Although the blog has sat here, empty, quietly collecting dust, farm life has continued on. 2016 was a long year, but one that let us take baby steps towards an exciting future. We had some epic success and utter losses last year. Although it can be disappointing, it's just how it goes. If there is one thing farming teaches you, it’s that you have to learn to go with the flow. Just because something flourishes once, doesn’t mean it always will.
Last March we did something exceptionally exciting. We brought home 5 piglets. Our goal was to raise them as feeders on pasture to go to the butcher in the fall. All in all the experience went...really great. We never had any escaped pigs, no big health crises, except for a rectal prolapse. They were healthy, happy, and one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. We had the privilege to provide 5 families with pork raised humanely, on pasture, with no vaccinations, or antibiotics, raised on almost an entirely non gmo feed. One of the customers wanted to come to the farm with his wife and grandchildren, and it was such a great feeling to let them see their food, and our farm. This entire process was probably the biggest highlight of the year.
2016 also saw us participating, very slightly, with our first farmers market. As a quiet introvert this was a huge challenge for me, and not something I was super excited about. However, it gave me the chance to get a little more comfortable with the idea. I didn’t sell any produce, instead sold scented tallow tarts (think scentsy but from tallow, not wax) My mom and I also did some craft shows. Tallow tarts weren’t as much as a hit as I would have liked, however I’ve made more and more handmade soap, and plan to focus on that for the 2017 year. We also officially settled on a farm name, and had a logo made. Although these are small steps, they seem huge, and the direction they point us is an exciting one.
Although I had thought the 2015 garden was bad, the 2016 garden was THAT MUCH WORSE. I basically gave up and walked away. I love the thought of gardening, but it is so much work. I would almost not grow a single thing in 2017, but I have a ton of seed left over. I love starting seeds and tending to them. I just hate weeds! I swear the weeds here are exceptionally tenacious! I’m downsizing the garden this year, and have a few tricks up my sleeve to try and make this garden as productive as possible.
Due to the lack of garden produce, I didn’t can, or ferment anything last year. I thought all the goats were bred in July (cue exasperated gasp), and we had two kid about a week before Christmas. However the rest of them? I have NO IDEA when they were bred or should kid. I made one note of someone maybe getting bred in September, so right now I’m thinking sometime in February. On a more positive, or somewhat positive note, I did sell all of our bucks. I plan and hope to get a buck fall of 2017, so we can have kids born closer together AND in a month a bit warmer than December.
On the poultry front, things went exceptionally well. We had no big, major losses this year, and our chicken count is 42. With a handful of roosters. We got a bundle sometime during the summer that included some of the cutest bantam roosters. I've let them stick around because. Seriously, they are so cute. We still have our main rooster, a buff orpington named Rudy. Ironically enough we also recieved another buff orpington rooster. He ended up having cross beak, so I named him Edward scissor beak. If you are looking to add a rooster I can't hardly recommend buff orpingtons enough. They are big, gorgeous birds with a great temperment! The turkeys, ducks, and geese are also doing great. I successfully hatched over 20 chicks, but only managed to hatch 1 turkey and 2 ducks. Thankfully the ducks and turkey were females, and we got to keep them. I also did successfully hatch a gosling, but he had a foot deformity and didn't make it. I'm so hoping our goose will go broody this year. They are much better mothers than I!
Writing all this out makes me question how good of a year 2016 really was. It definitely had it’s good moments, but I am eager to start another year. Winter is such a depressing time. I cannot wait for spring to return, but until then, I’ll be planning gardens and sipping on hot coffee!
This ole blog of mine hasn't been used often at all lately. Days turn to weeks, and weeks to months, and then months to years so quickly it shocks me at times. I really love writing, but I often find it hard to articulate what it is I want to say. All that being said, I've made blogging consistenly a goal for this year. For now, I'm thinking of posting maybe once or twice a week. Practice makes perfect, and I hope being consistent with writing will help me be a better blogger.
Much has changed, including myself. I've always been fearful of expressing too much on this blog of mine. However, in this fresh, new year, I hope to tackle all sorts of topics. Because although I'm a female farmer, I'm also a wife, a daughter of the King, I'm a housewife, a homemaker, and working on gaining health, while dropping quite a few pounds.
