New Ground

September 25th, 2014 by Kim

Yes, we’re adding new ground to the farm!

This summer we were made aware that a neighbor just a mile back the road from us was selling her old family farm.  It’s a beautiful property with about 20-25 acres of open, rolling, grassy hillside…just begging to have cattle grazing it.  There is a small house, built fairly recently on the site of the old homeplace, and a nice pond.  Rader Creek, for which our road is named, finds it source at a spring on this land.  We jumped on the opportunity & made the purchase, as we are tight on pasture at our place, and are now in the process of getting it fenced & ready for cows.

So, here’s introducing Headwaters Farm!

Headwaters House from the road

Headwaters House from the road

This first photo is from the road, approaching the house.  An old barn used to sit on the flat area to the right, in front of the little shed.  We will eventually erect a new barn on that same site.  If you notice the reddish trees above the left end of the house, that is approximately where I was standing to take the next picture.

Back of the house from the top of the hill

Back of the house from the top of the hill

This picture is looking from the top of the hill out to the road.  The property extends out along the right side (from this view) of the road to the farthest tree that you see right at the edge of the road, then up the tree-line to the top of the hill on the right.  In the midst of those trees on that hillside, there are two other long narrow benches of grass.

Front piece along the road

Front piece along the road

This is the grassy strip along the road.  The benches sit uphill to the right.

The opening into the benches

The opening into the benches

This is looking out toward the benches.  The upper one goes back in to the right of the central tree-line, and the larger lower one goes off to the left.

Fence going in behind the house

Fence going in behind the house

This photo shows where the fenceline will run by the house.  The property extends up to the top of the ridge where the tree-line is, and curves on around to the right (above the house in this photo).  The pond sits up behind the closer clump of trees.

From the upper corner of the pasture.  Look at all that grass!

From the upper corner of the pasture. Look at all that grass!

This picture looks across the bulk of the pasture, from the back upper corner.  That’s the house at the right edge, way down there!  You can get a feel for how much contour there is on this land, and can see farther back into the curve of the bowl above the pond (upper center of photo).  Just off to the left of where I was taking this photo, we will put up a small run-in shed for the cows on the flat top of the hill.  It will also serve as a rainwater collection site (off the roof) for watering the herd.

House & pasture from the pond area

House & pasture from the pond area

This photo is sort of the opposite view of the last one.  I was standing near the “entrance” onto the pond dam, with house & shed on the left of the photo.  You can see two “bumps” of land here, but the two “bumps” from the previous picture are hidden beyond…the other middle piece, then the bump where the run-in shed will sit, which curves around the end by the entrance into the two benches.

A view of the pasture from the pond area

A view of the pasture from the pond area

Here is more of a view of the pasture from on the pond dam.  The hill to the right is the beginning of the bowl that curves on around above the pond.  There is a good bit of pasture back around there yet!

The pond, hidden away between the trees

The pond, hidden away between the trees

And last but not least, the pond I keep mentioning.  Though man-made & not very big, it IS spring-fed, and is a very nice little pond.  And doesn’t every farm need a pond?

So concludes your photo tour of Headwaters.  I hope you enjoyed, and that you can see why we are so excited to add this piece of heaven to Hope Refuge Farm.  Now I can look forward to growing our Dexter herd!

Our Fly Season Arsenal

June 30th, 2014 by Kim

It’s fly season again, and how I hate the pesky little buggers!  They bite & bother cow & human alike, and can make farm life miserable.  Not to mention, the stress of dealing with flies can actually decrease milk production & weight gain in our cattle.  So how do we deal with flies?  Here are some things that we have in our arsenal.

A face covered with flies is NOT a pretty sight.

A face covered with flies is NOT a pretty sight.

As the saying goes, “the best offense is a good defense”, so our first strategy is prevention.  We try to eliminate fly “breeding grounds” by cleaning up manure, as well as wet/soiled hay, near the barn.  The infamous “manure pile” is in the chicken pen, and the girls happily dig through for bugs & goodies, turning the composting pile in the process.  Pastures get dragged to break up manure pats, and we are also happy to see some smaller varieties of dung beetles moving in to do their work.  Our plan is to be able to move chickens and/or turkeys around in “chicken tractors”, following the cows in their pasture rotation, so the poultry can do the work of raking out manure pats in the pasture & eating any fly larvae they find, but we haven’t gotten quite that far yet.  But without their preferred nice moist manure pats to lay eggs in, the flies don’t get quite so out of control.

Fly predators just starting to hatch in the bag.

Fly predators just starting to hatch in the bag.

