Categories
4-H Agriculture Goat Milk Lotion Goat Milk Soap Goats Livestock

Animal of the Month

I want to spend a little time each month highlighting one of the animals on our farm. If we didn’t have livestock, we wouldn’t have a business to begin with, so it seems like a good idea to give them some recognition!

This is Stormy with her set of twins from a couple of years ago.

The animal of the month for January is Stormy. Stormy is a 6-year-old registered Lamancha dairy goat. She is our oldest goat. We have 3 of her daughters on our farm with her. Her birthday is April 1st. Hailey named her Stormy because she was born on a stormy night; yes we choose very original and unique names around here.

Hailey and Colton have both shown her at our county fair. She has a sweet personality and is a very personable goat. However, Stormy prefers to do her own thing most of the time rather than follow the rest of the goat herd. Stormy strongly prefers the weather in spring, summer, and fall. When it starts to get to around 40 degrees or below, she chooses to stay in their shelter unless fresh hay or grain has just been delivered.

Stormy is always a good mama and usually has twins. Interestingly, all of her babies have been mostly black with just a small amount of white on them just like her with the exception of one (pictured above). We are hoping she will have at least one doeling again this year when she kids in March or April.

Stormy is one of the dairy goats that provide milk for all of our goat milk soaps and lotions. She is always the first one in line to go to the milk stand for milking and does NOT like it if another goat pushes out the gate in front of her. Her favorite treats are alfalfa pellets and orange rinds. She also really likes a spring sapling with new green leaves, my peach trees are a particular favorite of hers. Stormy is always a good girl when being milked and never steps in or kicks the bucket, which is greatly appreciated by the person milking her.

When you purchase one of our goat milk soaps or lotions, there’s a good chance that some of Stormy’s milk is in it! You can check out all of our goat milk skincare products as well as our other products here https://14handsranchks.com/ranch-store/.

Here are some pictures of Stormy over the years. I didn’t have as many of her as I thought I did becasue she doesn’t really hang out with the other goats. Almost all of my photos of her are of her taking care of her babies which shows how good of a mama she is. We love Stormy and hope to have her around for several more years!

Categories
Agriculture Finnsheep Goats Hair sheep Livestock Sheep Winter

Winter Chores

Winter finally showed up this week with cold, snowy, windy weather. Before this week, we’ve had a few cold days and some light snow but nothing too bad. This week has been and next will be extremely cold with highs anywhere from -2 to low teens. The windchills though are dangerously low at -25ish. I want to share how we prepare our livestock for the winter weather. Preparing for winter begins towards the end of Fall before the first hard freeze.

The first thing is making sure that everyone has a shelter from the north wind. The Finnsheep flock (and any smaller or older hair sheep) has access to the old limestone barn. It is built into a hill and on the south side of our shed so it is pretty warm. The goats are all in smaller pens that have south-facing three-sided sheds in them. Each of these sheds has round bales stacked behind them during the winter. This provides an amazing amount of warmth in the sheds. Goats hate the cold weather and these sheds are the warmest we have when the bales are on the north side of them.

The hair sheep flock also has a south-facing three-sided shed in their paddock as well as access to a few other small sheds. Our chickens and ducks are in a large coop and have protection from the wind as well. Lane is also very good about giving the chickens warm water a couple of times a day. Chickens and ducks are amazingly resilient when it comes to the cold weather as long as they can get out of the wind.

Every tank has a heater in it to keep the water from freezing. They work great but a thin layer of ice will sometimes still form on the water when it gets to the single-digit temps. A thin layer of ice is still much better than trying to break through thick ice several times a day! We do not have automatic water tanks on our farm (hopefully someday!) so for now we have to drain the hose every time we use it. If it doesn’t get drained or too much water is sitting at the end of it, the hose has to come into the house and sit in the shower until it thaws….not fun!

During the winter, we feed brome hay to all the sheep, goats, and horses. When it is colder than usual they all get extra hay. The extra hay helps their rumens to generate more body heat. All horses and Finnsheep receive grain and the goats get some alfalfa pellets. Most of the time the hair sheep are very hardy and don’t need the extra calories.

