Morning meditations

I am thinking of starting a new series of posts about mornings on the farm. I am thinking this may be enjoyable for our readers. I also think that I will enjoy reading my own thoughts about farm life, at a later date, another season of life, when routines and schedules are different than they are now.

This morning I awoke early, a little after 5 and couldn’t fall back asleep. I was a little anxious about a few suggestions I had made last night but for the most part I was at peace and felt rested. I concluded that I must have slept soundly last night. I read a chapter of James in The Message translation (a different translation just for a change) and got dressed and then read a little in the latest novel that I’m reading.

My husband asked if I could scramble some eggs for him, so I did (he likes my egg scrambling technique lol) and then I folded the boys laundry. The next thing, which is part of my current routine, is to get Titus our Aussie, into the laundry room and close the door, and feed him his breakfast. He doesn’t really like when I close him in the laundry room, it used to be easier to get him in there. I started using his training collar with the vibrating and beep signals, along with treats to re-train him to go in there without so much trouble. I like to close the door in the morning so that the sound of putting his food in the bowl, and the sound of him eating, don’t wake the toddler lol.

Once Titus was done eating we went into the garage and refilled the 3 week old chicks food. There are 12 of them and they are getting big. I was excited to sell 5 of our Lavender Orpington chicks on Sunday. I love watching each of thier unique colors emerge as thier fuzzy soft down is replaced with thier first feathers. I held my current two favorites and cooed and petted Tham and them put them back and closed thier cage.

Titus wanted to stay with me as I trekked to each part of the farm this morning, sometimes he is off doing his own thing. I liked him staying close to me.

Next we went into the garden to feed the rabbits. In order to open the garden gate, I currently have to lift the fence I arched over the gate in the spring, to open the door because the loofah has done very well this year. I need to use some Hackberry branches to create more support to keep the archway up, Hackberry branches are pretty flexible so I think they’ll work well for this. I went in to feed the bunnies, they had plenty of water. And then I decides not to worry about water or food for the two bigger chicken coops, since I know I filled them up last evening.

At this point I started walking from the garden to the barn. I looked at our fruit and nut trees and was thankful that they didn’t need to be watered because it actually rained most of the day yesterday. I was also thankful that I was able to determine that two of my 3 young pecan trees are alive and have new growth, after they had been looking dried out and dead for the last month. On my way I also noticed trash blown over the grass in the back of the house, so I picked it up and put it all back in the trash cans and put the one that blew away back, and closed the lid securely.

As I got to the barn gate I enjoyed the greetings of the 3 dogs at the barn, Daisy, Looloo and Rusty. They are such sweet dogs. I remembered next that I needes to let Wade’s breeding group nibble on the mineral block for a little while so I took that into thier area first. Then I turned on the water from the rain barrel to fill the water troughs through hoses and pipes we installed recently. I was thankful to have that convenience.

Next I fed the dogs. I have learned that if I feed them too close to each other, they end up growling at each other and sometimes fighting, so I put thier full food bowls in separate corners of the barn and then leave them to eat.

While they were eating I asked Titus to sit beside me, away from the gate to the pen in the ewe barn and I opened the pen to let that group of sheep out. I asked him to stay beside me as we treck down the sheep run. I noticed that the far gate, to the pasture the sheep need to get into, is closed. I usually leave it open at night so that I don’t have to open it in the morning. So I asked Titus to sit, some ways from the gate, as I got up in front of the sheep, to open the gate. Titus knew I had the remote to his training collar and he statyed put, I didn’t even have to use it. This helped the sheep not to start running in the opposite direction, and they soon are in their pasture and I can close the gate behind them.

When Titus listens, he really is a big help.

After that, I walked back to the sheep that were in the ram shack and asked Titus to sit behind the door. I opened the door and let the sheep out and continued to ask Titus to sit and stay with me so he wouldn’t chase the sheep. They know where to go and when he chases them, they get scared and go the wrong way. Titus listened. I closed the gate to the pasture those sheep went into, pasture 4 and I closed the gate to the sheep run. Then I turned off the water tank and opened up the gate to the sheep in Wade’s group and put the mineral block away.

I was done.

The breezes were nice this morning the air cool and humid and everything was wet and smelled sweet. During this season I enjoy doing the farm chores in the morning before the boys wake up. It is quiet and cool in the mornings. This has been my routine all summer and now into the fall. It is working well right now.

Hatching chicks!

We bought a Farm Innovators Pro Series 4250 from our local farm store about 4 weeks ago and started incubating eggs for the first time. After diligently watching temperature and humidity and adding water as needed, we are so excited so see the first chicks hatching today! Check out our YouTube channel for short videos of them hatching.

