Farm Photo Friday

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It’s been ridiculously hot and humid here, as it has in much of the US.  But for us in the South we likely won’t get much relief until September.  When the horses just stand in the pasture and sweat like this, you know it’s miserable.

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Since it’s too hot to do anything outside, I’ve been making lots of cheese.  I have goat Gouda, goat pepper jack, mixed milk cheddar and goat gruyere aging in my “cave.”

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We dug the last of the potatoes this week.  We had purple viking, bintje and red gold this year.  I won’t be planting the purple viking again, the yield wasn’t that great.  But it was kinda cool to grow purple potatoes for a change.  The other two did well.

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The cantelope is all ready at once, 10 melons in all, so we’ve been eating it at least twice a day and gave some away.  It’s my favorite melon.  I’ve always wondered why I’ve never seen it for sale at our local farmer’s markets when it grows so well.

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Lots of red out there in the garden right now.

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The sheep just do their thing.  So easy.

 

Have a great weekend!

My Barn Cats

Four black barn cats at breakfast.

Two weeks from today we will begin moving to our new farm.  Of all the animals we have, my barn cats are worrying me the most about the transition.  Horses, sheep, goats and chickens can be fenced in.  Barn cats cannot.

Andy the 15 pound barn cat.

I would be devastated if anything happened to this 15-pound bundle of love (Andy), or any of my barn cats.

Black cat poised to pounce on his prey.

Their hunting prowess is unparalleled; our rodent population is almost nonexistent.  To keep their skills sharp they take out the occasional bird, squirrel and butterfly.  They’re all spayed or neutered, fat, sleek and healthy and just the best group of cats I’ve ever had.

Black and white cat sitting in the pasture.

I know they’ll hate this, but I’m thinking of loading them in various cat cages to transport, then confining them all in the goat tote that we can set in the barn for a few days.  A goat tote is a large cage so they would be able to see their new surroundings.  This would give them time to become familiar with their new home and not just high-tail it out of fright and confusion.

Stray cat who has taken up residence on our farm.

Ragnar is another problem.  He is a wild stray who decided to take up residence with us.  He is the most unique cat in that he follows me everywhere and intently studies whatever I’m doing.  But he will not be caught or touched.  I will try to trap him to bring him with us because I can’t leave him behind, and we’ll just have to hope that he’ll accept his new home.

Two black cats in the hay barn.

I’m open to suggestions of how to settle barn cats in a new environment.  Feel free to leave your ideas in the comments.

Farm Photo Friday

Here’s my week in photos….

Oberhasli doeling enjoying a smorgasbord of weeds.

I turned the kids out into a pen that was overgrown with weeds for a few days but then had to move them back to the barn area when I saw a coyote hanging around.

Alpine doeling standing on a fallen tree.

Jon cut down a dead tree in the kid’s pen which is providing hours of entertainment for them.

Tunis sheep browsing.

If I had known sheep were this easy to care for, I would’ve gotten them a long time ago.  All I do is keep their water filled, otherwise they just happily graze, rest, repeat.

Horses grazing.

The horse pasture is so overgrazed and I hate it, but I have no where else to put them.  In three weeks we move and they will have all the grass they can eat.  And I will be spending a lot less money on hay.

Tomatoes from the garden.

We didn’t plant much in the garden this year as we anticipated finding a new property, but we did plant a few tomatoes, cucumbers, cantelope, zucchini and peppers.  These tomatoes will be going into the dehydrator.

Six barn cats impatient for breakfast

What happens when I take pictures before breakfast…. I have a trail of six cats following me everywhere.

Have a great weekend!

 

 

Tunis Sheep

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In May of this year we added sheep to our farm.  From the start we knew we wanted a heritage breed sheep and in doing our research narrowed it down to Tunis, Gulf Coast Native and Romeldale.  Ultimately we chose the Tunis for its triple purpose qualities–meat, wool and milk.  Tunis do well in the heat and humidity of the South and are easy keepers, thriving in a grass-based production system.  That’s exactly what we were looking for, breeds that require very little input.  Mothers are heavy milkers, making lambs economical to raise.  And they are super laid back.  Our three girls are not very skittish but rather are quite curious.  They find the cats fascinating.

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In addition to all that, they have a really interesting history and are one of the oldest breeds of livestock developed in the US.  In the 1700s, George Washington was given a breeding pair by the Bey of Tunis as a gift.  They were crossed with other sheep and eventually the American Tunis breed was developed.  They spread throughout the South and Mid Atlantic and became the primary sheep breed of that area due to their heat tolerance and exceptionally flavored meat.  However, during the Civil War they were almost eradicated in the South by troops needing to be fed.  A dedicated breeder from South Carolina was able to hide his flock, saving the breed from extinction.

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We are starting with three lovely ewe lambs that we will plan to breed in the fall of 2017. Our goal is to raise lamb for local customers, wool for handspinners and breeding stock.

Moving A Farm

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Big changes are in store for us.  We are moving to a new farm within the next 30 days.  We outgrew our current 8 acres long ago and started casually looking for a new place last year.  We weighed the pros and cons of buying land and building versus finding a turnkey operation, opted for the later and started seriously looking.  We had several criteria that had to be met:  a barn, fencing, decent house, at least 20 acres of usable land and within a one hour drive to Jon’s work.  We looked at several prospects, many of which came close to meeting our must-haves.  But when we saw the property we are buying, we knew we had found our new home.

Our animals will be happy grazing the 64 acres we will now have.  There will be room for everybody in the beautiful oak barn.  My photography will be reinspired with the beautifully landscaped grounds and plank board fencing.  And we will be living in a charming farmhouse built in 1900 and completely updated.  We will be living our dream.

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To say we are just a bit excited is an understatement.

I will be posting our progress as we start to transition.  Moving 4 horses, 11 goats, 3 sheep, 11 chickens, 6 barn cats and a dog will not come without some stress, but I can’t wait to get started.