Homestead Update

Posting has been sparse lately.  Sorry for that, but we have been enjoying living the busy homestead life, and no offense, but the last thing I want to do is come in from my garden or barnyard on a beautiful day and sit at the computer.  🙂

There is so much to update, I don’t know where to start….I guess we will start in the barnyard.

Chickens

The hens are all doing well.  Frodo, the rooster, has been moved down into the lower coop alone to allow the hens backs a break from his affection.

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We have butchered some of this year’s cockerels, and still have plenty more that are still only 5 weeks old.  We have one cockerel that is 18 weeks old that we have held back from butchering.  He is built really well and is not aggressive, so he is in the running for next year’s breeding cockerel.

The pullets hatched in Jan-March of this year are now beginning to lay, so we have tons of eggs.  The chicks with the mama hens, Banana and Eve, are growing well.

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Meat Rabbits

We have adorable baby bunnies!   I told you about the first litter, born about 3 weeks ago.  They are now at the oh-so-adorable stage.

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We had a second litter born to our Rex doe Indi earlier this week.  There are 8 kits, though one is quite a runt so we will see if that little guy makes it.  We usually force-feed the runts on the mama rabbit.  However, this is Indi’s first litter and she is acting pretty grouchy about us messing with her or them.  She is not a very friendly rabbit to begin with, so we decided not to risk her abandoning all of them by messing her.

Sheep

The sheep are doing well.  The lamb’s growth has slowed so the difference in them from week to week is not noticeable.  Husband sheared Fiona, our CVM x Merino ewe this week.  She is sure happy to not be carrying around a huge fleece in the summer heat (not that it has been terribly hot here, it has actually been very pleasant).  The raw skirted fleece weighed 4 lbs.  We haven’t washed it yet.  He also sheared Oliver, the angora bunny.  My pile of angora fiber is growing.  We really need to get a drum carder so we can start making some mixed fiber roving to spin from the sheep wool and bunny wool.

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Fiona, just sheared (left) and her ewe lamb from this year, Lily (right)

Canning and Freezing

We have been canning like crazy – apples, dill pickles, sweet pickles, and green beans from the garden.  We have also been freezing carrots and celery.

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Wool in the Garden?

We have some sort of rodent that has taken up residence in our garden.  We think it is a vole.  It has done plenty of damage to the celery, carrots, peas, and some tomato plants.

We did not line our garden boxes with hardware cloth because most of this garden was built right onto the bedrock (welcome to the Rocky Mountains!).  There were a few boxes that weren’t on bedrock, but we decided not to line them.  Big mistake!  We will have to dig them out later this fall and line them to prevent this from happening again.  But meanwhile, the good news is that the bedrock has this critter confined to only two of our garden boxes.

We have set out all different traps – rat sized, mice sized, even sticky paper down in the tunnels.  Nothing has worked.  Husband disturbs the tunnels and the critter just digs them again and builds new ones.

A thought occurred to him while he was shearing Fiona.  We use the raw wool skirtings (the un-useable pieces from the belly, legs, and rear of the sheep) to insulate the barn and coops because not only does it insulate, but it keeps the rodents away because they don’t like the lanolin found naturally in the wool.  So he figured, maybe it would deter this rodent too.

After he was done shearing he took the skirtings and stuffed them down in the rodent holes in the garden.  He also put a few piles around the bases of the plants in the garden box that the rodent is in.  This was only a few days ago, but so far so good.  No sign of more damage, nor more tunnels.  We will see if it works long-term.  But maybe using wool skirtings to deter rodents in the garden will become a new natural way for us to deal with them!

The garden is doing aaaaaaamazing!  It is so beautiful this time of year, and heavy with produce.

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We have been very busy harvesting carrots, beans, a few tomatoes, turnips, beets, squash, zucchini, and cabbage the last few weeks.  And of course, we continue to have a constant supply of fresh salad from the lettuce and spinach.  The harvest amounts are looking excellent so far, even though we aren’t done.  Many of the vegetables will beat out last year’s harvest.  I won’t post numbers until the harvest is finished, but I will say that just today we harvested 17.5 lbs of carrots.  It’s been awesome!

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The herb garden has produced well this year too!  We have been hanging herbs to dry for the winter.

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Heritage Arts

Yes, even with the beautiful weather we are making progress on heritage arts projects.  In the evenings, and when we need to come inside to get a break, we pick up our knitting and cross stitch and work on them.

My oldest daughter has taken up cross-stitch recently and loves it.  She is really talented at it too.  I will post pictures of her projects as she finished them.

I am in the middle of two different large knitting projects, a dress and a cardigan.  So I wont likely have much to show for quite a while.  But that doesn’t mean we aren’t still at it!

Fall Has Arrived in the High Rockies

Yup, we had our first light frost a few days ago.  This is the earliest frost we have had in my 8 years gardening at this location.  Thankfully it didn’t hit the micro-climate of our garden, so no damage was done.  But there was definitely scraping of windshields and other such morning frost activities all around us.  We have even had a few small fires in the wood stove a couple of mornings this last week because it was so chilly.  We love fall – a fire in the wood stove, a cup of hot tea, and a blanket on the couch is a good way to start the morning.  I just want my garden to get a few more weeks of growth before it is all over.

The elk have started bugling and gathering their harems as well.  We spotted this guy from our car a few days ago.  He was eating the leaves off this tree and his large antler rack got tangled in branches.  He later freed himself and enjoyed eating all that he had torn down.

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It is hard to believe it is already fall!

That’s the update from our little homestead in the mountains.

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