New Noah Farm Animals

            We were offered some chickens from a friend of my daughter-in-law a few weeks ago.  She was told the birds were mostly hens,  but when they went to pick them up, it was a sad situation.  My son and his wife felt like they rescued these chickens.  The birds were in a dark shed with a screened door.  They did have food and water, but two of the birds were so sick, my son had to put  them down.  

       The rescued birds are a motley crew, but I have really grown to enjoy them because they are such characters.  No two of them are alike.  They have been in quarantine for two weeks now and are being allowed to free range and meet the rest of the farm animals if they want. This post will be mostly pictures of the birds and introducing them. 

       The birds we already have on the farm are Rhode Island Reds, Barred Rocks, Buff Orpingtons, and Ameraucanas, plus turkeys and ducks.  The above picture shows some of these breeds. 

       Dapper Dan is the head rooster over the Rhode Island hens.  He has also attracted some of the Barred Rock girls away from their rooster because he is quick to call out when he has found a bug and shares it with them.  His flock has grown quite large because of his generosity.

        The head rooster over all the other birds we call “The Donald.”  He is very protective with his group of hens and has come after Dapper Dan a few times.   They stay separated most of the time because Dan’s group is allowed to free range, and Donald’s group is in a big fenced-in area.

       What we didn’t know before the motley crew was picked up was that there were several roosters in this group too.  We didn’t want more roosters, but couldn’t leave them behind.  But these roosters are very unusual.

       The largest I call, “Pierre,” because he looks like a fancy dressed Frenchman.  He is probably the head rooster of his group of hens because  the other two roosters are very small.

       The next rooster we named “Mr. Bell Bottoms” because of the all the feathers on his legs.  He is beautiful and shy.  With all the leaves turning colors, he is perfectly camouflaged as he struts around.

         Then there is the bold little guy we named “Big Mac.”  He tries to find a high place to perch and let out a high pitched cock-a-doodle-doo. It always makes us laugh.  He thinks he is a big rooster and seems to have no fear adventuring out.   I was working outside on a new flower bed, when Big Mac and a turkey hen wondered over to see if I was digging up some fresh bugs.  The big turkey hen followed Big Mac all over the yard.  I think they have become friends and it is so sweet!

       The next two, my daughter-in-law has named “The Frizzles.”  I call them “The Frizzle Sisters” because they are the same breed, just different colors.

      The rest of the crew hangs out roosting most of the day and are normal size, except for one.  We are not sure what kind of bird she is, but she sticks close to this group of darker birds.    She feels safe with them and we sometimes see her huddled up beside one of them.  We call her “Nugget.”

        So far none of these birds have started laying eggs.  We don’t know if they just haven’t matured yet, or their health is still recovering.

         A few of the roosters have already been re-homed,  but we decided to keep Big Mac and Mr. Bell Bottoms.   I even mentioned to my husband that maybe we could become a rescue farm, getting two of  different kinds of animals since we did name our place,  “The Noah Farm.”  But he quickly said “no,” even though I know he likes our new birds.

         Big Mac and Mr. Bell Bottoms hanging out together.

NEXT POST:   Pictures of our new barn and workshop!  We are almost done!

 

How Failure Taught Me What My Passion Is

       There’s a famous line I’m sure you’ve heard somewhere along in life:

       “What would you do if you knew that you couldn’t fail?”

       Well, I’ve failed miserably at gardening this past year.  In fact, ever since we’ve moved to the country and tried to have a bigger vegetable garden, it has been a big, fat failure. This is what my garden looked like this year.big garden

       Yep. It’s a jungle! You used to be able to see the rows where the pumpkins, watermelon, tomatoes, peppers, brussel sprouts, broccoli, and cucumbers were planted.  My son and husband helped me get good aged horse manure from a neighbor. We put in a drip line system that was even on an automatic timer so I didn’t have to worry about watering it. 

       But then, everything started dying. I pulled out the tomato and pepper cages, the dead plants and harvested my one single spaghetti squash. I told God and my husband I was done with gardening. It was too much work, too hot, and not worth the money, time, and effort. I was angry, frustrated and tired.

       But once I calmed down, I realized my gardening wasn’t a total failure. In our three raised beds, the herb garden did fairly well. I got a few onions, cucumbers, and quite a bit of lettuce and kale. One tomato plant has survived and I even harvested  some cherry tomatoes!

      Why was this garden failure so important?  Because of what it taught me.  First, my garden was saying loud and clear, “something needs to change,” and second it spoke to me about what is my true passion.

         It was after reading these words from the  book, Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert, that  my eyes were opened. 

     “What would you do even if you knew that you might very well fail?

       What do you love doing so much that the words failure and success  essentially become irrelevant?”

         I might have been discouraged, but I really didn’t want to quit because before I knew it, I was researching why my tomatoes and peppers died.

