Friday, May 28, 2010

Milking Time is Stability

Milking Time! It happens twice a day. One could say it ties us down but I think it adds stability and a sense of calmness. The cows moving to the barn in single file, the pulsing of the pump, the smell of straw and warm milk, and kittens tussling about all add an ambiance of peace to milk time. A time to slow down and enjoy goodness.
Later after the milk has been filtered and cooled, its poured into glasses or over cereal or into soups and other recipes. We love knowing its full of nutrition. The picture shows our milk bucket and claw. The funny silver thing on top of the bucket is a can to hold the hose in proper place. Its a good system, cleans well, easy to use. Faster than hand milking.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Icelandic Sheep

Isn't she a beauty! Here's one of our mama sheep with her twins. Icelandic Sheep are originally from. . . Iceland (could you guess?), however ours came from eastern MN. Verna, pictured above, came with 4 other ewes in May, 2009 to join Bubba, the Icelandic Ram. Now we have 8 growing lambs for September sale. They are all quite content in their own pasture with plenty of room to run, fresh air, and a shed to get out of the sun/wind. Theirs is a good life.
Icelandic Sheep have long fiber wool. Since the above pic, the ewes and Bubba have been sheered so they look a bit smaller. With our wonderful warm temps this week, I think they were glad to shed the wool. We have four fleeces and the sheerer took two. I'm still wondering what to do with it. Any ideas? :)
Icelandic meat is said to be more tender and mild-tasting. As this is our first year raising them, I'll have to wait until Fall to find out. But all the testimonies I've read give me reason to look forward to a good product to sell. If you're interested and live near MN/ND border, email us at

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Here is a Thistle weed that was sprayed with vinegar/salt mixture yesterday. At 8am today it is brownish and sickly looking. Since it's by a building, I didn't mind using the salt; the soil in the area is not needed for growing.
Today we bought a 1.5 gal pump sprayer so we can cover a larger area faster and easier. The small hand spray bottle was quite inefficient and probably wouldn't hold out for the entire lawn.
It's a hot, sunny day; just right for taking care of the rest of this weed.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Sticks and Weeds

The game "Pick Up Sticks" has taken on new meaning the past few days for Karl and me. We have ample trees here at GrassStain Farm that are great for providing cows and sheep with shade from hot sun or protection from rain or wind. It also supplies us with plenty of sticks to pick up before the mower can come through. Several of the tree rows have not been cleaned out in awhile so large (and I mean Large!) branches and clutter have collected for us to gather at our leisure. Although it's hard work producing sore muscles, I have to say I find it satisfying. You'll have to ask Karl for his personal opinion. He's the guy handling the ones too big for Mom, pushing over standing, dead trunks, and then hauling said trunks away by dragging them chained up to the tractor. He's a good son. :)

Today we are doing a scientific experiment to a loose degree. Karl and I are trying several different Homemade Weed Killer Recipes and Methods (from to get rid of the ever-increasing thistle. It's the weed that makes running barefoot very painful! Some of the larger patches (i.e. the NE pasture) Bob plans to plow up several times and then plant grass. But the smaller ones are amidst the lawn. The killer ingredients include vinegar, salt, and liquid dish detergent. One amusing method is to boil the weed to death; pour boiling water on it. Very cost effective if nothing else. We'll see which weed it kills.

Speaking of weeds, Elizabeth has spent the last two mornings in her vegetable garden weeding. She is so committed to her garden and does a great job. Soon we plan to dig a trench and lay a water hose in-ground so there is a spigot by the garden thereby making watering easier. This will happen before she leaves for CBC and Mom takes over!

Do you get the idea that Mom is the wimp on the farm! Well, someone has to be. I provide the cheerful attitude and to do list which makes me highly favored. :)

Friday, May 14, 2010

Wally at work

Wally, our pembroke welsh corgi, is a working dog. Though we haven't trained him near to what his potential is, he is quite helpful and always active. When there is nothing to do, Wally looks around for a job. Sometimes it's corraling the cats. Sometimes it's catching flies.

I'm thinking how cool it would be if teenagers were a little like Wally. When they don't have a specific job to do, they would look around to see what needs to be done and just do it. My teens are really great kids, however they haven't acquired that skill yet. In time their eyesight will improve, their priorities will adjust, their standard of living will rise, and then they, too, will be able to create their own "to do" list of work around the farm/house. Until then, I'll continue to dole out the jobs and enjoy watching Wally at work.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Sunshine coming

They say it's the last day of rain. We sure hope so! Yesterday Karl got some much-needed mowing done and will continue that job as soon as the sun is out a day or so. The orchard trees are blooming like crazy in shades of pink and white. I hope to sit amongst the beauty this Sunday with good friends and sunshine and a glass of iced tea.
There is a peaceful feel to the farm as I look outside the window. Rain or no rain, there is plently of oh-so-green grass making all the animals very happy. The lambs have their active times when they are all running and jumping. (Sometimes even on their mamas.) And the soft brown contented cows are grazing or just laying around chewing their cud. I yearn for a 70 degree day with sunshine to be out there with the cows even if it means cleaning the barn or trimming trees or weeding the garden. Its all good, clean satisfying work. With the sunshine will come ample outdoor work to do. The shed is almost finished with its new siding. The weeds are growing in the garden. And still spring cleanup with some piles here and there of hay and/or manure. Let the sunshine come; I'm ready and willing to do the work.
I'm looking ahead to the Fall already! I checked out a library book on Preserving the Harvest. I've seen this book but haven't purchased it yet; now I can see if I'll really use it. I have lots to learn in making the best use of our farm produce.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Signs of Spring!! Our ADORABLE baby lambs. Blooming apple trees that smell wonderful. Erbert and Gerbert in their favorite occupation.

We're here! We're here!

The heart of GrassStain Farm is this beautiful red barn.

When we bought this place a year and a half ago we bought if for the wonderful outbuildings and the pasture/forest acreage. Our barn is overflowing with blessings....four-legged and two-legged blessings.
Hershey, our main jersey milk cow, moved with us and continues to give good, rich milk twice a day. She sooned welcomed Sylvia and Moo-Latte and Chocolate Chip. (Moo-latte has since filled our freezer to overflowing with good burger meat).
Also using the barn are two pigs, Erbert and Gerbert, who are here until June 1. Then we will taste our first whey-fed pork. We'll let you know how it is; the reports we've read are good.
And just to the north of the barn in the tree/grass area are the two steers, Russell Stover and Snickers, and Sam the bull. Bubba, the Icelandic ram, and Lance the goat live there, too.
Are you humming "Ol' McDonald's Farm" yet? Well, just wait. I'm not done. Out south of the barn two paddocks over are the 5 Icelandic ewes and their 8 new babies. Now they are fun to watch! Just like kitties they prance and bounce and jump and just look cute.
Final mention goes to 11 hens that provide us egg hunts in the barn and the standard two dogs and too many cats.
So that in a nutshell is the heart of our grassstain farm.