Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Gardening with Chickens

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, April 11, 2014

Give Away! Massage Melts

1 oz Sample Size
Our very popular Lally Broch Farm Scent Shot Tarts are created with organic soy wax and cosmetic grade fragrance oils and are available in over 20 delightfully yummy scents.

We've been hard at work all winter creating and testing a new product in response to feedback from folks sensitive to fragrance oils.

We are so pleased to introduce our latest product, Lally Broch Farm Massage Melts. These fabulous little cups are filled with happy-body-making goodness. Made with
organic soy wax, sweet almond oil, shea butter, vitamin E, and a blend of essential oils, these massage melts are very nearly heaven sent.

Regular size 2 oz cups
Use them in any scent warmer to provide a light background scent to fill your senses with a relaxing aroma. Once they are nicely warmed and melty, pour them directly on your body and massage away the cares of the day. You do not need to make the wax hot, just warmed enough to be able to enjoy smoothing into your skin.

Each 2 oz cup has enough for several uses. We have these scents available and in-stock: Sweet Dreams (lavender), Breathe, (peppermint and eucalyptus, Cleanse (sandalwood and lime), Garden Lemonade (lemon, lime, and peppermint), Woodland Breath (spruce & eucalyptus), Home Baked Hugs (cinnamon), Orange Spice (orange and cinnamon), Tea Tree Oil (melaleuca), Yasameen (jasmine), and Citrus Mint (lemon and peppermint). New scent combinations will be added as the year progresses.

We're so excited to be adding these to our line of quality products made here at the farm. We know that you will love them as much as we do and we want to give you a chance to try them out for yourself. Enter our drawing to win one of two gift packs of 9 samples. Too excited to wait to see if you win? You can find them available exclusively at Silkweeds shop in Searsport, Maine or visit our Etsy shop online.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Around the Farm

The SMASH~CRASH~THUMP of the dogs playing, chasing each other and barking from our front entry down the hall is not the soothing sound of silence I hoped to enjoy while detailing our last week for you. Since the alternative is an over-active bouncing bundle of puppy energy well past my bedtime, I will suffer through without too much complaint. Molly dog is nearly four months old now. Inquisitive and bright, she is trouble with a capitol T. Her training is coming along nicely, though I must admit, while she is the picture of obedience, she still has some work to do towards being the well-trained, submissive dog we hope to raise. What's the difference? Well, obedience is doing what you are told when you want to comply. Submission is doing it when you don't. Training takes discipline, attention, and reward. We're all working on Molly's training- including the goat Mommas, our yellow cat, Tas and Fenn dog.

Talon has taken to sleeping inside an empty dog
crate during the day. I suppose it offers him some
protection from Molly. It also has no alternate
escape route. Jury is still out as to its utility.
Molly was convinced that the cats made delightful squeaky toys until she was debased of that notion. She gets tons of enjoyment from chasing the cats up onto the backs of the chairs, the counters, or onto shelves. All of our cats have experience with dogs. Mostly, they simply puff themselves up, hiss a warning, and run for the safety of higher ground. Except Talon, my nephew's tom we've been cat-sitting for the winter. Talon is completely unaffected by anything. Molly using him as a chew toy? Not a concern for Talon. He just lays there and lets it happen. Of course, we put a stop to it. Molly is little and only playing, but allowing her to drag Talon's limp and compliant body around to chew on is not a healthy precedent for anyone. And, Talon will not even attempt to defend himself from chew-toy status. I have never seen anything like it. Tas, on the other hand, is confident of his ability to take on Molly and teach her some manners. He doesn't run. He doesn't puff up. He doesn't hiss. He does slap Molly with a volley of rat-tat-tat claw-less thwacks to her head when Molly decides to try it on with him. Their first encounter ended with a shocked and bewildered Molly running for protection and the safety of our laps. Did she learn her lesson? Not quite. Molly has learned the art of stalking with some success. Now when she spies Tas sunning himself, she drops to a crouch and sneaks close to him until she is within pouncing. Tas smacks her Rat-tat-tat and resumes his nap. Molly wanders off to find something to chew up or Fenn to annoy until she settles for one of her naps.
Nap time is a lovely thing! ♥

Fenn is taking his turn in schooling Molly's behaviors. He plays with her until he is done and then, lets her know playtime is over. He also eats first and will take her toys when he decides to. Just as I have learned to deal with squabbling children, I ignore them when they can sort it on their own, and defend the wronged party if things escalate. I don't blame Fenn for putting an end to Miss Tyrant's Teeth when he's had his fill of her chewing on his face, tail, or general fluffy-goodness with a quick and decisive snap of his teeth. It is all part of teaching Molly her place in our pack. We love her very much, but she is learning that the world does not revolve around her.

The goat does are doing their share to teach Molly manners, too. To the goat kids, Molly is just another play-pal to romp with. They walk up and sniff this funny looking kid and then, with a happy foot jump, bound away to play. To the goat Mommas, Molly smells like a predator, pure and simple. When she enters the pasture, they immediately turn to face the intruder in unison, like a well-trained militia line. I keep myself between Molly and the does to avoid any kind of mishap, be that in the form of her teeth or their horns during this initial introduction phase. It is my hope that in time, Molly will be a safe protector for the goats and their kids. In time and with lots of work and training sessions under us. 

