Do kookaburra count as farm animals?

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It’s been seven months since we made the move down under. For the most part it’s been good. Actually, compared to the first move down here in 2010 it’s been FABULOUS. Interesting fact: it’s as if the Man and I have swapped personalities since last time. When we moved here in 2010 I was very sad and it took me about six months to settle in.  He, however, was super happy, and excelled at this work. This time around, I’ve settled in quite nicely but he struggles. But, I digress.

When you move from one continent to another, you expect that things will be challenging, that you will miss the familiar and your heart will ache for your family. What I didn’t expect was how much I miss the small hobby farm that was Baldwin Acres.

Here in Oz, we are awakened by a cacophony of bird noise. Can’t say it’s songs because there seems to be much anger in some of it. A family of kookaburra live in the big gum tree behind our house. They share this space with some Common Miners and some little birds that I can’t identify.  Every morning the kookaburra engage in seemingly heated exchange. Is someone stumbling in late? Did they run out of geckos for breakfast? Who knows. Maybe it is the language of love in kookaburraeeze, whatever the cause, it is very loud in the morning. And, annoying. On Baldwin Acres with a few roosters in residence, it was loud in the morning as well. But, a little calmer loudness. I miss that.

I didn’t think I would miss the animals so much. Not just the sound of the rooster, but the bleat of the sheep and the strange noise the goats made. I miss being greeted by everyone when it was feeding time. They were all ranging free so even when I was just out tooling around they were eager to see me. Nudging my leg, nibbling my shirt hem. smelling my boots. I miss the way our very large sow, Olive, would leaning against my shins until I scratched at her side until she flopped down and exposed her belly for more rubs. I miss Bob, our male goat, who followed the Man around the same way our boxer Remus did. I miss fresh eggs and waiting with broody hens for their charges to hatch.

I don’t miss the sometimes rough odor, or all the poop. There was a lot of poop. I am not sure why that took me aback because obviously every living thing does…but so.much.poop. was really unexpected. I don’t really miss trimming hooves or chasing curious wayward pigs back through the woods to the house. I don’t miss when the little chicks, or tiny piglets for whatever reasons, didn’t make it. But, I do miss them. All of them.

We go back and forth here about rescuing a dog or a cat. Which of course would be lovely, but seriously, they’re no pig or chicken. How could such a small farm make me so attached?

It’s not only the animals I miss, it’s the orchard with plums, pears, cherries and apples. The garden with lettuces, kale, tomatoes, squashes, onions, garlic, herbs, tomatoes, potatoes, cucumbers, beans, peas, carrots..all fresh and ready to be eaten right from the picking. I miss the feeling of accomplishment achieved when we were able to eat, can, butcher, gather, all the things our own hands produced. God richly blessed us.

So now, what to do? I have a small plot and a patio tower in which I am growing I pepper, basil, aloe, lettuces, tomatoes, herbs, not the same as the raised beds, but still getting my hands in the dirt and freshness in my belly is amazing.

We’re in the waiting phase right now. Waiting on God to show us where we go next. He has already set the path before us, but right now it’s difficult to see. As we wait on Him, and seek His will, we will enjoy the memories of what was,  relish the moments that are now and expectantly look forward what will be.

Daily visits from the kookaburra’s and patio produce, will keep Baldwin Acres busy until then.

 

 

 

 

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Baldwin Acres is a state of mind.

For the Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life. Job 33

 

For the two + years we lived at Baldwin Acres we were blessed.

Now, we face a new journey, one that will take us back to the land down under. Last time we lived there, 2010-2013 was like a three year vacation. I had just turned 50 and really doubted God was calling us to that place. But He was and evidenced by the friendships that still remain, and the spiritual growth I experienced, He was correct. We were adventurous and discovered much about the land, people and ourselves. However, this time, we reckon things will be a little different.

We are familiar with Australia and we understand the nuances that last time sent me to weeping. (No Tide detergent?! How will I survive?) We have, what we call, fRamily, waiting for us there, so there won’t be that vast space of emptiness we experienced last time. This time we know we want a piece of land, raise animals, and we intend to treat this time as living there and not a vacation. Last time we knew we would be there for three years, this time we’re not so sure how long we will be there.

