Sunday Homestead Update

We had a cold, wet week of snow and rain.  It is looking to be warmer this week, which we are looking forward to.  There is so much to get done outside, it is hard to be held back by weather and watch the to-do list pile up.

Garden

We got a bunch of snow this week, so our garden plans were pushed back a bit.  Hopefully we will be able to get the seedlings out this week on a sunny day under their tents and wall-o-waters for protection.  We got the wall-o-waters full and they are waiting for the plants to be ready.  I am putting the plants out a little bit each day to harden them off.  They should be ready by mid-week to move if the weather holds.

Chickens

The search for the thin-shelled egg layer (which is causing egg eating because it breaks) continues.  We have narrowed it down to 3 birds and are working at figuring out exactly who it is.  Of course, two of those three are my favorite birds – why is that always the case?  Sigh.  During the process we also figured out which hen is pecking at everyone’s backs and balding them, and which hens are eating the thin-shelled eggs.  Once we have all the information we will decide what to do next.

Knitting

I haven’t wanted to work on anything special lately, just mindless knitting with quick results.  So I have continued on the mitered squares for the scrap afghan.  Here are the 15 from last week.  I have 5 more done now as well.

School

We are almost done with our school year, which is fun and exciting.  I have been working on some plans for next school year.  It is nice to get preliminary planning done now, while the successes and failures of this year are fresh, so that I can remember the changes I want to make.  Then a couple weeks before we start again I will pull out the plans I made and do the final prep and planning.  I have also solidified our summer plans.  We do much better when we keep somewhat of a routine in summer, but with more free time and flexibility.  If we have no plan and no routine we all end up bored and grouchy.  So I have that ready for the summer and we are all looking forward to it.

Willow Creek Fiber Mill

The mill has really taken off the last few weeks and we have gone from a 6-week wait time to a 6-month wait time.  The fiber is pouring in like crazy and it is very fun and exciting.  We sorted through over 100 bags of fleece that arrived this weekend and did all the intake paperwork for them and put them up.

And the beautiful yarn pouring out is even more fun and exciting.  I love seeing what Mtn Man creates and all the different yarns.  Each fleece is truly unique and thus so is each batch of yarn.

Mtn Man only has a few weeks left running multiple businesses and then we will be living our dream of him milling full time!  What a blessing!

Sunday Homestead Update

We had a beautiful, sunny, warm week.  We had snow one day, but the rest were clear!

Garden

We got our first seeds in the ground outside this week.  Whoooohooo!  We put in some lettuce, spinach, kale, onions, carrots, and peas.  We also were excited to start some seeds in our NEW medicinal herb garden.  We planted yarrow and red clover in that garden.

The Vegetable Garden – looks bare right now – but there is hope planted in that soil.

We also got a temporary retaining wall up between the onion patch and the main garden because it was time to plant the onions but we weren’t ready to buy the wood for the real retaining wall.  We just used some plywood scraps and it is ugly, but it works for now.

Once that was up we were able to finish prepping the soil, stretch out the drip hoses, and plant the onions.

We also moved a bunch of seedlings up to the living room window from the grow lights downstairs.  This is the first step in hardening them off in preparation for them moving outside.

Sewing

The girls and I shifted from the kitchen (where we have been doing projects the last few weeks) to the sewing room.  We sewed flannel PJs for everyone, and made some skirts and dresses as well.  We need to make more in the coming weeks as we find time.

We also spent time sewing on a project we are doing for Operation Christmas Child.  I will show that in a future post.

Knitting

I started a new scrap knitting project.  I am making an afghan of squares made with sock yarn scraps.  I am doing a simple mitered square pattern with 40 stitches to start (20 each side).

Chickens

The Red Ranger meat chicks…

…are very big compared to the layer chicks…

It is interesting having the comparison.  That second picture also has the Silkie chicks in it and the Frizzle that I got as a last minute addition.  You can see the Frizzle is the small black one in the front – and it is not at all Frizzle-y.  I don’t know anything about Frizzles and how many of them in a batch don’t actually Frizzle, but clearly this one didn’t.

The meat chicks are aggressive and constantly fighting each other.  They only have 4 weeks left before butcher day, thank goodness.  We switched them to finisher ration today.

We had a hen that wanted to brood so we put our older rooster, Abraham, in with the hens to start working on some fertilized eggs for the broody hen.

He has been getting more and more aggressive in the last couple months and after only two days out with the girls he attacked me quite viciously.  I fought him off without any injury, but since our kids are heavily involved around the farm we do not keep roosters that attack humans.  In our experience they attack based on size, so if they will attack the adult-sized human then they are even more apt to go for the smaller humans.

So he was butchered today which was a bummer because he was a really beautiful Buff Chantecler.  But thankfully, we have one of his sons and he is also very nicely built and has an even smaller comb and wattles – which we really want in our roos because of our cold winters.  So we put the younger rooster in with the hens.

