Friday, January 12, 2018

Mud and Yuck!

We usually have snow in January. This year we have rain and mud in January.

It's nice that we can be outside without heavy jackets all the time. It's nice that we can be outside more often because it isn't as cold as usual.

It's awful to work in the barn with all the mud and muck! All the rain has made muddy spots where the animals live.

Look at all the water and mud.
so mucky that we always have to wear boots.

We also have to dig small drainage ditches so the water will drain away from the barn.
Can you see the small stream?

We also have to clean out Echo's stall and her pen outside the barn
every single day or the muck builds up 
so deep that we can't walk
through it, and Echo won't walk through it.

All the muck and mud that we dig out of the stall and the front
of the barn gets dumped into the garden.
Do you see Echo in the photo? I feed her out in this pen when the weather isn't rainy so she doesn't have to stand in the mud when she eats.

All the muck and mud is smelly if it sits in the stalls and the barn. It's not good for animal hooves for them to stand in the mud, either.

Mud and muck is really good for gardens! All of the mud and muck is like vitamins for garden plants! I think it's very interesting and nice that muck and mud is good in one place on the farm, but not good in another place on the farm.

This January we've had a lot of rain. Last January we had snow.
This is a photo from January 2017

JJ and Scout love the snow. This year they haven't had a chance to play in the snow.

Instead JJ is sneaking out of the fence, and then sneaking back in!
Matthew will be fixing the low spot under the fence so she can't sneak out.

JJ and Scout are very smart dogs. Sometimes that is a bad thing because they can figure out how to get outside a fence. We really like how smart they are because they learn things so quickly and can be a real help around the farm.

*     *     *     *     *
I've been thinking about the garden already. It's almost time to plant seeds inside so the small plants are ready to put in the garden in June. Are you thinking and planning ahead for Spring and Summer? Farmers and ranchers are always thinking ahead a few months. We are always thinking about when to plant our garden, when kids and calves will be born, will we have enough water to grow a garden this year, do we have enough feed and hay for the animals?

Your teachers have to plan ahead, too! They are already thinking about what to teach next week, and next month! They are thinking about what needs to be copied next week and what activities they will be doing with you.

What do you think you will be doing next week? Are you still doing something kind for someone else every day? What can you do for someone this afternoon? What can you do for someone tomorrow? Can you do something that will make someone else happy?

Enjoy the nice weather and have fun playing outside at recess. Lots of fresh air and sunshine is so nice in the winter!

Remember to 
Do something kind 
for someone else
every day!

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Water in the Winter

It's cold outside!

Water is really important for animals. They need to have water to keep healthy. It's been very cold outside so their water freezes.

We use electric water heaters and electric buckets for the water.

Do you see the round piece of metal at the bottom of the bucket?
That is a heater that keeps the water warm enough that it doesn't freeze.
The animals are a little sloppy and they've dropped hay into their water.

This bucket has an electrical chord that plugs in.
The bucket has a heater inside the bottom, you can't see it
because it's enclosed inside the plastic.

This is a special hose.
The hose has a heater in it!
It keeps the water from freezing inside the hose.
That's important because if there is ice in the hose we can't use it.
If we can't use the hose then we have to carry buckets of water to fill all the barrels.
That's a lot of work! We would have to carry 14 or more buckets of water every day
to fill up all the barrels. 

Water is important for healthy animals. If they have enough clean food and water they can stay warm and healthy during the winter, even when they live in a barn with no heaters.

There is also a heater in the water that the chickens drink, but the chickens don't mind eating snow if they aren't in the pen. The cows, sheep, and goats don't like to eat snow or peck at ice to get their water so we make sure they always have water, not ice, in their barrels and buckets.

Heating water takes a lot of electricity so this year we put solar panels on
the roof of the barn. That should help keep our costs down.
We have a great place for the solar panels.
Not everyone has as nice a place for the solar panels as we do!

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Sunday, December 17, 2017

Answers for Your Questions

Thank you for sending me questions!

I really like it when you ask questions because that helps me know what kinds of things to write about.

We get this question a lot!
No, we do not have pigs.
Pigs are not allowed in Highland.
Some people think they are too smelly, and too noisy.

