Our Barn Fundraiser

We have spent years searching for our little piece of Heaven. A piece of land to call our own and pursue our homesteading dream. Land that is affordable and useable isn’t easy to come by in our area and we literally spent EVERY Saturday for over two years hunting the elusive farm spot. Once we found the property, it was another 9 months battle to buy it and that was just the beginning of an even bigger challenge to restore this neglected and forgotten farm.  Chasing our dream of bringing this farm back to its former glory has been a labor of blood, sweat and tears (LOTS of each). We often get asked by people how they can help support our dream and I’m usually stumped….. until now.

A few months ago I came up with an idea, a way to record the progress of our dream annually and to share it with you all. I’ve created a collection of my favorite pictures for a 2015 Calendar and I’ve also compiled a collection of recipes, tips and pictures into a Homestead Helper book. This year’s goal is to give the old barn new life. All proceeds from these projects will go directly into this year’s farm project. The link will take you to both items for sale.

http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/Fable_Farms

So for those of you who want to know how you can help support our dream….there are a couple of ways:

Go to the link and
1) Purchase a 2015 Homestead Helper, or
2) Purchase a 2015 Fable Farms calendar, or
3) If you can’t purchase one of these but would like to support our dream, please share this blog with your friends.
THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR ALL THE SUPPORT!
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The Worm Wars

wormy poop EDIT

Recently, we noticed that our pigs had worms. Now if you live on a farm you will eventually encounter worms. This is a fact of farm life. However, despite knowing this it always makes me feel the way a parent does when they are told their child has lice. You know that lack of cleanliness ‘can’ be a contributing factor, but most often it isn’t. It’s just life. Even knowing this, I still get embarrassed. Obviously, I’m getting past the embarrassment since I’m admitting it for the world to read.  In fact, if anything, I have to say the worms I found in the pig poop were particularly impressive…..in a disgusting sort of way! They were the stuff of nightmares and horror movies. Truly!

So let’s talk about worms. One of the most controversial topics you can bring up to a farmer is worming.  I’ve heard farmers swear their animals have never had a worm in its life (which I don’t believe for a hot, bippy second). I’ve heard people swear the only way to keep animals healthy is to worm on a regular schedule and their animals are proof of this (that may work for your herd buddy). I’ve heard people swear the chemical wormers are a form of abuse to animals and that if you use anything other than natural wormers you are killing your animal (so is leaving your animals anemic and ill because of heavy worm loads). I’ve heard people say herbal wormers never work and are a waste of money (depends on the wormer and if you know how to use it correctly).

Basically everyone has an opinion and their opinion is usually the right one and their proof is in the health of their animals. If fact the quickest way to get a rise out of most farmers is to contradict their worming theory.  I like to think we are rebels in the farmer’s world of worming because we don’t really have any worming rules. In fact we kind of believe all of the above and none of the above. Some people just call us indecisive.

Here’s our philosophy:

*We believe in natural wormers.

*We also believe in chemical wormers.

*We don’t follow a regular schedule for worming.

*We believe each farm, each management style and each herd is different and to really take all that into account worming should be on your mind ALL the time.

Why so indecisive you ask? Well, we know from plenty of research that not all wormers work for all types of worms. Also worms can become resistant to some wormers. So what worked from you last year may not work for you this year depending on how often you’ve used it and what type of worm you are battling. We also understand that worming is stressful on an animal’s system. We chose not to put our animals through that if we don’t need to.

We are constantly assessing our animal’s overall health. We look, listen and feel. This means we look at eye lid color because these areas will be pale rather than pink. This would be caused by anemia if there are barber pole worms present. We look at coat because parasites will leave the coat dull and coarse can be a sign of worms. We listen to their breathing. Do they have a cough or wheezing? This can be a sign of worms (or other illnesses) Run your hands over the animal. How do they feel? Is their muscle condition and weight poor? This can be a sign of worms. Finally, we look at their poop. For the most part you won’t see worms in the poop. You won’t even see worm eggs in poop with your naked eye. This is why assessing your animal ALL the time is important.

