July 2018

Hello Friends and Neighbors.
If you are new to the site we welcome you to come find out what we are about.  We think our livestock and poultry easily qualify as gems–like diamonds and rubies.  They are beautiful and we love having them.  If you come to our neck of the woods you surely would be welcome to stop and see them.
In June my son had the opportunity to buy six head of cattle and in that group was a gentle Jersey milk cow.  She had a five month old calf big enough to wean.  I told the boys to wean the calf and I would hand milk her for our needs.  Come to find out she gives two gallon plus every morning.  (I only milk one a day–and I had not milked by hand for many years.  We have electric milking equipment but not a place ready to set it up yet.)   Now 6 to 8 weeks later I have tightened up the muscles in my forearms for sure.   Her cream is rich and thick so have made lots of butter and we were not using all the milk so am trying my hand at homemade cheese.  I make thick and creamy yogurt as often as we need it.  This is eating high on the hog, for sure.
Our summer chicken project is progressing pretty well.  We get 100  babies the first of the month and grow them to 4 or 5 pounds and process them for people who want them.  They are pasture raised and feed non GMO grains with their greens and bugs.
I got baby ducks and 6 geese in April.  The ducks are nearly grown and should lay eggs yet this fall.  The geese are growing fast and we enjoy their antics.  Most of these are females so we won’t eat them.  Duck eggs make the creamiest puddings and rich moist cakes.  Of course, they are good fried too.
We had one little size nanny left from last season’s goats.  She was pregnant and kidded the 26th of January.  One white spotted billy and a brown nanny baby.  They are fun to watch and have gotten bigger than their mom.  We wonder how big they will finish out.  Their dad was quite large and made many meals for a family.
Then there are the gardens–yes I have two big ones.  The sweet corn is almost ready to pick for roasting ears and freezing.  The crab grass overtook the beans so by the time I got rid of it I”m not sure I will have many beans.  Needed them as we have eaten most of those I canned last year.  Tomatoes and melons didn’t do as well as I had hoped but they have begun to kick in now.  They like the hot sunny days.  Will have a lot of okra and hot peppers.  I’ll pickle some of both.   And then it will be time to plant fall garden–beets, turnips and maybe some greens.  Maybe even some more green beans,
The boys are busy trying to put up enough hay so we won’t have to sell any cows we would rather keep.  We will thin the herd some as many of these girls are in their teens.  We generally keep them until they lose their teeth or don’t have a calf.We have for some years now been breeding the herd to a compatible size and temperment that fits our setup.  We also are working on genetics to help with pinkeye and fly resistence.  This all takes time.  And I don’t want much black in the herd so we use red bulls.  More about our cattle later.
I’ll sign off for now and hope you enjoy the rest of the summer and appreciate our liberty and freedoms.
Virginia for Missouri Gems-Toole Farms of Centerview MIssouri