Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Open Farm Day Images

Y'all are just the very best! I asked you to come to my rescue with images captured from your day at the homestead and you did! Thank you so much for your kindness and generosity in sharing them with us. It was hard to choose my favorites, but Sean and I finally narrowed it down to these... We hope you enjoy this peek at our homestead through the eyes of some of our guests.

Feeding the chickens and checking for eggs was
a big hit with our new friends. 

One of the necessary jobs in keeping goats,
is the routine trimming of their hooves. The goats don't
mind a bit- so long as there is grain available to munch.
Goat horns are actually attached to their skull and perform
an important role in maintaining their temperature and as a
protection from predators. 

"By My Beard!" Jedi has the nicest beard of all the bucks. 


Delilah is a "people" goat. She loves them and considers them a good addition to her herd.

There is never an end to the repairs that are needed. All the goats have taken to using the chicken fencing as very convenient back scratching equipment. Sean is forever reattaching wire. 

Even our smallest guests enjoyed watching (and chasing) the
goats and their kids browsing in the back yard. 
Our newly erected goat playing apparatus was a huge success with the goat does
whether they enjoyed the shade afforded under it or romped about on top.

There is no such thing as "no room" to playing goats!

Zoey and the other farm cats enjoy their taste of goat's milk each day.
Nothing goes to waste on the farm. 

Jasmine enjoyed the day on the front lawn helping us to curb the grasses that
had grown too tall to tackle with my push mower. She did a fine job of making
it much more manageable!

Curious Amos was interested in exploring everything in the back yard- including the compost pile and extra fencing elements. I suspect he is working on a plan to assist with his escapes in days to come.
While we are working on getting a proper pond dug this year, our geese and ducks enjoy a
splash around in the wading pool. 

We hope you enjoyed your peek into our Open Homestead Day. We are hoping our Emu chicks will be hatched this fall in September. Once they have settled, we'll be hosting another day for you to come and visit with us.

Thanks for stopping in tonight, friends. We're sure glad you did.
Sean and Sonja ♥

PS: Remember, if I used one or more of your images, we'd like to say thank you with a little something from us. Be sure to comment on this post how I can contact you if you are interested in receiving your something special. :)





Sunday, June 15, 2014

Open Homestead Day

Our first barn swallows have moved in!
The first day of summer seems like an appropriate time to open our home and homestead to those of you who would like to visit us. It honestly doesn't feel like summer yet in spite of the days creeping into the 80's and the black flies fit to carry you off.

I think I feel that way because this last winter was so hard for so many, us included. The weather did not break until later than usual, which sets everything else back just a bit. But, with the lengthening of the days, our land is slowly awakening. And, we have been able to check off a few things from this year's "to do" list. In the past couple weeks, the garden beds we built last year were weeded, fertilized, and made ready for planting. We picked up the garden plants from Cameron which he diligently nurtured for us. New fencing was installed for the dog yard. New fencing was installed for the new main chicken coop yard. New fencing was built for our 2 small chicken tractors in the back yard and the appropriate groups of chickens were moved to reside within. The turkey coop yards were both expanded with, you guessed it, new fencing. Chain link fencing was installed to help keep the goats from straying onto our neighbor's yard. The burn pile collected from debris over the winter was fired. And, the bones of my working studio have begun to emerge.

Herb Garden in containers are easy!
We have a lot more to do before you fine folks come to visit us. Our mudroom and farm entrance needs a thorough cleaning and organizing. The stalls need their weekly clean out. The main coop needs to finish being sided. I would love to get the ducks moved to where the lawn floods and our pond will eventually live. The  rest of the lawn could use a taming ( I have started that, but it is slow going.) and a solid go at weeding. The compost bins need repair. There are pies and drinks to prepare. Assistants to conscript. And, plans to be made to make the day an interesting one for you and a productive one for us.

