Thursday, October 4, 2012

Fall is looming in the air and our choices are becoming clearer by the day.


My Daughter has left our home, giving us some much needed space.  I turned that room into our new food storage and winter plant storage area.  I feel that this is a good change.

We have started drying off the Holstein cow, as we cannot afford to keep her. I tried very hard to sell her as she is a lovely cow, with great manors.  Sadly I could not find her a new home, so in a few weeks we will buy a new freezer and take her to be processed.  We are keeping the other cow that Moo, she is a Jersey cow, and much easier to care for than the Holstein.  We were blessed earlier this year when she gave us a sweet little red heifer.  The heifer we are keeping and have named her Ruth.  Moo, looks like she is bred again and I will get her checked soon.

Our Jacob and the Loughtan sheep are recouping loses of the spring and year and the babies look amazing.  Our family has decided to eat our Loughtan sheep ram, Joshua rainy day, as he is getting to be a handful and we know have a baby from Moses to replace him.  All the sweet little four horn babies that did make it are strong and healthy.  We are actively looking for new ewes and rams to add to our flock.  So if anyone knows anyone who has any please send them our way.

Goats, well…I am never happy with my goats.  I always have the wrong color, the wrong type, honestly sometimes I think I should just quite.  My adopted sister gave us a lovely buck, he is Alpine.  It is a lovely boy, right out of the box he breed our little alpine doe, sweet heart and gave us two little bucks.  We have had a rough year with the goats and this is the sum total of our work.  I do have other goats that are due any day now.  I think he is the daddy; our little spotted nubbin buck is more interested in the sheep than in the goats.  We have a nubbin ready to kid and maybe my hybrid Italian milk goats.

Our garden was not a total waste, but in no way is the blessing we had hoped for.  We did gather a lot of wild food, but you can never put up enough.  I am disappointed in my own efforts this year with both the garden and canning. Working full time has taken quite a toll on me emotionally and physically.  It is hard to get it all done and teach the children and manage any of the farm chores.  We still have winter stuff growing and tomatoes so I hope to feel more up to dealing with that stuff as the days pass.

The new kitchen will not be ready before winter, unless a miracle happens between now and then.  The money I was to use for it will now be used to buy hay feed and straw for the farm.  It saddens me, but there is nothing else I can do.  I will have to work a bit harder and come up with a new dishwasher somehow as it has become clear that this is a needed item.  Earlier in the season I thought I could have pulled it off and done the whole thing, but the cost of the plywood alone was more than I could manage.  So we will work on it as we can and pray for a better tomorrow.

Over all the farm is hanging on, and we continue to try to push forward in the face of it all. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Grain prices are on the rise, food prices are on the rise and the world over all seems a bit sadder with the loss of so many farms in such a small span of time.  The loss of the farms goes by almost un-noticed as daily life lays its heavy toll upon us all.  Days seem to fly by and it will not be long until fall has stretched out her hand to paint the few living trees with her palette of bright colors.  For many farms this fall will turn into a winter from which there will be no return, and the long standing battle between corporate farms and small family farms may be at an end. 

Bitter in both the mouth and the belly is the thought that a country founded and based on farming has turned its back on those who for so many generations have placed the very food upon its table, from which it drew its strength.  We as a people have long ago passed through the plight of the dust bowl and depression, never thinking that it could happen again. Yet, today as farms dry up and the memories of that by gone time return too many farm families; it is with heavy heart that they wonder why they even do it.  Many like us feel unwanted in this age of automation and commercial farms.  Left to the road with no thank you, and no prospects of better times ahead, it is a sad and lonely road we follow, the last of a dying breed of hard working Americans, who have lost their place. Many people talk to me each day of the many green programs and expanding ideas on natural/organic foods, in the case of many small farms it is too little too late.   The small farm can in many cases no longer survive; there is no time for another new plan, no big idea to save them from their fate. 

On our farm as an example, it is quite improbable that I can pay $65.00 or more for a round bale of hay, not to mention feed for a cow or goat and then sell at the price of a corporate farm that can feed cheaper feed with no fear as they are protected by a government system who encourages the large corporate farm, all the while creating laws that a small farm could not in any way adhere to.  If I put three hundred dollars into feed, I cannot sell the goat for one hundred dollars; a two hundred dollar loss on a small farm is unthinkable, more than that it is impossible being too great of a lose to take on.  To make matters worse prices continue to rise and supply nowhere meets need.  There are days you can go down to the local gas station where you can see trucks lined up from other non-drought areas of the country selling hay at the most alarming prices and amounts, it is likely to buy hay this will you must commit to at least if not more than 40 bales.   I was told by one of our local farmers that the bales he bought were eighty five dollars and that he had to buy 40 to get such a low price…that means he spent 3400 dollars for two months’ worth of hay.  I was shocked to say the least.  In a normal year we pay thirty seven per bale, delivered.  In a normal year we would go through nearly 100 bales, this year we can only get around 30, at nearly one third less hay, we needed one third less animals.   So the selling began over a month ago, we sold off most of our chickens and non-food ducks, in hopes of staying some of the money towards hay. We have sold a few goats, I tried to sell a cow, but made little progress and now we are faced with keeping it till it calves and then most likely will need to sell it.  Breaks my heart as I saved a long time to have a second cow, but with the laws regarding selling of milk, she is of little value to us.  My husband talks about throwing a couple of bottle calves on her and having veal…maybe that is a good answer for us, right now I don’t know.  It is a hard path to go down, knowing that we may not have enough hay to get us through, but I have faith we will find a way.  So this is where we stand, much like other farmers on the cusp of failure…

