Sunday, December 18, 2016

I can't believe its been 6 months since I last posted. The year for us been a whirlwind. Time has flown faster than usual we feel. Maybe we are just getting older!
It was a tough year on the homestead. Severe drought was hard on the gardens and livestock as was the wildlife. We lost all of the ducks to foxes along with a lamb. Squirrels wiped out the berry crops, tomatoes and 11 rows of corn 3 times.Very little of the summer garden was preserved, most all was consumed as it came along not that we really got much. We finally threw up our hands and plowed up everything and waited for a good window for our fall garden. We waited for rain. And waited and waited. Finally we decided to go ahead and plant lest it get too late. Remarkably things did germinate but was very slow to grow. What did grow, about a third of that fell victim to our own chickens! We are just now starting to harvest turnips. The greens are producing and we have managed to save the lettuce under several layers of row cover even though the temps have dipped into the upper teens.
Our website was messed up until November we missed many emails due to that. Again if you tried to contact us I deeply apologize. I think we are back on track. However, apparently when I originally filled all of the info I somehow purchased a shopping cart for our site. Opps. So since I  have to have it for a year we will try and get that up and running in a few weeks. Ha! You will be able to purchase a sheep or goat using Pay Pal. 😊

Due to a fence break that was slow to be repaired we have had a bumper crop baby goats that started arriving on the coldest night (18*) thus far this year. Of course that would be the way. Why would any sane goat give birth the day before when it was in the 50's. 9 kids are bouncing around in the barn, 7 full blooded Nubians and a set of twin Nubian/Alpine crosses, 6 does and 3 bucks. I will post pics soon.

Yesterday was our annual company Christmas pig pickin' held here on the homestead. Lots of good food, friend and family were in attendance. Hard to believe Christmas is a week away and a new year will begin. Plenty of other news and happenings have gone on in the last 6 months. I will be catching you up over the next couple of weeks!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

All of the green beans picked earlier this week have been canned and are ready to stash in the pantry. It would have been 14 quarts but the bottom fell out of one as I was taking it out of the canner (hate it when that happens ;-( ) And so 13 quarts thus far ready for cold winter nights. If mother nature will bless us with some rain I should have more ready by the weekend.
I had just finished up when youngest son and new wife wandered down and wanted to help get up potatoes. He fired up the tractor and we  started picking up. Hubby arrived soon after and at the end of the evening 7 1/2 bushels are now ready to sort and put in the cellar for the year. Usually we can finish the last up at Christmas as mashed potatoes. I had hoped to plant a late crop but no seed taters can be found. I have a few that have sprouted here in the kitchen that I will try. No worries sweet potatoes are planted and will get us through.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Canning Season Is Here!

Well looks like I am going to be busy in the kitchen this week! A bushel of green beans have been picked. Kitchen chores are welcome this time of year. The temperature has been hovering in the upper 90's and the humidity is through the roof, making outside chores most unpleasant. Guess I better get busy snapping!

Thursday, June 2, 2016

A Tasty Side

Some of the first veggies are coming out of the garden. Today's harvest, beets, a candy onion and a few new potatoes. I will roast all of the above and serve as a side to the lamb meatballs we are having tonight. Yum!
The garden is going to be late this year but better late than never!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Chickens Here and Chickens There

Chickens Everywhere! A day spent rearranging chickens, yes, poultry is plentiful around here right now. The meat birds were moved from the chicken tractor to the orchard and old hen house. They will be ready to process in another 2 weeks or so.

The first batch of laying chicks were then moved to the tractor. They will stay here until big enough to not escape from the chicken house where the meat birds are currently living. 
AND, in the now empty brooder 18 more chicks and 5 Khaki Campbell ducks were placed. Shhh, the ducks are a secret. Hubby doesn't know.  

Monday, May 30, 2016

Recycled Fence

Another little project taken care of this weekend. The cold frames by the house have not been used much because every time I dig up that nice soft dirt one senile old setter thinks it is the perfect spot for him to dig and make a bed. So, Doug built these cute little fences out of recycled cattle panels and some old wood laying around. They can easily be lifted out for working the dirt and harvesting.

Of course, I happily popped some seeds in the ground. Carrots, radishes, cucumbers, a couple of squash and a handful of green beans just for fun.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Breaking New Ground

If this spot looks familiar it's because it is the future greenhouse spot. We decided to make a temporary garden here after the heartbreaking discovery that varmits, most likely squirrels, had eaten four rows of corn in the big garden. The corn was barely popping up and then it just vanished. Sigh. We are battling the wildlife this year for sure. So, for the summer we hope to utilize this spot for corn, some of my heirloom crowder peas and a row of cutting flowers.

