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.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Farm notes & Got our big cow.. I mean.. goat... back!

Just a few notes from yesterday's work and superfun news: We got our big Sanaan back today!

She's been with the breeder for the winter, popped out two beautiful babies for him, and now she's back home. Pics tomorrow for sure. The cute thing was that she totally recognized us and was happy to be back in her old stomping grounds.. until she saw the chickens, that she hated all last year. We are glad she is back! But we both totally forgot how big she is! She is a big as a cow! Wow!

Farm notes from yesterday:
* Planted carrot and radish seeds; radishes should be up in 23 days? Humm... lets set the timer... Carrots say 70 days which puts them at mid/early June then I can plant tomatoes in that spot.
* Window teepee greenhouses are working great
* Volunteer seeds are popping up in the upper garden
* Peonies made their first appearance & fruit trees are starting to leaf out.
* Nothing from Little Nibbles yet but the return of Evita and last nite's crazy bright full moon may push her over the edge...
* Dinner chicks are noticeably bigger and seem to be regulating their body temps better - less dependent on heat. Started moving to 12 hours with/out feed as recommended for slowing their rapid growth. Odd note: They seem to drink WAY more water that other chicks.
* Guineas are pairing up...except for one we are calling The Fifth Wheel... she's a pistol.
* Miss Dash doens't seem to have a nest but she and Miss Duck are staying up by the house.
* Lots of growling hens.. we might just get a broody!
* Most daylily plants are up.
* Dog Number 1 says there is something weird going on down at the pond at night... need to keep our eyes peeled for signs of predators.

Happy Wednesday!

Monday, March 29, 2010

How Little Rooster met his (un)Just End

Our pal, Sal, had a hilarious tale today about how her daughter went to battle with a mean enough rooster, Ohiofarmgirl style. I was so proud. Give 'em hell, baby!

And yeah... B2B the pot is the best end for most roosters.  Even if they aren't as big as the roasters you can still get some beautiful broth off of them. And I'll tell ya –  there is something about the smaller roos that make them the meanest.

We had a little rooster named, aptly, Little Rooster who HATED The Big Man. I thought my husband was making it up until one day I saw Little Rooster peek out from around the corner, intentionally wait for The Big Man to walk by, then fly at him claws and all.

I couldn't believe it!  How could this demon bird have been the same cute roo I had known!? He was always so good with me - Little Rooster let me snuggle him all the time. I kinda like him.


One day The Big Man had enough of Little Rooster's shenanigans and shortly after we had rooster day. We rounded up all his young rooster buddies no problem. But I  nillynallied around about Little Rooster and finally said, that yes, he could go to his just reward. Sadly I brought the victim forth to the axe man, but with weepy little eyes and quivering little lip I said to The Big Man, "Honey, please. Don't do it with malice!"

The Big Man looked at me blankly but agreed.  So I kind of went off a little bit away from the action and hid my eyes...and.. and...

Then I heard WAY too much activity associated with dispatching a chicken and I swear I heard The Big Man say, "And take THAT you little son-of-a-golly-what!!!"

Little Rooster made a nice little pot of chicken and noodles and that night at dinner was the only time The Big Man loved him. I thought I could taste a little malice tho...

So Sal, head on over the Harvey Ussery's The Modern Homestead and check out his graceful and amusing and extremely informative instructions on how to send that mean enough rooster to the pot. Or check out Coal Creek's farms section on butchering chickens. Then march out there and send that rooster to glory.

By the way, from the Farm Kitchen – here's supper:

Its not chicken but we're having turkey pot pie! This came together in about 30 minutes, most of it at a simmer on the stove.  I had roasted turkey, broth, and veggies from the freezer, simmered together with noodles, then thickened with cream and cornstarch. Topped with a lard-n-butter crust and baked until golden – about 30 minutes while we chased the ducks around outside. Our cost of goods for the whole shebang... about $2.50. Oh, and yeah we're having fresh bread too. And is that a tiny pie in the oven...why.. yes it is.