So if you're interested in hearing about raising pastured pigs, or the year the garden went completely to weeds, or even why I think homemaking is of the utmost importance, well, check back by in a few days. I'm sure I'll either speak right to your heart, or ruffle your feathers.
This year I had two does due to kid on the same day. I would prefer does kid as close together as possible. Although it makes it a busier, more hectic time, it gets it all done with, AND if you are raising bottle kids they have friends to be with. As usual, although I had a due date in mind, once we get within 7 days I start to make extra checks on the gals. Usually just morning and evening check unless something seems off. I mainly use ligaments as a guide to when a doe will kid. Once you know where ligaments are it is a sure fire way to pinpoint kidding. Does cannot be without ligaments for more than 24 hours. It's crucial to their structure.
During evening chores on April 24 I felt for Lucy's ligaments. They were there, but softer and more sunken than previously. Her udder also looked a bit larger. I figured she wouldn't kid overnight, but tomorrow could definitely be the day. Lucy goes last on the stanchion in the morning, but she was hesitant to jump up, and when she did there were no ligaments to be found. I always really feel thoroughly. Some goats are fatter and therefore are harder to feel the ligaments on. There was nothing, her udder was quite firm, so it was official! Babies are coming!
I have probably been too involved in kiddings previously. Well, it really depends on the goat. Last year Lucy seemed to want some distance, and ended up kidding without anyone present. That is not a problem unless you plan to pull a kid. This year I knew pulling a doeling was something I planned to do, but I also wanted to give her space. I made the difficult, executive decision to leave, go back home, and give her some time to progress. I planned to go back at about noon, which ended up being perfect. When I got back, she was alone in the barn while everyone was out in the field. She was laying down, making some noises, and was quite gooey. That's always an exciting moment because you know it's happening soon!
She got up when I got there and I opened the kidding pen to see if she would be happy there. She was absolutely thrilled, and went right in. She displayed a lot of classic kidding symptoms. Laying down, standing up, re-positioning, pawing and making a nest. All normal and classic. I sat with her some, but didn't want to make her feel off or uncomfortable. I had brought a book, and went to the stanchion and just read. Within an hour or an hour and a half, she started making the noises. If you've been around a laboring goat, you know what I'm talking about! The screaming, grunting, groaning means we're down to pushing kids out.
I went and sat with her. I use puppy pads to place kids on and help dry them off. They are disposable and fairly absorbent. I do not really assist with kidding at all unless there seems to be a problem. The big thing to note here, is once pushing starts, a kid should be pushed out within 30 minutes. Any longer than that and there is some type of problem. Thankfully the kid presented perfectly, and slid out quickly. Lucy started cleaning it up, and the second one was born within a minute or two. There were two surprises, one, it seems as though Buddy was the sire, and secondly, they were both bucklings! I had so, so hoped for a Lucy/Buddy doeling! Next year?
Just like last year, Lucy is a wonderful, tentative mom. Along with that, her udder is exceptional, her production is wonderful, and she has a lovely disposition (only slightly sassy!). She cleaned and dried the kids quickly. The only issue I had was she nipped the umbilical cord on one boy so short he started bleeding quite a bit. I re-dipped it in iodine quite a few times, and also had to use blood stop powder and vet wrap to give it enough compression for the bleeding to stop. Lucy and the boys, named Starsky and Hutch, are doing great. They are beautiful!
As a farmer, my main goal is humanely raised meat, and animal products. I want to know my animals. I want to know what they ate, what antibiotics (if any) they were given. I want to know they had the privilege of living the life God intended for them. As contrary as it may seem, a huge reason I raise my own meat, is for the animal. Although I may end up slaughtering them, they have the right, as every creature does, to live. To feel grass underfoot, and the sun warming their backs. The photos that go along with this post are graphic. If you can’t handle seeing where your food comes from, or how it looked before it was wrapped in plastic, beware. When you look at these photos, you should feel something. I will always embrace butchering day as a sorrowful time. I love to fill my freezer, but doing so comes at a cost.