The Finns need the extra calories from grain when they are pregnant because they have such high rates of multiples. Last year, we had a set of healthy quads and several sets of triplets and attribute their health to adding grain to their diet in the winter when they are bred. We learned the hard way a couple of years ago that bred Finns need extra calories to grow all those healthy lambs. Some day, I will share more about the lessons we have learned going from hair sheep to Finns.

There are a few animals here that love the cold. The livestock guardian dogs are built for this weather. They have access to shelter but will rarely use it. Snow days are their favorite days and will spend a lot of time running, digging, chasing, and playing when it’s this cold out. We also offer them extra food in the winter.

Winter is not my favorite because I hate putting on all of the layers to go outside. Once we get out, it’s usually not too bad unless the wind is blowing hard that day. We are moving fast enough, that I am usually sweating by the time we finish everything. This week, the 20-40 mph wind does make your face hurt.

Chores are harder in the winter and require more work on our part. However, if I am being completely honest I don’t mind them that much because it forces me to get outside when I would otherwise not go out willingly. The physical labor of loading and unloading small square bales of hay multiple times a day helps to keep me strong. Plus, I know that right around the corner is springtime. And with spring comes my favorite season on the ranch, kidding and lambing!

Categories
Agriculture Finnsheep Sheep

Finnsheep & Why We Love Them

We had raised hair sheep for several years and Hailey had shown club lambs in 4-H since she was 9 years old when I decided that it was a good time to expand our flock by adding a wool breed. Not just any wool breed though. They had to be soft, not make me itch (club lamb wool makes me itch), be friendly, easy to handle, have wool that could be made into yarn (at the time the only fiber art I did was crochet), and have at least twins when lambing.

After much research and talking with not only breeders but also people much more involved in the fiber arts world than I was, we decided on Finnsheep. Here is a brief synopsis of the breed from http://finnsheep.org: “Finnsheep are a multi-purpose breed. In their native Finland, where they are known as Finnish Landrace Sheep, they are raised for meat, wool and pelts. In the United States, their primary use has been in cross-breeding programs to increase the lambing percentage of commercial flocks. Recently, Finnsheep have been discovered by American handspinners for the color, luster and soft hand of their wool. An emerging market is the use of Finnsheep to produce lean meat favored by “ethnic” populations. Finnsheep are friendly, docile and easy keepers producing vigorous lambs that are up and nursing within minutes.”

In July 2020, we bought 11 head of Finnsheep from a farm in Missouri. They were beautiful, soft, friendly girls. It didn’t take long for us (okay just me) to fall in love with them.

So what makes Finnsheep the perfect sheep for us? Mostly their personalities but also the versatility of their wool which was the reason we chose them. The wool can be in a wide range of colors and patterns. It makes beautiful yarns and roving that can be used for knitting, crocheting, weaving, or felting. The wool is fine enough that it can be worn next to the skin and is strong enough to be used in garments and blankets.

Another positive was that if we wanted it to, our flock could expand rather quickly because they are known for being one of the most prolific breeds in the world. They tend to lamb in litters and can have up to 9 at a time however, 3-4 lambs are most common. We were hoping to expand the flock rather quickly but what we didn’t realize is that Finnsheep are not quite as easy to raise as Hair Sheep. We have had to learn how to manage parasites very differently from the hair sheep. The lambs also need a lot more babysitting and checking to make sure they are getting enough milk since there are more born to each ewe.

As a result, we have had to reexamine some of our management systems. This isn’t a bad thing other than we lost a lot of the lambs and some ewes the first two years while learning which management practices we needed to change. We have made several adjustments this year and I am optimistic that we will have a better success rate this spring.

For us, and for the expansion of our farm business, Finnsheep are the perfect fit. They give us a marketable product not only in their wool but also in the meat. I can use the wool for my own fiber arts, crocheting, and my newest obsession, needle felting. And hopefully, after we get all of the management kinks worked out, double or triple our flock this year. I am optimistic that this lambing will be much more successful than the last two have been!

If you are looking for any Finnsheep yarn or roving for your fiber arts projects you will find it here in our Ranch Store.

Categories
Agriculture Bees Family Finnsheep Goat Milk Lotion Goat Milk Soap Goats Homeschool Sheep

Highlights of the Year

It has been over a year since I last wrote a blog post. It’s crazy how fast time goes. Life has been busy like normal and we’ve had the usual changes that happen as the seasons go by. I thought an update was long overdue so here it is!

