Thursday, September 25, 2014

Friday Photos from the Farm #5

Welcome back! I hope you all had a wonderful week and learned a lot at school!

I had a fun week! I learned how to post videos for you to watch when you visit. Did you know adults like to learn new things, too! When you finish going to school, I hope you will keep learning for your whole life because it's so much fun to learn new things. Your brain is like a muscle, too. If you keep learning, your brain will stay healthy. You're teacher likes to learn new things, too!

Here are two videos that I took a few weeks ago. The first video shows the chicks following their mother. Chicks are smart because they follow their mother. They know that they might get hurt or lost if they don't follow her.

At the very beginning of the video the mother hen is looking around checking to make sure it is safe. Listen for the other sounds you hear, too! I hope you hear one of the goats in the background.


In the next video you will see the mother hen scratching in the dirt. She's looking for food for her chicks, and she's teaching them where to eat. Listen for the goat in the background. The loud one is Penny, the quiet one is Izzy. At the top of the video you can see Stew's black legs. Stew is our lamb. I'll post more about Stew another time.


What things are the same on the mother hen and the chicks?

What things are different?

Did you remember that I was going to show you how I make cheese? I thought so. Your teacher told me you are all smart and very good at remembering the things she teaches you.

Watch what happens to the milk as it changes from milk to cheese.

This is two gallons of milk. I have to heat it up until it is about 90 degrees. That's about as warm as a summer day. 

This is called starter. There isn't very much. It's a little bit like dried yogurt.

This is rennet. It is a little bit like gelatin. It makes the milk firm.

After I add the starter and a little bit of rennet, I have to wait for a whole hour! After an hour the milk looks like soft jello.

I use the long knife to cut it into small pieces. Now it's called curds and whey. I heard you read all about Little Miss Muffett. I have to stir the pot and heat the curds and whey until everything in the pot gets a little bit warmer, about 95 degrees. 95 degrees feels like a hot summer day.

After a while, I have to drain the extra whey. This is what it looks like in the pot. Wow! Do you see how much less there is in the pot?

Two gallons of milk will make 2 pounds of cheese. Do you know what two pounds of butter look like? It's about the same size, but the cheese turns out a different shape.

Next I pour the curds into a special bag and put the bag in the white cylinder. There are weights that hang off the press on the right side, but you can't see them in the picture. The piece of wood presses down on the cheese inside the white cylinder. I press the cheese for about 6 hours to get more of the whey out, and to make the cheese firm.
6 hours is about the same amount of time you are in school for a regular day.

Yum! This is my cheese!

This kind of cheese is called Queso Fresco. We can eat it right away. Some kinds of cheese we eat as soon as it comes out of the press.

Some kinds of cheese we have to package and put away for a few months.

If I make Gouda I have to put it away for at least 3 months in a cool, moist place. That's called 'aging'. It makes the cheese taste wonderful!

Do you like cheese?

What is your favorite kind of cheese?

What color is your favorite kind of cheese?

Next week I'll show you what the barn looks like. Your teacher told me that you are learning about maps right now. I'll make a map of the barn so you can see which part of the barn each of the animals use. I'll show you where the food is stored for the animals, too.

Pay attention to your teacher as she teaches you about maps. That will make it much easier to understand what our barn looks like.

Would you send me a picture of what you are doing today?

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Friday Photos from the Farm #4

Welcome back!

This week I was sick. Do you know what happens on a farm when someone is sick?

The same thing that happens every other day.

The animals are hungry and need to be fed. They need clean water, too.

The goats still need to be milked.

All the chores still need to be done!

No resting in bed just because I'm sick!


Last week I promised to show you some pictures of our dog and some pictures of the ducks.

First I thought you might like to see how the chicks are growing. They are starting to get tiny feathers on their wings this week! They still follow their mama around so they stay safe and can find food and water.

Back in May while you were just finishing Kindergarten our mama duck hatched out some eggs. Do you see the fuzzy ducklings? The mama duck is the black and white one. The daddy duck (called a drake) is the big white one. 

