Friday, October 14, 2016

Fall Cleaning

Welcome back!

Do you remember how River likes to get herself stuck in places?
She got herself stuck in the feeder yesterday.
Silly River!

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Do you remember the new chicks from the beginning of school?

They are growing up. Their mama hen is a banty. A banty is a small chicken. You may have a small dog, and your neighbor may have a large dog. Lots of animals have large and small breeds or types.

Look how big the chicks are! They are as big as their mama hen.
The mama hen is the grey one in the front. She still takes care of the chicks.
She shows them where food is, and she keeps them warm at night by sleeping near them.

When the chicks are grown up they will be much bigger than their mama hen.
That's because she didn't lay the eggs they hatched from,
she only sat on them and hatched them out.

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If you think it's fun to live on a farm, you're right. 

If you think there are times when it isn't fun to live on a farm, you're right, too!

It's fall on the farm. It doesn't matter what season it is, there is always a lot of work to do. In the fall we do a lot of cleaning and repairing. We want to make sure things last through the winter weather. We want to make sure that the animals have clean, dry bedding (that's the stuff we put on the floor of the barn). I'm sure you would rather sleep in a dry bed than a wet bed!
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Last week it was time to clean the chicken pen. Eeeeewwwww!

This is what it looks like under the chicken pen after a summer.
We clean it in the spring, and again in the fall.
If you are saying, "Ewwwww, yuck!" right now.
I don't blame you!
It's pretty yucky!
Chickens poop where they sleep so this is a summer's worth of poop under their roosts.
(A roost is a place where a chicken sleeps. They sleep on their feet, not laying down.)

Here's the first wheelbarrow of poop.

Here's the second wheelbarrow full.
How many wheelbarrows do you think I filled and dumped in all?

Wheelbarrow three.

Wheelbarrow four.

How many piles do you see?
How many full wheelbarrow pictures did I forget to take?
If you said there are five piles and only four pictures of wheelbarrows, you are right.
I was getting tired and forgot to take a picture.

I don't spread out the piles. The chickens help with that. Over the next week they scratched through the piles and they are quite flat now.

Here's what the same spot looks like all clean.
Yes, I even brush the spiderwebs and dirt off the walls.
What tools did I use to clean the pen?

I add a bale of shavings underneath because shavings make it easier to clean.
You couldn't tell in the wheelbarrows, but we put a bale of shavings underneath in the spring.

This is what the shavings look like when they are spread out a bit.
Here's what the coop looks like when it's back in place for the winter.
The tarp keeps the wind away from the chickens.
The wire cage keeps the raccoons and mink away from the chickens.
How long do you think it took me to do all that work?

It took me about 2 1/2 hours.

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I had to replace hinges on the shed door this week, too.
This hinge was broken and wasn't holding the door up.
I had to screw the boards in the door back together,
and replace the hinges.
I put two hinges on that look like this one.
They are much stronger and will last longer than the old ones.
Now the door works much better!

I did a lot of other work this week getting things ready for the winter.
I had a little bit of help with some things, but I did the chicken pen, and the shed door by myself.

Phew! That was a lot of work for one person!
Do you do hard things all by yourself?

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Your teacher told me that some of you missed last week and were so sad about it! I'm sure you had a wonderful time doing what you were doing.

She asked that I post one more picture of Johnny Appleseed Day for you.

It looks like everyone enjoyed their drink of cider!

I hope you are learning how to work hard, and to do things that aren't always fun. It's a great feeling to finish a job whether you liked the job, or not!

We all have things we don't like to do. The best thing is to just get to work and do it!

Friday, October 7, 2016

Apple Cider Day

Welcome back!

It was so much fun to visit you last week. Thanks for inviting me to share Johnny Appleseed Day with you.

First I have a few funny pictures from the farm.

Whenever we try to get a picture of Echo she sticks her nose in the camera!
It looks like she has a big nose. Matt took this photo and we thought it was so funny!
If you were going to write a story about this picture, how would your story start?
What would happen in your story?

Do you have a brother or sister who always gets themselves stuck or in trouble?
This is River.
She manages to get herself stuck in gates inside the barn....

and outside the barn.
She is a sweet, fun, friendly goat.
But she sure knows how to get herself into trouble!