Photo by Phillip Larking

          Then in the process of trying to figure out an easier way to keep the weeds out of my gravel driveway, I came across a YouTube channel that changed everything for me:  Garden Answer.com.   I started watching more and more videos and began to learn, be inspired, and have hope. I started to believe that maybe, just maybe, I could someday have a beautiful, abundant garden.  Even in my most discouraging moments, I still wanted to press on and get better at gardening even if it meant a lot of hard work and failures.  (I encourage you to watch her YouTube channel if you love gardening).   

        I know I still have a ton to learn about gardening and I plan to spend the winter doing just that so next year at this time I might actually harvest a pumpkin or two.

Photo by Jospeh Gonzalez

       But my garden failures have been valuable.  I’ve learned I love the colors and textures of flowers and vegetables. I love digging in the dirt, pulling weeds and watching the miracle of life come from the dark, wet dirt. Being in nature is a joy even when I am hot, sweaty, sniffling from allergies  and have dirt under my fingernails. The weirdest part is, I don’t know why. It’s just the way God made me. I learned I love it so much that I’ll keep doing it even when I fail again and again. To me, that’s  the best definition of the word “passion.” 

       If you’d like to learn from my failures this year, read on for some garden tips.  If not, I hope you will remember these words . . .

What do you love doing so much that the words failure and success  essentially become irrelevant?”

       Answering this question just might reveal what your true passion is too.

Photo by Leon Oblak

 

 My 2020 Garden Lessons:

  • I overwatered my tomato and pepper plants. I thought they were dying from the heat and not enough water, so I watered them more, which was actually drowning their roots.
  • My whole garden was in too shady a spot and is composed mostly of clay soil.  Because I live in hot Kansas, I thought they needed shade and lots of water, but too much water and not enough sun can kill them too.
  • Plants need soil help too. My pH was wrong. I didn’t add the right soil amendments to give them a healthy start.
  •  Flowers in pots and beds need food too.   I never fertilized my flower beds once this summer. I put a granular feeder in with my flowers  when I planted them and thought they would be good. Feeding them once a week with a liquid fertilizer is essential  to keep them healthy and blooming.
  • I didn’t  fight back insects who were  getting their daily meals  from my plants.   Learning about insecticides (organic or chemical) and different pests is a must. 
  • How to maintain my gardens by a zone maintenance plan. Click on this link to watch  – – – How We Keep On Top of Garden Maintenance (by Laura of Garden Answer).
  • Horse manure can actually be bad for your garden.   When horses eat hay that has been sprayed with chemicals, it can actually stay in their digestive tract and be harmful to plants causing them to produce poorly or die.  I had put my garden in an area where horses had once lived and then put additional aged manure in my garden.                              (Potted plants and carrots image by Markus Spiske)   

       These are just some of the lessons from my garden this year, but the most important one was learning what my passion is.  

A Barn Re-Loved – Part 2

        I know in my last post there were no pictures of what the new barn would look like.  Sorry to disappoint.   While the inside is not done, the outside is very close.   There is always so much dirt, sweat, and hard work before you get to any of the pretty stuff.        Here’s the family tearing off nails and sorting wood that can be saved for future projects.

       The framers have finished the walls  inside and the electrician and plumber are almost ready for their inspections.  We’ve had delays because of trying to figure out, along with the county inspector’s help,  building code regulations when a living space is put in a barn.  It turns out a fire wall has to be between the barn and any living space which means this large inside barn wall (on the right side of the picture below)will need to be covered up with drywall. 

       We are so disappointed that we will loose a big portion of the inside old barn look that we were trying to save,  but the good news is we have found a way to make this new wall look old and rustic without costing a fortune, but that is for a future post. 

       Here is some of the work that has been going on since April.

The old barn siding was taken off and the framing of the workshop added to the back.

       View of the back workshop attached to the barn.

     Metal roof was taken off by a crew in about two hours.

                    Inside view of barn without the roof on. 

       And what the barn looks like after her beautiful new metal exterior was put on. 

       We are still missing the front barn door and some concrete steps that will be installed later below the right door.  While we wish she was symmetrical, level, etc, we still think she is a beauty at 123 years old.  If only we could get new skin, a beauty makeover and look so good.

      And lastly, I wanted to  show you the newest members of The Noah Farm family.   These little ones were born July 18th.

       They are Rhode Island Red babies that my son and daughter-in-law hatched for us in their incubator.  This is what they will look like when they grow up.

Rhode Island Reds

       We’ve  had  massive attacks this spring/summer  from raccoons and possums.  They have  killed so many of our egg laying adult Rhode Island Reds (an even one turkey), that we only had three hens and one rooster left. We had to refortify their coop complete with an electric fence around it before the killing stopped.   These little ones will start producing eggs in four to six months.  But for now they sleep a lot and are safe in our garage.  This is what they look like at two weeks old.

The barn love story continues next time on The Noah Farm.  