 I am so happy to report that the weather is finally returning to normal and our snow is just about gone. Sean and I spent a few minutes before dinner "walking the land" last night. As we noted things that needed repair or replacement for the coming year, we were happy to see that last year's raised beds are workable and ready to be top-dressed with compost to prepare for the seedlings Cameron is growing for us.

The assortment of organic non-GMO tomatoes and sweet and hot peppers are already beginning to sprout. We left lavender, chives, and mint planted in the raised beds in front of the house to winter over. The chives have begun to come up. No sign of lavender or mint yet, but we're hoping they survived. It is exciting to see the land come to life again. 

The chickens are especially appreciative of the end of snow. They are beginning to wander the yard in search of bugs and creepy crawlies to munch on. I see them wander through the field, scratching and pecking as they meander. This was such a hard winter for everyone. It makes me
smile to see them in the sun. 
Charles leads his ladies into the buck pasture to search for goodies. 
Jesse and one of our young Leghorn hens. Jesse gets so excited when he sees the chickens in his field. 
Jesse is the largest of our bucklings in size. He still enjoys snack time from his Mom, Jane.
Delilah (white) and Cassie hunkered down next to the manger to enjoy the sunny day.
Rachel, Keziah, and Elisha
Ellie, Delilah, and Samson
Ellie has continued to add weight and gain her strength back over the winter months. Her coat is shiny and her eyes are bright. She is very often the first one to the manger. Ellie is sweet tempered and accepts the new doelings the best of all the does in our herd. She is often found snuggled up with Cassie and Delilah at night and does not seem to mind the kids presence at all.

Our siblings, Rachel and Leah are another story. They share kid-sitting responsibilities and will allow each other's kids free access to nurse, but they are quick to push away any of the other kids wanting a snack. And, they are neither shy nor nice about their spot at the manger during feed time.

Haddie and Amos
Haddie is making slow, but steady progress in fighting her worm load and subsequent anemia. We have her on the same diet as we used for Ellie during her bout with them 2 years ago and Haddie is responding well to it. In addition to her grain each day, all the hay she wants, and fresh water available, Haddie gets 3 cups of fresh greens to help bolster her system and provide additional vitamin and mineral support. It is a balancing act. The goal is to get the worm load back down to the level that her body can manage without killing off so many worms at a single time to cause massive and potentially lethal internal bleeding. Our ultimate goal is to have healthy, happy goats. We believe that food is the medicine you take before you become ill. Grain is important and is processed to help to supply many vitamins and minerals necessary to our goat's diets, especially in the winter time when foraging is unavailable. But, while grain has it's place in our feeding, we do not believe that it is the best source of vitamins and minerals. We believe that comes from raw, unprocessed fruits and veggies- from our garden when we have them in season; from the store when we don't.

Our research over the last couple years led us to find some super foods that in our experience do wonders for our goats. These are: kale, spinach, broccoli, peas, bananas, raisins, and peanut butter. (It is important to note that all feeding should be done in moderation. Overfeeding any food to your goat, it can upset their rumens and could lead to their death. New foods should be introduced slowly and in small amounts.)

Kale is rich in Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Potassium, and Calcium. It is also a good source of Magnesium and Protein. Broccoli has an abundance of Vitamin B, Vitamin C, Potassium, Selenium, and Protein and it has a notable amount of Calcium. Peas are high in Magnesium, Potassium, and Protein. Spinach is full of Vitamin B, Iron, Magnesium, and Potassium.

Why are these vitamins and minerals so important to our goat's diet? You can easily find what effect these have on a body through research on the Internet and in books. This is what we found. Combined and balanced, they lead to healthier goats. Inadequate amounts of Vitamin A can lead to blindness or difficulty seeing, dull or scruffy hair coat, lower fertility and diarrhea. B Vitamins are broken up into several categories and are water soluble and may need to be replenished with this in mind. Vitamins B1 (Thiamine) is essential to carbohydrate metabolism and neural health. Vitamin B 12 is essential in the treatment of anemia. Vitamin C is used to help bolster a body's own immune system to assist in fighting off diseases. It helps with the absorption of Iron into the body. Vitamin K helps blood to clot and prevents excessive bleeding. Calcium is essential to bone and muscle health. Iron is helpful in transporting oxygen to all parts of the body through the blood. Anemia from a lack of Iron can cause fatigue and weakness. Magnesium helps to support milk production and maintain a healthy weight. Potassium is important for strong, healthy muscle development. Selenium is important to a goat's health as its deficiency can cause White Muscle Disease and lead to weak legs which cannot support a goat's body weight. Protein helps build strong muscles. Many diseases can be prevented and/or cured with the right balance of vitamins and minerals.

We were deeply concerned about the pale color to Haddie's eyelids and gums, despite her Spring worming and follow ups. Our course of action was to administer Ivomectin via an injection at the rate of 1cc/100 pounds initially and add fresh veggies rich in vitamins and minerals to help fight off her anemia. We followed up with an oral dose of Ivomectin at the same rate one week later and continued with adding leafy greens to her diet in the evenings. When we checked her eyelids and gums last night, the color was improved to a soft pink. She is not out of the woods, yet, but with continued support, we anticipate her return to good health in the weeks and months to come.

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