Breeze Hill Farm

  (Powhatan, Virginia)
Sheep, Goats, Alpacas, Llamas, Border Collies
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Stupid! But True Story

As you all know, Saturday we went to a Chicken Swap. What I didn’t mention was one pretty stupid thing that happened while we were there. Included in this Swap were all livestock..bunnies, goats, etc. One of the “so called” goat farmers in our area brought 2 of his goats to sell. The way he transported them was a recipe for disaster to begin with and if you can image this..that is exactly what happened.

Maybe some of you all have done this before but I found it to be terrible. He had strapped those poor goats into a flat equipment trailer (you know the kind the guys use to transport lawnmowers) with equipment straps. He took them out on a 55 mph 4 lane road to the Swap. Now if you can image this..one of them got loose, jumped out of the trailer and started the journey down the middle of on-coming traffic. The cops were there trying to stop traffic, the poor goat was running like hell and then it beared off into the woods. Now I happen to know this farmer (I’m sorry) and I know that his farm is about 5 miles from where the Swap took  place. He told the cops “don’t worry, he’s headed in the direction of home so he’ll get back there soon”. While all of the “whoha” was going on the other poor goat stayed strapped in the equipment trailer for a couple of hours in the pouring rain. 

I know I’m probably nuts, but to begin with I would never traumatize any animal like this..if you don’t have a livestock trailer, or sides on your pick up or a kennel carrier..buy one, build one or leave your poor animals at the farm. This guy not only put the animals life at risk but several hundred drivers and their passengers as well. As for the goat finding his way home! I have goats and yes I do find them to have some intelligence but if I took any of them 5 miles from here and dropped them, I would never expect to see them again..unless one of our neighbors found them and brought them back.

It just seems strange that the term “livestock” must mean trash to many people. I know that the way we coddle and baby our livestock is not really normal but I look at what I get in return for the way we take care of them..gorgeous fleeces from the sheep, goats, and llama, wonderful goats milk, fairly tame animals, which helps at shearing and milking time, minimal to no vet bills, just to name a few advantages. I am by no means saying that what we do is perfect nor that this is how everyone should treat their animals but come on, a little common sense is really worth it’s weight in gold!

Don’t know if the goat “found” it’s way home or not. Is it so hard to think about what you’re doing before you do it? It must be.

 
 

I'm Back!

Sorry I've been off the Blog seen for a while. For those who read my farm Blog http:/www.breezehillfarm.net you know that things have been very crazy here at the farm because of an illness with my Mother. Hopefully, I will start being able to make regular post again.

Thanks to everyone who has written, called and visited during this most difficult time, I've missed my Local Harvest community!

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New Kid Continued......

Just a quick update. Our stray Rooster has a name!!! His new name is:

"Beau-Cocks"

(get it? Beau-cocks...Botox!)

My husband has a rather strange sense of humor. Another Blogger made the recommendation to name him Beau, that's all hubby needed to encourage the name play. Needless to say, we will call him Beau!

 

 
 

New Kid On The Farm


While out running the Border Collies, Monday morning, several weeks ago, we heard a Rooster crowing. Around here we have sheep, goats, cows, horses, dogs and cats..no chickens. That’s just not something anyone close by raises and after the fox killed our last hens, we had been chicken free for 4 years – which brings me back to the crowing Rooster. I started following the crow. Imagine my surprise when I found 2 beautiful Roosters pecking around in the cemetery at the church across the road from us.

These guys seemed very tame. Catching the first one was easy. The second one got very upset and confused. He took off into the woods and we couldn’t find him. Hubby had to go to work and I had early deliveries, so we brought Rooster #1 over to our place and said that we could get the other one when we got home. Also, as much noise as Rooster#1 was making, we felt confident that he would encourage Rooster #2 to come to him. Well that didn’t happen.

When we got home that night, we discovered Rooster #1 running around and crowing. Apparently, these guys had been pets..they didn’t even know how to roost. We went to the church to find the other boy but had no luck. At midnight, when we let the dogs out for the last time, we heard Rooster #2 crowing. We got the dogs in and headed for the church. By the time we got there all was quiet. We hung out for almost an hour and decided this Rooster quest would be easier in daylight. We never heard him again! Rooster #1 was just sad the next day perpetually crowing and running around but there was no response. I spent hours at the church and in the cemetery listening and looking for Rooster #2, but he was no where to be found. The following day, I found him dead in the cemetery. He had been slaughtered by what we assume was a weasel.

