How it works.

It’s been a tiring, fulfilling, and not coincidentally heathen few days here at the farm. That’s kinda how it works around here.

The local friend who cuts our hay was finally able to make it. Turns out the delay was due entirely to Circumstances Beyond His Control and he wasn’t too thrilled about the damage to his machine either but we’re all mowed and raked and baled and stacked just before the rain hit. Timing. And phone calls. By the time he was able to bale everything the rain was obviously on its way. Bales that get rained on usually rot so you may imagine my panic at the situation, especially having just opened the Very Last Hay Bale that morning to feed the penned buck. But you know what happened? I have some freaking amazing friends is what happened. I called a couple of folks to help out and within the hour I had almost a dozen people (including one already there helping with a massive painting job) who got 160+ bales all stacked up in the hay shelters before a single drop of rain could fall. So I fed them pizza and beer because damn that was a lot of work.

Then we went out to offer an assist (and a company) to the Longship Co. and came back with some fresh ideas for fun and mischief as well as a few leftover steamed crabs. I love living on the Chesapeake. Also, look out Earthweavers, we’re bringing more Heathens this year. You’ll love them. We do.

And then today our brewer showed up with leftover peach pulp just as I was finishing up freezing a batch of squash and while the first batch of pickle relish was just going into jars. Now there’s a batch of peach preserves cooling in jars, too. When I took off from the kitchen it was to go return part of the weekend’s earlier gesture and help relocate a small chicken coop and half a dozen chickens.

Because that’s how it all works.

Tribe pulls together. It’s so much more than just getting together around a fire once a month (although that’s definitely one of my favorite group bonding rituals.) It’s being there to help someone practice for a test, or paint a deck, or move furniture, or celebrate a season, or get the hay up, or get multiple uses out of a batch of fruit, weed the garden, weed another garden, plant a tree (no, I haven’t forgotten you!) and be there when we each need some help.

You can honor the gods and the ancestors and the planet on your own. You really can. You can study history and lore and crafts on your own. You can’t be tribe on your own. Having worked this land and walked this path for so many years without anyone to help, to support, to crack jokes or bottles with, let me tell you it stirs me to my soul to know that you are all here.

Thanks. Hail all y’all.

Summer is underway!

It’s a business and a busy-ness, I assure you.

In case you missed it, the workshop had a great trial run at Cecil’s Old Mill Craft Fair last month. Everyone wanted to come over and see the Viking tent and look at the trays of shiny things. I’ve already got myself onto one more list and am waiting to hear back from a few other options. More information will be coming your way as it becomes available.

Most of this year’s critter crop is doing splendidly- all of the goat kids are looking fantastic and the new beehives have steady columns of scouts going to and from the hives. If you or someone you know is still looking for a promising young commercial buck, send them the previous post about Peanut the buckling. He’s looking awesome and still just as friendly as he can be! Most of the meat kids have been claimed but there are still a few of them left also. In fact the only sour note on the livestock front is that our Angora rabbit doe lost her litter. They were looking great and growing well and then she, being a first timer, didn’t think to cover them up the one cool night we had. They were too young to be left out in the cool and they all died. It pretty much sucks, but unfortunately it’s also pretty common especially for first time rabbit mommas. She’s recovering quickly and we’ll let her try again very soon.

This is the busy time of year for a lot of maintenance projects. There’s a deck to be painted, weeds to be kept down, grass to be mowed, firewood to gather, and always water to tote and stock to feed. I’m marking promising berry bushes and canes for cloning as we look to expand fruit production next year. On rainy days I’m working to pad my inventory for upcoming vends. There’s beeswax candles and I’m warming up my old chainmaille skills while I try to figure out a way to break and soften pelts that won’t exhaust me or any of my help.

And of course sometimes I have to pause and put my achey knee up for a while and remind the internet that I still exist!

As always, keep an eye on the Calendar tab for upcoming community events. Send me a message or stop by at an event to talk about sustainable agriculture, the polytheist revival, Star Trek, historical handicrafts, heavy metal, or whatever else we’re up to at the time.

Updated Goats For Sale!

One of the two doelings originally offered has been claimed. The other is still available and one of the doelings from the second cohort is being offered. One of the bucklings from the first cohort has met my standards and is being offered. Information and pictures below.

First up, there is a buckling from this year’s crop that is growing at an astounding rate, is built *very* nicely, is curious and friendly, and is from parents that have really impressed me. “Peanut” is about 9 weeks old in these pictures and is already a solid 40lbs of healthy, happy, commercial Kiko buckling. I highly recommend him as a commercial sire prospect. He is weaning now and ready to go, tagged and collared. He is $250, firm.

