Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Around Our Farm

This spring has been one of the most beautiful and enjoyable ones around our place . . . and perhaps that is partly due to the fact that we are beginning to reap in abundance many fruits of all of our hard work the past several years!

Sometime I should share "before" photos so you can see how different things looked only a few years ago, but for now, here are some of the "after" (though there are still so many more things we want/need to do!)

The Vegetable Garden

This garden has been a work in progress over the years! After having a smaller garden in a different location for much of my growing up years, in spring of 2008 we tilled up a big portion of our front yard and turned it into a vegetable garden. With it being a new garden, the first few years held a lot of problems with disease, poor soil conditions, and pests (such as grubs!) Yet the patience and work is paying off and so far, this year's vegetable garden is the best we have ever had.

 The broccoli heads are growing larger and are almost harvestable size now

This is part of the vegetable garden, and it is backed by the goat pen . . . which was the result of a lot of tree and brush clearing the past two years and then the pen was built this past fall.

Looking the other way, here is another part of the garden with the beehives in the background - and yes, we have three now! Our artificial swarm was a success, the hive we took the swarm from successfully requeened themselves, and we installed a new package this spring. The bees have been really busy lately, and I am looking forward to taking a peek in the hives again in a few days!

And a closer view - after having fungal disease in our onions the past two years, it was exciting to have none of that this year!

Beets are such a pretty vegetable

Most of the vegetable garden . . . there is more right at the front where yellow squash, zucchini and more tomatoes are planted. And then this week, Dad tilled up another large area behind the garden and around the orchard for more garden area.

Zucchini plants

Freshly harvested lettuce and spinach - we have been able to enjoy many salads already this year!

Our Fruit Crops

Our strawberry plants have produced abundantly this year! So far, we have 24 pounds of them in the freezer (to be enjoyed in smoothies, yogurt, and baked goods) and also have been able to enjoy them fresh and in desserts as well.

 One of the strawberry beds

A basketful of fresh picked, juicy sweet strawberries

One of our favorite desserts . . . strawberry bars


 Peaches . . . this will be our first year to harvest peaches from our trees, and we are very much looking forward to that! We would have had some last year only the deer ate them all . . . this year, though, we have the trees fenced with electric so we won't be having a repeat of that.


We don't have much for herbs yet this spring only lavender, thyme and oregano. I still need to plant the basil, cilantro and dill which I am hoping to do this week.


The Goats
Little Larkspur's favorite place to sleep is under the hay feeder! (We decided to name all of our dairy doelings after Missouri wildflowers, hence her name, Larkspur. :)

The still nameless buckling with Aurora in the background. We're trying to find a theme for our dairy bucklings that would fit well with the dairy doelings' wildflower names, but so far, haven't come up with anything. Names of trees and rocks just don't work as goat names. :)

Dixie has been a great first time mother!

Dad set up the electronet so that the goats could browse in a new location, and they have been enjoying it! Once they eat this area down, then we'll move them to another. I love how herbivores can take weeds, brush, and non-useable things and turn them into meat and milk.

Daddy and Leah watching the goats . . . Larkspur was having so much fun racing around!

Lacy enjoying some Elm leaves

My sweet Aurora

 Daddy shutting the gate after moving the goats back into their main pen.

 Chase continues to have good milk production, and she is doing much 
better on the milking stand, too!

Aurora and Lacy heading down to the far end of the pen during the evening

The Chickens

Some of the chickens enjoying free ranging. 
We had a butchering day awhile back and reduced our laying flock down to around 26 hens. It has been nice to have a smaller flock!

And while I didn't get photos of them, the rabbits, dogs and cats are doing well, too. We have three litters of rabbits now that are just about weaning age. Once they are weaned, we would like to try pasture raising them until they are old enough to butcher. Hopefully that will go well!

 Other Sights on the Farm

A Tulip Poplar bloom . . . a favorite with the honeybees!

Some of Mom's beautiful Irises.

This photo could use an explanation! Honeybees need a source for water which we had provided for them, but they began to not use it as often . . . then Dad found them coming to the end of a hose that had just been used and crawling inside to get water there. So he set this bowl there, filled it with water and put in some sticks, and the bees use it very regularly. And now that they have established this as a main water source, we'll need to find something bigger for them to use. It's amazing how much water honeybees can go through!

