From dream to reality

Welcome...we invite you to follow our journey to build our dream farm/homestead, God's Blessing Farm. From where we were, to the birth of the dream,to the search for land, to the land purchase,building the infrastructure and each step along the way.We invite you to watch comment and advise. If you are new to the blog you might want to start at the begining post. Be blessed and enjoy the ride with us

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Like they say on the reality show Survivor.."Its time for the Merge"

As I have been a shoddy blogger of late my wife has been trying to motivate me to resume my writing. Of course when I suggest a shorter farm to do list to free up some time the concept falls on deaf ears. After her rejection of my idea she offered that I should join her and co-author her farm blog Gods Blessing Farm . Knowing that anything that I do with her I will always do with more joy and energy I accepted. You are cordially invited to join us both there.My previous posts here will remain as an online journal of the first steps to our journey. The tribes/blogs have merged!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Departing from a new port on the voyage

 Its been awhile. As I reflected over restarting this diary of our "voyage" I had to think of how much has transpired since my lasts posts. I hope to cover much of that in my next few posts. Our farm has grown,our livestock has changed,our approach to how and what we do has,by necessity, become more focused. And even how much time I can allocate to the farm has radically changed..for the better. With all those changes it is probably appropriate that our cyber home and storefront for our farm is changing too. For the past few days  I have been toiling over our new website With it  we are hoping to:

1. Upgrade the web presence of our farm
2, Combine Angies  "The Crazy Goat Lady" and "My Sheepish Side" skin care products with our new fiber endeavors and our livestock sales
3. Reduce our costs while improving our customers shopping experience

It has been quite a tussle. As I worked on a potential design for  the site we both felt that blending our blogs into the portal might be a nice feature.Of course that requires that I actually restart this blog. I have missed doing this so it wasnt something I needed much cajoling to do. Because of the scope of what we were planning for the website we had to evaluate how we were doing things and how we would do them going forward. This is also a striking similarity to how we have had to approach our homestead . So now we need a new website but do we do it the same way? Our old web site host and design engine Homestead (yes that was their name )had become incredibly unreliable and expensive. With new needs and a desire to combine so many things into one portal  I decided to go with Bluehost as a domain hoster and Wordpress as the engine for our site.For all of its flaws Homestead had  an incredibly easy and intuitive web design engine. The learning curve on Wordpress has been a bit more difficult for an old dog.But like our farm the best results usually require more determination than you expect in the beginning. Our site is not complete yet but its far enough along to invite the public to take a peek at it.I used to say that my blogging was like "yelling into a garbage can" But if there is somebody still out there who listens for the garbage can echoes I hope you will stop by the page and give me some input. Please be brutally honest.Homesteading has taught me the lessons of any endeavor are  best when served in large strong portions. So once again The Homestead Voyage sails again Cast off the dock lines and unfurl the sails. Thanks for joining us on the trip..

Friday, July 27, 2012

A Blogging Hiatus

Well its been.....Almost 9 months??!!  Yep been scramblin here and the blogging has suffered . There is so much to tell since I last posted.I will be working on some catch up posts over the next few days.Be Blessed...The Bald Man

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Cutting the grocery store umbilical cord....

Well its been a while.Three months to be exact but work and the homestead projects dont leave much time for blogging......
First some housekeeping. I always refer to my wife here as "TLA" (The Lovely Angelia). Henceforth she shall be referred to as "TCGL" (The Crazy Goat Lady). Not just a new nickname but hopefully a new brand. She is hard at work launching her new line of goat milk soap and skin and hair care products.Plus she has a new concept for upcycling empty animal feed bags into wallets, handbags and more...but that is my next post.You can get a preview by checking out her new blog and her new website

Pictured below is TCGL hard at work hand milking one of our American Alpine Dairy Goats

But the name of my post today is "Cutting the grocery store umbilical". When we set out on our Homestead Voyage one of the primary concepts was to be more self sufficient. This was more of a emotional concept than a detailed plan.At first I thought the process would take many years. Amazingly 8 months into our life here at God's Blessing Farm we are much closer ,to a now defined goal, than I thought we would be. As in all new endeavors some things have been easier than expected and some have been harder. But the most important thing is the emotional concept has become a defined strategy.

