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.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Answers to a few of the items from "Yesterday."

Hi everyone and thanks for all the comments and well wishes about our ridiculous day, "Yesterday." I think MW said it best, we do live an exciting life. You don't know the half of it, MW, you should see what else happens that I don't even talk about!

This beautiful dahlia is not in danger of the grill.

So a few answers to your questions....

Yes, we know why the beez were mad. And yep these were our beez! Ingrates. Anyway, it was so hot and muggy they were angry anyway....  but we had to work on whacking down some weeds near the hives. Thankfully my hubby put on his veil and other gear and headed down to work there. He was still about 2 feet away when they all came swarming up and covered his veil! So they were mad because we were too close and it was too hot for trimming the verge.

We gave them a while to cool down and were working in another part of the yard. But they weren't having it at all. I was even kind of far away and out of their line of sight when they got to me. Having brownies for dinner really helped. So did using lavender oil. Do you know about this? I was not a believer until I started using it.

Dahlia, the goat, is just fine. Now. It was touch and go there for a while. Especially when, during my tender administrations, she turned around and blew snot all over me. I tell you the truth, if Zander snuffs at me or licks me I'm get all "Oh BubbsyWubbsy that's the cutest thing ever".... but when Dahli did it I was all "You HAG! Do that again and I'll get my butcher knives and start the grill!" But she lived.

The gosling incident is a tough one. We have a varmint - which means there will be death and vengeance and someone's tiny head on a pike in the yard. At this writing we have the babies in a tub in the basement and Cindy Lou Goose and OD are in the chicken house. There will be more on this later but for now I have to go and check the trap. I've also deployed the troops, who are currently on patrol, so I need to review their reports. I'm hoping that one of the dogs will throw the ruined body of mine enemy at my feet. Today is a good day for a varmint to die.

Have a great Sunday everyone! Guess what? It's our wedding anniversary today! Here is the short version of how we found each other - again. And again. Third time is a charm, right? ... Or rather, he married me so I couldn't get away.

Friday, June 28, 2013


Yesterday was ridiculous. It was proof to all the naysayers that think all we do is sit around and have tea parties with the chickens and do a bit of gardening.

Yesterday alone we:
- Lost a gosling. As in, can't find him. He's a goner for sure but we can' figure it out.
- Had an "incident" with Dahlia that sent me running for the neighbors for help to get her fixed up.
- Worked outside in the hellacious heat until....
- The beez came for us. They were very mad. I got stung twice - so did my hubby. We ran for it.
- But the goats were out (on purpose) so I had to get to dog to round them up!
- Then the beez went for the dog! So we really ran for it. The goats were on their own.

We gave up and went inside. I made these brownies and altho it's a ton of butter and chocolate for one recipe.... they were perfect. It makes a big pan of brownies instead of a small one.

Finally, once inside we found out that today was going to be a very early wake up. Very, very, early.  I'm delirious but optimistic about today. I'm powered by coffee and brownies so I think I'm going to make it.

Happy Friday everyone! Did you get chased by beez yesterday?

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Scapes and Snaps

OK, so maybe I didn't plant 90,000 garlics last fall... but there were a bunch of them. I snapped off the rest of the scapes yesterday and this is the nice basketful that I got...

The Great Scape Harvest of 2013

How about a few happy snaps of what's going on here? I've been scrambling to get some last minute planting done also. I'm putting in some of this blue corn - we'll see if it makes it.  I think it will. I saved it from last year.

It's always amazing to me that this one little ear will plant a small patch of corn.

We are still most thrilled about how all of our summer fruit is coming along. I planted these little apple trees in the front garden just to have something nice to look at... and they fruited like crazy!

This sweet little apple is just lovely.

And we always have something cute going on. This little duck momma valiantly tried to set two nests (in a row) and only was able to hatch this one ducklet. We think.

This little duck momma is as fierce as a wild cat. We had to wear gloves to take up her nest.

I found this little guy running around in the yard and we couldn't figure out who he belonged to. So we snuck him under this momma late that nite and she's been taking care of him ever since. He's a scream...very adorable. We finally just had to take her off her nest. It was rotten and we were worried about her extremely long brood in this hot weather. Now they spend their days toddling around in the yard now. They are quite a pair.

We got a beautiful rain last nite. Everything I planted so far should be flying out of the ground this next week. The growing conditions have been fantastic this year and I can't really complain. I got done planting just in the nick of time. I'm standing by the phone right now waiting for the post to call - our next project is on its way!

Happy Thursday everyone! 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

It's Blueberry Day!

My favorite day.... blueberry day!  I have a couple bushes loaded with blueberries but I can't wait to get to the upick places. I'm going to try and get at least 20 lbs this year. Hopefully more.

My favorite summer fruit.

Yesterday was ridiculous. Our schedule has been all over the board and throw in the extra hot heat and it was a banner day for frustration. Today is going to be better. I just know it.

Don't sulk little dahlia... today is going to be great!
Looks like we'll have some rain come on later so I need to get a few things done outside. I got the very last of the tilling done for my new garden areas. If I can get a few seeds in the ground before the rain hits I'll be golden.

But first I'm going to have a big bowl of blueberries.

