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An Early Spring

Mar
14

The cows were down to their last round bale.
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It was set before their feasting eyes (and mouths) on Saturday.
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They promptly started demolishing it.
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While their attentions were distracted, I checked out their girly unders.
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Tried to figure out what was going on back there.
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I couldn’t really tell.
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And they’re not talking.
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But the four girls are due sometime soon.
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I’ve had several questions about Beau the bull– He is young. A yearling bull. He will get bigger. He’s a full-sized Hereford. He will be big enough to do the job. He sniffs the girls every day, just checking. They’re not in heat because they’re bred, but he is ever optimistic, so he checks. Daily. He’s feeling his spring fever! Meanwhile, with round bales running out, we had another delivery yesterday.
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The cows were very excited!
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They came right over to check it out. Hopefully this will get us through. Spring is here, early. And welcome. Look how green it is!
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Our order of meat chicks should be arriving this week. Grass is growing. The chickens are delivering two dozen eggs a day, and the ducks are laying, too. It’s time for flowers and vegetables and herbs to go in the ground. Speaking of gardens….
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Initial dirt work for a big new garden started here this weekend. I’m ready for a big garden! I need seeds….this week. I’m ready for seeds and calves and more goat babies.

It’s spring. Early!!! (We really needed that this year!)

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This Is the Life

Feb
26

Two strainer pots of chevre draining in my fridge.
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Can’t wait. I love goat cheese. I’m really enjoying having dairy goats again, especially better behaved dairy goats. And just as important as the cheese, the goats are filling a gap while Glory Bee is dried off awaiting her next calf. I like being able to provide my own dairy, and don’t like it when I can’t. I can manage breedings to have cows and goats dried off at different times, and finally be able to provide my own milk year-round. For most of the last seven or eight years, I’ve been able to provide my own eggs–and happily, the chickens are back up to nearly two dozen eggs a day now, which is plenty for ourselves and to gift to family and to sell. But I haven’t been able to always have my own milk, between challenges with finding a bull and times with my cow dried off awaiting calving.

Blossom, our new dairy cow addition, will be coming to the farm sometime next month, and is due to calve in June. Glory Bee, Dumplin, and Moon Pie are due to calve in April. We’ll have four calves on the farm this year, and one of them will be earmarked for beef. We’ve got meat birds coming in a few weeks to provide our own chicken. The layers are providing eggs, and goats and cows provide the milk, and we’re building a pig pen soon. We bought two hogs from a local farmer last year, and just bought a sheep from a local farmer–which went straight to the butcher. If I’m not growing it myself, I like to buy from local farmers, right off the farm. A Hereford bull will be coming soon (our own bull!), and probably a Hereford cow, and the bull will be breeding all of the girls this year. It’s been a long time coming to provide all of my own meat on the farm, but this year, we’re going to get there. Since last year, I’ve had the help and partnership of a very sweet man who is just as into this life as I am. It makes a huge difference. He works a full-time job off the farm, of course, and I work full-time between writing this website (when I can!) and holding workshops. I have workshops scheduled for almost every weekend this year, and I’m already deep in planning, sourcing supplies, shopping for supplies, taking registrations, making products to sell, and all sorts of preparations including cleanups and setups and other work around the farm related to the variety of workshops I’ll be doing this year.

Meanwhile, I’m milking goats twice a day. My morning round of chores checking/feeding/milking all the animals takes over an hour. Then there’s washing and packing eggs, cleaning the milking equipment, bottle feeding the babies–it all takes time. I work on workshop emails and other workshop-related things, try to get posts on my website when I can–I often plan posts then don’t have time to write them! And then I’m back at the barn at noon for another round of checking on animals (winter requires a lot more attention to the livestock), and then trying to squeeze in laundry and cooking and other life stuff, then back in the evening to the barn for another round of milking and chores.
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I’m ready to drop in the bed by dusk. Last evening, we got back from the barn and a big wind had blown a loose piece of siding off the studio so drop-dead time had to be put off to hammer it back on while I held the ladder. In the rain.

Even Glory Bee is tired.
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None of this is intended as complaint, though. I LOVE THIS LIFE! But it’s intended as reality check if you’re dreaming of a farm. It can seem very idyllic from afar, and in some ways it is idyllic! Except when it’s not. Most small family farmers I know are working full-time jobs around farming. It’s a hard life with long days and unexpected challenges at every turn. Challenge is exciting, and probably one of the many reasons I love farming, but it can be exhausting also. Farming is one of the most rewarding, beautiful lifestyles in the world. It’s also one of the toughest, in wind and rain and snow and sun.

It’s snowing again here, by the way.
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But if you’re ready for that kind of commitment….
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This is the life.

P.S. And then the power went out and didn’t come on till 5:30 last night, so this posting was delayed from yesterday. Life in the country!

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The Slanted Little House

"It was a cold wintry day when I brought my children to live in rural West Virginia. The farmhouse was one hundred years old, there was already snow on the ground, and the heat was sparse-—as was the insulation. The floors weren’t even, either. My then-twelve-year-old son walked in the door and said, “You’ve brought us to this slanted little house to die." Keep reading our story....



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