Saturday, March 29, 2008

soil block maker

i finally procured all the ingredients to the soil block maker recipe as recommended by eliot coleman and used by the fine people at path to freedom (where i purchased the block maker from). on a rare sunny day, i set about making some blocks...first i mixed up the recipe

then i added water...i believe the recipe called for 1 part water to 3 parts soil mix

picking it up, it's pretty moist

squeezing it turns it into a gooey lump of mud

this is my first row of blocks

push the block maker into the soil, give it a quarter turn and lift out. i also used my hands to manually pack it which worked equally well.

the soil is supposed to be wet enough that water runs out of it when the blocks are made. you can see it starting to do that around the edges

so easy, even a kid could do it!

one container filled with blocks and ready to be sown

all done! you can see the amount of water left over on the sides. i finished this up by placing a layer of saran wrap over the top to retain moisture. in the future, i'll probably use saved wrap from mushroom and broccoli packages i sometimes purchase at aldi.

it's too soon to report on the durability/long term of these as i've just done this earlier this week. however, at this point, i am very pleased with the block maker and we are hoping to scavenge several more metal pans at garage sales this summer to use next year.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

headlights on when wipers are required

that sign has always caught me off guard. i mean, i get the gist of it but i tend to read it as such:

headlights on when wipers are...required

i think it's the way the words are lined on the sign:

headlights on
when wipers are

for some reason, it reminds me of how yoda talks.

anyway, that's a sign seen in missouri, one we saw a few times today as we headed to se mo to pick up a baby buck. we got him for free from the people who sold me basil last year. seems she forgot to disbud this sweety and the new owner didn't want him in her dehorned for 4h herd.

he was born around the winter solstice. he's bottle fed and very friendly. currents names in the running are: licorice (although i envision a black w/white goat with this name), hawthorne, comfrey, walnut or burdock.
he's not much bigger than rue because he's a bottle baby. teats are best!there's always a chicken wandering about...(and a kid or two)here's a long overdue picture of thistle and her baby. i'll start intigrating them into the herd next week. i was ok doing it with the buckling because i know the herd he is from and they are disease free.
feebee and danielle: self suckers aren't real common, it's just my luck. but, she may not be, there may be something else going on. as a precaution i'm giving them a special herbal dose of wormer and some immune tincture just to be safe. it is not related to age.

knitsteel: we will be eating our wethers (we have one that's long overdue for butchering). greg wants to sell the nubian though to recoup our costs on purchasing her. we have an interested buyer.

hillbilly: goats are the funnest animals ever. i love their playful attitudes. they are addictive. watch out! you'll be raising a nice milk goat before you know it, just like those chicks! ;)

up next: my soil block maker review!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

down on the farm(ette)

ginger, bursting with baby(ies), lavender and moondog aka moonie:

rue and cinnamon, the self sucking goat . yes, she self sucks which is the end of her milking career. most likely, she'll become goat burgers now unless i can create and udder boot to keep her from self sucking. i'm very upset over this as she had great milking potential:
rue again. he is adorable and very loveable. he and jaden dance. i'll have to get a picture:
unnamed baby goat. maybe nettles. not sure of her future, it depends if she has 2 openings in her teats. she is the friendliest of the two:
unnamed doeling. i was going to name her elderberry but it depends on her future here. she too may have the teat problem and she's very sickly...diarrhea off and on, sores on her bottom (possibly because of the diarrhea) and goopy eyes. i'm giving her herbs to try to boost her immune system:
this is their mama. she is wild but once i get her on the stanchion, she is calm as can be. unfortunately, her teats both have double openings and milking is torturous (for me). it comes out slow and in different directions and her production is weak (12 oz). and, there's the abscess. they are isolated from the others in another barn and i'm working on getting the kids used to bottle feeding. we have a potential buyer to take her (for slaughter). it's unfortunate but it must be done:
i forgot to photograph thistle and her crazily wild doeling.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

how handy

i received our 'egg packet' in the mail today to apply for our egg license. in addition to the application and rules book, they sent about a dozen pamphlets on cooking with eggs, teaching kids to cook with eggs, nutritional info, etc, a calendar titled 'backyard biosecurity: keeping your birds healthy' (in both english and spanish!) that has pictures of chickens with newcastle's disease and avian flu and numbers to call immediately to report your sick chickens if they become so, a bunch of plastic crap with egg propaganda on them: a letter opener, a compact shaped like an egg with a sewing kit inside, a plastic food scraper?, a magnet that has a bunch of eggs on it depicting various moods (eggcited, poached, devilish, eggthusiastic...) and a little magnet to mark your mood, and a card to grade eggs when candling. i was appalled at all the extra crap i received in the packet. but most of all, i cringed at the final two sheets of paper: information on how to very quickly and easily sign your animal rights away by joining the voluntary NAIS program.

