Sunday, March 31, 2013

First Hike of the Year

Today, Sean, Meaghan and I decided to take our maiden hike up to the abandoned quarry at Mount Waldo. We hadn't gone hiking with Jane, yet and have been looking forward to a warm afternoon to do just that. We also decided to bring Hadassah with us. Jane and Hadassah had not met, so we were careful to watch them and their interaction- just in case Jane decided to take a dislike to Haddie.

Poor little Haddie did not know what to make of the outdoors, her ride in the car, nor of all the things that moved. She cried piteously for about 10 minutes straight. Eventually, we carried her part of the way when she began running the wrong direction. Silly goat! Once we reached the granite slabs, Haddie quickly decided that the outdoors was not so bad, after all. ♥

I know that this will be the first of many hikes with our goats this year.

Thanks for stopping in for a visit tonight.
Sean, Sonja, & Meaghan ♥

Also shared with: Homestead Abundance Blog Hop, and The Real Farmchicks

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

While Sean Was Away...

Yesterday was a busy and exciting day around here. First, I finished 5 new small eggshell pendants, 1 mosaic egg, 6 new Farm Chick Chic Rope Scarves, and 12 new Rope Necklaces. (I will be adding these to our Etsy Shop with pictures shortly.) Additionally, we had other farm sales in the form of cheese, eggs, and some individual goose eggs ordered. And, the article on Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) I wrote for the April/May issue of From Scratch Magazine went live. My first submission and byline, so I am very proud of that.

In the midst of all this, I am still fighting an awful respiratory thing. I knew that laying carpet, painting, and completely remodeling Meaghan's room would end with my allergies kicking up. Nearly a week later and I am still dealing with symptoms of congestion and a runny nose. Why is this important? It isn't, but I am hoping you will accept this as a reason why my living room is in such disarray. I knew that besides dusting and washing the couch covers, I also needed to vacuum and put away the clean clothes I folded onto the arm chair today. Before I spent the time doing all these chores, though, I thought, "What better time to enjoy some playtime with the babies?"

The goat kids are all thriving and growing normally. They are petted and played with regularly. In the evenings, Sean and I alternate holding two of the kids, petting them while they sleep. We are not alone in loving the new kids. Meaghan spent a few hours "training" Haddie to jump up on her lap when called. She was very successful. Now, Miss Haddie loves to bolt onto any unsuspecting lap. We don't mind a bit, but she is heavier than she looks (as the small, blue bruises on my legs attest to) and her hooves are sharper than they look. As cute as it is now, I am hoping she outgrows this before she weighs 100 pounds or more!


I planned on writing more about the chicks growing and getting their feathers, the seedlings I planted in preparation for this year's planting, and the duck and geese eggs set in the incubator, but I still have a lot of items on my "To Do" list that need attending. I'll try to update those and the other happenings around here soon. For now, I leave you with the video I spliced together this morning. I set it to some Irish fiddle music.

Thanks for visiting today. We're glad you stopped by!
Sean and Sonja ♥

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Judah and Keren Arrive ♥

My intention of holding a little give-away based on guessing first, when Rachel would kid and then, when Leah would do the same was foiled by my coming home to find them newly delivered, wet and cold in our barn last night. I am pleased to announce that Kelly Ann, who guessed April 7th, was the closest to the correct day and is the winner. Please, email me your address and I will send you a semi-fabulous prize. ♥

For the past few days, I have had a horrible sinking feeling that I have been unable to shake. I actually thought that something was going to go wrong with the goats. It got to the point that I confided in Sean that I have him turn on the lights and check the stalls each morning before me because I am afraid of what I will find. It is an unfounded fear and irrational, but perhaps understandable in the wake of Sapphira and Pepper's shocking deaths last month. Sean assured me that everything was fine and it was. I still couldn't shake this feeling.

