Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Hope Grows Farm, Dover GA

Our next venture, I guess you could say Plan C, was Hope Grows Farm in Dover, GA. It is around an hour norwest of Savannah. They are a small farm doing what we want to do so we thought we could learn a lot from them, and we did!! They have a website and blog link from there that you can see more about them. http://www.hopegrowsfarm.com/
They have laying hens, broilers, turkeys and Berkshire pigs, as well as a nice garden. We stayed there for two weeks and were able to see their procedures as well as go to market with them. Thanks for the fun time, even though it was pretty hot. However fans do help a lot in a house with out air conditioning.The garden
The mobile chicken coop. The laying hens are moved to fresh green grass every week
The laying hens
next batch of broiler chicks put out to 'pasture. These guys are moved every day to fresh green grass and sunshine, following the Polyface farm style. Great tasting chicken by the way!!
Oh here is how we know! They took a batch of broilers to process while we were there and one escaped, but not for long. He made a great chicken salad and chicken stock from chicken feet, among other things! Here we are butchering!
At the market in Savannah

Savannah is an awesome city! I want to go back when we have more time to explore it.
River street!
Cobblestone streets laid by slaves
Just romantic!A cool coffee shop/restaurant we ate at while there, note the sign
Another one in there is one that reads, "Food just like your mama should've made! LOL
The farmers, Elliot and Arianne, 'kicking us out"

Ben also got a hair cut while there!
LOL finally got too hot for him!

My First completed quilt

I decided to try to complete a whole quilt on the machine for the first time. What a better reason to begin a quilt then a new niece arriving. And what better size to try it on than a baby quilt size. I found some awesome fabric and found coordinating colors and went to town. I wanted to finish it before the baby was born but finished a few days after. It turned out pretty good, a few bumps but I was pretty pleased and Madelyn Rose Collins sure looked cute and snuggly in it!

Camp meeting, family and new family!

After Michigan we came home for our church camp meeting. It was a great time and was priviledged to have see my family for a lot of the week and the whole family was there on Sunday! It was a great time of spiritual refreshment with some awesome services! We were home for the next week as well and I was able to pick up a few days at Cracker Barrel. We also were able to see our new niece Madelyn Rose Collins. I have a pic but it is not letting me download it from my phone! Anyways I have it on Facebook and she is a cutie pie!

My sister will kill me! LOL after staying up most all night she is sleeping as Mom is trying to leave camp! LOL
Men's quartet singing at camp, Ben on far right singing bass
Everyone came over for Sunday lunch at our house! It was a fun time but to short before afternoon service!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Michigan and Oxen

the young 3-4 month old team they began training for the first time that week!
We went up to Tillers International to take an oxen basics class. (they give a variety of classes all year on all kinds of neat things. For those once again out of the loop, :) read more about them and what they are here http://www.tillersinternational.org) Ben has wanted to take the class for a long time now. So I thought, while we are free this summer, why not broaden our knowledge more! So that is what we did. It was a week long class. The website explains it well,
"This comprehensive class creates skills in driving, training, and yoking in a sequence of hands-on experiences. Enjoy well-trained oxen responding to your voice commands. Learn to select, team, and care for oxen. Use low-stress training to teach calves. Drive teams hitched to various loads, practice field tasks, and try your hand at early shop skills to shape your own small yoke."The class with their yokes
I did not take the class, but was able to tag along, and take lots of pictures. I was able to learn a lot myself. It was all hands-on, and by the end of the week, everyone felt, "You know we can do this, we are doing it already with these calves, it is not too hard."

Ben getting ready to plow

Planning the yokes
drilling the holes in his yoke for the bows
carving out his yoke
The calves, Thomas and Jefferson, so named by the class, had only been taught to walk on a rope and had been with people alot. It was amazing that in one week they could walk through an obsticle course, side by side in their yokes! The first couple times they were taught by themselves then eventually put together

