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.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Fred the Rooster gets a booty call

So poor Fred has been sulking alone in the garage. The barncats don't make very good company and he's been hanging out in his cage under the heat lamp. But he was out pecking around a little bit tho so he looks like he's getting his feet under him.

So we figured it was time for a booty call.

I went and got Lil Buff off her perch (boy wasn't she surprised!) and took her in to him. He was VERY glad to see her. Immediately he perked up and got a little sparkle back in his eye -- and he showed her where the food was...we closed up the cage and they were snuggling.

Lil Buff is absolutely one of my favorite little hens. She's one of the Original Five and is a good momma. She's a little buff brahma, very small, and has a nice disposition. She always sleeps next to Fred on the roost so she was happy to see him.

Friday, January 29, 2010

And finally Friday ends....

So its been quite a week...and finally Friday ends. This week we've seen rooster brawls, goats finding new and exciting ways to try and die.... general barnyard mayhem.....bitter cold.  Good times.  Day 29 of my Winter Incarceration is ending and we can only hope for an uneventful day tomorrow.

But on the upside.. Fred the rooster is doing great. He is hanging out with the barn cats in the garage, my little goatie did not kid yet nor did she flop over dead, and there is some semblance of order in the disorderly ducks (I didn't even mention this as there wasn't any.. well there wasn't MUCH blood spilled).  Still hoping to survive the full moon. And I still can't believe the geese are the best behaved of the lot.

I got some tips on how to set up the goatshed just in case my little goatie drops her babies early. I'll work on that when we get a bit warmer. But she looks to be in the clear.

Just in case, tho,  SOMEONE (*ahem*) kindly provided me with a goat curry recipe.  You know who you are.  That's cold, baby, just plain cold. But hey, I'll hang onto it just in case.

No wonder my sister won't eat anything at my house!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

If its not one thing its an udder....

There is a truth about farming which is that everyday is usually the same - but something different always happens. Today we learned that if its not one thing its an udder...

This morning I went out to find our full sized, La Mancha doe (Debbie) stuck in the feeder. At first I thought she was dead - but thank heaven she was not. She got her head stuck in the feeder and the top fell down, trapping her. Aside from the huge knot on her head where the top hit her, she doesn't appear to have any injuries.
(The chickens came in to help me out )

However, since she is pregnant and not due until March we are really concerned she will loose the kids. We did what we could and consulted everyone we knew.  So far so good. She isn't showing signs of premature labor and I've been sitting with her on and off today monitoring the situation. Of course, this is the coldest day in weeks. We are having single digit wind chills and tonite it will be well below 0*.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Fred lives!!! And other poultry mania....


Oh man. I used every excuse in the book NOT to go out and check on him this morning.. I really didnt want to find him, mortal coil shuffled off and all. So finally The Big Man just marched out there... and...Fred is fine. Well, not great but he lives.

One eye is still swollen so we washed him off as best we could without opening up the wounds again. And he doesnt seem to be eating so we gave him a couple of syringes full of doctored up water. I have him some cracklin's from when I rendered the lard so hopefully he'll perk up.

What winter looks like. See my sad summer chair?

Big Pansy still is still in his position of Acting Manager and Barnyard Master. He's enjoying it a little too much if you ask me. Little Pansy is on his best behavior - he witnessed the fisticuffs and knows what his father, Big Pansy, is capable of now.

In other news - we are back to the Big Cold. Yesterday it snowed all screamin' day but not much stuck. The young turks and ducks are out today and everyone is enjoying the sunshine.

We had one of the jakes (in immature male turkey) in 'intensive care' -- with the hens and Runner in the chicken house. He was accidentally put in with the older turks and they beat the crap out of him so he's be recovering nicely.

I'm telling you, the little bit of warm weather we had last week and its a bloodbath out there. All of the poultry has gone mad - ducks, turks, roosters... Its a hard day when the GEESE are the best behaved!  I told OD how much I loved him again today. I think I'm making progress.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Rooster Brawl 2010

Well, today we had a barnyard drama. There was a no holds barred, cage match between our old rooster, Fred, and the newer rooster, Big Pansy. It was downright ugly.