how sweet. sorry, i don't think i'll be participating. i'm already going to be 'on the radar' enough as it is getting this license but we've got so many eggs we need to do this to sell them.

they want to know how many cases we'll sell per year. well, perhaps i could give them an estimate if i knew how many eggs are in a case. unfortunately, that little tidbit was left out.

also, the application asks for my ssn. ugh. i guess i'm in this up to my eyeballs now.

i now have to create an invoice to give to businesses when i sell my eggs to them and a label design for our cartons. that should be fun.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

goats (again)

we are still debating the future of the nubian mama here (thanks shannon for the heads-up on the possibility of CL). i am waiting on a return call from a local vet (whom i don't really care for) as well as a follow-up email from my cousin (a vet) on our options. i may haul her down to my cousin's clinic (1 hour away) for a blood test if need be to verify it is CL.

i have spoken to the previous owner and he doesn't think it is CL. he was very adamant but what would one expect a previous owner to say 'oh yeah, i knew she had it, that's why i got rid of her!!!' he wants us to try to stick a needle in the abscess and draw out the pus first (what a vet did for him previously for another goat with a similar condition that the vet stated was caused by getting poked on barbed wire and created the abscess). he raises a lot of goats and talks about worming and giving yearly shots and such on a regular basis so he sounds legit. i just don't know if i can trust him or not.

we are in a holding pattern.

in the meantime, i am considering bottle feeding the babies as they don't seem to be getting full from nursing. they nurse almost non-stop and i've never seen any kids nurse so much. i might go the lazy route and teach them to drink the milk from a bucket. less time consuming.

as for the alpines, the kid is skittish as can be. i need to purchase a collar for her and then start annoying her to death until she gets friendly. she needs to be separated from her mama as she is not weaned. at 6 months, it's high time. i'll probably end up selling her because 1. she's horneless and 2. she'll probably never wean. we have that problem with our 1 yo doelings right now although motherhood seems to have cured one of them from nursing anymore (cinnamon).

i put the alpine up on the stanchion today to trim her hooves. she was shy and cowered down every time i picked up a hoof, squirmed and kicked. i ended up clipping too close and she bled like a stuck pig. i finally had to get some salve to put on it to stop the bleeding because pinching it with a cloth wasn't working. poor thing. i'm trying to make friends with her and i end up bleeding her.

once the weather breaks, i'll get some decent pictures of the new group and post them. having the gloomy, rainy weather has given me the spare time to play with them since i can't work in the mud puddle formerly known as our garden. i heard our potatoes gurgling earlier today.

today i am getting some cow's milk to make butter. i cannot wait!

Monday, March 17, 2008

newest additions

i just purchased 5 goats today. it might not have been the best judgment but the price was right ($250 for 5 grade goats: 2 alpine, 3 nubian). all are does. 3 are babies, 2 of the babies are about 1 week old and the alpine is 6 months old. mama alpine is due in june.

mama nubian is the one purchase i'm not sure about. her hooves are horrendous. they were curling in the back and it is affecting her walk. i started trimming them as soon as i got her home. it will be a long journey back to normalcy if it can be obtained.

also, her udder looks like a train wreck which may be passed on to her twin doelings. one teat has 2 openings. the other side of the udder is smaller. milk flowed freely from both teats so that may not be an issue. she has a lump under her right ear which could or could not be something to worry about. worst case scenario, she dies on us or we take her to the sale barn and re-coup our $50 for her. i could probably sell the two alpines for $250 regardless.

now for the fun part: naming them. here at our herb farm, all goats get an herbal name. so far, we've got: ginger, cinnamon, lavender and rue (buckling).

so far, i'm leaning towards these names:
alpine mama: thistle
alpine baby: sassafras or dandelion
nubian mama: yarrow or clover
nubian red doeling: poppy or calendula
nubian black/white doeling: elderberry

Sunday, March 16, 2008

homestead highlights

i clipped 57+ hens and 3 rooster wings today. haha! take that you scoundrels. no more flying the coop and busting into my garden during the day. it took about 20 minutes and i was sore afterwards. you don't realize how much it takes out of you to grab that many chickens in a 5 x 10 coop until you're there. i may take a bath tonight and soak in epsom salts.

