Farm Life

Calves On The Loose

This year we are doing things a bit different.  Actually a lot different!  I really needed a way to reduce my work load so I decided to leave my baby calves on their mothers.  What this means is that I will not have to bottle feed babies twice a day or worry about manure removal from calf pens.  What we have always done in the past is to take away the calves from their mothers after they are a few days old.  This is just an industry norm.  The calves were then raised in individual pens or calf hutches until they were 2-3 months old.  We did this mostly so that we could control the calves intake of milk. Also in the past, we just did not have things set up for calves on the loose. Having calves on their mothers does produce a whole new set of problems and issues to deal with but I spend a whole lot less time dealing with these issues than if I was bottle feeding babies.  The health of these calves is just unsurpassed as well.  It is a daily joy to watch these calves interact with each other and their mothers.

Here are some of the calves with a mamma cow.  She's on baby sitting duty.  Her calf is the one laying down directly in front of her.  We have the milk herd out grazing off a rye field.  

The calves are taking a break after playing king of the hill on the compost pile all morning.  All of these calves are heifers with the exception of the calf that is mostly white standing the lowest on the pile.  We are raising this guy to be next years herd sire.  If you look closely at the background you can see all the milk cows out grazing.        

Ice Storm

Oh my!  What a weekend.  Thought I would post a few pictures of this weekends ice storm.  Our trees took a pretty good beating.  We will need to replace some shingles on the roof too.  The power was off all day Saturday and most of Sunday.  I was lucky enough to have milked all of the cows on Saturday morning.  I was so happy about that!  Normally I would start milking around 6:30 am.  Earlier last week I had decided I needed to change my milking schedule.  I now start milking cows around 4:00 am.  On saturday morning I was just pulling off the last milker when the power went out at 6:30!  Boy did I feel lucky that morning!  The power was out all day then.  It came on briefly at 5:30.  Just long enough that I washed the milking equipment from the mornings chores and had gotten about 12 cows milked.  Then the power went out again.  It didn't come back on until Sunday afternoon.  Even though a generator is high on our priority list, we have not been able to purchase one yet.  Early sunday afternoon we did borrow one from our friends who also have a dairy (no ice at their house). When we got home with the generator the power was already on.  The cows udders were quite full but no harm was done.  All of my fresh cows, who normally I would be most worried about not getting milked on time, have calves on them.  They had some relief from their calves suckling.  We're just grateful we didn't encounter anything too awfully bad.  So here's some pictures of the farmstead.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beautiful Day

I hope everyone is enjoying the beautiful weather.  It seems like the weather has been nice everywhere.  I talked with my sister in Wisconsin and the temperature has been in the 60's there.  For them that is a heat wave! Here on the farm we have been getting a lot of gardening done and I've been busy with the baby animals.  I will be posting some pictures of them soon.  I had a litter of Herefords and a heifer calf born yesterday.  This week I have two batches of eggs that are due to hatch and another sow that will be farrowing at anytime.  It's really feeling like spring around here!

Other News

Just to let folks know we have no shortage of eggs right now.  The hens are laying well.  The eggs will only get better from here on out.  There is plenty of green grass for the hens to nip at and the bugs are starting to come out.

The freezers are running pretty low right now but we are working on getting them restocked.  Our living pantry is full so we just need to get some butcher dates set.  I plan on ordering some meat chicks this week.  I'm planning on offering 3 sizes of chickens for folks to choose from.  2-3 lb cornish game hens, 4-5 lb chickens and 6-8 lb roasters.  

I'll leave folks with a couple of pictures to look at.  My peach trees are blooming.  

 

 

Woolies at Faye Farms North

I'm excited to say that our families farm up in Bayfield, WI has been started up again.  This is the farm that we moved away from in June of 2007.  My brother-in-law Fred, and his wife Kelly, have decided to start milking sheep.  Fred is a talented cheese maker and he plans to turn all of his sheep milk into cheese.  Fred and Kelly have 67 sheep and 2 Livestock Guardian dogs.  They will be lambing out a small section of their flock in the next couple of months and then the main portion of the flock will be lambing in August.  They have a lot of work ahead of them to set up the milking area and cheese making area for their new venture.  They also need to come up with a farm name and cheese label.  I'm sure they don't want to be referred to as Faye Farms North!   I'm very excited for Fred and Kelly and I can't wait to try out their cheese!  Hopefully I will be able to offer their cheese to my customers here in Kansas as well.  

