Thursday, October 15, 2009


I know, it's been OVER a month since I last made a blog post. I'm a slacker.

It is amazing how much I feel like I can't post since my digital camera broke. I just don't like to write without photos to share.

Here are the highlights of the last month:
1) 10 days in Branson, MO -- very enjoyable, even though it rained almost every day and was cool.
2) Broken hot water pipe at home under the laundry room floor. We are STILL working on it. Have been without hot water now since October 1. :(
3) Another new dog, to keep Lilly company -- Bella is part Great Pyrenees and part St. Bernard. She is wonderful and has an awesome temperament. Now we are just working on getting Lilly to accept her into the family. Lilly is so protective (which is exactly what she is supposed to do!)
4) Wood Stove project still not totally done yet. Relying on a borrowing electric room-heater to keep the chill off at nights until we get this fully installed.
5) 14 straight days of below-normal temperatures for this area, overcast and drizzle and/or rain. I'm in sore need of sunlight!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Tile is Done!

With the help of our good friend with a local tile company (actually he did ALL the work), we have the tile laid in the main room of the house to prepare for the wood stove installation.

We have been blessed through this process in many ways: 1) having a friend willing to take on our small project and tutor us through it. 2) receiving the actual quarry tile free from someone on Craig's list who no longer wanted it (it is used tile). Both huge costs savings that made the otherwise impossible project possible for us.

When we pulled up the carpet in this area of the main room, we first found this very interesting linoleum over the wood floor. From the outstandingly large paisley pattern, I'm going to guess it is from the mid-1930s. Luckily, it was not glued down, so could be removed easily. Almost hated to, though. It was like an antique. :)

So now the tile is done (yes, I know from the photos that I need to repaint my baseboard and stuff -- one step at a time!) Next on the project is to tear out that paneling on the wall behind and begin working on the chimney, and figuring out how to get the stove pipe installed properly.

All advice from friends welcome!

Monday, August 31, 2009

The Goats let the Pigeons out

.. that is the line my son used on his Facebook status, and it is just as hilarious as it sounds.

His pigeon-breeding aviary is in the corner of the goat barn. Well, one day late last week, the goats, (knowing Steven feeds the pigeons grain) figured a way to hook their horns around the wires holding the door shut on the aviary, and rip it open and get inside.

This, of course, scared the pigeons clean out. Except for the one mama pigeon who is nesting on an egg and refused to leave her nest (thank goodness).

Since originally they stayed in the barn, Steven was able to capture some with a net and put them back in the aviary. But one young bird soared out of the barn and into the tree tops and went AWOL for a few days. We were sure she'd been eaten by a hawk or something.

Late Saturday, she came back to the area, and we hoped she would go inside the barn at nightfall. However, when we returned home after dark, she was roosting on the top of the barn, outside. Steven climbed up there at 11 PM at night -- flashlight in one hand, net in the other. He was able to capture her, but then was faced with how to get off the very dew-wet, slick metal barn roof, without a light, as both hands were busy holding the bird. Luckily, I began to wonder what was taking so long and went to check, so was able to be an couple extra pairs of hands so we could get both bird and man off the rooftop safely.

It was urgent we get them captured and back in, because tomorrow (in Kansas) begins dove-hunting season. I doubt the hunters in this area would be able to tell the difference between a mourning dove and loose pigeon during the wee hunting hours of the morning.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Wood Stove

We have a Franklin Wood Stove!

As some of you know, we have been pushing hard to get our house off propane heat and focus on wood heat only, especially after last year spending several thousand dollars which just barely kept the house at bearable warmth (65 or less) during the winter.

So we have been searching ads, both online and off, for some time looking for a good used woodstove that would suit our needs, was within our budget, the right size for our space, etc. We feel this was a real God-send that we happened across this ad, and it ended up being only 8 miles from our house! (I didn't like the idea of taking the old farm truck many miles away to haul something like this).

The people selling it are going to use a wood pellet stove instead. We wanted a true wood stove, because we have access to so much free dead wood here. The boys did a great job of getting the heavy stove onto and off of the truck. It's currently in the garage, still waiting for us to get the tile laid on the floor in the living room where it will reside. We must hustle on this, as the nights are turning cooler, and we refused to use our furnace even one more day - in fact, we plan to remove the furnace entirely.

As our two baby Cayuga ducks have grown so fast and so large that you can barely tell which ones are baby and which are mama, we have also welcomed in 10 new baby mixed-breed ducks (Mallard-type) from our tan duck. The baby chicks I showed early and now sleek young pullets (and cockerels) and I need to post new photos of them. (I have not yet fixed my camera, but was able to pull these photos off the memory card with the use of card reader).