Aquila, our red-breasted bronze tom.
You see, the homestead never stops. So, while we will thoroughly enjoy sharing our lives with you all for the day, answering your questions, introducing you to our animal friends, and demonstrating soap making, cheese making and some animal husbandry, it is also a day to work for those of us who live here. While I would love to have a farm that would gleam as if Martha Stewart herself waved her magic wand, in the real world, you should expect to wear old clothes and some boots. Please, come and visit us for the day. We'll be open for company on JUNE 21, 2014 from 9 am until 3 pm.

Rough and Very Bendable Timing of Events:

9 am Milking Demonstration. Sean will hand milk our four does. If you want to see how it is done or try your hand at it yourself, this is the time to come!

10 am Morning Feeding Time. Since the critters are normally fed hours earlier, they will think we have forgotten them for good and act like they have never eaten before. If you want to help out with feeding or watering chores for any of the animals, now is the time to be here.
Judah

11 am Hoof Trimming Demonstration. Sean will show interested ones how to properly trim goat hooves. This is a necessary part of goat husbandry and a skill every goat keeper should have. We'll also be checking eyelid color and worming any goats that are in need of it.

Cheese Making Demonstration. Sonja will demonstrate how we make chevre and  feta cheeses. Sample some here and take a small cheese sample home with you for later.

1 pm Soap Making Demonstration. Sonja will whip up three batches of Lally Broch Farm Soap and walk you through how it is done. Take a sample home for your family to enjoy. Folks who are interested in making their own soaps can sign up for a one-on-one walk through in your kitchen. We'll provide the materials you need to create three different soap scents of your choice. These personal classes cost $60 and last one and a half  to two hours in duration. You will keep six, 5 oz bars of soap from the class (two of each scent you create.) A recipe with materials list is included in the personal class for you to keep, too.

2 pm Home~Made Ice Cream. Join Sean in the kitchen as he uses our ice cream maker to whip up some fresh ice cream for you to sample. We'll make ice cream with a few simple ingredients: fresh goat's milk, sugar, vanilla, (and when applicable, berries). You can taste a sample Raspberry, Strawberry, or Vanilla flavors. All I have to add to this is YUM.

Self~Paced Activities:
* Visit with the animals who live here including heritage turkeys, chickens, ducks, geese, guineas, bunnies, goats and their kids, our Vietnamese Potbelly Pig, and our retired horse, Jasmine.

* Visit our Open Studio. We'll have ready soaps, scents, reusable food storage wraps, and original mosaic eggshell jewelry to browse, touch and smell. Perhaps, you'll want to pick up something special for yourself or as a gift.

* Satisfy your sweet tooth with a slice of homemade pie, a bag of popped corn, goat's milk fudge, or other yummy treat at the bake sale table.



We are eager to meet you all and share part of our day with you. At the beginning of our 2nd year, there is still so much to do before this homestead becomes the farm Sean and I are dreaming of, but this is a celebration of where we are and what will be accomplished this year.

Directions to Lally Broch Farm 

We strongly recommend rubber boots and "play" clothes for your visit. This is a homestead with farm animals. As cute as farm animals are, animals poop... a lot... unexpectedly. Spring and early summer mean babies around the farm. Some of our birds are sitting on nests and should not be disturbed. Please, obey posted signs. Also, though we anticipate your visit will be full of great memories for you, farming and homesteads carry inherent risk. Animals, even "friendly" ones can injure people and carry germs. By visiting our homestead, you are assuming those risks 100% for yourself and those you bring with you. 

For more information message us or call us at 207-323-4982. We hope to see you at the farm!

Sean and Sonja ♥







Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Recycled, Reusable Beeswax Cotton Food Wraps

I am always looking for new ways to save money, stretch our budget, and add to our sustainability. I was intrigued when I came across a post on facebook from My Healthy Green Family and thought to myself, I have to try this out. I am aware of many reports about BPA leaching into food from plastics, but I confess I have not changed over from using disposable plastic containers and using products like Saran wrap® to cover our food. Until now, I just did not have a suitable replacement. That changed yesterday when I followed the directions and created my own Reusable Beeswax Cotton Food Wraps.

