Friday, January 20, 2017

Ducks

Welcome back!

I know I was going to show you more about wool and my spinning wheel but Matt has been sick and I haven't had any help with the chores. Matt is good taking pictures and videos, too. Since he was sick there wasn't anyone to take a video of me spinning. I'll try again next week.

Sometimes things don't work out the way we planned so we change plans and do what we can.

We had snow this week, just like you!
I love it when it snows because it's so quiet when I head out to the barn in the morning.
It may be cold, but it feels a little cozy because we feel like we live out away from town.
We don't, we live in the middle of a very big town, next to a very busy road!
The snow quiets everything and it makes the farm feel peaceful.
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Guess what Stinky caught!
One reason we like having cats is that they can find and catch mice!
Mice are smelly, they carry diseases that will make you sick, and they make a mess when they get into food.
Good job, Stinky!
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You already know that a rooster sounds different because he crows, and hens cluck. Did you know that boy ducks and girl ducks sound different? Your mom and your dad have different voices, so do ducks!

The boy duck has a darker head, and the girl duck has a light colored head.


Listen closely and you can hear one duck that quacks, and one duck that has a quieter, funny sounding quack. Quin thinks that duck has a broken quacker!

He doesn't have a broken quacker, he's a boy duck! Boy ducks are called drakes. Girl ducks are called ducks. Watch and listen to the duck with the dark head, you'll hear his voice. Watch and listen to the duck with the light head, and you'll hear her voice. 

The next time you are at a park or a pond with ducks see if you can hear the ducks and the drakes. 

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Here is another new hen.
She is fluffy and black!
Her name is Lucy. I think she's pretty with all her fluffy feathers.

Lucy is drinking out of the waterer. It holds about 3 gallons of water so the chickens always have something to drink. It's always a good idea for the chickens and other animals to have water, but sometimes they are out of the coop and they don't feel like walking all the way back to get a drink.

What do you think a chicken does when it doesn't have water close by?

They eat some snow!

It's still important to make sure the animals always have water to drink, but animals are resourceful and they will eat snow if they don't have any water around. 

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Do you have a dog or a cat with a collar?
Do they have a tag on their collar to tell someone who to call if they get lost?
So do our goats!
Look closely at River's collar and you'll see part of my phone number.
If she ever gets out of the barn yard and gets lost, whoever finds her will have a phone number to call.
Goats can't talk, they can't tell someone where they belong or give someone a phone number.

I hope you have a phone number memorized so if you get lost whoever helps you can call your mom or dad.

I hope you have a great week! I hope you have some time to play in the snow!


Friday, January 13, 2017

Jake Attacks!

Welcome back!

I hope you've had a great week.

Did you figure out what we use all the poo for? If you thought that we use it in the garden, you're right. We have so much poo that we share it with other families that want it for their garden's, too.

Would you like to meet some new animals?

I thought so!

This is Storm.

This is Fern.

We don't usually name our chickens. Our friends are moving and so they gave us all their chickens because they can't take them to their new house. That's so sad!

These two chickens are really friendly! I love the fluffy feathers on their heads. They are Polish chickens. Chickens have different breeds just like dogs.


Do you see the cage wall? It's about half-way back in the chicken coop.
Chickens aren't very nice to new chickens. When we get new chickens we put them in the back and shut the little door between the two rooms in the coop. We make sure the new chickens have food and water in the back room. We keep them in the back room for two or three days.

Chickens aren't very smart, either. Once the old chickens wake up with the new chickens in the back two or three times they think the new chickens are part of the same flock. Then the old chickens won't pick on or beat up the new chickens.

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We have new ducks, too!
The ducks really belong to Quin and Xander but the ducks are happier in our barn yard than they were in the little chicken coop they were in.

Can you see the difference between the two ducks? What things are the same, and what things are different?

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Thank you for writing me questions! I think your handwriting is getting better.


Annie was born 25 March 2010.
Misty was born 26 March 2011.
River and Serenity were born 9 April 2016.
Can you use a calendar to find out how old they are?

Echo was born 10 February 2014.
She had her first calf on 25 April 2016.
How old is Echo? How old was she when she had her first baby?