We are also strong believers in the beneficial “fly predators”.  We have been purchasing & releasing these tiny parasitic wasps for several years, and see that they really work.  The adults are harmless to us, but lay their eggs in fly pupae.  When the eggs hatch, the wasp larvae eat the developing fly.  This results in a significant decrease in the number of flies hatching out.  There are several places you can get fly predators, but we have always ordered from Spalding Labs, and are quite happy with them.

Close-up of predator ready to go to work.

Close-up of predator ready to go to work.

For the adult flies that make it past our defense, we put out those stinky bag fly traps.  They’re not pretty & they sure don’t smell good (to us anyway; I guess the flies think they smell great!), but they sure do catch the flies.  There are many different options for fly traps, available easily at most farm supply stores, so you can take your pick.

This fly trap is doing it's job.

This fly trap is doing it’s job.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even with all this, there are still flies on the farm.  So we also have some tactics to keep the cows more comfortable.  The first is a mineral supplement from Agri-Dynamics, called Flies-Be-Gone.  It is high in sulfur & gives the cows an unappealing smell to flies & other ecto-parasites.  We have it out free choice, in our mineral feeder, and the cows seem to know when they need it.

Flies-Be-Gone in the mineral feeder.

Flies-Be-Gone in the mineral feeder.

I also use a natural fly spray on the cows when they come into the parlor each morning for their snack.  The best one I’ve found yet is No-Fly from Crystal Creek, which comes in either an oil-base or water-base.  It’s made from all natural essential oils, and smells quite nice.  It is a good natural repellent, but it will also actually kill flies if they get a direct hit with it.  And I find it very satisfying to see the flies drop to the floor when I spray a cow!

All natural fly spray helps keep flies at bay without exposing the cows to chemicals.

All natural fly spray helps keep flies at bay without exposing the cows to chemicals.

 

With this varied arsenal we are able to keep flies under control through the summer, which makes EVERYBODY happier.

Heifers Galore!

April 30th, 2014 by Kim
Tinkerbelle

Tinkerbelle

Spring is here and it’s calving time again.  And what an exciting time it is!  Heifer calves are good…they grow the herd, they can be milked, they bring more income.  Heifer calves make me really happy, so there has been a lot of ‘happy’ going around the farm for quite a while now, because we’ve had nothing but heifers born since early 2013.  I’ll take this chance to quickly introduce the girls. Read more »

The Milkman Comes to the Farm

February 10th, 2014 by Kim

I’m sorry I’ve not posted on the blog for so long…it’s been a rough couple of years.  I’ve been struggling with adrenal fatigue, and the old brain just has a hard time thinking clearly to write.  I probably will not be posting very regularly yet, but will try to get something up here occasionally, so don’t give up on me yet.  I HAVE been keeping the Herdbook, Calf Corner & Stock for Sale pages updated, though, so please check them out.  As a quick overview, 2013 was an encouraging year, with a 100% heifer calf crop, which has really grown our little herd!  Our very first cow, S&H Hilltop Sara, has come back home after selling her 4 years ago, along with an incredibly nice heifer at her side.  And that brings to me our latest, most exciting addition yet…our new future herdsire.

Mrald Perfect Lil Milkman

Mrald Perfect Lil Milkman

We are delighted to introduce our new young man, Mrald Perfect Lil Milkman, who arrived here about two weeks ago the whole way from WA.  When Emerald Park Farm decided to sell him, I jumped at the opportunity, knowing what he had to offer with his bloodlines.  He is Knotting bred, top & bottom, and both his grand-dams are high volume producing Galaxy daughters.  He has a scrotal structure much like his grand-sire, Serenity Oak Farm Taco, who has proven to significantly tighten udders on his daughters.  Needless to say, we have high expectations of the Little Man, and can’t wait to start seeing his daughters here on the farm.  We have a big start for him this year, with 7 heifers to breed!  He should be a great bull to follow up on the solid foundation laid by Rousseau. Read more »

Fall on the Farm

November 7th, 2011 by Kim

Mares at the big pond on a beautiful fall day.

Things have been a bit busy around here this fall.  Between everything going on & experiencing some writer’s block…well, you can see I took a little break from the blogging.  So now I have so many pictures I want to share that I hope this doesn’t get toooo long!  Here’s what things are looking like around the farm this fall.

The ditch along the driveway, fixed & with new culvert put in.

Drainage Work

We were finally able to get everything arranged with our friend Steve to do our drainage work in the cow barn pasture.  Dry weather, a week off & a rented backhoe and we were in business.  He put in a couple new drainage swales across the paddock, regraded it all, and fixed the ditch along the driveway, as well as some other things.  The first big rain after he was done, he showed up to inspect it all & see how it was working.  It appears to be working great…I think the swamp days are over!  Read more »