Summer Happenings

Busy busy at the farm (notice we haven’t blogged in a while?). Wrapped up a first-cutting of hay with the neighbors (1100 square bales for our steers, heifers, and dry cows over the winter), but we’ll still need winter hay for the milkers. Our hands, arms, and legs are still healing from the scratchy hay bales!

Just finished setting up some electric fencing on our neighbor John’s land above us for some additional pasturage for the non-milkers, and moved those animals into their new paddock. It’s a mix of open meadow/hayfield as well as grassy (and not-so-grassy) wooded area – scrubby and young growth that has gradually encroached into the hayfields over the past few decades. It’s cool watching the animals feed here, as they browse leaves from the trees and scrub just as much as they graze grass along the ground, guided by internal cues about what nutrition is best for them at the moment.

Poured a small concrete pad for the 3 ton grain bin we had lying around (literally), and set it upright and got it bolted down. Awaiting a delivery anyday. By buying in bulk we’ll be able to save money over buying by the bag (which we were already receiving by the pallet load, saving over store retail costs). The organic grain we use for our pastured meat chickens, turkeys, ducks, guinea, and laying hens, and new-to-us this year, geese – although now that the geese are out of the brooder and barn with access to the pasture, they really prefer grazing.

Speaking of pastured meat chickens, we just started butchering our second set and will continue over the next couple weeks. If you’re interested in a bulk order (10+) for your freezer, let us know, and save 50cents per pound, plus we can cut and package to order.

Dairy-wise, progress is still slow, but small steps are being made. When we poured the grain pad, we poured a new foundation for one corner of the attached garage that will be converted to the creamery. When we went to start on renovations, we discovered the bottom sill and lower portion of the walls studs were rotted or rotting. In fact, if you squeezed some of the them, water oozed out – not good! So we needed to raise the wall foundation and reinstall some framing, one section at a time. We’ll be doing this concurrent with some concrete work in the barn, pouring new footers for some of the loft support posts, along with new stalls for the cows and floor for the parlor, milkhouse/washroom, and alley. Then with that done, we can move onto electrical, plumbing, and wall and ceiling coverings. The list is long, but doable.

Expecting a calf to be born anyday now from our new heifer, Bridgette. Stayed tuned for updates…

the barn is empty!

From the auction Josh went to last Saturday, he came home with five new cows! Two cows that are being milked, one that is due to freshen (birth a calf) 2014 cows-103next week, and two bred heifers. Our original three cows spent the week on the yard and we gradually moved out the rest of the cows as they were trained to electric in the barn (we weren’t sure how familiar they were with electric fence). We also moved our young beef cow and heifer in with the dry cow, new heifers, and our four beef cows – all out onto the main pasture this week.
Just today the cows moved from the yard to their first piece of pasture. The yard is fairly well “mowed”.  We love seeing them on pasture because they clearly love being outside and grazing – even our new cows, who we don’t even know if or when they ever had fresh grass. It’s been a long winter and cows 2014 cows-101on the pasture are proof that it’s over!

We’re expecting our next batch of meat bird chicks to arrive next week and the brooder is ready and waiting. The first batch is well settled into their pasture home.

The pigs were also moved to fresh pasture this week. It took some convincing – their organic grain was not as tempting as the delicious grass we were asking them to walk through to get to their fenced in area of pasture. But after much negotiation, they are where we intended them to be, coincidentally next to our dairy cows. The two species are 2014 cows-104conversing occasionally but are mostly too busy chomping on the grass on their side of the fence. Hopefully the pigs will stay put – they’ve been notorious escapers on our farm!

We’re a month out from our annual SolstiCelebration – mark your calendars for June 21st. It’s a potluck with a bonfire and pig roast. Yum! We’re hoping for a dry day, but in the event of rain, as we learned last year, the (mostly) empty hayloft is a welcome dry spot if needed! All are welcome.

In the meantime, we’ll see you at the Plattsburgh Farmers and Crafters Market tomorrow from 9-2 with duck eggs, chicken eggs, artisan bread, blueberry muffins, pork chops, smoked hams, bacon, duck,  chicken, and more. See you there!