Sean and I discussed how to arrange our schedules to maximize the amount of time one of us was home through April, so when the new kids came, we would be there. Leah miscarried last year, but Rachel had never been bred. Being new "Mommas-to-Be," Sean and I wanted to be present to assist in any way we could- even if the Momma is doing all the hard work. By my calculations, Rachel and Leah were not due for another month. Rachel had just began to "bag up" (fill her udder), but Leah looked no where near ready. They were not exhibiting any signs of imminent delivery; no change in their regular behavior that we discerned, no discharge of mucus, and they were both still relatively small- nothing like the ungainly mass Miss Ruby attained to before her delivery.

I had to work an event for my regular job, which was going to take me from home for about 4 hours, but Sean and his game night friends were hanging out at our house after Sean got home from his work in the evening. Normally, Sean will check everyone and give their evening feed and water when he gets home at 5 pm. Wanting to tidy the house before his friends arrived, he thought to delay that until I got home at 6 pm. Hands full of brief case and pizzas, I heard the goats all calling in the stall as I walked inside. While I got dinner settled for the guys, I asked Sean to check on the goats and put everyone to bed for the night. Not 5 minutes later, Sean returned inside with 2 wet, cold, and very clearly newly-birthed kids. I grabbed towels from our vet bag and wrapped the kids in them and headed to the bathroom to get them clean and dry. Sean returned to the barn to see who had kidded and get her moved into the basement kidding stall.

My job was to get those kids warm immediately. I laid one on the floor, wrapped in a towel and began to wash off the other with warm water and a clean cloth. It only took a few minutes to clean the first kid up. A quick check to see it was a "him" and then, he was bundled into clean dry towel and given to Seth (one of Sean's friends) to hold near the wood stove to warm up further.

Sean returned inside with both Rachel and Leah. Both of them had red and bloody tail ends, made more obvious by their white coats. Rachel had a stringy glob of placenta hanging from hers. At this point, we were unsure whether they were both in the process of kidding or if they each already had. Sean carried them into the basement and returned with some grain, fresh hay and molasses laced water for them. Our does always want to eat and drink while they are in labor and after they are delivered. Having delivered 4 human children, I was always more interested in a warm shower and some sleepy time after having my babies, but I am not about to argue that with our does. They want a bale of hay, an extra half ration of grain and buckets of water? Then, THAT is exactly what they shall have!

While Sean was settling in the does, I took 5 minutes to wash off and dry kid number 2. She was very cold and limp. She did not bleat at all while I cleaned her. This sent up a red flag, but getting her clean, warm, and dry was my first priority. I was hoping the handling of her, the drying and the warming, would perk her up. It did, but she was still not as active as the other kid. I brought both kids to the basement to be with their Mom or Moms. How would we know who belonged to whom? We hoped they would know. Thankfully, they did.
Leah responded to the buck's calls with licking and allowing him to suckle. Rachel was interested in the doe's cries, but would not allow her to nurse. Rachel licked the doe kid head to tail, but moved away when the doe tried to latch on. Ruby acted similarly after she birthed Hadassah, not wanting to nurse until she'd delivered both her kids. So, though I was a little worried, I was not overly concerned about it. I thought that perhaps Rachel had another kid to deliver or maybe she was just new to this whole thing and needed some time to figure it out. I was encouraged that Rachel was protective of the doe, even if she wouldn't nurse yet.
Judah born March 23, 2013 Weight 7 pounds
Oberhausli/Boer (Sire) & Sanaan/Lamancha (Dam)
I spent 3 hours with the goats, clearing soiled hay, watching them interact with their young, and taking pictures. I made certain that the does' udders were clear and their precious colostrum was available. I attempted to help the doe kid to latch on, but she both she and Rachel were disinclined to nurse. Rachel passed the placenta and I disposed of it. I suspect Leah had already delivered hers in the barn and disposed of it herself. No other kids were born. I remained a little anxious that our doe was standing stiffly and not moving about like the buck was. I checked her tail and cleared some meconium (the first tar-black, sticky waste). But, I decided that since there did not appear to be anything physically wrong with her, I would give them some time to settle in and re-assess things in another hour. It was nearly 9 pm, I was covered in yuck and more than ready for my own (now cold) dinner, too.

