Sunday, September 30, 2012

Still looking for pigs

Nope... I haven't gotten any yet. I'm getting frustrated. I have not gotten their fencing up yet, but I am planning on having them in the pig panel hoop for a few weeks first. I would like for them to root around in the area that my new garden is going to be next year. I still would prefer an above ground bed, because erosion is going to be an issue. The problem is that I'm not comfortable cutting down standing trees on my own (to supply logs to make beds). I may end up doing it anyway, though, if I can't get anyone to help me with it. We'll see how that goes later. Regardless, pigs would be good to get the grass up, move around the soil, and fertilize things. I was reading the other evening, that pigs can be the best tool a small farmer has. They can clear just about any shrubby plants off of land, leaving trees. I really need that for some areas of the yard and they will be put to work once they get bigger! Bulldozers aren't easy to come by and the brush here is too thick for the bush hog (wonder if that's where the name came from?) The book also said that to clear trees, goats are a huge help. Anyway, I have been waiting to hear from some people that said they knew where to get pigs locally. I really preferred that because the ones I found were over an hour away. I'm just going to have to take things into my own hands and find them myself. Another moment, when I get frustrated with people for not holding up their end of a deal, and then I realize that it is my fault for expecting them to in the beginning! It is my project and I need to take control of it! Problem solved. Now I've gotta go find pigs and figure out how I'm going to get them home. 

I finally had a chance to pick up my seed order last Tuesday. I have, since, received my second seed order for the wedding  (pumpkins, sunflowers, and gourds). I have been working in the morning before school and in the evening when I get home before dark, to get some of the beds turned over and replanted. I was really looking forward to getting the rest of it done this weekend, along with a few other things, but it has been, and will continue, raining the whole weekend, so those plans go out the window. Somehow, despite not having been walked on at all, some of the beds became very compacted. I suspect that it was because the soil in those beds had too high of a clay content. I added compost (which I am very low on) and some sandy soil to it so hopefully it will keep the soil loose. I have planted, so far, half a bed of beets, half a bed of carrots (same bed as the beets), a bed of rutabagas (replanted because Randy decided it looked like prime hole digging territory. I hated to even fuss at him because he looked so proud of himself. "Look ma! I'm digging in the garden just like you!), a bed of kale (three types in the same bed), a bed of brussel sprouts, and half a bed of lettuce (I will plant the other half in 3 weeks). I still have three beds left to plant, but the plants in them are still hanging on and I really hate to tear them up. Especially the jalapenos and eggplant, which don't appear to be producing fruit, but are still flowering like crazy. I also have a large portion of the large bed to plant. There are some late tomatoes already in there, as well as, some basil that is still green, but will be dying soon. The soil there isn't very good, though. It needs some serious compost added, but I'm not sure I have enough to supply. 

I still need to plant garlic (which will be arriving this week), cabbage, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, and perhaps a little bit of swiss chard. More left to plant than beds to plant it in. I think I will try growing some cabbage and cauliflower in planters and see how they do. Regardless, anything that needs to be planted needs to be planted soon so I need to figure out where to put it! 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sunny Sunday at the Homestead

 I can feel Autumn in the air! I LOVE it! Yesterday was the first official day of Fall. The evenings are cooler, but the days are still pretty warm. It has been in the mid 80's. Enough for me to break a sweat earlier. Brad, Keegan, and I picked up some hog panels, a pig feeder, waterer, t-posts, and electric fencing supplies from Brad's father (my enabler). The pigs can live in the hog panel ring, which can be moved around to new grass, for the first few weeks. At least, until we can get the electric fence up. This will give me time to train them to respect the fence before I rely on it, solely, to keep them restrained. It is getting close! I'm getting even more excited!
 I have been getting lists together, of supplies that we need to buy, so we can get started on the shop, green house, and chicken tractor. Things have been pretty productive, all things considering. I hate that we are losing daylight hours. It will soon be dark before I get home every day and productivity will drop significantly. I, personally, think that the time should be left the way it is during the summer, rather than having it fall back in the winter, and being left with even fewer hours of daylight than we are already getting. In my mind, that makes absolutely no sense, but then that is just me. I'm sure there is logic there somewhere or the rule wouldn't have been put in place. Anyway...