Fred was one of our original five chickens and has ruled the the barnyard from Day One. He's a big-plumed Welsumer with a bad attitude and huge spurs.  Fred and I have never gotten along. There is open hostility and from time to time I set the dogs on him. He once mauled one of my sister's kids. And I'm fairly certain that someone (ahem) pawned him off on us because he was so mean and because we don't have kids..

Originally Big Pansy was supposed to be named, Mean Joe Green – he's a huge brahma.. I mean he is HUGE so we figured... you know, that would be a good name. And frankly I was looking forward to someone to take on Fred.


Monday, January 25, 2010

Remember... & thanks!

Thanks! for all the emails and comments - I've received some great feedback and will be addressing some of your questions and comments...great stuff, folks!

Until then...remember when it was summer and everyone was happy? Today is nothing but rain and mud...but back then.. oh.. back then... sun, tomatoes, and everything growing in the garden.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Misters Good Dog

Yesterday I had another opportunity to brag on my extra good dogs. I went with my neighbor to take her goofy golden retriever to a vet for a second opinion before a mistake was made. Her goofy golden had a head injury that wasn't healing and the original vet didn't have a great solution. So we packed up the goofy golden in the family truckster and drove into The Big City.

Within a few minutes The Very Good Vet had the problem solved. Of course she did... I had no doubts.  Because, you see, a couple years ago she changed my life.

A few years ago I took Titan to see this Very Good Vet because he had worn down his canines from obsessively chewing on toys. Fortunately he did not need the expensive titanium "grill" that some police get after breaking their teeth. But, she told me that all dogs, especially MY dog, need a job. She gave me some resources, told me that since Ti was showing signs of boredom to challenge him with other training, and sent us on our way ("No more toys! Let him entertain himself - let him chew on a stick.").

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Turkey maneuvers

This just in from outside... the turks are really struttin' their stuff. Thats our herdsire, TurkZilla, and the up-and-comer, The Ostrich, showing off for the ladies... its very loud here right now... a-gobble, gobble, gobble, gobble!

Farm Kitchen Report Jan 21, 2010

Or... how to make dinner in 7 minutes.

Do you know what I love about farming/self-sufficiency/self-reliance whatever you want to call it?  I love being prepared. Especially in the kitchen, I love having a well run, well managed, well stocked kitchen. I spend a lot of time growing, processing, and stocking up the ol' larder so we are usually in tip top shape. Not only will we be ready for the zombie apocalypse and the end of life as we know it... but its also perfect for emergency situations – like this:

Last nite, after a full day of sulking and whining as the Winter Of My Discontent '10 slogged into The Big Mud Fest outside, I decided there was no way I was standing over the stove making dinner.  I went downstairs and informed The Big Man that I was “On Strike.”

Normally when I announce that I'm “On Strike” The Big Man leaps up and says “Don't worry! I'll make dinner”.... and then he hurries off to call the local pizza place. I love it.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Gettin' my goose

Here's some free advice, never get used poultry.

So we are clear – any modest success we've had with this whole farming thing is due to the Farm Master, Bourbon Red. He has patiently taught me about farming this entire way. Pretty much we just wait and see what he and his Lovely Wife do on their farm – then we do that too. And voila! It works!  And we are very grateful.


There is the story of how he gave me the blue-eyed, long-necked, white feathered demon, Odysseus Henkiller, our Embden gander. To this day I'm not sure whether to curse Bourbon Red for that winged devil gander or to thank him. I love Odysseus. I hate Odysseus. I love to hate him. I hate to love him. Its a complicated relationship.

Here's what happened:  (click 'read more' for the rest of the story)

                                                        This gander is not your friend!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

It's all about the D - O - G... hardworkin' farm dogs

I was never really a dog person until I moved to The Good Land. One look at how remote we were and instantly calculating that a 911 call was going to be a good 20 minutes away convinced me that just maybe some big ol’ dogs was just what I needed. It should be said that The Big Man has always had big dogs and he’s a pretty alpha guy so I didn’t have any qualms about getting ‘too much dog.’

We were also of the same mind on how to raise them. For a full overview of our training regiment just pick up a copy of The Monk’s of New Skete’s book on German Shepherd raising, How to Be Your Dog's Best Friend: The Classic Training Manual for Dog Owners (Revised & Updated Edition). We like dogs. Not accessories that you put little sweaters on or carry around in a purse. Dogs. Big, working, dogs.

