OMGoodness, it was a long weekend.  I’m completely, thoroughly EXHAUSTED.  Did we get it all done?  Nope.  But, wow, we got quite a lot done.  The barn was gutted and we started over….  We now have three separate chicken pens, so far, with more to come.  The bunnies have an approx. 15′ x 12′ foot area for their little colony.  DH promises me toys for the rabbits.  I’m thinking a tiered platform, a place to crawl under, and a few little wire bottom nest boxes.  This with a few cardboard boxes to chew on should make them very happy.   The hens have their coop back and they seem appropriately grateful.  We’ll see how many eggs we get today. 🙂

Ana made Sarah’s birthday cake and did a lovely job.

Let me tell you, the Amish Division of Duties has a purpose!  On Saturday I worked inside all day long.  DH worked outside all day long.  At the end of the day we’d had three square meals, a clean house, crisp laundry, and an altogether pleasant day.  We had supervised children, good naps, and at the end of the day we rested, feeling accomplished.  Did I mention the rhubarb pie?  Hands down, THE best pie I’ve ever made.  And it had the flakiest crust… I used lard instead, as a good cook should. 🙂  I didn’t know you could make pie with ONLY rhubarb and still have it as sweet and delicious as a rhubarb mutt pie.  But I had nothing to mix it with, and was forced to use only rhubarb.  I think I’m making it again today.  So wonderful!

Fast forward to yesterday, day four of our long weekend.  We got moving fairly early on and headed out to the barn for the reconstruction.  I came in at lunch time and made lunch, but other than that we were flying by the seat of our pants.  Oh, and I admit it, we took a one hour nap.  😛  We deserved it.  We didn’t come in for supper last night until almost 9:30 in a last frantic effort to get it all done.  It didn’t happen.

We were expecting a homeschool group today and so that was our motivation to get it all done.  It didn’t happen.  But, as it rained all day yesterday and it’s expected to rain all day today, the visit by the group has been cancelled.  And that’s for the best.  Because everything is MUD.  And on a farm, mud isn’t wet dirt, it’s wet… Well, you get the picture and the picture isn’t pretty.  I’m a little sad as I really wanted to meet everyone!  However, we had planned on a great little picnic lunch, and as DH is only in the planning stages of our big table, we currently only have four chairs, the computer chair, and one very small dining room table.  At meals, two children sit at the island and two more sit at the Step 2 plastic table.  It works well enough, and I’m really excited about the Amish style trestle table we’ve been planning.  We are using reclaimed barn wood and we’ll have big, long benches.  Imagine it – ALL of us sitting around the same table.  Very exciting.  Even better, DH will have made it.  Honestly, I don’t even care if it turns out ugly…  I just think it will be neat to sit around a table my DH made with his own hands. 

What else was on my list?  Oh yes!  Stake the goats.   LOL!  Well, you can’t say we didn’t try.  And try.  And try.  And the only thing it resulted in was putting Heidi up for sale.  This is Heidi:

buddies

She’s a pretty little Saanen, but what we’re going to spend in aspirin really isn’t going to make her worth it.
She uses the window sill of the barn to vault her over a five foot fence.  No, really, she does.  She can crawl through cattle gate and under a gate that the mini doesn’t get through.  She’s exhausting.  So we staked her.  She managed to somehow get the collar to unclip.  How does a goat pull that off?  Sigh.

Stormy & Sunny

Stormy & Sunny

This is Stormy & Sunny.  They’re CJ’s pigs.  Aren’t they, um, well, lovely?  We cleaned their pen yesterday and MY they are naughty…   And yes, daring.  Yes, they escaped too.  Tim was supposed to keep them away while I did poop removal.  Never trust your four year old to hold back the vicious pigs. 🙂  Who KNEW pigs could run that fast?  I sure didn’t.  I tell you I am going to stay in such good shape, lean and trim, this pregnancy.  Stormy and Sunny have learned to tip their trough and roll it through the poop.  Now, that’s FUN.  And they can also jump in their water tub and splash all the water out until it’s light enough to roll around through poop too.  Smart pigs, hm?  Ha Ha.  I outsmarted them.  And, pathetically, I was pretty proud that I *could* outsmart them.  I think the more I work with livestock, the more easily I take pride in being able to outsmart them.  I can’t decide if that’s a good thing or just really sad.   I took my handy dandy drill and attached BOTH to the wall with really long screws.  And they were still there this morning.  Always a good sign.

