Thursday, September 27, 2012

Blog Hop #4~ How Fun!

Down Home Blog Hop

This is the first time I have tried this, but I saw it on one of my favorite blogs to read- Our Neck of the Woods, a couple days ago and it looked like a lot of fun. Click on the button above to see where it takes you!

Tonight, when I returned home, I was delighted to see that my garland had started popping open to reveal the bright red seeds. Most of the yellow outer shell was still attached. A spray of clear acrylic might seal them in to preserve them looking this way longer, I am hoping- worth a try anyway!


Bittersweet beginning to pop open.

Thanks for Visiting Today!

The Lally Broch Farm Family

Bittersweet Memories

Since fall is well and truly begun, I decided it was time to change our background to reflect the autumn colors around me. Enjoy!

Bittersweet berries.
 A dear friend of mine, Nancy, introduced me to  Oriental Bittersweet, a plant that grows in the wild here in Maine and other parts of the nation. It is potentially toxic, definitely invasive, and decidedly lovely. Once planted to help battle erosion along road sides, these vines are now being removed in many places, since they have adapted better than the native species, American Bittersweet. A relative in the Night Shade Family, all parts of this plant (especially the red seeds) are potentially poisonous to humans and animals, except perhaps birds- who seem to be able eat the seeds without an issue. I will not test this out on our beloved chickens, though!

"Oriental bittersweet is a vigorously growing vine that climbs over and smothers vegetation which may die from excessive shading or breakage. When bittersweet climbs high up on trees the increased weight can lead to uprooting and blow-over during high winds and heavy snowfalls. In addition, Oriental bittersweet is displacing our native American bittersweet (Celastrus scandens) through competition and hybridization." (Source Material: PCA Alien Plant Working READ MORE HERE.)

So with all the potential risk, why am I interested in Bittersweet? Like many decorators, the cheery orange yellow berries that pop open to reveal a bright red seed appeal to me. Since it grows as a vine, it is very easy to use to create lovely wreaths and braided garlands with and lasts for at least a year and sometimes longer. The garland I had braided shortly after our wedding in 2008 to decorate Grandma Re's hutch in the kitchen was in desperate need of replacing.

Hail the conquering Hero!
So, despite the threat of rain showers, my daughter Caitlin and her dog, Maggie and I all ventured to "our spot" to collect us a trunk full of Bittersweet yesterday. We left early in the morning and drove the hour to Brooksville. There we pulled onto a disused logging trail, pushed our way through the brush, and began to cut long pieces of branch and vines. It would have been very convenient if we found much of it growing low enough to harvest easily. Such was not the case. Most of what we found grew high enough that it took the two of us to get to it. Caitlin gently pulled down on the branch and I reached as far as I could to cut some away from as high up as I could reach. When we cut all we could reach relatively easily, we walked up the roadside and attempted to gather some while simultaneously avoiding both wickedly sharp thorns from a bush standing guard in front of it or toppling into the 6 foot-deep ravine winding behind it. A delicate balancing act that left us both covered with small punctures and scratches, but with my car's trunk full of wreath-making treasures.

Back at home, we spent the next couple hours immersed in the pleasant task of chatting together, removing all of the leaves and braiding the branches and vines into decorations. You can't make them wrong. It is all a matter of taste. I like mine to be loosely braided and very free flowing in design. I created one wreath and 2 garlands. Caitlin made two wreaths by twining the branches together to form circles. Twist garden ties work great to secure them in circle form until they are braided enough to hold the shape desired of them without the additional support. We were very careful to bag all the left-over, unused parts so we could safely dispose of them. I usually burn the parts I don't use in our fire pit. These were my finished pieces:

The berries start out a lovely orange-yellow color. Within a day or two, they pop open to reveal bright red seeds.

I am not versed in the use of medicinal plants, but when I was doing research for this post, I came across some interesting information about the medical usage for Oriental Bittersweet. According to THIS ARTICLE, it appears that besides its value as a decoration, other parts of the plant may have medicinal uses.

"Root: Tea made from root bark has emetic and diuretic properties and is a folk remedy for liver ailments, skin problems, leukorrhea, and rheumatism. Also, used to treat childbirth pain.

Bark: Bark used in ointment to externally treat burns and minor skin problems.

Leaves: Leaf tea is astringent and used for diarrhea and dysentery."
Source: Medical Plants- Bittersweet (link above)

I thought the article was interesting, but I think I will stick to using it as decoration for the now. 

Farm House Style Hop #2

Looking for some more adventures in DIY? Click on the button or link to see where it takes you!

Thanks for your visit today, friends.
Sonja ♥

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Garlic Planting

Sonja removing Tomato plants and avoiding spiders.
It's that time of year again, when the gardens are completely harvested of their fruitage, the soil is amended and turned over in preparation for the spring's planting, and cloves of garlic are carefully sown.

This will be our first year growing garlic for ourselves. So, of course, we whipped out our copy of "The Vegetable Gardener's Bible" and read up on it. Garlic likes deep fertile soil, well drained with lots of organic matter mixed in. You plant in the fall about 6 weeks before the soil freezes. In Maine, that can be as early as September. In warmer regions, you may be able to plant up to early winter. We planted last weekend.

Cloves ready to be covered with 2 inches of  rich soil.
We purchased some garlic heads from the Brooks Farmer's Market and some from the Common Ground Fair last weekend. We wanted to plant between 70-80 cloves, but ended up planting 60 in our prepared bed. Planting is easy, separate out the largest cloves from each head and plant them 2 inches deep with the pointed end up. Before the ground freezes, top the bed with leaves or straw to help insulate the bulbs and to encourage worms to aerate the bed.

Wait... Wait....Wait.

