Fall 2020

Hello and welcome to our web site and our farm.  Sorry it has been awhile since I wrote a new piece but here goes.     The summer slipped away really fast after that cold wet start. Things didn’t tolerate that kind of weather very well.  We did have a good calving season and they have really grown.  About 40 altogether.  The turkeys were not so good.  Only have a quarter of them to sell this fall.  Most died within 2 weeks of getting them in July.  Not sure why.  Once turkeys get to be a month or so old they are sturdy but until then they are very fragile.  Put them out to pasture at 8 weeks and they now weigh 15 to 20 pounds and will reach close to 35 by Thanksgiving.  At least the toms will.  The hens will be a little smaller.  They about knock me down when I go to feed them.  Can reach over 3.5 feet to get into the bucket.  Hard to walk with them surrounding you.   Geese and ducks tried mightily to raise some babies but something happened each time before the eggs could hatch.  Better success next year.     The chickens for eating did fair.  Lost a lot of the early groups and thought I lost all 150 this last time.  They live in hoop houses in the field next to the barn and we had that hard wind and rain on September 27.  It caught the hoop house and skidded it over the chickens the sailed it onto the hay bales nearby. I was very glad to see my son and his son come home.  They got on the 4 wheeler and lifted the hoop house off the bales, pulled it back to where the chickens were and sat it over them.  Of course, they were soaking wet and cold. The guys got the torpedo heater from the shop and put it on the chickens.  After an hour or so they began to look more alive but I felt sure we’d lose a couple of dozen or so.  Anyway, we left the heater on them all night and as they got warmer they moved further from it and in the morning there was only ONE dead chickie.  We will process them October 17 and some are sold but not all.     The garden did well for being planted so late.  Have canned much and eaten all the melons we can hold.  Gave many away.     The fall looks promising.  We were able to put up plenty of hay.  The cows and calves are fat. We have sold some of them to people who want good grass finished beef.  The last one we slaughtered would likely grade high choice to prime.  Some really good, well marbled steaks.  We are milking two Jerseys for our use but will open to the public a little later. These cows had never been milked so had to teach them the ropes.  Both are doing really well both to hand milking or machine milking     After Thanksgiving AJ and I will be much less busy as we will only be milking and not all the other chores.     Of course, the Holidays begin then and there is much to do for them, even though it’s mostly for family.

Will close and hopefully write again next month.      Virginia   Missouri Gems-Toole Farms         www.toolefarms.com

February 2020

Hello everyone.:     We are glad this has been a mild winter in the Midwest.  I guess for some that statement may not be true, especially if you are calving or lambing in January an February or even March.  We will be selling our 2019 year;s calves the middle of March, in time for them to go to grass and grow for the fall.  These are the nicest calves we’ve had, I do think.  We will keep most of the heifers for replacement of our 12 to 15 year old girls.  All have wintered so well on minimum feed.  Hay with molasses tubs is all they get.  They get molasses to be sure theirs rumens have the necessary energy feed for the microbes to digest hay which is more protein than carbs.  If they don’t have the energy then the bellies fill up, push against the lungs and the cow dies.  We learned the hard way to feed the sugars!  Since the cows have remained in such good shape we expect to see some really good calves again and do not expect to have any calving difficulties.  We haven’t pulled one of our calves for years.
Ordered my chicks for the year.  The first 125 will arrive early March and be brooded until the weather is warm enough in April to put them to pasture.  Still expect to process the first ones the second Saturday in May and then every month through October.  If you want more information or to order them email me at souscon4@gmail.com.  They need to be picked up at our farm near Holden, Missouri.Will order the turkeys a little later since they arrive in June for processing just before Thanksgiving.  I hope to hatch some geese and ducks for the fall.  Did last year and surely enjoyed watching them mature.  All those little ducks waddling behind their mothers was a site to see.  Had yellow ones and colored ones as I raise Pekin and Rouen onws.
Have ordered my garden seeds as the discounts are always up front and early.  I pretty much know what AJ and I can grow and take care of.  We will once again have beans, beets, tomatoes, cucumbers and squashes.  They will be for sale if they do well like they did last year.  We will plant corn.  Have more difficulty getting a good crop of it.  Also sweet potatoes.  For our family I’ll plant lettuce and onions too.  Tomatillos are easy to grow and loaded with nutrients.  Nearly always have a good crop of them Also turnips. Not brave enough to try celery this year but Tish did one year and did really well.
At the Red Barn we need to move dirt around and get the landscaping done and the berry patch ready to plant.  Will have blackberries, raspberries, asparagus, rhubarb and horse radish this time.  Hope to add blueberries later.
At least it is good to dream.  My biggest desire is that the grand children will want to continue with this plan when I’m gone.  The land and infrastructure will be in place so hard work will be all that is required.  Not the money to build it all. That has slowed me down!
Anyway enough musings for one winter day. Hope all of you stay well and prosper.    Virginia Toole   Missouri Gems-Toole Farms

