It feels like forever and a day since I’ve last posted. So here’s a quick rundown on what’s happening around the homestead.
1) Fin has a new home. He attacked a chicken, a cat and snapped at the sheep. He enjoyed hunting waaayyyy more than herding so we found him a great home with less temptation. Plus the family has a Jack Russell Terrier so they know a little something about dogs and their prey. We’ve exchanged emails with them and he seems to have settled in nicely. The kiddos weren’t happy but, after the cat was badly hurt (but thank goodness not killed), they understood.
2) We just ordered 85 meat chickens. Last year we had 50 and right now our freezer is almost chicken-less so we upped it by 25. Plus my dad wants the kiddos to raise him another 10. The chicken tractor we built last year only houses 50 so we’ll need to build a second one. Watch out innocent drivers – the minivan will be covered in hog panels again!
3) We’re pasturing three pigs this summer. We just ordered three Tamworth pigs to arrive sometime in May. They come from a pasture-based farm so we’re hoping it goes well. Two pigs for us, one for my parents (to be raised by the kids). We may even advertise to see if anyone would be interested in buying a half or whole pig that we would raise as an extra. Last year we really enjoyed the piggies so I’m excited to have them again. Plus our bacon supply is getting low and, as my 9 year old says, I heart bacon.
4) Bees have been ordered. We decided to order a nuc of bees in case one of our hives didn’t make it (although they are both looking good – woohoo!). A nuc is different from the packages we got last year. A package is a group of bees with a queen that comes in a wooden box. You dump them into your empty hive. Our package came from California. A nuc is basically a small hive. It is a few frames with a group of bees and a queen. The frames already have “bee food” so the bees can jump right in to having babies instead of first collecting food. Plus the nuc is coming from a guy up the road a bit so it will be a Wisconsin hive that we know can withstand a Wisconsin winter. All good things in my book.
5) Onions and peppers are being started inside. I LOVE planting the first seeds of the year! And we’re getting together a final list of what we’re growing this year. Fun stuff to think about while the snow flies.
6) Sheep and goats are getting close to having babies! And the goats are getting, to put it nicely, a little round. The sheep still aren’t showing but I’m told that is common. This month we are going to put together some lambing and kidding kits for when the big day gets here sometime in the beginning of April. And, as prep work, we’re going to be shearing the sheep the last weekend of February. Josh took a class and bought the shears so I’m hoping it goes well.
7) For my birthday, I got worms. Not as bad as it sounds – they’re composting worms. Actually, I got the worm house and the worms are in the mail as I type. (This is the house Josh bought for me – he sure knows the way to my heart!) The house will be placed in the kitchen and we’ll feed them food scrapes, paper, card board, etc. that they will turn into lovely worm poop and a compost tea. These will be used in the garden as compost/fertilizer. And when our worms multiply enough, the chickens will have a yummy little treat! And no, there is no way that the worms can escape their home – I made sure of this already!
February is dubbed “The Month Of The Wood”. When we bought our homestead, the people had relatives that owned a tree service. Apparently he brought them lots of long, huge logs that they decided to just leave lying in the fields. Our job has been to cut it into firewood lengths, split it all and then stack it to let it dry properly before next winter. So far we’re done about a cord (which is a pile of wood stacked 8 feet long, 4 feet wide and 4 feet tall). We probably have another cord or so of this soft wood to go. In addition to that, we’ve ordered 11, yep, ELEVEN, more cords of hard wood (which burns more steady than soft wood). It comes in eight foot long logs that we then have to cut, split and stack for drying. Oh, and once everything is dry (or seasoned) this fall, we have to move all 12-13 cords into the sheltered area to stay dry. Fun times, huh? The good news is that this is 2 years worth of wood so we won’t have to do this again next year. Plus, this uncut, unseasoned wood is $90 a cord, whereas buying split, seasoned wood from someone else is about $200 a cord. I’d say it’s worth the achy muscles!
9) The laying hens are going crazy with eggs! Anyone local want to buy some free-range, organically-fed eggs from some really happy chickens? Or even fertilized eggs since we have 5 roosters? My kids would love you forever since eggs have been on the menu at least once a day for a few months now. Or, if anyone wants a Barred Rock rooster or two or three or even four, come on over – they’re free!
10) I’ve started dabbling in soap making, herbal remedies and tinctures and essential oils. My family is a little nervous at being my guinea pigs…
And that’s it. Well, actually there are a million and one more things but those are the most interesting. Hope things are going well in your neck of the woods! And if you have any advice or ideas about our new adventures or want eggs or pork, let me know.
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