Sunday, April 27, 2014

Weekend Work

A long, tiring but very productive weekend here on the homestead. Yesterday Doug laid brick the whole day, almost completing the cold frames.

One more good day and they should be finished along with the arch over the walkway....seems like I've said that before. Anyway, the project is drawing to the end for sure.
While he did that, I mowed grass, mulched flower beds and in between stacked brick for him. It was late by the time we reached a good stopping point and well passed our supper time. We were almost too tired to eat. He threw something together for himself, I ate a wedge of cabbage and we crashed.

This morning I was up before daylight. Not because I wanted to be but because I was so stiff I was afraid if I stayed in bed any longer we would need a crane to lift my hiney out. Hard labor and age tend to do that to a person! A few cups of coffee, some breakfast and then we were off to the garden. The weather forecast for the coming week does not look good. Lots of rain is predicted and if the garden is not in we will be another week or so behind. It's late already.
And so, 3 rows of corn, a row of green beans, 1/2 row of filet beans and many, many tomato plants went in. Several different kinds including paste tomatoes, cherry and of course "Better Boy", my favorite for canning. A few heirlooms will go in later. We also planted eggplant and squash. All these plants were started from seed and raised in the greenhouse next door at my sister's. Hooray! Not a single vegetable plant was purchased this year. The potatoes were cultivated and cabbage fertilized.
Above is the new garden where we planted corn. The potatoes are up and a bit spotty but we hope they will come along with some warmer weather. Cabbage and purple broccoli here as well.
That done, it was time to move the meat birds from the brooder to the chicken tractor in the orchard. They were, as usual, most happy to be able to run and flap their wings. We started with 35, lost 2 early on and come butchering time will be processing all the roosters born last year. I think there are 7 or 8 of those.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Catch and Release

The squirrel population around here has begun to wreak havoc on the farm. Not only have they eaten almost every flower bulb I have planted but destroyed several pots of spinach and lettuce plants. Last year I did not get one fig, just watched as they happily sat on the roof and ate every one. Grrr.. This spring they have invaded the garden and if something is not done the tomatoes and corn will be in peril.
So, I have taken it upon myself to relocate the little varmints. Thus far 16 have been taken to the property where my husband has his machinery.
 If this doesn't work I will be forced to take more drastic measures. My grandmother taught me how to fry squirrel and make a most delicious gravy. You hear me squirrels?!!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

More Lambs!

Two sets of twins born this morning.
This set  is from our Michigan flock dispersal. A big black ewe and Rope are the parents.
These cuties are from SM Davita.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Free Bees

Easter Sunday we got a call from a friend of my parents. There was a swarm of bees in his yard. Though we were not really prepared we were able to throw some things together and head over. The swarm was eye level in the the middle of a blackberry patch. It was a large swarm and after clipping our way to it we managed to drop in a box with some partially filled frames. We left it overnight and late last night went to pick it up. I mixed up some sugar water and today they look very content. In the next few weeks we will move the brood box down and the super up. Kinda backwards, but hey we got them and thus far all is well.

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Lamb Explosion

As I expected when the sheep started to lamb they would do so in rapid succession. And they have. Babies are everywhere! Some pics to enjoy~

I will be posting more info on individual lambs soon.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Homestead Heartbreak

