Did someone say farm auction?

20160611-064240-24160118.jpgIt’s that busy time of the year on our place but there’s always a way to squeeze in a few farm auctions!

We found some nice goodies at two farm auctions the past week.20160611-064441-24281225.jpg20160611-064440-24280249.jpg

Some of the best deals were fencing, metal barrels, an oil lamp, 2 large chicken feeders, an enamel bucket, and lots of canning jars. I’m especially happy to have snagged an 18 and a 22qt canner!!!

20160611-064553-24353721.jpgWe had to suffer through one day of rain crammed up in their barn. But nothing my Slogger boots couldn’t handle. The following day’s auction was beautiful. The auctioneers were friendly and funny and made it a great time.

Now, who’s gonna help unload this stuff? ;)



Posted in Canning supplies, Chickens, Farm auctions, Goat supplies, Poultry supplies | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Let’s talk meat rabbits!

We are raising American blue and Silver Fox meat rabbits. They are both rare, heritage breeds known for their fur and meat. They have been wonderful to raise with a mild demeanor and sweet curiosity.


Our goal is to butcher enough meat for our family to put away for the coming year. I am also thinking of trying to tan a few hides for crafting. While commercial feed will fatten them up quickly, we’ve opted for a more natural feeding regimen.

a_sfrabbit_1642Since this will produce a leaner rabbit with a steady growth weight, we have to decide on the optimum weight and the right amount of aging for butchering.

I discuss our meat rabbits on LaVis Farm Rabbitry: Our Meat Rabbits in this video.






Posted in Rabbits | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Goat Kidding Prep: Check & Trim

It’s just about goat kidding time and the girls are eager for some pampering.


A good, sharp pair of hoof trimmers are a must!

The sides of her hoofs are overgrown. Let's return them to a newborn's hoof appearance.

The sides of her hoofs are overgrown. Let’s return them to a newborn’s hoof appearance.

Tools I’m using today…

The following video is part one of my checklist to prepare for the arrival of our goat kids. This video starts with a quick physical and a hoof trim.

I will be posting more in this series. See the Goat Kidding Prep Playlist.

“Like & Subscribe” to follow my homesteading adventures!


Posted in Dairy Goats, Kidding | Tagged | Leave a comment

Our Rabbitry is growing!

It’s been a month since I bred Indigo, an American Blue, with Grason, a Silver Fox. I was just about to wonder if their breeding took as palpating baby bunnies wasn’t easy with her being a bit aggressive like her mother. But I was hopeful as she was a little larger than normal.

But no fretting after all as this morning I was greeted with seven little baby bunnies all snuggled in the hutch with hay and pulled fur.


Their bellies are full and they are keeping warm so I’m so happy to see Indigos first kitting was a success and with a good sized litter.


Posted in Rabbits | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Guess who’s coming…er… gonna be dinner?

This year we thought we’d give a try at raising a few turkeys.

I originally purchased 7 chicks, 4 of which we found trampled in the pen at different times. It took a while to find the culprit. (Making me fear some avian flu epidemic.) But it turned out the cages I’ve used to raise chickens had a wire floor that the turkey’s feet were trapped in the squares. A solid bottom was used and the final 3 are what we have now. So Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Anytime are looking pretty yummy!

Video of our turkeys:


The white one is not as timid and comes right up to me. If it was a hen I’d keep her for stock & eggs.


I’m a turkey that’s totally chicken of chickens!


I took these pics some time ago when they were really putting a beating on each others’ tail feathers.

 turkeys2_1967  turkeys2_1972

Posted in Turkeys | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Fire, fire oh my!

Fire…something we often take for granted.

I had a near miss one recent morning. Distracted by the hubby and a friend, I turned away from a warming skillet of olive oil. When they left, I walked back down the hall only to see a wave of dark smoke coming from the kitchen.

Running to the kitchen, I came upon a scene of the skillet on fire, flames flicking to reach the ceiling.


Quickly, I grabbed a metal lid and covered the skillet then waited for the flames to cease. Once the flames were out I opened up the doors and turned on the attic fan. So sorry, no pics of the cool flames. ;)

The smoke cleared and I could see there wasn’t any fire damage but I do have some smoke residue to scrub along the stove vent. What a relief!


The most irritating thing that bugs me is the smoke alarm failed to sound. And forget about the indoor doggie, Tootsie Roll. The house would be a goner because instead of barking, the first whiff of smoke sends her downstairs to hide or escape out the door.

The smoke alarm made me pause as the batteries are good and the alert test was working fine. So that left moving the alarm to where it gets the maximum air flow along the upstairs level.

I’m relieved to have dodged the bullet that killed my great-grandmother. But even if the fire had escalated to a full kitchen fire, I have an ABC fire extinguisher nearby.

But most of all, one just has to remember to not panic and take the best action for the size of the fire. In this case a tight fitting lid over a skillet fire saved the day. Phew!

