Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A productive day....

Today was fairly productive, and I am feeling it now. After morning chores I had to water in the new strawberry patch. It looks like we lost about half a dozen plants. I have plenty left to fill in, hoping to get that done tomorrow. After watering strawberries, I drug the hose to water the beets and carrots. Then drug the hose again...watered the pigs...drug the hose to the poultry area.. cleaned and filled the 3 pools. Cleaned the kitchen and decided to put a whole chicken in the oven for dinner. Made home made stuffing however I am out of Sage! Who runs out of sage!?? Well, I did. I used garlic and Lemon Thyme to season it. Turned out great too! Chicken with stuffing, mashed taters, gravy and corn. YUMMY! I had a fella come by this afternoon and he bought the 3 extra piglets. I am glad to have them gone. Feeding out 5 pigs was NOT in my plans. I didn't realize until I was in there catching them, just how "healthy" they were. Whew! Heavy little pigs! They weigh between 40 and 50 pounds already. They are only about 12 weeks old too! I am already dreaming of bacon and hams. This will be our first time butchering American Guinea Hogs. I am interested to see how they fatten up and how the meat is. Every where I look and read about them it say's the meat is "gourmet" I will let you know when the time comes. While doing evening chores...I paused to take in the beauty of the sunset and the few early leaves that are changing color already.
While I was taking a picture of this little leaf.... I was robbed! Lulu decided it looked tasty. Just as I was going to take another picture, she nabbed it!
These little "mutt" chicks are old enough to be roosting, but decided they still want to sleep with momma. She is a silkie hen and they are silkie/white Japanese Bantams mix. There are 8 babies in that little 10 inch square box, with momma hen!
Enjoy it while you can little ones... Saturday they are headed out to an adoption event along with the rabbits and a few of the call ducks. Tomorrow I have an early doctors appointment to have my elbow looked at. Seems I have tennis Elbow. UGH! Once I get home I will head out to pick the green peppers and Brussels Sprouts. A little bit more for winter stores! Always makes me happy. The gardening is coming to an end...Beets and carrots are still coming in. They should be the last of it. Then we will cover every bit of the garden area with "stuff" from the barn and put the gardening to bed. It is sad.. but at the same time, I am glad to be finishing it. October will be time to breed the goats...and prepare for the Holidays that are coming way too fast!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Sometimes... Homesteading hurts.

Yep, physically and mentally.... you have to be a little tougher than some. A few weeks ago, a little stray dog started hanging out. Me being the softie that I am, I decided to befriend the little runt...and just try to find him a home. Since I already have 4 inside dogs there is no way I can detain this new little guy. He has been running these country roads for a while. He does have a home, about a mile down the way... however they refuse to keep him in a fenced area, or better yet, inside. He is a cutie too, such a shame. Terrier mix, would make someone a great little house companion. However, he is NOT good around a farm. He chases cats, well, the ones that will run from him, then he runs from the big toms, tail tucked, screaming for help! LOL Another thing he chases.... chickens. NOT GOOD. Last week he went after mine. He was able to get my big rooster. Lucky for the dog, and the rooster, he only ripped out the tail feathers. I screamed at the dog, and he ran off... however he still keeps coming back. I know some people say.. " Ye'r gonna have to shoot him" I just can't. So for now, the chickens are in their pen... no free ranging until I find this pup a home. After he chased my rooster off into the woods, I went looking for him. Oh boy... there are a lot of sticker bushes in the woods... and they got me but good!
I have to keep telling myself.... he deserves a good home...he deserves to live... OUCH! Then the Guineas, in a panic, got themselves wedged between 2 pieces of chicken fence. I had to reach in and pull them out. My arm took the worst of that situation.
The pup deserves a good home... he deserves to live. One of the neighbors told my next door neighbor that if he see's this dog on his property again, he will shoot it. Apparently the dog got into his chickens as well. Killed a few of them. UGH! So, now I have to try even harder to get him a home, SOON! Later this morning someone is coming to look at the 2 little dairy goats we have, for sale. Hoping that she falls in love with them, and decides to buy them. This will help ease my load over winter. We do not need 4 dairy goats.... the 2 big ones we have are plenty. I had a talk with the girls this morning, and told them they better be on their BEST behavior! Stand tall, be polite, and just look so adorable that this woman will fall in love with them. Now I need to get out there and give them a good brushing. Hopefully later today we have a gentleman coming to buy the 3 little pigs. Hoping he doesn't back out. I do NOT want to have to butcher 5 pigs! Nor do I want to feed 5 more pigs through fall and into winter. Fall is a busy time of year....so lets get out there, enjoy the cooler temps before the harsh winter sets in.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Making a list and checking it twice... a day.

