Sunday Homestead Update

We are home from the hospital again and have had a lot going on this week around the farm to catch up.

We got to visit the flock of sheep we used to own and see all the lambs they had this year.  It was bitter sweet.  It was really great to see them and see how well our breeding choices turned out – but it was definitely hard to face that they weren’t ours anymore.  We desperately miss having the flock of sheep and the milk goats.  But with how many surgeries and hospitalizations Mr. Smiles has had this year (with another one coming up soon), and several of them were unscheduled and sudden, we know that right now we just can’t have that in our lives.  We need to focus on his needs.  And we are OK with that, but it did tug at our hearts to see our sweet flock.

Livestock Guardian Dog

Every year we battle the flies eating the LGD’s ears from mid-summer through to the first good frost.  It is so so frustrating.  We have tried over 25 different products/methods of repelling them.  Some work somewhat.  Some work great, but only for a short period of time.  Some don’t work at all.  It is such a battle.

Our Anatolian Shepherd, Anya, has had a little bit of a fly issue for the last few weeks, but we were able to keep it under control with a fly repellent collar and herbal bug repellent.  But then all of a sudden it went from doing OK to completely out of control in one day’s time.  Her poor ears are bleeding and scabbed and just a big mess.  One wound is about 2 inches in diameter, the other about 1 inch.  Either way it is too much and now that it is a bleeding wound the flies just go at it all the more.  So Anya has had to come inside until they heal up.  She is living in the mud room and the kids and I keep taking her out for play time in the yard, especially in the cooler evening and morning temps when the flies are not as active.

She is definitely not very happy with the situation – she really loves living outside and guarding the stock.  But there is no other good option at this point.

Thankfully, we only have chickens on the farm right now, so she doesn’t HAVE to be outside because I can leave the chickens in their enclosed pen instead of letting them free range and they are safe in there.  So her being indoors is not putting any livestock at risk, except at night when the bears try to get in the coop or barn.  However, she can see and hear the barn area from the mud room, so we expect she would probably bark and alert us if there is trouble.


We have two setting hens that are ready to hatch tomorrow.  We are excited for some adorable baby chicks under mama hens.  We candled the eggs to clear out the duds before hatch.  Eve started with 7 eggs and had one dud.  Batina started with 9 eggs and had 4 duds.  Batina had been given the smaller eggs, which mostly means from the younger hens, so the difference in duds makes sense to me.  Eve was given the bigger eggs which are mostly from the adult hens, not the pullets.  So we have the potential for 11 chicks…although you know the saying.  🙂  I should have pics of cute chicks under Mama hens for next week’s update.

We got a straight run of 8 Silkie chicks and 1 Frizzle last spring.  They are now closing in on maturity and we have 2 for sure roosters.  Statistically it seems we should have more, and maybe there is another one (or more) that just isn’t showing roo characterstics yet, but it really looks like the rest are hens.  The two boys were starting to fight, and the crowing wars were getting out of control.  So we decided which one to keep (for now) and butchered the other one.  We have never butchered a Silkie before and were very surprised when we started butchering.  Yes, we knew their skin was black, but we did NOT expect their meat to be black, nor their bones.  Kind of creepy.  But it is food.

We brined it for three days and ate it at our meal last night, along with some of our meat chicken meat (one silkie is not enough meat for a meal for 7).  It tasted just the same, of course, but it was a bit strange to look at.

Heritage Arts

I finished the first pair of watermelon socks!  Perfect summertime socks – they have a short cuff and what is more summer than watermelon?

Sunshine loves them, and Little Miss is anxious for me to get hers going and finished soon too.  I used the Fish Lips Kiss Heel, Judy’s Magic Cast on, Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-Off, and knit them two-at-a-time, toe-up, on magic loop.  The yarn is Biscotte sock yarn.

I also made another 15 squares for the sock scrap afghan, 52 grams of yarn.  I want to make 15 more before I start hooking them on again.

I have wanted this type of old-fashioned knitting bag for a very long time and I was really excited to get one this week.  A friend bought it at a thrift store and gave it to me.  I love the style of bag, but I was not thrilled with the fabric.

So I decided to remake the bag part with fabric I like.  I careful took apart the bag with a seam ripper, used the fabric pieces to make pattern pieces, and then made the bag with the new fabric.  I found the construction of the bag itself to be very difficult.  I have no experience making bags, but I have a lot of sewing experience and I am sure there must be a better way, I just don’t know what it is.  So I followed what they did exactly even though it was very difficult.  But it was SO worth it.  I LOVE the new bag.

I love how it stands up and holds itself open for easy use while knitting.  It also can close and be carried.

The original had two pockets inside, but I added two more to mine.

And it is SO roomy.  I have been surprised at how much it can hold.  I have my partially finished afghan in the bottom, 10-12 scrap skeins in there, all the extra squares I have knit but haven’t hooked on, and all my knitting tools for that project.  It is awesome.

The girls each want one now, and Mtn Man thinks he can pretty easily make the frame.  But I am not sure about making the bag part.  I need to find a better and easier way to make it if we are going to make more.


The garden is looking awesome!

This is how it started this spring:

We have been harvesting and enjoying lettuce, spinach, kale, peas, broccoli, strawberries, and a lot of different kitchen herbs too.

Sunshine got a book at the library called The Kitchen Garden Cookbook by Caroline Bretherton.  There was a pea soup recipe in there we decided to try.  I have never liked pea soup.  I have had it from a can from the store (ick), and I have had some homemade at some point, but I didn’t like it.  So it was kind of going out on a limb to let Sunshine use 2 lbs of our precious peas to make soup.  But I figured it was worth a try.

It turned out so very yummy!  We all loved it and devoured it.  It seems that anything made from something directly from the garden tastes better.  This makes five things now that I have been convinced are delicious simply by eating them fresh from the garden – brussel sprouts and kale (don’t really like them…except when they come right from the garden), tomatoes (used to avoid them like the plague, until I tried one right from the garden), tomato soup (a couple years ago we tried a recipe with our garden tomatoes and now it is a seasonal favorite and we eat it all through the fall)…and now pea soup!

The cabbages are almost ready too, so we will be harvesting some this week and starting some kraut in the fermenting crock.  And the dill is ready, so I will be heading to the farmers’ market to get some cucumbers and we will be canning dill pickles this week too.

Busy time on the homestead!

5 thoughts on “Sunday Homestead Update

    • It took us many years of trial and error to get it to this point.

      Short growing seasons need some special care. First, we start many of our plants indoors under grow lights in March and April. Secondly, we use season extenders, such as Wall-O-Waters and fabric covered tents to protect our plants in the early part of the season where frost is still a possibility and then the tents also help in the fall. We harvest our tomatoes green, right before the first frost, and then we put them in the basement to ripen. And we use straw to help overwinter the perennial plants until they are established. We have also found that the raised beds full of compost from our barnyard help a lot, as opposed to planting right into the ground.

      Just keep trying out different things and figuring out what works in your climate and will make it a success. Learning to garden in a short season cold climate is a marathon, not a sprint. You can do it!


  1. I knew that silkies have black meat and bones, but seeing your homekilled carcass and imagining it in front of me is pretty high on the weirdness scale!
    The vege garden is looking splendid and I love what you did with the knitting bag. What a great idea.


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