Farm Updates, Herd Share Pick Ups, Farmers Market: 5/27/2020

Hello beautiful peeps,

Farm updates include some fun animal updates and cheese cave status. But the real info is the stuff I put in there about the cicadas.

The Wytheville Farmer’s market information is farther down the page. You can skip there by clicking here. If you are looking for Herd Share pick up info, jump down the page here

Quail

The quail chicks are enjoying their new home and doing well. They have grown from the size of my thumb to the size of my hand in three short weeks. In five more weeks they will be fully mature. They will only grow about another quarter of their current size. The current batch of 64 eggs in the incubator are doing fine as far as I can tell. 

Sheep and Donkeys

The donkeys are keeping up with the lambs and getting scratches and hugs from me on a daily basis. One of the two ewes I talked about last week has given birth. These are the largest lambs ever born on our farm. She had twins that weighed 14.6 and 11.25 pounds. That’s over 25 pounds of lamb. She did fine though. Only one more to go. I suspect another week or more and she will deliver.

Goats

I am happy to report that the goats are still staying in their assigned paddock. It has been nearly two weeks and they are still in with the cows. They are happy and healthy. 

Cows

Artificial insemination has started. During the physical exams that all of the cows received, we got confirmation that Buttercup is pregnant. However, she is only six months along. It will be August before she delivers that calf. The AI process will ensure that all of the cows are cycling together — except Buttercup. Perhaps next year we can get that straightened out.  

Creamery

The special grout for the tile floor was picked up today by my wonderful hubby. The small cheese cave is about to be complete. And just in time. I have a new cheese that is currently drying at room temp that will need space to begin the aging process. 

That’s it for the farm update. Now on to the farmer’s market update. 

Farmer’s Market

Same, same here. Wytheville Farmer’s Market will be open on Saturday and again allowing you inside to make your purchases and pre-order pickups. Beginning with the first Saturday in June, the veggie vendors will be outside. The same stringent safety measures will be in place. A limited number of patrons will be allowed inside, keeping a safe distance everywhere. Unfortunately, still no browsing. You will enter on the covered side, follow the pathway that is laid out and exit on the uncovered side. We are in the same place as before. See you there.

You can pre-order with us or with your favorite vendor. Call of send and email and I will get you set up. Find vendors on the Wytheville Farmer’s Market Facebook page.  You will find our products listed there as well as on this page.  

We are running out of lamb and goat. We are out of beef. It will be August before we have more. On our list available on the Wytheville Farmer’s Market Facebook Page (see above link) you will find 1/4 and half beef as well as half and whole lamb. The beef delivery is for mid-August. Lamb will be available the first week of August. You can claim yours now by making a deposit for beef quarters or halves and/or whole or half lamb. I have very limited quantities. Make your deposit now. 

Herd Shares

Herd Share Peeps, I will be inside near the exit door.  I look forward to seeing each of you. Remember to let me know what you want for next week. Fresh milk and yogurt is available. And as always, cheese and butter. 

New herd share opportunities are available. Contact me via email (melanie@peacefulheartfarm.com) or phone (276-694-4369). 

Please go HERE to learn all about Herd Shares and get on our waiting list.


News This Week


Products Available to Herd Share Owners

Choose 1 per week 1/2 Share Whole Share
Raw Milk 1/2 gallon 1 gallon
Yogurt 1 quart 2 quarts
Butter 1/4 pound 1/2 pound
Ararat Legend 1/4 pound 1/2 pound
Peaceful Heart Gold 1/4 pound 1/2 pound
Pinnacle 1/4 pound 1/2 pound
Clau d’ville Cheddar 1/4 pound 1/2 pound

Products Available to the General Public

Beef Price / Pound
1/4 Beef (approx 100 lbs) $7.00
1/2 Beef (approx 200 lbs) $6.50
Whole Beef (approx 400 lbs) $6.00
Ground (approx 1 lb) $7.00
Lamb Price / Pound
Lamb Loin Chops $18
Lamb Rib Chops $18
Lamb Kabobs $12
Ground Lamb (approx 1 lb) $10
Whole Lamb (approx 40 lbs) $9.50
1/2 Lamb (approx 20 lbs) $10
Chev (Goat) Price / Pound
Ground Chev (approx 1 lb) $12

Let’s Get Together

As always, we’d love to meet you in person.  You can find us at the Wytheville Farmers Market on Saturday from 8:00 am to Noon. Special procedures are in place for your health and safety, but come inside the building and see me.  

As always, you may visit us at our dairy farm in Claudville, Virginia Tuesdays from 10 am to 12 noon and Saturday afternoons from 3 pm to 5 pm. Find out how we raise our animals and why you will love the taste of tradition that is inherent in all of our products. Herd share holders will be able to see up close how their cows are cared for and the cheese operation and where it is stored. 