After a week in a rubbermaid tub, in the laundry room, our chicks graduated to the chick coop in the garage.

Shearing and skirting done in 1 day!

Rainbow while we were sorting fleeces.

Whenever our shearers come I usually just focus on getting shearing done. But this year, there were people coming. People who wanted to watch and people who wanted help so..I updated the wool sorting table and made a second one.

I wanted them to fold up for easy storage and be big enough for for the whole fleece. So I took apart the existing wool sorting table that we had made several years ago and cut each piece of wood in half, length wise to make two tables and put hinges on them so they can fold together.

Table folded up.
Some view of folded wool sorting table.

And then I made another one.

Wool sorting table after assembling legs, upside down.
Kelsey at the wool sorting table.

They worked beautifully and with the help of our Fiber To Spin Exchange contact Kelsey we got all of the fleeces weighed skirted and bagged. What a blessing to have that all done in one day! And the sheep are white and clean and cool and lean for the summer.

We Have a Shearing Date!

We Have a Shearing Date!

Ah the time has come for sheep to get thier annual haircut.. they have grown beautiful fleeces for us and they are ready to give them up.

Its a win win transaction, they get relief from the heat and weight of thier fleeces and we get gorgeous light, silky, soft, springy wool to make yarn with.

For those who are waiting for fleeces and those that have expressed interest in coming to watch the shearing process; we have our shearing date. May 21st! Mark you calendars.

If the weather changes and if our shearers get behind schedule, this could change. But our shearing team (Right Choice Shearing) is pretty good about sticking to thier schedule.

If you’d like to come or you’d like a fleece please send us a message.

A gentle rooster

No it’s not an oxymoron. There are gentle roosters. Roosters that don’t attack you every time you enter thier space. We have two True Greens that are great. But unfortunately the free Lavender Orpington rooster we adopted got really aggressive once we put him with his hens. Someone suggested that it was because he was the only rooster in that coop but I’m not convinced. He is so aggressive that every single time we go in to fill the water or the food he tries to attack us. We have to use a stick to keep him back.

Lavendar Orpingtons, one Buff and one Australorp- mean rooster in front

Since we got the Lavender Orpingtons to raise and sell as multi purpose birds, we do need a rooster.

So we started looking for another rooster.

Through Craigslist we found a place called Forked Farms in Rogers that has English Orpingtons and they had a Lavender Orpington rooster we could buy.

We met the owner at her gate a handled the rooster a bit and he seemed fine.

-What we should have done though was inspect the roots of the feathers. But we didn’t.-

We noticed that evening that he had mites crawling on him and put some diatomaceous earth in a big bowl for him to bathe in. (Chickens like to take a dust bath in ashes which helps keep mites away)

Unfortunately a few days later we found him falling over and almost dead. Good thing we had him isolated. It’s always a good idea to keep new animals isolated at least 2 weeks before introducing them to your other animals.

We inspected him carefully and and found mites, fleas and some other bug crawling all over him. The mite eggs on his feather stems were so encrusted that some of them were two inches across!

So we mixed up some permetherin and sprayed him down really well.

We hand fed him meal worms and molasses water with a dropper as well as b12, every few hours.

After two days he was looking a little better but he had this gross mucus in his beak. So we started him on penicillin g injections to treat the infection.

He is still a bit light on his feet but he is standing and pecking and eating and drinking on his own. I’m not thrilled with the price I paid for such a sick rooster. But if he makes it, hopefully it will all be worth it! Would I recommend Forked Farms…I would say yes (she did communicate with me some) but inspect your birds very carefully *first*, all the way down to the roots of the feathers. I would NOT recommend using diatomaceous earth to treat an infestation. It didn’t work for us, that’s for sure.

Smokey the English Orpington from Forked Farms

Spring business on the farm

It has been an incredibly busy spring on the farm. We have had 5 of our ewes lamb. Giving us THREE sets of twins and a total of 8 little lambs and of those 8 only two were ram lambs. They have all done great accept that one of our older ewes, that’s never had twins before, rejected one of her twins. Thankfully there was a lovely woman that came driving from 3 hours away to rescue and bottle feed our little guy just before the winter storm hit. I was very thankful not to have a bottle baby to feed.

Our next spring venture was finishing the garden beds in our food garden. We had fenced in a 30′ x 50′ area several years ago and never finished all of the garden beds. So we worked daily with the help of everyone in the family and even a nephew, to get it done. We then planned out where to plant everything using companion planting reccomendations, recorded where everything was planted and began watering every day. It looks like most everything has come up. We are hopeful that insects and gophers won’t devour it lol.

