A stay at the farm day!

I’ve been running the tires off Yoda the past three days.  He turned over 200,000 miles on Monday!  Let’s hope for another 200,000 miles.  Love Yoda!  On Sunday I visited an organic vegetable farm along with numerous other farmers to share ideas.  I didn’t have any ideas to share, but I did take advantage of what I heard.  It was very informative.

On Monday, I brought one of our cows to be processed at May’s Meats, then did numerous other errands.  Tuesday was spent at a friend’s organic vegetable farm helping her dig sweet potatoes.  I came home covered in dirt with a truckload of sweet potato vines.  Happy rabbits!

Today is work-in-the-Spellcast-garden-day.  The only trip out I need to make is to get some hay.  On Monday, I got a bale of Matua (a/k/a prairie grass or rescue grass) hay.  We’ve been trying to find a good grass hay that Gwen (our Jersey cow) likes to eat.  She loves oat hay, but all we can get is round bales of oat hay which are really hard to manage.  She ate this hay up and seems to be producing well on it so I’m going to get the last 10 bales of this Matua hay and when that runs out, I’ll figure something else out.

I think I finally figured out a way to milk her and leave her calf on her during the day.  She fussed the first few times, but she seems to have settled down pretty well.  I’m milking her in the open, which is fine if it’s not raining.  We are going to get a new tarp over her shelter and that’s where I’ll milk her when it’s raining.  She went from a little over a gallon to two and a half gallons so I think we’re making progress.  I had to take the other calves off her because her teats were getting chewed up.  They are not happy!

Shine, our new Border Collie is doing well.  She’s aggravating as heck, but all in all, she’s a nice dog.  She seems to have a good bit of presence on stock and is not afraid of the goats or cattle.  During the Know Your Farms Tour, a UNC Charlotte student was there taking a lot of photos.  She’s doing a photo essay on farmers and their labor.  She contacted me this week asking to come out to take more photographs of the work we do here.  She’s coming out Monday morning to photograph milking.  If we have time, I’ll separate out the older goats from the kids at that time and let her work a bit for photographs.

I have a sourdough sponge bubbling away and will make another loaf of bread today.  The last loaf was good, but it was too dense.  I’m going to cut back on the whole grain flours to see if that makes a difference.  I also need to make some banana bread and corn bread (for tortilla pie) so the KitchenAid is going to get a work-out.

In addition to working in the garden (getting in carrots, beets, rutabaga, lettuce and greens), I want to get Gwen’s paddock moved.  I guess I’m going to have a busy, busy day!

I have been gathering information and support in preparation for applying for grants to study feeding alternative forage to meat rabbits.  The plan is to begin to grow vegetables that I can get a “double harvest” from such as carrots … sell the carrots to people and use the tops for the rabbits.  Sweet potato vines is a perfect example: harvest the vines to feed the rabbits and sell the sweet potatoes to people.  While I am no expert in gardening, in fact, I’m terribly inadequate, but I do believe there’s a good bit of waste in gardening which waste can be fed to rabbits.  Rabbits should be a sustainable meat to grow, but the way most people raise rabbits, it is not at all sustainable.  Feed prices have gone through the roof!  Our organic alfalfa pellets were $18 for 50 pounds when I first started buying them from Earthperks in Hendersonville; I checked the prices early this week and they are now over $25 a bag!  I won’t feed them at this price!  Instead, I am feeding a good bit of Chaffhaye which, while not organic, is grown from conventional seed (non-GMO).  Gwen LOVES Chaffhaye and what Gwen loves to eat, as long as it is good for her, Gwen gets to eat.  Must keep the Gwen happy!  Gwen is going to be our sole provider of milk over the winter.  The goats are about done … correction, Michelle is about done with the goats!  There comes a time when they are not giving enough milk to justify the feed that they eat while I am milking them; nor my time!

Anyway, back to the grant, I don’t think that I’ll get it, but it’s worth a try.  I need to get back to focusing on it and getting my thoughts on paper so I can run them by the individuals who are going to help me, such as the Catawba County Extension Agent.  I had hoped that my landlord would let me plant in the lower part of the property (it’s close to the river and when we have heavy rains, it floods and is very, very fertile land), but he said he was going to use it.  It’s probably just as well because while he was using it, he sprayed it heavily with pesticides.  He said I could grow in another section, which hasn’t been sprayed, so given that I’ll be growing without pesticides or herbicides, this will be better.  Plus it’s closer.  I need to catch up with the Sweet Potato Man to talk to him about tilling the land.  I’d love to be able to get a cover crop on it for the winter.

The days are getting noticeably shorter!  It doesn’t get light enough to see until 7:00 and by 7:00 PM it’s getting too dark to do much outside.  Given that I’m milking Gwen without light, I have to wait for natural light.  Saturday morning is going to be tricky!  Wally may have to work, which is going to make getting to the Farmer’s Market that much more difficult!

About time to get my milking stuff together and get Gwen milked and her baby back up; then move and feed the rabbits; then milk the goats; then the garden!

Until later …