Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A few weeks ago I found a great blog that you may enjoy. It is called littlefarminthebigcity.blogspot.com. She currently has a give away for some great books and I would love to have them all! She has many interesting posts on there from taking care of your animals, to fixing things like yogurt from scratch to making your own deodorant.

Check it out!  littlefarminthebigcity.blogspot.com

Monday, June 6, 2011

Do Goats Have Opposing Thumbs?

I have seriously begun to wonder if goats have opposing thumbs. How else do they manage to open every door on the property! Bobbie Socks has amazing lips I guess.  The truly amazing thing is that she was able to open latches that were difficult for me to open. I swear I would just put her in an area and the next thing I knew I would hear the clippity-clop of hooves on my porch and her trying to open the door to come inside!

I sat and watched her the other day as she tried to figure out the new locks I put on the inside of her stall door. She was quite diligent as she slowly played with it over and over thinking for sure that she could break the code. I think I finally have success! I am so thankful for "D" rings and you can now find them all over the property! Let's just hope that Cocoa doesn't decide to help her by holding the ring in place while Bobbie pushes the pin in & off!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

We lost a bunny...

There is one thing to be said about living on a farm and having lots of animals, it is a wonderful opportunity to learn about life's lessons. This morning Jacob went outside to feed the rabbits and came in very upset because Ginger was "not a good mom". I was a little confused as she is actually a very good bunny mommy. He then explained that one of her babies was dead in the cage. They are quite old now (born on the Monday after Easter) so I was surprised that we would loose one so late, but alas we did.

Adam cried a little because it looked a lot like his rabbit in miniture, but after a quick discussion about heaven, he was off to play "pioneers" in the back yard!

Cake Auction Purse

We participated in a cake auction Friday to help raise money for our church young women's summer camp. I decided that I wanted to step out of my comfort zone this year and try a few new techniques. I don't care for the taste of fondant so I decided to try modeling chocolate instead - much better! I really enjoyed breaking out brushes and sweeping the cobwebs off my creativity - it has been too long!  This is all new to me (I really don't decorate cakes, I buy them) and the first time I have ever done anything like it, so although it is not "perfect" I am really happy with the end result & the process of getting there!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Visiting our Family Ranch in Oregon

Last weekend, Mikayla, Adam & I went to Joseph to pick up the grass fed beef that we harvested. We have a family ranch on about 200 acres. This last year we started raising grass fed beef. This was because we wanted a healthier option for our families. These cows were only wormed (to ensure we didn't have a problem with the meat) and given no other medication. They were raised and finished on the incredible grass in Eastern Oregon.

We have started increasing our herd size and are excited to see what the next year brings for us! My dad has decided that he wants to try adding Scottish Highlander Beef to the ranch this year in addition to the Angus cross we already have. I am anxious to see how those turn out, they are very interesting looking animals and remind me of small mammoths with Texas Long Horn horns!

We had a great time there with two of my sister's girls. The kids loved being out with all the animals!

This cow would not stop following us around! She loves the kids and just wants to be with people! There was a thunderstorm later that day and this silly heifer came up to the porch and put her head under it so that she was covered! Never mind that the rest of her body was getting pelted by rain, her head was protected from it and she could not hear as much or see the lightning! Crazy cow!

We lost a kitten....

Every day I check on the kittens multiple times a day. Last night when I went in to do my before bed routine, I immediately noticed that one of Shyanne's babies was dead. Our best guess is that she smothered it. She is not a very good mom. In fact, I very rarely see her in with her babies. Because of this, I keep a close eye on those babies to ensure they are getting enough food. Thankfully she is a GREAT mouser and is very friendly.  It is a good thing we are going to spay her!

These pictures are from Cami's litter. They are 15 days old today and are starting to walk a little bit. It is really cute to see them stumbling around! Cami continues to be an AMAZING mom! She uses her arms to keep her babies snuggled in close to her and looks on anxiously whenever she hears her babies cry. She is definately a keeper!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The bunnies are getting big!

Ginger's babies are getting so big! It is amazing how quickly rabbits grow! They are now eating real food and are nursing just a little until they get better at drinking out of the water bottle.  Soon, it will be time to say good-bye to the ones we are not keeping. We have tried not to handle them too much because a few of them are going to grow to be dinner while the rest will find new homes. I don't want the kids to get too attached as I know it is going to be a sad day around this place without being attached.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Kittens -- Round Two!

Here is Shyanne with her litter. Adam named her Shyanne because when she first came to live with us she was very shy. We thought it was cute so it has stayed. The funny thing is that now that she knows us, she is ANYTHING but shy!

