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.

Seasonal Cloth Placemat and Napkin Sets

This whole idea started back in June of 2016.  I love to decorate my house in little ways to match the seasons.  One of those ways is by decorating the dining room table.  I had always wanted to have a set of placemats and napkins that matched each season.

So in June of 2016 I decided to start working towards that goal.  Each set was made with the placemat being reversible, and a different napkin to match each side of the placemat.  And then, because there were a lot of little triangle shaped scraps left from cutting the corners off of the placemats, Little Miss and Sunshine made trivet pads with the scraps to match the sets as well.

I made a Summer/4th of July set first.

Then I made the Autumn/Thanksgiving set.

I skipped Winter/Christmas that year for several reasons, and in the spring of 2017 made the Spring/Easter set.

Then I just now finally finished the last of the sets with the Winter/Christmas set.

It is so great to have all the sets done!  Our whole family really enjoys having the table decorated with each season and holiday and I am so glad I made all these.  They will last for a long time and we will have many family memories shared while using them.

If you want to read the post about how to make these, click here.  With all the fabric choices out there you are sure to find something that matches your style just right.  They make great gifts, too.

Sunday Homestead Update

We have been oh-so-sick this week.  Croup, strep, and pneumonia.  Very.  Sick.  But thankfully everyone is improving and the terrible part is over.  By next SHU we should be recovered and doing much better.

Knitting

Mr. Smiles couldn’t sleep in any position except on our chests in the recliner for 4 days, so Mtn Man and I took turns overnight and Sunshine and Young Man also pitched in a few times during the day.  But for the most part he was in my arms or asleep on my chest all day for four days.  Thankfully, I was able to do some knitting when he was asleep, because I was getting very antsy and bored.

Dog Yarn?

We had an interesting “first” in the mill this week.  We made our first dog hair yarn.  The hair came from a standard poodle, and was mixed 50% with wool from a Lincoln Longwool sheep.  It turned out really cool.

The dog hair definitely needed plenty of support from the Longwool, but it is indeed possible to make dog hair into yarn.  It turned out pretty and is quite soft – softer than I expected.

Snow

We got a good 15-inch dump of snow this week.  It is safe to say fall weather is gone and winter weather has arrived here in the Rockies.  Last year was a very long, mild fall, this year it was short and colder.

We still really need to get the firewood chopped and stacked for the winter, but illness put that off for now.

Chickens

Mrs. Arabel successfully hatched out 4 chicks.  That is a pretty low percentage, considering she started with 10, but that sometimes happens with hatching, especially at high altitude.  And the cold weather could have something to do with it as well.

But I am happy about the four.  We don’t usually hatch in the fall, and with winter cold arriving early I think it will be good for her to only have four because it will be easier for her to successfully keep them all warm even as they grow.

Sewing

I have started working on the Winter/Christmas cloth placemat and napkin set.  Once I finish them I will have all four seasonal sets done!

While I have been working on those, Little Miss and Sunshine have taken it upon themselves to make matching trivet pads with the scraps from all the seasonal sets we have made.  When I cut the placemats’ corners off, we end up with a lot of little triangle scraps from the two different placemat fabrics for each season.

We felt like it would be wasteful to just throw those out, so the girls are piecing them together (there are a million different ways to arrange 36 triangles), adding a couple of layers of batting, using the larger scraps of fabric for the back, and making these cool trivet pads that will coordinate with each of my placemat/napkin sets.

Here is a peek at the Autumn/Thanksgiving set, which we are currently using.  These are the pads they made:

Which go with these placemats and napkins.  Left is Autumn, and right is Thanksgiving:

Once I finish the Winter/Christmas set, I will do a post that shows all four different sets, and the trivet pads that go with them.  If you are interested in finding out how we make these, you can click here for the post that shows how.

Sunday Homestead Update

We have begun having a lot of cold weather, as well as a lot of harsh wind.  We are coming to the end of our season of getting things done outdoors and scrambling to get what we can done before we really can’t anymore.  Pretty much all that is left is firewood, and hopefully we will get to that next weekend.

Oliver

Sadly, our sweet English Angora bunny, Oliver, died this week.  He was a very wonderful pet and fiber producing animal that we all miss very much.

A few weeks ago he got a wool block (intestines blocked with fur) despite the fact that we were using papaya tablets regularly to help keep that from happening.  We were able to clear the block with pineapple juice and more papaya tablets.  But despite that, Oliver never fully recovered.  It was a hard loss.  He was a sweet bunny that loved being pet.  He was litterbox trained so we would let him hop around outside his cage and play.  We enjoyed watching him do his “happy hops” and kick up his heels.

Chickens

Mrs. Arabel is hatching out her chicks today.  We can hear the peep-peep-peeping sound underneath her.  We are excited to see how many hatch in the next couple of days!

Sewing

We have continued with knitting, sewing and crafting projects for Christmas.  This week I worked through the mending pile as well.  Buttons sewn back on, holes in pants patched, etc.

One thing the girls love to have me do is take a pair of their favorite jeans that still fit their waist well, but have been patched and re-patched and are worn out in the legs, and I make them into a skirt.  That way they still have the comfortable pants top, and the worn out legs are removed and a skirt is added.  This week I made one for Little Miss using her favorite jeans and a dress that didn’t fit her top but had a cute bottom edge that is longer in the back and shorter in the front.

Wind Storm

We had a bad wind storm this week that busted the top off of one of our pine trees.  Thankfully it didn’t hit anything.  It was about 12 inches diameter, but it did have some rot on one side, which is probably why it broke off.

Cozy By the Fire

Despite the cold weather, our indoor kitty was careful to not let his belly get chilled.  He warmed it by the fire.

And his brother enjoyed the warmth of the fire from up on the recliner.