Sunday, October 31, 2010

2010 Gratitude Challenge

Wanting to give thanks!
A friend and fellow blogger directed me to this challenge and since I try to live my life thankful for everything, I thought this would be a fun way to voice my thankfulness. I hope y'all will join me, if you're so inclined, you can visit here to pick up the badge for it.

My girls have been busy!

Ahhh, finally! My new girls have started laying! We've had about 150 +- chickens on the farm since the first batch of broilers, hatched chicks and replacement layers arrived, and during that time we were getting 1-2 eggs every couple of days. Talk about annoying! This was a very welcome sight in the nesting box this morning.

Friday, October 29, 2010

So how many injuries does it take?

The boys have been here for almost a week and are settling in brilliantly! They are not even bothered by the constant handling of their fleece and hearing "ooooooooooohhhhhhhhhh you're soooooooo soft!" then a squeal of sheer delight! I think with so many of them they take turns deciding who'll be next, but they really are good sports about it. My mother told me last night that I never blogged about the "experience" of getting them here. Oh yeah, right I forgot to do that... it's a story I thinkg you'll find.... well interesting at least. Here it goes.

Last Saturday we had a 'get together' at my parents home and it usually involves too much food and too much fun, but like my father-in-law says, "too much is just right!" You know the kind of gathering that involves food, family, fun, cousins, crazy aunt Twistie, etc, well that makes for an all day event type thing (especially when you have to work around two families farm chores, milking schedules and 4-H meetings), but I was also supposed to pick up the alpacas...

The afternoon was winding down and it was getting late in the afternoon, as you know the sun is setting earlier and earlier... Well, I decided it was time to go get them and head home. My dad was graciously allowed me to use his truck (which has a cap) to transport my farm animals. I really need a trailer... I've got a tonneau cover for the bed of my truck, but that wouldn't work, hog panels, tarps and ratchet straps, mmmm nope! Not a chance! I got ready to go and asked who was going to tag along on this adventure, my sister who's always ready for a gathering of people and/or party jumped at the chance - mind you this is the sister that IS NOT a farmer or animal person really unless it's a petting zoo... My other sister had gone home or I think she'd have come if just to laugh at the whole crazy situation; my dad scoffed, hmm, maybe he had an idea as to the calamity this would become.... So I asked mom, saying to her well you went with me when I was getting Strawberry bred, and helped me wrangle the pigs back onto the truck at the fair, so you have to come! What do you know, she did! She changed her shoes, flip flops are not proper farm footwear, are they mom? and got in the truck. He he he! Off we went. Ok so I had Jen, my sister, call for directions, I felt like I could get back there no problem, but cell reception is sporadic at best out there and did I mention it was getting dark? I'd only been there one other time and came in from an entirely different direction, I was not interested in being lost.

So we arrive at the house and the owners are out in the pasture with the alpacas, mom drives the truck over to where the gates opens and the boys (alpacas) are... shall we say ....energetically bouncing around the pasture, they smelled a rat! It was most likely me and the multi species oders from my farm off my barn shoes, I don't think our farm smells bad at all, but occasionally I've gotten a whiff of my barn shoes and whew! but I digress. Seeing as one owner has seriously messed up her back to the point of needing surgery she would not be able to wrangle any of the freaked out boys. Her husband, my sister, mother, children, and children of the guests they had were all in the pasture, just past dusk trying to catch the alpacas. Now would be a good time to mention that they live WAY out off the beaten path and there are NO streetlights or many lights at all really. The pasture area was, well, large enough for all 5 alpacas so it was not easy convincing them to stand still and let us strange people walk up to them and put a halter on and be led out, they just were not comfortable with that. So we made a wall of people and cornered them, all together and eased the pressure off them and they settled down a bit. We went in for one of them and managed to get one, but the others scattered, so we had to repeat the process several times.

We get one caught and haltered and start to lead him out to the where the woman owner was so we could do shots before bringing them here. I was helping, or at lest making an attempt at it and the plunger wouldn't depress, so I asked her to check it out for me. Well she took the syringe and pulled it back slightly and redirected it, right into the tip of my finger! It was totally an accident and all it really did was scratch my finger as I jerked it away. It bled a little but I've been vaccinated and wormed now! LOL! So we start loading them up, one at a time, alpacas are herd animals and they were being loaded into the back of a strange vehicle by strange people in the dark alone, they were a little freaked out. I expected that no matter how we did it that would be the case to some degree.