Thankfully, by day three Rooster #1 had acclimated to his new home and had stopped calling his brother. So now we have a new Rooster! He’s quite the cool little guy. He thinks his job is to tend the sheep. Where they go..he goes. We’ve worked with him a lot and now he knows how to roost, where to find his food (sheep and goats eat anything that hits the ground, so we had to put his food up) and that bugs are a good dietary supplement. He’s a good boy. We are now considering adding a few hens so he won’t be without his kind and hope that the fox families have moved on for now. We didn’t realize how much we missed having chickens in the barnyard.

This Blogger/farmers rant – With so many avenues to find homes for unwanted animals a story like this should never have happened. We live in the country, there are 3 feed stores within a 15 mile radius of us, they have bulletin boards. There, of course, is Craig’s List, a local paper and word of mouth. We would have gladly taken these two Rooster’s if the person who dropped them had simply turned up our driveway and asked. There is just no excuse for one of these beautiful animals being slaughtered! All of this being said, we are very happy to have our new Rooster..there is a new peaceful calamity on the farm now and he’s good for the soul…guess things really do happen for a reason.

We still haven’t named him though..got any ideas? Please share.

 
 

The Nutritional Benefits of Goat Milk

The following is a great article about the benefits of Goats Milk and I wanted to share it with you all. Click on the link to learn more….

 

Agoat

The Nutritional Benefits of Goat Milk by Miriah Reynolds from the July/August, 2009 issue of Dairy Goat Journal. Presenting information, ideas, and insights for everyone who raises, manages, or just loves goats..

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My Favorite Time Of Year


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This photo was taken at a friends farm in the Shenandoah Valley last year. I use it throughout the year as a screen saver..when it doesn’t look like this here. In a couple more weeks, I’ll have more photos of Fall to remind me of my favorite time of year. There is something so incredibly wonderful and exhilarating about Autumn. I remember as a child, sitting in the swing, on late afternoons during Fall days, marveling at the difference in lighting. It in itself was a paint scheme for the artist’s palette, then add the magnificent colors of the trees  and summer grasses and oh my, it made it even more breathtaking. The Indian Summer or the cool Fall crispness to the air all make this a beautiful and memorable time for me as I’m sure it does for many others. As I sit here and type, I can almost smell the wood and leaf burning wafting through the air and the taste of fresh apple cider with a short shot of bourbon teasing my tongue. Of course, as a child it was virgin apple cider! Ah, what a wonderful time!

With Autumn, at Breeze Hill Farm, comes the season for breeding and fiber growth. The goats are busy working on the babies that will come in Spring. The sheep and goats both are starting their heavy fiber growing season in anticipation of Winter. We are cleaning stalls, getting the pastures broken up and fertilized and cleaning up downed wood, acorns and leaves. There is always a lot to do…always and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Well, I’m making soap and lotion like crazy this week in anticipation of great sales this upcoming holiday season. I can’t wait to get back out to the markets and open houses. To see those friends that we only see once a year and to make new friends. I spend my days doing this and my nights knitting so there will be a good stock from both sides of the farm.

 
 

Baxter

This post has nothing to do with farming, food or any other type of agriculture. It has to do with human interest and it's good for all of us to see. I only found out about "Baxter" yesterday and I can't begin to express the love I already feel for him and his owner. I'm sure some of you have already heard about "Baxter" but for those who have not, please take a moment to watch the link below. Before you do..get a new box of tissues (you guys too) you'll need them. 

 Please enjoy....

http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=1205976343915

If it doesn't come in right, leave a comment and I'll try to load it again. This is a can't miss.

We love our lives, we love our kids, we love our spouses, we love our friends, we love our family, a good glass of wine, things that make are hearts go pitter patter, but the love of a good person and a dog cannot be measured by just words.

