Thursday, December 31, 2015

Life With a Goat

Maple, our French alpine goat arrived on the farm this fall.  A friend had to get rid of her because she kept wanting to confront school busses on their road. Michelle, has always had the nickname 'goat girl' because of her love and attachment for goats. She always dreamed about having her own goats and kids.  We found out she was available Saturday afternoon, and by Sunday evening she was on the way to the farm.

Maple is a wonderful milker.  She is easy to milk and gives lots of milk!  Michelle was already a pro at milking.  She was used to being milked only once a day and gave 3 quarts a day. Very impressive! She is very sweet tempered and affectionate.

She is very pretty.  She has to earn her keep her on the farm.  She helps keep the grass trimmed, gives milk, and even serves as a backdrop in photos....

Michelle did a photo shoot for my cousin's engagement pictures this fall. Had to have at least a couple with the goat.  Maple had to sneak a peek as to what was going on. (Actually, Goats do that funny movement with their head to move their food from one stomach to the next, our esteemed photographer just happened to get a very well timed cute photo.)

Our goat does have her moods.  One day she didn't want to be milked and so she knelt down in her milk stand.  We had to persuade her to get back up and behave.  Fortunately, this has only happened once. She only would hurt herself if she didn't get milked!

We are happy to have Maple on the farm!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Moving Into Autumn - Catch-up Posts Continue

This year was our 27th Wedding Anniversary!  On our 25th anniversary we bought the farm.  Life has sure changed since then.  This year we attained 27 years of marriage and our anniversary is on the 27th.  We are still hanging together.  It is amazing how God has worked in our lives and how He has changed us through the years.

This year we celebrated our Anniversary by going to a Bed and Breakfast, but we had our dinner at home.  The children prepared it for us.  What was truly special, was that almost all the food came from the farm.  The roast chicken was one of our broilers, the potatoes we grew ourselves, and the veggies also came from the garden.  The salad of sliced tomatoes and herbs came from the garden.  The carrot cake was amazing.  Michelle makes the best carrot cake I have ever eaten.  It is gluten free, and sooo good.  We didn't have enough carrots so Michelle found some golden beets in the garden and used those.  We would never have known if she hadn't told us. Interesting....

Elizabeth has always loved horses and this fall she has had the chance to take riding lessons with a friend of the family.  Liz was Michelle's debate partner several years ago.  She is also a horse lover.  Liz competes in riding competitions.  She and Elizabeth have become really good buddies.  

Liz won Austin, the horse, in an essay competition on why the previous owner should give the horse to her.  Austin is a thoroughbred, who wasn't quite fast enough to win on the race track.  He has converted nicely to a riding horse.

Elizabeth has gotten to ride almost every week this fall.  She has made real progress in her riding.  Liz also spends time teaching Elizabeth how to train a horse. She has her working him on a lunge line and has also taught her how to groom and take care of a horse.  Her lessons always end up being over two hours long.  She loves it.  She would like to someday learn to jump horses competitively. We will see.

The camp we go to in the summer, somehow got a picture of our family and used it on their brochure.  That was kind of cool!

In September, Maple arrived.  Michelle has always been the 'goat girl' and she really loves goats. Now she has a goat here on the farm! A friend of ours had to get rid of her because she kept going in the road and not letting the school busses past.  That is a problem in town.  She has been great for us.  She learned quickly to respect the electric fence.  Smart gal!  She is a wonderful milker and gives us lots of milk (over half a gallon) every day, and we only have to milk her once a day.  That is peachy!!!

Life on the farm is wonderful.  There is lots of work but there is so much peace and beauty.  I think I appreciate the peace and quiet more because of all the things to do outside.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Summer Activities

This year we planted a large variety of potatoes.  There were yellow, purple and pink ones.  We definitely harvested more this year than last.  I don't think it was a great harvest, but we did get about 5x more pounds than we planted.  That's progress!  With a bit more care and learning we could make planting potatoes worthwhile. We deep fried them in our own lard  and they were delicious!

