Posts Tagged ‘dreams’

Never fear, we’re still alive and well over here.  The farm is drying up with a lack of significant rain fall since the end of May.  Our pastures have turned brown, and the only thing growing well are the weeds.  I’m glad we were able to cut enough hay the first go-around to get us through the year.  Second-cut hay on our farm will be hard to come by.

I had hoped to have pretty new pictures to post, but I can’t seem to find our camera.  I think it’s still in the truck.  I’ve focused a lot of my free time on my horse lately, and so some of my other past times have fallen aside.  I recently took him to his first show, which was a big deal for us.  We’re coming out of nearly a year of rehab for some old muscle injuries in his back.  He was excellent and we even brought home a few ribbons.

The goats are doing well.  They’re so much fun.  Somehow we’ve ended up with very socialized wethers, but our doe kids are still a bit … wild … when in the pasture.  You can play with them, but only if they approach you first.  In the barn though, the doe kids are a delight.

We’ve sent in a very basic plan to our contact at VDACS for our creamery with living space above it.  This is one of our very first steps towards making this happen.  We would like to eventually move out of the barn we currently live in (and give my in-laws their “guest house” back), so I had suggested to HB that we design the creamery with living space above.  Hesitant at first, he warmed to the idea quickly.  It makes doing everything slightly more economical, in that there is no way we’d be able to afford loans for a creamery AND house.

We live in less than 600 square feet, and our creamery apartment would be bigger – I think closer to 1000 square feet.  We plan to live above the creamery for at least 10 years, depending on how everything goes before building an actual house (and hopefully at that point, the creamery apartment would house interns!).  At some point during that time we would start a family.  And I know we can handle the space my effectively planning it’s organization from the start.  And getting rid of a lot of stuff we never use and/or don’t need.  Speaking of, I took 4 trash bags full of clothes to the Goodwill a month ago.  Clothes that I haven’t fit into for at least 2 years, I said good bye to them.  Now if HB would do the same, we’d have so much more room in our closet!!

Our chickens are growing up, becoming gracious feathered ladies.  I spent last Sunday afternoon clearing the “jungle” that had grown up in their run while they’ve been indoors, protected from predators.  With hawks swooping around the farm daily (and living in the surrounding woods), we’re protective of our flock.  They’re only allowed outside to free range when absolutely full-grown.  I figure hawks are less likely to take down a full grown hen, but realize the risk.  At this point, they’re confined to their run.  Eventually we’ll start to let them out in the evenings when we get home from work, so that they learn to return to the coop at night.

Whilst clearing the jungle in the chicken run, I found huge volunteer tomato plants!  I left them alone for the hens to enjoy their small yellow fruits.  I also left a stand of tall lambs quarter to provide some shade in the fun.


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In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, the Library of Congress has uploaded to their Flickr account numerous photochroms of Ireland from the 1890s-1900s.

Cliffs of Moher, County Clare

Cliffs of Moher, April 2006

The first picture is the LOC’s photochrom.  The second is from my second visit to Ireland.  The Cliffs of Moher is my absolute favorite place on earth.  I would have married there if I could.  It’s beauty astounds me and leaves me speechless, and the sense of scale you have by looking off those cliffs is unfathomable.

Blarney Castle, County Cork

Blarney Castle, April 2006

Blarney Castle is home to the Blarney Stone, and it is said that by kissing the Blarney Stone you will be given the gift of gab, or better termed “eloquent speech.”  I’ve kissed the stone twice – which, by the way, you have to lay on your back and hold on to a bar while two attendants hold onto your body as you stick your head into a recessed area to kiss the slab of bluestone while you look down a 30′ drop. 😉

St. Stephens Green, County Dublin

St. Stephens Green, April 2006

St. Stephen’s Green is a beautiful public park in the heart of Dublin.  During my last visit to Ireland, I arrived in town a day before my parents arrived.  I was studying in Sweden at the time, and stupidly forgot that although my parents left on April 16, they wouldn’t be in Ireland until April 17!  So I arrived on the 16th, stayed in a hostel, and wandered Dublin alone.  It was great fun and I made a friend out of my roommate at the hostel.  While wandering Dublin in the (traditional) light rain, I stumbled upon this park and enjoyed it immensely!  I took my parents back the next day!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Now, if you’re around Lynchburg, go to the Community Market and pick up a loaf of Irish Soda Bread from Lorraine Bakery!!  I know I will! 🙂  For now, I’m off to Anita’s to play with her baby goats!

ps.  I now wish terribly for a third trip to Ireland. It is, seriously, my favorite place on Earth. Well, aside from the Norwegian fjords.  They’re pretty amazing too.

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Last week, a Charlottesville-area television station had a short segment on local goat dairies.  Included in the spotlight were Night Sky Farm of Brookneal, Caramont Farm of Esmont, Goats R Us of Blackstone, and Iron Rod Chevre of Earlysville.  You can view the clip on the Edible Blue Ridge website.


