Category Archives: homestead
Phew. It’s been a slog. I’m happy to report that this huge project is about 95% complete as of November 30.
This weekend we finished shrink wrapping the exterior, raked up all the gravel inside for a future drainage pipe project, fenced it in and started moving the creatures in.
We split the inside into 3rds. The front third will be for a small stash of hay, grain buckets, our rabbits, and my milking stand. On the left side is the goats, and on the right side is the pigs.
The goat side is a little cramped currently, as we still have 5 goats to butcher next week. The pig side is pretty empty, as we only have 2 8-week old barrows in there. I’m slowly weaning the piglets off Meg so she doesn’t come down with mastitis. Mid-week I’ll move the other 2 piglets and our boar, and move Meg in with our other boar. She will stay with him until January when we butcher the boar she is with, and then she will move into the round barn with the other pigs.
Later this week I will start moving the rabbits into the round barn.
I’m so thrilled to have nice, warm, well-lit housing for the animals this winter. My husband is amazing, and this would never have been possible without his mad scientist genius.
We finally decided it was time to start slaughtering some goats. We raised six on pasture this year to be butchered in the fall. We mostly pressure can it as stew meat and for whatever dishes we want, but we save the rear legs to freeze as roasts.
If you’ve never had goat, you are missing out. Plenty of people have had a bad experience with “goaty” flavored goat milk or meat. But that is not the goat’s fault, usually, most of the time it is due to bad preparation or storage.
We had a goat that was going lame, so we, obviously for humane reasons, decided he needed to go first.
Pip is fascinated by the whole process. I love watching and helping her work through her emotions. I truly believe this is a very important part of our life. Not eating meat is not an option for us, and factory farmed meat is something I am loathe to feed my family. Unfortunately, pasture raised meat is very expensive. It’s even more expensive to raise, but our costs are spread out over the year in labor and hay.
Labor I have, hay we can afford, and we ate willing to do the hard part. It’s never easy, and that’s how it should be.
Last weekend, Zach and I cut the rest of the poles we needed to finish the barn roof, put the tipi up, and got about half of the roof poles put up.
We are using a draw knife to shave the top half of each pole so there aren’t any branch subs to poke through the plastic, and Zach cross cut the bottom of each pole to rest securely on the cattle panel, and then each one got lashed into place.
We get a lot of wind here in the winter, so the whole thing needs to be wind and snow proof. Hence the steep angle of the roof, we want the snow top just sliiiiiide right off so we don’t have to take the roof in middle of the night if we get hit with a severe snowstorm.
Next weekend I think we’ll finish the poles and wrap the whole thing in boat shrink wrap. The gate and a section of the roof will be open though so it gets plenty of air flow. One of the worst things you can do for livestock is keep them in an unventilated living space.
Fern gives it her seal of approval.
Now that Pip’s birthday is over, Zachary and I are working full steam ahead on our winter barn for the goats, pigs and rabbits. We got the rest of the posts pounded in this morning, peeled some cedar logs for the doorway, got those set into the ground, and now we are attaching the fencing panels.
My husband is a man with a vision, I can’t wait to see it come to life.
We use, reuse and re-reuse things around here a lot. We buy our clothes used at goodwill (except for underwear and socks.) Sometimes (okay, a lot of the time) I’m a sucker for a good wool sweater. I always look in the next size up for sweaters that got washed and shrunk. To me, felted just makes it better. Pre-felted sweaters aren’t going to accidentally shrink in the wash, they are more impervious to wind, rain and hay, and they are great for making diaper covers out of.
This week I’m Re-Purposing four of my old wool sweaters (that I can’t nurse Peep in) into new long pants diaper covers for Peep, and leg warmers for Pip.
Another old thing I’m giving new life to this week is our old dog exercise pen. Thanks to our prolific bunnies, we have 19 baby bunnies that are going to need somewhere to live in 8 weeks. We used to let them grow out to butchering age (16 weeks) in their mom’s cages, but it just gets too crowded and too messy. And that was when the rabbits were having smaller litters.
