Archive for August, 2010

Monterey Bay Aquarium from the Eyes of a Farmer…

August 31, 2010

This was Victoria’s year for her high school graduation trip.  She chose northern CA and planned the entire vacation time we were there.  On the agenda was a visit to the Monterey Bay Aquarium.  When we lived in Watkinsville, we were 20 minutes or so from this aquarium and each year purchased a family pass because we went so often.  We had a lot of fond memories from this place and really looked forward to visiting the aquarium again.

Tori and I were gone from home for 9 days… 9 days in July…9 days at the height of harvesting time for the garden, 9 days from the farm when anything could happen, 9 days of depending on someone else to take care of and run the farm….

But, I’d left the farm in the capable hands of Lauren who assured me everything would be okay!

Tori and I visited the Monterey Bay Aquarium the day before we left to return to Georgia – I’d been away from the farm for 8 days.

I was thoroughly enjoying my time with Tori as we reminisced about different exhibits and how old  she was when we came to the aquarium for the first time.

And then we saw this…

Sheep?  I wonder how Rosie, Sage, Casey, and Emma were doing?  Was the heat too much for them?  Was there water in the trough?  Had Michael filled it full?  Did he remember to fill the trough cuz a lot of times I have to remind him to fill the trough!  Would Lauren remember to remind Michael to fill the trough!!?

Ahhh – Sea horses….  Horses?  Wonder how Misty and Colonel were doing…would Megan remember that I’d scheduled the farrier to come out to the farm to shoe the horses?  Would she be up on time since it was an early morning appointment?  Would she be able to catch Misty in the back pasture?  Would Misty behave while she was being shod?  Who would help Megan if she needed help with the horse?  No one else left at home is really fond of horses!!!

Wow!  An Egg-yolk jelly fish!   How cool!

Cool?  Wonder how hot it’s been in the chicken house.  Wonder how my hens are doing.  Are the kids moving those tractors everyday?  Are they remembering to fill the water bowls twice a day?  What if the meat chickens don’t get enough feed?  They need to grow out so we have food for the winter!  And the new laying hens?  I need them to start producing eggs!  Are they being well taken care of??!  Did the kids remember to collect the eggs?  We need those eggs!!!

Oh!  A Potbelly seahorse…never seen one of these before.  Potbelly…

Potbelly pig… Pigs!  I need to call that guy when I get home about the piglets that should be available.  But the pen’s not ready.  I need to make a list of jobs to get it ready for new pigs.  I need a water tank, a new house, a new feeder… when will I have extra time to get that done?  But we can’t get pigs until that’s complete and I need to get the pigs soon so we can grow them out in time for winter,  so we can get them butchered, so we can have meat, so we can eat….!!

A full sized cow?  In an aquarium?  I wanted to run up and hug it’s neck because it looked just like Sir Loin and Edward.

Sir Loin and Edward…wondered how they were doing….especially Sir Loin.  We’d put too much time and effort into growing him out to have something happen.  Happen?  What if he’s ill and no one notices?  What if he hurts his leg down by the creek and the kids can’t get him out?  I didn’t leave the name of the vet!  Who would they call?  How would they get him up from the back pasture??!

Okay….seaweed gardens.  How lovely!

Wonder what my garden looks like…wonder if Lauren remembered to water if we didn’t get any rain.  How are the tomatoes coming along?  Is she picking them every day?  Are they being consumed by Tomato Hornworms?  Do they have mildew?  Are they being tied up so they don’t break and we lose the whole plant???

More garden stuff??!

We gotta get past these exhibits…

Oh my word, not cucumbers!

The cucumbers at home were doing so well!  What are they doing with all the cucumbers now?  Are they picking them?  Eating them?  Sharing them?  Letting them rot on the vine?!

Are the slugs eating my eating my cucumbers as they rot on the vine?!!

It’s been a wetter summer than usual …

I bet we have millions of slugs in the garden eating everything in sight!!!!

Sea turtles?  Sea turtles like to live in the water.  Land turtles…land turtles like to live in gardens…eating vegetables and…

rotting cucumbers that get left on the vine because no one will pick them!!

These are interesting creatures….

Leafy sea dragon…so graceful and beautiful to watch as it floats effortlessly through the water…

And the Weedy sea dragon, so….  WEEDY!  Weeds??  I’ve been gone for how many days?  Who’s been weeding the gardens?  My kids hate to weed!  The weeds will be taking over everything…including the rotting cucumbers on the vines!  It will take me weeks to find my flowers again!  What am I doing here????

Sea Nettle?!  Stinging Nettle?!