Here is a picture of them this week! They are about 5 months old now and look like adult ducks. What are things that look the same on the drake, the duck, and the young ducks?
What are some things that look different on the ducks?
Who is leading the line of ducks?

Here is Matt and his dog, Miles. His name is Miles because he has 'miles of smiles.'
He is always happy!

Miles reminds us of Dug from the movie, "Up!" He loves everyone he meets,
and he has a big, black nose.

Do you think they look alike?

These are the pumpkins that have been growing in our garden this year.
Some are small pumpkins. We will use those to make pie!
There are two big pumpkins. We will carve those for Halloween!

I thought you would like a silly picture of our goat, Clover. Her tongue is always hanging out when she's happy! What a funny goat!

Thanks for visiting again!

Next week I'll show you what it looks like to make cheese!

Make sure you ask your teacher good questions and I will do my best to answer them.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Friday Photos from the Farm #3

Welcome back! I'm so glad you came back to visit!

Here are the three turkeys on our farm. They all look the same, don't they! Their names are Tender, Juicy, and Drumstick.

We think their heads are ugly! But they do have bright colors, don't they! Did you get the feathers I sent? They all come from a turkey and they are so different!

Someone wanted to see a picture of they boy that takes care of the animals. We both work together because it's a lot of work for one person. This is Matt, he loves goats! These are two of his favorite goats. Do you remember their names?

Someone asked for a photo of our steer. This is what he looks like. His name is Arby's. He is a nice steer, and he is really big! He thinks he is a big dog and likes to play with people, but he weighs almost as much as a small car, so that's much too big to let him play with people!
He has a very big tongue that he likes to lick people with! YUCK!!
Almost every barn has a cat. Our barn has a cat named Midnight. She isn't always friendly to people. She has one responsibility.... she keeps the mice away. She does a great job because we don't have very many mice in our barn. Mice get into the hay and make a mess. They eat the grain and other food that we buy for the farm animals. We don't want mice in our barn!
I thought you might like to see a hen that is laying an egg. Hens like to share nests. This hen is the last one to lay an egg in this nest this morning. Can you see the different color eggs underneath her?

Here are the eggs I collected this morning. There are brown and green eggs. Sometimes we collect a blue egg. One of the brown hens lays blue eggs!
Do you see the giant egg towards the front of the basket? That is a duck egg! We love duck eggs!
Here is the hen and her chicks. There are five chicks in the grass. Can you see them? There are two grey chicks, two yellow chicks, and one that is black and brown.
Next week I'll send a photo of Matt's dog and some photos of our ducks.

Have a nice week!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Friday Photos from the Farm #2

I started a new project with my daughter who teaches First Grade. It's called Friday Photo from the Farm.

Each week I send a few photos from the farm with a few words about the animals or whatever I decided to take a photo of that week.

Here is a link to the standards I am following. Scroll to the bottom of the page for Standard 4.

I'll be posting on Thursday for anyone who would like to follow along and prep for Friday.

Here is what I sent the First Graders today!

Here are the dairy goats waiting to come in for breakfast. The white ones get milked each morning, but the brown one is ‘dry’. Dry means that she isn’t giving milk right now. She still gets some grain and vitamins for breakfast, just like the other three. Their names (from left to right) are Misty, Annie, Clover, and Sandy. Sandy is a goofball!

This is Penny. She is Sandy’s ‘kid’. A kid is a baby goat. She is about 4 months old. She doesn't look very much like her mother, does she? I think the only thing that looks the same are the shape of their ears. What do you think looks the same or different? Penny's sire (dad) was brown, just like Penny! Penny's grand-dam (grandmother) is Clover.

This is Izzy. She was named after our neighbor’s daughter. Izzy is Misty’s kid. Izzy and Misty look almost like twins! Izzy's sire (dad) is white and has a curly coat.
Penny and Izzy sleep in a stall away from their dams (their mamas) so that we can have milk in the morning.

This is what milk looks like in the bucket right after I milk the goats in the morning. Annie filled up the bucket for me today! The white bucket behind the steel bucket has milk from Misty. I haven’t milked Sandy, yet. She gives about half a bucket full of milk.

