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

Friday, August 30, 2013

Outside Turkeys

I took some of the turkeys outside yesterday. It totally freaked them out.

Turkey, a little freaked out by all the green stuff.

There was a little bit of panic but I got one group to walk out of the garage, up the hill, and into a whacked-together-pen. After a while they kind of loved it. This was their initial reaction.

So excited..and yeah that's Dog#1 who ran past. He helped.

One of the best things about turkeys is all the pippin'. They make a lot of funny noises.

After their big adventure we herded them out of the pen, back down the hill, and into their inside pens. They did a great job and told all their turkey friends about the most amazing place ever, called Outside. They can't wait to go back. 

This turkey hens says, "Hey Outside is great!"

We've had so much heat this week that the turkeys really need to get outside and into the breezy shade. So today I'll be working on getting the rest of them outside.

Happy Friday everyone - hey did you know it's a holiday weekend? We are celebrating by taking our turkeys outside! How about you?

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Freakin' the turkeys out with milk

The turkeys are growing like bad weeds. That's the good news. The bad news is that we are going to have to hurry up and get them new accommodations sooner than we thought!

New and expanded turkey pens...we need newer and more expanded pens. Now.

Since these pix at the beginning of August the turkeys have probably doubled in size. They seem to be growing at a rate comparable with the grow out chart on the Meyer Poultry site here.  We've expanded the turkey pens since then but they are growing exponentially so we need to get them into their new digs fast. 

We also have to get them out on pasture. It's a tricky thing. At just over two months their immune systems should now be able to handle anything - including the cocci we know we have in our soil. But with these hot and humid conditions we could be taking a chance. So it's a tough call. We think our best bet is to put them out where it has not been intensely grazed... so that means doing more fencing to expand some areas.

Freakin' turkeys out with milk and corn. They lost their minds.

In the meantime we are freakin' the turkeys out with new things. Including milk. Our big plan, once they got to a certain size, was to feed them out on corn and goat milk like we do with our meat chickens. There's just one problem.....

.... turkeys don't like new things. So we are introducing them to new and amazing things like milk and corn. They were totally freaked out. I have a couple groups who are excited about the milk, one group who are just darn good eaters (their feed bucket is always empty), and one stubborn group who don't like anything new at all. They are going to be the tough ones for sure. But they had better get with the program. We could be calling a few of them to dinner as early at the end of September.

That's the story here. Anybody else growing out their turkeys? How are your gobblers?

Happy Wednesday everyone! Now get out there and freak out your turkeys!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Farmer Liz's Truth

Did everyone see Farmer Liz's Truth About Farming post last week?  She has a beautiful picture of what, I think, our city friends think our lives are like.


I've never had that evening.... but it sure seems nice. I like that Farmer Liz did a snap shot of what her day is like. I'd do that too but I've been up since 5:30am and now I need to get out there and rake up the hay I cut yesterday in case it rains.

Assume my day look likes: get up early, work work work, get bitten by every bug and insect out there, get sun scorched, get chased by that mean tom turkey, have the cable guy show up unexpectedly, he didn't get chased by the turkey but he said he felt kinda bad that the chickens were laughing at him while he was working. Me too, friend, me too. Finish the day with canning, dinner, chaos while doing chores, run for the safety of the house and go to bed.

Happy Tuesday everyone!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Exhausted by the activity

Nicholas is exhausted by all the activity lately. He can barely keep up.

He says he just can't peel one more potato.  Come on, Nicholas, time to cowboy up because I'm going out to dig another bucket. I went thru my notes and I remembered where another row is....

So many potatoes...

Someone asked why I'm canning all these spuds instead of just keeping them in the cellar? Mostly because we don't have a cellar - we have a finished basement so it's not a great place to store anything but jars of potatoes.

Also - having them "ready" makes for some super quick suppers. It really is easier to have them ready to go. Last nite we had a quick fry up with some smoked sausage. I had a jar of potatoes that didn't seal so I just drained them and plopped them in the fry pan. Done. So easy.

Happy Monday everyone - we have a hot week on tap and I'm already getting a late start. Are you exhausted by all the activity? We're not done yet folks!

Friday, August 23, 2013


Apparently Nibbles has a death wish. I let the goats out of their yard to graze on the hill. They had the whole hillside and the only place Nibbles wanted to graze was.....

... right by the dog yard. The dog yard full of dogs. Zander and Kai thought Nibbles was amazing. She was totally giving them the finger and saucing all around. Then she ignored those bearkillers entirely. Nibs was being just a little bit to devil-may-care about the whole things. So I called Dog #1....


Let's see that up close...

I love the white showing in her eyes. That's just right, missy. That dog ain't playin' and you know it. She scampered off after that. Oh Nibbles.....

