Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A frosty start to the day.......

We had a few inches of snow overnight and this morning the wind started to blow. The snow was heavy and the trees were completely coated. It was a beautiful sight as the sun started to rise. As the day progressed the wind increased and by afternoon the temperature had dropped 20 degrees. It's supposed to drop to zero tonight with a -30 windchill.

The weather folks are predicting a Nor'easter for us starting late Thursday. So far the predictions are that we will be measuring the snow in feet, not inches. The snow is supposed to last into Sunday with blizzard conditions predicted anytime during the storm. Of course, much could change between now and then but being prepared is a good thing.
We headed for chores this morning, making a list as we went of all the things we needed to check and accomplish prior to the storm. We spent the day making sure all the barns are nicely bedded, clearing anything in the snow blower's path, cleaned the chicken house, etc.

We will make trip to town tomorrow to stock up on low supplies and fuel. Border's Bookstore is a definite stop as we all received gift cards for Christmas. May need a good book for the weekend :)

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Looking back and moving forward.......

{ My new Sheep Christmas stocking - hubby found it at Tractor supply...I love that store}
As the Christmas holiday winds down, I am always happy for a few "slow" days to relax a little, knit a little by the fire (finishing gifts that didn't get done on time ) and spend some time reflecting on the year that we are about to bring to a close and the new year ahead. It's hard to believe 2009 is almost over. Where did a year go?!

2009 brought about several changes for us on the farm. Our blessings have been many and I never take that for granted. The opening of our farm shop has been a terrific outlet for our farm goods and also for meeting many of our neighbors and making new friends. A big "Thank you" to everyone who shops with us. Your support is so appreciated. Because the shop isn't heated this winter, I am going to create a page for the shop and link to it from the blog. I hope to have that done in the next week or so. I have several new items along with our normally stocked goods. We are happy to ship anything mail order other than eggs and milk. Delivery arrangements are also available.

Another beef recall by National Steak and Poultry has solidified our decision to try our hand raising Heritage breed turkeys this coming year. We will start small with just a dozen and go from there. We have yet to decide which particular breed or breeds we will introduce to the farm. Hubby is leaning toward the Bourbon Reds. We saw these big birds up close and personal at a friends farm a few years back. The Tom was impressive and friendly! Visit Robin's blog for great info on raising these birds.

I love the look of the Narragansett. There are several more Heritage breeds and the American Livestock Breed Conservancy (http://www.albc-usa.org/) is a great website full of information on these turkeys.

I have read that the heritage breeds need a longer life span to achieve the same weight gain as the big white turkeys that commercial breeders raise but the final product is 100% better and well worth the wait. Our turkeys will be able to free range on the farm daily and have a varied natural diet as well as free choice supplements. Hopefully we will have varied weights that will be processed in November to suit our all our customers. We are anxious to get started once we iron out all the final details :)

I hope you are all having the chance to relax a bit with your loved ones and continue to enjoy the time of year :)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas to you.....

~All of us at Tylerfarm wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas ~

Monday, December 21, 2009

An enormous Equine post.....literally!

This is my Dad, Dave, and his new working partner, Zues. Just a little fella isn't he? !! My Dad is a teamster. A real one. He comes from a long line of teamsters and horse people. He started driving team in the woods when he was a young lad and has worked with horses his entire life. Their isn't much has hasn't done with a horse and there have been many of them in and out of his life just since I can remember. Some have left a lasting impression, others not so much. This guy we certainly won't forget!

Dad drive's a team of beautiful draft horses giving carriage rides in picturesque Acadia National Park in Maine in the summer and is giving sleigh rides at the Mount Washington Resort in Bretton Woods, NH this winter. Zues is used in a one horse sleigh and obviously has no trouble pulling it around. Imagine the look on the faces of the guests waiting for a ride when this giant comes walking out of the barn. I know I just stared at the photo for 6o seconds.....it's almost unbelievable for a split second.

Zues weighs approximately 3100 lbs. He is 7 years old and approximately 96" tall at the top of his withers (shoulders). He is very gentle and loves people. He's calm and easy to work with. It's a darn good thing - imagine trying to change this guys mind?! According to the people in the know, he is the biggest horse in the USA at the moment. He had his front feet trimmed and new shoes put on yesterday and will have his back ones done the end of the week. His shoes must weigh 5lbs a piece. I know his feet are the size of dinner plates.

I haven't had the pleasure of meeting him in person yet, but the family has plans to take a trip to the mountain and enjoy a sleigh ride. If you get the opportunity to visit beautiful NH, plan a trip to take a sleigh ride and meet this team, you won't be disappointed :)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Farm kid brag post....