People thinks it’s strange that we are moving back there, so far from family and all that is comfortable for us. We do have 13 grandchildren who will be in America  without us. But, in the three years we were here, we spent little time with them, in fact, I believe we spent more quality time with everyone when we came home from Australia  for a three week summer vacation. Do you know, with a family with six kids and a family of seven kids, those families are very busy?!?! In my head I understand the busy timetables but in my heart I want all their time with me and why can’t it be?( I have expressed this thought to a few other grandmas and they feel the same way, too. But, we refuse to be ‘that’ grandma who forces company via guilt. How awkward is that going to be? )

All lives change and move forward. Familiar relationships are very fluid and I love it that way. I certainly don’t want that to change that. Fluid is much better than stagnant. At certain times of their adult lives, we’ve been closer to our daughter than our son, or our son than our daughter. Yet, we always are  immensely proud of both of them and their spouses  and we completely get their schedules. So we encourage when needed, we attend sports events when able, we even bought the dreaded iPhone so we can have FaceTime with the grand’s. Not an easy purchase when you work for Microsoft.

Today, when chatting with my sister, she expressed how much she would miss me, and I agreed. But to put it in perspective I am moving not dying. And, yes, I am moving very far away, but they have the wold wide web there, too.

Living on Baldwin Acres enriched my life and the grandkids lives, too. We were exposed to situations that both challenged and refreshed us. I reckon that will continue in Oz.

We follow where Jesus leads us, (you can read previous blog posts to see how that works), and yes, it’s been a struggle. 2016 brought with it unexpected unemployment, surgeries, estrangements, illness, and a whole lot of other ailments. But, when I practice spiritual breathing: Breathe in Jesus, and breath out (name a thing here: anger) breath in Jesus, breath out – fear. Breathe in Jesus, breath out discord, breath in Jesus, breath out anxiety, breath in Jesus, breath out envy…well you get the picture. As long as it takes to breath it all out is what you should be prepared for. Sometimes, it’s a little as five minutes, sometimes longer. You might think, who has time to do that? The thing is,  as long as we are alive  we are always breathing so it adds nothing to your schedule. Keeping our heart and spirit focused on God makes all the difference.

Until then, thanks for reading and commenting and get prepared for some more adventures from the folks, who for now live not physically, but mentally, on Baldwin Acres.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our path. “I’ll go ahead of you; clearing and paving the road.” God. (Isaiah 45:2 The Message)

Our path go ahead of you; clearing and paving the road.” God. (Isaiah 45:2 The Message)

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It’s been a stress filled year. With Lance’s job being made redundant, me working at Home Depot and us not knowing what God has in store, we have made decisions based on feelings and not necessarily on facts. Because of the uncertainty I didn’t put my garden in: a decision I now regret. I did decide to get the replacement shoulder surgery because our insurance was about to be over and I needed to do it or have a more complex surgery later. (On that note, God provided in an amazing way. My $4,000 deductible was miraculously met by an online writer friend.) Now I spend my time in intense recovery. So the Man is doing all farm chores himself. Not easy. Not fair. Stressful while he works a full time job. What we hold to is that while we can’t see it clearly, God’s plans is still in effect for our lives.

‘God is striding ahead of you. He is right there with you. He won’t let you down. He won’t leave you. DON’T BE INTIMIDATED. DON’T WORRY.’ Deuteronomy 31:8 . (easier read then lived) The Message. So, God has laid out the path before us, we will follow it, but first, we have to step on it – and of course before that can happen, we have to clear the way of all  the others.

There’s a chance we might end up back in Australia. There’s a chance he will get an offer for a job back at Microsoft (which is what he wants), there’s  a chance we will buy a ten acre property complete with greenhouses and mature fruit trees and out buildings in a sort of disarray. Chances rain all around us. Different paths with different end results. It’s confusing, stressful and can be a bit life stalling.

 

So we do what we know. What we know is that we need to sell this house. The property layout doesn’t meet our needs and the nightly climb to the master bedroom is something we both could do without . So, while we wait on God to show us THE path, we do what we can. We prepare the house for sale, less clutter, clean up the pastures, sell the animals. We get dirty, we clean up.   And we look and wait for His direction.

Some people might think it’s a silly way to live. ‘Just pick the life you want and live it’, they think. But, for us, as His children. we’d rather wait on Him and live the LIFE HE WANTS. Being in the center of His will is much better than living in our own desire. Although most times our own desires is in His will.

In the meantime we work. And, to borrow the words of the famous poet: “I took the road less traveled by, and that made all the difference.” Robert Frost.

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The hardest part of living a hobby farm homestead life.

When Tumnus first came to us, we considered him a rescue goat. We were asked to home him and a female Kinder goat and two Jacob sheep from a family who thought they could have livestock even though their neighborhood covenants said no.