greg tilled some of the garden and we planted 20# pontiac potatoes. still have 40# to go - 20/yukons and 20/kennebec.

still have 5 bunches of onions to plant.

tomato seedlings are doing well. i hope to transfer them out into the greenhouse sometime this week. as soon as i can get the rest of the soil block recipe together (waiting on greensand and colloidal phosphate to arrive) i'll be starting a bunch more seedlings out there.

i'm hoping to acquire 3 new nubians tomorrow...a mama and her two 2-week old doelings. this would increase our herd greatly. plus, i'd have 3 non-related does to breed my baby rue to this fall...the babies are not dehorned so they'd fit in our herd. the mama is so we may sell her.

tuesday, i start purchasing cow's milk from a relative's brother for butter making purposes. we need much more goat's milk before i can attempt this with their milk and i've got a great deal on the cow's milk. and, it's raw too.


to anonymous for sharing the tip about fedco selling the greensand. i was able to get that and the colloidal phosphate. they are on their way!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

time to get busy

this week i purchased 60# of potatoes. the people at the garden center were kind of amazed. they admitted to me that they don't grow many (any) vegetables and have no clue how many that is. they are used to people buying 1-2# or so.

i pretty much bought out their supply of seed potatoes:

20# kennebec
20# yukon gold
20# pontiac

i also did what i could in purchasing the potting soil mix. i cannot for the life of me find green sand online or in real life. anyone? i suppose i'll just mix up what i have and call it wonderful. if anyone could even recommend a great substitute for it i'd appreciate it as i'm itching to get these soil blocks created and seeds started!

all but 3-4 of my 50 seeds for tomatoes are up. i'm hoping the rest will follow. unfortunately, neither my broccoli or cabbage has come up. i'll attempt to restart with some other seed i have but it may be getting too late.

hopefully, greg will be putting up a fence this weekend to keep out the chickens as they have completely destroyed the area i sowed in radishes, turnips, lettuce, carrots, beets and kale. i am not very pleased with them at the moment. they don't usually go in the garden area this early but i suppose they saw me poking about in there and decided to investigate.

garlic is looking well. this week when it warms up a bit more, i'll head out and fertilize them with either a compost tea or fish emulsion (if we have any left) and then as soon as the electric company delivers a load of mulch, i'll mulch them. i have enough left over from my previous load of 2 years ago that i could probably use that too.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

moving forward

the soil block maker arrived today! i'll be going to buy the recommended mix tomorrow and then i'll be able to make it for a spin. it seems very well made and from england, not china.

i was able to get the greenhouse up by myself today. i had my doubts as there were bent poles but i decided to just try it anyhow and i was not disappointed in myself. i'll let it warm up a day or two then take the seedlings out to it.

it was a great day out today and sagedidn't wander too much letting me be very productive. i got 4 loads of laundry out on the line and the wind was just enough to expedite the drying.

i love spring!

Monday, March 10, 2008

out with the old, in with the new

for posterity's sake...

winter to do list
-build choreboard and put into action
-plan this year's garden

-sort seeds and order anything needed
-paint playroom and hang up world map i'ts just not gonna happen until sage is a little older
-order bee equipment
-check into purchasing commercial pet feed license to sell goat's milk
-work out details for chicken share (we raise meat birds and everyone interested pays for their share and helps butcher when they are grown and gets to take home their own birds
-start sourdough again
-tap maples
-start kombucha
-redo binder

creeping closer to spring

hope my random 7 didn't frighten anyone off! :D

i didn't get out to separate cinnamon and the buckling last night but i still milked her this am. i waited until 10:30 since first light found me trapped in bed with sage who kept wanting to nurse. i got over 20 oz! i could have gotten a bit more but she started getting skittish and i didn't want to push it since this is her 2nd time milking and i was a bad milk maid all last year by not getting her familiar with the stanchion as i should have. i have enough to make a quart of yogurt today! hooray. i'll start it this afternoon and let it 'cook' all night long and we'll have fresh yogurt first thing in the am.

i hope to run out and milk her again this afternoon. she seems to hold a lot of extra milk in her udder and i don't want to risk her drying up any. the buckling (i really need to name him) seems to be getting enough though. he is very friendly. just doesn't like to be separated from his mama. when i milk cinnamon, i bring him in with us and he stands on the stanchion next to her, not trying to nurse, just hanging out. he is such a cutie. i suppose if i can't sell him, i'll just rent him out in the fall to earn his keep. he's too good of a goat breeding wise to become dinner. his mama's udder is wonderful!

