Sunday Homestead Update

We had a somewhat calm week here on the farm.  Calm compared to the busy-ness of late.  It was hot for our area, so the animals all mostly laid around in the shade trying to stay cool, and us humans spent a lot of time indoors.

Heritage Arts

When we cleaned out the sewing room, I found a pair of socks, hibernating, that I had started March of 2016.  I decided it was high-time to finish them.  I made them summer-length, so it didn’t take long to finish them up.  These were my first socks made with hand-dyed yarn.  I knit them 2-at-a-time, from each end of the skein, and found that the coloring is slightly different on each.  I guess one end of the skein was a bit different in color than the other because of the hand-dyeing.  But I like them nonetheless!  I always wanted to make socks with different colored toes/heels/cuffs – and this was my first pair doing that.  I am very happy with them.

I am also continuing to press on with the sweater for Mr. Smiles.  Still on the sleeves and at that boring part in the middle of something easily repetitive where it feels like you are not making any progress at all.

And since I got those socks off the needles, and am at the boring part in Mr. Smiles’ sweater, I had a strong desire to cast something new on.  🙂

So I got out the baby alpaca/silk/cashmere oh-so-soft and luscious fingering weight yarn that Mtn Man bought me at Fiber Train a few weeks ago and cast on a shawl.

We didn’t get to any sewing this week except more mending, mostly patching pants.

Impromptu Hatch

Eve decided she wants to set, and since I haven’t let her set and hatch eggs since January of 2016, it was time to let her have a go.  I want to continue to encourage her to brood and raise chicks, and not get rid of that tendency in her.  She is an excellent mama hen.

Being that she is a Silky, she can only handle about 6 regular-sized chicken eggs under her.  I bought hatching eggs for her since our roosters are not ready to breed quite yet, and they came by the dozen.  So I put the eggs into the incubator, and put ceramic eggs under Eve to keep her in the mood.  Once the eggs are in the incubator 5 days I will check fertility and put the fertile ones under her.  If there are more than 6 fertile then I will leave some in the incubator and add the incubator chicks to her chicks after they all hatch.  Even though she can only set about 6 eggs, she can raise 10 or so chicks.

We moved her to the broody coop to set and hatch.

The hatching eggs are just some random mixed breeds, nothing we are interested in keeping, I just needed something to put under her so she could go through the process.  We will sell and butcher them when they are big enough.

Sunday Homestead Update

Wow, it has been 4 weeks since I did a Sunday Homestead Update!  Life is just a bit crazy around here with warmer weather, gardening, animals, tying up the end of school, the fiber mill getting busy, attending and preparing for fiber festivals, family coming to town to visit…the list goes on and on.  I am so busy living the homestead life that it is hard finding time to document it in photos and blog posts.

Gardening

The garden is going well.  Since the update I posted a couple days ago we have gotten the new pole bean arch built and up and planted the seedlings by it.

Mtn Man made this out of part of a cattle panel.

The last of the seeds and seedlings are all in the ground, so the main part of planting season is officially over.  I will still plant succession lettuce and spinach, and I also will plant a few things later for fall crops.

Fiber Mill

The fiber mill is starting to get busy, which is so wonderful!  Mtn Man attended the FiberTrain Festival in Idaho to promote our mill.  He took Young Man with him and they met a lot of great people in the fiber industry.  They also were sweet enough to bring me back something pretty:

I am beginning to dream of what to make with them.

Heritage Arts

I have just finished up the front of Mr. Smiles’ sweater.  I am now starting on the sleeves.  I am really happy with this pattern so far and think it will be adorable when finished.

Sheep and LGDs

The lambs are growing fast.  Fergus especially.  He is now as big as the ewe lamb that is a month older than him, and is getting close to as big as Tundra.  Tundra is about 55 lbs.

Tundra and Anya continue to do their job well now that the bears are out of hibernation.  We have had a couple of bear visits.  Anya’s bark seems to have a better effect on the bears than Tundra’s has – they have high tailed it out of here faster than usual.  It also might have to do with two dogs barking as opposed to just one.  But Anya does have a very deep, very BIG dog bark that would send me high-tailing it out of here too if I was the one she was barking at.

Chickens

We integrated the older hens in with the young pullets in the upper coop and are letting them free range in the barnyard while Anya gets used to them.  We also moved the cockerels down into the lower coop.

Farm Projects

We got some work done on some of our farm projects this weekend too.

We finished the ram shed, which is a three sided shelter in the ram pen that we framed with pallets, stuffed with raw wool skirtings, and sided with rough sawn board and batten from the tree we took down last fall.  Eventually, the ram will live in the back barnyard during the day and this shed will be his shelter.  At night he will be closed in his own stall in the barn for safety from predators.

