A Fiber Farm Blog

Archive for the ‘Farm Life’ Category

Early Spring on the Farm

daffodil

We are preparing for spring on the farm and it is a crazy, busy time!  It was an unusual winter here……..warm and dry, with only a couple of inches of snow all winter.  We finally got some rain this past week and are anticipating more this week.  Hopefully we are coming out of this dry spell.  With so much going on around here, I will try my best to keep you updated.

Garden

I got my spring garden planted last week.  Jeff had the garden all tilled and generously spread with alpaca poop.  I planted turnips, beets, spinach, lettuce, onions, carrots and tons of radishes.  There is nothing better than fresh radishes, right out of the garden!  As I was planting, I kept my eye on a slow-moving rain storm coming from the southwest.  Usually my timing isn’t that great, but this year I was able to get that garden in right before the rain kicked in.  We received some badly needed moisture.  My garden and I were thankful!

Strawberry Patch

We have had Strawberry Patch issues over the last few years.  We have tried several different ways to grow strawberries and it seems like we just end up with a big, unruly, out of control weed patch (and, if we were lucky, maybe a couple of ripe strawberries that weren’t rotten, mashed or had been stepped on).  I had strawberries at our first house and it didn’t seem that hard, but here, I don’t know, it has just been a mess.  True, we have had a couple of bad years, no rain at all one spring, then the next, so much rain that what berries we had rotted before we could get to them.  I have had a plan to build a “better” strawberry patch so we are going to give it a try this year.  Last week, Jeff tilled up an area for my patch and placed concrete blocks around for edging.  We ended up with an area of about 2 feet by 20 feet.  It’s not the prettiest thing, but I’m hoping it will be functional.   It is a little early here to purchase strawberries so I am watching for sales and will hopefully have them planted in a few weeks.  My hope is that with my new patch, 1) the strawberries will be controlled and kept within the blocks and, 2) I will be able to weed and pick strawberries without having to walk through the patch itself.  We will see how it works out.  If I can finally get a successful, easy to maintain patch going, we will probably build another one and get it started next year.  I will keep you posted!

Strawberry Patch

Orchard

I am very excited to announce that we will be starting a small orchard on our property.  We have purchased 10 fruit trees that are packaged so that they are good for our location and good for cross pollination.  They should be delivered by the end of this week and we are expecting 3 apple trees, 2 peach trees, 2 pear trees, 2 plum trees and 1 cherry tree.  Since we have a very busy weekend ahead of us, we decided to go ahead and start preparing the holes this past Sunday.  It took a lot of time preparing 10 holes on Sunday afternoon so we were glad that part of the job is out of the way.  We are expecting more rain this week, so also didn’t want to take the chance that it would be too wet to dig.  We want to get the trees in the ground as quickly as possible once they arrive.

MOPACA Show

I am preparing for the MOPACA show this weekend.  The show will be at Hale Arena in Kansas City this weekend and will have lots of alpacas, vendors, fiber and some great competition in the show ring.  We will be one of the vendors and since this is one of the bigger shows we do and with it pretty much being our first show of the year, there is lots of prep work to be done.  I will be setting up for the show on Friday and the show and vendor booths will be open both Saturday and Sunday.

This is just a bit of what we have accomplished the past week and what we have in the works for the farm this year.  Next week, I will update you on how the spring garden is doing, if I’ve found any strawberry plants, the progress of our little Orchard and the MOPACA Show in Kansas City.   Until then, enjoy some other pictures of Early Spring on the Farm!

 

Fall Farm Day – September 25th

Sweet 9

Are you Coming?

Imagine

We’re waiting for you!

Bella at Pond 1

And watching for you.

Donks 1

We’re discussing and making plans.

Sweet 1

And promise to be on our best behavior.

Because Parsons’ Prairie Farm’s 2016 Fall Farm Day is almost here!

Last year we were so busy and had so much going on that we decided to cancel Fall Farm Day………a decision we regretted almost from the minute it was made.  We so missed opening up the farm to visitors, meeting new friends and the enjoyment of sharing our farm with others.  I vowed we would not miss a Fall Farm Day again!   So come on out to the farm on Sunday afternoon, September 25th and see what we are all about.  Learn about the alpacas and the fiber they produce.  Shop the farm store for handspun yarns and hand dyed yarns, rovings and craft felts.  Start your Holiday shopping early by browsing our selection of alpaca socks, hats and gloves as well as hand made soaps, made right on the farm!  Try your luck at fishing in the farm pond, gather eggs in the hen house or just sit, relax and enjoy the farm day refreshments.

