Category Archives: farm chores

New Arrivals

There are surprise babies at Tuppinz Farm!

A bunch of “scrubbing bubbles” appeared in the poultry food line yesterday:


“Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!”

We have 18 new guinea keets!

When the guinea fowl go broody, they do it in secret. We never know if a hawk or fox has made off with one of them (we wouldn’t mind too much as we love the wildlife also), or if they’re not coming home to roost at night because they’re on a nest. Apparently this time it was the latter. I think I spy another hen on a nest out in the sheep pasture… we’ll keep an eye on her to see if another clutch hatches out.

Our tick population is well under control, and guinea fowl are amazingly loud, so perhaps if all of these grow up to adulthood, we’ll fatten a few for the freezer.

Our chicken coop was also home to another hatch of babies – barn swallows:

The parents kept the coop insect-free while feeding their young, so have been quite welcome. Chef Jeff tells me he would give the babies a little pat on their heads each day. Don’t they look like they’re smiling? Having barn swallows grace our farm with their presence is something we look forward to each spring. They zoom around like tiny fighter jets all summer long, catching bugs on the fly. Beautiful birds. We always sigh and know it’s springtime when we see them return.

This is my favorite hen, Pigeon Pie. She is a Quail Antwerp Belgian bantam.

When it’s my turn to feed the poultry, she is first in line, and flies up onto my outstretched arm, or onto my head, or right into the feed scoop to fill her little beak and scatter food everywhere, creating a pile of chickens, ducks, guineas, and geese at my feet so that I can’t take a step. Today, she thought I had something special for her in my egg basket, and flew up to take a peek. Sorry, Pidge, just my work gloves and camera in there…

Weather is perfect here today – sunny, not too hot, breezy. Baby kestrels are learning to fly and hunt. Dogs are napping. Sounds like a plan. Blogger just ate a complete post I had done with it’s “autosave” feature (I hate that feature!) Perhaps they could nix that, and get the autopublish feature up and running again? Sigh.

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Filed under animal of the day, animals, farm, farm animals, farm chickens, farm chores, farm guineas, food, nature, positivity, summer, weather

Holiday Weekend

It was a beautiful holiday weekend here in Wisconsin. We couldn’t have asked for better weather.

The Golden Laced Wyandotte chicks were moved out to their netted pasture. They are about a month old now. They’re loving the fresh air, sunlight, grass, and insects. Our broody Wyandotte hen hatched out nine adopted babies, so that little family was also put in the electric netting for “safekeeping”.

In addition to moving the chickens around, Jeff and our Farmhand Extraordinaire, Dakota, got us caught up on goat vaccinations and hoof trimming, fencing, yardwork, hay moving, and a billion other tasks. Thanks for all the hard work, guys!


We had a great time at the Altoona fireworks with our friends, Dakota’s family. Dakota’s brother, Tanner, gave us a private fireworks show in his backyard afterwards. This is his stash. It was quite an impressive display!

We watched Tanner’s fireworks from the comfort of our friends’ new screen porch, which is the ultimate in summer comfort. What a great area to relax with friends! These guys are great hosts and it’s always great to spend time with them.

That’s Dakota there in the center of the photograph. We are going to miss him when he goes off to college this fall. Jeff says that Tanner will have a job here on the farm as soon as he is old enough. Two finer young men can’t be found!


Knowing of our love for fishing, our friends generously invited us to access the Eau Claire River from their property. Chef Jeff and I had a lovely afternoon there yesterday. Though we didn’t catch anything, we enjoyed being out in the woods and seeing the gorgeous scenery.

Afterwards, the Chef prepared the catfish he’d caught last week according to a recipe from this beautiful book, which also included recipes for homemade refried black beans and great guacamole. It was an outstanding meal, though we somehow got our hands on a jalapeño that must have been grown near a nuclear reactor because that thing was HOT – and this judgment from people who use habañero sauce on a regular basis!


We are so glad that Otter is acclimating to her new home. The other dogs love her… well, Molly tolerates Otter, but Molly’s coming along (that’s just her way – growl first, make friends later.)

Otter has Lyme disease so she’s on antibiotics for a little while. She doesn’t seem to have had toys or chews before; she’s finally understanding that baked cow ears are a good thing:

When Otter was found she was suffering from heat exhaustion. We are so grateful to our wonderful vet for taking her in for us for treatment and boarding, despite her history being unknown. We intend to go to a town meeting to see how we may be able to change the policies and procedures of our township in order that stray animals may receive temporary housing and care in a more efficient manner; we are not served by the County shelter due to the lack of a financial agreement between them and our township. There has to be a better way, and we shudder to think what could happen if one of our own beloved dogs went missing.

