Two men and the Ladies…..

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 We chose to buy a straight run of chickens this spring. We were interested in a few laying hens, but this was the least expensive way to purchase chicks through the mail. I totally did not know what “straight run” meant. But husband explained that it was sort of a “take what you get” assortment of boys and girls. We were told that chances were we would get more roosters than hens from our purchase.

Well, we got the cute little babies in April. Twenty-five  adorable silver-laced Wyandotte chicks.I couldn’t tell them apart. That was okay, there was plenty of time for them to grow up and become more distinguishable from each other.

Fuzzy chickie exploring the new world
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Time went by…. Two of our “babies” started looking like roosters….pretty red combs and wattles and long shiny blue black tail feathers. Everyone said, “Just wait….there will be lots more…” We waited…. Still no more roosters.

But our boys started looking quite striking and one day….there was a Cock-a-doo! It wasn’t quite a Cock-a-doodle-doo. Amelia called the roosters Cockadoodle and Doo because neither one could say it all.

They kept practicing and nowdays there is an occasional pretty respectable crow. We give them plenty of praise for their efforts. But…. Still just 2 men in the group.

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However, they seem perfectly content to partner in guarding their 23 lovely beauties.

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All of them free-range during the day and it is so fun to see them enjoying their favorite places on the farm.

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The garden…. The compost pile…And the almost finished chicken coop that husband is working on.

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They look like a family impatient to move into their first new home…walking through the construction zone on a regular basis to make sure the contractor is following the plan.

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So, maybe no wonderful home grown chicken dinners this year. But hopefully a LOT of pretty brown eggs!

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Chicken feed…..it ain’t chicken feed.

Been awhile since I’ve had time to write. Life on the little farm has been HECTIC and busy with building housing for all the little creatures we’ve collected so far. I know, I know….you are supposed to build the pens and fences FIRST, and then buy the animals. What can I say, we did it all backwards. And you know what?? We are finding that chicken feed is NOT cheap. My goodness these beauties can eat!

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The runner ducks have their home….it was supposed to be a chicken nursery, but their temporary use has made them love it….so how can we kick them out???

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The chicken coop is my husband’s current project. Probably should have set up the wood shop completely before building homes for our “family.” Probably should have: set up the wood shop…..built the homes……THEN bought the “family!” Well, so what if the goats lived in the dining room for awhile and our upstairs bath served temporary duty as chick and duckling nursery. Made life interesting!

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So, the goats think the hen nesting boxes are goat playgrounds and are causing frequent delays in the progress of the coop. Kinda cute, though. Buttercup really likes “helping” with construction.

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My husband has been converted to staunch goat lover….admitting to me a couple of times that goats were not his first, second, or third choice of animal. Guess he was only being a good sport and humoring me. But he’s sold now! How can you not love their ridiculous personalities???

I love my babies….I love his too (the chickens and ducks). Even though the chickens have taken over his boat as their new roosting post. Ooops.

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Goats are a disease….

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GOATS ARE A DISEASE…..

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….first you are exposed to a photo. Then you google them and you are in grave danger. But when you see your first youtube video you are seriously infected and there is no cure. Since we adopted our first pair of Nigerian dwarf kids this spring I keep waiting to wake up one day and say “what have I done!” Instead, they are a source of unadulterated joy and I am IN LOVE.

I know, I know….it’s still early and we have yet to experience the chasing of the escapees and the chewed and general destruction. Maybe I will change my mind in the future and realize my present insanity……But I doubt it.

Larry enjoying a moment after a long day of teaching...

If you have ever had a baby goat snuggle in your lap, then suddenly leap into the air with that funny little butt twist and look of sheer joy on its little face…well….you just have to laugh with delight (every single time)!


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The Last Task of the Day…

I object to multitasking!

There are many of you who can boast of doing two, three, or sixteen things at once, but I absolutely hate the idea. That’s why the last job of the day is so wonderful!

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Usually that job is laundry folding.

A basket filled with clean, sweet-smelling clothes is always such a treat. The thing is, I don’t feel rushed with this job. It’s the last thing on the schedule, so I can relax and enjoy it. I can lean back and live in the moment. Sheer joy!

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In my 50+ years, I don’t remember EVER finishing my to-do list by the end of the day. There is always at least one (usually several)  chore
left over to tack on to tomorrow’s agenda. So  why do I wake up in the morning thinking I should clear that list by sundown?Wouldn’t you think I’d have wised up by now???!

Here’s a thought…..DON’T TRY TO DO IT ALL!