No, I am not playing Santa Clause. I am ... a homesteader. This time of the year we start to feel the crunch time. Fall is right around the corner and winter will soon follow. Most days I feel like I am running in circles. So, to help me get to the tasks I need finished before the snow flies.... I make a list. Yesterday I was able to mark off a BIG task... building a grow out pen for the pig's and get the babies in there. Today...we moved strawberry plants. LOTS and LOTS of strawberry plants. The first strawberry bed we had is about 4 foot by 5 foot. This last spring and early summer we picked so many strawberries. Between 2 and 4 quarts a day! Great big strawberries too!
I had planted them in the summer of 2013. These are I believe "June bearing" They were a gift from a friend. Over this summer they sent out runners. A LOT of runners.... everywhere! So we decided to make a "real" strawberry patch and transplant them over. The new patch is about 30 foot by 40 ft. We planted 5 rows that are 4o feet long with just the runners! I didn't disturb any of the original crowns.... and there are still somewhere around 50 or so left. Oh boy, strawberry heaven. I don't think these new rows will be productive next year, most likely 2016. My plan is to pick them and take the surplus into town and sell at the farmers market. So, this morning I got out there right after morning chores and built up the rows.
After these were finished... it was time to transplant and water.
The temps decided to climb a bit today so we gave them a good long drink. Then it was time to put the bedding from the barn around them. This will keep the moisture in and insulate for winter.
So this is a big task I can now mark off of the list. My plans are that if they do well we will have enough to start selling at the farmers market. I have a feeling they should do well. Next year we are planning to focus on the thorn less blackberries. We need to move them over near the new strawberry patch and build an area for them similar to the strawberry patch. So, I have been able to knock out 2 big tasks this week. I don't even want to count how many are left on that list. I just know, there are enough to keep me busy until the snow flies.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Moving pigs...building fences.

So the baby pigs are big enough to be separated from momma. I have been putting it off for a few weeks now, just because to separate them is a big job. My husband brought home a couple HUGH pallets that he cut in half to make fence panels. Once he cut them in half they STILL weigh about 150 pounds each. For me to get them from the shop, where the pig pen is, I had to drag them with the lawn tractor and a strap. I drug 5 of them over there a few days ago.
This morning, I decided It was time to get busy. First I had to get one of the big wood crates over to the pen. These crates are about 4 ft square. They weigh about 200 pounds so moving it was a bit of a chore. I ended up flipping it end over end moving it about 300 feet. After turning off the electric fence, I was able to get it into the big pen and in place where I needed it. Then I had to move the panels. This took quite a bit but I finally had them in place. I ended up having to put electric at the bottom AND the top. I had the babies in the pen but needed to come up to the house to get the plastic conductors and when I got back out there, momma had jumped over the fence to get in with her babies. The brat! I finally got her out, and was able to keep the babies in. Set up the electric lines and plugged it in. Didn't take long for the babies to figure out that the white line bites! All I need to do now is put bedding in the hut and I will be done. Had to come in to take a break. Whew! I am worn out. So, here it is...in all it's "glory"
Now I need to go get the double sided feeder, from the barn, and get it set up in there for them. Time to get some meat on them bones. After my lunch break is over I am going to get started on the new strawberry bed. There will be 4 rows, about 30 ft long. I need to build up the rows, transplant the plants and add the old bedding from the barn, BEFORE the rain gets here Saturday early evening.
I am hoping in a few years I will be able to have a U-Pick patch. We are also working on having a U-Pick thorn-less blackberry patch as well. THAT will for sure be a few years down the road. We are not even getting enough for just us yet. So what are your fall jobs? Are you getting them done? Crossing off any big projects yet?