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We pretty much didn’t know what we were doing when we bought them. Except we were helping someone out. Tumnus was described to us as a wether. A wether is a goat who has been castrated. Goats and sheep are herd animals, and oftentimes people will have a wether to keep the other animals company.

Tumnus, whose name always seemed too big for him. was particularly endeared to me and I to him. I shortened his name to T man or Mr. T. He would rub his head against me whenever we were in close proximity. He always responded with a low bleat when I called his name.

But, T always seemed a bit off. His hooves seemed misshapen and needed more attention than the other members of the flerd. When he had been dis-budded, they had missed a small portion that sometimes doesn’t show up until the goat is older and he developed scurs. Which means although dis-budded, a little portion still grew into his head. They say you can re-do the dis-budding process but we have no iron or experience. And, honestly, I didn’t know this was the problem with his horns until a recent research project.

One day, after we homed him, T stood off and peed on his face. As I mentioned, we had no experience with livestock before this, including reproduction, or social behavior. So, when he urinated on his face, peeled his upper lip back as if the odor was  magnificent, then stuck his tongue out and wiggled it, I told Lance I thought T might have a mental issue. After researching it however, T’s mannerisms were the exact way goats woo the ladies. Which brings up another issue.

T was supposed to be castrated. There would be no reason for him to do any sort of mating ritual. No peeing on his face, or bellowing, or sniffing the femailes. After a cursory investigation, we discovered T still had a testicle. So, he either had three, or they missed one.  Sadly, this one testicle was enough to keep him in a continual state of mating desire.

When the males get like this, not only do they pee on themselves and snort and stick out their tongues, they vocalize their desire. When our granddaughter had to describe the word,’bellow,” her descriptor was Tumnus, and the picture she drew was of T opened mouthed, neck stretched out towards our female goat’s rear.

The first time we heard his too human hollering was late at night. The pasture is just outside of our second story bedroom. We sleep with the window open. I heard, ‘Hey,’ in a what I thought was a man’s voice. “Heeey,” again. I woke Lance up and told him there was a man in our yard. he listened for a minute and again, “Heeeyyyy”, was said. So Lance ran outside while I tried to light up the pasture from the bedroom window with the flashlight. “Heyyyy”. Then Lance called from the shadows, “You’re not going to believe this.” He laughed. “It’s, Tumnus!” What we didn’t know was this behavior would go on indefinitely.

In the spring, our wether Jacob sheep with his immature but sharp horns, our Nubian goat with his big horns and our male Jacob sheep with his magnificent horns, and T with these horrible looking nubby areas, would engage in rutting. There were many bouts of ramming each other in the heads. Poor T got the brunt of the battles. With just enough testosterone to embolden him, he readily engaged in every challenge and his head would bleed. Eventually his body became dotted with bloody holes, as if he’d been stabbed with round spears.

We don’t have enough acreage to separate him from the others, and if we did, he would be alone, which we were told to not do. Finally, with severely bad front hooves, holes down the back of his neck from rutting, his constant state of heightened arousal and the bashing his head was taking, we decided it would be better for him to remove him from the flerd. Permanently.

This is still troubling for me to discuss. I know people eat goat, even my people in Jamaica consider the goat as we do cows. Goat meat is used in dog food,  goat hooves, goat horns all are used by some.  I have eaten goat only once. And, I’ve never used goat for anything else. The idea is still rather foreign to me. Some people might wonder why we didn’t take him to the vet, but understand, in this homesteading venture, we live on a tight budget. There’s not a lot of room for extras. If an animal is not producing we’re going to cull it. We did the same with some turkeys this year,too.

One reason we raise our own poultry and pigs is to have healthy food. Food we know what has been fed, how it’s been raised and will be good meat for our family. But, still it’s hard to say good bye to my friend.

Thus the reason I wrote this. Even if no one reads about T-man, I do tribute him with love, respect, apologize for his tough life and thank him for the meat which did nourish our dog and barn cats and a little bit to human consumption.

T-Man, you were loved.

 

Winter is not my favorite season.

Except for Christmas, winter is not my favorite season. I think we must be on day 427 in a row of rain and gray skies. The back pasture has flooded at least twice. The pig sty looks like,well, a pig sty.  The damp coolness plays and pokes at my joints and muscles, and my hair is in constant need of a hat. Winter and I do not get along.

