October 30, 2017

Ceaberry's Homesteading: Yellow Wax Snap Bean

Mr. Native Farmer decided to bring home some Yellow Wax Beans. I decided to store them since we didn't need to eat that many beans at once.

First step was to soak them to get the grime and muck off them.

Then I had some helpers come in for the end snapping part of the process. Penelope is showing Calliope how to snap the ends off! Such a good helper!

After we were done we were left with a pot full of shells (went to the worms), a handful of beans (which I saved for seed), and two small sandwich sized bags of "green" beans.

I took the more colorful ones and decided to see if they would ripen.

Not too bad, after about 2 weeks...

More seed saving coming up all this week! Happy Homesteading!

October 23, 2017

Monday Musings: I am not in the Meat business...kind of.

I live on a beef cattle farm. That is the only type of meat business I plan on ever being in on this farm. I am in it for the product of my animals including the cows. My ducks give me eggs (eventually), the chickens give me eggs and more chicks/pullets, and the cows give me calves. One day we might have goats for milk, and we will soon have temporary pigs (not our pigs) and they are for meat but that's a different story since that is our payment for housing the pigs.

So I am not technically in the meat business when it comes to my poultry. They can be on this farm if they do 1 of 3 things: 1. Lay eggs, let's face it that is why I got chickens, 2. Provide protection, my roosters/drakes are living here on the basis of alerting the entire flock to danger plus fertile eggs, and 3. Provide "pet" value love, I have a few (and I mean few) chickens I will let live past their prime on this farm because they provide a special place in my heart.

I bring this up because yesterday I did a trade of some money and 4 cornish hens for 3 Khaki Campbell ducks (a drake and 2 hens). I know exactly what is going to happen to the Cornish hens, what should have happened over 18 months ago but the previous owners were without running water for almost that long and butchering a chicken without running water... *shutter* So they were overweight, really sick because they caught a cold before I got them and couldn't shake it, they couldn't walk, they waddled like a duck, and they were one scare away from a heart attack. They lay 1 egg/week. That, on a production farm, just can't happen.

I know a lot of people may not think it was necessary to have the chickens taken away to be culled just because they weren't producing. I pay the feed bill, I decide what chickens to bring into my flock, I protect my flock as much as I can from predators and illness, and I use their products to make money to pay for said feed bill. That is my homestead, I don't like making the hard decisions but that's what I signed up for when I decided to get living animals. We have had the unfortunate task of putting down a dog recently (not via a vet) because he got hit in the road and we have lost a few cats and put one down (used a vet, $120 later) due to cancer. Those are the decisions you might have to make as just a pet owner none-the-less a farm animal owner. Our poultry are just as much livestock as our cows and both balance on the edge of being livestock and being pets. We love all of our animals as caretakers but you have to be one step removed from "pet" or else those hard decisions add u quickly and take a toll on you as a person.

One last note: Besides being inhumane to allow them to live any longer, they were very very sick. I tried to bring them out of it but they only got sicker. Here are three of the 4 chickens that gave someone else meat today. Just want to thank them for being good chickens.

Happy Homesteading.

October 21, 2017

Ceaberry's Haberdashery: Egg Apron

So when we first got our pullets I wanted to collect eggs in an egg apron. I found a pattern online for one and set out to crochet it. I finished their version in a couple of days. However, it was quite large, nothing wrong with that but I get a bit bored with long arduous rows. So I decided to modify it to have attachable pockets (instead of sewing), and Tunisian crochet for the strap. 

So I set out to make my own pattern: Adult Egg Gathering Apron
It features attach-as-you-go pockets and the Tunisian crochet straps. It is a lot more streamlined. I am coming out with an added larger pocket size soon, now that I have jumbo and duck eggs. 

Since that is the adult version, there is a kids version as well. It is basically just one row of egg pockets. and it does have straps, I just hadn't put them on in the picture.

So if you want to get the pattern it is currently FREE, just add it to your cart and it will apply the discount automatically! Adult Egg Gathering Apron!

Happy Crafting!

October 16, 2017

Ceaberry's Monday Musings: Inheriting Chickens

This weekend our flock grew from 16 to 57 plus 5 ducks. We inherited a flock from friends that are moving. Now my coops are not set up to house 57 chickens and 5 ducks, nor are my runs. However, we are fixing that as soon as we can and actually the big coop seems to be handling the influx just fine. For some reason, 15 or so chickens from the new flock refuse to go into the coop at night (although they lay eggs in the nesting boxes inside the coop). The ducks just can't physically get into the coop. I will be remedying these things in a short while since winter is coming very soon.

So we got a message on Friday to say that our friends were willing to part with their flock. We didn't know then they were moving so I and Mr. Native Farmer decided on at least 3 chickens we were going to buy. My mother came up since my husband and father-in-law were moving the rest of our cattle home. We loaded up the van with two crates and two children excited to go see chickens. I had the map loaded up to get there, it wasn't hard but they live a bit back in the woods and I had never driven there by myself.