If you're keeping a tally as to the injuries, sharpen your pencil! So far it's just the current owner's back and my finger, but as we load one on the truck it's leg slips and kicks my mother in the leg, leaving an oblong plum shaped (and colored) bruise on her thigh. The husband was hit in the 'family jewels' area and doubled over in pain and in doing so wrenched his back. I found out later that it cost him a trip to the ER because of the pain. While in the pasture chasing another one down my mother's foot got stepped on, (I'm betting she's glad that she didn't have her flip flops on and was likely thinking "And I'm doing this, again, why???" I was able to get one against the fence and once they are caught they stopped fighting, but the others had just run by us and he thought he'd give it a go to be with his herdmates and I'd just stepped on a rock or in a divot or something and turned my ankle a bit so I let him go to prevent further injuries. My foot was also stepped on at some point, but was wearing boots, so it didn't' really even hurt, but a tally mark is a tally mark, right? Andrew managed to get kicked in the thigh somewhere along the way. I don't know how many of you know this, but alpacas and llamas do not have hooves, they have a soft pad and two toenails on their feet. It's not a hoof like a goat or horse, so it you get stepped on or kicked it's not say, pleasant, but it's not as painful as say a horse. I remember walking back into the pasture to halter another on and seeing my sister who I mentioned is NOT an animal person with her arms around an alpaca saying "I'm not the weakest link, I am not the weakest link!" I guess she'd let a few slip through her hands and was determined not to let it happen again! Hey, I'll give her an A for effort!

Ok, so we're getting them loaded and it's getting a tad crowded in the truck and as I'm in there with them unhaltering and handing out halters and leads and holding them back I got knocked around a bit, again it's nothing bad, just stressed animals. BUT on a good note, after we got a couple in there the rest were more willing to hop in to be with their buddies. Ahhh! They are finally all loaded and the tailgate is up and the cap is shut, latch is secured, or so we think.

So we get them all loaded and head back over to the house to warm up and chat for just a few minutes. Did I mention it was dark and cold that night? So we thaw inside, and decide that it's time to start home, head back out, this time I'm to drive my dads truck, after all it is my livestock now, I took a peek at the back of the truck and it looks a bit odd, I step closer and see one alpaca standing up. The others have relaxed and laid down, yea, I thought. I get closer and peek in and there is only one alpaca! The other four somehow manages to not only unlatch the gate but hop out of the truck and are now roaming around the neighborhood! Yup, dad must have known something like that would happen and that's why he stayed home...

Fortunately one of the boys is all white and one has a white face or we'd never have found them that night and fortunately the guest who was visiting had a HUGE Great Dane dog and these alpacas love big dogs and went right to him, she walked him into the pasture and they all followed! So I backed the truck over to the gate, again and we reload all the boys, only this time there was no stop at the gate for shots and the full moon was out which lit up the pasture better than before. This time they all loaded much faster. One was so eager to get back into the truck he literally leaped in so fast he bumped his head on the roof and ricocheted into my head which smacked the side of the truck, as I had no time to react or guard against it. Ouch! Needless to say we were extra diligent about the latch and tied it down, I did not need to be heading down the highway with alpacas leaping out of the back of my truck!

Finally we arrive home to the farm and mind you it's nearly 11 pm! I'm blessed (and I mean that honestly) with a barn that has lights, lots of lights! I was able to back the truck right up to the front of the barn and stood just to the side of the tailgate so they couldn't pull a Houdini and escape! We opened the back of the truck and let them listen, look, smell, hear and talk for a little while. Our llama Dakota was in the stall closest to the action and was very interested in all the goings on. His ears pricked forward and he started talking to them right away. Garlic, thought it was time to be fed again so he started stomping and nickering to me, the chickens who heard but could not see all the commotion started clucking and squawking and the goats woke up, yawned, stretched and jumped up on the door to see what was going on. After a bit of coaxing the boy that was last in and therefore closest to me was the first out. It just so happens he's also the one with neurological issues and when he jumped out he landed wrong and slipped in the isle and landed with a "kathud!" Realizing they could now get out the others started springing out of the back of the truck like fleas off a dog! One landed on top of the alpaca on the floor who was in the process of getting up and shook himself off like a person coming out of hypnosis, wondering what the heck just happened! It all happened in the matter of just a few seconds, but when I could I went over to him to see if he was ok and it seemed he was, but how can I tell really, he's got neurological issues.... I'm not sure what the tally for injuries is, but I know it was a lot and I'm so thankful they were not serious.