Veggies are ready!!!

We’re continuing to pick more produce and are wanting to start offering it to customers! If you might be interested give us a call and see what we have for purchase! There are also more beans coming up and if you’re looking to save a little money you can pick some yourself, just contact us!

August 2019

Hello everyone:
July slide by me like a zephyr—long before I knew it.  Was really busy trying to stay ahead of the weeds and trying to get some fencing done for my turkeys.  They are getting pretty big and needed more running room.  Hope nothing happens to them in this hot muggy weather like it did last year.  I’d like them all to be plump and ready for people for Thanksgiving.  I have both the big breasted ones and heritage turkey this time.  I asked for a variety and got several kinds.  Also have changed the kind of broiler/fryers we raise.  Now have Red Ranger type which grow slower but are more survivable.  have red ones that will be ready to harvest in September and have now received 130 white ones that we will harvest in November before we do turkeys.
Was fun to have six baby ducks hatch this summer, four white Pekin and two brown ones.  Also had four gray goslings hatch.  One died.  Have three goose females and each one of them claims a baby to care for.  They are very protective too.  Was able to get five guinea keets from a neighbor so hope they grow up.  My last guineas disappeared this summer and I like having them around.  They love ticks and other bugs!  My pullets of several colors are nearly grown and will be laying in a couple of months.
Wish you could see our calves this summer.  About half of them have a Longhorn father and are so pretty.  They are very well muscled and will make great butcher calves.  We plan to keep the heifers and put them in the herd.  Longhorns tend not to have as many health problems as our red and black cattle.  When the heifers grow up we will breed them to a red bull as we don’t want or need full blood Longhorns.  Longhorn meat is very fine grained and they do put fat cover on so they taste great as steaks and roasts.  Since our cattle are totally grass fed and no medications (unless they get sick–which we don’t want) their health is of utmost importance to us and to whomever buys our meat.
Lost my Jersey milk cow this week.  She was ready to calve and I was looking forward to her rich cream for butter and ice cream.  Sad Day.  Still have a Guernsey that will calve soon.  She has not been milked before but will be if I can convince some boys to make me a tight fence for my pasture.  I’ll have to be patient with her.
We are still in the hay fields.  More hay this year than we’ve ever put up!  Most of it is good hay with a lot of legume as well as grass.  Some has weed but we cropped the tops off them earlier to prevent them going to seed and that helped to thicken the grass underneath.  Will small square bale the last hay in September as the people who own the land want it clean and nice going into winter.  Small square bales are always handy to have.  We mostly bale big round ones and feed them rolled out on the ground they came off of.  That and the manure puts nutrients back into the soil  We try not to use commercial fertilizer.
Th farm is not all work and no time off.  When we finished the chicken in July we had a get together with family and friends  The boys roasted a whole pig in a pit in the ground for nearly 24 hours.  Most who came brought something to add to the table.  We provided the bread and drinks.  There was a live band and the kids had a water slide and bounce house.  As things would be, of course, it was the hottest day of the month.  There was a big tent set up outside and great big fans so it turned out not to be stifling.   Some stayed until nearly midnight.  The music was a grand mix of everything and some was really good!  We plan to do it again the end of September and will add drive in style movies for as long as anyone wants to stay.
I’m really proud of my gardens this year.  We got them in so late I wasn’t sure what to expect.  But because we have had a lot of rain everything is growing like crazy now.  I pulled the first roasting ears yesterday, August 12th.  Will have them until frost probably, since I made three successive plantings  Green beans are ready to can.  Will have lots of them too because I made several plantings.  Melons should begin ripening soon.  The cantaloupe are netted.  Many tomatoes setting on but not rip yet.  Can’t wait since the best way to eat a mater is while you are in the garden with juice dribbling down your chin.  We have frozen many quarts of grated zucchini for bread and muffins.  And cucumber and onion rings in vinegar are so delicious this time of year.  Apples are about ready to pick also.  Will have some pis from that tree.  Pears will be later but look delicious now.
Guess I’ve rattled on long enough.  Need to order mineral for the cows and get ready for evening chores after my husband and I say our daily prayers together for our family and country.
Thank you for spending time with us.    Virginia   Missouri Gems-Toole Farms

