Ohiofarmgirl's Adventures in The Good Land is largely a fish out of water tale about how I eventually found my footing on a small farm in an Amish town. We are a mostly organic, somewhat self sufficient, sustainable farm in Ohio. There's action and adventure and I'll always tell you the truth about farming.


Friday, March 27, 2015

Nicholas and all his hard days

Can you believe we are having another inside day? Sure it's sunny out there ...but it was 24* when I got up. This whole spring thing has gotten off to a slow start. So I did some spring cleaning. So by popular demand, you know who you are, someone has been asking for pix of our beloved Nicholas. So I'm presenting to you his most epic picture ever.

The most epic picture of Nicholas. Ever. Thanks for helping me with that side of pork.

I also went looking for all of the posts about his hard days...and they were a little tough to find. So I decided to create a tab for him at the top of this page. Peep your eyes up just above the "about me" and find it on the top right side. There you will find all of Nicholas's adventures.

Back when Nicholas was bigger than Bubby.

I'm anticipating that he will be having more hard days soon. This morning he had to ensure the tragedy that was me getting up after 7 in the am. He very nearly starved.

That's right, Nicholas, life is hard. Every single day.

Happy Friday everyone and enjoy some hilarity by clicking thru Nicholas's Hard Days - #1 - #10.

ps... If I haven't said it lately... thanks to everyone who has been using my Amazon links! I never know who purchases what so I can't think you personally, but I really really appreciated it.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Begining of storm season.

Our severe weather and storm season started with a bang last nite. A bright flash of lightning and a loud thunderclap..... followed by so many dogs coming into the bedroom.  And so it starts.

Number of dogs freaked out by the storm: 4
Number of cats displaced by dogs freaked out by the storm: 2... well... 3... at least.
Number of cute dog faces looking at me on the edge of the bed: Many.
Number of stinks given off by freaked out dogs: So.... sooo many...
Number of husbands who slept thru the whole thing: 1

 The Dread Commander Zander. Where he is supposed to sleep...

I got all the dogs settled down the storm passed...and then the dogs got the wiggles so I gave them the boot and sent them back to their normal places... until the storm started up again about an hour later. Then they all came back.

Not.
One.
Peep.
Of.
Sleep.

There has got to be a German word for being cranky as the result of being kept awake by thunderstorms and their effects... Someone told me it was Nichtschlafenwegendonnarbitchikeit. If that is a thing then I have it. In spades. I need a lot of coffee today.

...unless The Black Death needs his mommy. Then he comes and finds me.

Happy Thursday everyone! It seems like we might be late to the severe weather game this year. Are you ready for whatever blows your way? Do your dogs get nervous in storms?


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

A cheese making list - all the tools you need.

We are barreling down the road toward Goat Season 2015 and by that I mean the goats are due in about a month. Goat baby season? Who cares - all I can dream about is cheese glorious cheese! I need to make a cheese making list so I'm absolutely ready for cheese action - you know how I love to cut the cheese....and the stupid jokes that come along with it.

 Can you believe I made this cheese? So can you!

Books:
I started with the standard issue getting started with cheese but I have to say that I love that I love 200 Easy Homemade Cheese Recipes much better. This book is not for experienced cheese makers - it's great for beginners also.


Tools

Starters and kits

  • Ultimate Cheese Kit You know that I love Leeners and wow they have an incredible kit. This has everything you need and more. Depending on what kind of cheese you'd like to make this could work for you. I normally stick to buying tools by the piece but if you know someone who wants to go all out this is amazing.
  • Rennet - I like the tabs and not the liquid. The tablets can be stored in the freezer for a long time. I just take one out at a time to use and break into pieces. It's not as exact as using the drops but it's easier for me.
  • Mesophilic starter. This is the starter for many fresh cheeses. It's a great starting er...starter.
  • Cheese salt. Cheese needs a remarkable amount of salt. This cheese is flaky which makes it better for cheesemaking than normal table or kosher salt.
You can make this cheese too.

And that is what will get you started. Of course, once you are off and running you might want to get Moldsand molds....and other starters.. Most folks start with a fresh cheese like chevre and then work their way up.

Happy Tuesday everyone - are excited about making cheese?

