Monday, July 26, 2010

Little Feet Farm: The Name

So, why is our farm called Little Feet Farm? When we first moved to Tennessee I use to baby-sit a little four-year-old girl and her baby sister. One day the four-year-old spent all day talking about going to the “Little Feet Café.” Being new to town I figured that it was some sort of restaurant. However, when her mother arrived I learned the story behind the, “Little Feet Café.” Apparently the little girl’s grandmother, who had four or five other grandchildren, lived on the other side of town and was within driving distance from all of her grandchildren.

In an attempt to spend quality time with the grandkids and give the parents a break, this grandmother kept all the children at her house on Thursdays or would pick them up from school. After school let out for the older ones, this grandmother would bring all of the kids in her kitchen, which she called, “Little Feet Café” (In honor of all her little grandchildren) and would teach them how to prepare a dinner. They all got to help, learn, share and eat together. It was quality time spent together and I’m sure all of her grandchildren will be able to look back on all those Thursday evenings in the “Little Feet Café” with fond memories and valuable lessons that they can carry with them.

Just like that little girl’s grandmother, Brian and I want our farm to be about quality time spent with our children. Quality time spent laughing, playing, learning, reading, farming, cooking, and praying. We want our children to grow up and be able to look back on their childhood with fond memories and valuable lessons that they can carry with them. I wanted the name of our farm to represent what we were about, which is why no other name seemed to fit except for “Little Feet Farm.” I also hope to get a sign for my kitchen one day that says, “Little Feet Café.”

Our kids are too young to understand why we do things the way we do them, but hopefully one day we can explain it to them. Hopefully, one day they will appreciate the life that we are trying to create for them. Hopefully, one day our ventures will give them the courage to set out on their our journey and create their own “Little Feet Cafes.”


Sunday, July 25, 2010

What a difference a year makes!

It still amazes me sometimes, how did we end up here? This time last year I was packing up all our belongings, unsure were we would be moving to, and nine months pregnant with Colin. Let me back up a little, to two months before. Everything was going well. We lived in a beautiful home, that we custom built, in a great neighborhood, filled with great neighbors and lots of kids. Brian had a great job with a top Lumber Company and I, a stay-at-home mom, had a growing childcare business, which I ran out of my home. Hannah (our daughter) loved playing with the other kids, and with my new before/after school kids joining the mix, I was on track to be making an extra $1,500/month or more when the following school year started back. Things were going great and we had No intentions of leaving our home or Texas for another 5-7 years.

That all changed one night when Brian came home from work, my mom was in town, so we went out for a very rare date night. Rather than dinner and a movie, we went to a park. Sitting on a bench, overlooking the lake, Brian told me that he was ready to go back home to the southeast. He had no idea how we were going to do this, no job transfer was lined up, no houses in our neighborhood were selling, no clue how to make this happen. We figured this was more of a long-term goal. We prayed and decided that we would just leave it up to God. His timing, his location, whatever was meant to be will happen, when the time was right. So that is how we left it.
We got the ball rolling, but realized that it would take a miracle to actually make this happen. Every card was stacked against us. Two realtors told us we would have to pay a Lot of money at closing to sell our house, no job transfers were available, three houses, all next door to us, have been on the market for over a year with no offers, oh and I was pregnant with Colin.

We just prayed, honestly that’s about all we could do. One by one things started to happen. We found a realtor, a great realtor, who said that she Could sell our house and she could do it without us paying anything at closing. We got an offer, but with a very heavy heart we had to decline it because we still had no job transfer. Would we get another offer? Yes! We got another offer, but it was for less than we needed. This went on and on, each time we wanted to accept the offer, but something just didn’t work. Four different couples made offers and counter-offers and after only five weeks on the market, we sold our house for Full asking price! Our neighbors were shocked, to say the least! (we lived in a cookie-cutter neighborhood, so it didn’t make sense to us either). We sold our house, but with only four weeks until Colin was due we still had no where to move to. Brian’s company had agreed to help him get a transfer back to the southeast, we just didn’t have a location yet. So we started packing.

One week before Colin was due Brian got a call to come to Morristown, TN for a job interview within the company. He flew out on Friday morning (Colin was due on Sunday) and flew back that night with a job! What a relief! Four weeks after Colin was born we packed up the U-haul (which Brian’s Uncle Jerry thankfully drove), our dog, a one-month old (Colin), and our 22-month old (Hannah) and headed to Tennessee!
We loved living in Tennessee, but after only six months in a rental house we decided we wanted to move to the country and start a farm. Which brings us here. So, now we live in the middle of nowhere, with no T.V.. We spend our nights moving cows and chickens or just talking.

The no T.V. thing started as an attempt to have one free summer on the farm enjoying nature, rather than just watching T.V., but much to our surprise we found that we LOVE not having the T.V.! The kids don’t miss it and honestly Brian and I don’t either. It is definitely going to be a permanent change in our house, so sorry for any people who come to visit who may have an issue with that.

