Friday, October 5, 2012

our new homestead grows and grows and grows

Fourteen months ago we lived deep in the suburbs of a city with a a postage stamp sized yard. We had a dog, 2 cats, and for a time we had 3 backyard hens. The hens ended up being too loud (all that caaaackle caackling with neighbors' windows 30 feet away was sadly just too much) and we rehomed them at a country living friend's house. We couldn't help but overhear married neighbors fighting, and smell their cigarette smoke and the heavy fragrance of synthetic laundry detergents wafting through our windows.


:) ~huge giddy smile~

I overhear only roosters having spats, happy chickens cackling away (& I don't have to stress out about the neighbors being annoyed!), cow moos, the gobble-gobble-gobble of turkeys, and coyote song. All those synthetic fragrances on the breeze have been replaced by, well, more natural fragrances. ;)

We have a new mama hen. She' s a Banty, or at least some sort of Banty cross. Bantys are said to be great mothers as they still have the instinct to set on eggs in them unlike most of the modern chicken breeds that are just bred for egg production, not mothering. She is so, so much fun to watch. She talks to her babies constantly. She calls them over when she finds food or water, or when one has wandered just a little too far away. And they respond to her instantly. She must have certain chicken words for specific things judging by the way the chicks know just what to do when she talks. She frequently will make a sound that means "come cuddle underneath me, it's time for you to all get warm and have your cozy naps". And they all run right under her just in time for her to sit and fluff herself out over them (there are 4 chicks).

I discovered that she had hatched out her babies this way -  several days ago I found 4 big ol' turkeys pecking at something. I went for a closer look and found them pecking at a chicken. The chicken looked all flat and wasn't moving so I thought maybe it was dead. But then I realized it was the Banty that had been sitting on eggs, and I heard little peeps! I chased the dumb turkeys away and built up some little protective walls around her whole nest area to protect her until her babies were old enough to come out and wander around. That mama hen had flattened her whole body out over all her eggs and babies and was just lying like that, taking the abuse from those huge turkey beaks in order to protect her babies. What an awesome mama.

I kept trying to get pictures of all four of her chicks, but she kept turning and turning her body to protect her babies from my camera! lol (She's hiding 2 of them behind her in this picture)

The bunny babies continue to grow. There is one that is a perfect mini replica of the mama, and there is one that is a teeny runt.

The piglets also are growing and growing. Kris, I loved your comment about worrying your pigs might eat you if you tripped and fell while bringing their feed. I've repeated what you said to several people. I thought it sounded so funny, and now I can totally understand! They are still so little but they nibble and chew on every part of our body that they can get to! They do seem to be trying to eat us. 

Their "pig tractor" turned out brilliant. I'll post about that soon (my husband and father-in-law recycled our porch into a moveable pig pen).

Someone else has recently joined our farm family. Here is our farmers market table. There is bread, garlic, newsletters, soap, eggs, cookies and my daughter's hand crocheted hats. Someone is hiding on it...

Behind the garlic. :) A fellow vendor at the market had kittens that needed a home. I eagerly awaited him being old enough to leave his mama cat so they could deliver him to me at the farmers market. This week he was old enough, so he got to come home with us. We have yet to name him...

And here is the sad story about what happened to our last kitten: Remember our neighbors had given us a wonderful little gray kitten named Smoky. I really, really liked him. Then one day, my husband was driving out of our driveway and the kitten ran directly under the wheels! It was so sad, I heard him screech and went to where he had run to but he was already nearly gone. I pet him and cried. Isn't life funny that way - I can joyfully butcher a dozen rabbits and ducks for our good home raised meals, but then shed tears over a dead cat. I do hope our new kitty doesn't think moving tires look like something good to run beneath...

Me: "Isn't he a nice kitty? Nice kitty.... pet the kitty niiice, like this."

Me: "ACK, no! Not like that!!"

Kitty: "Ahh, this is better. I find that I prefer snuggling to strangling."

