Monday, February 12, 2018

Weekly Farm Update

Happy Snowy Monday, friends!

What started out as a snowy week ended well, as a snowy week! On Monday it looked as if there was a big meeting out at our barns. It really was only a meeting of two people, two trucks, and two tractors as bystanders.  :)  Kevin is driving truck for a friend of ours right now and they were swapping tractors.  

Meeting of the tractors

The kids (and I) enjoyed playing in the snow and sledding down our barn hill. There were a lot of beautiful wintry scenes around the farm as well.  Here are a few snapshots:

Snowy Day Fun

I call this one "Icicles on Hog Panel "

Gino, Penny, and Charlotte say hello. 

Snow angels aren't just for making on the ground anymore!

Much of my week was spent sitting in front 88 black and white keys - 

On Saturday I accompanied 23 events from three school districts at Solo and Ensemble festival in Bay City. I spent many hours during the week rehearsing with the students.  Scheduling proved to be somewhat of a challenge because of all of the snow and the snow days that the schools had. But, I managed to get most of them fit in, so that was a blessing. Accompanying is one of my favorite off-the-farm jobs, and I am so thankful to have the opportunity to do it. 

Since I didn't have to leave for Bay City until Friday afternoon, and I didn't see any sense in warming up the car just to deliver eggs to the neighbor's house Friday morning, I enjoyed a snowy walk.  :)  It made me feel like I was in days of old, walking to the neighboring farm with fresh eggs.  The plow truck hadn't been down the road yet, so it felt somewhat like walking down a snowy trail (except when the few-and-far-between car came by). 

Yes, the road has been plowed in this photo...I forgot to take a picture of the unplowed road I enjoyed on my walk.
But, you can see the neighbor's farm just past the tree line.

The sun is shining today and it feels oh so wonderful. I sat on the window seat with a cup of coffee this morning just to soak in some of that sweet sunshine. Have a wonderful week!  

Sunday, February 4, 2018

The first one

Hello readers! 

This is what I hope to be the first of many weekly farm updates. A friend mentioned how little I update my blog and it was a good push for me to decide to do a weekly update for you. :) 

Some of the recent farm happenings include shipping out our corn to Canada. That was a big milestone for us - storing our own grain this year for the first time and being able to ship it out in January. We have previously not had the storage capacity to do this. (Again, we are helpful for all who helped with our grain bin project, and for friends/neighbors who helped with our past storage issues).

Today we're watching the snow fall, having Nerf gun battles and getting ready to watch the Super Bowl. We are going to enjoy some of our homegrown chicken wings tonight as well as a Super Bowl tradition that started long ago with my family, roasted garlic.  Mmmm..... 

Speaking of homegrown chicken wings.... we are gathering orders for our 2018 growing season. You can fill out our google form, or I can send you a form via email or snail mail.  Let us know how we can help you put chemical free, pastured deliciousness on your table this year.  :)   

In our prepping for spring, we have added a new boar to our flock, Gino. We have cross bred two of our sows with him, hoping for some nice litters of Large Black/Berkshire piglets. We will still have a little of purebred Large Blacks as well.

Enjoy your week, with this farewell from Gino.  :)  

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Multi-purpose Tools and More

Happy Wednesday!

First, I would like to share that we are offering Holiday Meat Bundles - you can order online using this link.  We offer a great selection of quality meat, as well as fresh bread, jam, and eggs.

This week, an outdoor tool came in the house while I tackled a project upstairs. Some time ago I discovered beautiful hard wood floor under the linoleum in the room we call "the library." I have picked at the linoleum here and there, and on Sunday afternoon I picked at a little more - and then A LOT more. I was now knee deep in tearing the linoleum out and there was no stopping. I worked at it for a couple hours on Sunday afternoon and was pleased with my progress. Monday after we were done with school I decided to wipe down the area of floor that I was done with, move the furniture, and then finish the room. There was a bit of tar paper and glue left from the linoleum on the wood floor that I had to scrape off. I started with a plastic refinishing tool, then upgraded to the putty knife. Kevin reminded me of the big scraper we had in the barn, and I thought, "sure, why not?" In came the scraper (which was originally a tool used to help with re-roofing projects). This tool now seen its third use in life.
Me with the scraper in the library (sounds like something from the game Clue!)

The scraper. 

After a few hours and many sore muscles later, mission accomplished! I am so happy about my find and super excited that I don't have to refinish the floor. I will probably put a coat or three of polyurethane on it in the spring when I can open the windows. Hooray for hidden treasures in the house! :) I'm 90% certain that this same wood floor is underneath carpet in one of the bedrooms, so we will see what else I do in the house in the spring. Meanwhile, I'm looking forward to spending time in the library this winter reading, crafting, and sewing. :)

The finished room

From our family to yours, we wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving! 

