Saturday, December 27, 2008

Marvelous, Mysterious Mabel

Okay, so this is what we think happened. Mabel was definitely bred, was getting appropriately huge, and was due sometime between June and September. In August, after several drenching rainstorms, she sank up to her eyeballs into a clay pit. It took Maryruth and the whole volunteer fire department several hours to extricate her. After that trauma, Mabel stayed in the lower pasture for several days before coming up to the barn. We believe that the calf aborted and was dragged off by coyotes, as we never found the carcass. Mabel was noticeabley smaller when I picked her up in September than when I had dropped her off in June. Poor Mabey. So she is now keeping company with a couple of old beaus, to get her back in the motherly way. Not to fear, she has adopted a small calf, who is enthusiastically keeping the milk flowing.

Silver Bullet Press is open and offering good quality used books and deep discount used books. We have a color book and children's book in the works - keep checking back for "Mabel the Milk Cow". Click on the link to Mrs. D's Homestead.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Ice Capades

A series of storms has been blowing through the homestead, keeping us cold and wet. We have to bring in enough wood to make sure it's dry by the time we need to put it in the stove. Gusty winds have necessitated hanging the laundry inside to dry. We came up with a system that works pretty good. Mrs. D got a couple grids used to hang things for craft shows and she hangs them over the doors, hangs hangers on them and hangs up the clothes. Smaller items are clothespinned to the hangers.

We awoke to 3 inches of snow this morning, so are very glad that we emptied the 5 gallon bucket rainwater collection system into the tanks yesterday. However, we had let them sit for several days, and they all had about an inch of ice on top! So we broke up the ice, poured the water into the tanks and reset the buckets. The ice was collected into another bucket and set indoors to melt and then be added to the rest.

And speaking of frozen water, the hose was also frozen. Usually it thaws by midday, but yesterday we had to carry buckets of water to the horses and goats and chickens, etc. and that was after breaking up the ice in their water buckets. Makes Mrs. D glad she doesn't have to carry it up from the creek!
Yesterday we made Lavender Tea Tree goats milk soap, and packaged up the lotion bars we made on Saturday. Maryruth made her fabulous Vegan Vanilla Castille soap and Jersey Cream Oatmeal and Honey soap. We also made some quilting scrap soap bags, for soap ends, lotion bars and other doodads. Click on the link to Mrs. D's Homestead for more info on our fabulous soap and lotion product.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Those Amazing Sprouts

The guineas have successfully transitioned to the outdoor brooder and have made it through several freezing nights. Whew! I was getting tired of sharing my bathroom.
With the encouragement of the peavines in the garden, which have survived the freezing nights so far (despite losing their blossoms), I am working to complete a small section of greenhouse in which to start seeds and hopefully some winter greens.

In my frustration with lettuce failures this year, I had forgotten all about that most basic of hippie homesteader foodstuffs - sprouts. I now have two batches of sprouts going at all times and am thrilled to have some crunchy green stuff to eat with supper and in sandwiches. Not to mention the vitamin and fiber packed benefits. I am sprouting lentils because I have an abundance on hand, and they are particularly yummy as a salad. I have also tried wheat sprouts, and although they are tasty, they stick together, and are a little too much for me as a salad, but would probably be great run through the juicer, as wheatgrass juice. I might try throwing in a few mustard or celery seeds to add a little spice in the next batch. To have a sprout salad, just throw in whatever you would add to a lettuce salad, add some dressing and enjoy.

To sprout seeds: choose any non-treated legume, chemically treated beans can make you sick. Mung beans, alfalfa, wheat berries, lentils, dried peas, garbanzo beans, other dried beans, mustard, radish, curly cress are all good. Place about 1/4 cup seeds/beans in a clean quart jar and cover plus about 2 inches with water. Let sit overnight. Cover jar with cheesecloth and a rubber band. Drain seeds in morning, rinse, drain, cover and lay jar on its side in a cool, dark place, I put mine on top of the fridge. Continue to rinse and drain twice a day. Sprouts should be ready in 3-5 days.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Small Town Patriotism

This is one of the million things I love about living in a small town. I bring the truck in to get some work done at 8a.m. (this could take all day) and the boys from the American Legion already have the flags up, lining the streets. Okay, I give up. Columbus Day is passed, Veterans day is not here yet. What is the deal with October 27th? Maryruth arrives shortly to give us a ride back to the Homestead and says, "It's Navy Day". "Huh?" "Navy Day. The day the Navy was started. Flags." "Oh, yeah". Mystery solved.
I love that even during frustrating times, when many of us are disgusted with many things our government is doing, there are a few staunch veterans, patriots, who are dedicated to reminding us of what's good about this country. Thanks, guys.
Guineas are doing well, 8 survivors for over 2 weeks now, and counting. They are still inside, but only 1 heat lamp now. After some advice from other guinea raisers, we added some powdered milk and cooking oil to the lay mash feed, and they seem to enjoy that.

Monday, October 13, 2008

New Guineas

Okay, so now I've got the pictures up, but editor won't let me put them where they belong. Thanks for your patience while I learn how to do this. The dog pics, of course, belong with the blurb about Eulalia.