Happy Monday!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Farm notes: Peeps, Teddi, and Asparagus

Quick farm notes, an intro, and a pic I can't stop laughing about:

Meat.. I mean... meet the new peeps. These are our first attempt at creepy meat chickens. We're calling them "dinner chickens" as it sounds less sinister. Got them at TSC - they are 5 days old here.
 Dinner Chicks

Altho we've dressed poultry before we have avoided the actual meat chickens until now. Generally they go against our naturally raised farm critters goal...and frankly they are pretty creepy. You know when you go to the fair and they have those big, weird, unnatural meat chickens? That's what these are.

We were so pleased with how our less-creepy-but-still-meat-chickens, the red broilers from Ideal, turned out last summer that we just had to give these a go. I'll talk more about them later next week. Until then, meet dinner - in about 6 weeks they will be ready, can you believe it? It takes up to 9 months for a natural chicken to be meaty enough to bother dressing.

Farm notes:
* Technically it snowed two nites ago, last cold night for next 10 days, may be an early start for planting. However the forsythia bloomed last weekend, the old times say we will have 3 more frosts/snows until spring is really here.
* Separated Cindy the Goose so she will set her own nest. She is still penned and mad about it. If she would just have an egg I'd let her out. Our big mistake last year was letting she and Penny share a nest. What a disaster.
* All lady ducks are laying.
* Runner, the turkey hen, is doing great on her nest of chicken eggs.  She is finally getting up everyday and finding her nest when she is done.  Have not found any other turkey hens laying.
* Nibbles is really "bagging up" (which means making an udder); it looks like her babies have dropped. We should be in for The Big Show sometime in the next 10 days or so.
* Debbie looks great, babies are really skip-popping around. We get Vita back on Tuesday, she had a doe and a buck late on Friday night. We can't wait to get our big ol' gal back.
* Peas are making a come back after early first attempt, greens have sprouted, started some onions yesterday. All are under glass teepees - we'll see if it works.
* Asparagus is up! Tomorrow or next day I should have a big ol' plate of them.

And now... the pic I can't get enough of... this is Teddi Grumpkins:

She sat there looking at herself for 15 minutes trying to figure out who that other cat was... finally she peaked around the lid and figured out there wasn't anyone else. So she got mad and stomped away.  Teddi, we found out yesterday, is a duck fiend. She ate about a pound of duck meat after I made stock. True to form she ate TWO necks....now she's duck drunk and passed out on the couch. Not too bad for an older, semi-toothless, declawed cat someone dumped on a winter night. We're glad she found us..and I think she's glad too....except for all these other cats.

Happy Sunday! Whatcha doin' on a rainy day like this?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Oh hey.. Hay!

Oh hey.. Hay!

Thanks to Mimi and Chai Chai for their follow up comments/questions to our goatie problems this week. I'll try and cover your questions here as they are good info for everyone. Chai Chai we have a funny story about Icelandic sheep... heh heh we'll get to that one day. But for now, feel free to throw in what you know! And you aren't butting in.. an open discussion is the best way to learn.

Mimi asked about why folks don't milk sheep as often as goats. Folks do milk sheep – but not as often, especially in this country. One pal I know milked her not-a-dairy-breed sheep and loved it. They got about 6 cups of milk a day and declared the milk sweet and delicious...and enjoyed by the household...yep, even the kids.

But here is why we don't have sheep and why I'm not packaging up a big old slab of sheep's milk cheese and sending it out to Mimi.... we don't have pasture for them. Ay, pasture...there's the rub.

The only way we can keep this little sustainable farm project ….well, sustainable is to feed the critters as much as we can with what we've got. Hence our farm motto: Get out there and free range because its FREE!  And right now we have brambles and not pasture. Goats are browsers and eat bramble. Sheep are mowers (grazers) – they eat hay/grass/pasture.

Monday, March 22, 2010

I don't love goats

This from Sunday night...I'm just now getting caught up enough to post this.
I'll have to preface this update by saying that I've had exactly 12 minutes of sleep in the last 2 nights..... the first night was sleepless because the darn earth was tilting the wrong way. Last night? Robbed by goats.