Peaceful Heart FarmCast

This week’s podcast, “The Cicadas in Southwestern Virginia Have Emerged.” Along with more detailed homestead updates, I put in some information about how the 17-year cycle of the cicada works.    


Free Downloads

I want to follow up on my previous FarmCast, The Taste of Cheese where I talked about developing your expertise with using descriptive words. The FREE downloads of Classifying Cheese by Type and Category and Expand Your Cheese Vocabulary are still available at our website. Please stop by and get your FREE resources. 

You can LISTEN TO THE PODCAST HEREOr, if you have an Alexa device, just say:Alexa, play podcast Peaceful Heart FarmCast.

And don’t miss an episode! Subscribe to the Peaceful Heart Farm podcast on Apple PodcastsAndroidTuneIn, Stitcher or Spotify


The Cicadas in Southwestern Virginia Have Emerged

The cicadas in Southwestern Virginia are out and about. It happens once every 17 years. It’s truly a phenomenal occurrence. I can’t wait to get to that topic today.

But first, welcome to all new listeners and welcome back to veteran homestead-loving regulars. That you for stopping by the FarmCast for every episode. It wouldn’t be a show without you. I appreciate you all so much. I’m so excited to share with you what’s going on at the farm this week including all about the cicadas.

Our Virginia Homestead Life Updates

Life goes on at the homestead, right though the rain and more rain and more rain. We trek twice a day out into the pastures to bring up the cows for milking, rain or shine. It’s getting pretty muddy out there.

Cows

The cows are not bothered by the cicadas. They continue to carefully navigate that mud and come up to the milking shed twice daily. Last Friday they each got a second trip into the shed. We have started the artificial insemination process. There is a uterine implant and a hormone shot to start. This will make all of the cows cycle together. The reason we want that is so we can breed them all at once and the calves will all be born within days of each other. It makes the calving season short, sweet and predictable. Once they start cycling together, they will continue to cycle together. It’s lovely system.

The next step is removing the implant and another hormone shot. There is a very specific time window when the actual insemination occurs. I believe it is approximately 60 hours after the second hormone shot. I’m learning as we go. Scott is the one with the detailed perspective on this whole process.

The process of placing the implants involved a physical exam of each cow. It was a relief to find out that Buttercup is actually pregnant, though she has a long way to go before she delivers. The vet estimated she is about 6 months along. Cows take 9 months to grow a healthy calf, just like humans. We look for her to give birth in August.

The other four are getting ready for the next phase. They didn’t complain too much during the process. It was quick and painless. Except for those shots. Cows don’t like getting a shot any more than humans do.

Sheep and Lambs

Let’s talk about the sheep and the lambs. These guys are also oblivious to the song of the cicadas. The lambing is just about done. There is one more ewe that looks like she will deliver in the next couple of weeks, but it could be longer. And there is one that does not look pregnant at all. She babysits the lambs a lot. I think she would like to have one. We shall see.

The big news with the lambs is the giant set of twins that was born about 5 days ago. This is a great mom and she didn’t require any assistance. But I have to wonder how she managed it. Normally, our lambs are 6 to 8 pounds at birth. Sometimes less. We had one that was only 5 and a half pounds. Sometimes more. We had one just shy of 9 pounds. But these two from the same mom totaled over 25 pounds. Think of it. Normally, even if a ewe had lambs on the upper edge and gave birth to two lambs 8 pounds each. That’s a total of 16 pounds of lamb. This 3-year-old ewe carried a set of twins totaling over 25 pounds. The boy was 11 and a quarter pounds. The girl was a whopping 14 and a half pounds. The day they were born, they were larger than the lambs born two weeks previous. And lambs grow fast. The little 5 and a half pounder may have doubled in weight by now. But she is still way smaller than her newest half-sister.

All are healthy and thriving. It’s a great thing to see. So far, so good. No lost lambs. I did just rescue the newest boy. He was on the other side of the creek. Because of the rain today, the creek was swelled and he didn’t want to cross. He was stranded on the other side of the fast-moving creek water. Fortunately, he didn’t try to run away from me. I caught him easily and returned him to mom. All is well. Fingers crossed, the last ewe delivers healthy lambs without issue. I say lambs plural because I think she will also have twins. But you never know. Last year she also had a large lamb, but a single.

Goats

I have no idea what the goats think of the cicadas? But I am pleased that they are more and more comfortable with me being near. The sheep also are getting more comfortable with human interaction. Oh they will still run away if you get too close. But the point is I am able to get closer before they run away.

