Saturday, August 30, 2014

Six Management Lessons as Illustrated by our Two Year Old Farmhand

We have a laundry list of lofty plans for the farm this weekend, including hubby and his cohort  checking on the bee hives.

I was left to find my own assistant to help me get the farm chores done. 

I enlisted our two year old son to be our Farmhand for the day.  


He proved to be up to the task and taught us some lessons in Farm Management!


1. Stay persistent! 

Our farmhand continued to chase the chickens although they evaded him!


The goats seemed more intriguied by his size but still did not let him herd them. 


 2. Don't be afraid to confront an issue head on and talk it out! 

Our sheep were leery having probably never seen a tiny person roaming around.  Our sheep nuzzled him enough to knock him over but he did not let that get him down.


3. Lead by Example!

He didn't expect the chickens to get into the chicken tractor if he wasn't willing to do it. 


4. Don't be afraid to get your hands dirty!

I feared he would find a fresh pile of poop but thankfully he was more interested in sticks and leaves!  Color me relieved!  


5. Always know when to call in professional help!

He knew when he met his match and called in help from our professional herding pup, Bane.


6. Always know when it's time to relax!  

After all that hard work, he definitely earned  a leisurely swing and enjoyed the afternoon shade.

Friday, August 29, 2014 in , ,

Living on the Fringe: Welcome to the Outlands

[Living on the Fringe is a series of musings, thoughts and observations by a once city girl recently relocated to a rural-fringe area and opening her eyes to all the similarities and differences between the two life styles.]

As I listened to the news on my way home, it occurred to me just how far away we moved from the city. We live on the fringe of society. Don't get me wrong, we still occasionally venture into the busy central hub of Tampa/St.Pete and even to the more organized Sun City/Riverview/Plant City areas for work and supplies but we always get to come home to the outlands.

Thankfully, so far everyone has been rather welcoming.


I also think my Guava Cheesecakes didn’t hurt.

But I still wonder if it's isn’t due to all the space we have, not being on top of each other crowding each other in, or if it's that living on the fringe attracts a different type of person.

People who want to live and let live.

We came to the fringe looking for just that, space to live and let live. Both my husband and I grew up in Miami, where space was not lacking but still minimal. We grew up where acres were divided into quarters and eights and tenths and houses plopped on top of them. Where you could stand outside and reach over your pristine fence and touch your neighbor’s house without much trouble.  We tried to push toward sustainability and found obstacles at every turn.  Each change we made, each pot we planted, judged and demeaned unworthy.  So we decided to search for more open pastures. 

At first, we were warned that not everyone would be as welcoming to our Hispanic last name or our caramel skin and that there were still people stuck thinking in older ways.  We did have one incident at a restaurant where a sour older woman asked us to "go back where we came from” because my son has an overly zealous love of reading the letters of the alphabet on signs at the top of his voice. Thankfully, we were defended by everyone else in the restaurant which filled me with a sense of community.

The jokes on her though, although I am Hispanic, I came from Kentucky ... which was probably not what she expected!

 

Sunday, August 24, 2014 in , , , , , , ,

Six Months Come Near and How Our Flock Has Multiplied

In two weeks we will be celebrating six months living on the farm and we have been loving the changes that have come with living a rural life.

Some things I didn't expect to like are that we actually enjoy the fact that we are far away from the city and we don't even mind that NO ONE delivers out here.  We have had some stellar home cooked meals and I have taken on some cooking challenges I might have never tried if everything was so "convenient".

We also didn't expect to have so many chickens so soon!

A couple of weeks back, the homestead became home to 10 displaced Chickens and Roosters, about a 40/60 split on that as far as we can tell, and I am excited to report we are now regularly getting between 2 and 3 eggs a day from them.

Multiplying our flock to a total of 23.

I want to get a flock of meat birds, but we still need to finalize housing for our 3 Turkeys and our 6 Guinea Fowl so the meat birds will have to wait until the spring.   


We will probably try trading some of the roosters out as they are very beautiful but we now have way too many!

We are also now host to two ducks who seem to love the kiddie pool pond we have set up for them. We are not sure of their gender but one has a poof on his head and one does not. 


Our piggie, Charlotte continues to do well and we are taking bets as to her being pregnant. 

 She has been with us for just over 40 days and has gained weight rather well but doesn't show overt signs that she is pregnant.

