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Showing posts from December, 2010

A Private Shearing

This past month has been a busy one, with the past week being especially packed. As farmers, we don't get to choose when some of the big stuff happens. We moved chickens out on December 23rd, and have about a week to clean the coop out in preparation for the next batch of chickens. Not our choice; the layer farm gets to choose when they'd like the hens to arrive.
So it is with shearing. The sheep must be shorn now because it's about a month before lambing. More about shearing here. Not much room to wiggle on the scheduling.
With all of this (plus the standard family gatherings) falling during the week of Christmas and New Years, we haven't had a lot of extra time. So we made the decision not to hold our traditional Open Shearing Day in December. It was kind of nice to just shear the sheep and not worry about demonstrations, crowd control, parking and sales. Even the photos we took reflect the relaxed attitude we enjoyed (in other words, sorry about the poor quality of t…

Celery Farmers Win Award

The 2010 Master Farmer Award, granted by the Michigan Vegetable Council, has been awarded to the Eding Brothers' Celery Farm. This award recognizes good farming management practices as well as community and industry involvement.
The Eding brothers' farm has been in the family since the 1930s, when Henry Eding started with just 16 acres of celery. The farm was passed down to Henry's son Alvin. Alvin's grandsons, Ron and Dale, now farm 185 acres of celery near Hamilton.
You can watch a video about their operation here.

Merry Christmas!

I am so grateful for you, my blog friends. Thank you for continuing to read about our daily life here at Shady Side Farm. Merry Christmas!

Savor the Moment

We had our last farmers' market of the year on Saturday. One more thing to check off the list. We're finishing up school so we can take a break from the books between Christmas and New Years. I worked determinedly at my day job today, so that I can enjoy some time off, without guilt.
But life on the farm doesn't slow down just because it's nearing Christmas. Animals need feeding, twice daily. Manure happens. The sheep will be shorn soon in preparation for lambing. End of year bookkeeping must be attended to. A few last-minute orders for socks or mittens need shipping out.
I just want to stop the clock. Stop the rushing about. Savor the moment.
Each year at this time I realize that my expectations are too high. My house will not be perfectly clean. The gifts will not be just exactly what each one wants. I'll have neglected to stock up on the one ingredient necessary to bake the treats that the family is craving. Someone will get sick, maybe. Or be crabby from too lit…

Wordless Wednesday

Will They Last Forever?

No, Virginia, they won't. Darn it.
We're often asked if our socks will last forever. The question usually comes right after a potential customer looks at the price tag on one of our socks.
And my answer varies, depending on how serious the questioner is. The basic answer is: No, they won't. Darn it. (More about that later.)
A repeat customer sought us out at the Kerstmarkt. He said that these socks "wear like iron". He bought his third pair of socks (in as many years) and told me he wears them summer and winter. I am amazed. And pleased!
I have not had such good luck. My big toes are quite a bit longer than their siblings. Despite my best efforts to keep the nails trimmed, the big toenail (short as it is) rubs constantly on the sock. I am careful to switch feet, so I'm not always wearing the same sock on the same foot. But despite my best efforts, sooner or later I wear through the socks. Darn it!
I do not have a lot of experience darning. I know this isn't t…

Rug Quality Control

Once in a while a warp thread will have a knot in it. This is "knot" acceptable. If I find it during weaving, I'll put in an extra warp thread right on the loom. Then when the rug comes off the loom, I can just remove the thread with the knot in it and I'm good to go.
But sometimes I don't notice the knot until the rug is off the loom and I'm getting ready to finish the ends. Darn.

In this case, I lay the rug out flat on my kitchen table, get a spool of matching warp, and cut the thread at the knot. Man, I hate to do that.


I tie the new warp thread to the cut one and gently pull and work it through the rug, slowly replacing the inferior warp thread with the strong, new one. In both directions.

It's a tedious job, but it must be done. No knots in my rugs.

It's one of those jobs that I just LOVE to be done with.

The Barn Cats

Barn cats serve a purpose on our farm--keeping the pest population somewhat under control. We don't let the cats fend for themselves, though. They're provided dry cat food daily. This keeps them healthy and strong so they can hunt better.

We've also taken care to spay and neuter them all. So why do we have so many?

Because the food we put out attracts feral cats. And because there are folks in this world who think, "A farm! My unwanted cat can live there," and dump him/her off. No, I'm not kidding.
So every couple of years we have to catch a few new additions and bring them in for the procedure, if we're low on kitties. Or to the animal shelter if we have enough already.
If we didn't do this, we'd be seriously overrun.

Sheep at Church?

This was not my idea, and to be honest, I wasn't all that thrilled about it. Sheep belong in a barn, not a people-building. Do folks realize how big sheep are? How loud they are? How smelly they are?
A friend reminded me that carpets can be cleaned, but the possibility exists for a child's heart to be changed forever. I'm not sharing any of the photos of the children here, but they were transfixed. Amazed. Delighted.
And yes, it smelled. The sheep were loud. And we caught a glimpse of how completely unsanitary and unsavory and unsettling it must have been to give birth to your first baby, miles from home, in a smelly cave or barn.
The Bible talks a lot about sheep. We're compared to sheep, with Christ as our shepherd. In John 10, Jesus said: "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep...I know my sheep and my sheep know me--just as the Father knows me and I know the Father--and I lay down my life for the sheep."
The gift of Christ…

Moving the Sheep In

Now that winter's hit, it's time to bring the sheep in. We leave them out until the first serious snow. We live in an area that gets quite a bit of snow, even though it's fairly moderate in temperatures. It's the large lake nearby that causes what they call "lake effect" snow.

Some sheep farmers that live 30 miles or more east of us leave their sheep out all winter, though they do provide shelter. They don't get as must snow as we do.

Yesterday we waited until morning feeding time, and then called the sheep in.

We're learning to move slowly, and let them investigate. The older ones sort of know what's happening, anyway.


And they all stick together. Herd instinct, y'know.

Maybe they can smell the hay that is waiting for them in the barn.

Almost there! As soon as the last one is in, we block the door with a gate. They'll stay in the barn all winter, until the weather is nice again in the spring. We give the pasture a head-start, waiting until …

Winter's Here...

Yesterday the snow started. I think winter's here...