Another winter week on the homestead. Thankfully, we have not been dealing with the bitter cold that everyone else has, just our regular cold winter weather.
I ordered our seeds for 2019! We saved a lot of our own, but we also needed to order several different varieties. We order almost all of our seeds from Seeds Trust because they have high-altitude cold-climate varieties suited for our area.
The ewes have not come back into heat and it has been 24 days since they were bred (ewe heat cycle is 17-19 days). So that means that either we missed the breeding season (which is unlikely because they are breeds that breed out of season) or, the more likely option is that they are both pregnant! Yay!!! They are due to lamb at the very end of May.
We normally work on our chick plans in November or December, but this winter has been crazy and we didn’t get around to it. So we finally figured out our chicken breeding and purchasing plans for 2019. We will be doing one large incubation plus whatever broody hen-setting that naturally happens. We will also be buying a small group of male chicks to give us new genetics for 2020 breeding.
In order to have our chicks hatch in a time that will start them laying this fall – thus keeping our egg production up while the hens are molting and through next winter, they need to hatch in February or March. So we decided we will set the incubation to start Feb 1st, hatching out Feb 22. We have started collecting eggs and I will get the incubators out and running early this week so they are calibrated and ready by Friday. It will be fun to have baby chicks in a few weeks!
Another Silky died. 😦 It looked like she was egg-bound. She was fine – eating, drinking, acting normally at morning chores. Then she was dead on the floor of the coop at evening chores. That leaves only 3 silky hens left from the 8 we bought as chicks last spring. I don’t know if it is poor breeding on the hatchery’s part or what, but it is really frustrating that they keep dying for reasons that look to have nothing to do with anything we can control or change.
The rest of the chickens are doing great. Egg laying has been very productive this winter since we timed the young pullets to start in the fall and thus lay through the winter. They are happy to be out free-ranging with Anya guarding them.
Speaking of Anya guarding…this week we had a coyote incident. We heard her barking like crazy and I ran to see what was going on. There was a huge lone coyote sitting not even 20 feet from the fence taunting her.
She had chased all the chickens into the coop and the sheep up into the stall and was at the fence growling and barking at him all hair on end. She responded perfectly to the situation. But he was WAY too comfortable checking her out and just hanging out and not moving along. They normally move through the property quickly and are skittish to the human smells and the guard dog, so it not minding was very concerning.
I ran to get Young Man to kill it, since he has a license to do so. Whenever they start getting too comfortable around our property with all the people and dog smells we hunt them and it is amazing how just taking one will keep them all away for many months. They are pretty smart to that. But by the time he got to where he had a safe shot the coyote had sauntered off….yes sauntered, not run.
So we will be keeping our eyes out to be sure this coyote doesn’t keep hanging around the property. And with as big as he is I am going to be more vigilant about the kids playing outside of the fences. It is coyote breeding season, so they act different this time of year. Hopefully it was a one-time thing and he will move on.
We live in a Ponderosa pine forest, and most of the area around us is as well. Last year the fierce winds we get knocked a huge tree over in our neighbors yard, splitting their shed in two and taking out the power for the area as well. Ugh. Thankfully it didn’t start a fire when the electric lines went down. So they decided to take down some other trees that were threatening structures and power lines, as did our other neighbor. We helped out and were able to keep some of the wood. The trees were huge, so loading and hauling was not possible for us last year for various reasons. But we have some projects in mind for this spring and summer that we need the wood for. So this week Mtn Man and Young man loaded and hauled the trees down to the lumber mill to be cut up into lumber. It works out well because we end up using the entire tree – nothing goes to waste. It is cut into 4x4s, 2×6, and 1x, and we even take back the outer bark edges they cut off and use them. Anything that isn’t useful for building is used to heat our home through the winter in our wood stoves.
In a few weeks they will be done milling and we will get to go pick up a huge load of lumber for this year’s building projects!
I have something strange to tell you about myself – I don’t like hand-knit socks because the soles of my feet don’t like the texture of the purl bumps on the inside. So every time I make myself socks, I end up not wearing them and instead pass them down to Sunshine. A friend told me to try wearing my hand knit socks inside-out so that the smooth stockinette side was against my soles. I tried it and it felt so much better on my soles!
So I decided to try to make myself a pair with inside-out soles so that I could wear them right side out and have a nice pattern showing on the top and the leg, but still have the purl bumps on the outside along my sole. I did it and for the most part it worked!
I uses Serenity sock yarn in the color Borealis and used the Fish Lips Kiss Heel construction along with the texture pattern from Hermione’s Everyday Socks on the top of the foot and up the leg.
I did purl stitch on the sole half of the sock, with 3 knit sts on each side before the purls and I did the bottom half of the heel with the purls out and the top half with the purls in. It worked pretty well, but I want to try again and make some changes. Changes I will make next time will be to only have 2 knit sts on each side of the purl sole to make it a bit wider, and I will do the entire heel in purl all the way until I start the leg pattern.
I have already started the next pair to try out the changes and see how it goes. I am just doing a basic pattern of stockinette on the foot, the FLK heel, and haven’t decided yet what I will do for the leg.