Most people withhold feed before butchering. It makes it a much cleaner process. We usually do feed, mainly because it makes me feel better. Going forwards we will probably always feed, but probably significantly less. That way they get some, but aren’t stuffed full.
Before grabbing a bird, it’s important to have all your supplies ready. I have my cutting board laid out, along with all my (sharpened) knives, and a hose fitting with a sprayer attachment. Also nearby is a trashcan for entrails. On the patio next to my station, we have a heat source heating water, and next to that is our homemade plucker. Behind the shed we have two traffic cones set up to be kill cones. We wait until our water is almost hot enough for scalding before we go and get a chicken.
The walk down to get the chickens is somber. If ever there is a moment that makes you feel stoic it’s picking out the first chicken to slaughter. I’d like to take a moment here, to mention something I thought was profound when I looked back through these photos.
My husband grabbed up this chicken, and cradled it as he took it to the kill cone. To be honest, there are usually whispered condolences on both our parts. Trying to keep them as calm as possible is important to us. I see no reason for there to be undue stress on this animal. Even if it’s “just” a chicken. To compare this to a factory farm is impossible. They often suffer broken wings and legs as they are being loaded on the truck to go to the slaughter house. They are then again handled roughly as they are stuck in machines that hold them upside down.
Once to the kill cones the chicken gets slid into the cone, often with help to make sure the head goes into the hole, and doesn’t get caught sideways. We usually pull the head out gently, just to make sure there is one, swift cut. The knife gets drawn across the neck, under the jaw bone. When done correctly the blood starts flowing quickly and strongly. Although this may seem a horrible way to die, it’s very peaceful. As peaceful as death can be. Cutting them across the neck renders them unconscious in a few seconds. We then just let the chicken bleed out, and let the body stop flailing.
Once the chicken is dead, it’s moved to the hot water. It’s dunked a few times in the water, until a wing feather pulls out easily. At this point it’s laid out so the feet can be removed, and then transported to the plucker. The plucker is turned on, and water is sprayed into it as we drop the chicken in. Within minutes we have a nice, clean, feather free carcass!
From there it head over to the cutting board. Its head is removed, along with all the organs and entrails. I usually cut the tail off, and make a little slit for the legs to go through. The liver, gizzard, and feet are saved.
Everything else gets tossed. We end up dumping all those extra bits way out in the field. Within a day or two everything is gone. The chicken is given a final rinsing, any extra feather parts removed, and gets to rest in ice cold water. Once we have quite a few chickens done we place them in shrink wrap bags to seal them, and they are labeled and placed in the freezer.
Butchering day is long, messy, smelly and exhausting. However, opening your freezer to beautiful, local, humanely raised meat is worth it all.
I keep meaning to write. In fact I often think through blog posts in my head, but can never seem to get them down on “paper”. I’m waiting for a cake to dry enough to smooth the icing, so I thought I may as well write another update! 2016 is slowly picking up steam. I’ve had high hopes to get my house completely deep cleaned and organized BEFORE the whirlwind of summer hits. I’m not there yet, but I really hope by mid-March I can get it done, and get myself in a cleaning schedule. I learned the hard way last year that to keep my sanity, I have to have a clean house. Although a clean house and farm work doesn’t sound related, it really is. If I bring fresh milk into messy kitchen, I’m more likely to quickly hide it in the fridge versus making cheese!