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Last week my family loaded up the apple cider press, the grinder, and all the apples
so we could come visit you and show you how we make apple cider.

After getting all set up we let each child put an apple in the grinder and turn the handle.
Sometimes it was easy to turn the handle, and sometimes it was really hard!

Do you see the rocks on the table that holds the grinder? That's because one of the boards started coming loose so Matt had a great idea to use two rocks to hold the board in place. It worked!

The next day we made the rest of the apples into cider. This is what it looks like when the grinder is going.

When we have enough apples ground we put them in the press.
Sorry, we don't have any pictures of what it looks like pressing the apples.

After the apples are pressed, and the cider comes through the hose, we get to taste it!

I only have a few pictures of you tasting because Mrs. Deitz was only able to stay for a little while to take pictures. Maybe next year we'll have a parent volunteer come to help take pictures of all of you enjoying the delicious, fresh cider!

We pressed about 6 gallons while we were with you on Friday.

After you left it took us about 2 hours to clean up, pack up the equipment, and head for home. I got home about 5:30 that afternoon. That's a long day!

On Saturday we pressed all the rest of the apples into cider. We pressed 18 gallons of cider that day. We are very grateful that the neighbors shared so many apples with us. And we are very, very glad that so many of you brought apples, too. If we put different kinds of apples into the cider, the cider tastes so much better.

I think that is just like people. The more different kinds of people that work together, the better the group becomes.

What happens to all the peels and chunks that are left over from making cider?

We bring them home and share some of them with the animals. The cows, goats, and chickens all love the leftovers. We put the rest in the mulch pile so it will turn into good dirt for the garden. We don't throw the peels and leftovers away, they all go to good use!

Thank you for letting me come and show you how we make cider. I hope you liked it.

Have a great week!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Lots of Milk!

Welcome back!

I hope you had a wonderful week! We did a lot of work around here. We always work hard, but it seems that when fall is on the way we do more work. We try to get the stalls cleaned, the chicken pen cleaned, and garbage picked up out of the pasture and other areas. We get new animals, and sell the ones we don't want anymore. We make sure all the animals have good shelter for the winter, and that the fences are in good repair.

Today I thought I would show you a little bit more about Echo and what the milker looks like when it's milking her.

Often I'm the only one out in the barn milking. Bryon and Matt are out and about doing other chores so I'm the one that has to get the milker on all by myself.
There are four inflations (those are the silver tubes) that need to be put on all four of Echo's teats.

This is what it looks like when the pulsator is going.
That's a lot of milk that's being sucked into the tank!

While the milk machine is milking Echo I hand milk the goats. The milker milks out four gallons of milk from Echo a little bit faster than I can milk one gallon of milk from Matt's goat, Annie.

When I'm done I filter the milk and put it in gallon jugs, cool it a little bit in ice water, and then put it in the refrigerator.

How many gallons of milk are in the refrigerator today? 
Are they all from one day? 

Somedays I don't put the milk in the refrigerator. Either Bryon or I separate the cream from the milk. 

The milk goes into the big container in the sink.
The cream goes into the jar.
I love to watch the milk and cream in the two plastic pieces
near the middle of the milker.

I got almost 2 quarts of cream from 4 1/2 gallons of milk.
The jar in the middle is a quart jar.
The jars on either side are pint jars.
Two pint jars hold the same amount as one quart jar.
That may not seem like a lot of cream but our cream is
so thick that you have to scoop it out with a spoon or a knife!
It doesn't pour out of a container like the cream from the store.

Last week I showed you the squeaky cheese that Quin and I made. Your teacher said you read a poem last week about Little Miss Muffet. I thought you would like to see what curds and whey look like together.

The curds are in the spoon.
The whey is the liquid in the pan.
I give some of the whey to the chickens.
Most of the whey goes on the garden.
Whey makes good fertilizer and helps the garden grow!

Quin loves curds! Whenever we make cheese he always
wants a little bowl filled with soft curds to eat.

We got a new animal this week! His name is Sully.

Sully is 8 years old.
That's older than most First Graders!
He's a good cat.
He loves living on a farm.

