Wrapping up for fall

The seasons are changing here. Which we are pretty grateful for. It will be nice to put this rough summer behind us.

The garden did pretty well, considering it was mostly ignored this summer.

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This was our favorite meal so far this fall-

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It’s all home grown. Home grown chicken and potatoes. A little monochromatic but tasty. I’m super grateful for friends who helped butcher the chickens. They did a great job and I’m always so impressed when I pull a chicken out of the freezer.

And since it’s cooling off, it’s time for an adventure or two. We took a trip to the lava tubes south of us. Mom didn’t do any hiking but the kids did, and enjoyed exploring. Mom did keep everyone fed and watered, and managed to start a little fire as the sun was going down. Wood was scavenged from around, which meant we had to get a little creative to get it down to size. Wacking a branch against the ground seemed to work well. We let the fire go out not long after sunset to just watch the stars come out, and they were amazing.

It’s time to start pulling up plants in the garden. Maybe let the chickens run through it to help clean up some weeds. And soon we start making plans for next year.

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6 Week Update

Loretta posted in her last update that she had broken her pelvis. Which has made the farm a bit of a challenge. We did have a ton of help from family, friends, and neighbors, for which was are enormously grateful.

But we also have simplified things. Our goats had kids… We had seven babies, six if which made it, 5 of which are girls. But we were not able to care for all of those guys properly, so the goats are temporarily living on a friend’s farm until Loretta (literally) gets back on her feet. That same friend helped us to harvest a large number of our chickens, and we integrated the remaining chickens together into a single flock, so we are down to just one chicken flock to care for.

Most of the projects for the summer are complete. We organized the wood pile, broken most of it down to logs to become our firewood this winter. Which seems silly when it is 101 degrees outside, but in January we’ll be glad to have the firewood.

We are starting to get some food coming out of our newly irrigated garden. (See the production page if you want details). Some of our seeds never germinated, some went to seed before we had a chance to maintain things, but some are producing. And tomatoes look promising once they start to ripen.

And Loretta has been cleared to start trying to stand up and put weight on her legs, which will rapidly lead to actual walking. So we have hope for more timely updates as the summer and fall progresses!

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Unexpected cherry harvest

Ah, the cherry harvest. The big cherry tree is covered in beautiful, red, ripe cherries. We stared picking. Got about 10 lbs off the tree, got em washed up, pitted, and canned as pie filling, our favorite.

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You can’t pick all the cherries in one day. It takes a few.

Most of you may have heard this, but one of those days picking cherries, I was really high up in the tree, and a branch gave way under my foot and I fell out of the tree. I got an ambulance ride to the emergency room. And lots of xrays, and a ct scan, and lots of good drugs.

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Diagnosis: Broken pelvis. My pelvis is broken in 6 places, I have a break in my sacrum, and one on the transverse process of the L5 vertebrae. It’s pretty crazy to look at the x-rays. I’m pretty busted up. But I don’t need surgery, I just need rest. And no weight on my right foot. Which pretty much counts me out for the summer. I can just move around the house- I really can’t get out side, and I for sure can’t feed animals nor weed.

Both my husbands parents and my mom have come out to help, and I am SOOO grateful. We’ve got friends and neighbors stepping in to to help. I’m so glad. I do start to get a little down with my lack of mobility.

But life rolls on, whether I can get out and see it or not. And Gorgonzola had babies.

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ha ha just like that on Saturday evening. Three of them again. All I wanted to do was go out and help the babies nurse but I just had to give direction to my mom and kids and hope for the best. They are beautiful, and are nursing. Now we wait a few more days for Wensleydale to follow suit!

 

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A little behind

I’m a little behind in posting.

When last we talked, I was contemplating if it was time to let the baby chicks out into the run. The rain stopped, and it was time.

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And there are the little peepers, slowly coming out. I’ve moved the food and water out there, and now they are pretty happy critters with dirt to scratch up.

They’ve been growing, they are way less gangly and now look like miniature chickens. It’s also very obvious who is a rooster and who is a hen.

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That’s a hen looking right at ya.

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And a rooster looking for snacks on my boots. This rooster is getting a little sassy- I pushed it out of the way of the door with my foot, and it jumped back in the way. Twice. Boy, you have a date with the stew pot. Well, frankly, all these roosters have a date with the stew pot.

I sold three of them this week. I had a friend looking for some and I figured I have a few to spare. No more though. In picking though the hens we discovered one is crossed beaked. It’s just like it sounds, where the beak is growing crossed. I did some quick reading on it, and discovered that ground up wet food in an elevated feeder and chicken nipples for watering help a cross beaked bird eat and drink. Guess what? I do all these things. So she’ll be ok, at least for a while.

We planted a bunch of seeds in the garden boxes. Sometimes I get help from kids, and sometimes help from cats.

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You know, if you call that help.

Sometimes he wants a ride.

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And sometimes he digs his claws in your shoulder.

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Jasper is quite the pal. He runs around the field with me. He will lap up spilled water. Apparently my neighbors love watching him hunt in the back field.

Though, I don’t remember planting a cat in my window.

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And this is the most confusing thing ever. Are you trying to get warm or stretch out and cool off Emmett?

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The goats have escaped a few times the last week. Most of the time I let them wander for a bit.

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Because all they want to do is munch. But we have to really keep an eye on them now, because we don’t want them in the garden boxes or eating the new trees.

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Me: Don’t let the goats in the garden!