Happy Blueberry Day everyone! Do you have summer fruit?

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Truth About Farming. Again.

My friend Farmer Liz over at Eight Acres reminded me that this post is an oldie but a goodie.... if you are new you might not know this one. And I also wanted to repost this today for Chai Chai who has a stout heart.

One day, before she was a real farmer, Chai Chai wondered about this farming thing. She said,“I can't help but read this and try to picture in my mind all the chaos going on around you (smartalec goats, mean chickens, crazed geese, wayward ducks, evil pigs, cats and dogs living together!) and wonder what I'm getting myself into.”

It reminded me of when my friend Eliza said once that “evenings on your farm must be so relaxing” and I could tell that she had a perfect picture in her mind's eye of the sun gently setting over a tranquil barnyard....


As I was standing there talking to her I had chicken poop in my hair, I had a bruise on my leg where I smacked into something while chasing the hens into the coop, I was stinky and sweaty, and my hands hurt so much from milking that I could barely hold the phone. Sun setting over a peaceful barnyard!?!?! Not on your life.

So lean in close, friends, and I'll tell you The Truth About Farming.  They won't say any of this in Hobby Farms or on any of those lovely farm blogs with beautiful pictures of sheep. No siree... There is the 'cover of Vogue' farming...and then the real dirt.

Farming is one crazy ride.

Everyday is exactly the same – and radically different. You'll do the exact same thing everyday. Get up (early), get out there and feed those critters, work that land, feed those critters again, herd everyone up, and go to bed (early). Oh, but what happens in between? You can't make some of this stuff up.  Its all go, all the time.... and success is measured in who didn't die that day.  Step lively now, there is no day off and there is always some kind of skulduggery going on.

Think you won't have a boss if you work for yourself? Wrong. Nature is your boss and the Weather is your CEO – and they won't ever let you forget it.  Your every day is ruled entirely by these two and sometimes its seems like they are out to get you. Think you can get some early spring planting done? Not if you get an unexpected frost ...and then you'll have to start all over. Think those lovely pumpkin plants will win you first prize at the Pumpkin Show? Not if the squash bugs get them first.  Don't even get me started on tornadoes, torrential rain, blazing heat, and this cursed snow...

Then there is the maniacal barnyard where everything and anything can and will happen. You'll never know if you'll go out there and find your best laying hen dead - the victim of some ridiculous barnyard mishap. Or remember our goat Debbie hanging from the feeder?  Don't expect Backyard Poultry to tell you what to do if your turkeys suddenly scatter and you spend 2 hours trying to round them up, just in time to see one of your prized males flying (like an eagle!) over the house, across the ravine, and into your trigger happy, huntin' obsessed, rednecked, neighbor's tree.

Think you are a tough guy? Even the biggest and baddest will shed at least one tear when you find the best chick of the clutch floating lifeless in a water bucket. There is nothing sadder than a dead baby bird, friends.  And while you stand there cursing yourself for letting it happen you'll start to calculate the true cost – not just of one small chick, but of all the eggs she would have laid, and all the layers she would have raised, of all the bugs they would have eaten, and all the compost they would have created,  and...... You see, even the smallest loss has an impact that increases exponentially.

Then there is the mocking by your so-called-friends and family who think you are completely out of your mind. Why would you give up your city life for THAT? Or if you tell a friend that you are so tired that your hair hurts, more than likely you'll hear “All you do is garden all day. Why are you complaining – its not like you work?" Or, part of a real conversation I heard about the other day “Why don't you just get a job so you don't have to grow your own food?”

Its enough to make you want to go out and lay in the compost heap. 


The upside is tremendous. You don't HAVE to grow your own food, you GET to..and that makes all the difference.

You'll learn to work effectively and efficiently, to follow the weather and anticipate her moves, to plan, plan, and plan some more. Gym membership? Nah.. you won't need it.  Need a mental challenge? Its all challenging and the learning never stops. You'll learn you can build a duck garage, pip a turkey poult out of its shell, figure out how to fence in those stupid pigs, and discover a whole world of folks who live their lives by the turning of the seasons and not by the passing of the financial quarters.

It's not simpler but its better.

What are you getting yourself into? Its one crazy ride, baby. So hold on tight, pull on those barn boots, and get out there and make that land work for you. And when you're so tired your hair hurts?  Come and talk to me - we're all in this together.

Happy Monday everyone! What is your truth about farming?

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Summer is Back!

Summer is back and it's a hotsy totsy! Wow the heat and humidity have come on. Yesterday was really something.

Early morning light on this lovely bloom.

The entire barnyard was feeling the heat so today it's an early morning for everyone. We are getting the troops out early this entire week. The neighbor's may not like the noisy parade of geese so early but they'll just have to get over it. We are implementing all of our extreme hot weather care tips to keep everyone as happy as possible.

I made a swamp cooler for the meat chickens and they loved it. I just filled a bucket of extra cold water in front of the fan. The meats all lined up in front of it to get the cool breeze. Last nite I put a bucket of water in the freezer and I'll put that in front of the fan later today.

This little buddy has a tiny tuft on this head. Adorable!

