2021 Year-End Homestead Review

At the end of each year I like to do a homestead review post where I sum up the year and give some statistics about each area of the homestead.  It helps me see how we did, what we succeeded with, what we didn’t do as well as hoped with, etc.  Usually, it encourages me because I realize we accomplished a lot despite potentially feeling like we didn’t as I lived in the day-to-day chaos of life.

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









This year is quite a bit different.  In January we started preparing our house to go on the market, and then the rest of the year was quite the whirlwind of selling, buying, moving, and settling at the new farm.  So there were pretty much no records kept about the homestead the way I usually do.  Plus, we did not have a garden, since we moved too late in the season to start it.  So this year’s update will be a little different.



  • Started the year with 36 hens and 3 roosters.
  • Sold or butchered the flock down to 10 standard hens and 1 standard rooster, and 5 bantam hens for the move.
  • Put 7 store-bought chicks under broody hen to raise.
  • 1 bantam hen and 1 standard hen died.
  • Ended year with 16 standard hens, 1 standard rooster, and 4 bantam hens.
  • No idea how many eggs we got this year, but enough that we didn’t have to buy any and were able to sell some.


  • Started the year with 1 drake and 1 hen.  Both older.
  • Butchered older drake and hen before the move.
  • Purchased 10 Muscovy ducklings and 4 Welsh Harlequin ducklings to add to the new farm.
  • Butchered 2 Muscovy drakes and 2 Welsh Harlequin drakes.
  • Ended the year with 6 Muscovy hens, 2 Muscovy drakes, and 2 Welsh Harlequin hens.
  • Not sure how many eggs we got, but the Harlequins started laying in about November and laid about 10 eggs each week between the two of them.

Guinea Fowl:

  • Purchased 8 Guinea keets.
  • Had some issues getting them free-ranging but were able to get it figured out.  They roost in their coop overnight.
  • 1 was killed by one of the LGDs.
  • Ended year with 7 free-ranging Guinea Fowl.

Farm Dogs:

  • Anya, our 5.5-year-old Anatolian Shepherd continued to do well guarding the flock, even through the move to the new farm.  She has matured into an excellent LGD who loves her job and her flock.
  • Since the new farm had more space and created two flocks instead of just one, we added another LGD to the family.  Ayla is almost 2 years old and is learning and growing into a good guardian dog.  She is Anya’s half-sister.


  • Started year with 2 wool ewes,  2 dairy ewes, 1 dairy/wool ewe lamb, and 2 wool rams.
  • 1 ram lamb and 1 ewe lamb born, both survived.
  • An unknown (because we didn’t keep track), but good amount of milk produced for cheesemaking.
  •  4 fleece shorn from our wool sheep, for a total of  24 lbs raw, skirted wool.
  •  3 fleece shorn from our dairy sheep, for a total of  14 lbs raw, skirted wool.
  • We weren’t able to process many of the fleece due to how busy we were with the move, so we only processed one for a total of  600 yds of yarn.
  • Did not sell any sheep this year due to the expanded size of the new farm and our desire to expand the flocks.
  • Purchased 1 East Friesian (dairy) ram lamb, 1 BFL (wool) ram lamb, and 3 BFL (wool) ewe lambs.
  • Breeding season Oct-Dec: confirmed 2 pregnant dairy ewes, don’t have confirmation on the rest yet.
  • Finished year with 5 wool ewes, 1 wool wether, 2 wool rams, 4 dairy ewes, and 1 dairy ram.


  • Started the year with 2 pregnant Nubian does.
  • One doe died
  • 1 buckling born, sold at weaning.
  • Purchased fresh (milking) Nubian doe.
  • Unknown amount of milk produced, but plenty for our family through the year.
  • Re-bred 2 does in Nov.
  • Ended year with 2 pregnant does due to kid in April.


  • No garden this year, but we were blessed with a lot of produce from other people’s gardens.
  • We did bring our container herb garden with us, and expanded it.  We harvested a lot of fresh herbs as well as harvesting and drying them.
  • Brought cuttings from our Lilac bushes with us and planted those.
  • Gifted an apple tree which we planted and it survived.
  • Purchased comfrey roots and planted several of those for next year.
  • Gifted some garlic and planted it for next year.
  • Started construction on the new vegetable garden for next year.