The problem being that gestation for Pigs is 3 Months, 3 Weeks and 3 days or roughly 114 days, so we still have a ways to go and we've been told some breeds don't always show signs of pregnancy until they are due. 

So for now, we will continue taking bets. 


We also welcomed a new goat.

She seems to be partial to getting her head stuck in the fences, so Hubby has to go out and save her on an almost daily basis.


As you can see here:


and here:


Growing our herd up to five now but we need to trade out the smaller of the two boys as he is related to one or more of the others.  


Some things I'm having trouble getting used to are: 

The Cicadas leaving their shells in the most unusual places.


Wasps nests that seem to sprout over night. 


Oh, and how big the spiders get. 


Spiders don't get this big in the City!

What's up with that?

Monday, August 4, 2014 in , , ,

Good Fences Make Good Neighbors

When we moved to our Homestead, we were lucky that most of the property was already fenced.  If you are looking into purchasing a homestead, fencing is definitely something you should include on your check list.  We were also blessed to have a great group of neighbors (also something to put on the check list), so fencing the front of the property was not an urgent priority. But, now, as the animal head count continues to grow, the urgency level began to reach critical levels.  It's important to keep your animals in but also to keep other animals out. 

We considered trying our own hand at fence building, as we are both fond of the DIY and Hubby has some knowledge, but found that we lack some key equipment.  Also, being that the farm chores currently fall on us alone we forewent that route rather quickly. We reached out for recommendations in some local Facebook groups and one name kept coming up again and again.


We even called a competing fence company but ended up with the same recommendation. We scheduled an estimate and once they came out, we knew we contacted the right people.The owner was professional and informative.  He explained the potential options that would work best for our particular situation.  They provided clear estimates and we scheduled our date. 


On the day of, they called us to let us know they were on their way and when they arrived, they got right to work and started plotting the positions and laying out the ground work. 


Work moved miraculously fast and before we knew it the posts were up. 


Their team was prompt and professional.


All expedience and service. 


They even noted a problem with our existing gate and corrected while they were here. 


The fence looks amazing and I can not express how happy I am to have it done so quickly and professionally. 


And these guys were happy to be finally playing outside in their own space.  


Overall, our experience with Farmer's Friend was amazing.


Great Service and Quality work!

We highly recommend them!

Thursday, July 31, 2014 in , ,

Making Use of Your Chest Freezer: Chocolate Chip Cookies

We are new to the Chest Freezer Owning Business.  Neither I nor the Hubby had one while we were growing up so I have been reading up on how people have been using them on multiple blogs.  I'm still a little hazy on the whole thing but I am already making good use storing a surplus of cut up Mango my Mother-In-Law froze up for us. We made enough Mango-Cranberry Juice smoothies to feed an army and still have 5 more bags to go! 

Anyway, so this week, we got some good news.  Nothing to merit an announcement yet but enough to get a small celebration, so I decided to bake up some Chocolate Chip Cookies.


Now I am the Queen of breaking down a recipe into smaller portions so I only make what is needed at the time but this time, I decided to go ahead and make the whole amount and try my hand at storing and putting up the left overs in the freezer.  I know it's nice to be able to grab a couple of cookies and bake them up for a special night of TV watching and such. 

So I did a little research and found that the top 3 or 4 recipes for Chocolate Chip Cookies are all pretty much the same so I extrapolated and came up with this one.

Ingredients


  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups (about a 12 ounce bag) semisweet chocolate chips
  • Directions

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and baking soda; set aside. 
    2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter with both sugars; beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low; add the salt, vanilla, and eggs. Beat until well mixed, about 1 minute. 
    3. Add flour mixture to the egg-sugar mixture; mix until just combined. 
    4. Stir in the chocolate chips with a spoon.
    5. Drop heaping tablespoon-size balls of dough about 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
    6. Bake until cookies are golden around the edges, but still soft in the center, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven, and let cool on baking sheet 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack, and let cool completely. Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 week.

    Save some for the Freezer

    Drop heaping tablespoon-size balls of dough about 2 inches apart on saran wrap over a baking sheet.  Place in the freezer until hard and then move to a storage bag.  


    Bake them Later

    1. Drop the balls of dough about 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
    2. Bake until cookies are golden around the edges, but still soft in the center, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from oven, and let cool on baking sheet 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack, and let cool completely.

    They cookies came out amazing! 

    And our first batch from the freezer came out just as good!  

    Oh Boy! We now have Chocolate Chip Cookies pretty much on demand.

    I think I have created a monster!