~Busy Life on the Farm~

Newly shorn sheep in March.

I just realized that the last time I posted here was on March 1!  Talk about time flying by so quickly.  We’ve been busy keeping the farm going.  The sheep were sheared by Clayton in March.  There were 75 in all.

Bred gilts left to right, Shelly, Berry and Lily awaiting the big day!

 

Then we started farrowing the hogs on March 12.  Farrowing did not end until May 7.   There were 32 sows and gilts and the whole process was very time consuming.

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May 18th, Silvana and I got sick of all the work (hee hee) and took off for The Duppong’s Ranch out in North Dakota for a few days.  There was a wedding to attend and some cattle work out there.  It was just what the Dr. ordered for some renewal of the soul!!!  Of course it was great to see Maggie while we were there.  The Duppong’s are always so much fun to spend time with and I love it out there!!! We had fun traveling and stopping into random tiny towns along the way.

Silvana, Sandra, Renae Duppong and Maggie getting ready to move the cattle in for tagging, branding and shots.

 

In between all of this there were a bunch of butcher hogs that were loaded and sold.

Loading hogs first then the fences were all removed and replaced.

 

Lambing started on March 28 and ended on June 6th!!! Bella and I tried to handle most of the lambing as Marisa and Silvana had their hands full with the farrowing.

Ladies in waiting.

The broiler chickens came in early in April and were in the freezer by June 11.  We only did a small group since I still have last years chicken in the freezer.

 

25 broilers fed totally organic thanks to Rick Fonders’s excellent feed!

We started fixing fences on all of the hog pens which had to be replaced due to having become worn out over the years.  As we sold butcher hogs we needed to have things ready for the weanlings.

Replacing old fences.

In the middle of May we received a ton of rain.  We sunk our first poles for the new hog barn on May 26.  That has been keeping us busy.  We’re building a mono slope hog barn which is 120′ by 37′.   The dirt work began earlier in May.

Dirt work began mud and all

In the beginning of June the girls made 5 splits from our bee hives and caught a swarm as well.   As of today there are 17 hives.  They seem to be doing well and so far they’ve added 20 honey supers.  So, we’ll see how that goes.

 

In June we sold a total of 54 lambs right off of the pasture.  They were still with their mothers.  The price was fantastic at $2.40 a pound!!  We sure earned it with all of the running around!  We kept 20 ewe lambs back and there are still quite a few lambs out on pasture that are not weaned yet and will be sold in the next couple of weeks.   There is another group of 5 ewes and their lambs in the barn.  They came in late and we didn’t want to lose them in the heat.

A new mother with her lambs.

 

In need of new blood, we purchased three yearling Targhee Rams for the next season.  They are 240 #’ers and came in for $400 each.  I sure hope they live and are good breeders!

In between all of this we managed to plant two gardens which are in need of more weeding!  Come to think of it, we could use a bunch of rain as well.

There were 2 grandbabies born this year….. Rowland Geppetto Callens and Rafe Tristan Ryland!

Angelica Clayton and Rolland

Clayton, Angelica & Rowland Geppetto.

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Rafe Tristan Ryland, son of Peter and Francesca!

 

 

I’ll be back with some photos of the new building’s progress.  Life is good!

 

 

 

 

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~Bull~

This bull is no longer needed.

This bull is no longer needed.

We have been rearranging our farm for awhile now.  Livestock come and they go as needed.  For now we no longer need a breeding bull so he was sold and headed out to South Dakota for a change of scenery.   With our kids around as well as grandchildren nearby, safety becomes an issue and let’s just say he was getting a bit nasty.  Don’t let his cute face fool you.  There have been people, both young and old, who have been killed by a cute bull.

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One and a half year old bull has done his job on our farm and has headed for a new home.

We are constantly moving livestock around, building pens and fences to accommodate the many changes that take place on a daily basis here.   There have been so many changes since just a year ago!   I wonder if people realize how much management goes into livestock farming?  We are certainly tied down.  It takes planning just to attend special events and sometimes you have to miss out on certain things.  Livestock farming also takes a caring nature towards the animals.  You’d be surprised how much dedication it takes to pull it all off in the end!   You don’t just go out and feed the livestock.

What time is lunch?

What time is lunch?

Observation is over half of raising livestock.   Are the animals eating?  Are they growing? Is their bedding dry and are they comfortable and healthy?  How about the feeders and the water?  Is the water frozen, is it clean?  How full are the feeders and are they working right?  Don’t forget the manure and how it looks, including their tail ends.   Doors need to be opened or shut according to weather and wind.  Are they chewing on their pens?  Do they have plenty of mineral/salt block left and how soon until Fred has to grind more feed?  These are just a few things that have to be observed.  Timing is important as well, especially milking and feeding time. 

Life is good by golly in spite of all the work!