When you don’t get along with something you can either live in misery and complain about the situation, which admittedly I do from time to time, or you can look for the good. the old making lemonade out of lemons idea.

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Snow on Baldwin Acres

This winter scene is pretty. Snow makes the scenery a little more beautiful. This is our raised garden and small orchard area. This doesn’t fit into my winter blah scenario because it is lovely, lasts only a while, and allows a little respite in activity.

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This is a close up one of the garlic beds. The white stuff is not snow. They are ice spikes. We had so many days of freezing cold and rain, that these ice spikes adorned all our vegetation.

DSC_0009Here is a picture that sort of shows the mess I’m referring to in the back pastures. The tractors have stopped work for a while, because the ground is boggy. The area is spotted with puddles and little streams of water. To the left of the barn is the pig sty, in the barn is our supply of alfalfa and our livestock nursery. Currently Pork is housed in there, waiting to give birth to little piglets. To the right of the barn is the feeding area. There’s a tub for grain and an alfalfa feeder on the wall. We recently spread a ton of rocks in this area because the continual traffic of the  livestock (Jacob sheep and kinder/Nubian goats)  really has churned up the mud. A person (me) could (has) get stuck in that muck.

When it rains, if you’re not out in it, not mucking out poop, or tending to animals, but maybe just observing the landscape, it can take your breath away. Or at least let you appreciate God’s creation.

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These beautiful water fowl (ducks) take advantage of the winter pond. This area completely dries up in the spring and summer. But, it’s a nice treat to see wild birds taking a little rest here.

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And, finally, I will appreciate the wet, mucky, season because without it there would be no spring. There would be no dormant time for the earth to recover, and the seeds to die, so when the spring sun warms the soil and dries the seasonal puddles and streams, we can grow healthy non- pesticide laden food and new livestock will be born. There is great contentment in the weariness at the end of a long homestead labored day.

The Bible attests to the need for seasons. Seasons not just for our homestead schedules, but also for our lives. Ecclesiastes 3:

There’s an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth:

2-8 A right time for birth and another for death,
A right time to plant and another to reap,
A right time to kill and another to heal,
A right time to destroy and another to construct,
A right time to cry and another to laugh,
A right time to lament and another to cheer,
A right time to make love and another to abstain,
A right time to embrace and another to part,
A right time to search and another to count your losses,
A right time to hold on and another to let go,
A right time to rip out and another to mend,
A right time to shut up and another to speak up,
A right time to love and another to hate,
A right time to wage war and another to make peace.(The Message)

I’m trying my best to live in each season. Because in the season is where we find life, purpose and hope.

Diatomaceous Earth – the wonder dirt – Part 2

This wonder dirt, is indeed – wonderful. I first wrote about it here So much POOP – DE – Part 1. I mentioned fleas in that article and now we address those nasty resourceful pests,  fleas.

Even though our county has suffered a problem with rogue insecticide resistant fleas, we had zero problem for about a year. Then we got some barn kittens. They came covered in the blood sucking critters.

Baby animals have somewhat vulnerable immune systems and cats in general have to be handled carefully because of the way their liver functions. Many of the natural remedies for flea control cannot be used on felines. We couldn’t (and wouldn’t) douse them with chemical laden powders, flea control agents, or powders, but we knew we had to get them clear of fleas because their tiny bodies could only handle so much blood loss.

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blood sucking flea

 

One of the go to things in natural flea control is the use of essential oils, but you have to be careful using this on cats because, again, their livers react differently to processing them and it can become a toxic situation.

We bathed the kittens up to their necks in warm sudsy Dawn dishwater. This moved the fleas to the top of the cats heads, where they were picked off with either the flea comb or our fingers. Then the kittens were thoroughly rinsed and combed through again. We dipped the fleas clinging to the comb in a dish of Dawn soapy water.( Once removed from the host body, the fleas have to be drowned or they can jump onto something else). Then we got to cuddle the furry bodies as we towel dried wet fur.  This process had to be done a few times;  it’s amazing how many fleas their little bodies could host. And, of course, we had to keep on top of the hatching eggs, larva etc.

What does this have to do with the Wonder dirt? Good question! It wouldn’t be wise to plop sparklingly clean kitties back into flea infested places, so while they were being bathed, their bedding and living space was also treated with first a hot wash and dry in the machines and then a sprinkling of FOOD GRADE DIATOMACIOUS EARTH (DE).  Again, this process was repeated each time they had a flea bath.