Spring is here (I think)

Woven Meadows Spring-101The mud is intense, as is expected. This is the first spring we’ve had to regularly use our tractor, and the ruts made in the soft mud are impressive.

We’re finally seeing green, growing grass! It’s exciting. We’re anxious to get the cows out onto the pasture but know that putting them out too early will result in poorer pasture growth later in the season. The pasture looks amazing in comparison to what it’s been like this time last year and the year before. It’s so gratifying to see the results of intensive rotational grazing of both the chickens and cows. Still, as green as it is, it’s short and thin still. Fortunately the yard isn’t! So as in past years, the cows are the doing the first “lawn mowing” of the season. And as usual, it’s the most enjoyable thing to witness – cows on spring grass!
Woven Meadows Spring-106
In the meantime, geese have taken up residence at the pond and surrounding pasture. It started with 2 but has grown to a flock of 10, and they come and go. They’ve learned to share the pond with our ducks and we haven’t seen them help themselves to any chicken feed, so far so good.

We also moved our first batch of meat birds from the brooder to the pasture. They are loving the pasture and we’re excited to see them out scratching and foraging through the day.

Josh brought another batch of pigs  for USDA processing this week. We have two pigs ready for anyone interested in a whole or half pig.

Woven Meadows Spring-110The puppies are wandering farther and farther around the farm. They impress us because they are excellent at following our lead. They race behind us (sometimes underfoot a bit too much, but less and less) and then settle down wherever we stop to work, ready to jump up and follow whenever we move on to a different task. If you know anyone interested in livestock guardian dog puppies, we still have 3 available for sale.

There’s an auction this weekend with several jersey cows. It’s a bit sooner than we’d like (there’s still a ton of work to do to get the creamery up and running) but you don’t see jerseys available everyday. So we’re jumping on this and anticipate having our herd up to 6 for the summer.

The Plattsburgh Farmers and Crafters Market started last weekend, and we’ll be there again this weekend with eggs (both chicken and duck!), pork, and duck, as well as homemade organic breads and milk soaps. We picked up a glass topped display freezer this week, so we’re hoping to bring that and have that set up this week at the market! The market is on Saturday from 9-2. See you there!!

Great Pyrenees Puppies Available

We’re loving these adorable puppies as the grow, play, and learn! Woven Meadows Spring-121
The puppies’ parents, Eden and Wesley, are working livestock guardian dogs here on our farm, both pure Great Pyrenees. Puppies were born February 24.

We currently have three out of seven puppies still available for sale, all males, 2 white and 1 badger patterned. Puppies have all received their first round of vaccines and are currently learning the ropes of being a farm/livestock guard dog. They are well socialized with humans, chickens, cows, sheep, pigs, cats, and ducks.
Woven Meadows Spring-118Puppies are $400 and are ready for their new farms! Please contact us with any questions or arrange a time to come and meet our working dogs.

Woven Meadows Spring-110

 

 

 

 

Updated puppy pictures 7/14:

July 2014 Pyr pups-102 July 2014 Pyr pups-101

 

 

 

 

 

Dam, Eden:

Eden2

 

 

 

 

Sire, Wesley:

Puppies-101spring 2014-211

Yay! for no snow (well, close enough!)

spring 2014-210While there are still freezing nights (mostly) and chilly-to-warm days, we frost seeded clover on our pastures. We’re excited to see the improvement this summer! When we first arrived at this farm a little over two years ago the pastures were very much in disrepair. We’ve spent the last two seasons rotating animals and seeing a dramatic improvement! So this will be the icing on the ever-improving pasture. Part of our mission is to be good stewards of our land and livestock. It’s so gratifying to see our dedication paying off in thicker, lusher pastures.

