Welcome to Antler Valley Farm

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A New Decade of Adventures

Well, 2020 is here.  Whoo-hoo!  365 days full of new adventures and possibilities.  What could be better?? Uh, not much.  That’s pretty awesome stuff!

I will always look forward to sunrises regardless of what year we’re in.

I always have so many things I want to accomplish every year that a new year can be a little overwhelming.  Ya know what I mean?  I stopped calling them resolutions a long time ago because it seems so official and so serious.  That makes it somewhat stressful for me.  I know that’s a little ridiculous.  Okay, a lot ridiculous but that’s just how I roll.  So, my crazy mind refuses to call them resolutions anymore.  Just goals.  Or better yet, dreams!  Now, doesn’t that sound better?  So much less stressful, isn’t it?  Yep.  No stress, just dreams.  Ahhh, yes.  Hopes and dreams.

We have so many hopes and dreams for this farm.  It’s a little hard for me to patient sometimes!

Obviously, some of our dreams include building the farm up and hopefully gaining an income from the farm, establishing new pastures and improving the ones we already have.  We would also like to add more cattle, some sheep and pigs and of course I want more horses.  Just enough to fill up my barn.  Ya know, like 6 or 8.  Yeah, that should do it.  Hey, I said dreams people!  It’s all about dreams over here right now!!

If you look really hard and squint your eyes and maybe tilt your head a little you can see the ridge that Jim has cleared for our new house.  Another hope and dream for the new year.

Okay, in all seriousness, we would also like to start on building our dream house.  We are optimistic that we can get all our ducks in a row and start around fall.  Maybe.  Again, this is about our dreams for this year.  Now that I’ve told you a little about our dreams for the year let me catch you up on our happenings in January 2020.

First, I am going to share with you a little story that proves just how brilliant my husband is. Just after Christmas Jim decided to help Maleah put up the turkeys since the weather was miserably cold and wet.  Jim is one of the most patient people I know….. but his patience does not extend to turkey silliness or stubbornness apparently.  The turkeys can be challenging to put up to say the least.  And they are too silly to go into the coop on their own so you have to go find them and carry them into the coop.  One by one.  It’s so silly.  Silly turkeys.  We repeatedly threaten to leave them out and let them get eaten by a coyote but we have yet to follow up on that empty threat.  I think the turkeys know we’re bluffing at this point.  They just wait for us to come find them and carry them to the coop every night.  They are so ridiculously spoiled.  Silly turkeys and silly us for allowing this crazy behavior to continue.

I’ve read that Bourbon Red turkeys are supposed to be one of the smartest breeds of turkeys. Really????? That really makes me wonder how other “less smart” turkey breeds even survive.  Seriously!

Well, Jim decided having stubborn, ungrateful turkeys flap their wings in his face while he was carrying them to the coop was not going to continue.  He had a better plan.  He had Maleah hold the flashlight in front of them and he shooed them into the coop.  The new plan worked great until a traffic jam happened at the door of the coop.  One Tom turkey turned and was headed back to his favorite tree stump to roost for the night.  Jim quickly grabbed him by the neck and half-pushed half-pulled him back toward the door.  When he let the turkey go the poor animal crumpled to the ground in the most dramatic and hilarious fashion.  (You should get Jim to reenact this story.   It still cracks me up!)  Maleah was horrified and let out a small scream thinking her turkey was just choked by her Dad.  Jim felt awful and started poking the turkey yelling, “Get up, lazy!”  Oh, I wish I could have been there to see this happen!  I can only imagine how hilarious it was!!

The turkey finally opened his eyes.  Then, slowly raised his head.  Next, he wobbled to his feet and scurried into the house to escape another fate close to death.  This particular turkey would run from Jim for weeks which made it quite easy to get him put up at night at least.  Lesson learned apparently.  HA!

So, we learned that the fastest way to control a turkey was to grab them by the neck.  It sounds cruel, I know.  We had no plans to ever use this knowledge again really.  I mean, why would we?  We don’t want to be know as a turkey choking farm.  But…

A few weeks later 2 of the tom turkeys got into a huge fight and I was able to use that valuable piece of knowledge.  Maleah was screaming and throwing water at them but they were really going at it.  Once I saw blood flying I knew I needed to step in and break it up.  I tried throwing water at them first as well.  They didn’t even pause for a second.  Then, I started swinging my jacket at them.  Nothing.  So I finally threw my jacket over both their heads and quickly grabbed their necks.  I’m not proud to admit it, but I did squeeze their necks for a few seconds until they realized I was serious and that their precious air supply was in jeopardy.  Suddenly, their silly turkey fight seemed very unimportant in comparision to their precious oxygen supply.  Maleah quickly stepped in and grabbed one Tom and took him to our “isolation” cage while I put the other angry Tom in another coop for a timeout.  I would have never thought to choke a turkey to stop a fight but Jim has once again astounded me with his genius!   Ha Ha!!

