January 2018

Dear Friends:
Welcome to January.  If you are new we thank you for looking at this site.  If you’ve been to see us before, Thank you and welcome.
January has arrived.  We hope you had a wonderful Christmas season and are ready for a terrific New Year.
We are thankful for he really cold weather without lots of snow—although we need the moisture and likely the protection it afford the fields and pastures.  The cold will likely cut down the number of insects we face next summer!  A few less ticks and flys would be most welcome.  Mosquitoes too.
This month will find us moving our weaned calves to fresh pasture where they can forage until mid to late March when they will be sold.  They look really good.  Have stayed fat on good hay.  Almost no grain–just enough to teach them to eat from the bunk and to come when we call them.
It is time to order our poultry for the year.  Will get 100 chicks each month for six months beginning in March to raise and sell beginning in May.  Plan to get some ducks and we will keep the hens for eggs.  Some of our customers love them, especially for cooking.  Plan to get six geese too.  Ours from last year did not survive but we have a safer place to keep them now.  Perhaps we will have a fat goose for Christmas dinner–like the Cratchett family did.   Will also get about 50 turkeys.  We had good luck with them last year in our fenced pasture that was especially for them.  We’ve eaten two that were absolutely delicious, moist and golden!
And the seed catalogs have filled our mailbox for the last several weeks.  I look at them and want to buy way more than I could ever take care of–even if we had the room to plant them.  Will also get some fruit trees to replace some that did not do well. This summer I want to get my berry and asparagus patch ready to plant next spring.  It needs to be worked several times to get it ready so the berries take off.  Will plant a few horse radish plants too.  By my Red Barn I want to establish three holly trees as well.  Holly grows in Missouri so we’ll see.  They would be lovely additions to the Christmas decor next season.
I had a hip replacement in December and am working hard to be ready to ride the 4 wheeler by March when the cows begin to calve. It’s my job to check them and let the boys know if they need to tag some babies.  We tag the babies with the same ear tag number as their momma so we can keep track of our genetics better.  We simply want to make our beef the best there is!!
So long for now.  Stay warm and look for us in February.

December 2017

Welcome to our farm
It is the middle of December 2017.  Sorry I’m so slow this month.  December 5th I had a hip replacement due to wear and tear.  Was having much difficulty getting around so needed to improve that before the spring season begins on the farm.  All went very well and therapy has me up and going.  Will graduate from walker to cane today, December 18. Should be back on the four wheeler by March.
Otherwise this is the “quiet time” on the farm.  Still have the hens to care for and a few sheep.  The boys feed the cows so I am not involved with that.  I will miss the move of the weaned calves to winter pasture the end of the month.  Won’t be doing a lot for the Christmas party of our family this time either.  My job is to decide what we need to accomplish next year, when it needs doing and how to get it done.  I definitely want the Barn fully functional.  That means installing a sink, the milking equipment, a dish washer and getting the store part so it has cabinets and storage space.  The milk and egg cooler needs to be in place as well. Need to decide what vegetables we will put in the garden and where we will get the seeds.  Also am thinking about my berry patch and how that needs to fall into place.  Some fruit trees need to be trimmed and some replaced for them to bear better.  Big order and a fair amount of money but is doable.

I will be ordering the baby chicks, turkeys, ducks and some geese in the near future.  We have a source for lambs and goats at this time.
After the first of the year I think we will be making a trip to Arkansas to pick up the young bull I bought last September.  He was still a suckling calf then but should be ready to go by now.
Hope all of you are well, your Christmas shopping done and looking forward to a prosperous New Year.  Merry Christmas to all.  Thank you for visiting with us.  Until next month may the good Lord take a liking to you.

November 2017

November is here–ready or not.  We can expect colder weather but I do hope the sun shines more!
Thanksgiving is just around the corner and our turkeys are ready.  Did you order yours?  Or maybe one for Christmas?   If not there are still a few of the larger ones just waiting for your email request.  We have had fun with them this year.  As the summer progressed they became like the rats or children (depending on the version you read) following the pied piper.  We would take food and water to them and they followed us up the hill to the feeder chirping and snicking.  The toms began early to puff out their feathers and the white ones heads get a beautiful azure color with red wattles. The bronze don’t show the blue as much.  As they have grown they look so regal.  They certainly rid the pasture of a lot of bugs and have picked the grass and other green stuff really short.  It is time for them to be enjoyed for the holidays.
As the weather gets colder the Guernseys get bigger with calf so expect I will start milking in cold weather,, hopefully by Christmas.  I have more difficulty telling when these milk cow heifers are going to calf than I do with the beef cows. I”m looking forward to having fresh whole milk though.
Most of the season’s work is done.  We still have to dig sweet potatoes and I wonder why they are so curled, very much like rams horns.  Those in the store are not curled like mine.  We planted 48 and have a very adequate supply.  The few I have dug are nice and sweet.
Also need to cut off the dead flower tops in the yard.  That is just part of putting my beds to bed for the winter.  All of them were beautiful.  I had blooming gladiola when the frost came.  And the roses and vinca were at their most colorful.  My dahlias didn’t bloom in time for our little street fir but when they did they were so colorful  from blood re to sunshine yellow and a pure white one with some bicolors.
Did some of you go to the Ozarks to see the foliage?  Was it as colorful as usual?  It didn’t seem like some of the trees around here were as orange, red, gold and purple as they often are.  Some are now more colorful than earlier.  Weather plays such a role in their vibrancy.
 This is it for November except to wish you the very most happy Thanksgiving day and remember to say Thanks for all we have.  I like the slogan that says, ” What if you woke up tomorrow with only what you gave thanks for today.”  Some of us would be very poor, I think.
God go with you.   Virginia    Missouri Gems-Toole Farms   souscon4@gmail.com