The baby geese are doing great. We are keeping part of the grass in their yard wet so they can keep cool. Cindy Lou Goose is keeping them all together and in the shade. She and OD have a pool of cool water to splash around in to beat the heat. The young ganders continue to stomp around outside the yard in a rage. They are still In Trouble.

The goats are doing OK. They are spending a lot of time in a shade and in the cool grass. I'll be giving them extra minerals today and will give them fresh water several times today. There was a lot of complaining yesterday.

Today will pretty much be about sitting around and doing the rounds. Hopefully we'll get some rain later - if not, it will be lots of watering for the garden.

Happy Sunday everyone - are you keeping everyone cool?

Friday, June 21, 2013

More Baby Gooses

A few shots of the little meepin' cuties out there. I think we ended up with 5....

There was one trying to pip out but I don't think he made it. Cindy Lou Goose is still staying with the nest but she is going to have to quit it soon. The little ones are really lively and running around. Kai and Zander think the "squeaky toys" are amazing. You can bet there is going to be a lot of supervision around here.

Unfortunately the younger ganders have been given the boot from the nursery. For most of this hatching they have been standing guard with OD... but yesterday they started fighting with him. While I was busting up a brawl one of the younger ganders rushed in, grabbed one of the babies - and threw him!

So you can bet I snatched that bad gander up, using my modified-sumo-half-nelson-tricky-goose-grab, and marched him right out of the yard. So they are very upset now. They will be even more upset when I set them out by the road with Nibbles' "Free to a BAD Home" sign.

In other news, we've had spectacular weather the last couple of days. I know that it will change starting today when we'll be at least 90*.... but these last blue sky, low humidity days.... just like heaven.

Happy Friday everyone! What are you doing on this longest day of the year?

Thursday, June 20, 2013


I knew something was going on yesterday when the geese didn't come storming out of their coop. They were also silent as church mice for most of the day. Initially I thought that Cindy was quitting her nest because I didn't think her eggs were good....but then I checked and this is what I found....

What a sweet baby face!

I love baby geese. Of all the baby poultry they are my favorite. They immediately emerge from their shells with a lampshade on their head and from then on they are the life of the party. They are hilarious. Everything is amazing to them and they take every opportunity to run around making little meeping noises. They drive their parents crazy - which makes it even funnier.

Let's zoom in a little....

We think there were 3 little hatchlings last nite. I couldn't see anymore this morning but it's still early. We'll see what happens today - hopefully something very cute.

And yes, spelling nazis...stop your twitching and no, you do not need to send me an email.  I know it's "gosling" but if you search on that you get some actor named Ryan and he just is not as cute as baby geese at all.

Happy Thursday everyone! Do you have something cute happening there? The SuperBad moon is happening later this week - if you have anyone due to hatch, kid, or lamb it could be soon!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Run, run, run, run.... STOP!

Darla and Daisy have the run arounds..... actually they have the run-up-on-me's.  They do the runny-funnies all the time - aren't they hilarious?

This is me sitting in the chair trying to encourage them to come into the new pasture and graze. The little ones are really bouncy and love to run around. Or run right up to me then stop....and run away. They think this is the funnest thing ever.

Daisy is a goof.

Daisy is the Dahlia-mini-me...her markings are almost exactly the same. Darla just has that one little splash on her head and some "frosting" on her nose. They are very funny together and spend all day running and jumping.

 Darla is very cute - she always looks slightly surprised.

Unfortunately they figured out that Grandma Debbie also has an udder and they have been sipping off her. You'll remember that we had a heck of a time getting Dahlia to stop nursing off Debbie. I have a feeling these two little ones are going to be trouble as well. But with this new pasture we can more easily separate them. 

Daisy and Darla will be with us for a while. They are starting to help the big goats graze down all the brambles around here. Good work, little goaties!

Happy Wednesday everyone - do you have little goaties with the runny-funnies?

Monday, June 17, 2013

How To Keep Your Dog From Killing Your Chickens

Recently Farmer Liz was gracious enough to interview me about how to get started raising chickens. One of the questions was, “How do you keep your dogs from killing your chickens?” The answer I gave was pretty simple and short... supervise your dog. It's that easy. 

View to a kill.

I actually get this question a lot – more than you would imagine. I haven't done a post on this mostly because it was either going to be the shortest post ever or, more likely, it will probably hurt someone's feelings. So to everyone who has asked me about dogs and chickens – I bet you think this song is about you, dont you? Don't worry, it isn't.

To avoid this being the shortest post I've ever written (“Supervise your dog. The end.”) I'll expound a little one the subject of supervising your dog and keeping him from killing your chickens. 

Little goats know that Kai wants to eat them. They fear her.

As we learned in this post, dogs are not little people in fur coats. Dogs are dogs. They are predators and natural born killers. All your dog ever wants to do is kill all your chickens all the time. Surely, not your dog? Yes. Especially your dog. Look at him – huge canines, strong claws, forward facing binocular vision... oh yes. Death on four legs. Now look at them hens. Look at your dog lookin' at them hens. He wants to kill them.