I planned on getting two mostly black, female German Shepherds with unusual names like Zayne…but what I ended up with were two MALE German Shepherds who are all white and have the most common names ever. For heaven’s sakes…

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Insane Cat Posse

So I thought I'd do an introduction of the malcontents.. I mean, of all the furred and feathered folks that more or less peacefully abide here at the ol' homestead.
First up, The Insane Cat Posse

I'd like to make if very clear that I didn't start out being a crazy cat lady. I had two cats when I arrived in The Good Land. TWO older, well behaved cats  When we moved here my girls were almost 15 years old.  The Big Man had two younger boy cats. We figured they would fight it out and establish a peace. They did and everything was going along just fine. Total of four cats = doable and reasonable.

Aahhhh... but I hadn't expected the dumping factor. The country. Where people come from miles around to drop off their pets when they are tired of them or cant afford them anymore.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

On being banned from IHOP

So there we were fresh from watching an inordinate amount of TV, a rarity, and having $20 burning a hole in The Big Man’s jeans.. we figured we swing on into town to the new IHOP for some of those gingerbread-eggnog-holiday delights they’d been talking about.

Of course we never just GO into town without doing all the errands, and since we usually only leave the property just after doing morning chores well, we looked a little “farm-y.” But they don’t make no never mind what we look like at the TSC… so off we went in our ratty truck and our barn clothes. Whoot!! IHOP here we come! I was getting cavities just thinking about it…and ahhh… someone ELSE who makes me a meal!! What more could I ask for?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Hen house traffic jam

This is what traffic jam looks like around here - sure there is some bocking and a little pushing and shoving... but there is no actual danger... and no one will scream obscenities at you. Or at least I don't think so.. I wonder what "bock bock" actually means?

                                                      No takers for playing in the snow.

Monday, January 11, 2010

"I farm therefore I eat" or "The World's Best Pie"

I farm, therefore I eat. Oh man... am I so glad that I farm – mostly because the hard work basically lets me eat whatever I want. Including pie for breakfast. Dry bagel with non-fat latte? Heck no – pumpkin walnut pie and coffee with about a cup of cream.

                                             Suck it monkeys – I'm having pie for breakfast!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Keeping my ducks in a row down on the farm..er.. pond.

The Big Man always said that he wanted ducks. I hadn't really thought about it but this property had a pond so when we got here it seemed to be a good idea. I pictured a couple of lovely white fluffy ducks gracing our pond and eventually, maybe, our table. So when our pals, Bourbon Red and His Lovely Wife, offered some ducks I packed up the truck and headed to their farm.

When I arrived a couple of webfooted gargoyles waddled across their barnyard. I instantly recoiled at the horror of ...whatever they were. 

“That's them!” Bourbon Red happily shouted out as I got out of my truck.

The 'ducks' were black or black like, with ugly unfeathered heads with weird red bills. Well ok....I thought, but not what I was picturing.

But hey - what could go wrong, and free waterfowl is always a bargain, right? Right.

Friday, January 8, 2010

How To Render Lard

How to Render Lard

Want your own non-chemical-ized lard? Its easy! But first, a bit of a primer about hog fat:

There are two kinds of fat on that hog... the normal marbling and fat under the skin and around the cuts of meat....and the 'leaf' which is in the body cavity surrounding the organs and such. I do not know why, but the 'leaf' fat makes the most smooth, creamy, and heavenly lard so you want to keep that separate and use for baking.

Even tho the leaf is the best for baking...  the regular ol' fat does a fine job and you can use it for frying, for making a big ol' dog food omelette (like I do for the hard workin' farm dogs), or even in crusts.  It has a 'heavier' more distinct taste but I find its great for quiches and such. The best use of lard that I have seen, but not tried myself, is by the Amish ladies who fry donuts in it... yummmm......
Back to the “how to”:

Step 1: Go out and kill your pigs and dress them.  What?  Don't have pigs? Ok, we'll cover that later. What? Don't know how to dress now-dead-pigs? Oh golly, I'll queue that one up also. But if you really don't have pigs... check around for a local butcher who is willing to give/sell you a big ol' bag of pork fat. Got it? Onward.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Five things I DON'T love about farming

Five things I DON'T love about farming:

1. You are your own boss.  That means its all on you – it can be a lot of responsibility. Sometimes our motto is:  “there is no fun in farming.”  Gotta get up at 5:30am because its going to be scorching hot that day and the hens need to get outside asap? Yep thats all you. Run outside at midnite in your underpants, guns blazing because the dogs are barking at something that is trying to kill the turkeys. Rally, baby -  and get out there. And if your plan doesn't work and its all a big failure.. that's right. Its all you. Its not always fun to be The Boss of You.