I tell you the truth: I don't love goats. Nope. Not even them little skip poppin' babies, as cute as they are... just don't love them at all. Now I don't hate them like I hates them twice cursed pigs. I just don't love goats. They are troublesome and always look like they are up to no good. And the keep you up all night.

So yesterday we actually did feats of strength, hard work, and discipline. We got A LOT done, the least of which was to have The Burnpile of Tears... or The Burnpile of Horrors depending on how you look at it. It was a big success. We were proud of ourselves as we threw the last bucket of feathers from dressing the ducks into the pyre and we marched up the hill to doze on the deck. We also wanted to  see if there was anything on the news about the International Space Station seeing our burn pile from above atmo... Everything was going great.

And then we went to round up the critters and put everyone to bed. That's when I found our momma goat, Debbie, in a heap hiding in the back of the stall. Yikes! She was down but reluctantly got up and I took her to the milking stand as I was trying to get her used to being fed there. This is when the goat trouble really started. She didn't eat a bite.


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Farm notes.... Goose & Duck eggs and Skip Poppers....

Pardon the double post but I have a few farm notes from today:

1. Cindy Lou the Goose (toulouse x roman) laid her first egg today! Must work on goose house to make sure Cindy and Penny have separate nests.
2. Either Miss Duck or Miss Dash laid an egg today!  Must have been Miss Dash - as she also shook off her babies for the first time. Her young duck hens were a little nervous.... I just adore Puddles, Iris, and Daisy.
Young hens from a week or so ago.. Puddles, Iris, Daisy

3. Runner is still setting .... but without Miss Duck sitting ON her today (duck on a turkey?? for heavens sakes)
4. The Skip Poppers... the baby goats are going full tilt...until its nap time then they flop over and sleep.
5. Debbie had good milk this morning. Kids are on her full time but in a few days I'll separate them at night and  milk her out in the morning. She looks good and her milk is coming on.
6. Little Nibbles was in distress yesterday, but was perfectly fine today. Neighbor kids said she had a kind of false labor from being uncomfortable. I'm keeping her food rationed over the course of the day so she doesn't get too full at one time. Kids think she has 3 babies which will be hard for her to carry to term with as little as she is....still 22 days out.
7. Spectacular blue sky day - chain sawing and goat house cleaning.

And a goat note for my buddy, Drew on the goat milking:  Debbie will need most of her milk for the babies for a couple weeks.. but since dairy animal produce "on demand" she will be able to keep up when I milk her out in the mornings. I'll do this to make sure she gets up to full milking capacity -- by mid-summer she will be easily giving over a gallon a day!

However, we'll have to (carefully) worm her next week -- and the milk withholding period can be up to 30 days depending on the chemical wormer we use.  Normally we use an herbal product but we have to be careful with the babies.  This milk will go to hens and dogs who get the by product of the wormer... so it all works out.

Pork Chops...its what for dinner

Ahh.. its spring(ish) here.. finally. And now that we have the warmer weather and the time change our thoughts turn to grilling our dinner outside. Like this:

Pork chops.. its what for dinner. It almost made me love them pigs.....

Happy Thursday everyone!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Skip-poppin goats and more farm notes

Today was a ridiculous day in the barnyard....

First, I tried to take a video of the baby goats out there skip-poppin all about.. but every time I had the camera out... they just stood there. As soon as I put it away... they leapt and hopped and twirled and spun with glee. I swear they did it on purpose. But I did get a few cute shots... just click on the pix to enlarge them.

       Ginger, the female                       Little Nibbles peaking around                Debbie givin' the loves

As before, everyone is very happy but Little Nibbles who is still sulking because she isn't the cutest little goat anymore... I love her peaking around the corner at the happy little family.

