Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

What a wonderful day filled with a beautiful sunrise and wonderful family time this morning!  The bible has been read, gifts are opened and the Lord Reigns!

Merry Christmas to all our family and friends

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Freezer's are Full!


One of our goals here at the farm is to raise as much food as we can for ourselves.  That can be difficult when there is just over an acre of land so we have done as much here as we can and gone to other farmers for the rest.

We are able to raise all of our own chickens for fresh beautiful eggs.  If you don't think there is a difference between farm fresh and store bought you would be sadly mistaken.  Ours have been on "strike" for a couple of months so we have had to purchase our eggs.  Even with buying the cage free ones we notice such a huge difference.  Besides there is nothing like going to the hen house and getting breakfast (or dinner) fresh!

We also raise meat birds that we butcher ourselves.  We did two different batches of breeds this year to experiment.  Our usual Jumbo Cornish X Rocks are the typical "grow quickly" bird.  They are bred for that with the bonus being that you spend less on feed.  The first year with the birds was not a good one for us. They got so big so fast that we lost many to broken legs and they would just die suddenly.  They are not a pretty bird.  The next year we decided to see what "free ranging" them would do.  We used our two chicken tractors until they were big enough and then put them in with our small goat herd.  This was two-fold for us, one, the birds turned out beautiful, still large but not at all unhealthy and they grazed and cleaned up the goat droppings.  I know that sounds gross, but that is what chicken are made for.  Read some of Joel Salatin's books if you don't believe me!  This year we also tried a breed called "Freedom Rangers". These too are hybrid birds but not in the growth factor.  You will have to keep them longer and feed them more, but the beauty in these birds is that they were bred to free range (hence the name) and they did beautifully in this capacity.  For Thanksgiving Mom and Dad McCausey and Grandma did the official taste test for the farm.  They roasted one of each of the breeds that we raised.  They were both good, but the Freedom Rangers were by far a better tasting bird.  Again if you haven't compared farm raised and store bought chicken, you are missing out!!  We will raise birds again this coming spring and the Freedom Rangers will be our choice.  
We purchased ours here , another small farm to support.




We have raised turkeys the last 5 years or so.  We have heritage breed Royal Palms right now.  They are a beautiful bird and wonderful tasting.  Again, if you are looking for a 25 pound huge bird, you won't find it in these (although we did dress one out at 19 pounds!).  We need to rethink our ideas of foods and what it looks like and these big sizes only come from breeding and other practices that are unnatural.  After two years of trying to hatch out our own turkey pullets and a scheduled visit to our freezer, our female finally hatched out one chick this past summer.  So the freezer trip was cancelled and "Tom", "Jenny" and "Tiny Tim” live one more year to see if we can get a few more this coming summer.  One (from last year) will proudly grace our Christmas Day table as we celebrate.

We raise fiber animals, angora rabbits, pygora goats and alpacas here also, but these are off limits for any butchering! LOL

The two things that we purchase from others are our cow and pig.  We purchased a half of a cow from Scott's uncle who raises grass-fed Angus beef.  We filled most of our freezers with that a couple of weeks ago.  Yesterday I picked up the final addition to our freezer which was a 216 pound dressed-out pig that was mainly free ranged by friends of ours at their small farm.

Knowing where most of our food comes from and how it was raised is why we do what we do, and having freezers and shelves full this winter is a wonderful blessing for us.

Wishing all of you Merry Christmas and blessings from our farm to yours!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Friday on the Farm...a little late!

I have found myself so busy lately that I am slacking on blog posts!  We spent a lot of time in the past couple of months preparing our home and taking classes to get back into the foster care system!  Yes, we hope to add one or two (or however many God will give) more little rugrats to our brood.  Hubby and I did this almost 13 years ago now and decided with the kids being older it was time to jump back in before we get too old;)  We have completed the process and now are just waiting for that piece of paper to come in the mail to make it official. It has been a busy farm month also, as I have done a few craft fairs without much luck, but my online selling seems to have picked up as of lately so I am thankful for that! 

 The girlies were able to have their annual gingerbread house building party for friends.  Even though they are all older now they still enjoy it and I am amazed at the "structures" that come from graham crackers and frosting.  We had 10 girls here for that and you can see from the pictures it was a great day.

We have done the usual Christmas tree and simple decorating, but we are trying to keep it at that and keep the focus on Christ again this season.  It breaks my heart to watch the news these days, especially the "black Friday" debacle and wonder where we are headed in this nation.  We did not start out in our marriage this way, but I am thankful for my kiddos who understand why we have chosen to celebrate this time of the year.