Oh, I bet with the weeds taking over the farm that Stinging Nettle will find its way into my flower beds and vegetable garden.  That will be horrible!! Have you ever been stung by Stinging Nettle??  It hurts!

And now I just know it’s invaded my farm and I will be stinging and hurting as I weed forever and a day just to find my rotting cucumbers on the vine in the garden!!

By now I was in a frantic state of farm panic….when all of a sudden –

“Yoohooo!!  Hello!?  You’re on vacation with your daughter!  You’ve been looking forward to this one on one time with her for a so long….

The farm will be fine!  ….. Breathe and enjoy…..”

So I did 🙂

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Lazy B Farm All Natural Beef

August 27, 2010

Lazy B Farm All Natural Beef

What does “all natural” mean? –  Our beef are raised on pastureland from the day they are born till the day we take them to the butcher.  They receive no growth hormones, and no unnecessary antibiotics or  medications.  The beef are given some grain in the last few months to add marbling to the meat.

Do you sell beef by the package? – No. We are legally allowed to sell cattle on the hoof, which means they have to leave the property alive.  It takes a special license, certification, and refrigeration to sell beef by the package – an expense we’re not able to incur at this time.

How much space do I need for a ¼ of a steer? –  A quarter of a beef requires approximately 3 -4 cubic feet of freezer space.  Or, it takes up a little more than one shelf in a good-sized upright freezer.

How many people will ¼ of a steer feed and for how long?  – A quarter of a beef will run anywhere from 80 – 120 pounds, depending on the size of the beef.  The meat will feed 2 adults for 6 – 9 months or a family of 4 for 3 – 5 months depending on frequency and portion sizes.

How do you figure the price of a ¼ of beef? –  The price of $5 per pound is calculated from the hanging weight of the carcass.  The processing fee is then added to that figure to calculate the final price.

What is “hanging weight”? –  Hanging weight is what the carcass weighs immediately after the unusable parts have been removed (head, hooves, skin, innards, etc).  The price total is based on this weight.  Your packaged weight will differ from the hanging weight because the unnecessary bone and fat will be taken out and the meat will naturally dehydrate some while hanging in the cooler.

What are the added processing fees? –  The butcher charges per pound of hanging weight depending on the type of packaging you request.  Paper wrapped is 48¢ per pound and vacuum packed is 55¢ per pound.  There is also a termination fee of $7.50 for each quarter.

How much approximately will a ¼ of a steer cost? $600 total would be a good guesstimate but the actual figure will be determined by the weight of the beef.

What cuts of beef will I receive from ¼?

Steaks – (2 per package, cut 1” thick) T-bone, Ribeye, and Sirloin

Roasts – (one of each) Chuck, Sirloin Tip, Shoulder, Top Round

Ribs, Hamburger, Soup bones

Will my meat be delivered to me? It is the responsibility of the customer to pick up his/her own meat from the butcher.  We will provide directions and a sheet with recreational suggestions for the area.

How long can my meat stay in the freezer? –  If your meat is paper wrapped, it will be good in the freezer for approximately a year.  If your meat is vacuum packed and kept in a freezer, it should remain usable for over 12 months.

After I send in my deposit, when do I pay the remaining balance? – We will calculate the balance after the butcher gives us the hanging weight.  We will contact you via email or phone with your final amount.   You must pay the remaining balance before your beef is picked up.

Who is responsible to pay the butcher fees? Lazy B Farm will pay the butcher.  The processing fees will be included in your final total.

Who do I make my checks out to? You may make your checks payable to Cyndi Ball or Lazy B Farm and mail them to PO Box 1190   Statham, GA  30666

Once my beef is at the butcher, how long before I can pick it up? The beef carcass will hang 2 – 3 weeks to age in the cooler.  It will then be cut and packaged.

May I buy more than a quarter? Absolutely!!  You may purchase a half or whole beef.  This is a great idea if you will be splitting it among family members or friends.  Remember, we can’t process the beef until the whole animal is sold.

Are there discounts if I buy a ½ or a whole? Yes.  The price per pound for ½ a beef is $4.75 and if you purchase a whole, the price is $4.50 per pound.  Most families of 4 would have enough beef to last a year if they purchased a whole.

How do I sign up to buy beef from Lazy B Farm? Once you have read all the information, email the farm to see what the availability is at: Cyndi@thelazybfarm.com

There is a deposit of $200 for a quarter$300 for a half; $350 for a whole

Am I able to get beef any time I want it? We are very careful to ensure the proper raising of each of our beef.  The process cannot be rushed and it takes about 15 – 18 months before a beef is ready.  It is our goal to be able to provide beef all year long but we’re not there yet.