Happy Friday everyone!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Canning Plan and Pressure Canning Replacement Parts

The Great War on Potatoes continues. Yesterday I found another row. I've been digging like mad. About this time you might start to ask yourself, "Why on earth am I doing all of this?" and you'll start to get Harvest Exhaustion.  You know the symptoms - tired feet, dreams of jars plinking, repetitive motion disorders....

Do you need replacement parts for your pressure canner?

Keep fighting the good fight, friends. The reason you are doing this is because all those lovely jars are meals that will be super fast to make later. You'll thank me this winter on a cold snow day when you pop open a can of taters, fry 'em up in a skillet full of lard, and have yourself some potato goodness for breakfast.

My canning plan today is to:
1. Dig more potatoes.
2. Prep and shell the horticulture beans for canning tomorrow.
3. Pick the ripe tomatoes for making sauce tomorrow.

I'd be further ahead of the game if I hadn't found out that I needed a new seal for my pressure canner! Does everyone know that you have to replace these from time to time? My Presto canner instructions say to replace the seal at least every three years. So I was due.

I could tell I needed a new one because there was way too much steam coming from under the lid - and it was dripping! I had just put the lid on so I knew that the pressure hadn't built up yet. So I immediately turned off the heat, let it cool, and then took off the top. Fortunately I have two of these bad boys so I just used the top from the other canner.

But now I'm one canner short of a full stove so I need to wait around for the delivery guy to show up.

Happy Canning everyone! Anybody else pacing around waiting for the UPS guy?  Don't forget to get replacement parts - check out your canner's instruction manual for details. 

Editor's note: What's with the Amazon ad? It's a link to my store. You can buy anything you normally would at Amazon by using any of the links on this page or the black search box on the right hand side. You don't pay one cent more and I get a very small percentage of the sale. Why am I doing this? Gotta keep the lights on, folks. So if this blog has helped you at all please use my Amazon store - or the search box - for your purchase. You can choose any of my recommendations or anything you normally would buy - books, ebooks, movies, Amazon's Instant Video service, or canning supplies.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Sunrise Over the Potato Harvest

No time to talk - more potato digging and canning for me today! I can barely keep up.

But wow what a sunrise!

Happy Wednesday everyone - are you keeping up with the harvest? Canners on full steam?

Monday, August 19, 2013

Red and White Potatoes

It's all potatoes all the time for this next week. The Year of the Potato has been a raging success. Almost too successful. Soooo many potatoes....

This morning I had to wait for it to get light enough out to go and dig another row. I found red pontiacs and irish cobblers. Later I'll be making red, white, and blue(cheese) potato salad....and apparently, potatoes for every meal for the next year. 

I thought I had just two more rows of potatoes... but I realized it's more like 5. That's a lot of spuds. I'd better get moving. (Good thing I have Pam's potato book!)

Happy Monday everyone! Did you have a slowly breaking dawn over your bucket of spuds?

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Buckets of things.

Today's happy snaps are buckets of things.....

Like this bucket of ducks - sold for just ten bucks to a nice gal and her kids. Originally I was texting the unknown buyer who said they would show up to the meeting place in a "purple Camaro." I couldn't wait. I meet a lot of interesting while selling livestock on Craigslist - I figured a Burt Renyolds wannabe would show up in a bitchin' Camaro with a boss paint job. Nope. Just a regular gal. Her kids were thrilled and I escaped the scowling eye of The Big Man who doesn't think we need one more piece of waterfowl.

And these tomatoes - what a lovely bucket of maters! Are you making salsa yet? I'll be starting this week and I can't wait. But this time I'll make sure to take special precautions so we don't have a repeat of last year's emergency.

Finally this little guy. I found him in one of my buckets hiding under some leaves. I'm not afraid of snakes, but I don't like them touching me. Even tho this little guy just eats worms and stuff, frankly, we can't have that kind of foolishness around here. I need my worms. It is also a fact that a lot of these little worm eating snakes end up in the basement. Gato Diablo takes care of them and I find their shattered bodies.

Initially I just showed the snake to the dogs. Dog#1 just looked at me, Zander just looked at the bucket - but Kai was astounded. Normally we just find garter snakes out in the yard. I'll tell the dogs "look at this stick!" - then it moves. All four paws off the ground. Drills like this keep the dogs on their toes and provide hilarity for me.

I couldn't just let this worm destroyer go about his terrible work. So I looked around for an assassin. Our King of Barncats, Shine, couldn't be bothered and just rolled over where he was asleep in the sun. What I needed was a stone cold killer.


My war chickens, The Hennin, came running. It looked, for a second, that the little snake might actually get away. But Raspberry, my beautiful french hen, saw him. She pounced and ran. The rest of the Hennin ran after her. Eventually there was a tug of war and it ended badly for the sneaky snake.

