Animals · Not Farming Related

Not Farming-Related: Nicole’s Thirtieth Birthday

This is going to be a little different than our usual content, but I hope you don’t mind. I promise there are cute animals!

My birthday is January 4th, and I turned 30 this year. Robert decided to make this birthday an extra fun one. We exchanged gifts for Solstice, and he had told me ahead of time that my gift was going to be an experience, instead of physical things, but he got me something to open and it was representative of what my gift was. I opened my gift, and immediately started crying. This is what greeted me.

This adorable sloth stuffed animal came from Amazon

I knew I would be petting sloths for my birthday! I couldn’t handle it. I couldn’t stop crying, and Luna had to help me calm back down. If you’ve seen that Kristen Bell sloth video, that was basically me, but she’s prettier.

So fast forward to my actual birthday. Bob let me sleep in, and went out to do animal chores. Unfortunately, one of our Jacob ewes, Tanka, knocked off one of her lateral horns and was bleeding pretty heavily. We got in touch with our sheep mentors, and they basically said “Well, it’s cold out. She will be fine.” So on we went with our day! And a week later, she’s still alright. We headed to Hillsdale to look at a potential farm truck. Spoiler: it was worse than a rust bucket. So it was a big fat NO. We ended up getting breakfast at Coffee Cup Diner which was AMAZING! Surprise Thai food for breakfast? Yes please! We both loved our meal, and we are planning on heading back there soon.

Post breakfast, we drove to Ann Arbor for my birthday present. The Creature Conservancy is an amazing non-profit educational organization. They started with surrendered pets that people realized they couldn’t take care of anymore. Who’d have though an alligator or an arctic fox would make bad pets? We met up with our guide Patricia, and we talked about what they do there.

Our first stop was the outdoor area where the black swans live. Being that Bob and I have experience with large waterfowl (our geese) we knew we didn’t need to get any closer than necessary. They are cool looking, but a whole lot of NOPE!

After that, we went indoors and through the kitchen area where they prep food for all the resident animals. They get a large portion of the fruit and vegetables donated by the Whole Foods that isn’t far from them. The animals are getting a large variety in their diets at basically no cost to The Creature Conservancy, WF doesn’t need to pay for waste disposal, and it’s keeping good food out of the landfill. Everyone wins! We may be donating some extra produce to them this summer, depending on how our gardens do, and if we cannot find something closer to us.

We walked through the indoor animal enclosures, which included some gigantic tortoises, a shy eagle, and an adorable kangaroo! We learned that kangaroos are super soft. Imagine a chinchilla, but… better? She was so chill. Petting her was awesome.

After the kangaroo, we watched the resident cougar with her new toy, a paper mache “deer”. The staff added some meat to the top of it so Quinn would be able to find it. She was really cool! Bob was really excited to find out that cougars can purr.

After seeing the cougar, we headed out to see the little goats. There are five little wethers, who were absolutely adorable. They all still have their horns, which was a little bothersome for me, because I am so used to ours who mostly don’t have horns, and these little guys were spoiled as babies, so they are exceptionally needy. Two of them chewed the ends off my shoelaces. However, I still love goats of all attitudes.

We really like their hay feeder, and we might look into getting a couple for our group. We would hang them, because I don’t think they’d be strong enough to hold up our pudgy beasts.

We wandered through a few more animal areas and ended up in front of Bed Head and Lady Gaga. This was the second most exciting animal encounter for me. Porcupines are an animal that makes me go mushy inside. I think they’re so silly and adorable looking, and I found out we would be feeding them sweet potatoes. We also learned they are basically garbage disposals and they love almost any produce that Whole Food donates!

Post porcupine perusal, we walked through the larger indoor area where the majority of the animals live. They had Macaws, which were loud, warthogs, who were kind of terrifying with their tusks, binturongs (that I didn’t get close enough to verify if they smell like popcorn), and many others. Finally, we went up some steps to where the most important animal encounter would occur.

The first sloth to come out was Poco. He was huge, much larger than I thought a sloth would be. I don’t know what I expected, but he moved faster than I thought possible! But we had grapes for him, so I totally understand his excitement He eagerly gobbled them off the straws Patricia shoved them on. Shortly after, his girlfriend Annie came moseying on out. She had a baby a few months ago, and it’s so stinking adorable, I almost cried.