Sometimes we find garden snakes!
When I was cleaning out the chicken pen I found this little
snake under the nesting box where the chickens lay their eggs.

We get this question a lot, too!
We don't have horses.
Our neighbor has horses.

This is Carson.
He says hi to us every morning.
He likes the cow and the goats, too.
He likes to race our dogs up and down the fence row.
He is a very fast horse!

Thank you!
We think our chickens are cool, too.
I think they are funny to watch in the barn yard.

Yes, I can show you a video of the chickens.

This is what happens every morning when I open up the chicken pen.

How many chickens did you see?

How many gallons of milk do you see in the fridge?
Echo gives between 3 1/2 and 4 gallons of milk every morning. That is a lot of milk!

We milk Echo and the goats every day. It doesn't matter if it's cold or hot or raining or sunny. It doesn't matter if it's Christmas Day or New Years Day. It doesn't matter if we are tired because we stayed up late. We milk every day!

Thank you again for asking good questions! I hope you ask me more good questions. I would like to answer a question every week for you.

Here are some things to remember about asking questions:

  • I will only answer a question once. If someone asks the same question, I won't answer it.
  • Write clearly because if I can't read the question, I won't be able to answer it.

I hope you have a wonderful Christmas Break.

Remember to 
Do something kind 
for someone else
every day!

Friday, December 8, 2017

Animal Feeders

Do you remember the types of dishes and bowls and cups you used during Thanksgiving dinner? Some dishes were probably flat, some were more like bowls. Each bowl or dish is used on purpose to hold each type of food.

The animals on the farm have certain types of feeders, too. We use the word "feeder" for something that holds animal food.

This is the feeder on the milk stand.
It's called a 'hang over bucket' because it hangs on a bar or a piece of wood.
This is what it looks like with feed in it.
We don't wash the feeders very often. People need clean dishes, bowls, and cups to eat out of. Animals don't need to have their feeders cleaned that often.

This is Echo's 'hang over bucket'.
It's much bigger than the goats' bucket because Echo's head is much bigger!
This is the same size bucket that horses eat out of, too.

The chickens eat from a hanging feeder.
I pour the feed into the top and it fills a dish at the bottom.
The chickens are so messy that I put a rubber feeder underneath to catch all the food that falls out.
The chickens can still eat the food in the rubber feeder and it doesn't get wasted by falling all over the ground.

This is how we feed hay inside the stall.
The fence holds the hay and the goats can pull out what they want to eat.
We take the hay that's on the floor and bring it out to the chicken pen.
We put it inside their nesting boxes, and sometimes spread it on the ground.
The chickens love to eat the leftover hay.
This is the feeder we use for Echo and the little goats.
It's really a horse feeder, but Echo doesn't mind it.
We like to feed her outside because she always poops while she's eating!
We don't have to clean the stall as often if she poops outside.
The feeders are all under some sort of roof in the winter so the food doesn't
get spoiled by snow and rain.

What about water?

You drink from a cup or a bottle, but that doesn't work well for most animals.

The white part of the container is filled with water.
There is a float at the bottom so all the water doesn't spill out on the ground.
Look closely and you will see a black cord coming out of the top of the waterer.
That cord is attached to a heater that sits at the bottom of the bucket.

I'm sure you've noticed that there is a lot of ice on the playground, and maybe around your house. The animals can eat snow, but they like liquid water better. If they have enough water and food, and if they have a place to get out of the rain and snow, they stay warm without a furnace like we have in our homes.

The blue barrel, and the green barrel, both have electric heaters at the bottom.
You can see the chords plugged into the grey box on the post.
Echo, River, and Serenity use the green water barrel.
Misty, Clover, and Annie use the blue water barrel.
The hose also plugs in! It's hard to get water into the barrels if the hose is frozen. Someone was really smart and figured out a way to put a heating wire inside a hose so that farmers can use a hose in the winter instead of having to fill buckets of water, then dumping them into the barrel where the animals drink.

*     *     *     *     *     *

Every morning Scout, JJ, and Midnight like to have a treat in the barn.