I am happy to report they are staying in their assigned paddock and not sneaking off to wherever they want without regard to our fencing plan and rotational grazing plan.

Donkeys

Of course, the donkeys ignore the sounds of cicadas generated in the trees all around them. They want a little cuddle and a scratch. That’s it. Once they get that, they are happy campers. It’s strange to see their winter coats are still hanging on. It will likely be July before they have a sleek coat. Even with brushing, their winter coats hang on long after I think they should be gone. But what do I know? It’s not up to me.

Quail

The tree right next to the quail cages is full of cicadas. Poultry and fowl are pretty carnivorous. The quail would likely enjoy munching on them if they could get close enough but that is not going to happen. The cicadas are too big to get through the mesh cages. The quail are left to hear them and not be able to eat them.

The breeding groups are doing very well. There are 13 hens there and we get anywhere from 8 to 11 or 12 eggs a day. Nine or ten is most common.

The young ones are doing really well. You would not believe how big they are now. They are barely three weeks old. They went from being the size of my thumb to larger than my whole hand in that short period of time. They still have a little way to go to reach their full size. Their unbelievably fast growth rate will slow down a bit and they will become fully mature over the next five weeks.

Creamery

Scott is off the farm right now. He had to go to town to pick up that special grout I talked about last time. I think tomorrow he will be finishing up that smaller cheese cave. How exciting is that? I think that is what he has planned but I could be wrong. He is also diligently working on that roof over the milking parlor and open-air animal barn. There is an attic area over the milking parlor. That is the part where we stand when setting up the cows for milking. This roof and ceiling are a couple of feet higher than the rest of the building. Over the past few days Scott has been building a stairway from the attic over the rest of the building to the attic floor of the other roof. It looks really good. His talent with building is always amazing to me. I look at that stuff and think, “how does he do that?” It seems so complex to me. I think it is complex. He is simply very talented with creating buildings.

Cicadas

Let’s get on to the main point I want to talk about today. The cicadas. There are pictures posted on our Facebook page. Go over there and check them out. There is at least one video where you can hear their mating calls there as well.

I don’t know how many cicada broods there are. They are numbered from I to XXIII, but there are numbers missing after XI. Brood IX is emerging in north-central North Carolina, southwestern Virginia and southern West Virginia. It began in mid-May and will end in late June. They started emerging when the soil, 8” beneath the ground, reached 64 degrees. A nice, warm rain will often trigger an emergence. We have had plenty of that.

This brood, and other species like it, referred to as magicicada periodical cicadas, emerge every 17 years. Other magicicada periodicals emerge every 13 years. There are seven magicicada species. There are hundreds of other cicada species that emerge every year.

Life Cycle of the 17-Year Magicicada

Cicadas begin their life as an egg which the female deposits in a groove she makes in a tree limb. The egg looks like a grain of rice. The groove provides shelter and exposes the tree fluids, which the young cicadas feed on. These grooves can kill small branches. We hope we have no problem with our orchard trees. The brood is emerging all around it.

Once the cicada hatches from the egg it will begin to feed on the tree fluids. At this point, it looks like a termite or small, almost translucent, white ant. Once the young cicada is ready, it crawls from the groove and falls to the ground where it will dig into the ground until it finds roots to feed on. It will typically start with smaller grass roots and work its way up to the roots of its host tree. The cicada will stay underground approximately 17 years. The cicadas are active underground, tunneling and feeding, and not sleeping or hibernating as has been commonly thought.

After 17 years, the cicadas emerge from the ground as nymphs. We are seeing this now. There are hundreds and hundreds of small, perfectly round holes, about the diameter of my pinky finger, all over the place. The emerging nymphs climb the nearest available tree, and begin to shed their nymph exoskeleton. We can see lots of this going on now. All over the trees there are nymphs in varying stages of shedding. Once free of their old skin, their wings inflate with fluid and their adult skin hardens. They have red-orange eyes. Their wings are longer than their body. It’s an odd-looking creature. Check out our website. The featured image is a cicada. Once their new wings and body are ready, they begin their adult life. It is quite brief, only about a month.

The adults spend their time in trees looking for a mate. That is the song that we hear every morning and until sometime after mid-day. The males sing. The females respond. Mating happens and the cycle begins again. Eggs laid and hatched. Young cicada falls to the ground and digs in for another 17 years.

Why Are There So Many Cicadas All at Once?

One answer is predator satiation. The first cicadas that emerge are eagerly consumed by predators. Birds, raccoons, squirrels, dogs, cats, snakes and so on. They eat until they are overwhelmed. They fill themselves to the point of exhaustion. This gives the remaining cicadas a chance to escape.

