Sunday Homestead Update

These two sure know how to find the warmest spot to rest each day!  Morning fire and afternoon sun puddles.

We got some snow this last week, along with colder temps.  So we focused on indoor projects.

Going Through and Cleaning Out

Throughout my life I have seen people I care about being controlled by their stuff (material possessions).  The amount of stuff they have hangs over their heads constantly and it “controls” them and effects their decisions and relationships.  They are constantly burdened by the need to deal with their stuff and get it under control.  It makes me so sad, and I don’t like seeing them struggle with that issue.  Early on in life I decided I was never going to let my stuff have control.  As a child that meant that I went through and cleaned out my personal stuff and my personal space 1-2 times a year.  As an adult it means I go through my personal stuff, as well as the household stuff 1-2 times a year as well.  Going through and cleaning out means evaluating everything we have and deciding if we need to keep it and then getting rid of it if we don’t, and neatly organizing it if we are keeping it.

Sunshine, who is coming up on 15 years old now, shares my enjoyment of going through and cleaning out.  Over the years she has helped me more and more with it.  This year I am just totally shocked at how fast we can get it done when working together.  We are an efficient, well-oiled machine of going through and cleaning out.  🙂  You aren’t going to believe how much we have gotten done the last 2 weeks – while living our normal life too!

We have gone through and cleaned out:

  • The living room – game cabinet, bookshelves, blanket chest, video drawers.
  • The kitchen – all cabinets and drawers
  • The school room bookshelves (almost the whole room is shelves)
  • The dining room – hutch and china cabinet
  • 2 linen closets (one bathroom linens, one bedroom linens)
  • The laundry room shelves
  • The main bathroom – all cabinets and drawers
  • Mr. Smiles’ Stuff – clothes, toys, books, and closet
  • The closet under the stairs (that’s where all our snow gear is)
  • The root cellar/extra large pantry
  • The storage room
  • We have each done our own clothes and closets
  • Sunshine has done all her personal belongings in her bedroom

We have had a huge amount of items to take to the thrift store.  Probably about 8-10 kitchen size trash bags full.  It feels SO good to get rid of stuff we don’t need.  And then we know what we have, why we have it, and where it is.

What we hope to finish before Thursday:

  • My personal belongings in my bedroom
  • Our craft room (was done somewhat recently so should be fast and easy)
  • The den area
  • The mud room shelves
  • The master bathroom cabinets and drawers (might wait on this one until the shower remodel is done because this bathroom is currently a construction zone).

Once we complete those spaces, we will have gone through the ENTIRE house! (excluding everyone else’s personal belongings/spaces and clothing).  I have never been able to do a really thorough go-through of the entire house in one swoop like this.  Usually I do half of it in spring and half in the fall.  Having Sunshine helping me and her being older and pretty much able to do it on her own has made such a difference.  It was like having two of me.  And we both enjoy it very much so it is a happy, fun time of working together.

Sheep

The sheep breeding season is moving along.  Remi has bred Autumn, and Fergus has bred Fiona.  We will be watching this week for Autumn to go back into heat.  If she doesn’t go back into heat then we know she got pregnant.  Fiona was just bred this last week, so we have a few weeks before we can confirm her pregnancy.  The younger ewe lambs haven’t gone into heat yet, they may or may not mature in time for this breeding season.  We are planning to leave the rams in with the girls until right before Christmas.

Heritage Arts

I am moving along, slowly but surely, on my Match Play poncho knit-a-long.  I really like how it is turning out.

Second Ever Weaving Project – Complete!

I have finished my second weaving project!  This time I used a kit from Gist Yarn.  It was the Beginner Cotton Towels Pattern by Sara Resnick, along with the yarn kit called “June” – although I felt like the kit colors are more autumn colors than summer, which is why I picked it.  All 5 towels are woven at once, then they are cut apart and hemmed.

Considering my first project was just one dish towel, this project ended up a lot longer than my previous one.

Another big difference between the projects was that this one used 8/4 yarn, instead of 8/2.  8/4 is quite a bit thicker, so the finished towels are much thicker.  I definitely like the feel of the 8/4 thickness towels than the 8/2.  So I plan to do more 8/4 in the future.

Once I got the fabric washed, it was time to cut them apart.  But I was terrified of fraying and coming unwoven on the ends, so i zigzag stitched the ends of each towel before I cut it apart.

I am glad I did, because they did try to fray at the cut places.  Then I ironed the hems into the position I wanted them and used my sewing machine, with the walking foot attachment, to hem them.  They were supposed to be hand-sewn, but I really didn’t have time for that.  The walking foot seemed to help with the bulk so it didn’t get all pushed to one end.

When opened, the towels have stripes on both sides.  The colors get washed out a bit in the photos because of the color of the floor, but I didn’t notice that until I had already uploaded the photos…so here you go.  The colors are better in real life.