I'll end with a photo of our best hunter/outdoor cat -- Peggy Sue -- sitting pretty.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Summer is winding down

Last week, my sons worked hard on getting the greenhouse erected.

Still a few roof panels to set into place and fasten, and extra reinforcement to add all the way around. This photo doesn't really do it justice, as to how large this building is. Again, we are very blessed to have received it, and Steven did an excellent job of getting it put together solidly. I have no idea what all he will use it for just yet, but I'm sure he's making plans. (Personally, I will be glad to get his bedding plants off the south porch each spring, and into a proper greenhouse!)

David isn't able to help Steven finish the work this week, as he just had oral surgery and will be laid up a few days. So Steven and I will have to finish it up ourselves (probably mostly just Steven). David will probably also be going home to McPherson as soon as he is well enough.

In other news -- our tan duck hatched her chicks! Seven little ones so far, I think. I only have a photo of one, because she is very possessive of her nest, and keeps them close under her at this point.

And on Sunday, we traveled to get our new livestock guard dog. She is turning out to be a real sweetie! Lilly is half Anatolian Shepherd and half Great Pyrenees. Steven has been working with her daily to teach her what is expected, and walking the property with her so she will know her boundaries. She seems to have a great personality and I'm sure she will be great asset to the farm. She is only about 8 months old, so still has more growing to do. (She is on a chain in this pic only because she's new to the place, so we pen her temporarily when we are not out with her to keep and eye on her and train her about where she can and can't go).

meet Lilly

This Saturday is Yoder Heritage Day, so we are looking forward to the activities there again this year. We've had several good rains this week, making August much greener than in past years, and meaning I need to get the mowers back out!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

End of July

Well, I had hoped dearly to be able to post up photos of the greenhouse progress, however, my digital camera decided to just totally die. This is going to make photos for the blog (going forward) much harder to acquire and load. I will fiddle with it more tonight and see if I can get it fixed, or if a new one is in order.

Here is the last photo taken during the end of July on our greenhouse project

The contraption in the center is a "water level" devised by Uncle Paul. That man is absolutely amazing. He is 91 years old and he knows how to do everything the "old" way by hand. Steven loves learning from him. Uncle Paul came out to help Steven level and square the base of 4x4s we put down for the greenhouse. This water level helped them get it level all the way around. I don't know how it works, as I didn't get to witness this part. The greenhouse is approx. 12 ft. x 21 ft. in size.

We consider ourselves very blessed to have been given this used greenhouse by someone who didn't want it anymore. It was a lot of work getting it dismantled after it had been in the former location for probably 30 years, and it will be a lot of work getting it back up. But it will be wonderful to have it.

A few other photos to share until I get a chance to update again:

Onions from the garden. When we harvest, I braid them like this, so we can hang them in the shed to dry. They keep much better this way and don't sprout too early. We kept several through all winter in these braids.

Our billy goat kid is really growing.
He is going to be a very fine buck.
Now Steven just needs to decide if he is keeping him,
or selling him.

This little calf is not ours -- he is one of the resident herd from our leasee. But I thought this was a cute photo. I'm sure they are going to cull him/her out though, as they raise only purebred black Angus, and this little one was apparently the product of an errant neighboring Limousin bull. Wish I could purchase this one.. even if just for locker beef.

In other news, the baby ducklings are out most all day during the day now, really growing big. The baby chicks are getting their feathers in and we let them out for short periods of the day -- still too risky to have them out as much as the older chickens. They sure are a variety of colors from Steven's genetic-cross program. I will try to post photos when I can.

And Happy Birthday to two of my three kids this week -- my younger son's birthday was yesterday, and my daughter's is tomorrow. It will be a busy week!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Goat Stew

Last Friday morning, while Steven was out in the garden, we got a call from a neighbor that said the goats were out, on the road, and one of them had been hit by a passing truck.

Steven hurried out there to find his mamma doe (although all her kids are mostly grown now) had been recently killed by a vehicle, so he immediately brought her up to the house (after getting the rest of them back in), field dressed her, skinned her out, and began butchering up the meat for the freezer.

On the one hand, she was one we had strongly consider butchering anyway for a number of reasons (bad temperament, hoof problems, udder problems) but also she had been our best bearer of kids. This incident, however, made up our minds for us. We just didn't plan to butcher on one of the hottest days of the year. I'm proud of Steven for spending his entire day on this project, especially when he found all my kitchen knives as lacking in sharpness, and ended up butchering the entire carcass with his pocket knife.