After we got them all settled in, grained, hayed, watered and placed the handful of poop where I wanted them to go to the bathroom, yes, I really had to do that. It works too, it's a communal dung pile and makes for some pretty easy clean up! We left them alone for the night and headed into the house to tell Ron all about it and the crazy time we'd had that evening. He did like he usually does, listened, smiled and shook his head. Thinking all the while I'm as crazy as a loon and he's glad he's the banker. Computers don't kick or spit!

good quote

"But farming! Farming takes our hands and shows us new holidays, new rituals, new and exciting rights of passage. Or rather, old ones that we are reclaiming. Rights as old as civilization, as genuine as any human experience can be. The work of hay, lambs, gardens, and geese: this is the original work of people. It is a lifestyle that sustains us, perhaps the only lifestyle that actually keeps you alive. Perhaps when society lost much of this work is when we started making up ceremonies to fill in all the white space. People with loaded hay trucks can see their effort and know their worth."

Jenna Wogenrich
Cold Antler Farm

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

It was a close race, but the winner is.....

I'm so pleased that you had fun with this and so many of you participated, thank you! I'm pleased to announce that the winner, and rightly so if you know us is......


Again, thanks for all the suggestions and votes!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

It's time to vote!

Thank you to everybody who entered, there were some very creative names! I've narrowed it to my two favorites and now it's up to you! You may enter more than once! The two names I've selected are....

Ramsey and Spartacus!

I've got my favorite, what's yours?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Sunday, October 24, 2010

rename that alpaca!

The name he came with is Monday Morning, he got that name because he was born on a Monday morning. Most people I know are not fans of Monday mornings because it's back to the grind, so I thought about opening it up to you guys! Name that alpaca! To enter, just leave a comment stating what you think he should be called, I'll narrow it down to the top two and you can vote on those two choices. The one with the most votes wins! Alright folks let 'em fly!

Meet the Cast - 'The Boys'

..........George Harold
(Faith's alpaca, she chose the name)

..........Monday Morning


..........Crazy Professor
(My mother said he looks like a wild and crazy professor, it stuck!)

..........Prince William/Willbill
(Andrew's alpaca, he came as Prince William but Andrew thinks he might call him Willbill, who know's it might change tomorrow!)
** all these pictures were taken by my sister Jen.

A herd of alpacas arrived at our farm last night about 10:30 pm and are settling in nicely and fitting in splendidly here at what some are calling "The Misfit Refuge." We're starting to be know for our animals with 'issues,' and I'm totally fine with that. For those of you who may have missed that post about our other misfit animals that post can be found here.

In this hodgepodge of misfits we've got a stunted one, one who is a train wreck as far as conformation goes, one with a "skin issue" on part of his leg and neurological issues. (The skin issue is not contagious, as he's the only one who has it and they've all come from the same herd.) And one that sounds like a baby toy when he humms. So that leaves us with one 'normal' alpaca, for now until his 'issue' appears. I think they'll fit in quite well, don't you?!

I've been smitten with alpacas since I first saw them and went nuts (I know, I know it was a short trip!) over the fiber and have wanted some ever since, however they are a bit out of my price range right now, but when a friend asked me if I was interested in these after she really hurt her back and felt like she could no longer care for them I jumped at the chance to have alpacas! My husband is a very good and patient man and fellow animal lover. Thank you Ron! So we worked out a deal and I brought them home last night! Our llama Dakota is thrilled and after a period of adjustment and quarantine they'll all be turned out together.

In the spring they'll be shorn and I'll have lots of yarn in lots of shades and colors. I'm thinking about starting a fiber CSA. I got the idea from another blog I follow and think it's a wonderful plan! Any thoughts or interest? I don't have all the details worked out at the moment, but if there is interest please leave me a comment or contact me and we'll take it from there. Deal?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

something warm this way comes...

don't they just make you go awwwwww? Look at all those colors!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Saturday, October 16, 2010

