Posts in category: Farm Happenings

Feb

11
2014

Overdue Update

Marissa     Farm Happenings         0    

I swear I’m trying to keep the blog updated. I just keep letting life get in the way!

It’s a new year and a cold season. The garden has had many set backs due to the weather. The root crops refused to grow in January like they usually do. We missed planting dates for many things due to impending freezes. And not just any freezes – we got down to 12°F. BUT, we persevered and things really haven’t been all that bad. After a long CSA and farmers market hiatus, we’ve started selling at the Bastrop 1832 Farmers Market. We love the atmosphere and the people there. Plus it’s inside so rain or shine, we have veggies for sale!

We are also providing a once-a-month veggie basket to 25 customers in a San Antonio food co-op. We’ve not done something like that and it’s been a bit daunting in planning since we are more used to weekly schedules. But winter vegetables are easier since many of them can be left alone until ready to harvest – unlike tomatoes, corn, eggplant, etc that HAS to be harvested when ripe. This last week we wiped out all the cabbage in the garden to provide them with some of best ones we’ve grown in a while!

cabbages

We are catching up on spring planting and should have plenty of vegetables for the months to come. Our seedhouse is nice and warm and protecting all the plants that will be going in over the following weeks. If the weather will just cooperate we will have a wonderful season!

There are lots of baby goats on the way! Shellie, Maxi, Rabbit, Matilda, Charlotte and Bianca are all pregnant. Did I forget anyone? Bianca is due first – on February 19. Goats have a narrower range of birthing dates than human do – just about 10 days long. So we will be on watch duty this coming Friday. Hmmm, reminds me I was on watch duty just a little less than 4 years ago when my own time came. Serves me right – my mom was helping a difficult triplet birth the day I was due. Good thing I was late…I’ll blame my late blog posts on my birth setting the stage for being tardy in all things in life.

We are also picking up a new boyfriend for our “woolies” soon (see last post about trailer woes…still not fixed that so can’t pick him up just yet!). We traded for two angora goats last year and have yet to breed them. We don’t really want Alpine-Angora crosses and haven’t had a good Angora buck show up until now. He’s a beauty – name’s ‘Herne’ but we thought the seller said ‘Herme’ so I’ve already renamed him ‘Hermes’ in my head. The woolie girls are both pure white but Hermes is black/dark grey. Can’t wait to play with colored mohair. Guess I should be playing with the white mohair we already have. If only I had the time…

herne

Expect more to come soon. I’ve been working on some delicious winter vegetable recipes I want to share. Our Facebook page should be getting photos more often and hopefully we will have a finalized farm logo soon. We are very close, just a few details to iron out!

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Nov

04
2013

Trailer woes

Marissa     Farm Happenings         2    

A few weeks ago, we set off to drop off some goats and pick up a few others (mainly a new stinky buck). We hooked up our old but trusty one-horse trailer to the truck and set out on the long voyage. Got there, made the exchange and all was well. On the way back however, things were different. I was drifting off in the back seat when I heard “what’s happening?!?! I see sparks!!!” I whip my head around just in time to see the trailer dangerously lurch to one side while a tire goes flying down the highway behind it. Uh oh.

Pa pulls over as fast but safely as he can. We are on a speedy highway over an hour from the farm. Everything is wet so we were lucky to that the ditch we pulled off in wasn’t completely full of water, just mostly full…

trailer_highway

We quickly ascertained the problem. The tire fell off. Well, we knew that before even getting out but we learned why.It wasn’t the typical bonehead move of not tightened the lug nuts. No, the entire wheel assembly was gone, just a spindle lay exposed. Pa touched it and scorched his finger! It was almost red hot and was badly bent and chewed up. The bearing had disintegrated along the shaft and slowly the wheel had worked itself lose, all along rubbing metal on metal.

trailer_spindle

We abandoned the trailer, tying the goats into the bed of the truck. What a mess. I rode sitting backward watching them the whole time while we took back roads all the way home so we didn’t need to go 70 mph. We nearly left the trailer on the side of the highway for good, to be picked up by a junker and never seen again. It’s light enough that it doesn’t need any licensing, therefore untraceable to us. But alas, Pa went back in a few days and winched it up on a flat bed trailer to bring it home.

