Wednesday, November 23, 2011

He Wants To Be A Model

Otis is looking for a new home.  We had planned to get pygmy does at one point, so at the time getting him seemed like a good idea.  Unfortunately things fell through concerning the does so we really don't have a reason to keep him other than as a pet.  

If any of you reading this has buck goats, they will know why they don't always make good pets.  When they are in Rut, they can get a little aggressive, not to mention smelly.  Also, when he can smell that the does we do have are in heat, it is stressful for him.  

So you can see  why it would be better to find him a home where he can be more useful.  Although I'm not sure he's planning to stay with farm life.  He seems to want a modeling job.  He's working on his portfolio now.  Here are his current head shots:

All of us here at Bramble Valley Homestead (our now official farm name) hope that you and yours have a wonderful Thanksgiving (if you are in the US) if you choose to celebrate it.  

Monday, November 14, 2011


I can hardly believe it's been nearly three months since I last posted.  Life has been busy this fall and sometimes things fall by the wayside.  Somehow it seems it is always those things I enjoy the most that get pushed aside when I get busy.  I have missed posting and hope to be doing it on a semi-regular basis at the least from now on.

Being that it is November and a Monday I thought it was the perfect time to get back into it with a Gratitude post.  As hectic and stressful as the last few months have been, I think I need it.

Today I am grateful for:
1) Knowing where my food comes from.
2) Good friends I know I can always count on.
3) The hugs of my children that somehow make the worst day seem worth while.

What are you grateful for today?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A Sandwich Fit For a Husband

Now and then I come up with something that just begs to be called man food. This is one of those things. It is simply two slices of turkey lunch meat (fried), two fried eggs, a slice of cheese, some mayo and some good German mustard between two slices of whole wheat bread. Delicious.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Family Reunion In The Rain

When summer events are planned, everyone always hopes for the best weather. Unfortunately it has to rain sometimes. As dry as this summer has been, the rain was welcomed in my garden. However, I don't think the family was really in need of watering.

Regardless of the rain, it was a great time. I really enjoyed the time with my mom's side of my family. It was the first time some of them had met my family, and the first time I had seen some since I was a child.

Here are some pictures of the rain:

Thank you to my cousin Camilla for all the work you put into making this happen. Rain can't ruin family bonds. We love you all.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Facebooking Bunny

Meg has decided this little guy is going to be her new showmanship rabbit. She brought him in the house today. Somehow he ended up on my desk and took over my facebook page for a bit.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

What The Girls Have Been Up To

Not long ago Jade and Meg decided they wanted to try breeding their mini-rex rabbits as a way to make some extra money on the side. They need to make some repairs to their hutches and feed is getting more and more expensive.

The first couple of breeding attempts were not successful. As the saying goes, third times the charm. Here are a couple of my favorite mini-rex babies we have right now.

This one is a red broken. I can't tell if it's a buck or doe yet though. It seems to have very good color. If I could convince the girls to part with a some of the pet only rabbits that we have, I might let them keep it long enough to see how it does on a show table.

I would love to have better pictures to show you of this one. It seems to be hard to get good color distribution on a tricolor like this. If this one has good body type when it gets bigger, I think I will try to find a way to let the girls keep it long enough for one show and then sell it.

Most of the babies are what are called "Charlies" in the world of rabbit showing. That means that there is something about them that would disqualify them on the show table. This one and possibly one hymalayan colored baby are the only ones we have out of nine that have any chance of being show worthy.

If we do get rid of these ones, I think we will try to sell them straight off the farm rather than through Family Farm & Home like the girls plan to do with the pet quality ones.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Otis Gets A Friend

Otis has been a wonderful addition to our farm. But since we don't want the girls kidding in December (or January for that matter) we have had to keep him in a pen by himself. I have felt very sorry for him being all alone. Goats are very social and Otis is no exception. He would stand at the fence and call to us until someone would come out to see him.

As you can see in the above picture, he is a very nice looking boy. I was very worried about getting him because I've heard horror stories about pygmy goats being a bit on the wild side and this boy has horns! I love his horns, I think they make him look old and wise. I am so glad that he is loving and kind. Even being in full rut with the girls just on the other side of the wall he has never been the least bit aggressive.