We had a few flea free weeks, when one of the kittens unexpectedly died. We immediately got two kitties to fill his spot, and they too, came with fleas. So repeat, rinse, repeat. Finally all the felines were flea free. Or so we thought.

I took the oldest kitten to get neutered and discovered he had fleas! To be honest,  I hadn’t kept up with the DE treatments in the cats living space. It wasn’t a bad infestation, but it was fleas. Then we found some on our dog. And, sure enough, the other kitties had them too.

Now this might sound like an unsuccessful attempt at natural flea control, because we started out with fleas and now, we still have them. However, being vigilant in keeping up with the DE dustings is crucial and I had let it lack. But in keeping up with it and treating the animals again, has now, made us flea free.

DE can also be used as a powder on your pets/livestock. You must be careful when dusting it, it makes a very fine powder and if you have asthma, or your animals have respiratory issues, it’s a good idea to pour the dirt in your hands and then rub it on the animal instead of shaking it around like a salt shaker. Also, companies sell dusters that control the powder dispersion. When we dust the chicken coop with it, we remove the chickens first, spread the DE, put some in their food, and let it all settle before letting them back in. We dust the livestock at their neck (keeping it our of eyes and ears) along the spine and under the tail when we trim their hooves. We give a spoonful in our dog and cat food at least once a week. So far, so good.

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Food Grade DE.

Baldwin Acres is like a winter flowing stream. We’re always learning, trying new things, failing at things but moving along. Every now and again things get clogged and we have to step back and evaluate. We are determined to keep things natural, non-GMO and organic, including pest control. This includes but not limited to using DE and essential oils.

I always go back to the fact that God created everything and provides for us to manage our lives. DE is a natural ‘dirt’ of microscopic ground up seashells whose sharp shells cut the pests  exoskeleton. Besides among other things,  being  used for killing fleas, worms, and poop control, DE is also used in grain storage as it controls pests and absorbs moisture, keeping the grain free from mildew. Damp barns could benefit from  spreading DE on stored alfalfa, hay, etc. to potentially control any mold/mildew growth.

In researching DE I’ve learned that humans use it for hair and scalp problems, acne, mouth sores, parasite control and bowel troubles. Just remember, it is all natural but you must make sure you are using FOOD GRADE DE.

Do you use DE for something I’ve not mentioned? Let me know! If you’ve read this far you’re interested…..

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Mouser, Maggie and Mic. Three content flea free ‘barn’ cats.

THREE LITTLE PIGS

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I slogged through the mud, the rain dripped off the brim of my hat. One hand shoved deep in my coat pockets to try to keep warm the other gripping the cold handle of the slop bucket. Ollie, Pork and Beans greeted me with happy squeals and hungry grunts as I approached the pig sty. They always make me smile. Inside the sty I dumped the slop and as they devoured it all, as if they hadn’t eaten in days, I did a visual check of the fence and the water dishes.

“This is disgusting,” I said out loud. “C’mon you guys, it looks like a pig sty in here, ha!” It really is not a pleasant place. Mud. Mud puddles, mud, and then there’s the mud that’s gotten particularly squishy because I put straw on the mud, hoping it would sop it up and let them have some clean area before their hut. But it didn’t work out like that at all. And of course, the poop. Always, the poop.

 I reached down and gave each one a scratch behind the ears and on the haunches. I told them how gorgeous they are and that they are loved, and as I stood up a flash of white in the hut caught my eye.

“Oh, gross! There are rats in there!” I whined as I said it because Lance wouldn’t be home for hours and the proper thing to do is quickly dispose of the rodents..ick and yuck. I’m really not good at the revolting things.

I adjusted my hat and bent down to peer into the dark spot trying to make out how many I would be dealing with. And, there they were…wiggling around, disgustedly rooting for food, no doubt pooping rat poop.

“You’re disgusting..little rodents…oooooo….wait…..it’s BABY PIGS!!!!!”

Probably could have heard my squeal a mile a way.

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We had guessed Ollie was pregnant but she didn’t have some of the sure fire pregnancy indicators she was supposed to.  We were getting the barn ‘nursery’ ready, but didn’t feel any hurry.  But now we had to hurry. In the first days of a piglet’s life they do not generate body heat, and they have zero immunities. They get those as they nurse from their mama. So, I had to make sure they didn’t get into the harsh elements. I picked up a baby, which made him or her SCREAM… Ollie ran into the hut at which time I put the baby down and locked the door. Essentially then, I was locking Beans and Pork out but they are pretty hardy so I reckoned they would be ok.