Ben found his twin!!! Jared and Ben were so much alike, in looks and likes and personalities! It was kinda scary!!!
The sheep and donkey, Groovey :) graze the grass. No fences for these guys, except around the gardens
Ben drives Blue and CaesarPlowed this whole field with the oxen the day before and are now disc harrowing it
Saturday they had Moda, Midwest Ox Droves Association festival
Pretty much everyone brought their oxen, showed them off, talked, had competitions etc.
It was pretty neat
Here Paul and Silas give a free ride! It reminded me off Patrick! He would have loved that!
Ben shows off his first pair of oxen. I think we need to make a smaller yoke however.
We also got a one-on-one demonstration of their bees! It was pretty cool

Tales of the Traveler

We arrived home safe and sound June 11. Tim and Matt, who are staying this summer at our house for a summer job, knew we were coming. We first thought it would be Saturday but we ended up coming in Friday and suprising them! Midnight loved being home, as soon as she got out of the truck, she new and when she got to the house, she ran circles around it. Well Tim and Matt where watching a movie, about 10 at night and have no idea that we are spying on them! We decide to quietly open the back door and let Midnight in. It was fun.
The best was the next day. Ben's family had NO idea we were anywhere close to them let alone home, except Holly. She arranged for everyone to go out and eat at Guadalaharra, (not sure on spelling) our infamous place to eat Mexican. Well everyone is eating away and we walk in. You should have seen Mom Fleming's mouth drop open. It was so fun! everyone was so suprised which made it even more special. It was good to see everyone again!
The next week, we headed north once again, making our way to Tillers International in MI. (next post) We stopped in Cincinnati for a couple of days and spent some time with our good friends Jon and Mary as well as baby Liam, who is not so baby any more! We had a great time together and catching up.

Liam loved to play crawling chase around and around, kitchen, dining room, living room, back again! He is a real cutie!
Mary, I really liked this one!
We went to the Red's game together! It was like old times but pretty hot!
eating our picnic pizza dinner
Jon's brother-in-law's snake
We went midnight bowling, It was a blast but the pic of all four of us didn't turn out
We left Cincy Sunday afternoon and drove the 5 hours to Scotts, MI, near Kalamazoo, to begin our next adventure.

Poly Face Farm

On our stop in VA we visted Poly Face Farm! It was a really cool experience. We also happened to run into Joel Salatin while we were browsing their little store! Ben was so happy, we forgot to get a picture with him until it was too late! Oh well. (For those of you who have no idea who I am talking about, well, you are out of the loop! LOL check out their website http://www.polyfacefarms.com and check out his books also ) No, he has written many books and has pretty much been the founding of the grass-fed, healthy eating, buying local movement. He has had to fight many battles with the government to get where he is today. He is big on producer to consumer, you come out and see how I raise my animals and decide for yourself if you want it to eat. We should have the choice to eat what food you want, not just what the government thinks is right. He has a large farm in the shenendoah valley in VA. He raises and sells pasture raised, eggs, chickens, turkeys, pork, beef and rabbits. They are raised in the sunshine and see fresh green grass every day, not injected with any hormones or GMO food, raised the way God made them to be. You know what is in these guys. Bet you can't say that about the food you eat?
We liked getting ideas and seeing it in person what we had read and watched. It was really down to earth, nothing too fancy and we walked away going, "We can do this" For all my friends out there who are jealous, I have posted the pics just for you! I hope you enjoy!

The baby chicks in the warmer house
under gas heaters
The row of chickens. The broilers are set diagonal all across the field, corner to corner, so none are right next to each other, and moved up one spot each day to new ground.
These guys, or rather I should say girls are moved every couple days and free range in the field with the broilers. They follow the cows, who are moved every other day (I believe) to the next strip of grass across the field. The chickens clean up behind the cows, eating any bugs, and leaving no cow patties unturned. It is a very neat system. With rotational grazing, your cows eat down your pasture with out wasting part of it as well
The turkeys, set up the same way as the chickens
Cute little bunnies
Their hoop-houses they use to keep the birds over winter, with rabbits above, and use them as their green house with rich manure come spring!
Their chicken plucker, a pretty cool invention. They process their own chickens on site. By VA law they are allowed to process and sell no more than 20,000 birds a year per farm. So some poly face interns who have their own farms and follow the same principles also bring their 20,000 chickens and sell under poly-face. There is ways to get around the government!
The other way of doing chickens when they are closer to buildings, roads etc, electric net fencing, still in a movable building, moved every couple days along with the fence.
We enjoyed our visit and came away with many ideas.