Fair Prep Begins

The quiet time around here doesn't last very long.  Libby is already starting to work with her 4-H steer in preparation for the fair in August.  She uses alfalfa pellets to lure him in then waits for him to be distracted with the sweet treat before she begins to calmly pet him and progresses from there.  It is a process and not one for those with little patience as it is often two steps forwards and one step back.  Libby is making a big leap this year by decided to auction off a steer in the Clallam County Jr Livestock Auction on August 19th.  I hear rumor that hers will be the first 100% grass fed steer to be auctioned which is pretty awesome, though admittedly I'm a little biased. :)

The Calm Before the Storm

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I took this photo while feeding the cows in early December before our first winter storm hit.  I feel so lucky to have a job where I get to be outside with my family every day experiencing nature's incredible power and exquisite design.  Whether you believe in evolution, intelligent design or some combination of the two, Mother Nature is pretty incredible.

This time of year is our break time when the farm is the most quiet and calm.  No babies due to be born, no poultry to raise, no pasture to irrigate or fairs to ready for.  Securing housing, throwing hay and filling water feels like a welcome reprieve from the crazy days of spring, summer and fall.  Jan. 1st we start lambing and calves are due mid month, followed by goats, poultry and if I have my way, a new horse for the family.

Back to the beginning

 Asha and Milky 2012

Asha and Milky 2012

The farm began in 2011 with the purchase of 4 dairy steers from Maple View Dairy as a way to pay for the land we leased for the horses.  I vividly remember talking with Libby (who was 5 at the time) about how we were going to pick out some cows from the dairy, then they would grow bigger by eating grass and when she was 6 we would butcher one to feed our family and sell the rest to feed other families.  I explained that they would live on our farm for a year and a half and when the time came that it might be a little sad for her but not to worry, she didn't have to watch and it didn't hurt the cows etc.  I was trying to ease the tiny soul into the harsh realities of farm life.  She got to pick out the cows, named them and watched as we unloaded them into what is now the goat pen.  We came inside to wash hands and eat lunch and as we did, Libby gazed out the kitchen window at the 3 month old calves and asked, "So....when are we going to eat them?"  Apparently she was okay with the idea and hasn't ever looked back.  She now tames and shows her own cows, gets involved in registering the Angus stock and is very capable of moving the herd on her own.  She can cut pork chops with a few whacks of a mallet onto a cleaver and happily helps label packages for the freezer.  She isn't hardened to the fact that a life is sacrificed to nourish our bodies. Instead she is involved, responsible and respectful of the animals as they happily grow here on our farm.  

Libby picks out a steer based mostly on the hide pattern which is what you do when you are 5.

Asha's sweet little voice "Baby Cows" which is a family favorite.

Show Season Is Here

 Libby and her heifer calf Aja.

Libby and her heifer calf Aja.

Show season is off to a start with the local youth show, The PA Classic.  Libby took her heifer calf out for a spin and had a great time.  Bryan and I about fell over when the judge said that one of Libby's best qualities in the show ring was her smile.  She is usually concentrating so much on what she is doing that she forgets she's having fun.  Her dairy calf was pretty tired at the show and kept laying down which made Libby laugh every time and might have been her favorite part of the day.

 Libby's fainting calf.

Libby's fainting calf.

 

Asha showed her Nigerian Dwarf doe, Ice Cream, in the primary class.  This class is made of kids in Kindergarten through 2nd grade and due to 4-H rules, they cannot "compete."  This means that they go through the motions of showing but everyone gets a participation ribbon instead of placing.  This concept is totally lost on Asha who excitedly exclaimed as she exited the ring, "Mama! Even though Ice Cream didn't behave at all, we still got first place!  I can't even believe it!"

 

 Asha and Ice Cream at the PA Classic.

Asha and Ice Cream at the PA Classic.

Sad Sale

 Asha and March on sale day.

Asha and March on sale day.

In March, Asha's goat Mae had two kids, March and April.  Early on it was decided that we would sell March (male) and keep April (female) to breed.  She and I discussed how much she would need to sell him for in order to have money to breed Mae and April. We found a great home for him with our friends in Enumclaw who already have a goat buddy for him to play with.  They drove over to pick him up and after walking around the farm, Asha dutifully caught March and loaded him into the crate in the back of their SUV.   As she turned around after shutting the crate I asked her if she was okay.  She gave me small nod "yes" but my Mama senses knew she wasn't.  I scooped her up and whispered, "Are you sure you're okay?"  At this point she erupted into tears and asked to be carried inside.  She was sad he was leaving and embarrassed about her big emotions.  We sat on the beanbag chair together and discussed the day's events.  