She had 6 babies this morning in about 2 hours! I couldn't believe how quickly they kept coming. I think she may be done but she is acting a little weird still. Of the six she had, one did not make it so we have 5 live ones. They are mostly black & white, but there is one with some orange on it. She looks like she will be a good momma, but not as experienced as Cami, who was amazing!

Here is Cami taking a nap with her babies. They are darling! The little orange one has his arm across his sibling -- too cute! Here they are 3 days old.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

First Round of Kittens Have Arrived!

On Easter morning we got quite a surprise! Our Bishop called to say that someone had left a pet carrier with 2 cats in it next to the door of the church. He asked if we would be willing to foster them until he could figure our what to do. Well, much to our surprise, when we let them out of the carrier, they were both pregnant!
We named this mommy cat Cami. This morning she had 5 live kittens and lost one. She is an excellent mother and very friendly. We have decided to keep 2 cats once all the babies are ready leave. We haven't decided if it will be the mommy or babies yet. The mommy cats are obviously house cats and we want them to be barn cats so that would be a serious consideration.

She labored nearly all day and I was able to see a couple of them born. She was very tolerant of all the commotion as kids kept coming and going to see the babies. I have never owned a cat before and must admit that I actually really do like these mommy cats and look forward to having this addition to our farm. I think I am going a little nuts!

Friday, April 29, 2011

We now have 2 litters of bunnies!

Ginger's babies - 8 in all

Ashley's babies - we think there are 9 in all. Hers are black with a few spotted ones.

Sorry the pictures aren't better, there is SO MUCH HAIR in there and I don't want to mess with the nest to much, it upsets the moms.

We thought we had bred both rabbits, however, Ashley was not showing a SINGLE sign of pregnancy, so we thought that she hadn't had a successful breeding. Last night when I checked on them, there was no nest, no indication of anything out of the norm.

When we returned home after a field trip today, Jacob said there was a bunch of hair in Ashley's cage. When I went over there, there were a bunch of little babies moving around. Her babies are "hoppy". Ginger's babies just kind of hang out and chill, Ashley's are constantly moving around their little nest, they seriously look like they are hopping around in there! 

Now, it appears that one of the cats that we rescued on Easter morning (they were abandoned in a box at the door of the church) is about to deliver. She is HUGE, acting very strange and hiding in a queening box. I wouldn't be surprised if she has them in the next 24 hours. I will keep you posted!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The babies are here!

Freaky elf ears!

Ginger finally had her babies! They were born on Monday morning between 7:15 and 7:45. Unbelievably she had 8 babies! They have no hair and look like little pigs. The fluff  this baby is in is fur that Ginger pulled from herself to make her nest. The amazing thing is that she looks like she still has all her hair. As soon as the babies start to come out of the nest, we will move them into the big hutch as this one CANNOT handle 9 rabbits!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Bees & a birthday

There is no family resemblance whatsoever!

Jared really enjoyed helping get the bees ready to hive. Here he is spraying sugar syrup onto the foundations so the bees have something to snack on.  Later Jared announced that he loved being near the bees and that they really calmed him. He has stated a few times that he wished he could hear that sound whenever he got upset so that he could calm more quickly. I suggested we go sit out there so we can hear them and create a physical memory, one that he can recall any time or place to help him calm himself down. I thought it was interesting that he noticed a difference so quickly and wanted to re-create it. Perhaps it was because he knew that if he was not calm he would get stung!

I did the first hive behind Mikayla. Now is was Mikayla's turn to hive them. She was so excited! Here she is shaking them out of their package onto the frames.

We now have approximately 6,000 bees in their new homes. Adam & Jared were so brave they were with us the entire time and had on NO EQUIPMENT! Eventually the bee on Adam's hand in this picture did sting him. I think it didn't like the fact that he was a Venus Fly Trap. But after a copper penny & benedryl spray, he was good as new!  Shortly after that I felt something tickle me and with out thinking, I scratched it to discover that a bee had flown up my shirt! So, I got a little sting to. Honey bee stings are NOTHING compared to those blasted hornets! I will take a bee any day!

Mikayla had a great birthday yesterday! She turned 13, so hard to believe that I now have an official teenager! I picked her up from school around10:30, took her to the ortho where she got her first birthday gift, no more bite guard!  After the ortho, I let her play hookie for the rest of the day. She just finished the 3rd quarter with an entire year of straight A's so I thought she deserved it. So off we went to get some snacks for our drive up to Snohomish. It was a beautiful day for a drive. Still a little overcast but just enough to keep you from getting too hot in the car.