It’s been a very busy week, so I apologize for the lack of updates.  I worked all through the weekend, and on Monday I had the opportunity to spend the day with Jennifer Downey at Night Sky Farm (link above and under the “Favorites” tab).  It was a wonderful, informative day.  I arrived in time to “help” with the morning milking of 13 does and her wonderful Jersey cow, Emily.  Jennifer has a wonderful team of helpers and the milking runs like a well-oiled machine.  While the does were milked, I learned about udder structure and mammary attachment by viewing a variety of udder shapes and sizes.

Once the milking was complete and the machines were cleaned, we headed up to see the “nursery” where all the older kids are kept, ranging from 4 days to several weeks old.  Part of the reason for the trip was to inspect prospective bucklings — HB and I are debating over purchasing our own buck for the upcoming breeding season,  “borrowing” a buck from a friend, taking does to a buck, or investing in artificial insemination (the least likely option).  Jennifer has 2-3 buck kids that have potential AND come from completely unrelated bloodlines from our does.  We just need to decide what we want to do.  And decide quickly!

Once we had played with the kids, we went to the make room where I got to learn a little about her cheesemaking process and pasteurization.  We wrapped up the day with a visit to her bucks and junior herdsires.  The young bucks were really cute – still on the small side, and so curious.  I adore the way bucks seem to have the little tuff of hair on their foreheads.  The buck our Toggenburg, Xenia, is bred to has a big curly forelock.

Let me just say, that while the day was very educational, it was just a lot of fun to see all the goats and watch them interact, soak up some sun in the pasture, and play with the KIDS!


Today my mother in law had surgery to remove a small growth in her breast.  She was diagnosed just over a month ago, and after a series of tests finally had the tumor removed.  Her surgery went well, and we’re hoping that the pathology reports will come back next week with clean margins.  We spent most of the day at the hospital, but were able to come home and within a few hours HB had put the floor on the goat shed for the hay loft.  I stayed inside to do a few chores and clean the barn a little.

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It’s hard to believe that we’re quickly approaching the end of 2009.  This year has been a series of ups, downs, and contentment.  I haven’t had a need to look forward to starting a new year, but neither do I lament the changes coming to our farm.

In January, I wrote on my horse blog about my goals for 2009.  Instead of trying to better myself, I chose to focus on developing the farm and my homesteading goals.  Before looking to the future, I think it’s important to look to the past.  So, let’s see what I’ve accomplished this year…

Goal: Major garden expansion. While eventually we want to have a booth at the local market, this year, I’m content to expand our garden and try to make it’s goodness span the entire season. And use lots of heirlooms. And actually eat what we grow, which means we’ll need to time things properly and space it out (so we don’t end up with 100 heads of corn within 2 days).

Accomplished!  Our garden held a variety for us this year:  Christmas lima beans, snap beans, lima beans, tomatoes, potatoes, corn, strawberries, lettuce, carrots, pumpins, zucchini, squash, and sugar snap peas.  We also tried (and failed) to cultivate peppers, brussel sprouts, and tomatillos.  Our herb garden was a huge success.  Our Jerusalem artichokes abounded.  The grapes did well until turkeys and deer dined on them … after they feasted on our corn crop (oops!).

Goal:  Attempt to make soap. It seems it’s a good thing for all the magazines to cover during the winter months, and now I’m feeling ambitious. Expect to hear some crazy stories if I don’t kill myself in the process!

Result:  I never made any soap, so I guess this is a failure.  However, I made friends with soapmakers and plan to include this goal for 2010.  As the year wrapped up I made the switch from using conventional soap to using only handmade goat’s milk soaps – and my skin thanks me.

Goal:  Attend more small farm meetings. The VABF (Virginia Association of Biological Farming) hosts a lot of meetings throughout the year and I want to become more active in the local scene.

Result:  Semi-fail.  It wasn’t for lack of trying, just an inconvenient work schedule.  I did continue to make friends with small-scale producers and learn from them.

Goal:  Make more jelly! I made a load this year and it was such great fun, I want to do it again. Expand to do more than strawberry and various mixes with strawberries.

Result:  Succeed, and fail.  I made more jelly (win), but only strawberry this year (fail).  We also made a lot of applesauce.  And wine.

Goal:  Plant a few fruit trees. Especially heirloom apple trees. And some other fun things too. Why not? We’ve got the space!

Result:  Win!  We planted 10 varieties of apple trees, all heirlooms and grafted onto dwarf stock.  7 of the 10 survived.  We spent a lot of time learning form Tom Burford, the local apple expert, and learning from friends who are starting small-scale orchards.

Goal:  Buy a few sheep and start that enterprise. Or, if nothing else, become more educated on the entire process of breeding, growing, and marketing lamb. Sounds delicious, no?

Result:  After much discussion, HB and I have decided not to pursue an active market lamb business.  Much to my relief.  We do have plans to alternate raising a few beef cattle and lambs for personal consumption, and to give to friends and neighbors.

Goal:  Be creative. I start a pottery class at the Academy of Fine Arts in a few weeks and I’m pumped! Also in the works: more sewing projects, including an apron for myself, more napkins to use at home, and the big project for the year: make a tree skirt and matching stockings for our little family to use next Christmastime.

