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that guy... married to that girl... on a farm...

Greetings All,
I am Jamie's husband, Jon. Since we do so in all other aspects of our lives, we've decided to work together on the blog as well. When Jamie doesn't have time to post a blog (usually due to the time needed to upload pictures with the internet we have), I will try to fill in the gaps with updates from the farm. I will leave the pretty pictures and smart commentary to "a Girl on a Farm", because she is VERY good at it. Instead, I will offer a slightly different perspective with more general updates on the farm progress and happenings.

While I'm at it, I might as well start now -
We've been working tirelessly for a while now and this week was no different. What was different was we were able to see more of the fruits of our labor.

  • Our house is finally starting to get a bit more organized. Which is very important because it is hard to not be stressed if you come home to a house in disarray.
  • We cleaned up the chicken coop and have started making notes of the things we would like to differently when we brood poultry the next time. (e.g., put the water for the ducklings over a wire floor to prevent constant messing of the bedding; use a hover brooder instead of just the lamps; don't use cardboard as liners/dividers for ducks)
  • We have had tremendous support from our family and Easter weekend was no different. We were able to put up more interior fencing for the cows and we went ahead and separated the bulls from the cows and combined the heifers with the cows, in preparation of calving. Which should be any day.
  • We finally found a great source for our organic pig and poultry feed. Mike Ostry out of Bruno does a great job and is very reasonable. I'd be happy to pass his contact info along to anyone who's interested.
  • We swapped generators this week (used to charge the batteries when we are low on power). The other one we were using was very nice but we weren't able to take advantage of all it's power because a circuit breaker kept tripping. So we went to a smaller one that will use less fuel and actually produces a bit more power. We are still looking into ways to get all the power out of it that it's rated for.
  • We have also asked Dixon Power Systems to give us a quote for adding solar. Mr. Dixon installed the wind turbine so he is very familiar with our situation and has been extremely helpful with us learning the system. We hope to have somewhere between .5 - 2 kW's of PV Solar installed in the next few months.
We look forward to seeing your questions and comments on our posts. Please don't be shy, we really enjoy the feedback. If you're not sure how to comment, send us an email and we can help you.

That's All Folks!

Have a great weekend everyone!
Farmer Jon (I had my name as "a Guy on a farm" but thought it might be too easy to get the two of us confused.)


There were no small bunnies harmed in this photo...

Although it looks like Max tore a bunny up... 

All I have to say is God bless the Furminator!  This is the undercoat of a hairy German Shepherd.  AND this is after Jon brushed him this afternoon.  AND this is after all the fur that's still in my house....

German Shepherds are hairy....enough said.

Back to the Furminator.  If you have a hairy dog, this is literally a god send.  It's a bit pricey, I think I paid 60 bucks for it at my local pet store.  I almost wept with joy when I saw how much hair it was getting off Max.  It really gets out that undercoat, which is the majority of the hair that I find around my house.  I would highly highly recommend this to anyone who loves a hairy dog!


The Great Chick/Duckling Massacre of 2011

It makes me so sad to write this post, but it's just what happens on a farm.

When baby chicks and ducklings come in the mail, it can be a stressful time for them.  Since their yolk will sustain them for a couple days without food or water, they are able to be mailed out from the hatcheries.  Still, it's stressful!  The hatcheries always add a couple more chicks in since they assume that a few won't make it.  I was so pumped for the first couple days after we got our ducklings and chicks because we didn't lose any of them!  I was feeling pretty darn proud of myself for being such a good mama.

And then it happened...

The big ducklings pecked a hole through a cardboard divider and tramped several chicks and a baby duck. 

When I say big ducklings, let me just illustrate:

The duckling on the left is about two weeks old.  The duckling on the right is a couple days old.  See the difference?  The Pekin duckling on the left is huge!  The breeder we got them from said he has never seen such big ducklings.

So, the big ducklings pecked a hole through the cardboard and must have rushed through the hole.  We found the little duckling underneath the hole so he must have got trampled by the big ducklings.  Then the big ducklings pushed over a two by four that we had separating the ducklings and the chicks.  The chicks were right on the other side of the two by four since that's where the heat lamp was located.  So, we lost four baby chicks that were crushed by the board.

I was so mad at those big ducklings!  They are such bullies!  I've gotten over my anger, because I know this is what happens on a farm.  Sometimes animals get out and sometimes animals get killed. 

On another note, we are losing our baby poults rapidly.  We ordered 15 baby turkeys and are down to about 10 or 11.  I knew ahead of time that baby poults are difficult to raise, but man it sucks to go out and find that baby who was fine last night and dead the next morning.  We didn't lose anymore this morning, so I'm hopeful we are over the hump.