I'm always laughing at people who think their Mr. Woofywoof would never do that – mostly because he's a Golden or a Lab. Friend, lean in because I have some educating for you. What exactly do you think that Golden RETRIEVER or the Labrador RETRIEVER is retrieving? Birds that's what. Most of the popular dog breeds are, or descended from, working or hunting breeds. Herding dogs? Sure they'll kill your chickens too. The herding work is just a controlled prey drive. Left to his own devices it's just a big ol' killing spree waiting to happen. So don't be foolish enough to think that your people friendly dog isn't gonna kill all your chickens. Given time he will. 

Zander wants to kill this duck. Oh yes he does. 

Why? Dog love prey. Chickens are the especially loveable because they flap and squawk and run when chased. Dogs think chickens are the funnest thing ever – next to your goats, of course.

So don't blame your dog when you leave him outside, go to work, and then come home to find all our chickens dead. Most likely your dog doesn't even know they are a food source – he was just having fun. Now all he knows is that was the best time he's ever had and you're home and mad and yelling at him.

So who's to blame?


Did the conviction come on you? Now...now... don't shout me down because I'm preachin' so well. I told you someone's feeling were going to be hurt. Can you handle the truth?

(Cut to scene...) OFG in the witness box, sitting bolt upright, wearing full dress attire, her face a mask of rage. The smug young JAG corps drake is clenching his fist in front of him, spitting his questions at her, “You think it's the owner's fault? That their dog killed a chicken?”

“You want answers?” Said OFG defiantly. “You want answers?”

“I think I'm entitled!” Yelled the drake. “I want the truth!”

“You can't handle the truth! Son, we live in a world where dogs kill chickens every day. The flock keeper has a responsibility to protect their chickens. That means supervising your dogs every minute of every second of every day. And if you don't chicken die. If you don't train your dog, chickens die. If you don't supervise your dog, chickens die.” The courtroom erupts in chaos. (Fade to black)

OK maybe that was a bit dramatic but here is the truth. Sure there are a few dogs that won't ever kill chickens – but that's not your dog. Don't be foolish enough to think that just because your dog is a loveable oaf around you that he isn't still a dog. It's your responsibility to train and supervise your dog and protect your flocks.

So what do you do?

1. Supervise your dog. Where are you? Where is your dog? Why isn't your dog with you? Do you see him with your own eyes? Has he roamed off? Is he on a leash? Is he standing by your side and helping you or is he where you commanded him to Sit and Stay? If you have livestock you need to know where your dog is at all time. Preferably he should be with you or where you put him.

Zander and Kai in the dog yard. Good dogs. 

2. Put your dog and your chickens behind fences. Our property is fenced on all sides and within that perimeter are several fenced in areas. One is the hen/goat yard and across the way is the dog yard. When they aren't with me the dogs hang out in the dog yard and most of the hens stay around the hen yard. The wanderers have figured out not to go near the dog yard.

3. Be the boss of your dog. I've talked about this before and to learn more about it run right out and get Cesar Milan's “Be the Pack Leader” and then also get The Monks of New Skete's “How to be Your Dog's Best Friend (this is written specifically for German Shepherds). Don't let your tail wag the dog..bein' in this case, your dog should not “own” you. 

That little duck is as safe as kittens. Ti and Lucky know to "leave it."

4. Specifically teach your dog “that's mine,” “drop it,” and “leave it.” Your dog at any time, when commanded “leave it”, should immediately stop what he is doing (chasing a chicken) and come back to you. Not only that, he should understand that when you say “that's mine” (whatever “it” is...your sandwich, a chicken, someone else's toy) then “it” is not to be touched. You should be able to say “drop it” and your dog should drop whatever he has in his mouth and let you have it. Reinforce that the chickens/goats/ducks are “mine.” Tell him to “leave it” if he gets too interested in the chickens. And if he's running with a chicken in his mouth then you'd better be yelling "drop it" and running after him.

Your dog should know that you “own all the resources” as my friend SavingDogs says. Everything, including the chickens, are yours and not his. You give the dog everything – he doesn't take anything. For instance, do not ever play tug of war with your dog. It's not really a game to him – it's a power struggle and your dog should not challenge you for the power in the relationship.

You need to reinforce this everyday, all the time. He should sit quietly while you walk out of the house first, he should not pull on a leash but should walk quietly beside you (like this), he should sit before you feed him. In every interaction your dog should know that you are the boss of him. If you don't then he wont take you seriously and will start making his own decisions like, “Say, them hens look mighty fun. I think I'll kill them.”

The key is to have a good working relationship with your dog where he knows the rules and follows them. Your job is to provide him with the best chances of success by creating a situation where the opportunity for failure is limited. Don't give him the opportunity to chase the chickens in the first place. Keep your dog with you or in a dog yard. Teach him what is and what is not acceptable. Don't allow him to make decisions about what is and what is not his to “play” with. You have to reinforce this over and over again.

People sometimes ask me for training tips for the dogs. Then some of these folks spend 5 minutes “training” their dog (usually it's them yelling mindlessly at him) and then wonder why it doesn't “work.” It works, friend, you just gotta put a lot of work into it. Dog training isn't a one time thing – think of it more as developing the relationship with your dog. It's how you interact with your dog every time. Do it once and it's a failure, keep working at it and you'll become a tremendous team.

There's a few things and I don't think you should never do.

