Beef X Miniature Jersey Calves

Last summer we put my Registered Miniature Jersey bull in with some virgin beef heifers. The heifers have begun to calve and so far, we have two heifer calves. The first calf is Charolais X Miniature Jersey. The second calf is Angus X Miniature Jersey.



Everyone knows you can't have just one goat, right? This is Moonbeam. She is fourth generation, registered, miniature Nubian. She is the little grey and white goat with the blue eyes. I just think she is adorable! She will be weaned around the same time as S'Mores.


Miniature Nubians

This is S'Mores. She is a third generation, registered, Miniature Nubian doeling. In a few weeks, she will be the newest member of our farm family. She comes from Winter's Moon Farm in Staley, NC. You can learn more about Winter's Moon at the following link:

Everyone loves the floppy ears of the Nubian, but Standard Nubians get SOOOOO big! The MiniNubians are smaller than the Nubian but larger than the Nigerian Dwarf. MiniNubian bucks are around 22-30 inches at the withers. Mini Nubian does range in height from 20-28 inches. Most of my does are about 24-25 inches with some as small as 21 ½. Their smaller size makes them a lot easier to handle than their larger relatives, so hoof trimming, clipping, showing and milking become much easier. They are just the right size for young, elderly or handicapped persons. The MiniNubian is bred to look like the Nubian with those adorable floppy ears and roman noses, but to stay small. Another advantage of the MiniNubian (especially for those who have small acreage) is that the Mini Nubian can produce 2/3rds the amount of milk as a Nubian on about half the feed. Talk about efficient! The Mini Nubian makes the perfect home milker as they give 1 quart (2 lbs) to 1 1/4 gallons (10 lbs) of rich milk daily. The average milk per day for a mature MiniNubian doe is about 4-6 pounds. The Mini Nubian also has a wonderful personality. They are very friendly, love attention and are very good with children. What is a MiniNubian? The MiniNubian is a cross between a Nigerian Dwarf and a Nubian. The goal in breeding Mini Nubians is to produce a mid-size dairy goat with good conformation, high milk production, and the pendulous ears and roman nose of the Nubian. The first generation of MiniNubians are usually created by breeding a Nigerian Dwarf buck to a Nubian doe. When you breed a first generation to another 1st generation Mini, the kids are second generation. When two second generations are bred, their kids are third generation and so on. Many first and second generation Mini Nubians have airplane ears. MiniNubians can be any color or combination of colors.

I am excited about the new breed of miniatures being introduced to our family and to our farm!

Photo Courtesy of Gloria Winters.



Dixie is a little female puppy from Hope and Hunter's last litter. She has a wonderful home with the Hopkins family. Charlene and Kristin came by the house this weekend and brought Dixie for a visit! Dixie was so much fun! She ran and played so hard and she clearly remembered that this was her first home. She had a wonderful time playing with Hope. I am so glad Dixie and her family came to visit!

Recipes for Cottage Cheese and Schmierkase

I had a request for a cottage cheese recipe. You can see the way I do it at the following link:


In addition, here is the recipe that Ms. Firth gives in her book Stillroom Cookery for Smchierkase:

Start with milk clabber.

Pour off the excess whey and then pour into a pan of warm water, 120 degrees, which is hot to the touch but not unbearable. Break up curds gently. Allow to set for ten minutes. Drain curds in cheesecloth set in a collander. Pour a teakettle of warm water (120 degrees) over it. Do this twice. You may wash your cheese curds with cool water for a less acidic taste. Let drip for one hour. Refrigerate curds.


Stillroom Cookery by Grace Firth

I came across this book a couple of years ago at a local book fair and paid three dollars for it. I am not one to normally spend money on anything other than to stock up on the things at the grocery store that we can't grow or raise ourselves. (Unless of course I am shopping for another cute animal and then you will find me spending that hard earned money!) This book, however, was money well spent.
Ms. Firth begins by explaining how the still room was used "back in the day" as a place to make all kinds of delicious foods and drink. She writes about making wine, beer, bread, vinegars, curing meats, dehydrating foods, fermenting, pickling, canning, preserving sweets and making cheese and other milk products.
This book was published in 1977 and Ms. Firth draws on the wisdom learned from her grandparents as well as the practice she received while living the good life in Alaska for a while. I love the fact that she approaches the book with simplicity and a desire to preserve a lot of the knowledge that we have lost with all our modern conveniences.
In the chapter on cheese, she talks about using clabber in the place of buttermilk and gives a number of recipes using clabber. She also gives a very similar recipe to the one that I use for making cottage cheese. However, she explains that the "old timers" called it Schmierkase and were offended if you inadvertently called it cottage cheese.
I highly recommend this book. It is filled with information and recipes and is a handy reference to those who love to live the simple life.


