Category Archives: Barn Animals

Happy February!

Happy February! I was thinking about my book. It has a new cover and is now available on Kindle. It is even on sale! So to kick off a new month a bit late here is an exerpt from my favorite section in February.

So it is February and still Winter. Maybe the groundhog has predicted 6 more weeks of Winter, maybe not. Maybe you live in the far north and even through the groundhog says there will be 6 more weeks of winter you know that it will likely be more like 12. So, what to do with February?

Believe it or not, spring is coming, though it may seem to be coming slowly. Don’t neglect the beauty of this season. One friend of mine suggested that February is the time to enjoy colors, to celebrate color with sumptuous meals or dress in your most brightly-colored clothes. Maybe you will make something new and bright for your home or simply notice the layers of color in the frost on the window.

Study Light (and Color)

You should be noticing by now that the days are getting longer. With that the light is changing.
One great way to study the seasons is by noticing the positions of the sun. If you live in the city, one of the easiest ways to do this is to notice where the sun hits on your walls. Make a mental note or use post it notes to mark it. Check how it is changing every week throughout the month.

If you live on a farm and do chores outside, it is probably even easier to notice. We don’t have electricity in our barn, so our chore time depends on the sun. It is good practice to notice where the sun is throughout the day, especially in the evening.

Geography, science: We went to Hawaii for our honeymoon. Since Hawaii is closer to the equator than Minnesota, its sundown times are more even throughout the year. In Minnesota our sundowns vary from 4:30 pm in the winter to almost 9:30 pm in the summer. But in Hawaii the times vary only between 6:00 and 7:00 pm. This also a good time to study why the light changes. How does your location on the planet and the tilt of the planet effect where the sun is in our sky?

Art/ history: I had the opportunity to study in Nice, France one January in college. I went to the Matisse museum and was told that Matisse loved this area in the winter because of the sun. Take time to notice and appreciate the sun. See how the sun is portrayed in different works of art.

County Fair 2016

We have just completed the County Fair for 2016. This year we had so much fun bringing animals to the fair for the first time. When I was living in the city and visiting the state fair I had no idea all the weeks and months of preparation that went into the exhibits in the 4H building and the animal barns. Since moving to Rush City, which happens to be where our county fair is held, we have enjoyed meeting some amazing people doing amazing things. It is always a joy to see who is bringing what to the fair. Now we brought our own animals. This year it was pigs and goats, and then the following weekend dogs for the dog show.


Avril with Spot.


Effie with her friend Alice for Cloverbud showmanship (youth under 9 are not allowed to handle animals).


Avril and Two with their goats.


Avril and Delilah. Two and Jack at the dog show.

The pig show required me to be more hands on. So I wasn’t able to get pictures. Even the younger kids really loved seeing the animals at the fair. Lith and Pray, our youngest, are really going to be into animals I can tell already. They are already planning for next year.

Baby Season

Baby season has begun here at Crazy Boy Farm. This year we did things a little different. We waited until our females actually went in heat before putting them in with our males. So this year we actually sort of knew when the babies would come. So we were watching for signs and doing night checks and trying to be as prepared as possible.

Our first batch of babies was piglets. Their mother Elsa had really struggled last year (her first farrowing) with breech births and long labor and ended up only giving us one live baby. So this year we really weren’t sure what to expect. We were just hoping that it would go easier for her and hopefully some live babies.


She ended up giving us 10! Being a purebred Berkshire Hog (a heritage breed or old breed) she hasn’t been bred to give lots of babies. At the most we were hoping for 8. So when 7 and 8 came out together we thought we were done, but then about an hour later number 9 came out and 3 hours after that 10. Effie in particular is very happy with the piglets as you can see above. And Avril has really made a wonderful midwife for the animals learning how to clean the babies and make sure they are nursing and thriving.


One is missing in this picture. It is still pretty cold around here so we do have heat lamps for them.


The piglets are already a week old and some of them are joining their mother for a walk outside. I love this picture because it looks like she is talking to them. In all honesty I think she does talk to them. The range of vocalizations between them is impressive. I also love how they will look at each other when they are talking.