Me: It's okay to feel sad about March leaving.  That means you love you goats a lot and that is a good thing.

Asha: I'm worried they aren't going to know what hay to give him and won't take good care of him!!!!

Me: I know they will take great care of him and we can go see him when we go visit Uncle Tod.  Shuffling animals around is part of having a farm honey.  You know how today we sold Tribex today because we don't need two bulls?  Now we can use the money from him to buy more cows.  Moose is going to have babies soon and then you will bread Mae and April and you will have even more babies.  We have to sell some of the goat kids because we can't have 100 goats.

Asha (Tears streaming down her face and yelling) : But that's what I want is 100 goats!!!!!

Me: I know kiddo.  You love your goats.

She negotiated a little more time with him before he left and we brought him into the house where she gave him alfalfa pellets, cried, chatted to him, and cried some more for another half hour.  Our friends offered to leave him here but we knew she would be okay in time.  For the next few days when she was tired or overwhelmed, she would cry for him and say how much she missed him.  Farm kids are a tough bunch but even they have heart strings that break, when pulled too tight.

Hoof Trimming

Last weekend we took Libby to the annual clipping clinic hosted by Pure Country 4-H Club.  They also arranged to have the local hoof trimmer, Mike Nichols, there to trim feet for the show cattle.  Our bull, Big Top, was over working some other ladies when we had Mike over to trim the rest of the herd last fall.  Thankfully he came from Westbrook Angus out in Chimacum and is halter trained (though I little rusty from being left alone all winter) so we were able to trim him at the clinic.  The process is painless to the cows though they do get temporarily nervous when the chute is turning. Mike is a great guy, hard worker, and extremely knowledgable.  The kids all had their show cattle's feet trimmed and learned from Jake Smith the best ways to clip cattle to highlight the cow's strengths and camouflage their weaknesses.  Libby's heifer, Aja, looked great.  Thanks to Karen Anderson and Jake Smith for making this happen for our kids.

Wool Batts for Sale

We just received our wool batts back from the processor off of our Romney ewes.  The batting is processed into 24" width each roll weighs just shy of 3 lbs each but can easily be divided.  They are a beautiful off white color that can be left as is or dyed then felted quilted or hand spun.  We are selling the batts for $24/lb.  If you've ever wanted to try your hand at wool crafting this is your chance to get some local, all natural wool.  Please use the contact us page to place your order.

Pork Antibiotic Ban

This article circulated in a few of my online farming groups and I thought I would pass it on.  The article talks about how on big commercial farms, antibiotics are used on a regular basis on healthy animals in order for them to grow faster.  The use of the drug in question (Carbadox) can have implications for the people consuming pork from these farms.  I feel sad about the state of Big Ag in our country but also so grateful that we are able to opt out of that cycle and grow our own healthy foods right in our backyard.  I am also encouraged by articles like this that seem to point to a better future for more sustainable and healthy farming.

http://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/fda-moves-ban-cancer-causing-pork-antibiotic-n553101

Standstill

The farm projects are at a standstill right now with the death of Bryan's mother, Marcia McCrorie.  She suffered much too early from Alzheimers and passed away on March 20th, 2016.  The onset of the disease in her late 50's prevented her from enjoying the girls and our farm.  She grew up on a farm in Sequim herself and had treasured memories of riding her horses, milking the cows and playing with the calves. She would have enjoyed watching the girls ride their horses and show their animals.  Anyone who knows Marcia also knows that she would have bought enough western bling for the girls to last a lifetime.

 Marcia and Libby March 10, 2006.

Marcia and Libby March 10, 2006.

Waiting for lambs...and calves...but no kids.

Of the 8 ewes that we have to lamb this year, we are still waiting on 5.  We are also waiting on one last cow to calve but the new goat Moose whom we thought might be pregnant is not.  I am excited though that the lady I bought her from will allow me to bring her back to be bred to her buck, Firebird. This gives me the option to retain (hopefully) one of Moose's does and her great milking lines.  The girls are having a great time with the lambs and goat kids and looking forward to more time in the saddle as the weather continues to improve.  While I am always happy for the better weather that summer brings, the small cloud of irrigation always looms.