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Scaling down

We are scaling back the farm; due mainly to our issues with trying to get hay.  Right now most of what I make goes towards the feed bill.  The weather has been so dry very little has grown.  We have replanted most of the garden at least twice and even the wild plants are struggling to make it. 

Our Holstein milk cow Tov is for sale for $1000.  She is six years old, has been running with a Jersey bull and currently gives around 4 gallons a day.  She can be milked by hand or machine and accepts calves willingly.  She is very healthy and has had her shots.

We are also selling around 100 quail off or eating them, 20 Cayuga ducks, 10 Americana chickens, and 10 guiena’s (might eat these).  A Tennessee walking horse, broke to ride, a bit touchy around the head, could easily be used as a carriage horse.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Another lovely day here in Arkansas and so much time has passed since we all touched base.

School has become the endless challenge of many of my days.  I find it harder and harder to keep it all together, thank goodness for the summer and few classes.

 The younger children Elijah and Elisha are doing well in their studies.  Currently they are helping with the animals and raising baby frogs for their science journal.

 Dah’veed is studying world literature and psychology this week and continues to keep up with his lessons in animal science.

 My daughter Rachael, who is now attending college, struggles but I feel she could do better with a little more effort in her work, but I am sure all parents feel that way.

 My son Isaiah has moved out and started a new chapter of his life and pretty much excluded us from it.

              The onions we planted in February are almost grown and look so lovely with their white flowery tops and dark green leaves, dripping with morning dew. It has been a mild winter and our decision to plant early has really paid off.  Currently we have harvested lettuce, dandelions, mint, onions, lemon balm, sage and some wild greens.  We have tomatoes the size of your fist and peppers on our pepper plants.  Our Jerusalem artichokes are almost as tall as I am. Our asparagus and rhubarb are doing well too.  Our broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower are fantastic. This year’s garden is so incredible that I have already harvested our first green beans, even before the peas…lol

              We have also planted potatoes, tansy, tarragon, basil, and a huge variety of corn, tomatoes, peppers of all colors and types and well more herbs.  There will be plenty this season to can dry and ship to others.

              We did lose our lovely doe and then two more.   Age does not play favorites and does not recognize love. We also lost our lovely Jacob ram Moses.  He is greatly missed.  We have watched the sheep ever so closely this year to see if we would have a son from him.  The first lambs were born, first an almost black male, the son of Joshua, not Moses.  Another ram is born, white, son of Joshua.  A yew is born, son of Joshua.  When we had all but lost hope a small spotted male was gifted to us by G-d and he is the son of Moses. 

              Moo cow blessed us with now Carmel colored calf whose name is Ruth, she is named after my husband’s mother.  What a little spit fire she is, jumping and playing in the fields, a true blessing!  So far no calf from Tov cow, but we will wait and see.  Our bull now two years old is looking plump and happy.  We still have wiggle cow, at least until I can find a good butcher, than hamburger for the freezer. 

              We have taken on a cart pulling mini-horse that we thought was a pony, lol and a Tennessee walking gelding in.  Steak sauce the little mini horse lives with the cows right now as we still have the stud colt and a baby from him would kill her, beyond a doubt.  Our colt is now the size of our full grown  old world Missouri fox trotter and he is such a stinker.  Too smart for his own good, and can often be found in the morning hours feasting on grass in my yard, unfenced, the little bugger. 

              The kitchen is coming along slowly, as the back roof has jumped ahead of it on our list; I still hope to cook in there this fall.  I have most of the parts, just need the time…

              We have purchased a milk pasteurizer, but I have to get a different cord for it.  Makes me mad, since I paid like 50 some bucks for it and it was sold in working order….but other than this small set back, but we will move forward and go on.

Be Blessed dear ones from all of the kids and critters here on Mahanaim Farm

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Life on the farm, Febuary 1st 2012

It is a lovey day here in Arkansas and if I did not feel like I was dying, I am sure it would be even better, lol.