Heritage Arts:

  • There was a lot of knitting and sewing done, but I did not keep good track this year, so I have nothing to report here.


  • Canned apples in honey syrup, applesauce, pickles, and crabapple jelly.
  • Root cellared garlic, onions, potatoes, pumpkins, and squash from a barter with someone.
  • Made quite a bit of aged cheese.  Mostly from sheep milk, a few from goat’s milk.
  • Made a lot of soft cheeses and dairy products, mostly from goat’s milk, some from sheep milk.

Year Summary

January was busy with house remodel projects to prepare it to go on the market.  I did some knitting and spinning, and we made firestarters to help keep the firemaking easy as we used them to warm our house.  We wethered our infertile BFL ram, and were excited to add a new breeding ram to the farm – an American Bond.  Unfortunately, he would later prove to be infertile as well.

February started with a hard loss – our sweet goat Pansy died after a long struggle with medical issues.  We had a deep freeze with days barely in the single digits and nights well into the negative numbers.  One of our dairy ewes, Daisy, gave birth to twins – a boy and a girl.  Her milk production was even better than last year (last year was her first freshening).  We decided to just let the lambs have it as we were up to our eyeballs with getting ready to sell the farm.  I did some knitting and decided to take a break from blogging as we were closing in on listing the homestead on the market.

I didn’t blog in March or early April.  But life kept marching on (of course).  Our house sold, with the stipulation that we find a suitable place to buy.  We looked and looked, but didn’t find anything during this time.  Our 5-year-old son had more liver issues, an ER visit which led to another hospitalization and his 24th surgery.  We continued to watch for our new farm.  The market was crazy with very little inventory, very high prices, and offers being placed and accepted in less than 24 hours.  It was easy for us as sellers, but hard as buyers.

In late April our Nubian doe delivered a buckling.  And we finished shearing all the sheep.  Just a few days before the contract on our previous house was going to expire, we found our new farm and our offer was accepted.  It was official – we were leaving the Rockies we had called home for many decades and heading to the High Plains.

In May we got really sick as we scrambled to pack and prepare to move a family of 7, plus grandma, a school, a business with large machinery, and a farm full of animals.  Thankfully, we were healthy in time for closing on both places and at the very end of May we signed all the papers and started the move.  Sadly, one week before the move, our sweet 15-year-old kitty, who we had owned since he was a kitten, passed away.  In hindsight, I am glad he didn’t have to go through the stress of the move at his old age, but we still miss him very much to this day.

June was crazy.  We spent two weeks prepping the new farm for us, the animals, and the machinery, then moving everything, and trying to somewhat settle in.  We saw our first tornado, way too clearly, on the third day we were here.  We added a new LGD to the farm family and she got right to work guarding one of the flocks (now that they were split into two at the new place with more space).  We started pasturing the sheep and goats and learning the ins and outs of intensive grazing with electric netting fence.  We started putting together a container garden with what we brought from our previous farm, plus some additional containers left on the new property.  Fencing the perimeter of the property with field fence to keep dogs out and sheep, goats, and dogs in became a priority, and big project, that wouldn’t fully get finished this year.  We also spent a ton of time weeding.  Weeding, weeding, and more weeding.  The area around the house that was covered in gravel was a jungle of weeds to the point you couldn’t see the gravel at all in some places.  We got a safe play area built for our youngest son.  Through it all, we were learning the new climate, the new views, the new landscape, the new wildlife….everything was new and different!  I continued to write online for Mother Earth News through the whole year, and I was really excited when I had my first article ever to make it into the print edition of the magazine printed in the June/July issue.

In July we thought we might just die of the heat.  We had more days in the triple digits than not, and several days got up to 108/109.  It was miserable for us as we had previously lived in the cool, high-altitude Rockies and had never experienced temperatures like that before, and certainly not day after day.  We continued to do what we could with the little container garden, but the temperatures were not helping.  Plus, pest bugs started killing everything we were working so hard to keep alive.  One of our sheep bloated, and we successfully tubed him and saved him since the vet couldn’t come.  We added ducklings, some chicks, and guinea keets to the farm.  By the end of the month the ducklings were out grazing in duck tractors we had built from odds and ends around the farm.  Milking the sheep and goat in the open with the flies and wind and heat was getting miserable, so we converted an old shed into a wonderful milking parlor.  Lastly, we built a door for the hay barn in preparation to put up hay for the year.

