Thursday, January 29, 2009

Snow and Ice and Chores

This week we have been given several inches of snow, followed by sleet and ice, followed by EVEN MORE SNOW!

This makes for nasty cold weather that is very hard to walk in.

If anyone ever wonders whether the farmers who raise livestock truly love their animals and want what's best for them, the proof is when even nasty weather like this never stops us from going out and checking on them, feeding them, and making sure they have thawed water to drink.

This is NOT an easy chore - walking along, your feet drag through the snow, punch through the layer of ice, then on down a few more inches into even deeper snow! Especially hauling feed buckets and hay and water buckets.

The critters keep warm, God has blessed them with several layers of warm hair insulating the snow and ice to keep them comfortable. We give them a little extra hay to help generate the body heat, and the Lord takes care of the rest.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

An Explanation

As we wait for the warmth of spring to come again, and with it planting and haytime and harvest, I want to explain about why I chose the name for this blog, and hopefully to help remind everyone about some of the joy of the seasons to come.

I have spent many summer nights driving home with the windows down, full moon lighting up the darkness, and enjoying the smells of the country in the summertime.

Sometimes it would be the corn tasselling, or just the freshness of the night air. But my favorite air to breathe as it comes sweeping in the car windows is that of the freshly cut hay fields, waiting to be baled.

And almost every time I drive past one of these hayfields, I start humming the chorus of the song, “Indiana” in my head. I had to learn to sing it in school:

Back home again in Indiana,
And it seems that I can see
The gleaming candlelight still shining bright
Thru the sycamores for me,
The new-mown hay sends all its fragrance
From the fields I used to roam,
When I dream about the moonlight on the Wabash,
Then I long for my Indiana home.


I remember in high school many of my classmates claiming that they couldn’t wait to get out of Indiana. Not so for me! I love this Hoosier state, its seasons, the trees, the hills, the rivers, the family and friends I love who live here.

There are many places in Indiana that are home for me, between my parents’ home, the area around my high school, the Purdue West Lafayette campus that introduced me to the Wabash, the county fairgrounds and state fairgrounds where I grew up in 4H, and now my home with my husband where we farm part time, and yearn to eventually do it full time.

I know the feeling that Macdonald felt when he wrote about the place he called home – the place where he could see for miles off if he looked through the trees just right, where he knew the smells, wondered at the fireflies in the dark among the grasses blowing in the wind, and knew there was a special someone or a memory waiting for him when he got there.

The title of this blog is a nod to all of my Indiana homes, and recognition that home is the place you come back to, after you go and do and learn. Being home is a feeling. It says in the title page of this blog that it is “about our homeplace: a generations-old family farm where livestock, crops, gardens, and children are raised.” I hope that in the things that I post to this blog, I can relate to you not only the words, but also the feelings that go along with being at home in our place.

**For a link to the complete song and music of “Indiana”, click here:

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Pyrs, Pyrs, and More Pyrs!

Saturday brought 4 additional Great Pyrenees LGD's to our farm. Two working pairs: Max and Irma, and Clifford and Jack. All 4 Pyrs are being fostered for IGPR until they are adopted as working goat dogs, when they sadly lost their owner and goats due to a sudden heart attack.

This photo shows two of the dogs, Max and Irma, hanging out with Brody (our own LGD) and three of our goats. I had been a little concerned about how Brody would adjust to sharing his pasture and goats with other dogs, but HA, what a joke! He LOVES hanging out with Max and Irma!! Brody will be 2 in March.....and has a LOT of puppy left in him! He has been rough-housing a lot with his newfound playmates and loving every minute of it.

Clifford (a female!) and Jack are friendly, and are living with 4 does and our two horses. They seemed to adjust very well so far, just a matter of getting used to what is normal around here. Here is a picture of Clifford trotting around checking out her new digs, with the goats intently checking HER out!

All seem to be settling in very well.