In our situation Goats have become the linchpin of our food independence game plan.Our goat herd has grown to fifteen goats. Nine does, two weathers (castrated bucks) and four bucks.Like everything else we seem to like variety.Our herd now includes American Alpines,French Alpines, Nigerian Dwarfs, Nubian mixes, Nubians (our freezer bound weathers) and a new Myotonic (Tennessee fainting) buck. Pictured above is one half gallon of hand milked raw (unpasteurized ) goats milk from here on the farm.Goats milk is an incredibly healthy product with benefits over cows milk that would require an entire post of its own. The goats are much more than just milk producers and the milk itself is so much more than just a way to cream our coffee. The milk is used to produce a variety of hard and soft cheeses,yogurts,cottage cheesess, we drink it, we feed it to our dogs and pig. TCGL also makes killer ice creams with it. The whey produced from cheese making is a great tomatoe fertilizer and the dogs and pig love it too. Pictured above is our main goat barn. We clean it out every few months.The bedding (and manure contained in it) is the best natural fertilizer I have ever seen. We actually got over run this year by our tomatoe plants becasue they grew so fast. We planted them and mulched with goat bedding and werent ready with stakes and cages because they shot up so fast.

You can see some hard cheese wheels curing in this home wine cooler I bought.The ability to control humidity and temperature while the hard cheeses cure is critical . The wine cooler seemed like a cheap solution and it was.TCGL has made soft Goat Chevre,Goat Mozzarella, Goat Cheedar,Goat Pepper Jack and several other varietys of goat cheeses. Below you can see Taylor who is the star milker on the farm now. If you "push" Taylor she can easily produce 1.5 gallons of milk a day. By pushing I mean that you milk her twice a day and load her heavy with high protein feeds from the grain store. But as we have progressed cutting the grocery store umbilical has come to include cutting the feed store umbilical. We are blessed with 25 acres almost completely covered by natural goat foods. We have modified our milk strategy to focus on using as little feed store grain as possible and focusing on natural hays and the abundant feeds here on the farm. I am planning another post with more a more detailed layout of our goat breeding and milking philosophies. But farm fed and  milked once a day Taylor still gives us better than 1/2 gallon a day. But milk cheese and some good garden fertilizer is a far cry from true grocery store independence. In our case cutting the umbilical doesnt mean buying nothing at Ingles or Kroger. However it does mean that grocery stores become the place where we augment our core food sources with items that are impossible,impractical or undesireable to grow here on the farm. These would include things like coffee,exoctic spices,salt,orange juice and some grains. But that means we are comitted to growing or sourcing from our farm enough of the major items to feed us year round. That means we have to do more than mutter sustainability and hum kummbaya incessantly to meet this objective.Like anything else we need to define our goals and generate a strategy to achieve them. So what do we need
  • Milk and Dairy
  • Eggs
  • Meats and Protein Sources
  • Vegetables and greens
  • Starches and Root Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Herbs
  • Wine and libations
Well we already solved the dairy and cheese with an animal that we can feed with products growing natually here on the farm.An animal that is a multipupose part of our farm eco/food system. That is of course the goat.

Here you see a box of eggs.Different sizes,different colors but with one thing in common.They come from our free range little egg factory.

And yes here is the "Egg Factory". Home to our 38 chickens of various breeds. We have a number of laying,multipurpose,bantam and game breeds to give us chickens that lay in various light and climactic conditions and give us a sronger chance of replensishing the flock (and adding a meat source) naturally.

Here are a couple of the girls at work.

Here is TCGL with part of a days haul. The bulk of our layers are coming to maturity.Currently we get 14-15 eggs a day on average and yesterday we broke a "team" record with 20 eggs in one day. Yes we have eggs for breakfast ,more than the occasional quicheand we love egg salad.But how does a household of three consume 15 eggs a day? They dont.But eggs are another great livestock food and we sell some to offset chicken feed costs.

Milk...Check....Eggs ....Check

Now there is an old saying that you would get sick of steak if you had to eat it every day.And its true. TCGL grew up on a beef farm eating it every day and really doesnt care for it anymore. Pictured above is Reece. A 7 month old Myotonic (Tennessee Fainting ) Goat. Pease note how well muscled and stocky he is.Reece is a future herd sire for our meat goat breeding program. You see we love goat meat.We prefer it to lamb or beef. In many cultures it is a delicacy and worldwide more goat meat is consumed than beef (goats milk is number 1 also). We would like to have a herd of 12-20 breeding meat does.They could produce 24-40 offspring to stock our freezer and also add another revenue stream. But goat meat alone wont keep us out of Ingles.