The turkeys are getting so big! I let them out today, for the first time since the hawk attack, to free range.  It was about an hour before dusk, so I was hoping that they wouldn't roam far, and I stayed out there to keep an eye on them. They make the most wonderful noises when they are happy or curious, which is almost ALL of the time! They, almost immediately, found the chicken feed. Einstein shared with them. I think he was relieved that they weren't chasing him off, like Jack does. They ended up doing it anyway, after a few minutes. Einstein put up a fight though! He fended off the whole flock of turkeys and didn't back down. I was so proud and would have taken pictures had I not been trying to catch and rescue
him from the huge turkeys, but Einy was having none of it thank-you-very-much! He fluffed his neck up like an umbrella and flew at them like a crazed lunatic! Normally, he is a lover, not a fighter.... well he's not much of a lover either because Jack doesn't like to share his harem of beauties, but my little Einy is such a sweet, goofy, little guy. I was very impressed. Finally, I fought the turkeys back, and Einy marched off, too proud to admit that he would have pee'd himself, if chickens pee'd. The turkeys puffed up and strutted around the yard like they owned the place, paying the ball of growling dogs that are usually rolling around the yard, no mind at
all. They can't lay still like normal dogs, they are constantly wresting and playing, and more closely resemble an highly energized, and very loud, ball of chaos, that rolls around the yard leaving a trail of dust wafting behind them, than actual, civilized, dogs.
I shouldn't be surprised, though. All of my animals are heathens. I love them though!  Luckily, at least the feathered heathens, are trained with sunflower seeds! That comes in very handy, like when trying to convince 13 turkeys to return to their coop before it gets dark (except when receiving mail is concerned, apparently).

I made a video of the turkeys strutting their stuff and making their wonderful happy noises, along with Jack crowing in the back ground, and it wouldn't surprise me if the dogs growling could be heard too. The chickens are doing wonderfully, as well! I have gotten as many as 9 eggs in one day, but then they usually drop to 4 or 5 the next day. It isn't constant, but it is perfect, as far as I am concerned. Beautiful shades of brown, blue, green, and even someone who is laying a white egg. I haven't figured out who that is yet.

I got some brush cleared this evening. Brad doesn't like me using a chainsaw because he worries that I'm not strong enough to keep it under control. His rule is, if I can start it, I can use it. Well... basically, I can't use it. So, I went and bought my own. I was debating on purchasing a battery powered saw, an electric saw, or going with a small gas powered one. I think electric would be useless, since I couldn't go farther than my power cord will reach. I went with the battery powered saw because small engines can be a pain to deal with. It is very small, but handles small stuff easily and it is light. The problem is that it doesn't hold a charge for very long, so I can't get a lot done at once.I had to go get my hedge clippers to finish up what I was doing. They are stout and can tackle pretty large saplings. I am still debating on whether to keep the saw, or to take it back and get a small gas powered engine. I need to get some more
brush cleared and make my decision before the time
runs out that I can take it back.
Fairy Tale Pumpkins

I got my seed order... or at least it is in town. My mail lady has issues with delivering my mail sometimes, so I have to find a way to make it to the post office to pick the package up during business hours. I think she is afraid of the mass of marauding chickens wandering around my yard, that think that every "people" has sunflower seeds to feed them! The poor girl is probably traumatized by being surrounded when she set foot out of her truck. I'm looking forward to getting to look through my seeds and plant my fall garden. I need to re-chicken-proof the back garden, first. I also put in another order with the same seed company. I ordered fairy tale pumpkins. They are supposed to be wonderful for pies, but I want them as decoration. They are beautiful! I am getting married in October of next year and plan to use an Autumn harvest theme. I ordered a mix of winter squash in the last order, and this time I also ordered a mixed variety of large sized gourds, mixed sunflowers, and maya sunflowers (which are excellent cut according to the description). My main flower will be sunflowers( my favorite!) but I also want to use mums. I plan to have pumpkins, and arrangements of squash, gourds, and flowers, as the main decorations. I figured that going with the season would be the most economical and green way to do it! Hopefully my harvest next year will fulfill my needs! I'm looking forward to the whole process, from seed til "I do"!

Sunday, September 16, 2012


The homestead is a work in progress. There are many things that we have accomplished since moving here 3 years ago, but many more that we have plans for, and even more than that still in the dream stages. This autumn and winter there are quite a few projects that I hope to complete. I think that the best way for me to keep track of them, and be accountable for them, is to post them here.