We needed some names for these new ones. We decided to name Leah's lad, Judah. And, Rachel's lass, Keren. Judah was the name of one of the Biblical Leah's sons. Keren is the shortened form of Job's lovely daughter, Ke'ren Hap'puch.
Keren born March 23, 2013 Weight 6 pounds
Oberhausli/Boer (Sire) & Sanaan/Lamancha (Dam)
We checked the does at 10 pm. Leah and Judah were settled in just fine. Rachel was laying down, resting, but she was not laying closely with Keren. Keren was cold to Sean's touch, especially her hind legs and stomach. Sean brought Keren upstairs with him and we discussed whether we might need to bottle feed her. If we did, at least, we would have a plentiful supply of milk handy. That was a last resort, though. We believe that animals thrive best when they are allowed to live the way they were created to. We bottle feed as a last resort. Other farmers have their own philosophies and practices, but this is how we do it.

It was late and we were all tired. I hoped that Keren was just tuckered out from being born and that once she was rested and warmed thoroughly, she would do better. I could not keep my eyes open for another minute, so Keren came to bed with us. Trying to infuse my warmth into her, I snuggled Keren unto the crook of my left arm, wrapped my knees around her tail end in the form of a "comma", and we all went to sleep. Drifting off into the "half" sleep that many parents develop, I remembered holding my own children so, when they were newborn infants. I cannot say I slept well. First of all, I am fighting a sinus infection, which makes my breathing labored. Secondly, I was mindful of not rolling over, nor releasing my protective arm from around Keren. And, without a diaper for protection, I was mentally prepared to move quickly, should the need arise.

Around 1 am, Keren stirred and began to "meeeeh" softly. I woke Sean and asked him to bring her to her mom to see if Rachel would respond. A few minutes passed until Sean returned kid-less back to bed. When the does heard Keren's cries, all 3 mothers woke and stood. This aroused all the kids, who simultaneously began to nurse- including Rachel and Keren. This morning, when we checked them again, everyone was behaving normally, nursing with vigor, and doing well. What a relief!

I spliced together this video for you from the footage I captured last night.

Thanks for visiting with us today, friends. We are glad you are here.
Sean and Sonja ♥

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Spring Means Babies...

I feel like a broken record.

It is cold.

It snowed a foot.

I can't wait until Spring (Spring means inches of mud instead of snow, so make that-) Summer.

So much to do. Planting, building, growing, but we can't because it snowed a foot (again!).

The frustrated expectation of the months ahead is enough to drive one mad slowly waiting for it. And then, I hear these from the living room, chirping sweetly. I take a breath in and out. And watch them. They are not waiting for anything. They play. They scratch. They eat. They drink. They snooze in a warm and comfy pile. I can't help but smile.

And, these:

They are slowly growing into the promise of ducklings and goslings. I candled them last night to check for progress. As far as I can tell, 4 of the Black Swedish eggs have nothing forming. I will give them another week and if there are no signs of life, those eggs will be discarded. The other 8 Black Swedish eggs have the beginnings of life, tiny veins spidering out from the center. The Mallard eggs are faring slightly better. 10 of them are showing signs of development. It is difficult to see inside the strong, thick goose eggshell, but I was able to definitively see a developing "spider" in at least on egg. Such hopeful news! These should begin hatching sometime around April 11th.

And, if those two things were not enough to remind me to live what life is today, the joy of these little ones surely is.

I cannot truthfully say that I am not still awaiting the warm days of summer and eagerly anticipating the bounty of this year's harvest with hope. Nor, that I have given up worrying over the coming delivery of Leah and Rachel's kids. But, I think if my mind starts to run ahead too much, I will just nip down to the kid stall and watch some goat kids at play.

I had so much fun interacting with friends who guessed what breed of chicks we had in the brooder, I had another thought. Rachel is due between now and the end of April 2013. If you would care to guess the date she delivers, I will send the person who guesses the closest a semi-fabulous prize from our Etsy shop. No need to sign up for anything, just leave a comment with your guess. I can tell you that her udder is filling, but is not football sized yet, if that helps, at all with your guessing.