I had to work yesterday and just before getting off Mom called to tell me one of the dairy does did not come down to eat and she thought she may have kidded. Being that it was a cold and windy day, as soon as I got home I went to check her. Unfortunately it was not babies that greeted me but a terrible case of bloat. I went to work on her immediately, dosing with oil and baking soda. I had her up and down and massaged her belly to try and get her rumen moving. Several hours later I thought we had gotten over the hump and I fell into bed exhausted and cautiously optimistic.
Early this morning Doug checked her and said she seemed to be ok. I mixed up a homemade electrolyte solution to take to her but when I got to the barn she was not ok and I quickly put a call into the vet. He arrived several hours later. She was not doing well at all at this point and he gave her a 50/50 chance at best. I took it and we started with pain meds, antibiotics and finally fluids to get her hydrated. As I held her in my arms I suddenly could feel a change and looked at my vet. We are loosing her, aren't we, I asked. He nodded. Put her down. Don't let her suffer anymore. He did.
Linnea was one of my favorite girls. I had her as a week old kid and for 7 or so years she has been my heaviest milker and queen of the barnyard. Not only did I loose her, I lost the kids she was carrying.
Today I have shed many, many tears. Angry at myself for not making a quick check before work, angry that because of some old fence lines that have to be replaced the goats are not where they normally are kept, making it harder to keep a close eye on the girls. So, tonight Doug buried my love on the hill with a view (his words) and promised we would get the fences taken care of very soon.
What happened? The best the vet and I could figure is that she had overeaten grain. She tended to be somewhat of a pig and being that she was heavily pregnant she just didn't have the space to consume the amount of feed she normally would. Most likely she pushed the other doe out of her food and in doing so caused the bloat.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Dehydrating Morel Mushrooms

Oh lucky me! I have been gifted with a bag of fresh morels. The first thing I did with them was to stuff with goat cheese, bake and devour. Next I sauteed a large pan full with just butter and garlic salt. But in order to savour the flavor for months to come I needed to dehydrate the rest.
First I sliced them in half and gave them a good rinse. I layed them on towels to drain and patted them dry.
Next I placed them on the dehydrator trays and then popped them in the dehydrator for several hours. I had enough mushrooms for three trays.
When they were dry enough to snap I put them in a jar with a tight lid and into the pantry they went. A tasty treat  to be enjoyed later!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Ringo's Garden

 Another project almost finished. A garden I have been creating in memory of my beloved Ringo is finally done with the exception of a layer of mulch. I will add some colorful perennials a bit later and a bench when I find one that strikes my fancy. In it is a dogwood tree with a stone beneath it engraved with his name. It was a gift from my mom.
Also, a beautiful Saint Francis statue, a gift from my mother-in-law, and a blue flowering tree, another gift from a friend. All together these lovely things from friends and family that miss him too make it a very special place to sit and enjoy.

The First Lamb!

Finally! The Icelandics are starting to lamb. I was beginning to wonder. They are all huge and looking like some sort of lamb explosion will take place soon.
Her she is, a lovely black and white spotted ewe lamb.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Cold Frames

A project a year in the making. The foundation has been laid for quite some time and today Doug started the brickwork. He would have probably been able to finish but  ran out of mortar. The frames are a bit complicated since they are on a slope but when finished there will be three separate beds and each will have its own top of a yet undetermined material.

I helped where I could but spent most of the day cleaning out flower beds and hauling off leaves. The past few warm days have made the world come alive and everything is so pretty.

One of those long days where one is thankful for leftovers and a hot shower.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

A Little More..

The weather is again wreaking havoc with our garden chores. Torrential rains, cold days, beautiful warm sunny days, it feels like we are playing a game of dodge ball. Though the garden is still a bit wet, we had to get a few things in the ground or not plant them at all this year.

Today snow peas, carrots, radishes, beets and lettuce were planted.

I had someone tell me that she had heard some scientists talking about the climate change and how we had reached some sort of peak. They were predicting more strange and unsettled weather like we have had the last two years and that because of that we would see more widespread crop failures and extreme price increases in produce and meats. All the more reason to homestead, but in it we will have to learn to make peace with Mother Nature.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Tater Time

We finally found a window of opportunity to get potatoes in the ground today. I did not buy seed potatoes this year, instead we used the sprouted potatoes from last year's harvest. I usually do this about every other year. Red, Yukon's and purple were again planted. This year we planted them in the new garden. The soil is much sandier and since the sweet potatoes did so well there we decided to give it a try.

After work Doug came in tilled and laid off the rows. My sister is sharing this garden with us and her family was there to help. Mom was here as well. Many hands make light work and in short order 3- 100 foot rows were planted.
The helpers ranged in age from 4 to 72 years of age, four generations of gardeners!