Sunday Homestead Update

Chickens

Eve hatched out 6 of her 8 eggs this week. The chicks are adorable and Eve is being the wonderful mama that she always is.

We have had really bad chicken lice issues this year. Our usual two treatments ten days apart hasn’t been working. So we are currently doing 5 treatments each 7 days apart, hoping that will fix it. We have done 3 of the 5 treatments now. This last time we only saw eggs, no live lice. So we are making progress. At our first treatment 75% of the flock had very bad infestations. We are also adding DE and wood ash to their dust bathing areas.

Lumber

In our area of the Rockies the pine beetle has worked its way through over the last decade, killing millions of acres of trees. It is estimated one in fourteen trees was killed by pine beetles. It has changed the area drastically. For us, there has been some good to come from it though. Mtn Man is skilled at tree removal and with our family working together to load slash and trunks we can make quick work of the process. Many people have dead trees on their properties and want them taken down. And we need lumber for our farm projects and firewood. So we often remove trees for people and haul them to the lumber mill. A lot of our farm has been built with that lumber.

We took down two HUGE trees about a month ago and they are back from the mill now, ready for our projects. The two main projects on the list right now are to build a retaining wall and fill it in to make a safe, flat place for Mr Smiles to play because he is unable to walk on uneven or tilted ground. Second, we are building another raised bed, terraced veggie garden. We are going to double our veggie garden space, which will be awesome!

Fall Projects

Fall is the time of year we do all of our building projects around the homestead, as well as gather and prepare all of our firewood for winter, plus canning and preserving food for winter.  The list is so long.  We are doing our best to chip away at it, but with all the other things in our life right now it has been hard to eeek out time.

We were able to pick up a tractor this week that we are borrowing for some of the projects.  We started by doing a good turning of the compost piles in the barnyard, combining them together, and then fencing off the bottom area of the barnyard in preparation for finishing the last of the wood fencing there.

We started with the barnyard just being metal panel fencing.  Over the years we have done one section at a time of permanent fencing.  We now have the lumber for the last permanent section and hopefully can get that done this fall.

Now we will use the tractor to prepare the area for Mr. Smiles’ safe play area and the new garden.  Then we need to build those and bring in fill dirt for the play area and soil for the garden.  We plan to stir together some store-bought mixed with our own compost from the barnyard.  Then we will get to fencing the new garden and finish the barnyard fencing.  Hopefully we can accomplish all of that this fall.

Sheep

We are continuing to work with the new sheep and get them friendly.  Daisy, who was the shy-est, is now a totally teddy bear.  She comes over for scratches and pets and leans into us and tries to “groom” us back while we pet her.  She is SO sweet.

The other two ewes are coming along a lot slower, and I am not sure that Marigold will ever soften up and be a good milk sheep.  She is quite the wild one and I can’t picture her standing nicely in a stanchion being milked, but time will tell.

The ram is already friendly enough, you have to be careful with rams to not have them too friendly, nor too unfriendly for safety purposes.

Taking Time

I haven’t mentioned it on the blog yet, but my father passed away two weeks ago while we were at the pediatric hospital with Mr. Smiles’ big surgery. My father has been living with us for the last 4 months. I am so grateful for that time with him. The loss was huge and the timing felt impossible to handle. But we are getting through it one day at a time. One step at a time. Sometimes it feels like one breath at a time.

We are productive people. We are always working around the home, homestead, community. We don’t do well sitting idle. But when you are grieving it is important to take time to stop and pull into yourself, like a turtle. Time to reflect and feel the feelings. My friend Val, over at Just Another Day on the Farm, reminded me of that this morning in a well worded post and it was perfect timing for me to need to hear it.

Autumn is our busiest time on the farm. But when I just continue to go, go, go I am just running from the pain. So I will purpose to take time “to turtle” as well.

New Dairy Flock at WCF

We have dreamed of having dairy sheep for several years now, and we are excited that the dream is finally coming true.

A few weeks ago we added Autumn, an 18-month-old East Friesian/Lacaune Mix ewe.  She lambed this year, so next year will be her second year to lamb.

Then this week we added 4 more dairy sheep to the flock.  They are all 5-month-old lambs.

Remi is a white East Friesian/Lacaune/Polypay mix ram.  He is very sweet and friendly.

Daisy is a white East Friesian/Lacaune/Polypay mix ewe.  She is shy but not skittish.

Bluebell is a white East Friesian/Cotswold mix ewe.  She is the twin sister of Marigold.  She is curious and friendly.  Definitely the matriarch of the group of lambs.

Marigold is a black East Friesian/Cotswold mix ewe; the twin sister of Bluebell.  She is very skittish and has a lot of spunk.

