Farm & Garden Archives

The Final Year

One of the only extracurricular activities my children do – besides our normal routine which happens to be extremely varied and busy – is 4-H. We have been involved in 4-H since my oldest was 9. This year Serenity, Justus & Audrey raised lambs.   Since it was Serenity’s last year they all decided to raise the same animal. We had them for about 5 months and then it was time to take them to EXPO where they show for 2 days and then they sell them at an auction where business owners/leaders are the main supporters. Lambs had to be sheared… Loaded….   And taken to EXPO where all the different animals (steers, lambs, goats & pigs) all have pens under this red and…

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I’ve always loved miniature things. When I was a little girl I had a dollhouse and it was more fun to see the small pieces of furniture than it was to actually play with. Then there are the American Girl dolls and all their accessories. So, so cute. I love miniature versions of their larger counterparts and that’s probably why I was so drawn to the idea of our Castle Keeper girls putting together a fairy garden for one of their monthly challenges. To put together their fairy garden they would need some type of container, soil, and small plants such as mosses, grass, alyssum or succulents… but they were limited in what could be purchased for accessories. Ninety-five percent of  their accessories had to…

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Raising a 4-H Steer

Life on the farm has changed once again. We now have a 4-H steer. Serenity is taking on this big project. I think everyone was wondering if she would be able to handle it or not  but the Lord has blessed her with the calmest steer ever. After going to the livestock auction and calling around to different ranchers in the area, she was told to call the a rural highschool where they have a FFA program in place. They had a steer the weight she needed and when they arrived at the school to see the steer they found out it was calm and mellow. Just what she needed!   It’s an Angus cross. An Angus bull bred to a Semmintel cow. The Cowgirl…

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To Market, to Market, to Buy a Fat Pig

4-H EXPO has come and went. That’s where our family spent the last several days. It’s a lot of fun and a great culmination to the raising of an animal for market. First we loaded up the pigs. I make this sound a lot easier than it is sometimes! This one was getting a last minute mud bath before being coaxed… and coaxed…. and coaxed into the horse trailer. At EXPO they show twice – once for showmanship and the second time for confirmation. Serenity placed 3rd in the Senior division for Showmanship and her pig was Reserve Champion Crossbred. So not a bad year for our Missy. A prize pig. 🙂 My niece Zoe flew in from Pennsylvania and is spending the week with…

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Painting Art for the Chicken Coop

Well my little chicken flock now has their own art. Inspired by Repurposed 4 Life with the chicken art she painted… I painted something of my own. Doing projects like this is great because it doesn’t have to be perfect. And it isn’t. 🙂 Trust me on that one. Here’s how I made it. 1. Using my Silhouette Cameo I cut out a hen with two chicks. 2. Then I traced around the cut-outs onto my board… 3. …then painted. But I didn’t like how the hen and chicks blended in with the background. You can’t really tell from the picture above but the contrast wasn’t enough to really make them stand out like I wanted.  So I primed the whole board for repainting. 4….

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Sprucing Up the Chicken Coop

You never know what interesting strange thing I might be interested in next.  Today it’s chicken coop art. Specifically this picture inspired me to bring some color to our coop. Repurposed for Life Oh, the possibilities of signs… Etsy Etsy This is too funny. Etsy So guess what I’m working on? Art for my little hen house. Every project is a learning project (ahem) and I’ve learned on this one, too. Currently, the piece of wood I’m painting on is sitting with a fresh coat of primer after having been used to cover my first attempt at painting. Sometimes it’s the little things that get me excited but I’m really having fun with this one.

