If You Build It, They Will Come: Part IV

2014 was an amazing year for Indigo Acres!  We not only built a barn, but became a loving home for: 2 horses, 2 goats, 4 barn cats, 1 dog, 24 chickens and 4 ducks.  This was only the beginning…

Winter in Michigan can be brutal!  Each year, I am amazed at how well the critters adapt! Growing fresh fruits and veggies, in Michigan, is not possible in the dead of Winter.  Knowing how important it was for the animals to still have their greens, we set up a fodder growing system.  We purchased whole barley and whole oats from our local mill. Growing fodder is the same process as growing sprouts or micro greens, for human consumption.

In the beginning, we experimented with different types of trays.  We found that the black seed trays worked best.  They could be purchased with pre-cut drain holes, which was very helpful!  The seeds would be soaked in the morning and at night.  Within 3 days, roots would appear, followed by sprouts, forming a dense fodder mat. Once the sprouts were 3 inches in height, we would break the large rectangles apart and feed them to the chickens and ducks.  The goats and horses enjoyed these yummy treats as well!

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Small green house stands, within humidity hoods worked great for housing the fodder trays.  In the beginning, I would water each individual tray in the morning and at night.  Needless to say, this was very time-consuming.  Wifey was determined to create a self watering system, using a timer system. We have made some great improvements in our system, over the past few years, but that will have to wait for a future post!
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This flat is ready to head out to the ladies!
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Even on the snowiest of days, the ladies still had their greens!
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Healthy and Happy Chickens = Healthy and Happy Eggs!
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My little helper!

Magic and Velvet had settled in beautifully and changed my life in so many ways.  It always amazed me that, even from the beginning, they knew what I needed.  They helped me help them.  We shared a beautiful language, combined with silence and strength. Although, when I was late for a feeding, Velvet would sound off with her impatient whinny!

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Velvet and Magic showing off their Winter coats.
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There is nothing better than an open gate to the pasture, on a beautiful Winter’s day!
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Even on the coldest of days, I love my life!  There is always someone waiting for me in the barn!
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Ophe was no longer a little puppy!  She had exploded in size and still had much growing to do!

It was time for a new addition on the farm!!  It might not be fuzzy or fluffy, but it sure was a wonderful and welcomed purchase! (I bet that tractor would end up being the perfect place for singing a few show tunes!)

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As you can see, Wifey was elated to add to her John Deere collection!

Spring was right around the corner and that meant only one thing…baby animals!  Since Wifey just received her new green baby, it was my turn!  I can’t think of anything better than 2 1/2 week old, bottle fed, nubian goats!

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Meet Sam!
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These three babies were non-stop excitement!  Meet Frodo, Pippin and Sam…  Unfortunately, Frodo became ill and after many late nights in the barn with him, he passed away…
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Celebrate every moment of life…
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Sam found his new best friend…
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Pippin stole my heart immediately!

Most intelligent people would stop and enjoy the blessings of the year!  But, it was spring and that meant more than just baby animals…gardening!  Over the Winter of 2015, Wifey and I started to design our dream garden.  We were ready for a large expansion, from the small-scale square foot gardening we had been focusing on.  It was definitely time to get the graph paper out…

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Give me some graph paper and I am one happy girl!!
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Veggies and Fruit Trees and Herbs, Oh My!

We were ready!  All we had to do was patiently wait for the ground to thaw so we could put a post hole digger and a few teenagers to work!  Next week, watch for Part V of If You Build It, They will Come, for a glimpse of how the garden began…

Make your dream a reality!

Love Yourself…Embrace Yourself…Just Be You…

Roda

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Note:  If You have missed part of the farm series, you can link to them below!

If You Build, It They Will Come: An Interview With Wifey!

I thought I would interrupt the “If You Build It, They Will Come” series with a special guest star… You guessed it! I would like to introduce my amazing, brilliant and talented Wifey!

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Note: Wifey is extremely shy and a woman of few words. She will not speak before at least 4 cups of coffee and when she does speak, her words are laced with wit and sarcasm. Let’s begin, shall we…

We were going to be in the JEEP for about 30 minutes, so I knew I had her trapped!  There was no escaping my questions!  Bawhahahahah!!!

Roda:  “Hey, I have a few questions for you…”

Wifey“And why are you asking me these questions?”

Roda: “Because I am interviewing you for Growing Self!”

Wifey: “What if I don’t want to do an interview?”

Roda:  “It’s too late… the interview already started. Now, for my first question… Who is your favorite animal on the farm?”

Wifey: “There aren’t enough M&Ms in my box to survive this…(deep breath) I think you know the answer to that question. Pumps is my favorite animal, as if you didn’t know that. You consistently accuse me of talking more affectionately to her then I do to you.”

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Roda: “This is very true. You do!   And, to let everyone know, Pumps is short for Pumpkin, who looks sweet, but will claw your eyes out, in a matter of seconds! Wifey carries her around like a baby!”

Wifey: “Completely not true!  It has nothing to do with me.  She flops in front of my feet.  I don’t have a choice but to pick her up.”

Roda: “What is it about Pumps that makes her your favorite?”

Wifey: “She is sassy…and she loves me…only me!  She comes when I call her…she is my farm dog!  What’s not to love about that?!”