On my way to the Orthopedist I called Lance and told him about the piglets. I mentioned how mobile they were and that I was afraid they would just wiggle out into the mud so I had locked them in the pen with Olive. He tried really hard to not say, “they’re probably rats,” instead he said, “wow, really? You aught to send me pictures.” I don’t blame him for doubting. I actually wondered if they had been born a few days earlier because they were so mobile with sleepy open eyes. Not the typical look of baby animals I’d dealt with, which include white mice, hamsters, kittens and chicks. As you can imagine, or may know, all babies are different. Piglets are good to go when they drop, except for the whole immunity thing.

After my appointment I hurried home and raced down to the pen.

The little babies nestled next to mom. When Ollie realized I was there she stood up and strained against the door. Through the top slat I talked and scratched her head while slowly opening the door. I’m not sure if this little one in the picture below was coming towards my voice or the outside, but he speedily made his way to the front.

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I just wanted to sit out there and look at them, but you know, life was happening, so I put some more clean straw into the hut and Ollie laid down with the babies again. Pork and Beans also went in hut and it then it got quiet.

In the barn, I began organizing tools and clearing the spot we had set aside for her. I spread the remainder of our straw down, and went back to the house.

In addition to various online sites, we’ve have been reading an amazing book called Raising Pigs. I reread some notes I had taken from the sites and the books and frankly I don’t know how wild pigs survive. Before she had the piglets, we were supposed to de-worm Ollie and scrub her clean, especially her teats before we put her in the barn which was also supposed to be sterilized. Some places recommend you make a farrowing crate, in which the momma lays down, bars gently press on her teat area and the babies eat from the other side. Thus she won’t roll over on them and crush them. And the babies can freely eat whenever. That just didn’t sit well with me. First of all, where do you take a pig to give it a bath? They’re very susceptible to the chill in the air, so an outside bath would be a bad idea. Secondly, really? I just couldn’t shove her in a crate and make her lay there. Seems like a sort of factory idea. Since then I have read a few homestead blogs and learned that homesteaders do farrow as well, not just factories practice it.  Farrowing also ensures every piglet gets a teat, so all can eat. We only have 3, not worried about enough teats to go around. We failed in that area with mom. Then I learned we failed with the babies, too.

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I apologize for this blurry picture, I was trying to take it quickly so as to minimize the stress, but this little one day old piggy would not be still. By this time they should be in a sterile farrow crate, their milk teeth or wolf teeth clipped, injected with iron, notched identification marks in the ears and tails docked. None of this happened. The information out there divides, kind of like human vaccinations camps. You either love it or you don’t.  I reckon you do what  is right for you and your animals. Just keep them healthy.

As soon as Lance got home the day of the birth, we fixed up the nursery part in the barn. He brought home Sow food (we feed our livestock home mixed grains and greens to avoided the fillers in commercial feeds) but because she will need extra protein and vitamins we feed her this and give extra portions of milk. Anyways, he bought straw, too. So we fixed it up… spread the hay, put up the hog panels and gathered up the three littles, thinking Ollie would follow them into the barn, which she did, but so did Pork and Beans. All the livestock seemed very interested in what was happening and soon all the goats and sheep and turkeys were mucking around trying to get inside. We ushered Pork and Beans out and back to the pen with the allure of yummy alfalfa. Leaving just Ollie and the babies.

These are the babies in the cat carrier being transported to the barn.

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With the heat light on, fresh water, full feeder, the calm and warmth and dryness of the barn, seems to agrees with Ollie as she nurses her babies, but still I’m unsettled.( I’m very tempted to bring them all into the house, but that wouldn’t be fair to the Mic, Mags and Mouser our three barn cats who might like to be in the house, too “) )

I reckon it will take a while to get used to all the homestead/farm/animal husbandry stuff. We’re always evaluating exactly what our goals are and what we hope to accomplish. But, in the meantime, I’ve got a pretty sweet gig with God’s gorgeous creatures and I’m happy.

All things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small, all things wise and wonderful, the Lord God made them all….(a song from my childhood Sunday school days).

So much POOP. What about Fleas? Diatomaceous earth. Part One.

I started this blog post writing about all the poop on the homestead and how we manage it. But I was life busy long enough to now be able to address another issue that’s come up- fleas. The good news is I have two natural options to help with both. (Introducing fleas into the mix has left me in a quandary. Should I address both issues together or separately? I think to keep my own mind clear  and not confuse you, I will break it down to two posts. Poop first. Fleas second.)