Monday, November 13, 2017

The difference a year makes

Hello, readers!  I know I say this every time I write a post, but it's been a long time, and I am sorry!  I have been more faithful at keeping our facebook page up to date.  My goal is to keep this page current as well. A lot has happened since I last posted, some of those things very big.

Some of you will remember that last fall we took down the silos that have stood on this farm for several decades. We needed a place to store our grain, being that the organic market is different than the conventional one, and sometimes we cannot ship our grain until several months after harvest. There was no grain set up here, so the silos had to come down to make way for grain bins.

Last year:
View from the back while the silos were still standing

One silo partially down

Both silos down

This year:
The hopper bottom is built, and the rocket fan is being set in place

The powerhouse is set and awaiting cement.

Top of the grain bin is built.  We had to hire a crane to set it on the hopper bottom. 

Bin getting set in place.

Current view of the barnyard.  Two more bins will be placed on hopper bottoms on the cement pad. 

We are so grateful for all the help and support of our family and friends during this big project.  We could not have done it without you!  

Another major transition we have made is that Kevin is now a full time farmer. At the end of July this year he left his day job to farm full time. Trying to keep up with the farm and having a full time day job was just not feasible any more. It has been wonderful having him home - this summer we were able to do a couple of fun day trips with the kids, and we all get to see each other for all the meals of the day.  :)  

Other big news is that our meat is now available at both Foods for Living and at Phillips Orchard. 
We also keep our pork by the piece products stocked at the farm.  :) 

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!  

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Quick updates

Happy 4th, everyone!  We are blessed to live in this country with so many freedoms, and I am thankful for all those who sacrificed to make these freedoms possible.

I've been working on updating several of the blog pages.
Here's a quick synopsis of some of our updates:

Farm Store:
Our meat 'store' is open for you to come to purchase pork by the piece.  Please text (989) 640-6808 or call (989) 834-2387 to make sure we are at the farm and can serve you.  We will also deliver if you would like that option.

Meat Chickens:
We have a few extra meat chickens.  Please contact us if you are interested.

I've updated the recipes to include several recipes that feature our great pork.

Large Black Hogs:
We have nice looking piglets on the ground right now.  If you're interested in a feeder (not registered) or a breeder (registered), please contact us.  Feeders are $125, Breeders are $300.

Our egg production has really slowed for the past several months.  We are working on improving our flock, and will be adding in new layers soon.  Once they start producing, we should have plenty of eggs for sale again.  Thank you for your patience to those who have been waiting for eggs.

Monday, June 5, 2017

It's been a while!

Hello readers!

It's been a LONG time since I've posted, and I apologize.  I started the facebook page and have been updating that... and neglecting the blog.  In just 16 short days it will officially be summer. Our spring days have been filled with getting the fields ready to plant, planting, fixing equipment, baby chicks, our first school group tour, and several other projects.  Our barn hill and bridge area needed reinforced, so that is one project that has been on the short list.  Here are a couple pictures of getting the concrete blocks in place. We're very thankful for our good friend that has been helping us out the past few weeks. He's made many jobs much easier.

We'll soon have lots of baby pigs (we hope!)... we have 3 sows almost ready to deliver.  Here is Rue resting in the afternoon:

The turkeys are growing and thriving. They are very social and a lot of fun to watch. 
They tend to stick together in a big group all the time. 

Another thing we did this year was get some grapevines in.  My aunt and uncle decided they were done with grapes and let me have their grapevines. They took root and are growing.  I am so happy!  Hoping to fill some canning jars with grape juice this fall.  
All of the crops are in the ground now and starting to emerge from the soil. It's always a good day when you see the crops growing. It's comforting to know that the seed isn't sitting in the ground rotting. Now that the crops are in and growing, Kevin will be going over the fields with the rotary hoe for weed control. Being an organic farm, we do not use chemicals to control our weeds, so, until the crops get too tall for the equipment to get through, Kevin will be going over the fields to stay ahead of the weeds. 

About half of the garden is planted - hoping to finish that up this week. We made the garden a little smaller this year, and I'm trying some new things like planting my rows closer together and planting squash in between the corn rows. I'm hoping that the plants will canopy and have better weed control. I'm also spreading straw between my rows shortly after seeding to hopefully get ahead of the weeds.  I decided against planting carrots this year as well. Sam's has such a good price on organic carrots that it seems my efforts on trying to grow carrots are better spent elsewhere. There's one more way to try to grow carrots that we haven't done yet. Maybe we'll try it yet this year. Do any of you readers have successful carrot growing stories?  