The goats are doing well, ornery as ever! We still had issues with them getting into the cemetery. Apparently the fence that separates us and the cemetery just had three strands of barbed wire. Obviously that’s not going to keep a goat out! We fixed half of it with woven wire fencing. They still got through, but, thank the Lord, they’ve stopped going over there. I think its because green grass is starting to shoot up. Honestly I shouldn’t have said anything because who wants to bet me 20 bucks they’re over there tomorrow?! Ladot kidded with a chubby doeling on January 5th. I’m unsure at this moment if I plan to keep her or not. She’s the cutest thing ever, but I’m very unsure how she would be as a milker. Ladot hasn’t been milked. She has a nice looking udder, but from what I can tell her production is just enough for her kid. Surprising as Juniper is a huge producer. Lola kidded on February 16th with TRIPLET BUCKLINGS. I was so excited to get a doeling from her. Serves me right I suppose! I took two of the bucklings and started bottle feeding them and sold them when they were a week old. The other little guy I left with Lola. Our plan is to butcher him when he gets big and chunky. However, he’s too cute to even think of eating just yet! Lola’s milk comes in very slowly, and her colostrum is extremely thick. It’s like sweetened condensed milk. None of the other girls are like that, so it was quite difficult to get enough colostrum for her boys. After a day or two her production was still very low, so I started milking Juniper. Juniper is still letting her kids nurse (including Ladot!). I had no idea she was still producing so well, and I easily got a quart of milk from her. I think she may finally be weaning them, but I can’t wait to see how her production is this year. I wouldn’t be surprised if she ended up being a gallon a day gal. Lola is exceeding all of my expectations on the milk stand. She is easily giving ½ a gallon a day, which seems to slowly be increasing. On top of her great production, she is amazing on the stanchion. Never stomps, kicks, or throws a fit. Nearly bomb proof! Her udder is a bit lopsided, but as long as it puts milk in the bucket I do not care! As milking has started again, I’ve vowed to throw myself back into cheesemaking. I plan to buy a cream separator next week. That way I won’t have to buy cream cheese, sour cream, or butter anymore (WOOOHOOO!) I also threw caution to the wind, ignored all my silly excuses, and bought the last supplies needed to try out soap making. I’m super excited!
We also finally made the decision to sell Miri, Pixie and Trixie. It was such a hard decision. But I know I can’t keep them all, and if they don’t fit into my herd goals, there is no reason to keep them. They were all wild, and smaller than I’d like in a dairy gal. They were all adorable however, and so I really debated if I should keep them or not. I knew that if Lola, Lucy, or Juniper had doelings I would definitely want to keep them. So, I decided to find a new home for them. I eventually found someone interested, and they definitely turned out to be the right people. Although the transition wasn’t perfect, and of course the darling little ladies had to be complete turds when they arrived at their new home. Thankfully they are starting to settle down and warm up to people. As a complete bonus to these gals finding a great home, the people who bought them had a goose who’s flockmate had been killed. I have two ganders who needed a goose! It worked out great, and I plan to share the goslings that hatch with them. I love win win situations! Speaking of poultry, everyone is doing well. We had two hens die for unknown reasons, but other than that everyone is healthy. We have one barred rock who will be celebrating her 4th birthday this year! The turkeys, geese, and ducks have all been doing great. I’m eagerly anticipating them to start laying eggs so I can incubate them. There are currently about 65 meat birds in a brooder along with 25 chicks. Most are egg laying replacements, some male packing peanuts! I may keep one extra rooster, but have thoroughly enjoyed Rudy as our main rooster. He is sweet and respectful. We had an unusually high loss on our chicks this time around. We did everything the same as usual, so I’m unsure what happened. We ordered through Meyer Hatchery. They have a 48 hour live guarantee, so I let them know of the losses. They were absolutely great! Outstanding customer service. I ended up ordering replacement chicks, 15 of a bargain assortment. All the chicks are late hatchers, and can be any breed including turkeys. Meyer covered shipping, and with a credit from the chick losses we only had to pay 4.25 for 15 chicks! Not that I need 15 more, but for 4.25 we can squeeze them in somewhere!
Right now I have a bajillion seedlings sitting on my deck. I plan to transplant them into bigger containers today. I’m hoping to sell the extras this year. It gave me a great excuse to plant like crazy! Our gardens are empty and waiting. I need to spruce up one, and get it ready. The other we attempted to start the Back to Eden bed, but the husband got a little carried away when scooping up the hay and added quite a bit of gravel. I’m thinking we will scrape what is there off, and put down new before planting. I’m hoping that is ok, and won’t harm anything. All I know is there HAS to be something down this year. I REFUSE to have a weedy garden. So that’s kind of where we are right now.
How are things going on your homestead/farm?
