Sunday, June 2, 2013

Meet Miss Quinn

Today was an exciting day on the farm! We brought home a beautiful, sweet baby female goat we named Quinn. Just look at those long eyelashes and big bright eyes!

Dustin and I have searched  a while now for a female goat to join our males Ricky and Bobby. I wanted a goat that was purebred, and young so I could take the time to socialize her with people and our other animals to help ensure that she would turn out as friendly and well tempered as Ricky and Bobby are. (They were 5 and 6 weeks old respectively when we got them.)

It seemed like every female Nubian we would find was a mixed breed, was already several years old, a few hours drive from us, or way out of our price range. (Registered purebred Nubians from known bloodlines can run several hundred dollars and up!)                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

Miss Quinn here however was just what I had been looking for and we got her at a bargain from a family about twenty minutes away! She was born March 28, 2013 (just a few days over two months old) and is a female purebred unregistered Nubian.

Our goal, and the reason why we chose to raise Nubian goats in particular has been to eventually get to the point where we have a couple of females where we can get fresh goat milk daily, and make products from the excess milk. Nubians are known for being excellent milk producers and good meat goats (even though we're not eating them). Quinn's mom and older female siblings were giving 3/4 to a whole gallon of milk per day according to her previous owner. That's amazing for me to think that much milk can come from one goat! Their milk is also said to have a higher butterfat content and is more nutritious and flavorful than even whole cow's milk. I am excited to hopefully be at a point next year where we can try our hand at making cheese, lotions, soaps, etc with our excess milk!

When we first unloaded her from the truck and put her in the barn stall with Ricky and Bobby, they ran right up to see what kind of critter mom and dad had brought home this time. (Last time it was Napoleon the pig!) I really could not ask for goats any better behaved (when it comes to meeting new animals) than Ricky and Bobby. They sniffed her gently, then just went about their business as if they weren't all too impressed. The rooster, (as you can see in the pic below) seemed much more interested.

We bought Quinn her own feed bucket and placed it in a corner of the barn away from the boys, and I really expected them to be aggressive at feeding time (they can be really pushy with each other over dinner!) but before I could get feed put in her bowl, she ran over to theirs and Bobby just moved to the side to let her have some. What a gentleman! He's the one who has shown the most interest in her as the day went on, and seems to have taken her under his wing. So far she has seemed to fit right in on the farm, and I'm looking forward to getting to know her personality and watching her grow!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Five farm updates

I finally got a day off when it's not raining, so naturally I spent part of the afternoon outside with my camera. Here's five things going on around the farm:

#1 is the chicken coop expansion! :) We started with 9 chickens in a 10x10 coop last February. Three of those tuned out to be roosters (we sold one, kept the other two), and the other six were hens. The 10x10 space we had prepared was just perfect for them. But... since we decided to let Miss Loretta hatch some chicks to increase our number of laying hens, the space we started out with will just not be big enough in a few more weeks when the chicks are grown and eventually move in with their aunts. So, we decided to expand to a coop that is now 10x30, and my chickens officially have a larger room than I do! We came up with a pretty neat solution that allowed us to keep the 10x10 structure we already had, and just made a trap door that can be raised and closed from outside the coop to allow the hens into their new yard. This lets us to still keep the hens really penned up in their fully enclosed coop if we need them to be (to let the grass grow back in the yard, or keep them safe from predators at night), and still gives them much more space to scratch around and really feel the sun on their backs since their coop is in the shade most of the day, and their new yard is full sun. We added field rocks around the bottom all the way around to help keep the girls from becoming something else's dinner, and still have a few other minor things to do like cut the tops off the posts before it's completely finished. The first photo below is the barn with the coop when we first built everything last year just so you can see the comparison. The rest of the photos are how it looks with the expanded coop! 

 The door into their new yard is on a neat little pulley we just had laying around, and allows them to let them in and out.

#2 is our new and improved feed station. I am one of the most organized people you will find, and had to come up with a solution for the feed bags we originally had just sitting in the floor of the barn. I knew that was just a free for all for mice (there's only so many mice a one-eyed barn cat can catch) and other bugs, so I bought rubbermaid style tubs with snap lids and Dustin got the shelf system from his work. It was an old plant merchandiser they were just throwing away! Nothing like getting something for free that we could really use. I labeled everything with what it was, and also who gets that food. These labels really satisfy my OCD for labeling things mainly, but will also aid whoever is helping out in feeding the animals when I have my surgery in a little over a month. Another important item on the top shelf (those big blue containers) is enough water to last the animals several days without power (since we have a well and no power = no water). 