In August we started to feel somewhat settled at the new farm.  We added another Nubian milking doe and 4 Bluefaced Leicester sheep to the farm.  We did a lot of fermenting and canning.  Now that we had a couple of months under our belts, we were reading books like crazy and doing research to try to figure out how we want to manage and build the new farm in so many different areas – livestock, gardens, etc.  We started a new school year, our first and the new farm.  Sadly, our sweet, old house-rabbit, Wilbur, passed away.

September included a lot of illness and some death among the livestock, as well as illness among the humans.  We enjoyed a drop in the very hot temperatures and found we were able to spend more time outside.  I got my antique treadle sewing machine fixed and started to learn how to use it.  We built the poultry barn and moved around all the poultry to new housing.  We started to feel a bit overwhelmed as we tried to get to everything we needed to get done before winter hit.

October was full of guinea fowl adventures as we attempted to get our guineas to free-range but stay on our property and go indoors to roost at night.  I had another article published in the October/November print edition of Mother Earth News magazine.  Our youngest son had another round of liver issues with hospitalization and surgery.  I also spent a lot of time sewing on my antique treadle machine, making a quilt and aprons for gifts.  By the end of the month I felt completely proficient on the machine and it became my go-to sewing machine for most all my projects.

In November I was excited to be able to speak at the Homesteader’s Livestock Summit.  The whole family helped with my presentation and we all really enjoyed the opportunity to share what we love and teach about raising sheep for high-quality wool production.  The Nubian does headed to the breeder’s farm to get bred, since we don’t keep a buck for breeding.  Our sheep breeding season was proving challenging and we decided to try using ram harnesses with marking crayons to help figure out what was going on.  We finished all our “before winter hits” projects in time, including a root cellar/tornado shelter.  The girls had a very successful booth at a Christmas craft fair in the area.  And we got our first dusting of snow at the new farm.

December was shockingly warm, and we enjoyed it.  We also enjoyed the slower pace from a year of crazy busy.  We stopped all “projects” and just spent time enjoying our family.  We all got sick with a nasty cold, but it helped keep us slowed down, at home, and resting for the first time in a very long year.  The ducks started laying, and the goats came home pregnant.  We made our final plans for next year’s vegetable garden, and started working towards making it a reality.

It has been a crazy year of change and so much hard work.  But it is all a blessing and we are glad for the move and all that we have gone through.  We are looking forward to 2022 being our first full year at the new farm.  We are excited to see what every season is like here.  And we are busy dreaming and planning as we build this new homestead out on the High Plains.

Sunday Homestead Update – More Adventures with Guinea Fowl

We spent last week unexpectedly in the hospital and this week with homecare stuff for our son. This was his 25th surgery – he is 6 years old and has a very rare liver disorder that causes him to get infections and sepsis. It came on very fast this time, like last time, and got life-threatening within 12 hours. He was fine one day and in emergency surgery the next. It never gets easier. It is familiar, VERY familiar, but not easier. One thing that was easier was that we live so much closer to the pediatric hospital now. That was easier and we were glad for it. We are now in recovery mode and trying to transition back into our life around the homestead as cold weather is starting to set in here.

Guinea Fowl

The guinea fowl have been the main topic of conversation around the homestead the last couple of weeks. They have been getting into trouble lately and causing us extra work. Everything was going well, as I said the last time I discussed them, and they were hanging out around the property and putting themselves to bed in the coop each night. Then one day we didn’t see them at all for the whole day. Late afternoon our neighbor pulled in to ask if we had lost some guinea fowl because they were all over at his place. We headed over and there they were – apparently in love with their turkey. The neighbor has some chickens and a duck and a turkey all living together, and the guineas had zeroed in on the turkey, and the turkey seemed happy about it too. Maybe it was the naked heads? LOL. So we herded them back over to our place and put them to bed for the night, hoping it was a one-time thing. Of course it wasn’t, and they continued to head straight over to their turkey friend every morning when we let them out. We would herd them back in the evening and put them to bed. The interesting thing was they didn’t have access to water over there, the only water they could get was in their coop, and each night they drank and drank like crazy when we brought them home. I was surprised they wouldn’t be drawn back to the water on their own out of sheer desperation. We decided to see if they would come home on their own for the water and the roost at night, so one night we didn’t herd them back. Nope, they slept over outside the house of their turkey friend. Sigh.