Do chickens eat snakes? You bet they do. They eat all sorts of gross things. If I gave you the list you'd probably puke in your cherrios. What do you do if your chickens eat something disgusting? Nothing. They are carnivores and will eat anything that moves - or doesn't.

I'm about to head out - no telling what will be filling my buckets today. What about you - what's in your buckets?

Happy Sunday everyone!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Country Driving

We had to drive into the nearest big city the other day. As you know, I don't particularly like driving. Being a passenger is almost even worse.

After about an hour I was slumped in the seat listlessly asking "Are we there yet?"

We weren't.

But I did get to see the sunrise over lot of rolling fields. It was really beautiful. The fog lifted as we drove along.

After we did our appointed tasks I was free to see the big city. Mostly I wanted to check out the North Market so I drove right over. And it wasn't opened yet. It's still a shock to me that people don't get up in the morning. I stood there forelornly looking at the "closed" sign.

But I made the best of it and went and looked at extremely expensive groceries. But I found some great finds and was very warmly greeted by the folks who worked there. After, that is, they recoiled in horror at my huge work truck taking up most of their parking lot.

The smart/mini car drivers were also deeply offended. I dared them to hit me with their roller scooters as they were busy screaming insults because I was driving too slow. Provided, however, they could get up to ramming speed either they'd just get stuck under my heavy duty suspension or they'd be left in a crumpled heap. I know this because it's happened before. The only thing I felt was compassion for that poor gal - I barely felt the bump as she plowed under me. But this day I mostly got mean looks. I just smiled and waved.

Back at the North Market I got a perfect cappuccino. I like to terrorize baristas by using standard Starbucks ordering vernacular at boutique shops. It makes them insane. She finally got frustrated and told me she only has one size and it was not a "tall."

"I'll take it!" I said and then she made the best coffee drink I've had since I moved out here. So it ended well. It was, however, an 12 ounce cup. That's a tall. I can't wait for Peet's to open so I can do that all day.

Finally I turned my air craft carrier sized truck around and headed back home. I came. I saw. I farmed up the place.

Happy Friday everyone! Anyone else driving into town?

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Potatoes! Potatoes! Read all about it!

Hey look how great this is! My friend Pam Ritter over at Pam's Pride Recommendations wrote an ebook about canning potatoes and how to use them!

This newly released book is just great - I wish I had it for my canning tools post because it's a perfect how to get started reference. And I learned things too! Canning potatoes is fun, easy, and makes for some fast suppers. We have a lot of potatoes to harvest so when Pam let me know about her new ebook, I ran right over to the Kindle and bought it.

Pam is a work at home mom of six kids so she really knows how to be organized, frugal, and sensible. But the thing I like most about her is that even tho she has her hands full she always had time for a supportive word.  I appreciate that so much - what a wonderful gal!

For just $2.99 Canned Potatoes and Recipes is a great bargain. Not only is it full of easy and fun recipes - there is a whole "bonus" section. I learned a lot and now I have tons of ideas for all these taters. Her no-nonsense tips and recipe ideas are great for a busy family. And what great ideas! The best thing that I learned was to....

Ahh.... nope. I'm not telling - you've gotta check out the ebook yourself.

Pam, thanks so much for this great potato book! Now I need to run right out and start digging some of these taters. I can't wait to try out some of these recipes!

To learn more about Pam, check out her website here where she has tons of recommended ebooks, or her facebook page. You can purchase Canned Potatoes and Recipes at Amazon by either clicking on any of the links on this post or from Pam's website here.

Happy Thursday everyone! Are you digging potatoes? Are you canning them?

Editors note: Is this paid endorsement? No - are you kidding? I bought it myself and besides I'm just not that cheap. However, if you purchase the ebook from the links to Amazon I'll get a tiny percentage of the sale which supports this blog and it won't cost you anything more. Why did I do this review? Because  I know Pam and think she is terrific and so is her ebook. You should check out all the great ebooks she promotes....and then get some.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Dinner. First.

I say no more on this....

Other than the mean ones are always the best.

Happy Wednesday everyone! Anybody else having chicken for dinner?

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Canning Tools

Is everyone ready to kick their canning into high gear? I love canning season - it's a lot of work, it gets hot in the kitchen, but wow what a great feeling of accomplishment! Plus you get a lot of freshly processed, home cooked goodness - that's my kind of fast food.

But where do you start? With the right tools! Here's a list of my favorites.

First you need the best resource out there and here it is....Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving. Technically I have the 2010 version but I could only find it used on Amazon. Everything you need to know is in this book - recipes, step by step instructions, and all kinds of handy hints. The best thing is that this provides all kinds of preserving techniques - freezing, dehydration, water bath, and pressure canning. It's a great place to start.

There are two kinds of canning - water bath canning and pressure canning. You use one or the other depending on what you are canning. Remember - there are no short cuts! You must use the correct method. Don't be this guy. Sometimes folks will try and use "well my Grandma did it this way" methods and really - why take a chance? Just get all the facts and don't try and jazz things up.