So yes, now we are a five-dog family. I would think we were certifiably nuts, except that the entire vet staff said they hoped we’d keep Otter because they knew we’d be good parents. And Valentine is getting up there in years and has Cushing’s, so, after all, we may be back to a four-dog family in the not-too-distant future anyway.

But if I had my wish, there would be a loving home for every dog… until there is, we will take in whomever the Creator sends us, sharing our blessings.


In crafting news, I am this close to finishing up my Drops blue alpaca lace shawl… just on the final rows. I started a Koigu “mindless” sock for traveling-to-fishing-holes knitting, and I hope to do some sewing this week before Saturday’s MaryJane’s Farmgirls meeting, where everyone will ask me if I’ve made any progress on my current stitching project (not yet, and it’s already been three weeks since our last meeting!)

I’ve seen a cute sewing pattern made up on this blog, and I purchased a copy here. The construction looks super easy, and I think it will be a neat use for some of my Tanya Whelan/Free Spirit or 3 Sisters/Moda girly-girl, flower fabrics.

Have a wonderful day!

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Filed under animal of the day, animals, farm chickens, farm chores, farm fence, farm knit, farm recipes, fiberarts, fishing, flowers, food, gratitude, holiday, knit, nature, pets, summer, weather

Hero, Part Two

A feature write-up about Jeff’s grandpa appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel today. It is here.

We’ve created a memorial website for Bill, which can be found here.

I also found a couple of photos of Bill in his younger days, which I really like. Thought you might like them, too.



Photo caption reads: “William & Edward 12 and 15 yrs old taken spring 1929.”



Bill “bustin’ a bronc” (you know I don’t go for that method but that’s what they did back then!)




A newspaper photo showing Bill having a make-believe cup of tea with granddaughter Becky. She was born with Down syndrome and Bill did much volunteer work for Milwaukee charities that helped brain injured children.



Bill and his wife, “Sutty” (Etelka) at Jeff’s college graduation performance. The Chef’s degree is actually in music, did you know that? He was a classical composer before he became a Pharm Boy (joke there…)


Chef Jeff’s been away in California but is returning tonight. I hear he shipped some wine home which is a good thing, as I think I’m going to be needing some in the next few days: Delilah goat had a blood clot in her femoral (leg) artery and now the leg must be amputated.

At first the vet thought it was from a tetanus-type (clostridial) infection, but then it didn’t present in a manner that made him confident about it (the goats are all vaccinated for tetanus but this would have been an odd type of clostridia (?) that usually only affects cows.) He saw no sign of an injury – and Frieda The Just earned her name by being very careful about being the only horned goat in the herd, so she can’t be blamed. So Doc Stan the farm vet thinks it was just a freak thing. He says things like this sometimes just happen in a barnyard, and we shouldn’t second-guess ourselves about it being something we did, or didn’t, do.

Delilah is doing as well as can be expected. There is no feeling in the leg now so she is not in pain, just uncomfortable. She is eating well and brother Sammy and mama Tulip are looking out for her, standing on either side of her when the goats get hay or a treat of grain. She’s very good for her shots, but thus far, I have given myself one penicillin puncture and have swallowed some as well – I’m looking forward to Jeff returning to veterinary duty tonight.

We’ve discussed the potential amputation with several vets, and the vet that has seen to Delilah’s needs since she was born is able to perform the surgery. He’s actually really a small animal vet, and we always took the goat kids to his practice for disbudding under sedation. He gives us the impression that recovery will go smoothly with sufficient pain meds. Lila’s attitude is good right now, so we’re thinking this is the appropriate path to take.

So unfortunately I won’t be able to attend Bill’s funeral. I’ll be here giving more penicillin injections and toting hay bales (split into flakes first, of course) and exercising the dogs who can’t seem to be outdoors enough in the spring weather. But when Chef Jeff returns from paying his respects, I plan on us toasting Bill with something from Sonoma… and maybe having some time to actually relax and visit with Jeff for more than the five minutes a day we’ve had to speak to each other in the last few weeks… months… year?

Oh wait, baby chicks arrive in two weeks… and my cold frame just blew over – still haven’t gotten my seedlings into the garden bed. No time for sitting still on the farm…

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Filed under animals, charity, farm, farm animals, farm chores, farm ethics, farm garden, farm goats, farm mistakes, gratitude

Lots Of Fiber

I was in the fiber doldrums for some time. Just couldn’t get motivated. There were a couple of our raw Icelandic fleeces (from Asta and Birta) sitting in the entryway, which taunted me daily. I finally decided that, after two years, it was time to unpack the picker and carder that had been sitting in boxes while several house nightmares were endured.

Not having a decent fiber washing area has proven to be problematic, but I made do with many buckets in the kitchen over a period of days (Jeff was not allowed to make fragrant Indian food during my scouring!) The laundry room here doesn’t have a heat source, and though there is a tub on the first floor, it was never installed properly and doesn’t drain, so Jeff kindly carried all the dirty water outside for me.