Edy Had Another Bull Calf!!!!

For a week, Mike and I have been doing round the clock checks on Edy. She was just huge with her pregnancy and I was convinced that there was either something terribly wrong or that she was having twins.

Mike and I checked on her around midnight last night and she showed no signs of having the calf immeditately. We slept a while and Mike got up and checked again, but still no calf and Edy was just munching away on hay. I ran down to the barn around six to find Edy still munching hay and not looking any different than she has for the past two days. We started chores and I fed the calves and went back to the stable to let Edy out for the day. There on the ground lay a little bull calf. At first, he looked black because he was still wet, but as he starts to dry off, I can see that he is more red than anything. I wasn't able to get the best pictures, at this point, but you can see that he has a mask around his eyes. I named him Zorro.

I will update with more pictures when he is completely dry and up.


Cold Frames, Sun Boxes & Hot Beds

Thought you all might like to see our inexpensive, make-shift cold frame or sun box.
Originally, there was a grape arbor in this spot and I used the grape arbor to make a temporary place to start peeps one year. When we moved the peeps, we got the idea to put a sun box in this spot. We are using an old window and an old door on top. The door is covered with plastic right now. When we need to let some of the heat out as the days get warmer, we just prop the door up with a stick. As the weather gets really nice, we remove the plastic and put chicken wire over the top to keep the chickens out of the plants.

The following is a great article on the subject:

To get the most out of a garden, you can extend the growing season by sheltering plants from cold weather both in early spring and during the fall. Very ambitious gardeners harvest greens and other cool-weather crops all winter by providing the right conditions. There are many ways to lengthen the growing season, and your choice depends on the amount of time and money you want to invest.
Cold frames and hot beds
Cold frames, sun boxes, and hot beds are relatively inexpensive, simple structures providing a favorable environment for growing cool-weather crops in the very early spring, the fall, and even into the winter months. Some are elaborate and require a large investment, but are reasonable for those who are serious about having homegrown fresh vegetables during the winter.
Cold frames and sun boxes have no outside energy requirements, relying on the sun for their source of heat. Hot beds are heated by soil-heating cables (Fig. 1); steam-carrying pipes; or fresh, strawy manure buried beneath the rooting zones of the plants. All of these different types of structures collect heat when the sun's rays penetrate the sash, made of clear plastic, glass, or fiberglass.
Figure 1. Construction of an electrically heated hotbed.
The ideal location for a cold frame (Fig. 2) is a southern or southeastern exposure with a slight slope to ensure good drainage and maximum solar absorption. A sheltered spot with a wall or hedge to the north will provide protection against winter winds. Sinking the frame into the ground somewhat will also provide protection, using the earth for insulation. To simplify use of the frame, consider a walkway to the front, adequate space behind the frame to remove the sash, and perhaps weights to make raising and lowering of glass sashes easier. Some gardeners make their cold frames lightweight enough to be moved from one section of the garden to another. Another possibility is the Dutch light, which is a large, but portable, greenhouse-like structure that is moved around the garden.
Figure 2.
New designs in cold frames include passive solar energy storage. For example, barrels painted black and filled with water absorb heat during the day and release it at night. The solar pod (Fig. 3) is one design that provides for this type of heat storage. Other new cold frames are built with a very high back and a steep glass slope and insulated very well; these may also include movable insulation that is folded up during the day and down at night or during extremely cold weather.
Figure 3.
You may convert your cold frame to a hotbed (Fig. 4). For a manure-heated bed: 1) dig out to 2 feet deep (deeper to add gravel for increased drainage); 2) add an 18-inch layer of strawy horse manure; and 3) cover with 6 inches of good soil. For an electric heated bed: 1) dig out an area 8 inches deep; 2) lay down thermostatically controlled electric cable in 6- to 8-inch long loops, evenly spacing cable, but never crossing; 3) cover with 2 inches of sand or soil; 4) lay out hardware cloth to protect cable; and 5) cover with 4 to 6 inches of good soil.
Figure 4. Hotbed using manure.
Building a Cold Frame
Growing frames can be built from a variety of materials; wood and cement block are the most common. If you use wood, choose wood that will resist decay, such as a good grade of cypress or cedar. Wood frames are not difficult to build. Kits may also be purchased and easily assembled; some kits even contain automatic ventilation equipment.
There is no standard-sized cold frame. The dimensions of the frame will depend on amount of available space, desired crops, size of available window sash, and permanency of the structure. Do not make the structure too wide for weeding and harvesting; 3 to 4 feet is about as wide as is convenient to reach across. The sash of the frame should be sloped to the south to allow maximum exposure to the sun's rays.
Insulation may be necessary when a sudden cold snap is expected. A simple method is to throw burlap sacks filled with leaves over the sash on the frame at night to protect against freezing, or bales of straw or hay may be stacked against the frame.
Ventilation is most critical in the late winter, early spring, and early fall on clear, sunny days when temperatures rise above 45°F. The sash should be raised partially to prevent the buildup of extreme temperatures inside the frame. Lower or replace the sash each day early enough to conserve some heat for the evening.
In summer, extreme heat and intensive sunlight can damage plants. This can be avoided by shading with lath or old bamboo window blinds. Watering should be done early so that plants dry before dark, to help reduce disease problems.
Using Your Cold Frame
In early spring, a cold frame is useful for hardening-off seedlings that were started indoors or in a greenhouse. This hardening-off period is important as seedlings can suffer serious setbacks if they are moved directly from the warmth and protection of the house to the garden. The cold frame provides a transition period for gradual adjustment to the outdoor weather. It is also possible to start cool-weather crops in the cold frame and either transplant them to the garden or grow them to maturity in the frame.
Spring and summer uses of the cold frame center on plant propagation. Young seedlings of hardy and half-hardy annuals can be started in a frame many weeks before they can be started in the open. The soil in a portion of the bed can be replaced with sand or peat moss or other medium suitable for rooting cuttings and for starting sweet potato slips.
Fall is also a good time for sowing some cool-weather crops in frames. If provided with adequate moisture and fertilization, most cool-season crops will continue to grow through early winter in the protected environment of the cold frame. Depending on the harshness of the winter and whether or not additional heating is used, your frame may continue to provide fresh greens, herbs, and root crops throughout the cold winter months.
Cloches, Tunnels, and Row Covers
Figure 5.
The cloche (pronounced klosh) was originally a bell-shaped glass jar set over delicate plants to protect them from the elements (Fig. 5). The definition has expanded, however, to include many types of portable structures that shelter plants from drying winds and cold air.
Figure 6.