Meet "Pig". Pig is a Guinea Hog sow we bought as a squeeling sub 50lb piglet about 7 months ago. She has been fed goat milk,cheese way,eggs,corn and grains and soon she will be transitioning to our freezer.I suspect she is 180 plus now and that should translate into 65 pounds plus of bacons hams etc.Pig also fertilizes and turns the soil (by rooting) in her pasture.Thus improving future soil quality.In the future(a term generally defined as when I retire and be here full time) we may consider breeding a few hogs. But now buying feeders and slaughtering them in the 180-200lb range is the plan.

And now we are introducing Ricky and Lucy. They are our two rare American Blue Rabbits. Along with Gracy an American Chinchilla Rabbit they are our current breeding stock for our meat rabbit program. They also contribute to the fertilizer program. Goat and rabbit manure can be transitioned to the garden without composting. Both Lucy and Gracy produced one litter that we successfully raised and transitioned to the freezer.However the next two breedings for each doe didnt take.The intense heat this summer may have contributed to that.If their next breeding doesnt take we will be rethinking our base breeding stock. Once again we love rabbit meat also.

In addition to our current domesticated meat sources of goat ,rabbit and pork our land is blessed with wild game. I have been a fisherman for as long as I can remember. But I have never been a hunter.But to be more sustainable I intemd to become one.Our land has deer,rabbit,squirrel and I suspect some Turkey. In addition we are looking at adding both Chickens and Turkeys in to our home grown meat program.Alas our plans to have guinea hens as part of our meat source failed on the first try.The wide ranging guinea hens were picked off by coyotes and dogs. Our 22 bird flock has been reduced to one with none of the departed 21 making its way to our table.

Pictured above is the last leg of the protein plan.It is our catfish pond.It is one of two ponds I constructed when we got here.This one (the smaller one) has functioned flawlessly.It is intended as a "stock,grow and harvest" source of catfish. The larger pond has been plagued by leaks and is holding at about 1/4-1/3 of full pool.When I finally get the leaks licked it will hold a sustainable fish population including Bass,Catfish and Bluegill.
Meat in variety and abundance.....Check

Here is our winter greens garden. It utilizes a basic hoop frame system and netting to keep our chickens from munching down on the greens before we get them.In the next few days I will replace the netting with painters plastic and we will have a mini greenhouse to produce lettuce and other greens well into winter.Notice the goat bedding covering our upper garden area. I will detail how to build these cheap and easy hoop frame houses in another post.

This year was a year of rookie mistakes in our gardens.Too big,too much,too spread out and not properly prepared for irrigation when the drought hit. Despite that we had some great crops of peppers,tomatoes ,okra,beans and feed corn (sweet corn is still the bane of me). TCGL ordered a book "Gardening when it counts". The title captures the concept that for us its not a hobby garden any more.Its a food source whose success determines the quality of our diet.Going forward we are going to focus on a strategy of garden size,garden location and plant varietys which are disease resistant and require low hands on maintenance. But becoming a farmer and not just a gardener will also create a "reconnect" with food realities that you lose track of shopping in the American Supermarket.That is you can walk into Kroger and buy a tomatoe 365 days of the year.That is not a sustainable food reality.While we intend to expand and improve our "winter garden" techniques grocery store independence requires crop management and food storage techniques to have food 365 days of the year.

Here are the shelves in our workshop garage that house TCGL's canned goods.Among her other talents she is a crack canner.She makes her own stocks , ketchups,barbecue sauces and so much more.Canning,freezing and dehydrating so many things for our winter consumption.

Vegetables...not a full check but on our way.

That leaves fruits. For that we have two great wild blackberry brambles.In addition I have planted fig trees (doing well) ,fruit tress (fruit hardiness TBD) ,blueberry bushes (may have been lost to the drought ) grape and muscadine vineyards (this will be the wine source too).But these plantings will take 2-3 years to become productive in "independence" quantities.
Finnaly while we planted a few potatoes and sweet potatoes in the immediate future we are relying on large farms in our area which produce and sell these so cheaply we have decided to move them to the back burner.
The front of our house now is home to TCGL's herb garden that we both utilize when cooking.
So we have a plan.Before moving here I had to budget $350- to $450 per week for household food.We were demanding consumers who wanted quality food and we had to pay for it.Today we spend about $100 every 2 weeks at the local grocery store.Now we also spend about $150 every three weeks at the feed store but all in all the umbilical is being pinched down to where soon(about 18 months) it should be cut.
Wish us luck...
Be Blessed...
The Bald Man

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Five months in...hits and misses

OK so its been 5 months into our journey. We have made great progress and we have made rookie mistakes. Maybe its time to asses a few of them.

