Sunday Homestead Update

We are in the middle of a spring cold spurt.  February was unexpectedly warm, and April has been unexpectedly cold.  Snuggling up with a cup of tea and my knitting while the snow flies.

Chickens

The cold weather made us decide to hold off another week on integrating the flocks.  Hoping it will be warmer next week!

Sheep

We built a creep feeder for the lambs by using a couple of boards to hold one of the birthing stall’s door open only enough for the lambs to squeeze in.  Toffee, one of our ewes, was trying her hardest to join the lambs in the stall so she could eat some of their extra alfalfa.  It was comical.

The moorit ewe lamb, Rose, absolutely loves the dogs.  She might think she is a dog…I am not sure.  Last week I posted a picture of her cuddling with our older LGD, Tundra.  This week I caught her nuzzling up with our younger LGD, Anya.  It was so adorable.  Anya is doing so well settling in with the livestock around here.

At one point this week I closed Tundra on the other side of the fence from little Rose and Rose ran up and down the fence calling to him like he was her mom.  When he came back in she ran right over to him and he licked her face.  It was so cute.  This lamb definitely has a special bond with the dogs.

The little ram lamb is doing wonderfully.  He is a big boy, as big as Rose, who is 2 weeks older than him.  His BFL father definitely shows in his head and ears!  We have named him Fergus.

Daffodil and Rose are really enjoying playing together in the barnyard.  Fergus will join them this week and learn how to run, jump, climb, and play.

Sorting Chickens

Our chicks are now 10 weeks old and we are getting ready to integrate the females in with our older hens and separate out the cockerels into their own coop/pen.  Since we are selectively breeding our chickens, we keep close track and records of each of the birds.  So in preparation for the integration we banded each of the chicks and added them to the flock tracking sheet.

My favorite type of bands are these colored and numbered ones from Strombergs.  I use the color to indicate which generation they are, and the number is for the individual bird.  They stay on quite well, though we do occasionally find one off.  And they come in a good variety of sizes.

10-week-old Silkie

We also clipped the left wing on every bird because we will be free-ranging them in the barnyard and we do that to keep them from flying up and over the fences.

We decided to use an alphabetical naming system this time around, since we are just getting back into breeding.  So all the first generation birds are names that start with “A” – second generation will start with “B” – and so on.  So the kids had fun coming up with “A” names for all the chicks.

10-week-old Salmon Faverolles Pullet

10-week-old Partridge Chantecler Pullet

We ended up with 27 surviving chicks – 7 cockerels, 19 pullets, and 1 unknown.  The cockerels are all Buff Chantecler.  We will pick the best one or two and keep them as breeding roosters, the rest will be butchered once they are big enough.  There are 4 Buff Chantecler, 4 Partridge Chantecler, 1 Red Chantecler, 5 Easter Egger, and 5 Salmon Faverolles pullets.  The last chick is a beautiful Splash Silkie.  We are not sure yet if it is a male or female.

L to R: Buff Chantecler, Partridge Chantecler, Salmon Faverolles

Sunday Homestead Update – Easter

Happy Resurrection Day!

I hope you had a wonderful weekend, we enjoyed good fellowship, good food, and good family time.

Green is beginning to pop up all over the place…a sign that spring is here.

Gooseberry Bush

Overwintered Garlic

Rhubarb

We have been preparing the garden because our first outdoor planting is next weekend.  This year I am trying out doing hoops over the garden boxes that will have cabbage, beets, turnips, spinach, and lettuce.  I will use light frost fabric over the hoops to provide pest protection and hopefully extend the season on both the spring and the autumn end.  I got all the hoops in the ground this week, and will put the fabric over them after planting next weekend.

We also got the drip system up and running and checked for leaks and breaks.  We will still have some hard freezes, so we will have to blow it out again, but we wanted to be sure it didn’t need any maintenance.

The lambs are doing well.  The little moorit ewe lamb born this last week has been named Rose.  She is doing pretty well, though not as vigorous as we would like.  Here she is investigating one of the barn cats:

We are still waiting on our last lambing.  Fiona is now past the expected due date range guessed by the ultrasound.  She is almost as wide as she is tall!  We are expecting large twins from her based on her size…or maybe small triplets?  Any day now!

Springtime on the high-altitude homestead!

 

Sunday Homestead Update – on Monday :-)

Sorry for the lack of blogging…living the homestead life, along with everything else, has been enough to keep me busy and away from the computer lately.  Lots of good things are happening…there is just a really lot of them.  🙂

Garden

Indoors, under the grow lights, the garden seedlings are looking lush and green.

Outside, the garden itself is looking pretty barren and a bit torn up from the winter.  But that will be changing soon enough.

And when you know where to look, you see the little signs of green here and there, coming back to life.  The strawberries are beginning to poke through.  This is my first year not putting straw over them to insulate for winter, and I am happy to see they survived the cold experiment.

And the chives are back and growing like crazy.

Sheep

The two bottle lambs are doing well and we take them out to the barnyard daily to be with the flock and get some fresh air.  We are hoping to move them out there permanently this week.  They met one of the barn cats today during their time out…it was cute.

Our last two ewes are due this week and then we will be done with lambing season.  One looks to be ready to lamb in the next couple days, the other seems a bit farther out.

Goats

Our last doeling was sold this week and went to her new home.  It was a very good match for her and I think she will live a good and happy life there.