What would you do with 2 gallons of milk every morning?

Next week I’ll send you pictures of the turkeys, and another picture of how the chicks are growing.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Friday Photos from the Farm #1

These chicks were born Sunday (8/24), Monday (8/25), and Tuesday (8/26). Most chicks are hatched in the spring. This hen decided that fall would be a good time to hatch eggs.

This photo shows the hen teaching her chicks to drink from a puddle. She has a special cluck that tells them to come take a drink. If she finds something good to eat she pecks it into tiny pieces and calls her chicks to come and eat.

These chicks were not paying attention and wandered away from their mother hen. They got too cold and had to be warmed up with a special light. After a few hours they were feeling much better and went back out with the rest of their brothers and sisters.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

New Chicks 2014

We got chicks again this year. The older hens are 3 or more years old. They didn't lay through the winter so we got rid of most of them. A few were processed and many went to a woman who brings them to ranchers in the spring. Apparently there are ranchers and hobby farms that want older hens and ducks in their pastures to eat the bugs. They don't want to feed them much, they don't want to pay much for them, and they don't care if they get eggs.

We got new chicks on February 21. I wanted some cochins because they are so gentle and easy-going. They aren't great layers, but I'm not interested in having White Leghorns unless someone gives them to us. They are too excitable!

Our little flock includes 4 Buff Cochins, 4 Plymouth Rocks (or Barred Rocks), 4 Amerucaunas, and 3 Blue Silkies. There were 4 Silkies, but one died.

We've still got our Roo that's a mix of Arucana and I don't know what else, and 4 older hens that started laying now that spring is here. One is an Arucana so we get blue eggs, one is a mixed Arucana and she lays an olive colored egg, one Buff Orpington, and one Rhode Island Red.

Our Buff Cochins. Vet2Be said he likes this bird because they are so calm and easy to catch and put into the coop. We usually find them under the coop at bed-time instead of inside the coop.

One of the Barred Rocks. She's a pretty bird!
When they all start laying this fall we will have enough eggs to feed our little family, plus Blondie and her husband; and Spunky, her husband, and their son.

I turned into an 'egg snob' after having chickens. I have a hard time eating store bought eggs now. The fresh ones that have been raised on pasture taste so much better!

Just a side note on what free-range means:

In the United States, USDA free range regulations currently apply only to poultry and indicate that the animal has been allowed access to the outside. The USDA regulations do not specify the quality or size of the outside range nor the duration of time an animal must have access to the outside.

The term "free range" is mainly used as a marketing term rather than a husbandry term, meaning something on the order of, "low stocking density," "pasture-raised," "grass-fed," "old-fashioned," "humanely raised," etc.

There have been proposals to regulate by the USDA the labeling of products as free range within the United States. As of now what constitutes raising an animal free range is entirely decided by the producer of that product. (Wikipedia)

When you buy 'free-range' chicken eggs in the store, you may not be getting what you think you are getting.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Kidding 2014

We only bred two goats out of four this year, Annie and Sandy.

Clover is at least 12, so we didn't want to chance loosing her. It would be hard on her to have kids this late in life.

Misty was so sick from mastitis last year that we wanted to give her a year break before we bred her again. We'll breed her this fall. She only has half an udder, so she only gives about 3 lbs (1 1/2 quarts) of milk each day.

Annie kidded on April 8 this year. She had a beautiful buckling that is healthy and strong. She also had a still-born doeling. We have no idea what happened. There was no decay, so it hadn't been dead long.

He was disbudded on April 14th so he's not as cute now as he was right after he was born.
Annie is giving almost a gallon a day. She's healthy and strong and doing well, as always. She's been one of our most reliable goats.

Sandy should kid out the end of May. We're not sure exactly what date she was bred, so we're just guessing by how she looks. Not very good animal husbandry on our part, but sometimes other things get in the way of writing things down when we should.

If you have any name suggestions for the buckling, please leave it in the comments section!