 

 

 

 

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~Blue skies and Bees….~

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The weather here has been almost too warm.  While it’s nice to see the bees outside cleaning up the dead and taking some nice cleansing flights, it’s still a long time until April and plenty of things could go wrong between now and then. Over all they look good so far and we’re hoping for the best!  I’m planning on firing up the outside pizza oven on Sunday since it is supposed to be 62 degrees.

Great weather for grinding up feed for the livestock. From dreary muddy days to blue skies.

Great weather for grinding feed for the livestock. Bring on the blue skies and warm days.

Some of the cattle are excited just before we moved them into the arena.

Some of the cattle were excited to be making the move to the arena.

 

The biddies are out taking a dust bath in the warm afternoon sunshine.

The biddies are out taking a dust bath in the warm afternoon sunshine.

Blue skies over some of our "new" bulk bins.

Blue skies over some of our “new” bulk bins.

These lovely sheep are scheduled for a "hair cut" on March 2! Aren't they lovely?

These lovely sheep are scheduled for a “hair cut” on March 2! Aren’t they lovely?

 

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~Cold, Damp, Muddy, Minnesota Farm~

A muddy and dreary day on the farm.

A muddy and dreary day on the farm.

Our beautiful cherry tree, a casualty of harsh Minnesota winds! Still enjoying our frozen cherries.

Our beautiful cherry tree, a casualty of harsh Minnesota winds! Still enjoying our frozen cherries.

Mario and Fred built 16 A Frame farrowing huts in the cold! Brrrrr

Mario and Fred built 16 A Frame farrowing huts in the cold! Brrrrr

 

The farrowing huts are being used as calf huts for a couple of weeks. They are snug and the calves are doing great.

The farrowing huts are being used as calf huts for a couple of weeks. They are snug and the calves are doing great.

Lonely boar missing the gilts. He tries to stay warm in the hut without the ladies!

Lonely boar missing the gilts. He tries to stay warm in the hut without the ladies!

Happy bred gilts stay warm and cozy snuggled up together in a warm bed of straw. They don't seem to care about the boars do they?

Happy bred gilts stay warm and cozy snuggled up together in a warm bed of straw. They don’t seem to care about the boars do they?

Despite the dreary weather these bred ewes and lambs (75) remain happy and with good appetite. They are due to start lambing April 1.

Despite the dreary weather, these 75 bred ewes and ewe lambs remain happy and with good appetite. They are due to start lambing April 1.

Some of the hives next to the orchard and garden during a long winter.

Some of the hives next to the orchard and garden during a long winter.

 

One good and faithful dog, Rowdy! He and Chief stay up most of the night scaring away the coyotes. A good dog is a blessing!

One good and faithful dog, Rowdy! He and Chief stay up most of the night scaring away the coyotes. A good dog is a blessing!

Hope I didn’t make you too cold seeing all these dreary photos! Work continues on the farm all year long no matter what the weather brings, whether lovely or awful.  I think the key to making it through is coming in to a warm cozy house with plenty of hot food!  Life is good in spite of the weather!  

By the way…if anyone local reads this, we have some nice Jersey steers for sale.   It’s the best tasting beef ever, in my opinion.  calico10@frontiernet.net

 

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~Organic Prairie Hogs Shipping Day~

Here's the bacon ready for shipping to Iowa!

Here’s the bacon ready for shipping to Iowa!

These beautiful Organic Pigs went to market on the 16th of December.  This is the finished product that we strive for.  Of course it was severely cold that morning and it was hard to be out there loading.  The trucker arrived early hoping to beat the expected snow storm.  If you are interested in tasting good pork click on the link :

http://www.organicprairie.com/prod_detail_list/organic_pork

There’s quite a good selection of great tasting pork products!

Fred, Bella and Mario getting gates ready.

Fred, Bella and Mario getting gates ready.

Marisa and Silvana working out in the cold.

Marisa and Silvana working out in the cold.

Sorting the largest hogs for market.

Sorting the largest hogs for market.

There were 30 market ready pigs loaded that morning.  That gives us 13 pigs left from the first farrowing group this past spring.  The next groups will be ready for shipping around March 2017.

Curious Jersey's enjoy the action!

Curious Jersey’s enjoy the action!

All loaded and ready to go to the plant in Iowa.

All loaded and ready to go to the plant in Iowa.

 

Cold Minnesota makes life interesting.

Cold Minnesota makes life interesting.

Iced roof but warm chickens within.

Iced roof but warm chickens within.

From the farm yard to the church choir, time to sing! Merry Christmas at last.

From the cover-alls to the choir loft, Merry Christmas to all!

 

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~Hog Heaven~

Silvana Bella Dad and Marisa working with the Organic hogs!

Silvana Bella Dad and Marisa working with the Organic hogs!

Here we are, down on the Callens Honey Farm.  Our farm life in photos!  Hope you enjoy our busy life which just became a bit harder with these cold temperatures that could freeze an ocean!  I apologize for not having posted for awhile but being busy means we are alive and well…..and that my friends is a good thing!  We now have snow so these photos are a few weeks old.  The weather alert warns that frost bite tonight and tomorrow can occur in less than ten minutes!!!!