All ready for some mulch in a few weeks.
In the spring, about when the first dandelion leaves appear, remove the mulch and add it to your compost pile. If you do not see see bright green shoots, you will very shortly. Weed as needed. You can plant lettuces  and beets in the same bed. These help to keep the soil cool. Do not plant garlic with beans or peas or in a bed previously used by any onion family crop. Remember to nip the buds when they appear to promote larger bulbs.

The garlic is ready to harvest in late summer. Look for the lower 2-3 leaves to turn yellow. Carefully push the soil back and if the garlic is ready, pull it up. Let the garlic cure with the greens attached until the skin are dry and the necks are tight. Laying the garlic on a screen in an airy, shady spot is ideal. This can take up to 2 weeks. When they are finished curing, you can store the garlic by braiding the tops or removing the greens and placing the bulbs in a cool, dry place. Garlic can be stored for 5-8 months.

My mouth is just watering for fresh garlic to flavor next year's goat cheeses, alfredo sauces, marinaras, and salsas... the list goes on and on.

When do you plant garlic in your zone? Have you grown garlic with success?

Thanks for visiting today!
Sonja ♥

Also shared with: Wildcrafting Wednesday #5

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Common Ground

We love visiting the COMMON GROUND FAIR in Unity, Maine each fall along with thousands of others from across the country. No midway rides, no games to win a stuffed treasure, no side show acts to marvel at. Instead, you can expect three days of fine poultry, rabbit, and livestock showings, demonstrations on everything from spinning fiber to harvesting trees, every food vendor selling 100% completely organic foods from ice cream to tempura, sheep sausages to cheeses, pies, breads, you name it. It takes all day to wander all the tents and examine all the items offered for sale, but I promise you won't notice the time passing. We never do.

I was especially excited to visit the poultry area this year. Originally, we had considered showing some of our best ladies, but time got away from us and we never entered. No matter. This year, I was not only admiring the "Best of's", I was shopping. I was hoping to be able to purchase 3-4 Marans to expand and complete our flock for the year. I got as close as seeing a sign advertising some for sale, but sadly, the actual creatures were not represented this year. Although, there were many fine birds available for sale like the crested duck pictured, which absolutely delighted me- they were not the breed I was interested in, so we returned home chicken-less.

It was nice to meet Janice & Ken Spaulding who wrote the "Goat School" book I use frequently when I have questions. They have a ton of experience with goat farming, cheese, and soap making, which I appreciated. They are true farmers and are so successful (I have no doubt, in part) because of their sound business practices aimed at keeping their herd healthy and productive. While I enjoyed talking with them for a few minutes, it was quickly apparent to me that we have very different approaches to our farm practices. As silly and fiscally irresponsible as it probably seems to "real farmers", we will not practice culling our herd based on productivity. That is not the kind of farm I want to live on or work.

After a snack of organic handmade potato chips (So GOOD!) and a cup of limeade, Sean and I wandered over to watch the sheep dog demonstration for a while. It is always impressive to see what good, trained obedient farm dogs are capable of so we have something with which to compare our beloved and absolutely unsuitable farm dogs.

The day passed too quickly! Though the fair lasts for the entire weekend, we had only the time to go one day.

In an interesting turn of events, our friend Greg called Sean and asked if we might be interested in trading a young cockerel for three 1 year-old Rhode Island Red hens. He has too many hens for his coop to winter over, but wants to have a rooster so he can hatch out some chicks himself in the spring. We were quite pleased to make that trade. So, we ended up with 3 lovely new hens, anyway. They are to live in quarantine in an empty chicken tractor for the rest of this week and then, we will integrate them into our main coop if they are healthy and parasite free. They seem to be settling in just fine and already they have started laying for us!

We have been so busy with things that there has been no time or energy for writing about them! I will soon. Promise.

For now, thanks for visiting!
Sonja ♥

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Down Home

My computer has not been cooperating with me, so I apologize about the spans between posts. I seem to be back in business for the now, so to fill you in on our latest farm happenings...

Last Saturday, I requested a "Sonja day"- a day where what I say goes. We do the projects weighing on my mind, be they large or small and with an enthusiastic "Yes, Ma'am" from Sean, all my wishes are granted. *Sigh* I love "Sonja Day". The projects weighing on my mind filled a sheet of paper and I knew the chances of completing all of them would be slim, but to have any of them finished would be wonderful. "Sonja Day" turned into "Sonja Weekend". I am so thankful for my hard-working husband and so proud of how much Sean and I accomplished together.

Among other things, we spent Saturday morning in our ministry work. During the morning break, we stopped in at the Brooks Farmer's Market. In part, I wanted to do some shopping AND I wanted to scope out the set up with a view for possibly joining the market myself next year. So many wonderful treats were available; yarns, pepperoni, lamb, hamburg, veggies, plants, eggs... the variety of things available was impressive! And, I noticed a sign advertising that the whole market participated in the SNAP (click for more information) Program offered by the State of Maine. Additionally, because of a grant, anyone who paid using their SNAP card, received an additional 50% discount from the total price. Organic Home Grown Hamburg at $4.50/lb became $2.25/lb. Apples for sale for $1.50/lb became only .75¢/lb. One of the biggest complaints I hear about eating healthy, organic food is its cost. With programs like this one, that is no longer an argument. I was so impressed with the entire operation. I know that for my family, we will be visiting more farmer's markets through the growing season to support our local farming families. You can visit this Farmer's Market on FACE BOOK (click here).