As I mentioned in my photo op post, our youngest farm kid, Tyler, has been studying Karate for a couple of years now. Last night he tested for and achieved the rank of advanced green belt. This is a big step and he was nervous and excited. This advancement means he goes from a non-contact sport to full contact.

He has been sparring in full gear with a partner in class for sometime now. The Sensai would stand between them and give points for moves and make sure contact did not happen. That will all be different now. He is really looking forward to being able to practice what he has learned so far and continuing his karate education. Tyler has worked very hard and we are very PROUD of him.

Tyler and his Sensai after achieving the rank of Green Belt

CONGRATULATIONS TYLER on a job well done!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Back in business.....

Our newborn calf, Coal, is thriving thanks to his fantastic Mom. He's round and perky and quite sassy. I was cleaning out their stall this morning, working around him and he tried to kick me! He's very inquisitive and he met the dogs today. Dan didn't pay much attention. Otis, our new pup, wasn't sure what to make of him. Both were quite wary of each other.

We are thankful to be back in the milking business. The 65 days our cow is dry before giving birth is difficult on our family. We are used to fresh, pure, raw whole milk. We are big milk drinkers but that changes for those 65 days. I do buy milk at the grocery store but we consume much less until miking begins again. As always, Jan has plenty of milk for Coal and our family.

I use an old fashioned surge milking machine to milk my cow. All of my equiptment sits on the end of my kitchen island after being washed in between milkings. As much as I would love to milk by hand, my thumbs do not work well enough to allow me to. When I first got a my cow, I did milk by hand. I loved setting on my little wooden milking stool that my Dad made for me, listening to the milk hit the bucket. Plink, plink. Plink, plink. Once you get the rhythm, it's almost mesmerizing. Cows smell good and they are always warm. I would lean my head against her flank and get quite comfortable. Unfortunately I couldn't get my thumbs in shape and it was taking me way to long to milk her out. The milking machine takes about 5 minutes and we have a routine that we strictly adhere to and it works well for both the cow and I.

I carry my machine and a bucket of warm, wash water to the barn at chore time each day. I give her milk bag a nice warm water bath, dry her off and put on the machine. It's all a piece of cake for her. I pour my milk into my milk can when finished. Share what milk is leftover with Charlotte and the chickens and then come in to get that milk strained and into the refrigerator. Then it's time to do milk dishes again. Hot, steamy water and a special dairy soap to cleanse and disinfect. It air dries on a clean towel, ready for the next chore time.

It won't be long now before we will be making butter and Ice cream again and my favorite, fresh whipped cream :)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

A Christmas photo op........

I wanted to do a photo card to send this year, especially for friends and family that we catch up with once a year. I take so many photos of the farm and the animals and I was having a difficult time trying to decide on just the right one.

Our youngest son Ty is a freshman and spends most of his off school time doing homework. He is an honor student and enjoys school but doing well requires much of his time. He is also studying Karate and has to practice everyday after school. He doesn't often come to the barn during the week unless he has a specific purpose. One day last week he visited the animals and spent a little quality time with the donkey. Donkey was more than happy to "chat" awhile and he's ALWAYS happy to pose for the camera :) I was going through the photos the next day and found the perfect photo:
We don't realize how much he has grown and changed in a year but other's that haven't seen him certainly will. He's very fond of Donkey. When I think about it I've yet to meet anyone who doesn't love that darn Donkey :)
~Happy Holidays~

Friday, December 11, 2009

It's a Boy!!

Our sweet milk cow delivered this healthy little bull calf around 5:30 a.m. "Jan's Christmas Coal" was up and eating when I arrived in the barn. What an awesome little fellow he is. Healthy, fat and sassy. I checked on her last night about 9:30 p.m. before bed and she was uncomfortable and her breathing was labored. I was still delightedly surprised when I opened the door. It never gets old - being greeted buy a sweet, adorable face like his :)

This is the most awesome, dependable cow. She has the sweetest disposition and passes this on to her offspring She's wonderfully attentive to her calf and had him cleaned up and he was nursing by the time I arrived in the barn. For the past three years she has delivered beautiful heifers. This year I really wanted a bull. I want to raise him, monitoring his growth monthly to see what his gain is each month until he reaches two years old. The heifers grow nicely. I think this guy will do even better as we will castrate him and raise him as a steer. This year I have two cows to breed and next year we will have two babies on the farm :) Life is good!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Winter on the farm..........

This is the view from my kitchen window. I personally think it's gorgeous. Winter in New England. I wait all year for this! Our first big storm roared in about 7 this morning and it's been blowing and snowing ever since. We have about 8 inches and it's supposed to change to freezing rain later this afternoon.

All the animals that want to be are tucked in the barn, all cozy and dry. Jan, our pregnant cow, is relaxing in her stall, chewing her cud and showing small signs of labor. Hopefully tonight we will have a new baby calf :)

Of course there are always that few who defy logic and stand out in the storm. Not sure why but these gals either really, really love snow or are just being the defiant bunch.