So you either need a the biggest kettle you can find or a pressure canner. The great thing about a pressure canner is that you can use it for either method - with the lid on (and following the directions) or with the lid off as just a big pot for the water bath method. I love my Presto 01781 23-Quart Pressure Canner and Cooker so much that I have TWO!

Amazon has a great deal on this big pressure canner - with free shipping it's the best deal I found.Why two? Because sometimes you get into a canning frenzy and you just can't slow down. The last step in pressure canning is allowing the canner to cool down. But if I still have a half a cauldron of salsa or stock on the stove I don't want to have to wait until the next day to finish it. Having a second canner at the ready ensures can I finish what I've started. Plus, having two of everything is awesome.

Next you need a few doodads to make it easier. I really like having a jar grabber like this one, Norpro 600 Jar Lifter. A funnel is a must - I have a stainless one like this, Norpro Stainless Steel Wide-Mouth Funnel And I can't get enough of these stainless ladles - I have them in several sizes, 8 Oz Ladle Stainless Steel *Professional Quality*.

It might seem like a lot to get started but once you get up and running you'll be amazed at how much money you can save by canning your own. Sure that can of beans is only $1 on sale a the store... but that bag of dried beans is also a buck and you can get at least 6 or 7 pints easily. Tomatoes? Heck if you grow your own from seeds the cost is barely there. Spread this out over a season or so and you've paid for your tools. Not convinced? Go and stand in front of the fancy canned tomato sauces at the store. I've seen them as high as $7 a jar - those are the ones with out high fructose corn syrup.

There is always some wisenheimer who wants to rain on everyone's canning day saying there is no way that home canning is cheaper than buying stuff a the store. They'll break out their chart of electric costs, labor per hour, and smugly rattle off platitudes like "there's no such thing as a free lunch." Well. Then. That's fine - then go buy it at the store.

But you may not be able to trust a bag of salad these days, and who knows what the story is on BPA, and don't forget all that gas you're using to drive on down the the FoodMart.... nope. Pretty sure my high quality, freshly processed canned goods are a better bargain.

Are you ready to get canning? Yes you can!

Editor's note: So what's the deal with the links to Amazon? Check it out - I have an Amazon store for my blog!  Anything you buy from Amazon from these links gets me a tiny percentage of the sale. It doesn't cost you one cent more but it helps me with the "cost" of this blog. If you like this blog, or if I've helped you at all in your farming efforts, just make a purchase from Amazon from one of the links, my store, or the black Amazon search box on the right side of this page. It can be anything - one of my recommendations, books, movies, or whatever. Every little bit helps. Thanks!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Home Butchering: Who's First?

Yesterday we had a glorious chicken harvest. We left two of the creepy meats to grow out to gargantuan size but sent the rest to their glory. Today after church we'll be having chicken dinner and I'm thrilled.

This is a pretty farmy discussion so if you are freaked out, just look at Little Mo.

One thing some new-to-home-butchering folks stress out about is how to decide which of their flock is going to be "first." Along from the typical "first time butchering jitters" this is a pretty common question. So let's talk about it.

For us, it's easy.  As we say around here, "When you start to crow, you got to go!" Roosters are always first. They tend to grow faster and bigger. And sometimes they deserve it. There is always at least one rooster who matures early and turns mean. This batch was no exception. He was immediately named "First" and when butcher day rolls around - he was.

Or Teddi, who could be upset looking at Teddi Grumpkins?

Even tho our latest round of on-sale-extra-cheap creepy meats were supposed to be all hens we ended up with one roo. He was terrible. He flogged me, such as it was, if you could call it that. He waddled right on over and hurled his rolly polly creepy meat carcass right at me. Mostly just he proved that large, heavy bodied, white chickens can't jump so mostly he took out his rage on my sneakers. But he got my hands pretty good a couple times.  We had no problem pulling him out of the pen first.

After we took care of First then we had to turn to a pen full of other volunteers. Our strategy for choosing who's Next after First is.. who is biggest? We start with the largest and just work our way down to the smallest.

This relieves some of the tension and we don't need to have a discussion about "well, Clucky over there sure is cute... but she's looking mighty tasty... and Pecky over here looks about right...." Not only do we not name our meat chickens, but this really isn't an effective strategy. If you are already stressed out about your chicken harvest than having this kind of personal attachment is probably going to make it worse. We generally just refer to the flock of meats "those guys." They are The Entity That Is Creepy Meat. None are singled out, except for First, and we leave it at that.

Also, going from biggest to smallest helps because once you've reached the tipping point where the meat chickens are ready for action.... you want to make sure you get them processed before they start flopping over dead. The two meats that we left were the smallest of the bunch. By having the biggest go first and we hedged our bets that if we got tired half way thru our day and had to stop processing we wouldn't have any creepy-meat-heart-attack victims. Or any of this grossness.