These compost bins continue to work so well! Before planting season, I was able to haul one whole bin of compost to the garden. Then I combined the other two into one (the center one), and that is just about ready - it will be spread on the garden either this fall or next spring. Now the other two bins are full of litter that Leah recently cleaned out of the chicken coop. It's wonderful how all of this waste and plant matter can be turned into rich compost!

It is SO nice to have lush green grass in our yard again!

Our three beehives with the blueberry bushes growing in between them

Daisies . . . an abundant springtime flower around our place

Part of Mom's wildflower garden

And some of the flowers brightening up indoors

And there you have a glimpse into what it looks like around here right now. Though, things are always changing and plants and animals are growing, so in a few months (or even weeks) things will be looking different yet again!

Linking up to the "Homestead Barn Hop"


  1. Sarah, how lovely it all looks, and so prolific too. You are much farther ahead than in England...we are still getting strawberries from Holland here!

  2. What beautiful pictures, Sarah! :) Your garden is looking lovely. I really like the pictures of the strawberries. They look delicious! :] Oh my! The goats are getting so big; I am sure you are having a wonderful time with them. ;)

    Thank you for sharing! God has indeed blessed your crops this year. :)


    P.S. Those strawberry bars look delicious. :)

  3. Everything looks so nice! We're just barely planting garden - good thing, it froze really hard last night. The bee hives look like an adventure of their own. God sure did make life good!

  4. You are truly blessed to live on such a wonderful farm Sarah. My strawberry patch is so tiny in comparison ~ how I envy you with your chickens & goats!!! Enjoy Marie x

  5. shoot fire sarah!!!

    I enjoyed a tour of your homestead!!!

    love how those bee hives are hanging out between the blueberry bushes.

    It's all so dreamy:)

  6. Your family's efforts are certainly being rewarded, Sarah! I'm sure you get such joy out of how far you've come. I can only speculate that the pictures just don't do the beauty of it justice. I also imagine it would be very enjoyable to stretch out on a blanket in the yard and enjoy an afternoon snack and a book.
    Seeing your harvests gives me such hope and excitement for our growing season! I am afraid that I might need to reseed a few of my herbs as my mom forgot to water the new seedlings while we were away. The basil appears to be okay, the chives are begining to wilt, but the parsely and cilantro are done for. Thankfully it is still within a decent timeframe to replant those.

  7. So pretty!! How rewarding it is to work happily in our garden and see the fruits of it all. I love, love, moments like that.
    Keep up the good work!
    God bless

  8. YOur farm looks like a little piece of paradise.

  9. AnonymousMay 19, 2012

    Wow, your huge awesome garden, we don't get fresh strawberries here until June and only if good season. We buy locally.
    My dad's irsese I have noticed when out watering the garden are popping out.
    Lots of buds on the roses in rose garden which made my dad smile huge as he loves his roses alot.
    My columbines are popping out and are out and they are taking over the rose garden, love those alot. Dad's lilies have sure been growing fast and so tall and can't wait until they come out. Our gardener put 5 lilies in the rose garden so my dad will be surprised to seeing those when they come out. My dad had her plant two trumpet vines in rose garden.
    My dad since his getting sick last year and this year his surgery, he hadn't been interested in his garden but he is now, can tell when he buys lots of plants for gardener to plant them in the garden. And I see him from my suite outside checking out the garden and its so nice to see.
    I love your goats, what plans do you have with them? Are you going to breed them, sell them or what?
    How old is your little niece now?
    I hope your family is all well.

  10. Thank you, Elizabeth! Well, since you are still a ways behind us seasonally, just think of all that you have to look forward to. :) I'm sure you'll enjoy the fresh strawberries once they are in season!

  11. Thank you, Mikailah! The strawberries were/are delicious, and we have certainly been enjoying them. The plants have been so prolific! Leah and I will be going out in just a bit to pick some more of them. These ones will probably be turned into jam which will be a first for us!

    Yes, indeed, the Lord has greatly blessed our crops this year . . . we are so thankful for the produce we have been able to harvest so far and for how well all of the other growing plants are doing!

    The goats are getting big, and they never cease to brighten up our days. They have such personality!