Friday, May 27, 2016

I Have My Brain Back!

The long awaited wedding is finally over. It was beautiful and perfect and beautiful and did I say perfect?! Now hopefully life can return to some semblance of  normalcy. My poor brain was consumed with so many details for so many weeks it was almost hard to function!! We are two weeks past and once my sweet kids were home from their honeymoon (they flew home the day of the terrorist plane bombing) I am now busy playing catch up. Gardens to tend, animals to care for, soap to make. The list is long but life is truly good on the homestead!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016


After a very long dry spell some much needed rain has fallen over the last two days. Right at 2 1/2 inches. The world looks refreshed and clean having all the pollen washed away. More storms are in the forecast for today. Happily I get to take a break from watering for a while!
The only down side is that the corn seed is still sitting on the kitchen counter and it will be many days before it goes in the ground. Late corn will be just fine.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Herb Bed Additions

While out picking up a few more tomatoes for the garden I ran across these two herbs. Horehound and Apple Mint. In additional to being a medicinal herb, Horehound produces a great flower for the bees. There are several recipes for cough drops out there that I may give a try. The Apple mint brings back found memories of the huge clump my mom had growing in the corner of our large vegetable garden growing up. It can be used for everything from a refreshing tea to a facial toner and even jelly! Good finds today!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

More Lambs

3 more lambs have arrived. A single solid moorit ewe and another wildly colorful set of twins!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Future Greenhouse Site

This area beside the barn used to be the old riding ring when we had horses. Later it was a small pasture but after the fence started falling down we decided to make this the future greenhouse site. Our plan is to plant in the ground in raised beds for a continual winter harvest. This is a perfect spot with close access to water and power. Super excited and fingers crossed a late summer ground breaking!

Monday, April 25, 2016

More Chickens...and LAMBS!

Today the replacement laying chicks arrived. A combination of production reds, golden comet and araucanas are settled in the brooder.

A morning lamb check found a little ram up and doing well. His mother has been keeping him far away from human contact and I finally gave up. He is a black and white spotted little guy. Sadly, this afternoon while checking the flock, I found his twin, another ram, dead in the woods. Possibly born dead as he was huge and mom never finished cleaning him up.
The afternoon check revealed this set of twins. Looks like a ram and a ewe. Flashy little ones these!!

I feel quite sure there will be more overnight arrivals as many of the girls are very close.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Spring is rolling along here on the homestead. The garden has settled in nicely even with the lack of rain. We dodged a late frost and it looks like we will be blessed with loads of strawberries, blueberries and blackberries.
The meat birds rapidly outgrew the brooder and have been moved to the mobile chicken tractor. As soon as they no longer need a heat lamp we'll move it to the orchard we they can range more freely.
Today we mowed hay. It is going to be a scarce year. I thought last year was bad but with no rain this year is going to be much worse. One of the fields where we normally get several hundred bales will most likely not even be mowed. There is just not enough to make it worth it. Instead we plan to let the sheep graze it and hope it will cut hay consumption enough to conserve more for winter months.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Herb Bed Re-do

I have been busy revamping the herb beds. I let them go for a couple of years because of Luke's little dog and his bad habit of peeing on them!! He has since moved up the hill and I have my beds back. New thyme, cilantro, basil, oregano and sage plants, just to name a few, once again line the walkway.
They have already been put to work in the kitchen adding delicious flavor to an herb loaded lamb dish hubby prepared recently!
I plan to add some more medicinal herbs and on a recent trip to Home Depot found a Meyer lemon, a key lime and an olive tree. Those are going in pots and placed in the bed since they will have to be moved in during winter months.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Meat Birds

Our meat birds arrived on Thursday but have spent the last few nights in the tack room of the barn until we could get them moved. We had a lot of repair work to do to the brooders after the raccoon attacks of last spring. The raccoons had bent in the tops and ripped out side panels in an effort to get to the chicks. Doug built a plywood top with  a pulley so it can be easily lifted and it covers both brooders. this prevents top attacks. One side board left to put in place and we have what we hope to be the "Fort Knox" of chicken brooders!!

51 birds are now safely housed for the next few weeks until they are feathered out and ready for the chicken tractor in the orchard.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Happy Chickens

The chickens are glad warmer weather and longer days have arrived. Each day they venture out into the pastures eating lots of bugs and tender grass. Today they blessed us with 27 eggs!