Life and death are just a part of a farm and it's something that I will definitely have to get used to.


We got ourselves a groundhog!

For the past few weeks, we've been hearing something chewing on our floor boards in the living room.  We could see where something had crawled into a crack in the foundation.  Whenever I would hear the chewing and it was LOUD, I would walk over the spot and stomp on the floorboards.  Of course, praying that I wouldn't fall through since we weren't sure how much he had chewed off. 

One day, Jon saw the little booger run out from under the house.  So, he got a live trap to see if he could catch a groundhog.  And it worked!  Just this morning my dog was freaking out while I was trying to sleep.  I'm ashamed to say I yelled at the poor dog since he was interrupting my sleep.  He was just trying to tell us what we caught!

Wild animals are a change for me in my life.  I grew up in a small rural town, but I never had to deal with wild animals.  Max was playing hide and seek with a raccoon in the machine shed one day and then had him cornered up a tree the next day.  Now, I am not a fan of just shooting animals.  It just makes my heart hurt to think about shooting either a raccoon or a groundhog.  I know that seems silly since I am not a vegetarian, but it's the truth.  So, I made Jon promise me he would take him a couple miles away and let him go.  Now we'll shall see if my opinions change if the little booger comes back...


Ducks and chicks and ghosts dogs...oh my!

First up, the ghost dog.  Obviously it's just Max taken with a too slow of a shutter speed, which is why it's blurry.  But to me, he looks like a ghost dog!  Or even an angel dog, which he is...

Here are the ducklings!  These are Pekin ducklings, which are primarily used for their meat.  I thought I liked chickens, but man do I like ducks.  These guys have such personality!  They will come running right up to you peeping (they don't quack yet) and I can just imagine what they are saying..."Where's our food, We're hungry...he pushed me..no, she pushed me!"  As you can see Huey, Duey, Louie and Bob are in the mix as well.  They have a nice open space to run, which is more than they had in the house.

This is blurry again, but ducklings are hard to instruct to stay still.  They came running up at me as soon as I opened the door and just about all fell off the step.

Jon is on his way this morning to pick up either some turkeys or more ducklings that came in the mail!  And maybe some yummy donuts for his hungry wife too...

And we also got our chickens last Saturday.  We were not expecting them until Monday, so we were surprised to get a call from the Post Office that our chicks were here.

I was always partial to chickens, but ducks are definitely edging closer.  These guys are so cute and little.  Three days later, they are already starting to feather out.  We've had some of the ducks for two weeks and they still haven't feathered out.  We did get one free exotic bird, which is the yellow one in the middle that's dive bombing the rest.  He's starting to get big cheek feathers, so we are interested to find out what he or she will be. 


Fonstantly carting...

Oh, it's the little things in life that make a person laugh.

My husband spoke the above two words tonight in reference to our smelly dog.   If you are having troubles deciphering it, switch the first letters of each word around...get it?

Like I said, it's the little things in life that make a person laugh out loud.


Meet the ducklings!

Hi!  My name is Bob the duckling!  Why don't I introduce you to my brothers (sisters??)

This is Huey.

This is Duey.

And this is Louie.

Oh my...how have I never had ducklings before?  They are so cute and I just want them to stay small forever.  So, their names are Huey, Duey, Louie and Bob.  Huey, Duey and Louie are interchangeable as I can't make up my mind which one is which.  But there is no mistaking Bob!

Here he is giving me the stink eye, one of his favorite things to do.

Not sure of the breeds, just four cute ones picked out at Tractor Supply Company.  I think ducklings might even be cuter than baby chicks!  These will be our pets and will definitely earn their keep once they are outside eating some ticks.


Sooo.....I lost my shit today...

...and it wasn't pretty.

Let me rephrase that, I lost my shit this morning.  At three o'clock in the morning to be precise.

I woke up at two o'clock this morning to the sound of Max shaking his head, which also jingles his tags.  That pretty much always wakes me up and today was no exception.  I rolled over to check the clock and there was nothing....  No clock light=no power.  Which means the batteries ran out of juice.  I was so tempted to turn back over and deal with it in the morning, but I knew that no power=no heat for the ducklings.  Sure enough when I went down there, they were about 60 degrees, when they should have been around 90 degrees.

I woke Jon up to go turn on the generator and tried to act like I was helping.  I wasn't...who was I kidding?  I wanted to be in bed!  I went to lay back down in bed and was scratching my head, when I felt it...dear Lord...please don't let it be........................a tick.

And that's when I lost it.  This one was attached.  Not like the two others that were just crawling on me.  This sucker was firmly attached in my hair.  I made Jon get it out with tweezers, while the whole time I was trembling and saying "I can't deal with this...I can't deal with this..."