Hm. Well, here is another sad story (a lot of farm stories are sad). A friend gave us this lamb a couple weeks ago. He had been born healthy, but some weeks later his legs gave out and he started going down hill. She gave him to us to spend some time trying to save him. If were able to, we could keep him (a nice purebred Katahdin). He began improving pretty quickly! We started feeling hopeful. My clever husband devised a sling sort of thing that he put the sheep in a few times a day. It held up his body weight for him but his feet were on the ground so he could practice using his legs again. A few days later, he was even putting weight on them. He was a very tame, happy little sheep that loved his face scratched. And then suddenly, just like that, he developed this terrible diarrhea and dropped dead about 12 hours later. Weird! And sad. But we tried!

Some people have a pet dog sleeping on the door mat at their front door. And some people have... turkeys. :)

Turkey: "Thanks for leaving this chair out here! It's a good place for me to rest my weary turkey behind".

Here is a man turkey and a woman turkey out on a date. ;)

And! This was actually the main thing on my mind when I decided to post about our homestead growing -  3 more cows have joined us! We had Gertie and her calf (a steer to be butchered in the coming months). Now we have three more Jersey females. The dark colored ones on the right are a mom cow and her 8 month old calf, and the one on the far left is about 5 years old and in milk. My teen son had been milking Gertie every morning. Now he has traded in all his regular morning barn chores for milking a second cow. It's not such a bad deal since he can read the whole time he milks. ;)

Gertie and her steer calf have been so excited to have new cow friends (we didn't house Gertie and her calf together because he drinks all her milk! Even though he's a grown up steer!). So they were probably lonely.

Here's the new calf. She has horns. Yikes. We may not keep her forever... we haven't made any for sure plans yet. But I can't say that I'm excited about keeping a 1,000 pound animal with sharp horns around. (Do Jerseys sometimes have horns? And can Jerseys be this dark? We're told they are Jerseys and I'm not too worried if they're not purebred, but I am curious)

The 2 calves were intently watching my 4 year old walking back and forth balancing on a large log. The mom cow was more interested in eating.

So. Fourteen months ago:
1 dog
2 cats
(which, by the way, one cat, "MNO", ran away to live in the nearby woods soon after we moved, and the other, "Deogee", disappeared only recently. :(  She was about 12 years old and had gotten bony and lazy. I hope she died of old age somewhere and wasn't carried off by an owl. I had her ever since she was inside her mama cat's belly. I did foster care for pregnant cats long ago.)

5 cows
about 35 guineas
around 120 chickens and roosters
8 turkeys
a small number of ducks left as the coyotes have eaten nearly all the poor, slow, waddling things!
about 40 rabbits
1 dog
1 kitten
4 piglets
2 sheep
and, way too many mice. I hope that kitten likes the taste of mouse.


Shared at these blog hoppity hops:

Simple Lives Thursday at GNOWFGLINS.COM

White Wolf Summit Farmgirl's Country Homemaker Hop


  1. Love this post -- it's fun to see your homestead/farm grow.

    Mr. Kitty is adorable. I'm so glad you were able to give him a good home. :)

  2. Looking good on the farm! I love the pics of baby and kitty!
    Turkey date picture was cute. Were they watching a movie or the chicken antics (which is sometimes so much better than a movie!)?


  3. Congrats on all of the new additions to your farmstead! We just got the sweetest kitten that looks identical to yours (ours is named Tiger) and it's often held the way your little farmgirl is holding it! :)

    Our milkcow is a "Black Jersey" (3/4 jersey, 1/4 holstein) and does have horns as well. Although I do think that Jerseys have horns...unless they are bred with a naturally polled cow...but I'm sure someone else will know more than me! Our cow, abby, is in this post.

  4. I really enjoyed this post! I loved meeting all your animals.

    Just a 18 months ago we were living in the city with police cars and ambulances speeding by all hours of the night. Now we live on 20 acres and the only thing we hear is our rooster and guineas haha!