After that wonderful adventure, it was time for our scheduled thorough clean out of the chicken coop. This entails removing all the old bedding and composted waste, washing the floors, and replacing the bedding. We are still searching for what works the best for us. After reading articles on using hay vs straw vs pine shavings vs river sand vs deep litter systems vs deep composting litter systems (the list is nearly endless with possibilities) and trying some of these methods with varying amounts of success, we have decided to change back to using untreated pine shavings on the floor of the coop and straw in the nest boxes. It has worked for our hens in the past without causing respiratory issues and it seems to be the easiest to clean regularly... for now.

That messy job complete, we turned our attention to other matters. I mowed the back lawn and blew all the clippings into piles while Sean worked on repairing and repurposing the unused goat kid fencing to expand the main chicken coop yard. Last winter, we had only 20 birds and their yard measured approximately 15ft x 25 ft. When the piggies moved to their new home, we opened the fencing to expand the yard to approximately 30 ft x 25 ft in space. At mid summer, we added an additional two 10 foot panels to enlarge the yard. This weekend, Sean and I added another two 15 foot panels, which nearly doubled their yard size again. Our feathered friends now enjoy a safe fenced yard area measuring roughly 45 ft x 30 ft. It is a huge yard and they are very happy to have it.

We spent a lot of time with our chickens, ducks, and geese over the weekend, but rest assured, I'll have a nice long post about our goats progress in the days to come. ♥

Controversial Topics: Feeding Cut Grass

This came up over the weekend. We mow our grass on a mulching setting, which produces very tiny clippings of grass. We hand rake the fresh grass clippings and deposit them in a pile in the main coop yard. The birds love to nibble on the freshly cut untreated and unfertilized, grasses, dandelions, and clovers and spread it all around, scratching in it. It also provides a more attractive ground cover than the inevitable compacted dirt. Sound great, right? Except, grass clippings can cause potentially lethal complications of impacting a chicken's crop if the cut grasses are fed in strands. When chickens free range, they nip off tiny bits from the top of the grass, which is easily digestible for them. Even blades of grass 4-5 inches long can cause problems. CLICK for more information. So, while we do feed clippings to our chickens, we cannot recommend that you do this. Each chicken keeper needs to weigh the benefits of offering fresh greens with the possible dangers.

Have you had any positive or negative experiences regarding feeding grass clippings to your flocks?

I hope you enjoyed today's visit here on the farm. Thanks for stopping by!
Sean and Sonja ♥

REMINDER: If you haven't become a member and commented on THIS POST (click here), you need to do so before October 1st to be entered into the free drawing for Mrs. Cherie's lovely hand made donated quilt.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Stitch in Time

I am not a talented seamstress by any stretch of the imagination. Years ago, I got it in my head to attempt to create a few projects for my children. I borrowed a sewing machine and sewed my daughter, Caitlin a simple cotton sundress from a pattern I purchased. It wasn't perfect, by any means, but it survived being worn often. It was lovingly passed down to her sister, Kristen to wear and finally my youngest daughter, Meaghan inherited it's possession. That simple dress is still intact and looks close to new nearly 15 years later. It lives in the cedar chest at the foot of my bed. Why??? I couldn't honestly tell you why I kept it. I was proud of my making it, certainly, but it is no where near professionally made. During those months of sewing, I also painstakingly pieced together a quilt for each of my children's beds, I made a couple of pillows, and several "dress up" dresses. Then, the moment passed, I returned the sewing machine, and other than replacing a missing button here and there, my sewing days have been behind me.

Even though I do not often sew personally, I do appreciate beautiful things and the time, patience, and talent it takes to make them. Enter my good friend, Cherie and her love and talent for making beautiful quilts. Cherie has been creating beautiful quilts as gifts for special occasions for quite some time. As each young person in our home-school group graduated, they were presented with a home made quilt lovingly personalized for each recipient. My daughter and son-in-law received one as a wedding gift. She is creating one for my bed this fall- it will certainly make the freezing Maine winter nights bearable.

Which brings me to today's post. As alluded to earlier in the week, I have a special GIVE AWAY treat in store for you! Mrs. Cherie has generously donated this mosaic designed "lap" quilt for me to gift to one reader. The quilt measures approximately 5 feet square and is lined to add weight and warmth.

You can WIN this beautiful, home made, one-of-a-kind creation. How???? It is easy.

1. Click the "Join This Site" and "Follow Lally Broch Farms Blog".

2. Then, answer these two questions in the comment section of this post.

            Which quilt pattern do you like the best?
            What is the strangest material you have ever used in sewing?

That's all it takes to be entered into this free give away drawing. One reader will be selected on October 1, 2013. The winner will be notified via a post on this blog and has 48 hours to claim their prize and we will arrange to mail your quilt to you. If the prize is not claimed, another reader's name will be randomly drawn to win. If you are already a member of this blog, your name will automatically be entered into the drawing after you comment the answers to the questions- unless you prefer not to be entered. If that is your preference, please post that in the comment section, instead. ♥

Can't wait to see if you will be the winner? I have posted some pictures of other lap quilts Cherie has available for purchase below. She is offering these individual, unique lap quilts for sale for only $15.00 each (plus shipping costs.) Remember to click on the picture to enlarge it to see the detail. Please, feel free to email me with any questions about these. I will respond to your email as soon as it is possible. With such low prices for these pieces, how could you lose?

"Denim Blues" was created with jean pieces and floral print fabric. It is approximately
4 feet square. I love the little pockets sewn into the patches.
"Passion for Purple" is bright and cheerful. It is approximately 4 feet square-
perfect to throw over your legs on a crisp day.
"Hearts Aglow" is so sweet with it's red heart pieced among greens and floral prints. It is approximately
4 feet square and would be perfect for a small child's blanket.- SOLD!!!
Queen Sized Comforter Covers Available, too!
"Garden Trellis" is a queen sized comforter cover backed with a sweet blue floral fabric.  