Current Availability:

2 beef ready in September, 2010

5 beef ready by March or April of 2011

* orders will be processed on a first come, first served basis accompanied by the  deposit

Do You Know this Caterpillar??

August 25, 2010

Thanks to Sandi – this is the larva for  the Pandorus Sphinx Moth (Eumorpha pandorus)

Yesterday I was weeding in the garden and found this caterpillar on the Bee Balm plant.  I’d not seen this kind before and at first thought it was the Tomato Hornworm.  I looked in the books I have and he was not in them.  So I’m asking you if you know what he is.

He’s a fat one and fairly big…

He pulls his head back inside all these rolls when touched.

This is what he looks like on the move…

A dot on his back-end…sorry the picture’s a little fuzzy.

Oh!  And such pudgy little legs!

Pleading with me to please take the camera out of his face and let him go…

I love those little sucker feet.  Remind me of magnets when they hook together.

So, if anyone can send some info my way, I’d really appreciate it!  I know there are some avid bug enthusiasts out there 🙂

Lazy B Farm Beekeeping Series

August 24, 2010

Beekeeping Workshop Series

The motivation for this series is to equip those who are serious about beekeeping as a hobby and want to acquire their own bees.

We will begin with the very basics of beekeeping and build upon that knowledge with each class.

The Georgia Beekeeping Conference will be held in Young Harris in the middle of May.  If you are desiring to receive your certification, you will be ready at this point to confidently take the Bee Certification Exam given during this conference.

The price for this conference is not included in the Series fee.

As a conclusion for this series, we will have a honey harvest and “celebration”  here at the farm in June.

There will be 5, 3-hour classes in this series, beginning promptly at 9 am and finishing at noon.  The classes will begin in November and end in June at the Honey Harvest.

Class I: ( November  12th; 9 am – noon ) We will cover the process of preparing for your bees.  This includes building the hives and supers; tools needed; appropriate clothing; when and how to order bees; feeders; and care and management of your equipment and clothing.

For those working toward Bee Certification, there will be a short quiz at the conclusion of this class on the parts of a hive, hive tools, and feeders.

Class II: ( January 14th; 9 am – noon )  This class will discuss apiary location and placement.  There will be plant identification of foraging plants used by bees.  We’ll discuss feeding- when and how.  We will discuss the various properties of honey and its culinary and medicinal use.   There will be a short trip to the bee yard (weather permitting) to check on the food supply of each hive.

Class III: ( March 10th; 9 am – noon )  This will be  a very hands – on class.  The instruction will cover the installation of a package of bees and a nuc.  If you order from Lazy B Farm or Bill Owens, your nucs will arrive around the end of March.  After this class, you will know exactly what to do to ensure a successful transfer and solid start to your new hive.  We’ll cover the topic of swarming and what to do to try to keep it from happening.

Class IV: ( April 14th; 9 am – noon )  We will be in the final preparation for the Bee Conference and the Bee Certification.  This class will cover pests and diseases; bee biology; and year-round bee management.  There will be a pre-exam to help those who are preparing for the written test at Young Harris.

We’ll also take a trip to the Lazy B bee yard and each member will be asked to go through a hive under Bill’s supervision.

Young Harris Bee Conference – May 10 – 12th at Young Harris College

Class V: ( June 9th; 9 am – ?? )   Honey Harvest!  You will learn by doing – how to harvest your own honey.  We’ll cover the three different ways to remove bees from your super frames, and then take the supers to the garage to begin the extraction process.   You will leave with a jar of your work… and the bees!

Cost for the Beekeeper’s Series: $150 per person for 5 classes, 15 hours of instruction.  There is a 10% discount per person for 2 or more family members.

­­( these classes individually will be $40 each )

*this price does not include the Conference registration fee or the Bee Certification exam fee.

Because this class is limited, there is a $50 non-refundable deposit to hold your spot in the class.  The remainder will be due on or before the first class in November.

If you’re interested in signing up for the Beekeeping Series, contact

cyndi@thelazybfarm.com

770-289-2301

Country Kids – Mud Fight

August 23, 2010

Part of my dream for homesteading included giving my kids the opportunity to grow up in the country.  The chance to romp through the woods, gaze at brilliant stars while standing in the middle of a field, awake in the morning to the crowing of roosters, and discover the joys of a gently running creek…

Fashion statements will hold no leverage with my kids – they just won’t care!

Unless that fashion includes getting dirty…

The greatest calling – to have fun, no matter your age…

They won’t have neighborhood friends….

