spring has arrived

At least we think it has.

Our puppy turned 1 year old the end of January.   She has her good days and days where she is definitely still a puppy in so many ways.  One bad habit she has and we're not sure how to break her of it, is that whenever anyone comes to the house be it the UPS driver, mail carrier, neighbor etc. we cannot control her at all.  She gets so excited and jumps and tries to get into their vehicles to the point of it being just ridiculous.  Her ears are totally turned off to any command that we give her, and she knows commands very well believe me.  So, this sweet innocent looking face is not so innocent...LOL


Mari over at My Little Corner of the World, does a Cooking Thursday post where she shares a recipe.  I absolutely love it when she does these posts.  This recipe doesn't look exactly like her recipe, but I'll tell you it was very delicious.  I didn't use canned tomatoes; I used the tomato sauce I made last fall from the tomatoes I canned from our garden, and it made the texture a bit different but still very tasty.


With sugaring starting up milking will be a bit more challenging.  We live in dairy country, so we are very blessed to be able to find calves fairly often and last Friday we were able to acquire a heifer calf, she is the cutest little thing.  I took one photo of her, but I'll have to get another when she's outside and you can see her better.  

We tapped about 100 taps and this year after much thought and discussion, we decided to do bags instead of the galvanized buckets.  For one thing it was much faster hanging the bags over hanging the buckets, and we won't have to clean the bags at the end of the season.  I'm not sure how economical the bags will be, but it will be much easier at clean up time, the tubing we won't do that is for sure, and with the buckets we would lose some sap because the buckets are old and the sap would be rusty from the buckets so those buckets we would have to take off the tree and put them aside so we wouldn't hang them next season. 

So, we'll see how the syrup season goes.  For one thing with not having the buckets hanging, I'll miss the pinging of the sap dripping into the buckets, it's such a wonderful sound, and for us it's the arrival of spring.

using our milk






Draining whey2




There you have it, yogurt, butter and cheese.  I have been having so much fun, especially being able to make butter, we have no calf on our milk cow right now, so we are getting a lot of milk and cream.  I am so excited to try the hard cheese when it's ready, I put a wax on it and will turn it at least twice a week.  We are making hay while the sun shines. 

Yesterday we had the vet out for a preg check on our milk cow and she's not pregnant, we were pretty disappointed.  So, we'll try AI once again and maybe the third time will be the charm.  Still haven't tapped trees yet but not sure how much sap is running yet.  It's busy, busy, here on the homestead.

quilted bag


I love going on quilt retreats and sometimes I will just sew and the last retreat I went on I did both when I made this quilted bag.  I had this kit for a few years and finally dug it out and made it.  I'm trying to go through all my kits in my sewing room and finish them up.  Truth be told I would probably have to sew every day to get through it all...ugh!  That is not good :0

Winter still has its hold on us here in Wisconsin.  Today it's raining and the animals are not overly happy about that.  We haven't tapped any trees yet and we haven't seen any buckets/bags out yet.  Around here most of the Amish have converted over to the tubes and bag system, not us we still us the galvanized buckets hooked on a spile/spout.  We're not too fond of having tubing lines running through our sugar bush, it's just not for us.

Well, the month of February is coming to a close.  I'm not really sure where January or February went, I guess being busy probably helped some.

it was a white christmas


In November we got a bit of snow, then by thanksgiving it was pretty much gone.  That is until we got a couple of snowstorms.


Snowy chairs

This year we cut down a tree from our farm small though it is, we ended up putting only a few ornaments on it.


Christmas has come and gone, and the New Year is upon us in a few days.  We had a wonderful Christmas and I hope you all did as well.  The animals are all doing well and survived the below zero temperatures we had just before Christmas.  I'm quite happy to see those cold temps gone at least for the time being.  I'm sure we'll be getting some cold temps again come January.  Believe it or not I'm actually starting to think about spring planting already...LOL...It's going to be a long winter for me I guess :)

calves on the homestead

Rose red



When these photos were taken, we had snow, but it has since melted just before the Thanksgiving holiday.  The top photo is of Rose Red, she will be one we will breed for meat on our homestead.  Rose is a Milking Shorthorn and Devon cross.  Our black calf #25 is one we will be butchering next year for meat.  The middle photo is Lucy who is a Jersey heifer that was born here on our homestead this past August.  We are not sure our plans for her quite yet, right now she is being weaned from her momma and a new calf has taken her place, one that we purchased from a local dairy farm.  We name the ones that we are keeping.