In areas where there aren’t enough of them to satiate the predators completely leads to dwindling populations. Some eventually die out.

I look forward to the next few weeks as this phenomenon continues. Who knew we would be one to have part of this brood on our property?

Final Thoughts

That’s it for today’s podcast. I hope you enjoyed the cicada information and the homestead updates. I look forward to next week when I hope to have some garden updates to share – if it ever stops raining long enough to get anything planted.

If you enjoyed this podcast, please hop over to Apple Podcasts, SUBSCRIBE and give me a 5-star rating and review. Also, please share it with any friends or family who might be interested in this type of content.

Thank you so much for stopping by the homestead and until next time, may God fill your life with grace and peace.

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Farm News, Herd Share Pickups, Farmer’s Market: 5/23/2020

Hello beautiful peeps,

Farm updates include fun animal stories and cheese cave status. The Wytheville Farmer’s market information is farther down the page. You can skip there by clicking here. If you are looking for Herd Share pick up info, jump down the page here

Quail

The quail chicks are out in their new home and doing well. Unfortunately, they are very quick and jump out onto the ground sometimes. I have to run and catch them. It has happened three or four times and they haven’t been out there for even a week. They have doubled in size again in less than a week. The next batch of eggs — 64 of them — went into the incubator today. 

Sheep and Donkeys

The donkeys are doing a very good job of taking care of the lambs. Yesterday I went down there to check on them and the moms were grazing in the field. The lambs were nowhere to be found. I looked down at the bottom of the hill in the trees and the two donkeys were standing there. Suddenly, the lambs came waltzing out from behind Cocoa. The last one stopped and touched noses with her before joining the others for a bit of jumping straight up and down, then dashing off to find mom. We are still waiting on two ewes to give birth. I hope it is soon. We shall see.

Goats

Since Scott fixed the fence once again, the goats are now staying in their assigned paddock. It has been several days and they are still in with the cows. Time will tell if this good luck continues. They are happy and healthy. 

Cows

Artificial insemination is starting in a couple of days. We are breeding specifically for A2A2 genetics. As the herd share program grows, we need more A2A2 milk. Eventually the entire herd of cows will have A2A2 genetics. We are also breeding for the best cheesemaking milk. That requires a milk protein labeled BB kappa casein. Both of the AI bulls we are using have both the A2A2 genetic trait and the BB kappa casein protein trait. One other advantage to AI is we can get sexed semen. We are trying to build up our herd and need to ensure that we have heifers (females).  

Creamery

The small cheese cave is waiting on a special grout for the tile floor. It has to be resistant to acid and alkaline environments. Scott talked on the phone for several days to get the proper stuff ordered. It should arrive soon and the job can be completed. In the meantime, the roof over the barn and milking parlor is under construction!

That’s it for the farm update. Now on to the farmer’s market update. 

Farmer’s Market

Wytheville Farmer’s Market will be open on Saturday and again allowing you inside in addition to continuing with Take Out if you so choose. The same stringent safety measures will be in place. A limited number of patrons will be allowed inside, keeping a safe distance (tape will mark spacing), and no browsing. You will enter on the covered side, follow the pathway that is laid out and exit on the uncovered side. We are in the same place as before. You still won’t be able to browse around. Step up to the vendor table and place your order based on their list of products.

You can pre-order with us or with your favorite vendor. Find vendors on the Wytheville Farmer’s Market Facebook page.  You will find our products listed there as well as on this page.  

We are running out of lamb, beef, and goat individual cuts. It will be August before we have more. On our list available on the Wytheville Farmer’s Market Facebook Page (see above link) you will find 1/4 and half beef as well as half and whole lamb. The beef delivery is for mid-August. Lamb will be available the first week of August. You can claim yours now by making a deposit for beef quarters or halves and/or whole or half lamb. I have very limited quantities. Make your deposit now. 

Herd Shares

Herd Share Peeps, I will be inside near the exit door.  I look forward to seeing each of you. Remember to let me know what you want for next week. Fresh milk and yogurt is available. And as always, cheese and butter. 

New herd share opportunities are available. Contact me via email (melanie@peacefulheartfarm.com) or phone (276-694-4369). 

Please go HERE to learn all about Herd Shares and get on our waiting list.