Wow. This hiatus was a LOT longer than I had intended. I really love writing, and especially blogging. The thought that my words may go out and find someone who needs to hear what I have to say, or just enjoys reading is amazing to me. The end of 2015 was a brilliant blaze of busy and a plan for better days in 2016. To get us reaquainted and catch you up on farm happenings, here’s a rundown on the last 5 months of 2016…
-The first week of August we drove and hour and a half to purchase a new herdsire. A beautiful moonspotted nubian buck. His name is Buddy, and he has been an adventure.
-We sold Roy and Roger, the nigerian dwarf bucks we had late September. We were going to butcher them, BUT they got so smelly we changed our minds. The gentleman who picked them up was getting them for meat I’m sure. He was extremely kind to them as he loaded them up, even giving one a kiss on the nose, that I knew their life would be ended with kindness.
-I tried out using an anti mating harness on Buddy, as I wanted to make sure we didn’t have kids born when it was really cold out.
-I basically gave up on the garden. The lower garden became a lost cause, though we did get a small potato harvest, a small pumpkin harvest, and a nice zucchini harvest. The larger upper garden was a pain to keep even slightly weed free, but we got a nice harvest of tomatoes, and a great harvest of peppers. I canned 22 pints of jalapenos! The back to eden garden got weedy, but not like the others. In the fall we started converting the large upper garden into a back to eden garden as well for 2016.
-I came to the conclusion that both our turkeys were hens, and found them a stunning black spanish tom.
-I also realized both our turkeys were in fact meat turkeys. Our gals are HUGE. I’m hoping to get the best of both years having heritage, meat breed mix poults to raise.
- we purchased half a cow and tried out a pork bundle from a local butcher.
-I am rendering my own lard.
-we butchered 50 chickens in one day.
-rearranged the goat barn, and added a hay bale wrapped with a cattle panel as a feeder and gave them a stock tank for water.
-in October I took the anti mating apron off Buddy to anticipate March kids.
-in November girls were still going into heat!!
-right before Thanksgiving we went and picked up ANOTHER buck, this one an ok looking lamancha, for hopefully late April, early May kiddings.
-as the last doe went into heat Buddy may have finally figured out how things work, but we won’t know until babies are due what we will get!
-right after we got Buddy the first of August, he caused some of the girls to go into heat sooner than usual. That’s what adding a smelly boy goat will do. Miri went into heat, but the apron saved her. And I suppose the apron would have worked to keep Ladot from getting pregnant too...except her dad/uncle both escaped. Yeap. How lovely. So she is due literally any day now. (in the coldest time of the year of course)
-right before selling Roy and Roger I made a big mistake. I opened their pen one day to take them on a walk with everyone else. No one was in heat, and they had been locked in a small paddock for weeks. When they finally caught up with us, I realized Lola apparently was in heat! I drug her back to the pen as quickly as possible, but I’ve not seen her go into heat. So, I assume she is bred, and due in February.
-as the temperatures got colder, and the goats roamed farther for food, they started visiting the neighboring cemetery. Until we can fix the fence there I didn’t allow them into the pasture. So they started escaping into the yard. I had to make emergency goat stops at the farm daily for a couple weeks until I fixed where they were getting out. They haven’t escaped in awhile, knock on wood.
-Lola, Lucy, Miri, Pixie, and Trixie keep getting their heads stuck in the cattle panel around the hay, so...we duct taped sticks to all of their heads. They look so silly, BUT no more stuck heads!
-Haha, just kidding, one of our big gals really tried, and managed to get her head stuck...so we had to cut her out.
-I learned goats are the bane of my existence.
I’m exhausted just rehashing all these details! I’m kind of glad 2015 is behind me, and I hope 2016 is full of lots of milk, and eggs, flashy doelings, well behaved goats, and no weeds in the garden!
How was your 2015? Any big plans for 2016?
A few years ago I faced a fork in the road. I had suddenly become awakened to the truth about our slowly devolving food system. I learned the truth surrounding fast food, poisonous additives, and the inhumane, unethical manner in which we treated the meat we eat. To say I was horrified was an understatement. This passion about knowing where your food comes from has just grown as I get older. I cannot understand how society not only doesn’t know what is happening to their food system, they do not care.