Poop is disgusting. No one wants to mess with poop. But poop can be a great indicator of our and our animals health. So checking poop is a necessary part of animal husbandry. Ick. Initially I was going to post photos of the poop we daily encounter. But, the stark reality of poop pictures might prove to be too much for sensitive types. I’ve been scolded for posting photo’s of what some consider gruesome subjects : like Lance’s finger when he sliced the tip off, and Lance’s finger when he shot a nail into the end, and my nose when I broke it, and my nose after surgery to set it,  so I get that not everyone thinks the raw things of life are interesting. So no glossies of poop. But, if there were photos, they would include: pig poop, goat poop, sheep poop, turkey poop, chicken poop, dog and cat poop.

There’s a book called, “Everybody Poops”.  This book is not a work of fiction.

Poop is a problem because it’s the carrier of things that do not belong inside our bodies. And, sometimes parasites and worms will invade to live in the warmth and ick that is poop.

There are good worms. Helpful worms. In the spring I added Red Wigglers to my raised garden beds to help irrigate and nourish my soil. Night crawlers  lure fish onto hooks so we can eat them. But mostly there are are gross worms.  These are the, ‘why did you create these things, God?’, parasites that live in the guts of living beings. There are heartworm, pole worms, tapeworms, whipworms, and pinworms to name a few, When the animals poop worm pieces or the whole worm, will be in the feces. Then they are on the soil. When the animals graze that area, they ingest more parasites/worms.

Parasites are not the only problem with poop. Poop attracts flies which then breed. This gives us creepy maggots and then more flies. Flies are nothing more than poop transporters. They alight on poop and then alight on garbage and then alight on poop and then alight on your wall, at which time you smack it and splat all the fly’s souvenirs.

Let’s just say it: poop is nasty. Although, if we didn’t poop, well that would be much nastier.

When we developed our homestead or hobby farm plan, we knew right off we would engage in natural and organic practices. One of the reasons we raise chickens is to have eggs that have not been pushed through a hormone antibiotic laden hen. We use no pesticides on our vegetables or fruit trees. So, using chemicals to kill ground pests, no matter how foul they are, would be counter to what we believe. This is where Diatomaceous Earth or DE comes in super handy.

Diatomaceous earth,  is a brand new product to us. DE is a finely ground exoskeleton of a fossil sea creature which when ground up leaves  microscopic jagged pieces. We are too big to be harmed by this, but the little parasites don’t handle it well. They crawl over it and cut their bodies causing them to leak and dry out. To help control parasites and worms, we spread DE

Use caution when  using DE. Use only FOOD grade DE and NOT POOL grade.  DE is similar in consistency to a dusting powder. DE can irritate eyes, noses and lungs. We make sure the animals are not around when we spread it, because any wind or breeze can easily carry it to them. we don’t want to subject them to any discomfort if possible. Chickens have fragile respiratory systems, so if you choose to use it in their coop as I do because it helps keep lice, flea, mosquito fly and mite populations down, use it after you’ve cleaned out the coop, and spread new bedding. Do not use it when the chickens are IN the coop.

DE is also useful for parasites and pests on livestock. When we trim hooves, we liberally apply DE to the sheep and goats hides. Behind the ears, around the rear, and down the backs. It helps get rid of  what might be there, and repel intruders.

We like to use the DE product from Red earth. http://www.redlakeearth.com/red-lake-diatomaceous-earth-us.html  We mix our own feed and use DE as a top dressing for natural deworming. Some folks also leave it as a free choice for their animals. I did read where a woman lost her chickens after spreading DE in their coop, but she spread it when they were in there, and she didn’t indicate whether it was FOOD grade or POOL grade. So be careful when you use it.

Red Earth DE

Red Earth DE

DE can also be used for flea control. We brought three flea infested barn kittens home. Kittens are so delicate and small you can’t really use any typical chemical laden flea control products on them. Initially we bathed them in Dawn dish soap and used flea combs. We spread DE in their litter box, and their bedding and around the pool house where their food and beds are. We add DE to our cats food, too. This site has dosage recommendations and more information about worming our domestic pets with DE.

https://www.vetinfo.com/using-diatomaceous-earth-to-worm-pets.html

I’ve always believed that God put on earth everything we need to live and be healthy. I don’t understand some of the things he created, like fleas and muzzles and flies, but He knows what’s He’s doing. I started researching natural remedies back in the 80s We’ve planted herbs that we can use for cooking, but also we put fresh cut and dried herbs in the coop, where they turkeys are and in the livestock area. This includes mint, thyme, sage, peppermint, and lavender. Smells good and helps repel pests. If you can do a natural God given remedy, why not??