Our plan is to fully fence the entire perimeter of the property with field fencing to keep the predators (stray dogs, coyotes, etc) out and our sheep/goats/livestock and dogs in. We finished two of the four sides of the perimeter this summer, but haven’t finished the rest. When we herded the guineas home from the neighbor’s, they were going through a 4-wire barbed-wire fence and every time we got to it they acted like they couldn’t get through. They had no problem going through in the morning headed to their friend, but when we were trying to herd them back home at night it is apparently a solid wall to them with no way around. So we decided that if they are that silly about just a wire fence, then maybe if we put up the field fence across that neighbor’s side it would keep them home. Yes, they can fly over it, but they are kind of weird about flying over things and don’t seem to like to do it. So we were hopeful. Young man spent two days fencing that line for us, and sure enough – it worked! The guineas stopped visiting the turkey at the neighbors house.

As they were now staying on the property, they started hanging out over in the ewe barn area, where some of the sheep, goats, and the livestock guardian dog (LGD) are living right now. One day, when they came back to the poultry barn late afternoon, there were only 7 of them, instead of 8. When we went to do barn chores we found the remains of the 8th one – just feathers – in the ewe barn area. The LGD in that pen has lived with chickens for years and not killed them. We are assuming she saw the guineas as wild birds, not like the chickens she guards, because they live outside her fence and they act wild and different. So when one of them somehow got in there with her, she killed it. Sigh.

We figured that watching their guinea-friend get killed would keep them away from that area, but nope. They still head over there and hang out along the fence lines. So we have started training the LGD that they are like chickens and not to kill them. Thus far, they have stayed out of the pen, and thus far, we have not lost any more. Though I don’t think the LGD is trustworthy enough yet as far as the guineas are concerned to not kill another if they chose to go in with her. But we will continue working on it.

Heritage Arts

Adjustable hemmer foot – where have you been all my life?!?!? Have you ever heard of or seen an adjustable hemmer foot? I never had, though I desperately wish I had all these years of sewing. My antique Singer treadle machine came with a few different feet, of which I could not recognize even one. Well it turns out that one of them is super useful and now my favorite sewing tool. As I was working on the aprons for my sisters I discovered this gem. You set the measurement on it to the size of hem you want, and then you feed the fabric into it folded at the hem and as it runs through it, the foot folds the edge under just a little and sews it just perfectly along the edge. Creating a perfectly beautiful hem every time!!!

If you like to sew clothes, aprons, curtains, anything with a hem, and haven’t used one of these yet – get your hands on one! I know they make them for modern machines too, because I looked it up since I had never heard of them before. It can be tricky to figure it out at first, but after playing with it on a few scraps of fabric I got it going and it worked great.

I have finished all the aprons for my sisters and now consider myself completely adept with the treadle machine. It doesn’t feel foreign anymore – treadling just comes naturally now. I love it! It took one lap quilt and three aprons to fully get the hang of it. It was totally worth it and I am enjoying using it for most of my sewing now. There have been a few things I have brought out my modern electric machine for – button holes (and other zig-zagging), and quilting (because the antique machine can’t handle the thickness). Other than that, this machine is my go-to machine now.

Sunday Homestead Update – One Man’s Maggot is Another Man’s…

…chicken food! Yup, we are having some maggot issues and the answer is – CHICKENS! At our previous farm the chicken coop opened into the shared barnyard where all the livestock lived. We dumped the compost and all the stall clean-out into a couple of big piles in the barnyard and the chickens worked through it for us, turning it and removing unwanted pests. They also worked through the stalls, which were deep-bedded for the sheep. The chickens picking through the stalls daily kept maggots away and flies down.

The new farm is not set up in a way to have the chickens living with the livestock like that. So we have been struggling with maggots in the sheep bedding. Deep bedding without the chickens to work through it does not work for sheep, since they are especially vulnerable to fly strike. We do not want them sleeping in bedding that has maggots. And really – no animal should sleep in bedding that has maggots. So we have had to bed them differently and clean their stalls more often. All that dirty bedding is going into the chicken pen to be worked on by our chickens.