Panoramic of the garden 4-2021

Another exciting thing that happened this spring was that we had a Veterinary Student come help us out for a week. It really was such a blessing to have the help and really fun to share our farm with someone who loves animals as much as we do. She also helped us figure out a solution for one of our over enthusiastic dogs. She suggested a training collar. It has a vibrate and beep setting and although it has a electric shock option we didn’t install that feature. It has been working very well to keep our Aussie from nipping and biting our sheep. I highly recommend!

And finally we acquired some rex rabbits and bred them. Now we have these tiny little bunny wabbits that we just adore!

2 wk old bunnies from Betty bunny 4-2021

Now we are getting ready for the Texas Yarn Festival at Blue Mule Winery in Fayetteville TX on April 24th. We won’t have new fleeces yet but we’ll have some roving and some handspun yarn, crocheted items and other goodies. We hope to see you there!

Heart quilt

I bought the pink colored fabrics for this quilt probably about …12 years ago.

At the time, I had planned to make a few potholders to give away or maybe a small quilt. I cut out squares and hearts and sewed….one… heart onto a square using the blind stitch and put it down…for… 12 years!

In December I built (with help) a chicken coop and crocheted almost non stop. And on top of hoisting (square) bales of hay and lifting, diapering and dressing a two year old, I ended up with tendinitis in my right thumb AND my left elbow…soo I had to find a project that I could do, without further straining those.

I started looking at an applique quilt pattern that I bought last year to make a farm themed quilt. Since Valentines Day was coming up I decided to make some heart quilts, using the applique method described in the pattern, to get some practice in, before doing the big farm quilt project.

First I made one for my living room that suits my current decor and it turned out really nice!

So..I went ahead and finally finished what I had started 12 years ago. I think the applique method is much easier and much less painful on the fingers than hand stitching and it turned our beautiful.

I bought the red and white floral and the white fabric to go with the fabric I already had cut, and designed, put together, and quilted the whole thing on my very plain, no bells or whistles, Singer sewing machine.

I did have to redo some of the quilting a few times and it is still not perfect, but I’m very happy with it and I think it will make a great baby quilt or wall hanging.

I am offering it for sale on our Whirld Works Wares page. I only wish I had made it 4 years ago when my baby girl cousin was born in February! It will make some baby very happy!

Farm Chores in the cold

I just finished up doing the farm chores in this uncharacteristicly cold central Texas weather and I did manage to keep *most* of my body from freezing. I found it interesting, however…the animals aren’t cold …at…all.

God gave them everything they need, to stay warm, growing right on their backs; feathers, fur and wool. And I am thankful that they share it with me. I guess since humans are given higher intelligence, we have to use it, to find ways to stay warm, to forage, or work for our needs, otherwise we’d use our ‘higher intelligence’ to make war and otherwise get into trouble (oh wait we do that anyway don’t we?). But He still gives US everything we need too, we just have to use what we’ve been given, to aquire it.. I mean animals have it good in some ways, we might even say, they have better.

But God said that He made US in his image and from what I understand, that means we get to experience things that animals do not; like intimacy, engineering, planning, and opportunities to grow,… our character and our souls..

Stay warm! And thank an animal if you are using something they grew, on thier backs, to keep you warm. And take every chance you get to grow… your… soul. ❄

Plumbing the Fields

When we first brought sheep to our farm we had fenced in a part of the hay field to create a safe and limited pasture for them. As our flock grew we fenced in more of the hay field so that we could move the flock occasionally giving each field a time of rest. As happens on a farm like ours, our flock continued to grow and we also added a cow and two donkeys to the fold. Ultimately we fenced in about 75% of our hay field to create 4 individual pastures to rotate our animals through.

Beyond good grass, there is one important item every animal needs and that is fresh, clean water. We have two rain collection tanks at the barn to provide the water to our animals. When there was only one field there wasn’t much of an issue as we could use a small hose to fill their trough. It became a little more challenging when we expanded to two fields and further still by the time we had four fields. Each field has a trough that must be filled each day.

For the past couple of years we have run about 300 feet of hose with diversion valves in order to get the water to each field. This worked pretty well the first year, but the relentless Texas sun dries them out over time and we began spending quite a bit of money on replacing hoses as they failed. Anyone who has priced a hose these days will agree that the price for a good 100 foot hose has risen considerably. We decided it was time to do something different.