They’ll have pasture friends – those that ride bikes down dirt roads to get here or run through fields avoiding cows and horses to come and play games.

The country will provide the canvas for creative expanse, unhindered imagination, and the avenue of discovery…

even if that avenue becomes a creek full of mud!

A heritage to be gotten – full of wisdom, memories, and good common sense encapsulated in the arms of life-long friends…

Of course, my countrified, nostalgic dream bubble burst when I was informed that the invitation for this mud-slinging mania was delivered via…

my son’s cell phone 🙂

Just Because….

August 21, 2010

Just because I was looking at the Morning Glories and saw this little guy…

Just because I was getting tired of weeding and really hot…

Just because I was distracted by the butterflies everywhere…

Just because I happened to have my camera outside with me…

But mostly because I wanted to share with you what I saw this morning!

The flower beds are “alive” in the month of August.  All those caterpillars that consumed my dill, parsley, and rue pay me back by fluttering around my head while I work outside.

The diversity amazes me!  They’re so beautiful…

Great pollinators…

Taking flight.

Morning glories are so delicate and unassuming…

But beware!  They are quite prolific and will show up all over the next year…

Hmmmmm, a face only a mother could love??  Did you know they love to eat mosquitos?

And our favorite garden spider…

Sawyer loves to chase these through the grass.  When we see him jumping sporadically about the lawn, we know he’s in hot pursuit of one of these 🙂

These Sulphur butterflies are hard to catch with the camera!  They flit everywhere and don’t stay anywhere long…

Unless of course they’re digging deep for nectar!

This Lantana plant is FULL of butterflies…

Doesn’t this look like it could be a quilt pattern?

Okay – this insect is new to me this year…

It’s a Robber Fly or Bee Killer.  Seriously, it waits till one flies by and catches the bee or bug.

This one looks like he’s holding on with his front feet, when really…

He’s praying earnestly for a bee to fly by so he can snatch it out of the air!

Love these…

Ever seen a grasshopper poop??  Well, now you have!  That’s okay – it was a first for me too 🙂

This one’s a bit worse for wear…but I’ve also seen them flying with torn wings so I know he’ll be okay.

I spend a lot of time watching the butterflies sticking their “tongues” way inside the flowers…

do you think it tickles?

“Hello!  Are you my species?”

Monarch or Viceroy?

Lesson from nature – you must share!    Hope you enjoyed the walk with me through the flower beds…

Baby Guinea Hens are Called Keets

August 18, 2010

My first encounter with a Guinea Hen was when we lived in Watsonville, CA.  We hadn’t been in our home very long and one morning while I was sitting in the office working, I heard this horrendous noise outside.  It awakened the kids and we all went on a search to find out the source of this awful screeching.  Up in the tree out front was a Guinea Hen.  It was warning the world against something and doing so with gusto!  Such an odd bird but I was intrigued…

I tried chickens here in GA to keep bugs out of the garden.  They did a good job for the most part but they also enjoyed the occasional tomato, cantaloupe, lettuce… you get the idea.  Not only did they snack while they foraged for bugs, they also dug magnificent holes for dust baths anywhere that struck their fancy.

I’d started looking for alternative fowl to help out with bug patrol and thought I’d try raising some Guinea Hens.  I’d mentioned this to a friend of mine and she just happened to have 30 eggs in the incubator from a nest her guineas had abandoned.  Would I like a half dozen keets?  Of course!

I raised them with the meat chicks in our brood box.

Eventually they were big enough to be in their own pen.  I used the same design as the chicken tractor, only this one doesn’t move.  I put the pen under a tree and added roosting sticks to the inside.

I have loved observing these keets.  They are so different from the turkeys and chickens we’ve raised.  They stay bunched together all the time – no personal bubble for them!

They make the coolest noises and they have a lavender hue to their feathers.

They’re not quite as cute as when they were babies but I still like how they look.

My goal is to train them to come back to this pen at night so I can close the door to keep them safe.  During the day, they will have free reign of the farm eating all the bugs they want.

“Look everybody!  No head!!”

I’ve been told they act like watch dogs and sound the “alarm” when anything unusual is happening.  Poor things.  At this farm they’ll be sounding the alarm constantly!

They can fly if need be to get out of harm’s way… I’m hoping the dogs will leave them alone.

I’ve also been told they really like ticks and with the amount we’ve found this season, I’m glad they’ll be on the look out for those nasty bugs.

These guineas are still a bit young for me to let out.  A few more weeks and then I’ll let them out two at a time because I’ve been told they’ll come back “home” to where the rest of the group is hanging out.  I’ll keep you posted on how they progress!