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Fall Fiber Festival & Sheepdog Trials

Yesterday we decided a day off from everything was necessary for mental and physical health. We got up early, took care of the livestock and headed for Montpelier in Orange county, VA, to the Fall Fiber Festival & Sheepdog Trials.

What a beautiful day! We still can’t believe how clear the air was . It was a little cool when we left home but by the time we arrived, it was in the mid 70’s. An added benefit to the trip was the leaves are starting to turn. We took in everything – all 5 large tents with rows of vendors selling everything fiber – beautiful hand dyed silk and wool blend yarns and rovings – there was a lot of yarn. It seemed that the vendors choose to cater more to the hand worker than the spinner.

We passed by the outside tents and went over to the Livestock Exhibit tent. They had a good example of various different fiber producing animals – the Angora Rabbits, Llama and Alpaca were not represented very well in this exhibit but I later found more of them in the outside tents. After looking around we found our friends Magi & Jay from Magi’s Wood Farm, you know, where we just got our Icelandic’s from.

Magi & Me

Magi & Me

She was happy to see me because she had let a child play with her wheel and it wasn’t working. She’s been having a problem with it every since she got it but it was worse. Later in the day, hubby found the same wheel and discovered her problem is incorrect set up. Hopefully the pictures he took of the correct set up will fix her problem.

Hubby wanted to take in the sheep shearing demos and I really did want to check out those outside tens, so I left him. My first stop was the Fleece Sale tent. Lot’s of beauties in there.  I found a CVM Sheep fleece that was really beautiful – when I looked at the price, I came very close to passing out – 2.2 lbs./$102.00. Needless to say that didn’t come home with me.

As I walked by the outside tents – something caught my eye – A spinning wheel! It looked to be very much like an Ashford Traditional but then again..it didn’t. I’m not going to tell you the price yet. This wheel had suffered a child assult on Saturday and it was broken. I got a handful of roving and a chair and set out to fix this cool little wheel. Whatever this child had done to it, I don’t know but it would not spin at all. Hubby came to find me and got involved in the fixing process. An hour later, I walked away with a fixed $60.00 spinning wheel! It is a mystery wheel though. I’ve added a photo, maybe one of you may have an idea about who made it. It does need work but it will spin yarn.

The New Old Wheel

The New Old Wheel

Armed with mystery wheel, we set out for food and Sheepdog Trials. I was a bit disappointed in the food options. In years past there has been lamb chili and fruit plates. Not so this year, so we got a heavy BBQ, set up our chairs and became spectators. The dog trials were great! We stayed to the end and we got lots of photos.

At The Pen - Look real hard..see the green on her shoulder? It's a Parrot!

At The Pen - Look real hard..see the green on her shoulder? It's a Parrot!

Trial Shot

Trial Shot

Trial Shot

Trial Shot

"Nice Job"

"Nice Job"

This lady works without a crook or a whistle..she's amazing!

This lady works without a crook or a whistle..she's amazing!

"The Shed"

"The Shed"

"The Pen"

"The Pen"

It’s so enjoyable watching a dog work..they take their job seriously. I am so happy we have 7 Border Collies of our own to work with.

We left the event feeling invigorated and hungry. In the town of Orange we went to a restaurant called the Silk Mill Grille. As you may have guessed from the name, it is an old Silk Mill and the place is decorated much of the old salvaged accessories and processing equipment. Had a great meal and we were home by 7:00.

I have a lot of readers that know very little about this side of my life – they know me for the goats and goats milk products. You see fiber and fiber arts is my true passion. Any opportunity I get to do a day like this, I will put all else aside to do it. My only regret – Didn’t go both days!

I’m going to add an events page to my Blog so everyone might have an opportunity to see and possibly attend what’s going on the rest of 2009. Some I will be a vendor..some I will just visit.

Parting comments and a little rant! Please, if you bring your children to events like the Fall Fiber Festival, try to pay attention to what they are doing. One of the wheels that was messed up yesterday is a several thousand dollar wheel. We want everyone to come to these events..especially children, they are the ones who will keep this going in the future but vendors and demonstrators put their life into this and it shouldn’t be destroyed by an adults carelessness of not watching their child. At this event, I saw big pulls of rovings run off with, a driveband ripped right off a spinning wheel, Angora bunnies being plucked through the sides of their cage by uncontrolled little fingers, hand crafted wooden knitting needles being used as swords and a grape snow cone dropped on a beautiful silk scarf. Please bring your children and please be good, aware parents! Rant is done.

