Ohiofarmgirl's Adventures in The Good Land is largely a fish out of water tale about how I eventually found my footing on a small farm in an Amish town. We are a mostly organic, somewhat self sufficient, sustainable farm in Ohio. There's action and adventure and I'll always tell you the truth about farming.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Just at the edge of seasons

We are just barely at the edge of seasons.....

You wouldn't know it with tomorrow's expected high of 90* but wow... the light has all changed, there is more darkness, and the mad scramble to get everything harvested and put up begins. I really love this time of year. I love the cool mornings, the humidity has lifted, and it just feels like something good is going to happen.

Happy Friday everyone!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

This changes how today went.....

I've been working on my clearing project and yesterday I kept hearing a buzzing noise while I was whacking my way thru the tall weeds. So I took the only sensible course of action which was to run away.  This morning while it was barely light and went out and checked.

Yep. This changes everything about how today went. 

Pretty much I'm hiding inside until we can kill it with fire. At dusk we attack. And by "we" I mean my husband is on his own. Me and the dogs will still be inside.

Wish me luck, people.... things could get very interesting around here...

Happy Wednesday! Did you find a huge and horrible wasp nest?

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Team Hog!

I shared these pix on 'the facebook' last nite and just had to put them up here as well.  Dog#1 and Zander are the Team Hog.

Team Hog

Last nite my Dog#1 got body slammed by a muddy hog during chores. Don't worry he was just fine - just a little muddy. But good thing we had The Dread Commander Zander as back up.

A little muddy and all he wanted was for me to throw the stick. We did.

Zander and Ti worked together to get the pigz moved back into the woods so we could easily get into their pen, dump their feed into their bowl, and then clean out the waterer without being swarmed or pushed down by pesky pigz. Team Hog held the pigz back so it was extremely easy to get these chores done quickly.

"The Dread" Commander Zander. He will earn the name "Excellent" when we protects me from real danger.... like my Most Excellent Good Dog Titan has done many times.

Zander is doing great at his new job. He follows Ti's lead and he responds to some of our commands and is learning more.  The best thing is that his recall (when I call him back to me) is near perfect. Considering there is a lot of barking, running, and squealing pigz this is really amazing. He's also learning to watch me for instruction. I tell "Team Hog" where to move the pigz and also to come stop moving those pigz and come and get THIS pig. They both also immediately stop moving the pigz and come back to me or get out of the hog lot when instructed.

Someone asked me last nite if they really "herd" the pigz? Yep. This isn't two dogs just wildly running around barking and being out of control. They are intentionally working together to achieve a goal. Now, we probably couldn't take Zander to sheepdog trials or something like this..... but that's also not what we use our dogs for.

I also don't use standard sheep dog commands ("come by", "away") because I think there is some merit in using non-standard verbal commands. Some Military Working Dogs and police dogs are trained in Dutch or German so that their dogs are not distracted by other people goofing around when the dogs are working. I just use words that I normally use - but I use them consistently and in the same way to indicate what behaviors I want.

For instance, I needed a command to tell the dogs to move those pigz away from me and the gate. I couldn't use "move them back" because "back" is a specific command to tell the dogs to get behind me. We use this when I'm trying to work with the goats or the chickens. I might be moving the goats or chickens but I don't want them to run around wildly so the dogs are behind me and we move slowly. Or we use this if you show up unannounced. I will call the dogs to me and have them stand behind me while you get out of your car.

So now we use "move them out" to indicate the dogs should get all the pigz together and moving in one direction which is back towards the woods. The dogs stand in front of the pigz - between the pigz and me - and hold the pigz there. If the pigz make a run for it I say, "move them back" and the dogs lunge toward the pigz to hold them in place. Again, this isn't wildly running around and being out of control. This is specific targeted behaviors.

Hard workin' farm dogs.

Once the chores are done then I call them to me and say "let's go." Then we all go out of the hog yard. Titan only ever wants me to throw the stick for him and Zander gets a lot of "good dogs!" and body rubs. We don't reward our dogs with food or treats. They value the work itself and being part of a team. Zander loves the work and gets excited when I say "let's go feed the pigz!"  He paws around by the door, grumbling and shaking his big head,  then thunders down the hill directly toward the pigz. He knows exactly what we are doing and loves it.

Unfortunately Titan was pretty muddy so we had to get him cleaned up. Bath? We don't need no stinkin' bath! I just washed him off with the hose.

Then we ran around some more, got a drink, and then I told them to "go watch the house." Which means I wanted them to both go up on the deck. They did. I gated them in while we did the rest of the chores and they could cool down.

Could we use Zander to round up the goats or herd the ducks? I don't think so. Maybe one day.... but his prey drive is really strong so we will probably just use him to work livestock that he can't easily pick up and shake to death.

Happy Tuesday everyone! Are you working your dogs?

Monday, August 25, 2014

Life is Good.....but soon. Pigz, soon.

The heat dome is in full effect and we are all going to be sweating it out in the Fire Swamp as the Dog Days of summer rage on today....

Life is good.... for now.