Here are a couple of pictures of Fred and Kelly's new flock.  The dog in the first picture is a Maremma named Willow.  Since the farm in Bayfield is surrounded by some pretty wild woods LGD's are a necessity.  Wolves are doing quite well in this area.  Bald Eagles are also known to snatch up young lambs.  The dogs live out with the sheep 24/7 and they are always on the watch for anything that doesn't belong.  They are very effective at their job.         

I'm A Bit Shocked.

I know there has been huge advances in cloning but I never realized how advanced this technology was.  We received a farming publication yesterday that had a 3/4 page add for a company that will clone your animals.  This technology is now available to the public!  I'm shocked and I can guarantee this is technology that we will never be using on our farm.  I don't think it is right to be tinkering with nature is this way.   

Prairie Dog

We have a new addition to the farm.  We have an Anatolian/Akbash cross dog named Prairie Dog.  We call her Prairie for short.  I made the mistake of asking my dad what we should name the dog when we got her.  Right away he chimed in with Prairie Dog.  I asked everybody else in the family what she should be named and nobody could think of anything.  I started calling her Prairie just because I needed to call her something and the name just sort of ended up sticking.  Dad named our cat last summer too, and yes, his name is Prairie Cat.  

Anatolian's and Akbash's are both breeds of dogs that were bred specifically for guarding livestock.  I'm hoping Prairie Dog will help keep coyotes away from the homestead.  She is a very sweet dog and I am really enjoying having her on the farm.

  

I'm Unleashing The Gardening Guru!

My mom has moved in with us for the winter and I gave her the go ahead to plan any sort of garden she wants.  She has been spending the last month pouring over the seed catalogs and laying out plans on paper for what we are going to do this spring.  Since the weather is so beautiful today she has started to lay out the boarders of the garden beds.  She has plans for all sorts of vegetables, herbs and flowers.  I can't wait for the time when we can start putting plants in the ground.  Of course any time you break ground on the farm all the hens have to come over and investigate.  Today was no different.  The hens actually helped the process today because with all of their digging they tilled the soil and broke up the clumps.  Before we put any plants in the ground we have plans to fence off the garden area so the hens can't get to the new plants and seeds.  I hope they enjoy this while they can!


  

Testing, Testing

I've been having a bit of fun testing out some new fragrances this week.  I ordered 13 different scents and I am working my way through them.  I'm also working on getting some of my regular scents stockpiled so I have plenty on hand to sell when spring rolls around.  Check out some of my work.  

The Lemon Meringue Pie I colored with yellow mica.  Believe it or not I did not put any sort of coloring in the Tuscan Wine, White Zinfandel, or the Chocolate Creamcheese Cupcake.  Some fragrances discolor so this is one of the reasons why testing is so important.  I used antique green mica in the soap scented with Fresh Cut Grass.  I was going for a dark green but the mica morphed into a slate grey.  So testing your coloring is also a good idea.  While the slate grey is a bad color for Fresh Cut Grass it is perfect for another soap I have in mind.  

Here is another soap that I am just thrilled with.  I used a variation of the funnel method for pouring the soap in my mold.  For this soap I divided the raw soap in half and colored one half with peppermint powder and the other half I left plain.  When I poured the raw soap into my mold I alternated pouring between the colored and uncolored soap.  Some people use a funnel for pouring the alternating colors into the mold.  I just poured directly from my soaping buckets.  I love the look of this soap and can't wait to try this out with more than two colors.

  

So what's next in the soap pot?  I still have Chai Tea, Fresh Brewed Coffee, Green Clover and Aloe, Green Tea, Mulberry Spice, Nag Champa, Patchouli, and Yuzu to try out yet.  I also have an earth tone sampler set of micas to try out.  Fun! Fun!   

Thank You!

It's seems that we have a secret santa.  The other day we received a big box stuffed plum full of goodies.  The return address just said "Santa".   The spiderman watches are a big hit.  Hans and Henry have been timing everything we do now.  I don't have to worry about knowing what time it is!  We've been having fun trying to figure out who the goodies could of come from.  Thank You Santa! 