New Picture added Aug 2019

Some of our farm pictures. We have new ducklings as of a couple weeks ago. The gardens are doing great and really starting to flourish. And the bees are just as busy as ever! These pictures were taken a little while back. They’ve built up even more and are in a more structured form now. We are hoping to have honey to harvest next fall!

June 2019

Howdy: Do you think Spring has arrived in the Midwest?  Maybe we just jumped right into a hot humid summer.  If you garden, did you get one planted? I haven’t except for some peppers.  Will still do so if we can get the garden worked.  Very much want some green beans and sweet corn.  Of course tomatoes, too.
Was in the Pacific Northwest the end of May.  Was warm but a light jacket was comfortable in the wind or toward dark.  Had a swell visit with my remaining brothers and sister.  Had been a long time since we all were together at one time.  The oldest brother ranches and for part of our “doings”  we branded his calves.  Also castrated a four year old stallion so he would be a better horse around the ranch.  I had not seen that done in 50 years.  The horse was given and anesthetic, then made to lie on his side and the surgery was done.  Woke him up in a short time and got him on his feet.  He was a little wobbly for a short time then did very well.  They put him in a small pen so he could be closely observed for bleeding or other unexpected entities but he was eating in a few hour.  Very little swelling in 24 hours.  He will, hopefully, make my brother a good riding horse–cow pony.
Happy to report that when I saw our calves after getting home they look even better than I expected.  The half longhorn calves have the widest butt of all and are really well muscled.  Lots of future good eating on those hooves.  All baby calves are fun to watch when they run and romp.  Usually there are five or six playing together, as if they are playing tag or follow the leader.  Good thing we didn’t want horns because I don’t think there is one with horns.  The moms are all polled and so are the calves.
Just before I left the two Billy Goats we had for meat got into big trouble so the day before I left they went to the locker plant.  They are now packaged and ready to enjoy in fajitas, roasted etc.  I will like them a lot.  BAD Boys, indeed!
It is time to be making hay to feed our livestock this winter but it doesn’t look too promising.  It went to seed early instead of making lots of leaves.  Maybe a second cutting will be available and produce more tonnage.  We pray so.
I’ll say good by until July.  Hope you will click in then. 
Missouri Gems-Toole Farms       Virginia