#3 is an update on Miss Loretta's chicks. They are growing up so fast, with almost all their feathers in now, and are just a few days shy of 8 weeks old. These little guys have learned to roost and are super sweet and climb all over you any time you go into their coop, wanting to get close and see what they can eat off your clothes (they think Dustin's pearl snap buttons are the coolest things!). 

#4 is ducklings are on the way! We thought we got rid of our male duck so that we would not have anymore ducklings.. but, one of our last set of ducklings turned out to be a male before we realized it, and we now have two broody mama ducks on nests! Each has a nest of about 10-15 eggs that they are sitting on and fussing over 24/7. I am pretty excited to see how many ducklings we end up with, and we have plans to sell them because our duck enclosure is full. If you know anyone needing/ wanting a great breed of duck send them our way! 
 Mama #1 on her nest.
A rare glimpse of nest #2 I got when she finally left to go eat her dinner. 

#5 is a healed up Beyonce! If you read her bio, you know that Beyonce is our one-eyed barn cat. Back a few months ago, I went outside to leave for work and saw a horrifying sight. She was sleeping on top of Dustin's truck like always, but all I could see was a horrible black hole on her face. I screamed for Dustin to come out and go look at her because I was truly scared that she was disfigured and hurt beyond repair. Luckily, and grotesque as it was, it was only her eyeball that was injured, and after a costly trip to the emergency vet (of course this happened on a Sunday) and surgery to remove the eye, she was as good as new! We never will know what really caused the injury since we didn't see it happen, but the vet assured us it was not a puncture wound from a chicken which made me feel some better. She truly is a tough kitty cat, and the reason she was given the name Beyonce in the first place was because she came here with a sister cat that was unfortunately killed in a car engine :( So, with her being the only survivor (title of that Destiny's Child song) she became Beyonce! 

This has shaped up to be a pretty eventful spring so far, and with starting our garden, ducklings on the way, and more projects than we can keep up with in the works, I'll be updating soon! 

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Spring has sprung!

Spring is finally here!! The trees and plants have been trying to bloom and come back to life, and a round of thunderstorms this week with a good soaking rain gave everything the extra boost to look especially green and bright! This is our second spring on the farm, and our first one where all of our animals are mature enough to reproduce. Love is in the air, and we have had several new additions in the last couple months! The first was our set of Rhode Island Red chicks. It was our first attempt at breeding with our chickens (we've had success with the ducks already) and we weren't really sure what to expect. We chose our favorite and most friendly hen, Miss Loretta, and paired her up with our rooster Big Red. He stood watch over her for the whole time she was brooding, and on March 15th eight chicks hatched out of her clutch of ten eggs, a great success in our book! Miss Loretta is an excellent mother, and the chicks are growing so fast. I'll be sure and give an update on them later.
Miss Loretta strutting her stuff :) She's been extra proud and protective since her chicks hatched.

 Being a chicken mommy sure is hard work! Eight tiny chicks is a lot to keep up with.
It amazes me how all eight of them fit themselves under her wings, four on each side. This little sweetie was peeking during nap time.

Those sweet chicks were just our first exciting birth of the season. Dustin's parents have two female Nigerian Dwarf goats that were bred by our Nubian bucks Ricky and Bobby. Crossing these breeds results in what I've always seen called a Mini Nubian. The mini's keep the adorable floppy ears of the Nubian, and the smaller stature of the Nigerian Dwarfs. The best of both the breeds. Unfortunately, one of the female goats, Dixie lost her kid at birth a few weeks ago. This setback made us even that more anxious as we awaited the birth of her sister Pixie's kids (I was positive she was having twins because of how HUGE she was!). On April 5th I got a call from Dustin's mom saying that the babies were here! I raced up to the barn and was greeted by two of the sweetest little babies I have ever seen! Twin boys! Both boys were out and being cleaned up by mom by the time I got to them.
Pixie and her kids! We had a scare at first with the little white one. He was a lot less eager to nurse than his brother who was born first, and he seemed much weaker and wobbly on his long and lanky Nubian legs.
We decided they could use some supplemental milk just to make sure they got off to a good start, so I rushed off to the feed store to buy some powdered milk with colostrum. Dustin's parents are feeding them here. I was mixing bottles and supervising. :) Pixie didn't mind that we were helping lighten her workload.
Then we had the hard task of deciding on names for these little guys. When I was home later, I thought back to their dad's names (Ricky & Bobby) that came from the movie Talladega Nights..and tried to think of other unique/funny names we could pick from the movie to keep that theme going. Then it hit me. Ricky Bobby's sons were named Walker and Texas Ranger!! (If he had wanted them to be sissies he'd have named them Dr. Quinn and Medicine It was perfect! We decided Walker would be the little white one who was weak and had trouble walking, and Texas Ranger would be the strong guy with the white star (his ranger badge) on his head.