Last summer we had our first litter of livestock guardian puppies. We ended up keeping two of them – Jayde and Maizie. Jayde is an excellent lgd however, Maizie prefers to lay around near the house. Unfortunately, we lost our male and had to buy a new one this summer. Chief is the sweetest, softest puppy ever. He is growing so fast and is just as big as the other dogs even though he’s only 6 months old!

We had our second crop of Finnsheep lambs this spring shortly after our second shearing. Parasites have been a struggle this year so we are working on building a more resilient flock. The differences in hardiness between our hair sheep and Finnsheep are still so interesting. I am very pleased with the quality of our lambs and their fleeces though. It is so hard to be patient for next spring when we finally shear the lambs!

Two of our beehives survived the winter and we will be harvesting the honey soon! The hives have very different personalities. One is calm and quite while the other will swarm and chase you as soon as you open their box! Needless to say, I don’t open their hive without my full bee suit on.

The garden is currently in desperate need of attention, mostly the tomatoes. I am planning to work on that this week. We really enjoyed the salsa I canned last summer so I need to get some done for this year. Both my flower beds and vegetable garden seemed to struggle this year. It seemed to be a combination of weather, bugs, and naughty dogs that kept everything from growing well.

Last spring, Lance and I bought an old building in town that had most recently been a restaurant. We are currently renovating it into a venue and airbnb. I love the building and all of the character and quirks that come with a building built in 1909. It has a room that is perfect for me to use as a studio for our Ranch Store. I have loved having more room to make and store all of our products. Lance and our oldest son, Cody, have done all of the renovations so far. I am always amazed at their knowledge, ability, and work ethic.

Our oldest daughter, Hailey, graduated from high school in May. I am still processing how she is already an adult and not a little girl. She is enjoying college which makes it a little easier that she is no longer living at home full time.

I am still making our Goat Milk Soap and Lotion. We only had one doeling born this year which was really disappointing for Colton. She was named Marshmallow because she is the color of hot chocolate and has a white spot on top of her head like a marshmallow. He is hoping for more girls than boys next year! Colton bought a new buck this year. His goal with a new buck is to improve the quality of his goats and add in some color variety.

The younger three kids and I started our third year of homeschooling in August. After using a few different curriculums the last couple of years, we felt like we had a good idea of what works for us, so we have used the mix and match approach to curriculum this year. I will be sharing more about our homeschool in a later post.

Over the summer, we went to several horse shows. The kids have improved so much in their riding skills. The circuit we do is great for all ages to ride in. Three generations of our family are currently riding. The kids love competing against dad and grandpa!

Since we bought the building we decided to host a fiber festival! The first annual Fiber Flurry will be held November 4-5 at Sikes Venue in Leonardville, KS. There aren’t any other fiber festivals in our area so we are hoping to have a good response. If you live nearish to us, we hope you will come either as a vendor or to check it out!

I think that wraps up the highlights from the year. My plan is to attempt to write more regularly and send out a newsletter one time a month as well. If there is anything you would like to hear about please let me know in the comments!

Categories
Agriculture Winter

Winter Around the Ranch

Until a couple of weeks ago, we have had a very mild winter. This week temperatures won’t even get above 15 degrees Fahrenheit with windchills below zero. This coming weekend they are forecasting -30 windchills! It appears that all of our winter is happening within a few weeks!

Even though it is frigid outside the animals all still need to be fed and watered daily. We are thankful for warm clothes and a warm house to go into after chores!

I thought I would share some photos from the last couple of weeks. The cold doesn’t seem to impact the animals as much as it does us, as long as they have plenty of food and a place to get out of the wind, so you will see them out in the weather. It really is amazing how God designed each of them perfectly.

And remember, if this cold weather has your skin dry and itchy, we have plenty of our goat milk soap, lotion, & lip balm to help you out in our Ranch Store. We are always making more small batches of soap to try and keep your favorites in stock!

Categories
Agriculture Goat Milk Lotion Goat Milk Soap Goats Made In Kansas

Making the Switch to Goat Milk Soap & Lotion

Updated February 2023

It’s been almost three years since we made the switch to using goat milk soap and 2 years since we started using only goat milk lotion. Today, I want to share some of the reasons we now only use goat milk soap and lotion. We had slowly been trying to switch over to more natural products for our home and skincare.