I used a couple of clean 100% cotton pillow cases I had on hand and some sheets of 100% beeswax which I had tucked away to use for candle making one of these days. All that was left to find was an old cookie sheet and a large paint brush that I would never use for another purpose again.

I began by preheating the oven to 180*. Our oven begins at 200*, so I made a guess. Once set, I turned my attention to measuring out four 8 inch squares in my fabric. Because it occurred to me that the left over fabric would be perfect for new spring valances over my kitchen window, I cut them out with that in mind. (I purposely left myself long panels of the fabric with a pocket sewn into it already. This will save me some time when it comes time to whip up those curtains.) Following the straight line already afforded in the checked pattern as my guide, it was easy to cut out the squares I wanted. I decided to cut out two additional 12 inch squares for covering larger bowls and plates.

The next step was to cut the beeswax into small slivers. The article I read suggested shredding the wax for better coverage and that probably would have made for more uniformed coverage, but I did not want to have to wash the beeswax from my good (read that only) grater, so I used my scissors and it worked out just fine. I placed 2 squares of fabric side by each on my baking sheet and sprinkled the wax slivers across it. Remember the wax will expand as it melts. Less is more in this case. It is easy to add more wax if you need it. I think starting with too much max might make the fabric harder to fold around bowls, the wax might flake away, or it might leave unsightly globs on the fabric.

Once I thought I had enough wax covering my fabric, I placed it into the oven. I used the timer on my oven to find that it took just about 2 minutes for the wax to be completely melted. Using pot holders, I removed the pan from the oven and used the paint brush in a swishing motion from center to sides to evenly distribute the wax, fully coating the fabric. You can tell that it is fully coated because the color of the fabric becomes darker and appears wet. I used my fingers to remove the waxed fabric to a drying line to cool. I did not find it uncomfortably hot to use my fingers, but they were coated with beeswax. I considered that a bonus, hot wax treatment, too! :) If you prefer, you could use tongs to remove the fabric from your pan, though. Within minutes the fabric cooled and was ready for use. In the image above, the wrap is easily folded around the edge of the bowl and no additional fastener is needed to secure it, but if you are concerned, an elastic band would do the trick nicely, I think.

To wash the wraps, the article suggested running cold water over them. Curious, I did not wait until they were soiled to attempt that. Because the wax permeates the cotton and coats both sides, the water beads up nicely and runs off. I expect that any food particles that stick to the wraps will come off easily. And, I experimented with swishing them around in warm water for a few minutes to see if the wax would run off. It did not, but the material seemed to soften somewhat from its original semi-hardened form. Once dry, it re-hardened into moldable sheets. I suspected hot water would not be advisable to use and did not push my experiment further to see for myself.

The entire project from beginning to end took about an hour to create 6 waxed cotton food wraps. I love how this project came out. So much so, that I plan to create more using local beeswax and recycled cotton to sell at the farmer's markets and craft events I attend this year. Now, I have an inexpensive, reusable, washable solution to storing and preserving my family's food in the refrigerator that is completely all natural. That is a win-win-win in my book!  I am reconsidering those plastic tubs holding other food items lurking in my fridge. Hmmm.....

I have a couple other posts in the works for you all that include updates on homestead happenings, pictures and videos, and information about the upcoming Open Homestead Day on June 21st. I'll get them posted through this week as I can. Thanks so much for visiting with us today. I am really glad for your company.

Have you tried reusable food storage options? Which work the best for you?

Sonja ♥


Sunday, May 25, 2014

Hiking With Goats

As a reward for our hard work getting several fencing areas expanded, changed around, or revamped over the weekend, Sean, our girls and I took some time out to hike up Mount Waldo with some dear friends of the human variety and Delilah. It was the first hike of what we hope will be many hikes this year. We'll see.