Have a wonderful day!
 
 

Noil Silk – Fiber Arts Friday


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As most of you know the other side of my farm business is goats milk products. This time of year I am kicking it into high gear getting ready for Holiday Markets, Open Houses, and Shows. One item that I make (knit or crochet) is a big supply of wash cloths. Usually out of organic cotton. I keep them simple because the only time I can knit or crochet is late evening after chores and dinner.

This year I am changing up what the cloths are made from. I’ve noticed many specialty facial and body cloths are made from a dense over twisted cotton and are sold as exfoliating cloths. Not being a super cotton spinner and not liking any of the yarns I had found in cotton to try that would accomplish a cloth that would be exfoliating too, my search brought me to Noil Silk – raw rough spun silk.

I’ve made a dozen or so of them and used one as a test. So far, after using it in the shower and laundering it 6 times – it’s definitely a winner! The cloth keeps it shape, of course no shrinkage and it maintains its exfoliating quality. I am only using yarns that are natural colored or natural dyed and organic.

From my standpoint…I think their great!

To see what other are doing this Friday check out Fiber Arts Friday
 
 

I'm Easily Excited!

It's amazing how little it takes to excite me anymore. I just joined several Ravelry Groups in hopes of sharing some of what I do and make new friends in the fiber world. If you don't know what Ravelry is check out their website at Ravelry.com. It's pretty cool stuff! My screen name is "Breezhill" if you'd like to check out the Groups I've joined.

We have now determined that our Icelandic sheep are not that bright. Yesterday evening we were at the barn pulling a couple of sheep fleeces that are sold. We took a little time to just sit with the animals and visit. Apparently, Ricky and Holly didn't see any food in this visit so they went off on their own. The next thing we knew, they were on the other side of the fence looking at us. When they realized that we could see them, they leisurely walked back to the hole in the fence and stepped back in. Now maybe I'm not being 100% fair here..possibly they are not dumb but incredibly smart. Do you think they may have been trying to let us know there was another hole in the fence??  Can't wait to see what they come up with today. I swear they remind me more of goats than sheep.

Tomorrow is Fiber Arts Friday on Alpacafarmgirl.com. It's a lot of fun to see what's happening with others and their new creations. Come on over and join in.

I am working on our new goats milk soaps and fragrances for the Holiday's and would love some input from you all. Each year I try to come up with at least 2 special fragrances and a new mold for the season. Something to make the bath smell good and a gift that people will enjoy giving and receiving. Leave comments as to what you think would be nice. If I pick your idea, we'll send you a gift box with the new fragrance soap and some other goodies!

 
 

How It All Began: Part 1


This weekend is the Montpelier Fall Fiber Festival and Sheepdog Trials in Orange, Virginia. Every year, at this time, I am reminded of how we got into farming and I remember fondly our first year with sheep.

Hubby and I were both professionals in the Corporate world, living in the country on a few acres. Each weekend we would look for things to do, farm related, to learn about what was out there because I especially knew being an accountant was not my life long dream. When we met a farm owner/fiber artist from West Virginia at an Alpaca Festival in Charlottesville, VA, I knew we would follow much the same path that she and her husband were following. The next weekend was the Fall Fiber Festival, we attended and made the commitment. We purchased our starter flock of Romney x Border Leicester sheep. We were on our way to raising sheep for fiber.

I remember our trip to West Virginia to pick up the sheep. Autumn in the WV mountains was like nothing I had ever experienced in my life. Driving through the valleys, in a light snow fall, on our way to Romney and looking up the mountains, seeing all the the glorious colors of Autumns’ majesty, embracing us, let me know this was the right decision.