As I was researching natural soaps and skincare, it was pretty easy to conclude that we needed to pay more attention to what we put ON our bodies just as much as it is what we put IN our bodies. Goat milk soap kept coming up as a recommended soap in the articles I was reading. Since I had a deep freezer full of goat milk I decided to give goat milk soap making a try. We had originally saved the milk for any bummer lambs or kids that we might have but hadn’t needed it. The goats were also due to start kidding soon so I wasn’t worried about needing the milk for anything other than soap making experiments. My sister-in-law had made some soap as well and she reassured me that I could do it too!

During my research I learned that goat milk is rich in fatty acids that make it a gentle cleanser and moisturizer. The cream in goat milk has an anti-inflammatory effect. These fatty acids help to lock in moisture and nourish your skin. The lactic acid in goat milk also acts an exfoliate helping to keep your skin clear. Your skin is the largest organ on your body – what you put on it matters! Take a look at the ingredients list on a normal bar of soap or bottle of body wash, how many of the words can you pronounce and do you even know what most of the ingredients are? Goat milk is mild and gentle enough that even people of all ages and with very sensitive skin can use it without having it dry out or irritate their skin.

I tried a few different recipes and our family started using the soap. It was important to me as I started making soap, and later lotion, that only natural, easy to pronounce ingredients were used. As our family switched to goat milk soap no one ever complained about it – and in a large family that’s a big deal! In fact, they liked it. The kids liked that we could customize the scents as well. The final thing that convinced me that goat milk soap was the best for our family, was when we went through the entire winter last year and no one complained of dry itchy skin like they usually would.

Ironically, after switching to goat milk soap, lotions started to make me itch, especially after shaving. It didn’t seem to matter what kind of lotion (I was already using a fairly natural lotion) or shaving cream I used, it always felt like my skin itched underneath. I’m not really sure why it took me so long to think of it but after a few months of this, a light bulb went off and I decided that I should probably try making my own goat milk lotion as well. After making and using goat milk lotion for a few days the itching went away and hasn’t came back!

I have used mostly essential oil for the scent in all of my soaps and lotions but I did try a couple of frangrance oils. However, even with all of the other ingredients being natural, I couldn’t use my own soap or lotion if it had frangrance oil for the scent. Now you will only find high quality essentail oils for the scent in our soaps, lotions, and lip balms.

Our family now uses our goat milk soap for face wash, body wash, and I use it for shaving as well. Our goat milk lotion is a great allover moisturizer. I use the unscented and lavender lotion on my face daily without it causing a breakout.

I enjoy making the soaps and lotions in small batches and experimenting with new combinations. My current favorite soap is Lavender Orange. It smells so good and fresh! This week I will be making Unscented Honey and Oatmeal to restock it and experimenting with a Calendula soap. I grow calendula to use in a healing salve I make so why not use it in soap!

Switching our soap and lotion to natural products has led to using more natural candles and other cleaning products but thats another post for another day!

If you are interested in trying any of our goat milk soaps or lotions head over to our Ranch Store. Or if you have been using our products and enjoy them, please leave a review and share our page with others. You can also subscribe to our newsletter so you will always be the first to know when products are restocked – just scroll down to the bottom of any of our pages and you will find the box to enter your email.

As always, please contact us with any questions you might have!

~Jada

Categories
Agriculture Fall Finnsheep Goats Hair sheep Livestock Projects Sheep Uncategorized Winter

Fall/Early Winter Update

I have sat down several times to update everyone about what we have been up to this past fall but wasn’t ever able to get this post finished. Well, here we are in the middle of January and I finally have an update for you! This update will be told in photos because that’s the only way I can remember what we have all done!

I plan to do more regular updates this year to help everyone follow along with what we do. This will also allow us to better share our story with you.

*Lotion will be restocked on Friday! There will also be new lotion scents and lip balm added soon!

We are so grateful to all of our customers who supported us this past holiday season and we look forward to serving you in 2021!

Post does contain affiliate links. As an Amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

The pond in September. It has been dry this fall and the pond was already getting low. It is a couple of feet lower now.