Since it was so late in the day and we were all tired, we opted to stop at the turn out instead of continuing all the way to the quarry's peaceful watery scene. It was enough. Even the hordes of biting black flies could not dampen our young people's enthusiasm and fun.
Kristen, Meaghan, Daniel & Aidan
Delilah had never been hiking with us, but she enjoyed exploring and munching on brush. Unlike Haddie and Judah's first experience, Delilah did not immediately skip around the granite blocks, but instead picked her way through them cautiously.








The girls scampered to the top much more interested in exploring than Delilah. It is a long way up, but the view was worth it!
Success! At the peak!

Wild strawberries are all in bloom. In another month, these will bear sweet, red strawberries. YUM...

Delilah was not interested in the strawberry blossoms, but she enjoyed her fill of leaves. Leaves did not seem appealing for us. We went for ice cream at Wilson's Country Market. What a fantastic ending to our day!

Thanks for stopping in for a visit tonight. We're so glad you came.
Sonja ♥

Friday, May 16, 2014

Grazing... At Last!

The weather took longer to break this year. Besides the other obvious difficulties this posed, it also meant a higher than normal hay/grain bill. Most years we expect to have the goats back to browsing in April. This year, we were a month behind! A month may not seem like a long time, but when looked at in terms of our feed bill, those 30 days cost us roughly an additional $500 in feed. Around these parts, that is a whole lotta cabbage!

At first, all the goats wandered about filling their bellies on the novelty of grass before they meandered into the woods to browse on tender shoots of leaves, brushy scrub and pine needles. When we put the goats up for the night, they had HUGE, happy bellies!

Jesse is growing so quickly! He was born late February making him nearly 3 months old now, but he is very nearly the same height and weight as our yearlings! If he fulfills his promise, Jesse will be quite a large buck!

Elisha and Naomi enjoyed filling their stomachs with greens instead of hay and grains. Naomi is a beautiful 3 year old Nigerian Dwarf- our sole doe of this breed. She is not pregnant, just sporting a good "field belly".
Like Jesse, Eli is growing fast. Eli is grazing in front of Delilah, a lamancha yearling from last year in this picture. Eli is naturally polled, meaning that his horns will not grow out. He is one of the bucks we'll have available for sale this year. We'll be asking $100 for him.
Ellie smiling in the shade of one of the compost bins. Doesn't she look content? 

Keziah is the only doe born to us this year. We'll be keeping her and hope she is as sweet a lass as her mother, Rachel. So far, she is friendly and easy-going. She does not display the same raucous playfulness as the bucks, but she is content to be petted and loved. I love her striking markings on her head and the spots along her spine. ♥

Jedidiah (Jedi) is now 4 years old. He watches over his girls and leads them to the woods to browse. Though they follow him willingly, more and more, I see our 2 year old, Asher taking the lead within the herd. Don't feel too badly for the ole Jedi, though. According to our plan, Jedi was not meant to father any goat kids this year, but still managed to give Eli to Leah.

Yearlings, Delilah and Cassie will be bred to Asher this fall for their first kidding. Their coloring should produce some beautiful kids. Their line should produce some bountiful milk. If they pass along their sweet, docile personalities, whoever purchases their kids will have hit the jackpot in my opinion.
Haddie's lad, Amos is growing slow and steady. He is a bouncy, bright, and healthy boy, so I am not worried about his small size. It does make me suspicious, though. He just might have been sired by Zacchaeus. The markings are right and so is his diminutive size. The other potential sire (and the more likely culprit) is Asher, which explains Amos' elf ears. And, this is what happens when goats break through livestock fencing and/or doors built from 2x4s all in the pursuit of amore.

I hope that this year's season progresses with more decorum, but then I am reminded that I am considering the antics of clever goats and begin preparations for stronger fencing.

I captured some video of the goats at play and am working on editing it now. I hope to have it ready in a bit for you.

Thanks for visiting with us today, friends. I am very glad you came.


Monday, May 5, 2014

Made in Maine Give Away ♥

What happens when some very talented Maine Artists get together to host a give-away?

