We have four acres of wine grapes growing at our ranch. Wine grapes are common in Southern California, but pretty rare in our area where there is a lot of homesteading, but few commercial level farms. I don’t know if we exactly qualify as a commercial farm, but we sure are trying hard to support ourselves through farming alone!
Anyhow, the High Desert of Southern California is a pretty extreme climate with cold winters and hot summers. Since it gets so hot in our area, we harvest our grapes pretty early at the beginning of August.
This year was the easiest harvest we’ve ever had because Read More
Written by Gail Damerow of Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens
Researchers have shown that there are at least 24 different sounds chickens make and maybe as many as 30. While chickens don’t have nearly the vocabulary that us humans have, and their chicken brains don’t allow for abstract and deep conversations, they are still a very vocal and conversational critter. And if you pay attention, you can learn to understand and speak their language too.
Pleasure peep-A soft, irregular chirp that says “I’m here and all is well.”
Pleasure trill-A soft warbling sound often used when settling down for a nap that says “Life is good.”
Distress Read More
The current (and hopefully long lasting) trend towards farming is part of the movement towards contentment searching in our society. Despite our material wealth, or perhaps because of it, Americans are a very discontent society. We are searching for a sense of purpose and happiness. Many of us have looked at the last few generation’s pursuit of material wealth and seen that it didn’t bring happiness. We have instead given up on wealth as a goal and have begun to look at the quality of our life and simplification as a way to bring this contentment. A very efficient way Read More
I have too many pigs. And now because I have too many pigs, I have too many ducks. Let me explain and maybe you’ll learn something about Muscovy Ducks along the way.
Becoming an accidental pig farmer
Pigs breed fast. I mean REALLY fast. Their gestation time is God’s little joke of 3 months, 3 weeks and 3 days. And they can get pregnant basically as soon as the last piglet pops out.
Historically, that’s been fine with me. I started off with two pigs, added a few extra breeders along the way to diversify the gene pool (nobody wants an inbred jed Read More
I have been struggling the past few years to have a farm and I and my family recently came to the conclusion that we don’t want a farm. We want a homestead.
What’s wrong with farming?
A farm is centered around production. You are trying to build an agricultural empire (of whatever size) where you are selling. Push push push. You have a product and it needs to go out, whether that product is beef, cheese, jelly or asparagus. Because it’s a business, you focus on what is the most profitable and you slash what isn’t. You try to get your numbers up, try to increase your stock, try to increase Read More
This summer was fantastic. I spent nearly a month in Ireland touring around music festivals and of course….farms. How could I leave my own farm and not go to another one? Ok ok I’m obsessed.
I ended up on Inis Mor, the biggest of the three Aran Islands, where my friend and I took a horse cart tour. It was so much fun and so beautiful. Strangely enough I even got a sun burn. Who knew that was possible in Ireland?
The boat trip across was CRAZY choppy. I stopped recording when the swells reached about 20 ft
I really liked the Aran Islands, more Read More
Finally the baby season has started. Usually we have babies running around as early as January, but this year it seems everyone wanted to wait until the weather warmed up a bit. The long awaited baby of last year’s most adorable baby, Aurora, has finally been born. She’s so cute and tiny I can barely stand it!
It was great timing too. A waldorf school teacher with an upcoming field trip came by for a tour and after seeing this adorable face, how could she not be super excited about the Read More
There is no happier day on Flip Flop Ranch for me than when the cotton patch goslings hatch. This year started good with a nice amount of eggs in the incubator week 1 and so far has continued good with many pipped eggs. As of right now, three goslings are out of their eggs and every single one is healthy.
It has been a struggle over the years for us to get the hang of hatching goslings. It’s nothing like hatching chicks which is basically just toss the eggs in and let the incubator run. Goslings are sensitive and need the right humidity and the right turning and the right Read More
Twin Lamb Disease
Last night one of our sheep refused to stand up. This is a big deal with sheep and indicates something is very wrong. Worse, the saying that a sick sheep is a dead sheep is very true. A quick look told us this was one of our very pregnant ewes and a quick feel told us that she had lost significant weight recently. Unlike the other livestock, it is too easy for a sheep to lose weight without any notice. Their puffy wool makes even the skinniest animal look fat and without feeling through the wool, you can be fooled.
This past storm that blew into the desert may have come and gone, but we can be sure another one is coming with even colder temperatures. It’s easy for us desert rats to forget how harsh the winters here are after the extreme heat and sunshine of the summer. Sure it’s not a Vermont winter, but it can still be tough on both farmer and farm animal.
Batten down the hatches
While ‘batten down the hatches’ is an old shipman’s phrase referring to covering grated openings in the ship’s deck (hatches) with a tarp secured by wooden strips (battens) to prevent water from getting in during a storm, it still is Read More