We had some very yummy meals out of the garden this year!  We love beets and try and eat them at least once a week year round.

Elizabeth and I had a mother daughter date and went to the Irish festival.  We wanted to see the Willis Clan, the Gothard Sisters and some others.  The festival was free to those 12 and under.  The guy at the gate gave us a really hard time when I tried to get Elizabeth in.  He thought she was older and really scowled at us when I insisted that not only was she  under 13, she was only TEN! Oh well!

Willis Clan

We had a great time together and the music was wonderful!!!

The children worked very hard to get a new rope swing up.  First, they tried climbing the tree and trying to throw the rope over the branch.  That was a little dicey and made Mom nervous, so they came up with Plan B. They attached a small string to a softball and then threw it over the branch. Then they tied a bigger rope to the little string and then they were in business.  The swing is in the middle of the yard surrounded by driveway and it gets lots of action. You gotta have a rope swing if you live on a farm.

This summer we made our annual pilgrimage to Greenwood Hills Bible Conference.  It is the sixth year in a row that we have gone. It is always a wonderful time of Bible teaching, fellowship and fun.

This year they had a Slip 'n slide down a hill one afternoon.  It was amazing how many people tried it. This sweet lady is in her 80's and she went down it about 10+ times.  I was amazed at how well she walked up the hill afterwards.  She didn't run and jump down she would sit up at the top and ask for a push.  Her dear husband kept saying, " Bea, remember that you are not so young and you will be sore tomorrow and I will have to help you. Can this be the last time?"  The other older men in the area watched with admiration at the spry wife he had. It was pretty entertaining.

 Bea was a missionary in French Guiana for many years and raised a large family.  She was a girls' counsellor at camp until she was about 82.  She is truly an amazing woman and I want to be like her when I grow up.

JoAn and T-Bob went down many times.  T-Bob got  a pink belly from reaching the end of the slip 'n slide and sliding onto the grass. Silly boy!

Here is T-Bob and Michelle belly flopping down the hill.  Everyone had a great time!

We love our time at Greenwood Hills!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Chicks and Cousins

Elizabeth and Charlotte carrying out the chicks to the brooder house

In July, it was time for the Thanksgiving Turkeys to arrive.  It takes about 18 weeks to get them to the size we want for the holiday.  This July, we also ordered 35 pullets (Chicks that will grow up to be laying hens).  The rest of our laying flock will be 18 months by spring and their laying  starts to slow down at that time. It was time to get some little ones going.  We pick up our chicks from Meyer's Hatchery.  I always have had good results when I start off with their chicks.  I ordered 30 turkey poults and we harvested 30 turkeys at Thanksgiving.  The 35 chicks still have 32 or 33 left.

The downy chicks are so sweet. You can see that this one still has it's egg tooth. That's the little bump on the end of the beak. The pullets are now 19 weeks old and we are still waiting for them to lay their first egg.  It can be any time now.

Charlotte enjoyed playing with the chicks.  This is the epitome of fluffiness.

We start them off in the brooder house.  We shrink the area with hay bales so that we can keep them warm and regulate the heat easier.  We were also trying to keep the turkeys separate from the pullets, as they eat different feed and the wrong feed can harm them.  The separation idea was a good idea but it only worked a little because the birds figured out how to get back and forth pretty quickly.  I did observe that they did seem to eat mostly at their own feeders before going visiting.  They all survived so I guess it worked out.

We really enjoy visitors on the farm.  It forces us to slow down and enjoy where we live.  We enjoyed having campfires and roasting marshmallows.  The kids fished and  ran around in the dark.

This is my nephew Joe.  He has the most adorable smile and deep dimples.

He is a very busy young man!

He does enjoy some quiet time with books now that he is growing up.

He also makes some funny faces when you try and take a real picture of his family.
We love having the Herlings visit!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Happy 50th Sis, and other Farm Activities

Continuing Blog catch up posts...