How does this work for the pigs? About the same. Usually there is one that steps forward and that is our volunteer. Whoever gets out of the main pen and into the shooting area has volunteered and there you have it.

As we get closer to Turkey Time we will have a rolling harvest of processing a few turkeys at a time. However, we have our eye on a few of the toms (actually at this point they are jakes). One will be left to grow out to supersize and we'll just pick the next largest as our first volunteer. Unless we end up with one named First. Then he will be.

And that is how we get 'er done around here. What about you? How do you decide who is First?

Happy Sunday everyone! Now if you will excuse me I've got to go and get some chicken soaking in buttermilk for our supper.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Creepy Meat Loss

There is nothing more infuriating then losing livestock - especially just before they are schedule to go to the great barbeque in the sky.

Fair warning... you might want to put down that bagel or eggomuffin... this is going to be gross. No pictures but your imagination will be more than enough.... I said I'd only tell you the Truth About Farming and it's not always about roses and ducklings..... I'm not kidding. Turn back now....here, you can look at Little Mo instead... he's the cutest cat I've ever seen. Last chance...You know I'm not kidding.

OK. Here we go then. Yesterday I went out to do chores. Admittedly I was not in a huge hurry to get outside. So I meandered out to open the door for the meat chickens. I was then confronted with the horror of varmint villainy. Two of our meat chickens were grievously wounded.

There is no easy way to say this, friend, them meats had been chewed on. As in, pretty much they had been partially eaten. Alive. Their rear quarter panels were open down to the flesh.

Did you puke? I nearly did.

Normally I don't like to touch the meat chickens - they are gross and decidedly not chicken-like. But I had to get those two up and separated from the herd.  It was disgusting. I didn't even have gloves.

Despite their wounds they were still upright alright but they were panicked. I got ahold of them, put them in a separate pen, and called my husband. He agreed to come home as soon as he could. Unfortunately it would be a couple hours.  I thought they might flop over dead on their own.

So my day changed immediately. We needed to take action. Our original plan was to butcher the meats on Saturday and we had just rearranged our schedule so we could get that job done. Three days. Three stinkin' days and this would never have happened.

And. It was entirely my fault. The burden of responsibility hangs heavy on a shepherd or flockkeeper. The truth is that the night before the motion sensor light turned on. I peeped my eyes open just in time to see it go off and I listened but didn't hear anything suspicious. So I foolishly went back to sleep. I should have hauled my lazy carcass out of bed, got the dog, and went to see what was going on...... but I deliriously rationalized away this correct call to action. Don't do that, friends. Just get up.


So what got them? You know that we've been dealing with that slinky mink. But I don't think that weaselly bastard was the culprit - a mink/weasel/whatnot would have just eaten off their heads. A raccoon probably would have tried to drag them off or at least had the decency to kill them. Possum? Maybe. Skunk - don't think so.. which leaves... rats. I do hate me them rats. And them must be big ones too.

Public Enemy #1 lives in the woods and they come on in for some easy pickin's. Then they end up staying. We've been fighting them all summer. At this point you could say we are losing.

The reason I didn't hear anything is that most poultry don't panic at night. Taking chickens off their roost at night is like shooting fish in a barrel. Turkeys can't see in the dark and you remember when something pulled that guinea clean off his high roost - and not even a sound. During the day, sure, all you hear is your flocks making all kinda noise but not at night. Some folks will put baby monitors in their coops and will hear ne'erdowelling that way. We might have to resort to this until we can get them rat bastards.

Either way we needed to move the meat chickens out of the turkey house pronto. It was clear they were sitting ducks where they were. I was supposed to work on getting new turkey pens set up yesterday - and I was going to go about it at a slow pace. Not so after this grim find. I shifted into high gear.

The good news is that we are getting our money's worth out of the garbage guys today and we'll have a burn pile the likes of which this county will be talking about for years. And I found the floor of the garage too! After shoveling everything out  I was able to make some space. A quick trip down to the feed store for a hog panel (cut in half) and voila! We were ready for action.

By this time The Big Man got home and we got to work.

We quickly disassembled the two turkey pens and re-assembled a new configuration so that we now have 4 pens. After a short taste of freedom we rounded up the turkeys and installed them, 7 each, into 3 pens and then hauled the meats over and put them into the 4th pen.

Our garage is now a meat mecca. So many creepy meat birds in one place. Oh the stink.

The barncats did not like this at all. My lame duck and equally lame older hen who live in the garage, safely away from eager roos and love-struck ducks, thought it was mildly interesting.... as long as they still got their special eats they didn't much care one way or another about their big lumbering, meat like neighbors.