October 2017 Update

 Fall is here. The days are shortening quickly.  I shut up the chickens at night and they go to bed much earlier now.  the apples have ripened and the pears are ready for harvest.  Not many leaves have turned at our house but the walnuts and hickories are falling.  We picked out a few and they are delicious.
     I planted beets, carrots and turnips a couple weeks ago and they are growing nicely.  The late planted sweet corn will soon be ready for fresh roasting ears.  Was afraid it wasn’t going to make anything and then there they are.  Still have oodles of hot peppers.  They were so prolific this year.  Green peppers are doing well also.  Pumpkins have all ripened too.  Too early for Halloween.
     We will harvest the last or our “fat” chickens, the ones we raise for meat, on October 14.  Then we will harvest our turkeys and ducks the Saturdaybefore Thanksgiving and be done until Spring.  I enjoy the break but look forward to the spring, as well.
     Have spent a good part of the end of September pulling grass qnd weeds from the flower beds.  That last good rain really sent them crazy.  The dahlias are so pretty now. The Michaelmas asters as well.  The red salvia finishes out the shout out color in our yard.
    Time to get to work and finish my washing and go get some watermelons from the garden.  Maybe pick pears, as well.
     Until the next letter, so long and may all your days be blessed.      Virginia

August 2017 Update

As the year moves rapidly on we are busy canning and preserving the abundant harvest from our gardens. We have canned over 60 quarts of green beans and also corn. Salsa and tomatoes are next on the list. We have many many melons to enjoy. We’d share if you like to come. Zucchini are so abundant the heifers are getting the big ones. They seem to love them just as they did the sweet potato vines when we trimmed them so the tubers would develop better. I’m also going to pull the green bean vines and they will get them too.
Due to wet weather and equipment failure we are still making hay. The fall hay is often better than the early spring hay as it keeps and is nutritious instead of having so much moisture.
We have moved the cows and calves to new pastures several times. The earlier calves are around 500 pounds now and the new babies are cute as can be. Mommas are all fat and have plenty of milk so all should grow even better. We will wean the calves in December. They will be eating grass and hay by then and will do just fine without their mommas. The bulls have been with the cows since early June so most cows should be pregnant with next year’s calf now or very soon. We are fortunate to have had 99% calf crop this year. That doesn’t always happen for various reasons.
Our four goats have grown and the three billies will be ready for slaughter by November, Not sure what we’ll do with the little doe. They share the chicken range so they eat the brush etc. there. Don’t know that we want goats in the winter time. We are not set up to give them the best care during cold weather. Sometimes they have been a nuisance but we have enjoyed their antics too.
As the days are cooler we ladies will paint the inside of my barn and the guys will put in the equipment so I can begin milking as my dairy cows calve. We also plan to have commercial style stainless steel kitchen appliances in the big room so we can bake etc. when we want to. The family uses this room for their get together’s as well.
One more thing before I quit. Anyone looking for some delicious naturally raised free range pork (dirt hogs) is in luck. We have ten that will soon be going to slaughter and you can get a whole or half. We are asking $2.00 per pound live wt. Each hog will weigh between 250 and 300 pounds live. You will then have a choice of how you want it processed and cured. You will pay the locker fees to do this. Makes some great winter eating. Email me what you want @ souscon4@gmail.com


March 2017 Update

MARCH    In like a lamb–warm, sunny, spring like.  Out like a (lion)?   Maybe.  At least some of the days of early March are roaring like a lion.  We had high winds the day before Oak Grove was hit with a tornado.  Also the two days since.  Winds that almost knocked me down and pushed me off the road.  The wind stole part of the roof of our hen house but Stephanie and I got new metal back on it and the hens continue to eat and lay those beautiful gem like eggs.  I do enjoy putting them in the cartons each evening.
On March 4th we acquired two half grown male goats.  One is brown and one is white with a reddish brown head. So far they won’t let me touch them.  They look at me like–“yeah, go ahead and put the food down.  We are smart enough not to get caught again,  Last time you took us away from Mom and our friends”.  That’s okay.  They are fun to watch and I bet we will get to pet them soon.
I’m writing this on the 8th and the first 100 baby chicks are safely in their brooder.  They are so cute and soft.  Noisy to be sure.  When we put them in the brooder they ran all over like little kids.  I took pictures so watch for them soon.
We are moving our yearlings  (cattle) home to sort and sell.  It will be hard to see them go but that is why we raise them.  We’ll keep a few for meat and replacements to the herd.
Our neighbors are busy putting down fertilizer in their fields in anticipation of spring planting.  The winter wheat really has greened up around here.  More moisture will be even better.—–if not too much falls.
Sounds like we might be in for trouble if it freezes like the weatherman says it will.  The fruit trees are well bloomed out.  May not have peaches, pears and apples this fall.
Our taxes are done!  This is a big occasion each March for this farm.  We didn’t celebrate it as much as some of our customers who purchase a turkey just for the holiday of TAX time.
This will do for this time.  Watch for the April notes.  Thanks for looking at us.   Virginia