We also have an egg eating hen, and one of the hens is laying super thin-shelled eggs.  The egg eater is only targeting those eggs, not regular eggs.  It could be the same bird, two different birds, or multiple birds.  We are working to figure out what the answer is.  We found one sitting on the broken egg with yolk on her beak.  She did not lay it, because we know she lays green eggs and the eaten egg was light brown.  So that hen is the eater, but not the layer.  We pulled her from the group and put her in her own cage for now while we watch and see if there are any others eating them and try to figure out who is laying the super thin shells.

4-5 times a year we go through the entire flock, check each bird over carefully for lice and any other issues, make sure they still have their leg band on, clip wings on the ones who have grown back in, and update all our flock tracking paperwork.  We did that this weekend and moved some of them around to different pens and such as well.  We have had a really bad time with lice this winter.  I don’t know if that is because it was such a mild winter, or maybe because we didn’t let them free-range as much, but it has been more prevalent than previous years.  So we dusted them all.  It feels good to be all caught up on those regular chicken maintenance chores.

And that is the update from our little farm in the mountains!

Homemade Pajamas

Store-bought kids’ PJs are SO expensive.  I am guessing it has to do with the fact that they are made with special fabric that is more fire-resistant.  But with 5 kiddos, we have found that making our own PJs out of flannel fabric is less-expensive, easy, and they are oh-so-comfortable.

We have been desperately needing to do some PJ sewing recently, as all the kids are outgrowing theirs and putting holes through the knees.  So Sunshine, Little Miss, and I decided to spend some time sewing PJs for everyone this week.

For the winter we do full length flannel pants with elastic waists.  For summer we do flannel shorts for the boys and flannel capris for the girls.  They wear t-shirts with them.  One of the girls also likes nightgowns, so I make her flannel ones for winter and cotton ones for summer.  We can easily finish a pair of flannel pants, shorts, or capris in less than an hour.  And when we are doing more than one pair, and working together on more than one machine, we can easily get 4 pair done in an hour.

Sewing flannel pants is super easy and fast.  There are only 2 pieces to cut out, and sewing them together is oh-so-simple.  If you have ever wanted to learn to sew clothing, start with a pair of flannel pants.  Buy a pattern, follow the directions on the back of the envelope to know which size you need to make (yes, you need to measure the body of the person you are making them for so they turn out right). The back of the envelope will also tell you how much fabric you need and any other notions (like elastic for the pants).  Then follow the cutting and sewing instructions inside with the pattern and you will be making clothes in no time.  And if you get your fabric on sale you will be saving money too.

Sunday Homestead Update

We continue to battle spring snow storms and wind here in the Rockies.  It has been hindering our garden preparations, so I am really glad we were able to get so much done earlier in the year when the weather was better.

Garden

Despite the cold, we have green popping up here and there in the garden.  The chives, rhubarb, and comfrey are all sticking out their heads.

Everything under the grow lights is looking great too!

Chickens

All the chicks continue to do well as they grow through the ugly adolescent phase.

Kitchen

Berries were 50% off this week, so we canned some mixed-berry jam (raspberry/blackberry).  We have been out of it for a LONG time so we are all REALLY excited to have some back on the shelves.  We were able to do 16 pints.

Knitting

I finished the Banner Day Shawl, pattern by Megan Williams.  I used Greenwood Fiberworks Simply Sock yarn and absolutely love the feel of it.  The pattern was easy but interesting, which made it fun and made it feel like it went fast.

Warmer weather is headed our way!  We are looking forward to getting outside more this week.

Sunday Homestead Update

Happy Resurrection Day!

It has been a cold week here, with snow off and on.  We have stayed cozy indoors, celebrating Holy Week, baking and cooking, and enjoying holiday traditions together as a family.  I have also been doing a lot of knitting.  So this is an all-knitting update.

It was bound to happen at some point.  And though it is a first for me, it likely wont be a last.  For the first time ever, I ran out of yarn before I finished a project.  😦

I was making a 0-3 mo old sized sweater for a new baby born to my friend.  Based on the pattern notes I should have had enough yarn in one skein to make this adorable baby sweater.  But I ran out less that two inches from finished with the sleeves!  Because it is a hand dyed yarn, that I got a couple of years ago through an online subscription trial, I can’t just go to the local store and get another one.  Plus, because it is hand-dyed, there will be variations between skeins, so even if I was able to get a hold of a skein, it probably wouldn’t match just right and would leave a line of color difference across the knitting.  So I decided to leave off the sleeves and make it a vest.  It doesn’t look as good flat on the table as it does being worn.

Kind of bummed, but oh-well.

The pattern is Cabled Sweaters with Round Neck or Hood by Sirdar.  The yarn is Dream In Color Classy in the colorway Grey Tabby.

I made this same sweater for Mr. Smiles last year in size 3T and it is adorable.

I also finished another baby project.  This pattern is Moss Stitch Diamonds Baby Blanket by Barbara Breiter and the yarn is Premeire Everyday Baby in Purple.

So now I have 3 WIPs on the needles.  First the Banner Day Wrap:

Then the Swallowtail Lace Shawl:

And the Let Go cabled cardigan:

Have a great week!