It is time for the end of year review again! It has been a great year, full of successes, failures, and plenty of learning and adventure. It was great to look back at the last year at the homestead.
First, some statistics…
- We had anywhere from 26-65 chickens of all different ages on the farm this year
- 3,548 eggs were laid
- 164 dozen of those eggs were sold
- 109.5 dozen of those eggs were used by us
- 283 eggs were set to hatch
- 122 chicks hatched successfully
- 19 chickens were sold as layers for other people’s flocks
- 35 chickens were butchered for meat for us
- 66 chicks were sold right after hatch
- 1 hen died from being egg-bound
The chicken program has done excellently this year. Gotta love the livestock that more than earns its keep!
In January we had several deaths in the rabbitry that took us back to square one as far as building our meat rabbit herd. So we decided to stop with meat rabbits for the time being and get back into them sometime in the future.
In June we added Oliver, an English Angora, to the farm as both a pet and a fiber producing animal. He has had 3 shearings this year that produced 2 ounces of use-able fiber. A lot of fiber was lost to us learning how to properly manage and shear his coat.
We sold our milk cow in January.
We butchered our 8-month-old JLow bull calf and got 102 lbs of meat (steak, roast, ground, & stew meat), 22 lbs of soup bones, and 10 lbs of dog food. This year my dad requested organ meat, so we also had 6.6 lbs of meat organs
The sheep produced 4 fleece for us this year, 2 of which were first fleece and 2 adult fleece, for a total of 24 lbs of raw wool. We also got 1 sheep hide from our ram lamb.
We butchered our first ever ram lamb (purchased as a weanling, not born on the farm). We got 30 lbs of meat, 4 lbs of soup bones, 4 lbs of dog food, and 7 lbs of fat to render.
The gardens did very well this year, producing about 150 lbs of produce for us.
With the help of all the animals we continue to produce large amounts of very rich compost for use on our garden. We have also had enough to share with friends.
- I knit 1 infinity scarf, 1 cowl, 3 scarves, 1 hat, 4 pairs of socks, 1 pair of mittens, 2 ear-warmer headbands, 1 sweater, 1 cell phone case, 1 skirt, and 2 neck/face warmers.
- I sewed numerous cloth napkins for our family use, 1 gathering apron, 2 summer dresses for daughters, 6 pairs of kids’ flannel pajama pants, 4 pairs kids pajama shorts, 2 nightgowns, 1 pair of adult flannel pajama pants, numerous hen jackets, 15 napkins and 5 placemats for a gift with 3 coordinating quilted hot pads, and 1 single-sized quilt. Plus tons of mending, mostly patching jeans.
- I embroidered 1 gingham embroidery bread cloth.
- I took a class in needle tatting and made one heart bookmark using that method.
- I spun 145.5 yards of worsted weight 2-ply merino/angora yarn, a small amount of single-ply Lincoln Longwool, and I am about half-way through spinning 4 ounces of hand-dyed superfine merino.
In the Kitchen:
We canned the equivalent of 172 quarts of food this year (some were pints, some half-pints, etc but we added it up to how many quarts of food it was). They included: whole peaches in honey syrup, peach jam, salsa, sliced dill pickles, dill spears, sweet spears, mixed berry jam, blueberry pie filling, plum jelly, crabapple jelly, apples in honey syrup, strawberry jam, cherry jelly, chicken stock, turkey stock, beef stock, and lamb stock.
We also froze 30 lbs (72 cups) of carrots and 30 lbs (77 cups) of green beans from the garden.
And now for some highlights from the homestead in 2014:
In January our life was dominated by the huge kitchen remodel project. On the farm we had our first incubation of the year and had our first-ever broody hen successfully set and hatch eggs for us. I learned how to knit socks two-at-a-time on 2 circular needles. And we made the difficult decisions to end our rabbitry for the time being as well as sell our JLow milk cow, Violet.