The “experienced” chickens have been wandering out of their barn shelter and pecking enthusiastically at the ground as the snow receeded. While they’ve had the option to go outside all winter, they have wisely avoided the snow. It’s fun to see them wandering far and wide across our yard seeking sweet young grass as well as any bug-type creature that is brave enough to show its face this early in the year!

spring 2014-208Another sign of spring: the first batch of meat chickens arrived. Every time – especially the first batch of the spring – I’m surprised once again at how tiny these birds start! We start them off with whey in addition to their organic chick starter. They whey is an electrolyte-filled jumpstart for these little guys. They’ll spend approximately 3 weeks in the brooder and then be moved to the pasture for that delicious grass and grubs that the older layers are already enjoying.

spring 2014-201Back in December, right before Christmas, we ordered close to 100 egg layers. This is not what we’ve typically done in the past (ordering chicks at the beginning of winter) and is not the norm in general. But, when chicks arrive in the spring, they start laying in earnest in the fall – about the time the more-active farmers’ market comes to a close and the pasture output decreases dramatically. So this year, we started egg-layers-to-be in December, and we expect them to start laying any day!
To make room for the meat chicks, we moved these “teen” layers-to-be to the chicken camper-coop. They’ve spent a few cool nights tucked up toasty with their peers. In the next few nights we’ll move over the experienced girls and then let everyone out of the coop to explore the pasture, within an electric net (for their protection – we don’t mind if they fly over it to explore further afield!).

When Josh went to the auction a few weeks ago he was able to snag the biggest piece of equipment we need for the creamery – the vat! Woohoo! It’s waiting for us in the barn while we continue to ready the creamery space.

Several pigs will be going for USDA processing in a few weeks. If you are interested in a half or whole pig, speak now!

Josh will be at the winter farmers market at the Oval in Plattsburgh from 10am-1pm with artisan bread, duck eggs, pork, duck, and milk soap.
spring 2014-211

Snow is melting …

… and mud season is just starting! We can see most of our driveway now! It’s exciting. The seeds really need to be started now.
The cows are anxious to get outside. Don’t be fooled. We still have feet of snow and we’re no where near ready for cows to be on the pasture (except the beef cows who have been out all winter). That doesn’t stop the cows from longingly looking through the crack in the door of the barn, or out an open window and sniffing deeply.
Shadow, the cow we’ve had the longest but is probably the youngest of our small herd, has been cracking me up. She turns in her stall and makes a big show of leaping over the gutter (not so gracefully, I might add) before proceeding to the gutter in front of the milking area. And then it’s a repeat: her hesitation, her bold leap, and slight slide of her hooves as they hit concrete on the other side. For the record, this gutter is maybe a foot wide, if that, and maybe six or eight inches deep. She is the most graceless cow we have and totally clueless about how laughable her antics are, because she’s so determined and serious about the whole thing.2014 Puppies-117

The puppies are rocking the cute-ometer! They are so distracting. You go in to the barn with every intention of giving the calves a bale of hay, feeding the pigs, and chickens, and then leaving. But you find yourself stopping to pet each of the seven puppies and ooh and ahh over how soft and friendly and all around completely adorable they are! They happily follow us all over “their” barn. We have 3 males not spoken for – so if you’re interested, speak up!

In dairying news we had our loan approved to go through with the creamery! Talk about exciting! We’ve been cleaning out the to-be-creamery space in preparation for the ground to thaw. The first order of business construction-wise is to install drainage. In conjunction with this we’ll be bracing two walls in the to-be-creamery space and improving the foundation, which is too shallow and not frost-proof at the moment. We’ve also been toying with the idea of purchasing equipment now as much of it is custom made when using the equipment for this scale of an operation (micro-dairy). Then, Josh’s dad happened to see an auction happening in Cambridge, NY duck eggs-201tomorrow where many of the equipment needs we have could be met! The extra awesome thing about this is that this equipment is already being used in the State of NY so will pass inspection with little to no finagling. Whew!

Unfortunately this means missing the twice-monthly winter farmer’s market this Saturday. But if you’re looking for those duck eggs we’re starting to swim in, pork, and whole duck – they’re all here at the farm ready for you!

Spring? Are you here? No?