Editors note: Hey look out! There are affiliate links in this page. How does it work? Easy peasy. I get a tiny portion of the sale when you click on one of the links, go to the Amazon page, and purchase something. It can be anything - this book, movies, or something you need from Amazon anyway.  Do you need anything Amazon? You can support this blog by just clicking one of these links. Or using the black Amazon search box on the right side of this page. It doesn't cost you once cent more but helps me with the "cost" of this blog. If you like this blog, or if I've helped you at all in your farming efforts, just make a purchase from Amazon from one of the links, my store, or the black Amazon search box on the right side of this page. Thanks!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Don't think this can't happen to you - West Wind Acres

Has everyone been following the story of West Wind Acres? They are a farm in New York who sell pasture raised meat products. Or at least they did. The owner was arrested and now they are facing charges in court - for having farm animals outside and for having frozen water buckets. Think that sounds crazy? So do I.

Nibbles believes she is being abused. She wants someone to rescue her. Not going to happen.

I don't know those folks and I've never been to their farm.  But I saw the news footage and I looked at the pictures and I have to tell you - this seems ridiculous. I also know folks who are friends with the farmer and say this is totally uncalled for.  You can read more about the situation on their blog and also here, and here, and here is a newspaper article, and here (scroll down to the March 19th post called Something Wicked West Wind Comes).

The other bloggers listed above laid out the situation and why the charges of abuse are ridiculous. Do I think that having farm animals outside is abuse? Nope. Even if it's really cold? Nope. Honestly, if he has a pasture operation and the worst thing that has happened over this brutal winter is a little frostbite, I think he is doing OK. Winters are hard. Farming is hard. Not everything is ideal.

Conventional farmers get criticized for raising animals inside. This guy has been arrested for having his animals outside. What on earth is happening?

What concerns me is the basis for these charges - that they had frozen waterers, there was poop in the water, and the animals were outside. Friend, I have news for you - we ALL have had frozen waterers. It wouldn't matter if I hung the buckets two inches from the ceiling, I guarantee that the goats would poop in in. And yes, farm animals live outside just fine.

They didn't have a heated barn? Who the hell has a heated barn? That is insane. The very last thing you want to do is heat a barn. Livestock bedding is entirely flammable, animals create dust, an enclosed space without fresh air causes respiratory problems. Why on earth would you heat your barn?

Lest this spiral into an argument about what is and is not abuse let's instead focus on why this matters to you. 

Don't think for a second this can't happen to you.

Go thru and read the comments on West Wind's blog, check out their facebook page, and see the comments on the other blog sites. Everyone has some ridiculous story about a busy body who calls the cops on their farm.

My favorite one was the gal who had the cops come out because her ducks were outside. In the rain.

Are you shaking your head? You should be.

As far as I can tell this started with an anonymous tip. Some busy body got a bee in their bonnet about these guys and I can pretty much bet it's someone who doesn't know about farming. There's one in every crowd and that crowd is getting bigger. Not every do-gooder is doing good.

Everyone who has animals has a story.

My favorite story of "abuse" that I personally witnessed was when I was in town one day. One of my Amish neighbors was also there and I was watching him park his buggy behind one of the businesses. About the same time this guy walks up with his family - I guarantee you he'd never been to a farm nor had he ever done a day's hard work in his life.

"What's THAT!" He exclaimed to no one in particular, least of all me. He was pointing to the horse and buggy.

"Well, that's a horse, Fred." Said someone else.

"THAT'S a horse?" Said Fred scratching his head and looking amazed. Then he stood there for a second.

"That horse doesn't have any water! That's abuse!" Said Fred.

I had to walk away. If that guy could not even identify an animal as a horse then he certainly is not qualified to determine if it is abused or not.

You hear about this all the time. I knew a cattle guy in B.C who had the cops called on him every summer because the city folks would go out driving around and see his dairy cows. They'd panic because these newly-appointed-experts didn't know that seeing the hip bones on dairy cows is normal.

Or the uproar I saw online one time about some baby cows who were penned in a barn and they didn't even have any water!!!! Lean in friend, imma put some learning on you.... baby cows drink milk. Maybe these horrified onlookers thought that the calves were older then they were because a newborn calf can weigh up to 100lbs...but that "little" baby needs milk not an open bucket of water.

There was a case a while ago about some folks who had all their small livestock seized. Their crime was that they had an ugly property. One of the charges was that they didn't have enough feed on hand. How much feed are you supposed to have one hand? Do you know where we store our feed? At the feed store. It's three miles away and open 6 out of 7 days of the week. They are much better equipped to store feed than we are so we only keep about a weeks worth at a time. Is that a crime?