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Funny how hard it is to forgive one’s own shortcomings. Why do we think we shouldn’t be human like everyone else? “Self….you may never be completely caught up on all of your work…there will always be JUST ONE more thing….” That’s OKAY!

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Since moving to the country, life has filled up with a very different set of chores. Bringing fresh food and water to the chicks and ducklings, feeding the barn kitties, serving up bottles of warm milk to Buttercup and (our goat babies) and walking down the drive to pick up the mail. These aren’t easy to rush. It takes a bit of time to carry buckets of water. The goats will need attention. LOTS of it. But this kind of work makes me feel more grounded…it pulls at my heart to slow down and breathe for a bit. (Breathing’s good)

Today I will make a point to appreciate all of the things that I DO get done… even if it’s just one important thing…..and perhaps enjoy the job of life much, much more.

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                     Here’s to Living in the Moment….

Creating a nature journal

The grandkiddoes inspired me to make a nature journal….to keep by the window near the bird feeders and record tidbits of the days as they go by and the seasons as they change.

First step…check Pinterest!

There are myriads of ideas out there- how to pare them down to something just right for us?

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Wonderful sample journal pages from birdwatchersdigest.com. shown above. I really like these because there is so much freedom in loosely sketching and jotting little notes every which way on the page.


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I used this website to get ideas for simplifying the drawing process for the kids. That particular day, there had been four white-tailed deer across the road. This is a super easy way to sketch the deer and catch the feeling of the moment!  Found the tutorial on drawinghowtodraw.com.

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A fun blog with ideas for pretty watercolor techniques…some look like they’d be very adaptable for kids too. Love this little birdy! 

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http://elviestudio.blogspot.com/

We have lots of ages to consider….Larry and I are in our 50s, grandkids are 10, 8, 4, and almost 2. Our kids and their friends are in their 20s and 30s. Lots of ages, lots of ability levels and styles. This next one looks like a lot fun for a free sketch style..no stress but lots of potential for creativity. For sure gonna try it soon.

It needs to be pretty and inspiring so we want to use it. But it also needs to be stressfree so no one is afraid to put an entry in here or there. No pressure! A book that can hold both written descriptions and also pictures and sketches seemed ideal. (Some of us can’t write yet!)

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Bought a nice spiral bound sketch book at Walmart with paper heavy enough to have some structure to it. Then copied a pretty picture from a vintage book…

The Nature Notes of an Edwardian Lady Hardcover – September, 1989

Here’s what we came up with and I love it!

Amelia’s first entry…Don’t you like the sketch of our cat, Conan, laying down in the rain? Also perfect woodpecker entry…


Materials required:

  • Inspiration from great Pinterest posts
  • Empty blank Sketchbook (Walmart)
  • Clear contact paper
  • Owl print Duct tape (Walmart)
  • Package colored pencils
  • Bird identification guides or other nature guides
  • Container for keeping it all in one place ( I found my awesome wood box at the local Goodwill store for $2)
  • Small pair of binoculars/opera glasses
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I plan to print and laminate a small calender sheet so the little ones can look up their own dates for their entries.

Awesome project for all ages!!


Nursery update…

The news on the farm today is babies, babies, babies!!!

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Baby Buttercup
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Baby Chicory

Our Nigerian dwarf doeling and buckling are spending time with their goat mamas but we will be picking them up this weekend. We are so excited to meet them in person!

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Buttercup’s daddy…AGS Fall Creek WR Valentino *S
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Buttercup’s momma: Wren Farm AB Anita
Chicory's momma.....GCH Avian Acres WVL Vesta 1*M
Chicory’s momma…..GCH Avian Acres WVL Vesta 1*M

Nothing like

a good set of

 family photos!

 

Next step…acquiring experience at bottle-feeding tiny goats…..

Some of the items from Hoegger Supply that may find their way to my Christmas list this year…..  

How about duds for the kids? 

Time to get back to work…..have a wonderful day!

Indian Runner ducks on the way…

Got a call today…the baby runner ducks are being shipped! Little earlier than expected so the scramble is on to finish preparations. Duckling starter feed, set up the warming area and heat lamp and spread out the clean bedding. Our first “official” farm stock so it’s pretty exciting! 

Baby duckies...
Baby duckies…

When our kids were little, we read a LOT of books together. A regular was The Story About Ping by Marjorie Flack and Kurt Weise written in 1933.

What we didn’t realize, was that the illustrated ducks in the book weren’t just funny looking illustrations, but an actual type of very long, tall and skinny duck that appears to be tipping forward when running.
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They are Indian Runner Ducks and they are awesome!