I was really fearful to try the picker and carder but I needn’t have been – they both worked wonderfully and I was soon blessed with my first home-grown, home-scoured, home-picked and home-carded Icelandic lamb roving!

Because I wanted to spin a fine but soft yarn, it was time to re-acquaint myself with an old friend who has the necessary double drive talents:

We hadn’t been on speaking terms for several years due to a previous failure to communicate.

It turned out that this wasn’t due to my unfamiliarity with my friend, but rather an inherent problem in my friend’s physical makeup.

Once this was corrected (requiring minor surgery on my part and a trip to Montana and back for an amputated piece of my friend), my buddy wanted to “make nice” – but I wasn’t having any of it, due to the insults my friend had given me the last time we got together.

I am now willing to forgive and forget, and so is my friend, and we have been getting on famously in this new relationship.

As any fiberartist can tell you, once the floodgates have opened, creativity comes on like a tidal wave. Not only have I been spinning the Icelandic lamb, but also this lovely fiber (click for big to see the sparkly stuff!):

… as well as some home-grown Jacob wool (from Gruyere):

I even made significant progress on my “Dixie shawl“:

Like all lace, it looks like a damp mop and will until it is blocked. But believe me, it’s really pretty:

My good relationship with the Dundas wheel gave me the confidence to have a chat with the Ashford Table Loom as well, and it has been released from its undignified penance in the long barn.


Disclaimer: Seriously ugly wallpaper courtesy of previous homeowners.

I am not a big fan of anything other than rigid heddle (i.e., simple! Easy!) weaving, but it seems a shame not to give this gal a warm (comparatively-speaking), indoor home. We will try to get along better now, and hopefully she will not confuse me with mathematical equations this time around. I guess it’s not really her fault… she has always been a peach to use.

It’s freezing in here (perhaps not to looms but to us humans), and some woven wool blankets would come in handy, so I had better be polite to her.

Max is just meditating, and staying clear of all the fiber activity.


Other Happenings

Two photos from our farm are in the current issue of Hobby Farms magazine – yay!

There was a quote in this issue that I loved: “Hobby farming is like hobby coal mining.” Truer words have never been spoken… it’s still work! (But definitely worth it to have delicious organic eggs!!!)

And to reward myself for a consistent yoga practice, I asked this Etsy artisan to embroider some clips to keep my hair out of my face during downward dog – she put pink lotuses on them to match my Prana yoga outfit:

In upcoming excitement… what do you think of this handsome fellow, hmmm?

Hope your day is full of health and creativity!

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Filed under animals, farm animals, farm chores, farm donkeys, farm knit, farm sheep, fiberarts, knit, pets, yoga

January 13, 9:45 a.m.

Click for big. That’s F, and it is not wind chill.

Chef Jeff put extra bales of straw in the goats’ barn yesterday, and the chickens are locked in their coop with the geese and ducks for extra warmth. There are also heat lamps in both areas. But I’m seriously wondering if the donkeys need coats…

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Evening Chores

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Daily Gratitude

A diamond-shaped wood splitting maul that will help us finally be able to chop the wood in the woodpile so that it actually fits in our small fireplace.

A husband who takes over splitting wood after I’ve had my three test whacks. The splitter works great. My bad shoulder, not so much…

A full wood holder by the back door.

Aromaleigh mineral makeup sending out inexpensive trial packets (with no shipping charges) so I can play around and see what actually works with my skin tone (please excuse the rare and icky photo of my tired-looking, winter-weary, test-makeup face with no foundation.)
The generous samples are enough for several uses. If you have trouble matching your skin tone, see their “linen” foundation shades.

A husband who believes the dogs value his cheffing skills as much as anyone; Molly is waiting impatiently for her venison tenderloin and brown rice dinner on a fancy plate for New Year’s:

Dogs that play together so nicely but pretend to be fierce, making “WAAH WAAH WAAH!” noises while gnashing teeth that somehow never actually touch:

New yoga DVD#1 (with meditation talk by the Dalai Lama).


Zakuski

A favorite meal of ours is one consisting of zakuski – a Russian word for appetizers. Chef Jeff prepared a zakuski meal for New Year’s.

It was accompanied by my plum pudding (a/k/a flaming booze cake) which I’d prepared back in November, as is traditional.

It was also accompanied by vodka (traditional) and Scandinavian berry liqueurs (a new tradition).

К здоровью! *

* To health!


Fiberarts

Finished keyhole scarf (one skein of Inka yarn).

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Filed under farm chores, farm knit, fiberarts, food, gratitude, holiday, knit, pets, positivity, yoga