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

January 2019

Hello.   Glad you are with us.  It is a new year and plans are underway to make it fun and successful.     Not too much to do outside except feed the animals and gather the eggs.  Water is generally not a problem for them even when it gets really cold as their water containers are heated.  That really helps.  I like to get out and do chores even if I get cold.  Makes me feel better too.
Inside I keep house–not too much there either as there are only two of us and both adults. ( Husband has his chores to do inside too.)  So I have set out to embroider a set of seven dishtowels for each of the grand boys. Several of them were married this fall and I didn’t know what else besides money to get them.  My needlework can be a nice usable gift or something to keep for their kids, I guess. The girls will all get needlework too but not dishtowels.  Then there are the great grand children and some of them are mid teen years, so expect they will need wedding gifts eventually.  The ones who don’t get married will get something hand made as well.  Keeps me out of trouble.
Have gotten lots of seed catalogs so have been making my lists for what I think I want and what we need.  Will order several pounds of wild flower seeds to sow in my pasture.  They help to amend the soil and the livestock thrive with them in the pasture, not to mention the bees and butterflies.   
Am awaiting the catalogs from the hatcheries so I can order my baby chicks and turkeys. They will need to arrive the first week in March for processing for our customers the second Saturday in May.  I get baby turkeys in June so they will be ready for people by Thanksgiving.
My one little nanny goat will kid the end of January so hope the weather that week isn’t too cold.  She is so wide I bet she has twins, maybe even triplets.  She had twins last year The two billies will be ready to process for meat by the first of April—same as my three lambs.  They make great traditional Easter dinners.
The cows are staying fat.  We give them hay each day and grain occasionally so they remember to come when we want them to come into the corral.  They will begin to have their calves about the first of April. One of my Guernseys will calve then too, and I will begin milking.  Can hardly wait for fresh milk and cream.  Have two others and a Jersey who will calve a bit later so we should have milk year round from now on.
I will attempt to have a new article about the first of each month so hope you tune in then.  Until then    Thanks for visiting and stay well.    Virginia

November 2018

Pigs for processing weigh 250 to 300 pounds on the hoof so will yield 125 to 225 pound of hanging weight meat— a little less meat if you subtract the bones.   Hanging weight is the animal  after it is killed and gutted. We ask $2.00 per pound on the hoof and the buyer pays the locker fees so he can have the pig processed as he wishes.  Steaks, roasts, cured meat like hams, bacon and sausage.  We request a $100.00 non refundable deposit.

These pigs are born on our farm and live their entire lives on dirt with a diet of non GMO grains, milk, pumpkins, pears, nuts and legumes.  They get to root in the dirt to their heart’s content.
See the photos for the ones born last this past summer.  They are now ready to wean and fatten to make someone some delicious pork.   We have four older ones that will be ready to process in December so contact us soon to reserve your meat.  Makes a great Christmas gift!       Virginia  at souscon4@gmail.com.  Can also call 816 850 4728 with questions
Thank you.