i'm hoping my soil block maker will arrive soon. i have a lot of seedlings to start. hopefully, greg can get the greenhouse up this week too. our first batch of seedlings are sprouting. (thanks to the omelays for the awesome seeds).

this week is busy! i'll be focusing on getting us up and running for selling raw milk and eggs legally. we've been getting close to 4 dozen eggs a day now. we must get certified so we can sell to local shops!

wednesday is my monthly herbal study group and this thurday, a local paper is interviewing me. she wants to do a piece on spring and new life. i told her i don't have a lot of newness yet as it's still too soon but i'm sure we'll come up with something. at least we have the baby buck. maybe i can buy some seedlings from my local garden center (i am friends with the owner) and i can plug them as well.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

7 random things

i'm supposed to post 7 random and/or weird things about me. define weird.

1. i bathe once a week or less

2. i cleanse my hair (with baking soda and acv) about once every 2 weeks, sometimes less, especially in the winter

3. i don't wear deoderant and only stink when my body is purging toxins

4. i wish the consumeristic world would disappear and leave me free to be me on my farm

5. i hate shopping. i would rather butcher a chicken and clean it than go to a mall.

6. i go barefoot most of the time during the summer. (drives greg nuts when i walk into the coop barefoot and out in the yard/garden where there is old broken glass---i've never been cut and i've stepped on numerous things).

7. i use cloth instead of disposable for everything: diapers, wipes, kleenexes, napkins, pads and even toilet paper

i tag anyone who wants to play along...i know this has been out there and i think most everyone i've read has done it at one point or the other...

seeds and milk

a friend and i did some seed swapping today...she brought me wando peas and some sort of sugar snap peas (oregon something) and i gave her half my okra seeds.

she also brought me my onion plants.

both were purchased from morgan county seed company. ridiculously low prices, excellent seeds. where else can you purchase 1 lb. of wando peas for $1.60? and onion plants are .95/bunch. unfortunately, the onion variety is sparse (no long term keepers).

i placed an herb seed order today at thyme garden. i'm a bit disappointed in myself. i was distracted by the little ones and trying to get the order done and so instead of crossing all the prices/quantities with a few seed sites, i just got them from there. (which i have always had great luck with their seeds). i think i could done better if i could have focused and concentrated. that's life with little ones. oh well. i am excited because this year, i have a restaurant client i'll be selling herbs to. we'll see if it's worth the time and effort.

for fun, i milked cinnamon today. i got 12 oz. even though the baby was on her all day. that's pretty good. i hope to separate them tonight and start milking her every morning. she is a sweet little milker! very easy to milk. even though her teats are skinny, they are long enough. she's got great potential!

Monday, March 3, 2008


ginger is on the right, cinnamon in the middle and her sister lavender on the left. the two on the left are ginger's kids from last year.
cinnamon just lay there while ginger started cleaning up the mess. lavender watched.

i moved the buckling over to cinnamon where she started licking him.

isn't he adorable?

jaden thought so...i brought him inside to warm up.


it's a boy! mama and baby (and grandma) are doing fine. i had to help a bit but all ended well. as soon as he was born, ginger (grandma) started cleaning him up. mama just lay there, exhausted. i rubbed him down a bit then placed him by her head and her mommy instincts kicked in. everything happened in an extremely delayed manner.

he's a bit smaller than the average kid which is why i was hoping for a single birth...twins would have been very tiny.

he looks a lot like his daddy. i'll post pictures in a bit.

the waiting game

still no kids. this is frustrating. always in the past, i've just let ginger do her thing and i've never known when she would kid. this is the first year i've known her edd and it's driving me nuts!

i am so looking forward to fresh milk again. i have much interest in it from outsiders although i don't know if i'll have enough to sell. i purchased a manual cream separator last year and i'm ready to try it out for cream to make butter. ginger's milk isn't very creamy but i'm hoping since cinnamon is half nubian hers will be creamier.

i've come to the reality that we use a lot of butter and perhaps i need to since out my goats for a cow. which i hate because i LOVE my goats. i love their characters, size, portability. i have no idea how we'd even get a cow home or bred since we don't have any type of trailer to haul one in.