The past two weekends we tackled the project of replacing those hoses with buried PVC pipes. The long run from the barn to the furthest point was about 250 feet. We planned this project for November because the temperature is typically cooler and the ground softer after Fall rains. Unfortunately we have been experiencing an incredibly dry Fall this year and the ground was the consistency of dried out play-dough. That is once we broke through the hard crust on the surface.

We don’t have trenching equipment and none could be found for rent anywhere nearby so we had to break through the surface crust with a pick-axe the entire 250 feet. To their credit, our oldest son and 8 year old both took their turns breaking the top crust along the fence line. I’m pretty sure it would have been a three weekend project had it not been for their tremendous effort.

I followed that long furrow with my cultivator to dig down a shallow trench about 4-5 inches deep. Once the trench was completed we glued and laid the pipe in the ground and installed the risers and valves that would bring the water to each trough.

When the glue dried it was time to test the system and thankfully within a few seconds of turning on the tank valve water flowed from each riser!

The Pumpkin Patch

This year we did not plant pumpkins at all. We planted tomatoes, butternut and acorn squash, black eyed peas, brussel sprouts, kale, celery, jalapeno and bell peppers, basil and cucumbers (which the gophers really, really liked). We also enjoyed some wild plums and dewberries, wild grapes, which we made into jelly and even wine, and some blueberries and blackberries that are still growing in the garden.

But we did not plant pumpkins.

Some of the best things in life are not planned, or even wanted at first, and yet if we let them, just let them be and help them, help them along, they can become the most treasured.

I often feed the chickens spoiled things and the melon and squash seeds, it must have been from that, that this pumpkin plant began, all on it’s own, just outside the chicken run that wraps around our vegetable garden. It began pretty late , sometime in July if I remember correctly, and so we didn’t expect it to produce many, if any pumpkins, before it got too hot in the summer. But I was watering the vegetable garden with a sprinkler that sprayed a wide area in the garden and some outside of the garden and the pumpkin plant thrived. All-summer-long and even into the fall too. We canned a-lot of pumpkin back in late summer when we thought we were nearing the end of our pumpkin harvest and there was no room in the kitchen for anything else. (note: pumpkin/squash must be canned with a pressure canner)

We found a delicious honey pumpkin pie recipe, that you can find <here>, that is a-maz-ingly delicious, to use up some of our pumpkin. We also have an old favorite pumpkin soup recipe that we are looking forward to having again. Today I am making a Pumpkin Bundt Cake which we have not tried yet, for my Oldest sons birthday. He absolutely loves pumpkin anything, as do I, so we are looking forward to tasting this new recipe that we found <here>.

Since it is my oldest sons birthday today and pumpkin is his favorite vegetable, and since I noticed today that there were an abundance of pumpkins still growing on the vine. I decided to ask Liam to pick the rest of the pumpkins that were on the vine, and had a little orange on them. I told him I’d give him a “coin” for each pumpkin he picked.

He found enough for Joey to have one for each year he has been alive (29) and one to spare!

From one pumpkin plant!

We probably canned close to that many a few months ago, from the same plant!

Pumpkins can be left on the vine to ripen further, but once they begin to turn orange, they don’t get any larger and, if picked, can be saved from gophers, bugs and the elements, and they will complete the ripening process on their own. You see the nutrients that it has stored up in its stem continue to feed it for the remainder of the ripening process. The nutrients from the main tap root that were delivered to the pumpkin stem by the vine. This got me to thinking about how, like pumpkins, we are effected and changed, by our experiences, our friends, the shows we watch and the books we read, even the pictures we look at and the voices that we listen to, long after we have severed ties, turned off the movie, or closed the book.

It really matters what we give our attention to, it effects our attitudes, our perception of others, and ourselves, the way we treat others and so much more. I want to be careful who and what I tap into and give my attention to. I want to be careful and intentional about what I absorb, to be sure it will effect me in ways that help me become the person I want to be, and nothing else.

It also got me thinking about how grateful that I am for the people who have plugged into me, who have invested in me, cared about me and just been my friend. People who effect me in ways that help me become a better person, the kind of person I want to be.

It also got me to thinking how thankful that I am for Joey. You see Joey was unexpected too an unexpected surprise, when I was only 15. I am so thankful for the friends that encouraged me, plugged into me and helped me to carry him and give him life. I am thankful for all of the friends that helped me to be a better mother to him and all of the those that followed. I am thankful for Joey, he is a true treasure to me. I am thankful for his wisdom, his tender spirit and how he was taught me to be more considerate and understanding. I am thankful for all of the help that Joey is to me, with his younger brothers and all of the things on the farm right now, while he is living with us.

And I am thankful for abundant and overflowing pumpkins! Especially on his birthday!

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