November 2018

Hello readers;
   Welcome to our web site about our rural Missouri farm.  We stay busy all year with cattle, haying ( no row crops), hogs, sheep, goats and poultry.   Horses and occasionally some other animal such as a llama live on our farm too.  The horses are purely for pleasure.  I don’t ride anymore but the younger ones do.
November is a wind down month.  Most of the heavy work is done.  The gardens are put to rest after providing us much produce as tomatoes, okra, sweet potatoes, onions, melons, corn, peppers, pumpkins and pretty much whatever else strikes my fancy.  I try something new most years.  This year I had fun with the produce.  I took some to the fair and did very well–lots of blue,  My flowers likewise.  Next fair time I plan to take some of my canned goods, maybe butter, needle work and crafts.  Think I can do well with most of them: and I have such fun making these things.  That can happen once you “RETIRE”.
I have quit milking until the Guernseys calve again.  By then we will have the milk barn completed and will train the cows to come in and let me take their rich creamy offerings each morning.  I will use an electric milking machine and pour the delicious milk into sterile jars and seal it for our customers.  If it is not all taken then our pastured pigs enjoy a big treat.  They love milk!  The Guernseys’ calves will learn to take a bottle for one meal or I will have a nurse cow.  Then the calves will be with their moms for the day and separated for a few hours during the night so I can have milk too.
We have three sows, Berkshires or crosses, and they had 19 piglets this summer.  We sold some and are fattening some for people to buy.  All our animals get non GMO grain and are on pasture in the open so they have grass and sunshine as much as they want.  Baby pigs are soooo cute.  Course they don’t stay small very long.
We will process 9 turkeys November 17 for some of our customers.  We usually have many more but this year the weather, especially the heat, was not kind to the young turkeys.  We have the white ones and the bronze ones and they are of various sizes.  I really like to watch them grow.  They stay small for so long but about mid October they begin to put on size and we have had them get to 40 pounds.  Believe it or not a turkey that size will fit in a regular oven to cook for the Holidays.  Our family generally have several of them over the year and enjoy every bite.
I picked up about 3 bushel of pears for the pigs today, Nov 3.  The trees, apples and pears, were loaded.  Plums and peaches were nearly bare of fruit, thanks to the cold, wet spring.  I plan to plant more fruit trees in the spring and hope to get my berry patch started as well.  Have a really good place for it, I think.  Hope it doesn’t frost there early in the spring.  We have one blackberry bush and it has big delicious berries nearly all summer  Now for many more and several kinds.
Hay was not so good in this part of Missouri this year.  We have had to hunt more land to hay than we usually do.  The fall cuttings have been better than the spring cuttings.  We think we will have enough to feed our cows until green grass again in April.  By then they will be having their babies and need good feed.  We run mostly red cattle–Red Devons, Red Angus and Shorthorns.  Still have some black hided animals as that is what sells best in our neck of the woods.  But if we sell them as meat on the rail one can’t tell what color the hide was anyway.  It makes a difference how the animal was raised and what it was fed  Have added some Longhorn to the mix for the health benefits that breed offers.  We try not to use chemicals on our farm and don’t use much.
Well, I bet this is getting too long.  I’ll sign off and wish you the happiest and most BLESSED  holidays ever.
Thanks for the visit.  Until we meet again.     Virginia

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

May 2018

Dear Friends:
May and warm weather have arrived.  Didn’t we wonder but never doubted God’s wisdom.
The real work of the summer season has begun.  The first flock of “fat” chickens is ready to process on May 12th.  We lost way too many before getting this bunch to this point.  The cold and wind didn’t help much.  The June bunch have fared much better and the July ones are little yellow puff balls in the starter house.   I’m glad the sun shines warmly and the pastures are green.  The chicken will grow faster and taste so much better on the nice mixed pasture.
The boys tilled our two big gardens today and I plan to plant most everything tomorrow.  Most of the fields planted to corn around us are showing little green shoots now so things are coming up and seeds not rotting in the cold soil. Some of the local farmers were planting soybeans this weekend. We’ve had some little showers here so the soil moisture is just right.  We pray God continues to shed his grace on our undertakings.
If you have flowers doesn’t it seem the tulips didn’t last very long and the peonies are pushing far ahead.  I try to have something blooming all the time but I better scoot if my zinnias etc. are ready to bloom before we have a vacant place without blooms.  My knockout roses suffered winter damage I think.  They are leafing out finally bit not with any great amount of leaves and lots of dead branches.
One never know what will show up with a telephone call.  A neighbor called about wanting to sell some cattle.  Normally we wouldn’t be interested as most of them were black but when he quoted the price the guys jumped on it.  In the deal is a nice Jersey milk cow so guess I’ll be milking in the next few days.  not enough to sell but enough for family, for now.  Bob is welding up the stand in the dairy barn and two Guernseys have calved and one not too far in the distance so perhaps we will be milking and able to sell cream line raw milk.
Am painting the logos on the walls of  our little store in the Red Barn.  My husband has finished the cabinets for the store and we will install them soon.  The big cook stove is clean and ready to hook to propane so we can bake and can.
We have one senior graduation this year so will go to his big night on Friday.  He has a great future plotted out and we pray he finishes it.  He certainly has the talent to do so.
Coming up in June is the Missouri Cattlemens Steak Fry in Sedalia.  They have an auction to raise money for various events and so I am beading some bracelets and a hat band using a loom and glass beads.  I think they are pretty.  Also am sending a Ristol black felt hat for the auction.
Wishing you a wonderful spring and if you garden may yours be the best ever.
Virginia      Missouri Gems-Toole Farms