Annie and baby sloth!

After the sloths, we headed back to the car and I promptly started crying. I was just so overwhelmed with all the amazing things I’d just seen, and couldn’t hold it in anymore. Bob was actually surprised that I didn’t cry while petting the sloth. And for those who are interested, sloths feel sort of like grey hair does.

Earl Grey was mine, and Aztec Chocolate was Bob’s

The rest of the evening included a visit to TeaHaus in Ann Arbor for macarons and tea. Which were both tasty. We also had No Thai for dinner, which was honestly the perfect way to end the evening! Nothing fancy, just something that would fill our bellies.

This was possibly the best birthday I’ve ever had, and I am so grateful we got to spend the day together. The weekend continued the festivities, and we went to Detroit and partied with many of our friends. Nothing will ever top this weekend!

Animals · Chickens · Ducks · Eggs · Goats · Meat · Production · Sheep

Winter is Coming to the Farm

Now that the rush of summer is gone, we were truly hoping that autumn and winter would be a little easier and calmer. So far, we have been wrong.

Our final batch of chickens for this season was brought to the processor last week. They are now in the freezer awaiting their new homes in the ovens and soup pots of our customers. This batch of chickens finished a little smaller than previous batches. We aren’t sure if it’s due to being later in the year, and the pasture not being quite as nutritious, or something else. That being said, they are just as delicious as the previous birds sent to the processor. We had to acquire an additional freezer to store these birds in. We are hoping to have it emptied out by the end of the year. Or at least have one of the meat freezers emptied out by then.

We have acquired several new animals recently. We have three Jacob sheep that we purchased from Sweetgrass Jacobs back at the end of October. One named Limerick, who is a two horned ram born in April of this year. We also got one two horned female and a four horned female, named Haiku and Tanka respectively. They are all quite skittish, but they are slowly warming up to us.

In addition to the sheep, we’ve acquired five goats. They came from a farm that was downsizing. We have three wethers and two does. The wethers are named Taco, Milkshake and Nugget, and the does are Curry and Fudge. Yes, we named them all after foods that goats can be made into. But we don’t plan on eating these ones any time soon.

Our chickens and ducks have slowed their egg production. We are still getting a dozen or two a day, but that’s a far cry from the overflowing baskets we were getting for most of the summer. It will pick back up in the spring. Everything has a season, and egg season is definitely early summer!

We will be processing our own turkey for Thanksgiving, and we are really looking forward to that. We have two really large males that we will choose between. The second one will be served up at the December holiday dinner. We hope the rest of the turkeys will lay eggs for us to hatch and raise up for next year’s holiday dinners.

All of our tasty products, and some of Nicole’s knitted items will be available at the Marshall Farmers Market at the B.E. Henry building. We hope to see you there! If you can’t make it, feel free to send us a message to make arrangements to get some eggs or chicken. Happy almost-winter!

Collaboration · flowers · Green Gardens Community Farm · Uncategorized

A Day for Love: Arranging Flowers for the Goetz-Berman Wedding

It’s hard to believe that a month ago today, the two of us were at the wedding of Robert’s sister Elaine and her husband Dan. We were honored to arrange the flowers for the ceremony and reception. We had initially planned on growing them, but we got a little ambitious with our garden plans, and the weeds got away from us. With help from Green Gardens, we pulled everything off amazingly well.

IMG_1165.JPGA little before the wedding date, we placed our order with Trent. The day before the wedding, we cut some flowers and greens from our property. Much of it was trimmed off our trees that needed pruning, or were actual weeds (they were primarily Queen Anne’s lace) from our lawn. They worked beautifully with what we ordered. A little later in the day, we got in touch with Trent and he let us know that he had our flowers and filler cut and waiting in buckets for us. The arrangements consisted of zinnias, a few dahlias, multiple types of basil, a couple types of celosia, gomphrena, sunflowers and cosmos. There were a few other flowers that we had in small numbers as well.

They were stored overnight in the basement at Robert and Elaine’s parent’s house. It was cooler there, and they would likely hold better. We were very happy with how that worked out. Robert spent much of the morning with the groomsmen while I did the flowers with the help of Elaine’s friend Gretchen. She was a lifesaver! It can be said that I don’t do well under pressure, and an extra set of hands and eyes, and a kind voice were so welcomed.

