Thursday, June 23, 2011

Our Great Hair Sheep!

     We raise Hair Sheep.  Yes sheep without wool, called Katahdin Hair Sheep.  I love these sheep.  They are the easiest sheep I have ever raised.  And I have raised a lot.  In fact I am a handspinner and hand weaver and also a knitter that loves wool.  But raising sheep without brains (the sheep not me!) is not the easiest thing to do. 
    Katahdin Sheep are different; they think, they listen and they obey!   We have had so much fun raising them and are so happy with the hardiness of these sheep.  Being hair sheep means they don't need shearing.  They don't produce lanolin which is what makes their meat, mild tasting.  They are docile and well behaved animals too.

 Katahdin are healthy animals.  They are parasite resistant, and quite vigorious.  This is a big advantage for our farm because we are an Organic Farm. 
  The lambs are up and nursing within minutes after birth.  The care of them being done by their very diligent mothers.
     The Katahdin breed originated at the Piel Farm in north central Maine where Michael Piel was an innovator and amateur geneticist who enjoyed raising livestock.  His first intentions related to establishing a sheep enterprise were to use sheep to graze power lines instead of spraying or mowing the vegetation.  He then developed other ideas on how to employ sheep for land management.  Read more:

     Katahdins are a very popular sheep for small farms and homesteads where mowing isn't an option.  The breed is also good for browsing in woodland and forests.  Adding Katahdin Hair Sheep has been a wonderful blessing to us also for the yield of meat that we can raise organically. Each year we have also sold stock for others to begin raising the breed, and for lamb meat as well.  They thrive in all climates and are found in most or all States. 
Please contact the Katahdin Hair Sheep Assoc.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Our growing green thumb!

     Most of you may know that we are Organic Farmers that sell produce to at our local farmers markets.  We have been a farming family for over twenty five years.  We have grown a lot of food in that 25 years!  Since moving to the Pacific Northwest, we greenhouse grow most of our crops.

The weather here in the Pacific Northwest is very wet!  Besides the rain that hampers our crops, it is also cold and foggy.  We have had many new challenges since relocating from Sunny Southern California!

But the Lord has been faithful to us and has allowed our crops to grow indoors in our three commercial greenhouses. 
We grow 300 plants of tomatoes, many of those heirloom varieties.  We train all of these tomato plants to grow upright.  This allows more air circulation as well as more room in the greenhouses.  We hand prune off every sucker and reduce the number of fruit that each cluster can grow, to three to four.  This gives us bigger and redder tomatoes.  Pruning and training takes many, many hours! 
Beets are some of our favorite plants to grow.  We love how healthful they are and how much our customers like them at the markets.  We grow them in plots of two hundred and harvesting and cleaning them for a market takes a lot of time. 
     We fresh pick all of our produce the day before markets.  Market harvests days are long and we start early in the morning and work late into the night.  All of our produce is washed in very cold water and then packed to stay cold and fresh for markets.  That has always been an important goal for our family.  Keeping produce beautiful has been a great selling point for our farm!

  We sell a lot of greens from our greenhouses.  They are our second biggest crop after tomatoes.  We love fresh salads, and the more varied the greens the more we love our salad.  We put in lettuce in large plots of 1000.  We harvest out the small plants for our baby salad mixes.  These are very popular for their ease, just rinse add dressing and you have a salad.  We love them as well for busy days when harvesting has us out late. 

We also grow a very nice English type of Cucumbers.  We trellis these plants up as well, as you can see in the left hand side of this picture.  They grow up so high that we have to use a picking ladder to reach them.  They are thin skinned and very mild tasting.  Our cucumbers are very popular at the farmers markets as well. 
     Swiss Chard is also very beautiful with a lot of different colored leaves.  These are very nice sauteed with olive oil and fresh grated ginger.  Our Swiss Chard grows year round in the greenhouses.  We replant it each late Spring for new plants with renewed vigor.  Our crops are also rotated to keep our soils healthy.  We use ample compost in our greenhouses.  All our soil being very rich and healthful makes our plants withstand bugs and diseases.  This is a very important aspect to organic farming.  Organic farming isn't just the absence of pesticides, it is the building of soil, rich in microbes that will strengthen the immune systems of the plants.  This gives the delicious flavor that is often missing in conventionally grown food.  We are also careful to increase mineral content in our soils.  Thankfully rainfall doesn't happen inside our greenhouses, but outside the soil does get depleted.  This is another blessing of greenhouse growing.

    Thank you for joining us for a small tour of our farm.  Next time we will return to the animals!         

God bless you all.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Meet some other animals!