Check it out!

Nancy Tang has offered these Dichroic Glass Magnets from Glass Orchids in Frankfort, Maine. Glass Orchids is known for creating high quality glass jewelry, accessories, and dishes in over 100 unique dichroic glass designs.

You can WIN a tin of their colorful, fun magnets. The winner of this prize will also receive 10% off on May 10th at their gallery's season opening. Glass Orchids is open Saturdays from 10am-5pm and by appointment. They are located at 28 North Searsport Road, Frankfort, Maine 04438. Visit them online at www.GlassOrchids.com to see all their latest creations!

WINNER: Jen Tochterman

 Studio Three 14 is "womanned" by a fantastic mother-daughter team. Together, Carla and Sammie bring you fabulous, one-of-a-kind creations. They specialize in creating hand-inked glass ornaments, whimsical mosiac tiled mirrors, and a unique line of jewelry. As part of this fun give-away, they are offering, for one FB fan, these lovely brass dragonfly and shell earrings. Visit them online to see all their latest creations at www.StudioThree14.com. Or, see their creations in person at Silkweeds in Searsport and Celtic Moon Rising in Brewer.

WINNER: JESSICA TROUT-LEVI

Handcrafted lampwork beads from the coast of Maine. About four years ago, Tammi Short was inspired to began a new adventure; learning to create glass beads and Blueberry Bay Beads was born. The love she has for her craft is evident in every bead she creates.

Now, you can win one of her beautiful creations for yourself. One winner will win this glass lampwork bead pendant, accented with copper wire-work. To see more of Tammi's designs and read about what is happening in the studio, visit her at www.blueberrybaybeads.com  If you are in the area, stop into Silkweeds on Route One to see a wide selection of Blueberry Bay Beads creations.

WINNER: LINDA WRIGHT STEIGER



Offering a variety of items from classic wooden toys to bent wood garden accents, Maine cedar garden benches, and accessories, The Woodshaper Shop of Maine brings quality and beauty to your home and garden.

One winner will receive a sweet bent wood heart creation similar to the one shown. Each heart is different and unique, just like you. Visit The Woodshaper Shop of Maine online to see all their quality products at www.woodshapershopofmaine.com. Or, stop into The Lupine Cottage on Route One to see their products in person.

WINNER: DIANE ALEXANDER

How fun is this coffee inspired table runner from Cherrie Creations? Cherie loves to create whimsical, fun home decor and haute couture doll fashions to fit any 18" doll. Her latest designs feature animal inspired prints. See what fantastic new items she is stitching up in her studio; visit online Cherrie Creations

One winner will win this table runner.

WINNER: APRIL MORELAND

Lastly, one winner will win an original mosaic eggshell pendent from us, Lally Broch Farm. We are a small, Maine family homestead with big ideas! Our very different "no-kill" approach to farming led us to develop and create a beautiful and unique kind of jewelry from the eggshells from our family's hens, turkeys, ducks, geese, and guineas. Our ladies lay eggs when they are young. We sell these to friends and neighbors who want farm fresh eggs for their families tables. From those eggs used here on the farm, some are used as natural slug deterrents in the garden, some are ground up as a natural calcium source, and others are used to create beautiful baubles to wear. Our hens retire to free-range and live out their natural lives on the farm. Chicken retirement. It was a hard winter and we suffered some losses. Currently, we are home to about 10 hens who no longer lay eggs. The other 60 who are laying regularly support them. You can find a selection of our designs in Maine at Silkweeds (Searsport), Out of the Woods (Belfast), Celtic Moon Rising (Brewer), Shore Shop Gifts (Isle Au Haut), and The Rose Cottage (Indialantic, FL).