my parents have been holding out on me. apparantly, we have a relative of sorts (my dad's sister-in-law's brother) who milks jerseys and sells their milk raw. and they live about 15 minutes away from me! i'm going to get their contact info and try to buy some milk to make butter (my dad thinks i'm insane: "making butter is hard work." he grew up on a dairy so he can't imagine anyone wanting to do what he did growing up). i don't see how it would be any harder than anything else i do around here. i think he means time consuming. but all i have is time.

i heard peepers last night.1week sooner than last year. yesterday was in the mid 70's. today, it dropping to the 30's and we are supposed to get 3-6" of snow tomorrow. this roller coaster weather can mean only 1 thing: spring!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

seed starting fun

today i sat outside and shelled okra pods for their seed (we'll see how good they germinate, i've never had much luck with saving okra seed for some reason) since we had cleaned out the okra patch yesterday. the pods have sat out all winter getting rained on and snowed on and everything else. in the past, i've always brought them in and they sucked so i figured i'd try the mother nature route this year.

i sowed radishes, mustard greens, turnips, carrots and lettuce. we'll see if it's too early as temps are supposed to drop overnight from the mid-70's of today down to the 20's. 3-6" snow predicted for tuesday. early spring is such a roller coaster!

i also sowed most of our tomato seeds today, most of them a gift from the o'melays. last night, i ordered a soil block maker from the peddler's wagon over at path to freedom. once that arrives i'll start our peppers and a few other miscellaneous early season seeds using the soil blocks. hopefully by then, the greenhouse will be up and i can stash them outside as i am out of room on my inside table for starting seeds. not to mention, outside they'll be safer from the bear aka sage.

still no kids but i could swear i couldn't feel any ligaments on either doe and today greg and i witnessed a strand of mucus (the plug?) dripping from cinnamon's far end. i also felt her baby move this morning as she was laying down resting and i was petting her. i am hoping she has a single birth. she's just to darned little to have anything more and the baby's will be too small as it is. i'll check on them before i go to bed and try to get up during the night if sage allows me. i wish they would have had them today while it was warm out. the next two days are not going to be very hospitable for their arrival.

Saturday, March 1, 2008


i worked my tail off today in the garden and it was lovely! nina and ridge played with sage and jaden while i broke sunchoke stalks into bits, pulled out weeds, cleaned out beds and transplanted 153 garlic plants. here's hoping they take! i was unable to get to planting garlic in the fall but there were several volunteer plants from last summer that i dug up and planted in a 5 x 20 bed, all but a 2.5 x 10 section that has celery leftover from last year (not sure they're going to make it but i give everything a chance.

my right shoulder blade hurts like a dickens right now.

greg and i walked around the property reviewing everything. looks like we still only need to replace the 4 pears: 2 asian, 1 bartlett and 1 anjou. i'd also like to get another apple tree, perhaps the cherokee black? (can't remember if that's the name or not), a few new peach trees as our existing two are looking sad and depending on how the stella cherry is doing, maybe another one.

currently, our mature trees are: 1 tart cherry (my favorite), 2 apples, 2 peach and 1 plum that doesn't produce. we have 2 apricots and 1 stella (sweet) cherry that are little. our tart cherry has several babies around it. we plan to dig up the largest one and hopefully keep it.

behind our orchard there is a field road that is an easement for the farmer next to us to get to the other side of his property. it cuts through the wooded section of our land. greg has an idea to move the road onto his property in order to do away with the easement and hopefully give us our land back as it sheers off probably an acre (i didn't realize before just how much land we were losing from it until we walked back there today). we also hope to take back the land he farms, it is a tiny sliver but we can plant it in hay or wheat or oats and get a good crop for our needs. on our tax refund purchase list is a tiller for the tractor. we have several large patches of ground we want to sow in crops this year: hay, wheat, oats and/or mangles.

our goats are huge. soon!


it may get cold again, but spring is definitely here. when i stepped outside to check the does, the birds greeted me with their choruses. the air was crisp but had a definite change in it. it's supposed to be in the 50's today and the sun! has joined us.

today i'll be sowing some garden seeds outside: turnips, radishes, mustard greens, kale, and flowers. i have a patch by the house that i unsuccessfully attempted to create an herb spiral a few years back. it's too shady to do what i want it to so i'll finish leveling it today and fill the area in with flower seeds (and pray the chickens don't discover it). i may bring a wheel barrow of used goat bedding to cover the seeds and protect them, fertilize them and create a bit of a deterrent to those pesky hens.
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