But, ultimately, we like the idea of them living together better. So our brains are at work thinking about exactly how we want to go about getting a flock out in the ewe barn. Current thoughts include a smaller coop hooked to the back of the barn, and moving the 7 young hens we currently have in with the bantams (because the broody hen that raised them lives there) out there with the sheep. Plus, buying a young rooster from our neighbor to go with those hens. This would get some chickens out there, it would also save me the hassle of integrating those hens in with the other flock, and it would provide me with a new, separate breeding flock for my genetics.

We are busy with other projects right now, but hopefully, this project will become a reality in the next month or so.


We had our first frosts this week, and some sleet/hail/snow stuff fell from the sky. It was super windy at the time, so we had ice sheets on the storm doors. We are still learning the weather at the new location. It is very different.

Heritage Arts

My journey with my antique treadle machine continues to be very enjoyable. I really love it! Now that I have finished the quilt (easy, straight lines, lots of starts and stops, plus some long straight lines), I decided to move on to something with different skills. I found some of my grandmother’s fabric and decided to make aprons for my mom and sisters from it. I sent them all photos of the different fabrics and different pattern options and they sent back what they wanted. It will be fun and special for them each to have an apron made from fabric that reminds them of our Nana.

I got the first one done this week. It was the easiest of all of them. It involved tighter curves, long stretches of curves, several layers, turning square corners, plus short tricky tight areas, and backstitching too. A treadle machine can’t backstitch, you have to put the needle in and turn the fabric 180 degrees and do a couple stitches to be your backstitch. Or figure another way to secure the end. I am just doing the spin it around thing. Anyway, it all went beautifully. I definitely think starting with the simple square quilt was the best way to teach myself how to treadle well. I did over 200 starts and stops on that projects, which really got my feet trained to the treadle. Now I will be moving on to the harder apron patterns. One includes gathering, so it will be fun to see if the stitch length on this machine goes large enough to gather.

I am also trying to wrap my head around Christmas presents and get started on those. It is a busy season for heritage arts.

Sunday Homestead Update – Moving Poultry

We continue to recover from our bout of illness in the family. For the most part it was a routine week of school, work, and homestead. Routine is always nice.


This week we pulled off the big poultry juggling act and got all the poultry into their winter housing. We finished the chicken housing out at the poultry barn and moved the standard chickens from the coop out there. Then we moved the ducks out of the moveable tractors into what used to be the chicken coop and is now the duck house. Moving those Muscovies is no joke – there was blood loss by every helper. We even had long sleeves and gloves on and we still all lost at least a little blood. Those claws…whew. But it is done now and we are glad. The Welsh Harlequin hens are going to take some time to integrate with the whole group – but at least when they were in their tractors we had them butted up against each other so they all have interacted through the wire and are not complete strangers.

It also meant that we were able to dump the first load of compost into the chicken pen. We are happy to get our chickens back to work on making compost for us. We haven’t been able to do that since we moved to the new farm. As soon as we dumped it they immediately ran over and went to town scratching through it. They spent the rest of the afternoon and evening working on it. We need to add a lot more for them to work on. But this is a start.

That leaves just one more thing to accomplish before the cold really hits as far as livestock housing is concerned, we need to get the exterior pen finished for the guineas so they can go outdoors. They are still living inside their coop only. We plan to free-range them at some point, but in order to get them accustomed to “home” being their coop so that they will come back to roost at night and stay close around our property, we have decided to give them a temporary exterior pen for the time being and we will let them free-range at some point in the future – probably next spring.

There is also a ton of little details that need dealing with on both the poultry barn and the duck housing – wire buried along the exterior pens, trim work on the buildings, and a complete revamp of the duck exterior pen. But all those things can wait, at least now they are all safe and can live in their new places long term.

Heritage Arts

I finished the cozy winter sweater for Braveheart! I am glad to have gotten it done before the cold weather hit. Now he can enjoy it all winter. One thing I really love about hand-making clothes, whether by knitting or sewing, is that you can make them specific to fit the person just right. Braveheart is growing and is in a stage where his arms are very long right now. In order to buy him a sweater that fits the length of his arms, it is much to big around and looks like a tent on him. But if we buy him one that fits his body right, the sleeves are way too short. With hand-knitting his sweater, I was able to make it fit his body AND his arm length. It looks great and he is very happy with it.