First, you know that old wives tale about tying a dead chicken around your dog's neck? For the love of Pete... don't do that. The folklore is that the rotting corpse of the chicken will start stinking and that will somehow dissuade your dog from chasing them. That is just disgusting and a grievous way to treat one of your good and faithful hennies. More than likely the only reason that worked once was because some old farmer somewhere shamed his dog for killing a chicken. For heavens sakes you can shame your dog and still give that hen a descent burial.

I'm not talking about the current dogshaming trend. I'm talking about using your voice and actions to show your dog how disappointed you are in his behavior. You don't even have to do anything special because your dog can read your body language and the tone of your voice. Ever find your dog in the trash and yell, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” Then your dog gets all guilty and skulks off? Just do that only amp it up about 10 times and keep it up for a while.

Kai got into a bunch of chicks one time and snatched one up. Not only did we charge at her, yelling angrily, and then launch into a flying tackle to stop her. But we also shamed her. The whole day. After a couple hours she was likely to die. We have a close working relationship with our dogs. They are almost always with us or near us or working with us. Excluding Kai from that and getting nothing but disapproval from us cured her very quickly of her chicken chasing ways. Now she can walk with me thru the hen and goat yard without charging off after them.

Would we ever just let her out in the yard when there are poultry afield? Heck no. Even more than most dogs Kai and Zander are natural born killers. They are extremely “primitive” and pretty much as close to wolves as you can get. Throw in that most members of the “Spitz” type of dogs are naturally independent and stubborn... well, all we are is one “I just turned my head for a minute” away from a chicken massacre. So don't ask more from your dog than their breed may allow. Hunting, herding, and bird dogs especially will be interested in your livestock. So why do we have such cold blooded killaz on our farm?You can read more about that here.

Next, don't get rid of your dog just because he killed some chickens. Using this flawed logic we would have gotten rid of Titan when he was 10 months old. What a tragedy that would have been! Look at him now. Not only is he my #1 Dog... he's also my best pal. You couldn't pry him out of my cold dead hands. If you have dogs and chickens there will be losses and the only one to blame for those dead chickens is you. So get off your lazy carcass, write it off as “these things happen,” and train your dog. This will require effort on your part and if you aren't up to it then don't get a dog or don't get chickens.

Also, don't believe that ridiculous notion that once your dog has “tasted blood” from killing chickens he's going to turn on you or your children. That's just silly.

The other thing I would never do is let your dog play with your livestock. Ever. I've seen videos of people letting their dog chase their goat (owners all laughing in the background) or “running” chickens who are behind a fence. Friend, don't ever be that stupid. All you are doing is encouraging interest and it will end badly. The only thing your dog should hear from you when they get close to your livestock is “leave it” and then your dog should immediately turn away from that chicken/goat/goose/duck and come back to you. Then pat him on the head and tell him, “Good dog.”

Does this sound like a lot of work? It is. It can be exhausting and frustrating. Sometimes you have to be relentless. But there isn't any magic to it. I think there is a rumor out there that the “right” dog doesn’t need any training to be around chickens. However, that dog is few and very far between. For the rest of all dogs everywhere – including your dog - the answer is fencing, supervision, and training your dog.

The good news is that this is successful and is extremely rewarding. A well trained, trustworthy dog is a joy to be around and the best part of your farming day. Knowing that you can walk out into your hen yard with your faithful dog at your side and he actually helps you do your job, well you just can't put a price tag on that. So quit blaming your dog for being a predator, take that rotten chicken from around his neck, and go and get some fencing.

And now I'm going to take all these dogs out and put them in the dog yard. We'll walk right by a gaggle of geese and a bunch of crazy hens. Not only will The Dog Horde trot right on by but they will do it happily, tails high and wagging. They know that the chickens are mine and their job is to “leave it.” Good dogs.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Oh Nibbles.....

Pretty much this sums up how things are going.....Dahli being a goof and Nibbles acting the fool.

I'm not sure what Nibbles is doing in Little Red (the wheelbarrow) but at least she is happy. Most of the barnyard is pretty happy.

After our latest round of storms we've had cool and comfortable weather. Everyone is out clucking around and being goofy. The babies, Daisy and Darla, are extremely cute right now. They want to see everything and run around. They've started coming down into the new pasture with the older goats. Unfortunately they are not afraid of the electric fence at all. Someone is going to get zapped.

I've been trollying in a whack of the homemade hay in the wheelbarrow for the goats. They just love it. However they always tip the wheelbarrow over with their foolishness. So I figured out to stabilize the wheelbarrow by putting the handles thru the lawn chair. This works - but it also gives them a perch to jump on and off. But at least they are having a good time.

Happy Saturday everyone! Is your barnyard happy?

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Great (e)Scape!

My project to grow garlic is going like gangbusters! You'll remember that I planted about 90000 garlics last fall. I didn't think it would work. It's totally working. The plants have shot up from the ground and look terrific. Almost all of them survived the winter.

  I heart scapes

One of the benefits of growing garlic is the scape. Not a scrape but a scape. It's the flower produced by the bulb. It could be my new favorite thing. It starts out reaching straight up but then starts to curl around. It's amazing.

So many scapes....

