Tuesday, November 29, 2011

5 Things post-Thanksgiving

1) Thanks to a friend, I was able to actually eat one of my own turkeys on Thanksgiving.  According to 2 different people who cooked/ate 2 different turkeys, they were a big hit and were both described as "the breast meat just fell off the bone!"  That people thoroughly enjoyed the birds makes me happy!  Plans are to have turkeys next year.  I already have a couple orders.

2) Had a wonderful holiday weekend overall.  Before chowing down on turkey on Thursday, a friend and I participated in the Miamisburg Turkey Trot 5 mile run/walk.  We did it last year and I'm happy to say improved our time in the race this year by over 5 minutes!  I definitely think this is going to become a tradition for us.

3) Although the weather was gorgeous until Sunday, not much got accomplished around the farm.  Cleaned out the garage to make room for storing the hot tub until I can get everything in place to put it in its new home.  Cleaned out part of the chicken room as well, but really that was about it.  Went riding on Spot, walked around downtown for a bit... took it easy and loved it.

4) Of course the weather has been less than stellar since the weekend and is expected to get worse as we're forecasted for our first snow of the season tonight.  Blech!  So not ready for snow!!

5) And last but not least, an update on the land acquisition.  Refinanced the farm last week and am extremely happy with that process.  Still waiting to hear from the seller as to whether or not he's ok with still splitting off some land for me (up to 7 acres) or if he just wants to nix the whole thing.  Didnt' expect to hear anything last week due to the holiday and all, so I'm just in wait mode at this point.  The appraisal on the farm is good for a year... so I can add land up to that point without having to get another appraisal on the farm itself, just the land.  However, I'd really rather we get things finished well before then... perhaps in time to plant pasture/hay on the new acreage in the spring.

Well... that's it for this week.  Things are definitely slowing down and soon I expect to be talking more and more about plans for next year.  Right now they definitely include more turkeys (hopefully Bourbon Reds as well as some Broad Breasted Whites).  Next year may also see a couple new beef steers on the property along with (at long last) horses!!

Monday, November 21, 2011

5 Things pre-Thanksgiving

1) It's almost eerie how quiet it was walking to the car this morning.  The garage is right next to where the turkeys were and no one was there to squeek at me this morning.  Saturday we finished processing all the turkeys.  It went well, even if the garbage can idea was a bust (next year - turkey frier may get a try).  10 processed turkeys ranged from 11 pounds to 16 pounds, without the "extras".  Not bad.  A bit small for a Broad Breasted White turkey but given that I raised them as naturally as I count instead of the way the commercial turkeys are typically raised, I'm pretty happy with them.  Even more seeing the look on people's faces when they pick their turkey up.  I really hope they cook well!  I may even get a chance to try one of them.

2) Starting to look towards next year but at the same time am enjoying the downtime.  Stewie will be gone sometime next month and then I'll just have the chickens.  I foresee winter vacations in my future since there's not much to take care of (although leaving for some warm destination and leaving someone to deal with critters in the cold may not be fair either).

3) Still waiting to get the word on how much land I'm potentially picking up.  Kind of has me on pins and needles... but at the same time, I think I have plenty of contingency plans in place that there's nothing to do but wait and no sense in worrying.

4) Have a busy week ahead.  FPU Class tomorrow night, refi closing on the farm Wednesday afternoon, Turkey Trot Thursday morning, and a hunt with MVH on Friday.  Looking forward to next weekend when I can sleep in and relax a little.  But honestly, being busy with fun things that I enjoy and/or am looking forward to isn't a bad schedule to keep.  The only thing this week that I'm skipping is tonight's Nourishing Connections meeting.  They're showing the film "Farmaggedon".  I've already seen it and am having a hard time justifying the expense (in time and gas) to go to the meeting tonight, especially considering how busy the rest of the week is looking.

5) And for Thing #5... random recent pictures...

Bought these for me.  Sometimes splurging (within financial reason of course) is a GOOD thing.

Reilly and Phoebe taking it easy on the couch.  Not sure which one is worse... the cat on the pile of blankets or the dog with the pillow under his head.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Interesting Turkey Review

A cyber friend of mine in Virginia raised heritage breed turkeys this year - Midget Whites and Bourbon Reds.  It was an interview with her and the accompanying video that gave me the idea for the turkey building that I built this year.  She just posted this article from HamptonRoads.com titled "Let's put turkeys to the test".  It reviews a taste test they did between your store variety Butterball turkey, a fresh farmers market turkey (breed?), and 2 of the birds from my friend (one of each breed).  The review was very interesting to read and makes me think on the future.

