Monday, January 28

*opposites attract

You may remember me telling you before, this year I have a number of young people in my life who are graduating and a quilt is in order for many of them.  I have started one. Sigh.  I was on a roll and moving right along there for a while, but sort of hit a brick wall.  All of my blocks for this one quilt are pieced together but not yet sewn together so I can start on the outer borders.  Soon!  I wanted to share with you the amazing things you can do with this one block.  The pattern is called True Blue and it can be found here at The Fat Quarter Shop 

This is in the individual block...

These are 4 of the ways you can lay this out, there were more.  I stopped at four and this is not all the blocks, but was enough to get an idea of how the quilt would look in each lay out.

This one is my favorite and it just so happens that the sweet young lady getting it chose this as her favorite layout too!  So it shall be!

This week it is my goal to get these all sewn together and get some outside border on it, or at least sewn together!


Saturday, January 19

*an afternoon in the life of two kids

Our precious Bodie continues to show what a great dam she is to her sweet kids.  Early each morning  when I am finished milking Bodie, those kids act famished and run as fast as they can to the stanchion to get to their breakfast. 

Last week I started our milking routine and feel pretty settled in at this point.  I have to admit, that getting up at 6am on a weekend, is putting a cramp in my style.  But I also cannot lie, I am totally loving this blessed life that I am living out!  To date, I am only milking her once a day, as they kids will continue to nurse her during the day up until 7pm each night.   We have gotten about 15 lbs of milk since we began on the 7th of January, that equates out to about 4 gallons of delicious milk!

Friday, January 18

*keeping it pure

Last year we started our rafter of turkeys with Spanish Blacks, Eastern Wild and Narragansett turkeys. We were hoping to have at least one tom and one hen of each breed, however we are short just one of the breeds being perfectly matched.  So the Narragansett hens will live alongside the Spanish Blacks.    Up until now the turkeys, all 8 of them (our breeding stock) have been living amongst our 40 chickens.  Over all this has not been a problem, but we want to keep the turkeys lines pure, so as Spanish Black toms are fertilizing Spanish Black hens, etc.   So this week Eric and Henry made a covering on the right side of the barn for one of the turkey breeds to have shelter from rain and wind. 

This bench was given to me by a dear friend from NC some years ago. It is now a part of the turkey's area, you can often find several of them perched up on the bench.  They also claimed this wagon that attaches to our lawn tractor, so in order to make them feel like this was home we gave it over to them.  We know where it is if we are in need of it.

All finished, a bit of rearranging and voila!

Narry, has a twin sister (just another of her breed) named Carry, and they seem pretty content. 

The two Spanish Black toms showing their stuff before the transition of the move from one part of the barn yard to the other. I am sure the chickens will be happier to have their WHOLE barnyard to themselves. 

Billy, one of the two Spanish Black toms has just gotten done making his gobble noise... look at his snood flinging in the air. (the snood is the flap of tissue off the front of his face that lays down over his beak - when it is not flying)
This is Scab and she is our Eastern Wild hen. Strange name, yes indeed.  When she was a young poult she was very high strung, well she still is, but she would race up and down the fence line and one day when coming out to check on the animals, we noticed she had wore a sore on her crown from trying to get through the fence.  It took weeks of loving care, close monitoring and some applications of meds to make sure she made it back to her normal (or not so normal) self.

This is her mate, Lurch, our Eastern Wild tom.  He is a beautiful bird to be sure.  They seem quite happy together, just the two of them in their little abode created just for them during the mating season.

For some odd reason, our Eastern Wild turkeys do not have snoods. Neither of them have any show of a snood at all. 

Elvira, a Spanish Black hen is on watch for hawks or other predators over head. They are simply fascinating to watch.  Their habits, their calls, and how the interact with each other.

One of our hens has started laying, we hope all of them pitch in soon and take a hint.  For now, we are eating the eggs, or selling them. But as soon as the others get on track we will start hatching some out.  Spring will be here before you know it and with that comes new peeps!

Thursday, January 17

*chickens here, chickens there, chickens every where!

One of our beautiful Australorps, this is one of the first chickens we added to our farm just a few years ago.  They have produced nicely and are a beautiful addition to our flock with their gorgeous
blue greenish black feathers.