JJ gets her sip of milk from an old plastic feeder on the floor.

Scout gets his sip of milk in an old metal pan near the milk stand.

Midnight gets her sip of milk in an old metal lid.

Bubbers used to love drinking out of a running faucet. 

Friday, December 1, 2017

Map of the Farm

Did you get to travel to someone's house for Thanksgiving? Are you going to someone's house during Christmas vacation?

When we drive somewhere the driver often has a GPS or phone that has a map to show them where to go so they don't get lost.

We use maps on the farm, too. When we have people do our chores they need to know where everything is, where each of the animals live, where to find the food, and where the gates are.

If you looked at our farm from an airplane, this is what you would see.

This is what a map of our farm would look like.
This is a map that we've used for people who come help on the farm.

There are a few differences from the airplane view and the map I drew because the photo is older. We've moved a few fences, added a fence, and added a hay barn. Can you see any other changes?

This is what it looks like when I walk out to the barn in the morning.
Right now the ground is covered with snow, not with grass.

The big white door is usually closed.
It's open so you can see inside the barn.
If I leave the door open all the time then Echo, River, and Serenity would make a mess inside.

There are two milk stands.
Do you recognize the blue hang over bucket?
Do you see the blue hose on the left?
It's a special hose that has a heater in it.
We plug it in in the winter so the water in the hose doesn't freeze.
We can use the hose to fill the water buckets around the farm even when there is ice on the ground.

This is what the right side of the barn looks like.
This is the south side of the barn.
You can see 3 stall doors.
The door closest in the picture is the stall where Echo, River, and Serenity sleep at night.
The middle and far doors are where Annie, Misty, and Clover sleep at night.
Stalls are like bedrooms for animals. They come inside when the weather is bad, and they come inside to sleep.
This is the back of the barn.
If I open the big door on the back, the bucks will come running inside.
Two big bales of hay weigh about the same as a small car! That's heavy!
It takes about 2 weeks for the animals to eat a whole bale of hay.
On the other side of the barn we keep grain in big, blue barrels.
We buy grain in bags. Do you see the two stacks of bags to the right of the blue barrels?
We store food for the animals just like you store food at home.
Do you see the white door? That's how we get into the chicken pen.
The chicken pen is under the roof.
The chickens need shelter from the weather just like the other animals.
And you can see our red tractor!
The little dog house is for the ducks.
They need shelter when it gets cold, too.
Sometimes they go into the chicken pen,
sometimes they like to get into the dog house.

Here is a map I drew of the inside of our barn.

I hope you enjoyed this tour of our farm!

Maps are very useful! The people who come take care of our animals while we are gone like having a map to see where all the animals are supposed to be. They like knowing where the food is, and where to find everything they need.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Stuck in the Fence

It's a stormy morning here on the farm.

It started hailing while I was finishing up with the milking.

Poor Annie was stuck in the fence this morning.
I don't know how long she was there.
She couldn't stand up for about 10 minutes after I got her out of the fence.
Matt had to come out and help me get her up. Matt is bigger and stronger than me.
Annie is really big so it's hard for me to move her myself.

She's in a stall with a heat lamp because she was shivering.
She is eating and drinking, and able to stand up.
She had some painkiller called Equiox.
I'll keep checking on her throughout the day. It's a cold, windy day so we want to make sure she stays warm and dry today. She will be fine, but it will probably be 2 weeks before she doesn't walk with a limp. Her back right hip is sore from being stuck.

Ronnie, the new turkey hen, is so friendly!
Quin and Xander love her.
*     *     *     *     *     *

Are you excited for Thanksgiving vacation next week?

Since you are thinking about all the yummy food you will be eating next week I thought it would be interesting for you to see what types of food the animals on our farm eat.

Your teacher has small baggies with the different kinds of food we feed the animals. You can see and smell the food as you look at the photos.

Nutrition is a big word. It means the way animals, plants, and humans take nutrients from food and use them for energy and growth.

If animals, plants, and humans (that's you!) have food that is good for them they grow strong and are healthy. They are able to perform well. That means they are able to do what they were meant to do. 