They are working on settling into the flock.  The rams are living together in the back pen until breeding.  Fergus seems very happy to have a new friend, since he had been living alone since April.

The ewe lambs are not used to having an LGD, and Anya has been a bit rambunctious with them, which we are working on fixing.  So they keep a close eye on her, as in these pictures.

They also have not seen chickens or cats before, they are very curious about the small creatures living with them.

We are working on getting to know them and making them more friendly.  Come spring we will begin lambing out and milking these pretty girls.  That will be a fun adventure!

Sunday Homestead Update

Busy, busy here on the homestead.

Sheep

We decided to name the new dairy sheep Autumn.  Here is a cute pic from when I was sitting in the barnyard for farm therapy the other day.  Fiona and Autumn were blocking the chickens’ door to get into their coop.  The chickens were crowding around them trying to figure out how to get in and the rooster decided to stand on Fiona’s back to see if he could somehow get in the door that way.

We had more sheep excitement this week as we added more dairy sheep to our flock. I will introduce them in a post later this week.  Settling them in has been rough so far.  There are some issues with Autumn and Pansy bullying them.  Fiona is doing great with them.  Anya is being too rambunctious with them, since they are only 5-month-old lambs and thus smaller and not good at standing up for themselves with her, which is also a problem.  So we are having to keep everyone somewhat separated and under watchful eyes.  Hoping everything settles soon.

Garden

We have been very busy harvesting the garden and putting up the harvest.

We had a very very light frost on Aug 28 that did a tiny bit of damage to the bean plants, but since then there hasn’t been a frost yet and it doesn’t look like one is coming for another week at least. This is looking to be a late fall, which will be wonderful since we had such a cold spring, the plants need the extra growth time.

The first tomatoes have started ripening.  It looks like it will be a pretty good harvest despite the late frost and cool weather set-backs we had. I pruned the tomato plants a bunch to help keep their energy focused on the fruit already on them as opposed to flowers and tiny fruit that don’t have a chance of making it this year.

The pepper harvest has been much better than last year, and we are bringing in Red Kuri and Golden Nugget squash now as well.

The green beans are coming in well and we are canning them and lining the root cellar shelves with jars of them for winter.

The carrot and pea harvest are done for the year. They produced well but a massive aphid infestation cut them short.

While we were picking up the new Dairy Sheep from the western slope of Colorado, we grabbed two bushels of peaches.  They are huge and beautiful and we are enjoying eating them and canning them for winter.

Heritage Arts

I was able to get some knitting done while we were in the hospital with Mr Smiles.  I finished the cabled cardigan that has been on the needles for 18 months and kept getting ignored because of other projects, it feels SO good to have it done.

The pattern is Let Go by Joji Locatelli.  The yarn was Knit Picks Gloss DK in the colorway Blackberry.  I absolutely love how this turned out.  It fits me perfectly and it is so soft and warm.  I cannot wait for the weather to cool a bit so I can wear it regularly.

I have also been making progress on two different pairs of socks I am working on.

We got a new toy…I mean tool…for the homestead. We used to have a large 42-inch floor loom for weaving. But it was just too big and rarely got used because we didn’t have a good place to set it up. So this summer we sold it and bought a smaller loom. It is the Wolf Pup LT from Schat Spindle Co.

We love it! It fits nicely in the corner of the living room and is big enough to make any of the types of things we want to weave. Little Miss is currently weaving a practice/learning project on it.

 

Sunday Homestead Update – Concrete Jungle to Mountain Homestead

We spent this last week in the concrete jungle of the pediatric hospital in Denver. Don’t get me wrong, it is a wonderful hospital with wonderful staff and so many services and resources for families….but it is a far cry from my isolated little mountain homestead. So so so many people. Constantly in and out of your space. No good sleep. Trying to manage things back at home from afar. And the biggest of all…the stress and concerns of caring for your sick child. It has been rough.

Mr. Smiles had a very big surgery last week. Like 7.5 hrs long, 3 surgeons – BIG. The main part of it was a rare surgery they only perform about 1-2 times a year. But, Praise the Lord, it went much much better than anyone predicted. They were able to do it all laparascopically (which was unexpected), thus decreasing infection risk and speeding up recovery time. And we are all hopeful that this will be Mr. Smiles’ last surgery and this will fix his medical issues longterm and give him a good quality of life. We were expecting about a 7-10 day hospital stay following surgery, with the potential for up to 3 weeks if there were unforseen complications. We were amazingly blessed to only need to stay 5 days in the hospital.

It felt amazing to be back at our little farm. All was well here – the kids and our friend had taken excellent care of everything.

Happy to be back home on the homestead this Sunday.