To my surprise the injured meats lived thru the day but were quickly dispatched. There was no way to try and save any of the carcasses. They were just too gross and the risk of some kind of infection was way too high. We didn't even try and save them for dog food. We were just too grossed out.

Today we'll be hunting rats. Kai is eager for battle. Last night I took her on her Bunny Hunt in the Goat Yard. She immediately scented her enemy, poised, and then struck like lightening. She threw down the ruined carcass of a mole, a big creepy one, at me feet. We hailed her victory and she received many accolades - and some special meat. Those rats won't stand a chance.

That's the story here. Any body else miss a full harvest by just days?

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Young Turks Meet the Bucket

Turkeys are not overly stupid. We've found they just don't like new things. Yesterday I introduced them to a water bucket. It blew their minds.

 The bucket was almost too much for them.

We don't let young poultry use an open bucket like this until they are big enough to stand up in it. A bucket of water is the most dangerous thing in the barnyard to little creatures. They must have known since they eyed the bucket with suspicion.

No one was brave enough to belly up to the bucket and get a drink. There were a lot of pips and odd looks... then they shoved someone forward and he got the first drink. The rest of the herd followed. They loved the bucket for the rest of the day.

That one is saying, "What are you kidding me? What is THAT?" Turkey = Mind blown.

Then I really spun their little turkey world on its axis.... I gave them some sunflowers. It was met with surprised resistance. Eventually they started pecking at the flowers. Then they all got exhausted from the new things and so everyone took a nap. Pretty much that's all the excitement turkeys can take for a day.

My big surprise was that they seemingly doubled in size overnight. So I spent the rest of the day shoveling out the garage so I can expand their pens.

Happy Wednesday everyone! Did your turkeys double in size?

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Summer Winners and Losers

Can you believe it's August? Gosh it seems this summer has moved really fast. We all kind of feel like summer left early because of the cooler weather. Even the newsfolks were complaining about it.

I'm not complaining at all. I can get so much done if I don't have to give up before noon and come in because of 90*-100* days. Plus it's easier on the livestock if we all aren't heat stroked.

Now that we are about two months away from our first frost we really have passed the point where it makes sense to start anymore summer projects. This is kind of a sad realization because I'm not a huge fan of being stuck inside during the winter. So instead of hopefully looking forward to getting things started... it's time to start closing things down.

We've had some huge successes, tho, so far this summer.

1. My home made hay project. Totally an A+. We haven't had to buy on bale of hay all summer. The hay has worked out perfectly, has lasted this whole time, and it cured beautifully. We'll have enough to keep up for the rest of the season but we will not have enough to overwinter. So we are planning on stocking up on 2nd cutting hay soon.

2. The wood chips. This free windfall has truly been a blessing. I had a bunch of haters try and tell me that all my plants would die because I didn't let the chips age. My plants are fine. None of them flopped over and it's been a blessing to have the weeds suppressed. The only down side is that I have to haul them down the drive and up into the Upper Garden one trolly-load at a time. I'll give it a strong A, but not a " + " because of the one load at a time thing.

3. The goat's new free range area. Totally has worked. Once those girls figured out they can walk themselves down to the new fenced in area  - and not need me to stand there and hold their hands - it's totally worked. The goats are making progress mowing down all the bramble and they couldn't look better. Debbie, who was so poorly last winter, looks beautiful - really the best she's looked in a couple years. Nibbles looks like a fat and happy seal. A+

1. The garden. It's been OK but not great. I've had to spend so much time on clearing that the garden has just done "meh." Plus the cooler weather isn't really that great for growing. The best thing about this region is that hot swampy weather that grows summer food like gangbusters.

2. The peach tree. *Sigh* It will be great next year but the amount of toppling over has been tragic. Next year, little tree, next year you will be a superstar.

3. The chickens. While the meat chickens have done great, the flock of laying hens has been a bit mismanaged. We found a lot of "hidden" nests which is only a big disaster. And it seems like there has been some attrition. I haven't found any bodies but I think we are missing a few hennies. We haven't had a successful hatch either so we don't have new layers coming up in the ranks. Truthfully we need to "clean house" and send some of the older hens to their Great Retirement in the sky. But the chickens are the best part of my day so if the only thing they do is greet me with happy clucking every morning then that is OK.

That's the update so far this summer. How are you doing? What are your winners and losers?

Happy Tuesday everyone! No get out there and enjoy the cooler weather!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Auction Action

Do you go to the auction? You should!  Around here there are auctions for just about everything - estates, farm equipment, the weekly "junk" auction, and best of all... the farm auctions.

I have to drive a bit to get to the bigger auctions but it's so much fun to go that it's totally worth it. The first couple of times I went I had no idea what I was doing and was really nervous.  Generally I talk with my hands so I was afraid I'd end up buying something without meaning to - and I know people who've done this! 