A Boy & His Boat

A Boy & His Boat

And because rain has ruined my day, here’s the gratuitious rainy day photo.  Nope, not our farm.  It was our house in town last year.  But isn’t it fun? The cardboard box is his boat.  Our neighbor, Jim, (I miss him!) said he was going to put bluegills in there the next time it rained because Tim was so excited about having his very own pond.  Blessedly, shortly after this, DH and another neighbor dug up backyard and fixed the tile.  Poor Tim, no more pond.  But, let be said, the only thing I miss about moving here is that we couldn’t take all of our neighbors with us.  They were so awesome.

Camping

Camping

I REALLY wanted to take the kids to my Uncle John’s timber this weekend camping.  It truly is “roughing” it as there is NO escape from the outdoors – you couldn’t get a camper, or a PortaJohn for that matter, down there if you tried.  But you could never, ever duplicate the experience.  Yes, it’s never fun getting poison ivy on your more delicate parts from visiting Mrs. Murphy (you’d have to read Cheaper by the Dozen to understand), but at the same time, we hunt, gather, and find more herbs and edibles there than you can imagine. 

Rebecca & Jewelweed

Rebecca & Jewelweed

Thankfully, in that very poison ivy filled timber, there is also jewelweed – a.k.a. Touch-Me-Not.  Rebecca is with pale Touch-Me-Nots, but we were also able to find the more potent orange  spotted Touch-Me-Nots.  This was last year.  I have the frozen syrup in my freezer as the dried herb doesn’t work effectively.  Only fresh or frozen… I’ve been storing it all year long, just hoping to get poison ivy to try it out. 

 

Elderberries

Elderberries

A rather nice haul of elderberries wouldn’t you say?  Now, the only thing I’ve wanted to make this year is Clover jam and Dandelion blossom jam.  I was hoping for a trip to the timber yesterday and a batch, but alas, it did not happen.  Now, if only we can stay motivated to finish the barn today and tomorrow, then MAYBE this weekend will be for fun and playing.  Ya think?
Advertisements

I know how busy ya’all are…. It being Spring and all.  You can hardly tell here today as it is a very chilly 50 degrees.  We *did* get internet back as I’ve been missing it desperately, wanting to do some writing and planning of some of new curriculum for the oldest two…  And wanting to post, but since I didn’t have any pictures, and I know ya’all LOVE pictures, I resisted the urge to post at all.

 

First a couple of my newest chickies…  DH ordered a few of every kind he could think of that were available from McMurray’s.  Unfortunately, we lost several.  Eight to be exact.  They felt it was probably my use of alfalfa as bedding as it can have mold or mildew in it and chicks are extremely respiratory sensitive.  Despite this fact, they DID honor their livability guarantee which just SHOCKED me and I was so very impressed by that.  Honestly, I’d have rather had the chickens.  But it was nice that they performed so honorably.

My favorite chicks have been the Hamburgs, which unfortunately were decimated in the last two days of death.  But, I also LOVE the Blue Andalusions!

Blue Andalusian Chicks

Blue Andalusian Chicks

 

If you look in the background of these chickies, one of which is my new Buff Orpington rooster, you’ll see the rainbow of chicks we received!

Rainbow 'O Chicks

 

We’ve been very busy creating a colony for our rabbits vs. keeping them in hutches.   It’s in the works, so I promise indoor/outdoor pictures when we get the opportunity.  Christian bought a Flemish Giant buck this last weekend and  he’s a cute little guy.  I have ZERO idea what we’ll do with him, but he is very loveable.  And Lizzie finally got to pick up her little pygmy doe.  Angel is the sweetest addition we’ve gotten so far and we LOVE her.  Wait ’til you see!!  She is too cute for words.

Legend has been growing like a weed and he has the most beautiful personality, not to mention he is one GORGEOUS German Shepherd!  We have recent pictures of him as well.

Legend, sitting like a good boy.

Legend, sitting like a good boy.

Legend on alert.

Legend on alert.

He is absolutely an amazing dog and we love him dearly.  He’s TRULY been a family addition although he certainly listens to Ana best of all. 