1) Put up electric fence- I am planning on getting pigs before this time next month. I want to get dairy goats, as well, but they many need to wait until spring. Regardless, the fence need to be put up. I decided on electric fencing, which I have read much about recently. It doesn't cost as much, and will hopefully deter the goats and piggies from escaping. Goat and pigs are master escape artists. Pigs dig under and goats climb over. Hopefully it won't take them long to respect the fence and we can all live happily together. I have already purchased about half of the supplies that I need to erect the fence, and hope that it will go smoothly (or as much so as possible for a first-timer). Side note- anyone local, or that visits regularly, that would like to purchase a half or whole pig raised on pasture please let me know! I would like to know how many to get. A pig weighs between 200-300 lbs once it is processed and I will be selling it for $3.00 a pound (cheaper than you can get the factory produced products at the store). They should be ready about 6 months from the time that I get them.

2) Build shelter for the piggies and goats- Probably just lean-to type structures. More than likely made from pallets. It shouldn't be difficult.

3) Build a new, larger, compost pile to enable me to complete the next project...

4) New above ground garden beds in the 75' x 25' area I have laid out in the front yard. These need to be fenced in to keep the chickens from destroying them like they did to my beautiful beds this year! Ugh!

5) Build a shop- I have the plans for a 12' x 16' shop that needs to be completed this winter. Brad needs a home for all of his radio equipment, first and foremost. I also need a place to put a chest deep freezer, which is necessary for pork, chicken, turkey, and any fruit/veggies/berries that don't get canned immediately. Honestly, I could use more than one, but we have to start somewhere. I hope to have shelves lining one wall for canning jars (both empty and full), my water bath and pressure canners, dehydrators, and all the other equipment I use. I want a few troughs at the bottom with hinged lids to put potatoes, onions, squash, and other things that need to be stored in cool, dark, areas. It will also be nice to have a place to put our bicycles.

6) Green house- honestly, this will probably be a pretty fast and easy project. I am really looking forward to it though! It needs to be completed by January so that I can start my plants. It will be built in a similar fashion to my hoop coop. Probably smaller, and of course, it will have plastic rather than chicken wire, which will make it MUCH cheaper (chicken wire is ridiculously expensive!).

7) Chicken tractor(s)- Yes ANOTHER ONE! The hoop coop is currently full of turkeys (and honestly I need to build at least one more of those so I can separate breeds during mating season) and the brooder tractor I built is a TANK! I think it must weigh 200-300 lbs and is very awkward to move. I wanted to make sure it was strong enough to withstand constant moving... yeah...It was the prototype before the hoop coop, which is light, but very big and not very sturdy. I have devised a way to move both (like the ancient Egyptians built the pyramids and the druids moved the huge stones for 100's of miles to make stone henge. Not very original by why argue with something that obviously works well?!) I use a shovel to pry the side up, place several wide pieces of pvc under each side, spaced out, and then drag it. Once a piece slides out the back, I stick it back under the front end, and drag some more. Although, it is always faster with help, I can mange to move both coops alone. Enough rambling. I want to build 1 or 2 new chicken tractors out of metal conduit. This will make it more sturdy than pvc, and lighter than wood. It is also cheap. The meat chickens destroyed every plant in the yard and GARDENS(except for the weeds and grass that I wanted them to eat, of course! UGH!!!)this year, and next year they will remain contained at all times. I still want them to have clean forage every day. Perfect solution.

8) Make an incubator- I want to hatch turkey and chicken eggs this spring. I would rather make my own rather than buy one if possible.

Yes... I have a LOT of projects, but I am determined. Let's see how far my determination can get me. I will keep you updated as I accomplish things.Wish me luck!

My Seed Order Is In!!!

I placed my seed order. I'm very excited about all of the varieties that I ordered. All are heirloom so I am hoping that I don't have to purchase seeds again. I am going to attempt to save seeds every season and put them up to plant the following year. I will take seeds from the largest plants and fruits that seem to be doing the best. Each season, my plants will become better adapted to my area and more tolerant to parasites and diseases that are common here. I also ordered two types of garlic bulbs from a separate company. I plan to order asparagus from another company, as well. I hope that I get my order soon! Many of the seeds that I ordered are cool weather varieties, so it is the perfect time to get them in the ground, if I hurry! 

I ordered from which is a small family run business. 