We’ve had two litters of piglets this fall.

It was warm enough in September and October that Colton had to keep the pigs mud hole filled with water. They love to lay in it when it’s hot outside.

The sheep & goats do an excellent job of cleaning up poison ivy and other unwanted plants under the trees along our dam.

The goats always prefer to eat the weeds, trees, or poison ivy before the grass.

It doesn’t seem to matter if its human or animal mama’s – they just can’t eat or drink in peace!

Some of the fungus we found in an old tree stump during one of our nature studies.

I dried some marigolds and pokeberries for dying yarn later. If anyone has recommendations on books to read about naturally dying wool please share them with me! The only book I have right now is Harvesting Color: How to Find Plants and Make Natural Dyes

We also made a marigold garland. It was pretty above the kitchen sink.

Goat Milk Lotion was added to the store in November! It will be restocked on Friday (1/15/21).

Hailey ran at State Cross Country. Hailey and Cody both had a great season in high school cross country. In addition to helping with the farm and being a full-time independent insurance agent, Lance is the head cross country coach for our local high school. He is also an assistant track coach in the spring. Yes – we are busy!

We started bale grazing November 1st. I will be sharing a post about bale grazing and what we are learning about regenerative agriculture in a later post.

Lane does an excellent job of caring for his chickens and ducks.

This girl is so sweet. She always wants a chin scratch. Finnsheep were definitely the right choice for our family.

I can’t wait to shear the sheep this coming spring and see what we can have done with all of the fiber! I’m hoping to have combed top as well as yarn made this year.

I will never tire of watch a Kansas Sunset. The top of our hill is the perfect spot to watch it.

Due to a freak accident, we had to buy a new Finnsheep ram. Lance and I traveled to Iowa to purchase one the day after Thanksgiving. He is gorgeous, both in confirmation and fleece. It will be fun to see what kind of lambs we get in the spring.

Isn’t he lovely?!?

The second litter of piglets – they are now weaned and available for purchase as feeder pigs. Just contact us if you are interested in purchasing one!

Lane’s chickens and ducks have started laying eggs. I have yet to capture a good photo of the blueish/green eggs.

I made Hailey pose for a picture after we finished putting straw out in the barns in November.

The Chicken Palace received a new sign and barn light! When it warms up the doors will also be painted.

We were blessed to be able to attend a couple of different vendor days locally. Our new lip balm will be added to the store within the next couple of weeks.

Very grateful that Lance can usually take my ideas and make it a reality when it comes to building things. I showed him a picture of a display shelf and tried to explain how I wanted to change it a little. Somehow he was able to figure out what I wanted and made these great little shelves!

At least one Saturday a month (more if cold weather is on the way) is spent replenishing straw in all of the barns. Even Kinzie helps put new straw out.

The rams were pulled out of the ewe flocks this past weekend. They didn’t want to get along at first (hormones….) so they got to spend a couple of days in a very tiny space. This allows them time to get acquainted but without the fighting. If we didn’t put them in this small pen, they would have just spent hours or days backing up to get a running start and head butting each other. We use the small pen to keep them from hurting each other.

I’ve also been crocheting in the evenings! This is a wool/acrylic blend yarn (Lion Brand Wool Ease Thick and Quick Yarn(3-Pack) Hudson Bay 640-610). I love the variegated colors and this simple, single stitch I’m using on this afghan really shows the color pattern nicely. I spent most of November and December crocheting a shawl to give as a Christmas gift to someone.

We hope you all have a wonderful and blessed 2021! Thank you for being a part of 14 Hands Ranch.

~Jada

Post does contain affiliate links. As an Amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Categories
Agriculture Beekeeping Bees Kansas

Bees!

Last week, we embarked on a new adventure. We bought bees! We have talked about getting bees for years but never took the leap. Well, on Thursday we finally officially started beekeeping! We are starting with two beehives but I can already see how this can easily turn in to several more beehives over the years

A local beekeeper, Nikki, has been keeping a beehive at our house for the last couple of years. This has given us the opportunity to observe the bees and get comfortable with having them around. I called her this past winter with a long list of questions about beekeeping. After patiently answering all of my questions, she graciously offered to mentor me if we bought bees. After visiting about it and weighing out the pros and cons, Lance and I decided that it would be a good fit for us to get bees this year.

