Tuesday, December 9

Kids!

Ghost had a buckling and a doe kid this morning.

Monday, November 17

SWMOBoer.com

As previously mentioned a few local goat ranchers have gotten together to start swmoboer.com to combine marketing efforts. We're still adding content and getting the site set up, so check back often!

Saturday, November 15

Kids!

We don't have any of our own kids yet, nor are the they kind of kids people typically think of. Picture here is a baby goat of Carter Farms of Dadeville. Cute, eh?!
We've got the buck here now to breed our goats, which puts us "kidding out" sometime in April. Life has been busy lately with the construction of a new small goat barn, new pens for goats, and the partial closing in of our three-sided hay barn.
Jennifer had been struggling with a name for our farm, something to put on a business card when selling goats in the future. Her friend, Carol, came to visit recently. She's quite good a coming up with creative names. During her visit she watched Jennifer in the pasture with the flock of chickens, the herd of goats, and the horse all peacefully existing. She told Jennifer later it was very harmonious sight and the name Harmony Hill was born. I guess it's maybe a bit better than Geek Acres. In any case, the blog will remain Geek Acres, but for goat and other farm product marketing purposes it's Harmony Hill.
We have also teamed up with a couple other local goat ranches to combine our marketing efforts and we'll be launching a new website soon. Stay tuned for more information on that.

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Saturday, September 27

Lilly

Jennifer picked up this goat along with three others on craigslist.
Her ear tag IDs her as number 42. Of course this number has special
meaning to geeks, especially those who went to school at Rolla.

Lilly, as we've come to call her, is my favorite goat. She's the most
affectionate of the herd and by far prefers to be petted than other
goat activities like eating.

We're up to 10 goats now and we're enjoying having them. Jennifer gets
to spend quite a bit of time with them so they trust her as their
shepard so to speak. The herd won't venture into any tall brush with out
her leading them in. They will typically follow me now as well.

Wednesday, September 3

New pad

The greenhouse pad is taking shape!

Friday, August 22

Harvest

I've not been posting updates on our garden like I hoped this year.
Tis lack of updates is mostly due to time constraints and the fact
that the produce is moving so quickly at farmer's markets. Pictured
Here some of what I collected last nhght.

Tuesday, August 19

Chicken Tunnel


Herd
Originally uploaded by duanekeys
I made a tunnel of fence that connects the chicken enclosure to the rest of the pasture. Now our chickens have the full run of all our fenced-in pasture along with the goats and the horse! It's quite a sight to see when Jennifer walks in the pasture with a horse, goats, and chickens following along. I think the chickens are much happier now that they're "free range" of sorts. Pictured here some of the hens and goats are mingling out by the round-pen.

The chickens are good at finding the places to escape, showing me the weak spots in our fence, though they only usually escape one at a time and spend the rest of the time trying to figure out how to get back to the flock. Every few days or so I'll have to spend five minutes trying to catch a stressed hen to put her back with the flock.

I have had to change my morning chore routine a bit because of the chickens new freedom. I used to let the chickens out of the house first since they've been cooped up all night (pun unintended). But after the chickens learned the goats are fed a bit of grain in the morning the first thing they do is make a mad chicken-waddling dash to the goats for some of the goat's grain. It's a pretty funny scene to see 20+ chickens in an all out sprint, wings half spread and heads just bobbin' back and forth as fast as their legs will take them. Only one of the goats makes and effort to push the chickens out of their feed. The other two simply watch the chickens peck like mad. I've resorted to keeping the chickens locked up just a bit longer to give the goats a chance to have some breakfast.

Delta Smelta


Delta Smelta
Originally uploaded by duanekeys
Jennifer is pictured here petting one of the newest residents of Geek Acres. Delta, or Delta Smelta as I like to call her, is one of the six Boer percentage goats calling our farm home. With all new two by four inch square fencing all around the farm the goats should be safe and secure.

There are lots of misconceptions about goats like that they'll eat anything or that they stink. These inaccuracies are mostly perpetuated by pop-culture and urban (or is it rural) myths. A goat that is not properly cared for (read: hungry) probably will eat anything, just to survive. Does do not stink, though a buck can. We'll only lease a buck long enough to breed our does.

We've really enjoyed having the goats. They've got great personalities and like a good scratching. Delta (Delta Smelta), Smokey (Smokely Dokely), Annie (Annie-mal) have been with us for about six weeks now. A couple weeks ago Jennifer acquired three new goats, Lola, Glitter, and Sparkle. They're currently in separate pastures but we'll combine the herds soon. Lola is nursing a leg injury at the moment and we don't want the bigger goats pushing her around.