When we reached Tranquility Farm it felt like Christmas Morning! Sheep, sheep, everywhere..I couldn’t get out of the truck fast enough. Our new flock had been put up the night before, so we made the trek to the barn to see them. We had decided on a ram, Anthony, who was the “apple” of the farmers eye. A big dark grey boy with a black face and black stockings. The farmer had worked with him since birth, had shown him and they were obviously best buds. Katlyn, a dark blue grey ewe, was a wild child free spirit whos fleece had won several ribbons in competition and then there was Betsy. The most beautiful champagne grey sheep I had ever laid eyes on in my life. She was a beauty queen and she knew it. While we were in the barn talking and interacting with our new flock, one other white sheep kept coming up to us for scratches. She was so friendly, we figured she might be their pet. Well she wasn’t, she didn’t even have a name only a number 122. So, 122, a.k.a. Natalina came home with us that day too.

So began the most wonderful time of our lives and though were are now seasoned, that newness has never worn off. Each addition, each birth, every fleece, every year brings me back to the first day we had sheep on our farm. Though time has passed and flock grew with every passing Spring, our first four sheep will be forever in our lives. Those first four are gone now but as I look out into the pasture, I see all that have come since and with a tear for those lost, I have a smile for those gained.

If you get the chance to attend the festival this weekend, it’s worth the trip to see all the goings on. Be sure to take in some of the Border Collie trials, they are always exciting and fun to watch. If the “bug” bites you to become a farmer after your trip, be prepared for the ride of your life. There are so many words to describe this life, the one that comes to mind most with me is “joy”!

This is the first part in a series of first year stories that I will share with you – not daily, but over the course of several months.

Tomorrow will be back to the same old, same old.

“Love what you do..do what you love.”

 
 

It's Been Awhile..Again

Good Morning Everyone! It's been awhile again since my last entry. If this happens again you will know that I have been too busy to Blog. Everything is going very well here. Business is great and we are adding more every day. All of the animals are surviving the high heat that we've had for the last few weeks and the first part of the garden all came in at one time. So, on top of making soaps and lotions, milking goats, going to markets, filling orders, etc., I had to roll up my sleeves and start canning and freezing. Occasionally, I get to sleep!

We were all kinds of excited Saturday when we finally had rain. Of course, we couldn't just have a normal rain, we had to be under a Tornado Warning for several hours and it ended up raining about 5 inches. Then last night before we went to bed we took a look at the weather radar and noticed that there was a storm right on top of us. Well, we got 3 more inches of rain from that. This morning, with the warm sun shining,  you can actually hear the grass growing! I am so thankful we finally got rain. Apparently, our geographic location has some kind of anomaly that makes weather patterns go around us. We can actually stand in our garden and watch storms divide and go to either side of us. My husband is a ham radio sky warn spotter and he says that he can't explain why this is, only that when we move again he is going to look at the weather history for an area before we move there.  Each summer we pump too much water from the well to keep the garden going. Save money on growing food so we can pay the power company for extra electrical usage. Catch 22 much?

We have added some new products, they are not on the website yet but keep checking back. We are in the process of revamping the site too. Busy, busy, busy. I think that once all of the work is done on the new site, people will find it a little less distressing to navigate.

 I asked this question a while back and didn't get a response from anyone,  but I am curious if anyone has any idea for what we can use on our tobacco plants that is safe and natural for eradicating Hornworms? Thank God, it's only 100 plants because our current approach is to pick the worms twice a day and as the plants are getting bigger, it's becoming a full time job. I'd appreciate it if anyone could make suggestions.

It's off to soap making! Have a wonderful day.

 

 
 

It's Time To Make The Soap..I Already Made The Soap!

Well every time I promise to Blog more often, I seem to get worse at it. I don't know how people who blog all the time can do it. There just isn't enough time in a day for me to get everything else done and blog too! I must be getting old or business must be better than I realize (I'm going to stick with the latter).

I'm really starting to feel like the Dunkin' Donuts guy.."it's time to make the donuts, I already made the donuts". It's really like that, I feel like I'm meeting myself in the hall, on my way to make soap again. Wow! Who knew that soap making would turn out to be a recession proof business? I might be going to far to say recession proof, but it is holding it's own. 

