We needed a new rooster, badly.  We had ordered day old chicks in March of 2011, and they were all supposed to be female.  As they grew, we began to suspect that there was a square peg in the group.  Sure enough, we had one rooster.  We thought that it would work in our favor, as we could generate our own next generation of laying hens, and meat chickens as well.

As our rooster grew older, he grew more agressive.  I hoped that he would calm down with age, but it only got worse.  That dumb bird would come after everyone who dared enter his territory.  Letting the chickens out in the morning began to be a chore no one wanted, as you had to go into the coop armed with a shovel to keep the demon from scratching your eyes out.  Our girls could no longer spend time with HIS chickens, which was especially upsetting to our youngest child who adores her chicken ladies.  

Slowly I came to the conclusion that our little day old biddy that had been lovingly raised to be a part of our flock was now in the FOOD category.  His name became meat.  We needed a new rooster.

I found a farm in Coffeyville that had the kind of rooster I was looking for, a nice big Barred Plymouth Rock, which is the breed of our ill fated roo.  My family loaded up for the two hour ride down, looking forward to an adventure on another farm.  The name of the farm we were to visit is Shadowfax Farms, as the owners are big fans of Tolkein.  We knew they had lots of springtime babies, so we were happy to make the drive.  If you have never driven through the southern Kansas Flint HIlls you should.  It is beautiful.  If I had my druthers I would wiggle my nose and our place would be magically loacated in Cedar Vale.

We arrived at the farm in the early afternoon, and were greeted by the farm dogs; a Pyrenees, a little Heeler rescue, and a sweet little Anatolian/Pyrenees mix puppy.  If I could have I would've loaded that puppy into my car right that minute, she was that sweet.  We had arrived just after a new foal had been born, so we grabbed our cameras and rushed to the barn to see the newest addition to the farm.  She was still on the ground, her mama standing guard over her.  While we were there she stood up, took her first steps, and began to suckle.  What an amazing sight!  We scritched the baby bull and got to love on the very pretty barn kitties.  Kay held one of the new baby bunnies for us, and got peed on for her trouble (who knew they could pee so much!!)  There were also baby goats, baby sheep and tiny little banty roosters who were NOT babies but adorable all the same.  

We decided to take two of the roosters rather than one, two year old barred rock brothers who would take care of all 25 of our hens.  As we began to load them up one of the roosters escaped, and after a failed attempt at recapture we cut our losses and chose a lovely Rhode Island Red rooster to accompany our Barred Rock.  After the boys were secure in their crate we headed to the sheep barn, being interested in all things sheepie.  I had already noticed a small sheep in the horse barn that had been put with a nanny goat.  I felt sorry for her, as the goat was really only tolerating her presence and not really caring for her.  I took some photos of her itty bitty self, feeling pity for this little creature who was not with her mom.  Her twin was much bigger than she and would not let her nurse, shoving her out of the way.  So, she was with the goat and her baby, allowed to nurse only when the baby goat was nursing.  If the little orphan lamb tried to nurse by herself the goat would head butt her away. 
I left her there, trying to resign myself to the way of farm life.  Not everything is as rosy as we would like to imagine.

Away to the sheep barn we went, and no sooner had we walked in the door than a huge sheep walked up to Blake and began to nibble on his pants, and his shirt, and anything else she could get a hold of.  She looked to me, wondering what my camera might taste like, and came right over to find out.  Kaye informed us that this giant ewe was a bottle baby and forever thought that people were her buddies.  There were other ewes that were tending to their babies, and ewes that hadn't popped yet.  We were ooooing and ahhing over the little lambs when Kaye turns to us and says, "You know, I'll sell you that little lamb in the horse barn as a bottle baby." 

Uh oh. 

We had NOT come to get a baby sheep!  Everyone who knows us at all knows that we gave the lady her money, put that lamb in a box and brought her little behind home with us in the car.  And now our little flock is made up of three wooly sheep.  The girls named her Rosie, and we are all in love with her.  The.  End.

p.s.  Thank you very much to Kay, Marc and their lovely girls for a beautiful day.  It was so nice to meet all of you!

Saturday, Grace and I went to the Fiber Fair at the Pioneer Bluffs Ranch in Matfield Green, KS with two very lovely ladies, Alice and Sue.  Alice is the Goddess of All Things Fiber, so I was tickled that she wanted to go with us.  Grace and I had spent the night with Sue on Friday, in preparation for our early morning trek up north.  Unfortunately, our poor judgement forced us to stay up until 12:30 working on a ridiculously difficult Rosie the Riveter puzzle, so the early morning was none too well received.  Bleary eyed, Sue and I poured a quick cup of coffee down our gullets and we all hit the road. 

We took the scenic drive through some breathtaking countryside, and as we arrived at the historic homestead where the Fiber Fair was being held, the K-State extention team was gathering interested parties outside to demonstrate the proper pruning of fruit trees.  Susan bee lined in that direction while the rest of us explored the old buildings that dotted the homestead, looking for the elusive fiber artists that were supposed to be giving lessons and demonstrations on their nearly forgotten craft.

One by one we eliminated old, preserved historical buildings, and of course found what we were looking for in the last building; the old farmstead house.  It has been restored beautifully into an art gallery on the first floor (with some art that they are quite reluctant to part with, judging by the prices), with some classrooms on the second floor.  In one room a lady was using a spinning wheel and had her hand spun, hand dyed wool for sale.  She too wanted an arm and a leg for her wares, and even so I was tempted; it was so pretty (photo above).  I am drawn to piles of yarn and fabric like a moth to a flame! 

In the next room was a lady demonstrating her technique for rag rugs, in another room two people were using various shapes and sizes of looms, and in the last room we visited, Gracie got to have a hands on lesson in using a drop spindle.  She is an old soul, and for an 11 year old she took to it very quickly; we had a hard time getting her to leave, but with Alice's promise of giving Grace her own spindle and wool, we were able to depart peacefully.

The four of us had a fantastic time that we will never forget, had chicken fried steak for lunch at a little country cafe in Cottonwood Falls (with no nap afterwards I might add), and made it home in time to meet the rest of the family back at Sue's for dinner.  Most important to me, however, is that we created a memory for Grace that will last her a lifetime.  What a perfect day.

The reason it took me so long to start this website is that we just couldn't seem to come up with a name for the farm that stuck.  We went through several, and they just didn't seem to fit.  Should the name focus on the sheep and their products, the chicken and their products, the garden, the location, our family name, or what?  I finally threw up my hands and decided on the all inclusive Food Farm, which I thought was funny in it's simplicity. 

Blake's much loved father passed away in August, and as a tribute to him Blake suggested that we add his dad's name.  His name was William Joseph, but his mama always called him Billy Joe.  And with that, Billy Joe's Food Farm was born.

Papa Bill, we love you so much and miss you more than we can say.  We hope our farm makes you proud.