Nikki gave me a list of items that we needed to purchase. I was able to get almost everything we needed but I am still waiting on my pants and smoker because they were backordered. We purchased our hives and bee colonies from her since she had extras available. We are using 8 frame Langstrom Hives.

After placing the bees in their new hives, I made a mixture of sugar water to feed them. This will help them to have plenty of food while they are getting their hives started. There isn’t a lot of things blooming yet so this is also a good supplement for them. After they had been in the hives for two days, I opened it up and checked how much sugar water they had left. Surprisingly, they both still had half to three-quarters of a mason jar full. This indicates that the bees have been successful in finding pollen sources.

Currently, there is yellow clover, white clover, dandelions, my strawberries, and some wildflowers blooming. It’s still too early for all of my planted flowers and garden vegetables to be blooming. Adding the bees though is an excellent excuse to plant more flowers than I already have! I have a lot of zinnias, marigolds, and purple coneflower planted as well as other flowers and herbs. For the past few years, I have always tried to plant pollinator friendly flowers and herbs just because we enjoy watching the pollinators.

There is so much to learn about beekeeping and bees in general that I am enjoying the challenge of learning a new skill. I have been reading Storey’s Guide to Beekeeping, joined groups on Facebook, and followed pages on instagram. However, I think that the biggest help will be having someone to mentor me and teach me the craft over the next year or two. I have a feeling though, that just like with any type of livestock or farming, there will always be something new to learn with bees!

We are hoping to have our first honey harvest sometime in July. Our family loves honey so we are all excited to hopefully have some that “our” bees made! Taking photos is one of my hobbies so be prepared for lots of bee and flower photos over the summer!

Photo by Kim Simon
A fun fact I have learned about bees is that a colony can have 10,000 – 60,000 bees living in it!
In this photo I am putting the bees into their hive. Photo was taken by Nikki.
Putting sugar water in the hives.
The following photos were taken by Lance’s aunt, Kim Simon.

Categories
4-H Agriculture Goals Livestock Projects Recycle Uncategorized

Projects

Early this past winter, Lance and I made a list of projects we wanted to get done this spring and summer. I’m pretty sure that neither one of us ever expected to get very many of them completed, at least not well or timely. We have five kids and four of the five are involved in some kind of activities. Spring, especially April and May, are typically crazy for us. We should have been at track meets at least two days a week, soccer practice and games, church, 4-H meetings, Horse practice, and piano lessons. However, we all know that everything was brought to a halt in March because of Covid19. A silver lining in all of this though has been the gift of uninterrupted family time. It has also allowed us to get several of the projects on our lists completed!

The first project tackled was building three new shelters for all of the 4-H sheep and goats, preferably before we brought all of the animals home. First, all of the pens we had put up a couple of years ago were taken down so that we could reconfigure them and reuse the fencing. We wanted each shelter to have two pens off of it and have a hay/grain feeder in the middle of the shelter to divide it. I wanted a walk through gate in each shelter as well. Each shelter is held down by posts that are 2-3 feet deep in the ground so that they don’t blow away. It is important to mention that we live on a bed of limestone rock and that we do not own any kind of machinery, such as a skid steer, that could dig the holes for us. In most places, there are only a few inches of topsoil before you start to hit rock. This has made digging post holes by hand even harder work than it would be normally. Hailey and Cody have dug most of the holes by hand. They have definitely got their workouts in during school at home!

The shelters are made out of completely recycled materials (except the screws – those are new). An old hay barn had fallen down at Lance’s grandma’s house during a storm last summer. Lance and the kids took it down, went through all of it, and were able to salvage almost all of it. The tin on the shelters have a beautiful burnt sienna color (rust) on them in several places. I really do love the character it gives them! Lance also made gates that swing and latch easily. If you have ever had all of your gates held shut by wire, baling twine, or chained you will understand how big of deal this is!