Jade has been saying for the last year or so that she wanted to do a market goat as a 4H project and we have toyed with the idea of raising some goats specifically for meat. Since our budget this year is rather tight with needing to buy hay and already being stretched for our angoras (coming in just two weeks!!) we had no money left for breeding stock.

So Jade opted to spend her own money on this little guy. He is full boar and just six weeks old. With any luck he will be ready to breed in just another two months or so. Then Jade can breed him to Cream Soda, who is part boar, in hopes of getting a nice market goat to take to fair next year.

Normally we would keep new goats separated from all the other goats on the farm for two weeks just to observe them and be sure of their health. Since this buckling is only six weeks old and was just pulled from his mother, we opted to take the chance of introducing him to Otis right away. We felt that would be better for the baby since boars do tend to stress badly when first separated from their mothers.

I love this picture because you can see here just how small Otis really is. He is so muscular that all alone in pictures people tend to think he's much larger than he is. While he is barely taller than the buckling, he is much longer and wider. I wonder how long it will be until the younger one is bigger than him.

So now our only dilemma is what to name the little boy goat.

If anyone is wondering, yes the little boar has horns. We have having them removed on Thursday. I debated since they are already over an inch long and it will be an ordeal. The main reason that I decided to go ahead and get it done is because this goat is for a 4H project. That means that Jade will be the one primarily responsible for handling the care are breeding with him. Yes, we will be helping her where she needs it. However, she is only 10 and boar goats are strong and a boar goat in rut is protective of his females. So I don't want to leave him with weapons that could cause serious hard to any of my children. Wish us (especially him) luck with the dehorning on Thursday.

Next up....adorable baby bunnies.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Still Alive and Well...

It's been brought to my attention that I haven't posted in quite some time. We have been so busy with various projects and family things that I just haven't taken the time from my sleep schedule to post.

Since I have nothing going on this evening, I thought it would be a good time to post a bit of an update. So here's the good and bad of what has been happening here this spring and summer so far.

First off Jade went to the 4H Rabbit and Cavy Expo at Michigan State University in June. I don't remember the full results. I think her Junior team took first place in Cavy Judging. I do know that Jade took second place over all in the state for individuals in Cavy Judging. I'm very proud of her. She is really learning her stuff.

On a sadder note, we lost two goats this year. The first was Ginger Ale. We aren't sure why she died. She had no signs or symptoms of any kind. She was never as energetic or curious as any other goat I've ever met. She just wasn't very "goat like", for lack of a better way to describe it. We wonder now if she may have had some sort of genetic defect that we didn't know about. The other goat we lost was Leah. With her it was coccidiosis. Unfortunately by the time I realized something was wrong with her it was too late. We started her on medication, but it wasn't soon enough.

Luckily the other two goats are as healthy as ever and have been treated for coccidiosis as well to avoid any more tragedy.

On a happier note, it's the time of year for ducklings and chicks.

We have an abundance of ducklings this year. We thought we were limiting the number of eggs in the nests, but it seems that those mother ducks are sneakier than we realized.

We don't have the abundance of chicks that we were hoping for with the bantam chicks though. It took three clutches for us to finally get a hatch, and that hatch only has seven chicks. Seven would be a great number if we were only hatching for ourselves, but we have had a few 4H families that have wanted chicks this year. With any luck we will still be able to get another hatch this summer and maybe make some kids happy.

We also have added our first buck to the goat herd. He's a pygmy goat that I'm head over heels in love with. His previous owners called him "Shaggy", but we decided that the name "Ottis" is more fitting.

We are considering some new options with our goat herd over all here. The kids aren't crazy about the goat milk and although I like it, I'm not a big milk drinker. So adding more dairy goats to our herd really doesn't make much sense.

Jade would like to add a boer goat to the herd so she can raise market goats for the fair. I've also been offered a pair of nice pygmy does. We are also considering adding some angora goats to the herd.

Whatever we decide we need to add either another buck or a wether to be a companion to Ottis. I think the pygmy and angora options are both good ones since I can cross them and grow a nice fiber herd. I'd love to have my own ready source of fiber instead of having to buy it.