- FLORIDA SPECKLED BUTTER POLE LIMA BEAN   85 days - This very popular butter bean was first introduced in the 1840's.  The tall, 10 foot vines bear pods in clusters.  A wonderful buff colored bean with maroon speckles.   Does well in hot, humid weather!  
- RATTLESNAKE POLE BEAN   65 days - This heirloom has unusual, dark-green pods streaked with purple. This vigorous grower often grows to 10 feet tall, and is filled with 7 inch, great tasting pods.  Beautiful, light buff seeds splashed with dark-brown markings.  An old favorite!

- PREMIUM LETTUCE BLEND   43-70 days – A delightful mix of our best selling varieties, especially blended for unique color, texture and flavor qualities.  A wonderful selection for the salad bowl.

- BLOOMSDALE LONG STANDING 46 days - This heirloom variety was first introduced in 1908 and still remains very popular!  The thick-textured leaves are of fine quality, very crinkled and dark green in color. A slow bolting spinach that is heavy yielding.  Excellent variety for either fresh or canned!

Swiss Chard:
- ORIOLE  60 days - The decorative coloring makes this variety a real stand-out in your garden. The green leaves have a beautiful orange stem contrast. Harvest the baby leaves for salads, or let mature for use in braising, stir-frys or cooking greens.

- JACK BE LITTLE (Cucurbita pepo) 90 days   - These miniature pumpkins are great for decorating! The  2"x 3" pumpkins are dark orange in color, and tiny enough to fit in the palm of your hand! Grow your own unique Thanksgiving  decorations this year! 
CONNECTICUT FIELD (Cucurbita pepo) 110 days - This old heirloom variety weights 25 pounds or more, and is perfect for Halloween decorating!   A terrific choice for Thanksgiving pies!

- SPAGHETTI  (Cucurbita pepo) 100 days-  This unusual variety is filled with strands of squash similar to spaghetti!   To serve, simply bake, then scoop the strands out, and serve just like pasta.  Unique!
 -WINTER HARVEST MIX  80-110 days - This nice mixture of winter squashes will provide you with the variety you crave. Whether they're steamed, sautéed, or roasted, this selection is sure to please your palate. A great way to have a wonderful selection of winter squashes to choose from this season. 
-BLACK BEAUTY SQUASH   60 days - This heirloom variety was first introduced to U.S. markets in the 1920's. The semi-upright plants produce a heavy crop of blocky, dark green/black fruits, with a creamy, white interior. Excellent all purpose zucchini.

-AMISH PASTE   82 days - Originally from the Amish of Wisconsin, we acquired our seed from the Amish farms in Lancaster, PA.  The deep red, 8 ounce fruit resembles an acorn, with thick flesh and few seeds. Makes an excellent canning tomato!   Indeterminate vines.
-CHEROKEE PURPLE 82 days - Originally grown by the Cherokee Indians, this has been a popular tomato for over 100 years!  This relatively disease free tomato has pink-purple flesh, with a smoky, sweet flavor,  and grows 10 to 12 ounces, while the vines provide dense foliage.  Very unusual!   Indeterminate vines.
 -STRIPED GERMAN  80-90 days - A West Virginia variety that produces very large (up to 2½ pounds), red and yellow skinned fruits. The bi-colored flesh has a nice, slightly tart flavor and looks very attractive when sliced. Indeterminate vines.

-YOLO WONDER  75 days - A larger and more mosaic resistant variety than the California Wonder pepper.  The 2 foot plants grow thick walled peppers that mature to a beautiful red color, with dense foliage to help protect against sun scald.  A good choice!
-JALAPENO  70 days - A very popular hot pepper, used often in Mexican cuisine. The green, sausage shaped fruits are abundant on these 24-36 inch plants.   Excellent variety for pickling! 
-PEPPERONCINI (Italian)   72 days – These small, very mild peppers are 2-3 inches long and ½ inch wide.  Pick the fruit when green and use either fresh or pickled.  These small, bush type plants are originally from southern Italy, and are very fine flavored!    A gourmet's delight!

-LONG PURPLE   80 days - This Italian favorite has plants that grow 25 to 35 inches, and bear 4 or more fruits per plant, each growing 8 to 10 inches.  A productive variety, with dark purple fruit.  A delight to eat!

-DE CICCO   50-60 days - An old reliable European variety first  introduced in 1890.  The small, blue/green heads are delicious, and deliver lots of side shoots once the central head is harvested.   Excellent flavor!