Small person: Oh, they are ok!

Goat: *decides to find another patch of grass to eat and stomps through the garden box*

Me: SIGH.

Though now it’s our favorite game, is this goat pregnant?

The roses are in bloom,

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the kids are out of school so shenanigans are ensuing,

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and now we watch for the cherries to ripen!

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Eat meat, things die.

Is it some sort of homesteader right of passage to have a chicken with no head running around? Because it happened.

So I think I may have mentioned that there are a few chickens that just don’t respect the fence and have been jumping it and mostly digging up the garden. It’s been preventing me from getting anything into the garden. I’ve been hoping to get some taller fence panels but they are kind of expensive, so when I moved the chicken run around last week I ran a few twine lines above the fence to try to prevent the jumpers. It hasn’t, and so into the pot they go.

Now the first thing people say when I mention I’m going to off a chicken for jumping the fence is “well, why don’t you trim their wing feathers?” Trimming wing feathers is supposed to prevent chickens from gaining enough lift to get over the fence. Guess what. The three birds I offed this week? All of them HAD their feathers trimmed. It didn’t help.

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Chicken in my instant pot. The bones are going back in the pot for broth, and the chicken was going into tacos for dinner. Have you heard of the instant pot? It’s pretty fly. It’s an electric pressure cooker that can pretty much cook everything. Beans, rice, chicken, and farm fresh eggs.

So yes, while we were offing a chicken, the chicken literally got out of hand, and went running around the back yard, with no head. Sorry no pictures. We were all laughing pretty hard. Everyone has chipped in to help with the butchering. The kids are a great help, even if they are a little grossed out by dismembered chicken heads and guts. Because they are also fascinated- all the chickens we offed were layers so you could see multiple egg yolks growing inside them, and since we just snagged them from the yard their crops and gizzards were full so you could see what they had been eating.

And most importantly, they are gaining a respect for their food. They all think twice about eating meat right now, knowing that a creature had to die to provide their food. They really ask now about where their food comes from.

So we decided to go visit some more food.

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My friend Celeste is raising some cows on her farm, and we are buying half of one. So the kids got to spend some time checking them out. These cows are super happy, lying in the sun and eating grass and hay.

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When I say lying in the sun and happy I mean it. These cows are so content. They let the kids climb up on top of them while they napped. One cow had even curled his head around K’s leg and wouldn’t let him go.

I tried to tell them not to play with their food. 😎

And no spring time blog post would be complete with out a visit to the growing chicks. This week I’ve worked on opening up the rest of the run and letting them outside. I’ve also built a tiny roost for them.

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They aren’t too sure about it.

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I planned on opening up their little door and letting them get out into the run and the sunshine and the dirt but then it poured rain so I’m giving them a few more days.

 

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Growing chicks

Baby chicks get big fast. They get to eating a lot, and then they are pooping a lot. I had planned on moving the baby chicks out to the barn by two weeks, but we were having to clean out the brooder every day and it was getting stinky in the basement. The basement is where all the kid’s rooms are, so we moved the schedule up and moved the chicks to the barn.

The part of the barn where we had rabbits has been pretty empty since we got rid of the rabbits. It needed the cobwebs swept out. And I went ahead and removed the nesting boxes (ug, after all the work I did on them!) and closed up the door to the outside. I will open that back up in about 4 weeks, when they are fully feathered and ready to go outside.

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It’s working so well. They have two water bottles, their feeder, I found the chick grit, and yes, I gave them an extra heater. Have I mentioned this heater? Because I love it. It’s a flat panel heater so it doesn’t warm up the space, it just warms up a chick underneath it. So when a chick is cold, it snuggles under, but when it feels fine or is hungry, it can wander around. Yup, just like a mama chicken. And it’s SUPER safe. A heat lamp would be a huge fire hazard in the wooden dusty barn filled with hay, but there is no fire hazard with the panels. That’s straw all over the floor- and it’s safe.

That picture was taken not long after we moved them in- they had been outside and the barn door was open, but we closed the door and kept the wind out, and they started to walk around and find their food.

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That was Monday I moved them, and they have already grown, and adjusted really well. I love to peek in and watch them mill around- under the heater, over to the food, check out the open space, and back to the heater. During a warm afternoon this week I caught a couple RUNNING around. It was super cute.

Dave had the idea to put a little strawberry bed where we rerouted a drain pipe. It took him a Friday evening with kid help to block out a location, broadfork up the soil, brick the edges, and add mulch on top. Saturday we added a few plants to it.

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The broadfork, have we mentioned that? Imagine a human powered rototiller, but instead of turning the dirt (and breaking up the biome structure of the soil) it gently breaks up the soil, allowing you remove weeds and aerating. We are kind of excited to have one. Though apparently it’s a full body work out.

Me and the kids also took a hike to do some herbal wildcrafting. This is the second time we’ve gone out with the intent to find medicinal herbs, and we are always surprised with what we can find. I’ve been teaching the kids good wildcrafting practices (you know, don’t tear all the leaves of a plant), and they really enjoy being able to identify herbs. The hike we went on was attached to a campground. We found that some campers had left leaving their embers hot. BAD CAMPERS. But we took advantage of the situation and threw a handful of dried grasses and twigs on top and had a tiny fire. The kids were happy to throw some recently discovered sagebrush on the hot coals and enjoy the smell. I think they would have stayed there all day if we had marshmallows.

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