Archive for February, 2011

Reviving Over-grazed Pastures

February 28, 2011

Probably the most expensive mistake I’ve made since I began farming has been overgrazing my pastures.  When we moved to this place, the height of the grass in the fields consumed my children when they ran down to the creek.  Not anymore….

Granted, it is winter but still, even at the peak of the season for forage, my fields are sorely lacking.  I ran too many goats on these fields and I didn’t realize they were pulling up roots.  I didn’t do any rotational grazing either – hadn’t even heard of the technique.

When I realized what was happening to my food supply for the animals, we sold most of the goats  and I started to institute a rough plan for rotational grazing.

Unfortunately, with so little vegetation in the fields, a lot of the top soil washed down the hill leaving very large bare spots.  Recently, I bought old round bales of hay – this one in the picture was $15.

I unrolled the bales and by hand, covered as much of the bottom pasture as I could.  The bale is Rye grass and my hope is that it will reseed and the mulch hay will hold it in place and as it composts, feed the new seed.  I’ll also buy more seed and throw it into the hay.

I’ve also put up electric fences to keep the animals off of the new seedlings.  Since it’s winter, I have to hand feed them anyway so I might as well take advantage of their confinement.

So far the plan is working well and with the spring rains in the forecast, it’s looking promising.

Of course, my Guineas think I’ve gone to all this trouble just for them!

I do run all my animals together

which also helps with parasite control.

This is one of the quadrants that we hand sowed in the fall.  I find Edward (the cow) longingly looking over the electric fence at the lush green new shoots!

My hope is that all this hard work and patience will pay off.

My first words of wisdom to those who tell me they want to run livestock on their farm – take very good care of your fields!!

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Sheep to Shawl

February 16, 2011

Lazy B Farm Sheep Shearing Event

Date:  April 30th, 2011

Time:  10am – 1pm

Place:  Furr Lane Community Center

Furr Lane, Statham, GA  30666

Event Fee:  $10 per carload; $15 per passenger van (12 or more passengers); $30 per bus

We’re very excited about this year’s Sheep to Shawl event.  We’ve rented a larger facility, close to Lazy B Farm, that will give us a lot more room, for a lot more guests, and a whole lot more fun!!

We hope you’ll join us for a morning of sheep shearing, crafters, demonstrators, and our very own Lazy B Farm Knit and Spin group.

Sheep Shearing will begin at 10:30 am.

For further questions or information, please contact Cyndi@thelazybfarm.com or call  770.289.2301


Heidi and Colonel

February 14, 2011

“Okay, Heidi?  Yep, the Director wants Colonel to be the pack mule and you’ve just been rescued from the rugged mountains of Colorado.

You’re hurt and you can’t walk…..Colonel has come to rescue you.  Got it?  Good….”

” A little more limp, please.  You don’t look quite hurt enough yet.”

“Almost!  Could you hang your head just a little more?”

“…..a little more….”

“Perfect!!  Yes, that’s exactly what the Director was looking for!”

“Cut!!  Heidi, yes, we’re all finished with this scene – you did a great job!”

“Alright, in this next scene, you’re very sick….yep, that’s a good “sick” face.  Colonel’s come to help the family and carry you to the nearest hospital.”

“So what we need  you to do is lay down on Colonel’s back and look ill, as if you’re close to death.”

“Yeah, that’s the right look…  Could you look a little more ill?”

“What?  You want to know what you’re dying from?”

“The Director says “Lambitis” and it’s very serious.”

“Oh, that’s good…”

“Maybe if you could close your eyes just a little bit more it would help convey just how sick you are…”

“Perfect!  There’s no mistake that you have ‘Lambitis.'”

“Heidi??  Are you still awake?”

“Oh…sorry.  Yes, of course your ability to act is remarkable.  Forgive me for questioning your talent.”

“Well, that’s a rap!!  Great job everyone!!!”

“Snack time for all the actors!”

The Incredible, Edible Egg!

February 13, 2011

Courtesy of John Ingraham

Eggs themselves are remarkably resistant to germs like salmonella. The shell and proteins in the egg white normally do a good job of fending off pathogens. But eggs laid by a bird infected with salmonella will likely be infected, too.

August 31, 2010
Eggs have been getting a bad rap lately as the number of people being made sick by eggs contaminated with salmonella continues to rise.  But from an egg’s point of view all of this is a bit unfair.   Eggs get contaminated because the hen that’s laying them is infected. Eggs themselves — if they come from a healthy bird — are remarkably resistant to contamination.

