Wednesday, April 26, 2017

More Lambs!

Lambs are appearing at a rapid rate! 3 sets of twins and a single in the last couple of days!

Bees, Once Again

We are once again adding bees to the homestead. I love them and have missed them since we lost our last hive. I now have a third generation bee keeper that is willing to offer his wisdom and experience so I am very hopeful things will go well and with any luck add more hives next year.

I picked them up yesterday afternoon late and we installed the packages in the misty rain. Today they are very busy. Hopefully releasing the queen and building out brood chambers!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Soap Unmolding

I am super excited on how pretty my soaps turned out! Its raining today and the house is dark so pictures here don't really do them justice.
This one is one of the few fragrance oils I still use called Russian tea. It is wildly popular and sells out every time. It colors itself this beautiful orange color.
This was a new color I tried. At trace I swirled some spirulina powder in it. Love this bright green!!
The orange turned out nicely as well. The turmeric and calendula added a nice color with specks of the ground flower throughout.
And lastly another favorite, my rosemary tea tree. I colored it with green clay. Makes a great facial cleansing soap. Though it looks gray it a mossy shade of green. I crossed posted this with our Facebook page since the colors show up much nicer on it.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Herbs All Dried

 The large pile of herbs harvested last weekend has dried and this is what I have.
and lemon thyme.
I will give them another day or so and then will jar them up and label.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

A Rainy Wednesday

I awoke to a cool rainy spring morning. I enjoyed a little extra coffee and got busy making soap. My stores are out and so am I. A few hours later 8 blocks were poured and ready to cure.
I tried some new natural colorants this go round. One is swirled with spirulina powder. Another colored with green clay and lastly a bergamont orange colored with turmeric and ground calendula flowers! Can't wait for the un-molding.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Spring Garden

This afternoon was spent getting the big garden in. It is the first time that we have had a dry stretch and the ground was finally workable. Rain is in the forecast again this week so we had to get busy!
Earlier today I raided Sis's greenhouse and came home with a truckload of plants. Tomatoes, peppers, squash, cucumbers and a variety of herbs were hauled home. Most of the herbs were tucked into the beds by the house. Extra basil was planted in the garden.
Hubby planted seeds while I stuck plants in the ground.
What did we plant?
Four varieties of green beans- one to can and 3 colors of filet beans. Green, purple and yellow. Some we will eat and some will be sold. 2 varieties of beets, yellow and red. 3 long rows of corn. Also carrots. Tomatoes! lots and lots of tomatoes. Better boy of course, my favorite for canning. Also Cherokee Purple, Aunt Ruby's Giant German green, Romas for dehydrating and 4 kinds of cherry tomatoes. Yellow squash, Zucchini and 3 kinds of cucumbers. Peppers- bells, banana, jalapeno, poblano and cayenne. That all done we started transplanting the strawberries and the rain came.
Good start to the garden season!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Harvesting Herbs

The herbs I planted last fall are definitely ready to harvest. I spent the better part of the morning trimming, washing and preparing to dry these pantry staples.
I harvested parsley, sage, lemon thyme and oregano today.
I washed all of the herbs. The oregano, parsley and thyme were laid on paper towels as is. I will strip the branches once dried, The sage I took the leaves off and laid them flat.
They will spend the next little while on the bar until completely dry and then I will jar them for later use.
Once that was done I headed back out to plant a few more edibles in the beds. My cool cactus went in front and center. I planted a lime basil and purple basil beside it. The lime basil has already been clipped to make a citrus vinaigrette to serve over fish. Delicious!! Also a spicy oregano that definitely has a kick to it went in next to the basils.

In the bed next to it I planted 2 horseradish plants. Between them I placed my bay tree. I keep it in the garage during the winter. It needs to be pruned very soon!
Sometime over the next couple of days I will be raiding the greenhouse to finish out the beds.

New Asparagus beds

The asparagus beds we planted a few years ago had to be moved to make room for more pasture for the pigs. I decided to relocate them in the orchard. Today the boys built some new ones and filled them with dirt.
This coming week I will be transplanting them. Not an optimum time but has to be done since the pigs are already helping!