But before I go any farther I want to make sure I don't ever "Demi Moore" this blog. Years ago on the heals of her first pregnancy Demi Moore decided that she needed to be functionally naked on the cover of a national woman's magazine. Demi gushed on and on about the wonders of pregnancy to an audience that she apparently felt had no point of reference for the state and nature of pregnancy. That is Demi seemed to be saying that she was the first woman in the whole wide world to be pregnant but she was willing and kind enough to share how it felt (and apparently show us how it looked) with an unsuspecting public. Looking back I don't know why Demi felt this way.This was long before Brangelina and Madonna proved the most efficient way for Hollywood stars to obtain children (and the one requiring the least plastic surgery) was to go to third world countries and buy babies or at least trade for them using branded merchandise and second hand designer clothes.Back in the era of Demis article even Hollywood celebrities subjected themselves to the 9 month gestation method of obtaining children. However this did not deter Demi from her foray into pregnancy orientation. I could only surmise that in Demis natural excitement in finally entering the gene pool coupled with her perspective from the center of the universe led her to act this way. Kind of you know..."Gee Demi nobody was ever pregnant before you...tell us more"

With that in mind I will apologize in advance to those of you who have traveled the road we are on. We often babble a lot about each of our experiences. But I know many have gone before us and I hope or little attempts to trace our trail doesn't imply we don't realize that.Hopefully you can chuckle in advance as we travel along making mistakes you could see coming before we did.

So here we go.......with no apologies to Demi Moore


Hits: I can think of no farm animal that is more perfectly suited to the homestead nor more publicly underrated than the goat. I was thinking today there is no description using the word goat that has a positive connotation. Think about it. A golf course in poor condition is a "goat ranch". Ask most Americans if they have eaten goat and you would think you asked them if they had eaten dog food. I don't think outside of a men's locker room "horny goat" brings many positive images to mind. And it goes on and on.

But goats rock!!

Goats can provide milk,cheese meat and even fibers such as cashmere.And worldwide more goat milk and goat meat is consumed than beef. And with good reason. The meat is incredible. As much protein as beef with half the fat.More flavorful than lamb ,with way more iron and at half the cost on the hoof. The goat can thrive on minimum pasture and on terrain unsuitable for other dairy animals. It takes less grain and premium hay per gallon than a dairy cow and goats can typically produce anywhere from a quart to a gallon and a half of milk with higher butterfat than a cow goat milk helps with vitamin absorption can assist with joint pain and is almost medicinal in its qualities.Plus it tastes great.That "goaty" flavor you may have experienced in store bought goat products is really a product of a few selected breeds of goats.Our Alpines produce sweet milk with no "goaty "flavor. And the efficiency even includes their manure.Goat manure does not have to compost before it can be put on your garden.Goat bedding is safe to because their urine has such a low urea content.We found out this year that goat bedding is actually steroids for tomatoes. Oh and the whey which is a by-product of the cheese process can be a fertilizer or a feed for livestock.

And they are such great animals. Our little goat herd has grown and morphed from our initial 3 Nubians. Today we have french alpines ,American alpines,Nigerian dwarfs and one nubian/? mix. All told counting inbounds we have 3 bucks ,3 milking does , 2 pregnant does and 4 doelings. That's 12 to 16 goats depending on pregnancy results(sorry no Demi pictures here). TLA will tell you the tiny Nigerians don't count . If you buy that you can knock off 6 to 10 from that total.

The goats are personable and TLA adores them.Sometimes she looks like the pied piper of the herd as they follow her around the pasture like puppies.

Misses: We only still have one of our first five goats. Actually only one is still in the herd.Two are in the freezer. Before you fire off an e-mail please understand this is a working homestead project. Our goats are purpose livestock. And one of those purposes is meat. Its hypocritical to decry the use of our livestock as food while you eat a burger at McDonald's.

