Saturday, January 31, 2009


I was in training today for the times I need to tend the farm when Mike is out of town.  I did not realize this would involve tractor training until I got to the barn and Mike told me to sit in the tractor.  I was nervous (ok petrified) at the beginning but now I'm a tractor lover!

Frank walks behind the tractor and keeps the sheep away from you.  Not really the cows yet as he's not sure what to do with them yet, but I have hope as he was like that with the ducks until he realized that they could be herded.

Delivering hay to the cows and sheep.  Timothy for the cows and Alfalfa for the sheep.

The cows really don't like to mooove out of your way.  I had to push Mariah and she finally moved for me.  When they see you coming, they literally run over to the hay.  Mike gave me tips on how to get the hay in the feeder without getting trampled.  

Mike also got me my own leatherman tool.  It has a bunch of knives, saws, etc on it.  I'm getting the knife out so that I can cut the twine around the hay.

I like the cows, the steers on the back field are bigger and flighty and there are more of them so it'll take me a little while to get confident around them.  I think the steer may have to do without the hay when Mike is gone.  They have plenty to eat as the back pasture is still full of grass.

The 200+ chicks arrive in 2 weeks so Mike is busy building and moving around the current chickens.  Presidents day weekend will be a good time to visit if you want to see the farm and the baby chicks.

CSA count is up to 10 families and we are stopping at 15 and then a waiting list starts.   If we get 12 on the waiting list then we'll hire someone to help out as we really don't want to do more than 15 families on our own.  So if you haven't signed up, please let Mike know so that you don't get put on the waiting list.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Belted Galloways

We now have 16 Belted Galloways.  I got the chance to say hello to the 6 cows and 2 calves today for 5 minutes and snap a few pictures.  I can't wait to spend more time with them.  They are very hairy and their coat is curly.  Mariah took a bunch of sniffs of me and I think I passed inspection.

The steers and bull (Dudley) in the back pasture.

Four of the cows.  Mariah is the red Galloway.  The black and white cows are Velma, Daphanie, Ivy, Savhanna and Cookie.

Daphanie and her calf Scooby.  There is also an orphan calf Shaggy.
If you are seeing a Scooby Doo theme, Daphanie came to us with a name and the kids named Velma, Scooby and Shaggy.  They are looking forward to naming a future calf Fred.


Mariah and Savhanna with Mike.  (cows eating the alfalfa that is technically for the sheep)

Monday, January 26, 2009

Invoices on the kitchen table...

My life is full of entertainment.

Today as I was clearing off the kitchen table I saw a package.  In it were 3 yellow aprons.

This is the packing slip (other items were not on the table - not sure where they are):

3 Yellow neoprene apron
2 Chicken lung remover
3 Boning knife
2 pinning knife
2 bleeding knife

So I guess we're ready for chickens!  I'm so curious to see the chicken lung remover.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Oreo Cookie Cattle

Saturday is going to be one busy day!  Bright and early, the cattle are scheduled to arrive.  15 head of Belted Galloway cattle, all the way from Vermont!  They are arriving from Meadow View Farm and will be the seed stock for our small beef operation.  We will be getting 5 bred cows, one cow with a young steer that has not been weaned, one steer calf that was orphaned and weaned early, four 2 year old steers, four 1 year old steers and Dudley the bull.  We will be able to process beef this fall, and the next fall and after that our first steers should be ready to process.

Dudley and the steers will start out life in the back pasture on their own.  The girls will hang out with the sheep for the rest of the winter.  This spring, after they calve, they will all start being rotated around the farm from paddock to paddock, eating our grasses and fertilizing the pastures. In the meantime we will supplement their diet with hay and minerals and let them clean up and trample the stockpiled grasses in the pastures.  Its not that bad because the grass isnt growing now.  We will sacrifice some of the lower part of the pasture here by the house because it gets muddy and the animals will not help that at all.  This spring we will overseed everything and keep them off the grass in that part of the pasture until fall and let the new sod get established.

And if unloading a bevy of bovines isnt enough, I have some friends coming with 40 chickens to process!  Ill be using my mobile processor for the first time.  I plan to get it up and running tomorrow to make sure I know how to use it properly, and then Saturday morning after the cattle arrive, I switch gears and go into chicken killing mode!

If I survive all that, Ill probably still have time to plan my sheep handling facilities.  And then there is the barn to start rehabbing inside, the quote for a new concrete barnyard, fencing, paint, new siding, a walk in fridge, water lines, downspouts and drain tile around the barn, more perimeter fencing around the new pastures, a new bridge over the stream, seed propagation for the early planting, heat mats for the seedlings, new grow lights, lime for the fields, did I mention deworming the sheep?, finishing the hoop coop for the pullets, starting the eggmobile construction, building the website, finding more CSA members, getting the logo done and the lobotomy.