Our late garden is coming along quite nicely. Last week, we finally got some rain and as everyone knows, rain will make a garden jump. It does make all the bugs and worms that love a fresh garden jump too. Not to mention, it washes away deer proofing that was working. We had several tomato plant fatalities due to deer over the weekend and we have these little tiny worms on our tobacco plants..did I mention, we are growing our own tobacco? That is my husband's project and it is doing fair. Those poor tender leaves are really not in love with the sun but many of the plants are looking great. If anyone has an idea about our tiny worms, we'd love the feedback. They are about 1 1/2 " long, green on top and white on the bottom. They are not hornworms.

Check out our www.breezehillfarm.wordpress.com blog to see how the Fiber CSA process is advancing. I'm not sure if any of our shareholders are reading this blog, so I thought I should mention it just in case. We do still have a few shares left in our Local Harvest Store for those who might be interested.

Well I'm off to make soap!

 
 

New Recipe

Not much going on here at the farm, just the same old busy! I have a wonderful (or at least I think it's wonderful, my own creation) recipe to share with evryone. It's easy, not too terribly time consuming, you can fix it and walk away dish. It uses many of the fresh herbs that are coming in right now, local grass fed ground beef, and as you will discover as I add more recipes, it's Italian.

Rigatoni A La Marchetti

1    Pound of Grass Fed Ground Beef

1    Medium Onion, course diced

1    Medium Green Pepper, course diced

4    Cloves Garlic, crushed (you can add more garlic or even garlic powder)

2    Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2    Cups Tomatoes, skinned and diced

1    Large Can or Jar of Premade Spaghetti Sauce

2    Cups Water

2    Handfulls of fine chopped fresh flat leaf Parsley (this equals about a half a cup or better)

4    Tablespoons fine chopped Oregano

4    Tablespoons fine chopped Basil

1    Tablespoon fresh Thyme

1/2  Teaspoon ground Cloves

1    Teaspoon Beef Boulion

1    Tablespoon Worchestershire Sauce

1    Pound Box of Rigatoni

Salt & Pepper to taste

In an extra large skillet, add olive oil, onions, green pepper, garlic and ground beef. Saute until beef is cooked through and other ingredients are soft. Add everything else on the list except the Rigatoni. Bring to a slow boil. Add the Rigatoni, reduce heat to Low and let simmer (15 to 25 minutes) until the Rigatoni is done to your liking. Top with Parmesean cheese and fresh chopped parsley. **if the sauce is too watery, you can add small amounts of cornstarch until it thickens**

By the way, if you happen to be like me and don't really care for breakfast foods...this is awesome cold in the morning, just like cold pizza! I hope some of you will try this.

 

 

 

 

 
 

New Products

What a beautiful morning this is. It was 62 degrees at the farm when we got up, bright sun and almost no humidity. That’s really saying something for summer in Virginia. A morning like this made fixing a country breakfast mandatory. The most enjoyable part of it was including our first tomato of the season. It was nice finally getting something out of the garden that wasn’t zucchini! For the past month, it’s been nothing but zucchini bread, fried zucchini, sauteed zucchini, mock zucchini crab cakes (these are amazing!) and veggie mixes..with zucchini. The freezer is full of it, friends run when they see me coming, it’s a sad state! This is the down side of putting in a late garden, it's not easy being patient.

It’s been months in the fine tuning and testing and finally our new Jewelweed Products are ready for sale (they are not on the website yet so you will have to email me breezehillfarm@verizon.net  to order). For those who do not know the significance of Jewelweed, it is wonderful for shortening the duration of an out break of poison ivy and oak and in some cases stopping an outbreak from occurring.

The two new products are a Jewelweed Balm, which is made with all natural and organic ingredients and Jewelweed Soap. Not being a person who has bad reactions to poison ivy or oak, I had to take the product to quite a few people for testing. The positive results were 100%. Both products benefit from having a variety of oils that help clear up the problem and leave the skin feeling soft but the soap has an extra bonus of containing goat’s milk. These two items are a must have for the summer first aid kit!

Well I’m off to take a look at 3 possible new goat doelings that were born in March. Because of the increase in business, we need to add to our herd and these girls will make a wonderful addition. Then it's back to get the Co-op (www.farm2udirect.com) orders ready for delivery tomorrow. Busy day!