Close Up details


What do you think? Would you like to see give aways like this one posted here in the future?

Thanks for stopping for a visit.
Sonja ♥

Friday, September 14, 2012

Home Made Carpet Deodorizer and Room Freshener

In doing some research online today, I came across a wonderful POST about how to make an all natural, simple and useful carpet deodorizer and room freshener. I had to try it myself. I had all the ingredients on hand, so I wasted no time. It couldn't have been easier to make.

I mixed together 1 cup of BORAX POWDER with 1 cup of BAKING SODA in a small bowl with a fork until combined and there were no clumps. Then, I added 15 drops of my favorite ESSENTIAL OIL. (I made one scented "cucumber melon" and a second scented "fresh linen".) I poured the powder mixture into a pint mason jar and covered with a lid. Stored in a dry place, the powder mixture will last for a very long time.

To use for deodorizing carpets, simply sprinkle on your carpet and let it sit for 10-15 minutes, then vacuum as you normally would. To deodorize a room or problem area in your home, simply pour into a dish and leave uncovered in that area.

I am in LOVE with this! ♥

Also, Daddy Dale and Sean have almost finished installing our new wood stove. I think it looks wonderful and it almost makes me want to wish for those snowy days to come with their freezing Maine temperatures... almost.

Tomorrow is going to be a long work day around the farm. I can't wait! We have so many projects to work on and I am looking forward to a nice long update full of pictures for you all. For now, it is time for this farm girl to get some rest.

Good night, friends.
Sonja ♥

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Harvest Time!

Mark Twain wrote, "If you don't like the weather in New England, just wait a few minutes." Maine in September is a perfect example of this adage. Today, it was sunny, breezy, and in the low 60's. Tonight is supposed to dip from the 50's into the 40's. By the end of the week, we are supposed to be back into the 80's. With the fluctuating weather as one factor and the bugs trying to share our garden's produce with us as another, the time has come to begin harvesting everything from the garden beds to preserve for the rest of the year. (I wouldn't mind sharing a little of the garden, but the silly bugs insist on taking just a few bites of each fruit before moving on to sample another one- ruining all of them!)

Tonight, Sean and I picked most of the tomatoes and filled my canner full and then some! We picked everything that was full grown, whether it had ripened or not. The ripe tomatoes, (mostly romas) went into my stew pot and became a yummy marinara. This version consisted of tomatoes, onions, garlic, sugar, salt, pepper, basil, oregano and some red wine. Pretty basic. It was completely enjoyable, but I still think it was missing something. Maybe roasted bell peppers, I am thinking. We have 4 brown grocery bags ripening and if they cooperate before Saturday, these will be attempt #3 of perfecting a marinara for canning. Once I have perfected the recipe in my opinion, I will share it with you.

We also picked nearly 5 pounds of various hot peppers. I am planning on preserving these by drying them with a friend of mine on Thursday night. As the days get shorter and the air changes from warm humid days to brisk autumn days and nights, my desire for fresh breads, warm pasta dishes, hearty soups, and spicy chili grows. I love this time of the year.

Since I haven't written in a few days, I wanted to take a few minutes to update you all to our progress.

On the Goat Front:
Miss Ellie is doing much better. Her lower eyelids are still on the white side, but are pinking up. She is eating well, drinking regularly, and her droppings are returning to normal. They resemble very large pellets now. This is all good. She gets another injection of the Ivomec next Tuesday and we'll continue to monitor her health closely. She is still showing signs of anemia, but one battle at a time.

Chicken News:
Sean and I are planning on reintegrating our flock of Cochin chickens to the main coop. The grass has slowed down its growing. We are having to move the chicken tractors every day, but even this does not stop the chickens from nibbling the grass to bald patches before they are moved again. So, the time has come. We are planning on leaving 2 of the Cochin hens in the tractor for a little while longer. These poor girls had been plucked mercilessly in the main coop and their feathers are taking a while to regrow. Sometimes feathers grow back immediately, sometimes the hens are using so much energy producing eggs that they won't regrow until the fall molt. We want to give them more time alone to recover. The original problem stemmed from having 4 roosters and only 20 hens. With the new ratio of 40+ hens to 4 roosters, we are hoping that we solved that situation.

Our newest chicks will be moved outside this weekend. They have fledged out nicely and no longer require a warming lamp. I have enjoyed them very much, but a part of me is excited about having my living room back sans the au-de-chick scent.

Spiders (Ughh!):
Our trash cans are now accessible again. Read About Our Spider Troubles Here. The enormous garden spider living by our trash cans is gone and in her place is an equally enormous (and yucky) egg sac. In fact, since we have been overrun with these spiders this year, I have found no less than 3 egg sacs lurking in inconvenient places this week. We can add that to the list of things Sean must attend to this weekend- removing these!

Coming Soon:
Also in the plans for the rest of the week is to have a bonfire on Thursday night to dispose of the wood waste we have accumulated in the burn pile. The wood stove is ready to move onto the newly finished, tiled and grouted area in the kitchen on Wednesday night. The paint for the doors and trim has been purchased, so those will be completed. Daddy Dale is planning on repairing the roofing of the mudroom this week. And, my very talented friend, Cherie has donated a special item for me to gift one reader. You'll want to look for a very special "give away" post from me sometime before Saturday.

Whew! Lots going on around here! I hope you are all enjoying your week. Thanks for checking in.

Sonja ♥

Friday, September 7, 2012

EGG CSA: Buying Eggs

As the "egg season" is coming to a close, it is time to reflect on our results and begin planning ahead for next year. This year, we offered EGG SHARES for both duck and chicken eggs and served 5 families besides our own. We enjoyed caring for our hens and providing delicious, nutricious eggs for your families' tables.

