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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The Chase is On

We’ve been trying to allow the girls (our Chooks) to spend free ranging time outside the coop/run. Unlike our son’s boxer, Max, who appreciates chicken sushi, our boxer, Remus, is (so far) gently curious. The girls fly under him, strut under his nose, peck his paws when they’re getting grub and Remus does nothing but watch. And he sometimes quivers. But, for the most the chickens, have so far, been safe with him. They don’t venture too far from him. Until today.

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Today, three of the girls, Nancy (named by me), Pretty Hawk (grandchild named) and Spot (me again), slipped under the garden fence into the pasture.

We have recently expanded the grazing area for these guys.

IMG_8088and these two :

IMG_8045 IMG_8054because they do a great job of keeping the grass trim and honestly? I love to watch them roam, and romp, and butt heads and really, they do frolic. Who can resist watching great frolicking? So, when the chickens Thelma and Louise’d it to the other side, I was a little worried. Not only were they now in the presence of four livestock creatures who could break out in frolic at any moment, but there was mucky winter ‘pond’ land and on the other side of that mess, the blackberry forest. I have a cool looking pair of slogger shoes to muck around it, but had serious misgivings about that blackberry forest. I opened the half pasture gate behind the chicken coop and ran, (well as much as I can run) after the chickens who raced from me. Either dashing because their first taste of freedom was exhilarating or because I was ‘running’ after them. Scary sight I’m sure.

One grandson arrived on the scene. He chased Spot while I was after Nancy. Pretty Hawk didn’t head for the blackberry forest preferring the grass of the pasture instead. As grandson one and I were each trying to coax our perspective chickens outta the forest because, really, no one wants to venture in. I heard, “The Goats are free!” AH! No! ! I’d left the gate open. I quickly deduced two lost chickens was a sad loss but not as sad as the livestock. Grandson one and I lumbered/ran and in his case sprinted, to the garden.

In the garden were all four of our four-legged animals. At some point I had bellowed into the house and called for my husband who was trying to work, for help. He appeared as did grandson number 2. We developed a plan while we ran, flapped our arms and tried to keep the creatures from eating anything. Just past our vegetable garden are the front gardens full of everything poisonous to them..hydrangeas, rhodies, ivy, peonies, daisies, etc. So at all costs, we didn’t want them to reach that area.

I was close to panic mode, worried about Nancy and Spot and PrettyHawk, fretting about the four in the garden. Suffice to say there was much yelling, and stomping and body gyrations. My brilliant husband got the sheep/goat food and a grand child grabbed the metal bowl. As soon as the four heard the clinking of food in the bowl, they stopped and started for my husband. He began to lead them to the garden pasture gate, while I went to close the  one by the chicken coop. And, then Remus arrived on the scene.

IMG_8042Remus, apparently unhindered with various farm critters, likes to pause, and point, from time to time he’ll give a chase, but he never engages. But, the critters aren’t as sure as Remus. As we coaxed the sheep and goats, the grandkids tried to wrangle the chickens, but one remained elusive. Spot. And, Spot didn’t want to run anywhere Remus was.  With PrettyHawk and Nancy safe in the coop; they’d merely sauntered back the way they’d come, Spot was the only one left. Remus stood in the path of the open coop.

The sheep and goats ran from Remus too, even though he only stood in one spot. While the sheep and goats were led back to the pasture by the clanging of food in a metal bowl, it took throwing chicken food at Spot to direct her home.

After a good 30 minutes of combined solo and tag-team efforts all animals were finally back in their correct homes.

Chasing is good exercise. The panic level of anxiety was good for the heart I’m sure. But, hoof prints in the garden beds..maybe not so

 

 

Productive day = exhaustion, achy bodies and satisfaction.

Unlike real farmers/ranchers we didn’t get up at the crack of dawn and we retired before the sunset (but to be fair, our sunset was at 8:15pm) but we did manage to get so much squeezed in those hours we were out there. Between everyday chores, gardening, too many trips to Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Wilcox stores, it was a very fulfilling day. Thought I would share some of it with you.

We were happy to see the sheep, Lucy and Edmund, were awake and making small talk with our boxer, Remus, as they waited for us to take them to the pasture paddock. We had breakfast and took some of the Grands out to meet the sheep. Lucy and Edmund are a little shy and give us crazy eyes from time to time, but they are not aggressive or sketchy with the kids. Lance had to hold Edmund, the smaller of the two, so the kids could touch them, but the sheep are so foreign to the kids the petting was a fleeting action. After they got out to their paddock, E & L proceeded to do some yard maintenance. and we moved on with our very full day.

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Lance tilled the garden beds. I planted a ‘salad’ bed with tomatoes, three different kinds of lettuces, and radishes. Yellow onions and Walla Walla sweet onions went in next. Cauliflower was next and then cucumbers into little dirt hills. Squashes – zucchini, acorn and delicate were next. One of the beds is now a dedicated strawberry bed, another will be for corn, and then pumpkins for October. One of the smaller bed will be for the herbs. The challenge of all this gardening is to not get down on my arthritic knees and at the same time, not wrench my back. Challenging, yes, but, ta-da, doable.

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Today was also chicken coop cleaning day. Since last I posted we have lost one chick. She never seemed to grow, didn’t get any feathers and one day she was listless, the next day, dead. It was very sad, but it is the way God has made the creature world to work. in the picture below you can see how big her sibling is, the big white one in the forefront. Little one never got half as big.

ImageWhile I want to make a nice soft warm bed of pine shavings for the girls, they continually kick it out until it’s almost just bare board. See the shavings in their water?  This water had just been changed 10 minutes before I took this picture. They’ve also taken to sitting on their feed. Not sure why. There are two who often roost on the stick, but the others? Maybe there is not enough room? Or they’re only brave enough to be as high as the feeder. Maybe there is something to calling someone a ‘chicken’ when they’re fearful?

Setting up Baldwin Acres has been a costly venture. We have spent more money on the animals, their ‘stuff’ and their shelters then we have on previous sun drenched vacations. So far, it has been worth every cent. As I sit here typing (using nine fingers because I got one caught in the door while rushing to the sheep and it’s painfully swollen), my knees ache from kneeling only once, I’m exhausted, and my body protests when I get up off the couch,  I can honestly say, love every aspect of it.

Before we led Lucy and Edmund to their bedroom (a nice roomy fenced dog run with a shelter) for the evening, I got one photo of them which I sign off with for you tonight, too. Peace.

 

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