 

Next, take a look at the two doelings being offered for sale. Both are commercial Kiko/BoKi crosses (3/4 Kiko, 1/4 Boer, the American Meatmaker cross, for those who are wondering) out of two fantastic does. Both doelings are out of attentive mothers who have always kidded easily and raised up twins more often than not. Older doeling has clean 2×2 teats,  younger doeling has clean 1×1 teats. Both are growing out very rapidly and are built strongly with good angles and wide, solid horn sets. Neither mother has ever needed deworming. Neither mother has ever needed help kidding or tending her kids. I recommend both doelings for a commercial herd or a small homestead herd, due to the breed’s legendary parasite tolerance and maternal abilities. The older doeling is ready now, the younger will be ready by Memorial Day weekend, I will hold the older one if you put a deposit on the pair. $200 each, $375 for the pair.

(First two pictures are the older doeling, the third is the younger.)

 

Please use the contact form below to make any inquiries about these goats, or to ask about the fat and sassy market bucklings currently growing out.

Goats for Sale!!

Two of this year’s excellent crop of doe kids are being offered for sale from Owl Hill Farm! Take a look:

 

These first pictures are for the doeling born on March 7th, 2017. She is by QRR Fred, a registered 100% New Zealand Kiko bred by Quick Run Ranch in SC. Fred had a long journey to get to Owl Hill Farm but boy are we glad he got here because his kids are drop dead gorgeous. Look at this face! Keep reading for her sales pitch. 😉

20170331_185826

This doeling’s mother is one of my keeper does from two years ago. Her grand-mother is still sassy and thriving. Her mother is hands down one of the best does in the entire herd: she’s a great mother, kids easily, stays fat on hay and forage even during lactation! Her kids have all inherited this incredible thriftiness, that is one of the hallmarks of the Kiko breed. The entire bloodline is graced with excellent health and hardiness and even good sense. This doeling could be proven up to 50% Kiko, but all of my does are commercial does. The doeling is 7/8 Kiko and 1/8 Lamancha. Her mother has some Lamancha in her and does provide plentiful, fantastic milk. This doeling is used to being handled and could easily be trained to a milking stand herself.

20170331_185719

You can see that she’ll be long legged and graceful like her mother. She’s just plain pretty, with proven parents. I’d recommend her very highly if you’re looking for a low maintenance, dual purpose doe that is likely to pass some interesting colors and safe, wide, solid hornset to her offspring. (Narrow set horns might fit in stands but they also catch everything from other goats to human arms to tree branches) She’d make a great homesteading goat because of the versatility potential in her bloodline (which usually drops twins, just to double the awesome in this goat). Her angles are all great, she has clean 1×1 teats (an even pair of normally shaped teats, for those who don’t speak goat breeder-ese), and she’s responded beautifully to regular handling. I’m not selling her because she’s “extra” or “second best” I’m selling her because I’ve already got her mother being an excellent dual purpose goat and I think her kid is worth selling. I won’t sell what I wouldn’t keep myself. She will be properly ear tagged prior to sale. No, I will not remove her horn buds. Unless you’re a commercial dairy (in which case you probably want a full blood dairy breed, let’s be honest) there’s no reason to remove them that’s more important than the goat’s self defense or ability to shed heat in the summer. I am asking $200 for her. If you take the pair, they are $375. Keep reading for the second sales pitch!

20170331_185845

The second doe kid being sold was born March 8th and is also by QRR Fred She’s out of one of my amazing BoKi does. Yes, she’s 3/4 Kiko and 1/4 Boer, making her an American Meatmaker cross. She can be proven up to 50% Kiko because her mother is unregistered. She does have her sire’s pale eyes and creamy white fur, which she is likely to pass on to her offspring although Fred’s line does have some color in it, and her grand-sire on her mother’s side is a coal black Kiko buck. Unusual colors may very well be hiding in there.

20170331_190151

She, like all of the others, was up and running and active within 90 minutes of her easy birth. I’ve got her mother, her yearling half sister from last year, and I’m keeping her twin sister from this year. I am THAT pleased with this doe’s kids. They’re well built, very thrifty, have never had issues with worms, and are very sweet natured. This doe’s yearling sister would probably follow me around the farm like a puppy with horns if not for the mastiff.

20170331_190304

Even as a kid you can see the strong, solid frame she’ll have when she grows up. This doe would also lend herself well to a small farm or homestead situation. Kikos are thrifty, hardy, kid easily, mother their kids well, grow rapidly, and pack on a lot of meat with far fewer input calories than other meat breeds. Don’t let their small birth size fool you- they grow FAST. 50lb weanlings are not unusual, although 40 is more common. This doeling also has a lot of colorful goats in her bloodline, with well set horns, well set and shaped udders, plenty of muscle and gentle behavior to go with it. This doeling already has the same widely set horn buds and a clean 2×2 teat structure (two sets of normally shaped teats- it happens quite often in Boers and Boer crosses and as long as those extra teats are correctly shaped it is not considered a fault). She will be properly tagged prior to sale. No I will not remove her horn buds. Unless you are running a commercial dairy (and if you’re buying a meat breed doeling, you’re not) there are no reasons to remove those horns that are more important than the goat’s self defense and ability to regulate heat. I am asking $200 for her. If you purchase the pair, they will be $375.