My fit was almost full blown at that time.  And then I got mad.  Dang blast those ticks!  Why aren't they on Jon?  Why me?  And what does every female do when they get really angry?  They cry....as did I.

So, now it's three o'clock in the morning and I was 99% on my way to a full blown fit.  As in I'm a two year old....I'm gonna scream and wail and throw myself on the bed, while kicking and punching.   My poor husband....

I continued to scratch all over my body and freak out thinking every little thing was a tick.  Jon and I checked the blankets and of course there was another tick under the covers.  He wanted to be nice and warm right?

I was able to pull myself together and put my big girl panties on and fall asleep.  But not before twitching like mad, continuously scratching my head and flipping over every time I felt something.  So, I got very little sleep last night. 

Such is the life in the country...I'm pretty sure if I knew about this before I may not have moved so far out into the country.  Oh well!  That's life!

Did I mention I had to do the Heimlich maneuver on my dog this morning?  What is my life coming to.....


The quiet moments...

Sometimes you just have to stop and enjoy these moments.  Farming is hard work.  Add that with two full time jobs and a high maintenance dog and things get crazy.  I have to remind myself to slow down and enjoy moments like this, because this is what the country is all about.


There are some things about farming that I just can't handle...


I hate ticks

The end

Blech!  I found one in my hair this morning and I almost tore the shower curtain of its rings trying to get away from it.  I don't know if it just happened to get to my scalp, because it was not attached at all.  I was able to flick it off with my fingernail instead of having to pull it out with tweezers. 

Now, I know ticks are a part of country life.  I've already pulled two off of Max, which was no problem.  It's when they are on ME that I have a problem.  As of right now, I am on the hunt for some Guinea fowl.  I know people say they can be annoying because they are loud, but if they eat ticks that's all I care about!

From dogbreedinfo.com


Ever seen a pig yawn?

Now you have!

We bought 8 sows and boars from Black Sheep Farms on Saturday.  And they are the cutest things I've ever seen.  I've never had pigs before, but Jon has when he was growing up on the farm.  I love to listen to their little grunting sounds, especially as you get closer to them.  And they've already started rototilling the temporary area we have them in now.

The four sows are due to be farrowing soon, which always makes life more interesting!  Is it sad that when I look at them I get hungry for bacon and ham?


Naming cows and new farm additions

Jon and I decided that naming our cows was the best way to help identify them.  It's so funny how different cows have different personalities.  There are shy ones and not so shy ones.  Bossy cows and meek cows.  Loud cows and quiet cows.  I really do enjoy watching them and interacting with them and getting to know their personalities.

First up, my favorite heifer-Teddy.

She is a part Jersey and all cuteness.  I just love her coloring!  Not sure how she got so muddy though.

Another heifer-Patches

Another heifer-Queen Latifah (with Teddy to the left of her and Spot-another heifer in the back)

Our yearling bull-Boy George (Don't ask me how my husband came up with these names, but he named 90% of them)

Our two-year old bull-Wooly Bullie

Another of my favorites-Jezabelty

And next up are the Mean Girls.  Do you guys remember that Lindsay Lohan movie, Mean Girls?  Well, we have three of our own and we decided to name them after the characters in the move.

So, we have Regina...


And Karen...

These three are the most social of the bunch and also the meanest.  We unrolled a bale of hay and Regina went walking right down the middle of the hay tossing her head from side to side to stop the other cows from eating.  Naughty cows...

Oh, I can't forget Roan of Arc!  She has such a pretty roan coloring...

Heifers are so curious if you stand still..

Not sure how, but our cows and heifers got out two days in a row.  The first day we think the polywire got snagged on our neighbors tractor when he dumped a bale.  The cows were actually all where they were supposed to be until Jon went to put the polywire back up.  Then five cows rushed him and ran out of the paddock.  He was able to get three of them back in by himself and called me in for back up for the other two. 

The next day after the memorial service for Terry Gompert, we went to check on the cows and noticed the heifers had managed to get off of the farm grounds and were grazing in the ditch.  We have no idea how they did it.  When we went closer to their water, there was a couple step in posts on the ground and I couldn't even find the polywire end.  Not sure if it was a deer or maybe the heifers got to head butting each other and knocked the fence down.  They got to the right spot pretty quickly when I pulled out the range cubes.  Nothing like bribing some cows...

Since we aren't crazy enough as it is, we've decided to add some more animals to the farm.  Four pregnant sows and four boars will be making their way to the farm soon.  They are Guinea hogs.  They are a smaller black pig who does very well converting rough forage into pounds and are great for bacon, ham and lard.  Can't wait to see some piglets!


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