91 episodes

Homestead podcast where the conversation revolves around the value of tradition; traditional food prep and storage, traditional cooking, and of course, traditional artisan CHEESE. Topics discussed here are designed to create new perspectives and possibilities for how you might add the taste of tradition to your life.

My husband and I work a small farm and are building a farmstead creamery. We practice sustainable living and produce farmstead and artisan cheese, hand-made in small batches. You can find more information at www.peacefulheartfarm.com.

Peaceful Heart FarmCast Melanie Hall

    • Society & Culture
    • 5.0 • 9 Ratings

Homestead podcast where the conversation revolves around the value of tradition; traditional food prep and storage, traditional cooking, and of course, traditional artisan CHEESE. Topics discussed here are designed to create new perspectives and possibilities for how you might add the taste of tradition to your life.

My husband and I work a small farm and are building a farmstead creamery. We practice sustainable living and produce farmstead and artisan cheese, hand-made in small batches. You can find more information at www.peacefulheartfarm.com.

    Multitasking on the Homestead

    Multitasking on the Homestead

    Multitasking. How do I get so much done in one day? This is a question I get often. I do a lot of multitasking on the homestead. I didn’t just wake up one day and do this. There was a process that I went through to get from a scattered, unfocused, ineffective person to one who can just get things done. Now of course, I’m not always in that zone and there are days when I’m going into a room and wondering why I am there, multiple times a day. There are remedies to the unfocused mind. And I’m going to talk about that today.
    I want to take a minute and say welcome to all the new listeners and welcome back to the veteran homestead-loving regulars who stop by the FarmCast for every episode. I appreciate you all so much. I’m so excited to share with you what’s going on at the farm this week.
    Our Virginia Homestead Life Updates I’ll keep this part brief as I give you the updates on our animals, gardens and the creamery.
    Cows The cows are still undergoing various artificial insemination routines. The first attempt we inseminated eight of our cows. Cookie had just given birth a few weeks ahead of this so she was not in this first rotation. Princess is the only one that took. We did eight again. No Princess but adding in Cookie this time.
    We checked the semen and it was viable. However, the bull with the semen sexed to produce heifers was much less active. In the end, we used this semen on our Normande cows and we used the unsexed semen on the jersey girls. We will pray for greater success this time and know for sure in about three weeks. I don’t expect all of them to take. That would be wonderful, but it is not statistically likely. At that point, we will need to think about the next step. We would be getting very late in the breeding cycle. We may continue on anyway because we need the milk to make the cheese.
    It’s just so frustrating right now. We plan for births in March and April. If we try again, it would push the births back into May and June. Then we get into the situation like we had with Cookie this year. The cows will not be ready to start the breeding process again in the first week of June if they give birth in May. I think I’ve mentioned this before that we make choices every single day trying to create our homestead exactly as we imagine. In the end, it never happens as we imagine and we must roll with the punches and make another plan.
    Dogs and Sheep The dogs and sheep are doing well. I have them collected together so they can get used to each other. I’m still waiting on that magic moment when the dogs and the sheep bond. So far, the sheep are still afraid of the dogs. Sooner or later, they will cave and become used to these noisy beasts in their space. We closed them up into an even tighter space so they are more likely to get to know each other a little bit better.
    I’ve watched the sheep watching me feed the dogs. I even saw one start to approach Mack’s bowl while he was off munching on a bone. He is very sharp and spotted the advance right away. He immediately went to his bowl and growled very ferociously at that sheep and she backed away. As I said, I don’t want them to be afraid of the dogs, but I do want them to respect the dogs and their food. I’ve considered making a separate place for feeding the dogs and that may still happen – likely will happen. But I’m going to wait a little longer. I want the sheep to know that he will only growl at them when protecting his food. Any other barking, I want them to assume he is doing his protection job.
    Goats I’m getting a plan outlined to integrate the new goat kids into the group as well. It looks like that will happen sometime in early fall. We will have three new goat babies to add to our family. I’m excited about that and a little apprehensive as well. They are young and small and I’m still learning about these dogs. Praying it all goes well. The goat kids will also have to learn to leave the dog food alone. It’s not li