As a farmer, as someone who eats meat, I often feel a lot of heat and judgement for my choices. Although I do not run a big operation, nor is that ever my intention, I do raise food for my own consumption. That means I do, and will always try to produce enough meat, dairy, eggs, vegetables and fruits for myself and my family. Lest someone assume that I do this because it will in any way make me rich, let me assure you that is a hilarious assumption. Also, do not presume I raise animals for consumption without compassion, love, care, and respect. Because I grieve for every animal I kill.
I have loved animals since I can remember. Farm animals are no different. Even the fat, rolly poley chickens who look atrocious at times, and smell. I care for those chickens from the day after they hatch. When I receive them I dip all their little beaks in water, I clean their cage, offer them tasty snacks, and fill up their water more times than I can count. Once they go outside I continue to provide nourishment and water, even though they are free to roam about a chicken tractor. They scratch through grass, catch bugs, and doze in the sun. And I worry about them when it rains, or when it’s hot, or at night when the coyote howls. I check on them as often as I can, I call them “butterballs” or “kids”, and they cluck an excited chorus when they see me...and the food bucket coming. I dread butchering day, I will always dread butchering day. It puts a very honest perspective on being an omnivore. Because no matter what meat you eat, something gave up it’s life for you.
I eat meat, I enjoy meat, but I realize fully what has happened so that I get to eat meat. I avoid factory farmed meat at all costs because I think it is an evil, vile thing. There are a lot of vegans and vegetarians that crucify us meat eaters, and I kind of understand. When you look at how modern America has chosen to raise animals, it is nothing less than atrocious. It is wrong. Period. It’s black and white. Chicken raised factory farm style never goes outdoors, never chases bugs, and are treated horribly on their way to slaughter. Beef cows are stuck in feedlots up to mid leg in manure and gunk. Pigs are raised in cages, and often go insane due to lack of mental stimulation. Dairy cows have their babies ripped away, and do not always have access to the outdoors. These practices are ones we should all be ashamed of, vegan, vegetarian and omnivore alike.
As humans I think we naturally avoid the weight that comes with being a meat eater. We are so far removed from our food, and our meat, we chose to accept meat precooked, and unethically raised. Because it is easier, because we don’t have to think about it. We somehow think by not knowing we are exempt from being responsible for how the animal was raised and treated. Take a stand and buy locally raised, humanely slaughtered meat. Do you know where your food is coming from?
Homestead Blog Hop-Idlewild Alaska
Almost a month ago I sat at my laptop and started pouring thoughts onto a stark white page. It was a passionate outburst on the importance of knowing where your meat comes from, and paying the higher prices to get it. If you know me, you know this is something extremely important to me, something I am immensely ardent about. I am pained that people don’t care about where their food comes from, that the lives of the animals they eat don’t matter to them. So there I was, writing this blog post that I just knew would convict someone out there in blog land. I even sent a text to my husband because I was on such a roll! There was only one problem.
That blog post convicted me. I knew I couldn’t publish it because I would be a hypocrite. A pot calling the kettle black.
Although I believe in local food, and although I believe in healthy, humanely raised meat, I am not the model citizen. Because on long days working on the farm, I’m ashamed to admit I’d rather go through a drive through, or pick up a frozen pizza. For months now I have felt that little tug of conviction, that I really should practice what I preach so to say. I am a healthy individual in that I do not have to take monthly medications, and although I am somewhat active, I won’t be running a marathon anytime soon. I am overweight, buy meat from the grocery store, I do not enjoy lettuce, and I have definitely eaten McDonald's in the last month. Although I am passionate about real local food, meat/eggs/dairy from humane farms, I know that I can’t exclaim from the rooftops their importance if I cannot take my own advice. Needless to say, I stopped writing and started reflecting on my life as it stands right now.
I talked to my husband and really started internal dialoging at the kitchen sink while washing dishes. I realized that if I was so passionate about food, if I truly wanted to change people's lives by encouraging, and educating them on our broken food system...I really needed to start with myself.