But for now life is good for those pigz. It's too hot to butcher this week. But soon.

Happy Monday everyone! Isn't life good?

Sunday, August 24, 2014

My funny Kai photobombs Lucky...

I grabbed a quick happy snap of Lucky the other day - he was so cute and I wanted a good picture.

It wasn't until later that I saw the imp on the right had side of the shot. 

Look at that grin.


Our funny Kai may be 103 lbs of "hell yeah," a tenacious hunter, and no doubt she has a stout heart... but to us she's just our funny girl. We call her Wiggles because of the funny way she dances around when she is happy and swingin' her bonbon tail. Silly Kai!

Happy Sunday everyone!

Friday, August 22, 2014

So that's where they are....

I couldn't figure out where all my eggs were....

Found them. 

And then found this malcontent in her new hiding spot. Do you see her? Look closer....

Chickens.  I see you, Missy! Now give me that egg!

Happy Friday everyone! Did you find your eggs?

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Two projects that were total failures.

If you've been reading for a while then you know that I like to to do "Winners and Losers" and talk about projects that worked... and those that didn't. I always said that I'd tell you The Truth About Farming and this is all just part of it.

This is our best goat. Honestly.

I've had two projects this summer that were total failures. Complete failures. Total, abject failures. F-. Dang.

First, my home made hay project is a total fail this year. I got half a good cutting and then... nothing. I loved my home made hay so much last year. It was so productive! It totally worked! Everyone loved it and I saved so much money. And now.... F-. I probably need to just mow the whole thing off, overseed, and try again for next year. That is my plan.

I knew that my bad soil was iffy... but I really thought it would do OK. But I don't think I fertilized it enough. I did not listen to you-know-who-you-are when you said to apply some potash. So my hay sucks.This is part of the reason that I had to go and get hay the other day. 

Daisy. Not a failure and safe from the auction block.

The second complete failure.... keeping the goat babies from this year for meat. Remember when we butchered a goat and it was terrific? And all I dreamed about all summer has been cabrito? Yeah. F-. The first goat loss was a complete shock and a surprise. So it was even worse when we lost a second one the other day.

To be honest the goats have been fraught with problems this entire season. I cannot believe that I'm typing the words, "at this point Dahli is our best goat."  I don't like her at all but she is milking like a demon, is as sleek as a seal, and free ranges like a pro.

I am not a goat "lover." If anything I have been a goat "liker"..... but at this point I'm a goat "tolerater." There is a million things that can go wrong when you own goats and we have been lucky enough not to have any of them happen. Until now. When it rains, it pours goat woes.

I have no idea what changed.... other than we have more goats now. I don't think that overcrowding is an issue tho because we are using the goat house and both sides of the Turkey House as over night quarters. And they are spending a lot of time roaming around, free ranging while I sit, annoyed, shepherding them as I silently make up my list of "1,000 Reasons Why Dogs Are Better than Goats."  The first reason, obviously, is that a shoulder mounted Malinois is a thing of beauty and power.  Carrying a goat on your shoulder is just ridiculous.

But back to our second loss.

To tell you the truth, that guy was not doing well. We had already treated him for urinary calculi - which he responded well to and he very quickly seemed to bounce back. So we thought he was OK. But then we weren't sure. He didn't have any symptoms... just seemed a little "off."

Fortunately for me, shortly after the first goat loss a couple folks suggested cocci. I immediately dismissed the first person's diagnosis as he is known to be of ill-repute and once suggested I was a communist.

The second person was much more learned and provided me with some great information on "sub clinical" instances of cocci. This launched me into a whole new path of investigation. Unfortunately the treatment was not successful and the little goat succumbed. The remaining goaties are doing well tho. I'm completing their course of treatment over the next couple of days.

At this point, tho, this project is still a total loss. We don't want to butcher a diseased animal or one that has been pumped so full of chemicals. The whole thing is enough to make you hat-throwing mad.

So what do you do?

As always, the best you can. Onward and upward. Solve the problems that you can. Deal with the fallout of the problems you can't. Take your loss. Learn from your mistakes. Keep moving forward. That is all any of us can do.

On the upside, Nibbles recovered from her pink eye and she looks terrific. She is back with the herd and complaining daily about "those other bitches." Debbie also recovered very quickly after she was wormed. The better hay did wonders for her milk production and she looks lovely. Dahli is, as I said earlier...and I choke these words out... our best goat. And Daisy is going to be a superstar milker next year. She looks beautiful. She free ranges. And she is a good milker.

Darla is going to the auction as soon as my husband gets his next day off from work. She is not a good milker, is not a good producer, and was not a good mother. Plus she is a screamer. The first time she screeched at the top of her lungs that "those other goats are getting all the good snacks" was the day she committed herself to the auction block. Now she does it every single nite. Every.Single.Night. I can tolerate a lot from these silly goats but with three strikes, and all that screaming, she is out.

That's the goat round up here. Today is going to be a better day. I just know it.

Happy Thursday everyone! Do you have goat woes? Did the cocci get your goat?

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