (that's supposed to be epic music) This "other side" had been lurking quietly for years upon years, and finally decided to rear its head and make something of itself. It was more of the "natural/spiritual girl" kind of thing. I couldn't deny it; there was a part of me that adored yoga, desired to become a more spiritual/wise person, and was very seriously considering getting a degree in working with healing crystals (yes, it's a thing). This person ate chia seeds in her yogurt every day (after drinking her lemon water, of course), meditated on her yoga mat for at least 30 minutes every morning, could list all the yoga sutras, and knew that congo citrine could help balance your solar chakra (if you understand any of that last line, then I am impressed and would love to shake your hand). 

  These two sides did NOT get along. Or so I thought. I was too "crunchy" to be in the country girl circle, but too redneck to completely get along with all the others at yoga class. Which side was really me?? How do I choose!? I felt so horribly alone and awkward in my desire to have a definable label for myself. The thought of blogging here was unappealing, since it's all about farming and I occasionally wanted to share my learnings from the yoga world. But starting a new blog that focused on "the other side" never felt very right either, since I would inevitably find something exciting going on in the agricultural world and wanted to share it online... But it didn't fit on those new blogs. 

  There had to be a decision, surely. I can't be both of these sides; it sounded absurd and I had certainly never heard of anyone else doing both! 

  A couple weeks ago I had the breakthrough... There's a private Facebook page for all the people doing the business/marketing course that I'm taking and about 98% of the people there are all on the very "spiritual" side of things. Many of them are crystal healers, tarot card readers, reiki instructors, etc. Great women, for sure, but I did feel rather out of place among them. Then one day, a woman posted something that really shook me. She explained herself as being a retired Army sergeant who loved hunting, and was now a yoga teacher. She said she felt out of place; like she was struggling with two worlds and didn't know how to combine them. Fifty comments followed that post; every single one of them from other women who were in the exact same boat.

 "Wait a minute! You mean I'm not alone!? There are others who do Vinyasa flows to Blake Shelton music??" Turns out there were. A discussion ensued, and what I learned was this:

  These two worlds ARE compatible. It's completely fine to have steak and Jack Daniel's after evening yoga class. You can still practice meditation and then go to a Luke Bryan concert. And you can sure as heck ponder the eight limbs of yoga while dancing in the kitchen to Dierks Bentley!! 

 For so long I've fought these two sides, when I should have embraced them and let them meld to create the whimsical, unique person that I am. I'm no longer ashamed of who I am, nor am I conflicted about who I should be. It sounds crazy and impossible, but I am melding two very different worlds. I'm a country girl who wears a mala. I'm a yoga girl who loves hunting. I've given up some things over the last few weeks (Hubby and I decided that dropping the "healing crystal" thing would be a wise move, and I did make some changes in my meditation habits...), but that hasn't been a bad thing. It's made life a lot easier and simpler, for which I'm grateful. 

  It's taken me months, but I've finally learned to balance my yin and yang. And you know what? It's a beautiful thing. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

"Breed For The Need": The Nubian Goat

  Get this: We're starting a new series on the blog! I've been thinking about, and planning this, for almost two years; and today is the first post! I'm dubbing this the "Breed For The Need" series and what we'll be doing is this: Every Tuesday a different breed of livestock (both rare and common) will be highlighted. We'll go over the breed's pros, cons, perks + quirks, and what situation it's best for. Each month we'll highlight a certain species, and this being the first month of doing this (granted, we're halfway through the month), I'll be starting off with goats (of course). 

 So, in honor of this being the first post, I've decided to highlight a breed that I know best of all:

The Nubian Goat

  One of the most popular and identifiable breeds, the Nubian has long held the status of being an excellent choice in the goat world. Unfortunately, this popularity hasn't always been a good thing, and the breed has suffered from many an inexperienced/uncaring breeder to the point where a Craigslist search will bring up one ad after another, showing a steep-rumped, narrow-bodied, short-eared animal that only has the capacity to milk a 1/2 gallon a day, even at the age of 4 years. Blah. 

  A good quality Nubian is built like a tank. Albeit, a graceful one. She should be wide, deep, and have the capacity to milk 1 - 2 gallons a day. Butterfat percentage should be right around 4% to 5% (she's the Jersey cow of the goat world).

