Saturday, July 23, 2011

Sad News

We had a big loss on our homestead a few nights ago. It wouldn't be fair for me not to post, as I really want people to know what they are getting into, and have a realistic perspective on homesteading. We lost all 26 of our meat birds. We had them in the tractor without any issues for quite a while. Then, we found the remains of the birds. All 26 had been killed, only a few were taken though. It looks like raccoons sat on top of the wire and were able to bend the wire enough to give them leverage to pull the staples out of the side. It gave them enough room to get into the tractor. Signs around the tractor all pointed to raccoons, and our neighbor killed a large one recently, and we've seen others since. We were heartbroken.

Now, my dad has been a HUGE encourager in our homestead (he's also my beekeeping partner). Dad handed us a check to buy more birds. His advice (Listen very carefully, because this is GOOD ADVICE)--"You know what your weaknesses are. Fix them, and start right back up. Don't let this beat you." He's right.

Because we're short on time, we had to settle for Cornish X birds. We aren't thrilled by that, but we really want to have chicken to eat this winter. We're buying a very heavy gauge wire to put on the chicken tractor, and reinforcing all the weak points.

The big lesson in all of this: it takes a lot to be a homesteader. Sometimes we have to put aside our preferences to take what works best for our situation. We have to overcome the hardships that are inherent to raising livestock. We have to adapt to our surroundings and limitations. Sad days are hard, but the good days are worth it.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


I previously wrote about my dislike for Cornish cross meat birds. This year, we are raising 25 Buff Orpington cockerels for our freezer. We may hold back a rooster for our egg laying flock. I imagine we could hatch out a good table bird by crossing a Buff Orpington roo to a Speckled Sussex hen.

Mr. HH is finishing up our chicken tractor.

Birds- Currently known as "chicken nuggets"

Now, these guys won't get as big as a Cornish cross, but they also won't cost us as much in feed. They already get a good helping of grass clippings, and love them. They take a bit longer to grow out, but they taste so great, it's worth the wait.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Raised Bed Update

This year, we added 3 raised garden beds to the homestead. We have a large garden as well, but decided to change things up a bit. The large garden now grows corn, beans, some of our onions, and our viney plants (cukes, zukes, melons, and winter squash). We hope to add more raised beds as time goes on.

*San Marzano Tomatoes *

In the tomato bed, we have tomato plants staked up down both sides of the bed. We've found that twine we cut off our hay bales is best to staking tomatoes (seen above). In the middle of the beds, we are growing beets, carrots (seen below), and rutabagas. On the ends, we filled the holes of the concrete blocks with soil. They are the current home of mint plants and multiplier onions (seen below).

*Sweet Bell Peppers*

*Green Cabbage*
I think this fall, when we plant more cabbages for canning saur kraut, I will plant them under row cover to help avoid cabbage worms. This wet spring has really prevented Bt from sticking to the plants to keep the worms at bay.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Updates don't grow on trees, ya know!

Alright, we've been a bit busy. Well more than a bit. Having a baby definitely changes routines around here. Needless to say, things take a bit more time and effort, so I spend less time on the computer.

We've gotten quite a bit accomplished. My raised beds are full, and the big garden is full as well. We had to move our blueberry bushes to a new spot, and we've got more trees in our orchard! In the kitchen, I've tried several different bread recipes, made a few types of cheese, and been dehydrating a few things (mostly chamomile and green onions).

Pictures and details soon! If there is anything you're curious about, ask away!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Wearing the thinking cap...

We've been very busy outside, as we've had a break from rain. Any time not spent outside, we've been making cheese, trying to organize the pantry, and doing household chores in between. We're considering our options for another animal shelter on the property as well. The trick--building something with the least amount of cost. Ideas are appreciated and welcome.

In the mean time, I'm going to leave you with our favorite dinner roll recipe. We've been using these to make small sandwiches with chevre and leftover homegrown ham!

Quick and Easy Dinner Rolls
1 pkg dry, active yeast (I buy in bulk so I use 2 1/4 tsps of yeast)
1 cup lukewarm water
1 egg
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup oil or melted butter
+/- 3 cups flour, sifted

Dissolve yeast in lukewarm water. Add egg, sugar, salt, and oil.

Add 1/2 the flour, and beat until smooth. Add flour until you achieve a nice dough (not too sticky), and knead until smooth. Roll into balls (bigger than a golf ball, smaller than a tennis ball) and place in a greased pan. Let rise until doubled. Bake at 375 for 15 minutes. Brush tops with butter while still warm.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

We are busy bees!

It didn't rain today. We tried to get as much done as possible since we have more rain in our forecast. Updates coming up in a couple days!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Rain, Rain--GO AWAY!

We've been getting a lot of rain lately. A LOT. So I figured now was a good time to update on progress here. I would love for things to dry up enough for me to plant, but it doesn't look like it will be happening any time soon.

On the seedling front, I have a lot of things coming along nicely. Mr. HH gifted me a soil blocker for my birthday. GREAT PRESENT! I think dampening off is less of an issue with soil blocks because it's so easy to water from below the actual plant. I feel like my seedlings are doing much better with soil blocks than with traditional seedling cell trays.