Texas Ranger aka "Tex"
This little guy is Walker. Walker makes me think that their dad is our white goat Bobby since he is basically a clone of him! He is solid white except for his moon spots just like Bobby had when he was little, and since that trait is inherited I'm betting he is their daddy :) 
Nursing from mom.

So far our spring is off to a great start here on the farm. It's a busy time with new babies, seeds to sew for the garden, and time to build more chicken coops since we are planning to expand our flock. 

Sunday, March 31, 2013

What's cooking on the farm this Easter?

I love holidays. There's good food, spending time with family and loved ones, and most importantly there's usually a good reason behind them. On this Easter Sunday, I feel especially grateful for my savior! My spiritual place is being outside on the farm with these animals and the land. God is easy to find and be close to on the farm (especially around springtime). With each new life, sunrise/sunset, bloom on a flower-I feel his presence.

 I wanted to share the recipe for what I'm cooking up this Easter Sunday. It's my family dinner specialty- baked macaroni and cheese. Every person in my family has certain dishes that they just know they will be responsible when it comes to family dinners because they just make them so well. Mine is this mac&cheese. Macaroni is definitely a staple here in the south when it comes to family dinners, so being trusted with this dish is a pretty big honor! Before I took over this dish, it was my mom's. She did (and still does) make the best homemade mac&cheese I've ever put in my mouth! I had been making mac&cheese with my mom since I was old enough to hold a spoon..and now I've added a few things and made it my own, and was handed over this big cheesy responsibility! :) 

Southern Homemade Macaroni & Cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 

What you'll need:
1 (8 oz.) box of elbow macaroni
1 stick of butter ('s southern..use REAL butter for the best taste)
3 eggs (farm fresh are the best!)
3/4 can evaporated milk
2 c. milk
4 c. shredded sharp cheddar cheese (2 cups will be the topping)
1 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
Pepper to taste

1. Cook and drain your macaroni noodles per package directions. 
2. Melt and add the stick of butter in with the still warm macaroni noodles. 
3. Add 2 cups of sharp cheddar and 1 cup mozzarella cheese. Stir. 
4. Mix in both milks and beaten eggs, and add in pepper to your taste (very important to put eggs with the cold milk because you don't want them to start cooking too early from the warm noodles)  
5. Once everything is well incorporated, pour into a 9x13in. casserole dish. 
6. Use the remaining 2 cups of shredded sharp cheddar to cover the top of the macaroni mixture, and sprinkle the top with parsley. It should look like this before going into the oven:

7. Bake at 375 degrees for about 25-30 minutes (this will obviously vary on your oven). You want the top to be slightly browned, but still bubbly and wiggly in the middle. 
8. Enjoy a little bite of heaven! 
Final product:

Other things I'm cooking this Easter:

 Southern Pecan Praline Cake Click the link for the recipe. This was a Pinterest find..a hit the first time I made it, and now is back by popular demand! 

Pigs-in-a-blanket. One of my personal favorites..and the kids love them :) 

Cupcakes with Easter sprinkles!

Hope everyone had a Happy Easter! 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

For two years now my new year's resolution has been to start a blog. Here it is almost the end of March on the second year and I'm just now getting around to figuring out how to go about starting one! To let you know how that resolution came to be I must first let you know that I am a blog junkie. There are several people I blog-stalk almost daily and could tell you their whole life story because I've read about, followed, and grown to love their families from afar (creepy I know). I love reading new posts and seeing what they're up to, as well as going back to the archives to see where they've come from. We only get to go through this little journey called life once-what better way to document it and all its ups and downs than through awesome photos and blog posts? (I guess I could scrapbook but as a wise lady once said "ain't nobody got time for that.") So...that's how the Jolly Farm Journal was born. I want to use this blog so that one day I can look back and reminisce about all the things that happened on the Farm. I'll be posting pictures and updates of all the animals that call the farm home and their shenanigans, probably some recipes and food since I love to cook, and anything else I feel is blog-worthy.