But really the worst thing that's ever happened was that when I bought our guineas I unknowingly was bidding against the guy who brought them. He was trying to run the price up - but heck I would have paid more for them if he would have just put them on Craigslist.

So what do you do at the auction? Well, if you are nervous just go and check it out. Put your hands in your pockets and stand the in back and watch what happens. What you'll find is a lot of people having fun and lots of great deals.

When you are ready to get in the game, go over to the office or check in table and get a number. You'll have to give ID and then they'll hand you a piece of paper (usually) with a number so they can keep track of your purchases. That number can sometimes be used over and over. I have the same one from last year. Some folks get all fancy and will make paddles with their numbers clearly printed on them, or you'll see some of the old timers put their numbers in their shirt pocket so it looks like a name badge. I just keep mine in my checkbook and hold it in my hand when I'm bidding.

Usually you can walk around before the sale and check out the goods. Many times items will be sold in "lots" or groups of items from the same seller. Or they will be grouped by type of item.

Then go and stand where you can see - and the auctioneer can see you. Sometimes you can find a place to sit down or even bring your own chair. When the items come up the auctioneer will start the bidding based on the previous sale prices or even his best guess. And yeah - they do the fast talkin' thing which I think is really fun. However sometimes it's hard to keep up.

When you want to bid just raise your hand - and look at the auctioneer so he can see you aren't just talking with your hands. Watch the other folks and their styles - some of them are really fun. Sometimes it's just a nod or some folks use a complicated series of hand gestures. If the auctioneer doesn't see you then you can waive your hand a little more or even yell out "here!"

Sometimes the auctioneer has a helper and that helper will keep the excitement going and randomly yell out "hey!" or "here we go!" - that's how I get suckered in.

If the price gets out of your comfort zone then just stop raising your hand. You can also kind of shake your head if the auctioneer looks at you to see if you are continuing. Some folks make other hands signals like a movie director will motion "cut" to indicated they are done bidding and the price is too high.

The price is determined by the last person willing to pay the "called" price. The auctioneer will say "SOLD! To bidder number 457" and sometimes will ask "How many do you want?" Sometimes you can buy for instance, 4 of something in that lot. Or just one. Sometimes before they start the auctioneer will say "You have to take at least 2" so be careful - even if you want one basket of green beans to you need to make sure they are selling them individually. Or if there are 6 baskets of beans in that lot you can take all six!

At that point if there are still more of the item that was just sold the auctioneer will ask the "back up bidder" - that's the person who lost out on that last price - if they want to take that sale price for the remaining items. So if I got 3 baskets of green beans for $10 each and your last price was $9.50 the auctioneer will ask you as the "back up bidder" if you want the last 2 baskets of green beans for the winning price of $10. You can say yes if you want them.

Or you can say no and try your luck with the next lot of beans.

Some people go right up and pick out their purchased items but a lot of times the items are taken to a holding area where you can collect them later. You will have to go and pay for your items, get a receipt, and then away you go with your beans, or pie, or roosters.  It's a lot of fun.

The great thing about the auction is that you never know what you'll find - or what the prices will be. These things are determined by what the sellers bring and who else wants those things. So if everyone wants beans and not very many sellers brought them the prices will be high. If there are 40 baskets of beans and it's near the end of the season - well you might just find yourself a deal!

What kind of things are for sale? Almost anything... livestock, hay, straw, firewood, baked goods, produce, crafts, maple syrup, grains.. you name it.

Can you bring things to sell? Sure! Check with the sale manager. Sometimes they have rules about what you can and cannot bring. There are also rules about how items are packaged. Usually you'll have to sign some kind of sales ticket/contract that states that the auction will sell the items and you get the sale price as it's called. Sometimes you might need to have insurance or a license to sell items. For instance in my state you only sell certain canned goods without a license. Baked goods can be sold but they need to be labeled in a certain way. Some livestock need specific tags. So be sure you know what is required. The items will be sold and depending on the sale price you might get a credit to the auction, cash, or a check sent to you the next week. The auction takes a percentage of the sale price.

Where do you find a local auction? Check out craigslist, the local/state agriculture paper (we have The Farm and Dairy), or check with your feedstore. Some auctions have good websites where you can find the sale results.

So what do you think, are you ready for some auction action? Sold! Now run right out and give it a go - you never know what you might find!

Happy Monday everyone!

Sunday, August 4, 2013


I scored a peck basket of these beautiful baby eggplants. I think the variety is called Fairy Tale. Aren't they lovely?

Beautiful baby eggplants!

Some were used for a marinated eggplant dish the other night. Today we'll be having some in a stir fry. I'm also going to try my pal D's Turkish Eggplant Salad. I also snagged some cucumbers. I wanted some of the small pickling ones - but they only had large and medium sized.

Got some onions also!