But getting back to the miss. Our first 5 goats were Nubians and Nubian crosses (or grades) that came from a goat breeder that owned a dairy. You will see we referred to her as a "goat whisperer" in earlier posts. Turns out the whispering was more like the guy on the corner who opens his trench coat to try to sell you knockoff Rolex's. TLA had read that you have to be very careful buying goats from dairies.It makes sense .In a working dairy the adult goats they are willing to part with are typically the herd "culls". It turned out that is what we got even though we paid for prime milking goats.The first two Nubians produced a paltry quart of milk a day each.Now these were goats that had kidded or "freshened" twice. The breeder new they didn't produce enough milk to even maintain two kids.The other milking doe had a great udder adequate production of a half gallon a day (even though she was sold as a "gallon milker") but hideous milk stand manners.Sometimes refusing to be milked requiring that she be dragged across the barnyard and physically wrestled on to the milk stand. And the Nubian breed was not a good fit for TLA either.They are loud,needy and have terrible herd manners. They eat like horses and this bunch didn't produce enough milk as compared to other more docile full sized dairy breeds.All goats go through a little head butting when new goats are introduced to the herd.But these Nubians carried out a war of terror on any new goats not only head butting but udder butting which could have led to permanent damage. Fortunately we were able to find a pet home for the two mini milkers (at a price less than half of what we paid for them).But the other goat and one of the doelings had such bad manners we couldn't in good conscience sell them as milkers. They were best turned to the freezer and removed from the gene pool.The last doeling has been retained.If she freshens well she could play a pivotal role in TLA's "Homestead Goat" breeding plane because of her hardiness. Lessons learned.

3 wheels of hard cheese ready for the wine cooler

Hits: Normally you would talk about cheese with the goats.But our little homestead has become a cheese factory thanks to TLA. Where most people would have dabbled in a little Chev re cheese TLA has moved on to bigger things.Mozzarella,Ricotta,Hard Cheddar,Camembert,Brie, and a whole host of soft hard and "molded" cheeses have already graced our table. But TLA gets about 2 1/2 gallons of raw goats milk a day so she is now the cheese queen . When she started to do the hard cheeses they require cool conditions (not cold) to cure in.Stumped at first I bought a two temperature zone wine cooler and its working out great.

The early stage of the cheese making process

" Psssst... got any cheese,whey extra milk..Help a pig out"

Misses: Occasionally one of the molded cheeses gets too scary to eat but then "pig" cashes in.She also feasts on any extra milk or whey.


Hits: Goat manure is crazy good for vegetables. We will in our first year produce enough tomatoes for our first years food (due to TLA's canning for the winter program). Peppers,green beans,okra,and tomatillios are all producing beyond our wildest dreams. Our garden has also produced potatoes,carrots ,feed corn, sunflowers, onions and a musk melon or two.

Misses: We made the typical rookie mistakes.Too big,too spread out with inadequate water in many cases. The gardens we planted on the lower section came under my supervision.But a full time job meant they got neglected and in most cases inadequately watered. Alas my sweet corn was stunted and then decimated by the squirrels. When I did irrigate adequately crows have taken out most of my watermelons and musk melons. Even where we did water and maintain adequately (TLA's upper garden) we were unprepared for the rapid and amazing growth brought on by the goat bedding. Our Tomato plants exploded and we didn't have the stakes or cages to manage them.We will suffer a smaller crop due to blight and sunscald brought on by uncontrolled and unsupported growth. Our late start meant we couldn't stagger the planting so when the vegetables started coming they all showed up at once.Poor TLA has been canning as fast as she can

Hits: Our lower,smaller pond went flawlessly.Its now filled and full of Catfish.

Misses: Our upper pond has been plagued by leaks. Now after literally tons of hand applied bentonite it is stuck at about 1/3 full.I am regrouping and will try to git er done this fall.But at least its full of catfish too.

Wild Bounty:
Some wild blackberries mixed with some blueberry's

Hits: We are blessed by what seems the perfect property for our lifestyle goals. Multiple springs, a great well, two home sites which give us water almost throughout the plantable acreage.In addition to that we have a bounty of wild crops including blackberries and persimmons. There is plenty of game to add to our meat supply. Rabbits are tasty as we work to refine our meat rabbit program.Couple that with almost total privacy a lifetime supply of firewood and terrain that will support our goat herd growth and it is truly "God's Blessing Farm"

Misses: Coyotes.Yes these beasts have exacted a toll on us. We have lost over 14 guinea hens and several chickens to broad daylight attacks.I know its Coyotes because I have seen them. I even got of a few shots at one about 10 days ago.I only had a 22 pistol with me.Don't know if I scored a hit but there have been no attacks since.I know better however this isn't over yet.Next week I am picking up 3 livestock guardian dogs to help protect our remaining livestock.

