Monday, February 29, 2016

Join Me in Welcoming

Please join us in welcoming the first kid of the 2016 birthing season!

I arrived home from a late night of work to discover our first time mama, Daisy, had successfully delivered, cleaned, and started nursing her very first little one. Needless to say, I was impressed! This new mama was in the birth stall, fully up and functioning before the after birth was even delivered.

Of course, this warranted a quick picture and phone call to my right hand farmgirl, Miss K- who was all smiles and squeals. She quickly decided on a name- mama is 'Saisy' (as she says it) and her baby is a little Bud. I believe she chose well.

 Miss K could hardly contain herself long enough to arrive for his welcome. As you can see, they were instant friends. K is quite the goat mama- gentle, soft spoken in the stall, and very gracious in letting mama 'Saisy' know she, too, is loved and is doing a very good job. I, however, was in the dog house because I forgot to bring the raisins (every animal gets a treat from Miss K when she comes to see them). Shame on me.

Today, Miss K still reels with delight in joy of new farm babies. We hike out there regularly for nibbles and nuzzles from this sweet guy- and, of course, keep our eye the other new mama to be who is showing some healthy signs of kidding.

Let's join Miss K in her enthusiasm and welcome Daisy's Buck to the Scaife Family Farm!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Preparing for the Storm

As a homestead farm, we live our lives tied to the weather. Any hint of inclement change tends to stir a fever in our souls to gather and prepare. Me, I am driven to prepare for the worst and hope for the best- with my animals and my crops it rings even more true. 
Living in a state where all four seasons can happen in any given day has taught me to be ready for anything. Today's humid heat can give way to tonight's hard freeze- keeping things healthy can be tricky. We have does ready to kid, baby chicks to keep warm and dry, as well as three gardens, the donkey, buck, barn cats and a dog. In an inclement situation we assess what the greatest need is and work from there. 

Adult birds should be fine in their coop as long as food and water will be available to them. If the day is a dark one, supplemental light will help. Baby chicks that are not fully feathered have to be kept dry. Since they are unable to maintain their heat, lamps, bedding, and shelter are vital. My preparedness tip- be ready with an indoor warming box, towels, and a low heat hair dryer in case of emergency. 
Goats are fairly hearty and adapt well- our bucks and mature does have shelter, feed, water and raised areas for resting off the ground (old pallets work well for this). Does that have been bred need a bit more mothering; they have a heat lamp available and are checked regularly if their kidding is near. Many a birthing season has been kick-started by a good storm! My preparedness tip- have the birthing kit ready, towels, warming box, and a fresh stall that is reserved only for the new mama and baby. 

The rest are content with simple shelters to get away from the rain. Doc often refuses shelter no matter what- I guess it's a donkey thing. Ben will shelter with the barn cats in the hay and feed area. As for the gardens, raised beds have helped quite a bit with flooding issues. I do keep frost cloth on hand as well as some simple hoop frames to drape it over. 

Last but not least, have a way to stay warm and dry yourself. I keep candles, lanterns and firewood along with plenty of blankets and towels. If the risk could mean long term outages I wash up clothes, dishes, and try to cook a few meals that will last and eat well cold if we need them. 

Here on my homestead, we have learned to be prepared for any animal to end up in the house, or under a lamp, or wrapped in a blanket- or even tucked in your overall pockets. 

For more information about storm preparedness, consider reading:

And...share your storm prep info!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Miss K's New Loves

They arrived on the homestead farm Saturday morning; creatures great and small welcomed them with nuzzles and noises. No welcome was so wondrous as the one that came Sunday afternoon as our littlest farm girl found a whole new set of loves. 

Little Miss K has been combing the pages of our favorite poultry catalog for weeks. Each time revealed the struggle within her to choose only a few (a feeling I know well). She practiced her poultry care techniques with little fluffy toy chicks in order to be fully prepared when the real ones arrived. This weekend as a set of chicks found their way to our brooder, Miss K joined the ranks of crazy chicken ladies everywhere! 
Genuine enthusiasm and joy beamed from her dimpled face as she made her way to the brooder. Soft whispers of love and adoration were given as she crouched down and carefully let them settle at her presence. Hand feeding, gentle cuddles, and just plain sitting and observing their antics was the only thing on her agenda that day. Quite an attention span for an almost two year old!