Next in barnyard silliness.... we heard a terrible ruckus so the dog and I went running out there.. and the guinea hens had gotten out and were chasing the turkeys!  All of the turkeys... like they were running in abject terror... from small, small little hen like creatures. It was hilarious. These are guineas:

They are kinda Doctor Seuss-like birds... sort of like peacocks but without the tails...and they have those weird wattles on their faces... they are the strangest birds I've ever seen. Alledgedly they are supposed to get rid of all the fleas, ticks, and squash bugs. They have exactly one month to clear this property of all bugs or they are going in the pot. They are SO LOUD. And not in a cute way - like in a screaming all night way. It ceased to be cute a while ago....

So, completely self indulgent farm notes today:

1. Still no sign of asparagus, garlic has popped up
2. Peas popped...and were promptly eaten by a hen. Probably Slim (named as such because with the ridiculous way she acts her chances of lasting the summer are "Slim"). Dogs and I fixed the gates so the hens can't pop thru.
3. Runner, our ridiculous turkey hen, is now officially setting a nest. She put her fluffy bottom down yesterday (or late the day before). We put about a dozen chicken eggs under her so... say April 4th or 5th we should have chicks. She is not setting turkey eggs because its way too early for poults to have a good chance of surviving. Chicken chicks, tho, should be OK.
4. Turkey Momma and a bunch of the other turkey hens are acting weird and are hiding out in the bramble.... I'm guessing they are laying.
5. No sign of eggs from geese or ducks.  The drakes are having their last hurrah... we'll be dressing them later this week (hopefully). Puddles, Iris, and Daisy all continue to charm with their beautiful coloring. Miss Dash is acting weird - hopefully she will lay soon.
6. We got a few eggs from the meat chickens...and from good ol' Barnee our blue egg layer. Barnee is about 100 years old and only lays when I threaten her with "retiring to stew".. it always works... hee hee hee. My Klingon management style continues to get results.
7.  We saw our first "cow pies" - what we call calves at the cow farm down the road.. our thoughts turn toward raising one for beef....one of my pals got 3 male calves at auction for $2 each!
8.The time change has everyone in a whirl - including me. The dogs remain unfazed....

Happy Farm Dogs

Monday, March 15, 2010

How to Make Savings.. I mean.. Bread

How to Make Savings.. I mean... Bread!

This is for my pal DM who is kinda in a pickle right now. Being a smart and capable gal I know she is going to be just fine...and a little bread baking could be just the thing to help her out.

And you too – read about the farm-o-nomics of making bread here. You'll see that making bread yourself is a great way to make savings.  Hang in there, DM, and... go bake some bread and have yourself an egg salad sandwich...you'll love it!

I learned how to bake bread from the Farm Master...a lurker here known only as Bourbon Red. His instructions came in kind of a loose format so I'm documenting “how to” here with pix of the loaves I made a couple days ago. If you want to learn from folks who can explain all the science and nuances of 'how to' you can check out The Bread Bible, or A Year Of Bread Baking, or a thousand other foodie blogs.

As for me, I tend to glaze over when they start talking about glutens and autolyse … so I just do what works for me.  And frankly I don't really care to take the magic out of it so no technical explanations here. If you really want to find out how its done, run don't walk, to get a copy of Marcella Hazan's exceptional cookbook: Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. Marcella knows how to get 'er done...and she does it old school with no apologies. Its also a great book for folks who garden as she emphasizes fresh ingredients that can stand alone.

But first, a word on yeast. I used to buy those little three-envelop packages of yeast from the store. They usually cost a little over $2 each..and this would only be good for 3 batches of bread. Then the local bulk foods shopkeeper changed my life with... Saf-Instant yeast. It comes vacuumed packed and for $3.95 I have more yeast than I could use in a year! Just store it in the fridge and let the baking begin. I found it online here  but check around. Seriously, it worth the effort to find it.



Buttermilk, flour (whole wheat and/or all purpose), water

The starter
4 cups of flour (whole wheat and/or all purpose or bread flour)
1 teaspoon yeast
2 teaspoons salt
a bit more water as needed

The basic steps are easy:
Make the starter
Mix the dough, knead it
Let rise
Shape, proof, then bake

But for really great bread you need more of an explanation. So here goes..