April 2018

Dear Friends and Customers:
     May Our Risen Lord grant you every blessing this Easter.   I don’t remember an Easter Day like this one.  Our family gets together for the celebration of the Risen Jesus as we did this year but we surely didn’t hunt eggs outside.   Brrrrrr!
News from our farm is that we are anticipating the first new calf.  I thought it might be yesterday in the storm, it so often is during storms, but that didn’t happen, thank goodness.  The momma cows all look ready to pop.
One of our calves from last year didn’t want to be sold, I guess.  She insists on getting into trouble and it is often outside the pasture fence. A  couple weeks ago she got stick in the mud around the pond and was there for an unknown number of hours.  The boys saw here and went to get her unstuck.  That proved quite a job.  They got her out and on the pond bank when Dad and I came to feed the calves.  We saw her and she was still alive but not able to get up.  It was really cold and windy so I knew we needed help so went to one of the kid’s house and he came to help.  We rolled her onto her belly but she still could’t get up so in the end we hauled her to his house and put her where it was warm and fed and watered her.  She was glad for that.  Also gave hr some pain med and an antibiotic to ward off pneumonia.  She was down eight days with the boys trying to get her to stand each day.  Finally she could and did well for a week.  Then she got stuck in a different pool of mud.  When they got her out this time she came home in the trailer and will remain in the corral where, we hope, she can’t get into something she shouldn’t.
 She had pulled out her ear tag earlier which broke some of the cartilage in the ear so she has a puppy dog droopy ear.  She goes through almost any fence we tried to keep her in so it’s time to pen her up!  She is a nice health red calf that is destined for the sale barn eventually—–if all goes well.
The first 100 chick I got for selling in May are getting as big as most old time chickens did when my Dad got pan fryers years ago.  If it gets warm they need to go to pasture but right now they would die in the cold and wet so they stay in the chicken house but really need not too. the odor is most unpleasant.
I hope the fruit trees and flowers didn’t get hurt with the freeze.  Some were close to opening their buds.  My daffodils and hyacinths are in full bloom!  I have ordered most of the rest of the flowers and trees we will plant.  Stephanie and I will dig up some maples to transplant elsewhere as they are too close to the house.  Those little aeroplane seeds grow so easily–often where we don’t want them.   Will also transplant a peach tree because it is too close to the septic system and we don’t need that kind of trouble.
We still have a lamb for sale if anyone want  some lamb.  We will process it since it will soon be too old for lamb and I care less for mutton.  The hanging wt of the ones we have done is 55 lbs.  The cut and wrapped wt is a little less and it sells for $ 5.00 per pound.  Other wise we will enjoy lamb again.  We had some from the first one for our Easter dinner.  I’ll hold it for you for awhile if you want it.  Let me know by email.
If the days warm up and the ground get dry enough we will move our hens from the garden area back to the chicken yard   then plow up the garden so we can get it planted.  Most of us are looking forward to lettuce, radishes etc.
FYI  the first chicken processing day is May 12.  Get your orders to us soon.  We will process chickens the second Saturday of the month through October.
Wishing you warm weather and pleasant days until we meet again—–next month.   Virginia  for Missouri Gems-Toole Farms