Brussel Sprouts:
-LONG ISLAND IMPROVED   80-115 days – Was formerly the most widely grown brussels sprout in the United States!  The 20-24 inch plants produce a heavy set (50 to 100) of small dark green, 1½ inch diameter heads over an extended season.  Excellent choice for freezing.   More flavorful than the hybrid varieties!

-CHARLESTON WAKEFIELD 70-74 days - This Southern favorite produces very uniform, dark green, 4-6 pound, conical heads. Crisp and crunchy for cole slaw, but equally tasty cooked. Delicious when sauteed with bacon and onions.

-ALL THE YEAR ROUND  70 days - A good choice for cold frame planting. The large, tight heads are wrapped in dark-green leaves, and keep longer than many other varieties. Nice, delicious taste eaten raw or cooked. Excellent choice for freezing.

-BULL'S BLOOD  55 days - This remarkably sweet variety looks as good as it tastes! The beautiful, dark red-purple tops make delicious baby greens, while the tasty roots are a good choice either fresh or canned!

-TENDERSWEET   75 days - This variety delivers a very uniform crop of 8-10 inch, red/orange carrots. A very sweet and nearly coreless carrot, that has finely grained, crisp flesh.    A good choice for freezing!

-RED CREOLE   95-190 days - This medium sized onion has flat, red colored bulbs with red-purple flesh.   A short day variety of onion for growing in the south.  An excellent storage onion for warm climate areas!
-CRYSTAL WAX   90 - 185 days - This is a short day, white bermuda type onion for southern growers!    Use this medium- large sized onion  for fresh use, as it does not store well.  The white, coarse flesh is delicious and mild tasting.   An excellent choice for pearl onions!

-AMERICAN PURPLE TOP  80 -120 days - This variety has long been the standard for both home and market!  The nearly globe shaped roots grow 4 to 6 inches in diameter, and have a light yellow skin with a purple top.  The flesh is a light yellow color, finely grained and sweet tasting.  A great choice for winter storage!

- SUGAR SNAP  65 days – The original sugar snap pea!  An "All American Selection" winner in 1979.     The long growing vines can reach up to 6 feet and need support.  Use the 2½ to 3½ inch pods just like snap beans.  A very good producer that  freezes well!

- EARLY SIBERIAN   65 days - This hardy and fast growing variety grows 14 inches tall, and has huge, slightly curled, blue/green leaves.   An excellent choice for southern states.
 - RUSSIAN RED  55 days - An heirloom favorite of many!  The red, frilly leaves with purple veins are oak-leafed shaped and are very tender and tasty.  An old, rare variety that dates back to 1885.

 - SWEET SUMMER MIX  80 - 110 days - A wonderful selection of our best selling varieties. All sweet and juicy, this nice assortment will produce a crop of varying sizes, colors and flavors. A delicious taste of summer!
- LOUISIANA SWEET   90 days – This fine melon is known for its outstanding flavor.  The flesh is crisp, red and has a high sugar level, while the rind is green with darker green stripes.  The melons average 20–25 pounds each, and have some tolerance to Fusarium wilt and Anthracnose.  Very sweet!

- LADY FINGER 105 days  - An Amish heirloom that produces short, stalky plants with multiple long, slender, 6½ inch ears of deep yellow kernels, with an occasional red and purple sprinkled in.  A very good flavored popper that also can be used for autumn decorating. 
- TRUCKER'S FAVORITE YELLOW 100 days - Yellow dent corn that can be eaten fresh as roasting ears. The stalks grow 8 to 9 feet, and have 8-10 inch ears with 14-18 rows of kernels. The dried kernels can be ground for flour or used as livestock feed.