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Goat-a-palooza 2010

Great GoogleyMoogley we've got goats!

What can I say...a picture is worth a thousand words and right now I'm a little speechless. We got goats!  Today our Debbie gave us these little squeakers.... I had no idea they would make funny little noises but they do. And they were bigger than I thought. Like a big skinny cat with really long legs.

More details tomorrow but until then feast your eyes on these little cuties:

They found the milk supply.. hey you goats! Get away from that milk - I need goat cheese. Geez....

Debbie was really lovin' on them... I didn't know how she'd do because I don't think her previous owner let her raise her babies.  She was doing great with them. I fed her really well, got her a big drink, and rubbed her all over. No problems at all.

Seriously - how cute is that little face? This was less than an hour after his big arrival and he was up and standing.

This little girl was very fuzzy.. kinda teddy bear like.

I just checked them and everyone is just fine. The little girl was standing there head butting her momma... it was very cute. Its been a goat-tastic day and now I'm going to bed.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Let the Gardening Begin!

And now for something entirely self-indulgent... Gardening!  I can't wait for this:

One of my goals for this blog is to keep a gardening/farm journal.  Maybe you'll get some ideas also.

My garden notes for today:
* We've had two days over 45* ...and its nothing but mud soup out there.
* We completed the fencing for the upper garden; including the gates to keep the chickens out.
* Finished trimming and staking grape vines; and clean up
* Finished trimming fruit trees
* Planted some peas, radishes, and red kale; may not make it
* No sign of peonies or asparagus; some garlic has sprouted
* Mini-greenhouses (upside down plastic water bottles) over misc marigolds and the last broccoli standing; some swiss chard is left and hanging on

My farm notes for today:
* Tom turkeys are in a constant 'smack down'
* Turkey Momma is standing out there screaming non-stop; I think she is going to start laying
* No goose or duck eggs yet
* Still no new goats

Happy Spring!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

How to Make Savings - Part 2: Farm-o-nomics

How to Make Savings – Part 2 Farm-o-nomics

In our last installment of “How to Make Savings” we talked about some big picture ideas  – how reducing expenses to the point where one or both of you don't have to work is a real possibility and how doing things yourself creates tons of savings. We left the discussion here:

“Want to make real savings? Then make your food, raise what you eat, eat what you grow, and do it in a self sustaining way......

…..We make most of our food – and we don't just make our food.. we MAKE our food by growing it. We grow 95% of meat, all of our eggs, a good chunk of our veggies, and most of our dairy. Pretty much we have the lowest grocery bill in the county. Our grocery bill, less dog and cat food, for most of the summer was about $25 a week.”

Yessiree...you did read that right. A lot of people just plain ol' can't believe it. And I tell you the truth – we aren't suffering at all. Now to be fair, from time to time we do a trip to Sam's Club to get paper products in huge quantities and we'll do a $100 grocery trip every couple of months.   

But pretty much we just stop in for bits and bobs of things at the grocery. As we are walking thru the store our favorite thing to do is ask each other “Hey do we need eggs? Ham? Milk? Cheese?” and then laugh laugh laugh about how we don't have to buy any of that stuff. I swear we are giving the meat counter guy a complex from pointing and laughing at his ham.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Tiny pies.. its what for breakfast

I can't help it .... I love pie. When we got these little tiny pie (tart) pans from our Grandma we instantly fell in love with tiny pies. And its a great way to make your own snacks. The other day I was making a crust for the quiche anyway - so I just doubled the recipe and then when I had a few minutes these came together in about 10 minutes.