Have you ever had the pleasure of having three GIGANTIC white dogs very politely standing in front of you, peering up with their beautiful dark eyes, pleading with you to please pet them? Just a gentle lean, not so much as to knock you off balance, but enough that you know they appreciate you. What gentle giants these dogs are!

Friday, January 16, 2009

More cold, More dogs?!?

So last night Matt made sure to do the chores before dark so it'd be a tiny bit warmer. He came back and said we might want to move Cookie (my favorite goat.....the only "named" goat....I'll probably post on her more later after she has her kids!) since her udder looked significantly bigger than it had looked.

We've had the goats since May 2007, and Cookie kidded once when the temperatures were so cold we think that the kids froze by the time we found them in the morning. Since then we've put the goats in the old farrowing house ('FH' - leftover from when they had pigs) that is kept above freezing for storing chemicals in the winter. We thought Cookie and #8 would kid before mid-December, so we had them both in the FH for a while, and only #8 kidded. So after the kid was 2 weeks old and we decided if Cookie hadn't kidded by then, she wasn't going to kid until mid-March, we put them back outside. Well, she's had lots of udder and vulva changes, and I know anything born outside in this weather basically had a death sentence, so to be safe we put her inside the FH last night. She seemed very happy to go! She knew it was warm in there! I don't know how she would kid now...the buck was removed, unless it was one of the older little buck kids that bred her. I'm glad she's safe now.

Also, I got a call from the people at where we got our LGD from, needing someone to foster up to 7 dogs! We agreed to foster 2 working groups out of the three, so we'll be having lots of big whites running around here by the weekend! The goats should be VERY safe!! Hope Brody gets along with them.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Single Digit Temperatures!

It was less than 5 degrees at chore time this morning, so needless to say I hurried!

The goats and horses were shivering quite a bit, but Brody the LGD was fine! He had a few drops of ice on his fur where he'd drooled, but the cold didn't phase him!

I fed a little extra hay, and had to de-ice one bucket. It is nice having an automatic waterer that is made not to freeze!

Monday, January 12, 2009


It's high time I begun this blog, and started writing posts for it. After all, it is a big part of why I began blogging in the first place!

At the 2008 Indiana Farm Bureau Young Farmer conference last January, one of the speakers talked about how farmers can best stand up for their right to farm the land, raise livestock, and feed America. These rights are being challenged more and more by a variety of groups, and agriculture is at risk.

One of the ways was to get into the "blogosphere" by posting comments and blogging about the things we do on our farms and getting onto the animal rights and environmentalists blogs and leaving challenging (yet polite) comments to try to educate others about what we really do and why it is the right thing to do.

So, this is my hope for this blog:

  • Talk about our farm operation and why we do the things the way we do them

  • Explain why it's morally acceptable to eat meat and raise livestock

  • Share information that may help others who also farm or who are interested in learning more about it

Specific things we raise that may be discussed on this web log:

  • Charolais/Angus Beef - We have a 60 cow/calf operation, and finish the calves born as well as buying and finishing feeder calves

  • Meat Goats - We have a small herd of boer cross meat goats, with about 10 mature does.

  • Livestock Guardian Dogs - To protect our investment in the goats, we have a Great Pyrenees livestock guardian dog. LGD's are bred to protect small livestock from predators (coyotes, birds of prey, etc.)

  • Rotational/Management Intensive Grazing - A good way to increase pastureland productivity

  • Corn

  • Soybeans

  • Hay - Both for sale off the farm and to feed our animals

  • Wheat/Straw - Most of this is raised to bed down our animals

  • Corn Silage - Chopped by our neighbor, used to feed our cattle and goats in the winter months

  • Vegetable Garden - My family's personal garden, we grow sweet corn, potatoes, onions, green beans, strawberries, tomatoes, lettuce, radishes, garlic....and are always interested in trying new things. Most of this produce is stored for our family's use by freezing and home-canning. We also eat a lot of it as it's picked!