Sunday, July 6

Pyro


IMG_3545
Originally uploaded by duanekeys
My buddy Lee, pictured here with his son, is a bit of a pyromaniac. Some people really get into Christmas others go all out on Halloween. Lee goes crazy for the fourth of July. He's pictured here next to his completely automated, fully wired, fourth of July trailer. I got some neat photos of his display in action in my photostream.

Thursday, June 19

Storm damage

This is one of three trees blown over in the Frisco building parking
lot at Chestnut and 65.

Tuesday, June 3

Driving with an Accent


accent
Originally uploaded by duanekeys
Fueling the F-150 for the drive to work and back was becoming a significant expense, so as of Friday we parked the F-150 in the drive, relegated to pulling the trailer and other duties suited to the V8. When we bought the Truck in 2004 it was averaging nearly $0.10 a mile to drive. Today it runs over $0.25 a mile. With a 60 mile commute it was adding up fast.

In it's place we bought this little car, a 2002 Hyundai Accent, and I will be using it as my daily driver. It's a no frills base model with hail damage but she'll do the job!

It's a bit different driving when compared to the truck. The most obvious is the height and size difference. With my seat this low to the ground 55 mph seems quite fast, this psychologically helps offset the noticeable difference in power. The amenities and comfort level are different as well but for the savings I'll suffer through it.

Friday, May 23

In Bloom


in bloom
Originally uploaded by duanekeys
This colorful medley of plants borders our driveway and front yard area. Jennifer was happy to see the Iris blooms this year as last year a late freeze had destroyed the fragile buds. Also pictured is a Knockout Rose (about center), Evening Primrose (the pink flower on the right), and Yarrow (the yellow flowers in the foreground). Also peeking out in the background are the purple flowers of the May Night variety of Salvia.

We began our Memorial Day weekend early this year. I have vacation time and know how to use it! I've taken Thursday and Friday of this week off and will be back in the office on Tuesday of next week.

Last weekend we hauled in 3 cubic yards of compost and quickly used it all up in the vegetable garden. Yesterday we used my dad's dump trailer and hauled in another 6 cubic yards. That ought to last my wife a couple more days! ;)

The vegetable garden is coming along nicely and Jennifer is having good success at the farmer's markets "in spite of herself," she says. I plan on taking some photos today. The heirloom and organic herbs are selling quite well and this weekend some unique varieties of lettuce and radish will be ready for market. Stop by the Willard Community Farmer's Market and pick some up this Saturday!

The rest of the weekend will be interspersed with fence building, irrigation system installation, hay hauling, outdoor grilling, lawn mowing, and some occasional relaxation.

Sunday, May 4

Back Yard View


back yard view
Originally uploaded by duanekeys
Jennifer's back yard creation is starting to come together. You can see a few of the raised beds she created in the back/side yard. She has just recently finished the Missouri Master Gardener's classes (way to go, honey!). Jennifer's a go-getter and has already put in all the required volunteer time for the year! One of her classmates scoffed at her suggestion of planting in raised beds consisting of nothing but compost. Behold the evidence presented here. Take a look at more photos of plants here.

So far this year we've had to scramble to protect all these plants (and more) from frost damage on three separate occasions. Hopefully we're done with that! (Audible sound of knocking on wood)

Look close at the photo and you can see Scarface the rooster, as well as Des our Percheron mare. Scarface is of course so-named for the Great Chicken Massacre of 2007, of which Scarface survived, sans one eye. We've been diligently closing the chicken door at night and have managed to keep the flock number steady. In fact our recent arrivals (25 new chicks) now call half of the chicken house home. I divided the house in half to let the little ones acclimate to the outside temperatures. We keep a heat lamp in one side in case they get cold. I haven't had a chance to get back to the hair-brained idea of an automated chicken door. I do still imagine it coming to fruition one day.

Hot/Cold/Green House


mini greenhouse
Originally uploaded by duanekeys
I built this structure the other day... If you decide to build one, wait for the wind to die down to save yourself some frustration. I'm not sure if this is a hot-house, a cold-frame, or a mini green house. In any case it's supposed to somehow help all these little plants (you'll have to ask my wife).

To construct it I used 2x8's in fastened together in a simple rectangle. On one side I stapled weed fabric. For the hoops I attached 10' long half-inch CPVC. It was more flexible than regular half-inch PVC. We stretched plastic over the hoops and stapled through cardboard, through the plastic, and into the wooden frame. To keep the plastic from coming off the ends I used some alligator clips and rope to keep tension on the plastic from within.