The flowers started with the bouquets for the bridal party to carry. I wanted to make sure I used the prettiest flowers first. Elaine’s bouquet took some work, but eventually I got it. Gretchen wrapped the stems with twine and gave them a great polished look. We trimmed the stems so that Elaine’s bouquet was a little longer than the rest. It looked amazing.IMG_1188.JPG

After the important bouquets were finished, we worked on the 55 or so centerpiece arrangements. Elaine and many family members and friends had been looking for small bud vases and jars for almost two years before the wedding. They looked lovely together, and were fairly easy to arrange.IMG_1190.JPG

All together on one table, they were a sight to see! I got so many compliments on them, and I really enjoyed myself. It was stressful, as I didn’t want to disappoint Elaine and Dan, but in the end, it went really really well. Other than the flowers, vases and twine, the only things we needed were loads and loads of floral tape, and some super sharp flower snips. Arranging flowers isn’t the most complicated thing in the world, but it definitely takes some practice. I look forward to more opportunities to work on it.IMG_1203.JPG

Alpaca · Animals · Chickens · Llama · Product Review · Video

Watering Plants and Animals: A Review of Fogg-It Watering Nozzles

One of the frustrating things about starting seeds is that many of them need to be babied while they are sprouting. Watering with a regular hose nozzle is too strong of a stream and can disrupt the seeds, or break the fragile stems. We found these amazing misting nozzles on Amazon, and we knew they were a game changer.

foggitwatering

The Fogg-It Watering Nozzles come in a pack of three, or can be purchased individually. We decided to go for the three pack, as it would give us more options for different tasks. We are very glad we did! We use the 1/2 gallon per minute (GPM) nozzle to water our seed starts. The other two are used for watering the animals. A couple weeks ago, it got unseasonably hot for a couple days, and all of our animals were panting and struggling with the heat. We ran a couple hoses out to our chicken tractor, and ran the 1 GPM nozzle over them for almost an hour. They absolutely loved it! It was hilarious watching these meat birds drink the water running down the walls of the tractor. We also sprayed down Faith and Galahad, who seemed to really have fun with the water. They had just gotten their hair cuts a couple days prior which also helped keep them cool.

We also used the 2 GPM nozzle to mist the laying flock. We had it strung up in the tree to mist the shady areas, and the drips filled up a pool we set on the ground under the tree. This is an easy, relatively hands-off way of cooling the flock when it gets way too hot out. The hose can be left like that for a while and we can go and get other things done.

Overall, we are so happy we purchased these nozzles! They have several other sizes available, and they can also be purchased individually. If you get some of these for yourself, let us know what you think!

We purchased these nozzles at full price with our own money. We did not offer to do a review of this item, but we seriously love them so much we had to share them. The links in this post are affiliate links, which means that if you make a purchase through them, we get a small amount of money in return. Thank you for supporting our farm.

Animals · Chickens · Collaboration · Green Gardens Community Farm · Meat · Production

Raising Meat Birds

Something super exciting is happening at Frontière Farm House very soon! Our first batch of meat birds is going to the processor tomorrow, and we can’t wait to share them with all of you.

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The meat flock lining up for breakfast.

Back at the end of March, we received a shipment of Red Ranger and Husky Ranger chicks from The Chick Hatchery. They were so tiny when they first arrived! We struggled a little at first, and a few didn’t survive, but since that initial issue (which we’ve worked out for future batches) they haven’t had any health troubles. When we first got them, they grew so quickly. In fact, if one of us didn’t see them for a couple days, we noticed their growth very easily.

We are getting close to processing time, and we wanted to share more information about these soon-to-be delicious birds. As said previously, they are Red Ranger and Husky Ranger. These are both chicken breed crosses that have been selectively bred to grow fairly quickly. They are slightly slower growing and have far fewer health problems than the traditional Cornish cross, which was very important to us. In addition, the Ranger types are better for free range/pasture raising (hence the name). We have our birds in a mobile chicken coop, often called a chicken tractor, which we move to fresh grass every single day, and sometimes twice a day. They can eat all the grass, weeds, bugs and dirt they want. More than once we have seen them chase flying insects in the tractor and eagerly gobble them up. This is what chickens are meant to do! In addition, we feed them a high-quality meat bird grower feed which is blended at a local mill. It doesn’t contain any hormones or antibiotics and is made from grains grown local to us. Supporting local farmers is something that we do as often as possible!