Happy Holidays

I would like to take this opportunity to thank my customers and wish them a very happy and healthy holiday season.  My family and I feel blessed to have met so many wonderful people this year.  We feel grateful to be in an area that appreciates the quality of local home grown food and we are excited about what the upcoming year may hold for us.

Around the Farm

Cold Weather

Cold always brings a challenge for farmers.  When the temps drop to single digits extra care must be taken.  All of the animals get extra feed and bedding.  We must check the livestock more often to make sure there are no problems.  Ice on the waterers must be broken to ensure everybody gets adequate water.  Steps need to be taken to ensure a tractor will always start when needed.  Pipes need to be kept thawed out in the milking parlor.  Little problems can easily turn into big problems when it is very cold outside.  We work hard to avoid these problems.

Pigs

It's absolutely amazing the job that a good sow can do.  My last blog post told of an extremely disappointing farrowing.  This week I have good news to tell about.  I had another sow farrow and she has done an amazing job.  She farrowed 3 days ago and she has managed to keep every single one of her piglets alive through single digit cold weather.  She spent all day Saturday building this huge nest.  I gave her lots of extra hay so she was happy with her nest.  That night she proceeded to have 11 piglets.  When I checked on her in the morning she had all of her piglets nestled between her belly and a big berm of hay.  Normally when you approach a sow in her pen she will get up and come and see what you are doing.  The sow knew that she had to keep her piglets warm so she didn't get up this time to see what I was up to.  Later in the day when the temps had risen a bit she then got up to eat.  After she had got up Mark saw her gently nudge her newborn piglets into a pile and cover them up with hay.  She only gets up to eat and then she snuggles back down with her piglets to keep them warm.  I'm so happy with the job she is doing!      

 

Ups and Downs

Farming can be quite the roller coaster ride at times.  Just when you think you have everything figured out you are thrown for a loop.  In farming you are always studying and learning.  When we made the move from Wisconsin we had much to learn about this area.  As much as a person reads and talks to others you really don't learn much until you have to deal with things yourself.  Have you ever heard of the saying, "There is more than one way to skin a cat."? Well, every farmer has their tool box of tricks that they use for their success.  Every farmers tool box is a little different.  Just like the saying, there are many different ways to come to the same success in the end. Now you're probably wondering what I am rambling about.  In Wisconsin we had our tool box of tricks for raising some great hogs and weaning off big litters.  Of course we had to go through a learning curve first to acquire our tool box of tricks for success.  When we moved to Kansas we had a good basic knowledge of hogs that could be applied to any situation but we had to come up with a completely different tool box of tricks to have success with our hogs at this particular farm with this particular climate.  The first year was a bit bumpy and we suffered some losses.  We have learned a lot in the last year and a half and thought we had things pretty well figured out.  Last Wednesday we had one of those loops thrown at us that I mentioned above.  One of my Hereford sows was due to farrow.  We got her in a pen by herself in the shed.  Loaded the pen down with lots of fresh straw.  We did everything we have done in the past and have had good success with.  Farrowing time came in the late evening.  Mark had gone to Missouri for the day so I had to do all the chores by myself that day.  At 10:00 PM I checked on the sow and there were 3 squealing piglets at her udder.  I could tell more were on the way.  It was 60 degrees outside.  The air was calm.  The weather was good for farrowing.  I was feeling great about the situation so I went to bed because I was pretty tired.  I had no worries going to bed and couldn't wait to see my new litter of piglets in the morning.  Morning came and I dressed up for choring.  I walked out the door and it was absolutely frigid outside.  Everything was frozen solid.  Not at all like what the weather was like when I went to bed. I went to check on the sow and all I saw was 1 dead piglet.  No wriggling mass of cute red piglets!  I went to milk cows and hoped that maybe the sow had stuffed her piglets under the straw.  No such luck.  The entire litter was a loss.  I'm just devastated and sickened by this.  As a farmer I have so much invested in my animals.  Of course there is the monetary investment, this is how I feed my family.  Bigger yet is the investment of my heart and soul.  The pride that I have of a job well done and some beautiful healthy animals to show for it.  So it's time to re-evaluate and learn from the situation and hope that I have the tools to do a better job next time.   