Monday, September 15, 2014

What are your "winter preps" ?

For us, it is all about the firewood. Our home is a split level, with a finished basement. Well, MOSTLY finished. This is where we have the family room. TV, computers, laundry area and the wood stove. We spend most of our indoor time in this area...during the winter. Keeping the wood stove going is usually one of my duties. Now, the only "issue" with this is.. we haven't even started on firewood yet. The mornings are cool... in the 40's and I can feel a bit of "panic" setting in. The hubs is working 40 hour weeks and weekends we are scrambling to finish the outside things, putting the gardens to rest, moving plants. During the week I am still gathering and canning. Beets are coming in now so I will be canning and pickling those. I am going to have to designate a few hours a day to gathering firewood. Even if I am gathering the smaller stuff, I will feel better knowing we have a start on it. *sigh* Homesteading is never about sitting quietly, listening to the sounds of the woods and animals. There is always a "job" that needs done. And with that said, I need to get outside and get this day going!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Summer is drawing to an end...I will miss you my old friend.

So, summer is drawing to an end here. We are waking to temperatures in the low 40's...and highs in the 70's and a few days of high 60's! The woods are alive with the sounds of the critters mourning the loss of summer. Crickets sing louder....Squirrels chatter loudly as they hide their winter stashes. The birds are calling to mates and friends, talking about the long flight south. Very soon the woods will echo with the sounds of chain saws....cleaning up the downed trees for firewood. Cool weekend nights bring on bon fires and friends. I can vaguely smell the scents of fall. Wet leaves, cut grass. I look at a pantry just bulging at the seams with the produce we grew and preserved for our winter dinners. Now that the days are cool, it is time to start making large pots of soups, and canning them as well. Time to winterize the animals homes as well. The other day I worked on one of the goats cabins.....with the help of a neighbor....we were able to finish the inside.
I still need to add a front wall...leaving only a door way for them to enter. Seems everyone is talking about how hard this winter will be. I want to be prepared. Fall means cobblers and pies....more baking now that it is cooler. The other day I made a peach cobbler. It was delish! It was SO good, we had it gone in 2 days. So yesterday I made another cobbler, this time I made a strawberry cobbler! OH MY GOODNESS! YUM! Hubby was especially thankful. Strawberries are his favorite fruit. I am glad I put a lot of them in the freezer while I had them! So very soon the menu will include pumpkin. I can't wait for pumpkin bread, pie, and muffins! Today the work will continue in the new strawberry patch. We are moving them into a much larger area and putting them in rows. Picking next year will be a lot easier. Once the strawberry plants are moved I will be planting garlic in there. Hoping we will have fresh garlic next year. The sun is finally warming things up, so it is time to head out and get started.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Bees and Barn Bedding.

No, this is NOT a cute little twisted tongue teaser. It is for REAL! This morning I decided to start cleaning the barn, while the air is cool. There is one area by a door that we rarely use, I have neglected way too long. ( Most of this summer ) So, I rolled up the sleeves, grabbed my pitch fork, and dug in...right into a bed of BEES!! HOLY CRAP ON A CRACKER!! HUNDREDS of them! They were NOT happy about me turning up their "home" in the wet bedding. They attacked...and stuck like Velcro. I ran, arms flailing, wiping them from my shirt and pants, jumping and screaming...well, OK, cussing. I escaped, but NOT without battle wounds. No less than a half a dozen of those mean little suckers hit their mark.
These are NOT honey bees....and if they are, I do not want the "honey" since they are living in wet barn bedding. No, they are a bit longer, and aggressive! I doused the "nest" with almost half a bottle of fly spray, sending them out the door. Then, I grabbed my things and headed to the house to dab mud on my stings. *sigh* NOW I have to figure out HOW to get them out of the barn! DARNED BEES! My arms and legs are throbbing....my hands are shaking...and I am going to search on the best, easiest, safest way to get them out. But for now...I am going to sit here and pout a bit, and plot my revenge!!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Cool mornings....