Thanks for visiting with us today.
Sean and Sonja ♥

Also shared at Coop Hop #4

Monday, March 18, 2013

Ruby has Twins!

Ruby has been showing "sign" of impending delivery for weeks. Each day we check her at breakfast, mid-day, and dinner. We run our hands over her spine and under her growing belly. We check her udder, look for indications that today might be the day and wonder, "Is she ever going to kid?"

Except Sunday. We were in a hurry to get to our meeting for worship, after which we intended on participating in our volunteer ministry with our daughters.  We fed all the animals, watered them and raced to get to where we needed to be on time. Adding to the day's busy schedule was the need to complete Meaghan's bedroom make-over; complete with new carpeting, fresh paint, building a loft, and the removal of all things Barbie or doll inspired. It was as we were in the midst of loft construction, that Kristen raced upstairs with Meaghan nipping her heels, calling, "There's a baby goat! Hurry!!!"

Sean and I wasted no time in running downstairs to the sight of a very newly delivered Ruby licking the wet and slimy blob of goat kid she'd just plopped onto a mound of hay. I thrust my feet into my boots, grabbed the waiting bag of clean towels and supplies* and began to help Ruby clean off her sweet kid. I began at the head and steadily wiped towards the hind end. Between our efforts, it took just a few minutes to have our new kid cleaned and drying. A quick peek at the underside, revealed our newest baby to be a doe.
* What kind of supplies do you need on hand? Lesa from Better Hens and Gardens wrote a comprehensive article about preparing for kidding Here: It was so good, I printed a copy for my binder.
All of the goats we have named at the farm carry names from Bible peoples. Thus, we named the first kid born this year, Hadassah (meaning Myrtle tree). This is the Hebrew name of Queen Esther. We'll call her Haddie for short. She weighed in at 7.5 pounds and is 75% Oberhausli and 25% Boer. In the years to come, she should produce a nicely flavored milk. Miss Haddie is strikingly sweet. I love her matching dark brown boots on her front legs, her light brown head with white stripe to her little nose, and dark brown circle in the middle of her white body.  Haddie is already full of mischief and is the more active of the twins.

It took about 30 minutes before the next kid was ready to emerge. Once Ruby got started, within just a few pushes, her second kid was born. Salome slid into the world a slick, mass of black fur and globs of fetal mucus. I set to work wiping the new kid dry. This one was a pure black doe. She, too, is 75% Oberhausli and 25% Boer. Salome weighed in at 6.5 pounds. (Salome is the name of Jesus' disciples- James and John's Mother.) We will call her Me-me (pronounced may-may) which means "little sister". Me-me learned to nurse first, but is the far less inquisitive of the twins. She is less vocal, too.

Sean removed the bloody and soiled hay from the stall. I washed my hands and arms of residual birth fluids and took pictures and video. We spent a couple hours watching Mom and babies to make sure they were all healthy and normal. Then, we gave Ruby an extra ration of grain, some molasses laced water and left her to rest.

Today, we will give the kids and Mom a shot of Bo-Se (Selenium).  This helps prevent white muscle disease in the kids. Since Maine is selenium deficient, we supplement it in our herd's diet with foods rich in selenium like broccoli, spinach, and kale most of the year, grain with .03-.06% selenium content, goat treats, and mineral blocks. It doesn't make sense to take chances, though, so we also give any does that deliver a shot after kidding.

I could not wait to wake this morning and spend some time with the tinys. While Ruby was busy eating this morning's grain, I wrapped the kids one-at-a-time in my arms and brought them upstairs for photos. I would have preferred to take pictures of them outside in the grass, but outside was 30 degrees this morning and the grass is dead and brown. I settled for a warm living room instead. I did not want to separate the kids from Ruby too long, either.

I will have many pictures and videos of the does to share with you, but here is a start:

Lally Broch Farm's Hadassah
75% Oberhausli 25% Boer
7.5 pounds
 Born March 17, 2013

Lally Broch Farm's Salome
75% Oberhausli 25% Boer
6.5 pounds
Born March 17, 2013

Tasmanian and Haddie were VERY interested in checking each other out.

