Monday, April 26, 2010

New Postcards

We received six postcards today.

This one of the Capital building in Oklahoma was from the State Facts Postcard Swap #3 on .

This card from Wisconsin was also from the State Facts Postcard Swap #3 on .

The family that sent Flat Baxter to us mailed us a New Jersey State Capitol postcard.

We then received three international postcards. The first of which was this still-life of grapes in a bowl from Australia that was sent to us through .

These last two cards from Italy were both sent from the same American family vacationing in Italy and were traded though Postcardkids yahoo group.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Farm Happenings

Neil spent the morning repairing garden hoses and running some of them to the automatic waterers in the barn. So, now we don't have long hoses running along the ground everywhere. He also had the time to fix the water pump that has been leaking out in the pasture.  Once he fixed the underground connection he installed four t-posts around the pipe and ran electric fencing around it to prevent the cows and donkeys from rubbing on it and breaking it again.

This afternoon we all went over to Neil's parents for dinner.  I made a beef stroganoff from our farm raised beef to take over.  It was really good.

Today's mail brought two postcards from Memphis, Tennessee...

Also, Flat Hannah arrived from Texas.

You can follow Flat Hannah's visit here on the farm here.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Farm Happenings

Day two of goat milking went well.  Pepper, one of my oldest does, stood nicely and milked out over a quart today.  Her daughter, Mary Jane, was a bit more jumpy on the milking stand.  Mary Jane also has smaller teats so it takes a bit longer to milk her out fully.  Two of our three goat kids will be picked up tomorrow afternoon.  I love the baby goats and it is so hard for me to let them go when they are still in that uber playful age.  These two will be going to great family with lots of human kids so they will be happy there.

I made a batch of vanilla yogurt today.  It has been a while since I have made yogurt so I had to start from powdered yogurt culture again.  Future batches I will just use some of this batch to culture it.

We got this postcard in the mail today from a Chicago family.  Traded through Postcardkids Yahoo Group.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Earth Day

Today is Earth Day.  We already do many things everyday that others only think to do today.  For example, we recycle as much as we can, I always pre-cycle if possible (meaning I purchase items with the least amount of packaging involved or with an intended use for the package once it is empty), I shop with cloth or other reusable bags, I use "green" cleaning products, we use hand towels in the kitchen and cotton dishcloths to wash dishes, we grow or raise much of our own food here on the farm, and I buy organic when it is an option.  But when Earth Day comes around I like to get the kids excited and involved with conservation projects.  This year we did lots of fun things.

First the kids made birdhouses from kits they had received at Christmas.

It seemed like a perfect day to build and paint them.  This weekend I will have Neil help me hanging them up.

Then we made Bird Food Pinecones to feed the birds.

I gathered the few ingredients together and we headed out on the deck.  We tied string to four pinecones and set aside.  We then mixed 1 cup vegetable shortening, 2 cups corn meal, 1 cup sunflower seeds and a cup of oatmeal together.

The kids smushed the mixture into the pinecones.  You could roll them in bird seed at this point but we didn't have any on hand. 

Then Evan hung them in the trees out by the kid's playground for the birds to find. 

In the afternoon we packed up the kid's bikes and went over to a local park that has a walking/bike path.  The kid's love going here since we don't really have a good place to ride bikes on our property. 

We rode for a while then stopped to play on the small playground there.  Evan took it upon himself to start picking up litter around the park and ball field.  I was so proud of him!

Then this evening we created some Egghead critters by filling empty egg shells with potting soil and drawing faces on them.  Then we planted some clover seeds in them and watered well.  In a few days our little eggheads should have some crazy hair growing on them.

We did get a postcard in the mail today... from Wisconsin.  I am not sure how they knew that both Evan and I are fond of big red barns...

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

More Postcards and Flat Baxter

Received lots of fun things in the mail today.  First we got two more postcards.  Both of them came from the same family in Arizona.  One card is full of great state facts and the other one is of Superstition Mountain.

The other thing we received was our first Flat Traveler that we will be hosting, Flat Baxter. 

Flat Travelers are similar to the Flat Stanley Project but they can be any image that the sending family wants it to be.  One creates a "flat" and sends it to a hosting family.  That hosting family then takes the flat everywhere they go and takes photos, collects souvenirs and writes a journal that will all be sent back to the original family after a set amount of time.  We have created two Flat Travelers of our own and mailed them out today to the two families that we will be hosting flats for.  Our flat images were chosen by the kids.  Evan chose the Star Wars Clone Trooper Cody and Mckayla colored an alpaca that we named Allie Paca.

So, Flat Baxter that arrived here today will be learning about things here on the farm and going on some day trips with us over the next few months.  In an attempt to not clutter this blog I will start a new blog for each of the Flat Travelers that we host.  You can check out Baxter's blog here.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

New Postcard

Received this great Texas state map card in the mail today.  It came from the same Texas family that sent us the Bluebonnet card we received yesterday.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Lego Smart Creativitiy Contest

I found out today that I was selected to compete in the 2010 LEGO® SmartTM Creativity Contest, challenging teachers and home educators across the United States to become LEGO Smart!  The contest doesn't begin until August but they will be mailing Lego kits out in 4-6 weeks so I can start working on my contest entry.

We also received SIX postcards in the mail today!
One from Quebec showing Autumn colors.
One from Texas with a Yucca plant and Bluebonnets.
And three Ohio State Map cards all from the same family.
And finally, the same family from Ohio sent a recipe card too.