20170331_190604

Owl Hill Farm is located in Park Hall, Maryland. I don’t ship, but I could arrange transport up to 200 miles by road for a small fee. Each doeling will come tagged and collared. $200 each or $375 for the pair. The best way to get more information or to claim one or both doelings is to email the farm manager (that would be me) using the contact form below.

Don’t forget I also have a couple of nice looking bucklings that are being offered for sale as meat prospects. Legally I can only sell you a live animal. I have a good relationship with a local custom processor or I can arrange animal transport to the processor of your choice up to 200 miles. Remember that if you choose to butcher your own meat (perfectly legal in Maryland as long as it’s for your own use) Owl Hill Farm buys back useable hides for tanning into pelts and leather.

First Signs of Spring

Don’t let the late cold fool you, spring really is right around the corner! It’s there, I can hear it! Oh wait, no, that’s the sound of a box of baby chickens shrieking at each other….

Yes our replacement hens are here. We got a box of day old baby Buff Orpingtons to replace the Wyandottes who got eaten by owls. It’s Owl Hill Farm for a reason, y’all. Fortunately, we’ve also built them a much, much better enclosure so we should see significantly less predation from here out. The remaining girls are laying AA Jumbo eggs as hard as they can lay them, there just aren’t that many of them left. Currently, the available egg supply is going to family and friends. Once the supply increases then fresh, free range (mostly- they go wherever they want during the day and get locked up at night because owls) AA Ex large and Jumbo eggs will be their usual $4/dozen.

Constant noise aside, baby chickens are probably the second most adorable thing on the planet. Baby goats are the most adorable.

Behold, the single most powerful defense mechanism of any animal: adorable babies!

20170226_121117

Kisswhere’s triplets, February 27 2017

16996133_10212392133977976_6155350181311045504_n

Top Hat’s twins, March 7 2017

17200972_10212404085036745_6877704699682880437_n

Nadia’s twins, March 8 2017

photo 1

Uru’s twins, March 8 2017

Aren’t they precious? Current count is 4 doelings and 5 bucklings. We’re still waiting on two does but they were bred a couple of weeks behind the others. So far everyone is healthy and active.

2 of the bucklings are a dairy/meat hybrid out of a very docile, friendly doe and may prove desirable pack animals for people in that particular market. Every kid is handled regularly from birth, but I do not bottle feed. I will not be disbudding them, but I will wether them unless someone wants them as bucks. I ask $100 per animal no matter what you’re planning to do with it. They cost the same to raise up whether they’re going to the freezer or harness training. It is possible that I will have a doeling for sale later. I only have room for a dozen adult does until we get the next pasture enclosed. While some of my original stock is either registered or from registered herds, my animals are not registered. Saves me (and you) a lot of money since those papers are not cheap. I wouldn’t sell an animal as potential breeding stock if it isn’t the same quality that I would keep myself. I select for rapid growth, easy kidding and good maternal qualities, and parasite resistance. I will not make any decisions about breeding or not breeding quality until all kids are at least 16 weeks old. If you are interested in a breeding quality animal, please let me know ASAP as they will require different management.

And remember that Owl Hill Farm does not (currently) sell meat- only live animals. We are happy to direct you to a local custom slaughter shop that comes very highly recommended and also sends back a lot of the ‘waste’ like skins (which I tan) and bones (which have many uses) and any organs that you don’t want (which often go to supplement the dog’s food) so most of each animal gets used appropriately. We’re big on not wasting.

I’ve also got a ton of seeds started. OK maybe not a literal ton but certainly there will be plenty of extra seedlings for sale in time for April planting. The local stores that already have warm weather starts out are just asking people to throw away their money. The last spring frost date here is April 10th. Most things can’t be planted until then, so there’s just no point in forcing seeds to sprout in January. I’ll have Celebrity, Cherokee Purple, and Giallo De Summer Tomato seedlings in time for main season planting. I’ve also started an excess of Savoy cabbage seeds that are sprouting at a fantastic rate, as well as a few extra California Wonder sweet bell peppers. I don’t normally start squashes early- we get enough for our freezer with normal direct sowing- but I do have some room left if anyone speaks up VERY SOON to have me start some zuchinni, yellow crookneck, or white pattypan squashes for them.

I still have baby spider plants (and the mother plants are making more…) as well as pothos, wandering jew, and winter cactus babies in adorable little cups that can be recycled when they are outgrown.

All started plants are $3 each or 2 for $5.

It is beginning!

Announcing the first kids of 2017!

One of my original BoKi does gifted the farm with triplets just before noon today. All three (two doelings and one buckling) were on the ground within five minutes and she had them all cleaned up, drying off and wobbling around looking for the breakfast bar not quite 60 minutes later. Kikos are awesome.

20170226_12110920170226_12111720170226_121151