Woven Meadows Dairy 2Spring is coming, despite the continuing snowfall. We can tell because Shadow has started shedding her winter coat. Her transition from winter to summer fur is dramatic. It always makes us nervous because it’s so sudden and happens when it’s definitely not warm enough to be thinking about spring! And yet, her body knows, and her thick fur sheds readily with thin buzz-cut looking fur left in its place.

Another sign of spring is that the ducks are getting more and more …. chatty. Our Muscovies don’t quack, they hiss. It’s a Muscovy thing. Usually they’ll hiss when something has alarmed them. It could be that the dogs have wandered in to the barn (something we don’t usually let happen), or a duck from our laying flock has entered the Muscovy flock, something like that. Every morning this week the Muscovies have been up in arms! They are hissing and flapping and clearly agitated. The first time, I finished putting the milker on Dana, and walked over to the ducks, tucked behind the tractor, hissing and carrying on. I couldn’t see what the fuss was about. There were no intruders, no oddities. Then I realized, the ducks had circled to hiss encouragement (or not) to the two drakes in the middle trying to gain top-drake status. Spring is coming. The drakes want first mating rights.

Despite the snow, there are chore times when after bundling up in multiple layers, we find ourselves shedding coats, gloves, and hats in the barn as we work. It’s getting -dare I say – hot! Even so, one morning early this week I woke in the dark (time change:: curse you!) and stumbled through getting dressed. I Woven-Meadows-Winter-2014stoked the fire, layered up in outerwear, put together the milker while filling a bucket with warm water (to thaw the inevitably frozen rabbit waterers), and made my way to the back door. The red outer door, you know the one? It was stuck. The freeze-thaw cycle had caused ice to adhere to the back door and it was impossible to open. Feeling discouraged and sad I made my way back in to the house as quietly as possible, snow pants sh-sh-shing as I walked.
“Josh,” I whispered, “I can’t get the back door open.”
Groggily he got out of bed. He had done his share of morning chores and was looking at a very long day at his off-farm job that day.
In pjs he went out to the back door, yanked, then pried the door open with a mattock lying close by, and the door was open. He grabbed a handful of the nearby salt and flung some on to the ice before making his way back to the warmth of our bed.
So it’s not quite spring weather yet. Or maybe this is spring weather.

This time of year, we’re numbering the days by remaining haybales. There are about 80 second cut bales and each cow eats about a bale a day. This gives us about a month of second cut hay left, not enough to see them through till new grass. Fortunately we have plenty of first cut bales, some of which are fairly good quality for a first-cutting, and while they are not preferred by our milkers, they are munching them down grudgingly as we attempt to spread the second-cut-yumminess into the spring.

A Wholeshare order is being placed on March 31st. We’re half-way to the minimum order, so if you’re interested in ordering, go add your items! At the farm the ducks have been generous – so come pick up chickens roosting (2 of 2)yours! We are out of chicken until our first batch this coming summer (see? Spring is coming if we’re talking about our first batch of chickens for this season!). However, we still have whole ducks and all the pork you can imagine! Speaking of pork, if you’re interested in a half or a whole, we have some pigs that are almost ready. Let us know if you’re interested!

The eternal winter

Our first Wholeshare delivery arrived at the end of last week. There was much excitement in this house! We had been holding out, waiting for things like peanut butter, apples, oranges, and sugar. Click here to join our group. The next order will be placed on March 31st with delivery scheduled for April 4th (coincidentally also the day we’ll be celebrating one of our daughter’s third birthday!!). I checked this morning and there are already some splits started – broccoli rabe, basil, rosemary, and celery – so definitely Puppies-109add yourself to a split if a whole order of those items (or others!) are overwhelming. Feel free to drop us a line if you have any questions about Wholeshare.

The puppies successfully moved to the barn – but their house-loving-momma isn’t so excited. Fortunately she’s really committed to her puppies and continues to care for them well. The puppies opened their eyes this week and they are softer than ever.

Puppies-101The snow has been terrific – inches feet of snow with lots of gusts leading to huge drifts – some drifts as high as our waists! It’s funny how the wind works, in some places the wind kindly plowed our driveway, in other places the drifts are impassable.