A Barn Re-Loved

        We’re  at it again, but this time we are renovating our 115 year old barn!  Instead of tearing it down, my husband read a book about old barns and decided she was solid as a rock and worth saving.  So just like we did on our old farmhouse, we had to start with the foundation.   But before the boring foundation stuff, how about some cute baby pig pictures?  

       All our piglets and momma are gone now. They all went to rescue farms or individual homes where they will have a good life.  Here’s one last picture of our pigs.  My favorite one we called Cowpig, and she went with her momma, Miss Piggy, and two other piglets to a rescue farm.  I miss them!

Okay . . . just one more.

      The pandemic didn’t slow down our plans or workers willing to come to our farm to start fixing up  the barn.  

      This redbud in the foreground makes her look all pretty, but she really did need some TLC.    Half of the foundation needed redone before we could start any work inside or add a workshop onto the back. Because her metal sides are flipped up you can just barely see the new foundation.  

A little skid steer tore out the dirt and stone floor so a new  concrete floor can be poured (below).

This is what the stone foundation looks like that still holds up the two main walls inside the barn.

Look closely and you’ll still see  where the concrete butts up against the original stone foundation on both sides.  

The next step was getting the concrete floor poured for the new workshop behind the barn.  

And then the old metal siding came off.  What we discovered  was that the barn was originally painted red.  If you look closely left of the ladder, towards the roofline you can really see the red.  She has faded a lot since originally built and this will be her second metal covering.  

Putting on these new white barn doors was the very first thing we did when we bought the farm.  My husband built them because the old door fell off. Sadly they were burnt in the fire pit last week because a new door is coming.  I think she was always pretty and I miss the old barn look.

Something to be Thankful for During the Pandemic

     When I was a little girl riding along in the car with my mother, she would frequently say something like, “Aren’t the tree leaves just beautiful right now?”  “Or, “thank you, Lord, for a beautiful sunny day.”  I would look over at her and realize I had not even noticed the leaves or the sunshine, let alone appreciated them or given thanks for them.  I’d look at the leaves and think, wow, she’s right.  

       My mother, however, had learned a simple secret  she practiced every day. Be thankful. 

        Even though I grew up with her great example,  I still forget that happiness and contentment start with thankfulness.   I still have to remember to slow down to see the beauty, my material blessings, or people  around me that give my life such meaning. 

    Recently, I heard someone say, “when you are going through a hard time,  find one thing you can be thankful for each day.  Just one.”  

       So here are some things I am thankful for during this cocooning coronavirus time: 

  • The kindness of people. Folks are remembering to  keep their distance, not shake hands, cleaning surfaces, and offering kind words like, “stay safe.”  Some companies are offering supplies and curb side pickup or early hours for the elderly.  We are still a kind nation.
  • We are becoming a more grateful nation.  We are appreciating our hospitals and care givers, the police keeping us safe, grocery workers restocking shelves, and the truck drivers transporting goods across our land to fill those shelves. Parents are appreciating the job teachers do more than ever.
  • We have time for family or to start a hobby!  We are sharing more meals around a table, playing board games (Mexican dominoes anyone?), laughing together, watching TV, and working or playing outside together.  Perhaps you are taking walks, reading more, starting a new hobby, and maybe even eating better.
  • We are learning to be prepared for emergencies. Maybe folks will stock up with supplies so the next time we have a local or national crisis we won’t have empty shelves at the grocery stores and everyone will have toilet paper!  If you feel you can’t afford to stock up, just buy a few extra can goods or a package of TP or tissue paper each week. Slowly overtime you will have a stock pile that will help you get through the next emergency. * Fresh baked bread, anyone?   The shelves at my grocery store have been pretty bare in the bread area, which has made me buy bagels or tortillas or bake bread! Nothing beats fresh bread out of the oven.  If you don’t know how to bake bread, now is a great time to try.
  • We live in the information age.   Our kids can learn online from home and some of us can do our jobs remotely. We can FaceTime, Skype, text, email, video conference, and even use our old fashioned phones to talk if we want to.  We are not alone or isolated.  When the Spanish flu hit in 1918, these weren’t options.  By 1920 only 35% of people had phones. We carry them around everywhere.

       As I sit at my desk  writing this post, I can see the empty barren fields that will soon be planted with soy beans or corn.  Right now they are filled with little purple flowers that don’t know they’re weeds

      These cute little flowers remind me that we can find beauty in the ugly, barren, dirt.  They speak the language of joy just like a real flower.  No one has told them they are weeds.   I am thankful for the beauty they bring me. 

       This time of cocooning may feel like the slow start of spring.  Some days are still cold and wet and all we see are weeds coming up.  We just want summer to come and the coronavirus to be over.  But if you look hard you can see  beauty, hope, kindness, and change. 

       What is one thing you are most thankful for in these trying  times?  Let me know in the comments.