- BASIL, SWEET  (Ocimum basilicum) -  A very popular herb, sweet basil can be used in tomato dishes, as well as soups, meat, vegetable and fish dishes.  Sow the seeds directly in the garden after the soil has warmed, or to get an early start, the seeds may be started inside 3 to 4 weeks before the last spring frost.  Basil grows rapidly and is a heavy feeder, so plenty of compost should be worked in the soil before planting.  Harvest often to ensure a continuous supply all summer long.  Basil loves a hot, sunny location in the garden, with a regular watering routine. The delicious leaves can be used either fresh or dried.  Height - 2 feet.   Annual.
 - CHIVES, GARLIC (Allium tuberosum) – The thin, flat leaves of this variety have a mild, garlic flavor.  An easy-to-grow herb for either a sunny or partially shaded location.  Height-12".  Perennial.
 - CORIANDER/CILANTRO (Coriandrum sativum) - The seeds of this herb can be used in flavoring candies, beverages, sauces and soups, while the crushed seeds are often used in cakes, custards and jellies. The fresh leaves are delightful additions in both Asian and Mexican cuisine.  Sow the seeds outside early spring, in a sunny location (the plants can withstand cold weather).  Harvest the leaves at any time for fresh use, as drying the leaves  will diminish their flavor.   Height - 1 to 3 feet.    Annual.
- DILL (Anethum graveolens) - The flower heads of the dill plant add a delicious flavor to pickles, or use the leaves of the plant to add zip to sauces, coleslaw, potato salad, or even fish!  Sow the seeds outside in early spring, around the time of the last frost, in a sunny, well drained location.  Gather the leaves while still young; pick the flowering tops just as fruits begin to form.   Height  - 2 to 3 feet.    Annual.
 - OREGANO, GREEK (Origanum vulgare hirtum) - The leaves of this delectable herb are a must in tomato sauces, pizza and other Italian dishes. Europeans often used it medicinally to treat coughs and bronchitis.    Prefers rich, well drained soil in a sunny location. Sow directly into the garden after the last spring frost; germination can be slow.  Can be dried for longer storage.   Height - 18 inches.     Semi hardy perennial.
 - PARSLEY, ITALIAN (Petroselinum crispum) – Dark green, flat leaf variety.  This parsley has a stronger flavor than the curled variety, and is used for more intense flavoring.  Excellent choice for drying and storing. Soaking the seeds overnight prior to planting will help speed germination, which  is otherwise slow, taking up to 3 weeks to sprout. Choose a sunny or partially shaded location, with rich, well drained soil.  Will regrow after it is cut.   Height - 15 inches.   Biennial, but grow as an annual.
 - SAGE (Salvia officinalis) -The traditional herb used to season poultry, pork, and tasty stuffings! The leaves can also be used to make a tea which may help relieve colds and sore throats. Start the seeds inside 8 to 10 weeks before the last spring frost, transplanting outside in a sunny, well drained location. The leaves can be used either fresh, or dried for longer storage.   Height - 18 inches.   Perennial.

- DELIKATESSE  (Cucumis sativus)  60 days – A German favorite that bears an abundant supply of delicious, pale green, 10 inch fruits.  The medium sized, rounded cukes have excellent taste and make great pickles when small, or use as slicers when larger.

Strong, 12 foot stalks with cheerful, 14", bright yellow flowers. Shows some heat and drought tolerance. Large, edible seeds! Annual. Sun.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Adding More to Sunflower Hill Homestead!

It has been decided. We are getting PIGS AND GOATS! I'm SOOO excited! The more I learn about factory farming and big business agriculture, the less I can handle eating the stuff that they produce. We already rarely eat produce from the grocery store. We never buy hamburger or beef from the grocery store, although we do still splurge occasionally on hamburgers from a fast food place. We also never buy pork, chicken, or eggs. Our downfall has been wheat products, ground turkey, milk, and cheese. My soon-to-be father-in-law raises grass fed cows and I am hoping that he is going to have a cow put into the freezer soon. That will end our ground turkey purchases. He is also looking into growing wheat. Milk and cheese are the only real things holding us back at that point. That is why we are getting a dairy goat!

From what I have read, goats are more efficient on the feed/grass to milk conversion ratio. I LOVE goat cheese anyway. It is the creamiest cheese I know of. I have never tried goat milk, but I have also read that it is easier for human stomachs to handle than cow's milk. At least processed cow's milk. Raw milk is supposed to be much easier to digest. Goat's milk is supposed to be even easier to digest than raw cow's milk and has saved the lives of babies who are lactose intolerant. I, personally, don't like milk. I am a cheesoholic. Brad and Keegan both drink milk like its going out of style. I don't think they could drink enough milk to warrant having a cow, though. I also want to start making goat milk soap and lotion. My mom brought me some goat milk soap a couple of years ago and got me addicted. Keeping dairy goats is going to be a lot of work. They need to be milked twice a day. The evening milking won't be an issue, but I already have a difficult time getting everything around here done in the morning, get ready myself, and getting all of us to school on time. I'm not a morning person. Perhaps I will get a momma goat with a kid and let it have the morning milk? Hmmm... still some things to think about.