Sometimes I wonder why we have lots of animals! We have lots of animals for a few reasons. We like the milk from the goats and the cow. We like fresh eggs, they taste better than eggs bought in a store. We like the things that we learn while we're working on the farm.

We like having animals because most children don't get to see what farm animals are like. Our neighbor children love to come over and visit the animals. Pre-schools, scouts, Activity Day girls, and families love to visit the farm, too. We love being able to share what we do with other people.

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I have some sad news, too.

We have to get rid of Jake, the duck. He was such a nice duck but he has turned into a bully. We can't keep a bully on the farm. It isn't safe for us, or our visitors. Jake will find a new home this weekend.

Can you see him attacking me?
I have layers of winter clothing on so it doesn't hurt. 
He has a strong beak, and long claws on his feet so he could hurt children that come to visit.
We found a new home for him on a farm that doesn't have visitors.
I'm sure he will be happy there.

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Here's a fun picture of Stew!
His coat is so thick that he doesn't mind being out in the snow.
His wool has something called 'lanolin' in it. It's an oil. Oil and water don't mix very well so the snow stays on Stew's back until it melts and drips off. He doesn't get very wet when it rains, either. The water can't stick to his fleece!

Next week I'll show you a little more about wool. I have a spinning wheel and some wool from our sheep. It's so much fun to spin wool into yarn!

Have a great week!

Friday, January 6, 2017

It's Cold!

Welcome back!

I hope you had a nice Christmas Break. We had a nice one, everyone in our family was home! That's the best present parents can get!

Thank you for sending me some questions. I love getting your questions because then I know what things you want me to tell you about.


I think this question says, "Do you have dogs?"
Yes, we have dogs. 
JJ just had a birthday on January 3rd.

Matt is JJ's favorite person in the world! She loves him!

She even likes to sleep on his bed with him!



Our dogs know how to herd the animals.
They know how to move animals from one area to another.
They keep an eye out for strangers at the barn gate, too.
Please send me more questions. Please use your best handwriting so I can read them.


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Dale is riding the goats again, so her leg is almost better!
She still limps a little bit, but she's strong enough to fly up and ride the goats again.

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Oh, my!
Matt forgot to collect the eggs last night.
It was so cold that they froze.
We have to throw the cracked eggs away because once they are
cracked all sorts of germs can get inside.
That might make us sick.
It was very, very cold last night!

It was so cold that our new frost-free hydrant froze. 
We were frustrated this morning because these aren't supposed to freeze.
That means we had to carry a lot of buckets of water from the house out to the barn so the animals could drink today.

As long as the animals have enough food and water, and a place to get out of the wind and snow, they can stay warm, even when it's really cold.

What do you think these are?
My feet get very cold when we're outside so last year for Christmas my daughter got me electric insoles. They charge all night. They fit inside my boots and have a switch to turn them on. They keep my toes toasty warm while I'm outside working in the barn on cold mornings.


We have to clean out Echo's stall every day,
even if it's really cold outside!
We wish she would always poo outside the stall,
but cows and other farm animals poo where ever they stand.
Ewwww! Yuck!

What do you think we do with all the piles of poo?

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We give the animals some vitamins and minerals every day. Do you take vitamins every day?
Sometimes the animals don't like them so we hide them inside pieces of bananas.

If you look closely you can see two vitamin pills pushed inside the banana.
They love the minerals so I roll the banana around inside the bag of minerals.
They think they are getting a yummy treat when they get a
piece of banana rolled around in the minerals!


I hope you have a great week!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Broken Pipes and a New Frost Free Hydrant

Welcome back!


Dale is still getting better!
She likes to sit in the dry hay in the sunshine during the day.
We saw her riding Clover a few days ago, too.
We're so glad her leg is healing!

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Sometimes things on the farm get broken. Sometimes it's our fault, sometimes an animal breaks something, and sometimes someone else breaks it.

A few weeks ago the plumber broke a pipe and he couldn't repair it, so Bryon had to do it. We had no water in the house or in the barn for a whole day!

It's so hard to be without water for 24 hours when we have animals that need it. We need it for drinking and washing. And we need it for cleaning out the milker.

We were glad we had a lot of water stored at our house. It was enough to last for the day.

The plumber was supposed to fix the frost-free hydrant. That's a special pipe that goes deep in the ground so we can have water in the barn in the middle of winter. If you live someplace cold your parents probably cover the faucet on the outside of the house, or they may turn the water off on the outside of the house so the pipes don't freeze.