A milk goat that is given the right nutrition (food, vitamins, and minerals) is healthy and strong. She can give 1/2 - 1 gallon of milk each time I milk her.

A calf that is given the right nutrition is healthy and can grow into a big, strong steer. We don't have a calf right now, but we are hoping to get one sometime this year.

Chicks that are given the right nutrition are healthy and can grow into hens that will produce eggs. 

Chickens that are given the right nutrition are healthy and can produce eggs for our family.

Dogs that are healthy can run and play and learn new tricks. They have energy and can help us with the animals on the farm. 

Animals that have the right amount of food and water can stay warm in the winter.

Children that eat the right foods are usually healthy and grow properly. They can learn and do well in school. They can run and play at recess. Now you know why your mother tells you that you need to eat fruits and vegetables every day. That's why she tells you not to eat too many sweets.

People eat different foods to get proper nutrition and stay healthy. Animals need to eat the same things every day to get the proper nutrition and stay healthy. They don't need to eat different foods every day. Most animals will get sick if you change their food every day.

You will have many different types of food for Thanksgiving Dinner. The animals on our farm will have the same food they eat every day.

That may sound mean to you, but it is what is best for the animals. We like to do what will keep our animals healthy and strong!

This is cat food. 
You might know what cat food looks like if you have a cat. 
Cats need to have the same food every day or they may get sick.

This is dog food.
Some dogs eat too much food and get too fat! They are not healthy if they are fat.
Our dogs get fed about 1 cup of food for breakfast and 1 cup of food for dinner.
That is all they need to stay strong and healthy, so that is all they get.

This is called a 'grain blend.' 
If you look closely you can see different types of grain and some pellets in the food.
This is what we feed to the milk goats and Echo.
We never feed this type of feed to the bucks (boy goats). It isn't good for them.
We can feed a little bit of this to the chickens, ducks, and turkeys.

This is wild bird food. 
We have bird feeders on our farm. 

These are alfalfa pellets. 
They are made from alfalfa hay. We feed a little bit of this to the milk goats, Remi, and Echo. We don't feed them very much of this because we also feed them hay. 
We don't feed this to the bucks (boy goats).

These are Timothy hay pellets. This is what we feed to the bucks!
They don't get very much of this because we also give them hay.
This is called "Calf Manna."
If you guessed that we give this to calves, you are right!
We give it to any animal that needs more protein.
You probably eat meat and beans for protein. Protein helps you grow properly. 

Our animals don't eat meat but they need protein just like you do.
We feed Calf Manna to the milk goats and Echo.
Milk goats need protein and fat to make milk.

These are called lay pellets.
We feed them to the chickens and the turkeys. Lay pellets have protein, too!
Chickens need protein to stay warm and to make eggs.
Some people like to feed chickens 'mash.' It is made up of the same things that pellets are made of, but it looks like corn meal. It looks like the chick starter in the next photo, too.

We like pellets because it doesn't get wasted like the mash does. Chickens can make a mess. If their food is small it can get lost in the dirt when they peck it out of their feeder. Then it's wasted!

This is oat hay and alfalfa hay.
We feed this to the milk goats, the bucks, and Echo. 
These animals also eat grass in the pasture.
In the winter there isn't any good grass on the pasture so we make sure they have plenty of hay to eat.
Can you see the seeds in the hay? Those are oat seeds!
This is chick starter. 
It has the right nutrition for chicks to grow into chickens.
It also is small enough for the chicks to eat. They can't eat pellets like adult chickens can because their beaks aren't big enough yet.
*     *     *     *     *     *

Everyday we move Midnight's food because the chicken and the neighbor's kittens eat it.
Today we put it on the top of the hay stack.

Next week I will show you what the animal feeders look like. We have a hanging feeder for the chickens. The chicks have a special feeder for their food. The goats eat their hay out of a special feeder, so do the cows.

When you eat Thanksgiving Dinner this week look at the different types of dishes and bowls that the food is served in. Each dish is made to hold a different type of food. Bowls hold soup and liquids. Different size plates hold different types of foods.

Animals have feeders that hold their food just like you have bowls and dishes to hold your food!

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!