Miscellaneous: Pigs cozy little shelter

Hits: Our little double wide is proving to be a cozy home. Our barns and outbuildings are well designed and serving us well. I love my raggedy John Deere Gator I found on Craigs List. I built a little tent shelter for pig and that's working out great

Unfortunately ...goats + tents = A bad idea

Misses: Our llama was a bust.When your livestock guardian tries to stomp your livestock you have a problem.Alas while Lila would tolerate adult goats kids were another issue.So she was sent packing. I also built a tent shelter for the goats but its not working out as well as pigs.What can I say... pigs don't climb


No misses just a hit.Lots of work.Plenty of rookie mistakes.But no regrets. We now spend less at the grocery store in a month than we used to spend in a week.And after only 5 months at this.

Its better than we imagined.

A true blessing.

And the journey continues......

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Farm life changes all the time... its a good thing

Always something! Me, the girls and my first buck Ace! Here I am with most of my little goat herd! I adore my goats more and more since I got away from the Nubians and in the Alpines and Nigerian. The Alpines are much better behaved and give way more milk than the average Nubian.. and they are so so much quieter!!!! I still have 3 Nubians on the farm.... for now... more on that in a minute....

This is an American Alpine doeling... She is from Amy's Pride herd in GA. Her registered name is Fandango.. Fancy for short. She's a sweet kid with such beautiful colors!!! Ace is from Amy's pride too in front of me in the 'group pic' above.

Melody! From Little tots Estate by way of Yellow Rose farm in GA. I love Melody! She's so little and cute... and gives as much milk or more than those first 2 Bulletcreek Nubians, Meg and Ginger, I had! Which I have sold as pets to a local farm. With Melody here, you get milk, high high butterfat but she eats so very little compared to a full size goat. Some Nigerians give as much as 4 lbs a day.. I'm getting 3 more next week... can't wait!

Ricotta Salata goat cheese (yep I made)with blackberries and blueberries grown right here on own farm! Drizzled with a little honey... perfect light summer dessert!

This is a wheel of Chevre' Cheddar with Saffron ready for my cheese cave to age 2 months.

Yum... fried squash from my moms garden, tomatoes from mine and Caprine (goat) steaks!!

Which leads me to this... the remaining Nubians on the farm. Bulletcreek Sabrina gives a half gallon a day.. which is good for a Nubian... but her 'manners' leave alot to be desired.. I'll say it.. she sucks to have in the barn yard.. so after we bought a young boer goat from a local farm to have slaughtered (the above steaks) we decided to send Sabrina to the slaughter house too.

I can't even tell you how GOOD goat meat is. I love it and its seriously my favorite meat now.

Ofcourse there are goats I wouldn't ever ever eat.. Lily, Sienna.. Melody! and my other nice milk goats.

But Nubians, after all were meant to be meat and milk goats... and we suspect Bulletcreek Sabrina here has boer in her anyways.. why not do what she was bred for and put that mean mannered goat in the freezer where she can be enjoyed and I can feel like I got something out of her... besides a mild concussion! I also plan to raise her 2 kids for meat to slaughter closer to fall.

**To whom it may concern... please... if you are reading this and thinking of sending me a whiney email about eating meat.. don't. You do your thing, I'll do mine.. if eating meat that I raise myself bothers you maybe you shouldn't read a farm blog.... I've said before this is a REAL farm.. we eat what we raise/ of our goals on this farm is to be free from commecial raised meats where animals are mistreated and fed crap... maybe you should find a nice peta blog to read and have a piece of over processed tofu.** sorry thought I say that in hopes to avoid any more emails from people with their heads up their butts!

And so in conclusion before my note....I believe goats are the most useful homestead animal a person can have... milk, meat and even fiber from some goats! and the right breeds produce so efficiently!

And I do love having chickens... here is my new Self Blue d'Uccle rooster with the Mille Fleur d'Uccle hens I have.... more of these guys coming too. They are really good layers of small eggs and highly entertaining to watch! Being Bantams they don't take up much room or eat to much either! Nice chickens to have on a farm and so pretty with their coloring and feathered feet!

So the garden is coming in regular... I'm havesting alot of green beans, tomatoes, lots of different peppers... also picking a little yellow crook neck squash, some carrots. And we have lots and lots of wild blackberry brambles on our farm! BONUS! they are my favorite berry.. I hate the tame raised blackberries .. they taste nothing like the wild ones.. so it is a really big bonus for me to have these.... its a Blessing like so many other things on this God given gift we call our farm.