  Temperament wise, Nubians are probably the most dramatic, vocal, and gregarious. Think "needy, clingy dog". Nubians love people, but this isn't always a good thing since some will go through almost any kind of fence to get to "their person"! The vast majority of them though are mellow, sweet creatures (and not always the brightest). Even the mellowest doe though, will still retain the signature drama; recoiling in utter horror and disgust at finding a weed in her alfalfa hay, a piece of dirt in her water, or worst of all... That you tried sneaking deworming powder into her feed!! They are divas, but somehow that just makes them all the more lovable (well, until they've escaped from their pen for the 10th time in one day...).

Pros: Generally of gentle nature, and rarely gives off -tasting milk. The high butterfat makes for sweet tasting milk that is always in high demand by the public. It also means you'll get a higher amount of solids when making cheese! Nubians come in a wide range of colors too, which is yet another factor in their popularity. They're easy to find, usually easy to sell (who in this world can resist a floppy-eared goat kid??), and their sale price is generally pretty decent.

Cons: Noise level. These goats tend to be loud; especially during breeding season, or whenever something changes. Or when they see someone outside. Or when they're *sure* that they're about to keel over from starvation since breakfast was 2 hours ago. Alright fine, they're loud. My herd name of "Goat Song" originated purely from the noise level of all my girls. 
  Another con is that this breed has a unique genetic defect that isn't seen in any other breed. It's called "G6S", and surprisingly enough, many normal looking goats are carriers of this fatal problem. Rather than attempt to give you the scientific spiel on what exactly it is, I will direct you to this very long, very detailed article that should answer all your questions about it: WHAT IS G6S?

  Responsible breeders will test their goats, and state each animal's status publicly on their website. However, I've seen quite a few well-known breeders tap dance around this slightly and use a sleight of words to make it look like their entire herd is G6S negative. A truly G6S negative goat will have a note that says "tested G6S normal". If the animal didn't test normal, but holds a high value to the breeder, they'll often write "G6S normal on pedigree". See what they did there? It still sounds like they're saying it's a negative animal, what it really means is, "This animal is a positive carrier, but her parents are negative, so we don't know where the positive gene came in." Now, there's a chance that this "normal on pedigree" girl may throw normal kids, but it's a bit like playing with fire. And if you're paying $1,200.00 for that kid that may or may not be normal... Well, I wish you luck, and hope you have deep pockets. So consider yourself forewarned; these are great animals, but they do have this annoying fault!

Best Fit For... The Nubian is best for someone who has a good sense of humor, a lot of patience, and doesn't have neighbors right next door! If you only have a moderate amount of space, and want only a moderate amount of milk, then this might be a good fit for you. Make sure you're ready to take on the responsibility of being a breeder though! The Nubian really needs some help to breed out those horrible steep rumps and narrow bodies; and those problems won't go away until more of us make sure that we're doing our part. 

Monday, November 23, 2015

Hoop House Considerations - Muddy Fingers Farm

 This handy dandy video caught my attention this morning, and I was quite impressed with the detailed info! Definitely had some "ah ha!" moments throughout it. The Man and I will be putting up a large hoop house on the farm when spring rolls around (for our aquaponics enterprise), and I do believe this video has answered the last couple of questions we had...

P.S. To those of you who have subscribed to the weekly newsletters... You may have noticed that you didn't get one yesterday! Bad, bad Caity... Shame on me. Actually, the reason behind that is that I've been visiting a friend at the hospital, and thus didn't have time this weekend to write up the newsletter. This is also why there was no Saturday "Pinterest Link Up". My apologies to you all! Things should go back to normal now.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Two Does!

   I am pleased to report that The Man shot two lovely does last night!! There will be venison in the freezer, folks! I know a lot of people (my husband and I do not exclude ourselves entirely from this) like to get those huge bucks since they make awesome trophies on the wall, but when it comes to dinner... You really can't beat those does. 

 How's everyone else faring this deer season?