Put some of the goat meat in the slow cooker on Sunday night, and we've been enjoying goat stew all week -- joined in the pot by our wonderful garden offerings of potatoes, onions, garlic, sage, tomatoes, squash and whatever else we can find to throw into the pot.

I still have much of the meat in the fridge to grind up into burgers. Plus we gave some of it to my other two kids when they were home visiting for the weekend, and they reported enjoying it much when they fixed it up at their place.

In other news, we have two new ducklings (I will post photos later) and our 11 chicks are doing quite well. We are badly in need of a rain, so keep us in your prayers for that. It has rained all around us this week, but it isn't falling on our area of the county. The garden is struggling to do its best regardless. We had our hottest day of the past 3 years, at 107, this past Monday, but now it has cooled down some, and we're hopefully the rain clouds will come by our place tonight.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Happy Independence Day!

Well, there has been so much going on lately -- I simply haven't had time to try to get a new post up here on the blog. Summer is short when it is filled with projects!

However, I tried to remember to take photos as the days passed, so I could eventually get them up here to update all my friends:

First, after an eternity of waiting on her nest, one of our broody ducks hatched a chick -- a chicken chick! We knew the duck eggs under her weren't fertile, so we snuck a couple of chicken eggs into the nest while she was up drinking, so that something would hatch for her.

Mama duck with baby chicken. The chick is standing off on the edge of the nest because it was so very hot this day.

Once the chick was hatched, we took the chick away to the brooder, and eventually, after a couple more days, took the rest of the eggs away from the duck. Broody duck hens are so funny-acting, they are hilarious. They hunch down and squawk constantly (when up, not when on the nest) and made a huge dash just to get up to get feed and water. I should post a video.

This chick was from our sole California White hen (the only white bird we have). It's papa, however, is a New Hampshire.

After a few more days, the broody hen we had in the chicken house hatched out 11 chicks. These are from an assortment of eggs, both from the older RIR hens, the hens from last year which are RIR/New Hamp cross, and from the California White (crossing with the New Hamp). So she got a variety of colors. And after three or four days in the brooder all by itself, the duck-hatch chick was glad to be put in with a "family".

The little chick standing outside the nest is the duck-hatched one from above, a couple days older than the hen-hatched chicks. This photo was actually taken before all of them hatched out, so the rest are less than one day old here. We keep this group in a approx. 3' x 4' enclosure in the chicken house itself, encased in chicken wire, so the cats don't bother the chicks until they are older.

Here are some of the rest of our birds, up on the roost for the evening. Noticed how the California White hen stays off to herself at the top, preferring to roost on the ledge of the window or door instead of on the roost!

* * *
Our Iowa Blue pullets are coming along extremely well! They are a much lighter breed than our RIRs, and much more "flighty" but they are very good grazers/scavengers, and tend to stay out of the chicken house as long as possible in the evenings before roosting. They love being out and about. They are also much much quieter than the RIR breed. The photos I have of them are not very good, but give you an idea as to their size:

The garden is coming along well. I don't have any really good photos of it to share, but will post this one taken from the opposite direction of all the other photos I have posted of it so far.

Steven is trying some cool new ideas for the garden layout, putting a few stalks of corn in each hill of either squash, melons, or cucumbers, etc. Lots of companion planting. We have harvested onions, strawberries, peas, green beans, and a few tomatoes.

During the hot streak we had of 7 days around or over 100 degrees (it was miserable) Steven spent a good deal of his time trying to keep everything watered and cooled off. That included a lot of work on getting the windmill going, because the cattle herd (part of our land is leased to a cattle ranch) drinks the entire stock tank down so fast on hot days!

I almost forgot! We did finally obtained a nice Cayuga type drake:

He does have a crest, which we don't care for, but we can breed that out of our flock. Our Cayuga hens seem to like him. :) So now we've gone from no drakes (in May) to three drakes, so we will probably be eating a couple of them soon. (the other two were not Cayuga type, so weren't exactly what we wanting for breeding).

Well, we plan to have company tomorrow evening for the 4th of July. Mostly family, but also some friends, over for a cookout of hamburgers, hot dogs and a good game of softball. Should be a blast. Hope everyone that reads this has a blessed and safe holiday.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

It's That Time of Year

(click for larger view)

..the sweet fragrances of the blossoms of locust trees fill the air all around our farm. I love it when the locust bloom. So do the bees!

Have spent much of this week rototilling under cover-crop on the north half of the main garden, getting it ready to plant. Now that the rains has stopped, there is so much for Steven to plant, and in so little time! (Yet, rains are predicted again before the end of Memorial Day weekend)

This will probably be my last update post until I return from Pennsylvania. I wish you all a blessed growing season!