Other than animal stuff going on, there is the garden. As always it needs to be weeded. It seems like no matter how much I weed it still needs to be done.

I planted purple beans this year and I am so glad that I did. The plants them selves are such a dark rich green with a hint of purple hue. Then the blooms start out as dark purple buds that slowly lighten as they open up. I love seeing that sort of beauty in my veggie garden. It makes me happy. I think I will grow them every year.

Monday, June 13, 2011

A Walk Out Back

I was going to call this post "A Walk In The Woods", but that doesn't quite fit since most of our walk was around the woods rather than in the woods.

It was so nice to see everything in bloom and all the green around us.

I don't remember ever noticing the Locust trees having so many blooms before. They were just gorgeous this year.

They make up the majority of the woods on the east side of our property.

I was happy to see that the black berries, raspberries and dew berries are all blooming nicely as well. I'm not sure what is going on, but the black berries seem to be early this year. I'm going to have to watch them close. My goal is to make all of the jelly and jams that we need for a whole year. Even better would be if I had extras that I could use as gifts.
Ruger is especially fond of our walks out back since he gets to be off his leash. He does so great with the "Leave It" command that he will even stop when chasing a rabbit.

One of the best parts of our walk was discovering several baby oak trees up on the ridge. When we moved in here almost 12 years ago there was only one young oak tree on the property. I think it was about two years ago that we discovered it was finally producing a few acorns. If all the baby trees survive we will have more than a dozen young oaks.

I love spring and summer when I can walk in the woods and enjoy the sights, sounds and smells. It almost makes me forget how much I hate snow.


Another week has passed. I can hardly believe how fast the time has been going by this spring. At least now that school is done there is a slight possibility I will have a few more minutes during the week to concentrate on my blog. We'll see how that works out.

Today I am grateful for:
  • Sunshine
  • Sleep
  • Kitchen drawers

What are you grateful for today?

Monday, June 6, 2011


It's been a while since I did a Monday morning gratitude post. I apologize for that. The past month has been kind of crazy for us. On top of scheduling too many field trips with the kids school (the nearest of which was an hour away) we have had crisis after crisis here lately. Mostly vehicle related, which kept me house bound for more than a week straight. While I don't mind being home, there's something that leaves me almost feeling caged about knowing I can't just pack up the kids and run to town if I want to. But we made it through and all in all, things are good here.

Today I am grateful for:
  • A vehicle that holds the whole family at once and runs
  • Good neighbors
  • Summer!!!

What are you grateful for today? Remember to find joy in the little things, it will outshine the looming shadows.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

One Less Tooth

Meg lost her first baby tooth yesterday! She was a little scared and was a bit worried that it would hurt or that she would miss her tooth when it was gone. Luckily her sister's stories about the Tooth Fairy and what can be bought with the money made it better.

Unfortunately the Tooth Fairy is a flighty creature. She didn't show up. So when Meg woke up this morning all she found under her pillow was her tooth. Whoops!!

So I told Meg that sometimes things happen to make the Tooth Fairy get off schedule so she has to come a day late. So that has me wondering, what excuses have other moms out there had to give for the Tooth Fairy being late?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


It seems I've missed my Monday morning Gratitude posts for a few Mondays in a row now. So I thought I'd try to get one posted right now while I'm thinking about it and almost have time. It seems the closer we get to the end of the school year, the busier I am. With all the kids outside activities, field trips and needing to finish lessons on time, I am out of time.

Today I am grateful for:
  • Sunshine and warm weather
  • Guinea fowl
  • My dog, who loves me no matter what side of the bed I wake up on.
  • Sleep
What are you grateful for?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Six Years Old Today

Yes, I know I missed TWO Gratitude posts. I will get back to that later. Today something more important is happening. My Megan is turning six years old.

Just look at how sweet and tiny she was at just four months old:

And now look what happens when she gets a hold of my camera:

Happy Birthday sweetie, I love you.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Shearing Day Pictures!

Almost two weeks ago Chickasaw Farm hosted their annual Spring Open House, aka Shearing Day. This is the second year that we have gone. Last year was the start of something for me. It was when I discovered the joy of spinning with a drop spindle. I've been spinning ever since.

