• The Ballad of Naomi and Wynonna

    So, we are working on becoming an actual farm. In that quest we have acquired, the Ambassadors of Scratch

    Scratch Department

    Because a farm implies more than a few chickens, I have added some crops and now, Landscape Specialists!! As I said before, calling yourself a farm because you have a few vegetable plants seems fake, like imitation crab meat. I refuse to be imitation crab meat! Some of the fences need repair so we aren’t ready for large animals like horses or cows yet, so… goats!!! I have some horse experience but I don’t know anything about goats! Because of this, I bought two. I read that they are herd animals and having just one is not good for their mental health. Im all about protecting your mental health so I’m ok with that. As the old Schoolhouse Rock song stated, ‘Three is a magic number’ and that’s better for goats, but I’m not ready for that yet. I began to research the needs of goats..

    Landscape Specialists

    When I decided to buy goats, I had no idea where to find them. I found an ad on Craigslist and was soon texting the owner. I purchased 2 nine week old babies over text and then spent the next week worrying it might have been a scam, because I got them on Craigslist and have seen quite a few crime dramas about that. Like I said, I’m dramatic. I got ready for my goats hoping I wasn’t scammed.

    Temporary goat pen

    The chicken pen needs some brush removal so this will be the goat’s first job. It also has a coop for them to sleep in at night and a good fencing for them until their pen is ready. The chickens won’t be occupying the space for at least 12 weeks so the landscape department can work on the overgrown foliage. 🙂

    Because I don’t have a truck, the SUV has to do double duty as a farm truck sometimes. I bought a huge tarp, put down shavings and set off for the hour and a half trip to meet my new babies. I thought I had it all figured out and, of course, when you think you have it all figured out? Enter that monkey wrench to show you that you aren’t as smart as you thought you were….

    Tarp barrier!

    I arrive to pick up the goats. Two girls, about 7 and 10, bring them out. We put them in the back and I head out on my way, enjoying the goat noises in the back and imagining how great my life will be with my sweet girls. I start to sing country western songs to them, including, of course, The Judds. I enjoy myself until I look in my mirror and see a tiny black head and hooves peering at me over the back seat. She looks like she’s going to try to jump over. I begin to wonder what will happen if she makes it over and begins to jump all over the back and front seat, also wondering how I will clean up if she decides to have a pit stop on my upholstery?!? Then I hear the, ‘Dumb Ways to Die’ song and decide this is it.

    Enjoy this little earworm!!

    Car crash caused by goat. Stephen King, in one of his books, discusses how many car crashes are caused by insects distracting the driver. This time it will be a Lamancha goat named Naomi. I’m a little dramatic that way and my brains spends some time on this tangent. I ask her to please not jump over. She seems to oblige and her head disappears, I relax and go back to my daydream. A few minutes later I hear a crumple of tarp and see she’s back. I ask her again and she disappears. This goes on a few more times and I finally decided to raise the head rests and move the tarp to completely block the back. We make it safely home. I sing to them the whole way and am rewarded with some goat backup singers. Their timing is a bit off but their enthusiasm makes up for it. I try different songs and genres, but they seem to have the biggest reaction to Sugarland’s, ‘The Incredible Machine’, which really gets them singing along. I think maybe it’s the chorus. When Jennifer Nettles sings ‘CALLING!’, I guess it calls to them and they reply. I love Sugarland so I’m not knocking them, but she does sound a bit ‘goatish’ a few times in that song. Is goatish a word? If not, I made it up and you have to use it in a sentence now

    You decide… Link to the song below

    Siren song for my goats.

    As I pull up I realize my husband and son aren’t home and I have to wrangle them into the pen myself. Goat wranglin’! I’ve never done that but both Yeee and Haww. I opened the back passenger door and put the seat down. I expect them to sweetly come over to me. NOPE! They fly into panic and try to get away from me. I was able to get Naomi, the black goat, as Wynonna panics more and races into the back seat. I closed the door quickly and run to put Naomi in the pen before Wynonna could do any damage to my vehicle. I can’t imagine taking the car to the retailer for goat poop! I am able to catch Wynonna. I put them both in. They stare at me for a moment, look around and begin to eat. I take this for a good sign and sit down to watch them.

    On the job

    So I stand in the pen and admire my sweet girls. I realize it’s beginning to get late in the evening and I want to get them in the coop so they will be safe for the night. When I move, they bolt away from me. I have no idea how to catch a goat. So, I start with some communication.

    I don’t speak goat

    I get a response but no closer to actually catching one. When I move, they run. They get to the coop door but as soon as I move to close it they race out the little opening. I decide that since they can get through the little hole, I’ll have to just shut the big door and leave it alone. If I chase them too much I become a predator to them so I give this round to the goats and go to the house.