The junco have arrived and seem to be the only birds at the feeders today. They hide under the evergreens and then make a run for the feeder on my Mom's porch when they think no one is watching.
Otis has never seen snow before. We had an inch or so the other day and he had a grand time learning what to do with that powdery white stuff! Rolling in it seems to be the best. Today he is really overwhelmed. It's as deep as his legs are long.

It's a good life!

Monday, December 7, 2009

It won't be long now.......

Jan's milk bag is filling up quickly - baby any day now!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

December snow..........finally :)

I am one happy gal! We are getting our first real snowfall of the season. About 3 inches have accumulated so far. Everything looks beautiful and it feels more like December than June. Thursday is was 67 degrees here! The weather is as crazy as is the rest of the world.

It was snowing steadily while we did evening chores. The sheep were romping and jumping and having a great time. The dogs were doing the same. This is the first time Otis has seen snow. He really didn't know quite what to make of it. He and Danny were chasing a stick and he couldn't keep his feet underneath him :) It was lots of fun to watch them.

I know this snow won't last but it's much easier to get into the Christmas spirit with snow on the ground! Besides..........I simply like it :)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Another blow for America's small farms........

We are considered a "small" farm. It used to be that there were thousands of small farms in this country that provided tons of essential and valuable products to the people in this country. It's no secret that the small farmers are being forced out of business at an alarming rate.
We have three generations that live and work on this farm. We strive to provide the best product that we can on a small scale to the public. We are diversified in our offerings and with just two of us working full time on the farm, we put in long days and love it. We stand behind everything we sell and keep it affordable so our neighbors can support our business as we support our neighbors. We are always willing to barter and feel that keeping our money in our own state benefits all of us.
Obviously this is not the case by the folks with investment capital and "important status" in our fair state. In the Sunday paper, a large company had a three page layout dedicated to their newest venture. They have decided that they would like to sell woolen long underwear. Nothing wrong with that right? They are not sheep farmers or farmers at all so they had to hire someone to find them a farm. Not one but two farms purchased in one of the most expensive towns in the state. Next they needed sheep. So they hired someone to manage their new sheep farm and find them the right breed of sheep. None of the needed breed raised here so they had to be imported. Many of them - a herd of close to 500 before they are through. The sheep manager will care for them. That herd will not provide enough wool for this venture so they hired a buyer to find them wool which will be purchased out of state for a total of somewhere around 200,000 lbs! This wool will be processed in South Carolina. It will be made into fabric in Massachusetts. The long underwear tops and pants will run your average, everyday working man between $45 and $90 per piece. Affordable right? WRONG!!! At least not on my meager budget.
I cannot be the only one who finds something terribly wrong with this scenario. There are hundreds of small sheep farms in this state struggling to make a living, cutting corners and costs everywhere they can just to stay afloat. This company could have made woolen underwear from wool grown in this state, processed in this state and sold at a "reasonable" price so people in this state could afford to purchase it! I know why this didn't happen, they simply wouldn't make as much money and it would have cost them more. It's always about the money isn't it?
Hooray for folks with a million dollars to invest in a "I'm not ready to retire" project. It just seems like with the state of our economy they could have done something more to help support the state and the folks that live here and supported their first fledgling business all these years.
I'm going out to shovel what I read in the paper.....

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Happy December....

December is normally a good month for us on the farm. I'm hoping this year will be no exception. The weather definitely has been in our favor! We always have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday and use the extra time of having everyone home to finish up most of our pre-winter projects. We did just that this year. Steve was actually home the entire week and we completed quite a list.

Our cow tie up is finished and now in use. After just a couple of days the cows know which stanchion is theirs and go to their own space at night for their treat of grain. It is so much warmer in the barn in the morning and the smell is wonderful (if you love cows like I do :) Cows give off an incredible amount of heat especially when they are all close together. They all seem comfortable and I like knowing they are all in the barn at night.

Our milking cow, Jan, chose the stanchion to the right, which is directly to the left of our milking stall. Couldn't have worked out better. She is VERY pregnant and due to have her calf on/around December 9th. We measured her with a tape the other night. She is 9 feet around!! I am, as always at calving time, crazy with excitement. For the last three years she has delivered heifer calves. She is bred to the same bull so I'm keeping my fingers crossed. Can I get lucky another year? It will be fantastic to have our own milk again along with butter, cream, cheese, etc.
I will put her in a box stall at night starting today so she can move around freely and deliver her calf. Hopefully we will be there when that happens :) Everything has a name here. If you have a suggestion for a name, feel free to let me know :) I'll post the final choice with a newborn photo.