On the creamery front, our contact at the farm lending agency we’re using, has said she plans to have our application complete in the next week. Fingers crossed!

Snow or no, the ducks know that spring is coming and are ever-generous in their laying. Because of this, First-snow-storm-2012-3we’re able to package some up in the popular 9-packs we had last year. We still have some 1/2 dozen packages – but if you know you love duck eggs, feel free to pick up a nine-pack instead (or as well?).

Josh has plowed multiple times, so no worries coming up the driveway to collect your farm goodies!! See you soon!

ps this is a farmer’s market week! Josh will be at Plattsburgh’s Winter Farmer’s Market on Saturday from 10am-1pm with artisan bread, pork, chicken, eggs, duck eggs, and duck. The market is held the first and third Saturdays of the month and is located at 52 U.S. Oval. The market is usually in the community room, a small room tucked in the back left hand corner downstairs. Sometimes it gets moved within the building, but keep wandering around – you’ll find the farmers and all their yummy locally grown and raised offerings!

Getting some cow love this winter

Shadow, our cow that birthed a stillborn calf last winter, and threw a premature calf this winter, is being milked twice a day to encourage her production. The other two cows are only milked in the morning, but ADITL-207Shadow is not only milked in the morning with the machine with the rest of the herd, but she’s also milked in the afternoon by hand. That milk is then given to the barn cats or the pigs or chicks. Shadow surprised me when we first started milking her by hand by licking me, enthusiastically. This would be fine if her tongue were not so strong or persistent. Crouching for 10 minutes or so, the time it takes to hand milk her, gives Shadow plenty of time to shower me with affection. Affection that is so enthusiastic that I’m nervous I’ll tip over. In these temps that hover between -10 and 20, the warm wet of cow kisses leads to an icey snowsuit. Just thankful that said snowsuit has proved to be waterproof so far.

The beef cows are doing well and growing big quick! It doesn’t feel like almost two years since Libby and DITL 11-216Chance were born (and the two additional beef cows are around the same age). But it’s true. They’ll be two in June! We’re considering having one USDA processed for those that don’t want to commit (or don’t have the freezer space) for a quarter of a cow. The USDA processed beef will be sold by the cut and will be processed at Locust Grove, where we have our pigs USDA processed. For those that do want a quarter of a beef cow, we’ll be figuring out pricing and deposit amounts soon!

We pulled out seeds this week and plan to start those early early crops soon. Like most years, we have very ambitious goals but animals take priority which means no promises on the gardens success.

The puppies continue to grow every day and are this close to their eyes opening! Josh set up a shelter for the puppies and Eden in the “horse” barn and we will be moving them to the barn in the next day or so.  Eden is leaving them more frequently and it’s interesting to watch her meet their needs while also attending her own.
If you’re interested in a puppy, please let us know. We plan to give priority to farms looking for a livestock guard dog. If you’d like more information about the Great Pyrenees breed, just shoot us an email! We love working with our Pyrs and are excited to add a few more to our group on the farm, providing protection to our poultry, primarily.

At the farm right now, you’ll find chicken and duck eggs. Remember that we sell chicken eggs by the dozen and duck eggs by the half dozen – so be sure to grab the right container. In the upright freezer next to the cooler there is USDA packaged pork – including bacon – but you might want to keep that a secret for yourself :) . There is also still chicken and duck available in the inner upright freezer.
Give the back door a knock if you need anything (not the red door – we can’t hear that one being knocked! Come right in to the mudroom, just don’t mind the mudroom’s ample shoe collection that seems to have grown every time I walk through!)

