The Quest for Organic

3 Jan
  • Our little feirme (farm) has a small herd of Mini-Mancha dairy goats. Currently we have two senior does in milk. One of our milk customers wanted to know if we would consider feeding Organic feeds to our milk does as they wanted to keep using our milk, but new health concerns had them looking to organic only in their diet.

What is the definition of Organic? As I researched, It came to my attention that there are endless interpretations of this one word. What I am looking for are grains developed for goats that are not grown or processed using artificial chemicals for growth, fertization,insects resistance or weed deterrents.

We have not used any weed killers, sprays, powders, chemicals on our property since we moved here in 1999. Our livestock is fed as much local hay, alfalfa, grains, herbal supplements, minerals and formulas as possible. Another thing I discovered the way we have been raising our livestock and growing our garden, fruit trees is called “sustainable”.

http://www.dictionary.com/browse/sustainability

Going to some of our local feed stores revealed few choices for Organic grains, feeds or hays. The first Organic grain blend we tried has a lot of powder in the mix. Our Goaty Girlz do not really care for it and my oldest doe “Tutu” lost body condition, both does lost weight on this.

Availability is challenging, most feed stores want you to order and pay for a minimum month supply of bags as it is not kept in stock. Price is steep, expect an average of $12.00 per bag increase in price. Now we are looking for possibly mixing/milling a grain blend with higher protein and palatability.

Here is a link for the organics offered by Payback, we will be contacting them and will keep you posted on our quest for organics. http://www.paybacknutrition.com/products/organic

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Random Acts of Kindness…

2 Feb

Image My youngest daughter had to write a personal narrative essay regarding an experience that they had or knowledge of someone performing an act of kindness. I was going through her grade book and saw that her teacher had graded this essay and posted comments about her writing. I pulled up the essay and it brought tears to my eyes. Several years ago, we were cooking breakfast with our church’s youth group. We would arrive at church early and prepare pancakes, sausage, coffee, hot chocolate, tea or juice for fellow worshippers. Donations were accepted, we had a blast and it helped to raise money for the kids to go to youth events. One very cold morning as we were pulling into the parking lot, I noticed a tall young man walking with a big backpack, hood pulled up. He was hunched over in the shoulders like one does when trying to stay warm. As we all tumbled out of the Suburban, I told my nephew to run and ask the young man if he would like to come and have breakfast with us. My nephew looked at me incredulously and asked “do you know him?”, I replied “not yet”. My family went into church and ran upstairs to get things going for breakfast and I waited for the young man as he walked across the parking lot. Once inside the church, he took off his backpack and asked if it was ok to leave by the door and where could he go wash up? I showed him the bathroom and told him to come upstairs when he was ready. He looked at me and apologized for not being showered or shaved. I told him that we just wanted to get him warm and there was no problems, he looked just fine! We gave him hot chocolate and then a heaping plate of pancakes and sausage. He told us how he had arrived in our little town, walking from the local bus station over 2o miles away and he was on his way home due to a death in his family. He thanked us and went on his way. Boy, did I catch flack for inviting a seemingly homeless person into church! I was asked if I knew this person, were the kids and people safe upstairs with him, etc. I could not believe what I was hearing! I did not even think of the other scenarios mentioned to me, I heard that still, small voice nudging me to invite this young man into our fold. I have learned never to question it and have regretted the few times I have not followed up on the nudge. What a flashback to read my daughter’s essay and realize that the little things that we do, get saved into memory banks. Sometimes our own, but more importantly our children’s. I pray there are many more deposits like this for her as she grows up into the beautiful young woman God means for her to be.

Mizz Pepperpot

1 Feb

After carrying hot water and oatmeal out to the yard for the Chicky Girlz, next is filling and hanging their feeder up to discourage other critters from looking for free meals. Having to be careful where I walk, the hens and their accompanying roosters crowd in. Each feathered little face peering over the next jumping up eagerly awaiting the daily hand feeding of scratch. Exiting the yard and pulling the gate closed, I step into the grain room and gather tools for cleaning the coop.

Recently I decided to change from straw bedding for the coop floor to using construction sand. Initially I worried that in the low temperatures the chickens and roos would be cold without the straw.
Check out this link below for info.
http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/09/chicken-coop-bedding-sand-litter.