Our hens are slowing down in production as the days turn colder and the daylight becomes less and less. If last year was any indication, we will have eggs available all winter long, but certainly not at the peak levels of a dozen eggs or more each day.
In anticipation of reaching our goal of providing eggs for more families for the 2013 season, we hatched 36 new chicks with the hopes of gaining more hens. Our first clutch of 13 chicks born on June 3, 2012 will begin laying sometime in November. Our second clutch of 7 chicks born in July will begin laying sometime in December. And, our last clutch of 16 chicks born in August will begin laying sometime in February. Of course, not all the chicks will be hens, but by our estimation, our flock of hens should be producing roughly 30 eggs each day or 17 dozen eggs each week by June. We will begin taking CSA EGG reservations March 1, 2013 for the season on a first come, first served basis.


"Happy Hens Make Delicious Eggs."

It's true. Our hens are loved, really loved and well cared for. They have a spacious, airy, 8x8 hen house with exterior nesting boxes. Their new home was built less than a year ago and is free of drafts and inclement weather and has plenty of places for them to roost. Our hens are handled, held, pet and loved on every day. Whether they are still producing or retired in old age, (Our retired hens live out their lives until their natural deaths on our farm.) they are treated respectfully and gently handled. Our girls have full access to a large play yard where they are safe from predators and can scratch (one of their favorite activities), take dirt baths or sun themselves to their hearts content. We feed our hens a good quality mixture of fresh greens, cracked corn and hen scratch and they are provided with clean water daily. In the Spring, Summer, and Fall months, the hens rotate to our chicken tractors, where they can feast on the bugs, worms, and green grasses they love to eat.

Because our eggs are from a variety of breeds, the eggs come in a variety of colors from medium brown to blue-green. We are planning on adding prized Copper Maran chickens to our flock for 2013. These hens lay beautiful chocolate brown colored eggs- made famous by fictional character, James Bond and are esteemed by chefs for their color and richness. Because our hens live happy lives, eating natural foods, the eggs are the tastiest and most yellow-yolked eggs you can find! They are high in Omega-3 oils and are always fresh.

Image Source Page:

2013 Egg Share Price List

1. Chicken Egg Share: This share consists of one dozen, fresh, assorted chicken eggs picked up (or delivered with prior arrangements) each week on a mutually agreed upon schedule. The cost for this share is $50 for the 18 week season. We will begin taking reservations March 1, 2013. A deposit of $25 will be due at the time of the reservation with the remainer of the balance due in advance of the season beginning June 1, 2013.

2. Duck Egg Share: This share consists of one dozen, fresh, assorted duck eggs picked up (or delivered with prior arrangements) each week on a mutually agreed upon schedule. The cost of this share is $70 for the 18 week season. We will begin taking reservations March 1, 2013. A deposit of $35 will be due at the time of the reservation with the remainer of the balance due in advance of the season beginning June 1, 2013.

Please, feel free to contact us at 207-323-4982 to get more information regarding the program or to sign up for your share.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Tasmanian & A Chick

The chick was relaxed enough to immediately fall asleep on Tasmanian's back. Tas looks less comfortable about the situation.

I would never trust them alone together, but we are constantly amazed how our cats- who are predators... who routinely earn their keep catching and killing moles, mice, and weasles... who are inclined to bring in kestrels, robins, and swallows... neither hunt our yard bunny nor show the slightest interest in our chicks of various sizes. It is as if they can distinquish what "belongs" on our farm and what does not.

Again, I would not have left them alone together. But, as long as I was right there, Tas was a good sport about this photo shoot.

I know I posted already once today, but I felt like I should balance my earlier post with this cute one.

Sonja ♥

Scour Treatment: GRAPHIC IMAGES

I admit, Sean chided me this morning while I was taking pictures of Ellie's tail end. And, I can understand that from an aesthetics stand point, it is not perhaps the most appetizing image. However, as this blog is a diary of our life and other homesteaders may find themselves in the same situation, I feel it is important to document anything that might remind ourselves or possibly help others embarking on a similar path. When Ellie started with scouring, I would have been thrilled to find a photo or a post about someone else's experience and the results of their treatment. I apologize to those readers with a sensitive stomach and warn you that this post may be one you want to skip the reading of.

For those of you who are interested, this is what Ellie looked like before she was cleaned up this morning. Her feces are paste-like in consistency and have an army green tint to them. This has been the same for 3 days. You can see from the photograph that she has lost some weight, which is to be expected. Her appetite is still healthy and she was in the field grazing when Sean and I went outside this morning. We had to help Ellie onto the stand because she is losing strength and struggled to jump up on her own.

This condition is serious. It can kill goats. Immediate treatment is necessary. The most important thing I learned from this experience is my gaining the ability to recognize the warning signs if I come across them in the future and act on them earlier. I now know that if one of our goats starts scouring like this, we can send a fecal sample to our vet to be tested for about $21.00 and will get results within hours. I know that with those results, I can start the right kind of medicine to give my goats the best chance at successfully healing. Those are all valuable lessons.

Sean learned how to give a subcutaneous (Sub Q) injection. This is a valuable capability! I watched Sean do it this time and I am certain that the next time it is necessary, I will be the one to do it. I tried to get a close up of the procedure, but was too slow. I think you get the general idea, though. Sean pinched the skin on her neck, inserted the needle, and depressed the plunger. Miss Ellie did not even flinch.

When Sean left for work this morning, Ellie was eating her hay. I have been unable to find any reliable answers as to how long this should take before we see results, but the consensus on the Internet seems to be that we should see some shedding (dead worms in the feces) within 2 days.

