Tag Archives: organic farming

Beekeeping- How to Make a Super

It’s been a while since I talked about our little apiary, probably because once a hive is established, it seems to require very little attention, so long as it remains healthy. You can read about how we got started with beekeeping in the Hobby: Beekeeping post. Today though, I’ll share a picture tutorial of how to build a Super.

A Super is one of the layers of a hive. It’s essentially a box with no top or bottom, and into the box you place frames. A hive usually starts with two Supers and as the bees fill the frames, new supers must be added or the hive will swarm. Continue reading

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Who’s Feeding Your Family?

On the surface this seems like a pretty simple question. Most of us would say without hesitating, “I do!” Perhaps you earn the money that buys the food, maybe you do the grocery shopping, or the cooking, or physically place the food on the kitchen table. All of this clearly qualifies as feeding your family, but when we really examine the source of the food that we eat the answer becomes so much more complicated.

Most of my posts have been written to entertain, to inform, hopefully to help. Today I am going to climb up on my soapbox. Today I am writing to motivate you. Continue reading

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Too Many Roosters

The only problem with hatching our own baby chicks last summer is that we now have too many roosters. When you order day old chicks from a hatchery you have the option of ordering all female, all male, a straight run (which means whatever you get- like hatching your own), or any combination of hens and roosters that you choose. How anyone is able to tell the gender of a newborn baby chick is beyond me, but that’s how it works.

According to several of the books I’ve read, it’s best to have one rooster for every ten to twenty hens; if you want one at all. You don’t need a rooster to get eggs, but you do need a rooster to get fertilized eggs. The hens are also happier with a rooster around. A good rooster will help protect your egg layers…until you get too many. Continue reading

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My Least Favorite Chores

1) Clearing the Fence Line- Imagine that it’s summer, a sunny ninety degree day, the humidity a stifling eighty-five percent. Imagine that you are working in this heat in jeans, a long sleeve shirt, gloves, and knee-high farm boots, all to protect you from the gallon of urushol that waits patiently for you to brush against one of the many reaching vines of poison ivy. Now imagine that you have a thirty-five pound child strapped to your back. Are you there? Continue reading

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Hatching Our First Baby Chicks

For my husband’s birthday this past summer, I bought him an egg incubator (It’s what he asked for). I gave it to him early, because I get so excited about giving people their gifts that I have a hard time waiting. Once he opened it we were both very excited about the prospect of maintaining our own flock of laying hens, and best of all, watching our own farm-raised eggs hatch into healthy baby chicks!

My husband immediately plugged the incubator in downstairs and added the called-for water. It took three days for the incubator to reach the appropriate temperature and humidity. On the fourth day we carefully placed thirty six eggs into the incubator and closed the lid with a thrill of anticipation.
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A Lesson in Sharing

By early July Jasmine, our new Jersey heifer calf, had survived her first month through the excessive heat. Now she was thriving. We’d stopped milking Josie, our original milk cow, to allow her milk to dry up and give her a break before she had another calf. We started milking Jedda, Jasmine’s mother.

Jedda is a very calm and sweet-natured cow, but since this was her first calf she had never been milked before. I described the initial difficulty with her kicking at Jasmine in Jasmine’s birth story. She’d mostly stopped that, but it didn’t mean she wanted anyone other than her baby messing around with her teats. Hey, I get that. Continue reading

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Farm Sitting

The act of taking care of a farm while the actual owners of the farm are away.

Click continue reading to check out some websites on farm sitting. Continue reading

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A Bull Joins the Farm

Bull Feature ImageIn March of 2011 a friendly local farmer offered to loan us one of his bulls in order to breed back our slowly expanding herd of cows. This was a very generous offer, one we deeply appreciated but initially refused. The problem was that we had one Angus heifer and two Jersey cows. Why is this a problem? We wanted the Jersey’s to be bred back by a Jersey bull, so that we would get Jersey calves. The Angus is our beef stock, so she would need to be bred with a bull that fell into the beef cattle category. So, we intended to have them all artificially inseminated. Well, as so often happens, we got busy and did not get the cows “taken care of”. At the end of April my husband volunteered to help the previously mentioned friendly local farmer move some cattle. Though I do not actually remember deciding to accept the offer of the bull, I distinctly remember the day that he joined the farm.
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It’s a Girl: The Birth of Our Jersey Heifer Calf

Jedda and Jasmine Feature ImageJasmine the Jersey joined the farm on Monday May 30, 2011 at approximately 8:30 P.M. She was our first live birth on the farm!

It was a perfect night, warm with a light breeze. The sky was clear and full of stars. The lightning bugs were so numerous in the dark pasture that it felt like we were walking through the stars. Then we crested a hill and there was a very wet and wobbly-legged calf trying to stand and a very helpful momma mooing softly and licking her little baby. Continue reading

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First Spring

Tulip close-upHaving grown up in the extreme northern regions of the continental U.S., my husband and I were used to spring making a hesitant appearance in mid to late May. After our first winter in the southern mid-west, we were shocked when the snow melted in March. We were delighted when the daffodils and tulips bloomed the first week of April. The sunshine and warming temperatures lured us outside and the spring air made us ridiculously ambitious. Continue reading

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