We have started planting today. I bought a few dozen onion starts yesterday and some seeds to start cabbage, as well as a growing tray with soil. It is also time to start the leeks, I have to look threw our seeds and see if I have any. I may try some cold weather peas, you never know in Arkansas if the weather will hold or not. So far we have had a week in the 50to 60's with pleasant nights staying far above freezing. the first of the strawberry plants have peeked their heads above the soil and are looking good. The Jerusalem artichokes are looking they are coming back too...Egyptian onions are still alive and the red onions are doing good and have survived the weather.

My oldest doe is leaving us, we have done our best to make her comfortable. Our oldest sheep, the founder of our farm Moses is also showing his age, poor dear. Our new babies are growing up fast and our little buckling Beastie is growing with leaps and bound and should be a good breeder for the heard latter this summer.

The sheep dogs are getting along well with the family. It seems as though the other dogs are adapting as well.

We have begun work on the new kitchen, with the main roof issue settled it has given us time to focus on the other projects around us, such as fixing the van ($611.00), replacing downed or unrepairable fences ($700+),  We are still in the market for one more Jacob  ewe, and last but not least buying or trading for the new kitchens, windows, door and floor.  We have priced out a floor made of recycled urethane.   It is 20 mills thick, linoleum and should last 20 years.  It is a designed to a be free floating floor, so that saves a lot of time on the install.  I only wished when I went to look at it, that i had realized that there is an order to redoing a building that has been gutted. 

When redoing a gutted building one must first do the roof, (done), than the windows, than insulation, electrical and plumbing, the wall and lastly the floor....ops.  So in this grand order I am so far from where I would really like to be.  I have bought some windows over this past week, all on clearance and the size and kind I wanted, so I am happy with having done that.  they are all triple paned glass with argon gas, vinyl windows.  I bought two for $88.00 each the same size to replace windows of the same size, very common ones.  a new one for above the sink that slides, so I can get it open on my  and one for the studio that is a lovely wooden framed window that opens out.  All have screens, a wonderful feature to have here in Arkansans.  So progress has been made, I am sure it will clean out my income tax return to do all that needs done here on the farm. 
Nothing else fantastic to report hear. Looking forward to hearing about your farms and what you are doing.
Be Blessed dear ones and know that I think of you all often.
Shekhinah, Michael and all the kids ans critters on Mahanaim Farm.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Just another day on the farm...

Nothing out of the ordinary to report to day,windstorm debris is always the first job of the morning, followed by me making breakfast, today that was pancakes.  I  baked bread, bought animal feed, took care of our buckling.  Then, I worked with Elisha on having him read "The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe", he is not thrilled with the idea of chapter books yet.  Dah'veed is still reading "Dainties Inferno", and I am sure he will be glad to finish and move on to our next reading.  As for the boss he has been working on tearing down the old van and making it ready to taken to the junk yard.  The price for such scrap is high, 10 cents a pound, how can you go wrong, that makes the van worth over $390.  The money will be used, I believe to buy propane for the big tank.  Sadly,we did not watch the tank as close as we should have and ran it dry, so I foresee a hefty fee for pressure checking it and such.  In reality what ever needs done, will be done. So this leaves the big kids,  I bet you are wondering what the two oldest children did today.  Well they went back to college, but not before creating a ruckus at 5:30 in the morning,  there were dogs woken up, goats needing tending and milk which was forgotten(sorry lady J), they also killed 5 of our indoor/outdoor plants, the plan is that the plants go outside when the weather is above 40 degrees. This pan had served us fairly well all winter, so of course, now that the plants were perking up and the tomato had started to make flowers they forget them out side, and killed every last one. For them it may not have been a good day, as it stands I think they are still trying to fix this mornings mess, I wish them luck, because I am not pleased.

On the animal front, pigeons were moved around today, yummy looking ones in one pen, flight birds in another. Plans were laid to butcher many roosters and return the balance of the farm to a more level one.  We have decided to eat 2 male Muscovy ducks a week, at least until the numbers level off.  We are laying out the lines for the new fences and pens, planing on buying another hay ring. The hay is holding out better this time and I have hopes of making it last longer in the future.  Adam and Eve are still doing well, Lady seems to be taking to her new role as farm protector.  The cows are well, the goats look great and the sheep,well they are The horses are calming down and learning to get along.

Tomorrow I go back to school at Ozark and I have wrote myself a little prayer to help me get threw it. So here it is:   Dear G-d, protect me from the stupid, because I can not fix it. Save me from the ignorant who before today had only used a book to level a table or as a door stop. Shield me from the use of improper words in improper ways. Guild me to be gentle in speech to those who can not write or read, in English, even though it is their first language. Let me sing the praises dear G-d, of those, who thanks to the closing of American factories will be attending Ozarka and colleges like it, even though they do not have the basic knowledge to do so. Please above all else let my Biology teacher have a sense of humor, because he is going to need it.

