Monday, April 30, 2007

Barn Raising

This past weekend as many know, we had our "barn" raising to raise up a much needed guest house. Since our move to the country and across the Puget Sound waters of Seattle we've had a steady stream of guests. Not to mention the numerous family memebers that visit frequently. In this new house of ours we really don't have an extra room for them so we thought rather than be cramped and risk the chance of visitors not coming because of that we'd build a guest house. Under 200 sq. feet and there is no permit required. It's primitive in that it has no plumbing but it's built just 5 feet from the main house so there is easy access to the bathroom just inside the back door. Okay, enough advertising. :)
We had quite a crew. Six couples, including us, came from across the water to help us out. They all have first dibs on the finished facilities and chance at a weekend of farm life in the quiet of the country. Above is our lunch time break group photo! Even some of the children were great helpers. Mom caught this picture of Nicholas.
Here, below, is what they started with first thing Saturday morning. All week James and Rade worked at getting the foundation done so they could start out on the floor and walls right away.

Father Christopher came out mid-morning to bless the foundation and our efforts to complete the task we started. He even worked his way over to our barn we are working on to welcome the goats in 2 weeks and he sprinkled the chickens as well!!!

Here, Jenny and Steve, rest briefly.

With nearly all hands on board the 2nd wall goes up!

By the end of Sunday (a few stayed over Saturday night and joined us for Church Sunday, working for a short time in the afternoon), some wall boards were up and the big beam for the roof was up! See the little "hobbit" hiding in the picture?
It was quite a grand weekend! Mom stayed on to take all these wonderful pictures but yesterday afternoon headed for the train and Minnesota. We will miss her!!!! But can't wait till she's back in July to stay in the guest house!
Through all this building, Valerie and I were able to get 9 post holes dug for the goat pen!!! I hope to finish that this week and then get the inside pens built. I need to be ready by May 12.

St. Brigid Farm is now taking reservations for the guest house, call or email for availability.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Goat School Day 2

Yesterday was the 2nd day of goat school and we were to learn about milking. First, we got to have milk and cookies, GOAT milk. We were all pleasantly surprised at how creamy and tasty the milk was!! It was DELICIOUS!! I would have never guessed it to be goat milk. I can't wait to have my own.
Then we headed to the barn where each child would get a chance at milking. Here is a picture of Kelsey having her turn. It's hard to learn but she got a few squirts out. She'll have plenty of practice once Firefly comes home with us.

Right as Kelsey was getting up from the stand and Charissa was about to get her turn Miss Sherie ran to the stall where a pregnant goat was in labor and said, "She's getting ready to push."
The milking lesson was interrupted but by something far more exciting...the birth of twin does! It was quite the experience as Miss Sherie at a couple times was frantically on the phone with friends to figure out why this first time mama was taking so long. Turns out that both does were trying to exit at the same time. Once she made Ladybug stand and pushed babies back in they repositioned and came out easily. It was most exciting!!! Both my girls were fascinated. Here is mama and babies just minutes after birth while Charissa looks on!

Monday, April 23, 2007

St. Brigid Farm

Over the weekend we came to settle on the name of our little farm.
After receiving the suggestion of naming the farm after the saint commemorated on the day we moved in or signed papers or something like that, I began to do some research. I knew there were saints one could call upon for certain situations and patron saints of certain jobs, etc. So I searched for farmers, and chicken and dairy. What I found was most pleasing!
St. Brigid, commemorated on February 1 (new calendar) is known to be the patron of chicken farmers, milk maids, dairy workers, etc. The story goes that St. Brigid's mother was a slave and her master had a dairy. Once Brigid was older and her mother became ill but still had to work, Brigid took over the dairy. Under her care the dairy prospered greatly. She would make butter and give a large portion away to the poor but still would sell much to make a great profit for the master of the dairy.
I loved the story of St. Brigid so much and that she was the patroness of so many in farming. To top it off, we have a dear dear friend who's patron Saint is St. Brigid. She is now a novice at St. Paisius Monastery in AZ. We miss her so much but are so happy and excited for her in the choice she has made. This will be a loving reminder of her, although not the direct reason for the name.

Oh most Holy St. Brigid, please pray unto God for us!

Here are the labels we created over the weekend. They are dual purpose and will later be used on milk product (cheese, yougurt, soap) once we start producing that (only a month away). The house on the label actually looks a lot like our house!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

We are into goats!

Firefly is a five-year-old doe who just gave birth to Butter on Saturday, April 14. Butter is a doe, both will be coming home with us sometime within 4-8 weeks. Just as soon as I finish the barn that will be theirs. Here is a picture of Butter with Kelsey.
Yesterday we started a goat class at Maplebrook Farm.
For 3 classes we will drive down to Ollala to learn all we can about goats. This past Tuesday we learned about the uses of goats, what they eat and we got to introduce all 4 babies to bottles for the first time and to romping in the field for the first time. It was so fun to watch these tiny little goats jump and run. Next week we'll learn to make goat cheese and do some more feeding, and also about fencing. The last week we'll get to milk the goats and have cookies with goats milk.

Here is Firefly with Butter (middle) and her adopted brother. Pretzel the other mama doe gave birth to triplets and Firefly only had one so they took one from Pretzel and have worked on her adopting him to even the mama's out.
Butter nursing.

Charissa took a liking to one of Pretzels does. This is dangerous. They are so cute we are tempted to take her home as well. But we'll hold off and Charissa will get the first one born to us next year.

Joseph with one of Pretzel's kids.

On A Few Other Notes:
We lost a chicken. Can't find any trace of anything around the fenced yard or coop. It's a mystery. I just really hope that one of my neighbors didn't walk off with it while we were away yesterday. No sign of forced entry. No pile of feathers anywhere. No half eaten carcass. It's sad.
Our guest house piers go in this Saturday and the week after the whole thing goes up in what we are calling an Old Fashioned Amish Barn Raising. We have 4 families joining us thus far. All will be taking Amish names for the day and Valerie and I will be making a t-shirt with their name on it with an Amish pic of some sort on the back. We hope to have the guest house (as rustic as it will be with no plumbing but having electricity) weather tight by the end of the day on the 28th.
Can't wait to break it in. Maybe someday I'll be able to advertise..."come work on a real working ranch for the weekend" and people will actually pay me to pretend they live on a farm for a weekend. LOL What a novelty these days!!! If it had a toilet I'd bet anything I could really make some money renting it out. the olden days people used outhouses. Hey...that could be part of the novelty couldn't it? ;)

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Christ is Risen!

I dyed the red eggs for Church this year. It was fun!
I used mostly our eggs from our chickens, but had to buy 2 dozen store bought eggs.
Below you see the comparison between the sizes. The store bought ones are huge compared to my little chicken eggs.
Also, I attempted the traditional method of dying with onion skins and it was very successful! I doubted that it would work but I was proven wrong. They are so beautiful. And my farm fresh eggs soaked up the dye so much better than the store bought. My theory is the washing process that store bought eggs go through.

My babes on the Eve of Pascha.