Can you tell this is his favorite chair?
He doesn't like the dogs very much so he finds a spot in the house
where he can sit and relax with out the dogs bothering him.

Maybe you are wondering why we didn't get a kitten. We love kittens, but there are so many older cats that need a home. Sully's old owner was moving to another place that doesn't allow cats so he wanted to find a new home for his furry friend. He thought Sully would love living on a farm instead of living in an apartment. 

Do you think Sully looks happy?

If you have to write a story, maybe you can write a story about Sully! Or about any of the other animals on the farm! 

If you write a story about the farm I would love to read it!

Have a great week filled with learning!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Hay Shelter Is Up!

Welcome back!

I hope you had a wonderful week and learned a lot of new things.

We've been busy getting ready for winter on the farm. That means we need to get a lot of hay! We needed a new place to keep the hay dry.

The frame has been up since last fall, but we haven't had time to get the rest of it finished.

We used clips to hold the back of the shelter on.

Matt is finishing the 'earth anchors.'
Earth anchors are a way to hold the metal frame from blowing away.
The white tarp at the bottom of the photo is the roof and sides of the shelter.

We got the tarp on. It took all four of us to pull it over the top of the frame.
After we got the tarp over we clipped both ends
and used straps to hold the sides to the frame.

Here comes the hay!
We use a tractor to lift those big bales and put them where we store them.

We have four big bales inside the barn.

Two bales are in. You can see how long the shelter is.

There are 14 bales of hay in the shelter.
We covered the end with a tarp so they hay stays dry.
How many bales of hay did we get for the animals?

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We made cheese this week, too!

Quin is cutting the curd for me. It's one of his favorite jobs.

We made Squeaky Cheese!

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We have turkeys on our farm, too!
The big, brown one on the left is a Tom Turkey.
A Tom is a boy turkey.
The two turkeys on the right are hens.
Girl turkeys are called hens, just like girl chickens.
Do you see the chicken in the photo?
That chicken thinks she's a turkey because one of the hen turkeys 
sat on some chicken eggs.
That chicken is the one that hatched! 

Do you see the small chickens on the left?
They were hatched out of their eggs on August 11. They are about 5 weeks old.

The chicks still sleep with their mother hens to stay safe and warm at night.

Sometimes the chicks are hard to see when the mother hen is keeping them warm!

This his our crazy hen. She likes people.
She came to visit me while I was sitting on the patio.

We also have one duck.
She lays a lot of eggs in the spring.
Chickens lay eggs almost all year.
Most ducks only lay eggs in the spring.

Thanks for stopping by, I hope you have a wonderful week!

If you have any questions, please write me a note or leave your question in the comments below.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Welcome, First Graders!

Hello! I hope you are enjoying your new school year.

There is lots to learn this year, for you and for me!

I love to learn new things even when it's hard work. We learn often learn new things on the farm and when we are working at our other jobs.

Today is your first visit if you are in First Grade. Some of you may be back from last year, too! Welcome!

You are always welcome to ask questions by writing me notes, or by leaving a question in the comment section after the post. I do my best to answer them.

The name of our farm is Welcome Home Farm because we love to welcome new animals and new visitors. We hope everyone who visits is happy while they are here.

The first thing I do when I go out to the barn in the morning to start my chores is to let out the chickens.

How many chickens did you count?

I say hi to Echo, our milk cow.

Next I give the goats some vitamins. Clover loves hers! When Clover is happy her tongue sticks out! Clover is the brown goat.

I get the milker hooked up and I start milking Echo. I'll show you more about that another day.

Do you see the chicken? She comes in every morning to clean up the bits of grain that Echo drops while she's eating her breakfast.

Then I milk the goats.

This is what Annie looks like before I milk her.

This is what Annie looks like after I milk her.
She gives about 1 gallon of milk each morning.

I give the cat a little drink of goat milk.
She waits patiently under the milk stand for her treat every morning!

These are two baby goats. They have grown so much this summer! They were born in the spring.
Serenity is the goat on the left. River is the goat on the right.
They stay with Echo now so they don't drink milk from their mothers anymore.
I hope you enjoyed your first visit today. I'll introduce you to more animals next week.

Have a week full of learning and adventure!