Thanks for stopping by for a visit today. We're sure glad you came!
Sean & Sonja ♥


I have so much to write, but I also have other things that need my attention, too. For now, I leave you with this dose of WONDERFUL and a promise that I will buy out the time later to write a a proper post with pictures, explainations of the new names, meanings, weights and all the important things.


Sonja ♥

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Chick Photo Shoot

I love new chicks. I love the peep, peep, peep sounds they make. I love how they are awake one second and sound asleep the next. I love to cuddle their fluffy goodness. Smack in the middle of doing the work I was supposed to accomplish today, I had the unquenchable urge to take pictures of the little balls of fluff.

Since they bring me such joy, I want to share them with you, too. I dare you not to "awwwwww".


After a few minutes of posing, a rest was in order.

Thanks for visiting!
Sonja ♥

Friday, March 15, 2013

New Additions and More to Come~

When Sean and I gave the coop a good clean out a few days ago, several things came to light. One of them being that a couple of our ducklings have gone broody. This is good news since we want to hatch some ducklings to sell at this year's farm swap at the Tractor Supply Company (TSC) in Bangor, Maine. Another revelation was that the fencing was due for some repairs; winter had taken a toll on the chain panels we use. Most surprisingly, was the discovery of an additional 3 roosters in with the hens- no spurs yet, small, and previously crow-less, we had hoped that we'd separated all the lads that needed re-homing about a month ago. If their "interest" in the hens was not a clear give-away, the new ability to crow was. Ugggh. Did we hatch out nearly entire clutches of roos??? Shouldn't it, at least statistically, be a 50/50 ratio??? Adding to the insult, these roosters were ALL Cochins; 2 partridge colored and the gorgeous little copper one I was so pleased with hatching. Let's do the math. That makes a total of 11 roosters living in separate quarters awaiting sale, re-homing, or a soup pot plus our 4 breeding boys; Aloysius, Ruffeo, Sebastian, and Cooper, AND 3 more Cochin roos! 18 Roosters!!! Which means, considering the hens that are "retired" and the gang of 14 roosters all NOT laying eggs, we are down to only 30 or so hens a laying. We did not like those numbers.

Though I prefer to purchase chicks from local farms, I wanted chicks immediately; I was "jonesing" for a chick fix- STAT! Which is why I started to call around to our local TSC to see if their chicks were in yet. Being in Maine, local is relative. I checked Ellsworth, Bangor and when neither of these had chicks, I also called our local feed stores. Chicks are expected, but no one had them in-store. I planned to head into Belfast for some other errands, so I popped into Yknot Farms on Route 3. where we purchased our Wyandottes a couple years ago. I was in business, not only did they have chicks, but they had some 10 day old, Rhode Island Red, pullets. I bought 5 for $20 and happily brought them home.

I want to breed some black and white speckled Cochins this year. I plan on breeding Cooper with our 4 Lacey Wyandotte hens and 3 Barred Rock hens to see what comes of that. I ordered 6 Black Copper Marans chicks from Muddy Hoof Farm and will get those at the first chicken swap in April. The new Copper Marans and our Americauna hens will be bred with Sebastian to create more Americaunas and "Olive Eggers" for next year. Aloysius will cover our Cochin hens. And, that leaves Rufeo to remain in the main yard with the Rhode Island Reds, Buff Orpingtons, and Australorpe hens- which we will use exclusively for collecting eating eggs.

So, with all these plans in the back of my mind, we purchased our first chicks of the year. We will need to purchase some additional Cochin pullets, too- because we have 3 less than we thought!

Since the ducks and geese have obliged us with eggs at a steady rate, we borrowed an incubator and set some eggs. We are trying a little experiment. We set 24 duck eggs in the incubator along with 8 geese eggs. The remainder of the eggs collected over the last week were placed back into the duck nest in the coop- 10 in all. Our experiment is two-fold. First, we want to compare the hatch rate between the incubator and what the ducks hatch out. Last year, we let a duck go broody, but her eggs disappeared from her nest until we rescued the final 2 and finished hatching them inside. We are hoping for better results this time around. Secondly, it is cold still. Today was only in the 30's outside with a steady wind. I am curious to see if the eggs are viable so early in the season or if the cold impedes them from developing. We'll candle the eggs in the incubator next weekend to see if any have developed. If broody duck cooperates and sits on the clutch we gave her, we'll attempt to candle some of those, too, to compare. I am interested and hopeful. It would be great to have a couple dozen ducklings to bring to the TSC "Chicken Swap".