Our hydrant was leaking so a few weeks ago we decided it would be a good time to replace it while the weather was still warm.

The plumber broke the pipe about 5 feet under the ground.
That isn't a very big hole in the cement floor to dig down 5 feet!

But Bryon, Tim, and Matt all took turns until they could see where the pipe was broken.



The decided that to fix the pipe they were going to have to dig a hole on the outside of the barn, too.
The post hole digger loosened the soil. We have a lot of rocks and it's hard for the tractor to dig through without the soil being a little looser.
The backhoe has finished digging the dirt out of the hole.
Can you see the pipe at the bottom of the trench?
A trench is a long, deep, rectangular hole in the ground.


Bryon, Matt, and Tim have to put the new pipe and the new faucet together before they can attach it to the pipe in the trench.

Matt has to hold the pipe straight up......

While Tim connects and glues everything down in the trench.

Matt and Tim got to take a break while Bryon went to the hardware store for parts.

After all the pipes are connected and glued, the hole inside the barn is filled with sand.

As long as we were putting in a new faucet we decided it would be better to have it pointing into
the barn instead of along the wall.

All hooked up and ready for water!
Can you see the electrical cord coming out of the hose?
That's the hose that plugs into the wall so the water doesn't freeze inside the hose during the winter.
I wish the plumber could have fixed the pipe without breaking it.

Sometimes we don't get what we wish for.

Thankfully Bryon, Tim, and Matt don't complain when something bad happens. They know that complaining or whining about it doesn't help.

Figuring out how to fix the problem is what works!

They spent about 2 hours on Friday night trying to dig out the broken pipe. They spent 8 hours on Saturday digging the trench and doing fixing the pipes the right way.

Every day on the farm we need 5 gallons of water to clean the milker. Every day the cow and little goats drink between 15 and 20 gallons of water, the bucks and sheep drink about 10 gallons of water, the adult does (girl goats that give milk) drink between 10 and 15 gallons of water, and the chickens drink about 2 gallons of water.

How much water do we need to store on the farm so that our animals have enough for two days?

We store about 10 gallons of water per person in the house just in case we don't have water for 3 days. We have 4 people living at our house. How much water do I have stored in the house for people?

Water is so important!

One day this week count how many times you use water.

I bet you will be surprised!

Have a great week!

Friday, December 9, 2016

Maps

Welcome back!

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!
Do you see how useful maps are? 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. The like knowing where the food is, and where to find everything they need.


Friday, December 2, 2016

Feeders

Welcome back!

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family. We had all our family together for Thanksgiving and we had a wonderful time.

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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.

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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.

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I am sad to report that there are no baby chicks. When the hen started sitting it was so close to winter we weren't sure if she would stay and keep her eggs warm. We also weren't sure if she would be able to keep her chicks warm enough with winter so close.

One morning when I went out to do the chores the hen was gone from the nest, and the eggs were almost frozen. The eggs were so cold that there is no way the chicks inside the eggs could have survived. The eggs need to be kept at about 100 degrees so the chicks inside can grow. Once they are hatched the mama hen needs to keep them at about 95 degrees until they can grow enough feathers to keep themselves warm.

This is not the time of year that we get warm temperatures like that!

Things on the farm don't always turn out the way we want them to. Sometimes that's for the best.

Earlier this year we had some chicks hatch out. That was the first time we ever got to see some chicks hatch!

I thought you might like to see some videos of that, too.







Here's Xander holding the little chick from the video.
Those chicks are all grown up now. They were some of the roosters that we gave away to another farm. Our farm only needs one rooster. Roosters are noisy. The more roosters we have the noisier they are because each one tries to be louder than the other!

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Do you remember Dale? She's the chicken that likes to ride the goats as if she's a cowgirl.

We don't know what happened but two weeks ago Dale hurt her leg. Usually a chicken will die if they hurt their leg. There aren't any chicken veterinarians to take care of them.

Sometimes they get better!


Can you see Dale limping a little bit? She's getting better! She couldn't walk on her left leg two weeks ago. All she could do was hop around the farm on her right leg.

I hope she gets all the way better!

Stay warm and have a great week!