Mid-Winter Update

It is a lazy Sunday afternoon and I am finally sitting at my kitchen table drinking a latte the size of my head and watching the snow fall outside.  After a crazy couple of weeks of car issues, family strife, goat sickness, financial surprises, and more, it is nice to sit back and watch the snow fall.  There is plenty to do inside the house and more out on our farm, but for now I am going to sink down, into my chair, sigh, and snuggle my massive coffee mug while catching all of you up on Folly Farms. Here are some updates that we missed while running around our like chickens with our head cut off on our little homestead .

Luckily we survived our first snow a couple of weeks ago, and so today I don’t have to do all of the frantic running around that I thought was necessary as I witnessed the first flake of the season drop.  Everyone has shelter, extra bedding, and plenty of water – I am free to sit inside and enjoy the heat. It is moments like this when the house is uncharacteristically quiet that my mind races from one topic to another, pondering the events of the past few weeks and the path we have chosen. It isn’t the easiest career being a bookkeeper by day and a farmer by night, but we love it and wouldn’t change a thing (unless some distant rich uncle would like to come along and give us a few thousand dollars for a fence and a barn! That would be a great change!).

The pigs enjoyed the first snow storm more than any of the other animals, it didn’t seem to phase them!

North Carolina weather has been crazy.  We had six inches of snow that stuck around for days, but by Wednesday it got up into the 70s, and now it snows again!  So far no signs of sticking, crossing my fingers!

Even though it was 24 degrees outside yesterday, the pigs loved sunbathing.  Every time I go out there now I am blown away by how big they are.  Michael handles all of their feedings since we are now having to feed them around 20 pounds of food a day.  That’s right – per day.  These suckers are eating us out of house and home and turning it all into delicious ham and bacon so I guess I can’t really complain.

In my experience there are two kinds of homesteaders.  The first kind studies for weeks, maps, plans, organizes, and patiently waits for the right opportunity to procure any animal additions to the farm.  The second drives to South Carolina for a deal on twenty, day old chicks and comes back with 37 chicks of unknown breeds, ages, and genders only to realize that all of these birds are going to need housing much sooner than you thought.  Not saying which one we are… but I do have around 20 chicks in a tarp covered run in my backyard right now.

So far we have Identified some Easter Eggers, Buff Orpingtons, Silkies, Black Copper Maran crosses, and Rhode Island Reds (possibly crossed?)  After living in brooders in the basement for a month, I decided it was time to graduate our new tenants to the great outdoors.  We moved the first seven into a coop I had just finished and then most of the others into the outdoor run.  Not going to lie, it looks a little… thrown together, but they are covered, the heat lamp is doing well and they are loving scratching around!

We are throwing a dinner party in April and are starting to try to slow down and make our space look a little more presentable, a fresh coat of paint on the “Redneck Roost” and all of the sudden you would think it was a real chicken coop!  We may even have to change the name!

Another exciting addition to Folly Farms are our three “Rad Rabbits!” We are now the proud owners of a Creme D’Argent buck, a New Zealand White doe, and a Californian/New Zealand cross doe who should be kindling next week!

We originally bought a nice hutch off of Craigslist (I might not go on clothes or make up shopping sprees but I feel like I do way too much damage on Craigslist), but after seeing the bunnies in there I felt like it didn’t line up to the kind of animal treatment we are trying to perpetuate at Folly Farms. Some Google research later and we now have a rabbit colony on the side of the house! I worked all weekend to build them this nice little townhouse set-up and make sure it was roomy and warm enough to be their housing.

Naturally, two weeks later, they have yet to go into the little house and all prefer to squeeze in between the back of their house and the back of mine.

Although I think the quality of life for the bunnies is hands down better in a colony setting, we have run into a little issue, digging.  This trio is bound and determined to get to China and is working efficiently to get there.  We have had to foil several illegal immigration attempts from the rabbits already.

On February 7th we are getting 25 Cornish Cross mailed to us and picking up 50 quail chicks, it never stops around here!  Luckily, we will be slightly more prepared for these birds.  My quail tractor is almost finished (good thing because I want it out of my driveway!) and Michael and his good friend Zach are completing a larger chicken habitat this week.  Shout out to all of our awesome friends (Zach, Jonathon, the parents and so many others) that volunteer their free labor when we are getting behind and listen to our incessant talking about things like broody hens in January or the live weight differences of our three hogs.