So I took the exercise pen, a baggie of hog rings and some old fine mesh fencing we had laying around from an old project and started making a bunny pen out of it. Right now I’ve only managed to reinforce the sides, as I ran out of patience for ripping my skin up on the fencing and ran out of hog rings. The new pen still needs a floor and a lid of some sort. I still have a few weeks to get it done, but I made a good start on it yesterday at least.
You can turn all sorts of things into rabbit cages though. Just check out pinterest if you ever need inspiration.
The freeze is imminent and the 5 day outlook looks like we’ve hit deep fall, and that’s where we’re going to stay. I’m okay with that, my knitting needles ate clicking away. I have managed to get 1.5 sleeves done on Peep’s new sweater and half a birthday crown done for Pip in the last two days.
Yesterday Pip worked on her latest needlepoint project for about an hour while I snuggled Peep.
In the afternoon I remembered we needed to get the grapes picked before it got too cold. I bundled both girls up, even though the sun was shining there was a fairly chilly autumnal breeze to contend with. I managed to collect about 13 gallons of concord grapes.
We’ll be turning them into grape jelly, raisins, grape juice and a small batch of wine over the next few days.
I was going to cover our spinach and lettuce bed with some ground cloth yesterday to extend the season for another week or two, but then night before last or resident porcupine decided that napping in the asparagus patch want enough and mowed through about 2/3 of the lettuce bed. I guess I’ll just plant some fresh stuff inside when I start the windowsill herbs that didn’t survive transplant, cooler temperatures, or the summer heat: basil, lemon grass, cilantro, lettuce, spinach.
After grape picking, of which 100% of Pip’s help was dedicated to eating as many grapes as possible, we came inside to warm up before Zach got home to take Pip to a birthday party.
We only got about 20 minutes inside which was more than enough time, then we walked down the driveway to meet him. Pip is turning 4 so this fall she is very, very excited about the falling leaves. She was jumping, dancing, spinning, and kicking up a storm. She even stopped to make some leaf angels.
The excitement was quite contagious, Fern was running back and forth and Peep even forgot her discomfort long enough to have a few giggles
I really love this video blog, and this particular episode really hit home for me. She has such great common sense advice.
Pip is working on some hand embroidered creations so we can open a little etsy shop for her, and I am going to look into some affiliate advertising for this blog.
Our black SF doe, Blackberry, finally kindled her litter last night. Sorry for the dark picture, black babies in a dark nest box, early in the morning. BlackBerry stuffed so much hay into her nest box that I had to put my camera in a literal tunnel of hay.
9 beautiful new additions to the farm, and she finally seems to be getting this mothering thing down. Her first litter had about a 50% mortality rate, her second litter survived but we’re all visibly much slower growing than Blueberry’s litter.
This time around she started working in nest building about 2 weeks in to her pregnancy, and pulled a lot of fur starting yesterday. All nine kits appear to be healthy so far.
I always make sure to handle the kits before I do anything else in the rabbitry or on the farm. My hands are cleanest then, and I dont want to transmit anything to the delicate little babies.
It had to happen eventually. It’s been so warm this autumn we actually haven’t had a freeze yet. We’ve had a couple light frosts, but the temperature hasn’t actually dipped below freezing yet.
In light of the freeze alert we decided to pull the carrots today. Tomorrow pip and I will pick the grapes for Zach to make wine with on Saturday.
While I was pulling carrots and weeding the grass out of the garden bed, Pip picked me a beautiful bowl of marigold flowers.
In middle of garden chores, my friend Glenn stopped by to teach me how to castrate our piglets. American guinea hogs are a slow growing breed, finishing in about 18 months. To prevent unwanted breeding between siblings or sons/mother we made the decision to castrate our three male piglets. It was a hard decision to make because we are going to cull their father later this fall and I didn’t want to lose those genetics in such a limited gene pool.
But I decided to keep his gilt out of this litter so we will be preserving his genes through her, and will have three nice piggies to eat in 2017.