Then last night we had baby goats born. I had been watching Pearl, the mother, for two days. I checked her at 9 pm last night and she was calmly eating, then at the 10 pm check there were 3 babies. The last one was still in the sack and I tried to revive it but was not successful. Then while I was there she gave birth to a 4th one! this is highly unusual. The final baby was breach and was also born in the sack. I actually had to use my fingernails to ripe open the sack and free the baby. This one survived. So Pearl gave us 2 boys and 1 girl. We checked them often last night since it was so cold and they also have a lamp. They are all doing well and nursing, though one of these will likely be a bottle baby and it is hard for mothers to nurse triplets.


This little guy is the children’s favorite.

I am so pleased with how the season is going and how much the children are enjoying it. I actually don’t have to beg them to help with chores and sometimes they are even ready before I am.


Somehow Mavis even manages to look fashionable when she is out working with the animals. They make it all worth.



What a wonderful change this year has been. We have already enjoyed almost a week of 60 degree weather. This is VERY unusual for Minnesota. Even though this week is a bit cooler the break in winter weather (hopefully the end, pretty please) has been so refreshing. But with the change in weather comes other changes to the farm.


I really have no business complaining. Really Mud season is not that bad; except that it is very had to walk and all that cold mud is really hard on the animals, but it is heralding something much better. We just came off 3 days of rain so we are super saturated but hopefully it will start to dry out now.


Meet Zelen. One of our goals with moving to the farm was helping to get the children set up. We wanted to show them ways to avoid debt, make extra income, and be as self sufficient as possible. So Proeun II has started his own cattle business. Zelen is a 3 year old Galloway. We purchased her bred and will hopefully have a calf this June. She is accompanied by Claire who is a year old this month. We are so excited to start this process with the children. II will be showing Claire at the fair this year.


Scout and Tiger. Really good mousers are worth their weight in gold and we try hard to colonize at least 2 cats in each of our out buildings but with spring these 2 guys were getting into more fights and Tiger had been taking off for longer and longer periods of time. At one point we really thought we had lost him. So we decided that it was worth the extra money to invest in their health and they have both been fixed now. All the cats on our farm have now been fixed (except for one female we hope will give us kittens so the children can experience it once before we fix her).


Avril is hoping to start her own business this spring as well–sheep. And with sheep come sheep dogs. I actually was feeling the need for some herding dogs every time the goats got out but it really wasn’t in the budget. Then we came across these 2 dogs. They are actually Amish dogs and a mix of herding breeds (Australian Shepherd, Blue Mountain Heeler and Border Collie). They were just right. Avril will be joining II in Dog training this year through 4H.

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We have also begun growing for our CSA. After several years on our own farm it is nice to have some systems set up that make the work more routine. We now have our cooler doing double duty as a germination room and our small greenhouse up that we use for early season. It is so fun to see the very beginnings of plant babies.


We are also waiting on our animal babies. Elsa our Berkshire hog will farrow again any day now. And the goats will start after that. I do love spring.

Timber Harvest

I love trees. One of my childhood homes had a border of woods. I loved those woods even though I didn’t often venture very far into them. My next home had no trees. It had been a farmer’s field before it was subdivided into suburban lots. My first home with Proeun (a rental) again had a border of trees around a pond. Right outside our bedroom window was a willow. That is what I remember most about that home.

So when Proeun and I were looking for a farm I hoped it would have woods–real woods not just a few trees planted around the house. Well we were blessed beyond belief and have 15 acres of woods. However they were not very healthy. We have a tremendous amount of buckthorn that really keeps us from getting into the thick of the woods.

A few weeks ago I saw an ad in the paper targeting woodland owners. We knew we had some dead trees, some fence lines that needed clearing and dreams of a new barn that would have insulation and electricity so it would be more comfortable for animals to birth, even in the winter. But all we had was a wall of trees.

Then Precision Tree and Landscape came into our lives. Steve was amazing. From the first time he came to the farm and gently corrected me when I called him, “the tree guy,” (he is in fact a forester) to his ongoing help through the project, we have been so happy with the company. We still miss our trees but know it is much healthier and usable this way.

And it did take some getting used to though, having those huge machines around. Chris actually did our cutting. He was another top notch guy and really great to work with.


Chris and his machine.



The machine getting ready to cut a problem tree.



Loading into the chipper.



Chipper loading the semi.