Red Rangers and Husky Rangers mature in ten to twelve weeks. It is a short life, but our birds are very happy every single day they spend on our farm. We have a goal of making sure none of our animals have more than one bad day. We will be bringing them to a USDA inspected facility where they will be processed. We have heard nothing but good things about this processor, and we are confident that they will do a great job of minimizing suffering for our birds. Once they are killed, plucked, and cleaned, they will be wrapped, weighed, labeled, and we will bring them home in coolers. We will have them available fresh for the first day at the market, and then we will freeze them shortly after. We are taking pre-orders for the birds. For just $5, you secure your whole bird. That will go towards the total cost. They are $4.50 a pound for the whole birds, and if we end up doing halves or eight pieces, the price will be slightly more.

In addition to picking them up from us, we will have chicken available through our friends at Green Gardens Community Farm! The pricing will be the same, but pre-orders will not be available.

We already have our second batch of birds started, and these will also be ready in ten to twelve weeks. If you miss out on this first round, you don’t have too long to wait for more!

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Sixty birds for the next batch

Market

Introducing the Market Bag Discount Program

After a long, cold, never-ending winter, the outdoor edition of the Marshall Farmers Market starts up this Saturday, and we are so excited! It runs from 8:00 am until 1:00 pm every week until the end of October. We have something new to share with all of you, and we hope you enjoy it as much as we have enjoyed preparing for it.

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We are happy to introduce the Frontière Farm House Market Bag Discount Program! It gets a little confusing here, but we promise to do the hard work for you. This is what you need to know. The bags cost $15. Yes, we do understand this is a little high for a market bag, but it gets you a whole lot more than just a fancy place to carry your purchases. It gets you a discount on just about everything we sell! Here is how the discounts will break down:

  • Eggs are 25 cents off per dozen (no discount on half dozens)
  • Meat is 25 cents off per pound
  • Fruit and vegetables are 10% off purchases of $10 or more
  • Spice mixes will be three for $9 (usually 3/$10)
  • Knitted items are 10% off
  • Other discounts will be added as we add to our repertoire

Here are the rules you need to know:

  • These discounts may change in the future, but we will be sure to notify you beforehand.
  • The market bag discount cannot be combined with our Egg CSA.
  • You must have the bag with you in order to get the discount.
  • It’s likely we will round pricing up or down so we don’t have to deal with anything smaller than a quarter.
  • If we are sharing a booth space with another vendor, the discount only applies to the items we sell.

These bags were printed by our friend Don, who also printed our aprons. He did an amazing job on both, and we would definitely recommend him if you have any screen printing you want done.

If you have any questions about the discount program, our egg CSA, or anything else, please do let us know! We are happy to help you out.

garden · Production · Vegetables

Preparing the Garden for a Successful Year

Summer of 2017 was a summer of next to no rain. It made for a difficult first year of gardening for us on our new property. We got a soil test done last year which told us what our garden was lacking. One of them was organic matter. Back in September 2017, we plowed the garden and seeded with winter rye and forage radish. The radishes have long roots which helps aerate the soil, and the rye helps build up organic matter when it’s tilled in.

 

Last weekend, Robert went through our careful orchestration of acquiring the tools we need to do large scale garden work. We borrow a cone spreader from our friends at Green Garden, and a tractor from our friends Dave and Nancy. He also had to borrow a van to transport all the bags of fertilizers home.

IMG_20180408_142947.jpgOur garden is about 3/4 of an acre. Because of the large size, and how poor our soil is, we needed large quantities of everything. It started with 1500 pounds of lime. Lime helps raise the pH of the soil. Most plants want the soil between 6.5 and 7, and ours was at 5.4. In addition, 400 pounds of 19-19-19 fertilizer was added. This adds nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. And finally, our soil was especially poor in potassium, so 40 pounds of potash was mixed in, which is 0-0-60.IMG_20180408_141816

So far, so good with what has been spread. We still need to till in the rye and spread our plastic mulch. But, it’s progressing, which makes us both happy. We can’t wait to share what we are growing with you!