  5. What a sweet growing farm! Your new kitty is so cute! That is how ous get held around here. :) We have two kittens about 5 mo old. They are the nicest cats I have ever owned. I think it is from all the kid time they get. They are so silly. Love the new cattle!

  6. Jersey cows can be a white buff to nearly black in color. Some are polled and some are not...Mona our beloved milk lady had calves of various colors (AI was our breeding method since we didn't know anyone with a jersey bull.) Mona had horns, about half the calves did too. You can trim them off. They didn't bother me, but she did hook my husband on the shoulder once.

    Your baby girl holding the kitty is so cute. The cat is darling, but I prefer the babe! Oh....this post makes me miss fresh milk....and cream, chesse, butter, yogurt ....YUM. And congratulations!
    Sending love and light, Kate Talley

  7. Oh! Do you use cloth diapers? Crazy question..of course you do! Better you want some wool soakers I knit? And a few stray diapers? Let me know.
    Kate Talley

  8. You have a lot of animals for sure. So sorry about the little lamb. You have 2 other sheep? Are they ewes? I am breeding my ewes right now. And goats too. And yes, Jersey cows have horns. They have to be burned off if you are going to milk them. It's best not to have horns on dairy cows and goats. But some people don't mind them. I wouldn't want them around kids. And your son is great for milking the girls! Good for him! Your pigs are growing fast too. Are you going to be burchering the turkeys soon?

  9. Thank you for your comments everybody!

    MummaMarie/Kris, wow that 1/4 angus sure made your cow super dark. Abby is a great name. We need to name our cows and we keep discussing names everyday but never decide. The previous owners called them Yellow Cow, Dark Cow, and Calf. lol We did finally decide on a kitten name - Oscar.

    Our neck of the woods, I'm so glad you commented- I loved discovering your blog. You take such pretty pictures! Blogs full of pretty farm pictures are my favorite. :)

    Kate, I'm going to email you with cow and diaper questions.

    (the other) Kris, we do have sheep. Two katahdins ewes that have been on an extended date with some rams at a friend's house since before we moved here (3 mos ago). We need to get some more fencing fixed up around here to make a space for them to come home to. The way my cow scratches/rubs/head butts me with the top of her head, I really don't want a horned milk cow. I need to do some research though because if I remember right, you can only remove them easily when they're babies, after that the horns are fused with the skull & it's a big surgery...? We will be butchering some turkeys soon! I can't wait for delicious home raised Thanksgiving dinner.

  10. Jerseys can be very dark or very light, and most of them have horns. We always have ours dehorned.


  11. As mentioned, Jersey's can be light and dark. As for horns, you can remove them or not. Some people, once the horns are longer, attach rubber dog Kong's on the horn ends as a safety buffer.

    Almost 18 months ago, we lived in the suburbs of a big city. We had a few chickens and loved the fresh eggs.

    We decided to move and we chose a place in Northern Utah. It's only two acres but we make it work for us.

    Instead of a handful of chickens we now have about 45-50. We have 5 turkeys. (we had one last year weigh in at 40 pounds after butchering and cleaning!) We have 4 piglets. Last winter's pigs are in the freezer.

    We have A jersey in milk that I milk almost daily. A holstein nurse cow and three calves that nurse on them both.

    I have a pet holstein steer that I am breaking to ride.

    We have an angus steer that will go to freezer camp come spring.

    We have a jersey steer that will go to auction before long and an angus jersey steer that we haven't decided what to do with yet.

    We have a quarter horse, a percheron and her new filly and we just bought two Shire horses.

    I think we need more land.... ;)

  12. It is so inspiring to get glimpses into your life, to read where you were 14 months ago!

  13. So blessed! I can hear in your writing how joyful you are over the good changes in your life. :)

    Your little girl with the kitty ( and your reaction) made me laugh. :)