The idea is to provide a greenhouse-like atmosphere for seeds and small plants in order to get an early start on the season or to extend the fall garden as long as possible. Cloches are set out over individual plants or are made into tunnels for whole rows. They trap solar radiation and moisture evaporating from the soil and plants. The hotcap is a simple form. More elaborate ones are fiberglass tunnels, special plastic cloches, row covers (Fig. 6.) with slits in them to allow some aeration, and panes of glass connected by specially designed hinges to form a tent. There are a variety of forms on the market now, some work, some don't, and some are easily constructed from materials around the home.
Cloches are generally lightweight, portable, and reusable. It is preferable to have a design that can be closed completely at night to prevent frost damage and opened or completely removed during the day for good air circulation. Cloches should be anchored or heavy enough that they don't blow away.
Floating Row Covers
Row covers are a more recent development in extending vegetable production past frost dates. They are simple devices, pieces of material (in spunbonded polyesters) laid over transplants in the field. As the plants grow taller, the plants push up the material. Row covers retain heat and protect against frost so crops can be planted earlier in the spring and harvested later in the fall. They have demonstrated insect and vertebrate pest protection while also protecting plants from wind damage. Row covers generally provide 4 to 5 degrees of frost protection, so cool-season crops can be planted in air temperatures as low as 28°F. Covers should be removed from the crops when air temperatures beneath the cover reach 80°F. Problems associated with row covers are lower light transmission, as nonwoven materials allow 75 to 80% transmission of light to the crop. The fabric covers can be extended through two seasons if treated with care. If used in conjunction with other season-extending techniques, row covers can mean earlier harvests with greater yields in addition to extended harvests.
Hotcaps (Fig. 7) function as miniature greenhouses, trapping the heat from solar radiation. An effective hotcap transmits sufficient solar energy for photosynthesis and for warming the air inside, but not so much that overheating damages the plant. Hotcaps also must retain sufficient heat throughout the night to protect plants against low-temperature injury. Hotcap designs vary from wax paper cones to water-filled, plastic tepees (Wall-O-WaterTM). All hotcap designs are most effective during sunny weather and have little effect on temperature during cloudy periods. The greatest temperature differences occur during sunny days and clear nights. However, hotcaps transmit less than 70 and 50% of the available solar energy and photosynthetic photon flux, respectively. The reduced light transmittance contributes to poor plant development inside hotcaps. Low light transmittance may lead to stunted and/or chlorotic plants. Using hotcaps, the mean time to first ripe fruit can be decreased by as much as five to ten days.
Although the Wall-O-WaterTM is reusable, cleaning is time consuming, and the Wall-O-WaterTM is quite expensive compared to other hotcaps. However, research has shown them to be more effective than other materials and can add several weeks growth to the early part of the season. Wax paper hotcaps are easy to install and disposable. Plastic jugs may be difficult to secure in the field and can only protect small plants; they do not retain sufficient heat to provide frost protection. They can delay fruit development unless ventilation is provided and can become hot enough to kill plants. For most gardens, simply cover plants overnight if there is a danger of frost. Be sure to remove the covering during the day.
There is an almost overwhelming selection of greenhouses on the market, and plans for building even more types are available. If you intend to purchase or build a greenhouse, it is wise to investigate the alternatives thoroughly, preferably visiting as many operating home greenhouses as possible. List your needs and wants ahead of time, and determine how you will use your greenhouse. Then compare on that basis. Many companies will send free specifications and descriptions of the greenhouses they offer; look in gardening magazines for their ads.
The conservation-minded person may find a solar greenhouse desirable. The initial cost is generally higher for a solar greenhouse than for the simpler, free-standing, noninsulated types, but for maximum use with lower heating bills, one can insulate north and side walls, provide liberal glass area for winter sun-catching, and make use of some type of solar radiation storage. When attached to a house, these greenhouses can be used for supplementary household heating, but there is a trade-off between heating the home and growing plants (especially heat-loving ones) in the greenhouse. Some researchers have concluded that a good compromise is to forget winter tomatoes and grow cool-weather crops during the winter in a solar attached greenhouse. In addition, they may retain excessive amounts of heat from late spring to fall and can make cooling the home more difficult.
It is not always easy to start seeds or young plants for fall crops in the hot and dry conditions of August. One simple way to provide shade in otherwise exposed conditions is to build a portable shade frame for placing over rows after seeds are sown or transplants are set out. This can be the same type of frame used for starting early seeds, but using lath strips or an old bamboo shade instead of plastic.
This article was originally published in June 2000 by the Virginia Cooperative Extension.
Authors: Diane Relf Extension Specialist, Horticulture, Virginia Tech and Alan McDaniel, Extension Specialist, Horticulture, Virginia Tech



Happy, Happy Birthday, Alissa!

I love you more than words can ever describe! You have brought such joy into my life and I am so blessed that God allowed me to be your mother! I am so proud of what a beautiful, precious, kind, hard working awesome young lady you have grown up to become!


PS There's no way you can be twenty years old! :-)

And thank you for the self portrait you left on my camera! :-)


Nap Time

Spencer likes to pick up hunks of snow that resemble a snow ball. He runs round and round with it in his mouth until finally Sadie gives in and chases him. Then, when she figure out he doesn't have anything special, he throws it in the air and pounces on it! It is the cutest thing to watch!

He was so tired last night after playing all day in the snow. He could hardly keep his eyes open but just like a little kid, he would whine and bark and try to keep himself awake. Finally, I looked at him and said, "Spencer, go to bed." He looked at me a minute and then went and climbed in his crate and went to sleep!