In other food-growing news, the mulberries are starting to form on the trees, so that means it will be mulberry jam time soon!  If you haven't done so yet, you can pre-order some of our jam

We are also looking at getting our meat into some stores, so be on the lookout for that. Our pork products are available for purchase on the farm or delivery. Check out what we have to offer, and let us help put some great meat on your table. Our pork is pasture and non-GMO raised, no hormones or antibiotics, and MSG and Gluten free.  :) We have several cuts in stock and ready to go from our freezer to your table. 

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Happy New Year everyone!  My daughter asked me the other day if I had put the pig pictures up on the blog yet, and I realized that I hadn't.  Then I realized just how long it had been since I had updated the blog.... maybe one of my New Year's resolutions should be to have a blogging schedule.  :)  

So, when I went to Graham's and picked up our last pigs that got processed, there was a little roadside shop that was advertising MI potatoes for sale - $8 for 50#.  I could not pass that up, so I stopped and bought a bag. They potatoes have been great, and even entertaining.  Here are a couple potatoes that I found with very distinct shapes...
The shapely potatoes.  What do you see?  

Farrowing season has come and gone already... we had 5 girls that farrowed. Some did better than others. They all farrowed within a couple weeks of each other. Here is Charlotte, our new girl with her litter. 
She's a first time mama and ended up having 11 babies. That was an interesting morning. I went out to feed the chickens and decided to look in on the pigs.  Normally Wyatt feeds the chickens, but he was spending the night at Grandma's, so I was filling in. When I went in the barn, I was surprised to see two baby pigs in a stall with the 5 mamas. The mamas had not been separated into their own stalls yet for farrowing, so there were 5 girls sharing quarters. The babies were wandering around and no mama was getting up to feed them or keep them warm. So, I went in the stall with them, picked one up and tried to get it to make some noise. Normally this would make it's mama get up and take notice. No such luck. I finally determined which mama these babies belonged to, and got her up from her nap (she was happily cozied between two other sows). I ended up finding not two, but four babies in there. I got the mama, Charlotte, out of the stall and into her own. Norah helped me move the babies into the stall with her. I tried to get Charlotte and babies settled in the new stall, but Charlotte was pretty restless.  I surmised that she was not done farrowing yet, so I decided to leave her be and let her settle down for a few minutes.  I came back and she had not yet settled down, so I started rubbing her belly. She finally relaxed and let the babies nurse. Whew. Then, after about a half hour, she delivered another piglet. It appeared that the piglet was delivered with the placenta, so I thought to myself, "well, that was efficient of her." After a while longer Charlotte was maneuvering to her other side when she delivered yet another piglet, also appearing to be wrapped in placenta. Thinking she was done, and all was well, the kids and I headed into town to visit some friends. Fast forward to early evening when we return home. I went out to the barn to check on Charlotte and her brood, and now there are 11 babies!  She wasn't done after all.  Charlotte is doing fantastic, and 9 of the babies survived. I am still surprised that that many lived - she must have been in labor for hours. 

The rest of our litters have not been as large or as successful as Charlotte's. There are a couple other mamas who are doing okay, though, so we are thankful for that.

Here are the feeder pigs in their pig pile taking a nap.

While we have lots of new babies on the farm, we have several older ones that are getting ready to leave the farm. We have a group scheduled to go at the end of Feburary, so, if you are looking for some great pork, please contact us to reserve your half or whole hog. We have 5 scheduled for butcher at Graham's Organics on Feb. 28th.

I couldn't help including these random cat photos. The first picture is of our cat visitor, whom we call Mr. Orange. He hasn't let anyone pet him yet. He hides up in the ceiling and usually waits until we leave the barn to come down and eat. 

These cats are Cutie and Liberty, waiting for someone to come out and feed them. I caught Liberty in mid-yawn and thought it was a funny photo. 

Some dear friends of ours have been home visiting from Mexico, and we took a trip to the Grand Rapids Musuem with them this past week. The special exhibit right now is Whales, and they had a whale heart that you could actually go inside. 

Isn't it amazing that humans could fit inside a whale heart?

Wyatt the Astronaut

On the way home we ate at Chick-Fil-A.  A first for all of us. This one had only been open a week, so it was really busy, but we all enjoyed it. 

We are working on getting our year organized and will have chicken ordering information out soon.  We still have pork by the piece available as well as fresh eggs and straw. 

Take care, dear readers!