Result:  I failed at making pottery, but it was fun.  My sewing skills remain minimal, but I can create things.  I started making stockings – a project which will continue into 2010.

Goal:  Find a beekeeper and spend time with them, get comfortable and learn a lot, and hopefully be prepared to have my own beehives come 2010.

Result:  I’m slightly more acquainted with getting honey bees, but that goal will probably take another year.  We have talked with some local beekeepers about “renting” bees to put near our garden for this year.
Overall, I’d say 2009 was pretty successful.  Keep an eye out for the 2010 goals 🙂

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Dear Blog Readers,

As a special treat, Sweet Roll and Donut have asked to wish you a Merry Christmas in their own special way.  I hope you enjoy 🙂

On the first day of Christmas my owner gave to me a pile of old dried leaves!

On the second day of Christmas my owner gave to me two scoops of barley!

On the third day of Christmas my owner gave to me three pine branches!

On the fourth day of Christmas my owner gave to me four trimmed hooves!

On the fifth day of Christmas my owner gave to me five pounds of chevre!

On the sixth day of Christmas my owner gave to me six buckets of grain!

On the seventh day of Christmas my owner gave to me seven milking pails!

On the eighth day of Christmas my owner gave to me eight copper boluses!

On the ninth day of Christmas my owner gave to me nine bars of soap!

On the tenth day of Christmas my owner gave to me ten flakes of alfalfa!

On the eleventh day of Christmas my owner gave to me eleven goat berries!

On the twelfth day of Christmas my owner gave to me twelve milking machines!

We hope you enjoyed it!

Santa Donut

Santa Sweet Roll

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moon halo

No, this post is not devoted to a Beyonce song, but rather something I’ve never seen before –

A Moon Halo

A what? You might ask.  Me too.  I remember reading a book growing up, where a character comments on a ring around the moon.  To which another character replies “Ring around the moon, rain coming soon.”  I thought I had figured out what the ring mentioned in the book looked like, until tonight.  Now, I have really seen a ring around the moon.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t get the entire ring in my view finder.

The cause?  A moon halo is caused by the refraction of moonlight from ice crystals in the upper atmosphere. The hexagonal shape of the ice crystals results in a focusing of the light into a ring. Since the ice crystal typically have the same shape, namely a hexagonal shape, the moon halo is almost always the same size.

Folklore says that a ring around the moon signifies the coming of unfavorable weather.  More specifically, many folklore tales relate the number of stars in a halo to the number of days before a big storm.  In my case, there were no stars in the halo, so I guess I should take cover! 😉

So how can a halo around the moon be a predictor of upcoming weather? The ice crystals that cover the halo signify high altitude, thin cirrus clouds that normally precede a warm front by one or two days. Typically, a warm front will be associated with a low pressure system – which is commonly referred to as a storm.

And here ends your science and folklore lesson of the day!

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Last Saturday afternoon we piled into the car and headed to Gretna for a visit to Our Father’s Farm.  The farm, owned by the Fuhrmann family, is an 1800’s tobacco farm-turned family farm that raises cattle and poultry for meat, milk, and eggs.  We met the Fuhrmann’s a few months ago at the community market and after a discussion with the in-laws, decided to purchase two turkeys from the farm to dress our Thanksgiving table.

The farm was beautiful, rolling green fields dotted with grazing cows and chickens.  The beautiful family of 10 (husband, wife, grandmother, and 7 children) were honest and sweet.  We arrived just as a chef from Isabella’s, a restaurant in Lynchburg, was leaving, his Volvo SUV loaded with at least a dozen turkeys.  The Fuhrmanns informed us that Isabella’s buys all of their eggs, ground beef, chickens, and turkeys from the farm.  We were thrilled to hear of a local restaurant supporting local, sustainable family farms in such a manner.  We love Isabella’s, and I think we’ll try to support them a little more frequently when we can!

The children showed us around the farm, introducing us to the farm dog (Shadow, a lean black German Shepherd) and showing us the animals.  We helped ourselves to some cider and talked “shop” with the adults learning about the farm and how they manage it and offer produce.  As a couple of young farmers who would eventually like to do a similar enterpise, we wanted to hear what they had to say!

As we left one of the younger blonde-haired daughters offered us a loaf of whole wheat sourdough bread, fresh baked by a neighbor.  We enjoyed that bread several times with week, soft and delicious.

My favorite part?  A part I didn’t even think to photograph? (But now wish I had?)  Inside their storage room, the room lined with coolers and freezers for storing milk, eggs, and beef products, was an inscription written into the poured concrete floor surrounded by handprints and the names of family members –

“A land of milk and honey”

A fitting quote, I think, for a couple of married missionaries, raising their seven (soon to be eight!) children on a farm in rural Virginia, bringing delicious, healthful, and sustainable food to a willing community.

Good for them.

And so, our turkey, which a week ago roamed green fields and feasted on green grass and bugs, rests quietly in our refrigerator.  This afternoon we’ll place him in a brine solution and roast him slowly tomorrow.  Tomorrow we’ll give thanks to God for our fortunes and sorrows and think happily of the family who cared for our turkey before us.

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