Things to keep in mind:

So far, every year that we have held Fall Farm Day we have been blessed with perfect weather!  But we will hold the 2016 Fall Farm Day rain or shine, so come prepared for the weather.  If the weather is nice, we will open the front female alpaca pasture so you can move among the alpacas.  If it rains, we will figure out a way that visitors can view the alpacas close up and stay dry at the same time.  In any kind of weather though, if you want to move among the alpacas, make sure to wear poop-proof footwear!

We would like to invite you to try your luck at fishing in our farm pond.  We will mow down to the north pond (you will be able to drive down there if you wish) and will mow around the pond.  Bring a pole, bait, a chair and bug spray to make your experience more enjoyable.  Of course, all children must be accompanied by an adult.

We want your visit to be enjoyable.  Feel free to wander the property and take all the pictures you want.  If you find a nice, out of the way place to relax and enjoy the farm, please feel free to do so.  Poke your head into the hay barn and look for the many (too many) barn cats that call the farm home.  Check out the fruit trees, berry bushes and grapevines in the back yard.  Whatever you choose to do, enjoy your farm visit!

Farm Day No Pets Policy – please do not bring your pets to Farm Day.  We currently only have one dog, our livestock guardian dog, Bella on the farm.  Bella has a job to do and although she might be visiting with Fall Farm Day guests, she is always alert and ready to defend the alpacas.  Bringing other pets to Farm Days could possibly cause either your animals or ours to be hurt.   We will all have a better experience if all pets are left at home.

Feel free to contact us should you have any questions.  Look forward to seeing you on Fall Farm Days!

Jeff & Kim Overbey

 

Bella & Kitten Update

It is time I gave you an update on Bella and the kittens.  First…..Bella.  She went to both the vet for her annual checkup and to the groomer last week, so for her, it was a great week.  She weighed in at 93 pounds!  The vet said she was a healthy girl and at the perfect weight.  It was a very hot day and she enjoyed plopping down on the cool, tile floor at the office.  A few days later she spent the day at her grooming appointment.  She seemed to enjoy that day as well, another hot day spent inside.  When she got home she looked and smelled so nice that she got to spend an hour or so in the air conditioning with me.

Groomed Bella

And the 3 kittens……wow have they grown!  They are 4 weeks old now.  In a couple of weeks I will be looking for a good home for them.

Larry 1

Curly 1

Moe 1

Are they not the cutest things you have ever seen???

 

 

Surprise Kittens

We’ve had a bit of a barn kitten explosion on the farm lately and knew it was way past time to do something about it.  We had plans to take both Knit and Purl to the vet this morning to be spayed.  Knit had kittens about 6 weeks ago and Purl was too young (or so we thought) to have kittens yet.  We gathered up both cats over the weekend and put them in a dog crate so that they would be ready to go to the vet.  What a surprise I had this morning when I found that Purl had 3 new kittens in the crate.  We went ahead and took Knit in, she had her surgery and is recovering nicely.  Purl got a reprive for 6 weeks to raise her kittens.  Purl has hardly ever been handled and is pretty wild so we decided to keep her in the crate and eventually on the screened in porch so we can catch her again when we need to.  She can raise her babies there.  The good news about all this is that I can finally watch a litter of kittens grow.  Knit always hid her babies among the hay bales and you never saw them until they were up and moving around on their own.  This will be fun to watch and I want to share the experience with you.  Purl is not a happy camper in the crate right now but she seems to be a good mom and handling the kittens well.  She is very protective.  I didn’t get the best pictures as I was trying to take them through the bars of the crate, but here  you go:

Day 1:  3 kittens; 1 yellow, 1 black & white, 1 mostly white with some black

Kittens 2

Kitten 1

 

Balto

For many reasons, I need to get back to blogging! But there is an important post that I must do first, and to be very honest, I have been putting it off. We lost our livestock guardian dog, Balto, last November and I just haven’t had the heart to blog about it. We are moving on here at the farm and there are a lot of exciting things happening so I need to get this done. I really haven’t been able to talk about him to date, but I owe it to Balto to let everyone know how much we loved him, how much we miss him and how much we regret that we let him down.

Balto
October 5, 2012 – November 9, 2014

Sweet Balto 2

We lost our beautiful Balto on November 9, 2014. He ran out in front of a pickup, was hit and killed pretty much instantly. The couple that hit him (or maybe I should say, Balto hit them) were wonderful, stopped and checked to see if there was anything they could do and then notified us immediately. While it was all so very sad, it was a comfort being able to be with Balto during his last few minutes and to be able to bring him home afterward. He is buried alongside Daisy and a few of our alpacas in a shady spot in the back pasture.