May 2019 Part 1

See!  See!   Our baby piglets have arrived!!  We have been awaiting them since January and thought they would arrive on Easter Sunday.  They did arrive on Sunday, April 28 —- all eleven of them.  They are born on pasture an will grow on pasture including some timber land.  They will never be confined to a muddy pen or concrete floor— like many of today’s pigs are.   They will get non GMO grain with mother’s milk and after I start milking they will get the excess cow’s milk and garden produce as well.  They will be fat happy pigs to eat in five or six months.  Those of you who try to find local food feel free to email me and reserve one or more of these fine pigs for your gourmet eating.  They are truly “dirt hogs” in the fullest sense of the word.  Enjoy the picture of new born ( taken a few hours after birth) baby pigs and watch for up dates as they mature.  This is our second set of baby pigs born on our farm.  We are excited to see them grow.    
Virginia     Missouri Gems-Toole Farms   souscon4@gmail.com

April 2019

Dear friends:  Thank you for visiting our farm site. We hope the information here is interesting and informative.March went out like a lion, although his roaring was gentler and April came in as beautiful as could be.  The warm days have caused the flowers to jump up  and the early ones are in full bloom.  The peonies seem to be growing an inch per day.The first 100 baby chicks are not babies any more.  I moved them yesterday to the pasture house.  They will be on grass by this weekend as long as the weather holds.  May 11th will be their processing day.  The second group is here and off to a great start.  They are so fun–those little yellow puff balls.  By one week of age they will lose their yellow fluff and have white feather on their wings and forming feathers all over.  Not as cute then but still fun to watch.The ducks and geese made it through the cold weather in great shape and have gotten right to work laying eggs.  Each lays almost every day and the eggs are accumulating.  If you are a crafter or know someone who would like goose eggs to craft with I have them.  They can have the whole intact egg or I will poke a hole in them and blow out the contents and get them the shells only.  Cost is 50 cents per egg plus shipping if that is needed.Two of the lambs have been processed and the third will be soon so won’t have any sheep for the summer.  That is good since they use the same pasture the fat chickens do.  The fat chickens fertilize the pasture so the lambs in the fall can get fat and grow well all winter.  Besides by now the sheep are getting to be nuisance pets.  They think every time I go into the pasture they should get a treat.  Of course they don’t as that would not be healthy for themWe started calving March 23, a week before the first expected baby but we are glad for the early start.  We will have all colors this year as we used several different bulls.  It is always interesting to see the new ones.  One of my milk cows is one of the new mamas so hope I will soon be milking.  The boys have the dairy barn stalls finished but need to finish the fence by the barn so the dairy cows can be in it.  My first ones to milk are all cows that will need to be trained to milking.  The old Jersey won’t calve until later.Like many farmers this year we are short of hay and are doling it out carefully until the grass gets to growing–which it is.  We don’t want the cows to be nutritionally challenged at this time in particular so their calves will be strong and vigorous.
Chicken processing Day will be May 11 so if you are interested in getting farm fresh plump chickens for frying or roasting contact me by email at souscon4@gmail.com and let me know how many you would like.  We do this the second Saturday of each month through October and it will be first come, first served  ordered by email.  Pickup will be that day at the farm.Our little gilt(first time mother pig) is expected to have her babies Easter Sunday.  She has wintered well.We sold most of our calves in mid March but have a few later born and now weaned that we may sell here soon.  Are only keeping two heifers from the whole lot this year. We need to cull some of the heard as they are getting older and we have some really nice heifer replacements.One of the boys is going to go to AI  (artificial insemination) school this weekend, starting tonight.  He will then pregnancy cheek our cows as well as AI some of them.  We hope that will make us a little more efficient as to what cows we keep each year and not feed through the winter
Wishing and hoping each of you has a Blessed Easter and a wonderful Spring.  Are you planning a fun vacation yet?   Thanks for reading and God bless you.   Virginia Toole  Missouri Gems-Toole Farms     