I grew up with baby chicks. My children grew up with baby chicks. Now our little Miss K will grow up learning the many wonders and amazing life lessons chicks can give. Welcome to the family, Miss K's new loves. The 'wittle beebee shickiez' have arrived!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Weekend Wilding

I am an outdoors soul with an intense need for sunshine and fresh air. While my job does afford me opportunity for outdoor exposure, some weeks do find me inside more than out. This week was hit and miss- and with the sun warming the soil, the ability to be inside was quite a strain! That is what weekend wilding is for!!
Friday finds me fidgeting and fussing for the five o'clock hour- that magical moment when I can strip off the constrictions of professional life and don the clothing only nature can appreciate. The emotional and mental strain of the week has drained my energy reserves bringing a need for immediate immersion in the wild world. My fast fix is a walk.. at the wooded park, among the gardens, or even along the country road I live on. Getting myself away from media, social mayhem, and the demands of bureaucracy is a number one priority and that walk kick starts the process.
From there, it is time to steep myself in the habits and happenings of homestead farming. Ben and I stroll the pastures and commune with the herds and flocks, catching up on the musings of the hens as they cackle their complaints about rations and roosters. We find ourselves in the garden breathing deep the fragrance of herb and soil all the while nibbling tasty bits of this and that. Settling in the outdoor chairs, warm coffee is sipped as Ben checks every nook and cranny for any naughty beastie, eventually settling himself at my side (or on my lap). Birds sing us into a soothing mood, offering gentle meditation in the presence of God's handiwork.
End of day finds me at the kitchen sink watching the sun set through the window. There is food to prep, dishes to tend, and laundry to sort, but the setting sun never looks the same twice so those things can be done as soon as darkness falls. This painting by God's hand is meant for us, yet so often we miss it. Weekends are for sunset watching.
It is true, there are a bounty of chores to be done on the weekend- especially in the spring..yet, there is also time for stopping to gaze up through the tree tops at the beauty of filtered sunlight. Time must be founds to nuzzle soft muzzles and scratch furry ears. Before I know it Monday will find me.. for now, my weekend intention is to steep myself in the beauty of wild things and breath in the wonder all of nature holds.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Magical Mystery of Roasted Things

Imagine with me, if you will, a crisp yet tender bite. A bite that is sweet, yet savory that leaves a hint of heat on the tongue but leaves you wanting more. Open your eyes and see the colors: bright orange, deep green and bold purple. What if this bite could complement any main dish? Could use any veg you have on had? Could be the perfect way to use up the end of harvest bits? It can.

This strange, magical bite is easier than you think. A simple act of tossing together bits of veggies with oil is all the prep needed. The key is temperature... and 425 degrees is the magic number. 

Roasting veggies brings to the surface natural plant sugars hidden deep withing their cells. These sugars caramelize leaving crispy bits on the surface while leaving a tender interior. Take this process one step further by adding a favored herb or spice. For example: carrots with parsley, potatoes with rosemary, green beans with thyme. Get creative and use cauliflower with some curry powder or broccoli with a creole seasoning. There are endless possibilities and pairings to try. 

There is no need to keep it to single veggies- mix things up. Toss several veg together and roast them in your favorite flavor combination. Be sure to keep the cuts close in size- I like mine rather 'rustic cut' meaning big pieces left rather natural. As for time, veggies about the size of a thumb roast for 20 minutes if you like them tender crisp, or 35-40 minutes if you prefer them softer. 

One exception is greens. Kale, spinach, mustards, and collards are amazing roasted-- but: add an acidic flavoring (lemon, vinegar, balsamic) with your seasoning; massage it in; roast only 10 minutes and they will give you a wonderful 'chip-like' result. 

Last tip- use parchment if you have it! I like the less messy results that come from lining the pan, otherwise you get to scrub a sheet pan-- yuk. 

To sum it up:

Oven 425 degrees

Veg cut 'thumb size' or 2" pieces

Parchment lined baking pan or lightly oiled baking sheet

Toss with oil and salt; add spices if desired
Greens get additional acidic element

20 minutes for crisp tender; 35 for tender


Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Little Hands on Deck

Of the many changes that have come to the homestead, a grand baby has been one of the most precious. Miss K has been a part of our lives for nearly two years, and in that time she has grown to be quite a little homestead hand.

She may look like a little doll, but this gal is a strong force to be reckoned with. Her little feet carry her to every corner of the Scaife Family Farm; barns, pastures, gardens and playgrounds are no match for her. K hauls feed, tosses hay, and works the garden right along side her Grand-daddy and me.

Every animal on the farm runs to greet their favorite little farm girl; they know she always comes baring gifts... raisins, carrots, and the tops of strawberries! Her hugs and kisses are welcome and met with tender nuzzles and noises. Eggs are gathered.. one at a time to the fridge and back. Nest boxes are fluffed every time she is here. Is it any wonder they love her?