    As I walk to the house, they come around the side to stare at me, seemingly offended that I left them.

    Where ya goin’?

    I realize I don’t know how to tame a goat, but I’ll have to learn. I’ll start on that tomorrow….

    Mad when I leave but doesn’t want me around
  • Scratching!

    So, we named our farm, ‘Up to Scratch’. My son’s idea. I love the name and we decided it was perfect. Having this name, however, means if you don’t have anything that scratches, it’s a fake name. It’s sort of like that imitation crab meat you buy at the grocery. It’s actually some kind of fish. It’s not crab. We don’t want to be imitation crab meat so we have acquired ambassadors of scratch, or…..in other words, chickens.

    My chicken babies!!!

    Mail order chickens…. Did you know you can order LIVE chicks through the mail? You can. It’s amazing what you can order through the mail. I’ve actually ordered mealworms for feeders as well as fish and live shrimp off a website for my fish tank. There is something about ordering a live creature through the mail that seems wrong though. I digress though. Not gonna lie, my ADHD mind goes in many directions at once so there will be side little detours from my point sometimes. Back to chickens! SO, I went to the website and picked chickens. I chose two breeds and ordered 10, of each. Black Giant and White Leghorns!! I needed chickens to withstand cold temperatures and ones that were good laying hens and well as possible meat chickens(which I don’t know if I can do that part). I’ve had chickens and enjoy the fresh eggs, but as my daughter says I have attachment issues and may not be able to use them for meat. We will see.

    Chicken babies!

    What’s in the box?!? I got a call from the post office saying they have arrived. I drove over and picked up the box above and listened to the cheeping the whole way home. I got the brooder prepared and put them in. When you put them in, you have to dip their beaks in the water so they know where and what it is. Chickens are not the brightest animals on the planet. They have settled in and are going about chicken business.


    Techno Chickens…. My daughter is across the country and hates that she is not here to see them in person. She wanted to FaceTime them so I placed my phone in the brooder so she could, ‘be one with the chickens’. They also seemed to enjoy it and came over to peck the screen frequently.

    Guess what? Chicken butt!!

    IT’S SO SHINY! I noticed the Ambassadors of Scratch are serious about their job. They love to scratch so much that they scratch the hay right into the waterer and fill it up. I got a pie plate and placed the water on it thinking that would help. Chickens, in their wisdom, became completely fascinated by the shiny! They spent the next hour pecking the pie plate. Eventually, they figured it out. As I said, chickens have tiny brains.

    Ohh so shiny!

    So my chickens are doing well. One is a rooster but I can’t figure it out yet. Only they know. Once he crows, I’ll know. I’m moving them to a bigger box today since they are growing. I love the little noises they make and there is nothing sweeter than when you pick one up and it snuggles down to sleep.

    Morning routine
    Chickens doing chicken things

    The Judds…. So, Up to Scratch Farm has the Ambassadors of Scratch, making us bonafide. Ever see that movie, ‘O Brother, Where Art Thou?’ when George Clooney finds his daughters and they tell him their mom has a new suitor and he’s bonafide? Well, UTSF is now bonafide in the scratch department. Bo…na….fide!!! Now we have to work on the farm part of the name. Farm implies multiple animals. We have extremely confused farm dogs that are actually retired racing greyhounds, but that’s not enough and their adjustment is another post on its own. So we have added some solar powered lawn mowers!! More about them in a later post. I will just say you haven’t lived until you ride an hour and a half with goats hoping they don’t jump the back seat and run wild.

    Wynonna and Naomi, landscape department.

    My friend Bobbi-Lynn suggested the names and it has stuck. I’ve since decided all my goats will be named after country legends so at some point Dolly, Reba and Tammy will be added to the herd. I can hear the goaty Judds singing the song of their people and my coffee is finished so it’s time to start the day. Off to feed the animals and water the garden…..

  • Big Doins!

    Yes, big doins. I’m a transplanted Southerner, which means I says things like y’all, hey y’all, etc. So, big doins at UTSF. I didn’t think I had an accent until I moved WAY north and west of the Mason Dixon, but apparently it’s noticeable enough for frequent comments when I go anywhere. Anyway, back to farm news! Our neighbors have noticed the activity over here and are watching our progress!

    Nosy neighbors!

    Garden news

    Everything is doing really well, which is surprising considering I have the ability to kill plastic plants. If it makes sense, I have really good looking dirt. Coming from Georgia’s red clay soil, it’s nice to not have to fight to plant something. I am excited to see their progress!

