Monday, January 10, 2011

The Return of Stella and Guido

Stella and Guido, our beloved mother and son donkey pair, have just returned from vacation. They summered in the Ozarks, on the pasture of a family friend.

Stella came to us when she was three years old. We were looking for a donkey and because of sudden medical issues, our friend Diane was having trouble keeping up with hers. Stella was offered to us as a livestock guardian with the caveat that she was pregnant. The followind summer, Stella gave birth to Guido, a fine little standard size jack who was the first baby born on the Rook Farm. The pair are wonderful, if a little stubborn. Stella is four this year, and can start working and being ridden. Donkeys aren't "broken" to ride like horses, as they will readily accept a rider. Inspiring them to move and accept direction while on their backs is a bit more of a challenge. All in all, I'm glad we got our long ears back and even more glad that we've begun implementing managed intensive grazing to make another summer vacation unnecessary.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Sunday Farm Video

We'll try to have some new farm video up every weekend this year. This one is just an intro to everything and an explanation of why we have to clean the camera so much. Enjoy.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Rook Farm, or There and Back Again

Winter has us nice and tucked in down on the farm. Things were great in 2010, and we have learned a lot about growing food and serving our customers. I think that this year we'll have fewer customers buying more food instead of many customers buying just a bit. It seems to work well for us, with our best, most loyal customers being rewarded with the first pick of our larder. We'll be back at the Tower Grove Farmers' Market this year, but not until the fall when the harvest becomes ample enough to warrant spreading it around. We had an altogether great year, even though we didn't come close to keeping up with customers' demands.

The new year finds us doing a lot of the same with a few new additions. We've successfully established our breeding groups of American Guinea hogs, Katahdin and Icelandic sheep, Angora goats, Muscovy and Khaki Campbell ducks, Toulouse geese, and our myriad of layer hens in all colors and sizes. In the new year, we plan on establishing a breeding group of Black Spanish turkeys and a hive of Italian honeybees. We also plan to start with currants, raspberries, and strawberries this year.

We also acquired a milk cow this year. Her name is May and she is a seven year old Jersey who is quite the charmer. Larissa is a natural at milking, and I've been making butter and cheese to beat the band. May is dried off right now, but should freshen in summer and be supplying us, our family, and our livestock with delicious, nutritious raw milk.

In short, we learned a lot this year but much of it isn't exactly quantifiable in a simple few paragraphs. I plan on getting more in depth in future posts, and if anyone has ideas or questions, don't hesitate to drop a line.