News This Week


Products Available to Herd Share Owners

Choose 1 per week 1/2 Share Whole Share
Raw Milk 1/2 gallon 1 gallon
Yogurt 1 quart 2 quarts
Butter 1/4 pound 1/2 pound
Ararat Legend 1/4 pound 1/2 pound
Peaceful Heart Gold 1/4 pound 1/2 pound
Pinnacle 1/4 pound 1/2 pound
Clau d’ville Cheddar 1/4 pound 1/2 pound

Products Available to the General Public

Beef Price / Pound
1/4 Beef (approx 100 lbs) $7.00
1/2 Beef (approx 200 lbs) $6.50
Whole Beef (approx 400 lbs) $6.00
Ground (approx 1 lb) $7.00
Lamb Price / Pound
Lamb Loin Chops $18
Lamb Rib Chops $18
Lamb Kabobs $12
Ground Lamb (approx 1 lb) $10
Whole Lamb (approx 40 lbs) $9.50
1/2 Lamb (approx 20 lbs) $10
Chev (Goat) Price / Pound
Ground Chev (approx 1 lb) $12

Let’s Get Together

As always, we’d love to meet you in person.  You can find us at the Wytheville Farmers Market on Saturday from 8:00 am to Noon. Special procedures are in place for your health and safety, but you will be able to come inside the building now.  

As always, you may visit us at our dairy farm in Claudville, Virginia Tuesdays from 10 am to 12 noon and Saturday afternoons from 3 pm to 5 pm. Find out how we raise our animals and why you will love the taste of tradition that is inherent in all of our products. Herd share holders will be able to see up close how their cows are cared for and the cheese operation and where it is stored. 


Peaceful Heart FarmCast

This week’s podcast, “Does Parental Grief Ever End?“, has a few of my thoughts as I work around the homestead. But first, I go into much greater detail on some of the goings on around the homestead. There are several funny stories and animals updates. I hope you enjoy these snippets of farm life.   


Free Downloads

I want to follow up on my previous FarmCast, The Taste of Cheese where I talked about developing your expertise with using descriptive words. The FREE downloads of Classifying Cheese by Type and Category and Expand Your Cheese Vocabulary are still available at our website. Please stop by and get your FREE resources. 

You can LISTEN TO THE PODCAST HEREOr, if you have an Alexa device, just say:Alexa, play podcast Peaceful Heart FarmCast.

And don’t miss an episode! Subscribe to the Peaceful Heart Farm podcast on Apple PodcastsAndroidTuneIn, Stitcher or Spotify


Does Parental Grief Ever End?

A bit of a poignant topic in today’s podcast is “Does parental grief ever end?” I have that and lots more to talk about today.

Welcome each and every one of you, new and vets. Thank you so much for tuning in for each episode. I appreciate you all so much. The homestead brings joy to daily life and I want to share some of it with you.

Our Virginia Homestead Life Updates

Every day brings some new incident for me to add to my memories of homestead life. Today, it’s the donkeys and sheep that provide the entertainment.

Sheep

The sheep have always been standoffish. They will continue to graze unconcernedly until you get about 15 feet – maybe 20 – away and then they will gradually start moving away. If you walk directly toward them at that point, they will begin moving away more quickly – as in running very fast in the other direction. So this morning I went out to check on everybody and there was one ewe that was laying down and not moving away with the rest of the flock. In fact, she was laying there as if she was dead. I am looking for another set of twins soon and the coloring of this ewe said it might be her. I walked right up to her until I was about three feet away. Suddenly she raised her head, saw me, jumped to her feet and proceeded to move quickly away. On the way, she stopped to nuzzle her lambs. She was the mom of the twins we already have. It was quite funny to see her jump up so quickly. And funnier still, that I was even able to get that close to her without a bucket of treats in my hand.

The donkeys provided a different kind of entertainment.

Donkeys

We have four donkeys. Two are in the front field with the boys – that’s the steers, sheep rams, and goat bucks. That would be Johnny and Sweet Pea. Then there are two in the middle field with the sheep mamas, Daisy and Cocoa. These are our livestock guardian animals.  Daisy and Cocoa have the greater job at this time of year. When lambs are born, there is an increase in the likelihood of predators coming to gobble them up. The donkeys make lots of noise and we have rarely had any issues over the years. Many times you can hear the coyotes in the distance, but they never really come close anymore. There was a time when we could hear them very close. But not so much anymore.

Our donkeys do a wonderful job in protecting the sheep and lambs. The first story I have today involves their care for the lambs. Each morning and each afternoon I make the trek out to field number 5 to check on the sheep and their lambs and to give Wendall his bottle. Wendall is our bottle-fed calf. He hangs out with Luna, our newest heifer. Yesterday, on the evening trip, I was in the vicinity of where the sheep were hanging out. And per my usual method, I was counting ewes and lambs, making sure everyone was accounted for and no one was missing in action. The ewes were out grazing on grass as they love to do, but the lambs were no where to be seen. Lo and behold, as I got nearer to the creek bottom, I saw the donkeys hanging out under the trees. The next thing I knew there were lambs coming out from behind them, venturing out for their evening frolic in the grass. Daisy and Cocoa had been babysitting while moms were out in the field grazing.