Over the last few weeks, Folly has matured into a devilishly handsome dog (emphasis on the devil part)  and is discovering all kinds  of new tricks like how to dig into rabbit colonies or the messiest way to spread the trash.  I can only imagine we have two more years of puppy ahead of us!  Luckily,  he is the sweetest puppy and listens to us at least 85% of the time.  With a face like that though, who could stay mad?

Afternoon on the farm

       I have an awesome job.  Not only do I feel valued as an employee, get to work with awesome people, have a great work environment, AND it is in a field that I am passionate about. but when I tell manager that my goat Gracie has escaped the fence (calls from neighbors I never thought I would get) she doesn’t hesitate to laugh before letting me off to go chase her down.  I f you have never checked out Astral’s stuff, give it a look!  After a fun hour of shaking grain at the goat and cursing under my breath, she was returned home.  Michael got home shortly after and we got to celebrate that we were both home together before the sun set!

img_7899

This little girl is literally only preserved by her own cuteness

IMG_9108

I have embraced the fact that I am now a crazy goat lady
IMG_9166

All of the rain has gifted our pigs with mud
IMG_9129

Babs reminds me of a cartoon character, do you see her little smile?

IMG_9297IMG_9275

A reward after a long day
IMG_9265

Everyday is an adventure and I couldn’t be happier to spend it with this handsome man

A Weekend on the Farm

15046971_360599807625538_5380224919458021376_n

It finally happened.  The stars aligned, Michael’s managers had seen my haggard face at the brewery and thought that something must be done, and we got an entire weekend off together.  Most couples might take for granted that they have weekends off together, but between our varying work schedules, we had not had a single day off at home together in over 4 months.  It was amazing.

img_7438-1

We started off our morning with lattes and solving the world’s problemsimg_7480

Let the chickens out to roam around
img_7493

Fed Dory her bottle.  (Is there really a more precious sight than a handsome man bottle feeding a baby goat? No.)img_7539

Then we hung out with the goats.  We call Ginger our “Stoner Goat” as she is the most laid back but also the most food-motivated.  Today though, she was especially slow moving.   We saw her lift her tail and start to poop, but this was no normal poop. img_7601

Knowing that we had been having problems with scours in our baby goat and that you had to catch a stool sample before it touched the ground, I did what any crazy goat lady would do.  I grabbed a leaf and caught the poo.img_7604

You can clearly seem my mixed emotions of amusement/horror at what I had just done.  Another one of those moments where I question, what am I doing with my life?img_7618

Folly and Jackson love helping dad bring the food to the pigsimg_7623

We are in desperate need of rain up here, you can tell by how dusty the pig area has gotten. Unfortunately this has been contributing to the situation with the wildfires that are still burning in our area.
img_7613

We are currently playing with a 3 day pig slop fermentation system that is being supplemented with corn and food waste.  Our basement looks like something that would belong to a mad scientist with different buckets bubbling at different rates in every corner.img_7668

A worried Michael drives to the vet to get the stool sample tested.  The vet said their was no sign of parasites or anything else that could be causing the upset.  We have decided to switch to a less rich hay in hopes that it helps out their little bellies.img_7674

A quick trip to the library yielded great results!  My favorite time of the day is when we eat our fresh scrambled eggs, sip lattes, and flip through books discussing with each other what we glean.  It is the most relaxing and calming part of the day.

img_7293

We had something try to break into our chicken coop over night (no chickens were injured) so we threw some “finishing touches” on our redneck chicken coop and started to chase down the chickens.  In order for chickens to recognize a coop as “home” where they will return every night, you leave the chickens locked up for a few days.  img_7748

Michael is a natural and fearless chicken wrangler,

img_7753

I moved a little more slowly and mine escaped.img_7792

We ended the day by trying to socialize our fearful goats  with grain (Read about how we got these skittish cuties here.)img_7800

Look at Hazel’s cute tongue! It was a great weekend on the farm and an amazing day of getting to see my fiance during daylight hours.