The second project we did was put in the permanent fence to separate the front barnyard from the back barnyard.

It was previously separated by horse panels with wire attached.

Before:

After:

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Sorry for the light difference in the photos, one was the early morning light before we started, and the other is the early evening light when we finished.

We built in a section of the fence to be a feeder similar to our other fence feeders, we just didn’t finish it yet.  We also built in a section where the water trough can be under the fence and thus shared by both barnyards.

Sunday Homestead Update

Life is beginning to slow down a bit around the homestead, which is so nice and much-needed.  We have sold off some of the extra stock, which decreases the work load, and the Mill is up and running now so the crazy-busy of getting the new business going is subsiding a bit.

Garden Signs

When we first moved to WCF there was a big scrap wood pile here.  Most of it was rotten and not usable, but there were a few “treasures” buried in it.  One of which was some old shingles that I used to paint some old-farm-style signs to put up around the garden.

I am all for the worn-out old-time look, but over the years they have become so faded that it has passed that point.  So we took them all down and I re-painted them.  It is nice to have them back up and freshened up.

Heritage Arts

Sometimes my heritage arts projects never get photographed and thus don’t get shared.  Here are some from the last couple months that I forgot to share.

I made Young Man some hunting gloves for his birthday.  He specifically requested gloves with no tips on the pointer or thumb so he could keep his hands warm while hunting but still be able to safely load and shoot.

And for Easter I made the kids these cute little bunnies.  They were super easy, actually just a knit square that you origami sew into a bunny.  Their bodies were full of candy.  The pattern was Easter Bunnies by Geraldine Allemand.

Sheep

The sheep are doing well.  We sold the bottle babies, so there are only two lambs in the barnyard right now with their mothers.  Our last ewe due to lamb is still pregnant and has us wondering what is going on.  She is ten days past her ultrasound due date estimate, which has not happened to us before.  The ultrasound due date estimates have always been pretty darn spot on.  But I guess it can’t always be right.  She will lamb when she is ready.  Meanwhile, we wait.

Toffee is very curious and friendly, always wanting to check everything out.

On my way outside I caught these two cuties cuddling.  Sorry for the fence and poor photo quality, I knew once I approached they would get up and so I was attempting to get a photo before they did.  This is Tundra, our wonderful old Livestock Guard Dog and Rose our little moorit lamb.

Goats

Now that the bottle lambs are gone we also sold one of the milk goats.  We want to just keep one milk goat due to our limited space – since sheep and chickens are the main focus for our farm, but we like to have fresh raw milk.  So we sold Heidi but still have Gretchen, since she is so old and the vet recommended she not be bred again we figured no one will want to buy her.  She is super easy to milk, even though she doesn’t make as much as we would like for our family.

We will be getting a new replacement goat later this summer, a well-bred, high-quality registered Nubian doe that is lactating currently.  She will produce enough milk to provide for our family without us needing to own more than one goat, and we have set up with her breeder to take her to the buck each fall for breeding.

Sunday Homestead Update

Winter continues in the Rockies, but we are headed into a warmer spell where we are expecting 40sF during the day, so that will be nice.  Maybe it will melt off some of this packed snow and we can have clear paths and roads for a bit until the next snow.

Final Kidding Prep

We finished up the final kidding prep and are ready for those babies to be born!  We ordered a few milking supplies that we needed to replace from milking the cow.  But for the most part we had the supplies we needed.  We also ordered disbudding supplies (not looking forward to that part of having goat babies – but feel it is necessary).

We also have put the finishing touches on the kidding/lambing stalls, and the goats have started sleeping in them at night.  We bedded them with their first layer of shavings.  We will add more shavings as we get nearer to birthing, and then add straw right before they give birth.

We also decided to use the cement mixing container hay rack idea to build low-waste hay racks on the kidding/lambing stalls.  Because the walls were already the 4×4 livestock panels with the thick gauge wire all we had to do was cut the hole in the top and hook them to the outside of the fence.

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The person we purchased the goats from said that last year Heidi had triplets and Gretchen had quadruplets.  It is too soon to tell with Gretchen since she isn’t due for another month, but Heidi is not looking very big to me.  I will be surprised if she has more than twins in there.  I am kind of wondering if she even has twins or if it is just a single.  She still has about 2 weeks till her due date, so maybe she will widen a lot by then.  This is our first time with goats, so I don’t really know – but if she was a sheep I would definitely be saying it is just a single.  Do any of you readers with goat experience have a guess?  Time will tell, I guess.  She is starting to bag up.