John Ingraham is particularly interested in how eggs stay microbe-free. He is a microbiologist and a chicken owner, and he happens to be my grandfather. He has spent years exploring the world of tiny organisms and so-called “retirement” hasn’t changed that.

About a dozen chickens strut and peck in a large chicken coop tucked in between the clothes line and the gleaming pool in Ingraham’s back yard in suburban Sacramento. They’re quite vocal, and Ingraham points out the distinctive cackle that means one has laid an egg. They sound quite proud of the accomplishment.

Courtesy of Michael Rieger

Chickens wander around John Ingraham’s coop in suburban Sacramento. Ingraham, a microbiologist, is interested in how chicken eggs stay microbe-free.

Microbes and the Egg

There are very few places in the world that are naturally germ-free, but eggs from a healthy bird are one of them.  Ingraham says they stay that way because of their chemical defenses. Bacteria may get through a crack in the shell and the membrane underneath, but then the egg white fights back. In the egg white, there are three proteins that are very effective at combating bacteria.

One of these is called lysozyme. It isn’t just in egg whites — it’s also in tears, saliva and the drippy stuff that comes out of your nose. In fact, that’s how it was discovered by Alexander Fleming (who also discovered penicillin) — Fleming happened to notice that when drips from his nose fell onto certain bacteria, they died.

It’s a pretty neat trick. Lysozyme breaks the wall of the bacteria. And since bacteria are under pressure — like a balloon — if you break the wall, they explode. Lysozyme doesn’t work on everything, but it can pop a lot of bacteria.

But the egg has two other ways to kill invaders. One is a protein that prevents bacteria from getting an essential vitamin that they need. The other is called conalbumin, and it’s this protein keeps bacteria from getting the iron they need to grow.

It’s a pretty effective system, but Ingraham says that several years ago there was an incident where a certain egg processor suddenly had all of its eggs go bad. “No one could figure out why, and it turned out they were washing their eggs in iron pans,” he says. There was just more iron than the conalbumin could mop up, leaving plenty for the microbes.

Related NPR Stories
Salmonella Found In Chicken Feed Used By 2 Egg Farms </blogs/health/2010/08/26/129455842/feed-contaminated-salmonella-cases-rise?ps=rs> Aug. 26, 2010
Tracing Salmonella: Find Out Who Eats What, Where <http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=129405448&ps=rs> Aug. 24, 2010
Salmonella Cases Rise As Recall Of Contaminated Eggs Grows </blogs/health/2010/08/20/129321965/salmonella-recalled-egg-contamination?ps=rs> Aug. 20, 2010
We’ve been hearing some egg announcing cackles, so Ingraham reaches into the nest box and pulls out two very fresh eggs. The barnyard smell is unmistakable, and the eggs have a little sawdust stuck to them.  Ingraham says the eggs will stay microbe-free for several weeks, even at room temperature.

What About Salmonella?

But don’t we have to keep eggs in the refrigerator, and not eat things with raw eggs in them so we don’t get exposed to salmonella?

Ingraham says if the egg comes from healthy chickens, like his, there’s no problem. But as the current egg recall shows, chickens are notoriously susceptible to infection with salmonella. And if the chicken that’s laying the egg is infected with salmonella, it’s likely its eggs will be infected, too. That’s why we’re told to cook eggs and keep them cold — cooking kills the bacteria and cool temperatures slows microbial growth and helps the eggs last longer.

“Even a broken egg can last quite a while if it’s not cooked, but a cooked egg won’t last very long because you’ve inactivated the proteins,” Ingraham says.

Web Resources
“March Of The Microbes,” by John Ingraham <http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674035829>


Rising Beef Costs…

February 12, 2011

U.S. Cattle Herd at Lowest Since 1958 May Spur Beef-Price Surge

A Bloomberg report by Elizabeth Campbell

” Consumer beef prices will be the highest ever this year and probably will climb further in 2012, Robb said.

Surging prices for corn, the main ingredient in cattle feed, discouraged livestock producers from expanding. The grain has jumped 82 percent in the past year.

Retail prices for ground beef were 8.8 percent more expensive in December than a year ago, government data show. The cost of meat this year will rise faster than total food inflation, the USDA projects.”

To view the entire article:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-01-28/u-s-cattle-herd-at-lowest-since-1958-may-send-beef-prices-to-record-high.html

In a time when the economy seems so unstable, it hits hardest when it affects the necessities of life.  People are looking for alternatives to cut their dependence on their local grocery store.  It seems that the small-farm farmers are re-connecting with the community surrounding them and providing that interim step to independence.