I counted them and came up one short. I immediately struck out for the creek intending to check on the other side. When they are this small, I keep a very close eye on them. Sometimes they get separated from mom and need me to rescue them and reunite them with the flock. This time however, my worry was unneeded. Out from behind Cocoa came the last lamb. She stopped to touch noses with Cocoa before joining her friends for a little run and jump action. All were safe and present. Check. On with feeding the calf.

I want to tell one more story about the donkeys before I move on to the quail babies. When I go out for evening chores, I bring along music. In my ears are stuffed earbuds as I listen to some of my favorite music, singing along of course. With earbuds on, I’m sure I’m singing flat most of the time. After all, I can’t hear myself. In my mind it sounds great but who knows. There is no one to give me feedback. Except I did get some feedback.

A few days ago, I was out there singing softly a sweet song and the donkeys came walking up to me. Usually I have to go to them. And sometimes they are contrary and run away. But not this time. They came walking up to me as I softly sang a song. At least I think I was singing softly. I do recall that it was a sweet song, not sure the title or subject. So they come walking up to me and begging for attention. I start petting Daisy and Cocoa comes up and puts her head on Daisy’s rump so I can pet her too. Eventually Daisy turned around and they entwined their heads while I was gently stroking them both and singing softly into their ears. I’ve done it a couple of times since then. I’m not sure what the signal is in my singing. They don’t always come up to me. I think it is related to the song. You know, whether they like it or not. When I am singing loudly, they definitely keep their distance. I do know that much. But all in all it is a very sweet time for us. I have on my list of things to do to add a curry comb to the bucket of supplies I carry around for taking care of the new lambs. I’m sure both Daisy and Cocoa will love a good combing.  

Quail

The baby quail are all outside now and looking great in their new hotel suites. There are two areas and they are nearly evenly split between the cages. Each side has a main area where there is food and water. And then they have the spa area where they can take a nice dust bath in the sand. The sand box is part of the enclosed area on each end of the coop. These birds are living the life.

One thing that I am still learning is how to keep them from jumping out when I open the cage door. I try to chase them to the back of the cage, but inevitably on most days, one or more will escape when I open the door to replenish their food and water. Then I’m out there chasing down these quail chicks. So far, I have been able to recapture them and return them to their cage.

One day, the cage door was left open on one of the breeder cages just below where this grow out cage is located. There are six birds in each of the breeder cages. They also have a dust bath spa in each cage. Anyway, the door was open and all six birds were out and about for a few hours. Scott caught most of them and got them replaced securely in their hotel rooms. However, one was missing. Later in the day, I went out to the milking shed to get ready to bring up the cows and there she was, the missing hen I mean. She was in the milking shed. I was able to catch her up and get her secured as well. All’s well that ends well. The hens were all hesitant to lay eggs for a few days after that little bit of drama, but they are all back up to full production now.

Cows

The cows are all doing really well. Scott is working on getting setup for our first experience with artificial insemination. Soon it will be time to start the breeding process. This year, we are using AI or artificial insemination. This gives us much greater control of the genetics and gender of our calves. We picked two bulls that have the characteristics we are looking to develop in our herd. Number one is A2A2 genetics for our herd share milk. As we expand, we need more cows that provide this type of milk. Eventually, all of our cows will have the A2A2 genetic component. (What is A2A2 Milk?) The other genotype we are seeking to develop is BB kappa casein. That is a milk protein specifically beneficial in making cheese. The Normande breed is great with this trait, but again, we want to get everyone on the same page. It will take a few years, but we will get there.

Gender is also an important factor to consider. When we have male calves, or bulls, they end up as steers and grow up to be beef cows. That takes about two years. While the extra income from selling the beef is nice, it is yet another marketing task that I need to find time for in my already busy schedule. It is far better to have female calves, or heifers. We can grow them out for beef if we desire, but they are also very valuable as replacement stock for ourselves and breeding stock for others looking to add the Normande cow to their herd. We get lots of calls for heifers. No marketing required. People find us. In the past, we have not had any to offer. And indeed, over the next few years, likely we still will not have any until we get our herd into the shape we desire. But eventually, we will have heifers for sale.  

Goats

Apparently, the goats are now contained within the current paddock. It has been quite a few days and they are still where we put them. Scott worked long and hard to patch up the holes in the fence where they were sneaking through from paddocks 10 and 14 into paddock 11. Thank goodness. We shall see how long that lasts.

Does Parental Grief Ever End?