We found out that alot of the moisture problems (and hence sick animals) have been because not enough air was moving around the barn. Now the pig pen actually dries up! and hopefully we won’t have as much condensation from the roof dripping on animals inside the barn.

So we now have a beautiful property that is accessible via trails into the woods and an area cleared for a future barn but we also will get a little income. Not alot but we didn’t have to pay for it and Proeun didn’t have to spend months doing it by hand.

Now I guess goats are great for controlling buckthorn. Luckily we have those, including three babies left from this year. Now the children are happy that we are happy the goats are contributing to the farm in a way no other animal can.

Oh and Pray loved seeing all those big machines around.

Foggy Bottom Alpacas

This weekend we were about neck deep in projects that need to be done before winter. This is our normal operating procedure–neck deep. But as I have said before our children are getting older and we feel like we want to take the time to make memories with them. I am always on the lookout for fun things to do close to our home. For the past 3 years I had heard about the National Alpaca Days. But like I said I always thought we were too busy to go. Not this year, we were going to make time. When I told the children that we were going to an alpaca farm they were practically giddy. So off we went to Foggy Bottom Alpacas.


Of course convincing the children that we were actually going to be leaving without an alpaca was a bit difficult. Two (Crazy Boy) said, “we have had cows, pigs, chickens, bees, goats, and dogs in the back of the suburban. Why is an alpaca different?” For me it is the price, they are definitely a high end animal, but fun to look at.


Foggy Bottom started 7 years ago with 4 animals. Now there are 109 on the farm. Mark and Sara’s daughter even started her own business Over the Rainbow Alpacas. They are very passionate and have an amazing set up.


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This little guy is only 5 days old! We had great fun visiting the alpacas and farm family and shopping at the on-site store. If you get a chance to stop by it will be well worth your time to visit with these amazing animals and people. Oh and for all my fiber arts friends, the fiber is fabulous!

Baby Pigs in the Fall

Wow it has been nearly 2 months since I blogged last. I can tell you the lapse was not intentional but due to a very good summer we have been having. We have been working on balance. We are realizing that life in general, plus raising children and running a business (a farm no less) is really a marathon and so we have to pace ourselves. So this summer we have been focusing on the nuts and bolts of farming, the planting, weeding, harvesting, etc. We have let some other things go so that we can take what time we have left and spend enjoying our children.

Avril is joining her brother in basketball. So we will have 2 children in basketball this fall. And we volunteered to be the coach and assistant coach (I am the assistant) for Avril’s team. Of all the things I thought I might be, a basketball coach was not one of them.

Another thing I never thought I would be was a pig farmer. But this last weekend our two girls, Elsa and Anna gave us baby pigs. I wrote about when they came to our farm here. Unfortunately it did not go as good as it could and we are still learning on the curve, but we are very happy with our babies. Elsa had a couple breech births. We thought for sure all the other babies would be dead but she surprised us with a live baby, 56 hours after going into labor!. Anna did fine and is a champ. Elsa is recovering nicely and enjoying her one live baby. I am so happy she had one to help her in the recovery process.

Here is a picture of her little sweety


We are now settling into a fall schedule, though September is always super busy as we start school, continue to farm and finish projects before the snow flies. Hope you have a great September.

Chicks Galore









Sometimes it is hard to roll with the punches while farming. That is one of the reasons that we wanted to be a diverse farm. We have cattle, pigs, goats (for dairy and pets), chicks, and turkeys plus we do vegetables. This makes it a bit easier, if it is a wacky weather year and vegetables are struggling maybe the animals can pick up some of the slack.

But this year it is the animals that are having the problems–birds specifically. We were planning on ordering chicks this year, layers and broilers. But when the news of the the avian flu hit we decided to stay as self contained as possible. Minnesota where we live is having such an issue that 4H has decided that no poultry will be shown at any of the county fairs or the state fair.

So we pulled out our incubator and decided to hatch our own. We bought it last year when we first got turkeys and tried a batch in the fall only to discover that the afternoon sun was shining in our basement window and bringing the temp way too high. We were not successful. This year we made sure no sun was coming in and bought a digital thermometer. And this year–success.

It is actually really cool watching chicks hatch. First they peck a hole through the membrane inside the egg, then the first chips appear on the outside of the egg, see above picture.