Using this life viewpoint, I’ve extensively researched the use of natural remedies, herbs, essential oils etch,  and the news is good and fascinating. I didn’t mean for this post to turn into a huge endorsement for DE, but it did. The second part will address the use of Essential Oils at Baldwin Acres.

Thanks for reading. Have a beautiful day.

Fall at Baldwin Acres (and what we’ve learned)

Anyone who follows this blog might think from the title that I meant I physically fell again…but nope…talking about the season this time!

Didn’t the end of summer came too quickly? While I was able to put up a few pints of tomato sauce (which look like tomato soup, but taste like tomato sauce) I didn’t get half of the canning done that I did last year. Most of the pear and plum harvests went to just eating and then to live stock. As did most of the apples. I did manage to bake a couple pastries and cookies but no jam, or apple pie fillings or pear slices like last year.

Harvest pasteries

Harvest pastries

One of the biggest stories of our summer was the return of Pork 1 (now named Ollie) who had gone missing the day after we got her. Her story is elsewhere on this blog, but suffice to say, she’s back and happy with her siblings.

the swine of Baldwin Acres

the swine of Baldwin Acres

the majority of our raised beds are  harvested. The fall garden is sparse. We were able to gather enough Scotch Bonnet, Habanera, and Jalapeño peppers to take to two local fire departments for their kitchens. We used our spaghetti squash on a family getaway, and we have a few big pumpkins and small squash  for October. The volunteer tomatillos came back but I’ve yet to figure out what to do with them. This year we’re also trying our hand at saving seeds. Did you know that you cannot save just any seeds? Well, you can, but unless they are open pollinating and non-hybrid seeds they won’t grow. (Lesson learned!)

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Lessons…. we are continually learning something…animal husbandry, pasture management, and growing our own grains are just some of them. If we are not learning something, then we’re planning. For example, the garden has done much better this year so next year we will expand it. I’d like to utilize better the fruits from the orchard and the eggs from the chickens. It’s good that we didn’t waste any but I still would like to have some in the pantry.

Lance was able to get another tractor at an auction. This one has a back hoe and a shovel. It will be great help and alleviate some of the physical work he tackles on his own. I do help, but honestly, I’m not much help. He fenced our property, built the barn, and the livestock shelters pretty much on his own. Not to mention the gorgeous gazebo over the hot tub. (Life on the homestead is good).

Our venture with turkey’s showed us to do better research. We initially wanted an heirloom breed like we’ve done with our Kune-Kune/AGH pigs, our Jacob sheep and our goats. But, the local store had only BBW’s (Broad Breasted Whites). So we bought them. BBW’s have been so overly genetically mutated for their breast meat they cannot naturally breed. (In more ways than one we have managed to ruin God’s once perfect creatures). They are beautiful, but because they will suffer when their hearts rupture or their lungs collapse, their life span is short.

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The first photo shows the Breasted white turkeys. The second shows the heirloom breed Royal Palms, drinking from the livestock water. All the animals seem to think the other animals have better water. Maybe they have fizzy water, or an energy shot? The livestock constantly tried to get in the turkey pen to drink their water, and when the turkeys come down to the lower pasture, they drink heavily from the livestock tank. None of them can get into the pig pen but when we fill the pool or their water dish, there is a gathering at the pig fence. You can almost see the drool.

We have tasted one turkey. Turns out turkeys aren’t very smart. We had just loaded a ton of hay up in the barn and I was driving the truck through the pastures while Lance walked ahead and opened and closed gates and kept animals where they belonged. When I momentarily parked, one of the turkeys sat under the trailer and when I pulled forward, I ran over her.

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We had read that when you eat homegrown anything, it will taste like a foreign food, but our turkey tasted like turkey. Maybe if we had a regular antibiotic hormone riddled turkey right by our homegrown girl we would taste the difference, but she tasted like turkey.

On the list for fall farm chores: trimming livestock hooves, vaccinating the barn cats, deworming livestock, and filling in the pasture that gets flooded in the winter. I will plant garlic and oats for our winter crops and start planning for spring.

I like the seasonal changes in the homestead. Each one has both a beginning and an end, life and death. I am so happy the Lord set us up here. Life is challenging, but always good

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