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Archive for January, 2011

The calendar still says January, but it’s time to get ready for the spring garden and place our first order for chicks.  This year, we’re giving all our customers a chance to pre order.  By pre ordering you’ll help us ensure that we order the right amount of birds and other feeder animals.

If you pre order 10 chickens or more, we will need a 10% deposit, but for every 10 you order we will give you an 11th bird at no extra charge.  $20 chickens pre ordered = 22 birds on processing day, etc.

Turkeys require a $10 deposit per bird.  That covers the cost of purchasing the poult.  They are expensive to buy and expensive to raise, but we believe they are worth it.  We will be raising Heritage Bourbon Reds and Narragansett turkeys.  You’ll taste the difference.

Goat and lamb are what we call, ‘share prices’.  We are selling part ownership in the animal.  You can purchase a whole lamb or goat, 50% of one or 20% of one.  When the animal is processed at 4 to 6 months of age, you will receive your portion of the meat.  If you buy a whole animal, you can take it anytime you want (after weaning).  Pre ordering a lamb or goat requires 50% deposit on your share.  Please email or call us regarding availability of goats and sheep.

Later this year we may have a limited amount of tilapia.  Based on the huge volume of hits we’ve received on our recent article about Tilapia, we have reason to believe natural, hormone and corn free Tilapia will be popular.  But we intend to go slowly at first to learn to do this right.

Please look over the pre order form.  If you would like a .pdf of it, drop us a note and let us know.  Send us an email to pre order anything on the list.  The sooner you get it back to us, the better.  We will also have most of the options on the store page for deposits and pre pay.  All pre orders need to be in by Feb 14.

Vegetable plants will be ready for pick up after April 7.  Please send us any questions you have.  These are exciting times.

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…but certainly one of the most useful.  I’m talking about Mother Nature’s own miracle grow.  Yes, you guessed it….rabbit manure.  The stuff is magic.  It is natural, organic, great for fruit, vegetables, flowers and even pastures.  It can be applied composted or uncomposted.  We used it partially composted.  Oh, when partially composted, it also makes great food for worms, if you are into vermicompost.

We are offering it @ $2 for a 10 lb bag as an introductory price.  It is available for purchase on the store page, or email us and pay for it when you come to pick it up.  Limit 50 lbs per customer for initial purchase.

 

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It’s going down to about 26 degrees tonight here in the burb.  That’s a bit chilly for these parts.  But don’t let this little winter blast fool you, it’s gardening season.  Technically, its seed planting season, and that’s what we did this evening.  B and I planted about 250 seeds in seed trays in the basement.  We planted 50 Roma tomato seeds and 50 Bell pepper seeds.  The rest are a mixture of cherry and slicing tomatoes along with Ghost, Biker Billy Jalapeno and Giant Jalapeno peppers (perfect for poppers). Oops, I almost forgot, we planted 15 Tomatillo seeds, too.  Yum.

The seed trays are on a warming mat.  The mat will keep the soil warm which should make for quicker germination.  As soon as the plants sprout, we will put them out in our sun room where they will stay until early to mid March when we will take them outside during the day to start hardening them off.  By the end of March, they will be outside all the time.  We will transplant them to the garden in early April.   We may even put some out in late March.  We can do that because our tomatoes and peppers are grown in special self watering containers, called, earthboxes.  They keep the soil warmer which gives us a little extra growing season.

Butter going to meet her new family

Earlier today, we welcomed Chuck and Dianne to our little family.  Chuck and Dianne are miniature cows.  Needless to say, they are adorable.  Dianne is a mixed breed heifer. She is mostly black, with a little white on her belly.  She comes from beef stock (pardon the pun).  Chuck is a mixture of Jersey and Lowline Angus.  He has the Jersey look with the stockiness associated with his Angus heritage.

We got both cows for only a little more than it would cost to inseminate Butter.  Our intent is to breed Chuck to both

Chuck

Butter and Dianne.  Butter will then be milked after she gives birth.  We would keep a heifer calf for future breeding, but a bull calf would be raised for beef.  All of Dianne’s calves will be raised for beef.

The coolest thing is that all three of these cows combined require less space than a single full sized beef cow.  We are extremely excited.  The only drawback is that because we have gone this route, we will not be raising a feeder calf this year for beef.  It will be worth the wait.  Besides, we should get plenty of meat from our chickens, turkeys, rabbits, sheep and goats.

I must confess that operating a farm, even one as small as ours, is often exhausting.  But I wouldn’t trade it for all the sleep in the world.

 

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Amram

He’s here!  Amram the hair sheep.  And we are terribly pleased with him.  He is gorgeous.

We found him by accident back in November when we went to the auction to buy some rabbits.  Those who read this space regularly will remember that Brittan struck a deal for him with his owner without ever laying eyes on the ram.  We saw him once right around Thanksgiving, but waited until today to allow him to be weaned.

Amram has the classic Katahdin look, except he has some horns.  All the Katahdin’s I’ve seen were naturally polled, so it came as a surprise.  It also leads me to believe there is some Dall sheep in his lineage.  Dall are also hair sheep, but have magnificent curled horns.  I don’t believe Amram’s set will be that grand, but it will be fun to see how they turn out.