January was such a wet month that not a lot of work got done outside this year.  Every week seemed to call for 4-5 days of rain.  While lots of rain is not conducive to much outside work, it sure does make for lovely, foggy mornings.

This is the kind of rain we had in January 2020.  This isn’t normally a creek.  It’s just the woods beside our driveway.  There’s normally nothing to see here.

Except when we receive inches of rain in a few short hours.  Then the ditch beside our driveway becomes a small creek.  Well, okay then.

I guess our pastures have adequate irrigation for now.

With all the rain, Jim decided it was the perfect time to burn some of the really big brush piles that I have worried about.  Some of them are so big that I was afraid they would get out of control and burn down our farm and all our neighbors farms as well.  Jim’s idea was perfect though.  Burning brush piles that have sat for 2+ years is much safer when it is pouring inches of rain at the same time.  Jim got soaked sitting on the dozer watching the burn piles in flooding rains but it really was worth it.  Most of the piles burned before the rain put out the fires.  The next time we go to burn the piles it will be much safer with all the leaves and pine needles already burned up.  Great job Jim!

This is what’s left of a huge burn pile that has been there for several years now.  It’s really just a pile of small sticks and a few stumps now.  Yah, baby!

Just beyond that small burned pile is a larger burn pile in the middle of the trees.  Jim was able to safely burn it and then pile it back up to burn again in a few weeks.  I’m hoping we can finally get all the piles burned this year.  Then, we can finally get all the grass planted in the pastures.  I hope… We just have to get the Ph of the soil to come up some…..That’s another story I’ll save for later.

With all the rain, I dcided to switch gears to some inside projects and worked at the barn.  I managed to build a small calf stall next to the larger cow stall that I milk Daisy in.  Of course, Clarabelle prefers the large and roomy horse stalls when she comes into the barn.  She refuses to go into her cozy little calf stall by herself.  She always veers left and promptly lays down in the horse stall.  That little stinker.

Clarabelle’s stall is lovely.  Well, except for the bent gate but other than that it’s a lovely little stall that any calf should love, right?  Right.  Apparently, Clarabelle has higher expectations.  Oh, dear.  Another spoiled animal.  Of course.

I also was able to put a final coat of polyurethane on all walls at the barn.  Whoo-hoo!  Everything is now fully stained and sealed.

Okay, the barn is pretty much all done now.  Now where are my horses?????

Then, we started looking for a refrigerator to go in the tack room.  I had grand visions of storing extra milk in a barn refrigerator until I could make cheese or butter.  And of course, Maleah needed a place to store her 20+ dozen eggs each week.  Yes, Maleah is selling over 20 dozen eggs a week!! She even has a waiting list of a people and stores that want to buy from her.  Her little egg business is taking off quite well.  I’m one proud Momma.

It took us a few weeks to find a scratch and dent refrigerator that was in our budget but we finally did and it has worked out perfectly.

Having a new refrigerator at the barn meant that we had lots of room to store eggs and milk.  Sadly, we didn’t have that much extra milk to store.  We were only getting a few quarts of milk a day and we were drinking that up almost daily.  So, we called the vet back out to chat with him again.  Ultimately, we decided to stop milking Daisy until we wean her calf around 6 months.  Most milk cows wean their calves around 3-4 months but I can’t do that to sweet Clarabelle.  I really want her to drink all the milk she can to grow up to be big, strong and healthy.  So, I will continue to feed Daisy grain and hay and pray that once Clarabelle is weaned we will be able to milk her again.

The kids were so excited to celebrate 100 days of school but they actually didn’t go to school that day because of bad weather.  Camden also had his first project due.  He decided it was going to be a Superhero theme.  Of course!

Cam was so proud of this poster.  Some of the other kids had some impressive looking projects but I was very proud that Camden did this project almost entirely by himself.

Later in January, Maleah and I attended a workshop at BRCC on a soggy day.  It’s always nice to meet other farmers and hear new ideas.  We also attended a pricing seminar at ICC a week later.  Let’s just say that doing pricing formulas and equations at 9pm at night is a little taxing for my brain.  I just smiled and nodded my head through the last few examples.  The next morning I sat down and reworked them when my brain was actually functioning.  My brain is an early bird, not a night owl.  So, if you ask me a question that requires too much thought after 9pm you might not get a correct answer or even an answer that makes sense!  So, please refrain from asking me questions until the next day.  Thank you!

I thought I would share some of our farm pictures from early 2016.  I can’t believe it’s been that long OR that things look sooooo different now!

This was our farm in January 2016.  It wasn’t much to look at.  In fact, it looked like a warzone really.

Now, that warzone looks like this.  Our beautiful fields look like this in the summer.

This was going to become the pasture next to the road.  Whoa, that doesn’t look like a pasture in that picture.

 A little different angle, but this is the same pasture.  Wow!

Our fields have come a long way.  This year my dream is to get the Ph of our soil up so that more grasses will grow more efficiently.  Raising the Ph of the soil will also allow our pastures to not only look greener and fuller but to allow us to have more animals.  Yep!  Just another one of our hopes and dreams for 202o.

 

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