As for that guy's livestock guardian dogs being outside, I can't speak to why they didn't have their dog tags but that does not seem like a hanging offense - that sounds like a ticket and a fine. Dogs outside in the winter? Talk to someone who actually has LGDs (Livestock Guardian Dogs) and just see if they can keep the dogs inside and away from their flocks. As odd as it may seem to you not every dog is a pampered pet. Some of them are working dogs and some of them live outside just fine.

There is a world of difference between a heavy bodied, double coated Nordic-style dog like Kai who loves to be out in the snow and doesn't want to come inside....and the no-good-nick neighbor who puts his 30 pounds or less short coated poodley mix outside for the day when he goes to work in the winter.

The worst part about this story was that the farmer had his own vet come out and check the condition on the animals. She said they were fine but not even her assessment could keep the sheriff from coming back and seizing some of the animals. It's pretty frightening to think your own vet can't protect you. I tell you the truth, there is a world of difference between a vet who works primarily with small companion animals and one who has experience with livestock.

So what can you do?

Be careful who you trust. This poor farmer honestly thought he was doing the right thing by inviting anyone who wanted to come out to see his farm. He allowed the police to walk around his property to check things out.

To tell you the truth, I don't believe in transparency in all matters. Most people are so far removed from farming, farms, and food production they don't have any concept of what animals do and do not need. There was an article in one of those online newspapers not too long ago about a commercial butchering operation. The comments were filled with gasps and horrified folks...and I was all, "Wow! Look at their great tools! Check out their set up!"

City mouse, country mouse both looking at the same thing and seeing it entirely with different eyes.

I know a goat guy who's barn is nicer than some people's homes. But every year... every stinkin' year here come the rescue people to come and buy up his goat babies and take them away for the horror that is the best barn in 3 counties. Rescue them from what? Every day Nibbles asks me if she can go and live with that guy's herd.

Be careful about who you let on your property.

You may not just show up at our place. I've had folks who don't even know me by name want to come out and look around. Nope. You never know what someone' intentions are or why they are really there.

As it is it took us 3 years, a locking gate, and 4 dogs each over 100 lbs to keep people from just driving up on our property. There was a business here before we bought this place and it was very tough to keep the lookyloos from just making themselves at home.

Get a gate and lock it.

Keep your animals in the back of the property.

You might also want to find an attorney who is experienced in agricultural issues - just to have in your back pocket in case you need it.

You might want to get a game cam set up to keep an eye on the coming's and going's at your place. Just in case. 

Know your rights. What if the authorities show up and want to look around? You don't have to let them on your property without a warrant. What does the warrant do? Well, for one it makes sure that someone else (the judge) provide some oversight...but more than that it gives you time to call your Ag experienced attorney and have them get over to your place to be present if the situation arises.

As West Wind found out the hard way - most people talk to much and are too helpful when the authorities show up. There is a fine line between cooperating and talking your self into being arrested.

This family now has to defend themselves in court. Justice is expensive, as they are finding out. You can check out their gofundme page here.

Now before anyone starts hopping around. Yes, animal abuse exists. There are bad people everywhere. There are hard working folks doing rescue work that really matters. But there is a world of difference between a dog fighting ring and pigs on pasture. Robust Livestock Guardian Dogs living out with their herds are a world away from some poor dog tied to a tree and being left to starve to death.

You know how I feel about argumentative comments so let's not finger point or "oh yeah" each other on this - let's focus on why this case is important to all of us. Don't think for a minute that this can't happen to you.

Happy Monday everyone. There is a lot to think about.


Saturday, March 21, 2015

Little buddies... A different kind.

Nicholas and Little Mo are the best of buddies.....

Nicholas's ham-sized paw make Little Mo's paw look like a small fry.

Happy Saturday everyone!


Friday, March 20, 2015

Little buddies. Comparing Creepy Meats and regular chicks growth.

We've had the little buddies - the creepy meats and the regular chicks for about 10 days. You can already see how the creepy meats our outdistancing the normal chickens in growth....

Creepy vs regular. See how big the meat chickens are? Wow!

A couple days ago they hit their stride where they really start putting away the food and water. We'll have to move to a larger waterer soon. Right now we make sure they have chick starter (20% feed) around the clock but we'll be cutting them off at night soon. You want the creepy meats to grow fast... but not that fast.