And finally, we prepared dandelions for a midafternoon pick-me-up.

Sauteed Dandelions

Sauteed Dandelions

We sauteed dandelion greens in butter, garlic, orange peppers, and onions.  The taste was wonderful, but way too salty.  I added a bit of extra salt and it definitely did NOT need it.  We’ll try again tomorrow.

Friday we’re making dandelion syrup for the weekend pancakes.  It should be a lot of fun for both the  kids and myself.  I’ll post pictures!  Thank you Donna from BabyWearers for the idea!!

I haven’t posted in a long while!  But we resolved to shut off the internet and cable for at least Spring, and probably Summer as well.   Am I frustrating you all?  😉

It’s been incredibly busy here and I know ya’all want pictures.  Incubation didn’t go well for us.  Apparently when more experienced hatchers say, “Don’t open the lid for the three days around hatching,” they have a reason for it.  Listen carefully.  The reason is H-U-M-I-D-I-T-Y. Very important apparently.   We have five surviving chicks out of our 36 eggs.  It is vitally important to maintain the proper humidity.  We know better now.  We’ll start another round of hatching eggs soon.  In the meantime, we have pictures of the new chicks to share with you as well as pictures of our four little Pekin ducklings.  The ducklings are for Rebecca as she has wanted them forever.  Technically they are a meat breed.  And BOY!  They are messy!

And the ducklings have made friends with the chicks.

duck-meet-chick

The shell has pipped:

pipped-eggs

A little Auracana just after hatching:
hatched-chick

And a bit more fluffy:

 getting-fluffy

I can’t promise I’ll be posting terribly often…  I’m enjoying all of my spare time with the kids these days!  I’m surprised how much time just “checking my email” and whatnot managed to steal from my day….  And pleasantly inspired to have it back.

The hens are laying… Finally!  I had a stern talk to them about the responsibility of the laying hen.  And, I’m not going to lie, the possiblity of chicken soup for useless chickens.  I don’t think I made much of an impact…. But I have eggs and that’s good enough!

 

And Goat Pictures!

Praise is growing up!

Praise is growing up!

Praise

Praise

Heidi is bigger too!

Heidi is bigger too!

Remember when she was little?

Remember when she was little?

How is it that we keep accumulating more animals?  I’m a little confused.  Nothing else has given birth and yet…..  More animals.

I’ll be adding pictures this morning of our newest acquisitions – Stormy and Sunny.  Thanks Grandpa.  Just what we needed. 😛

So, it was time for the little ones to get disbudded.  And, me, being a gutless coward, headed off to a semi-local goat dairy.   Their son was ever so kind enough to do the dirty deed for me so that I wouldn’t have to be the bad guy to Latte and Heidi, who are now, for their own good, hornless goats.  Sigh.  It was pretty awful.

In the meantime, Miss Elizabeth went with me for moral support for Heidi.  They’re pretty close.  But at the last minute, Lizzie decided she couldn’t bear to watch.  So, she went off with the daughter in law to look at something….

Um, yes, pygmy goats.  Do they have a purpose?  Um, no.  I don’t think so.  Are we getting one?  Why yes, yes we are.  Why?  Couldn’t tell you.  BUT, Princess fell in love and Daddy said okay, and it’s a done deal.  Angel, our new little pygmy will be joining us in two weeks.  She’s really cute.  And about the size of our cat.  Yeah, not kidding.  TINY!

Now, that said, it, of course, led to a discussion on what are miniatures good for?  My thoughts, nothing.  But I was SO wrong!!

Turns out pygmies are the miniature version of a meat goat.  And Nigerian Dwarves are the miniature of a dairy goat.  See here?

Nigerian Dwarf Goat

Nigerian Dwarf Goat

So, a doe should be 17″-19″ in height.   Whereas if you take your average Saanen, they’re going to be about 32″ high.  So, you can see there’s a pretty significant difference.  And the same in milk supply…  Your average Saanen is going to give you about a gallon per day, or 8 pounds of milk.  The Nigerian is going to give you 3-4 pounds of milk per day, with 4 pounds maxing it out, or in other words, a 1/2 gallon at peak production.