As she grows, so do her skills. Where once she simply walked through the garden observing the growing things, now she pulls weeds, harvests, and waters. Instead of following us during chores, she pitches right in carrying feed and hay right alongside us. There is no need to drag her along, she visits all the different jobs several times in a day making sure little bits of things get done as we go.

The most important thing to remember when working with little ones at our heels.... to them all work is play. When K and I work together my expectations are light and flexible: we might work one row of weeds, clean one stall, or wash only a handful of dishes. That is all okay; it will get done, just slower that if I were doing it myself. It is about the process, not the results... and the process is a beautiful thing to be a part of.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Embracing the Role of a Veteran Parent

The youngest two- all grown up
Recently a friend of mine delivered her first precious baby just as my youngest 'baby' flew the coop. Her parenting journey is just beginning as mine seems to have ended. Or did it? As we chatted over the joy of her beautiful little treasure, the reality set in: our parenting journey never really ends, it just changes. 

Enter the season of the veteran parent. 

Instead of being on demand, educating, protecting and providing for the needs of our children, my husband and I have now found ourselves in a 'hands-off' role. We are now long-distance advisers to adult children; the counselors they turn to when they need a booster shot of parent wisdom and tough love.

Instead of having babies to rock and homework to help with, we are now grandparents that enjoy the little ones for a day.. or from a distance. We are there to encourage other parents plodding the path we have already trod. 

As a veteran parent, I can gather my compassion and share my wisdom with the world around me. I can seek opportunities to be available to my grown kids and for those struggling to survive their tender fleeting years with littles and youth. I can be available, open and willing to step alongside and listen to one who is frustrated, broken, grieving and ready to quit; hold the hand of the parent in despair or the one who feels all alone. 

Friends, whatever stage of parenting we are in... we are all in this together. Let's encourage one another and be available to lend support!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

A Harvest In Spite of Myself

Weekends.. despite my best intentions, they often do not include enough time in my gardens. Recently, the weekends found me struggling to play catch up with all the chores I didn't get to during the week. The Lord's mercy offered plenty of good rain and sunshine, allowing the garden to grow in spite of my absence. 

So far this winter I have managed to harvest kale, peas, carrots, onions, broccoli, lettuce, spinach, cabbage and cauliflower along with a plethora of herbs. Amazing!

The days are lengthening and warming causing the garden to call out for attention. This weekend I managed some cleaning and weeding along with setting a few purchased transplants of broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage. While transplants are usually started in my greenhouse, the time got away from me- so purchased transplants it is. 

My new resolve is to change not only my weekend gardening routine, but to also find some time during the week. Fortunately, little Miss K loves being in the garden... even more incentive! 

Here is to a new garden season and the possibilities ahead!

Friday, February 12, 2016

Getting Back to Me

Hello, my name is Michele. It has been over a month since my last post.

Already this year, this small life has had so many not so small changes. I'm not sure why these particular changes have been so challenging- change happens all the time. For some reason, this season of change tipped my bucket and set me off my course. 

Enough already. Enough letting things tip my scales and topple my blocks. It is time to get back to me- to the things that make me tick and push my drive; to the things that feed my soul giving me the charge to function. I have had enough moping and bemoaning the changes. 

Starting today I am getting back to...
Teaching! I am an educator by nature and there is no way to hide from it- but I was trying. These days I have a full time job which offers me the opportunity to teach a wide range of beautiful souls a wide range of subjects I love. 

Cooking! Yes, my job involves cooking- but I mean the ebb and flow of taste and trial.. the experimentation of flavor, texture and color. Do you know how hard it is to cook when there is only one or two to feed?

The Barn Things! Little chirps and peeps- fuzzy baby goat noses- it has been far too long. There are two does ready to pop and I am very ready to cuddle me some babies!

Gardens! Three sad, neglected gardens long for love and spring is a great time to jump in. As the days get a bit longer, hopefully I will be able to rewild myself after hours with some much needed soil and garden therapy.

Sewing! So many empty rooms in my house are calling to me for useful rearranging, one of which is the sewing room. My fabric stash is overflowing- all I need is time/ My son is going to need a manly quilt to keep him warm when he finishes basic training.. and my grandbaby will need a bigger quilt to cuddle. I need to get busy!

Blogging- believe it or not, ,,my mind wanders over posts yet to be written, stories yet to be shared, and the many untold dramas that daily life holds. The only thing keeping me away from here has been me and my anxious, noxious self- pitifulness. Time to get over it.

Today is a new day in a new season of life. It is long past time to let go, leave behind, and move on. It is time to get back to me. Let's walk this path and see where the trail leads us. Come join me!