Soon we'll have to move the meats to another pen and keep the regular chicks in this brooder box for a while. In fact, we'll probably get around round of meats (probably 10) in the next couple days. This way we'll have a total of 20 meat chickens ready for butchering in May or June. So soon!?! Yep.

Technically you can butcher meats at 7 weeks. We normally wait a little longer but you know that I'm very very hungry for chicken. Also if we have another round coming on we can do some of the first batch early, then as we normally do.... butcher a few at a time.

Passed out meats and a cat food can for scale. Check out how little they were just 10 days ago.

We really need to get on the ball and do a better job of managing our meat. If we aren't careful we are going to be upside down again with either all poultry or all pork and never having an overlap. So our next step is to get another group of meat chicks.

Why don't we just buy meat from the store? Well. We did a couple times but it's not really our bag, baby. We like our own better.

The regular chickens are barred rocks and hopefully they are all layers. But you know that we have a plan for the roosters so we are good.

That's the meat progress update!

Happy Friday everyone - how are your chickens coming along? Are you getting more?


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

On being falsely accused of buying magic beans.

So there I was. I had to go somewhere last weekend and it was kind of a long drive. I was running around trying to get my act together when I remembered that someone ran all the gas out of our zippy little, new-to-us car.

"Honey!" I yelled, "Quick! Gimme some gas money!"

He looked at my dubiously, wise to my ways,  and handed me a crisp, new $20 bill. "For gas." He said, "Gas. Use it for gas. G-A-S."

I snatched it out of his hand and ran off with a, "Yeah, whateve's." And then I drove off fast. I went and did what I had to do.

Much later in the day we both piled into the car to go somewhere entirely different...

"Bah!" He yelled, "Why isn't there any gas in the car! What did you do with all that money I gave you?"

I looked innocent and shrugged. He wasn't buying it and he continued his tirade.

"What did you do with that money? Buy magic beans?"

I just continued to look innocent and wide eyed like I had no idea what he was talking about. I honestly didn't know how to respond. It wasn't like it was ALL that money.. it was only $20. Plus I had other expenses. I mighta bought gas... or something else entirely.

In my defense, there are in fact, two perfect places in the state of Ohio to get the chicken buffet. The gold standard being, of course, Mrs. Yoders. The second is Ben & Joy's out in Mount Sterling. They don't even have a link or anything. Just show up hungry and wearing your fat pants. Make sure you get the pie.

But the third.... the third most perfect place to get the chicken buffet is Goodwin's in Circleville. And there I found myself on the horns of a dilemma. Sure the car needed gas, but I needed chicken more.

I went in prepared for battle. I see the chicken buffet as some kind of personal test. All you can eat? Challenge accepted.

I destroyed that buffet. I took no prisoners. They had to bring more chicken out from the kitchen. I don't make rookie mistakes like filling up on stupid salad or bread... oh no... when I go for chicken - I go for chicken. That buffet didn't stand a chance.

After a while the waitresses started standing back in wonderment. They they started taking bets. Then they started hoping I would leave. But I wasn't done yet.

There was a guy there who was also working his way thru the buffet. He looked like the kind of guy who could eat a lot of chicken. He turned out to be some kind of casual. I lapped him. Twice. I was not messing around.

Then at last I sat with the bones of mine enemy piled high in front of me on an extra plate. I nodded my victory... and then I went back for apple cobbler with ice cream. Cuz, you know, you gotta get your money's worth, right?

That is how I found myself being falsely accused of buying magic beans. Magic beans my patootie, I ate every chicken in that room.

The Big Man harrumphed his discontent. 

It got worse.

So much, much later I wasn't hungry at all. I mean, who could be? My husband that's who. I struggled for a dinner idea that required the least amount of effort due to me being still a little chicken drunk. Nachos. That's easy, right? I went to find the ingredients.

Wouldn't you know it. Not one can of beans. Not one - magic or otherwise.

The Big Man glared at me over his beanless nachos. It was very sad.

I wasn't sad tho. I didn't have to eat for the next two days either. I know someone who is lucky enough to go to Mrs. Yoders this weekend. I can't go but soon.... very soon I will find a reason to drive up there. And that buffet won't stand a chance either.

Happy Wednesday everyone! Have you been falsely accused of buying magic beans? Did you instead eat every chicken in that room?


note: Game of Thrones nerds click here for that scene. Descent folks should not click on it..and if you do, for heavens sakes, turn your sound down so you don't get in trouble.
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