Here's how:

All fall we make and freeze applesauce from the free apples and pears we get from friend's trees and from ours. So I thawed one 2 cup serving of pear sauce, mixed in a little tapioca to thicken, a bit of brown sugar, and a splash of vanilla. The crumble topping was just oatmeal, flour, brown sugar, some chopped nuts - cut in butter.  It took the equivalent of 1 pie crust to line the 4 tart pans (plus I had enough for one top). I also made one with blackberry jam (the one in front). Fill pans, pop into oven at 375*...... 30-ish mins later... tiny pies. Electric for cooking not included... I think my cost of goods (flour, tapioca, spices, topping - fruit was free) was about $0.20 a piece.

Plus, how fun are tiny pies?

Tiny pies.. its what for breakfast

Friday, March 5, 2010

Midnight..time for a homicide

Today's post is for my friend D, who needs a little extra love today. So I dug thru my files and found this from a couple years ago. Its from when we had just gotten started in this farming thing. At the time we were at the old farm and had just a couple of chickens. It happened about this time of year – just as spring was trying to work its way thru the snow.

So, D – I'm sending you “hogs and kisses” and this. Because I know you love my west coast style...and I'm cool like that..

Midnight Time for  Homicide

Honestly, I don't even ask “whats going to happen next” anymore. Everyday is an adventure and once again I have another chapter to report from the funny farm. I thought I'd call it “Shoot out at the O-Possum Coral” but I think everyone is tired of my Deadwood-esque style.

So something new...

Many of you may not know that there was a time before I listened exclusively to country music and praise and worship. But its true – I used to listen to rap music. The real rap music – not today's “Get rich or die tryin” kind of MTV rap.


Anyway - back in the day I'd roll into my software job with my mind on my money and my money on my mind in a Toyota Corolla wagon with my Fergie bow and my Melanie Griffith “Working Girl” glasses, head bobbing, reciting Ice-T's often over looked but no less epic drama "Midnight" about life on the mean streets of Compton... “I never cruise without a Gat in my lap... midnight time for a homicide...”

Oh how times have changed.

With a nod to T before he sold out and joined the "Law and Order" franchise, I'm retooling his lyrics, Johnsonville style, and am calling this one...

“10:15 time for a possum shoot”

Thursday, March 4, 2010

How to Make Savings - Part 1

How to Make Savings

One of the best tools to make your homestead or farm more effective and efficient – and to keep it from being an expensive hobby –  is learning how to “make savings.”  Making savings is somewhat along the lines of the old Ben Franklin adage that “a penny saved is a penny earned.” But making savings actually gets you further ahead then just keeping that penny in your pocket.

Making savings means:

a) keeping money by not wasting it on things you don't need; and
b) not spending money and still getting what you need anyway by doing it yourself.

Its a way of 'creating' income by not spending money thereby eliminating the need for additional or a second income. Think you really need two incomes? Nope.

Here's how it goes:

The first way to make savings is by not spending money on stupid stuff – and then using that saved money on something you really need. There are tons of resources on how to reduce your spending, avoiding money drains, and staying away from financial black holes. Do some research and figure out where you are hemorrhaging money and then stop doing those things.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

What happens when you loose a bet

If you'll allow me a moment of self indulgence.....

I would like to say, here before God and everyone, that Dan was right. You heard me - my friend, Dan, was not just a little right, he was entirely right. Correct in all ways and mean... yes sir, right right right. I was wrong, and I did not believe him. From now on I will believe every word that Dan says, I will accept all his recommendations, and I will never again, doubt Dan.

If you were to line up all the right and correct people Dan would be at the top of the line. I would head up all the wrong people. I stand here in my wrongness and salute Dan in his rightness.

This is what my surprise looked like when I realized the mightiness of Dan's rightness...even if he is still a corporate monkey - he is the most right corporate monkey I know.

Actually, this is Bramble, our best Bourbon Red turkey momma. She hatched two clutches last year and we were amazed at what a great job she did. We love her because she looks so dinosaury. She liked to take her poults into the garden to hunt for bugs.

As for now, we are headed for town. That's right - we are going off farm. We are going to see other people! And we'll probably have a meal that we didn't make or grow ourselves... so long, fellow farmers, we're headed into civilization! And you know that silly goat will probably have her babies while we are gone......

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