Friday, April 14, 2017

An Unusual Gift

A sweet friend recently told me she had a prickly pear cactus for me. I had no idea what it was but was expecting a cute little cacti like I've seen at Lowe's. Umm..not so!
I arrived home from errands to find this guy on my patio! From what she tells me it is edible, along with the flowers it will produce. So, I must do some research and find some recipes! I can only imagine the look on my family's face when cactus is served for supper!

Monday, April 10, 2017

First Lamb 2017

And so another lambing season has begun. 21 years raising sheep 10 years now with Icelandics. The fun begins. So many colors and patterns!
This fellow here is a spotted black badger. 

Saturday, April 8, 2017

The Poultry Palace

The last few weekends we have been busy revamping the new poultry palace/compound. It was not in a very good place before. Subject to flooding and WAY to easy for escapees to get to the garden. Relocating two old sheds, they now have a laying house and feed storage area. This will keep the squirrels out and is a dry place to store egg cartons. (Front and back view)

They really seem to like it and are blessing us with loads of eggs!

The other old hen house is strictly for roosting. We are adding a cover off the front for a dry place when it rains and to keep a feeder under.
The fence was extended to 8 feet tall. To keep them in and predators out.
 We will be allowing them to range the front field soon in hopes that jumping 4 fences to get to the garden will be way too much trouble. Time will tell.
One more day and that project will be completed. At some point we want to paint the buildings but that is on down the chore list. For now it is functional and that is what matters!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Planting Less Common Berry Bushes

A busy few days on the homestead planting more edible landscaping. This year I have added 2 more Sand Cherry bushes. They reach about 7 feet tall and produce small tart cherries suitable for pies and jams. I have 4 now and hope to have a nice hedgerow in a few years.The 2 from last year are blooming!
I also added 3 more Elderberry bushes to make a total of 4 of them as well. Elderberries are highly medicinal and some studies show they pack more antioxidant power than blueberries.
Another interesting berry is the Service berry which is similar to a blueberry but can tolerate a bit more shade. I tucked 2 of them on the shady side of the orchard.
I am looking forward to trying all these cool new( to me) food sources.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Too Wet To Plow

As I shared in my previous post mother nature has been a beast this year. We have had rain or some form of precipitation about twice a week. Though we need the moisture, it has put us way behind on the early spring garden. I have had 65 lbs of potatoes sitting patiently in the garage for 2 weeks now. With yet more rain in the forecast we decided over the weekend to somewhat of a desperate move. The small garden beside the barn had been turned but was not ready to plant. Hubby hooked up the disk and every few hours for 2 days went through it trying to dry the soil. Though not optimum it dried fairly well and this morning before yet another storm was to roll in I got about 55 lbs of the potatoes in. Mom cut and I planted. I also put in 16 tomatoes and 14 more cabbage. Some cabbage and broccoli had been put in the big garden earlier.
This is an after the storm rolled in pic. You can see water standing between the rows.

It is a muddy mess..again.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Retired or Just Tired?

I have been officially retired for a month now. It has been a crazy one for sure! Trying to figure out my new normal has been a bit of a challenge. I have so many things I want to get done that at times I feel overwhelmed. I am realizing that it is not all going to get done in a day, or a week, or even a month! 

So what's been happening? well....
February was an extremely warm month. The flowers and fruit trees sprang to life and everything was in full bloom. The end of the month brought some severe thunder storms and with that, hail. Then mother nature had to throw in a small snow storm on March 11th. 
Oh and she wasn't done yet! Shortly there after we experienced some record lows of 18 which of course zapped all of the fruit and flower blooms. One local farm lost 90% of their peach crop. We lost about that in our blueberries. I had so hoped to be able to market them this year. 
And she still wasn't done! Another storm blew through with larger than pea size hail and destroyed all of the lettuce.
Yes mother nature has been a bit of a bitch this year but we are slowly recovering. 