We have had to separate the goats from the sheep because the goats started aggressively bullying the sheep a couple of weeks ago.  It wasn’t just regular pecking order fighting where when one submits the other stops hassling them.  They were constantly bullying and attacking the sheep over and over again even when they submitted.  Gretchen even gave poor Agnes a bloody nose and hit her eye so bad that her eye swelled shut and had a big split on the eyelid.  We have no idea why this shift in behavior happened.  They have lived in perfect harmony for 5 months now, and then it suddenly shifted.  But we couldn’t just leave it alone.  So the goats have their own pen now, attached to their stall.

Agnes’ eyelid is healing, but it still looks pretty bad.  Poor girl.

Chickens

The chicks are 8 weeks old now and we have started letting them out into the exterior pen for fresh air each day.  So far they are pretty timid and don’t really want to go outside because they are scared.

Sunday Homestead Update

This week Mtn Man made a good analogy of what our life feels like lately – he said it feels like every day we start competing in a new episode of American Ninja Warrior.  We are constantly facing one obstacle after another and have to decide how best to conquer each one quickly, but effectively.  But in our daily life version of the show if we fall in the water we aren’t done…we just have to continue on with the rest of the obstacles while sopping wet.  And at the end of the day we are anxious to just slam down on that buzzer, celebrate that we survived, and collapse into bed exhausted.  It seemed very fitting to me when he described it.  So, needless to say, we are in a busy season right now.  But we are getting through it well, with only occasional sopping wet moments, and a lot of good buzzer moments to look back on.

The loss of Gretchen’s doeling and the stress of the ordeal surrounding it has been hard on the family this week.  But the morning that she died, as I walked out to the barn at 5:30am, I saw this amazing sunrise. It was even better in person…I find that my phone camera never does justice to a sunrise or sunset.  But it helped give me perspective on how blessed we are despite the loss.  And I will continue to choose the homesteading lifestyle even though it sometimes breaks my heart.  Because really, every version of life will break your heart at some point, and we love all the blessings that come with the homesteading life.

 

Goats

Heidi and her baby, Fern, are doing well.  Fern is oh-so-cute bouncing around the barnyard.  She loves to play king-of-the-mountain on top of the compost pile.  Her ears are pretty funny – since her father was a Nigerian Dwarf (upright ears), and her mother is a Nubian (droopy ears), she has these in-between ears that kind of stick out to the sides most of the time, but also go up a lot.  Very cute.  She is anxious to have someone to play with, so I hope our first lambs arrive soon.

Gretchen is recovering from her delivery.  Her milk amounts are slowly increasing, but are way below what we expected.  We don’t know why she has such low production.  Maybe her old age?  Maybe the trauma from the delivery?  Maybe the meds she had to take afterwards?  We still can’t drink the milk until Monday because of the meds.  We haven’t decided what we will do with her yet.

It was really cute when we started letting Heidi and Fern back out with the flock.  Gretchen was so happy to have them back.  She definitely does not like hanging out with the sheep and is adamant that she is a goat and needs to hang out only with goats.  Her and Heidi were rubbing on each other with their heads, kind of like cats do.  Clearly happy to be back together and able to form their own little group separate from the sheep.

We made our first batch of Chevre this week with the goat milk.  It tasted good just plain, but we are also experimenting with adding different herbs and such to the cheese.

Sheep

We are closing in on our first sheep lambing due dates.  Rianna’s udder is starting to bag up quite a bit, and her babies have dropped.  So we are expecting hers this week.  We are struggling to keep weight on her because #1 she is old and her back teeth are not good, #2 her babies are taking up space so she can’t eat as much, and #3 she is the bottom of the pecking order and always being chased away.  We have been putting her in her own stall to feed her and we are giving her as much grain as we can safely give her, plus almost unlimited alfalfa, but she is still underweight.  We are contemplating getting her some alfalfa cubes and moistening them to see if that makes it easier for her to eat.  This is definitely her last year as a breeding ewe.  We bought her a few months ago, already bred, to hopefully sire the future breeding ram for our flock.

Violet is the next one due and she is a first-time mother.  Her udder is bagging up just a little at this point.  Agnes is starting to bag up as well, and might be due sooner than we expected.  Fiona is the last one due – mid april – and she is the flock matriarch.  She is getting quite overweight in our efforts to keep everyone else up to weight.  So we are contemplating ways to be sure she doesn’t get any fatter because it can effect her ability to give birth safely.

Managing the flock has been a bit high-maintenance lately, as you can see, but we are really excited for all the upcoming lambs.

Chicks

The chicks have left the fluffy stage and are in the half-fluff/half-feather stage.  They will likely move up to the coop, with their heaters, sometime in the next week or so.

Barnyard Maintenance

We don’t have any pasture since we live on a rocky mountainside.  So all of our animals live in the barnyard.  The main key to making that live-able and clean is to be very careful not to over-crowd the space.  We keep our number of animals low so that all the animals have plenty of space and the area stays cleaner.  A few times a year we rake all the barnyard mess (droppings and leftover hay) into the compost piles in the center of the yard so it can mix with the stall scrapings and break down into compost for the garden.  It helps keep the ground cleaned up for the animals too.  The chickens and Mountain Man stir and turn the piles throughout the year to help them break down.

We had some really nice weather this week, after the winds died down, and we used the opportunity to do a barnyard cleaning.  As we raked the spots that had a lot of hay on them we found a layer of snow and ice under the hay that hadn’t melted because it was insulated by the hay.  So raking it up will help that melt as well.

Heritage Arts

Despite the crazy busy life lately, I still am working on my heritage arts projects – they are my sanity :-).

I finished a cross stitch bookmark for Little Miss:

And I am now working on this cross stitch pattern called “Market Carrots.”  I have never done a project on black Aida cloth before.

And I am also working on serging the edges of the new spring/Easter placemats and cloth napkins I am making.

Plenty going on around here!