And you can eat them. They are delicious! I saw some at a roadside stand which reminded me to run right out and harvest mine. So I've been taking them up a few at a time but I really need to take them all off today. Clipping or snapping off the scape helps encourage growth of the garlic bulb.

They really get curly - how fun is that?

Mostly they taste like a milder, greener version of garlic that can be used like a green onion. I've been using them in salads and in stir fries. I even made a kicky little salad dressing which was a beautiful color green. You can find tons of recipes for scapes by searching online. I think I have one jar of home canned horticulture beans left and later today I'll but making a white bean and garlic scape hummus.

Rows of garlic and potatoes.... garlic potatoes! I can't wait!

Another way to use them is to make a pesto like my new pals over at Terravita Farms. Does everyone know them? Who knew such a beautiful farm was located in a nearby county! If you are looking for a CSA or a local producer of farm products you've got to check them out. Some of their farm products (pasture raised chicken, eggs, rabbit, etc) are available at the Going Green Store in Granville, Ohio. I saw on their facebook page that they took a big heap of scapes over to Going Green earlier in the week.

I love promoting local farms and producers. If you are wondering if I get anything from talking about these businesses or if this is some kind of paid promotion. Nope nope nope. I just really think we are all better off by eating locally and using our food dollars to support smaller family farms.

There are so many weird things going on in Big Food right now that every dollar we spend locally encourages these small businesses to keep on growing. So shop at your local farmers market, find a upick place (like Shriners in Thornville but hurry - tomorrow is their last strawberry picking day!), or join a CSA.

As for me I'm heading out to pick the rest of my scapes. Later today I'll be in a green garlicky heaven.

Happy Friday everyone! Are you snappin' your scapes today?

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Getting Started with Chickens - My Interview with Eight Acres!

Doesn't everyone just love Farmer Liz over at Eight Acres? She was gracious enough to ask for another interview with me on her "Getting Started" series. This is a great interview series with bloggers sharing their experiences. Ever wanted to know how to get started? Check it out!

Here is what I had to say about Getting Started with Chickens. Thanks Farmer Liz!

Catching up, moving fast, and weather coming

I'm not sure how it got to be the 11th of June but this month is really moving right along. This summer season feels like trying to catch a moving train. While I have been loving the rain it also means the weeds are growing fast. I'll be weeding most of the day trying to get ahead of the next round of storms and rain.

In my muddled state this is the only pic I could find. My favorite little duck.

Pretty much we are maintaining our breakneck pace. Luckily (??) this week we are on a extremely early wake up schedule. It was so bad that it was lighter when we went to bed last nite than when we got up this morning. I convinced myself that this is going to be great because I can get so much done in the morning. But of course, now I'm too tired to charge right out there.

The good news is that I'm getting a lot done. The bad news is that I'm way behind in my correspondence (in general) and comments! I'll get caught up soon but I want you all to know how much I appreciate everyone's participation both here and also on 'the facebook.'

It is so hard to try and explain this life to people with "regular" lives - the amount of work, time, and attention that is required to get this battleship-sized-farm turned in the right direction is exhausting. My project list is oh... about a mile long...and every victory of checking another item off the list is immediately replaced by the anxiety of adding five more things.

I can't do this until I do that but in the meantime I need to chase a baby duck around the yard and try and find his momma... or sure - I need to sweep out the goat and hen yard so I can have all that valuable mulch but if I don't mow our newly cleared area then I might as well give up on that for this year....and don't forget all the tilling I need to do in the new space in the upper garden which I will do just as soon as I stake up the heavily laden fruit trees...oh no! Goose vs Duck fight! Break it up you two! And then it's "Dog! Get over here and get this insane turkey off of me!"

That's pretty much how my days go. If I'm lucky I'll get in the house in time to make dinner. I kid you not the other night my husband and I ate directly from the fry pan while we were standing over the stove - at 11pm.

I'm pretty sure my friends have all abandoned me and are wondering if I'm just ignoring them but I'm not. I'm just trying to keep up. Sorry, you-know-who-you-are.... don't read anything into it other than I just don't have 5 seconds to put a thought together.

On top of all the chaos we have weather coming in later this week. My friend Vicki reminded me that I need to have my storm preps in order. So I'll do that just as soon as I solve the problem of the musical poultry, till the garden, mow the newly cleared space, plant the shade area of the garden, and try and kill all those weird red bugs that are everywhere with soapy water. But first.... "Dog! Get this insane turkey off of me!"

Happy Tuesday everyone! Were you up early today?

Monday, June 10, 2013

Goats in the Midst

Not as exciting as "gorillas in the mist" but here are some goats in the midst of their new pasture.

Goats in the midst of their new pasture.

One of the projects we accomplished last week was to do even more fencing! Yep. Farming is mostly about fencing, fencing, and even more fencing...with additional fencing to follow. Unfortunately it doesn't look like we will be getting much of a break on hay prices this year - which is why we were so glad to take up the hay from our patch.

Another way to beat high hay prices is to stake out new pastures for the goats. It's pretty easy to set up a new grazing area because we are fenced on all sides and about half of it already has electric hotwire. It's really just a matter of getting some posts and connecting new hotwire to the existing electric fencing. We connected 3 strands of wire and used those white push in posts.

Nibbles in the tall grass.