One more thing:

I wanted to protest tomorrow, and blacken my webpage, but I am sure if the bill passes the government will do it for me. My website is based outside of the states due to issues with a village missing it's idiot and me refusing in a free country to stop selling the shirt.

Be Blessed dear one and may your hearts be light!!!!

Shekhinah, Michael and all the kids and critters on Mahanaim Farm

Monday, January 16, 2012

A quick catch up on our little farm

Welcome family and well wishers back to our little farm blog.  I am sorry for not keeping up with you all, but sometimes I just get down about all that we need to do each, and all the drama that seems to follow.  So anyway I am working on keeping up with blog a little better. 

A quick catch up, we have a new roof now on the main structure and soon will start on the new kitchen.  The hold up, seems to be the utter mess that the last roof, or should I say roofer has left behind.  The back porch will need to be modified, in a effort to ease the water coming through the concrete block walls in the back of the house which could cause a mold problem if not dealt with.  We are also working on the other things that break on the farm, or need repaired on an almost daily basis.  Right now that means water pipes, incubator, ect.  The list goes on, seemingly forever.

What changes have occurred with the animals: First and foremost we have slimmed down the flocks to more manageable numbers and this has left me to fix and replace things on our main website.  We have also traded two ewes for two goats, this has so far worked well for us.  Our surprise holiday gift, a sweet little baby buck has added a lovely long eared, moon spotted, Nubian herd sire for the future.  Moses our main Ram has found him self a home in the barn as his age has caused us concern and the reality of him as sausage is looming in the near future.  Threw careful barter we were able to acquire a Jersey bull to bred our cows, and latter fill our freezer with yummy meat.  One cow is currently in milk and I think a vet check is due on the the other cow, as we still have had no baby from her.  The fact that she produced no calf for us, and no milk was very disappointing, as well as costly.  I'm sure I will have to find a way to recoup the loss we  have in her.  We have found a lovely home for Dreamer, the horse we were trying to place.  Than turned right around and got a pony and a horse in need of a home.  The horse I was told was a bused and is very skidish, he reminds me of the horse from the "Black Beauty" story.  I hope to be able to make friends with him, as he is a young horse and will most likely turn out to be a good ride.  the incubator is down so new new peepers at the moment, though we did have ducks hatch out from one of the Muscovy ducks, around a week ago.  We also adopted a pair of Italian sheep dogs, that are very sweet, great with the goats, but the sheep are terrified of them.  We have named them (the dogs), Adam and Eve.

Still having issues with vehicles, but I want to believe we have made some progress and as early as tomorrow we should know if the new cable for the box truck, will work or not.  We have so much hanging on this truck being up on the road again, but right now, all I can do is hope and pray that it will all work out.

The very best sandwich bread I have ever baked!

Ingredients and supplies
3 ½ cups un-bleached white flour, I have made it with 6 grain flour, yummy!
1 tbsp softened butter
1 egg, I use 2, just saying, I like a little more bulk to our bread. Using three or more eggs and you have a very easy Challah recipe.
1tsp salt, I use sea salt.
2 ¼ tsp dried yeast, no need to add to water ahead of time.
1 ¼ cups of milk at room temperature.
1 buttered bread tin
1 egg beaten and thinned with water and a pastry brush.
Put flour in mixing bowl along with the softened butter.  Using your hands mush the butter throughout the flour until no large pieces remain.  Next add the beaten egg, or eggs if using 2, the salt, and yeast.  Holding the bowl with one hand add milk slowly while mixing to farm the dough.  It says in the instructions that dough should be ragged, if you are making this , most likely you have made bread before and know what to look for, if not IM means I will hook you up with photos.  It says to turn out onto a well floured surface, however, I kneaded it in the bowl, just added a tiny bit of flour, took less than two minutes.  I than greased the bowl and turn the dough over, covered it with a piece of butter muslin and into the none-heated oven to rise until doubled.  Once the dough has doubled, punch it down and with your hands form into a rectangle, than roll up, tuck in the ends and place in butter pan.  Now you are going to cover this again and let double one more time.  Once it has doubled again use the egg wash mixture on the entire top and place into a 350 degree oven for 1 hour, try to let cool for three hours before cutting…
Most of all have fun and share the joy of fresh baked bread with family and friends, store bought bread is full of nasty stuff that no one should eat…who know maybe you can barter your bread for other things you need, you never know till you try.  Just my opinion, but if we bartered more and bought more local food the world we live in would soon be a better place.

Well I do not know what else to tell you all, but you are welcome to ask questions which I will answer here.

Be Blesssed
Shekhinah, Michael and all the kids and critters here on Mahanaim Farm, USA.