Roda: “Big surprise….I am surrounded by sass!  And, my Wifey is in love with the cat!  Here is another question for you…What made you want to have a farm?”

Wifey: “I’ve always wanted a farm. Why? Let me get back to you. I’ll have to ask my 10-year-old self that question.”

Roda: “Seriously?  Really… how does the farm make you feel?”

Wifey: “Is there always emotion involved with you?”

Roda: “You know exactly what I mean.”

Wifey: “The farm makes me fee like I want to build something.”

Roda:  “You always have to have a project! You have built everything possible! What is left to build?”

Wifey: Really? I can’t believe you are asking that question! There’s always something to build!”

Roda: “That thought makes me think of your latest and greatest project. Tell us about your new passion for solar lights.”

Wifey: “Keep up with the questions and we’re going completely off the grid, Baby!”

Roda: “Like I said… Sass! All I get is sass.  Let me rephrase the question… Why do you feel that solar power is the direction you would like to go with the farm?”

Wifey: “Because it’s free and better for the environment…And, are you really giving me s*#% about my solar panel projects? Can we talk about all of your photography and your pictures of bugs?”

Roda: ” Now you are relaxing! Sassiness and a little sensitivity…this is working out perfectly I think! Let’s talk about gardening.  What is your favorite crop to grow?”

Wifey“Watermelons. I enjoy finding the hidden gems among the vines. It’s like a treasure hunt. Did I tell you I counted at least 30 of them? And I didn’t even look very hard!”

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Roda: “Are there any other exciting things going on in the garden?”

Wifey: “Well, Pumps likes the garden and I just put a new solar light in the garden cottage. That’s exciting!  And, I picked a zucchini the size of your head!  There’s some sass for ya!”

Roda: Is there anything else exciting that is growing in the garden? (I knew this interview would be painful…)”

Wifey: “Parsnips… Turnips… I’ve never grown those before.   My headache is growing from all of this talking!  Are we done yet?”

Roda: “Soon…What do you dislike growing in the garden, if anything?”

Wifey: “The entire bed of squash that you are going to make me eat! BLAH!”

Roda: “Why do you have such a strong aversion to squash?”

Wifey: ” I’m afraid the texture is going to gag me…no kill me…!!!”

Roda: “But you haven’t tried it yet!!??”

Wifey: “It doesn’t matter… I know the outcome!  Mealy, mushy baby food!  Yuck!”

Roda: “I think we should move onto a new question… There are many beneficial insects in the garden. We also have some that are not very beneficial. You know I enjoy photographing all critters. How do you feel about my cute little friend the hornworm?”

Wifey: “Now wait one minute… If given the chance, I think you would’ve taken a flamethrower to the aphids, that attacked our fruit trees, in the spring. I didn’t see you photographing those critters!”

Roda: “Ummm…If you would have listened to the entire question before responding, you would’ve realized that I mentioned the hornworm.”

Wifey: “Hate them…I just hate them! They are gross and disgusting and they are filled with lime- green juice. There is absolutely nothing cute about them. I’d rather hang out with a snake! No, 10 snakes!”

Roda: “Wifey, tell us how you really feel!”

Wifey: “This interview is stressing me out. Too much talking…Can I go get on the tractor now?”

Roda: “Ok…relax…What final comments do you have for the amazing souls that are reading this interview?”

Wifey: “Really?…really?!  Linda, the dragon lady from Maine rocks…Go bug her now. Everyone should go and grow something… You’ll need some therapy after reading this interview! Oh and Happy August! Go adopt a kitten. Name it Pumps!”

Roda: “Thanks, Wifey! I think we’re done here.”

Wifey: “I know I am!”

Roda:  “By the way, I thought we could have sweet potatoes with dinner.”

WifeyNo…you are constantly trying to kill me and burn my intestines with health food.  If there is not a ton of brown sugar and butter, don’t bother! Retching now…going to the barn.  I will not eat your sticks and twigs and dirt.  Don’t think I don’t notice…I know you hide that healthy stuff in my food…I’m watching you…  Do we have any Little Debbie treats? I like treats…. Now, I am fed organic chicken feed…That’s love for ya!”

Roda:  “Love you too, Wifey!”

Love Yourself…Embrace Yourself…Just Be You…

Roda & Wifey

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Meet the Ladies

​As many of you know, I have a bit of a chicken collection…ok, addiction!  With over 80 layers on the farm, it is not difficult to fall in love with these sweet and friendly creatures. I thought I would introduce you to a few of our favorites…

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Meet “Big White”.  She is a light Brahma and truly a gentle giant, with feathered legs and feet.

Continue reading “Meet the Ladies”

Hard Boiling Farm Fresh Eggs

As I have mentioned in previous entries, I am addicted to chickens and ducks! I am even more addicted to their fresh eggs.  Oh, that yummy, golden yolk!  Keep in mind, when purchasing eggs from the market, there is a good chance they are already one month old…at least! (Yikes!) Commercial egg farmers have 30 days to sell their eggs.  The longer the eggs sit, the more the membrane beneath the shell separates from the shell, making peeling easier.  This is a positive when making hard boiled eggs.  But, once you have experienced the taste of a delicious farm fresh egg, you will never go back!  Trust me! So, the question is…  Can you hard boil a fresh egg and peel it easily?  The answer…YES! Continue reading “Hard Boiling Farm Fresh Eggs”