November 21, 2008

THOUGHTS FOR THE DAY-WHAT'S HAPPENING

This morning certainly was brisk!  While milking I had to stick my hands between the cows udder and her inner leg a few times just to keep my fingers working.  Luckily the sun is bright today and the wind is low.  There is one good thing that happens when the weather gets cold.  I can concentrate more on indoor activities.  My "Spring Cleaning" happens in the winter.  I've been sorting through the closets and the kids old toys so we can get rid of what we don't need anymore.  I've also gotten caught up with my big mountain of laundry that needed to be folded and put away.  Now is a great time of year to stock up my soap supplies as well.  Mark's outdoor activities aren't quite done yet though.  He is busy planting a small field of Rye for spring grazing.  I've been doing my share of planting as well.  On Monday I added 4 more trees to our little orchard.  I planted 4 apple trees.  One each of Cortland, Gala, Fuji and Braestar.  I bought all of my trees from Starks Brothers which is out of Missouri.  I bought 4 peach trees from them last November.  I was so impressed with the quality of their trees that I will continue to buy my trees from them.

POULTRY

If you haven't gotten your Thanksgiving turkey yet then come on out to the farm.  I've got a couple of turkeys in the freezer already and we will butchering the remainder of the birds on Tuesday and Wednesday.  We will also start in on butchering our meat chickens as they are big enough now.  

November 5, 2008

My neighbors and I are getting together to have an open house sale.  This will take place at my neighbors house. She lives directly across the road from my milk cow pasture.  Come out and enjoy shopping local for your christmas gift needs.    

Holiday Sale-Open House

November 15, 2008 from 9:00-4:00 @ 4949 11th Rd. Udall

(1 mile North of K-15 on Rose Hill Road-look for signs)

Featuring:

* Handcrafted Artisan Jewelry, Christmas Decor, and Fused Glass by G and E Gems. www.gandegems.com

* Handcrafted Soaps and Gift Boxes by Faye Farms. Gift Certificates for Faye Farms products (pork, beef, eggs, and poultry) will also be available.

* Homemade Caramel, Pear Butter, Apple Butter, Pecan Praline Syrup, Spiced Honey and Strawberry/Lemon Marmalade made by Debbie Yeager.

 

Story From The Farm

While I was milking cows yesterday morning I got to witness one of natures little ways of creating a symbiosis between her creatures.  Since it was a rather warm day the flies were out and landing on the cows.  One of their favorite places to congregate is on the under belly of the cows.  Here I look out the parlor door and one of my Red Star hens is standing under a cow and pecking all the flies off of her belly.  This struck me as rather amazing because the cow that this hen was standing under was one of my cows that is rather high strung.  It doesn't take much to get her excited.  She was standing there calm as could be as that hen was pecking on her belly.  She swung her head around and looked at the hen as if to say "Thank You".     

October 24, 2008

Today was a busy day.  You would think it was spring around here!  Two heifers, one bull calf and at least 11 piglets were born.  All the babies are doing great.  Today we are also trying a new technique for determining pregnancy in breeding age cows.  We drew blood on 22 heifers and we will send these blood samples in to a laboratory for pregnancy results.  We will then get the results emailed to us.  The old way of doing this was to have a vet come out to the farm and arm service each individual cow.  This new way is much more convenient for us and is a lot easier on the pocket book.

With the days getting cooler I have been thinking about Wisconsin lately and how much I DON'T miss snow.  When the weather starts getting bad down here in Kansas I just look at some of these videos I took the year before we left Wisconsin.  These two movies were taken in April of 2007.  

