Thursday, February 22, 2007

Winter visitors

For the last several seasons we have been visited by what we think are the same four Sandhill cranes. Many of the farms in our area are the winter home for cranes, but in our case there have been four that seem to like to return to our fields. They have been out there every day for at least a month.

We can watch them from the house which is great entertainment.

For the past few days the crows have joined them on the field. I love crows so I really enjoy it. Click on the photo for a bigger picture so you can pick out the cranes. Use your browser's back button to get back to the blog.

And the large field across the street from ours is full of cranes. Enlarge this photo too so you can see these beautiful birds close up.

Eliza's animal carrier

She found a sticker that she wanted to put on her carrier.

A rare harmonious moment

We have a new little one

We have decided to move away from large beef cattle on the farm here and instead will be focusing on miniature Jerseys. These are highly sought-after milk cows that are becoming very popular as more people realize the benefits of keeping a small family dairy cow. A friend nearby has had her own cow for a while now and has just purchased a second one. She doesn't have much room though so she can't easily keep a bull. We have the space for a mini bull so we decided to get one! It is possible to charge as much as $450 for stud service and we can sell semen. He will also be able to breed our big Hereford beef cows so the few that we do keep will be able to give us calves. His small size is a huge advantage for us--he'll eat less and be much easier to handle. Right now he is just a 7 week old calf so he is still living at my friend's house so he can nurse. He is fostered to a cow that is not his mom and she is still getting used to having him nurse so she sometimes needs to be held still so he can get some milk. I went over today to take photos--here I am holding the cow while the calf nurses. Note the tiny size of the adult cow!

And speaking of bull calves, our little guy who was born here last October is turning out to be a real troublemaker. He gets out of the field regularly and has a real obstinate attitude. One day I grabbed a camera on my way out to chase the little rascal back into the field.

Actually working on the house!

If I had been blogging two years ago nearly every post would have been about the construction of our straw bale home. It's regrettable that I don't have a nice journal of the process but having a small child and then giving birth to another smack dab in the middle of construction was pretty crazy so I doubt that blogging would have been possible anyway. When we did finally move in after 3 1/2 years of intense building we just stopped working on it, leaving many things undone (trim, doorknobs, etc).

So, the other day (or other week at this point) I decided to try to chip away at the mountain of undone things inside the house instead of just working on the mountain range of things outside the house.

In the bathroom, there are many areas where the plaster needs to be touched up and finished nicely, mainly around the edges. Because it is an earthen plaster, made of clay and sand, it is very easy to chip it out and apply a fine mix to the edges.

Here is what it looks like after I chip out a section.

Then I use a small Japanese finishing trowel to apply the new plaster. The trowel is from my friends at Landerland.

Once I sand it I can re-apply the clay paint and it will look great.

Since I didn't blog the house construction I will pop in some photos here. These are in random chronological order because I haven't figured out an easy way to re-arrange lots of pictures after uploading them in blogger.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

A visit from Granddad

My dad came to visit last month and lent a hand on the farm. He also visited with the sheep, was introduced to more than one chicken, and got serenaded by electric guitar. We really enjoyed having him here and the kids are still talking about his visit. We hope he returns soon and brings Ann with him next time!

Three nuts visit the museum

House beautiful it's not

But we are growing chicks and greens! Here's a shot of the winter nesting area that Chris made for the hens and our makeshift cold frame where we are growing lettuce, spinach, and broccoli. One of our hens has gone broody in the nest so we surrounded her with chicken wire to discourage predators and other chickens and stuck 9 eggs under her. Yeah, it's not pretty but it's a chicken salad in the making!

Cute, just cute

Little Pepper came inside for a quick visit the other day.