Man, this farming stuff is awesome!  I love it!  Keeps you on your toes.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Winter on the Farm

Winter is brown, winter is cold, winter is dry, winter is beautiful.
See the sheep up the hill grazing......  the view from my bedroom window is the same.  I love seeing where the sheep are each morning.  
We've spotted a fox that wants to get a chicken.  Elvis keeps the fox at bay-- but if the fox keeps coming back we might need to do something about this.  In 2 months we'll have little chickens on that pasture and I really don't want to lose any.

The pond is frozen and we were able to skate on it today on borrowed ice skates.  We now need ice skates!
Cattle come next Saturday!!!!  

Sunday, January 11, 2009


Lots of remodeling going on at the farm.  We are hoping all is done by end of 2009 so that we can concentrate on enjoying the livestock instead of worrying about the next project.
There used to be a corn crib type building where the fire is...... no more building.  Actually 3 buildings are gone and it looks a lot nicer.  I'm suprised that the largest building didn't fall down or get blown away- it came down rather easy.
In the place of the old corn crib will be some staging areas and sorting areas for the sheep and cows.  The idea is to get them to come from the field and to the sortation area and then if needed up to the barn. A layout of the area is needed and boy do I love layouts and especially when they involve sortation!

Below you'll see a brand new water trough.  2 water troughs were installed a week ago and they run all the time and are fed and run by spring heads.  All natural gravity power.  If you look beyond the water trough you'll the the barn structure that was removed.  

Last but not least, we are down to 12 ducks as of today.  The 2 did not die, they were sold to a nice family with 2 girls who wanted some ducks.  I got the call yesterday and the mom asked if we sold ducks.  Luckily I was quick on my feet and said that I hadn't planned on it but sure- why not, the only duck not for sale would be Spike.  They wisely chose the 2 buff ducks.  I haven't seen them up so close since they were little but as Mike had to catch them to put them in the crate we got to take a good look at them.  Beautiful buff/pink/white colors to the ducks.  I told the kids to convince mom to let them have ducklings someday.  So I guess we now officially sell ducks.  $20 per duck was the selling price.  I told my kids they could use the money and buy a few more ducks in the spring/summer when they can be outside as ducklings are messy and better that they are messy in the pasture.  They also want Polish chickens so maybe they'll get some of those....yes Polish chickens- I really don't make this stuff up- check out the video.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Latest Addition

Margaret has her own dog now.  This is Dot.  She is absolutely adorable.  She seems pretty calm as far as puppies go and she follows Margaret everywhere.  Margaret said to me this morning "Mommy, puppies are a lot of work".  Yes they are Margaret.  But nothing can beat a napping puppy.  Hopefully she won't get too spoiled but she did like her nap with the kids.  Margaret gave her a towel and covered her up. 

This weekend is shaping up to be a visitor weekend.  1 family visited today and 2 more are visiting tomorrow.  Very exciting to know that there are local folks who also appreciate pastured meat!  

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Welcome to our visitors!

Welcome everyone who is visiting our blog.  Its amazing how many different places people come from to read this little blog.  I mean, we dont advertise and have not had anything to sell, yet we get visitors from all over the world already.  Islamabad, Pakistan.  Italy.  Portugal.  The United Kingdom.

I mean, come on!  How awesome!  

I simply hope that visitors to our site will feel free to comment and say hi.



Sunday, January 4, 2009

Farmers Market

Below is a picture of our rooster, Elvis (pronounced El Vez by the kids).

It's pretty much been decided by default.  We are going to need to do the farmers market on the weekend in town.  I love variety and therefore I will plant variety.  To get variety you need to order many different packets of seeds and although it's cheaper to buy in bulk the same varieties, it just won't work for me.  So to be able to plant 160 varieties of tomatoes, 30 varieties of basil, 70 varieties of peppers, etc, etc we either need a really huge CSA (and we only want a small one) or we'll need to sell our extra tomatoes at the farmers market.  I also plan to sell the small heirloom tomato plants as well as that will then help pay for the cost of the seeds.

So this should be a fun summer project! It will definitely get us out of bed early on Saturdays.

The tally on sheep is up to 15.  We purchased 10 more sheep from the flock that Frank used to herd.  Herding 15 sheep looks a lot easier than 5 sheep.  It is so cool to watch the way Frank can sense the pressure point of the flock and steer them.  The 2 flocks are not totally merged because they quickly separate into the flock of 5 and flock of 10 (we can tell because the 10 are blue painted and the other 5 are pink).  You spray then with a dye that will come off when their hair falls off so you can tell which ones you are selling, lambing, etc. so one set came pink and the other blue.