    

 

 

October 6, 2008

Fruit 

I'm very relieved and happy to find out that Kansas has fruit!  When we moved down here last year there wasn't a fruit to be found anywhere.  There was a late frost that killed all the buds on the fruit trees.  This was very sad for me since I came from an area in Wisconsin that had an abundance of fruit to pick.  There were many orchards you could go for apples, cherries and pears.  The orchards also had berry patches you could pick from too.   In WI there is lots of wild fruit for the person who has the time to seek out their hiding spots.  The only fruit growing here on our property in Kansas is 2 mulberry trees.  I discovered that they were here too late to do any picking though.  Next year!  This week I have been lucky enough to have some great neighbors that are sharing their fruit with me.  I have been picking baskets of beautiful apples and pears.  This year the trees are so laden that their branches are drooping to the ground.  I have been very busy canning jam and sauce.  We are also slowly growing our own orchard.  Last fall I planted 4 peach trees that are doing great.  This year I have ordered 4 apple trees to add to our little orchard.  I really like planting in the fall.  There is much more moisture for the trees to get started and you don't have to worry about the extreme heat burning up the trees.

Chicks

The broilers arrived this week.  All 50 arrived in great shape and are doing well.  We even had 4 extra "packing peanuts".  That brings the total up to 54 chicks.  They have been here only a few days and I can already see they have increased in size.           

September 29, 2008

 Broilers

We have ordered a new batch or meat chickens to raise out.  Upon arrival they will take 6-8 weeks to reach butcher size.  If you would like to reserve some birds please give us a call or email.  Birds will be $2.85/lb and should weigh from 4-6 lbs. each.   If we get a lot of requests for birds we can always order some more to raise.


Butcher Hogs

We have scheduled our last 3 hogs of the year to be butchered.  The butcher date is set for November 4th.  If you would like one of these hogs for your family let us know.  For more information check out Butcher Hogs in the for sale area of our website.


Soap

Soap makes a great gift for christmas.  It's good for either the guys or gals in your family and it's something that everybody needs.  You can buy individual bars for stocking stuffers or we can put together a nice assortment of soaps in a handcrafted gift box.  Soaps are available in individually cut and wrapped bars or for fun you can purchase an entire log of soap to cut and wrap yourself.  We will be taking christmas soap orders now thru November.  Remember it takes a new batch of soap 4 weeks to cure before we recommend using it.


Thoughts For The Day

Summer has ended and fall is in the air.  What a great time of year to get outside and enjoy the mild weather.  Our calves have started to arrive so every morning is exciting.  We never know what kind of colorful calf we will get.  We've had calves with Ayrshire, Holstein, Milking Shorthorn and Normande breeding being born.  It's always a mystery if the calf will be red or black.  The Normande's and Shorthorns make calves with all sorts of spots.  Yesterday we had a gorgeous red and white Normande heifer with lots of spots born.  She's just a joy to look at!  

We also have a new little buddy in the yard.  Her name is Midget.  She is a tiny little Holstein heifer that was born pre-mature.  When she was 3 days old she weighed in at 21 lbs.  Now a normal sized calf is around 100 lbs when it is born.  So you can imagine our surprise when we saw this little girl.  Normally it is hard to keep calves this small and pre-mature alive, but Midget has an enormous will to live and is doing excellent.  She streaks around the yard like a little bullet, kicking up her heels as she goes!  Since she is so tiny she sleeps in a box in the entryway of the house at night.  We don't know if she will be a normal sized Holstein or not but she sure is fun!           

     

September 15, 2008

We now have pork available for sale off the farm.  We have a mild but savory breakfast sausage, pork chops and pork sirloin roasts available.  

I thought I would share a family favorite recipe for pork sausage.  This is a great recipe because it enables you to use a breakfast sausage for lunch or dinner.  The recipe is also very forgiving on the amounts and types of ingredients you use.   You can tailor it to your tastes.  I always laugh when I think about this recipe.  One day the entire Faye family was together at the old farm house in Bayfield.  We were all pitching in to make this recipe for supper.  Well, one of my sister-in-laws was chopping up celery and got a little carried away.  My other sister-in-law saw this a started yelling "That's too much celery!  It's all about the green peppers.  It's all about the green peppers!!"  Anyways, I don't know what to call this recipe but here it is.  It's quick, easy, and even all 3 of my boys will eat it!

1 lb. pork sausage

2-3 stalks celery, chopped

1-2 green peppers, chopped

1 small onion, chopped

2 cans condensed cream of mushroom soup, undiluted

2  cups milk (you can also use water)

2 cups Instant rice (you can also use regular rice that you cook up ahead of time.  If you do this reduce the amount of milk you add to the casserole.)