Our goats are still pregnant and growing those kids! Ruby has gotten HUGE in size and ungainly with it. Her greatly enlarged udder is producing milk in anticipation of kidding, but when that will happen is any one's guess. Sean felt the kid(s) moving this morning, but there are no clear signs of impending kidding. Leah and Rachel are both smaller in girth than Ruby. We think they are several weeks behind her and won't kid until next month. But, who are we kidding? We do NOT have this down yet. I am just happy they are showing all the sign of radiant, impending motherhood; fat bellies, shiny coats, enlarging udders and good appetites. And, that I have my kidding supplies ready to hand, just in case.

An unexpected and pleasant addition to our homestead is Jane. We heard through a friend about a 3 year old, French Alpine doe in need of a permanent home. Sean called the owner to discuss the situation and then drove to check her out after work on Monday. She is lovely. Jane looks very much like our Oberhausli, except her coat is longer, her head is slightly different in shape and she has a wicked set of horns! Sean checked her eyelids for color, nose and tail end for discharge(s), her stance, hooves, and overall appearance among other things. Jane was a pet doe and thus is wonderfully friendly. She walks on a leash better than our dogs! She birthed a single kid last year and was milked a little. All in all, she was a great find. Sometimes "free" is code for a "very costly vet bill in the making". This did not seem to be the case with Jane and we decided to take her. She is in isolation for a little while until we make certain that she is not carrying anything nasty that could impact our herd, but I have every expectation of her being a great addition for us.

That is what is going on in our corner of the world this week. In addition to animal gains, we got started with planting some 6 packs of tomatoes. I worked on creating additional mosaic eggshell jewelry pieces and I tried my hand at sewing some grain bag totes. I prefer making our jewelry, soaps, and scents, to be honest, but the totes came out decently and will certainly be more useful in this form than taking up space in the "milk room". And, if I can sell them, all the better!

Thanks for visiting with us today, friends. We're glad for the company.
Sean and Sonja ♥

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

What's New???

I wanted to be productive yesterday, but I wasn't. Instead, I went to bed early with some strong pain medicines to attempt to sleep off the Migraine I had been fighting for 2 days straight- uggghh. Not good. Tucked into the recesses of my mind lay the inviting thought of "sleeping in"this morning and wakening to a quiet home in which to putter about and "work" on some pieces for our Etsy shop. Instead, at precisely 6:36 am, I woke to thump, thump, thump... knock, knock, knock... and the ever-dreaded, anxious cry of, "We missed the bus!" A fraction of my brain engaged, considered the unenviable task of dressing and then driving 40 minutes (round trip) to drop my teens at their schoolhouse for a few nano-seconds, and decided, "You're staying home today." As much as I love my daughters (and I do with all my heart), the shattering illusion of my quiet day home was almost more than I could handle. I fell in love all over again when Sean said, "I'll take them to catch the bus. Go back to sleep." No lovelier words had ever been uttered in all of human history.

Of course, once awakened, sleep alluded me. At least my Migraine was reduced to a dull ache- much more manageable! Rather than lay in bed, awake, I dressed and went upstairs, ready to help Sean with the morning's chores. We took care of our routine haying, graining, and watering of the hungry hordes. Everyone looked in good health and fine spirits, despite the rain that threatened.

As, we collected the morning's eggs, I noticed one of the Mallards has gone broody in the corner of the chicken coop. Poorly placed, her backside was splattered with chicken droppings. I added Sean attaching a wooden guard to cover her area to my list of things to do today. Sean assured me it would be a relatively quick and easy thing to cut a board to fit over her nest, giving her some privacy and protection. Once that is handled tonight, I will return 10 of the duck eggs we've been collecting to her nest and we'll see what happens!

