Archive for the ‘General Farm’ Category

Our New Team Members

May 29th, 2016 by Kim

Early this spring, we decided we needed some new help around the farm.  The current members of the team were not doing their job to our satisfaction any longer.  This resulted in the death of about a dozen laying hens over the course of a week.  What happened?  We had a pair of coons getting into the chicken coop overnight, and our two old farm mutts couldn’t have cared less.  Thankfully, Jeff was able to kill the one coon a few nights into the massacre, and a neighbor killed the second one a few days later.  The coop was gone over with a fine-toothed comb & tightened up, and the hens were safe once more…for the time being.

The new Anatolian pups: Batu, standing front left, and Demir sitting.

The new Anatolian pups: Batu, standing front left, and Demir sitting.

But, it convinced us that we needed some livestock guardian dogs who would do the job right.  LGD’s were something we’ve talked about over the years, but since we never had any real predator issues, we never pursued the idea.  A couple weeks after the chicken massacre, a friend a few hours north of us announced the birth of 11 Anatolian pups out of her breeding pair.  BINGO!  We reserved two males as soon as possible, and they came home with us on May 18, at 8 1/2 weeks of age.  Since the Anatolian is a Turkish breed, we decided on Turkish names for them…Batu, meaning “strong”, and Demir, meaning “iron”.  We hope they live up to their names.

When not in "school", the boys are either sleeping or playing.

When not in “school”, the boys are either sleeping or playing.

So now we’re training LGD pups, which means taking them on rounds to do chores every day to get them used to being around the chickens & cows, and to learn not to play with the birds.  They’re a smart pair of boys, and have been a pleasure to work with so far.  It will be quite a while until they are mature enough to be trusted alone with the chickens, but we are so glad to have them on our team.

We welcome Batu & Demir to Hope Refuge Farm!

Giving Thanks on the Farm

November 25th, 2015 by Kim

As we come upon this Thanksgiving holiday, I find we have so much to be thankful for here on the farm…some of them being things that maybe most people don’t get to experience.

"Thanksgiving", the turkey

“Thanksgiving”, the turkey

We actually, unfortunately, didn’t put any effort into the turkey breeding season this spring, and didn’t get nest boxes set up for the hens until much too late.  In spite of that, Millie managed to hatch out & raise one nice poult for us.  And we are very thankful for that one, because I don’t think we’ll ever be able to eat a commercially raised turkey again now that we know what “real” turkey is supposed to taste like.  The poult was immediately dubbed “Thanksgiving”, and she grew into a nice little bird who lived well until yesterday, the Tuesday before the holiday.

Jeff was off work, so it was butchering day.  We only had the one bird to do, and I had heard people say that dry-plucking is easier/nicer than scalding & doing it wet, so I decided to try it instead of setting up all the normal equipment.  Yeah…well…if anybody ever tries to tell you that dry-plucking is easier…DON’T LISTEN!  We got most of the larger body, tail & wing feathers off fairly quickly, only to find that she was covered in pin feathers too, and the smaller feathers on the wings & legs were not coming out easily at all.  I soon decided I was ready to see if the tap water in my milking parlor was hot enough to scald a bird.  I didn’t even take the time to bother with a pot, I just plunked her in the clean sink & ran wide-open-hot tap water over the carcass.  I knew my water out there was really hot but never measured a temperature on it.  Thankfully, I can now report that it is indeed “scalding hot”.  Soon those remaining feathers were easily removed, and I had a nice, clean bird.  Good to know. (more…)

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

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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. (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!  (more…)