    • 28 min
    Homestead Musings

    Homestead Musings

    Today I’m doing a little bit of Homestead musing. More “a day in the life” sort of podcast. I’ll make is a short one and I hope you like it. I love sharing my life with all of you.
    I want to take a minute and say welcome to all the new listeners and welcome back to the veteran homestead-loving regulars who stop by the FarmCast for every episode. I appreciate you all so much. I’m so excited to share with you what’s going on at the farm this week.
    Our Virginia Homestead Life Updates We got a late start this morning. I was Chatty Patty before morning prayers so we started an hour late, that’s 7:15 instead of 6:15. It’s now just about 10 am. I have fed and watered the chickens, emptied the dishwasher, sorted and started the laundry and am on my second load, cut down an entire 3’ x 8’ bed of swiss chard and disposed of it (more on that later), cooked about 3 pounds of swiss chard (some we will eat and some will be frozen), froze 2 gallons of blackberries and 3 gallons of blueberries and set up 1½ gallons of milk to make yogurt. I also need to set up for waxing last week’s cheese. Scott is currently pouring the milk into the cheese vat so I can make Pinnacle. That is our aged alpine-style cheese – sort of like gruyere. Yes, today is a cheese make day so I’ll have to get back to you later for the rest of the podcast. Love ya. Bye for now.
    Ok, I’m back. Just a short update. I’ve got the culture in the cheese milk and I have a few minutes before the next step. I have to bring the temperature of the milk up to 90 degrees for the cheese that I am making today. The way that I do that is to put hot water in the metal jacket cheese vat. It is sort of like a double boiler except that it is completely closed. Well, not quite completely closed. There are a couple of openings at the top that let the displaced air out as the water fills the jacket.
    Focus is Really Important I have to be quite focused when I am doing this part because I tend to check on the milk and then go do something else and then check the milk again. If I am also filling the water in the jacket, a disaster can sometimes happen. It has already happened once this cheesemaking season. If I forget that the water is running, it will completely fill the jacket and then overflow through the opening at the top onto the floor. What a mess that makes. I think once I forgot and it was overflowing for like five minutes. There was water everywhere. If I was in the actual cheese make room we are building, this would not be a big deal. It would simply go down the drain in the floor. But at the moment we have a temporary set up in our storage room. There is a drain in the floor, but the floor is tile and not meant for lots of water to be on it. Anyway, no such disaster happened today.
    More homestead musings. I’m going to get in a few animal updates before I need to go tend to the cheese again.
    Cows We are in the midst of the AI process with our cows and it is not going well. You know, one thing and another. I say this often. Life on the homestead is never dull. There is always something going on that you did not plan. We plan for pregnancies but God has the final say. We had one – possibly two – heifers that appear to have taken on the first try. That’s one or two out of eight. We have to start over with the other six. Add to that an inconvenient medical condition and we are way behind on getting these cows bred.
    We are praying for the health of our vet. She got the Covid and is still under the weather. Once she is back on her feet, we will preg check the two girls we think took and give the other six another chance. Actually, there are seven because Cookie is now far enough past her delivery to begin the AI process as well. If we don’t have success this time, I’m not sure what we will do. It is extremely expensive to do AI over and over and over. So expensive that we are reconsidering keeping a bull.
    Keeping a bull is also a huge expens