Once we got to Snohomish we picked up our bee packages, a few more deeps and feeders and then headed home for hiving. Then dinner and presents that ended with a treasure hunt all over the farm. She was lead to the "treasure" in the shed were she found a new mountain bike. She was very excited and couldn't wait to head out. She promptly started riding it all over the property and announced that her knees no longer hit the handle bars....I guess the bike was a little over due!

After a little riding around, it was time for cake and ice cream. Then mom discovered that after all the birthdays since December, I was indeed out of candles. I guess I should have thought of checking before I went to put them in the cake. So, instead we had a "red-neck" cake and used match sticks...they burn MUCH faster than candles! We RUSHED through the birthday song and she blew them out before we were even finished singing. After yummy Costco cake & Kirkland vanilla ice cream (our favorites), it was time to go ride some more. When she went to bed last night, she said it was the best birthday she has ever had and that she didn't want to go to sleep because that meant it was over.

It truly was a GREAT day!

Goat Stanchion

Ben took the boys out and had them help build this goat stanchion. It was a lot of fun for them and Mikayla & I are grateful as hoof trimming is MUCH easier! Before it was a 3 person job and then you could only get 1/2 a hoof if lucky. This time they jumped right up, fought the foot hold for a minute and within about 10 minutes all four hooves were done and shots were given! What a difference proper equipment makes! Additionally the twins got to mark some achievements off in their Webelo books, played with power tools and hung out with dad!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Home for those that need to be "re-homed" & a name for our home

In February we re-homed these two Pygmy goats, Emmy & Tucker. They came from someone that Ben works with. Their original owners found that they just didn't have time to care for them the way they should and wanted to give them to someone that could. This was our first "re-home" addition. Emmy, the black one, is very shy and afraid of humans. Originally her name was Serena, but no one could remember it correctly. We are hoping that with time she will be more interested in us. Tucker is a little more friendly and will actually let you touch him! He is getting a little better with time.
This is a picture of Clyde, one of the newer additions to our little farm. He joined us in March. He is a cross between a Pygmie & Angora goat. He is SO CUTE!!! His little personality is so much fun. He truly doesn't know that he is a goat, he thinks he is a "do-man", a cross between a dog and a human. His mom rejected him at birth so he had to be bottle fed. His owner brought him into their home and kept him there until he got a little older. His favorite playmate was the family dog. As he got bigger, they moved him outside to find that he just didn't get along with the llamas and alpacas. The owners sold off the other goats so he was alone. Thus the email to the King County 4H which brought him to our attention. We are so glad that we answered that request, I think I can honestly say that he the favorite for all of us.

Then earlier this month we re-homed six hens. A friend of ours moved to a new home and couldn't take her chickens so we said we would like them. We now get 9-11 eggs a day! I am learning many different ways to prepare eggs and we are either giving away or selling the extras.

One day the kids decided they wanted to try selling them and in 20 minutes we sold 4 dozen! Adam put on a parrot suit (from an old Halloween) and flapped his wings. One lady said that it put it over the edge and that she just HAD to stop. Obviously Adam earned some commission for his work!

Next week, we are picking up 2 packages of Italian Honey Bees as I have decided that I am going to try my hand at beekeeping. I am really excited and hope that this year will be good enough that we will have enough surplus honey to sell.

Ultimately we want to get into animals that help earn their keep around here. We want to make goat milk soap, sell honey, candles and eggs. Additionally we are putting in an orchard and with time hope to have excess fruit to sell as well. As you can tell we are learning how to become much more self reliant. It is amazing to see how dramatically our life has changed in the last year!

This year I have been selling a few grass fed steers for my brother-in-law and decided that I want to sell my own beef instead of his, so we have purchased a heffer and a steer so that we can sell the grass-fed beef next year as well.

So all these new ventures have made me think that I really need to come up with a marketable name for our little place. Right now my favorite is "Bit of Heaven Farm". Basically it describes all the different things that we can sell that truly can be considered gifts from heaven in addition to the beauty that completely surrounds us when everything is in bloom.

So, I would love your ideas for a name if you have one. Ben had "Land of Milk & Honey" (for bees & goat milk) but some of the hits on the internet were not good and I didn't want it to get confused with something else. I also thought of the "original" (ha ha) name of Southwick Farms, Rainier Farms, Southwick Six, etc....

Well, that is it for now, send your names if you come up with something and I will share some our bounty with you if we pick your name!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

So, here is a picture of our new house. We moved in in March 2010 and have had a blast! We have had a sharp learning curve getting to know what it is like to be land & livestock owners. There is never a dull moment and there is always something that needs to be done. I am gaining a greater understanding why some people have junky looking property when they have more land. There is always so much to do and I often feel like I can never catch up. But we love it!