I had intentionally been letting the grass grow at the bottom of the hill for this purpose. So we spent part of an afternoon stepping in the push in posts and laying out the hotwire.

The biggest problem was convincing the goats they could walk into the new area alone. Hence, the chair out there. If I walked down there and sat in the chair they could all run right down and start eating all the beautiful tall grass and clover. As soon as I walked away they started screaming and acting like someone was shooting arrows a them. It took a couple days but finally they started going to the new area by themselves.

My chair for playing goat lifeguard in the new area. Lots of panic when I get up and leave.

The trade off for allowing the goats to graze instead of spoon feeding them expensive alfalfa is that they probably will not make as much milk. However, Dahli and Debbie are big milkers so even "good" for them is pretty darn good as far as averages go. Soon I'll be separating the babies, Darla and Daisy, at night and then we'll really see how much Momma Dahli and Grandma Debbie are producing. Of course...... Debbie is letting the babies sip off of her. We'll solve that problem later.

We are having a rain day here so I doubt if any of the goats will walk down to the new pasture. But that's OK, I'll just get a pitchfork full of that great hay we made last week.

Happy Monday everyone! Anyone else setting up new pastures?

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Saturday Afternoon Strawberries

Guess what I'm having for breakfast?

I picked these beautiful berries on Saturday afternoon - they were just terrific. I have big plans to make that fabulous strawberry cream cheese pie later today....and to do a small batch of jam.

Happy Sunday everyone!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Our Support a Soldier Project is a Huge Success!

WOW! I got the final tally for our project to support a soldier and it was a HUGE success! Thanks to everyone who participated in this great project!

Remember that I'm using all the proceeds from my Amazon store for the month of May to send a very nice care package to a soldier. I'm waiting to hear back if they would like "this" or "that" included in the box and then I'll get the order sent right out. I'm absolutely stunned at how much we'll be able to send. Yay!

Some folks really went above and beyond. I heard from a few of you who let me know about some big purchases...... and to whoever bought that really expensive something.... honestly. Thank you.

But I'm not forgetting everyone who got movies or Kindle books either - are you kidding?!? It all added up. I was a little worried if we'd get enough for free shipping and we sure did...and then some. I'm going sign the card "From All of Us."

I think the best thing that happened was that more folks found out how they could support our troops - even in small ways. I heard from a number of you who were moved to tears when you received a thank you email from sending a Cup of Joe for a Joe - which I think is the funnest program ever. Thanks to everyone who shared this great program with their friends.. who told two friends... who told two friends... and so on and so on.

Some folks really got involved and signed up with HBCarepackages - which is really fun. I have a new penpal soldier - who I was matched up with from the HB gals - and it's probably the most fun I've had in a while. They found me the perfect person to send chatty emails to and I'm so glad that I can send support this way.

Someone asked me for the short version of how you find a soldier to support - it's so easy:

1. Sign up with HBCarepackages -   this is more of a Facebook group. The gals who run this are really enthusiastic and tons of fun. They have some great information about what to send in care packages. They also have all kinds of tips and tricks about how to get the best deals like free shipping and discounts.

2. Go to AnySoldier.com and choose a soldier. This is where I learned that soldiers are asking friends and strangers to send them breakfast. Think you are a tough guy? Just see how you feel when you read about tough conditions and how these soldiers would really just love some cereal. Or a blanket. A warning tho, this program is highly addictive.

3. Get really brave, take a chance...and send a complete stranger a hello. I found "our" soldier completely by chance (or "divine appointment" as my favorite teacher says) when I was clicking around. I normally don't do things like that but I did and wow am I glad that it worked out! Now I have a new friend, we get to support a soldier, and I'm learning about things I'd normally would not know about.

I know that everyone is probably interested in more details... but part of supporting a soldier is knowing that protecting their identity is a huge responsibility. So while I can't say much more about the special equipment we are sending, or what kind of work they do or where they are stationed.... I'll just leave this little hint here and you can guess for yourself..... after that - mum's the word.

Thank you, everyone, for your generous support for this project. We really are going to make a difference.

Happy Friday everyone! Thanks for supporting a soldier!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Making hay, the sun was shining

Yesterday was insane. I picked strawberries, planted beans and squash, did more fencing... but most importantly - I made hay and yes, the sun was shining.

 A short stack of hay. We pulled in 4 or 5 stacks like this.

This hay project has really been fantastic. We've learned a lot and ended up with a heap of hay all stacked up in the garage. I will do a more exhaustive "How to Make Hay" a little later on but here are some of the results.

Close up of green gold - lots of alfalfa.

To be clear, my haymaking went nothing like the bucolic version from these videos. They must have a lot of practice because not only did my hay patch look like Vikings had hacked it all down. But those folks in the video also made it look a lot easier. My hay was a little long so it was not laying in neat rows - in fact, I had to cut some of it a second time. So it did not go as smoothly as shown in the videos but I probably had more fun then those video people.

The goats get a wheelbarrow load like this and it keeps them busy all day.