Many parasites that effect livestock are species specific however there are some that are transferrable to other animals and/or humans. Knowing this, means that treating worms should be a priority on your farm. I received a microscope a while back and was hoping to take a local class that taught how to do our fecals on our animals. The class fell through and so we have been left to our own devices to learn this skill. We’re slowly learning but until we actually master fecals and parasite identification I’m going to keep referring to it as ‘playing in the poop.’

If you’re interested in testing your knowledge of parasite egg identification in ruminants here’s a fun link:

http://www.purposegames.com/game/worm-eggs-ruminant-parasites-quiz

So unlike Stella, we aren’t trying to ‘get our groove back’. In fact we want to stay as far out of that groove as possible. Our only rule about worming is to NOT have a rule. Flexibility is the key. We feel that an animal’s health is always changing, as is a parasite’s resistance, as is the type of parasite, as is the environment the animal lives in (heat, dampness, freezing, etc..) and if all these factors are changing all the time, then so should your program. If you find something that works for you that’s great, but don’t quit doing fecals and make sure you keep assessing your animals for when you’ll need to make that next change. That’s our ‘non-rule’ and we’re sticking to it….for the moment. 😉

The Winter List

We are finally putting the holidays to rest and we are entering into the slow season on the farm. I say that tongue in cheek, since there really is no such time on a farm. We still have chores to do and projects to complete and spring is just a hop, skip and jump away. But, before the seedlings get planted, the buck house built and definitely before kidding season commences we have a slight lull in our demands. Most sane people would take the 4-5 weeks and rest, recuperate and participate in a little pampering of themselves. Of course I never claimed to be sane…..

During this slow time I jump full speed into my winter list. What winter list you ask? The list I put together the whole rest of the year on things that I would really like to learn. Hobbies and learning more homesteading skills is an addiction to me but, unfortunately on a farm there usually isn’t time to pursue them. Last year’s list included basket weaving, making braided rugs and quilting. I did manage to take a basket weaving class and make a few quilts but I ran out of year before I got to the braided rugs.

This year I still want to learn to make braided rugs, I’m looking into glass working and I want to prepare to go hunting in the fall for the first time. Of course this year’s winter list is a bit more challenging since we have decided to curb all unnecessary spending in the month of January, but that will just force me to be a bit more creative in my endeavors.

Let’s see, no money and 4-5 weeks to learn 3 new skills? No problem right? 😉 What’s on your winter list?

2015 – The Year of the Carrot??

2014 has been a year of mixed blessings for us. It was the year we lost my dad, who I still think of every day, but it was also our first full year on the farm. As I look out over the pasture I love all the progress I see….the expanded coop, the garden site, the pig pasture. All of these projects that took so much blood, sweat, money and tears (the tears were mostly about the money, and not the blood or the sweat). We put a piece of ourselves into each project, literally! I know for a fact I lost quite a few pieces of hair and a fingernail or two on the chicken coop and the pig pasture fence has more than its fair share of our blood. But despite all that, or maybe because of it, I love to look out and see how far we’ve come.

Seeing what we’ve accomplished gives me hope for the projects on the horizon. Both the big ones, like fixing the front pasture fence, building a roofed compost structure and re-siding the barn, as well as the smaller ones like expanding the garden and building a farrowing hut. These are all good things right? So what’s the problem?? The problem is that as much as I love my lifestyle I need more. I’m a plan type of person. I like to have a goal. I need that carrot hanging in front of me to give me some motivation and direction. As much as I love our farm I really don’t know what we’re trying to do with it. We just kind of struggle to fix what’s broken and build what we need but we don’t have an end goal plan. I have friends that have dairies and some that have distilleries and some raise beef or lamb and some that….well, you get the idea. They have all found their farming niche. They may have a lot of other interests but they have a main focus that is their passion and this is what drives them. I envy them for that focus.

For 2015 I’m hoping to find my carrot, errr, I mean my niche. I am determined to find our place and our little corner in the farming world. I know we’ll have to try a lot of other….vegetables… before I find my carrot but I have high hopes that 2015 will be the year of the carrot for us!