After the small shelters were completed, Lance started on what we are calling the Chicken Palace. Kinzie wanted chickens for her birthday so this required building a chicken coop. We are calling it the Chicken Palace because it is a little bigger than the typical chicken coop. When Lance builds something he usually goes all out. Our Chicken Palace will have two sections in it with a hallway in the middle. From the hallway you will be able to collect the eggs from the nesting boxes by pulling open a drop down door. Kinzie and I want to put twinkle lights on it as well because every Chicken Palace needs some twinkle lights! We ordered chicks for Kinzie and ducklings for Lane a couple of weeks ago. The ducklings will be here in June and the chicks in July so we have plenty of time to get the Chicken Palace done. The best thing is that the Chicken Palace is also being built with all recycled materials!

Another major project on our list was cutting down as many cedar trees as we can. Cedar trees will take over a pasture quickly if left on their own. They also draw a lot of the moisture out of the ground and we want to keep as much water in the ground as can. We have several rows of them along the creek or that have grown up in the tree lines. While Lance has cut many of the cedar trees down there are still hundreds to go, or it at least seems like hundreds. Over the past week he has cut down a big portion of the cedar trees that lined the dam of our pond. It completely changes the view and has exposed an old rock wall that is there. Many of the trees will be burned but several have been repurposed into raised beds for my garden. We have a few other things we would like to make out of some of the cedar trees as well. I love the beautiful red color that is inside of a cedar tree. Plus, they smell wonderful!

There are still several more projects on our list but most of them require quite a bit of money. So far we haven’t spent any money and our budget is pretty small. It’s fun to dream and make plans though so we will see how many more projects we get crossed off of our list this summer. Right now, it looks like we will be home more this summer than we have been the last several years so we might get a lot accomplished!

Hailey screwing down a roof.
Hay/Grain feeder that separates the two sides of the shed.
Another piece has been added to the feeder to add a small section for mineral.
Obviously the goats have approved of it!
I love the gates!
The beginnings of the Chicken Palace.
You can kind of see in the background where cedar trees have been cut down.
The rock wall that has been exposed.
View from the dam of the pond.

Categories
Agriculture Goals Kansas Uncategorized

Goals

“You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream” – C. S. Lewis

I am a goal setter and planner. I am a slow decision maker though so once I finally make up my mind I am ready to go and want everything to be done yesterday. When we decided that making our farm into a sustainable business was what we wanted to do, I immediately wrote several goals. Those goals have already changed and evolved as I have thought about the direction I want to take 14 Hands Ranch.

Our idea to actually make our farm into a sustainable business and not just a hobby farm, started last summer. I have stayed home with our kids the last three years. Previously, I worked as a speech-language pathologist in the local school district. I loved working with the students but it just wasn’t right for our family anymore. Lance works full time as an independent insurance agent. A large portion of his clients are people and businesses involved in some area of agriculture. Over the last year, we would occasionally discuss what I would do when Kinzie starts school in a couple of years. I know, starting to worry about this two years in advance is kind of crazy but like I said, I’m a slow decision maker! As I seriously thought about it, I realized that going back to work as a SLP wasn’t what I wanted to do. I wanted to do something in the ag community and for us it made the most sense to start here at home.

So all of this to say that I finally chose what I want to do next. I love the sheep and goats. I love being outside in the spring, summer, and fall. Winter is questionable, I hate being cold. This past fall I started making goat milk soap from the stash of milk I had in our deep freeze. Our family liked it and I had made more than we needed so I decided to sell some before Christmas. It went over well and it was kind of fun. That’s when I decided that I could do this.

So what is “this?” It’s working to make our farm sustainable while at the same time using livestock to regenerate our land. I’m not going to share all of my goals here but I did want to share a couple. The goal closest to being achieved is opening an online farm store. At this time, I plan to sell my goat milk soap and beeswax candles. More products will be added in the future. I am getting so close to opening it and I can’t wait to share with you all when it officially opens.

I also plan to add a flock of wool sheep and honey bees. These sheep and bees, combined with the sheep and goats we already have, will be a huge help in improving our soil health naturally. By improving our soil health, we will be able to increase the number of animals our land can support. I have lots of goals and dreams for our little 14 Hands Ranch and a lot of time is being spent dreaming, planning, and researching right now. It’s fun to think about the possibilities.

When we decided this was what I was going to do, I stumbled upon the quote at the top of this post. It is now on a sticky note above my desk. Sometimes we need a little nudge to follow our dreams.

I will never get tired of Kansas sunrises and sunsets.