Raising Boys in the Country

Eighteen years ago we moved out to this somewhat, mostly completely private spot of land to raise our family. We’ve had our times.  One hundred twenty-two sticks of dynamite had to be used for the building site and rocky land does not make for a good septic system.  Being off-grid you have to learn the proper set-up for alternate energy, and when your well goes dry you have to be prepared to drill in a new location.  Life here in the sticks can be challenging sometimes. {real-life cowboys} But If we had to choose again, we would choose where we are.  We’re spoiled now.  If we had a neighbor within shouting distance, we’d probably be like the pioneers of old – wanting to head out…

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EXPO Time! Loading Up the Animals

The 4-H EXPO Show & Sale is here once again!  Serenity & Justus are both showing an animal.  This is Justus’s first year.  Last year Serenity’s lamb died a month before the show and so she sewed 2 aprons for the show & auction.  Thankfully, her lamb did great this year.   Yesterday they loaded their animals. Our big fat cat (not fat on mice!) relaxin’. The pig, after much coercion, finally went into the trailer. Audrey was adorable – running around helping where she could.  Here she’s getting some water for the pig to cool it off after it’s strenuous walk up the plank into the trailer. Loaded and ready to go. Today Justus shows his pig and tomorrow Serenity shows her lamb. It…

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Butchering Chickens at the Farm

I felt like a real farm girl Saturday.  Let me tell you all about it (well maybe not all, that would be a bit too unpleasant) About 6 months ago I did something I hope I’m smart enough to never do again.  I ordered a straight run of chicks.  A straight run simply means I purchased a bunch of chicks and I wouldn’t know tell they got older if they would be hens or roosters. I was buying these chicks to resell once they became older to people at our church who want meat that’s not soft like what we buy from the store. They’re from the Phillipines and Africa and they want their chicken to be more chewy. But I didn’t feel good about…

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I have wanted to write this post for months because I am quite excited about the thought of growing a garden year-round.  Never mind the fact that I am not entirely successful with one season, I want to grow in all 4 seasons. 🙂 This past winter I decided to experiment with an idea I had read about in Eliot Coleman’s book The Winter Harvest Handbook:  Year Round Vegetable Production Using Deep Organic Techniques and Unheated Greenhouses. Eliot Colman lives in Maine and has produced organic crops commercially for several years. I haven’t read the book from cover to cover but what I did gather was that you can harvest cold-weather vegetables in the middle of winter with an unheated greenhouse. (I really did read…

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A Backyard Illinois Garden

Leaving Ohio for several days, Seth and Serenity went to Illinois to visit my mom and dad and I just had to show you their garden.  This garden isn’t a gazillion flowers but an edible garden and one that I find lovely as well.     My dad, never one to do anything small, planted a garden that was probably almost an acre in size, just for the two of them.  Of course, there was so much produce that mom would not/could not let go to waste that she ended up canning and freezing enough to feed her 3 daughters and their families.  Whenever I can produce (which is not frequently), I always think of mom and marvel that she had the strength to do it.  Amazing lady! Dad has always loved…

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How a Family Started Growing Flowers by the Thousands

Do you know what it’s like to have your daughter be gone for a very long time?  Seth and Serenity arrived home yesterday after being in Ohio for 2 1/2 weeks. I don’t think Serenity has ever been gone that long before and it is wonderful to have her back!  I’m a little more used to Seth coming and going since he graduated from high school 4 years ago. Since he graduated he’s enjoyed learning new skills by travelling to where people need him for a season.  But even though we’re used to him being gone more, it was still great to see him yesterday. If you can believe it, he’s already gone – him and Wesley left last night for a deer hunt. (What?!) Because of my…

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An Update on My Gorgeous and Fruitful Garden

I thought it was about time for an update on the farm. My gorgeous and fruitful garden that I planted May 25 has been producing for a short while. I don’t feel that it has produced as much as it should have but my kids think I ought to be pleased. My Mormon neighbor (aren’t they supposed to be good gardeners?) told me all her tomatoes died this year because of the heat. Mine are all living, so I guess I should be quite grateful and thankful! It is so pleasing to walk out to the garden with my little basket and gather bunches of mint for tea or to gather tomatoes as they ripen from day to day, or to pick green beans for supper (I’m…

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The Start of My Gorgeous & Fruitful Garden