We will be homeschooling right up until the 21st when oldest is done with college and will be home and then we will take a month off to spend time as a family.  I hope you and your family have a very blessed CHRISTmas season.















We wanted a Charlie Brown tree this year...this was a bit much for me!


We had to pretend to cut it, it was all ready for us!


Our attempt to keep Eldest here for the season...

I love this man dearly.

Turn your head;)




Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Insane

Is insanity for farmers a normal thing?  I received a message from my dear friend Maple at Northstar Alpacas a couple of weeks ago.  She was getting some alpacas brought to her farm.  She wanted to know if I wanted two of them.  For free.  Did she say Free? Yes!  First, anyone who knows me, knows I am always on the lookout for cheap (free is better). After processing the fact that I could get two more gorgeous fiber animals, for FREE, I had to stop and take a breath...and bat my eyes at Hubby.

I had questions for Maple that I needed to know before I jumped at this.  I wanted to be responsible.  First we have a very, very, small farm.  Would it work?  I found out in researching and asking Maple that they don't need a lot of space.  Second, how much do they eat?  What kind of care?  Remember, we struggled to get hay this year because of the drought.  I found out that they will probably be the cheapest animal we have on the farm to keep.  More eyelash batting to Hubby.  We found the extra hay we needed, (I guess the fourth cutting was good here in Michigan), and we told Maple YES!!

They came home, in our Suburban (Yes, I said our Suburban...inside it...not a trailer...two of them!) on Sunday.  They are a bit more skittish than I expected.  They are afraid of the goats.  But today all seems well and we are getting closer to them.  Although we have been hit with the "side" effects of hurricane Sandy, so the weather here is horrible and cold and windy.  We haven't been out as much today to get to know them.

I think I am going to start a 12 step program for farmers and their addictions...nah, life would be too boring!!!

So without further ado, we welcome Santana and Malachi to Tail Spin Farm!!




Friday, October 26, 2012

Friday on the Farm

Remember this garage sale find?

 Well look at it now!  I am amazed at what a couple cans of paint can do for antique wicker furniture.
 Now I have my "nook" corner in our bedroom.

 I had to shear a lot of angora rabbits this summer due to the heat. I usually don't like to spin cut angora, we pluck most of ours for our homespun yarns. But, when I have to, I usually dye it and then run it through the drum carder.  Which is what I spun this week.  Here it is on my ball winder:
 This is after I plied it:  (I used the one ball above and plied it into 2 ply)
 Here it is on my needles.  The scarf should be done and in the shop today.  It is beautifully soft and colorful!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Friday on the Farm

It has been over a week since we took our fall trip to Mackinac Island and I hadn't even downloaded the pictures yet!  We had a wonderful time as usual.  The weather even cooperated for the most part.  We were looking at rain and snow for most of the time we were there, and really only had one day of on and off rain.  We biked and hiked for MILES and still, after 6 years of going up there, we were able to find new places that we had never seen. 
 
We saw snow going up and coming back, I have a feeling that winter is going to be much different than last year.  I can't wait!  We are all set here at the farm with extra hay that I never thought we would find due to the poor weather this year.  I did pay double for the bales, but I know that people in other parts of the country are paying so much more than that.
 
School has been in full swing and I am trying to keep it that way until Thanksgiving.  The Eldest has extra time off during that week, so we will be joining him and having some full family days.  That is one of the beauties of homeschool, we work around our schedule and not others.  We are still all adjusting to him being gone during the week.  He is still adjusting to the "real world" and finding out that he lives a pretty charmed life here. 
 
There are some possible exciting additions coming here to the farm, but I am going to keep you in suspense because they have not happened yet, nor am I positive they will either, I know most people already think we are crazy some days and this will just put us over the top.  Plus it is fun to keep you guessing!
 
I leave you with pictures from our trip and the farm.  Sorry about the quality, I used my phone on most of them.
 
 
 
 
Look closely you will see snow flakes!

The view from the front porch of the Windemere on Mackinac Island

View from the cliffs around the island

Trying to figure out my camera;0

Look close you will see our names and dates
 

silly camera...

me;)

Riding through the beautiful trails

Hubby showing off....

Pondering deep thoughts, or just trying to look like it!

My Sweetie

This is where hubby was climbing on the previous picture- Sugar Loaf

We look tired..we are!

Beautiful Color on the Island

More trails

Cool leaf patterns

Look closely, the Mackinaw Bridge is in the distance

Lunch...good thing we biked a lot

My new favorite game, Qwirkle

We heard the sunsets were beautiful lately, they were right!

Me and a couple of our bunnies

Daughter and too many of our cats...
 

Beautiful double rainbow

I found this on my camera...not sure if this was intentional or not...