One thing I noticed right away, no more poopy eggs! The nest boxes still have straw, freshened every morning for their comfy arranging which seems to encourage laying. I have also started using dried herbs, just a pinch in each box to keep it sweet and fresh. Ideas here: http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/p/spruce-coop.html

Some of the Chicky Girlz have a full ruffle of feathers looking like ruffled old fashioned pantaloons along with their feathered feet and the straw and poop would stick to their pretty adorned feet.

If you dare to compare, coop sifting is rather like cleaning a rather large catbox! The sand does work best with daily sifting and there are some great ideas and pictures on the link about sand for bedding. I used 3 bags of sand and it took visits to 5 stores to find the construction sand. The smell is much less, rodents are not attracted to sand in the coop like they were when I was using straw.

After finishing the coop tidy detail, I wanted to freshen those nest boxes with some of the nice, soft straw we get locally. Picking up the bag with the straw in it I open the bag, reaching my hand inside to grab some straw and much to my astonishment a very loud Squawk booms out from inside the bag! I almost dropped the bag and carefully peering inside a gray and black checkered hen named Miss Pepperpot glares at me, guess I surprised her too!

This Chicky Girl is a 2 year old “Fluffercauna” . Around our little farm a Silkie and Ameraucana cross is called a “Fluffercauna” due to the extra feathery “hat” of feathers atop their heads and their legs and feet appear as bloomers with little featherdusters attached.
Nothing like a tiny hen to bring you to sitting fast with that kind of surprise! All is well, against her loud protests (pretty some of those squawks were swear words) I settled her into a nicely fluffed nest that she could not resist.

+My Tangled Garden

16 Jan
  • Lately my life feels like the current state of my garden; tangled, overgrown and neglected. Some areas still show outlines of herbal ideas faintly recognizable through the grass and weeds.  As I open the gate and walk in I see colors of fall still displayed on some of the Blueberry bushes, a Rosebush is full of immature blooms never to be set upon  by a bee.  The once towering Catnip plant has been pulled down by the arch nemesis of morning glory vines. Tiny pink petals shimmer between curled vine, leaves and stems. At the end of the garden the raised bed is already covered in preparation for the coming of  winter bears a fragrant rebel. Last year at the end of summer a very sad, tiny rosebush was rescued from a local store. Holding my breath, I trimmed it back and lovingly planted it in the raised bed which was covered to protect the plants inside.
  • When danger of frost was past, I rolled back the heavy plastic cover revealing a beautiful sight. Seemingly showing gratitude, the previously “Charlie Brown” rosebush had taken over the whole end of the bed and had bloomed profusely! Starts of Salvia almost 4 feet tall beckon to hummingbirds. Nasturtiums that cheerily spread and reseeded now host a variety of life from butterflies, bees, bumbles, humming birds and an occasional wild  bunny.
  • Our tendacy is to focus on the weeds instead of the flowers.
  • My garden reminds me counting blessings and appreciating them encouragages us to care for the precious beauty within our lives. It is so easy to take for granted especially while tripping over blackberry vines, weeds or caught up by thorns.
  • Weeds can be beneficial as well, when plucked chickens eat them like salad greens or make sunshine yellow Dandelion jelly.
  • The first bouquet of flowers from my oldest son as a toddler consisted of as many bright yellow dandelions as he could grasp in his little fist.. Seeing his face light up as he handed them to me was priceless! Do you think I told him those pretty flowers were really considered weeds?
  • As this year draws towards winter, I will cringe as I trim back plants still showing green.

How is your garden in life?

Choosing an attitude of gratitude is challenging when overwhelmed, however we do have a  choice flowers or weeds?

4th of July on Z Feirme

5 Jul

Continue reading

Image

My Mom’s China

27 Dec

This year 2013 has been a very eventful time. Our lives have recently best been explained by the following scripture found in the Old Testament of the bible.
No matter what belief system you embrace, this passage reflects what is on my heart.

Ecclesiastes 3
New International Version (NIV)
A Time for Everything

3 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
9 What do workers gain from their toil? 10 I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet[a] no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 12 I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. 13 That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. 14 I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it.