So what’s the moral here? Don’t take fire for granted and…
#1 Don’t get distracted when cooking!
#2 Keep a tight fitting metal lid nearby when heating oils.
#3 Know how to handle different types of kitchen fires. Have a ABC fire extinguisher on hand. Baking soda can also be used on oil fires. Don’t use water on an oil fire!!!
#4 Make sure smoke alarms are in working order and in the proper placement.
#5 Keep calm and quickly access the situation.
#6 If you live in a rural area, it may take time for the professionals to come to your aid. Know when a fire is out of control and get out.

Read more on fire safety at the National Fire Protection Association.

Posted in Fire Hazards, Safety | Tagged | Leave a comment

Have you created a livestock emergency plan?

Your bug-out bag – check.
Emergency provisions – check.
Safety plans for Bessie? Uh oh.

livestock planSeptember is National Preparedness Month–a relevant topic for the Sustainable Prepper! Most of us know how important it is to have emergency plans for ourselves, friends and family depending on an array of situations (many depending on where you live). But, have you ever thought of what you’d do in a disaster scenario with chickens, goats, cows and other homestead or livestock? Most people haven’t!

A few years ago, as an underpaid news intern, I realized how important these plans are. As the TV stations’ resident “cows and crops” reporter, I pulled on muckboots many times to interview farmers whose agriculture operations were hit by tornados, floods and drought. Many of them didn’t have a plan in place that could have helped round up and house cattle that had miraculously survived straight line winds that took down a barn. A rural county Emergency Management Agency official told me it was common for livestock owners to hope for the best, or think these emergency situations couldn’t happen to them–effectively sticking their heads deep in the corn fields.

If you don’t have a plan, it’s important to start considering one. Every farmer, homesteader or livestock enthusiast knows the value of their meat, dairy or pet livestock, so why not set yourself up to best protect it? Need help getting started? Here’s five areas to consider when creating your plan:

Know what you’re up against.
Every region is different, with varying threats. We gals at the Sustainable Prepper live in the Midwest, where we’re in the heart of Tornado Alley. This is our most prominent environmental threat, but that doesn’t mean we discount other potential problems. Many preppers are ready for drastic scenarios, but what about everyday threats, like barn fires or water contamination. Not only should you layout a response plan for these situations, but also look at ways to prevent or monitor risky situations (like removing heaters and lamps from chicken coops).

Keep easy-to-access files and ID livestock regularly.
If a disaster should strike, you’ll want to keep your livestock inventory in one accessible spot, along with information about vaccinations, tests or health problems. These documents will make it easier to transport livestock if necessary, which can be particularly difficult in natural disasters or if you need to cross state lines. Plus, an up-to-date inventory makes it easier to recognize if any animals are missing in the case of a barn collapse or pasture breach. More importantly, be sure that tags or ID bands are visible on your livestock. Good records and a strong inventory are only half as effective if you don’t know who’s who!

Identify safe spots for your critters to travel to.
Your plan should consider safety spots for two scenarios: one where you shelter in place, and a second where you need to evacuate. In some instances, it may be necessary to release livestock to pasture with enough provisions to last the duration of a disaster, or for safety reasons keep them confined to one location. But, if major building or property damage, water contamination or another threat that can’t be immediately alleviated is an issue, it’s smart to plan a place where your livestock can be transported and housed.

Create Bessie’s bug-out bag.
How much do your laying hens eat in a day? How much water do your horses need? And what are common ailments they face that require medical attention? Knowing these things can help you start creating a bug-out bag for your livestock, which can be helpful both in situations where you can’t get new provisions, like hay or corn, in, or if you need to get out of town. Consider adding extra or alternative feed sources to your barn (I remember a few years ago where a hay shortage meant many horse owners were purchasing expensive alfalfa to get through the winter). If clean water is a concern, explore water purifying systems to add to your kit. Be sure to include handling supplies, such as harnesses and leads, cages and a bag of tools that you use regularly to your kit. Common antibiotics and medical supplies are a must, especially if you find yourself in a quarantine situation.

Prepare your property for potential quarantines.
About that quarantine: they’re more common than you may think. In 2014, the PED virus affected biosecurity on many hog farms, and required a lot of quarantining throughout the Midwest. How frequently do news reports cover quarantines and outbreaks on all kinds of farms? Creating a biosecurity plan is exceptionally important because it’ll help keep contaminants in and prevent them from spreading to nearby livestock. And, they also help keep contaminants out of your barns and pastures. Being prepared for both sides of a quarantine (keeping things in versus out) means looking at your protocol for separating sick animals from herds, sanitation, and understanding reporting to veterinary or agriculture agencies near you.