The goat kids are fine today. I always worry about them for the first 24 hours. It is possible to cause some brain damage to the kids if the hot iron is left on too long. I have never seen it but I fret none the less.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Farm Happenings

We had a guy stop by the farm this morning looking for a turkey tom to buy for his hens. In luck I still had two toms that I haven't gotten around to butchering yet. So, Neil and I caught him up and off he went to his new home to be with his new girls. I love a happy ending!

What was not so happy is that today was the day that we needed to dis-bud our kid goats. It is our least favorite farm chore but one that needs to get done. The kids (of the human kind) helped us round up the three goat kids. Then Neil and I got them all dis-budded. It went really well and we got good copper burns on all the kids.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

A Family-A-Fair

A Family-A-Fair is an annual event in our county to mark the end of The Week of the Young Child. There are many activities through out Huck Sansbury Park including inflatable slides, hay rides, petting zoo, games, and community awareness booths. Which is why we were there... to help with the Ellette Rangers 4-H table.

L to R: Matthew, Zach, Cheryl and Micheal

McKayla with her 4-H temporary tattoo.

Friday, April 16, 2010

New Postcards

We received two postcards in the mail today. One from Iowa and one from Pennsylvania and both state map cards.

The third litter of Chinchilla rabbit kits are finally leaving the nest box to eat pellets.  They are very cute.  There are 6 Chinchilla colored ones and 2 black frosted ones like their mother.  I have offered one kit from this litter as the raffle prize for the 4-H event this coming Saturday.

Today I also did the Ivomec injections on the alpaca girls.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Kids and Chicks

Went down to the feed store this morning to pick up new day old chicks.  They get thier chicks straight run (which means they are unsexed) and all the breeds in one big pen.  I picked up 16 chicks in hopes that at least 50% will be hens for future egg layers.  I think I have 2 Barred Rocks, 3 Rhode Island Reds, 10 Americana (Easter Eggers) and one unkown (could be an odd colored RIR or maybe a plain looking Americana).

McKayla just loves babies and must hold them!

Had a great family stop by tonight to see our Nigerian Dwarf goat kids. They visited with the kids and decided to take our doeling and one of the bucklings as a whether.

I will be disbudding them this weekend and will then get them started on bottle feeding. The new owners will be picking them up next weekend.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

New Postcard

Got a postcard today from Maine... my home state!

Taylor had her 16 month well check exam at the doctor's this afternoon. She is growing well.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Postcard Trading

The kids and I have started something new lately. We are trading postcards to learn about other parts of the world. We are trading within the US for State map cards, state bird, flag, flower, animal, scenic views and more. We are also wanting to trade internationally to learn about other countries too.

So far we have received state map cards from New Hampshire and Arizona. We also have a Washington State card of the World's Longest Beach.

Some of the places we have found to trade cards are:

If you would like to trade cards with us just leave me a comment! We have several different cards we can trade from North Carolina.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Southern Shrimp and Grits

I made a new recipe today... Southern Shrimp and Grits.

Neil often orders this when he is eating out when at work.  I wanted to offer him the same experience here at home.  He told me that he really likes the version he has had at Fatz Cafe.  Fatz is a true Southern restuarant chain.  I searched online and happily found their Edisto Shrimp and Grits recipe online.  This came out so good!  I will be making this again for sure.

Edisto Shrimp:

30 pieces jumbo shrimp
12 oz. popcorn shrimp
12 oz. Parmesan cheese
6 oz. bacon bits (warm)

Burgundy Gravy:
¾ cup sliced mushrooms
½ oz. lemon juice
1 oz. diced yellow onions
2 oz. Golden Award or other liquid butter (I used melted butter)
4 oz. Burgundy wine
2 oz. Trio Brown Gravy dry mix (I used beef boulion paste)
drop of garlic-seasoned olive oil
dash of salt
dash of cayenne pepper

Stone-Ground Cheese Grits:
2 cups white stone-ground grits
1 quart water
1 quart milk
2 Tbsp. chicken base
1½ cups mixed Monterey Jack and Cheddar Cheese (I used all cheddar)
1⁄8 cup butter blend

For stone-ground cheese grits: Bring water and milk to a boil. Add grits, mixed cheese and chicken base. Simmer for 30 minutes. After 20 minutes of simmering, add butter and stir well. Cook for remaining 10 minutes.

For Burgundy gravy: In a pot add Golden Award (liquid butter), onions, mushrooms, wine and lemon juice and bring to a boil. Add salt, garlic and cayenne; reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. In separate pot, mix dry brown gravy mix and hot water according to instructions on package. Add gravy mix to mushroom-wine mixture and cook on medium heat for another 10 minutes.

For Edisto Shrimp: Lightly sprinkle jumbo and popcorn shrimp with blackening seasonings and cook on a flat top. (Follow proper blackening procedures.) Place 8 oz. cooked stone-ground cheese grits into bowl; place 5 jumbo shrimp in a circle along outer rim and 2 oz. popcorn shrimp down middle. Add about 3 oz. of gravy, drizzling over entire dish. Sprinkle 1 oz. bacon bits on top and garnish with 2 oz. Parmesan cheese.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Annual Alpaca Shearing

Today was the day we had our alpacas sheared. For the third year in a row we have hired the same professional shearers. And the for third year in a row we worked together with two other local alpaca farms to get all of our animals done in one day.

We started at 7 am at David Rosin's farm in Timberlake, NC with 15 alpacas. Next we came to our farm to shear our 12 alpaca and our llama. Finally, we ended up around 4 pm at David St.Laurent's farm in Virgilina, VA where we did 19 alpaca. 47 total in all!

Here are a few start to finish photos....

This entire process takes less then 4-5 minutes per animal! These guys are good and fast!