Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow! – Evacuation Day 3

It is snowing!  A LOT!  It started snowing last night and pretty much has not let up since.  We went out this morning and ended up driving home in a white-out with very icy roads and a windsheild that wouldn’t thaw and wipe despite the blasting defrost hot air.  While that was not a very fun experience, it had new meaning because it means that precipitation is falling on the fire threatening our home.  So we were grateful – but also grateful to arrive back safely at the place we are staying and not have to go out in it again.

The fire is currently about 5 miles from our homestead, but this snow has slowed it down significantly and the firefighters have been doing a great job of holding it back before the snow started.  Hopefully, this snow will be what is needed to get it completely contained so we can safely go home.  Time will tell.  The weather is supposed to stay very cold and snowy through tomorrow.

Meanwhile, we are facing an interesting situation.  Anyone who has followed our blog for long knows that we are very productive people.  We find joy in working together and staying busy around our farm.  We don’t even have television.  The closest we get to screens for entertainment is that we stream a movie every Friday night while we eat homemade pizza together – Family Night.  We are constantly working on the farm or in the home, doing school, doing projects (fun ones and not-as-fun-ones), working in the mill, etc.  There is always something to do, and the list of projects to improve the place and new things we want to add or try out is never-ending.  That is our life and we love it.  Now we find ourselves without a farm to tend, and with pretty much nothing to do.  It is strange.  I did bring out some knitting when we evacuated, and the kids brought books and happened to find a card game in the bottom of one of their bags.  Some people have loaned us another game.  It is kind of like a vacation, except not really because there are no new sights to see or things to do, and we have this wildfire hanging over us and the stress of that.  When we evacuated for the flood, 7 years ago, I was able to bring our homeschool stuff out with us, so we worked on that.  Not this time.  We will just have to add time on the end of the year to make up for this missed school.  It is an interesting scenario.  But we are making do and finding some things to keep us occupied.  And we continue to focus on the blessings and list of things we are thankful for despite it all, which helps keep our spirits up.  One of the biggest is that Mr. Smiles had bloodwork done last week and it looked very good, so his health is very stable right now.  I can’t imagine trying to juggle this evacuation and having him in the hospital at the same time.  Eeeek!  SO glad he is healthy right now.  What a blessing.

So we continue to wait and watch and see what happens.  Thank you for all your prayers and kind words of encouragement.  We appreciate them.

Sunday Homestead Update – Fall Babies and Fire

We have a wildfire that is potentially setting its sights on our area.  Hopefully, the cold and snow we received this last week will stop it, but we are keeping a close eye on it and discussing evacuation plans for the farm.  Ironically, we have poultry here that were evacuated from a different farm closer to the fire a few weeks ago.  We are hoping we don’t have to evacuate.

Fall isn’t usually a time for new life on the farm – that is usually a spring/summer thing.  But we have some new babies here this week.

Chickens

Our best broody hen is a silkie named Eve.  She is 7 years old and has raised many MANY chicks for us over the years.  She has adopted many chicks, from other hens on the farm, from the incubator, and from the store.  But always she had first hatched at least a few eggs under herself before we gave her the chicks to adopt.  This time we decided to take a little risk.  She wanted to set, but we didn’t have a rooster with the hens, and thus no hatching eggs.  So we decided to let her sit on fake eggs and then purchase hatchery chicks to put under her.  Due to the availability at the hatchery, she was only going to set on the fake eggs for about 12 days before the chicks arrived (usual setting time is 21 days).  We decided that if any hen could do it, Eve could.  So we ordered the chicks and hoped she would happily accept them after a short setting on fake eggs.

They arrived this week – all 10 alive at delivery.  We took them immediately to Eve, removed the fake eggs, and shoved the little chicks under her.  Anyone who has had a setting hen before knows that they change body position from when they are setting on eggs, to when their babies hatch.  When they are setting they are very big and flat to the nest.  Once the chicks start hatching they take a more protective, puffed up, hunched kind of pose, with their wings out slightly and their behind up a bit.  Eve immediately made the transition and went right into mama mode.  She started talking to her babies and when one tried to come out she pushed it back under her to “protect” it from us as we watched.  It was awesome!  She didn’t even question any of it, she was just happy to have ten beautiful babies underneath her.  After a little while, she got up and led them to eat and drink, talking to them the whole time.  A couple of them wandered off, which we have noticed before as a behavior of chicks that didn’t hatch under a hen but were given a hen mama.  She continued to call to them and teach them to come to her call.  Within a day they were all happily staying with her and listening to her.  It is such a beautiful thing.  We are very glad we took the risk and Eve will go down in WCF history as the BEST Mama Hen EVER!  There is nothing this wonderful broody hen won’t do…except let me photograph her new chicks.  LOL.  She is really good at staying between me and them at all times – a good protective mama.  But no cute baby chick photos yet.  She will lighten up in a few days and then I wil get some photos of the little fluff balls.

Ducks

The other set of babies is the potential hatch of ducklings this coming week.  Our duck hen, Violet, has been sitting on eggs for almost a month now.  We have never raised ducks before, and have heard some pretty bad stories of duck hens not doing well at hatching and parenting.  So we really don’t know what to expect.  But we are hopeful.

Milk Sheep on the Homestead: Part 2

I just published another post over at Mother Earth News!

This one is the second of three in my “Getting Started With Milk Sheep on the Homestead” Series.  In this post I am discussing choosing and buying milk sheep for your farm, the basic care of milk sheep, and the yearly cycle of their care. Go check it out by clicking here.