Then I was attacked by crazed wildlife. I am not kidding. I had to get the dog to take care of psychotic rabbits charging me and some kind of crazy bird that was dive bombing me. Not to mention the soundtrack from my farm is not sweet birds a-callin'..... for heavens sakes. I could hear the goats screaming at each other, the roosters fighting, and the constant din of the Turkey vs Goose War ("Whoever wins, we lose."). I think those videos were made on some movie lot somewhere.

However, the instructions to hack.. I mean.. whack down the hay, spread it out to dry, flip and flop it over and then flip it into rows, and then turn it all over again..and again... while fluffing with a fork were perfect. Since I had a lot of alfalfa I let it cure for two days. It totally worked.

Goats hit the hay.

By the end of the day yesterday we loaded up all our hard won hay on tarps and drug it down the drive, thru the gate, and into the garage. That tarp thing was the best hay hack ever. It worked like a charm. To my surprise the hay did not tumble off the tarp - it stayed neatly stacked as we walked along. Then we could use the tarp to kind of lift up the hay to stack it.

Of course I had a lot of ideas about what to do with the hay once we got it taken up.... but no real plan. Rain was coming on last nite and we were exhausted so we made an up off the ground, makeshift stack in the garage. I'll solve the problem of a better stack today but for now it worked just fine. Using a rack, like they showed in the videos, allows for better airflow, keeps it in a pile, and encourages curing.

In the end, the hay looked and smelled great and the goats loved it. We got a nice little rain last nite so I'm hoping we are on our way to the Second Cutting several weeks from now.

Was it worth it? Sure! I learned something new, we had good success, and we probably are about even steven as far as costs go (as compared to purchased hay). The drought last year killed hay production around here.  Folks who were able to make hay were not selling it and if they were they were charging ridiculous prices. It's not looking much better this year. Prices have started high and are looking to increase as the summer goes along.

So with our new new fencing project completed and a nice stack of hay in the garage we should be able to keep all these goaties flush this summer.

Happy Thursday everyone! Are you making hay? Is the sun shining?

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Strawberry Snackin' and Hay Makin'

Things are still really hopping around here. I barely have time to stop to eat snacks...but when I do I snack on strawberry shortcake with loads of cream (or yogurt).

I began The Great Hay Harvest of 2013 - Part One- yesterday. I can't type anymore because my arms hurt.  So I'm going to load up on more strawberries and get out there and make hay while the sun is shining - Part Two.  To find out more about the process check out these videos.....

The short version..... (I never did find the Part Two for this one):

The long version - includes geese:

I found a couple things hilarious about both of these... mostly that these must have been done on some kind of movie lot because the soundtrack of my farm does not sound like that at all. It's a constant barrage of critters screaming, dogs barking, and the ongoing "Turkey vs Goose War."  Also - who goes barefootin' on a farm? It goes without saying that I'm not wearing a dress out there either. For heavens sakes.  Plus I'd be yelling at that dog in video #2 to get out of my workspace. I did like the geese tho...

Anyway this is what I'm up to today....after another round of berries.

Happy Tuesday everyone!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Smoked Pork Roast and A Burnt Offering

We had a very busy weekend - tons of things are going on here. Mostly we've been working on more clearing, more planting, some berry picking, and lots of farm animal wrangling.

Salt and pepper and a little maple syrup. That's it.

Despite all the goings on I had time to smoke this fresh pork roast. Technically it is not a ham altho this roast is from the back leg of one of those huge hogs we had over the winter. The difference is that I did not brine or cure the roast first - I just smoked it.

Behold. It is a vision.

I smoked it all day then finished part of it in the oven and part of it went into the crockpot for pulled pork. It's heavenly.The pink smoke ring is about a quarter inch thick.

This is totally how we get 'er done.

We also had an awesome burn pile. But I tell you the truth, you have never seen betrayal until you've seen the sad dog looks you get when you walk past a pack of 100-pounders with a petrified hog hide and then throw that thing into a burnpile. They were veritably screaming at me that I was "ruining" it and if I was gonna throw it away, why didn't I "just give it to them? Momma! Momma! Nooooooo!"

But I was not swayed by their sad eyes and weepy pleas. Whooomp! Into the scorching hot fire it went...and it proceeded to burn all stinkin' day. As for them, The Dog Horde sat at the top of the hill in their yard, with smiling faces, half closed eyes, and tongues lolling out smelling the smokey goodness of my burn offering to porkdom.

To answer your question - I had the hide hung the in garage, mostly scraped of fat, because I thought I might "do" something with it. Like make a hat. However, "The Warden" told me to get rid of my science experiment. In truth I was wondering what would happen to it - it didn't rot or anything. Just got kind of petrified. It was kind of amazing.

Anyway. Tons to tell and I'm hoping to get caught up in the next couple of days. But you know what they say - you gotta make hay while the sun shines and I have a field of home made hay to cut.

Happy Monday everyone! Anyone else crush the hearts of their dogs with an epic burn pile?

Saturday, June 1, 2013


Yep. Summer is definitely here.

I picked these beautiful berries this morning. What a great day! This is from the patch a planted a while ago. The plants are doing terrific despite the fact that I haven't done one thing to take care of them. I'd say that flat of plants was a great purchase.

I'll go out in the little bit and pick the rest of the ripe ones. I have a feeling that there is going to be pie involved today.

Happy Saturday everyone!
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