He has the same kind of raspy  baa that Gabby has.  It is totally different that the dairy sheep.

Right now we have the little guy in a stall in the barn.  We’ll keep him there for a couple days to get used to us.  He is a bit on the wild side.  I think it will take a while for him to settle down and be sociable.  Our East Friesians were easy to handle right from the start.  Gabby was afraid of us for weeks.  The thing that won the day was the fact that her flocking instinct was stronger than her fear of us and since the other sheep were friendly with us she had to tolerate us in order to be near them.  Perhaps it will be the same with Amram.  As with so many things, time will tell.

 

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Meet Karma.  She is our adorable 10 week old Smooth Collie puppy.  Regular readers have been expecting her.  We reserved her weeks ago.  We bought her with the intention of training her as a herding dog.  She joins Guinness, our toothless Belgian Sheepdog and Iris, our Cardigan Corgi with deteriorating hips.  It was these health issues that prevent either of them from being our working dogs.  We chose a  Smooth Collie, because we love the breed.  We fell in love with smoothies via Dream, our Smooth Girl who passed away last summer.

So Karma is not a surprise.  But the rest of the story is.  Allow me to explain.

We got up early yesterday, fed the animals early and hit the road for Milledgeville, a college town about three hours south of here.  We made great time.  The sun was shining and it was 50 degrees in middle Georgia, though a stiff breeze put a nip in the air.

We arrived at the breeders’ and had a great conversation with them.  They brought Karma out to us along with a huge bag of toys, blankets, collars and I don’t know what all.  I accepted the wiggling, gorgeous bundle of puppy, while Brittan continued to chatter away with the breeders.  One of the ladies’ said, “Karma is so joined at the hip with her sister.  It’s going to be very hard watching her go.  Especially since the family that bought the sister had to back out.”

I smiled, turned to go to the car, when I heard a voice, that sounded very much like my bride, query, “How much do you want for the sister?”

“Oh, Crap”, I thought.  Or words to that effect.  Last time I heard her talk like that I ended up with a truck load of rabbits.

“Well, we’ll sell her for less than half price, since you already got Karma and they would be together.”

I turned, in desperate hope, but saw the pleading eyes of the woman I love.

Meet Lady.  She is Karma’s sister and future partner in herding classes.  I’m an easy mark!

 

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I’m a bit late to the dance, but Happy New Year, everyone.  2011 is well under way and things are beginning to get busy.

December was rather peaceful apart from some minor drama over the loss of some of our baby bunnies.  It’s nice to have a bit of a slow down, with no crops to worry about and the animals in their winter pastures.  If it weren’t for all the mud, it would be an idyllic time.  We’ll discuss mud another day.

We had to perform some ’emergency’ chicken processing over the New Year holiday.  Our experiment with a rooster was getting too noisy.  He was a handsome man, but wow, did he have some pipes.  Since the farm is located right next to a subdivision, we eventually had to make life a little quieter for the residents.  He is in the freezer awaiting marinade.

Meanwhile, back at the burb, our stowaway house chicken, “Miss Teeny Tiny”, grew up.  We enjoyed her playing with the dogs and eating grubs out of the raised beds.  It was especially fun, deliberately flouting the HOA rules.  We’re such rebels!

Then, Miss Teeny Tiny, went rogue on us.  The little diva taught herself to crow.  A crowing hen is not normal, but not particularly unusual either, in the absence of a rooster to handle the duties.  It did, however, create some problems for us.  I mean, it’s one thing to hide a hen in a large back yard surrounded by a 6 foot wooden fence.  It’s quite another trying to hide a crowing chicken in the middle of a suburb.  So, she is resting next to the rooster.  Fear not, dear reader, there will be covert chickens lurking in the burb, but not until spring.  We’ll bring home a couple Barred Rocks the first part of April.

Interest in eggs continues to grow.  It’s getting difficult to keep up with demand.  That is what we call, a good problem.  The second group of hens has finally started laying a few eggs and that will help.  A few, though, means…well, two.  But once these girls get in full production, we’ll be able to expand our egg offering.

We are getting ready to plant our tomato and pepper seeds in the basement and fire up the grow lights.  This year, we will have the added advantage of moving the seedlings to the sun room.  I’m really excited.  I really enjoy the wonder of planting seeds and watching them sprout.

In early February, we will be posting a ‘pre order’ form, so that we can get an idea on how much interest there will be in produce and meat this year.  In the meat categories, we’ll be offering chicken, turkey, rabbit, goat and beef.  Perhaps lamb will be an option as well.  We will also have a limited offering of Tilapia.  Chicken and rabbit will be available at various times through the spring and summer.  The rest will be processed in the fall.  More details will come later.

Finally, we’re very excited to announce our first issue of a monthly newsletter, “The Sustainable Life” will come out in February.  It will offer articles, information and access to resources in a variety of subject matter.  The newsletter will have three major sections, Food, Finances and Faith.  We think it will be informative, inspirational and enjoyable.  You can sign up to be on the mailing list simply by emailing us;  info@east-of-eden-farms.com, info@iounomore.com or foodevangelism@gmail.com.

Again, Happy New Year.  Time to get ready for work.

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