    • 21 min
    Raising Animal Protein

    Raising Animal Protein

    Raising animal protein for food on the homestead. What are some of the options? And what are some of the factors to consider when making your choices. As you may know our choices for raising animal protein on the homestead currently includes cows, goats, sheep and poultry. In the very near future, we plan on having pigs. There are other types of protein that we may have or have considered. I’ll talk about all of those.
    But first, as always, I will never take you all for granted. You make this show possible.
    Welcome to any and all new listeners and welcome back to the veteran homestead-loving regulars who stop by the FarmCast for every episode. You mean so much to me. Thank you so much for your support of this podcast. It has been a while and I’m so excited to share with you all about the homestead.
    Our Virginia Homestead Life Updates We’ve had a busy morning already. Scott is milking. I set up for making butter in a little while and put some yogurt on to ferment. It will be ready in less than 8 hours. I’ve been out to the garden and planted a half dozen flowers, stocks this time, and let the chickens out to play.
    Chickens/Quail Chickens you say. When did that happen? If I remember correctly, the eggs began hatching on April the 8th. I had 24 eggs each of American White Bresse and Black Copper Maran. There were two incubators running and all went well. I hatched 17 White American Bresse and 7 Black Copper Marans.
    Due to the low hatch rate on the Marans, the eBay seller sent me another dozen for the cost of postage. I incubated those and hatched three more of the Black Copper Maran from that batch.
    The first batch of low hatch rate was not my fault. Most of the eggs were not fertile or perhaps were “scrambled” in the shipping process. But I must say that of those that didn’t hatch in the last dozen, four were nearly or fully formed. I have no idea why they died just before hatching but have to believe it must have been something I did or did not do with that last batch.
    At the moment, I have 14 American White Bresse and 9 Black Copper Maran. I lost three of the Bresse and one of the Marans. That last loss happened just a few days ago. That particular chicken was hatched six days after the rest of the crew. It was always smaller, but a little over 2 weeks ago, it developed some kind of disorder. It couldn’t really stand up. The vet happened to be here that day and took a look at it. She recommended antibiotics for a few days and see how it goes. That seemed to help a bit but eventually the chick succumbed to whatever the ailment was.
    The vet did not have a lot of information on chicken issues of this type. She said there are just too many variables without testing. And chicken generally are not worth the cost of testing. So, there you go.
    Dogs There is a lot to talk about with the dogs. I’ll try to keep it brief. Let me start with the current state of affairs and then go back and fill in a few details. Finn disappeared about 4 weeks ago and has not returned. While he and Charlotte escaped a lot, Charlotte has always been back the next day and Finn never more than two days. We did have to go and fetch him three different times. He seemed to get so far away that he did not know how to get home.
    Charlotte and Mack are now guarding the sheep. They seem to be doing well with that task. Charlotte still goes wherever she wants, whenever she wants, but she stays relatively close. She grieved for about two weeks after Finn disappeared. I had her on a tether so she could not run away, but even after I let her loose, she was very quiet. Being a Great Pyrenees, she generally barks a lot. But there was nothing for many days. Now she is back to barking up a storm.
    Fear of Thunder Speaking of storms, on the day that Finn disappeared, there was a storm and Charlotte returned home only hours after they both escaped. I found that she is very scared of thunder. Still, after seven months, she will not let me walk up t

    • 39 min
    Planting the Garden

    Planting the Garden

    Planting the garden this year is a little tricky. Each year I have to determine what vegetables I want to grow. I don’t plant everything. After years of just planting everything that caught my eye, I am now choosy about what I plant.
    There are quite a few farm updates to talk about. Before I get to it, as always, I want to take a minute and say welcome to all the new listeners and welcome back to the veteran homestead-loving regulars who stop by the FarmCast for every episode. I appreciate you all so much. I never want to take you for granted. Thank you so much for being here. Let’s get started on some homestead updates.
    Our Virginia Homestead Life Updates It’s officially spring according to the calendar. We are still having quite a few cold days, but birthing is happening and planting the garden is on the horizon. We have calves, lambs and chicks in the incubator. Let’s start with the calves.
    Cows and Calves We had and/or have four cows and/or heifers that were bred this year. Three have given birth, all within 8 days. That’s how AI works. Everyone is fertilized at the same time and the births come close together.
    We have two bulls and a heifer so far. We bought Cookie and added her to the homestead last year. She was not bred with our other cows and her delivery date is sometime in April. So about two to three weeks before we have that last calf. Incidentally, we expect to breed seven cows and two heifers beginning the first week of June. We will have lots of calves, more calves next year than we have ever had on our homestead. Just in time for the cheesemaking to get into high gear. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
    The calves are beautiful and growing like weeds. We are still looking for names for the two bull calves, but the heifer is named Penny. You can see pics of these guys on our Locals.com community or on our Facebook page.
    Sheep and Lambs As far as the sheep and lambs, the ewes were pasture bred. That means we stick the ram in there with them and he does his job according to their cycling schedule. Interestingly enough, all five ewes delivered within three days. They delivered even more closely than the AI’d cows. We had a total of eight but lost one that was part of a set of triples.
    Stellar Ewe It is very unusual for ewes to deliver more than one lamb in their first season. One young lady had triplets. She is currently raising two of them and doing really well. I think we can probably expect triplets from her every year. The oldest ewe consistently has twins – really big twins. They were the last born and looked to be a week old compared to the others.
    The breakdown on the lambs is four girls and three boys. We will be keeping the girls and enlarging our sheep flock. For quite a few years we have kept the flock small. But quite frankly, the market for lambs and goats is going crazy right now and we need the extra income to finish the creamery. And we really like these animals. It’s great that they can now support themselves and provide a bit of income. In the past, we worked at a break-even margin, eating a lot of the lamb ourselves. That does save money on groceries, so there is that.
    Goats We have not had goats on the homestead for over a year. Next week we are visiting a nearby goat operation. They have registered Kiko goats. I’m not sure we will be able to get a starter herd this year, but we plan to go and see what she has and ask a lot of questions. They will be really expensive as goats go. We need to prepare and budget for that as well.
    We keep goats for their meat of course, but they are also very useful in keeping the pastures cleaned up from unwanted brush and pine trees. Goats love woody stemmed plants. They will completely clear out all of the wild blackberries, wild rose, and generally all thorny plants that sheep and cows will not eat. It’s exciting to think about having these love creatures back on the homestead. I’ll keep you posted on when that might happen.