My Broadbrested Whites this year - so far hens are averaging 12 pounds dressed weight.
The original plan really was to raise heritage breeds this year, but with the "busy" of the spring, we just didn't get the order planned in time and thus with only 4 months to go, the commercial Broad Breasted White was it.  Having raised it differently than your normal Butterball though, I'm quite anxious to hear back from customers this year what they thought of the turkey quality.  (Hint to those customers -- PLEASE give me a review!) 

Midget Whites - heritage breed, average 13 pounds for toms, 8 pounds for hens
It also makes me start thinking on what to do next year -- stick with the BB Whites, do heritage only or maybe do a mix to give customers the option.  If you have an opinion, please let me know. 

Flock of Bourbon Red turkeys - heritage breed, up to 23 pounds for toms, 14 pounds for hens

I can tell you that a heritage type bird will take longer to mature (6 months as opposed to 4) so the price will be slightly higher, but beyond that, I would like to hear from you on what you would want. Of course no matter what, we're talking pastured turkey -- no antibiotics, plenty of room to run and eat grass and bugs and lay in the sunshine. No obligation to order at this point. Sometime in the spring I'll start taking orders and I'll probably do more than the dozen that I had this year (although I did start with 15).

Which one would you like to see on your table?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

5 Things - Indian Summer

Cannot believe it's mid November already.  This weekend was over 60 degrees and it hit 70 this past week!  All I can say is... keep that gorgeous weather coming!! :)

1) Turkey massacre part 1 went well.  I didn't realize or think that the turkeys really should be fasted before butchering and fed them the night before.  So in the end we only ended up doing 3 of them that were getting picked up over the weekend (plus the 2 live birds that left with another customer).  So we have 7 we'll be processing this weekend.  If anyone is interested in helping, just let me know.

From this....

To this...

2) The appraisal came back on the farm and it was an ok appraisal for refinancing... but really not that great for the land purchase.  Conversations and decisions with the seller are going to need to take place.  It's not over yet, but it's not going to be easy either.

3) Stewie cracks me up when he plays with his bucket.  I finally got around to creating a YouTube channel as well as finally getting a video of him playing.  So this is the first of possibly many Serenity Valley Farm videos to come.  Titled "Even Cows Need Toys"

4) Received a call the other day that made me smile.  Seems the potential boarder from the spring passed my name and number along to a friend who is looking for possible boarding for her 9 year old quarter horse who recently underwent a neurectomy (a severing of the digital nerve in cases of Navicular Syndrome).  Not sure it will work out, but it was really nice to be remembered and have the number passed on in a positive manner.

5) I know this is a few days late, but Happy Veteran's Day to all who have or are serving.  One of the ideas for the farm in the future is to put up a flag pole.

Monday, November 7, 2011

5 Things - Officially November

Since last monday was still October, this is the first 5 Things for November.  With it being in the 60s again today, it's hard to believe it really is November.

1) Took Spot to the Miami Valley Hunt 2011 Blessing of the Hounds yesterday just outside Yellow Springs.  The weather, while not great for actual hunting, was fantastic for riding.  Spot took everything very well.  Got strong a few times (will probably need a brake adjustment this week for his lesson students) and got antsy at standing around once or twice, but overall, I couldn't be happier with him.  He was wonderful and I think he had a good time.  I know I did.

Spot & I standing around waiting for the actual Blessing to happen.
Next to us is a lovely lady named Nancy on her 20yo appy mare.

Hunting through an open field.  We're on the left in the group closest to the camera.  Not sure why our field master (on the bay tot he far right) or the huntman (on the gray 2nd from right) had us spread out, but we did.

2) No word on the appraisal yet, but it wasn’t expected either.  Farm Credit said it would take 3-4 (business) days to get that information back.  So we should be hearing about it later this week.  All digits crossed, please!

3) Just saw a FANTASTIC video of Suzie and Frankie at the Chattahoochee Hills CCI** a couple weeks ago.  For those who don't know, I used to own Frankie and was the one who sold her to Suzie.  That was almost 6 years ago (next month).  I bought Frankie from the Ohio Thoroughbred Breeders & Owners Mixed Fall Sale in October 2004 at Riverdowns in Cincy.  She was a 4yo mare who no one else bid on.  Only owned her 14 months, but she's a fantastic horse.  Suzie loves her and they've made amazing progress and I love getting the updates from Suzie (plus with her being in Kentucky, it's easy to run into them on occasion).  Wanna watch the video?  It includes both vet jogs, cross country and show jumping.  Suzie & Frankie

4) Turkeys are about ready to process.  If you're on the list to recieve on, please let me know which is more convenient for you to pick up your bird -- this weekend or next.  I have help for processing both weekends, so I'm opening up the option.  I don't have freezer space to store 12 birds long term so please let me know when you can pick them up.
5) And last but not least, a Thing that looks forward.  Tomorrow is voting day.  We all have our preferences and opinions on how things should go.  I know I do.  I'm not going to dwell on them here, but what I do want to say is GO VOTE!  It's your right as a citizen.  Read the issues, look at the positions of the candidates and make a valid, informed choice tomorrow.