Chores completed and plans for the evening firmed up, Sean headed off to work and I began my day. First, I settled some housework that needed my attention. Then, it was time to tackle some projects that needed doing. These included:

Inoculating milk to make a fresh batch of cheese.
Starting seeds of 5 non-GMO, organic varieties of tomatoes. We planted 12 each of Soldaki, Hogheart Paste, Amish Paste, Heinz Paste and Cherry tomatoes today.
Additionally, I took some pictures of my latest eggshell art projects, updated the look of our blog,and attempted to sew my first grain-bag tote. That was a little rough, as my sewing skills are rusty, but the project is coming along and I certainly learned a few things not to do! I'll post more about the tote bags later. For today, I want to share some images with you of the wooden eggs I created over the weekend.

Crimson Mosaic Goose Egg & Teal and Cimarron Blue Mosaic Egg
Look carefully to see how the shades of teal change to cimarron and then to
 marine blue. The bottom is painted marine blue, signed and numbered.
Teal, Cimmaron, & Marine Blue Mosaic Egg next to our
fresh hens' eggs. ♥
Crimson Mosaic Goose Egg next to our fresh goose egg. ♥
I use the same technique to create these unique Mosaic Eggs as I do our custom jewelry pieces. First, I have to boil our hen's eggshells and peel both membrane layers from the inside of the eggs. These must dry overnight. Once they are ready, I use a quality glue to carefully mosaic the eggshells to the outside of the birch wood form. This must dry completely before I begin the multi-layered process of painting with watercolors and sealing each egg with glaze. From start to finish, it takes about 2 days to create each egg.

I am very pleased with the results. Each egg is hand painted with water-colors I mix specifically for that individual egg. No two will ever be exactly alike. Also, I personally sign and number each one.

You can use them to decorate your home for Spring, place one as an interesting paper-weight for your farm fabulous desk, or group them for a stunning county chic table centerpiece. I am betting you creative readers can think of several other ways to display one or more of them in your home or office. ♥

Our Mosaic eggs will be available for purchase shortly on our Etsy shop and listed with full details as to exact sizes, weight, and colors available and of course, we'll have more images! Come on over to browse our selection of items.

Remember, if you use the code: FARMCHICK, you'll receive 10% discount on any of our hand crafted goodies until March 31, 2013.

Sean just called and he is on his way to pick up a new addition for our homestead. We received a call yesterday about an animal needing a home. After talking with the owner and asking some questions, it seems like we might be a good fit. I don't want to let the cat out of the bag just yet, but if this new creature does come to live with us, I will spend some time taking pictures and posting about it tomorrow. Anyone care to guess what it could be???

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

Also shared with: the-backyard-farming-connection-hop-23 &

The Self Sufficient HomeAcre


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Inspirations and misplaced memories

Sean here.

     For those of us who choose the seemingly never-ending uphill battle that IS a farming life, it is probably a good idea to look back every once and again at where this desire really originated in the first place.  Yes, yes, we all wish to know where our food comes from and avoid GMO's and save the environment and the joy of working the land and ladidadidadida......and I'm OF COURSE not putting any of these reasons down. All excellent justifications for breaking one's back and bank account; howsoever, many of us could probably jump into our way-back-machine and discover that our desire to "live on a farm" reaches into our roots of mental development.  Back when we were bodies of energy and skulls full of mush, this idea was implanted.  Thus, it has always been sitting there, deep in the back, while we lived out our normal, boring, non-farming lives, waiting for a chance to leap out at us again, full of teeth and adventure.  It grips us with a tenaciousness that will not be sated by any sort of ration or reason because there's no grown-ups to tell us, "Sean, we don't have the land to have a farm", or "Sean, chickens are smelly and where would we keep them?" or even "Sean, goats can't just live in the basement you know..." Au contraire.