    • 25 min
    Producing Your Own Food: Planning

    Producing Your Own Food: Planning

    Today I will be continuing the conversation on producing your own food. There is a lot to cover and what I can include in this podcast will only whet your appetite for more. Growing food for you and your family is one of the most satisfying occupations in the world. That is of course in my humble opinion. I’ll keep talking about it as long as you want to keep listening to it.
    Welcome new listeners and welcome back veteran homestead-loving regulars. Thank you so much for stopping by the FarmCast for every episode. I appreciate you all so much. There are so many exciting things happening around the homestead. Let’
    Our Virginia Homestead Life Updates Let’s start with homestead updates. I have some fantastic news. Well, it’s fantastic for us. I’ll save it for last, just before I get into the next “producing your own food” segment.
    Cows We have three cows and one heifer that are scheduled to give birth very soon. Claire and Butter are two of the cows, Luna is the heifer. All of these girls are due sometime around the 23rd of March. Our newest cow, Cookie, is due in mid-April.
    I forgot to tell you all about Cookie in the last podcast. She is our latest addition to the homestead. Cookie is about 4 years old. We were a little concerned about meeting our needs for milk in the early spring so we started looking around for a good milking girl to add, at least temporarily, until we get our younger girls bred and producing milk.
    Cookie is a great cow. She is a from an organic dairy about an hour and a half from us. She is mostly jersey but has some guernsey in her as well. Originally, she was a 4-H show cow. That makes her very friendly and an attention seeker. We love her already. And it looks like she integrated into the herd without issue.
    Sheep We expect lambs in the next two weeks. There are five ewes that are currently pregnant. Two of them are older and I expect at least one of those girls to have twins. The other three are just about a year old. Normal birthing is for yearlings to have a single lamb. We are looking for five to seven lambs this season.
    Dogs Finn and Charlotte are on patrol duty for keeping these guys safe. Finn is still escaping regularly and we are working on a training regime for him. Every time he goes where he is not supposed to be, he gets put on a tether for two days. We are hoping this will be effective. However, it is well known that any dog with Great Pyrenees genetics will tend to roam. Recently, he hasn’t been roaming outside of the perimeter fences, but we really want to train him to stay in the area he is assigned. We shall see how it all works out. It may be that we simply have to live with him going wherever he wants, whenever he wants. It is obviously dangerous for him, but we do not want to deflate his spirit and ruin him as a livestock guardian dog. I hope that the birth of the new lambs will give him better incentive to stay with his charges. We shall see.
    Quail The quail seem to cause me perpetual grief. So many people love walking in nature and I do too. It seems so peaceful and calm and beautiful. The true reality is that nature has a really brutal side to it. You all know this. Storms and drought and fires and floods are all daily happenings around the world. What we tend to overlook is how brutal animals can be with each other. The quail have been a real challenge in this area.
    After months of no issues, all of a sudden, I might have one, two, three birds that are brutally attacked by the others in the cage. It is heartbreaking. I then have to make special arrangements for healing of these unfortunately bullied birds. If I can find the culprit, I separate her from the rest. One dilemma is where do I keep all of these? What quarters do I have available for housing?
    Quail Clinic Right now, I have two roosters in the bottom right cage. One is in the main part and the other is in the enclosed box the hens use for laying eggs and all use for taking dust baths. The one