But that's OK. We've been on a Greek-style food kick lately so eggplant and cukes are perfect. Along with my home grown garlic we made a stunning tzatziki sauce. Add a home made hummus and yogurt marinated pork kabobs and Oppa! What a meal!

I love buying local produce. And when I say local I mean I know exactly which Amish neighbor I'm buying from. I can't grow a big onion, a decent cuke, or for that matter an eggplant in my bad soil.... but I can sure reap the benefits of my neighbor's labor. I feel good about handing over my folding money knowing that I'm helping a local family sustain their way of life... and that this produce was not shipped from halfway across the world.

Happy Sunday everyone! Are you buying local? Anyone got any other eggplant recipes?

Friday, August 2, 2013

"Let Her Win!"

Is everyone getting tired? Yep. Me too. About this time of year the fast pace from early summer just doesn't slow down.

My Good Shepherd, lightens my work load. 

Harvest, canning, fall planting, trying to get everything lined up for the fall....  right about now  you're starting to think a day job that involves sitting in air conditioning may not be that bad. But keep on keepin' on, folks! The hard truth is that you'll never get everything done - so just keep working on what you can get done.

Which leads us to our story today... So yesterday I had some branches and stuff for the goats. But when I got to the goat yard... not enough goats. It was just Debbie and the babies standing there.

"Nibbles!" I yelled. Nothing. "NIBBLES!"  Still nothing.

The only downside of the new goat yard is that I can't see them which makes me a little nervous - especially if they don't show up when I call them.

"Sir!" I ordered. My Good Shepherd snapped to attention and trotted over to me as I as opening the gate to the goat yard.

"Where's the nannies?" I asked Dog#1.

About now the "real" goat aficionados are cringing at my use of "nanny" but you know, we needed to have a specific, easily recognizable name as part of my dog commands. "Those stupid girls" is too much to say so we use "nannies" to indicated to the dogs which barnyard creature I'm talking about.

Immediately Dog#1 looked up at Debbie and the babies, Darla and Daisy as if to say "They are right there." He looked puzzled.

"No, the other nannies" I said and Dog#1 turned and trotted away down the hill.

I was way to tired to walk all the way down the hill and across the yard into the bramble so My Good Shepherd was the right man for the job. I called the commands to him from where I stood. "Find them! Find the nannies." He moved ahead in his lovely, low slung, working dog trot. He's a vision when he hits that stride.

A minute later I heard crashing and hoof beats and Nibbles streaked out of the brambles as fast as her little legs could carry her. Dog#1 was hot on her heels and closing fast..

"No!" I called to him "Let her win!"

Immediately My Good Shepherd slowed his pace, grinning wolfishly at me, and Nibbles pulled ahead. I could practically hear her yell "Ha! Take THAT, Dog!" as she ran by me. I think she actually believes she is winning - it's good for her self esteem.

But me and My Good Shepherd - we know he's the real winner. Good dog, Sir, that's the way. 

For her part Dahli, as always, was just ridiculous. She was running too but ended up running behind Dog#1! So I made a clicking sound to get his attention and told Dog#1 to "go around and get her too." He peeled off , made a short loop to allow her to pass by, and got behind Dahli to scoot her along. "That's it!" I called when she was mostly up the hill. Dog#1 ended his pursuit and trotted to me. I couldn't ask for a better helper.

Happy Friday everyone!  I use my hard workin' farm dogs to help ease the burden of all this labor, friends. How are you lightening your load? 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Thursday Summer Scenes

This week has flown by - I can't believe it's Thursday already. Our unusually cool weather is going to continue for the next week and I'm loving it. We got a bit of rain but that is just helping with all the fall planting I've been doing.

These peaches became a beautiful crisp. 

I'll be trimming off the broken branches as the fruit comes off those poor little tumbled down peach trees. If you can believe it we had another tree flop over! We brought a little tree over from the old farm and planted it out by the road. It hasn't really done much this whole time but this year has taken off. The other day I was admiring how well it was doing - later that day I walked back out and the whole top half had fallen over. For heavens sakes. Next year I'm going to be ruthlessly pruning those fruit trees.

I love this shot of a tomato blossom with my tall sunflowers in the back and also a few apples hanging around. This is the first year for this apple tree and it is loaded!  What a great year for fruit!

The only problem with these cooler temperatures is that it seems that the tomatoes sure are taking their time to ripen. Maybe I'm just anxious to be over run by tomatoes.

But the dahlias love this weather. They don't seem to be a very popular plant in this part of the country but I just love them. This rose and white dahlia is just lovely.

Everyone needs more radishes.

Today will be more about cleaning and weeding and fall planting. I'm hoping to resurrect my Broccoli Empire. Some of the plants seem to be getting a second wind and are growing again. We'll see what happens.

Happy Thursday everyone! Are you doing cleaning and weeding and fall planting?

(Hey check out the Rurality Blog Hop! How fun is this?)
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