Category Archives: farm

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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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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Out and About

Delilah is doing so well that she has re-joined her herd!


Dexter and the Tulip Family (Samson, Mama Tulip, Delilah)

She’s been out to graze with her family, and now everyone’s back in the loafing area, chewing their cuds and soaking up the sun.


Pippin on platform; Delilah on far lower right.

That one above is worth bigifying to see Pippin’s yawn.

I am amazed at Delilah’s resilience and strength… and tolerance of us sticking her with needles twice a day. She gets a chewable Vitamin C as a reward (and to give her stressed immune system a boost).

Go, Delilah!

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New Beginnings

This year’s batch of baby Golden Laced Wyandotte chicks arrived today!

Of course we play classical music in the chicken coop… doesn’t everyone?


Hope this makes you smile today!

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She’s A Witch!

No, not Ysoldashe is perfectly charming! Although we got to YDK too late to join in the weekly Knit Night, we were able to tag along as Dixie and her gang took Ysolda to The Livery for snacks and drinks afterward. We ordered up a plate of smelt for Ysolda to try, because you can’t come to Wisconsin and not eat smelt, right? She gamely tried them and even took a couple more on her own.

No, I refer instead to our poor dear Delilah, who is recovering well from her surgery yesterday.

You can click the pic below if you have an interest in seeing the actual surgical amputation site (clean, but not for the meek).

Dr. Bender in Whitehall did an excellent job. We are truly grateful that we can always rely on him. Delilah was feeling so much better after the operation that she attempted to gallop out to pasture with her herdmates! No more “dead weight” (ugh) holding her down and making her wobbly.

“Whoa, there, Nellie, you’re supposed to be in recovery in the box stall for three days!” We finally caught our girl (a little loopy on the pain medications she’ll be on for a while) and convinced her that there were fresh dandelions aplenty – along with hay, mineral, kelp, and a cool bucket of water – waiting for her in her private chamber. She’s enjoying her pampering and the hand-picked weeds being delivered to her door. Her appetite is very good, which is a great sign.

Thank goodness Dr. Bourdon had come out as soon as we noticed Delilah limping. He got her on penicillin therapy right away, so that we were able to halt the progression of the disease through the tissue as quickly as possible, saving Delilah’s life! Again, we are so blessed to have yet another good on-farm goat doctor – they are really few and far-between.


Delilah Just After Birth


Baby Samson and Delilah


Delilah and Samson, One Day Old


Mama Tulip, Baby Delilah, Jeff

After consulting three vets and doing research on our own, Jeff and I were still stumped about what caused Delilah’s leg to go bad. There was no sign of injury in a fence or by another animal; the illness didn’t present correctly for “blackleg” (a tetanus-type infection); and everyone was scratching their heads as to what caused the blood clot that destroyed her leg with no warning… until Dr. Bender mentioned something to Jeff.

“I’ve never seen it in practice, but I remember studying it in vet school – ergot.”

“You mean like rye and witches?” asked Jeff.

That’s exactly what he meant (and if you are Dianne RJ, you get bonus points for knowing what I was talking about when I ran into you today!) But for everyone else, I will “‘splain, Lucy”…


Samson and Delilah at Two Months, with Mama Tulip


Baby Samson and Delilah, nibbling on my scarf.

Remember the Salem Witch Trials? And how young girls were murdered for “being witches” – having tremors, being possessed, seeing visions, going spastic? One theory which explains their behavior is that they had ergot poisoning. Though I see on Wiki that that’s disputed, what isn’t is the effects of ergot poisoning on animals.


Delilah at Three Months

We won’t ever know the source (pasture, hay, grain, oat straw used for bedding), but thanks to Dr. Bender’s recollection we were able to look it up in our copy of The Merck Veterinary Manual (thanks forever for that, Pamela! We use it ALL the time!), confirm Delilah’s symptoms and progression, and solve our little mystery.


Samson, Delilah, Mama Tulip

I guess if something completely odd and out of the ordinary will happen, it’s going to happen at Tuppinz Farm.


In other farm news, due to the ground being litterally covered with fledgling birds, barn cat Barley is being held prisoner in the house (confined due to his penchant for beating the crap out of the other cats). He’ll remain indoors until the birdlings can actually fly on their own. The chickens are quite amused by all the little ones and seem to think they are baby chicks that they are supposed to guard.


Baby Blackbird with Sumatran Rooster

Animals are just so… odd.

Have a great day! I get to sit and knit with Ysolda at Michelle’s tonight!!

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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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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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