Good neighbors like Denny Timmerman make life good by giving the girls an old bin to repair. Works great now and holds Organic Barley!

Good neighbors like Denny Timmerman make life good by giving the girls an old bin to repair. Works great now and holds Organic Barley!

Old Hog slats make for instant mud relief! Fred put these in all over the farm to keep the hogs out of the mud and make driving and walking easier.

Old Hog slats make for instant mud relief! Fred put these in all over the farm to keep the hogs out of the mud and make driving and walking easier.

More hog slats and beef!

More hog slats and beef!

After all....man cannot live on pork alone!!

After all….man cannot live on pork alone!!

One mans junk is another mans treasure! More bins from Denny purchased at a good deal for the girls. This little area is for boars, gilts and sometimes sows that are in between breeding or farrowing.

One mans junk is another mans treasure! More bins from Denny Timmerman purchased at a good deal for the girls. This little area is for boars, gilts and sometimes sows that are in between breeding or farrowing.

Empty farrowing house just before we dismantled the pens for the winter.

Empty farrowing house just before we dismantled the pens for the winter.

These turkeys are happy having lived through Thanksgiving day.

These turkeys are happy having lived through Thanksgiving day.

Organic feed for the hogs stays dry in the Quonset.

Organic feed for the hogs stays dry in the Quonset.

This East facing pen has been given a face lift. Since this photo was taken we now have 20 head of bred gilts in it. Thank God for cement!

This East facing pen has been given a face lift. Since this photo was taken we now have 20 head of bred gilts in it. Thank God for cement!

Anyone working up an appetite yet? You see a hog and I see Polish Sausage.

Anyone working up an appetite yet? You see a hog and I see Polish Sausage.

Oh baby! Home made polish sausage from our own pork! Smoked by my very handsome husband!

Oh baby! Home made polish sausage from our own pork! Smoked by my very handsome husband!

Okay so you don't like Polish sausage? Can I tempt you with our own Summer Sausage? How does 150 pounds sound?

Okay so you don’t like Polish sausage? Can I tempt you with our own Summer Sausage? How does 150 pounds sound?

When we're done with the sausage we'll feast on this Christmas Ham.

When we’re done with the sausage we’ll feast on this Christmas Ham.

This ham tastes as good as it looks! Thank you Alan Ferber for sharing your trade secrets with us!!!

This ham tastes as good as it looks! Thank you Alan Ferber for sharing your trade secrets with us!!!

And then there's the chickens! We picked one of the coldest days last week to put the roosters in the freezer! Looking back tonight I realize that was a heat wave!

And then there’s the chickens! We picked one of the coldest days last week to put the roosters in the freezer! Looking back tonight I realize that was a heat wave!

Feathers be gone!!! Note how they are dressed....so cold.

Feathers be gone!!! Note how they are dressed….so cold.

Okay lets get this straight. We did the hog, steer and then the roosters all in one day. All went well until the deep freeze hit that night. I mean deep, deep freeze. We lived through it and I am packing the new bacon this evening.

Okay lets get this straight. We did the hog, steer and then the roosters all in one day. All went well until the deep freeze hit that night. I mean deep, deep freeze. And….the power went out.  We lived through it and I am packing the new bacon this evening.

Fire Cider is a winter tonic. I made my first batch and it is wicked!!! Thank you Kay for the recipe. I brewed it for a month.

Fire Cider is a winter tonic. I made my first batch and it is wicked!!! Thank you Kay for the recipe. I brewed it for a month.

 

Here is the recipe. The only thing I added was dried elderberries. Using this on the family now to keep them flu free. Wish me luck.

Here is the recipe. The only thing I added was dried elderberries. Using this on the family now to keep them flu free.  Warning….go heavy on the honey!!!!    Wish me luck.

Thanks for stopping by the Callens Farm.  If you don’t hear from me again very soon I just may have frozen to death along with the rest of the family.  Hoping the snow holds off a bit tonight since the girls are loading out 30 Organic Prairie hogs ready for market tomorrow.

A blessed Advent to all and to all a Wonderful Life.  Life is Good by Golly!!

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~Bees~

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The honey harvest this year was good!  We were blessed with a good crop.  Our honey is now being sold in three local stores here in Minnesota…..  Brad’s Market in Minneota, Jim’s Super Value and Moberg Meats in Canby, MN.  We are happy to provide good, pure honey locally. 

Silvana and Marisa

Silvana and Marisa

Silvana

Silvana

Marisa

Marisa

For better or worse, we go into the winter with 22 live hives.  It will take nothing short of a miracle for the bees to survive.   Our hives are not winterized yet.  The Organic Valley hogs have been keeping us busy but hopefully all of the bee work will be finished soon.  Never a dull moment on the Callens Family Farm!! 

Life is good by golly!   Lord have mercy on us and on the whole world!

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