love your neighbor

Just over a month or so ago, my 'news junkie' husband was reading the newspaper online and made a comment about a farmer in a neighboring town just to north of us loosing his barn to a barn fire. My heart ached for this person as I can only imagine what that must feel like. I asked a few questions and as he was giving me the answers I realized that this person was a dear friend of my brother-in-law whom I'd met briefly at a fair a few summers back. That realization made an already tragic situation even worse, it was just a few years ago this man and their young daughter lost his wife to cancer. This broke my heart. I got on the phone to my sister and told her to let this man know if there was anything that I could do to help please let me know! I knew I could not replace the items he'd already lost, but I might be able to help in other ways, turns out I could! He called and asked if I be willing to can some of the things from his garden. Absolutely! His sister dropped off the items on her way home one evening and they were canned that night. I called and told them they were ready and would drop them off on my way to the children's piano lessons and brought home another couple baskets of tomatoes. It felt really nice to be able to help a fellow farmer and I never expected anything in return. My sister called me this afternoon and told me about a benefit dinner the historical society, whom he does much work for, was hosting in his honor and asked me if I wanted to attend. Yes! I'd never attended anything like that before but it was for a great cause so I decided to go. Well, my son and I were the only ones who could make it but we just returned and I'll tell you it was a wonderful sense of belonging and such support for this hardworking farmer. The dinner was simple and humble much like the man for whom the benefit was for, but the love, generosity, neighborliness, and support for this man and his family was such a blessing to see and feel. I'll tell you, I never expected anything in return for my willingness to help, but a renewed faith in humanity is what I received. I encourage all of you tomorrow or the next day or the day after that to go do something for someone else and expect nothing in return and experience the blessing that that is. I'd love to hear what you did, if you want to leave a comment and tell me, if not that's fine too. But please love your neighbor and do it because you can.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

admiring beauty

The kids and I went into town today and at the request of my husband took the camera and I'm SO glad I did, what a glorious day to capture the beauty of fall! I am so blessed to live in an area where, just before the dreariness of November and the long cold winter, we are given such a spectacular display of color you cannot help but stop and admire Creation!

* can't you just see the sheep and horses that should be in this pasture!

Every time I drive past this barn it makes me smile, trying not to covet it, I think of the stories this barn could tell, I imagine myself sitting in the hay loft 100 years ago listening to the rustle of the hay as a happy cow chews her cud and a proud ewe looks protectively at her lambs. A calico cat curling up in a hideaway known only to it, resting after a long day of hunting mice. I imagine carriages it proudly protected and the dances it has known and the blood, sweat and tears it has seen from the farmers who have worked within it's walls. It evokes images of a much simpler way of life.

And this is my barn; nestled privately amongst the woods, off the beaten path, on land that has it's own story and fulfilling life long dreams. My barn doesn't have the history of the barn above, but it has an uncanny way of connecting the dreams of my past with the dreams of my future.

I live on that road!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

what do these have in common??

Cucumber melon, fresh snow, lilac, and moonlight pomegranate??

These are just a few of the newest soap scents I'll have available the the upcoming Christmas season!

Monday, October 11, 2010

my first hand spun and hand knit hat!!!

I just finished this hat tonight and I couldn't be more excited about it! It's been a while in the process, because I spun all the yarn from roving I purchased this summer and started knitting it last night. It's a 50/50 combo of mohair and lambs wool and as soft as can be, and it's for sale!

a fun process!

a beautiful fall day

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

fresh out of the oven!

Yummy! These are SO good they make your tongue want to smack your brains out!

good quote

Scarce as truth is supply still exceeds demand.


Monday, October 4, 2010

quick poll

As the kids and I were making dinner tonight we were listening to and singing along to Christmas music. My husband commented that any kind of Christmas music is annoying in October. So I wondered when y'all start listening to it. Leave me a comment so I can tell him I'm not the only freak that listens to it this early. C'mon, I know I'm not the only one! Also, just wondering what your favorite song is...

it must be fall... lots of the animals here at From the Country Farm are looking for LOVE! The roosters (who cannot be headed to harvest soon enough) will NOT leave the hens alone, it's really creepy to see the ones that were hatched out by our hens mounting their mothers! ::shuddering:: I know they are not related biologically, but it still gives me the creeps! Strawberry, our Nubian Doe will not stop vocalizing what seems to be her DESPERATE needs, and both of our female gilts (pigs) are mounting and/or standing for each other, albeit backwards, but hey, that's why Mom calls it the misfit farm, right? That and the fact that they are girls!!!!!! Oh what an education the kids are getting!

the rest of the pictures

Yesterday we took the goats on a walk into the woods, well the purpose was to go to the top of the hill and take the annual fall pictures. Having the goats along made for some interesting pictures and much needed cropping. While I was setting the self timer on the camera, Katie (the goat) was certain we wanted her to be in the picture and would wait just off camera until just before the picture was taken and walked in. Ugh! Oh well, memories!
Just last year this was Andrew, I don't think he's changed that much, but he certainly doesn't look like my baby anymore...

And beautiful Faith, oddly enough looks older last year, I think it's the hair. Too quickly they grow up!

Good friends, I'm so proud of how well they get along!

Andrew and Buckley

My budding artiste!
And all of us together in the one picture I could crop the goats out of!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

a walk in the woods with the goats

So what did we do this afternoon? Went to the top of a hill to take some pictures of the fall foliage, with the goats. We had a great time, so did the goats!