Then they start to peck in a circle around the egg. Once they have completed that they push until they are out. It takes quite a long time, sometimes over 8 hours. We leave them in the incubator until they are dry.



Then we have this.




Right now they are living in our downstairs bathroom. We didn’t have as high of a success rate as I would have liked but we had too much temperature fluctuation in the beginning, then somehow the incubator was plugged into a different outlet that we didn’t know wasn’t working, so the temp dropped way too much near the end. We will see if anymore hatch and on Monday start another batch. It only takes 21 days, the trick is to monitor the temperature (101-102) and turn the eggs every 12 hours (skip the first day and the last 2). It is a very rewarding experience, even with the mistakes. Such is life.

The Animals of Crazy Boy Farm and Open House

For years now we have been saying we want to do a calendar. But you know how it is and other projects keep pushing it to a back burner. But as we are loving this spring weather and all the animals on our farm (who are also loving the spring weather) I got an idea for a post–the Animals of Crazy Boy Farm.

But first I wanted to invite all you to our spring open house on May 31st, from 1-4:00. We will have tours, up close encounters with some of our animals, tasty food (we will provide the main dish, please bring a dish to share), great conversation and more. Hope to see you there. And don’t forget we still have some CSA shares available here.


Avril and Buddy, the pony we were given last year. Avril is training him as part of her 4H horse project.



Avril practicing backing Buddy up.




Mavis would love a pony of her own but we are working on being content with what we have and what we do have is a mini donkey. Donkey (his name was Jack but since we already had a Jack he became Donkey but now Mavis has decided he needs a better name so she chose John) came to our farm 2 years ago. For a long time he was the biggest animal we had. He loves the attention but is still stubborn.


Mavis and Avril practicing “ground work.”


Berkshire hogs joined our farm last year. We are expecting babies in June. Here they are waiting for dinner.



In this post we talked about jersey calves joining our farm. Well here is what they look like now. It was a rough winter and we have learned alot along the way. Out of the 5 we have 2 left but they are going strong. As another farmer friend told us when farming with animals “the learning curve really stinks!” But we are very happy with these boys.





It is now goat season. These 2 were born yesterday and we actually got to see it. All the children except for the baby were there to see at least the 2nd baby born. As Two said, “boy the miracle of life is messy!”






Then of course there is Jack, our constant companion. He is loving this warm weather and a quick role in the leaves.

A New Year Begins

It is hard to believe that 2014 is actually over and a new year has begun. We have so been enjoying the quieter part of the year though plenty has still been going on. As the children get older it is so fun to see their interests growing. Avril and Mavis have been enjoying planning 4h projects for next year and Two has been loving learning all about basketball through his first year on the local traveling team and some tutoring from his dad. This weekend he has his first tournament and his sisters have been planning cheers and picking out their cheer leading outfits.

I have been thinking this holiday season about how much I love the fact that the children have their own support group. Yesterday Avril was making bows from a craft book she had gotten from the library. Her sisters (and Mother) thought they were just great but I am reminded how cruel the world can often be with a focus on tearing down, rather than building up and I almost cried thinking about how blessed our family is to be able to provide this environment of love and support.

For new year’s resolutions I am pretty lax this year. In fact as I await the birth of our next baby I am a pretty tired momma, and I think a great resolution would be to learn how to use systems more and teach the children how to do more for themselves. Of course I want to continue focusing on an environment of love and support. I am hopping for a more smooth year.

And then there are crafts. I would love more crafts. Today we made pom poms for the Doeun cheering squad.


First cut a length of yarn around 12 inches long. Then begin wrapping yarn around your hand like so. You will need to go around 50-100 times.


When you reach the desired thickness gently slide off fingers and keeping loop intact slide pre-cut yarn through the loop.


Tie using a square knot on one side and flip it over and tie the other side with another square knot. So it is tight in the middle and you have loops on the top and bottom.


Slide your scissors in the loop and cut. Then do the other side.


Fluff and use the strings you used to tie the pom pom as a handle.

While I am resting Proeun has already started planning our 2015 CSA season. I can hardly wait for the warmer weather, fresh veggies, and being able to be outside comfortably again. If you are looking for a CSA please pop over to our CSA page and check us out.

Hope you have a peaceful and blessed 2015.