On a final note, although EVERYTHING on the Internet stated that Ivomec should be taken orally, our Vet insisted that we give the dose as an injection. When faced with conflicting advice, I am likely to follow our Veterinary's recommendations, since we have had excellent results by following her advice in the past. The dosage we used was a 1 ml injection today and a follow up 1 ml injection for a one week follow up. We will let you know how it goes.

Thanks for checking in!
Sean and Sonja ♥

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

And the Verdict Is...


We were right about the problem, wrong about the solution. The routine wormer I use does not treat the kind of worms, Miss Ellie has. The fecal exam showed a heavy load of Strongyle worms, which accounts for the anemia in Miss Ellie and the scours. The treatment is easy. We will administer a dose of Ivomec and Miss Ellie should enjoy a complete recovery. Very welcomed news!

Side note: when something happens to our animals, the first thing we do is hit the books with research. We try to figure out what is wrong and how to treat it. If our efforts are not successful, we call in our very helpful and knowledgable Vet. We rarely run to our Vet first thing, though. For one thing, it can get to be very expensive. We would never decline medical treatment for our animals because of cost, but I do not choose to spend money when it is not necessary. ($700 for Sean's cat who drank anti-freeze and needed IV infusions for his kidneys to be flushed and functional falls under the category of necessary. $600 for x-rays for Angus and infusions of saline fluid when he was hit by a car and broke his pelvis in 3 places- necessary. Spending over $3,000 for surgery with the same success rate as treating his pain, wrapping and imobilizing his hips, and restricting movement for 2 months was not. Angus recovered without the surgery, is mobile and healthy for the old man he is.) All pet owners have to find that line for themselves. For another, most of the time, ailments and minor injuries can be treated at home safely and effectively. For us, every injury and illness is documented with our treatment and the reaction so that we can learn how to care best for the animals in our care.

Research Mode:
I am aware that most animals get parasites and need to be wormed. Anyone with only a household dog or cat is aware of this. But, what are Strongyle worms? How do they work? What is the treatment and dosage to combat them? I want to educate myself because this will likely come up again.

What are Strongyle worms?

Trichostrongylus tenuis, also known as the strongyle worm, is a gut Nematode. (Click for more information on Nematodes.) They are parasitic and often live in the digestive tract of grazing mammals such as sheep, goats, and cows.

I spent about 20 minutes looking up images to post. I saw many disturbing pictures, but none labelled definitively as the worm I was looking for. The most relevant image I found is the life cycle posted here. These worms can infect humans and my research indicated that the treatment in 3rd world countries is for the same drug as Ridge Runner Vets prescribed. For my purposes, picture a goat instead of a human host.

What is the treatment?

Every site I could find regarding treatment, agreed on the same course of action, namely, Ivomec (known as Ivermectin, too.) given orally at a dose of 1 milliliter per 50 pounds of animal. The product is labeled for injection, but it seems to work better in goats and sheep when given by mouth. I have no personal first hand knowledge of this, but I guess I will once I begin Ellie's treatment. Update: giving Ivomec orally to a goat heavily infested with parasites and showing signs of anemia can be lethal. Talk to your vet and READ THIS post before you decide on any course of action.
I found the most useful information at:
We will need to repeat the worming in 2 weeks, but the prognosis looks very promising. And, as a precautionary measure, everyone else is getting dewormed, too.
Now, I must go shower and erase the mental creepy-crawly feeling I now have.
Thanks for visiting!
Sonja ♥

Oh, the Glamorous Life of a Farm Girl!

Anyone who doesn't think being a farm-girl is full of glamour, has not had the pleasure of being smeared elbow deep in goat feces, is all I am sayin'.

I haven't updated lately because I have not had the time to sit to do so. I really should not be doing so now, either- plenty still needing to be done. But, the house is empty since the girls returned to school on Tuesday and there is no one presently requiring my immediate attention, so... I am stealing these few minutes for myself.

Ellie is still sick with Scouring (sounds better than goat diarrhea, though it means the same.) She had a touch of it on Monday. I thought it was probable that she needed to be wormed and did so. I fed her 4 oz of Dumor brand goat dewormer (Morantel Tartrate) mixed with her grain. That evening, she definitely had more than a touch of the Scours. Sean bathed her tail end and we added some electrolytes to her drinking water. She is not off her feed and is drinking well, so I was hopeful that the worming would take care of the problem and her digestion would return to normal by morning. It did not.

On Tuesday, she was still Scouring. I added 20CCs of goat probiotic gel to a scoop of grain. It is supposed to be dosed orally via a drench. I tried mixing it with her grain first to see if she would just eat it of her own volition. She wouldn't touch the stuff- apparently the flavor was NOT to her liking. So, I added some molasses for both the flavor and it's sugar content. She seemed to like that better. She ate about 1/4 cup of it. Not enough. While she nibbled on the grain, I gave her backside a quick and thorough hosing down, which was highly necessary and completely unappreciated by Ellie. To make amends and make sure she was really clean, I used a cloth and some warm, soapy water and hand finished the job. She didn't like my assistance any better than I enjoyed the side effect of being smeared in goat feces, but when we were done, she was clean and I was filthy. Since I was already in need of a shower, I also cleaned out her stall and replaced the soiled hay there with fresh bedding.

The other does all appear healthy. I took a little time to sit with them and give them all a nice brushing. Ellie is not one to hold a grudge and by the time I brushed all the other does' coats, she came over and allowed me to brush her back and shoulders, too. I offered her some of the probiotic laced grain through the day, but she barely picked at it. I took some comfort in that she was voraciously consuming hay and put more than the usual amount in her feeder for her. And, she was drinking the electrolyte-spiked water. After doing some research on the Internet and talking with Sean, we decided to send a fecal sample to our vet to check the worm load and screen for any bacteria that might be causing this illness.

This morning, Ellie was no better and no worse. I added some yogurt and a ground up Pepto-Bismal tablet to the medicated grain, thinking she might eat it better this way. Yogurt has all those good bacterias that help the digestive systems balance. Pepto-Bismal is safe for usage in goats and helps to sooth the stomach tissues. NEVER use Immodium AD in goats because it can stop the digestive tract from functioning and can be fatal. She picked at it and ate a couple mouth fulls, but seemed really uninterested. I just didn't think she was getting enough probiotic support into her system and she was really scouring badly, so with Sean's help, we dosed her orally with 10 CCs of probiotic paste (which is how anyone else would have already done it to begin with!). Ellie did not appreciate that at all. She looked offended at our neglect of good manners in forcing the probiotic gel into her, but it stayed down, at least. She required a bath for her tail end and the stall needed another good cleaning. Sean and I worked together on these tasks before we fed her more hay and Sean left for work. He dropped the sample to the Vet on the way. We should hear the results from the Vet shortly and then decide on our best course of action.

It is not good- scouring can be fatal to goats- but, I think that she will recover so long as she continues eating and drinking. She is not running a temperature. She is weak, but she is alert and walking, all very good signs.

I am glad I had both yesterday and today off from work. I had not intended to spend them elbow deep in goat manure. But, sometimes, that is what this life throws at you. Every few hours, I go out to check Ellie's hind side, clean it when it needs cleaning, muck any offensive manure and put down fresh bedding. My hands are a little chapped from the amount of times I have washed them over the past 3 days. I am tired and it is raining, which only adds to my overall misery in accomplishing these tasks. I know that a farm life is for me, though. Despite all the disgusting parts that go along with it, I love every minute of caring for my bucks and does, hens and roosters, goose and (hopefully) gander, the little chicks, the piggies, the flea ridden dogs and the pain-in-my-backside, near-sighted horse. I have never been happier nor felt a more satisfied sense of accomplishment than I do as I work to help Sean build this life together. That said, I think it is about time to check Ellie's backside and then, perhaps get to some house cleaning.

Thanks for stopping in.
Sonja ♥

Monday, September 3, 2012

Peaceful Mornings and Asher's New Home

It is a sad, but true fact that I am NOT a morning girl. I never have been. It is not that I am grumpy or difficult in the morning. I am not the type that needs that morning coffee to get started. I am just a wake-up-at-6:30-am-but-lay-in-bed-for-a-while-before-I-make-myself-get-moving kind of girl. By 9:00, I am coherent and ready to tackle whatever project needs my attention- usually. The thought of rousing myself at the break of dawn to do farm chores or shower is something that I have not even considered; it just wouldn't happen. And, either we have found similarly inclined animals or they have given in to my natural clock because even the roosters don't begin their morning crowing until I have awaken naturally.

That being said, I have noticed in the past week that my internal clock has set itself back about 1/2 hour in the mornings, waking me between 6 and 6:30 in the morning. Instead of staying in bed, planning my day, I have taken to throwing on whatever clothing is conveniently to hand and heading upstairs alone to enjoy the silence. At this hour, the dogs have not begun clamoring to be let out for their morning necessities, the chicks in the living room are all piled on top of each other a corner of their pens, Aloysius & Rufeo have not awoken to begin to announce the day to the rest of us with their morning crows. In the quiet, I let out the dogs from inside the laundry room to their yard and start a fresh load of laundry. I fold the laundry waiting for me in the dryer. I put away the clean dishes from the dishwasher and start to fill the new day's load. I check my email. I don't think I will ever evolve into a true up-at-the-break-of-dawn type farm girl, but I have really started to enjoy these few minutes of solitude before I go back downstairs to wake Sean and we start the real morning farm chores.

The does were all lined up and waiting for their morning rations of feed.
This morning, I wandered outside and leisurely fed the masses. We moved Asher into the same stall with Jedi last night and I wanted to see how he fared the experience. I also wanted to check on Ellie. She has been having some issues with slightly runny droppings over the past week. In addition to adding some electrolyte support to her water last night, Sean gave her a thorough bathing and I fed her some worming medicine. She hadn't been wormed in a while, so I suspected it was warranted. The runny droppings is a concern for the same reasons as in human children; dehydration or illness being possible hazards. Her appetite is good. She is drinking. And, she is not acting sick. So, we're keeping a close eye on her and if she doesn't improve today, we'll have our vet check her tomorrow. An additional concern is that her udder looked to have some milk in it last night. When Sean checked, the milk was thicker than it should be and creamy. We've not been milking her for about a month, with her being in with the kids all day, there wasn't enough milk to make it worth the time to do so. So, it is possible that she may have a slight infection or the beginning of mastitis. Or, it could be nothing. Her utter was not sore or warm to the touch- which it would be. Still new at this, we are learning things all the time. So, we'll watch and when our vet opens tomorrow, call over to talk with them about it.

We moved Asher in with Jedi last night. Asher is 5 months old now and is showing signs of being perfectly capable and interested in breeding the does. He is also large enough now that he can no longer walk through the livestock fencing. He is certainly smaller than Jedi, but it will be good for the both of them to have someone to play and buck heads with. I was worried over the move and how the herd would adjust to the new arrangement, but I seemed to be the only one concerned. Momma Ellie called Asher to her once, but he was too busy wanting to eat the treat of cucumbers and green beans I brought out for the boys to pay her any attention. Jedi fained at Asher a couple of times, but no contact was made and Asher merely scooted around to the back side of the tree and ate hay from that side. I think everyone will be fine with the new housing situation.

