February 26, 2017

Seven Baby Goats

I had hoped to have a baby goat fashion show for you, featuring all those little goat coats I've been knitting. As things would have it, it hasn't even gotten down to freezing since the kids were born. We're having beautifully mild weather. But last time I mentioned more photos and potential names, so for all my goat lovers out there - here they are!

Jessie's twins were born February 10th.

This is Jessie's Beau. For some reason that old oak stump in the
goat yard is one of the first things all the kids want to nibble on.

The circles on the top of his head are from being disbudded.

Beau's twin sister Ellie

Ellie looks identical to their older sister April.

Lini's triplets came two days later, on Feb 12th.

Conner is the firstborn, a buckling.

I tell him apart from his brother Jack by the light
spots he has on his jaw. Jack has waddles instead.

Jack was second.

The boys coloring is nearly the same. Jack is growing in height
and length, while Conner's growth spurt has been in width.

The last of the triplets is a little girl I'm calling Lady.

Lady is similar to her brothers except no white. She's
become hard to photograph because she's so friendly.

Last but not least, Violet's twin girls, now four-days old.

Sky was firstborn.

Sky has very long legs. Kinders are supposed to have short legs,
so we'll see how she turns out. Growing up changes things! :)

Windy is the second twin.

She looks white in the photo, but she's really more cream-color.
There are tips of very light-brown color, so she likely darken.

Yes, I admit it, I take too many pictures of baby goats. But this time of year is such a joy around the homestead, so how can I not? No matter how long my to-do list, I make sure I spend some time every day enjoying my baby goats.

I will enjoy them all but keep only a few; the rest will head to new homes around the middle of May.

Seven Baby Goats © Feb. 2017 by Leigh 

February 23, 2017

Violet!!!


Twin doelings for Violet! Born around 8:15 and 8:45 last night. It was a classic kidding with Mama and baby girls all doing well. Here they are this morning:

Firstborn. The flash on the camera picked up her
agouti markings, but to the eye she's solid brown.

except for a white band on her left side,

and a face like her Mama's.

Little sister is a fuzzball in comparison.

Mostly white 

Also an agouti. Agouti is a common coloring in many animals.
It's when the hairs of fur are banded with different colors,
usually black at the base and another color on the tips.

That makes our kid count for 2017 to be 3 bucklings and 4 doelings.

The onlookers:

Jessie and her twins were most interested in the newcomers.

Happily the weather is balmy and beautiful. Perfect for baby goats.

Next time I'll post updated kid photos along with the names I'm trying on for fit.

Violet!!! © Feb. 2017 by Leigh 

February 21, 2017

Quick Tasty Soup from Canned Greens

In cold weather we eat a lot of soup for lunch; something tasty to warm our innards after working out in the cold all morning. I can soups ahead of time and sometimes I just throw leftovers together for Scrap Soup. This recipe uses canned greens and takes only a few extra steps to make a really good soup.

A pint jar of canned greens.
Here I have lambs quarters.

First make a roux. Mine is 1 tbsp melted fat from pork roast drippings
and 2 tbsp flour, although any fat will do. Blend and brown if desired.

Drain the liquid from greens into roux.

Use a whisk to smooth out lumps.

Whisk in your desired liquid until the soup base is the consistency
you like. Liquids can include water, milk, broth, or vegetable juice.

Stir in greens and any other ingredients you like, such as sauteed
onions, bits of ham, sour cream, grated cheese. Season as desired.

Bring to a simmer and serve. Makes 2 soup cups for soup
and sandwiches or one large meal-size bowl of soup.

February 19, 2017

Book Review: The Beeswax Workshop

I was recently had the good fortune of getting my hands on a review copy of a really wonderful book,

The Beeswax Workshop: How to Make Your Own Natural candles, Cosmetics, Cleaners, Soaps, Healing Balms and More by Chris Dalziel. 

Some of you may be familiar with Chris from her Joybilee Farm website and blog, where she focuses on herbs and natural remedies, gardening, food preservation, and handcrafting. Because of my love for bees and all things natural, The Beeswax Workshop is of special interest to me. And I have to say that it has the most comprehensive selection of beeswax recipes I've seen yet. Most books about beeswax feature candle making or cosmetics. This book has all that and so much more: things like beeswax soap, insect repellent, cast iron seasoning, granite countertop polish, cheese wax, sandwich wraps, tool handle preservative, bowstring wax, bullet lube, violin rosin, and beeswax crayons.

Chapter 1, "Miraculous Beeswax," gives the reader an appreciation for how precious beeswax is. It explains how bees make it and why it is endangered. Also discussed are beeswax basics, working with beeswax (including cleaning it up!), plus the recipes and equipment. I also like the the two charts included: "Melting Points of Waxes and Resins," and the conversion table for working with the recipes.

Next come eight chapters full of beeswax recipes: candlemaking, personal care, soap and hair care, in the Apothecary, home comforts, in the garden, for sport and leisure, and the arts.

Chapter 10 is an ingredient guide, discussing the all the other components in the various recipes: various waxes, vegetable butters, carrier oils, essential oils, herbs. resins, gums, and solvents. "Resources" helps you source the various materials, and gives you suggestions for further reading and research. Volume, weight, and temperature conversion charts make this a ready resource no matter where you live in the world.

I received a review copy, but no, I'm not in any other way connected to the book or it's sale. I can honestly say that it's a wonderful addition to my homestead library. It's available here.

February 16, 2017

Garden Swales

Until last summer we hadn't had any trouble keeping the garden watered. Between regular rainfall, mulch, and rainwater irrigation as needed, we've done okay. Last summer though, was the hottest and driest we've had since we moved here. Daily temperatures averaged upper-90s to 100°F (37°C) from May through September. In July I took my soil's temperature - 94°F (34°C)! What can grow in that!

