Monday, January 16, 2017

Check out the awesome article about our Heritage Sheep in Knit Edge Magazine (available on Ravelry)!

One of their editors came out to the farm back in November to learn about our Santa Cruz Sheep for an article in their magazine.  The article is beautiful and talks about the history of the breed, the risk of extinction for so many endangered breeds of livestock and more....these even added a little on our San Clemente goats.  My favorite part of the article, of course, was being described as a woman in my 30s (seeing as I'll be turning 50 this year, I loved that comment!).  The only "mistake" in the article is they said our farm was 7 acres, but it is actually 97 acres...but otherwise the article portrayed the sheep and our farm perfectly.  Thank you Sarah Eyre for a great tribute to the Santa Cruz Sheep!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Heritage Breeds

Tranquil Morning Farm is the home to heritage and rare breeds of sheep, goats and alpaca.  For many years we have raised Shetland Sheep, a heritage breed of sheep listed now as "recovering" on the Livestock Conservancy's list of endangered breeds of livestock.  A couple years ago we added a flock of Finnsheep, a rare breed of sheep. This past year we were blessed enough to start a flock of Santa Cruz Island sheep.  These sheep are not only rare and a heritage breed, but are a breed that are listed as "critically endangered" by the Livestock Conservancy.  There are only around 200 Santa Cruz Sheep in existence.  We hope that we will be able to grow our flock and eventually start other breeders with this interesting and useful breed of sheep.

Santa Cruz sheep are a feral sheep breed originating in the Channel Islands off the coast of San Diego, California.  They were ranched on Santa Cruz Island in the 1800s and early 1900s and then abandoned on the island when the ranchers left.  In the 1980s the island was sold to the Nature Conservancy and the sheep needed to be removed so the native wildlife could recover.  Though most of the sheep were hunted, some were removed by the Livestock Conservancy and placed with farmers.  There are currently a handful of breeders across the country who are trying to preserve the breed.

We felt since the focus of our sheep program revolved around heritage breeds, that we should do the same with our goats.  While we will continue with a few Nubian and Angora goats, we found a heritage breed to raise as well.  We recently added some San Clemente Island Goats to our farm.  These goats are also from the Channel Islands of California.  They are also listed as "critically endangered" by the Livestock Conservancy.  There are just over 700 of these goats left, and our farm has some of those!

 Similar to the story of the Santa Cruz Sheep, San Clemente Goats were brought to San Clemente Island in the early 1800s, and eventually abandoned to live feral on the island, owned by the US Navy.  They eventually needed to be removed from the island, and while most were hunted, some were removed and placed with farmers.  We love that these two breeds have such a similar history prior to arriving on our farm.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Summer Salads

One of my favorite summer foods is a summer tossed salad.  With a kitchen garden overflowing with choices, there is no end to the combinations you can create.  I made a great salad last night.  I started with some lettuce, australian spinach (left over from the farmer's market I sold at yesterday), cherry tomatoes, cucumbers (I love the pickling kind for salads, so crisp and even the skin tastes awesome), green peppers, nastertium leaves and flowers (kids get a kick out of eating flowers), tarragon (love that herb, use it on all sorts of things), and a little cranberry vinegrette dressing...yum!

Other days I add zucchini or summer squash, fresh peas, green beans, or just about anything you can think of.  I love fresh fruit in a salad.  Wether it be strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, peaches or apples....all add a nice touch of sweetness to this summer treat! Truly one of the great joys of summer...a fresh picked garden salad.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Fruits and Vegetables

Well, our garden is almost completely planted.  Our garden was inspired by ones we saw when visiting Old Sturbridge Village in Massachussetts.   We planted small beds of various plants with walkways between them, so we do not have to walk on plants to tend to them and we can focus on one bed at a time, so the large garden does not become overwhelming when time to weed.  We have planted two types of zucchini, yellow summer squash, dumpling squash, cucumbers, tomatoes (3 types), radishes, spinach, many types of lettuce, rhubarb, various herbs (medicinal, tea and cooking), asperagus, red potatoes, pumpkins (large and sugar), strawberries, green bush beans, yellow bush beans, green vine beans, peas, lots and lots of carrots (3 kinds)....that may be it. 