We get to their house and were talking with my friend, who told us she was moving. I asked her how many chickens she had, she said 30 chickens... well, after getting everyone it was 41 chickens. We have enough knowledge of chicken owners that a few may go to a different home but for now, they are all part of our flock.

We had just lost a silkie hen to a raccoon only a day before and one of our silkie hens turned into a rooster so we had 5 roos already on the farm and she guessed she had 4-5 roos. We told them to give us a price for all the chickens, and somehow ducks got added into this price and a new small coop. Now if you know me, I was adamant against ducks but here I was loading 5 into the back of my mom's van. C'est la vie.

Two trips and we got them all except 5 that were roaming around. Now, me and Mr. Native farmer went back the next day and got the coop and the 5 chickens we left, including a one-eyed rooster. The chickens were surprisingly clean, it was the ducks that made a mess of my mom's van.

So they all made it through the night, and we got 22 eggs the first day of having them here. 22 eggs... we normally get just 3 eggs!! Quiches and frozen eggs here I come! Just kidding, I will be doing some of that but we have some to sell, some to give to friends, and of course, it is how I pay my mother back for setting up our now chicken farm.

Now for the array of colors, we got today. The first picture has the 4 we ate for breakfast in it and the second picture is of the other eggs minus those four plus one more we got a bit later. As you can see we got some Marans (the chocolate egg), a mint egg layer (she is a white beautiful easter egger), and an olive egger (we don't know who she is just yet but I have my suspicions).

Here is the flock in our large coop run. Yes, I know it is A LOT of chickens in one space but they were used to each other so not really a lot of fighting and no pecking either. They get plenty of water sources and food, plus fresh treats like apples and squash which they demolished. As you can see from the pictures they love to congregate in the extension so it looks more jammed then it really is, there is the whole original run plus under the coop they seem to just not like going to, granted I was near them and they learned quickly I have the food.

Happy Homesteading.

October 13, 2017

Ceaberry's Homesteading: My Square Foot Garden Plan 2018

I have been working hard on figuring out where everything is going in my newly installed raised beds for square foot gardening.  I should note that you may notice containers. I am in a competition with Mr. Native Farmer over potatoes (more on this in a later post) and a few of my other things are in containers because they already are in a container or need to be (like my mint and cotton). There is an Asparagus bed with tomatoes on the side, that is part of doing companion planting. This is NOT how the beds are laid out in my actual garden, I have a compost bin and in the very middle of my garden is a rhubarb patch that has been there for well over 40 years (not kidding, it is practically an heirloom in itself, just like our grape vines). 

So here is my plan for the lower garden for next year!

There are 75 seeds on my list, not all of them are going in the garden and by the chart of "containers", not all of them are going into the raised beds. So here are my seeds I will be planting at some point in 2018. The sprouts, however, are not being planted. You see the main groups of my garden. Some of the extra seeds will be planted in my two raised beds at my house and I have a whole hillside of roses, berry bushes, and wildflower mixes to attend to next year.

Asparagus, Mary Washington Blueberry, Highbush Lavender, English Potatoes Tomato, Beefsteak Pink
Basil, Mix Blueberry, Pink Limonade Lettuce, Gourmet/Mesclun Mix Pumpkin, Jack Be Little Tomato, Brandywine, Yellow
Bean, Bush, Borlotti Broccoli, Romanesco Italia Melon, Banana Pumpkin, Wee Be Little Tomato, Cherry Red (small)
Bean, Bush, Calypso Brussel Sprouts, Long Island Catskill Mint, Spearmint  Radish, Champion Tomato, Cherry White
Bean, Bush, Harvester Cabbage, Acre, Golden Onion, Walla Walla Spinach, Matador Viking Tomato, Gardener’s Delight
Bean, Bush, Landreth Cabbage, Copenhagen Onion, shallot, Holland red Sprouts, Alfalfa Tomato, Oxheart, Orange
Bean, Bush, Provider Carrot, Chantenay, 5” Long Pea, Austrian Field Pea Sprouts, Broccoli Tomato, Roma
Bean, Bush, Romano Cauliflower, All Year Round Pea, Little Marvel Sprouts, clover Tomato, Tiny Tim
Bean, Bush, Slenderette Celery Pepper, Banana Yellow Sprouts, Rainbow Chard Wheat, Sampler Pack
Bean, Bush, Tendergreen Corn, Sweet Pepper, Cayenne, Purple Sprouts, Sunflower Wildflower, Celosia
Bean, Bush, Tiger’s Eye Cover Crop, Clover, White Dutch Pepper, Chocolate Bell Squash, Crookneck, Yellow Early Summer Wildflower, Low grow scatter
Bean, Pole, Dry, Cherokee Trail of Tears Cover Crop, Fall & Winter Rye Pepper, Hot Holiday Marbles Sunflower, Autumn Beauty Wildflower, Marigold, Sparky Mix
Bean, Pole, Lima, Henderson Garlic, Early Purple Italian Pepper, Orange Horizon Sunflower, Mammoth Wildflower, Nasturtium, Black Velvet
Bean, Pole, Lima, King of the Garden Gourd, Luffa Pepper, Purple beauty Sunflower, Sungold Wildflower, Snapdragon, Mix
Bean, Pole, Lima, Thorogreen Gourd, mixed (small) Pepper, Sunbright Yellow Sunflower, Sungold, Dwarf Wildflower, tansy
Hopefully, this inspires you to make your own garden plan. Happy Homesteading!!