I finally got the garden all planted… well, mostly.  All that will probably get done this year.  With Zach gone, it fell to me to be the Master Gardener around here.  I really should take a lesson from Lily (have you read her blog Bountiful Blessings yet?  if not, you should) and get my kids to work with me.  Justus & Audrey did for a while but I think it would be better if we did the whole garden all together. I find the garden to be so soothing and I’m hoping it will be rewarding me with bushels of veggies in several weeks. I picture something like Lily’s garden…   or the Strite’s garden they have in their greenhouse… Beautiful but sadly, my garden may look like…

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Hatching Chicks from Our Incubator

We have baby chicks! I mentioned that we  (as much time as I have spent researching and checking on those babies, I feel like it’s mine)  the kids had purchased an incubator.  Here’s a quick synopsis of what happened from the time we put the eggs into the incubator… till they hatched!  I placed 10 eggs into the ‘bator on April 13 and let the egg turner do its thing which was to rotate the eggs from side to side for the first 18 days.  I wrote the date on the eggs but since realized that it was pretty pointless.  When the 18 days were up I removed the automatic egg turner and placed the eggs onto the metal screen which is on the bottom of the incubator.   After I…

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And the Award Goes to… Serenity!

It was another bad-weather day at EXPO.  The weather turned cold and it poured rain.  Mud, mud, mud!  Thankfully, Justus brought his mud boots because he needed them – but it wasn’t enough to just walk in the mud and smoosh it around, he had to scoop it up in his hands and watch it ooze.  No picture, but it was quite a sight. Wesley didn’t place but he did very well.  For showmanship he placed 3rd in his class beat by two other girls that are in our club.  Wesley and Molly, who’s on the far right, used to always be neck and neck in showmanship and one or the other would win 1st or 2nd place but for the last few years, Molly’s pulled…

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New Farm Additions – Lamb, Pig and Kids

A little update on what’s happening here on the farm. Our mama goats have kidded. The little kids are the cutest things and we have 6 that were born in November.   Serenity got her lamb for 4-H in October.     Wesley now has his 4-H pig, too… brought home in a garbage can turned on its side and with the lid tied down with a bungee cord.  Yea, we’re a little unorthodox sometimes. 🙂 But he seemed quite content.   Mom and Dad arrived in town Friday night so you might be seeing a little less of me this week. 🙂      

A few days before Zachary’s accident, we went and checked on his bees.  I’ve been taking care of them since he’s now working in Sierra Vista.  I have to give them sugar syrup every day since Zachary purchased his bees after the nectar flow in the Spring. If you take all their honey, if there’s not a good nectar flow or if you miss it when you first buy your bees like we did, you have to give them food, or they’ll die. Both hives are doing well. Hive #1 had a lot of stores (food being stored up for hard times) and quite a bit of capped brood which means, bees in the making.   Notice the honey stored up in these cells?   This is…

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Need a Reasonable Source for Canning Supplies?

I am really excited about this.  I just learned from Jill at The Prairie Homestead that Azure Standard sells jars – gallon jars and canning jars.  They also sell canning lids and rings and at very reasonable prices with no shipping, I might add. You can buy wide-mouth canning 432 lids (w/out the ring) for about $.24 each.  They have regular mouth lids as well for $.16 each. I know if you live in the east in Mennonite country, you are able to get rings for a reasonable amount.  The last ones someone picked up for me cost about $.10 each but since I live in Arizona, that option is not too readily available, no? Wide mouth quart jars are selling for about $1 each and regular…

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The Blister Beetle Has Arrived

Every year around this time, a black beetle shows up on some weeds in our yard.  This portends the arrival of many more of its kind.  Our garden seems to be a favorite place to fill up their little stomachs and they don’t waste any time but get right to work – decimating an entire tomato plant in just a few days. This year I am determined that they will not get my 4 beautiful tomato plants so as soon as I saw the beetles had arrived I became proactive and covered my tomato plants with row cover.  Going out to the garden yesterday I found the little pests on my bean plants.  Not good.  Not good at all.  I then started catching them in a cup and feeding them to my chickens. …

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