Shortly after we purchased our little farm, but before we had moved in, we spent a day at the Minnesota State Fair and strolled through the poultry buildings. My brother had given us orders to make sure to get these ducks. One look at the fair and I was sold.900x900px-LL-79531de4_IMG_1321

Looking forward to seeing these little guys waddling through the garden, hopefully eating lots and lots of garden bugs.

399px-100911_Laufenten_054_webThe garden seeds are already sprouting in our little indoor greenhouse. So spring must really be coming. Today I can believe it….absolutely beautiful weather here in southern Minnesota!

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Keep your ducks in a row!

She’s here!!

So….being a total newbie at this farming thing, as I look on the website that lists the kidding schedule at the farm we have our babies reserved at, I see the initials LCJ attached to the doe we had as our second choice mama. I am assuming that is US! If that is so, our baby girl was born yesterday at Wren Hill Farm in Mabel, Minnesota. Hurrah!!!

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Our buckling
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Our doeling

And….like any new parents, here are the pictures!

We are so excited to meet our new babies!! Plans are to bring home one doeling and one wethered buckling to keep her company. Our supplies are ordered and we are ramping up to bottle feed and snuggle these little guys.

I know….I’ve been told a dozen times….they will get in trouble. But I think that effervescent personality is a whole lot of the charm. I know our mini schnauzer makes up for her faults a zillion times over with her wonderful quirks and challenges. So I plunge on into the fray without fear…I know I will love them. (Please remind me of this sentiment when one of them chews up my garden or steals the laundry!)

In honor of our big event, I have collected some of the photos from Wren Hill Farm’s website and facebook pages to share with you. Check out their facebook page for lots more of these gorgeous photos…..the farm looks beautiful. Can’t wait to see it in person!

One of the things that draws me to these little creatures is the way they always seem to look right into the camera. Look at me!


Hope the grand-kiddos are ready to help with the bottle-feeding….it’s been awhile since I’ve taken care of a baby 24/7.

Our little farm is located in Blooming Grove Township, so thinking flower names might be appropriate? Maybe Lily?

To give you an idea of the size of these Nigerian dwarf goats…

Go eat a pasty…

IMG_8504 (2)IMG_7975Today would be a great day to eat a pasty…I am fortunate. There are a few of these handmade wonders in my freezer. But for the rest of you, you will need to travel to Dinkytown, Mpls, just north of the University of Minnesota East campus.

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These beauties are created at Land’s End Pasty Co. My little brother, Jon, and middle child, Peter, started this little place from scratch. They opened the doors last June at the end of the Dinky Dale hallway surrounded by historic brick walls.

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I love this old architecture!

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pastries hail from the old Cornwall tin miner communities at the far edges of England. They were portable and stayed hot for tin miner lunch breaks. No knives or forks required.

IMG_8509 (2)Jon and Peter have a grIMG_8517eat selection of flavors. The favorites and traditionals stick around, but there are occasionally additions (like the turkey dinner pasty last Thanksgiving and the Egg, Bacon and Cheese breakfast pasty. Steak traditional, Steak and Stilton, Pork and Leek, Chicken Pepperjack Cheese, Chicken Wild Rice……yummm!!!!

Also on the menu are Brit style “chips” with a home-made cream sauce and a nice selection of coffees, teas and sodas. My favorites are the Fentiman’s “Botanically brewed beverages” in glass bottles….Rose Lemonade in particular.9310 softdrinks_bottom

Maybe the best part of Land’s End Pasty Co is the atmosphere… intimate and inviting with lots of historical detailing. The back sunroom features hanging metal lamps reminiscent of the mining era and you are surrounded by maps and artwork from traditional Cornwall. If you’re lucky, you’ll even enjoy a British comedy or two on the telly.

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Continue reading “Go eat a pasty…”

Countdown to goat babies…

We are worse than children, anticipating our new chicks, ducklings and kids (goat babies)! Our friends and family are probably getting down-right sick of hearing about it and our neighbors may be wondering what these rookies are getting into.

last year's babies at Wren Hill Farm
last year’s babies at Wren Hill Farm

But here goes anyway..

Are these little guys cute or WHAT?

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Reilly…our babies’ possible daddy…

Our babies' possible mommy..Lacy
Lacy, our babies’ possible mommy…

The books I have read tell us that these little guys- Nigerian Dwarf goats- weigh about 2 pounds at birth. It sounds like we will be bottle-feeding them while they’re pretty young.

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Some of the items they make and sell at Wren Hill Some of the items they make and sell at Wren Hill Farm….

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What does goats’ milk taste like? It looks pretty good.


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otta get back to work….thanks for stopping by!

Continue reading “Countdown to goat babies…”

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