Ice, Cold, Snow, and a little more of the same

We knew Eden, our female Great Pyrenees was expecting some time this week. On Monday while Josh was at work (which is when the disasters excitement always happens on the farm), Eden’s puppies began their life in our unheated not-garage, behind the cooler and upright freezer. After Eden easily birthed 6 pups, cleaning each thoroughly, I moved the puppies in to the slightly-warmer mudroom and added an electric radiator. With much encouragement, Eden followed and got back to the motherly work of cleaning up her babies. They were all mewing, but no one was latching for milk yet.Great-Pyrenees-Pup
After an errand that demanded I be away from the farm for a few hours, I returned home to find two more puppies! Eden birthed 8 puppies in all. Sadly we lost one early in the week, but the remaining seven are as active as puppies so young should be and plumping out nicely. We’re planning to sell all but two, preferably to other farmers needing livestock guard dogs. In the meantime we are melting in the goo of cute puppyness. We are very impressed with Eden’s mothering and her instincts all around. We’re always counting to make sure everyone is accounted for. At times one or more puppy finds themselves behind Eden. But we’ve also seen Eden use her tongue and nose to scoop them up over her back to land in front of her among its siblings. It appears that there are 2 females and 5 males. Three are all white and 4 with badger markings.

An example of disasters that befall the farm when Josh is away for his two 10-hour days at his off-farm job: we have one turkey left from our overall frustrating turkey-year last year (first the turkeys never arrived from the hatchery … it didn’t get better in terms of our success with turkeys after that). So we decided to keep the one remaining turkey as she is a heritage breed and look for a tom and another turkey hen or two. In an example of a friend of a friend of a relative … Josh’s parents  accidentally tracked down 6 hens and one tom. This was so unexpected and we were so excited. The turkeys came home in a cattle trailer borrowed from Josh’s parents to use to bring pigs to Locust Grove, the closest USDA processing facility. The turkeys became roommates to the ducks and all was well.
One day, recently, one of those warmer days, Josh decided to let the turkeys and ducks out of their coop. The ducks returned home, but the turkeys decided to bunk in the hayloft. And the next day we had to retrieve them from under the three massive evergreen trees at the bottom of the driveway. We returned them to the hayloft, assuming it was a cozy home that they would be happy to return to and would give them some space from the ducks. Within days the turkeys had moved on, all but our original. By the time we realized the tracks were covered with fresh snow or blown away. So we’re back to our lone turkey, that we’re calling Rosie.

The warm patch of weather melted the ice aggressively, but not enough. With the warm Woven-Meadows-Winter-2014weather came plenty of snow (yes, warm weather = snow), which made the ice-coated ground much easier to walk on. But the temps have dipped even colder (although not as cold as it was) and the frigid wind that came with that cold temp has blown much of the snow off of our drive and farm roads. That brief melt filled in the very few rough patches in the ice, and our walkways are slick than slick. It’s treacherous – we’ve fallen many many times this year as we go about chores. It’s all part of the routine these days!

Everyone is anxious to hear about a creamery update – and we’re anxious for there to be something worth saying! We’re in talks with a local lender. Initially we were told they would let us know within a few weeks. And then a few months. And every few weeks we are asked for one more piece of information, and that should be all. But then a few more weeks pass and we’re asked for another document. We’re considering going directly to FSA at this point. This is the year we really want the creamy up and running.
eggs-in-straw
In December 100 laying hen chicks arrived. This is a little backwards. Usually we get chicks in the spring and they start laying in the fall. But our current flock is less than 40 hens is going on three years old and people want EGGS. So the chicks that arrived in December should start laying in the spring – and then we’ll be hunting down all those who have begged us for eggs in the last few months. With more daylight the chickens and ducks have been laying just a little bit more.

At the end of this week we participated in Cornell Cooperative Extension and Adirondack Harvest‘s Food From the Farm event at the Oval in Plattsburgh. This is our second year participating in this annual event. It’s always a heartwarming affair with the gym full of farmers and people interested in locally grown food.
Thank you to all who made it to the event and came by to chat. We loved catching up with friends and meeting so many new people too!

At the farm right now, you’ll find some eggs (if you’re lucky, there may even be a half dozen or two duck eggs) and a re-stocked upright freezer with USDA packaged pork. There is also still chicken and duck available. Just be careful coming up the driveway (although it seems leaving has been more challenging for people than coming – but we have become quite adept at helping people get un-stuck out of the driveway!). If we’re around, we will try to make time to let you peak at the puppies too!