Other news...
The new poultry palace is almost done. The hens are very happy and laying 3 dozen eggs a day! The orchard is being revamped. Edible landscaping is being planted daily. The milking schedule is in place and we are getting over 2 gallons a day from 3 does. A deposit has been made on 2 new packages of bees. Khaki Campbell ducklings are set to arrive on May 15th and we are hoping for a laying trio of Cayuga ducks as well. Busy times here on the homestead! 


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Tractor Shed Complete!

Well it's done...the physical building anyway. Gravel for the floor and some grading work before completely finished.
I was hoping I could get these fast fellas to build me a new chicken coop but they are too busy right now. Oh well, back on our to-do list!

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Spring Cleaning

Today's chore was to give the barn a good spring cleaning. And a chore it was. Raking, forking and shoveling for hours. Thankfully we are able to use the tractor and bobcat for the bulk of the work but still at the end of the day we were tired and sore. The animals spend a lot of time in the barn during the winter months, so the buildup of hay and manure becomes tremendous.

Since the days are becoming warmer the animals are able to spend more time in the fields and under outside shelter. With the exception of a couple more does due to kid and a place to separate milking mamas at night the barn is used very little during the summer months.

All of the stalls were scraped out, along with the hallway.The back of the barn was scraped as well. It doesn't get much sun so the mud over the winter sometimes gets 6 inches deep. Deep enough to suck off a shoe every now and then! We need to run a new fence line back there and this time I plan to relocate the gate so the animals can bypass the back where I have to carry hay to the shed. Hopefully this will make for less slogging next year.

 Next week I'll get some lime for the floors and some shavings for the stalls. It will also be time to clean out and disinfect the brooders in preparation for meat birds that will be arriving next month.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Bucket Babies

Not sure the fascination of sleeping in buckets around here, but almost everyday I have to empty them before I can feed!! 😄😄

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Spent some time in the new greenhouse my brother in law built for sis. It is sweet!! Resurrected from salvaged sun room windows and other cool finds like the tiny wood stove, it is a little piece of heaven on earth.
She has been a busy girl. broccoli, cabbage, tomatoes of all varieties and lots of different herbs grace the shelves.  

He built boxes below the shelves where she has wintered through beautiful spinach, lettuce, carrots and cilantro.
Today we planted a few more things.The red celery and Campari tomatoes I ordered from Territorial went in flats. Some nasturtiums, lemon bee balm and winter savory all having delicious edible foliage and flowers and German chamomile for a calming tea.
I promised to stop coming in with tons of new seeds to start....well except for the micro-greens I plan to track down!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Tractor Shed - Day 3

It's coming along!!
View from front of sheep barn

View from garden side
I imagine tin will be going on tomorrow. Hopefully completed!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Best Laid Plans...

I knew today was going to be hectic but I still had plans for a nice romantic Valentine dinner. Oh yes, fondue with all the fixings. A cheese fondue, a main and of course chocolate!!

Up early to bake bread, make the drop, pick up a friends dog that I am helping train along with mine and off to the trainers an hour away. Two hours of training down, I headed to the processors to pick up a box of bacon they forgot to load Saturday. On the way home I stopped off to get a bottle of wine for said romantic meal, drop off friend's dog and pick up chicken feed. I got home around 3:15. Plenty of time. Mom helped me tag team feeding and I got up to the house at 4 or so. Talon, the Mal pup needed some exercise so I grabbed a leash to take him out. A pitiful yelp when I touched his collar. Uh-oh. After careful inspection and a little peroxide, I thought he had a puncture wound on the top of his head. Muttering under my breathe and blaming poor Ziva, the other Mal, I called the vet. Bring him now. Sigh.

Of course he had to be sedated, there was no other way to even begin to inspect it. Leave him and come back in two hours. Can you see the romantic dinner fading fast?

Back home I told hubby the sad news. No look of surprise, no sigh of resignation. Just a "I'll ride with you to pick him up" and let's have some cheese and crackers. Love my Valentine!!

Turns out, Talon had a hot spot. Very strange and really no explanation why. He gets to wear this lovely collar and be on antibiotics for 2 weeks along with a small dose of prednisone. Poor guy. This is going to make for an interesting week or so!
And yes, I apologized to Ziva for wrongly accusing her!