2. You CAN go to the feed store in your barn clothes, but if you forget and you DO go to WalMart... well, you're just biding your time until you show up on an email that gets passed around to all the corporate monkeys you used to work with. Smile sunshine, you're on “The People of WalMart.”

3. You get to be outside everyday. That means, rain, shine, snow, sleet, 105* heat index.. there is no such thing as "a day off."  And you'll constantly be dirty no matter what.

4. You have to teach yourself to be really observant. How could yo miss that little hen limping? Dang. Now you need to give her antibiotics and an emergency bumblefoot surgery in the bathroom.  One of your best layers is going to be off her feet - and off the job -  because YOU didn't notice. She'll look at you like you're a bad mommy. You are a bad mommy. Shame on you.

5. You have an excuse to be a weather geek – which is only fun for you. Your friends will cringe when you launch into your “weather Tourette's”... no, they don't care about the current barometric pressure or that there are cumulonimbus clouds with a vertical build on a north by northwest trajectory......

But still – its better than a corporate job.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Lard Inflicted Injury

Farming is not only the oldest profession... its the most dangerous. Seriously. Take today for instance, I got a lard inflicted injury today. Can you believe it?

Me (holds out hand to show my hubby): They got me.

The Big Man:  Holy cow!!!  Are you alright?!?!

Me:  It's just a flesh wound (I've always wanted to say that).

TBM: Seriously - how did you do that?

Me:  On the lard

TBM:  But lard isn't sharp!

Me:  But its kinda slippery.....

TBM:  Do you require medical attention?

Me:  Nope.  I poured tequila on it. (beats chest, inhales deeply) I'm good.

Just another day, another narrowly escaped visit to the ER.  Note to self:  Them pigs is still tryin' to get me. I hates pigs!

Here's the hunk of semi-frozen lard-to-be that got me.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Five Things I Love About Farming

1.You are your own boss. Except for the weather – technically the weather is The Boss of You
2.You can go to the feed store in your barn clothes and you won't show up on “The People of WalMart” - everyone just thinks you're a hard core, barnyard warrior.  Righteous.
3.You get to be outside everyday.  And gettin' dirty is part of the fun.
4.You learn to be really observant. Is that hen limping? Better check – you might have to rush her inside and do an emergency bumblefoot surgery in the bathroom.
5.You have an excuse to be a weather geek. All weather all the time. Watching it, talking about it, planning your day around it... and you can say cool things like, “Sorry, cant talk now – we are racing the weather.”

Sunday, January 3, 2010

How did I get here?

I’ve been thinking lately about how I got here. Sometimes people ask how I did it and mostly I just shrug and say “I dunno. It all kinda happened pretty fast.”

But here’s the long, ‘short-version’ of how it all happened. First, a bit of background. I used to have a big life.  Fat, cushy job in an industry some folks would die to work in, money – oh yeah, lots of money. I had a NICE house in town, the works. But I was in a “bad situation” and I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I had to get out.

My life was unsatisfying and I’d sit in my office and stare at my vacation pictures and wish I were anywhere but sitting right there. I dreaded going to work every day and I spent my big money making myself feel better because I worked so much. So I worked more so I could buy more things to make myself feel better. It was a vicious cycle. And it wasn’t doing me any good at all.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Its a farm thing... you wouldn't understand....

Sometimes on a farm there are certain events... some “farm moments” that regular folk just wouldn’t understand. Well, here’s one for you. This happened a month or so ago.

We have this little Bourbon Red turkey hen named, Runner. If she hadn’t tried so hard to set a nest last year she surely would have ended up in the pot by now. In a word, she is ridiculous. Aptly named, she runs. Everywhere. And she is loud. At some point during this summer she was the only one of our 3 turkey hens not on a nest or brooding a clutch. So in her loneliness she screamed. For 3 weeks straight......

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