 
 

Wanted To Share

This is a continuation from Monday's bog, kind of. I've included a picture of "Baby", so everyone can see what a sweetie he is. You know, we have many more cats, sheep, goat's, llama, a PB pig and 7 Border Collies, you'd think I'd be too busy to get this involved with a kitten that was only here for 10 weeks. Well that simply isn't the case. There's always going to be that one that just pulls you in. Enjoy "Baby's" photo.

 

By the way, after the trauma of riding in a truck, having his first vet visit and moving into his new digs. He's doing just fine.

Thank you all for letting me share this with you.

 
 

Just Catching Up

Haven't been around much lately. I really do have to get better about my bloging. It's just been so crazy busy here that by the time I think about the blog, it's after midnight and I'm off to bed.

The soap and lotion business is doing it's impersonation of the "Christmas Rush" here in July. Which is a good thing! I've been very happy with the sales for June and this month is looking like it might just be better. We've introduced two new items to our line, Jewelweed Balm and Soap, and we can't keep it in stock. For those of you who don't know this Jewelweed is a wonderful, natural treatment for posion ivy and oak. To add even more benefit, we use just a bit of goat's milk in the soap which helps with the drying effect of posion ivy. We haven't gotten these two items on our website yet, so if you happen to be interested in either of them, just email us at breezehillfarm@verizon.net.

The fiber side of the farm has slowed down for now. All of this years clip is off at the processor and I haven't had time to work on the alpaca and cashmere that I held back. I miss having the time to spin my own yarn. It serves two very important purposes for me. It's relaxing and I get to "show off" my stuff! Last week, I visited our local yarn shop and they said that business is way off from last year at this time. It's a shame, all of us in this industry were hoping that more people would flock to knitting with natual fibers, that will last for years and after vacations sales may pick back up.

For everyone who has been coming to the St. Stephen's Farmer's Market to visit us, we have taken the month of July off and possibly August too. Our reasons are very simple..I am just too busy to leave the farm during the week. My thought is, if I can't keep up with sales, why make it harder on me? This way my husband and I both get a little break. Last Saturday, as part of our anniversary celebration, we did a day trip to Gryffon's Aerie www.gryffonsaerie.com in Whitehall, Virginia. What a beautiful trip this is! It was so clear, not horribly hot, and most of all relaxed. We hadn't seen Ramona for several years and it was just great visiting with her and taking the "ride" around the farm to see all of the cattle and pigs..oh yes, and sheep. She and Collins' farm is featured in Virginia Living Magazine this month, so hopefully many more folks will make the trek out to their place.  

This past Saturday we took the day and visited Grayhaven Winery www.grayhavenwinery.com, for their South African Food and Wine Festival. Grayhaven is one of our wholesale accounts and Max and Dion are also very good friends of ours. We had a wonderful time and I have to say, the food was excellent. Oh yes, so were the South African wines! We picked up the coolest print of an African child carrying a lamb over his shoulder. Every opportunity we get, we try to pick up anything that is tasteful portraying sheep. So basically, what we did is take a full week of doing and going and called it our anniversary week. Not very traditional but definitely relaxing and fun. I think that it is important for any of us who run our own farms and farm businesses to take some time for ourselves. It's good for the soul.

On a happy but equally sad note. We had a barn kitten born in May that did not have eyes. We've taken him into the house and raised him with his litter mates and Mom (that's been a real experience) and today, "Baby" is going to live with his new family. The family who is taking him, just lost their blind cat that had been with them for years, so he's going to a home that knows how to take care of his special needs. As I sit here and type this, I am crying like a baby. I'm going to miss that little face held high, inquiring as to what I'm doing when I come into a room. I know he is only a kitten but he has become very important to me and I knew his life would be better if he lived in a home with a little less confusion than ours. Everyone, say prayers for "Baby" and wish him well in this new journey.

 
 

Only In The Country

Early this morning we were out looking at the garden and running the dogs. We noticed a lot of shooting and commented that it must be target practice at the Prison. You see our farm is located directly across from a Correctional Center. It really never matters to us but my husband pointed out something funny this time. While we were at the garden our neighbor yelled over the fence, "do you want any cucumbers?". I responded, "I can't hear you over all the shooting!". Only in the country, on a sunny early morning would you hear a comment like that and not be at all concerned.

