Category Archives: farm garden

This Week In Farming

Busy, busy week at Tuppinz Farm. Here are some of the highlights…

The sheep and goats were finally shorn! They are so relieved to be nekkid, as the days are starting to get very warm. That’s “Fontina” (whom we call “Caribou” for obvious reasons) in the foreground. Need fleece? We have LOTS!

This year’s Largest Fleece award goes again to our Jacob ewe Montana. Jeff tells me the Shetland fleeces are again very nice and soft. I’m looking forward to keeping the two badger-faced Icelandics’ fleeces for my own use – they are identical in coloring so it will be nice to combine them and have enough matching wool for a big project.

I would have preferred that shearing not take place on the same day the farrier and vet were scheduled to attend to the donkeys, but on a farm, you have to roll with the punches. Farriers, farm vets, and sheep shearers are not as easy to coordinate as the business projects I was used to in my “former life”. There simply is no option to have a “Type A” personality on a farm.

Poor Michelle had to have her shearing appointment on a day when she couldn’t even be home! I hear her wether’s fleece is really nice…

Potatoes are up and growing nicely. We’re using this method.

My crazy junk garden is also doing well.

I tried to make raised beds using only materials I could scrounge up around here. I decorated with rusty bits of metal that were found on the property.

I’m growing lettuces, hot peppers, tomatoes, scallions, cucumbers, basil, cilantrol, parsley, three pumpkins, and sunflowers. We had lots and lots of rain this past week and the plants loved it.

We moved about 100 iris plants from the area that became the veggie garden, and popped them in the beds in front of the house. Several of them flowered despite this insult. We have planted echinacea I started from seed, as well as rudbeckia, in one bed, and roses in the other; next year it should be very pretty – all purple and yellow.

Little goats are growing like weeds, too. Here are sisters Elfine and Daisy May, almost all grown up (but still very tiny!)

The purchased Golden Laced Wyandotte chicks have their wing feathers now. Soon they will no longer need a heat lamp. They enjoy the thinnings from the veggie garden – feeding them teaches the chicks to eat greens (which they won’t learn without parents to raise them) and it gets some good vitamins into them.

We had a lovely Wyandotte hen go broody. Unfortunately, before we realized she was nesting, we gathered the eggs she was laying each day for the refrigerator. We then noticed that she – and she alone – was hanging around with our single Golden Laced Wyandotte rooster… the two chickens we most hoped would reproduce. Hobby Farm Mistake #1027 – when the chickens you want to breed actually do, let the eggs turn into chicks!

So as not to waste her broodiness, we collected two days’ worth of eggs which will hopefully become mixed-breed chicks, and stuck them under her. She accepted them readily. Hobby Farm Mistake #1028 – when you have a hen that is broody and you want to hatch out chicks, consider the fact that she is nesting in front of hay bales you will need to access in the next month – not the best choice of locations for anyone involved.

Last Saturday, we went to the farmers market in Eau Claire, at Phoenix Park. It was raining and quite cold, but we had a great time. On our walk back, I saw this Labyrinth in the park – what a neat thing!

On the way home, we stopped at a couple of places to fish for a little bit. Did I mention it was rainy and cold? The only trophy was an ugly thing I caught called a river chub, which went gently right back into the water. We gave up on a fish dinner and went to Tep’s Drive-In in Augusta, for their amazing garlic fries. Got to love a place with carhops – especially in an Amish village.

I ended up the week with a meeting of my MaryJane’s Farmgirls group yesterday. We met at Dee Dee’s Diner in Northfield and had a great time chatting and knitting and sharing pictures.


Dianne, Kayley, Dawn, Michelle

We meet on the second Saturday of each month to just hang out and do whatever… we talk about animals, crafts, gardening, and end up laughing. One doesn’t have to be a “real” farmgirl to join; as MaryJane Butters says, “‘Farmgirl’ is a condition of the heart.” We’re just a bunch of gals out to learn new things and meet new friends.

The weather has turned glorious. First hay cutting this week. Crickets, junebugs, and moths abound (one notices this when one takes up fly fishing…) Baby squirrels exploring their world. The glow of light as the sun begins to cross the horizon is more amazing each and every evening. What a wonderful time of year.

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Filed under animal of the day, animals, farm, farm animals, farm chickens, farm garden, farm goats, farm mistakes, farm sheep, fiberarts, fishing, flowers, gratitude, nature, positivity, 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

Who’s this fuzzy face?

We are officially a four-donkey family! Meet Rocky Mountain Songbirds Ty-Dyed Champ:

Currently, Tikki won’t let him near Jazz and Eli… or her hay pile. But things are actually working out well and in a day or two they will all be fast friends.

Champ is a nine-year-old gelding who comes to us from the nice folks at Dixdlor Ranch here in Wisconsin. He was born here and the photo on that web page is in fact Champ himself!

Eli‘s wondering if we’ll still love him. Silly boy!


Spring is almost here at Tuppinz Farm. The sun sometimes feels warm, the grass is starting to green up, and we’re having lovely evenings before the nighttime temps drop back down to freezing.

This guinea bird is doing his evening predator scan and calling the others back to the roost.


My seedlings are doing well in their indoor greenhouse. Tonight we are getting a truckload of soil for our new veggie garden bed. This weekend, we’ll get the cold frame set up and the beds made. We’ll plant around May 15th.

I have some wonderful seed potatoes from Seeds Of Change and I’m going to try this super easy method of planting them.

Hope things are green in your part of the world!

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A Good Week Of Surprises

It was a week of surprising weather (warm days followed by snow showers and high winds), and surprises in my mailbox.

Beautiful handmade potholders arrived from Professor Nannette, and Miss Kary sent an original painting of an owl (a favorite animal of mine) by Brenda Webster-Drouin. Thanks, guys!

I’d placed an order with The Loopy Ewe, a favorite shop for sock knitting needs. This is what I’d ordered:

And THIS is what I received!

Turns out I am now an official Loopy Groupie. The gifts they sent were more than what I’d ordered to begin with; what you don’t see is the chocolate which I promptly ate. Thank you, Sheri!

I became a convert after I received my first order with TLY and I realized what all the high praise was about. They have excellent customer service, and usually include a handwritten thank-you and little treats with my orders… which are becoming more frequent, I have to admit; I love the “instant gratification” of their fast shipping!

I also received the new “Whimsical Little Knits” book by Ysolda in Scotland, as well as two skeins of Fearless Fibers yarn. One of these is destined to become these (Ravelry link). I have been waiting on pins and needles for that KnitSpot pattern to be published and am jazzed to cast on for these beautiful socks.

All in all, a very good week indeed.


Around The Farm

Frieda The Just gave us 1.4 ounces of beautiful cashmere at the end of March. Not bad for a mostly-Boer goat with a strong resemblance to George Washington.

I planted peas and broccoli rabe outside; started Tigerella and Silvery Fir Tree tomatoes, and serrano and jalapeno peppers, inside.

Other than that, it’s business as usual here on the farm. Lots of playful activity inside when the puppy playpen is too muddy from changeable spring weather:

It looks like Champ, our new riding donkey, will not be arriving this weekend as planned. Hopefully he’ll be home in the next couple of weeks.

Have a beautiful weekend!

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Filed under animals, art, farm, farm animals, farm donkeys, farm garden, farm goats, farm knit, fiberarts, gratitude, knit, pets, weather, winter