Sunday Homestead Update – “Before Winter Hits”

It seems that the arrival of autumn has us scrambling to finish SO many different things “before winter hits.” We say that term several times each day lately. Having moved to the new farm in early June, we spent summer working from sun-up to sun-down on different homesteading and construction projects. Now that we are back to school, we are all putting in nights and weekends, plus every extra second we can squeeze in when we finish school a little early. Daniel has been working full time in the mill the whole time while putting in nights and weekends on the homestead. Sometimes he will be working on the homestead and construction projects during the day because they require light and then he will be in the mill at night. There is never a shortage of things to do on a homestead, and now we are racing the calendar to get all humans and animals warm and secure housing for winter. The good news is that winter hits about a month later here than it did up in the high Rockies, so at least we have more time than our minds, after living our whole lives in the mountains, are telling us we have.

Sheep

Our new sheep have finished their quarantine. We did 21 days because that more than covers most all sheep communicable illnesses. We have settled on names for them all, even though they are very difficult to tell apart and we mostly have to look at their ear tags at this point. During quarantine, only Braveheart was caring for the sheep, and he didn’t go down to the other sheep barn at all. That way we didn’t risk any disease spread via our clothes or boots. So we haven’t gotten to spend much time with them except looking from afar. I know that as we spend more time with them, now that quarantine is done, we will get to know them better and be able to tell them apart. The ram has been named Wallace, and the ewes are Agnes, Lilian, and Bunny.

Now that quarantine is done we decided to start breeding season. We are going to breed them in three rounds this year to spread out the lambing since we have limited housing that is not really set up well for sheep yet. We don’t know what to expect from the weather here as far as lambing season goes either. So we are experimenting by doing 3 waves of breeding. We are also doing it because Nilsson was unable to get any ewes pregnant last year, but we are not sure if that had to do with him, or if it was too late in the season, or what. He is a proven ram, and he was breeding a proven ewe and an unproven ewe and we saw plenty of breeding take place, and yet no lambs. So we would like to give him another chance this year, but we don’t want to risk the ewes not getting pregnant at all, so we are giving him first go at some of them, and then we will follow him with Wallace and Orville so that if he is the reason and somehow is sterile we wont risk not having any lambs next year.

So Matilda and Freya have joined Nilsson in his pen and we will see how it goes. Breeding season has officially begun.

Chickens

Matilda (yes we have a chicken and a sheep both named Matilda), our bantam cochin hen, decided she wants to set. She has never set for us before, but our best broody hen, Eve, is starting to get older and we desperately want more hens that will set for us. Using a hen to raise chicks is so much better than doing it with an incubator and/or brooder. So, even though it is late in the season, we decided to go ahead and give her some eggs. Hopefully in 3 weeks we will have some more chicks!

We made final plans for the permanent poultry housing. It can be built in stages (a huge plus both financially and time-wise). We will be building part of it this fall, enough to safely house the chickens and keets through the winter. The ducks will move into the coop the chickens are currently living in because it is better suited for ducks. Then, at some point (maybe next spring?), we will build the second part of it and will have a very useable poultry barn with plenty of space for what we want to raise. The first step was to move the keet house we had started building to the new location as it will become part of the poultry barn. We got that moved yesterday and now can start working on what parts we need to accomplish before winter.

In the Kitchen

The garden bounty continues to come in, from other people’s gardens this year since we got here late in the season. We have been processing it all, mostly through canning. The canner is up and going at least every other day, sometimes days in a row.

We also have some apple scrap vinegar brewing from some of the apple scraps.

Heritage Arts

Surprisingly, I have had time to squeeze in some knitting lately. I am working my way down the sleeve of the sweater I am knitting for Braveheart. I haven’t finished the body yet, but I don’t know if I will have enough yarn to finish the sweater, so finishing the sleeve with confirm that one way or the other so that I don’t spend a ton of time knitting when I won’t be able to finish it.

Seven years ago, for our 15th wedding anniversary, Daniel got me a beautiful antique 1905 singer treadle machine with a beautiful table. It was in really good condition, but didn’t really work very well. We recently stumbled upon a guy who could maintenance it (thank the Lord for that not-coincidence coincidence). So we got it all fixed and in working order. I am so excited! I know some of you are thinking “Why would you want to use a treadle sewing machine when you have a perfectly good electric one?” But I also know some of you are getting me and know why I am excited. I am still grateful for my electric, but these types of old things are oh-so-fun for me.

I have been playing with it just with scrap fabric to start to get the hang of how to treadle the right speed, start and stop, etc. I have made plenty of rats-nest-thread-knots as I have been learning due to improper treadling, but I am improving and it is fun. I decided I would like to make an easy quilt with basic squares as my first project on it because it will be straight lines and a lot of starting and stopping as I piece it, which is perfect for practicing and learning.

10 thoughts on “Sunday Homestead Update – “Before Winter Hits”

  1. Oh, your sewing machine looks so much like mine. I love it! I’m also a bit jealous that you can can so many things as I’m limited because of my stupid immune system that won’t allow me to eat anything fermented. It makes homesteading and storing food a bit of a challenge to say the least. It sounds like you are off to a great start with the new farm though! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Is yours in working order and do you use it? If so, any tips for me as I learn the art of treadling? ๐Ÿ™‚
      That is very interesting. Everything I have heard is about how fermented foods help an immune system and improve it with all the good probiotics. I don’t need you to explain on this public forum or anything, since it is personal, but I must admit that that comment has me interested in what about an immune system would do bad with fermented food.
      I am sorry to hear you can’t have it, canning and fermenting are a very fun part of homesteading for me and I wish you could enjoy it too. But it sounds like you are finding some ways to store food that work for you?

      Liked by 1 person

      • I don’t use mine, but I keep meaning to learn how because I made hand made heirloom teddy bears and stitch them by hand. It would be great to use the antique sewing machine at least for the clothes so someday I will hopefully put mine to good use!

        Also, I don’t mind sharing at all about why fermented foods trigger me since I talk about having mastocytosis on my blog a lot. With this disease we have to eat a very limited diet and fermented foods are generally off limits for those of us with mast cell disease. It’s so weird, I know! I can eat small amounts of it but more than a few bites and I go into a slow motion anaphylaxis. Ugh. So I freeze most things we grow instead of canning but mostly I have to eat everything fresh or I get very sick. My son also has mast cell disease so we are both on very strict diets. It’s why we started homesteading actually. ๐Ÿ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Yep. I can relate. We’re singing the same song here. “Gotta get the fence repaired before winter hits; gotta finish the rabbit roof, chicken coop, hot box, mulch gardens before winter hits” a seemingly never ending refrain here.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I really like your sewing machine. I was actually looking at one tonight just like it, but wondered if I could learn it.

    We donโ€™t have animals, well…cats, but we do understand all the work and school projects. Never time enough to do everything!

    Blessings as you prepare for winter!

    Laurie
    Ridge Haven Homestead

    Liked by 1 person

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