Next time... I'll have pics of my new Nigerian babies!! and new d'Uccle chickens!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Its a real farm! not a hobby farm!

Yep! A real farm, people! with chickens , dairy goats, guineas, meat rabbits and even a pig! An Orchard and vineyard thats doing really well. There's gardens growing of corn, tomatoes, tamatillos, squash, lots of different peppers, red , yellow and even BLUE potatoes, okra... you get the idea!
There's also alot of work on this real farm... cleaning the barn and the chicken house,,, never ending care of the garden... fighting weeds, dry weather, pests.. even some chickens who've developed a taste for tomatoes and lettuce! No matter how hard I try.. my barn, chicken house and gardens doesn't look like those pictures in Hobby Farms home....
Below are Sabrina (the black nubian mix) Lily (Black and white PB French Alpine.. her color is Cou Blanc on her papers.. cute!) and in the middle is Sienna (she has her head down! black and brown PB French Alpine)
This is Team Milk... I milk them twice a day every day... and I love it! I have made 6 different cheeses with their yogurt and ice cream! They are lovely and I get alot of milk from them! Will be making goat milk soap soon! It will not be a melt and poor moment.. but REAL homemade gaot milk soap.. the old fashion way! Lily... mid day and her udder is getting full with milk for the evening milking. She's my best milker! and a very sweet goat... Alpines are my favorite goats... so far.

Now these are Sabrina's kids... I bottle fed them from 5 weeks old so they would be friendlier... before they were wild and unruly.. now the follow us around like puppies! They are so fun to watch play!

I really love my chickens and can't wait for them to start laying! But this is one of my favorites...

She's a Belguin Bearded d'Uccle. I have 2... they were my moms. They lay 4 or 5 tiny eggs a week... they are hilarious! and often start fights with the other chickens, yet they are the smallest chickens!
Below are some of my Guineas and other chickens.

I have 3 of moms Red Star chickens(HAD 4) also.... 17 Guineas (I HAD 22!.. thats another post)
3 Golden Comets (HAD 4) 6 Buffs, 4 Sex links and 5 Black Australorps and 1 Black Australorp Rooster. I don't have some chickens... I got me a whole flock! Now why are there no pictures in Hobby Farm of all the flies chickens attract??? or how much they poop over a few nights in the hen house! Doesn't take long for the chicken house to need cleaning out I can tell you that much!

And Pig, she's a heritage Guinea Hog... we are really considering raising these guys for our pork source. They only get about 250 to 300 lbs... don't challenge fences,, aren't aggressive...

Very nice hogs! Pig here is a really really good hog! But she is stinky!

Well thats alittle update of what I've been doing on this real farm! and loving every minute of it... well, except maybe that mention in the previous post about the goat breeder drama! Never read an article on situations like that in Hobby Farm!

There is so much more!

I'll let Bald Man take the next post!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Be Catching up soon

Oh so much to catch up on.......As the work and my coaching piled up the blog suffered.So to help out I am enlisting the beautiful TLA to start posting..things to watch for
1. No more lama
2. 2 goats gone, 3 new goats here
3. Meet Ms Pig
4. Coyote drama
5. Pond drama
6.Snapping turtle drama
7. Shady goat breeder drama

Stayed tuned ...we will be catching up soon....
Bald Man

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Did yo mama have a llama???

The definition of acceleration compliments of The Science dictionary via acceleration (āk-sěl'ə-rā'shən) Pronunciation Key The rate of change of the velocity of a moving body. An increase in the magnitude of the velocity of a moving body (an increase in speed) is called a positive acceleration; a decrease in speed is called a negative acceleration. Taken is those terms we positively have some positive acceleration going on here at Gods Blessing Farm ("GBF"). Things are moving pretty fast and its getting faster.. Population Explosion... Lets see since we last posted........

Lets start with Gracie.Gracie is our American Chinchilla Rabbit doe. She was the first love interest of our poligymist American Blue Rabbit buck Ricky...