February brought record-breaking cold weather. On one of our last days with our milk cow in early February the milk froze on the side of the pail. We butchered our beef calf, continued with the kitchen remodel, and collected eggs for our 2nd incubation. I focused on knitting and spinning quite a bit.
March added two new sheep to the farm; weanling lambs Daphne and Duncan. We did all our garden planning and the second incubation of the year hatched. Our second broody hen, Eve, began setting her first hatch.
In April we began work on building the last garden terrace and we started many seeds indoors. Eve hatched her first brood of chicks and we incubated our largest incubation ever and sold all the chicks to a friend. We also remodeled my little craft room.
In May we celebrated our second year anniversary on the farm. We installed our garden drip system and planted six berry bushes. I resorted to putting clothing on livestock when I figured out the pattern for chicken jackets and used them to protect my hens’ backs from the rooster’s claws. We had a deep wet spring snow mid-month that stopped our spring productivity for several days. Banana hatched her second brood of chicks for the year, and Ruth began setting for the first time. We moved seedlings out into the garden in wall-o-waters for protection. Lastly, I tried my hand at making my own body products.
June was a full month! We battled aphids and flea beetles in the garden. We made the hard decision to butcher our favorite roo, Boaz, since his foot injury (frostbite from the winter) made it so he couldn’t successfully breed anymore. We added Oliver, our English Angora rabbit, to the farm. Our ewe lamb, Daphne, gave us a big scare when she had an anyphalactic reaction to a vaccine, but thankfully she survived it with an epinephrine shot. Mid-month we had a terrible hail storm that caused a lot of damage in the gardens. We installed more permanent fencing around the barnyard and expanded its size. At the end of the month Ruth hatched her first clutch of the year and Eve hatched her second. That ended the hatching season for our breeding program.
In July we did Oliver’s first shearing. Eve and Ruth were the first hens to share our “Mama Hen Pen” and raise their chicks together. We enjoyed harvesting strawberries, peas, and greens from the gardens. Our farm dog, Tundra, struggled with flies eating his ear and we tried everything possible to stop them and heal the wound. We also started our canning season with cucumbers made into pickles in July.
August was spent harvesting, canning, harvesting, canning, and more harvesting and canning. It was a wonderfully productive month of “puttin’ up.” We also agreed to run an incubation to sell chicks again for someone. Lastly, I started knitting my first-ever sweater.
In September we finished the last incubation of the year and sold all the chicks right after hatch. We continued harvesting and canning. We were very sad at the loss of our barn cat, Mattie. The one-year anniversary of the flood and evacuation occurred and we were able to see the progress and acknowledge the blessings that occurred despite the disaster. We butchered our first ever ram-lamb and enjoyed the meat it provided for our family.
We took a break from technology in October and didn’t blog. During that month we finished up our canning and butchering season, filling the shelves and the freezer. We started work on all the home-made Christmas presents. And we added a new farm dog in-training to the farm – our Old-Time Scotch Collie pup, Finley.
In November we took the sheep to the breeder and left them there for 40 days with hopes for a spring full of lambs. We harvested the last of the greens out of our screened planting box that we had put frost fabric over. We had a bear attempt to get into our chicken coops 5 different times – thankfully he was unsuccessful and eventually went into hibernation. We continued work on homemade gifts for Christmas. And for Thanksgiving we had our first ever naturally raised turkey that we bought from a friend’s farm.
December brought a lot of treat making, and more working on Christmas gifts. We had a big scare when our Silkie hen, Eve, almost drown in the new water trough. Thankfully, she survived. We were so excited for the opportunity to have the sheep ultra-sounded when we went to pick them up from the breeder. We found out that Stella and Fiona are both pregnant and Daphne is most likely as well. And even more exciting than the addition of lambs this spring is the addition of a new little someone to our family through adoption in 2015.
It has been such an amazing year full of blessings and adventures – and we are so excited for all the blessings and adventures to come in 2015!
Happy New Year!