Yes, Fall is just around the corner. Mornings in the low 50's then the temps climbing into the low 80's during the day. This...in my personal opinion is PERFECT weather. Windows open, blankets on... brings a smile to my face. Then again....it reminds me that summer is almost over...and soon winter will have her icy grip upon us once again. A little bit of panic rises in me. We still need to gather firewood. *sigh* Homesteading never lets up. Busy from one season right into the next....just different things to keep one busy. For now, the garden is slowing down. The fall beets and carrots are not ready...the green beans are slowing down as are the tomato's. So, this gives me time to head into the woods and start dragging out the fallen trees. I will drag them out, hubby will take the chain saw to them, then we will both stack it up. Yep, it is firewood "season" Have you started getting yours together?

Friday, September 5, 2014

September? Already?

It is hard to believe that September is here already! Before we know it the leaves will be falling and there will be a coolness in the air. However, Summer is not ready to let go of its hot sweaty grip. Another day in the 90's with high humidity in store. They are calling for the "real feel" to be near 100 again today. I am so glad I was able to finally pick up a swimming pool. I think today, after I trim the goats hooves and pull more weeds, and try to get another section of the barn cleaned...I will relax in the pool for a bit. I have had my head buried in the canning books! Tomato seeds flying, corn silk everywhere, wash, sterilize, cook, fill, stack.....I finally realized something was up when I was putting another load of jars into the pantry, and realized I am running out of room! What a great feeling! I was blessed by a good friend giving us " all the sweet corn I could pick" So, I picked up our 14 year old grandson, who towers over me, and we went to pick corn. We filled 5 feed sacks, not stopping to think, THAT is a LOT of corn! 15 DOZEN ears! Oh boy...was I in trouble! It took me 2 days, but I was able to get it all processed. 60 pints,and 11 quarts canned, and 50 + ears in the freezer. As the old man told Babe, "That'l do pig, That'l do."
I do believe the tomato's have "given up the ghost" We didn't get a whole lot, but what I have in the pantry should get us through. Green beans STILL coming on strong. I have 60+ pint canned and I am working on quarts now. I put up quarts of veggies for when we have company over for dinner. I had planted a second crop of beets. They are coming up great! Shouldn't be too long until I will be canning them as well as carrots. I am a little disappointed in the Brussels sprouts this year. Not really getting near what I wanted to get, but there will be a few nights of delicious little green balls of goodness for us. All of these wet, dewey morning have left me with great picture ops. I just love dew covered spider webs.
These little Sweet Pea plants came up voluntary. They smell so sweet...and the color is cheery... I love them.
Now that the gardening is slowing down, it is time to focus on bigger jobs. Fire wood! Oh boy, I really dread cutting, splitting, stacking...firewood. According to the Farmers Almanac, we are in for another epic winter. *sigh* This means we need to get at least 15 ricks of wood put in...and we haven't even started! Once we DO get started there will be saw dust flying everywhere....sweating, and I am sure a little cussing. The mad rush will be to beat the first freeze. During the day while hubby is at work, I will be buttoning up the coops and barn, laying in the compost on the soon to be finished gardens, and dragging the downed trees from the woods with the tractor. On the weekends we will cut, split and stack. Yes, the "lazy days of summer" are coming to an end. Where did THAT phrase come from?? Have you had lazy days this summer?? Must be a "city thing"