I took some video footage of the goats from last night and this morning to share with you. The does are beginning to show some interest in the bucks. I caught Rachel flagging with her tail and rubbing along the fencing between the fields. It is just about time for them to begin their breeding season. We will need to make some final decisions about who will be bred with whom very quickly and start tracking their cycles so we can arrange "dates" for them. I guess we will also find out if our fencing will hold up against Jedi's determination.

Right now, Sean is working on replacing the laundry room door with a new one that our friend, Greg dropped off for us. Daddy Dale is on his way to help or perhaps work on painting some more. The house is really looking great and I am so happy to be getting so many things crossed off my to do list! I am hoping that Sean and I can work on releveling back porch steps and fixing the railing when he finishes with the door. We also HAVE to grout the finished tiling in the kitchen before all the tiles decide to jump ship and break. But, we'll see how far we get today. It is only noon, so perhaps we'll have time for a couple smaller projects, too.

Thanks for checking in.
Sean and Sonja ♥

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Chicks, Salsa, Pickles, Soap... Repeat

With autumn in the air, house repair and maintenance, routine and otherwise, are in full swing- in large part to the credit of Daddy Dale's weekly assistance. Sean's parents routinely visit Maine each year. Over the past 4 years that I have gotten to know them better, I completely realize how blessed I am to have the BEST in-laws. I love spending time with them; attempting to win at Spades and utterly losing playing Dominoes, spending time at the local dog park, visiting with a glass of wine on the porch, the list is endless, but this blog is about our farm and it would be remiss of us not to mention all the time they have generously spent helping us around here this summer. Thank you. ♥

One of this summer's goals is to have the barn completely sheathed before the end of October when the weather will start to really turn. So far, the three 10x10 stalls for our goats and horse have been framed, the interior walls sheathed, and almost completely roofed. The front three 10x10 stalls earmarked for our milk room, birthing/isolation stalls, and tack room have been framed. The milk room has been almost completely sheathed outside. The current hold up is that one corner of our would be barn rests in an 8 inch decline. We are at a standstill for sheathing until a foundation for that corner can be poured. It is not a huge job in terms of time or effort. In terms of money, it is more than we have to spend today. We are on our way and there will soon be a post titled Barn Building: part 3. Until then, you can see from these pictures, our progress from last week. We sheathed the exterior of the milk room, framed out the door way and installed the window where it is going to permanently live. Now, to mow the grass inside the building.

Another project which was tackled last weekend, was the taming of our front yard. I think I have posted about the yard in front of our house that is determined to be 3-6 inches of water most of the year instead of a nice lawn area. It can't be mowed down because of how wet and unnavigable it is, so we have allowed it to pretend to be a pond until a true farm pond could be dug in that spot. And, I have resigned myself to occasionally sigh or glare at it when I drive into the yard each day. This summer has given us a bit of a break because of its relatively dry state.

With the help of Sean and Daddy Dale- since I was disinclined to attempt it myself due to its infestation with garden spiders- the spot has been mowed flat. It still needs a good raking and another go over with our new rider, but there is a glimmer of hope that a pond will be dug this year. I can already envision happy ducks and geese playing in it!

Three more chicks hatched from the four eggs in the nesting box outside. Two of them came on Thursday morning. One of these was a full blooded Americauna and the other we are hopeful will be an "Easter egger" cross. (We know the father is Americauna, but the mother is either a Buff Orpington or Rhode Island Red. We won't know if it carries the "blue egg" gene until it begins to lay its eggs in 5 months. We hope it does!) They have already moved into the brooder in the house and are keeping our other 2 chicks fine company. We had another egg hatch on Friday while we were at work. We found the chick when we got home from work, but sadly, it had not survived. There is one egg left in the nest box, which will be candled this morning to check for signs of life. If it hatches and lives, our hatch rate for the broodies is 85%. If not, our hatch rate was 80%.

I finally finished carving all the soap into bar shape and created pretty packaging for them (I like them, anyway. You'll have to tell me if you agree). And, I made another 2 quarts and another pint of home made liquid goat's milk hand soap from the left over shavings. I purchased some white boxes to help protect the bar version of my soap during shipping. For those of you who have requested samples, they were put into the mail this morning. I would really appreciate it if, when you get your sample, you would comment to let me know that it arrived. Also, you may have noticed a survey on the bar to the left of our page. Please, take a minute to leave me some feedback about the sample you received. I am really excited to hear your thoughts! Thanks!! ♥

Last night, Sean and I harvested more tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers. With the weather beginning to change, our tomatoes are all ripening up and looking delicious. We grabbed a basket full of goodness while we checked on all the pens before settling in for the night. After a family dinner at home (of fried chicken, fresh corn on the cob, loaded smashed potatoes, and crescent rolls with Kristen, Meaghan, and their Dad, Chris) and seeing the girls off for their weekly sleep-over, Sean and I worked together to can 3 more jars of garlic dill pickles, and 9 pints of salsa. I love working together on these projects. So far this year, we have canned 19 pints of salsa, 12 jars of dilly beans, and 4 quarts and 4 pints of garlic dill pickles. It is not a lot, but it is a great start, I think!
Look at this guy! We found two of these on the cherry tomato plants in our back yard. They are HUGE, about 4-5 inches long and as thick as one of my fingers! They had eaten nearly all the leaves off the plant before we found them. Sean removed them after snapping this picture and rehomed them to the field where they would do no harm.

Curious to what they could be, we looked on line and think they might be Luna Moth caterpillars based on ---> this picture we found online. Looks similar to me.

What do you think?

We are glad you visited today. Come again, soon!
Sean and Sonja

Thanks to Tammy from Our Neck of the Woods for identifying this pest as a Tomato Hornworm. Are we glad to have taken them off the tomato plants! These beasties are capable of destroying our harvest. You can read about them on her blog linked above.