Meanwhile, there was another goat delivery that needed to happen! Fortunately, the owner of the buck we wanted to lease was nice enough to let us borrow her trailer. The new stinky buck came home and all was well. That is, until it started to rain.

Much of our farm is in the 100 year flood plain. Too bad it floods every year. Well, this week happened to be flooding time and our borrowed trailer was parked in one of the lowest spots on the property! Why?!? As if we never learn a lesson. The waters were nearly up to the round red reflector on the top of the trailer.

trailer_anne

Once the flood waters receded, we wanted the trailer out and fixed up as soon as possible. It was in a spot that could stay a swamp for weeks. We got Oscar, the tractor, to put him to the task. I never get much practice driving the thing so I hopped on board while Pa manned the ropes to pull it out. We had to keep shortening the rope as this was in the woods and there was not much maneuvering room. I had about 10 feet to back in to and about 5 feet of side to side movement.

trailer_tractor

We finally got the trailer pulled out of the swamp and far enough away that the tractor could be hooked up on front and pull it through the gate. One problem. I had literally backed myself into a corner. There wasn’t quite enough room on either side of the trailer to get around. That had been the plan but things didn’t go quite right in the slipping mud. We decided on a bold plan on using my rusty tractor skills to back through the narrowest gap of trees I thought it could fit through. Both back tires rubbed trunks and a small tree had to be pushed out of the way of the bucket as I squeezed through. Phew.

trailer_discuss

I got Oscar positioned in front of the trailer and we hitched it up. There was a brief pow wow on how tight of a turn I could make without it jack-knifing, which Pa said wouldn’t happen. One near jack-knife later, we got everything pointed in the right direction and got the trailer on the high ground.

So. We apparently aren’t very good about trailer ownership. Sigh.

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Aug

06
2013

Usual busy week

Marissa     Farm Happenings         3    

This week was kind of the usual farm bustle. We were nursing a sick goat – he had urinary calculi (bladder stones) – and things were rough. It is not easy to treat in male goats and we did end up losing Beau. Willa spent a lot of time next to the “hospital pen” in her little yellow chair. When we weren’t out there, they was usually one of Beau’s buddies laying down next to him keeping him company. Seems like everybody loved Beau. Sometimes the circle of life sucks.

Speaking of which, the bobcat is back! Several weeks ago 2 of our nearly 70 ducks didn’t come home to be put up for the night. We searched but to no avail. We thought it was a freak occurrence but it happened again Saturday night. Very strange that they were disappearing in twos. The next day Leslie caught a bobcat with a guinea in his claws! She chased it and the bobcat fled, leaving the guinea missing a few feathers but no worse for the wear. Sigh. It starts again!

In more pleasant news, I’ve started working in the cheese kitchen more this past month. It’s been quite a while since I was the regular dairy maid on the farm. We took cheese classes at Homestead Heritage years ago and I’ve worked on developing my own recipes that are particular to goat milk and the supplies we have readily available. But then I handed off much of the cheese making to others while I was busy having kids. But I missed it and now I’m getting back to it. I’ve already put up my feta recipe, which I’ve made several times this summer. But this weekend I went for the sweet stuff – cajeta! That’s Mexican caramel made from goat milk in case you haven’t heard of it. And if you haven’t, find yourself some cajeta and try it! Delicious. So I spent several hours turning this:

Into this:

So good! I’ve not been as good lately about taking pictures since I’ve usually got one kid balanced on a hip while working but I’ll get a recipe up sometime. There were occasions when I had both hands free though. Mexia loves to help and wanted to do the dishes with me!

While I’ve been busy in the cheese kitchen, the garden has been taking a beating from the heat. Most of the tomatoes and cucumbers have stopped producing. But eggplant, okra and cowpeas are going bonanza! I’m learning new ways to prepare all three. I’ve got lots of tasty recipes in store for you guys…and most of it is fried, so you know it’s good!