March 2019

Hello  everyone.  We are glad you stopped by, whether the first time or more.March certainly came in like a lion this year.  That is not all bad!  We need the cold and snow now not in May.  Also the snow provides much needed moisture for our fields and ponds   I’m told it also provides minerals the soil need to be healthy so we have good pastures for our grass fed livestock and poultry.  Anyway God knows best and besides man hasn’t yet figured out a way to change what God ordains weather wise.
The first 100 baby chicks are scheduled to arrive this Wednesday.  I haven’t quite got the brooder house set up but will by then.  For sure heat lights will be essential for awhile this year.
The hens have gone on strike! Was getting 17 to 20 eggs per day, even through the short days and cold.  Now they think they need a break and we are lucky to get 2 eggs per day.  Hope they change their minds pretty soon.  We need the eggs for those of you who get hen fruit from us.
Our lambs are nice and fat.  They will soon be ready for people’s freezers.  Also the two billy goats.  Our baby goat is funny to watch.  He has his head in the feed pan just as quick as the big goats and he thinks he rules the roost most days.  He is so plump and active. His mama is the only one who seems to correct him–the billies do not.
Had to process a couple of ducks who got hurt the other day.  They were both hens and full of eggs which would likely have been laid in a couple of weeks. I hate it when things like that happen but on the farm it does.
The young men of the family are getting my dairy barn finished and none too  soon as the cow will calve the first of April and I am ready for some fresh milk and cream.  She is a first time mom and will have to be taught to behave in the barn for milking.  Always look forward to see what the calf will look like.  Our beef cows will start calving about the same time so hope the weather is a little warmer. 
Like most of the farmers in this area we are concerned about having enough hay.  It takes more in cold weather and also toward the last part of the cows’ pregnancy.  To be sure they are well nourished for calving we are feeding some grain this winter—something we don’t usually do.  Not as certain our hay is as good quality as we generally have.
Have been looking at the catalogs about ordering my turkeys.  Think I will try some different ones this year.  Also looking for some Muscovey ducks.  They are supposed to be hardy and eat lots of flies and other bugs.   And we have plenty of those pests!
Wishing you all a fun St Patrick’s Day, first day of Spring and a holy Lent , if you keep Lent in preparation for Easter. May God watch over you and bless you.   Virginia from Missouri Gems-Toole Farms 

February 2019

Hello and welcome to our farm.  We are glad to have you visit.  I try to write a short letter each month to tell you what we are doing.     January saw us working in the cold to be sure our animals and fowl had good food and open water.  I have heaters in the waterers for the sheep, chickens and ducks/geese.  The goats share the hens drinker–as long as it is kept rigorously clean.   Goats are the pickiest animals about their food of any I care for.  The boys have kept the cattle well fed and they remain in good flesh.  Some are getting big with babies to be born in late March.  Our calves will go to market in March and have done well–all but a couple.  One died from gut complications and one got in the pond so was really wet and cold.  We got her out and warmed up and she is doing quite well now.  Things happen even when we try to be so careful.  Always hurts me to know they are not feeling as good as they should.     My little nanny goat had her baby just before the snowstorm here in KC hit.  He is doing so well–fat as a butterball and playful.  Surely gives the two billy goat a hard time as he loves to jump and climb on them.  He is black with a little white and long droopy ears.  So fun to watch.     I have ordered my baby chicks for the year.  I get 100 per month starting in March and ending in August.  I raise them for sale beginning in May.  Email me if interested.  souscon4@gmail.com.     Have been perusing the seed catalogs to decide what to plant.  We Will over plant our pastures with grasses and legumes to make them thicker and so we will have more hay.  I will, of course, plant the usual common vegetables and tomatoes plus some less usual things.  Maybe eggplants.  Melons, pumpkins and flowers are on my order as well.  Checked my dahlia tubers the other day and they have stayed plump in their sand bed.  I think they are my favorite flower.     My husband is taking his mower in to be made ready for the summer work load.  He does all the yard work.  As long as he is able I will not mow!     We are working on finishing the inside of the dairy barn to be ready to milk by the end of March when one of my Guernseys has her calf.  I do miss the fresh milk and cream.  My whole barn has heated floors and that has been great this winter when I work in there.  We also have family get together and dinners in it as that is what it was built to be.  Someplace big enough and with a large parking lot so we can safely get in–not like at our house which sits close to the highway.      Enough for now.  See you next month.    Virginia