So I did the most logical thing I could think of. I ditched fast food, prepackaged food, frozen pizza, and soda. I am currently eating a grain-free, sugar-free, low carb diet, that consists of mainly meats, veggies, dairy and healthy fats. We also bought ⅛ of a cow that was raised locally with no antibiotics, or hormones. This is probably the first time in my life I just decided something quickly, with little thought of what if’s and just jumped in. And you know what? Best decision ever.
I’ve been doing this for over three weeks now. That means I’ve avoided sugar, flour, fast food, and all other temptations. I have lost a significant amount of weight, my clothes are getting lose, and I feel pretty dang great. I feel energetic, have slept amazingly, and have no joint pain. More than that, I am eating meat raised and slaughtered humanely. We have eaten almost 100% of our meals at home. We ate out three times at sit-down restaurants, but the experiences couldn’t rival homemade food. I will not say my diet is 100% perfect, I have “splurged” on a few diet sodas, and may have become a little obsessed with Torani Sugar-Free Syrups. Ideally I would like all my dairy to come from my own goats, but I am having to buy a few store bought items I can’t produce yet. (cream separator is on my Christmas list!)
I think it is very easy to overlook the importance of our food. I know I did. We look for foods that are quick, easy, and cheap. We cook things via microwave and don’t think about the ways these foods nourish us. Food is the foundation of our health, so why is it we ignore it, and act surprised that disease is rampant, or filled with harmful bacteria such as e-coli, or salmonella? We vote three times a day by the foods we choose to eat, how are you voting?
Homestead Blog Hop-Idlewild Alaska
Mornings around here are hectic but far better than they have been. It seems like with every new goat kid, new project, or new adventure it puts a bit of a wrench in how chores are done. Right now, we have a nice rhythm and technique down, so I figured you should come along and do chores with us!
Our morning doesn't start as early as some, and this particular day I was late getting to the farm. I woke up at 6, but spent my time working on blog posts and got distracted! We probably got to the farm about 8:45, and left about 10:10.
To spare you a thousand photos each, I made each section into a slideshow. Just hover over the photo, and it will bring up a play button! Enjoy!
May really has been a blur, because although I'm writing this on the 29th, it feels like May has only just begun. We are almost 6 months into this year, yet I feel as though it couldn't have gone by any faster! May has been a great month, albeit busier (which I am unsure how that is even possible). The garden is doing great, the meat birds are doing great, the goats are fat, the chickens laying, and it is just flashing by.
May has been a pretty good month for the goats. We had our last kidding for the season! Lola, who I was scared would not be a good mother birthed twin DOELINGS (one of which has SPOTS!) and is the best mother of the bunch. Very tentative, and alert, always calling to her kids. We've been getting good amounts of milk, and everyone has been on their best behavior, except Juniper where she suddenly forgot that it is right and polite to get straight on the stanchion for grain, and Lucy who has been slightly difficult and also tried to wean me. Patience. That is what I learn from goats, patience. Milking and goat knocks over bucket? Patience...just keep milking and stay calm. Thankfully everyone seems to be back to normal. One night I thought Juniper was bloating, but then seemed fine. We've had some udder cuts, and are having a bit of a bug issue. Flies and ticks are driving them a bit crazy...any suggestions on what I can safely use on dairy animals?
May 7th, Lolas ligaments were gone and I knew kids were coming! I sat around all day with nothing exciting happening. The later it got though, the more things progressed. I don't know how much Lola appreciated me being there, but I am glad I was. There was a bit of a struggle with the first kid coming out, but the second came out a little easier. I couldn't believe they were both DOELINGS. Adorable, cute, precious doelings, one with long ears, one without, one totally black, one with spots! Lola's milk was quite slow coming in, which I was concerned about. Everyone else's milk came in very fast, and almost all of them had over full udders. Not Lola! She was slow to fill and hasn't ever really been too full. I am milking a little in the mornings. Lola has been one of the best mothers out of everyone. She is highly protective, even going after one of our dogs, and calls to them always. After a week or two the other goats calmed down, but not Lola! It's one of the reasons I haven't started keeping her babies locked overnight. I know I should, but I think it will be very traumatic for her! I do not think I will lock Miri away from Berta overnight. Berta is nearly impossible to milk, I don't think a super full udder would make things any better. I am unsure at this point if Berta will be bred again. Though I have put it off, I also really need to sell both of our bucks. I hate too but because they are Nigerian Dwarfs they are constantly in rut. I.E. they are constantly bothering the girls, and have started showing interest in the doelings (well, the bucklings as well to be fair!). I hate selling them for some reason, but it is definitely time!