     I often write of our goats, but we have other animals too!  I thought I might share with you about a different one each time until you get a chance to meet all of our creatures. 
     We have several cows.  We have two milking cows, a purebred Jersey cow, named Buttercup and a half Jersey half Holstein named Betsey.
     On our farm we also raise dairy heifers.  This makes it much easier for us to keep up with all the milk that two milking cows can give.  It also is nice when we can sell a young heifer for another family to have their own milking cow. 
    We make a lot of dairy products in our home.  A lot of milk gets used for making Kefir each day.  I use a full gallon of fresh milk and mix one cup of kefir from another batch and keep it warm in the oven with the light on.  In 24 hours I have another batch all ready for our family to drink.  I love to mix it with berries and other fruit.  I use Stevia to sweeten it, because it is quite sour.  I also mix special supplements in it for me, like Spirlina, Maca root, MSM powder, and little Pink Salt, also additional whey powder, and flax seed. 
     Our family loves fresh butter as well.  I make fresh butter in large amounts with my electric butter churn.  When we get it made up, we freeze it, for later use.  We also make soft cheeses that we use in place of sour cream in cooking and also to eat with crackers.  I love to add strawberries and sweeten it slightly and add a tiny bit of pink salt and process in the food processor.  Our family loves it!
     Using milk is a wonderful addition to our family farm.  We use milk and whey to feed pigs that we raise.  Chickens also love milk and benefit from the added protein.  Plus we feed calves that we buy from an organic dairy for future milking cows and beef. 
     Whey is a wonderful meat tenderizer, so if you make cheese and then wonder what to do with it, I cook chicken in whey and it is so very moist.  I also use it in bread making and whey is used in a refreshing drink.  Following Sally Fallon's book 'Nourishing Traditions' we make a wonderfully tasting drink with wild blackberries that we have juiced and add a little salt, sugar and whey with water (see her book for exact amounts) and then keep warm in the oven with the light on, and 24 hours later, you have a nourishing drink.
     I just want to encourage everyone in making choices for your family in growing food.  Food for our family is so important and nothing is more exciting than making it from your farm.  Being on a farm is also a fun way of life for children.  Our children have learned many valuable lessons being responsible for animals and their care.  God bless you all :)  Next time we will have our Katahdin Hair sheep to introduce you to.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Our most popular Soap?

     I get asked that question often!  Our most popular bar of soap would have to be our Chocolate/Vanilla Goat's Milk bar.  We add raw Cocoa Butter to this batch, as well as real Cocoa powder, on the chocolate side.  On the Vanilla side; we use raw shea butter and we use real vanilla bean specks for a slight exfoliant effect, also to make it very pretty!
A fun way to photograph our chocolate bars :)

     We make these bars in a very large mold that we then cut with a soap cutter.  We have two batches of soap that we are working with at the same time, so that tends to be tricky!  Timing is very important.  This bar is very nicely scented with a very expensive Vanilla Essential Oil and with the scent of the raw Cocoa Butter.  It is soothing and rich with a nice exotic scent...many times reminding me of fudge!  Though not edible! 

I really like this bar!  I like to dry it in between uses with a paper towel.  And keep it in a dry place such as a soap rack.

     You can find our Chocolate Vanilla Goat's Milk bar here

     We are offering a special discount if you order a bar of Chocolate Vanilla in your order and use code of "blogoffer"  We will discount your whole order by 15% good through the end of June.  And just one coupon code per order please!
    May your day be blessed :) 
Victorian Rose Soap Co.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

We have a Cute new.....

     A cute new herdsire...well he doesn't look very much like a herdsire right now, but he will soon.  Finley's Final Fortune, joined our farm.  We are so thankful to have his great lines in our herd and look forward to seeing how he will improve our does. 
     He is from the same great breeding lines as our previous buck, only removed enough to keep our lines free from inbreeding.  He is a very handsome Nubian with a great head, and a wonderful topline!  And lots of SPOTS! :)  We love the spots!
                       Finley's Final Fortune at his home before leaving with his mother; Mahogany
                        More pictures to come as soon as he adjusts to our farm. 
     Goats are sensitive animals, and adjusting them can be difficult.  I like to add some extra plant enzymes to their diet as well as probiotics to aid in their natural digestion.  This helps make the changes to their diet and even to their water less stressful.
    We have several new giveaways lined up,  check out our facebook page to see where our next giveaway contest is.  We hope that you are blessed by hearing about our farm and our animals. 

The righteous care for the needs of their animals, Proverbs 12:10 (a)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

A lovely display of our soaps

     We recently had an amazing review of our soaps.  We were so excited about the creativity that Carolyn Aiken brought to our soap business.  We are so thankful for each of the people that God has brought into our lives for encouraging us to make soaps and to work at it as unto Him!

     Many times throughout our new endeavor we have faced times of discouragement, though each time we have found some new and exciting gift that the Lord would send to us. 
     Adding a new business to an already busy farming family can be tough.  We have many responsiblities that take a lot of time, energy, and care.  Although making soap tends to be an wonderful outlet for my creative side, it also takes work that may need to be somewhere else.  Many times we have had to have extra help with a little curious two year old that wants to see what Mama is up to.  Or to have a third hand for stirring in an essential oil that has to go in at just the exact time.   
    Soapmaking is filled with the "just rights".  That is that it is just right to add and if you were to pause, it could result in failure for an entire batch.  This mistake would be costly as well as disheartening.  Thankfully having many hands does make light work.  So whether we are in the soap room or out in the greenhouse, we are many hands making work light! 
photos courtesy of Carolyn Aiken