This list definitely isn’t exhaustive, but it’s meant to get you thinking about your emergency livestock plan. For more reading on what to include and how to plan, check out these great resources:

Prep4AgThreats.org Fact Sheet
Covers basic planning and feed/water rations

FEMA: Preparing for a Disaster (Planning for Pets and Livestock)
Basic overview of disaster kids and evacuation protocol

The University of Vermont: Disaster Planning for Livestock
A great walkthrough for creating your plan

USDA: Disaster Planning Index
An archive of great disaster planning resources, including barn fire safety/response, handling loose animals at accident locations and an online training course.

Don’t forget to contact your county Emergency Management Agency or Extension Office for recommendations/suggestions and resources

Posted in Seasonal Preparations | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Kids & Rabbits & Puppies Oh My!

Boy how time flies! So much has been going on at the farm that we’ve been busy from sun up to sun down. Where do I start? Oh, I’ll start with the new additions to the farm.

We’ve just completed a full season of goat kidding. We decided on a Missouri Native Tree naming pattern for the kids this year.
Winnie gave us two doelings, Sassafras & Hazel, and a buckling, Oakley, on March 18th. Each are healthy and growing fast. Hazel has found a new home but the other two will remain on the farm.


Sassafras, Winnie, and Oakley


Sassafras & Hazel love the brush hog


Oakley and Hazel just sun’n








On May 4th, I drove to Illinois and found a really nice Silver Fox Buck Rabbit. Grason is from Thumping Trail Rabbitry owned by Chelsea. She is wonderful with her rabbits and I know we will continue a friendship.


Grason’s baby fur is growing out & his silvery fur is coming in.


Ebony & Indigo

Then on May 5th, I drove over to see Dinah at Blue Ridge Rabbitry in K.C. and found two beautiful does, a Silver Fox and an American blue. Both are rare heritage breeds known for their high meat quality and pelt.

Sweetpea gave us two bucklings on May 6th. It was a difficult and painful delivery with the first buckling. The buckling was wrapped in the umbilical cord around his neck and with a leg backwards. His distress triggered the delivery as it was wrapped so tightly it took a bit to free him tearing Sweetpea’s vulva. Sadly, he didn’t last but a few minutes after birth even with my intervention of CPR.


I helped her deliver the second buckling without an issue. piney_8742He was spunky and began eating and wondering right away. We decided to call him Piney. Momma healed well and no uterine issues.

Oreo, Sweetpea’s mother, gave us our final does for the season. Redbud and Willow. We were expecting the strong cream and white pattern from Curry’s coloring but she surprised us with a red and white. We hope to see more of this pattern in future kids.


And to protect them all, an Anatolian Shepard puppy we’ve decided to name Thea. She’s living with the goats so she can hind and protect. She was raised with goats, chickens, and ducks an sis fitting in just fine.


Overall, we are thankful for the new animals on the farm!

Posted in Dairy Goats, Kidding, Livestock Dog, Rabbits | Leave a comment

Where Are My Pears?

Apparently, they’re not around this year.

Image of bee eating rotten pear

Bees love taking advantage of fallen and rotting fruit. And why not let them? It’s great for the ecosystem. Sorry, little friends, there’ll be few pears to snack on this year.

Early last fall, I spent two weeks in pear (and apple) heaven. The tiny farm house my husband I and rent came with a equally-sized orchard, complete with one apple and two pear trees. What an added bonus!

We awaited early fall with minimal patience. Because the trees were well-established (the property is decades old), we couldn’t believe our luck — and had no idea how “lucky” we’d be when everything ripen at once.

Picking three fruit trees at one time was a massive rush: moving the fruit in, caning it before spoiling, using all the parts I could for our pantry stock and combating the fruit flies that always know when to show up. But, despite all the hard work, we looked forward to the 2015 harvest as an opportunity to improve our harvesting skills and know-how.

Except, this year, I’m sure we won’t be doing that. At least not for pears. Continue reading

Posted in Gardening | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Egg Drop & Portabello Mushroom Soup

Let’s make use of those extra farm eggs with Egg Drop & Portabello Mushroom Soup!


  • 3 qts chicken broth
  • 4+ eggs
  • olive oil
  • portabello mushrooms, sliced
  • onions, diced
  • sea salt
  • pepper
  • garlic powder
  • paprika
  • 2 basil leaves (or dried 1-2 tsp)

In a 4 qt. pot, add 3 quarts chicken broth (or 2 cups broth & rest in water) and bring to boil. Whip 4 or more eggs (pic shows about a dozen) in a bowl until blended.

IMG_5029In a heated skillet, add olive oil, mushrooms, & onions and sauté until just soft and golden brown.

In boiling broth, drizzle in eggs slowly making strings. Then add mushrooms & onions (opt. carrots, celery). Add sea salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika, and basil (opt. ground ginger) to taste.

Boil 5 to 10 minutes & eat!


Posted in Canning & Cooking | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment