Sunday Homestead Update – Happy New Year!

Hard to believe, but the start of a new year has arrived.  It has been cold here, but mostly dry, just a little dusting of snow here and there.  The cold has been very steady at about 20s at night and 30s during the day.  This is strange for our area, we usually have more ups and downs.  We have been down to 0 a few times, but for the most part it has been very steady the last month.  The snow from Thanksgiving still has not fully melted because we have had so few days warm enough to deal with it.  Also, the sun has been hiding more lately.  Anya takes advantage of every minute of sun she can soak up – they are few and far between lately.

Most every Saturday is homestead project day.  Sometimes it is big projects and sometimes it is a long list of a lot of small things.  This week it was the long-list-of-small-things Homestead Saturday.  We cleaned out the coops, added bedding to the jugs, cleaned out the back of the truck from transporting Pansy, fixed the back yard fence, started building the last section of barnyard fence with wood and wire (to replace the panels), did some mechanic work on two of the vehicles, and measured the new garden and graphed it out for garden planning.


The incubation is coming along nicely.  We started with 23 eggs in there.  There was 1 infertile, and 2 early deaths.  We now have 20 eggs in there and we are 12 days into the 21 day incubation.


Pansy came home!

She is pregnant and due in April.  It is nice to have her back.


Neither Blue, nor Daisy, came back into heat when they could have.  So we have two more confirmed pregnancies.  That makes 4 ewes pregnant of the 5.

Maggie still hasn’t had her first heat, and we are guessing she wont this year.  But you never know, we could have a surprise June baby.

Remi is staying in with the girls for ease of management and so he doesn’t have to be alone.  He will come out once they get close to lambing.


We tried out two new recipes from the Natural Cheesemaking book.  One was mozzarella.  I already have a good recipe for mozz, but decided to try his out.  It did not go very well, but I think that my rennet was the issue.

Then we used his recipe with a kefir culture to make Chevre.  It was a huge disaster and we ended up with a stinky, hole-filled floating mass of “cheese” that smelled terribly strong of yeast.  I don’t know what happened.  My kefir was too strong?  The mass of cheese curds were supposed to sink and they were not supposed to be filled with air pockets.  Hmmmm.  Rethinking this whole natural cheesemaking – going back to the drawing board and trying to figure out what to do.

Heritage Arts

I finished Braveheart’s socks in time for Christmas.  I used the Seeded Rib Socks pattern by Ann Bud and Knitpicks Hawthorne Fingering Kettle Dye yarn in the colorway Fawn.

I am now overwhelmed with knitting work.  I can’t show them to you yet, though, because they are all gifts except the poncho knit-a-long I am doing and falling terribly behind on.

And hoping to get the loom warped again for another weaving project soon.

Photo Books

I used to scrapbook the old-fashioned way, and loved it.  But life with a bunch of kids and little time makes that type of scrapbooking not work for me at this stage.  So I use Shutterfly to make photo books.  I like to make 12×12 size books of our family for each year.  Then I also like to do 8x8s for each child for each year, and for any vacations/trips we take too.  I generally stay pretty well caught up (like within a year or two), but I am falling more and more behind, so I have dedicated January to working on catching those up.

Shower Remodel

We finished our shower remodel and we are both so happy with how it turned out!  It is beautiful, and functional, and bigger than it used to be.  This project has needed to be done since the first day we moved in 7.5 years ago.  It is so nice to have it completed.

Jerry and Hazel

A couple weeks ago Jerry decided he liked to lay in Hazel’s crate each morning, and as predicted, Hazel has decided that it is ok to share it.

2019 Year-End Homestead Review

Looking back over the previous year on the homestead is an excellent practice because it helps us see what worked, what didn’t, and helps us plan for the future.  It is also always very encouraging to me because even when I feel like we didn’t have a very productive year, seeing it all written out shows me all that we accomplished.  Our homestead has had to take a backseat to other parts of our life over the last few years due to our baby’s serious medical issues.  This year more than ever.  But despite that, we still are able to do some homesteading and it brings us stability and joy.  I continue to hope to do better record-keeping, but as each year has been harder and harder with Mr. Smiles, each year has thus been harder and harder to do good record keeping.  I am amazed I kept records at all this year!  But here’s what we have.

To read previous Year-End Reviews Click the following links:









  • Started year with 28 hens, 1 chick, and 1 rooster
  • Purchased 7 cockerel chicks and 3 pullet chicks, all 10 survived
  • Did 1 incubation with 75 eggs.  65 were fertile,  35 chicks hatched and 34 survived
  • 1 broody hen set and quit, we finished the incubation in the incubator.  10 set, 8 fertile, 7 hatched, and 7 survived
  • At the height of the season we had 28 adult chickens and 52 chicks – 80 total – by far the most chickens we have ever had at one time before.  Too many for our farm.  Need to plan more carefully.
  • 1 broody hen set 7 eggs with a total of 3 chicks surviving, then she set again with 8 eggs and 6 survived
  • Butchered 28 birds
  • Sold 2 silky hens, six 1-year-old hens, and 15 pullets
  • 1 silky hen died from egg-bound, one chick died at week 5 for unknown reasons, 1 hen died from being bullied by the flock, 1 hen killed by a golden eagle
  • Ended year with  21 hens, 3 pullets, 3 cockerels (almost ready for butcher), and 1 rooster.  Plus 23 eggs in the incubator to hatch mid-January.
  • Approximately 3,700 eggs laid

Farm Dogs:

  • Anya, our 3.5-year-old Anatolian Shepherd, had her ups and downs.  At times she was an excellent guard dog, but she struggled a little with her first year of lambs.  When they were little, she left them alone because the mamas wouldn’t let her near them, but as they grew and the mamas weren’t so protective, she tried to wrestle and play with them and was too rambunctious.  She also had a couple times getting too rambunctious with chickens, but didn’t kill any.  So a few times she had to live in a separate pen from the flocks while we continued training with her.


  • Started year with 2 ewes and 1 ram.
  • Bred early in January
  • 2 ram lambs and 1 ewe lamb born, all survived
  • 3 Fleece shorn, for a total of 8.5 lbs raw, skirted wool
  • 800 yds (1.5 lbs) 3-ply worsted yarn from Fiona, 1500 yds (3 lbs) 4-ply worsted yarn from Fergus, and didn’t finish processing Rose’s yarn yet
  • Sold 1 ewe lamb, 2 ram lambs, and 1 ewe
  • Purchased 1 dairy ewe, 3 dairy ewe lambs, and 1 dairy ram lamb
  • Breeding season brought difficulties and aggression from our 2.5 year-old wool ram, ended up having to butcher him
  • 22 lbs of ground meat, 4 lbs of roasts, soup bones, and some dog food
  • Finished year with 1 wool ewe, 4 dairy ewes, and 1 dairy ram
  • Bred them all in November/December. 4 ewes pregnant, due in April/May.


  • Started the year without any goats.
  • Mid-March added a Nubian doe to the farm.  We finally had fresh milk again!
  • 43 gal of milk for our family use between March and October
  • Dried her off (stopped milking) in November at breeding time for convenience and to give her a chance to regain her body condition.
  • Pregnant and due to kid in April


  • The stresses of life this summer did not make it possible to weigh the produce this year.  A very cold spring gave us less than average on some things, but others gave us more than average.
  • We started building a second vegetable garden that will more than double our produce production.

Heritage Arts:

  • I completed the 19 knit projects: 9 pairs of socks, a Hoodie for Mr. Smiles, a sock yarn scrap afghan, a lace shawl, a hat, a textured shawl, 4 dishcloths, and a cabled cardigan.
  • I made a new bag for a standing knitting bag frame and 4 pairs of flannel PJ pants.  Plus innumerable amounts of mending and patching of clothes.
  • The girls did countless projects, each of them finishing more projects than I did.


  • Canned quite a bit of food, not as much as last year.  Early fall stresses prevented me from keeping track of how many exactly of what we canned.
  • Made several different soft cheeses with goat’s milk.
  • Made a couple aged cheeses with store-bought cow’s milk to practice for next spring.

Year Summary

January rotated between warm sunny days in the 40sF, where we would get outside as much as possible, to bitterly cold snowy days below 0F that kept us by the fires and working to keep the livestock cared for and warm.  We spent a lot of time dealing with our son’s medical issues, with many doctor’s appointments.  We got our Livestock Record Book updated and ready for the new year, and got our school curriculum planning done as well as starting on our garden planning.  The sheep bred, giving us hopes for lambs in May/June.  The girls and I knit, crocheted, and worked on the hexagon quilt.  And we did several small fix-up projects around the farm and home, including building a new hay rack in the sheep stall and improving the gravity feeder in the lower chicken coop.  At the end of the month we collected eggs for a big incubation.

February started with us getting 75 eggs into the incubators for a hatch.  We struggled with illnesses and another hospitalization for Mr. Smiles.  We did a lot of knitting, cross stitching, and crochet by the warm fire while the bitter cold and wind settled in outside.  34 of our incubator eggs hatched and survived, and then we bought a few more chicks to add to the brooder so that we would have some new genetics for next year’s breeding program.  We also extended the hay loft in the barn to give us more hay storage space.

March was cold and wet.  We got a lot of snow and dealt with trying to keep animals dry and warm.  We finished remodeling our basement, which had been torn out after the massive floods of 2013 damaged it.  We added a new member to the farm – a Nubian milk doe named Pansy.  She was fresh and we were excited to have raw milk right from our own homestead again.  We had a hen decide to set eggs and then quit at 2 weeks, we put the eggs in the incubator and were surprised that they hatched, despite having been chilled from her abandonment.  We ended the month by finishing our dining room remodel project and I finished the scrap sock yarn afghan I had been working on for a year.

In April we started with shearing the sheep.  We also built up another section of the garden beds to be deeper for better growth of the plants and we hauled a bunch of compost from the barnyard and filled all the garden boxes with it.  Our 3-year-old had his 10th surgery and was pronounced healed from his very-rare bile duct/liver disorder that just a year ago we had been told would be fatal.  The weather continued to be cold and wet, setting our garden back more and more.  As we hit the 6-week out from lambing mark, we noticed that Rose seemed to be showing symptoms early and wondered if she was potentially due before we thought.  We changed the ewes’ diets in preparation for lambing.

In May things continued to be cold and wet.  We tried to work on the garden and get things going, but the weather continued to hamper our efforts.  We had several big snow storms.  Our 3-year-old has his first eye surgery, 11th surgery overall, and it was unsuccessful.  Eve hatched out 3 chicks, and the juggling of pens for all the many different chicks and chickens began to get complicated as they all grew.  We separated the ewes from the ram, goat, and Anya (the LGD) since it was Anya’s first lambing season and we didn’t want her to accidentally kill a newborn lamb.  Mtn Man finished spinning up the yarn from Fergus and Fiona’s 2019 fleece, and I tried my hand at dyeing Fiona’s yarn for the first time ever.  My parents moved in, with my Dad in his last few months of life.  My sister and I helped my mom care for him.  We ended the month with Fiona giving birth to her ram lamb on the 31st.

June started with Rose giving birth to huge twin lambs on June 1st.  It was a complicated delivery that I had to help with because both lambs were mal-positioned, and then their first week of life was touch and go because the ram lamb got pneumonia and Rose’s milk didn’t come in very quickly so we were supplementing them with bottles.  By three weeks of age both the ewe lamb and the ram lamb were thriving and doing well.  We continued to have cold weather, including two frosts over night that ended up killing some of our vegetable garden.  Anya integrated herself in with the lambs by breaking through the fence because she was so interested in being with the mamas and lambs.  She did great and was very safe with the lambs.  We did a lot more shuffling around of chickens, sold some pullets & hens, and butchered a lot of cockerels.  We realized the goat was copper deficient and we bolused her with a slow release copper capsule.  We found out, unfortunately, that our son’s rare bile duct/liver disorder had not been fixed back in April as we had been told and it reared it’s ugly head again, landing us back with tests, doctor appointments, and hospitals.

In July we were busy with visitors and medical appointments.  We headed in for yet another emergency surgery for Mr. Smiles, which was his 12th surgery overall and his 4th this year – but who’s counting?  The homestead brought us comfort through the hard times though, and sitting out enjoying the livestock and working in the garden is always good emotional therapy.  We still managed to be productive around the farm, butchering some more chickens, getting the chickens sorted into new pens and organized for future breeding plans, making goat cheese, braiding a wool rug, and getting out my spinning wheel for the first time in 4 years.  We saw results from the goat copper bolus, as Pansy began to gain weight and her coat condition improved immensely.   The garden continued to progress, though still behind about 3 weeks from usual due to the cold spring weather.  As the lambs grew and their moms were less protective, Anya struggled with being too rambunctious with them in play and had to be moved to the back pen with the ram.

August brought the start of school and the start of harvest.  We sold 4 sheep and purchased our first dairy sheep.  We sold our large floor loom and purchased a smaller one that fit nicely in our living room.  Mr. Smiles had his 13th surgery, the most major surgery he has had to date at 7.5 hours long, and my father, who was living with us, passed away that same day.  The surgery was an immense success and the recovery was much better than anyone had expected.  It looks like his bile duct/liver issue is now fixed (as of December 31), and though he might have more complications farther down the road, for the meantime he should be stable.

September was hard.  We were busy with Mr. Smiles’ recovery, grieving my father’s death, and planning, preparing, and hosting his funeral.  We were also trying to continue with our homestead plans and projects.  We added 4 more dairy sheep to the flock, and our best broody hen, Eve, set another clutch and hatched out 6 adorable chicks.

October was full of “normal” fall homestead work for us, which was so wonderful after such an “abnormal” and difficult summer season.  We built about 2/3 of the raised bed boxes for our second veggie garden.  We moved the kids playhouse out of the back yard and turned it into a gardening shed, and then built a retaining wall in the area where the playhouse used to be that will be Mr. Smiles new safe, flat, outdoor play area next summer.  We hauled and chopped a lot of firewood, and canned quite a bit of produce from our own property, and some purchased as well.  I began the adventure of learning how to weave, and also finished several knitting projects.  We got our first snow of 6 inches and a huge drop in temperatures.  Our old barn cat, Jerry, retired in the house and became our indoor kitty.  We found out that the eye surgery that was done in conjunction with Mr. Smiles’ bile duct/liver surgery back in August was not successful and decided to wait until spring to do another eye surgery because our family desperately needed a break from surgery and hospitalization, as did Mr. Smiles.  The bile duct/liver part of the surgery was still looking very good and successful.

In November we took our milk goat, Pansy, to the breeder and left her there to get bred.  We also started our first-ever sheep breeding season with two rams.  We separated the ewes up with the two rams and were excited to see how it went.  Unfortunately, our older ram, Fergus, had trouble with the new situation and also was coming into full maturity and thus started having aggressive behavior with humans and the ewes.  We struggled into December trying to keep everyone safe, get the ewes bred, and decide what to do with Fergus.  I continued to enjoy weaving and finished more weaving projects.  Sunshine and I did a massive go-through and clean-out of the house.  We did a lot more chopping and stacking firewood for the winter, and had quite a bit of snow and cold weather.  The weather pushed us to indoor projects and we tore out the master bathroom shower.

December brought Christmas candy making, Advent, and more work, but also relaxation and fun family time together.  We continued to struggle with the ram aggression issue and it all came to a head in one crazy dangerous interaction.  We ended up butchering our wool ram, Fergus because of his aggression.  It was hard, but the peacefulness of the barnyard afterwards re-affirmed our decision.  We used our trap nests to figure out which hens were laying and which weren’t, and did our last chicken butchering of the year.  Little Miss and I started trying our hand at learning the art of making aged cheeses and we used an old fridge to make a cheese cave.  We made huge batches of ketchup and BBQ sauce and canned them for our family use.  We continued to dig ourselves out of the snow that kept falling throughout the month.  Lastly, we finished the remodel of the master bathroom shower.

Looking back on this year is kind of hard for us.  Between Mr. Smiles having 5 surgeries this year, my father living with us for the last 3 months of his life and passing away, plus many other challenges that I didn’t share on the blog, it was by far the hardest year of our lives.  But we can also see SO many blessings, gifts, and miracles laced through it all.  God really carried us through, and leaning on Him was the only possible way I could handle it.  The homestead continued to be one of the blessings as it brought us emotional therapy and kept us busy so we didn’t have too much time to sit and stew over all the stresses.  And despite all the crazy life things we were going through separate from the homestead, we still had a pretty darn productive year providing food for our family.  For that we are very grateful.

Sunday Homestead Update – Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!  We hope you all have a wonderful week of celebrating with those close to you.

This last week has been more laid-back for us than the previous very full weeks.  But still pretty full.

Shower Remodel

Mtn Man has been working hard to get the shower remodel done for us before Christmas.  He is very close, just need to grout and seal it, and then install the door.  I will share pics when it is done.

Heritage Arts

I am scrambling to finish my last Christmas present – socks for Braveheart.  Hopefully I will get them off the needles in time.

The girls finished their hat order – ten hats and one baby blanket completed and sent off.  They all turned out so great, we are going to copy some of them for our own use because we liked them so much.


Little Miss and I tried another aged cheese this week – Stirred-Curd Cheddar.  So now there are 3 cheeses in the cheese cave.  One of these days I will get around to doing a full post on what we have learned so far with our aged cheesemaking adventure.


The chickens have all settled well since the butchering and switch around.  Everyone is happy and they have figured out their pecking order, so that is nice.

We will be starting the incubation on Christmas Eve so that the hatch will line up with our chicks arriving in January so we can brood them together.  We have collected eggs from 3 specific hens by trap nesting them.  One is our 4-year-old that we hatched here at WCF.  She is still laying 4 eggs a week, in winter, at age 4.  So we definitely want some of her genetics (plus she is blue, which is my fave color of chicken).  We are also collecting from our other blue hen, who is laying very well right now, and from our two green egg-laying hens – because they are laying well through winter and to add more color to our egg cartons and more blue feather genetics to our flock.  We currently have 20 eggs to set, there should be a few more before Tuesday.


We are still waiting for Maggie to come into heat.  We had planned to pull the ram out Christmas Eve so that we didn’t have later lambs because Young Man is graduating this spring and we didn’t want lambing to interfere with that.  But we would really like to leave the ram with them to confirm that Daisy and Blue are pregnant. If they are in  the same pen with him we will be able to tell if they go back into heat.  If they don’t go back into heat then they are pregnant.  It will save us having to blood test, ultrasound, or not know if they took.  So we are trying to decide how we want to manage this situation.  I think we will probably just leave him with them, and if Maggie lines up with graduation then we will just close her in the jug and let her lamb on her own.  We like to be there when our lambs are born, in case they need any help (we have had to rearrange lambs and kids in-utero during labor before because they were stuck).  But a lot of sheep lamb on their own just fine and we are probably a little too involved anyway and need to relax about this some more.

Jerry and Hazel

Jerry has decided that Hazel’s crate is his new favorite place to be in the mornings.  Hazel is not too sure about this new plan.  But I fully expect, based on their previous behavior, that they will be cuddling in there together in no time.

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.


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.

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.  🙂


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.