It hardly seems possible that it has been almost 5 months since my last blog. Surely, it was just day before yesterday when I said, "Oh, I'll write another one tomorrow...". Summer sure can keep you hopping on the farm. Now that the cool weather has moved in, I have just a tad more time to catch my breath. Let me try to recount our summer in a few paragraphs...
I guess I never blogged about one of the most momentous events so far on the farm. Shaasta, our mini-LaMancha goat gave birth to twin girls on March 9th, Tilly and Luna. They are just adorable. Tilly needed a little help to get out in the world and Luna came sliding right out, no problem. They're as tall as their mommy now.
We put in a HUGE garden this summer. When I say 'we', I guess I should say that I put in a reasonable sized garden and my step-dad thought it should be about 3 times the size I planned. Oh, and once he helped me get it planted, it was time for Ma and Pa to head back to Arkansas to take care of some things! I was a bit overwhelmed. Next, our tomatoes started showing signs of leaf spot. It's a nasty fungus that starts with round dark spots on your tomato leaves. The lower leaves start dying and the fungus progresses up the plant. Our tomato crop was pretty much a bust. I'll most likely plant them in raised beds or the greenhouse next year, as it takes 4 years for the fungus to die in the soil. We did get lots of beans from the garden.
That leads to the next adventure. I learned how to can. Boy, that is some hard work. I know it just seems like 'cooking', but it keeps you hopping. I spent several days canning. We put up pickled beets, pickled okra, tomatoes in sauce and wholes, chili sauce, and beans. If you haven't tried canning before, get a Ball Blue Book and a canning kit. It's a great feeling to put up your own food for the winter.
We had our first hogs butchered. Nigel was our Old Spot/Large Black cross and Mr. Humphries was our Old Spot feeder. We filled our freezer with pork goodness. We have been eating a lot or pork and not complaining. It is wonderful. The bacon is out of this world, and unfortunately, we are out of it :-( We have three more hogs ready to go to the butcher in December. One is sold. We'll try to sell a second and keep one for ourselves. These are two Yorkshires and a Hampshire. Next time, we'll be back to Old Spots. We had a hard time finding a husband for our sow, Martha. He came all the way from Georgia. Luckily, we were able to meet his previous owners in Kentucky. She's very excited to be betrothed. She just wishes um, he would get taller, quicker...
We finally got our hoophouse finished in time for fall. A hoophouse is an unheated greenhouse. We'll be able to grow plants that can tolerate cool weather throughout the winter. This includes root vegetables and many types of lettuces/greens.
We are also currently raising a few cows for beef. We buy them as calves from the livestock auction and bottle feed them until they are weaned. Billy, our first steer, is about 6 months old and getting huge. We call him 'Billy', because it was written on his eartag when we purchased him. He's like a 500 lb. puppy dog with horns. He's very friendly, but you should never let your guard down for a second with such a large animal.
We also have Count Chocula and McCartney who are still on the bottle. We feed them a mix of milk replacer and goat milk. They do very well on it.
We are now up to 14 goats! Animal Hoarders, here I come. No, they are well taken care of and have plenty of space. We finally got our pasture fenced with a lot of help from Pa. The animals are having a high time in their expanded digs. We even took a trip to NY back in May to pick up Jill from the Beekman Farm. It was such a pleasure to meet John Hall. He raises some spectacular, friendly goats.
Here's a pic that has most of our goats. We have quite the herd now. We love them all so much. They really bring more joy than you can imagine to our lives.
Oh, shoot. I almost forgot. We have a line of soap! Chad and I come up with all of the scents, and we have a master soapmaker, Margaret Neff from Nature's Touch Soaps, who makes the soap for us. We are in several retailers and a bed and breakfast. We also have an Etsy store where you can purchase online.
We recently made the decision to give up television! Honestly, it hasn't been that difficult. If there's something we really want to see, we can always watch it online. We just found ourselves wasting too much time in front of the TV. There are so many more things we could be doing that would be productive. We just have to make sure that we have downtime. You will find yourself worn out if you don't give yourself some.
I think I have hit on the major points since my last blog. I am going to do my best to be a regular blogger. I hope they're as much fun for you to read as they are for me to write. We have the beginnings of our website up as well. Visit us at tiltonhollow.com. There are links to our store and this blog. There will be a lot of content added over the next few months. It's great to be back!