  12. Thank you, K. Family! How exciting that you have been able to begin planting your garden. Just think of all the produce you have to look forward to! Like you all, some of our garden was planted later than originally planned, but it turned out for the better, as we, too, got a couple of late frosts. Hopefully that freeze will be the last for you!

    Yes, beekeeping is an adventure! And we had quite the interesting time during our inspections this past Saturday. :)

    The Lord does indeed make life wonderful! His blessings are all around.

  13. We are indeed, Marie . . . when I think of the life the Lord has blessed me with, my heart fills near to bursting with thankfulness to Him!

    That is wonderful that you have a strawberry patch! I hope that it produces abundantly for you. And maybe someday you'll have your own chickens and goats, too. :) They are so enjoyable to have, and the eggs and milk are wonderful!

  14. I am glad that you enjoyed it, Amanda! I, too, love how the hives are around the blueberry bushes. It wasn't originally planned that way (we got the blueberries long before we thought of keeping bees), but it worked out great!

  15. We do, Renee! It has been a lot of work and sometimes the days are long and tiring, but all we have to do is taking a relaxing walk around our place, and we’re reminded that it is all worth it. It truly is a wonderful life! And I think I would agree that everything is more beautiful in person. :) Then one can also experience all of the sounds and smells, too, which adds a lot as well.

    Oh yes! Stretching out on a blanket in the yard with a book is indeed a pleasure. I did that just recently and have resolved to try to do it more often!

    I am sorry to hear about your herbs! At least your basil is doing okay, and thankfully it is still early enough in the season that you can replant your chives, parsley and cilantro. It still would be disappointing, though. I hope that your new plantings will grow well for you!

  16. Welcome to my blog, La joie d'apprendre, and thank you for your comment! It is indeed rewarding to work in one's garden and then be able to reap the fruits of it. It makes it that much more enjoyable! Plus the farm fresh produce sure is delicious. :)

  17. Thank you for your comment, Suze! We are so thankful that we are able to live where we do . . . it is such a peaceful place.

  18. It sounds like your strawberries will be coming into season before long, Kathy! I am sure that you will enjoy that. How wonderful about all of your flowers that are growing and will be blooming soon. They must bring a lot of sunshine to your day! I am glad that your Dad is able to get out and about in his gardens and is able to enjoy the different flowers and plants that the gardener plants. It must be beautiful!

    Out two dairy does and the dairy doeling will be kept for milk, the dairy buckling will be kept for a breeder, and then Aurora, Lacy and Gunner are the start of our Boer herd so we’ll be keeping them for breeders, too. Next spring we should have a lot more baby goats!

    Adelyn is all of 10 ½ months now! She is growing up so fast. I have some more photos of her that I hope to share soon (as in, maybe the next blog post. :) She is our little sunshine and brings so much joy to our lives!

  19. Sarah...I am late in posting a comment to this post, but what a lovely one it was! And oh my, how many questions I have! (surprise, surprise!)

    To begin, what is the tall brown structure to the right, in the first photo? How did you treat your garden pest problems, such as the grubs, and the fungal disease on the onions? What is an "artificial swarm?" Where are the strawberry beds planted, relative to your large garden? What do you plan to do with the lavendar?

    You mentioned once that you have about 4 acres on your property. With all the tilling up, clearing, etc., how much would you say you now have in grass that needs mowing? Who regularly does the mowing in your family? On the whole, do you pretty much stick to organic garden and lawn treatments?
    What are some of your future plans and dreams for your property, if you don't mind sharing?

    Thanks in advance for your response, and for such a lovely, detailed, inspiring post! It was a pleasure to read!:-)

    ~ Betsy

  20. Hi Sarah,
    I wanted to comment and let you know how much of an encouragement your blog is to me, and my sisters. I don't think any of us have commented before, but we really enjoy your blog. I am truly amazed at how much we have in common! When I read your posts, I keep thinking, "oh, we do that!...and that too, and we order from them, and have that brand of such and such," etc. etc. It's almost weird! :-) We also have dairy goats, chickens, rabbits, and bees. I noticed that you do your garden the same way we do - wide (3 foot?) rows rather than single rows. I think it's called French intensive gardening, if I remember correctly. It is a much more space efficient way to plant! Your garden is quite a bit farther along than ours. We live in Wisconsin, so your seasons are a bit different I would think. :-) Any way, keep up all the hard work on the homestead. I know it is a LOT of work, and there is always more wanting to be done. I am impressed with all the new things your family has been learning and doing. :-) We really are blessed to live in the country where we can do these things!