We also are  putting more attention to our fruit trees and bushes.  Our 6 blueberry bushes are abundant with baby fruit.  Our grape arbor is over loaded with grapes and has extended across the clothesline (I'll need to put up a new line somewhere else).  Our three apples trees are full of little apples (we have red delicious, macantosh and I think golden delicious) so we can be busy making applesauce this fall.  Our raspberry bushes (we have red, black and pricker-free red) are overtaking everything, but full of fruit.
It has been a lot of hard work, but we hope to have a plentiful harvest to enjoy this summer, share with family and friends, and freeze and can for winter enjoyment.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Homesteading seems to be quite the trend lately. I suppose it fits in with all the "sustainable living" philosophies. I love the idea of homesteading. Maybe because of my fascination with life in the mid 1800s. Maybe because of a greater understanding of where food comes from and how it is grown/raised. Maybe its the "romance" of the idea. Or maybe Homesteading is just a word that describes how I had already decided I wanted to live, before I found that there was a term for it. Whatever the reason...our family is homesteading.
The dictionary (meriam-webster) defines homesteading as "To aquire or settle on land under a homestead law". That is what the definition is historically, but it doesn't describe how the term is used in modern days. Wikipedia defines homesteading as "a lifestyle of simple, agrarian self-suffiency." This is a much more appropriate definition to describe the modern idea of homesteading. It certainly fits into our idea of what our homestead is.

There are no more homesteading laws as there were when our country wanted to encourage movement to the uncharted west. Modern homesteaders are not exploring uncharted land looking for a new start to life, they are instead exploring new ways to live on the land they already have.
So, what does this simple, agrarian self-suffienct lifestyle entail? Well, we have dabbled in it the past few years, but his year are making a harkened effort to become significantly more self-suffient. We have long raised chickens for eggs, sheep for wool to make yarn, and goat's milk to make soap. We moved into this house with its old apple trees, blueberry bushes, grape vines, etc. and have used these, but not to their full potential. I grow herbs for cooking and I have attempted in the past to grow vegetables with varying degrees of success.

So, onto our "new" plan. We are almost finished rototilling (gosh, I wish I had my horses at the house...I'd surely have gotten an antique plow) a very large garden (with plans to double it the following year if we survive this garden). We will move our rhubarb and asperagus to the new garden, where we will attempt to grow a plethora of colorful veggies. We will expand the herb garden and grow some herbs specifically for making our own herbal tea (having made the decision to join the Mormon church, I have made the switch from coffee to herbal tea). We will work at better tending our grapes, blueberries, raspberries and apples so that we can make applesauce, jam, etc. to have in the winter. We will can or freeze much of our extra fruits and veggies to enjoy in the winter months. We are utilizing our alpaca/sheep/goat manure to fertilize our plants and gardens.

We will continue to raise layer hens for eggs, but we have added a small flock of cornish-cross chickens for meat. I don't know how we'll like this, but I have a couple friends who have expressed how easy it is to process your own chickens. And, after learning more about how the chickens in the grocery store are raised (ewww, is all I can say) it may be worth the emotional struggle to raise and slaughter chickens to feed my precious family a healthier meat (and happier meat from what I've heard) We will also make more use of our goat milk for drinking.
This is a start...we have a long way to go....but we are heading in the direction of a more physically and emotionally healthy lifestyle. I'll continue more on that topic at a later date. I'll let you know how this all goes.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Summer resolutions

I know resolutions are supposed to be made at new years- but it just never seems like the best time to start anew. Its cold, snowy, icey...just not the kind of weather that ignites my emotional and physical drive. Now, this time of year- I'm motivated to change, fix, work on things. So- how about Summer Resolutions, or End of the school year Resolutions. Makes more sense to me.

Okay- so what are my resolutions?