 We started out with three Barred Rocks, but have been reduced down to two.  They are two years old as well and have just feathered back fully after months of having gone through a molt.  She looks like she has a major attitude, but she is pretty friendly.

Another one of our beginners, Lucy one of the three Delewares.  She is a talker, with a distinctive voice which will be heard.

To the left is one of our Buff Brahmas whose feathers are totally different since she has gotten feathers back since her molt.  She looks totally different now.  Strange.  To the right is one of our Welsummers, such a pretty read head.  So.. apparently we don't have enough nesting boxes for our flock.  With 20 boxes to choose from they fight over about 3, silly chickens.

Oh, how I love our Americaunas!  They not only are gorgeous to the look at, but they also lay beautiful blue green eggs.  They can be a bit flighty though.

And this little charm, Fritter. She is our Buff Laced Polish hen that is spoiled.  She might occasionally be found on some one's shoulder while they walk around the barnyard.  She too, has a distinctive voice that is captivating.

Our flock is doing well, we currently have about 40 hens and will likely have to do some culling later this year because some of our girls are going on their third year. We just want to make sure we keep a flock that is productive which will continue to be a benefit to our farm.  Since the days are still short, our egg count is not at its max.  Daily we are bringing in about 20 eggs from the coop, which is good, but 35 would be better!   Patience! As the days start to lengthen, we will have that increase I am looking for.  Last year we used a timer on the lights above the coop in order to artificially stimulate the endocrine system to produce more eggs, but this year we have decided to let the hens take that natural rest that their bodies need in order to produce the rest of they laying season.   It only makes sense since we are trying to do all other things in their natural habitat.. why wouldn't we do the same with the chickens.   Live and learn...

Wednesday, January 16

*front and center

Rudy is the sire of our herd, and he is what made it all possible, and he is quite tired of all the oohs and awes of the babies as well as the special treatment that Bodie is getting.  Bodie gets treats every morning at milking time, thing such as raw sliced potatoes, apple peels, broccoli, etc.  The kids of course just get all the attention without even trying! So, it is his turn to shine...

 Nice "goatee" you got growing there Rudy.

 He is really handsome.  He is starting to show more and more aggression which is a bit disappointing, but that comes with the territory.
 I am gonna fly away....
 Just kidding, goats can't fly!

He has mature enough to get his nasty goaty smell.  He had a slight smell months ago, but it is much more pronounced here of late.  The smell however is not as bad as some post I have read about, but we do not have a number of bucks that we are keeping to raise a herd of goats for selling or showing.  Our goal is to have a quality buck that we can breed our does to, in order to supply  milk for our family.

Sunday, January 13

*strawberry fields

Our first spring here in Florida we bought and planted about 18 promising strawberry plants.  They produced very little that first year but sent out many runners which in turn resulted in many new plants for the following year.  Our small strawberry patch grew exponentially.   This second year harvest was better than that first year.   Late this fall, after having ignored the strawberry patch I realized that I had a LOT of work to do.  The strawberries had produced and each of the 100 plants  had sent out 4 or 5 runners per plant. OK. You do the math. Yeah, so we had 500 plus plants that needed to be transplanted into their new permanent strawberry patch.

This is the new location of the strawberry patch.  Grass and weed ridden throughout.  I started the work of getting the plot ready, and thankfully later in the month my mom came to visit.  She helped me finish it up! So grateful for her help, honestly I don't know if I would have gotten it finished without her. I was about to run out of steam. 

This is part of the area, the plants have taken well to the soil they are now planted in. Unfortunately this crazy warm weather (even for us here in Florida), has gotten the plants a bit confused. Over half of them are now in bloom. 

My beloved is awesome at getting things like the water sprinkler system done for our gardens.  I feel so spoiled by his awesome skills!   This year we will be making sure to keep the water on the plants as recommended, about 1 inch a week.  We will also be adding some of our organic  fertilizer (aka rabbit droppings and goat droppings) throughout the growing season. We plan to mulch the rows with straw, hay and a mixture of leaves to keep the moisture in and the weeds out. 

I am looking forward to picking strawberries for eating as a snack, making strawberry jam, strawberry short cake, and maybe even dehydrating some if the harvest is big enough.   We have along way to go before harvest.  I can assure you that much hoeing, weed pulling and watering will go on before I pull the first strawberry from a plant.