The last experience I want to share today has to do with the question, “does parental grief ever end?” This morning I was out gathering the cows. I had my earbuds in and was listening to my usual mix of music. The weather was a bit wet and it was definitely cool. I love these morning and afternoon walks out on our land. The birds are singing. Often there is a soft breeze. It was pretty breezy this morning. The geese are all over the place squawking and making their usual racket. Life is great here on the homestead. Peace abounds in every corner of my world. Love wells up within me as a take in these many wonders of God’s creation. Contentment oozes out of my pores during these times.

And thoughts gently flow through my mind. Not overpowering. Not overwhelming as before when I worked in the stressful corporate IT world. A bit of worry here and there, but nothing like the stresses you all endure and that I have endured in the past. It’s quite the contrast. Before not so much physical labor but lots of mental stress. Now lots of physical labor and much less mental stress. I like the tradeoff.

Often, I think of my life and how I got to where I am today. That inevitably brings up thoughts of my parents. Like many of you, there were ups and downs in my childhood. As a teenager I had real issues with my parents. Resentment filled me and I blamed them for my unhappiness. Then, I grew farther and farther apart from them as I built my adult life. “Cat’s in the Cradle” syndrome and “we’ll get together then”, though I talked with my mother often, especially in the later years when she was in her sixties and seventies and I was in my forties and fifties. My dad remained the same rock throughout my life. He never changed that much in my eyes. I’m sure he actually did change. We all do. The resentment faded and respect replaced it. Just as my life was filled with challenges and mistakes, so were theirs. We all do our best. Likely many of you, like me, judge our choices as not good enough and still struggle to be better – but we always do the best we can with what we have in the moment. And we inevitably make mistakes.

My parents have both been gone now for a while. It seems like there are still here and it feels like they have been gone forever and a day. My mother died over five years ago. And my father nearly 4 and a half years ago. I was with him at the end. Or I should say, he was with me. The last three months of his life he spent with me as I gently caught him as he fell; grieving still for my mother and his body giving out after six years expending every bit of energy he had to care for her as she lived out her final days.

When I think of them, the deep grieving loss wells up in me. Any of you who have lost a loved one know what I am talking about. The deep sense of love and grief at the loss of love that seems to spontaneously surge through my heart. Tears instantly fill my eyes as I think of them. I can feel it even now as I speak. And I wonder does it ever end? Will I grieve the loss for the rest of my life? I don’t mind. I am grateful for the ability to feel love for them even in their absence.

I’ll bet some of you have similar stories. I’ll bet some of you experienced your loss more than five years ago and still feel it today. What do you think? Does parental grief ever end? I do not think so. At least I hope it never does. I want their memory to live on in me forever. What about you?

Final Thoughts

I hope you enjoyed the homestead stories and come back again and again to hear more. It has taken me a while to find my stride and to land on what I have to offer. It took a while to realize that all I have is me and my experiences. Every day I strive to experience greater love and peace. I strive for God’s grace and forgiveness.

If you enjoyed this podcast, please go to Apple Podcasts, search for Peaceful Heart FarmCast and SUBSCRIBE. Take a moment to give me a 5-star rating and a review. And if you enjoy this content, the best thing you can do to help me is to share it with any friends or family who might be interested.  

Thank you so much for stopping by the homestead and until next time, may God fill your life with grace and peace.

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Farm News, Herd Share Pickups, Farmer’s Markets

Hello beautiful peeps,

Farm updates include more babies. The Wytheville Farmer’s market information is farther down the page. You can skip there by clicking here. If you are looking for Herd Share pick up info, jump down the page here

Quail

A total of 33 quail chicks are headed outside to their permanent home on Thursday. They have quadrupled in size (at least) in two weeks. In just 8 short weeks they will be fully mature. Looking forward to the eggs and wonderful meat these birds will provide in about six weeks from now. 

Sheep

The sheep ewes are steadily giving birth. Last week our youngest ewe gave birth with no issues. Two other ewes from last year also gave birth to singles. This is common the first year. Twins and triplets are common in subsequent years. The matriarch of the flock gave us the first set of twins. No triplets for her this year! There are two others that look like they will present with twins. We shall see.

Goats

Last time I reported the goats staying in their assigned paddock. Didn’t last. They are still going wherever they want. The cows are in paddock 10. The goats are in paddock 11 even though they have been moved out of there at least twice. I think it is time to just let them be wherever they want to be. 

Cows

Buttercup and Butter have not had their calves. In fact, neither looks like it will happen in the next week. We will patiently wait. Claire, Cloud and Violet are giving lots of wonderful milk.  

Creamery

The small cheese cave is moving along nicely. Scott was going to wait to do the tile floor and finish the roof instead. However, he changed his mind a day or so ago. The deciding factor was having to move all of the carefully constructed shelves to do the tile. He decided to bite the bullet and do it all now. I’m so excited!! I will have a fully functioning cheese cave!