  21. That was some comment, Betsy! :) I am glad that you enjoyed the post, and I would be happy to answer your questions . . .

    To begin, what is the tall brown structure to the right, in the first photo?

    That is the swingset/playground that my Dad built when my brother, sister and I were little. It was definitely well used and is still in pretty good shape!

    How did you treat your garden pest problems, such as the grubs, and the fungal disease on the onions?

    For the grubs, when a plant began to wilt, I would pull the plant out, dig underneath, and find and kill the grub. Little by little they were reduced in numbers, and we also did several tillings later in the fall, too, which helped. (Grubs are common in lawns, and are especially a problem in a first year garden over what used to be a lawn.) Like the grubs, most pests we try to control through either handpicking or homemade sprays. Sometimes we’ll use store-bought organic sprays as well, and occasionally, will need to use a chemical spray to get something under control if there is a wide outbreak (like our cucumber beetles last year – organic methods didn’t work!) Fungal diseases we use organic fungicide sprays.

    What is an "artificial swarm?"

    This question could take a long explanation, but I’ll try to be concise! :) For various reasons (such as the hive becoming too crowded), sometimes a hive will do what is called ‘swarm.’ The queen and the majority of the bees leave the hive and begin a new one elsewhere. There are preventative measures that one does to help prevent that from taking place, but sometimes the hive decides to swarm anyway. So when we opened up our hive and saw what are called swarm cells (new queens in the making), we knew a swarm was imminent. We then did an ‘artificial swarm’ – we took the frame with the queen on it, a frame of brood, and a couple of frames of honey and pollen and put them into a new hive. Basically, you ‘trick’ the bees into thinking that they already swarmed. Then if things go well, the queen and the bees that were moved into the new hive will adopt that as their new home; and then the hive that the queen was taken from, will raise up a new queen from one of the swarm cells. Not only is the swarm prevented, but it also results in two hives instead of one!

    Where are the strawberry beds planted, relative to your large garden?

    The garden is in front of the house, the strawberry beds are behind.

    What do you plan to do with the lavendar?

    I plan to leave some of it out in the garden blooming, and then harvest the rest to dry. I’m not sure yet how I’ll use it after that!

    You mentioned once that you have about 4 acres on your property. With all the tilling up, clearing, etc., how much would you say you now have in grass that needs mowing?

    I really have no idea! There is still quite a bit as the yard needs to be mowed, in and around the orchard, around the beehives, around the goat pen, the backyard, down the sides of our long driveway, etc. Eventually, we hope to mow less and use the animals to graze the grass down, but for now, we still have quite a bit that we mow!

    Who regularly does the mowing in your family?

    Generally my Mom and I. Though sometimes Dad and Leah mow, too.

    On the whole, do you pretty much stick to organic garden and lawn treatments?

    Yes. Chemical is always a last resort. Though, we do use some chemical sprays on our fruit trees.

    What are some of your future plans and dreams for your property, if you don't mind sharing?

    There are so many of them! But here are a few . . . putting permanent perimeter fencing around our property, clearing out more of our woods and turning that into another vegetable garden area, and running electric fencing over part of our property and making various grazing paddocks to rotate the goats through. Quite a few things! :)

    I hope that helps to answer your questions!

  22. Welcome to my blog, Karen, and thank you so much for your comment! It is always so nice to hear from those who are reading, and especially other young women who have similar interests as I. And from what you shared, it sounds like we have quite a bit in common! Just reading what you wrote made me wish that I could get to know you better – I am sure we could find a lot to talk about! How neat that you also have dairy goats, chickens, rabbits and bees. They are a lot fun to raise! And yes, we do wide row gardening and the rows vary from 2 feet wide (for things like green beans) to 2 ½ or 3 feet wide for most other crops. We love gardening by this method! As you shared, one can harvest much more produce per square foot, and then not only is weed control easier once the plants get established, but the wide rows sure are pretty, too. :)

    Wisconsin and Missouri seasons are rather different. (I was actually born in Wisconsin by the way. :) Though, this year has been a little unusual as spring came earlier than normal so we were able to plant things such as carrots, onions and beets quite a few weeks earlier than we have in previous years.