     I spent the majority of my first decade of life in a little spit of a town named Waldo, Maine.  And don't even try, I've heard it all my life.  If you need to ask "Where's Waldo?" check google maps.  Smartalec.  In a little house in the woods,  I had it all.  Acres of dark forest to explore, a local pond to catch bullfrogs, and a Nintendo Entertainment System when the weather wasn't aggreeable to either exploring or bullfrogging.  However, in my six to nine-year-old (skull of mush) brain, it was nothing compared to my friend Billy's homelife.  Because Billy "lived on a farm."  One with all the bells and whistles.  Barn, silos, tractors, hay lofts, sharp pointy implements that could skewer you at any moment - a young boy's Xanadu.  Every chance I had, I would be over at Billy's place.  Weaving amongst the cows, burrowing through the hay, chasing the chickens through the yard -  this was the life I was meant for.  Of course, Billy, knowing the Truth of "living on a farm" that being that no one just LIVES on a farm, sought out every opportunity to come to my boring old non-farm house to play on my NES.  Why is it that children are typically so desirous of a change to their daily routine, where as adults, a small change can lead some to a nervous breakdown?  That sense of discovery and adventure in children sometimes transfers over to a nastier adult situation called "wanting what we can't have."  And it's a much less desirable trait after the bloom of youth has passed.

     This, I believe was my first conscious exposure to the lure of the farm.  It was not the last though.  Through the years, whenever it was encountered in the wild through a random barn on the side of the road or the unsmistakeable smell of a cowfield, that farming memory would awaken and tweak the rest of my brain.  Not a big tweak, but just enough to let me know that the child inside of me that still didn't want to listen to reason was still alive and kicking.  And he wanted to chase chickens again.

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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Bath Time for Geese

As self-serving as it is, one of the things I love the most about our pair of China Buff geese is that they still like to be with me. When the weather cooperates, which has not been frequently, I can loose them from their yard. Dutifully, they follow me to the flooded part of the lawn to get their "bath". (We are hopeful to have the money to have a proper pond dug for them in later summer or early in the fall.) Not as friendly as the goats or chickens, our geese will stay in close proximity to me. They like me to be within 10-15 feet of where they are. When I get further than that, they begin honking and tag along to wherever I am heading. If I want them to follow me, I just begin walking away. I can get close enough to touch them, but they prefer if I merely keep them company and keep my hands to myself. They tolerate my picking them up, but they certainly do not like it.

 At bath time, our geese dunk their heads to wet them. They slosh water down over their backs, wetting their feathers. Then, it is time to preen each feather into place. Once preening is complete to their satisfaction, they open their wings and flap madly to dry themselves.

It is a little sad that our geese do not know they can fly. They have never really tried to and we have never clipped their wings. Once last summer, Caitlin took off running towards me, caught some lift and managed what amounted to a very long leap across the back yard. She managed to get about 5 feet into the air. She looked as startled as I did. We watched to see would they continue, but flight was abandoned for policing the other yard occupants.

Can you tell them apart? Justin's bill has a bright, orange nub on the top of his. Caitlin's bill is smaller and colored black. Justin is slightly heavier than Caitlin, too. Caitlin's more vocal of the two. If there is any doubt who is who, Justin will be the one with his neck straight out, hissing, and charging towards Sean or any unsuspecting stranger nearing his nesting site.

Which do you think is which?

Thanks for visiting us tonight.
Sean and Sonja ♥

Also shared with: Black Fox Homestead: The homeacre-hop

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Miss Orpington Returns Home

We still have snow covering the ground, but Miss Orpington has been doing so well inside over the past couple of weeks, that Sean and I decided that the time had come to return her to home in the coop.


In preparation, we fed all the chickens an extra ration of food in the early evening, very close to roost time. The additional feeding helped to keep the other hens, roosters, ducks, and geese occupied with something other than asserting their place in the "pecking order." And, adding new chicks or reintegrating birds into the flock in the evening, just as they want to roost, cuts down on the amount of time they have to pick at each other, since their instincts are telling them to find a place to sleep for the night. It has been our experience that come morning, the newbies are accepted into the flock with a minimal amount of fuss.

And, so it was with Miss O. She returned home without any drama.