That’s it for the farm update. Now on to the farmer’s market update. 

Farmer’s Market

Wytheville Farmer’s Market will be open on Saturday and again allowing you inside in addition to continuing with Take Out if you so choose. The same stringent safety measures will be in place. A limited number of patrons will be allowed inside, keeping a safe distance (tape will mark spacing), and no browsing. You will enter on the covered side, follow the pathway that is laid out and exit on the uncovered side. We are in the same place as before. You still won’t be able to browse around. Step up to the vendor table and place your order based on their list of products.

You can pre-order with us or with your favorite vendor. Find vendors on the Wytheville Farmer’s Market Facebook page.  You will find our products listed there as well as on this page.  

On our list you will find 1/4 and half beef as well as half and whole lamb. The beef delivery is for mid-August. Lamb will be available the first week of August. You can claim your now by making a deposit for beef quarters or halves and/or whole or half lamb. I have very limited quantities. Make your deposit now. 

Herd Shares

Herd Share Peeps, I will be inside near the exit door.  I look forward to seeing each of you. Remember to let me know what you want for next week. Fresh milk and yogurt is available. And as always, cheese and butter. 

New herd share opportunities are available. Contact me via email (melanie@peacefulheartfarm.com) or phone (276-694-4369). 

Please go HERE to learn all about Herd Shares and get on our waiting list.


News This Week


Products Available to Herd Share Owners

Choose 1 per week 1/2 Share Whole Share
Raw Milk 1/2 gallon 1 gallon
Yogurt 1 quart 2 quarts
Butter 1/4 pound 1/2 pound
Ararat Legend 1/4 pound 1/2 pound
Peaceful Heart Gold 1/4 pound 1/2 pound
Pinnacle 1/4 pound 1/2 pound
Clau d’ville Cheddar 1/4 pound 1/2 pound

Products Available to the General Public

Beef Price / Pound
1/4 Beef (approx 100 lbs) $7.00
1/2 Beef (approx 200 lbs) $6.50
Whole Beef (approx 400 lbs) $6.00
Ground (approx 1 lb) $7.00
Lamb Price / Pound
Lamb Loin Chops $18
Lamb Rib Chops $18
Lamb Kabobs $12
Ground Lamb (approx 1 lb) $10
Whole Lamb (approx 40 lbs) $9.50
1/2 Lamb (approx 20 lbs) $10
Chev (Goat) Price / Pound
Ground Chev (approx 1 lb) $12

Let’s Get Together

As always, we’d love to meet you in person.  You can find us at the Wytheville Farmers Market on Saturday from 8:00 am to Noon. Special procedures are in place for your health and safety, but you will be able to come inside the building now.  

As always, you may visit us at our dairy farm in Claudville, Virginia Tuesdays from 10 am to 12 noon and Saturday afternoons from 3 pm to 5 pm. Find out how we raise our animals and why you will love the taste of tradition that is inherent in all of our products. Herd share holders will be able to see up close how their cows are cared for and the cheese operation and where it is stored. 


Peaceful Heart FarmCast

This week’s podcast, “Raw Milk Cheese“, is filled with great info on what’s happening on the homestead. There is a focus on the cheese I am making and much more information on that new cheese cave. Spring always brings new birth and lots of gardening. Lots of animal updates and I made huge progress on getting the garden planted. Drop me an email and let me know which is your favorite animal.   


Free Downloads

I want to follow up on my previous FarmCast, The Taste of Cheese where I talked about developing your expertise with using descriptive words. The FREE downloads of Classifying Cheese by Type and Category and Expand Your Cheese Vocabulary are still available at our website. Please stop by and get your FREE resources. 

You can LISTEN TO THE PODCAST HEREOr, if you have an Alexa device, just say:Alexa, play podcast Peaceful Heart FarmCast.

And don’t miss an episode! Subscribe to the Peaceful Heart Farm podcast on Apple PodcastsAndroidTuneIn, Stitcher or Spotify


You found our farm!

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FARM STORE Hours:

Tuesday:  10am – 12pm
Saturdays:  3 – 5pm

Peaceful Heart Farm

224 Cox Ridge Road, Claudville, VA 24076

Can you find our products?

We'd like to make sure we have cheese available where you can get it. Whether it be at the Farmers Market or a specialty food store.

Let us know where you'd like to see us and we'll try to make it happen. We'll notify you via email when we get our products to your favorite shopping destination.

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FARM STORE Hours:

Tuesday:  10am – 12pm
Saturdays:  3 – 5pm

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Wytheville Farmers Market:

Saturdays:  8am – 12pm

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