Eveyone, have a great day and be sure to appreciate the little things that make us laugh! 

 
 

What To Do With Swiss Chard?

I am so glad that so many people read my "ranting" blog post. I hope that the person it was mostly written for got a look at it too. Simetime's a girl just has to get it off her chest. Think I'm just tired of everyday being a full moon day!

On a much lighter note, last night, while trying to figure out what to do with a bunch of swiss chard I picked up at the Farmer's Market Saturday, I came up with a wonderful recipe and thought I'd share it with you all.

Sauteed Swiss Chard

1/2 lb. Fresh Swiss Chard

1 Medium Onion, course chopped

4 Garlic Cloves, sliced very thin

2 TBL Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1/2 tsp. salt

Dash of Sea Salt

Fresh Ground Pepper to Taste

A Very Light, High Quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil - a finishing oil

In a large skillet, sautee the onion and garlic until tender. Remove from burner to stop cooking. At the same time blanch the chard, for 10 minutes, in enough water to cover and add the 1/2 tsp. of salt. Drain off water immediately. Add the chard to the onions and garlic and heat covered until it steams. Add salt and pepper. To serve, place on a plate and drizzle with the high quality extra virgin olive oil.

I served it with fresh grilled Snapper. It was wonderful!

Hopefully, you all will try this and love it as much as we did. By the way, I had the left overs this morning. It made a perfect breakfast.

 

 
 

Snakes in the House..Oh My!

I’m sure that everyone has noticed my absence, well there is a reason for that. We’ve had an in house snake issue and I have finally grown brave enough to go back into the office. Kinda hard to run the business end of a business when you can only use the computer when Hubby is home from work. For my entire life I have been terrified of snakes. I’ve grown to accept the fact that black snakes are good to have at the barn but when they decide to come in for some air conditioning, it’s too much. I’ve been told that we are “blessed” to have a black snake in the house..not sure on what planet that’s true! So, this is why I’ve been missing.

Aside from the aforementioned, it’s been crazy busy here. We shipped off all of the fiber Friday to the mill. I decided to hold back all of the colored fleeces this time to work on processing myself. When we first started out in 1994, I did all of the processing and did so for years. In some ways I miss having that control but it has become much more practical to send it off. There were some absolutely incredible fleeces this year. We have two white ewes that double any fleece produced by a ram and it’s almost Merino quality. Can’t wait for everything to come back.

We worked the St. Stephen’s Farmer’s Market yesterday. Good Lord it was hotter than the hinges of @!#$! As always, I set up the spining wheel but could only spin in short spurts. My hands were so sweatie that I couldn’t get the fiber off of me. Fiber sales were off but the soaps and lotions did really well. I love the fact that this is a producers only market and they stick to that rule. There are so many F.B.N. (fly by night) soap people, that only use melt and pour soaps that are trying to infiltrate the market these days that it makes it hard for an honest producer to sell their product. You would think that something as pure and natural as soap making could escape all of the nasty back biting and unhealthy competition but apparently that is no longer the case. It’s really quite sad that many of us do our level best to be helpful to up an coming producers, then they come behind us with substandard products and cheaper prices than we charge. They are arogant and down right nasty and plow through us like yesterdays news. We can only hope that in the end, the consumer can see through the outward charm and realize that the quality and pride doesn’t exist with these people. OK, sorry about the rant but I know that many of our fellow producers know exactly what I’m talking about here.

I understand that there are quite a few people in the Fall Line Farms Co-op www.farm2udirect.com that are looking for me and wondering what has happened. There has been a drop point mixup, that has now been fixed. Also, we had decided to only deliver once a month in an effort to justify the expense in deliveries to five drop points but we are changing that as well. We will be back on the list next week and starting the second week in July, we will be back every week (all five drop points). Sorry I wasn’t there but glad you missed us..we miss you guys too!

Make sure you always check out our website for additions of new products and changes www.breezehillfarm.com. Have a great day and say little prayers that we will not have any more house guest of the reptile variety!

 
 
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