Here’s a site I found helpful – http://www.guineafowl.com/fritsfarm/guineas/

Baby Moles?!

August 17, 2010

I was moving some wooden posts which had been covered in grass.  I was fully expecting to find a snake but instead…

There was a nest of baby moles – 6 of them.  (After posting this, someone mentioned that they’re shrews.  After a little research, yep!  That’s what we found.)

The mom was no where in sight.

The girls asked if they could hold them.  Sure, why not.  I’d already exposed these little ones to the light of day – why not add the touch of humans too!

I know this is a little fuzzy but I thought it was so cute that they were “kissing.”

Look at that cute little nose and mouth.  Perhaps he’s trying to breathe since his sibling is crushing him…

Their eyes weren’t even open yet.

And they’re so tiny…

Okay, maybe that nose isn’t so little after all 🙂

But the feet are really tiny and that tail…

Ears?

And when they all got together, nothing but feet and tails as they each tried to get to the bottom of the pile.

With all the close-ups, I wanted you to see the real perspective…

And of course, as with most homeschooling kids, it’s fun to share the educational experience with friends 🙂

Born to Bee…

August 13, 2010

Earlier this week, I had access to some comb from a hive that was being removed from a house.  Since I had my camera with me, the bees were fairly docile, and the comb was just lying on the deck, I took a look to see what was going on….

There are 3 stages of development of the bee – egg, larva, and pupa.  The queen deposits the egg in the bottom of the cell, in three days it hatches into a small white worm called a larva.  They are fed a mixture of pollen and honey by the bees.

When the cell is nearly filled by the growing larva, it’s closed up by the bees.  The larva then enters the chrysalis or pupa stage.

The worker develops from the egg in 21 days.

This cell was nicked during the removal – see the eye on the pupa?

This cell was nicked also – can you see the developing mite on the side of the pupa?

Finally, it’s time for the baby bee to emerge!

One antenna…

Two antennae and a head!

“Oh please!  Would someone just pick me up??”

Come on, little one…not much further.

Finally!  A brand new baby bee!   The wings are still folded in the shape of the cell and she’s so fluffy!

During the first eight days of her life she serves as nurse to the larvae.

Around the eighth day of maturity, she will take flight from the hive.

It was fascinating watching this whole process – truly amazing insects.

Herb Walk in NC – part 2

August 12, 2010

In July, a couple of friends and I attended an Herbal Walk taught by Patricia Kyritsi Howell.  It was held at Sunnybank Inn in Hot Springs, NC.

Sunnybank is an old Victorian home with a lot of character and original structure.  It’s beautiful!  This is the main hall downstairs.

And the dining room where they serve fabulous vegetarian meals family style.

Elmer has been running this place for a long time!  Sunnybank Inn is right on the Appalachian Trail as it makes its way through Hot Springs.  The majority of his guests are hikers who are more than ready for a great meal and a very hot shower!

Elmer has a lot of post cards and notes from hikers who stayed at his place on their way to Maine – the end of the Appalachian Trail.  In fact, that’s how Elmer found this inn – he was hiking the AT.

Saturday we spent the day at Max Patch collecting herbs. (see blog Herb Walk in Hot Spring, NC)  When we arrived back at the inn, we laid them out on the back deck to wilt and gave the bugs an opportunity to escape.

Drying Elderberry blooms…

After our lecture time Sunday morning, we were all excited about using the plants we’d harvested the day before.  We still had a little bit of prep work left to do.

No task was too menial for our knowledgeable teacher 🙂

We removed the parts of the plants that weren’t suitable for making salves and tinctures.

While we all worked, Jeanie sang a couple of ballads – it was wonderful and very nostalgic.

Ruth trying to calculate just how much grain alcohol she needed for the tinctures…

This was our work table…

And this was our answer woman…  Patricia was so patient!

Earlier in the day, we had put the Jewelweed in olive oil and heated it in the oven to make an infusion.

We squeezed the oil and herb through a piece of cloth.

And this is what was left.

We added beeswax to the oil infusion.

Then tested the consistency of the mixture.

Poured the mixture into the jars and voila!

Jewelweed salve!  This stuff is fabulous for insect bites and stings.  We use it all the time here at home and have shared some jars with friends.

What’s fascinating to me is that we went from picking plants on the hillsides….

To medicine in a jar in a matter of hours!

There is so much to learn in this field (no pun intended) and this herb walk only whet my appetite.  I met amazing women, received instruction from a great teacher, and spent quality time with my friends… surrounded by the awe-inspiring mountains of the Blue Ridge.

For more information on future herb walks with Patricia, visit her site –  www.wildhealingherbs.com