Friday, November 20, 2015

A Day Of "Nope"

  I had this HUUUUGE list of things I needed to get done today. Blog posts to write, writing projects to work on, dishes to wash, a house to clean... You know, normal life stuff that people do. Unfortunately, my brain seems to have missed the memo, and is determined to make this a "nope" day. Writing? Lol, nope. Dishes? Nope! Cleaning? Definitely nope! I don't know if I'm coming down with a bug, or just having an off day (most likely the latter), but I am so zonked. I accidentally slept the whole morning away, and have spent the rest of the time guiltily perusing Pinterest. *cough, cough*

  Maybe I'm just loopy, and in need of another nap, but I saw this dye job on ye' old Pinterest and all I can think is, "I should totally do that for my 24th birthday..."
  For the record, I have never, ever, EVER dyed my hair. I've always wanted to (granted, the idea of something this drastic never occurred 'til now), but I've never had the guts or money to do it. But hey, maybe I should make a big splash when I finally do it?

 And as an added perk, at least I'd be recognizable in public.

 "Hey! There's that Goat Song girl!"

"How do you know that's her?"

"Well who else would be walking around with hair like that??"

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

I'd Like To Celebrate YOU! (Free Presents Involved)

   I've been wanting to do this for years now, and am finally starting it up!! Friends, I'd like to celebrate how awesome you are here on the blog, and to do that I've decided to send a completely free, surprise gift to whoever publishes the most comments each month!!

  If you turn your attention to my sidebar, and look just below my profile image, you'll see a little widget that says "Top Commentators Of The Month", and voila! On that widget you'll see the top five commenters, how many comments each person has posted, AND you get your profile picture/blog URL attached! Woohoo! Free presents, and free publicity! 

 I was trying to save this news for December 1st, but I'm an impatient person *innocent look*. So therefore, I am starting this NOW! At the end of each month, I'll contact whoever has the honor of being the month's UH-MAZING commenter, and I'll send that lucky person some super special, handpicked treasure!

 (And for the record, no, the sheep do not get to join since they lack computers, and the ability to write trustworthy, appropriate comments.)

"Where The Rivers Run": My County Made PBS News!

  Check it out!! My county here in Missouri got highlighted on PBS! I watched this with the family last night, and we all had a blast saying, "I know that person! I know that place!" A few things highlighted are the Katy Trail, which I LOVE biking on as often as possible, the Missouri river, which I've canoed on, some local goat cheese makers whom I've gotten to know (they have lovely Saanens...), an artist who is a staunch milk customer at the family farm, and best of all... A little clip about my hometown, New Haven (clip starts at 38 minutes)!

  So if you've ever wondered what it's like, right here in my neck of the woods, this'll give you a great feel for it. If you've ever wondered why I chose to call Missouri my permanent home, instead of moving elsewhere, this will explain. And if you ever happen to find yourself travelling through this state, well... I highly recommend giving Franklin County a try.


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Wanted: Your Thinking Cap!


 Hey guys, I need a wee bit of help in the thinking department; care to give me a hand? I'm working on a project, and need some unique enterprise ideas that can be done on a small farm (example: quail, chevre cheese truffles, barn dances, etc.). I've already got quite a few of these ideas, but as I near the end of my needed quota, it's starting to get harder to think up these creative enterprises!

 So here's where you come in: What's the most unusual/creative business you've heard of someone implementing on their farm? Put your answer in the comments below!

 And to sweeten the deal, here's what I'll do: If I get enough answers that I haven't used yet, I'll give you guys a sneak peek on what the project is!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Come, Walk With Me

Yesterday evening was such a beautiful, peaceful time that I couldn't resist getting some video footage of it all, since you couldn't be here to take a walk with me. This being deer season, I couldn't stray far, or go into any of the pastures, but here's at least a clip to show you a little bit of the family farm. 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Puppies, Pregnancy, and Moving Back to the Farm!

  Ze' Caity (me) is re-entering the stage with style! Ta da, a video for you! Actually, I don't know about the "entering with style" part... I think the term "dorkiness" might be more fitting. Anyway! Here's a video about what all has been going on since we last talked. Busy times, folks; busy times.

Notes: The ringing and dinging you hear in the video's background would be the bells on the three heifers. I was inside a barn, okay?? 

 Another note that I forgot to mention in the video is that one of the things that's been keeping me busy lately is that I enrolled in an online business/marketing course back in September (year long enrollment) and its been intense. Awesome, but intense. So its taken me this long to figure out how to balance "school", life, and the blog. But I think I've got it. 

 All for now! Happy deer hunting to those who are out right now!