March 2018

March is in like the gamboling lamb here in central Missouri first.   Easter is one month away and daylight savings two weeks.
We are thankful for the lovely rains we had the last week.  Also the sunshine.  Makes me want to get out and get digging in the good black earth.  Have paged the seed catalogs many times trying to decide what we will plant this year.  I have been out cleaning out the flower beds I didn’t get done last fall.  The daffodils have poked up their noses and the peonies have big fat pink buds showing.  We rebuilt the pergola on the south side of our house and are now choosing vines and roses to grow on it.  We will avoid the woody kind of vines because they grow so tough they pulled the first one down.
Bob told m he is going to be working at my Red Barn to get the dairy barn finished and the landscaping done and some fencing built so we can move the dairy cows into that pasture and be ready to milk when the next calf is born.  He and I talked this week about what I want so the whole place will be beautiful and functional.  Will have to get a sink and dishwasher plumbed in too.  We didn’t need them to process chickens but will to wash milking equipment.  My husband, Tom, and I were discussing signage.  It will be put up when the Barn is done and we are truly ready for business on a daily basis.
The first 100 baby chicks will arrive March 6 and be ready to process May 12.
They are for sale and you can order them by emailing me how many you would like.  souscon4@gmail.com   We do 100 chicks each month through Oct.
The baby goats born January 26 have grown much and are fun to watch and play with.  Th two sheep we bought as lambs last fall are big and will be processed by Easter.  Want a leg o lamb for your Easter Feast?  Email me.
Our 2017 calves are fat and really pretty.  Most of them will go to sale the end of March.  They were mostly boys anyway.  New calves should begin being born by the end of this month.  Mommas have stayed fat all winter on good pasture with hay as wanted.  No grain.   Our new Red Devon bull is growing.  He will be ready for service when it’s time.  I saw him as a calf last fall and we went to Arkansas to get him on a  nice day in mid January.  That was a long 300 mil trip but we had no difficulty and really enjoyed the day with the people we bought him from.
Bob had so much trouble with our baler last year so he bought a different used baler and will have to do some work on it so he won’t have trouble during haying season.  To get good hay means the grass and clover needs to be cut and dried and baled at the right time and usually between rains. Otherwise the food quality suffers.  With the rains we have had so far we should have a good hay crop and hopefully we will get more rain as we need it.  Some areas of the Midwest are quite dry.  Winter wheat around here is short but green and seems like good stands  We don’t row crop but are always interested in those who do. Their success certainly affects ours.
Reckon said enough now but do want to wish each of you a beautiful Spring and a truly Glorious Easter.  Hope to see some of you before then.
Virginia Toole   Missouri Gems–Toole Farms   souscon4@gmail.com

February 2018

Dear Friends and customers:
How does time go so fast.  Here it is almost th second week of February and I’m just getting to this.  WOW
This past weekend some of my family and I drove a truck and trailer to mid Arkansas to pick up my new Red Devon bull.  When Stephanie and I went to the Red Devon show and sale Conference in Springfield Mo. last September we saw him.  He was not for sale but I really liked what I saw.  His momma was one of the show cattle and not for sale either.  I spoke several times with the family who owed them and they agreed to sell me the 9 month old bull calf after he was weaned and ready to leave their ranch.  He is really something with his potential for our herd.  He is now 13 months old and will be 18 months by June when we need him.
Our cows are fat and really nice this winter.  We have better pastures than ever before and it shows.  We won’t start calving until the end of March or early April.  My philosophy on that is that most wild animals wait until ideal weather to have their babies so why not the cows.  We still have to feed some hay but by April the grass is beginning to green and by the time the calves are big enough to need much milk the cows will have good feed o make lots of rich milk and the calves will grow more quickly.  Also the weather is warmer and the new born calves are less likely to get chilled.  Our weaned calves are really looking good so it worked last year.  We will be selling most of 2017 calves the end of March.  They will likely go to pasture until fall and then to the feedlots or ranches.  They are totally grass and hay fed with almost no grain so their potential is whatever the buyer wants.  We hope someday in the near future to be able to market most of these kind of calves as meat direct to the customers freezer.  Red Devon is known as the gourmet beef on grass and in the East much of the Red Devon is sold directly to the chef.   )Bet that’s more than you wanted to know?)
I finally got my catalog for ducks, turkeys and geese so am perusing it intently.  Prices for the babies are the same as  last year so our finished prices will remain the same.  Everyone likes stable prices.
You know how it is when you look in the catalogs–you want everything–or I do, especially when it comes to garden and flower things.
With limited space and time I have to choose the best things for our farm so am narrowing down my choices.
Will let you know what wins.
Since I was not able to get all the flower beds and stuff cleaned up last fall I’m waiting for a really nice day and outside I go.  It will take several days to get things squared away for Spring and flowers may be coming up before I get it all done.
On January 26, thankfully a warm day, our little nanny had her babies.  We expected one and she has twins–a boy and a girl.  One of the bucks we sold is the daddy and the babies are so cute.  Mom lets all of us pick them up and love on them.  They already jump up on the things to play on and are beginning to sniff at the pans when Stephanie feed the big guys.  One is white with brown spots and the other is mostly brown.
Guess this is it for February.  We are all looking forward to Spring—-whether the ground hog saw his shadow or not.   Have you noticed that Lent starts on  Valentines Day and Easter if April 1, April Fools day?  Funny isn’t it.
We will visit again in early March.  Stay well and God bless each of you.    Virginia