Monday, April 22, 2013

Moving quickly into a new season!

Well we are well underway into a new season here on the farm and WOW have we been busy! We have gotten the potatoes, onions, peas, carrots and broccoli into the garden. Hoping to get the spinach in this week. The peas are already sprouting and doing wonderful! Some of the onions have already started as well. We had to expand our garden again. We had to find larger plots of land to put our corn field and our peanut field. We are sticking with the white corn, we had really good luck with that last year and this year we are going with the Texas Red & White peanuts....they do better in clay soil. We are also going to be starting them in May, they definetly needed that extra month to mature and I would rather plant them directly in soil then transplant. We were talking about doing wheat on trial basis this year....but I think we are going to wait till next year, we still need to figure out where everything is going this year.
We have also been able to start selling our chicken eggs! We finally have enough to feed our big family and sell more! We are also being given another 30 baby chicks this week. White Leghorns again, but free is free! They also produce a lot of eggs! Our last batch that was given to us is getting pretty close to laying age and unfortunately a little over 50% of them were roosters. This breed does not do well for meat, but again, free is free and we take what we can get and am beyond grateful!
Here is a picture of the 1st set of piglets we had on the farm. 9 weeks now and up for sale. We will be keeping one for us to raise for meat, the other 4 will be sold privately or auctioned off. We have decided to keep one per litter for our own meat. Each sow can have 2 litters a year, so that would be 4 pigs a year for our own consumption. Soon to be a family of 8 here....we eat a lot of meat! LOL :D
We had to expand the chicken run for all the hens we were getting and we would like to get more.
We also got 3 turkeys. Here is the Tom he is a Black Spanish, there is a white hen behind him, she is a Royal Palm and the blurry one in front of him, the black hen is also a Black Spanish.

Here is another picture of the turkey hens. The hens have been laying lots of eggs. The 1st 9 we tried to incubate with no success, we let nature take its course and made nests for the ladies and the Royal Palm (white hen) has been diligent and we should hopefully be seeing baby pullets any day now! The Black Spanish (black hen) has also been sitting on her eggs, not as much as the other hen, so we shall see! I am pretty excited about maybe having our own turkey for Thanksgiving! If these eggs hatch and they grow into full grown turkeys....we shall have a tasty turkey dinner! YUM YUM!

We have also added a Holstein heifer! We were really not expecting to be adding cows this year, but as I was checking the craigslist for other farm items we did need, I saw her and it was something we had to do. It was a good deal and I did not want to pass it up. She was bullied by the other cows on a larger farm, so they had to sell her before she got really hurt. We don't mind! It will only be her! So she is a little skittish and needs to get used to us. We have not named her yet, she just arrived yesterday. She is in a temporary housing situation so she can be handled more, get used to electric fencing and also be harness trained. We were planning on getting a bull calf, but are still debating between artificial insemination and the all natural way. She is able to bred in late June/early July and for the 1st round we are going to go with AI. After that is what we are still debating on. Mr. Smith is leaning more towards AI till we can get more land. I am always for the all natural way of doing things and having the animals as much as possible do what God made them for. He does have a point though. Safety is always first for us and the animals and making sure we can provide a happy home for them, so we may just do AI till we can rent or buy more land. We are not ready for that just yet.....but I also said that about the cow! LOL We are talking about fixing up an old shed with a pasture right next door to put her into for a permanent home.

Last but not least! Here is the other new addition to the farm! 9 beautiful baby piglets! Born yesterday, this picture was taken hours after birth. They are all healthy and eating and Miss Piggy is a wonderful Mommy so far! :) These are Berkshire/Yorkshire mixes and some have these adorable little black spots on them! I LOVE IT!
I have also been trying to make our own bread full time again. I did find a new recipe that seems to be working out so far and it is not a lot of work, which is wonderful! Here is a link:
We are into our 2nd day of it, so we haven't gotten very far yet. I premade the loaves last night and then cooked them this morning and we are already down 1.5 loaves and its only Noon! I made them into peanut butter and jelly sammies for the kiddos for lunch. They did alright, but they will get used to it. Kids need time to adjust from store bought to homemade and I have come to realize that I cannot reproduce the stuff we buy from the store, like pop tarts and it takes so much work and they don't taste as I just stopped and the kids have stopped asking for them! I also stopped buying snack foods, like goldfish, granola bars and crackers and I have been leaving out veggies or fruit for snacking and they don't seem to mind and haven't been asking for any of those items. Which is easier on me and healthier for them! So its a win, win.
Weather has been nicer so since about the middle of March I have been hanging the laundry outside once again and I am able to do more then 1 load a day, which is amazing and yesterday I was able to do 8 loads! I love being able to do laundry outside...its good for the soul.
The 2nd weekend of March we also pulled the taps of the sap and we have been checking on our trees and the holes where we tapped the trees seem to be healing nicely and the trees are blooming like every year, which is nice to know we did not over tap them. I have not tried to cook with it yet, but I should. We have been pretty busy with other things.
I also plan to give making my own cheese another try. I will be trying tomorrow. I am going to use the citric acid and get used to making it this way 1st then try to go with all natural ingredients. I figured I better get used to making my own cheese now before a year from now we are getting 6-8 gallons of milk a day. We drink a lot of milk, but not that much! :) Starting with mozzarella again and then ricotta with the left over whey. We have been making our own butter for a little bit now as well and its wonderful! So much more flavor then store bought, we haven't tried flavored butter yet...but that's where we are going next and if you add a little olive oil to the butter it makes it easier to spread on toast.
Well that's all I have for now. Need to go check on the crock pot.
Happy Earth Day and happy planting!
Mrs. Smith

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