What you are looking at here is a nest made of Gracies belly fur.Somewhere in that hairy mess are two little baby rabbits. There were more but Gracie is a first timer and we think all the activity around her cage stressed her out.We lost at least two out of the litter.But so far the other two are progressing nicely

Around here you better not blink cause the lineup changes constantly.Meet Pathfinder Lila Le Fey or "Lila". Lila is our new guardian llama. At about 400 lbs she is between pony and quarter horse sized. Now if you are wondering why you never heard of us wanting a llama in our earlier posts thats because a llama didnt even enter the conversation until about 5 days ago. An incident with two of the neighbors dogs leering through the fence at Meg and Ginger our two dairy goats left both the Goats and "TLA" in a high state of stress. Now "TLA" wasnt so stressesd that she couldnt chase these two dogs off while screaming and hurling pine cones at them (and I would have paid to see that) but it did show how close danger is for our girls. I am always amazed at how people in this part of the world think its fine to let their dogs "free range". Dogs are predators and destroy as much large livestock in this area as coyotes. Bowser might be chuckles at home but out here he very often returns to his pack hunter roots. We watched our neighbors "sweet" dog running a deer on the back part of our property just the other day.Someone said that you often have to resort to the three "S's"out here to protect your livestock.. SHOOT...SHOVEL...and SHUT UP". And you can be sure that the Marlin 30/30 is coming out the first dog that tries to get into one of our pastures. But I cant set up in a sniper spot 24/7.

We started the conversation with guardian dogs (too much food,spotty results,love to eat chickens and there there is the poop),moved to donkeys (tons of food,more tons of poop and sometimes decide they would rather stomp goats than dogs,they are better for cattle)and finally were told about llamas. "TLA" got a contact through her moms "fiber underground" and the next thing you know "TLA" has found a llama "whisperer".

Now "whisperers" are great.We got our goats from a goat "whisperer" our guinneas from a bird "whisperer" and our llama from a llama "whisperer". Without going to again let me tell you what a "whisperer" truly is. They are people who are borderline obsessive about one animal or another. Very often deciding that only their favorite humans come close to the affinity they have for their particular breed of animal.And you dont buy from a "whisperer" interview for a paid adoption.

But if you pass the interview you get a quality animal without disease,or dementia. And "TLA" always passes the interview.Llamas are not an animal to be randomly bought off of Craigslist. They are notorious for everything from personality quirks to personality disorders.Not all make good livestock guardians and yes they do spit. Actually its more like a fine spray like when someone cracks a hilarious joke while you have a mouthful of wine. So after a whirlwind internet research,search and interview we got Lila Friday. She is a good guardian candidate,she is halter trained and as Llamas go she has an affinity for humans.

And so far she likes me best!! You cant beat that.I am still learning her quirks.IE if you spoil her she acts like a bratty teenager.Got my first misting on a hike today. She tried to get bossy but its all good now.But all in all she is pretty cool.The above pic is me and Lila returning from that hike.
Here is a touching picture of a man and his llama. Wow could you have won a bet with me a week ago....

In addition to all the new animals we have added (if not planted yet) 14 muscadine grape vines, a concord grape vine,a catawba grape vine , 2 blackberry plants,2 rasberry plants and a black mission fig to go with a host of other smaller plants.Most waiting for our gardens to be turned.Speaking of turning gardens we have had most of our cleared laned limed (10 tons worth) and covered in composted manure(10 small dumptruck loads) but now we have to wait for the rain to let up so we can have the ground plowed and disked.....positive (if aromatic) acceleration

Above you can see Terry (our remodeler who is now building us a chickenhouse) and I attempting to stick the drain plug into pond #1 on Thursday. While that attempt failed.....

Fridays attempt didnt.The above picture is at about the 2/3 filled mark. Its now full and will be our future irrigation and catfish pond.It about .2 acres with a maximum depth of about 5.5 feet. Pond #2 is currently in the works. That one is slated to have Large and smallmouth bass,perch,bluegill and catfish.

Farmhouse facelift..... Animals,plants and ponds arent all that is new around here. Our little doublewide is decorated in what "TLA" classifies as "farmhouse shabby sheek". But the outside was looking a little more shabby that sheek. So a facelift was in order.

First the old rotting wood facing had to come off.....
Then our new permanent foundation went in.Once again we were blessed with a great contractor who did the work (labor AND materials) for under $2400
. Less than lipo or a facelift and it not only looks good it helps the heating and cooling of the house and may get us an insurance rate cut. Wow so much in such a short time.Lots happening here at "GBF". Then we got news today that the third milk goat that we are getting had her kids today. Two healthy doelings.Now she can come live with us.Oh did I mention...due to a last minute deal made with the "goat whisperer" those two little doelings are coming home to "GBF" too....Lets see that makes five goats now...and if they all have 2 kids next year....hmmm...5 +10= 15!?!? I guess all we can do is curl up next to the first fire in our woodstove and count the blessings that we have received through Grace...

Be blessed too...

Bald Man