The chickens, chicks, and meat birds have all done wonderfully. They are all in love with the nicer weather! The geese, ducks, turkeys and chicks are doing great! I was worried about their different nutritional needs but they seem to be doing great. They have been moved to the big coop in a removable pen and have access to a small outdoor pen and a little pool. With all the rain it's a soggy, muddy mess, but I pick grass for them every day and toss it in. I'm going to have to put a thick layer of hay down soon though. The layers need their coop cleaned as well! I meant to keep track of eggs this year, but I haven't done a great job. I'd estimate we get about 3 eggs a day. Doesn't sound like a lot but adds up quickly. A week or so ago I noticed our old barred rock hen acting a bit strange. Then I realized she was going broody! She picked a spot out of the coop, out in the hoop house. I removed any eggs she was on, and put in a fresh clutch and let her have at it. She broke three, the last one did show some development. If all goes as planned we would have chicks by June 7th. That just seems hard to believe! We will see I suppose. May 4th we had a meat chicken get run over while we moved their pen. My husband didn't know if he was not feeling well and so was slow and got run over, or if he just wasn't being very smart. Regardless we dispatched him and put him in the freezer. May 18th we did our first round of butchering and slaughtered 8 chickens. We made a DIY chicken plucker and had some technical difficulties. However, we got it straightened out and it's excellent!! May 26th we had our second round of butchering, slaughtering a total of 20 chickens. My 10 year old nephew was at the farm that day and ended up being a great help! He is not necessarily farm-y but was full of great questions, and ended up being the one to help eviscerate and pull out lungs!! We have 41 left and hope to finish those the first week of June.
I haven't been as diligent as I should be at milking. I have plenty of good excuses! I started really dreading milking as my hands were hurting so much. My hands started falling asleep, my thumb hurt, it was just an unpleasant situation. When I put all my milk totals on paper for May, I realized I hadn't milked nearly as much as I should. About the same time Lucy tried to wean me and it freaked me out! I thought I may be prematurely out of milk and I had nothing to show for it. So, I started milking daily, but may take Sunday's off so I can get to church on time. We fixed a hand milker we had been working on. Using it the first time was a huge pain and frustration. However it looks like it is fixed and usable now! It does one side at a time now, but we plan to get it so I can do both sides at once. I need it mostly for Juniper who is such a big producer AND has shorter teats. It's been great, and as of May 25th, I am getting about a gallon of milk a day! I ordered some more cheese cultures, a cheese mold, and my husband is building me a cheese press. I hope to start making and storing cheese! On the list to try is cheddar, farmstead cheese, colby, gouda, feta, monterrey jack, and queso fresco.
The garden has done great!! The only issue is the weeds, especially in the lower garden. We have spent a lot of free time tending to other, more pressing things (butchering/making chicken plucker), that the gardens haven't been tended to as well as they should. It doesn't help that the few times we've been available to work in the garden it has rained! May 2nd I started harvesting radishes. May 5th we got some grass clippings spread. May 12th we had to get cattle panels up for the tomatoes. They've grown like crazy and had to have support. May 13th I pulled a lot of radishes, half the row. The easter egg radishes were ready and delicious. I turned some into pickles, the rest were devoured quickly. My radish row had two types of radishes. The latter half was watermelon radishes. They produced great foliage but not so much for the radish part. I kept waiting hoping they would form better radishes, but they have all gone to flower now. I also realized I accidently left some easter egg radishes thinking they were the watermelon type. I think I am going to try to collect seeds from them! We will see how that goes. May 20th we had our first ever broccoli harvest!
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My name is Monica, I'm passionate about farming, food, and the humane treatment of livestock.