The pattern was the Basic Set-In Sleeve pattern from the book Top Down Sweaters by Ann Budd. The yarn I used was from our ram Fergus’ 2020 fleece. Daniel made the yarn for me in the mill. It is a DK weight 3-ply with 15% bamboo blended in. The bamboo was pre-dyed a dark green. Fergus’ fleece was dark grey. The two blended together look really great, with a subtle green shimmer to the dark heathered grey. Plus, Fergus had a very nice, soft fleece. So it is soft, with the added strength of the bamboo. Very happy with this project.

I have really been having fun with my 1905 treadle Singer sewing machine. I think that sewing a basic square quilt was a perfect way to really learn to control the treadle. Starting and stopping over and over, literally hundreds of times as I sew each 4.5 square to the next has really helped ingrain in my head how to use the treadle well. I have finished piecing the top, and now will move on to quilting it – again, using the treadle machine. I am going to do a simple stitch-in-the-ditch to quilt it, so that shouldn’t be too hard. But managing the size of the quilt in the machine and all the layers will be a new experience from the piecing, so it will build my skills too.

Sunday Homestead Update – Autumn

We had one day this last week that felt and smelled like autumn. It was wonderful! It was cool, with a nice breeze, but bright sunshine. The girls and I were able to spend some of the afternoon out on the back patio knitting and drinking hot tea – mmmm, yes – Autumn! It was nice to take a break from the busy-ness of farm life for a few hours and just enjoy time with each other. According to the weather reports, we should have even more days like that this coming week. So I guess autumn is officially here, just in time.

It definitely makes working on all the many things we are scrambling to get done a lot more comfortable when the weather is in the 70s, instead of the triple digits! We continue to plug away at the many many projects to get done before winter hits.

Poultry Barn

Phase one of the poultry barn build is underway. The barn will eventually have three indoor sections and several exterior pens. But for this first phase, to get us through this winter with the poultry we have now, we are just doing two sections and 2 exterior pens. This winter it will house the guineas and standard size chickens. The ducks will go in the house/pen that the chickens are currently occupying, and the bantam chickens will stay in their coop which we brought with us from our previous homestead.


We have started to build the garden for next year. We had planned to put it out near the poultry barn, but after watching the heat and sun cook all the plants in our container garden this summer, we decided the garden would fare better with some shade throughout the day. So we are putting it behind the mill. This will not only give it some afternoon shade, it will also mean less fences we need to build, and thus less money. The mill wall will be one side of it, and an existing wood privacy fence will be the other side. So we will only have to build two fences. At this point in our building-a-new-homestead-journey, anything that will save time and money is a huge plus. And we think the location will be better overall. The bantam chicken coop will also hook to the garden fence, making it so we can easily let the bantam hens out to work the soil in the garden when it is not growing.

We have been clearing the area of all the junk that was there, and leveling the surface since years of downspouts flooding it have left it a mess. Hoping to get part of the fence up this week after we finish leveling it.


The bounty of garden-fresh produce continues to come in from generous gardeners we have met that have too much to use themselves. What a blessing! I figured we would be completely skipping canning/preserving season this year since we didn’t have a garden, and yet here we are, canning and dehydrating and freezing like crazy. It is keeping us very busy, and we are very excited to have this blessing.


I decided the best first-project for learning to use my treadle sewing machine would be a simple quilt with 4-inch squares. It will give me hundreds of start/stop opportunities on the machine, but still be nice simple straight lines, no backstitching, etc. I cut the fabric (a bunch of scraps) this last week and got started sewing it. I am already seeing a ton of improvement in my ability to use the machine and I am only about 1/4 of the way into the piecing process for this quilt. I am really enjoying using the machine and mastering the skills. Fun!

Sink Hole

A small sink hole showed up in our yard. It is about 4 ft. by 3 ft. and about 3 feet deep at its deepest spot. It is under the sidewalk. Strange. We think it has to do with an old tree that was by the sidewalk and was cut down before we moved in. It seems maybe the roots rotted and caused this? Not sure. But we have filled it in.

The smoke has cleared a lot with the shift in the weather and thus we have been able to see our beautiful mountain view a lot more the past few days. It has been wonderful! The sunsets over the mountains are breathtaking. My camera never catches it right, and definitely doesn’t show the true awesome-ness of it, but I still continue to try to photograph them.