Friday, April 1, 2016

Welcome Spring

Another long lull in posting but it doesn't mean things are hopping on the homestead! Spring is a busy time of year for us. The early garden has been planted and things are starting to peak out of the ground. Snow peas, sugar peas, beets, turnips and radishes are all up. We also planted 60 pounds of seed potatoes and over 700 onions!
The goats kidded the end of January. We had a set of triplets and a set of twins. Two will be leaving for their new home in a couple of weeks and the others are going to remain here as replacement stock. Lots of spots this year!!

The fields have been fertilized and we are hoping for a good hay crop. However, we are already 3 inches below normal on rainfall so that may make for another low yield again this year.
 Yes, Spring is here and we are ready. Things are humming on the homestead!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Water Kefir Lemonade

I have been playing around with water kefir grains for the last few weeks. They are not nearly as easy to figure out as the milk kefir. I thought I may have killed them over the holidays but apparently it was so cool in the kitchen they didn't eat all their sugar and starve. I don't particularly like drinking the water kefir plain as I find it too sweet. I am not a sweet tea or soft drink person, so I was mixing it in with my smoothies. The other day I found a lemonade recipe and all I can say is yum-o!! This is going to be my drink of choice on those hot summer days!! The only thing I wish I had done was let the second ferment a go a little longer as I would like it a little fizzier.
I have a little over a half cup of grains. I add 2 tbsp. of sugar to them along with 2 cups of warm water, I let them sit for a couple of days. You can tell they are working because if you tap the jar little bubbles rise up. After a couple of days I strain the water and repeat the feeding part. To the strained water I added about 1/3 cup of fresh lemon juice. I capped it in a bottle and let it sit for 2 more days for a second ferment to add more fizz. As I said this time of year with my cool kitchen the next go round I am going to try 3 days. A totally refreshing drink that is good for you!!
If anyone in my neck of the woods would like milk or water kefir grains or kombucha scobys let me know I will be glad to share!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Moving Mama Goats

We have 2 nubians that are due to kid any day and with the colder temperatures decided to get them from Mom's smaller barn to mine. I have enclosed stalls and it is easier to hang heat lamps. Once the stall was cleaned and fresh straw put down we hooked leashes on them and made the trek down the hill. I am sure the neighbors find us quite comical as we walk, waving to all as if we are in a parade. The girls have settled in nicely and now all we have to do it wait!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Today was a nice day, though a bit chilly. It seems mother nature woke up and said "Oh yeah it's winter!!" and so after a month with the windows open, the heat was turned on.
An early morning baking and then off to train the dogs for a while. Ludovic is coming along nicely and starting to track pretty well. I am totally in love with him!
Once back home it was time to feed critters and clean. Seems that is all I do these days. Muddy feet are abundant. As are dirty towels trying to cut down on muddy feet!
 Hubby has been working hard in the basement building new shelves to better organize all of our "stuff" and a lot of that we have. He is also building and designating an area for all the bee equipment. We plan to get bees again this year. I am hopeful that we may possibly be able to keep them longer than 2 years. I love the bees and every time I fail them I promise to work harder the next time.  In my heart I feel my homestead is not complete without honey bees!

Today was also the end of deer season. My brother-in-law, a friend and his young son went hunting on our farm in Virginia. And who got the last deer of the season? The 8 year old of course! Glad I didn't have to ride home with him! Monday will find us processing and freezing the meat. ;-)  

Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy New Year!

Hard to believe the new year is upon us. We have had an incredibly busy year. The last 2 months especially so! The new acreage we purchased has been partially cleared and planted. The winter rye grazing fields were finally planted and as of last week one was ready for the goats.
After the drought this summer the rains finally came. November broke a record with rainfall and December has been equally as wet. Just this last week we have gotten almost 10 inches. Things are a wet muddy mess. This last rain of 5 inches in one day caused much fence and field damage. There will be much to do once it dries a little. December was exceptionally warm too, with many days in the 70's. The plants are all confused! The daffodils, dandelions and camellias are in full bloom. I am afraid there will be no pretty spring flowers this year.

I am taking today to reflect over the busy year. I do it best while puttering in the kitchen. I have neglected many of my fermented friends! My milk kefir I have kept up with but the water kefir, sourdough starters and kombucha have been patiently waiting. They have all been fed and put back on a regular schedule. The beans are in the crock pot cooking for our new year day supper of hoppin' john soup, the spinach is washed and ready for a large salad and sourdough bread is rising.

Later today I plan to take the dogs for a long walk. I will take a deep breath, enjoy the solitude of the woods and thank God for friends and family. I will bid 2015 goodbye and welcome 2016 with open arms. I hope your day is as good as mine! Once again, happy new year from the homestead!