It fun to see life as an adventure! I think when you follow your heart and really listen to where God is leading you it’s amazing the places you will go! Brian and I love Tennessee, we love farming and we both feel very strongly that this is exactly where God wants us to be right now. I have a very strong feeling that this is the beginning of something bigger than I can imagine right now, bigger than our little five acre mini-farm. I don’t know what the future holds for us and our farming venture, but it is a very exciting time in our family. If things can change so drastically in one year, I wonder what next year will be like? I guess we will have to wait and see.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

My cows go to the beach every day

Now that is just crazy talk right? The nearest beach is a good 6 hour drive from here. So in the physical sense this statement is crazy talk but what my cows do get is that miracle vitamin called Kelp meal. What the heck is kelp meal?

Kelp is the green stuff in the picture above. It hangs out in the oceans of the world and grabs nutrients out of the sea. Those nutrients are stored into these wonderful plants until they are harvested by kelp farmers!! They then air dry the kelp and grind it up. That leaves the kelp meal that the cows can gobble up. on average they will eat about 1 oz of kelp meal per animal. Why not just give them grass you ask? Well the simple answer is kelp meal is like the cattle version on Veema (a multivitamin). Just like us cows are picky eaters and left to their own accord they would only eat the junk food grass on pasture. So what we are able to do is supplement their diet with this kelp meal that is kept out on pasture with them. They can eat as much or as little as they need b/c it is fed buffet style. The nice thing about kelp is that is is super high in iodine so it helps the animals avoid getting pinkeye disease. When you pour it out it smells just like the ocean so it makes me think of the beach every time I am in the field near the mineral feeder.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Garden

Back row: Broccoli, Carrot, Spinach

Third Row: Bell Peppers

Second Row: Tomato, Squash, basil

Front row: Watermelon, okra, pumpkin, cantelope

A little late in the year but we got a small garden in. Most of the plants we had to buy from a nursery b/c it was too late to grown from seed. We were able to seed the squash, broccoli, carrots, spinach, and pumpkins. This year is definitely a trial run. We really just wanted to get a little bit in the ground to see what would grow and how we can improve. We are already making plans to have a compost pile.

We also bought a couple of Raspberry bushes (Red Latham) and blueberry bushes (Top Hat), and a seedless grape vine. Next spring we will be planting some fruit trees.

Friday, July 2, 2010

The chicks are outside!!

Well, the next step on the road to farm fresh eggs was achieved today when we moved our hens from the living room out into their new home on the range. At two weeks and 5 days old the decision was made that our furry friends just had to get out of the house. The pack-N-Play which they had called home for so long was now becoming a place to practice acrobatics. They learned that they could fly the other day and would frequent the top of the pack n play. Left to their own devices all was well, but when a toddler or dog would get close wings would fly and chicks would end up out of their pen and on the run. Needless to say, I about fell out of my chair at work when I read an e-mail from my exacerbated wife exclaiming that she had been chasing chicks around the living room for the better part of the afternoon and that they were getting moved as soon as I got home!

The art of the chicken move. Getting these little fellows has been quite an experience. thanks to the good folks at we were able to place an order for 15 White Plymouth Rocks. Why those you ask? Well rumor (and the Internet) has it that these chickens are pretty good around kids and that they were excellent foragers. So are we "free ranging our chicks?. The answer is no, but they are getting moved on a daily basis. At 2 weeks old they are way too small to be left to their own accord out on the farm. While I have yet to see any predators, besides one hawk, I don't want to risk it. So what I did instead is create a system where their nesting box and fenced in area is moved on a daily basis to fresh grass. The bottom of the pen is wide open so they can frolic to and fro and eat bugs. The chicks aren't herbivores so we still give them a bit of chick feed from the local co-op. Knock on wood we haven't lost a single one yet, we have actually gained one!! I kept counting 16 but my wife called me crazy. Today we had to do a long move and collected them all in a box. Low and behold we had 16 chicks!!

Why put the chicks out on pasture? We are firm believers that God has provided the blueprint if we just read it. If you look at nature you can see countless times that the birds would follow after the migrating herds. They did this to help sanitize the area just vacated by all those herbivores. Anyone who has been thru a cow pasture knows to tread lightly or pay the smelly consequences. What our birds will be doing is going behind and eating the bugs that remain after the cows have left a paddock. This will greatly reduce the amount of flies around the cows (a real problem, as any cattle farmer can attest.) The flies are such a problem in fact that all of these great chemicals have been created to deal with the issue but again the flies adapt. Well it's kinda hard to adapt to a hungry hen coming up and plucking you out of your home. It is quite a joy to hear them cackle as the pen gets moved. they are starting to figure out that the moving is a good thing and cluck with delight at the sight of me or Logan.

This is probably one of the few things that any suburbanite can do. I will post a picture of the chicken coop tomorrow but the fact that it can be moved allows for your grass to get fertilized and your neighbors to not be overrun by chickens. they are confined to a space but still given new food source on a daily basis. For any farmer looking to make a profit, he will see his feed bill cut by 70%. The old school model of a stationary chicken house and a yard devoid of vegetation is just that, old. The new model of confinement chicken raising is just wrong (speaking from experience on that one). So go out to your local hardware store or go on craigslist and get a portable coop (about $200). Also, for the brave gardener, you could run the chickens in between rows to debug, but make sure you don't leave them on any one spot more than a day.