What does this have to do with china?
When going through tough times, it is common to take a look at what is really important in your life.
Cleaning out my china cabinet, I took down my favorite china, Burleigh Blue Calico by Staffordshire. It is made in England and is only available in limited pieces
I inherited an incomplete collection of this china when my mom passed away over twenty years ago.
I have children still at home, pondering this thought I stacked all of the blue china on the counter and carefully washed each piece.
When I was done, I took a deep breath and rearranged the mish mosh of classic pottery plates (also cobalt blue) to accommodate the new additions in the day-to-day dish cabinet.
Was I really ready to incorporate these precious, beautiful hard to replace pieces into our daily lives?
Would I cry or get angry if one was broken?
After a time I have come to realize that the risk is worth the joy of seeing the bright, cobalt calico print on our dining room table. We did have our first and second casualties; dinner plate and teacup.
We are now looking for a stone tumbler, precious broken bits saved in a Ziploc bag are now awaiting their rebirth.
Beauty truly is in the eyes of the beholder, whether something or someone retains value when broken has to do with the patience and hopeful scrutiny of the bearer.
I am thankful to have this exquisite reminder of my Mom every time we use these plates, fond memories of times shared together.
As my family and I anticipate the return home of my eldest son and his wife, I look forward to a time of new hope, dreams and future deposits of this memory bank called Life.

Crazy Spring Day on Z Farm…

24 Apr

Spring Lambs 011

Just thought I should post an update about how things have been going here on Z Farm. I started off my day with getting awakened much earlier than I had planned, could not go back to sleep. My soon to be thirteen year old daughter is still sick with some horrid stomach ailment and is on her second day in bed.
I swilled down 2 cups of coffee and headed outside. The morning is absolutely beautiful, bright, sunny, warm and a sweet, spicy freshness to the air. First stop is the sheep barn/Chicky Girl coop. I loosen the pull cord to the door on the coop and all the Chicky Girlz and roos dash down the ramp chattering happily into the sun in their freshly pine chipped yard. Scattering scratch for them, fresh water next.
Onto putting Mommy Sheep and her lambs out. We have collars on the turning three-week old lambs and lead them while Mommy follows us to the turnout. We close them in and put fresh water inside for them. Mommy Sheep has tamed down a lot, but she freaks out so bad when trying to lead we don’t even try! They are contentedly grazing now. Walking back to the Sheep stall part of the barn, I open the fancy gate made from a pallet, pick up the lid of alfalfa and step over to the tires that serve as feeders out in the pasture. Putting a chunk of hay in each one, filling water and back to the barn. I step out-of-the-way as I open the door to the stall; Lamm-E and Sagen buck and jump as they are liberated into the pasture.
Tying the door at the top and bottom keeps Mr. Smarty Pants Lamm-E from butting the door open! Next we carry out the cage that has the Ameraucana chicks in it, they are starting to get their feathers and are so awkwardly cute. Some of the care of the animals is repetitive; food, water and clean beds at night and food, water and pasture during the day. That said I walk on the chipped path to the horse barn. Ms. Peep is the first one to be cared for. She is a one-legged Ameraucana hen that has survived a weasel attack and a rat attack, she is a spunky girl! The old grey mare “Silver’ is grained, then her daughter Beauty, the pony Zena is given an “I’m sorry you’re fat sprinkle”. Goaty Mommas grained next, Little Goaty Girlz (yearlings) grain. Hay for horses in arena, alfalfa hay for goats outside.
My friend in Farmdom is just pulling into the driveway. Sigh, today we have to disbud the twin Mini Manchas born last Wednesday. This is the most unfavorite chore when you have Dairy goats. Sure the horns can be left, since most do not have the luxury of free ranging animals without fences the choice is made to disbud and prevent getting heads caught in fence squares. It also makes milking easier as they put their head into the stanchion to eat grain while being prepped and milked.
Plugging in the torturous disbudding iron, put the dog in the house and finish drawing up the vaccines and syringe of corn syrup given to each goat kid after the procedure. I only have the job of shaving the tops of each head, giving the shots and counting the longest, smelliest ten seconds while the red-hot iron burns a ring around the hornbuds. After both are ringed, the procedure is repeated.
As soon as we make sure each kid is not showing signs of shock, we rush them back to Momma and she lets them nurse. After a couple of hours the kids are up and tearing around the stall like all is forgotten!
Led both the horses out to the arena and fed them hay, water is fine. Pony Zena can wait until after lunch, if she is put out too soon she will drive the big horses away and eat All the hay!
I am sure I forgot some things to list on here, but it is time to eat lunch. Leftover Chicken Tetrazzini will hit the spot.
Next post will enlighten the reader to another crazy day on Z Farm
thanks for following!