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Gretchen is now getting her feed in the stanchion to get her used to it.  We also put a bucket under her and handle her udder while she eats.  We have been doing this with Heidi a few weeks already now since she is due first.

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Can’t wait to be posting about our first kids being born!

Incubation

Our incubation is supposed to start later this week, but I heard from the person we are getting the hatching eggs from that the girls stopped laying and she hasn’t been able to collect any eggs.  So it looks like it wont happen.  But we still have chicks coming from the hatchery late February, so we will have chicks anyway.  Maybe later in the year if I have a hen go broody we can put some of those hatching eggs under her.

Knitting and Sewing

I have been working on two knitting projects for a few weeks now, socks for Mtn Man made from wool from our own sheep, and a sweater for Mr. Smiles.  Both are at tedious boring parts and thus I am not working on them much and progress feels incredibly slow.  All the skirt sewing has also taken me away from knitting.  But this week I decided to cast on a new project to give me more options of what to work on and change it up a bit.  It is a dish towel knit with cotton yarn – the pattern is from Kerin Dimeler-Laurence on ravelry.   I have made both crochet and knit dishcloths/dishrags before, but never dish towels.  I am interested to see if I like the feel and function of it.  If so, I will make myself more.

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The girls and I are continuing our progress on skirts.  We are done with 3 for Sunshine and 3 for me, this week we will hopefully finish a few for Little Miss.  Here is my favorite that I made for myself.  It lands just below my knees and will be nice for warm weather.  I like the fabric, length, and that it has pockets.  The pattern called for a tie waist, but my shirts cover the top of all my skirts so I figured it would be easier and more comfortable to just do an elastic waist and not have the bulk of a tie under the front of my shirt.

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Rag Rug

I have this awesome rag rug from my grandmother.  It is large, about 5ftx9ft.

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It is over 70 years old.  My “Nana” braided it with strips of wool fabric leftover from wool skirts, jackets, and such that she had made for her family.  It has lived a long and happy life and now it lives at our house and we love it.  I know to some it might look shabby and the colors might seem a bit crazy, but we love the old-fashioned feel of it and we love that our Nana, who is gone from this life now, made it and used it for so long.  But all the use has left it a bit ragged and fraying in spots.

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We want it to continue to last, so Mtn Man, who has braided many beautiful wool rugs for our family and thus is the family braided rug expert, did a little research and figured out how to patch it.  Nana also left us a bag of wool fabric scraps that we could use to patch it.  So Mtn Man and Little Miss pulled out the bag of fabric and patched it.  First they cut the snarled parts out.

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Then they braided strips that fit the spaces and sewed them in place.  There wasn’t any matching wool for the patches, so they are pretty obvious, but that is fine with me, I am just glad it is fixed and can continue to live on our floor safely for years to come.

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Sunday Homestead Update

We are buried in snow up here in the high Rockies!

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It is so beautiful, but also very cold.  🙂

Early in the storm you could still see my container herb garden.

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But by the end we had 18 inches and the herb garden had completely disappeared.  It is to the right of the chicken coop in this photo.

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Everything was thoroughly buried.

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The goats were very unhappy about the situation…they stayed in the stall as much as possible and only came out to drink.

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The sheep, however, enjoyed a romp around in the snow before they went back into the stall.

img_3385By the end of the storm, however, it got really bitterly cold.

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And then the animals all stayed in the barn, which, with its insulation, plus the snow insulating the roof, and the body heat of the animals, was at 5F when it was -35F outside.  Everyone got extra feed, extra deep bedding, and indoor room-temp water.  Plus the chickens got hot mash morning and night.

The temps are starting to rise again, and are supposed to continue so that this week our daily temps will be in the 30s.  That will be nice.

Barn Remodel Phase 2

The cold weather and deep snow slowed down all our progress around the farm.  But we still finished phase 2 of the barn remodel – the upper coop.  We had previously moved the nest boxes so they were accessible from outside the coop.  This week we got the doors on the newly moved nest boxes, and then got the new feeder built and the new roosts in place.  The new feeder will hold an entire bag of feed, which will make caring for the chickens easier, just like being able to access the nest boxes from outside the coop will make collecting eggs easier.  The inside of the upper coop is now finished and ready for the chicks coming in February.

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The previous gutter-style feeder.

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The new gravity feeder that holds an entire bag of feed.

Heritage Arts

While it has been so cold outside it has been fun to work on some of our heritage arts projects.  Sunshine is doing an alphabet garden crosstitch.  It has different garden items for each alphabet letter.  And she is using the stand she got for Christmas.  She says it is very helpful and she likes using it very much.

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And I am continuing my progress on the sweater for Mr. Smiles as well as the socks for Mtn Man.

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It has been a blessed winter week on the farm!