But not the country...Mrs. D's friend ordered guinea chicks, but then needed a brooder, sooo - here they are. They arrived right before our first freeze of the year, so are having an especially hard time of it. The good news, half are still alive;)

Tragedy has struck again, Eulalia Burrito died Friday morning. We still don't know exactly what happened, one minute she was fine, next she was sick. Possible she picked up parvo virus or ate something poisonous. We'll never know.

In hopes that Maryruth will begin to contribute to this blog (hint, hint), she has been invited, here is what her day was like Friday: Get up for early morning walk; Shirley Doll (her pug) brings her scarf, shoes, and chew toy (Shirley's chew toy, not Maryruth's); head to door, Shirley runs headfirst into door three times before Maryruth gets there to open it (only pug owners can appreciate this). A new rescue pug will be joining Shirley Doll pug this week, We hope Maryruth will post pictures and updates. Okay Maryruth, the rest is up to you.

We had our first hard freeze of the season Saturday night, Mrs. D's garden is now officially done. Winter garden project is not yet started. Fall peas are still trying. But oohhh that nice, warm fire in the woodstove;) Having trouble posting pictures right now, my computer doesn't want to read the memory card. Hope to have some for next time.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Wood and Water

Sometimes the weather just does what you want it to do around here. It rained Monday night most of the night and stayed nice and cool all day Tuesday. We propped the gutters up to drain into the buckets and they all got filled. Yeah! Our city well water (which we haul out to the homestead) is so hard, the plants eventually seem to stop responding to it. So having that rainwater really is a boost to the garden.

Mrs. D has her wood permit now, so we'll start bringing in our fuelwood tomorrow. Mrs. D, being the delicate female that she is (tongue in cheek), can only handle a couple hours of cutting at a time, so this project will take until the forest closes to woodcutting in December. This will make for many hours of romping through the woods with L'il Homesteader, as well as numerous Teddy Bear Picnics. Such a good life it is!

Monday, May 12, 2008

A Time For Planting

A blustery day, as Winnie the Pooh would say. This one is supposed to bring us some rain. The baby garden sure needs it. Mrs. D and L'il Homesteader have planted broccoli, tomatoes, onions, potatoes, garlic, carrots, lettuce, and tons more. What with the way the wind's been blowin' since the end of March, it's hard to keep 'em watered. Then there's the compost heaps, and not to even mention how much the critters drink. Speaking of rain, haven't started on the gutters yet. Ah well.

The milking machine broke down a few days ago, just when we were really getting to like it. Pulsaters gummed up or something. Grandpa D says that always was a problem with those machines. He is glad he isn't the one milking cows! Mrs. D will have to wait for mechanically minded male personage to get around to looking at it, dousing it with WD40 hasn't helped. It is faster to milk by hand anyway, with just 3 ladies.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Chick, Chick, Chickeee!

And now it's May. More improvements this month. "Around the Homestead", Mrs. D's blog, will be updated more frequently; aiming for once a week. "The Homestead" will still be (the goal is) monthly, followed by the monthly newsletter of the same name.

Some new homestead artists will be joining the store with their own "Homestead Treats". Look for their info in the blog as we get their fine crafts added to the store.

So much has happened since March, it may take all month for me to get it up on the blog. L'il Homesteader finished his Pre-K work and is continuing with review and enrichment activities while we wait for his Kindergarten books to arrive. With 2 cows and 1 goat in milk we are trying out a milking machine, weighing the pros and cons.

Today's big news: Maryruth got the day-old baby chicks last Saturday, we picked up our 25 from her on the 3rd. So here are our week old babies. We are still having some chilly nights, so they are in an old water tub in Mrs. D's bathroom. No broody hen this year, so they've got a heat lamp to keep them warm. L'il Homesteader spends every waking moment inspecting his babies and playing with them. Ah, spring!

Monday, March 31, 2008

March Already?

It's March already! Where did January go? February? The Homestead has soaked up a good deal of rain and snow this season and we've collected as much of the water as humanly possible with a 5 gallon bucket system. Guttering all flat surfaces has suddenly moved way up on the priority list. We'll post pictures and updates on our progress.

Spring lambing/kidding has officially started with the arrival of 2 doe kids, courtesy of Big Red (toggenberg/nubian mix). Big Red's momma Jenny was a great milker, but Big Red is too wild. Hope is that one or both of these girls will inherit Jenny and Big Red's milk capacity, and with regular handling will become prolific milkers in their own right. Daddy's Alpine strain mixed in should help. Hope springs eternal.

The Homestead goes back to the schoolroom this month, to discuss how we're handling reading readiness in our homeschool.

Spring is bursting with new fragrances for our Homespun Treats like Jasmine Rose, Lemongrass and our NEW BUG FORMULA. Votive candles are now available scented. We're working on a line of costumes for re-enactors which we will post in the store as we get them going. Starting with the colonial era and civil war/fur trade era, we hope to also add in some renaissance and other styles as we go.