October 9, 2017

Ceaberry's Monday Musings: Until the cows come home

Many people who do not live on a cattle farm of various types may not understand the statement, "until the cows come home." I hear that statement, and say it, multiple times from May to October when our cows go to pasture on other grazing allotments and are not right behind the house. We bring them home for the winter and for calving. We calve in the winter (October to December depending on when the bull was brought in and then left).

Until the cows come home:

  1. We can leave all the gates open. This means we do not have to endlessly stop vehicles and go open a gate only to have the vehicle go past then reclose the gate and hop back in the vehicle to the next gate. 
    • Now thankfully we don't have many gates but sometimes... let's just say the cows get through said gates. Now it isn't so problematic at the main farmhouse, that is off the road and we can generally lure them back with hay. At our homestead, we have two gates (well three but they can't get to that one). One is right next to the road and the other (the one they like to break through) is at the lower end of our homestead (we are on a hill so imagine a gate at the top near the road and a gate at the bottom that is in our side/backyard). 
    • We leave gates open because we are bringing items in like trucks, tractors, equipment, and hay bales.
  2. We can store and bring in hay without risk of cows getting into the lots.
    • This may sound like a weird thing to say, but our cows are stupidly smart. They are smart enough to get into the hay lots but it costs us unnecessary hay loss when it happens. 
    • We do give the cows the benefit of the doubt that something was wrong with the paneling but last year they were getting in there EVERY night for 4 night in a row. The offending cow was taken to the stockyard. If you don't rid yourself of the cow that is breaking in she will teach them all then you have a HUGE problem on your hands.
    • We are not completely done with our haymaking and storing so having to maneuver around curiously hungry cows is not always pleasant.
  3. You don't have to make 3 trips to the farm every day to check for calves.
    • While exciting as it sounds to go check on cows about to give birth, it is not always idyllic nor "down home country" as people lead on. If you have ever watched The Incredible Dr. Pol, you get some sense of what I am talking about here.
    • I have, and probably will this year, been woken up at 4 am to a phone call saying one of the cows is baying or that my FIL is out in the middle of a blizzard to help pull a calf. Then it is: bundle everyone up to go help and seek out the cow in need.
    • You have to count cows, multiple times, each and EVERY trip. We have woods where our cows can go and hide their calves. Many times Mr. Native Farmer has had to carry a calf out of the woods. We do this because a cow and calf alone cannot hold off a pack of coyotes. 
  4. Cows like to escape... all the time.
    • Fixing fence and water gaps have to happen before they get here or else you are chasing them all over the fields of your unhappy neighbors or even worse, on the road. Cows in the road are the fear of EVERY farmer, especially ours that are BLACK cows. You hit a cow with a car and you can trust the cow may not be the only one harmed, you hit a cow with a logging truck (a lot of what we have coming down our road) and unfortunately, it is probably the same scenario. It is DANGEROUS and can end a farm in a heartbeat. 
    • We had some troubling cows again last year, they were breaking the water gap. Our neighbors, thankfully humorous people, came down to tell me. Now normally my FIL is around to go get my husband and fix the issue. This particular day I was alone with my kids on the farm, no MIL, FIL, or husband. So I called my MIL (the closest) and went to go find my husband. If you don't know he works on a larger farm during the day so I cannot always know where he is at a certain time. We got them in and had to fix the fence AND the water gap. They went to pasture first...
  5. You don't have the smell... or the risk of stepping in piles.
    • Granted when they thought of our homesteads they thought of wind direction. We don't get as much cow smell as some farms but there is the occasion. I have chickens so really... not that terrible.
    • What is more treacherous is the cow patties. I am the one that opens the gates so you can see my disdain. The cows LOVE to graze near fences, gates, and my house. So they are EVERYWHERE. Strangely, these behaviors mean the business end is generally away from the fence about 5ft. However, in the spring things get a bit trickier when we are walking the property for wild mushrooms and other projects like planting potatoes.
So when the cows come home is more of a warning than a good thing. Yes, having them close while calving is great but they come with their own issues. It marks a time of the year where things start to change. More use of tractors for feeding hay, the growing seasons are normally done, we are getting ready for winter, time for getting wood for the wood stove (our only source of heat in the winter), and for calf watch. It is awesome when that last calf is born, we are off birthing watch but still on baby watch for any problems or predators.