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May

Spring Pasture

Spring Pasture

May brings a whirlwind of activity to RavenCroftFarm. We started our summer pasture rotation April 29th and were able to stop feeding hay by May 4th.  Since our cows and sheep are 100% grass based they are only fed either hay or pasture with a kelp mineral supplement.

Sheep Shearing

Sheep Shearing

John Pogue and son, Noah came to shear our sheep. He sheared the 16 ewes and the ram. The ram is probably 250 to 300 pounds so it took both of us to capture him for shearing. Once he sits them on their bottoms, they become very docile.

Manure was cleaned out of the barn to fertilize the corn field and one of the pastures after it was grazed the first time this season. We have taken 34 manure spreader loads out of the barn and probably have another 10 to go. This will be put on a hay/pasture after we take the first cut of hay from it. The soil is like a stomach and it should only be fed when it is ready to assimilate the nutrients. i. e. when the forage is growing fast.  Sorry no pictures.

Spreading Mineralized Organic Fertilizer

Spreading Mineralized Organic Fertilizer

We fertilized our hay fields with a custom blended mineralized organic fertilizer from Midwestern Bio-Ag.

Ready to hit the Road

Ready to hit the Road

The grandkids have their own whirlwind of activities. They are busy exploring the woods, making bows and arrows, building tree houses and driving the go-cart.

Teaching Chicks to drink and Eat

Teaching Chicks to drink and Eat

Our day old Chicks arrived at our local Post Office on Memorial Day. What a surprise! We expected them next day. Each chick has to be taught to drink water and eat because they do not have a mother hen to teach them.

Family Portrait with Mother, Father and Baby Girl

Family Portrait with Mother, Father and Baby Girl

As the whirlwind May wraps up, our oats and corn are up and the new born calves are starting to appear. We have 4 out of 7 so far.

Tractor Tune-up

The next generation of driversWe are getting ready to plant our oats, hay and corn. Our John Deere two-cylinder tractors get all their fluids changed and tuned-up for spring planting. Preparing the soil for planting is the hardest work they have to do during the year. Notice our next generation of farm workers.
We are going to Albert Lea Seed House in Minnesota to pick up our seed today. Later this month we will be applying mineralized organic fertilizer from Midwestern Bio-Ag.
Visitors petting a 2 day old lambSeveral visitors have come to see and hold our new lambs. Lambing is finally over at RavencroftFarm. We had nineteen healthy lambs this year.

Spring

Spring? Maybe.

 

Here it is April 8 and I am almost ready to concede that Spring has arrived. Almost.

Yesterday I spotted several enclaves of snow tucked into north facing crevices near Beaver Creek and in our woods. (We had 6 inches of snow last Sunday.) The temperature is above freezing at the moment but will drop below that fearful number tonight and every night for the next week. My “frost-proof” faucet at the barn is still frozen. The frost went more than 6 ½ feet deep there. Mr. Jelle, the well driller (water not oil unfortunately), says the frost is eight feet deep in some places. So how can I believe for one moment that Spring has come to our small farm- bees, lambs and tiny green plants.

 

New Bees

New Bees

Yes, bees. Last Thursday the four hives of bees we ordered were picked up from Wolf’s Honey Farm. The wooden and screen traveling bee suites are filled with two thousand plus bees that have come by truck from Georgia. In separate tiny “condo” one queen and her two to four attendants come with each hive. Bob will pour the bees into their new hive home and place their new queen in their midst still in her condo. (It takes time for a hive to accept a queen. So there is a cork – a mini marshmallow or sugar plug- that protects her from her subjects. By the time that they have eaten away this sweet barrier to attempt to kill this foreign queen she is their Queen.) Since there is no food supply out of doors for the bees now, we supply sugar water and some of last years honey for food. Soon (?) the first dandelions and pollen laden willow catkins will appear and our bees will begin their vital job of pollinating flowers, crops and fruit trees and their honey production duties, as well.

 

 

 

New Lambs

New Lambs

Yes, lambs. We have sixteen new lambs playing in a barn here on the farm.  It is a three sided barn so they get lots of fresh air and sunshine. We keep them “inside” with their Mom’s for a couple weeks for two big reasons- coyotes and cows. The bluffs along Beaver Creek, our woods and the riparian areas are home to mama bear and the cubs, assorted deer, rabbits, turkeys, fox, pheasants, voles, raccoon, field mice and coyotes. We don’t want our little lambs to become a coyote’s dinner!!! Our hefty Hereford cows, heifers, bull and year old calves pose a serious deterrent to coyotes during the Spring, Summer and Autumn grazing season. But one missed step now and no more lamb. Chester, the big black dog, guards the farm and his people 24/7.

 

 

Garden Greens

Garden Greens

Yes, tiny green plants. There are tiny green plants cuddled near the south windows of our kitchen -three types of tomatoes, basil, oregano, sage and hollyhocks to name a few. The lettuce greens in the window box placed there will provide most of our green salad for Easter dinner. I was, however, thinking of the tiny green plants tucked under the dead grass on the south side of the house, barns and minor buildings. (The north side still has ice and snow.)  Although I’ll never understand exactly how these stalwart little things survive when the ground three inches below them is frozen. They bring me hope.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In this season of Hope we send blessings and hope to you and yours.  Pam

 

 

We have returned from the 20th Annual Organic Farming Conference in La Crosse, WI. Pam and I split up so we could attend as many workshop sessions as possible. As always there were great speakers, great food and many interesting people with whom to share experiences.

Cleaning Oats with the Fanning MillI attended several workshops on extending the grazing season. These farmers certainly know what they are doing. They are careful to balance the animals’ nutrient needs with the pasture. One of the farmers raises his animals on grass alone, with no grain ever, as we do. Another one relies primarily on ‘out-wintering’ – a practice of leaving the cows out on a pasture all winter and feeding them hay spread throughout the pasture area. This adds fertility to his fields. It is amazing what this can do for the soil!

Pam attended a session on roots in which she enjoyed and learned much.

One of the Keynote Speakers, Dr. Alan Greene, was a must-hear presentation. He cited recent research about the dangers of conventional agriculture because of the lack of nutrition and use of pesticides and herbicides. These practices are literally killing people. After hearing his talk, I don’t want to eat anything but natural, organic food.

We always pickup new ideas to try on our farm after attending a conference like this one. We plan to do more green manure crops and even try turnips and oats in our fall pastures. We also plan to foliar-feed our orchards with a product that uses natural, water soluble sea mineral solids containing the full spectrum of minerals and trace elements.

Bee Hives with Winter WrapThe winter rest is about over now with the longer days and activity is beginning to ramp up on the farm. We recently ordered our new bee packages and are in the process of cleaning oats in our antique fanning mill for spring planting. In a little over a week, our baby lambs should start appearing.

Even though there is still more snow predicted, spring is right around the corner.

We are excited to be going to the 20th Annual Organic Farming Conference in LaCrosse, Wisconsin.  We’ll have a full report when we return.  In the meantime, our friends below will be watching the farm.

Simon says "stare at me"

The Morning Workout

 

The Family

The Family

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