Now, you combine the two and you have a mini Saanen!  The best of both worlds – you can feed your goats half what a normal goat would eat, due to their tiny stature and plan on getting about a 6 pounds of milk per day from your doe on average.  The Nigerian Dwarf in the genetics will also help drive up that butterfat content.  And let’s face it… Minis are NOT perfect for the average dairy farmer.  But, how fantastic are they for a suburban homesteader?  They’re slightly smaller than your average boxer dog, and since you really need to own two goats rather than one, the 1.5 gallons you get per day is just about perfect for any family, with a little leftover.   For us, we really wanted to own a buck.  With a half dozen does around, it’s going to be very inconvenient to not own our own buck.  However, with our space limitations and the need to keep the buck separate from the does, we just couldn’t see a way to make it happen.  Add to that the fact that I just can’t see myself dealing with a large, amorous, obnoxious buck and we have a problem.  When the buck is smaller than my dog, it makes it a little more convenient.  We can actually keep him in a large indoor/outdoor kennel attached to the barn.  Mini Saanens and Mini LaManchas…. for the homesteading family.  I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty excited!

Goat books know nothing about goats.

I take everything back I said about it being WRONG to wean the kids from their mama.  The little theives (the triplets) along with help from Little Lola, have robbed me blind of my milk.

Yesterday morning was a banner day.  We locked the little ones in their dog kennel (5′ sq. chain link kennel in the loafing barn) overnight.  Milked mamas in the AM.

Cinderella – 4lbs even
Gypsy – a whopping 5lbs. 10 oz.

This is a fabulous amount of milk for us!  We were thrilled. 

The children told me yesterday, “The triplets nurse off of Cinderella and Gypsy.”  “Oh no,” I told them, “Cinderella won’t feed any of the babies.  She isn’t their mama.”  Elizabeth pipes up, “And she nurses Lola!”  Now, I’ve caught Lola sneaking milk, so I know this to be true.

Sure enough.  Milk time rolled around last night and Cinderella gave me…

What?  Four pounds?  No.  Three pounds?  Nope.  Not even TWO pounds of milk.  That’s right.  The little milk stealers took almost all of it.  Now, I had some set aside (for my REAL children, not the kids) that I got to feed the other four starving goats.  Do you think I gave Lola her full bottle?  No I did not! 

And so it’s official.  All babies are all weaned as of today.  They’re getting bottles and I’m not letting them back in with the big does until they know milk doesn’t come from UDDERS, it comes from a BOTTLE.  Maybe this way we’ll end up with a little milk too.

Heartless?  Maybe.  But I tell you I’m figuring out this goat raisin’ learning curve.

Ooh, I want these so badly!

Ooh, I want these so badly!

The “kids” (both human and goat) decided to work together on the goat shed today.  We have all ten goats, loose, outside.  Gypsy won’t leave the barn, therefore neither will her triplets.  Cinderella can’t stand to be more than 3 feet away from a human at any time, so we’re not worried about wanderers.  The kids are working on the barn, the babies are working on the brush! 

Sweet Little Heidi - our most beloved

Sweet Little Heidi - our most beloved

Goats HAVE personality.

Gimmee a kiss Baby!

Gimmee a kiss Baby!

 

Whatcha taking a picture of Mom?

Whatcha taking a picture of Mom?

 

Ana & Legend

Ana & Legend

 

I'll jes' nibble on 'yer ear a 'lil.

I'll jes' nibble on 'yer ear a 'lil.

Yes, Legend looks a little pathetic here.  No, he did not get in trouble. 😛
He was asked to look at Grandma instead of snufflin’ whatever was in front of him and he was a good boy when told, “Leave it,” but it sure didn’t make him happy!

On the other hand, Legend is proving to be a very worthy farm pooch.  Despite being “talked” into um, “playing” with the chickens this morning by “that other” dog and getting into very serious trouble, he has been trying to herd the little goats by nipping their tails.  Cinderella takes great offense at this and we have to watch her very carefully as she would love to get in a hard head butt.  All things considered, I think they get along famously!

What a great day!

(And on the school pictures, bah!  It’s too nice to clean my house and do a lot of school.  Maybe tomorrow!)

 

Chore Boot Snowdrift

Chore Boot Snowdrift

Um, yeah.  A real farmer would know to take his boots in before a snow storm. 

Did I mention it was 8 degrees this morning?  Wow, milking goats was so idyllic in my head.