Riding- I am resolved to focus on my riding skills this year. I have really let that lapse- just no time to ride...I spend all my time feeding, cleaning, grooming, driving (the car) back and forth to the barn, and no time to just have fun with the animals. I miss riding. About 5 years ago I resolved to take riding lessons and learn how to jump. Well, I did that- and it felt great. Then I got a horse that was "nuts" and put the fear of God in me. Killed my confidence. I now have the most wonderful horse (Lady Felicia) and I need to get my riding legs back (and my confidence) so that is my number one resolution. (yes, it is Prancer in the picture- he's an awesome horse too)
Children- I resolve to work on being more patient with the kids when they don't do what they are supposed to (I can be quite a nag), or when they are whiny and difficult (like when Markie repeatedly throws his shoes on the floor and then screams for them, or when Lori is out grazing on the lawn- or eating maple leaves = which look surprisingly like the "tree stars" of Land Before Time ) That said- Lori has a great imagination. Some days she is a dinosaur (eating tree stars) or one of the goats (grazing on the lawn- yuck!!) of a pirate (complete costume going on here- the back of the couch is her ship) or on occasion, Spiderman (luckily she has not figured out how to walk up walls- but I"m sure she's tried). I need to laugh more and get frustrated less.

I also resolve to spend a little more time with the teenagers- so I don't lose touch with my boys.
Home- I should resolve to focus on housework, dishes and laundry...but I won't. I really don't like housework, don't like being indoors at why bother. It appears that no one else in the house really cares either- or they'd offer to help.

Okay- sounds good. So...what's your Summer Resolution?

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Having fun with farming!

I'm exhausted again today. So much work to do to keep up with the farm, if only days were twice as long!
As I was raking out the goat pens I was thinking about all the farm tasks and how some are truly fun, and others are not so much fun. I started making a mental list of each and thought I'd share my thoughts.

Fun Farm Tasks:
Babies!!!!!!! Holding baby animals, feeding baby animals, holding them again. Watching baby animals spring through the air. We've had lots of babies here this year, more than we normally do, and it makes it all so much more fun...chicks, bunnies, kids, lambs, crias...

Milking goats and sheep. Yeah, some days you just don't feel like doing it, like rainy days... but otherwise it is an enjoyable task, makes you feel so "natural" gathering your own milk, sort of like picking apples or harvesting veggies from your garden.

Shearing sheep. I find that is such fun, exhausting, but fun. I love the feel of the different wools and fibers, thinking about what I am going to create with the particular fleece...will it become yarn and then a sweater or scarf? will it be felted into a necklace? will it be sold to someone who will create something special with it?

Collecting eggs. Much like milking the is harvesting the fruits of your labor, and brings a smile to my face and a warm feeling to my heart. Of course, that is if I get the eggs before the girls do. My daughters love to collect the eggs.

Farmers Markets. I love farmers markets. Talking to people about our farm, our animals, our products. Seeing the interest in the customers. Hearing about what they are going to make with the skeins of yarn they just purchased. Hearing about their grandparents, or great grandparents farms of yesteryear. Chatting with other local farmers. It is such a fun way to get our farm products out to the public.

Feeding the animals in the morning. They are so happy to see me, I feel loved. :-) I talk to them, tell them about my day, ask about theirs. Give a little scratch behind their ear, or under their chin. Kisses from the horses and baby kids and lambs. Just starts the day off right.

Not so fun Farm Tasks:

Cleaning up manure. Ugh. Goat and sheep poo isn't too bad, llama and alpaca is easy...they make a nice pile for me to scoop up. Chicken poo, is gross and I dread having to clean chicken coops. Horse poo, doesn't smell bad and scoops up easy...but I just don't understand why horses that are free range and not closed up in stalls, feel the need to back into a stall to relieve themselves...rather than take a walk through the 4 acre pasture and find a spot off in the distance! Then there is rabbit poo. I hate cleaning rabbit cages more than anything else!!! but, I love rabbits, so I'm stuck with that chore.

Rain. Rain makes everything on the farm less fun. It makes mud. I hate mud. I get my feet stuck in mud. They get mud in their wool (which I then end of washing out), on their fur, in their feet.

Buying hay and grain. It just costs too much, but it is inevitable. Hubby does the human grocery shopping, I do the farm grocery shopping...I hate the money I have to spend, but it is worth it to have the opportunity to enjoy all the wonderful critters that live at our farm.