 My dear sister has a birthday in October. This year was the BIG 5-0!  We wanted to help her celebrate so we had a surprise party for her. It was very successful as she wasn't expecting a party 4 months early!  Her family went mini-golfing and then she decided that she just had to stop at Walmart to get some pillows for her couch back in the Philippines.

We patiently waited back at my parents house and got everything set up and the food ready.  Then we waited some more.  

The guests had all arrived and were ready.  The cars had all been hidden, and we had a good time of fellowship while we waited.

Mir and Katrinka

Finally, the guest of honor arrived!

The meal could begin!  It was very yummy.  We had most of it catered from our favorite Italian place.  This restaurant is more than happy to accommodate gluten free diets.

We finished up the party with gifts and cards. It was a lovely evening!

Meanwhile, back at the farm.... It was turkey butchering time.  We decided to do a batch of turkeys that were ready in July.  A lot of people like turkey for smoking or barbecuing. We have also come to enjoy having our turkey cut into pieces and used together.  It is hard to beat a nice turkey breast (or two) roasted in the oven for a sunday dinner.  We love to have turkey legs stewed up in the crockpot.  There are just so many ways to cook turkey besides a whole roasted turkey for Thanksgiving.

This was another T-Bob and Elizabeth livestock raising project.  Pastured turkeys need to be moved on to fresh grass most every day.  That is an endeavor that requires faithfulness. I am always amazed at how much grass the turkeys eat as they graze.  You can always tell right where the edges of the fence were set up.  This year we charged $3.75 a pound for the broad breasted turkeys.  Someone thought that was expensive.  I explained to them that these were healthy birds raised outside on fresh grass and non-GMO feed.  Their fence and pen gets moved regularly and they get fed and watered several times a day.  Yes, if you compare the price to grocery store birds, it is more money, but if you raised them yourself, you would think it was an absolute bargain!!!  

(Incidentally, After all our Thanksgiving sales, we still have 3 broad breasted and 2 bourbon red turkeys in our freezer. Let us know if you are looking for a lovely turkey for Christmas.)

Every evening that I am home, I stop and watch the sunset.  It is a thing of beauty and reminds me of God's creativity and faithfulness!

Summer Time With the Cousins

 My sister and her family live in the Philippines and so we don't see them very often.  They were home this summer for a visit.  We really enjoyed our time with them and spent as much as possible of it together.  They left to go back in July, so they miss many of the holidays.

DH contemplates life

One thing we did was to try and have dinner together with their family every Thursday they were in town.  One week we had to celebrate Thanksgiving in July.  

Of course, Thanksgiving wouldn't be complete without Mom and Dad here.  We even served up one of our own bourbon red turkeys, they always make a meal extra special! We pulled out the Thanksgiving plates and put on the full meal, including gluten free stuffing made from cornbread and our own sausage as well as homemade cranberry sauce.  It was so yummy!!!

The two Besties- T-Bob and Katrinka
 We even pulled out the apple cider that we had in the freezer from last fall.  It brought tears to my sister's eyes.  Apparently, real apple cider is something that she had been really missing, and she was totally surprised that we had some stored away.

We made many special memories!

We also worked together on VBS (Vacation Bible School).  My sister's family was there to help out.  Josh rocked the headband look.

T-Bob and Aunt Mir working together in the craft tent

We needed all the help we could get as there was about 130 children there every day.  This was by far the largest VBS that our church has had in many years.  Probably only 30 of the kids go to our church.  

It was  real opportunity to reach out to the community.

The Besties always seemed to end up together.  They really enjoyed helping JoAn with the Pre-Primary class.

Josh takes a shot

A lot of days the cousins came back to the farm to hang out after VBS. The boys spent a lot of time working on their basketball skills.  

The girls usually ended up in the pond swimming.  Some days the weather was pretty cool (about 70) but that didn't stop them.  They still got their pond time.

Summertime on the farm is always a lot of fun, especially with cousins to hang out with!