Balto was an amazing livestock guardian dog. He stayed beside a sick cria for days even though all the alpacas had by instinct “given up” on the little one. He slept beside a young weanling when he was moved over to the “big boys pasture” and let poor little Nillie the cat curl up on his blanket the night she passed. I’ve never seen a dog that could size up a situation with other animals so fast and seem to know if it was best to come up close and protect or respectfully watch from afar. We all terribly miss his presence in the pasture……comforting, protective and vigilant.

Balto & Cria 1

Balto & New Cria

Balto loved people as much as he loved animals and took his job very seriously. I think Balto felt it was his job to befriend and protect the world. He knew no boundaries, had no prejudices and I doubt thought twice about going under a fence, over a fence, squeezing through a gate, dodging through barbed wire or crossing a busy road just to visit a friend. No matter how many ways we tried to keep Balto in, he always eventually found a way out. He was smart, much more agile than his size would indicate and very, very strong.

Balto meets Duck

I have loved every dog I have ever owned to distraction, but Balto will always, always have a special place in my heart. He taught me about big, beautiful and loyal Great Pyrenees dogs and I can’t ever imagine not having one in my life and on my farm. He had the most beautiful, soulful brown eyes and I swear when you looked into them you could see right to his big heart. I will always regret that we didn’t try one more thing to keep him home and safe.

Balto, we miss you still and we are so, so sorry we let you down.

May 2nd, Really?????

Well it is May 2nd in Kearney, MO and it is snowing!  The wind is howling and the temperature is hovering near freezing.  We have had a cold rain all day and is just now turning over to snow.  We expect a measurable snow by morning.  After the horrible drought we have had over the last year, I swore I would not complain.  So all the moisture of late has been wonderful.  But I do wonder about my strawberry patch, cherry and pear trees that have just bloomed.  Will I ever get my garden in this year??

May 1

May 2

Easter Ham & Nesting Balls

I’m sure you’re wondering what Easter Ham and Nesting Balls have in common.  Well here goes…….I baked my Easter ham today.  I know I am a week early but since baked ham is one of Matthew’s favorites, I wanted to prepare it for him before he headed off back to school.  He has been home on spring break from K-State and since he has to be back tomorrow, will not be coming home for Easter Sunday.  The rest of the family will get to enjoy my mother-in-law’s Easter Ham next Sunday as well!  Can’t beat that!  Baked ham two weeks in a row!

So while I was preparing the ham, I pulled this netting off and immediately thought…….Nesting Balls! 

Ham Netting

Birds love to use fibers to weave into their nests.  Often times I just leave some fiber out in the yard for the birds to pick up and use.  But if I can, I make a nesting ball.  This way, the fiber is contained, the birds can pull out what they want to use, and since the nesting ball is hanging up high, the birds are much safer from predetors.  So, here is how I make a nesting ball.

Sew up Side

I had to take a minute to sew up the side of my bag.  If I had been more careful and planned ahead a little bit, I would have just slid the ham out of the bag.  But this time I cut the netting down the side.  So I took a nice long length of cotton cord and wove in and out securing the side.  Keep in mind that the bag your ham came in may be quite large.  I sewed only about half way up the bag and still had quite a large nesting ball.  When you get as far up as you want to go, secure the cord to the netting with a knot.  Leave the cord on so you can use it later on.  Now, if you have a netted bag that has not been cut, you can skip this step and go on to gathering your fiber.

Fiber

Next I selected the fiber for my nesting ball.  The fiber I use is far less from perfect fiber.  It is the fiber I can’t use for much else.  Trust me, it will be perfect for your nesting ball and the birds will love it.

Fiber in Netting

Fill up your net bag with the fiber.

Wove Opening

Now take the cotton cord that was left over and weave around the top of your netting.

Pull it tightly

Pull it tight and secure.  Clip off any of the extra netting at the top.  Clip off any extra length of cord.

Top to Bottom

The top is now the bottom and the bottom is now the top!  I flipped my nesting ball over because I loved the already made handle and wanted it at the top.

Help the Birds

Next, I decided to help get the birds started by pulling out a little bit of the fiber.  Trust me, by the time the birds really start working on their nests, it will have fiber sticking out of every single hole!

Hang in Tree

Treat for Birds

As you can see, today doesn’t look like the best day for building a nest!  But the new nesting ball is up and ready for Spring when it finally arrives!