When folded, you can’t see the stripes, but they still look nice.

Since I used the red as the warp, I only had a very small amount of it left for the weft.  So only one towel had a red stripe.  I decided to make that one longer, since I had some extra fabric length, and keep it for myself.  The other 4 towels are split into sets of 2 and will be Christmas presents this year.

Overall, a very successful project.  And I learned what I like and don’t like.  I like the thicker 8/4 yarn, and I don’t like hemming.  So I will stick with tassel ends on the future dish towels and make them with the thicker yarn.

I haven’t decided what my next project on the loom will be yet.  I have a lot of yarn left from the first dish towel I made.  So I will likely warp that up and make a few more towels of that color and design.

Sunday Homestead Update – Ram Safety

As the weather is getting colder, we are winding down with all of our outdoor fall projects on the homestead.  This week we finished patching the shingles on the mill roof and split and stacked more wood.  All that is left for outdoor projects is to continue with the last splitting and stacking of firewood.

Hazel and Jerry are loving the sun-puddles in the house as the weather outside gets colder.

So we have now moved indoors for winter-weather projects.  I have been doing a lot of sorting, cleaning, and organizing of closets, drawers, and cabinets.  I have gone through all of Mr. Smiles’ toys, books, and clothing and gotten rid of anything we don’t need/use/doesn’t fit.  I also went through all my own clothing and got rid of extras and unused items.  The girls and I went through the two linen closets, the main bathroom cabinets and drawers, and the whole top level of cabinets in the kitchen.  We are really making some major clean-out progress!  We have more plans to continue with that this week.  We also canned raspberry/blackberry jam this week.

The other indoor project we started this week is the remodel of our master bathroom shower.  The first time I ever took a shower in there, tiles started falling off the wall.  That was 7.5 years ago.  We have been limping it along all this time with plastic and duct tape and it went pretty well.  That is one of the troubles with buying a fixer-upper house…you have to deal with the very imminent things first and work your way through the list.  But when it is a super-duper fixer upper, many things are very imminent and yet have to be left for awhile until you can finally get to them.  Well it is finally time and we tore out the shower this week.  Not a moment too soon, in fact, because our defenses had started to fail and there was moisture in one section of the wood.  But it is torn out and gone now and we can start fresh and dry.

Ram Safety

Keeping intact male livestock has it’s benefits, for breeding obviously.  It also has its risks.  Male animals tend to be very single minded and usually at least somewhat aggressive.  It is how they were created to fulfill their purpose in life.  But it brings with it special management considerations to keep the animal and yourself safe.

For a long time we didn’t keep any male livestock except the occasional rooster.  And even with the roosters we had specific rules for the kids to follow and if a rooster was ever overly aggressive we got rid of it immediately.

We hauled our cows, ewes, and does down to be bred at other farms where the males we wanted lived.  But then our sheep breeder moved out of state, and we had a beautiful ram born, and thus started the chapter in our farm life where we are keeping our own rams.  This is our 3rd breeding season with our own ram, and our first ever breeding season with two rams.

Even when it is not breeding season we have set rules and ways of doing things to keep everyone safe around the rams.  The kids (except Young Man, who is 16) are never allowed to be in a pen that includes a ram unless they have an adult with them.  And when in a pen with a ram, whether you are an adult or a kid we have a strict rule of NEVER take your eyes off the ram(s).  NEVER trust them.  And during breeding season the kids are not allowed to go into a pen with a ram even if there is an adult with them.  We want this adventure to continue to be fun and safe, and it just makes sense to set up rules and procedures to keep everyone safe.  LOL, “procedures” sounds so corporate, but it is the only word I could think of.

Also, we don’t keep aggressive rams.  There is definitely a difference between a ram that you need to keep your eyes on because he will take a shot at you if he has an opportunity because your back is turned, but that will back off if you ask him to, versus a ram that will actively go after you no matter what you are doing nor what body language you are giving him.  Our rams both back off if we give them back-off body language.  If that were not the case we would not keep them.  And if it ever changes, we will get rid of them.  There is no way we can win against 300 lbs of muscle with a thick skull front – if he wants to actually hurt us, he will.  We have no interest in keeping (or breeding and passing on genetics of) an animal that we will constantly be dodging and fearful of, and that we can only safely handle through chutes.  That is not safe for a small homestead with kids.