    • 36 min
    Seed-Starting Basics

    Seed-Starting Basics

    Today, I’ll follow up on the basics of getting started with gardening with an intro to seed-starting indoors ahead of planting in the garden when the weather warms. But before we get to that, more homestead updates are in order. I’ll be talking about our beautiful livestock guardian dogs for the most part. There is so much to share about these fantastic dogs.
    I want to take a minute and say welcome to all the new listeners and welcome back to the veteran homestead-loving regulars who stop by the FarmCast for every episode. I appreciate you all so much. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Now, on to homestead updates.
    Our Virginia Homestead Life Updates I have a bit of cow news that I’ll add at the end. Let’s talk about the dogs.
    Our Livestock Guardian Dogs We have added two new wonderful dogs to our homestead. I can’t tell you how ecstatic I am about these beasties, Finnigan (Finn for short) and Charlotte. We purchased them from a fellow vendor at the market who is scaling down and exiting their business. They were guarding chickens and turkeys. We don’t have these kinds of birds yet but we will at some point. It’s nice to know that we have dogs that have at least some experience with poultry. It can be hard for livestock guardian dogs to learn how to guard and not chase and chew on poultry.
    Finn is ½ Great Pyrenees and ½ Anatolian Shepherd. He is a big baby. Loves to have his tummy rubbed. Follows us everywhere. We have had these guys since mid-October so they are still learning about us and the sheep.
    They are kept exclusively with the sheep. At first, we had to hold Finn in a fenced area next to the sheep because he was chasing them all over the place. He has since proven he can be trusted to not run them to death and now resides with them and Charlotte. I have not seen much evidence that the dogs have bonded with the sheep. That will come in time. Right now, they are learning to love us and we definitely love them.
    Charlotte Charlotte is a Great Pyrenees. She is the most beautiful dog I have ever seen. Well maybe I’m biased. For whatever reason, she is very shy of humans. At first, I thought she had been mistreated. Lately though, I’m thinking she was not socialized to humans at an early age. She just has an innate mistrust of humans. She is not aggressive or anything. It’s just that we cannot walk up to her and pet her.
    The first time I was able to pet her was when the vet was here for a general exam and heart worm tests. While the vet was working on Finn, Charlotte came over next to me and was kind of hiding behind me. I was able to pet her and hug her. Alas, it was only for the moment when she thought she needed protection and Finn was not only unavailable, but may have needed protection himself, in her mind.
    Getting to Know Each Other From the beginning, she would come up and quickly take a biscuit from my hand as long as I had Finn between us. I reached over his back and she would take the biscuit and run off to chomp on it. A few days ago, she started coming up without Finn between us. I still can’t just walk up to her but she has improved greatly in just a couple of months. Yesterday I was able to pet her and give her some love. She is tied on a lead at the moment and allowed me to walk up to her fairly easily. It is so satisfying to finally be able to love on her. For weeks and weeks, she held back and just watched Finn get petted and babied and loved. Now she is getting some of that.
    She is scheduled to be spayed next week. We don’t like having her tied up, but she has escaped twice in the past couple of weeks. The Great Pyrenees breed is harder to contain than goats. Who knew? Well, I knew there was an issue with roaming with this breed. However, I had no idea they were so successful as escape artists. We have been so concerned that she will escape and get pregnant. I’ll be so glad when this escape artist is safe from pregnancy.
    Finnigan (Finn) Now let’s talk about Fi

    • 37 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
9 Ratings

9 Ratings

Kristin N Smith ,

Educational and an easy listen!

I love listening to Melanie’s farmcast podcasts! She has a perfect radio voice…my mind never wanders when I tune in, she is easy to listen to! I love how much information she can pack into each episode. I always learn things I never knew about homesteading, farm animals, cheesemaking, bees and honey, and the list goes on! I highly recommend her farmcast! Subscribe! You’ll be happy you did!

BennettfromVA ,

A Peaceful Podcast

Peaceful with the music right from the start. Melanie has a voice that soothes the souI and she is very easy to listen to(which is very important in a podcast IMO.) I love how she breaks the farmcast into sections, vlogging about the Homestead (my favorite), an informative subject, and finally a recipe. As someone who hopes to get more into Homesteading and has always been fascinated with it, this is one of my very favorite podcasts.

VillageWisdom ,

I love this podcast

The personal stories are wonderful. I can relate. Personally, I will never have a "homestead", but I love the idea and love the traditional take on life. Thank you so much.

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