When I got the reminder in the mail about this years Shearing Day, I cleared my calendar. We had a great time. Here are some of the best pictures of the day.

Here you can see champion shearer Nick Weaver shearing a sheep.

Here a few ladies are skirting the fleece. Skirting is picking out all the badly soiled and matter wool, poop and vegetation so that when the fleece is sent out to be processed it comes back nice and clean like it should.

Something there this year that wasn't last year were vendors. Evelyn from The Old Farm Girl had some wonderful weaving wool for sale at a great price. I wish I could have bought it all up. I'd love to weave some nice rugs. Maybe next time.

Someone also had all of this beautiful spun yarn for sale. Again, I didn't have enough money for everything I wanted.

These skirts were so amazing! The top is made from the top of old jeans. The lady sews a fabric skirt on and there you have it. I can't believe I forgot to get the lady's name and etsy store address. I will be on the lookout for one of these in my size.

Here are bags and bags of raw fleece on the porch of the store. This was just a small portion of what was available. Inside the store were more glorious things to be had. Yarn, wool, various knitted items, books, spindles, and even a pair of hand carders (which I bought!).

Here is a momma sheep with her two babies that were born not long before we arrived. See the little black one? His name is Odin and I really want to buy him from Sheila. I wonder if he would live OK with my goats? He's just the cutest lamb I have ever seen in my life.

They also have alpaca at the farm. They aren't sheared on the same day as the sheep. I am told they are too unpredictable to do with so many people around. But we do get to look at them and that keeps Meg happy.

This is some of the cast off wool from skirting. This is the stuff that I too dirty or matted to be cleaned, carded and spun.

Here we have a few ladies who brought their wheels and sat spinning in the afternoon. As you can see, even though it was jacket weather the sun was shining and everyone was having a great time.

And of course, the kids have to get some sort of goody at any event like that. A lady there had these beautiful knitted finger puppets for sale. Most were alpacas, which of course Meg got, but there were also chickens and a Santa. Jade took a chicken and Braden chose the Santa. I was so grateful they all chose differently.

If you live in the Reed City area and have any interest in the fiber arts I would recommend contacting Chickasaw Farm to find out about the workshops they host in the spring and summer months.

A huge thank you to Pat and Sheila for opening up their farm for a great day of fun.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


I was out of town most of the day Sunday and Monday. It never occurred to me to make my gratitude post when I finally got home last night. I don't like to do it ahead of time because I like writing what I'm grateful for at the time the post goes live.

Today I am grateful for:
  • Time with my husband
  • Possibilities and choices
  • Spring
What are you grateful for today?

Monday, April 11, 2011


What a beautiful weekend. The temps made it all the way to 78 degrees yesterday. The sun was shining and the kids played and played and played outside all day. All the windows on the house were open and the chickens were cleaning up the garden. We couldn't have asked for a better day.

Today I am grateful for:
  • Open windows
  • Broody hens
  • Green grass

What are you grateful for today?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Baby Goat Pictures

Shamrock is officially living outside with the other goats now. This has not only been the best thing for her and for us, but also for her mother. Leah was just not giving milk like she should. With in hours of moving the baby outside she was finally taking care of her AND nursing her. This was shocking because she was 2 1/2 weeks old and had been only bottle fed to that point.

So now we are letting Shamrock nurse all day but separating her at night so I can milk in the morning. In just the first night, Leah's milk increased by 1/3.

Jade didn't want to give up having a bottle baby, so she takes Shamrock a small bottle in the morning while I milk Leah. That way I can take all the milk and Shamrock won't be completely starving when her mom comes back with an empty udder.

I love this picture. Ruger isn't overly fond of the goats. Cattle dogs don't like things that don't stay put when they want them too. However, Shamrock he finds to be at least tolerable. Probably because she was in the house for a couple weeks living with him.

Is it a goat or a rabbit? Shamrock still follows Jade around as much as she can. She is small enough to just walk through the holes in the livestock panels that make up the goat yard.

Oh wait, it's a Pointer! If you ever need something to make you smile, find a baby goat to watch.
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