Tomato Seedlings

I did start a few tomato plants early in an attempt to have a few tomatoes early this year. Right before I started these tomatoes, I stumbled across this website. We ended up asking relatives and friends for 2 liter bottles and made a few of these self watering containers. I love them. They work very well. I'll probably keep saving bottles as I can get them to utilize this system more in the future.

Tomato seedling in a self-watering container

We've decided that this year, we will start utilizing as much of the space here as possible for food production. Now, this means dedicating more of the property to feeding our livestock, so we're moving gardening space up into the fenced back yard. We're referring to it as "yard farming." We've added 3 raised beds (4x12) to the back yard to start. We want to keep adding beds as funds allow.

One of our new raised beds

Remember the old windows I was saving? We're trying to decide the best way to use them. I think we will end up using them to construct actual cold frames, but don't hold me to it. In the picture above, you can see how we experimenting with the frames on the raised beds.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

My Kids--Caprine Variety

The goat babies are doing very well. We ended up with two bucklings from Tease, and a buckling and doeling from Chessie. I really wanted a doeling from both, but at least we got one. In the video you'll see 5 kids. We actually bought an Alpine buckling to be sure we could breed the girls this year. We're hoping to get a Saanen buckling, but the doe I want a buck out of hasn't kidded yet, so we'll have to wait and see!

Tease with her bucklings. Shortly after this photo was taken, she started trying to ram her babies. They've been bottle fed from the beginning.

This is Fred. He and his brother Scruffy as VERY friendly. I hate to sell them because they are so sweet.

Cheeto is the first kid born on our farm. He is sticking around as a buddy for our buckling Thor.

And our Grand Prize--Heidi.

Mr. HH always loved the look of Oberhasli goats, and he is thrilled by Heidi's coloration. Hopefully she grows out well enough to be bred in the fall. Unfortunately, Chessie freshened with a problem udder. One side seems to be having issues. The vet will be checking her out again this week to see if it's fixable. Even if it's not, the good half of her udder is giving us 1/2 a gallon everyday. Tease is already giving us OVER a gallon a day!

All that said, be prepared to see some posts of my attempts at making cheese!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Waiting Game...

As I'm typing this post, I am listening to the soothing sounds of goats chewing their cud via a baby monitor that's been strategically placed in our barn. We are waiting for our goats to kid. Typical goat gestation length is 150 days. Our alpine is on day 151. This is our first kidding, and we are very anxious to have some baby goats to cuddle.

To pass the time, I thought it might be fun to have our first giveaway! Now I can't give you anything too exciting, but I would like to send out some seeds to help someone else start their own little homesteading efforts. All you have to do to enter is leave a comment on this post. In your comment list some things you've wanted to try planting, but haven't. Maybe you'd like to try planting Swiss Chard this year or some different varieties of winter squash. Jot it down in the comments, and maybe you'll end up with an envelope of goodies headed your way.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Want to win a prize?

If you'd like a chance to win some homemade goat milk soap, head over to Krazo Acres. Carolyn has a great blog up now about spreading your sustainability efforts around. Even though I'd love to win some goat milk soap, I'd rather see people moving others to a more sustainable lifestyle.

Click here to enter!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Baby and Kids

Little Man has been keeping us plenty busy. Here he is dreaming about least his mom and dad are!

To try to get in a bit of early "dirt" time, I separated my aloe pups from the mother plant and potted them. I also had to throw away the rosemary plant that didn't agree with growing in my kitchen. I'll try again with the rosemary, as it's a great herb for cooking.

Here's Chessie asking me if she looks fat. I kept a straight face and told her she was still as beautiful as ever. I can't wait to have goat milk again. Little Man's belly doesn't agree when I eat cow's milk dairy. This isn't a big deal for me, but the goat's milk is an entirely different story. I really don't want to have to miss out on goat cheese, ice cream, and my favorite, steel cut oats with warmed goat milk.

We can't wait to see our goat kids (Arriving in mid-late March)! I'm crossing my fingers that I get some doelings. I'd especially love for Tease to have a doeling, as I've heard great things about the Saanen/Alpine crosses. We're almost completely done getting our kidding kit together.

Hopefully, we'll be able to post about our garden plans fairly soon. This growing season promises to be an exciting one!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Stay Tuned...

We hope to be posting again soon, but as you can see we are a bit busy!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

We're still here!

The last few weeks my focus has been on preparing for the baby. The cold weather has made it pretty slow around the homestead for Mr. HH as well. We've been taking the time to read up on things we would like to pursue this year (and years to come). We have a lot plans, but as always, we're trying to make a list in order of their priority, because not everything can be done in a year. I can say, prepare to see a small corn crib being built on our property in the future!

For the time being, the focus has been on preparing our home for the baby, and trying to recover from the holidays! Updates should start picking up around our baby's arrival as we will be preparing for the arrival of some goat kids! 2011 looks to be a promising and exciting year for us here!

For your viewing pleasure, Little Man's incredibly soft, matching, knit wool pants and hat.