Saturday, May 3

First Market


First Market
Originally uploaded by duanekeys
Jennifer and I loaded the explorer and headed to our first farmer's market (as a vendor). We were one of five vendors at the first Willard Community Farmer's Market. All in all we were pleased with the turn-out. The wind was blowing hard today, which made it a challenge but we'll be back next weekend with more and better plants!

Monday, April 7

Chicks


chicks
Originally uploaded by duanekeys
Brown egg layers were selling for minimum of $15 a piece at the Bolivar Sale Barn a couple weekends ago. We want to ramp back up our egg production so instead of spending big money on bigger birds, Jennifer picked up some smaller birds for less from Estes Hatchery. We were down to six hens and a rooster after some predator attacks and giving some away.

Friday, March 28

Green house parts


green house parts
Originally uploaded by duanekeys
It may not look like much but it sure made my wife happy. Jennifer, my parents, and I went to visit my aunt and uncle in Illinois a few weekends ago. They had two green houses that they said we could have it we come take them down. They're each about 20 x 40 feet in size.

We arrived late on a Friday night after making the 6 hour drive. On Saturday we awoke to snow on the ground and freezing temperatures. This was no matter for us though, we came prepared with warm clothes and power tools. An pneumatic impact wrench made short work of the rust bolts and nuts. We were able to take the two green houses completely down and load them securely on the trailer in about 10 hours. Not too bad for a bunch of amateurs. The area behind the pile of metal in the picture is where one of the greenhouses will go.

In a previous post snapped a picture of a plant auction and you can see some of those pots in the background above. Jennifer is already busy tending and preparing these plants for sale. We plan on hitting some of the farmers markets and perhaps an auction or two once the plants have developed. Longer term Jennifer is starting a new venture growing heirloom vegetables as organically as possible. There seems to be a lot of excitement and interest in this market, hopefully the hard work will pay off. In the mean time, Jennifer is finishing up her master gardener's program and has been enjoying it immensely.

Friday, February 15

From the Grassy Knoll


From the Grassy Knoll
Originally uploaded by duanekeys
Not exactly farm related... I was in Dallas on business this week. Having arrived early and finished setting up our booth a few of us wandered down to Dealey Plaza where President Kennedy was assassinated. There were several other curious tourists as well as several peddlers of memorabilia and opinions on conspiracy theories. We listened to one gentleman's tale who promptly asked for a donation. Having enjoyed the monologue we each offered up what we thought was a fair donation.

Pictured here is the "X" that marks where the fatal head shot struck the president. The view is from behind the fence on the grassy knoll, the supposed spot of the second gunman.

Monday, January 28

Our sweet boy


Dobie After
Originally uploaded by duanekeys
The fateful day came last week, January 23, 2008. Jennifer arrived home to find Dobie not doing well. His heart wasn't able to keep up and his lungs had filled with fluid. Over these weeks his dosage of medications had continued to climb. His original prognosis, back in October of 2007 was "maybe two weeks."

It was a constant struggle for us to balance his quality of life and our own selfish needs to keep our boy in this world with us. He had many good days playing with us and animating that personality we love so much. We worried we were being selfish, our vet told us we will know when it is time. On this Wednesday in January the balance tipped away from our own needs to Dobie's needs.

Dobie went to sleep for the last time in Jennifer's lap on the couch he loved. We couldn't have asked for a more peaceful end; our deepest heartfelt thanks to Dr. John Mozier.

Dobie rests now in a spot over-looking the pasture where he often would lie and take in the sun.

It's been dark and cold in our home since he passed. Maybe time will make it easier, but there will always an empty spot in our hearts that Dobie filled.

There will never be another one like him. He was the kindest, most loyal and loving soul I've ever known.

My only comfort is knowing someday I'll see him again.

We love you, Dobie Do.

Monday, January 14

Mr. Mellon


Mr. Mellon
Originally uploaded by duanekeys
I rarely call any of our animals by their given names, unless they're in trouble. Gelleon, pictured here, had to go to the vet today. We came home from a trip to the feed store to find a glass casserole dish shattered on the kitchen floor.

Gelleon was bleeding from his mouth. We called the vet who told us that it's a rather common thing to hear about and to feed the dogs wadded up balls of bread to help coat any small pieces they might have eaten. Mr. Mellon couldn't keep the bread down and kept gagging, so off to the vet he went. Dr. Mozier examined him and observed him for most of the day. He was sent home with some prescription dog food.

He seems to be all right now, but we'll going to have to be extra careful with what we leave on the counters.

Stuff like this always happens when I take the day off from work.

Sunday, January 13

New arbor

My cousin Aaron helped me build Jennifer's birthday present shown here.

Saturday, January 5

Green house auction

Jennifer just bought most of the plants in the picture. They're
dormant for those of who are horticulturally-challenged.