Friday, May 15, 2009

May update

I can't believe it has been half a month since I updated here.

That is just indicative of how busy this time of year is for us on the farm. In another week, I will also be leaving for a one-week road trip, so I don't know that I will have anything to update until mid-June after this.

Steven spent several days this week adding on to his pigeon area. In addition to the pigeon loft he already had, now he has built a Fly Cage, taking up about 1/6th of the goat barn. This will allow the pigeons out to exercise their wings and fly about some, without having to let them totally out to fly away and not come back. (Currently the ladder in there is for them to perch on until he gets some type of perch or rooster built for them to hang around on).

(His new pigeon pair, top, and whenever he checks on them,
the goats come into the barn asking for his attention.)

The garden is coming right along. This isn't a great picture of it, but you can compare it to the earlier spring photo.

The yellowish-brown area in the center of the garden is where Steven just cut his hay crop, and put that hay up in the barn. Now it is ready to till and plant. We still have much to plant, between the continual rains we have been getting. The tall weeds in the foreground are curly dock - which Steven will also cut to put in in the barn for winter feed, once their heads seed out.

Ah - the legacy of my grandmother's flowers. I love the iris gardens my grandmother planted in various places around the farm, and they are begining their beautiful blooming now. It is a great legacy that she left behind.

My separate potato garden is coming right along
(yes, I know I need to weed it).

In the incubator, Steven has placed a new batch of chicken eggs. Those should hatch by the end of May. His Iowa Blue chicks are growing rapidly -- he takes them out to the garden with him (in the cage) when he is working out there - to allow them to get sunlight, fresh air, and peck around a bit.

Oh! and good news! We have been given a greenhouse! It's huge (21 x 12) - so now we are just trying to figure out the logistics of how to take it down from it's present location and get it moved to the farm.

Friday, May 1, 2009

New Chicks

Yesterday Steven received the new Iowa Blue chicks he ordered. This is part of his long-term plan for his chicken breeding program, as this somewhat rare breed will introduce the birchen gene into his flock.

Unfortunately, it looks like none of our duck eggs (in the incubator for the last month) are going to hatch. We knew it was a long-shot, but worth a try.

Also, it's that time of year. Our Leasee put his cattle into our pastures. I have to admit with everything so green, it does make for a pretty picture out our back gate:

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I Think That I Shall Never See......

... a tree as lovely at this one! :)

This is our Seckel pear tree -- one that rarely ever produces much fruit (except last year!). However, it is such a gorgeous tree in form, leaf and bloom that we just enjoy gazing at it. And to think that the original Seckel pear at this site was cut down by my grandfather for being "unproductive" and this wonderful specimen valiantly grew back from the root. It deserves the spotlight.

Thought I would just post up some random shots I took over the last week around the garden and farm, to celebrate spring and upcoming summer. (You can click on any of these photos to see them larger in the window)

Our new bees are making themselves at home, and seeming to thrive well in the new hive. (the duct tape on the hive is from when we transported it - to help the boxes hold together).


our Asparagus line

This is turnips that Steven is letting go to seed, so we can have our own seed. This takes quite a bit of patience, because you have to let the turnips fully grow, leave them in the ground over the entire winter, and wait to see which ones survive and send up these blooms in the spring, then wait for the seed. It's almost a two-year process.

Strawberries are blooming!



Steven's fledgling fruit trees -- I think he has over 10 new trees in the orchard area.

Potatoes are peeking through!

One of our Cayuga hens. Still looking for a new drake.

Alas, our pigeons have flown the coop. We thought perhaps they had become used to the feed enough that they would stay, but such was not the case. So we have plans for new pigeons for the loft, as well.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Pigeon Loft

Steven was able to finish his pigeon loft last week, so his poor birds could get out of their little cages and have some room to spread their wings.

They seem to thoroughly enjoy it. They both are very docile birds, and we still haven't determined gender for sure; but they are nice to have around.

He allows them outside during the day -- but they never stray far from the barn (thankfully). They know where their food is! And we can shut them up inside the loft if we choose to -- which we will probably do this fall when dove-hunting season is in full swing around here.

For now, though, they seem happy to just fly out to the roof of the barn and perch there to look around. Too bad we don't have a cupola on the old pole shed!

Steven also still has 47 duck eggs in the incubator. Another week or more before we know if we will get any ducklings. What would we do if all 47 eggs hatched??? I suppose some would go to the poultry auction.