We, at the Lazy B Farm, have been working for a couple of years to provide an answer to the rising cost of food, especially meat – good quality meat.

Since we don’t feed our steers corn, we’re not affected by the rising costs of corn.  Since our steers live on beautiful open pastures, we don’t have the medical problems that stockyards wrestle with daily.  We know our steers by name and all that TLC is passed on to you in great quality beef at a great price.

We have 5 steers ready to be sold this spring and already 2 have been spoken for.  Presently, we sell by the 1/4, 1/2, or whole steer – buying in bulk!

Because we understand all too well the economic squeeze, we’re taking deposits of $200 this month.  The remainder will be divided out over the next 2 -3 months, a payment of approximately $200 each month for a 1/4 of a steer which is equivalent to 100# of beef.

Summary:  100# of beef at $6 per pound = $600.   $600 ÷ 3 months = $200

If you’re interested in purchasing your quality, pastured beef through the Lazy B Farm or have further questions, please contact us at cyndi@thelazybfarm.com or call 770-289-2301.

Chicken Workshop – March 19

February 7, 2011

From Eggshell to Nest Egg

Date:  March 19, 2011

Time:  9am – noon

Place:  Lazy B Farm

Cost:  $25 per person; $40 per couple

Chickens have become the new “niche” pet in recent years and they’re not just the old farm standard anymore!

Fortunately for us, chickens are fairly easy keepers and folks from the city to the country are enjoying the fresh, healthful taste of homegrown eggs.

If you’re considering chickens for your farm or yard, or you have them already and would like to do more, this workshop is for you.

Topics to be covered:

  • Chicks: ordering and caring for them
  • Pullets: what are those??
  • Chickens and Roosters – Egg laying versus Meat
  • Hen houses – design ideas and considerations
  • Chicken Tractors
  • Dietary needs and health issues
  • Egg Business- what do I do with all these eggs?!

You’ll be introduced to some of our very own chickens and chicks- up close and personal.   We’ll also take a tour of the Lazy B Farm hen house and look at two different styles of chicken tractors.

After this workshop you’ll be confident in your new venture of raising chickens and it won’t be long before you’re gathering your own eggs and enjoying farm fresh eggs for breakfast!

Please contact Cyndi@thelazybfarm.com to register for this workshop or call 770-289-2301




Juvenile Black Widow Spider

February 4, 2011

I know there are quite a few out there who don’t like spiders….I can understand why since they’re almost always given a bad rap.  However, I am not one of those people.  I love spiders and have a huge respect for their force in the bug world.  I’ll admit, I don’t like them crawling on me, especially when I’m sleeping but I do love to watch them.

The other day, a turned over rock revealed this spider…

I used to think that this was  a male Black Widow since I knew the males were smaller.  But it’s not a male….

It’s a juvenile female.  And yes, she still has the “hour glass” on her underside.  This one was about the size of a pea – a small pea.  The coloration is beautiful!

Males are smaller, brown in color, and aren’t venomous to humans.

I’ve educated my children about Black Widows and unless the spiders are truly in the way, I’ve asked them not to kill them.

They are voracious eaters and they help to cut down the population of bad bugs in my gardens.

Here’s a link for more information on the Black Widow spider –

http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/bugs/black-widow-spider.html

Heidi’s Work Day at the Farm

February 2, 2011

Saturday was a gorgeous day and we had a farm work day scheduled at another friend’s farm.  A perfect day to bring Heidi along so she could “work” with us.  We put her in her special traveling laundry basket and drove the miles to get to the farm.

I was working in the garden area and the others were working elsewhere so I volunteered to keep her with me.

This was the first time since we’d had her that we put her outside.  I loved watching her reactions to all that she encountered.

Heidi is at the “mouthy” stage and everything is tasted.  It wasn’t long before she found some tender greens.

First you sniff…..

…and then you taste!

After hopping and running all around in the garden, exploring new sights and smells, it was time for a nap.

She found a patch of liriope and settled in – just a little annoyed at the long strands that kept tickling her nose.

But the warmth of the sun…

and the mooing of the cows soon lulled her to sleep.

This is how most of the day went – running and jumping, exploring, tasting….

And when she was tuckered out, she would find a spot and plop down for a “recharge.”

And then it was time to rake the leaves – LOTS of leaves.

Megan started to cover her up to see what she would do.

Heidi loved the leaves!

She tasted a few…

And eventually fell sleep.

Then she popped up when she was ready to go again!

This is how she spent the rest of the afternoon.  Heidi loved being covered with the leaves…

where she felt safe and warm and snuggly!