2 cups cheddar cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Fry up pork sausage and veggies until sausage is cooked through entirely and veggies are tender.   Add rice and milk to sausage and veggies, stir it up and pour into a 4 qt. baking dish.  Sprinkle cheese on top.  Cover and bake for 30-35 minutes or until rice is tender. 


   

August 27, 2008

August is now winding down and it sure has been a nice month.  The weather this month has been very reminiscent of our summers in Wisconsin.  Many of the days this month have been cool and overcast.  Not so good for the local farmers who planted late soybeans but it has been very good for our cows.  No heat stress in a month that is usually the worst.  We continue to dry off cows.  We have half the herd dried off now with more yet to go.  The middle of September we will start to see some of these dry cows freshen.   

These past two weeks we have been grazing our small field of Hybrid Pearl Millet.  This feed is amazing!  In 43 days it grew tall enough to reach past Marks waist.  We started grazing it off at this height.  By the time we worked the cows across the field it had gotten tall enough to be over Marks shoulders.  The cows are doing quite well on the Millet.  They eat the big stalks and all.  By the time we move them to a new section they have it chewed down to little stubs.  I would say the Millet is a little less balanced than the Triticale we grazed off this spring.  There is not as much fiber as you would think in those stalks.  The cows manure is pretty loose.  The cows in early lactation are milking well on the Millet and the tail enders are putting on some nice weight.   All in all it's a great crop that I would recommend to any grazer.     

Count Your Blessings

Friday night didn't turn out so well.  Mark and I had finished up chores around 10:00 and had went to bed.  At 10:30 the power went out to the house.  When the power went out I happened to look out the window.  I did a double take because I couldn't believe my eyes.  One of our buildings was on fire!  We rushed out the door but it was pretty well engulfed by then.  A great couple happened to drive by and see the fire before we did.  They were already on the cell phone with 911 when we ran outside.  When all was said and done we had lost one heifer calf, a breeding boar, a big pile of straw and some small pieces of machinery.   While this is very stressful and a financial loss,  we feel very grateful and we are counting our blessings.  Nobody was hurt or killed, we didn't lose the house or dairy barn, we have great neighbors and some really good people in our community,  and we've got a better view of the pastures now.

After the big blaze had died down Mark had to use the tractor to knock down the smouldering hay piles.  That made me a bit nervous because there was still a lot of fire.  There was also a dirt floor under the building.  With all the water from the fire trucks it had become a big mud hole.  Mark really started to spin down bad so he had to stop.  I was afraid he would get the tractor stuck but he got out fine.  We'll be having to get one of the front tractor tires repaired though.  A big nail went through the tire.  

There's a big mess to clean up and some new fencing to build but the new view is nice!
  

July 21, 2008

Oh my!  Summer is just flying by.  We are keeping ourselves busy with all the animals and some new ventures as well.  The biggest news is that we are now selling at the Walnut Valley Farmers market in Winfield.  The market runs from 7:30-11:00 Saturday mornings at the Island Park on the north side of town.   It has been a lot of fun to get out and meet so many great people.  So far we have been bringing our eggs, ground beef and our homemade artisan crafted soaps.   Just as soon as we can get more freezer space we will be offering our pork products for sale as well.  Even though the market is a great avenue for sales we are still more than happy to sell off of our farm as well.  We have no set hours but we are guaranteed to be at the farm in the mornings and evenings.  Since there is usually the two of us here we do not mind people stopping by while we are milking. 

Our hens are kicking into production.  They are up to 5 dozen eggs a day.  The whole flock isn't laying yet so we are looking forward to more eggs.  Milking time is getting faster and faster.  In order to take advantage of the cooler weather we have about 3/4 of our herd due to calve in September and October.  While that means lots of milk rolling in then, it means just a trickle now.  We have been drying off cows at a pretty steady pace in the last few weeks.  It's nice to have a little extra time out of the milking parlor to devote to other projects though.  Our website has taken on a bit of a different look this week.  We run our site through Squarespace.  They have made some major changes to their system and I have had to change our site a bit to be able to take advantage of their updates.   We're having to learn a few new things with the update so hopefully the change over will go  smoothy.