So, I made a mistake this week.  Totally my fault and I feel sheepish (pun intended ha-ha) about it.  I was feeding the sheep one morning and Fergus was revved up on hormones and morning excitement.  I was doing everything “right” and safe and it was all going smoothly.  I had already fed Fergus and his ewes, but had to walk through their pen carrying hay to feed the back pen sheep.  Fergus came towards me with some attitude wanting the hay and I chased him off.  He was headed towards his food and his ladies several yards away so I thought he was done with me and then I broke the rule that I am always ingraining in my kids’ heads (NEVER take your eyes off the ram).  I turned slightly to the side, taking my eyes off him for a split second and putting my armload of hay between us because I thought he was going to keep heading away from me.  Then I saw him out of the corner of my eye coming after me and it was one of those “oh-no-I-can’t-move-in-time” moments where life kind of goes into slow motion and you know you are about to get hurt.  He rammed me on the side of my thigh/hip, throwing me about 5 feet and I landed with my opposite hand/wrist hitting the ground first in at attempt to break my fall.  I immediately jumped up, out of instinct and fear he might ram me again on the ground, which would be a lot worse.  And I went after him aggressively yelling.  He took off in fear of me (which is what I wanted because I wanted to show him that he was not boss over me even though he had the upper hand for a second there).

I feel totally stupid for taking my eyes off him, especially when I tell the kids that rule so often.  You can bet I won’t do it again.  And I came away with a sore, but not seriously hurt wrist, and a big purple/black/blue bruise from his head.  Lesson learned…the hard way.  Practice what you preach.  🙂

Chickens

Eve’s last hatch of 6 chicks are now 10-weeks-old and we are beginning to be able to tell the males from the females.  There are 3 for-sure females, 2 for-sure males, and one that we aren’t sure about.  I am really happy with the female colors, especially the blue because I want to breed more blue into the flock.  We are planning to butcher the males at 16 weeks.

Heritage Arts

I took my weaving off the loom this week.  It is one super-long piece of fabric that I will be cutting into 5 dish towels and hemming today.  I am really excited to see how they turn out.

Little Miss and Sunshine were hired by one of our mill clients to knit 10 adult hats and one baby blanket before Christmas.  So they have both been busy busy knitting away.  Little Miss finished the baby blanket this week.

 

Sunday Homestead Update – November?

Wow, it’s November.  That one really snuck up on me.

The winter storm hit us hard last week, bringing our temps down to -3F at night and single digits during the day.  The animals did great and everything went fine.  It was fun to be snuggled up indoors for a few days.

Goat

Pansy has gone to the breeder to spend time with a buck.  Little Miss is definitely missing her, as am I, surprisingly.  I didn’t realize how attached I was to that goat.  Once the breeder sees her get bred we will wait at least 21 days to be sure she doesn’t come back into heat, and then we will go get her and bring her home.  Here she is with the buck:

Sheep

Our sheep breeding season will start later this week as well.  We have decided which ram will go with which ewes and will split them up on Saturday.

Firewood

The firewood chopping and stacking continues as we prepare for keeping the house warm this winter.

Heritage Arts

I am continuing to work on my second weaving project – a set of 5 dish towels.  I am getting close to done and am excited to see them off the loom!

Sunday Homestead Update -Preparing for the Storm

We have what is predicted to be a big storm arriving today and lasting through Wednesday.  There is expected to be quite a bit of snow, and more importantly to the homestead – temperatures down to 0 (F)!  Brrrr!  This is very early in the season for us to get that cold, so we were caught of guard and have been scrambling to prepare the farm for it.

Water:

We had already put out some heated waterers and put the heater into the water trough.  But we finished up removing the un-heated waterers and getting them stored for winter, and added the last few heated waterers.  We filled all the waterers and blew out the hose.

Housing:

We cleaned out all the wet areas in the stalls and coops and added a lot of fresh bedding to give all the animals good, dry places out of the wind to bed down.

Garden:

We finished removing and storing all the trellises and cages.  As well as the last of the tents and frost fabric.

We harvested the last of the beets, radishes and celery that were still growing.  And removed the last of the dead plants that hadn’t been taken out and cleaned up.

Then we turned the top 2 inches of soil in the whole garden with a rake for pest control.  This good hard cold will help freeze and kill some of the eggs and larvae that pest bugs have left in the garden to torment us next season.  As we were raking we saw a lot of larvae and eggs.

House:

We put up some rubber door sealants around some of the doors where time and use had broken down the old stuff.  This ought to decrease the drafts around the doors.

We continued to work at chopping firewood.  We rented a splitter and worked on the piles of rounds we have.  Getting close to what we need to last all winter.

Heritage Arts:

So now that all our work is done and the snow is flying we can all have a nice relaxed Sunday by the fire.

Little Miss and Sunshine have been hired to knit some hats and a baby blanket, so they are happily working their way through those projects.

I am now weaving my second ever weaving project.  It is a set of 5 dishtowels.  I chose autumn colors – though the weather is making me feel more winter-y right now.

I started a knit-along with some friends this week too.  We are knitting the Match Play Poncho.  I am really looking forward to this.  I also cast-on some socks for Braveheart for Christmas, and a dress for Little Miss’s birthday.