We don't eat a lot of pork products as it is. It will be nice, however, to add variety to our diet during the less productive parts of the year. Being on a local diet means that when things are not growing, or in season, you can't have them! It won't help us this winter, but the sooner we start, the sooner we won't have to worry about it. A big reason that I want pigs is to till up and fertilize the new 75' x 25' area where I am planning on adding my new garden next spring. I also hope that they will help clear an area, along with the goats, that is covered in brush and I want to use for other projects. They will also eat all of the scraps from our meals and produce preserving prep, like tomato guts and skin from canning or bell pepper guts and tops from freezing or dehydrating (along with the chickens and turkeys who LOVE them) , as well as any milk or whey that we do not use from the goats. They will be on pasture and have plenty of grassy space to live on and forage from. My next project is to figure out cost efficient fencing to keep them in. Pigs and goats are both notorious for escaping, and fencing in EXPENSIVE! I have to figure out how to do this on a budget.

It is going to be a lot to keep up with, along with graduate school, my research assistant-ship, working part time cleaning, and being a mom. Luckily, Keegan is a HUGE help most of the time. I refuse to pay big business agriculture for the atrocities that they are responsible for and feed my family sub-par and potentially dangerous food because I am too lazy to produce it myself. We will see how it goes!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Post Isaac

Even the flat areas of the yard are pretty marshy
We survived Isaac! Luckily it turned west before it got here and didn't strengthen as much as they thought it would. The one tree we lost right as the storm started was the only one we lost. We were VERY lucky. Even though it didn't hit too hard here there are still many people in our town that lost everything due to flooding. People closer to the coast fared even worse.
The turkeys actually seemed to like their playtime in the cattle trailer. I have a big tree limb in there for them to perch on and they rode out the storm really well. The chickens did as well, although they didn't like being locked up. I kept them in all day on Wednesday because the storm was coming in, but by Thursday afternoon, they were free ranging around the yard, despite the wind still being very strong. I tossed treats in to them while they were cooped up (sunflower seeds) so that they could scratch around and find it, rather than being fussy and mean to each other. The coop is large and has two levels, but they are used to having free range of several acres. I didn't move the turkeys back to their hoop coop until Saturday afternoon. The rain completely flooded where the coop was, as well as much of the rest of the yard. We had no place to move it where they wouldn't be ankle deep in water. I also didn't want to put the tarps back up until the wind calmed down some more. When I moved them back into their freshly relocated coop they all started chasing one of the toms (Big Man) around and biting him. I have never seen them do this before. I tried to rescue him but every time I put him back down they all came after him again. Finally, I put him on a roost and they left him alone. I'm hoping this is just a pecking order issue and they don't hurt him.
The rain was the biggest issue with the storm. There are many places in the area that are underwater. The wind scared me a few times. It is nerve racking to watch the trees bend and sway like they did and know that if they fell, they could reach the roof of the house. Aside from some tree limbs and branches being strewn around the yard and my Cosmos (6+ foot tall plants that grow orange flowers) being knocked down, we really didn't have any damage. I'm thrilled that we fared so well. I'm glad that we prepared, though. It was a nice drill for next time.
Another positive note, my hens are laying 5 eggs a day now!!! Even one of the EEs are laying and I have some pretty blue eggs. I actually have a full dozen eggs for the first time in... I don't remember when. I guess it was at least May. That is, I have a whole dozen eggs, even after Keegan eating his fill this morning! I think he made over half a dozen this morning, and the girls replenished them. I can't wait until I have enough to boil (without Keegan getting upset that I used up all the eggs. He doesn't like boiled eggs that much unless they are deviled eggs).

Randy was keeping an eye on me while I was doing my
walkabout to check on things. 

One of the hens checking out the new "pond" located next
to their coop. 

The turkey coop was pretty well flooded. Randy wanted the
frogs that were enjoying the water. 

Egg production continues, and gets better by
the day. 

The chickens enjoyed scratching around in the mud for
bugs that they couldn't get to before. 

The water trough not only continued filling,
but overflowed from the rain. 

Some photos from an area in town. Completely underwater.

A man walking across a bridge that used to span a creek. I
think the creek pretty well spans the bridge now. 

A whole dozen eggs!!! Even beautiful blue ones, courtesy of Greta.

The turkeys enjoy being back in their hoop coop and are
starting to look/act very turkey-like. 

They are strutting around all puffed up. 

Complete with gobble!