Friday, October 28, 2016

Jake, the New Muskovy

Welcome back from Fall Break!

I hope you had a great time over Fall Break! I had a lot of work to do. Some of it was in the farm yard, and some of it was in the sewing room. I didn't teach guitar students this week, but I didn't have a vacation because all the time I usually spend teaching guitar, I spent embroidering a beautiful Irish Dance dress, making Halloween costumes, and finishing a birthday present that was very late.

One of the things we need to do today is fix a fence.

See that cute face?
The goat in front is Serenity. The other goat is her mama, Annie.
Serenity is supposed to be on the other side of the fence from Annie because she
keeps drinking Annie's milk.
Serenity is old enough that she doesn't need milk anymore. She is supposed to stay on the other side of the fence.

Serenity and River are so sneaky that they know how to get through the brown gate. We've tried making sure it's tighter so they can't get through. We fixed a hole in the fence, too. They somehow manage to climb through the brown bars in the fence. Today we'll put up more fencing so they can't get through.

It seems as if no matter how much work we do, there is always more to be done on the farm!

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We got a new drake this week. His name is Jake.

Can you tell what kind of an animal a 'drake' is by watching the video? Can you tell if it is a boy or girl by how I'm writing about it?

Did you see and hear all the roosters? Oh, boy! Many of the chicks that have hatched since spring are roosters. We only need one rooster on the farm, so we had to catch the other roosters and give them to someone else. We got rid of 5 roosters yesterday. We still have 3 more roosters to catch and get rid of.

Here's another video of Jake. You'll have to be very quiet if you want to hear him because Jake is very quiet.

What kind of noise does Jake make? Can you hear a quiet 'hiss'? That's the noise that Muscovy drakes make. A drake is a boy duck. A girl duck is called a duck.

Jake came to our farm because he was the only duck on his farm, and he was lonely. He used to sleep with the cows because there were no other ducks for friends. Now he has a duck friend, and some chicken friends. Jake's friends all have feathers now so he is much happier.

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Here's a good picture of our boy turkey. A boy turkey is called a Tom turkey. He has beautiful feathers!

How many turkeys can you see in this picture?
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Have you noticed that some mornings are cold? Have you been wearing a coat to school some mornings? When lunch time comes around you wonder why you brought your coat because it got so warm?

That happens a lot in the fall.

Some mornings I find Midnight  in her cozy spot staying nice and warm in the barn.
She doesn't look very happy in the picture, but she is a nice cat, unless you are a mouse.

If you were going to tell a story about Midnight, what would it be?

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Here's another picture that you could write a story about.
That funny chicken is always riding the goats!
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Here are a few photos of the projects I worked on in the sewing room this week.

This is the front of the dress I worked on.
This is the skirt of the dress I worked on.
This piece goes on the back of the dress.
I'll see if I can get a picture of the girl wearing the dress next week. 
She won 3rd place on Saturday!

I hope you have hobbies that help you learn and grow. I hope you have hobbies that let you create new things. I know children who love to build with Legos, they create robots! I know children who draw and paint. I know children who dance. I know children who play musical instruments. I know children who play sports.

All of those hobbies are wonderful ways to learn and grow!

Have a wonderful week learning and growing and working hard!

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!