The next month will be busy for Mike.  He needs to build another 1-2 egg mobiles, get the fencing, get sorting equipment and stalls ready for our March lambing, get whatever stuff you need to have on hand for lambing (gulp-- we'll be reading a lot), have the Belted Galloway delivered.... and that's just January!

We ate 4 different cuts from the Belted Galloway tonight and wow was it fantastic.  I've never had grass fed beef at the same time as a regular grain fed piece of beef, but I'll have to try that sometime because it sure tasted like it had a lot more flavor.  Mike would tell me"of course the grass fed beef tastes better" but I'd like to be objective about it and find out for sure.  I already know pastured chickens taste 300% better but I'm curious about the beef.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

What to do with your tomatoes

Pizza Recipe

This is something to look forward to when fresh tomatoes are abundant in August and we have our own fresh pork sausage from our own pigs.  

Use good canned tomatoes, like Muir Glen Organic whole tomatoes and the best cheeses.  Fresh herbs are a MUST in this recipe.  Hopefully, I made some sense.


2 packages dry yeast (5 teaspoons)
2 cups warm water
1/2 cup softened or melted unsalted butter
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup cornmeal 
5 1/2 cups flour

4 cans whole tomatoes (Muir Glen) or home grown fresh tomatoes, peeled and seeded
Olive oil
Fresh Basil, Oregano, Rosemary
Kosher Salt
Fresh Parmesean

Lots of fresh spinach, chopped (usually one big bag of washed, fresh organic spinach)
lots of mozzerella cheese, grated for pizza filling. (3 or 4 cups grated, be liberal with the cheese, man!  Just fill up the crust).

2 packages of dry yeast
2 cups warm water

Combine in a stand mixer (Kitchen Aid) and dissolve the yeast.

Add in 1/2 cup softened unsalted butter and 4 tablespoons or so of good olive oil, 1/2 cup of cornmeal, 2 1/2 cups of flour. Mix on medium speed for 10 minutes with wire wisk attachment.

After 10 minutes, add in 3 more cups of flour and switch to dough hook attachment. Mix for several minutes until dough is combined and elastic, you will know when its ready. Make a ball of the dough. Place some flour on your counter and place dough on the flour and cover the ball with a big bowl. Let it sit for 45 minutes to rise. Punch down and knead a few more times and let rise for 30 more minutes.

Oil up your deep dish pan. We want the crust to be crispy on the bottom.

Roll out half of the dough and use for bottom crust. Fill the bottom crust with favorite pizza cheeses, and mix in a boatload of freshly chopped spinach.

Roll out the rest of the dough for a top crust and put it over the top, pinching the ends together and cutting off extra around the edge. Make sure you pop some holes in the crust with a knife.

Put your favorite pizza sauce on top. I make a simple sauce with about 4 cans of whole italian roma tomatoes, Muir Glen Organic Tomatoes are my favorite canned type. Squeeze them by hand and rinse out as many of the seeds as possible. The key is hand squeezing the tomatoes. Then add in grated parmesan, fresh basil, fresh oregano, fresh rosemary, kosher salt to taste, a 1/4 cup of olive oil, pepper and....gobs and gobs of fresh garlic smashed to hell in a press. Mmm...garlic... Mix everything together and let sit for a couple of hours for the flavors to combine. You can also add in a small can of tomato puree and a small can of paste if you like it thickened a bit.

Put the sauce on top of the crust.

Preheat the oven (oops, should have said that before) to 450.

Put the pizza in the 450 oven for 10 minutes. Turn the oven down to 400 and bake for 30 minutes more. That should do it.

Sometimes I will get some good italian sausage and cook it about 3/4 done and add it in on top of the cheese, under the top layer of crust. Mmmm...good.

Its as damn close as I can come to a top notch Chicago stuffed pizza. Ive been making this and modifying it for years now. Its my favorite meal to make. Takes a bit, but its totally worth it.

The dough is wet and hard to mix by hand. You need the stand mixer.

Belted Galloway

Mike went to Vermont to visit a farm from which we will purchase 15 belted galloways.
He'll include the link to the farm as he said it was gorgeous and family friendly inn and spa.
The steer above has 2 red tags which means he is ready to become steak in Fall 09.  He'll be coming to graze on our grasses from Feb-October and then he'll go to the butcher.

This is a cow- female.  I love the white belt.  Mike loved the breed and he said they were very gentle.  Still pretty big- but gentle.