Busy week on the homestead, a lot of things getting done. Thankfully we had a couple of days that were warmer (40sF) before snow and cold hit again.
We got the stalls cleaned out and the barn tidied up. It gets SO messy and dusty in the winter I feel like it is a losing battle, but I keep trying anyway.
We cleaned out all our freezers (two that are attached to refrigerators and 4 deep freezes) and inventoried so we know what we have and we can eat them out before it is time to fill them up again. I hate cleaning out freezers, especially in the winter, it is such a cold job. But man I love how nice they are once it is done.
Shearing in prep for lambing has started. Mtn Man sheared Autumn first.
She is our first-ever shearing of a dairy sheep. Her fleece is definitely different than our wool sheep, but not necessarily bad or unusable. Mtn Man is looking forward to getting it into the mill and seeing what we can do with it. If it is too rough or too short for yarn, then we can make roving and try braiding rugs with it.
Next he sheared Fiona. This will be our 7th fleece from Fiona. She is the hardest in the flock to shear for a few reasons. First, her fleece is a very dense fine-wool, so it gives the shearing blades a run for their money and they get stuck if he tries to go too fast. Plus, she is very heavy on lanolin. Also, she is very large, and usually overweight. And lastly, she is generally not very cooperative. This year, however, she was more cooperative than usual, which was nice.
I will share more info about these fleece in another post this week.
Getting their fleece off helped us view their body condition better. Autumn is a lighter than we would like, and Fiona is, per her usual, overweight. It can be very difficult to manage feeding with Fiona because she is a very fast eater (getting more than her share in a group), she is the dominant sheep, and she is an easy keeper. All this leads to her being overweight. Thankfully, she is not significantly obese, just somewhat overweight. We transitioned Autumn over to 1/2 alfalfa 1/2 grass hay now and are starting to add in some grain to improve her condition and prepare her for lambing.
Also to prepare for lambing we cleaned out, inventoried, and re-stocked our lambing and vet kits. I will share a more detailed post about this later this week.
This is looking to be a very big year on our homestead as far as production. Hopefully our biggest yet by-far. We are building a second vegetable garden, which will eventually double our veggie garden production. This year it is going to be 2/3 finished, maybe more, and thus will give us quite a bit more veggies. Additionally, we are lined up to have more babies born on the farm than ever before, as well as have 5 milking animals (2 is the most we ever had at one time before this year). So we will be making more dairy products than ever as well. Big year! A lot of planning and prep is needed to help this all go smoothly and provide as hoped. We have been ordering supplies to prepare.
First, I got our seed order in, and it has now arrived. I still need to get some more garden supplies ordered for the new garden – mainly hoops and fabric for our season extending hoop tents.
Little Miss’ herbs have started to sprout under the lights, just teeny seedlings, but lots of hope.
Then I ordered some dairy-making supplies in prep for all the milk we are planning to have this spring. A couple more cheese molds, cultures, and a silicone butter mold. We have two milk pails, and a big dump pail, plus teat dip cups. So all I needed for the barn milking was a new strip cup and I ordered that. Looking forward to that all arriving.
Mtn Man also got our second stanchion built so we can milk two at a time.
Lastly, I got some more weaning nose rings for the lambs and kids. We find these to be much better than separating off the babies when it is time to fully wean. Especially since we are limited on living space and places to separate off animals.
Last fall we didn’t quite finish up putting up firewood for the winter and we are now running very low, so we needed to put in some time this last weekend chainsawing the logs to length and then splitting them and getting them stacked.
New Homestead Books
My sweet children got me a few new books to add to my homestead library. I am looking forward to using them!
I generally make a quart of kefir at a time, but lately we haven’t been using it fast enough so I wanted to switch it to a pint jar. My friend taught me that I can take half of my grains out and dry them on a plate and then freeze them in a bag to preserve them. So I was able to shrink down the kefit to the pint jar and I also now have a back-up set of grains in case I need it in the future.