Photo taken last July to record soil temperature. The little
rain we got seemed to evaporate right out of the ground.

Once the rain tanks were empty, most of the garden went into survival mode and stopped producing. It was worrisome and I can't help but wonder if this summer will be the same. So my garden project this month has been to put in some swales.

I dug down to the clay subsoil, a ditch about knee deep and two
to three shovel-widths wide. It's as long as our garden beds, 16'.

I'm guessing most of you know what swales are; they are ditches dug along the contour of the land for the purpose of catching and holding rain runoff. I'm putting my first one at the top of the garden.

Filling with rotting logs, stalks, and corn cobs 

The next step was to fill it with material that would help retain moisture. I'm using old rotting logs previously used as garden terrace retainers, plus things which will get water logged easily but take too long in the compost pile: corn cobs and stalks from sunflowers, corn, and Jerusalem artichokes, bark from Dan's sawmill projects.

Pine bark and wood chip mulch on top

I topped it off with the wood chip mulch I've been raking up from last summer's bean and cantaloupe bed.

While raking up the mulch I extracted three wheelbarrow
loads of my beloved wiregrass. (I'm being facetious, folks!)

The soil which was removed becomes a berm which also helps with water retention. I removed as many wiregrass roots as I could, relocated the earthworms, replanted the dug up daffodil bulbs, and planted the whole thing with Dutch clover seed from the feed store.

Berm somewhat leveled.

Clover seed is beginning to sprout!

Our garden is three, 16-foot beds wide (plus walk paths) so I'm planning to get at least two more built, also at the top of the garden. We're also going to decrease the size of the kitchen and canning garden by at least half. Our first year here we planned out a 80-foot by 60-foot garden based on Dick Raymond's "Eat 'N Store Garden" from The Joy of Gardening. While that size garden worked well for Dick Raymond and his fancy-schmancy top-of-the-line Troybilt tiller, it hasn't worked well for us and our particular gardening challenges.

Don't get me wrong, we learned a lot from that book, but what I'm saying here is what I've been saying all along - there are no one-size-fits-all solutions to gardening and homesteading. We must adapt to our particular soil, landscape, climate, and weather patterns.

The challenge is new experiences that push the boundaries of "normal," such as our unusually hot and dry summer last year. Other year's we've gotten too much rain. We humans tend to plan for "typical," but it's the extremes that we really need to prepare for. Without the experience of it, however, who's to know how to prepare?

Anyway, no matter what the summer brings, my swales will certainly help.

Parting shot:

Daffodils!

Garden Swales © Feb. 2017 by Leigh

February 13, 2017

Triplets for Lini!

Yesterday afternoon Lini wasn't following the others (leading out, actually, she's the Queen), so I decided it was time to move Jessie and her twins out of the kidding stall, clean it up, and move Lini in.

By dinner time there was some discharge so I stepped up the pace of my checks. On my 900th trip out to the barn, Lini was starting to push. Soon the birth sac appeared but I didn't see anything in it at first. Finally saw one hoof and a nose. There are supposed to be two feet, so I was concerned one foot was back. When this happens I always try to find the other foot and pull it out. Lini was really tight however and I finally got leg and head out first with the rest following right behind. First baby was a buckling.

I was alarmed, however, because she was bleeding. First concerns are possible torn uterus or placenta, but in looking closer I was pretty sure it was a tear in the vagina. The flow didn't last long but soon started coming out as clots. Baby number two was also a buckling. Lastly a little doe. Only then did I start getting pictures!

Barely an hour old.

First buckling

First buckling on right, second buckling on left.
He's the only one to have a nose band & waddles.

Little doe was last. Unlike her brothers
she has no white or cream coloring.

Brother #1 on left and Sister on the right.

Brother #2 on left and Sister on the right.

It was amazing how quickly these three were up and on their feet. Dan and I made sure they were dried off, had a tummy full of colostrum, and could find a teat on their own. We also made sure Lini wasn't bleeding anymore, had her fill of warm molasses water, was up and moving about, and had feed and more hay. She is an excellent mama.

Now I'm just waiting on Violet.


Her due date is the last day of the month, so we have a bit of a breather for now.

Triplets for Lini! © Feb 2017 by Leigh

February 11, 2017

Kidding Has Commenced!

Yesterday morning Jessie was acting a little strange. She was standing off by herself, not paying attention to anything around her. It was five days before her due date, so I figured I'd better finish get the kidding stall ready.

Sure enough, at about 11:18 she started to push. Five minutes later a little buckling was born.


Thirty minutes later she had a little girl.


Within the half hour they could find their way to a meal.


At about an hour old they were dried off.

Little Man is looking just like his mom.

Little Lady is solid black

Jessie is a good mom.

Settling down after an exciting day of being born.

It's always a relief when things go so well.

This morning ...


Less than 24 hours old and already tasting everything.

There's another goat out there!

The little doe has been harder to get good pictures of; partly because the kidding stall is so small, and partly because she's so dark with no markings; it makes it hard to see her features.  And the flash reflects in a way that I'm not entirely pleased with. I find the best photos are taken at goat level from a distance with the zoom; the proportions are more accurate. Getting an unobstructed non-blurry pose is another challenge!

There's not another color hair on her anywhere.

Her coat is soft as velvet!

The "red eye" flash effect in baby goats is
blue. She doesn't really have blue eyes!

Even though it's difficult to photograph I love her color.

My next due date is February 18, although Kinders are often early. Hopefully it will be enough time for Jessie's little ones to be steady on their feet and ready for any kind of action.


Kidding Has Commenced! © Feb 2017 by Leigh