I have tried to find time to post on the blog, and read blogs, but life has been just so busy for us here.  Thanksgiving was wonderful here spent with family.  I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family and friends.

hello baby

After checking on the heifer for what seemed like forever, doing day, evening and night checks, Lazer's baby finally arrived and it's a heifer (girl) calf.  I will admit we were not disappointed in the calf being a heifer.


Lazer has turned into a very good momma, here they are when the calf is about 10 hours old and trying to find some breakfast.  I think we went to sleep around 12:30 a.m. after what could have been a disaster but turned out not too bad.  The heifer was pretty weak still around the 11:30 p.m. mark, being about an hour after she freshened, and not really standing up yet or even trying, we helped her to latch on to get some colostrum into her which is very vital for her as soon as possible.  Jim got up at 2:00 a.m. to get her to latch on and suck and Lazer would stand but wanted to continue to lick her which is great, but the calf needed to get to eating.  Jim had to tie her to a post so that the calf could suck.


Jim being the always early riser that he is headed out to the barn to check on momma and baby.  He took this photo as he sat in the stall to watch the two.  Being that Lazer is a first-time momma she has been an absolute gem; we fortunately were able to get up close to not only her but her calf as well.  I'm guessing Lazer is enjoying her new home with us and trusts us with her calf.


We haven't named our new calf yet and we need to do that soon.  The experience of seeing the birth of an animal here on our homestead was nothing short of amazing.

new life on the farm

Where do I even begin.  Our cow Tilly is no longer with us.  We had to bring her to the sale barn for slaughter as she wasn't well enough to be a milk cow for our homestead or for that matter any farm or homestead.  Bringing in our vet who took some blood, the results of the test he took on her we found out that she had Johne's Disease.   Hearing that was a very disappointing blow to us, we were getting very attached to her already and had even gotten a new calf from a neighboring dairy farm because our other calf was actually purchased for some friends.  The calf is with our friends who have a dairy cow that took our calf until she can be weaned.


So, we had to do some cleaning up in the corral area and pastures where Tilly had been before we could even think about bringing another milk cow onto our farm.  We cannot pasture any new milk cow where Tilly pastured for at least a year.  Our beef cow is okay and will be fine.  After we got everything all ready which was not an easy task, we were ready for a new milk cow, and I'm happy to say we found one and her name is Lazer, she's a registered Jersey and is a first-time heifer and will freshen in about 12 days.  We are so excited to have a birth on our farm other than the kittens that were born a few weeks back.




We also got pigs again this year, but we got them a bit later than we did last year.  These guys are quite small, but we plan to fatten them up pretty good.


Our two barn cats had a total of nine kittens.  I just had to show you two of my favorite ones.  The top one is a male and is by far the biggest of all the kittens, our grandsons named him Tom.  The second one is such a pretty girl, but my photos just don't do either of the kitten's justice.



Seeing the volunteer sunflowers growing in amongst the oats was such a pretty sight and having new life on the homestead makes up for everything.


homestead update





Wow, I think it's time for an update on what's been happening on the homestead.  There is so much going on here.   We are the owners of 2 more cows, a Jersey milk cow and a Fleckvieh calf.  The Jersey and calf are actually at our Amish friends until our milk barn is finished which we are planning to have it done this week.  It's been hard around here to find a Jersey, and when we do find one it's gone and from what we have heard from the sellers they could sell the cows 5 times over.  Our friends milk cow hasn't freshened yet, so they are out of milk and for both of us it's a win-win situation, they house our Jersey and calf and milk her and they get the milk and we take some as well.  Our Jersey actually freshened early before the auction and didn't make it, so we were wanting to have her take an orphan calf and she has accepted the new calf as hers and has turned into a very good protective momma as well as gives some pretty good milk. 

The fencing is almost 100% done, but it's done enough that we can let the animals in the pasture.   The steer is out on pasture and with all the rain we've had he's not been able to keep up with it, so all is good.

While the livestock were being loaded into the trailer, I had to take a photo of all the horses lined up tied to the fence along with all the buggies parked.

The way this spring weather has been I wondered if we were ever going to get anything in the ground, but yay, we finally were able to work the ground and get some onions planted.  It's supposed to be nice and warm this week so what can be planted now will be.

For me it's been a long winter and the warm weather we are having is so nice to enjoy.