    Yes, homesteading is a lot of work! It is wonderful, though, isn’t it? I can tell from reading what you shared that you enjoy it as well. :) Yes, indeed, we are so blessed that we live in a country where we can do all of these things!

    Thank you again for your comment, Karen, and I hope that you and your sisters continue to enjoy your visits here!

  23. I enjoyed the 'walk' around the farm :o) I need to come and gain some pointers on gardening! ;o) Your garden looks amazing! And I love all the pictures of the critters ;o)

  24. Thank you Sarah! Yes, I know we could find a lot to talk about! :-) Would you like to correspond with me by email? If you want,I could just email you at the email address you have on your contact me page.
    That's neat that you were born in Wisconsin! How old were you when you moved away?


  25. I am glad that you enjoyed it, Nabila! And thank you. :) If only you lived closer, imagine how much fun we would have sharing gardening tips and admiring each other’s gardens! I hope that your gardening ventures go well for you this year and that your garden produces abundantly!

  26. I would enjoy corresponding with you through e-mail, Karen! Please do send me an e-mail via the address on my contact page. I look forward to getting to know you. :) Thank you for offering!

    We moved from Wisconsin when I was just a baby, so I don’t remember living there. We did take a trip up there around ten years ago and visited the town where I was born and went by the house that my parents had built. It was a fun and memorable trip!

  27. Your little farm looks like it is doing so well, Sarah. I enjoyed this post with its photos of everything. The little goats have grown and look quite sweet. :-)

    Have you any tips on soil improvement? The soil in my tiny vegetable plot is not the greatest, as previously there were two large trees growing in its place. It tends toward the dusty side. Having finally planned ahead so that I can impliment a proper crop rotation, I am looking for ways to improve the soil – organically and naturally.


  28. AnonymousMay 28, 2012

    Wow!! You have such a richly beautiful life!!! How wonderful it must be to live off of the land and do it all right alongside your loving family! You are truly blessed! What nice pics you've taken, too!

  29. Thank you, Anna! And I am glad that you enjoyed the post. :) The goats have grown even more since these photos were taken, and they keep getting sweeter, too. (If that can be possible!)

    I can well relate to having poor garden soil and working to improve it. Here are some things that we have added to our garden that have helped our soil: compost (you could start a compost pile and put any disposable plant matter in it – vegetable peelings, lawn clippings, leaves, etc. – once it is composted, you can add it to your garden); in the fall, you could put a layer of leaves down on the garden and then turn them under in the spring; during gardening season, you could mulch your plants with grass clippings which will gradually decompose over the season. Those are a couple of ideas! We also bought a couple of truckloads of composted horse manure to add to our garden, and that really helped as well. I’m not sure if you would have access to something like that where you live, but it might be something worth looking in to.

    Have fun working with your garden and finding ways to improve your soil!

  30. Thank you for your kind comment, Speiro! I am so thankful for the life I am able to live . . . the Lord has certainly blessed us. And yes, it is wonderful to be able to live off of the land, and especially with my family. That's my favorite part of it, and it wouldn’t be nearly as enjoyable without them!

  31. Oh, I LOVED this post, Sarah! I loved every photo. It was so nice to visit your homestead (even if only through photos!). Everything looks so beautiful.

    Your garden looks wonderful! I really love your strawberry bed, too. And I have always loved bee hives. I was also going to say that I liked the fact that they were by the blueberry bushes.

    We have some pallets just waiting to be turned into compost bins. I can't wait to get it completed. In the meantime, we just have a pile of compost!

    And I love your mom's wildflower garden. The daisies are so cheerful.

    Thank you so much for this tour, Sarah!

  32. I am glad that you enjoyed it so much, Joy! And I loved reading your comment. :) What you share always makes me smile!

    Thank you for your kind words! We are so thankful for how well the garden is doing this year . . . it is by far the best garden we have had so far. Now if we could just get some rain so we weren’t needing to water it all the time!

    How exciting that you have pallets to turn into compost bins. I know you will like them! They work so well.

    Thank you again, Joy, and I hope that you have a blessed day!


Thanks so much for your comment! Each one is read and enjoyed. :)