    Onions, cucumbers, various herbs and echinacea
    Cabbages and Potatoes
    I call
    this, Jacob’s Garden of Pain. Ghost peppers, Serrano Peppers, and Jalapeño.
    I planted a few brown eyed Susans but they seem irritated and can’t decide if they want to live. They were extremely root bound so maybe it’ll be ok. Sometimes we have to be dramatic first. I think you have to bloom where you are planted but I guess they need time to decide.
    Apparently this sandbox is a bathroom attraction for the invisible barn cats that live here. We’ve yet to see them but I’m told they exist. I have Hide and Seek elite level barn cats. We plan to move the giant litter box to the garden for blueberry bushes

    House news… I’m still working on the flowerbeds around the house and finding little diamonds along the way. Someone clearly loved this place so I am trying to preserve all the plants I find as I remove the English Ivy. As I’ve worked I’ve found…

    Clematis. I plan to move it to the tack room and using some trellis I found on the property, give it something to climb.
    Columbine, several different varieties.
    A rose bush!!!

    There is still so much to do, but it’s a joy being able to work on it. We also bought three more cherry trees to add to the orchard we didn’t know we had! Apparently this pretty girl knew. I hope she doesn’t eat all of the cherries!

    Drive through, no dine in. I would think green cherries are super sour?
    She was not a fan of echinacea, she nibbled and went on her way

    Up to Scratch Ambassadors have arrived!!

    What’s a farm without chickens??

    My Chicken babies deserve a post of their own… so keep checking!

  • Buried Treasures!

    This week at Up to Scratch has been busy. The house at the farm is a bit of a fixer upper, which we knew but fell in love with the place anyway. The flower beds have been heavily neglected and I keep finding little surprises as I clear away the English Ivy. English Ivy is an evil plant that has become my enemy. Someone allowed it to get out of control! I don’t want to use Round Up because chemicals. I want to have beehives next year and don’t want to risk killing them. If I can avoid chemicals, I will, except of course, wasp spray because all wasps and yellow jackets are evil little bastards that sting because they are complete assholes who enjoy anarchy.


    One of the first things I uncovered what this little guy.

    Next I uncovered this little beauty, it’s called a Bleeding Heart. Someone intentionally planted it and I was so excited to find it!! That’s a tree growing next to it, which I dispatched. As I worked, I also found two Hydrangeas, Clematis, and and Columbines. I also found yellow jacket and hornet nests which I wasn’t as excited about. I can tell that someone really loved this garden at some point and thoughtfully planted things to make it beautiful. She also put soaker hoses in each bed which I accidentally chopped into pieces when I was a little overzealous with the hoe, oops! It was a rental house for quite a while and I guess the tenants didn’t appreciate what was here. I’m excited to find these treasures and restore this place to its glory. I feel like whoever planted these would appreciate it. I know the woman who lived here the longest is most likely who planted all these flowers and I want to protect her legacy.

    Beautiful surprise!

    In garden news, things are looking really good!!!! I’m seeing onions and potatoes start to sprout as well and cabbages and lettuce beginning to take off.

    Russet Potatoes
    Jacob’s hot pepper garden because he likes painful food, ghost pepper, Sriracha and Jalapeño.
    Savoy Cabbages

    A lady who came for a yard sale, saw my garden and went back to her car and brought me cucumber plants and something called Bunching Onions. I stuck them in the ground and we will see what happens…

    Back porch

    Backyard also has some neglected flowerbeds which I started clearing as well. More cursed Ivy!!! I can’t figure out what was in the dog run because the fence is bent back on two sides to let things in. That sort of negates the reason FOR A fence, doesn’t it? I plan to remove the fencing, repurpose the little house, pigmy goats maybe? This is a future perfect spot for hammocks! The vine on the fence is clematis, another little surprise from the former owner.

    Getting there!

    Today I will keep working on removing all the weeds and ivy from the flower beds. 😉 Next week the chicks get here and I also have to get ready for them. I’m also watching sales pages for baby goats… That’s the next animal to add. I can’t have a farm without animals! Thanks for reading. Time to get started….

  • You can’t have a farm without crops!

    Our first big project has been the garden. We have been lucky enough to already have a wonderful garden plot established. This weekend we were really busy weeding but it’s been raining and so cold I wasn’t able to get good pics of the finished product until today. We have given our patch of heaven the name ‘Up to Scratch Farm’ and have started gardening. We met our neighbors, Dot and Jack and they are awesome. I asked Dot advice on what to plant and she not only came to tell me but brought garden tools to help weed. She then took me around to the local nurseries to help me select plants and proudly told them I was her neighbor and she was helping me plant my garden. She seemed to enjoy bossing us around and said Jack had also said he was glad she was off bossing other people. So with Dot’s advice, we have cabbage, onions, cucumbers, squash, many pepper varieties, russet and red potatoes, beans and herbs. She showed us how to plant them and said we were doing a very good job. It’s coming along nicely!!! Although that little table was made to hold a grill I think it will hold a beehive in the future. You can also see the chicken coop in the background. Chicks come at the end of the month!!! Stay tuned.…