Friday, November 4, 2011

A hunting we will go...

Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend.  The weather looks to be GORGEOUS around here and I'm taking Spot hunting with the Miami Valley Hunt Club on Sunday.  It's their annual opening of the formal season and the Blessing of the Hounds.  Should be a ton of fun even if the weather isn't exactly ideal for hunting.  Definitely look for a recap in Monday's 5 Things.

In other news, Happy 11th Birthday Willow!!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Progress Update

I don't know what step this is in the land purchase process... but one more step down:  The Appraisal.  Had an appraiser out yesterday -- great guy.  Talked about the property itself as well as what I'm hoping to do in terms of a land purchase.  Seems we have to wait 3-4 days before Farm Credit gets that information back and who knows how long til they decide on "a number".  So while we've managed to get 1 step behind us... we're back on the Waiting Game Train for now.

Just for fun, I googled "Waiting".  Not sure which is funnier but wanted to share...

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

5 Things post Halloween!!

Hope everyone had a wonderful Halloween and weekend.

1) I am still in shock that it's November already.  Just can't believe it.  The weather isn't hateful, although the last few mornings have seen a bunch of frost on the ground early.  Today's high is an average 58 with plenty of sunshine.  I'm ok with that.  Prefer warmer but for winter that wouldn't be a bad place to stay.  No freezing water buckets.  Easy on the fuel oil cost for heating.  *sigh* I probably should just stop before I get depressed that winter is coming sooner rather than later, right?

2) The weekend was a flury of activity at the farm.  A.J. and Mark were up from First Class Home Solutions LLC again this weekend working on a few bigger projects.  In the last 2 weeks, with their help, we've gotten the roof over the mudroom/bathroom fixed, gutters cleaned, trees trimmed, roof in the back of the barn fixed, barn foundation shored up really well, gutters attached to the barn (to help with the flooding experienced last spring), garage people door threashold replaced and a plan going forward for getting water to the barn.  We even took a trip down the road to Nikol's new place and looked around so they could do some work for her (egress windows, dutch doors, panelling and fencing mostly).  I'm extremely pleased with the amount of work accomplished, not to mention the cost and quality of said work.  If anyone is looking for contractor/handy-man type work to be done, please contact A.J. at dryflyadams@aol.com or 513-535-7434.

3) Had fun at the Halloween party on Saturday.  Small attendance but still fun.  It was cold.  We decided not to put up the canvas on the bar.  Looked at the forecasted temperatures and decided it wasn't worth the effort.  We stayed in the bar for quite a while, eventually spending the last hour in the living room warming up.  I guess that probably does it for parties in the bar for the year.  Maybe a daytime gathering on a warm day wouldn't be out of the question so we'll see, but defnitely planning to have a few next summer.  Would love to do a pot luck dinner type of thing in the bar one day.  Why not -- we have the room!

4) Did some minimal decorating for the party.  Saw the idea for the carved pumpkins online and with having the party in The Shindig, it was more than appropriate to steal the idea.  So after feeding the chickens a bit early on Saturday, I put the pumpkins, along with 2 of the giant mums, 3 hay bales and a few beer and liquor bottles, out in front of the barn: 

They looked wonderful with the candle glow after the sun went down.  However, with the chickens getting out of the pasture, by the end of Sunday, they looked less cute (although a bit more horrifying if you think about it):

Yep, the chickens pecked and ate the pumpkins.  The one on the right had a giant hole in the back, while the front one was missing it's face!  Oh well, it was fun and they enjoyed it.  Ended up throwing one of them in the pasture for the chickens (and Stewie, but he didn't eat it and just kept bellowing for pears) and the other 2 ended up in the turkey pen.  May have to hit the "clearance" sales for the pumpkins for the birds now.

5) The appraisal for the land deal is scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.  Crossed digits, prayers, good thoughts, whatever... I'll take them!  Been doing monster cleaning all weekend in prep.  Special thanks to Thom for helping to clean the barn/bar for the party (while I was cleaning the house) and to Sparky for coming over and helping clean on Sunday.  I'm not "done", but the house overall looks nice. 

Bonus Thing:  Since I'm officially late this week (again), thought I'd add this bonus Thing -- The turkeys are only going to be around for another 2-3 weeks, but their pen was looking pretty beaten down.  Last night I added 25' of fencing and increased their pen to include the rest of the "garden" and a bunch of taller grass and clover.  Hopefully they'll enjoy it.

Bonus Pictures: 

1) Reilly on Sunday afternoon... obviously helping me clean the living room:

2) Me in my Halloween costume -- I'm a "Train Wreck"