3 comments

Jul

23
2013

13 months later

Marissa     Farm Happenings, General         3    

Well folks, it’s been a long time since I’ve been active on the blog. For those of you who may just be tuning in for the first time, let me introduce myself a bit. I’m Marissa, the daughter of Scott and Stephanie who own Sand Holler Farm. While I live in Austin (with my husband and two girls, 1 and 3), I spend a lot of my free time on the farm, doing farm business from home, or cooking with farm food. So I started this blog to keep our customers informed about the fun happenings around the farm. While we no longer have our CSA running, I do hope there are still folks interested in the place. So I hope to get back into things and have some regular posts!

So what has happened in the last year since I posted? Last year we bought the land next door. The original owner of our land actually had both pieces and he subdivided. The new owner next door had never improved the land, just pastured his horses there. So we purchased it and have been fixing it up. The front few acres are grass but the rest is woods, with one big “tank” (that’s Texas talk for a pond). It’s not in great shape, but we have been digging it out when it goes dry.

Another fun part about owning that land is that the horses stayed! They aren’t our horses. So we get to give them treats and pet them but don’t have to worry about any of their care or maintenance. It’s a great deal if you ask me. Doc and Red have grown quite accustomed to us and always come over to see if we’ve brought them anything.

Last fall I finally experimented with making jelly from the hibiscus plants. I have a whole post ready and waiting for that one, so I’ll just tease you with a picture of the final product. Delicious!

For Thanksgiving, we had a huge supper at the farm. I believe we had 30 people. I made a pledge to use ALL local products and we managed to stick to that. All the veggies and meat came either from our farm or nearby places. It was a wonderful feeling and a scrumptious meal. The “cranberry” relish was actually hibiscus. Perfect substitute!

Unfortunately, not all went smoothly over the last year. A bobcat moved into the area. Or rather, he had probably been there for a while – I’ve read they can have a HUGE range – and only discovered our ‘easy pickings’ when wild food became scarce. We had a mobile chicken coop that moved around the front pastures. The number of chickens kept dwindling but we couldn’t figure out what was going on because it was happening during the day and very few predators come out then. But Jeremy watched as a bobcat waltzed across the field and snatched a chicken, racing back to the woods once Jeremy started yelling and chasing. We spent a lot of time trying to prevent more attacks – cutting the grass and bushes back so the bobcat couldn’t hide, moving the mobile chickens into the permanent chicken coop which is farther from the “bobcat forest” as we began to call that side of the farm. But the chickens continued to frequent the compost piles which were practically under the trees. We lost our dear rooster Percy one afternoon and finally had enough.

The front pasture is entirely fenced from the woods and most of the fence line is away from the trees. The bobcat could easily scale the fence, it’s just that there is no cover in the pasture. But by the compost pile, there are trees on the pasture side of the fence. So we had to erect more fences to keep the chickens from going back there. Don’t worry, they now have their own small compost pile of food scraps in the coop! I think we lost nearly a dozen chickens before the bobcat was deterred enough to find easier hunting grounds.

We transitioned to another onsite farm couple. We have live-in managers that take care of the place and usually do the business side of things so they can earn an income. We have a new wonderful couple at the farm – Kevin and Leslie. They are quickly learning the ropes and the garden is producing some yummy vegetables.

I’ll be around to post more on things that happened earlier this year as well as what we are currently doing. It’s good to be back! And just so you don’t think I’ve been taking the last year off just because I wasn’t blogging, here’s the typical scene in my house these days. Sigh.

3 comments

Jun

22
2012

Angora goats!

Marissa     Farm Happenings         1    

We have some more new critters on the farm. We traded one of our Alpine doelings for two woolly angoras! Angora goats produce the fiber called mohair (unlike Angora rabbits which produce…angora!). The two new girls are about the same age as our other goat kids but they are tanks – completely different build than the delicate dairy goats.

Astrid and Tess have adjusted well to their new surroundings. In fact, our oldest kid Chris has a definite crush on Astrid.

I’m convinced it’s her baby blue eyes…check them out!

We’ll shear these goats like we do the sheep and process the fiber into yarn. Eventually. I still have bags and bags of fleece from the last few shearings!

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