WINNER: RACHEL M

We're very excited to share in this Made in Maine Give Away! For your free chance to enter, follow the instructions below. Winners will be chosen at random on Saturday May 10th. Winners will have 24 hours to claim your prize. Unclaimed prizes will be awarded to new winners. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Gardening with Chickens

Despite the rains that keep coming creating a quagmire of mud and unmentionable substances in all the pastures, yards, and pens and the temperatures that refuse to remain where they should, we are taking a leap of faith and have started seedlings to prepare for planting time. It does not feel like it when the wet cold is still seeping into these bones and the wood stove is still in use at least a few days of the week, but, we are going to be ready for spring when it decides to come to Maine. At least, that is what I am telling myself.

This year with three times the amount of shows scheduled for us, we are learning to delegate and outsource locally when and where we can. Time is at a premium (as it is for all of us) especially since Sean is still working 40 hours each week at his "real" job and then, working another 40 hours+ each week here on the farm. Hard work is nothing we are afraid of, but it takes its toll physically and mentally. We knew what we were in for, signed up willingly, and don't regret it most days.

* CSA~ Community Supported Agriculture. For more information,
read our article about CSAs on page 102 of From Scratch Magazine.

Besides tripling our show commitments, Sean and I have 6 egg-share CSA*s filled of the 14 we can supply. With 5 people participating in our Goat Rental program, we are at max capacity for this year on that front. And, we have 3 families signed up for our Veggie CSA program. And, that is where Cameron comes in. Cameron DePaola of DePaola Succulents has been heaven-sent. We supplied him with our non-GMO, heritage seeds and he started them in the greenhouse for us. And, look how they are doing!

For those of you who have signed up for our CSA, we are off to a great start at the greenhouse! 5 varieties of tomatoes, 6 varieties of hot and sweet peppers, cucumbers for slicing and pickling, broccoli, and more are all beginning to grow for your families' tables.
To prepare the raised beds for transplanting, the turkeys are already digging up the soil and turning it over for us. It will be time for the Chickens will join them in their work soon. Every creature on the farm has a "job" to do. Sure, we could do all the jobs ourselves, but it all goes back to working together. You see, to breed true, we need to separate out the hens and roosters of the same breed from the rest of the flock to hatch out pure breed chicks. Rather than move them to pens on the lawn which quickly becomes de-grassed leaving a very short or bald patch of lawn, we place the chicken tractors over our 4 x10 raised-bed garden plots. Our helpful gardening chickens do what comes naturally to them; eat anything green out of the bed (delicious, nutritious, edible weeds) and scratch and dig to their hearts content in the garden soil. Plus, they fertilize a bit for us as they go. When the bed is ready for planting, the chickens are moved to another garden spot to continue their "work". This system saves so much time for Sean and I to turn over soil and pull any weeds that have grown through the spring. The chickens get a healthy diet of greens, fresh soil to dirt-bathe in, and all the bugs they can find. In addition, since we also supplement their diets from the produce of the gardens, they are not working for nothing.

So, Cameron is tending our seedlings, the chickens and turkeys will help to prepare the garden beds, what are Sean and I doing? Much, I assure you. We are doubling the size of the garden from last year; 7 new beds will be built and filled. Some of the beds from last year settled and will need more compost and garden soil to refill them. We'll also make repairs to any beds that might have loosened over the winter. Crushed rock needs to fill in the garden walkways to keep the weeds down. And, it will soon be time to direct plant corn, green beans, pumpkin, peas, lettuce, spinach, kale, onions and all the other yummy vegetables our garden will grow for us.

Our herb garden beds are coming to life. The chives are up and growing well. I have been using them to flavor our fresh garlic herb chevre and it is just divine. I have not seen either of the mints sprout nor yet the lavender from last year, but we'll keep an eye out for them.

With twice the beds growing veggies, we are hoping for a fantastic season this year: MORE veggies available for all our CSA share friends and enough left over to preserve to feed our family over the winter months. Hard work? Yes. But, many hands (and feathered friends) make for a lighter load.

Have you ever joined a CSA in your community? What was your experience with it?

Thanks for stopping in for a visit, friends. We're real glad you came.
Sonja ♥