June 24, 2012

Around The Homestead

I haven't done one of these in awhile, but here are my updates and other bits since my last "Around The Homestead."

Growing Stuff

thick growth of buckwheat blooming near the house

I planted buckwheat in the spot where I've had several unsuccesses at growing anything else. First summer it was a small vegetable garden. The next year I planted strawberries, an almond tree, and comfrey there. Unfortunately, wire grass all but strangled everything out. Last summer we covered it with black plastic, which disintegrated; what a mess. The buckwheat seems to be the best solution so far. In addition to the seed (groats), buckwheat makes good green manure, goat feed, and deer distraction because the deer love it (in fact I'm surprised they haven't found it yet.) According to Dick Raymond, planted thickly, it will choke out the weeds. We'll see if that includes wire grass. One thing, it certainly is better looking than the mess that was growing there before.

Weather Stuff

With all the rain, the front of the goat shed has been mud pit. I don't like that kind of situation, especially after Jasmine had so much trouble with hoof rot. It's caused by anaerobic bacteria which thrive in wet, muddy conditions. It's also associated with copper and zinc deficiencies. I finally thought of a tent gazebo we had packed away, and decided to see if I could make a "porch" in front of the goat shed.

I'm hoping this will keep the ground from getting any muddier. The straw is to give the goats something dry to walk on. Trouble is, the chickens love to rearrange this stuff all over the place.

Goat Stuff

With Jasmine gone, Surprise is not too crazy about having Gruffy for a companion.

She constantly complains about him and they've been going at it in the manner of goats, pushing, shoving, and head butting.

In one of their scuffles, one of Gruffy's scurs broke. Scurs are the remnants of horns that still grow after disbudding. He broke the other one in a tussle with our wether awhile back, so this is the second time it's happened. I don't know if you know this, but cayenne pepper powder is excellent for stopping bleeding. A good coating over the bloody scur works wonders. He was not cooperative however.

It takes two of us do do anything with Gruffy: vaccinations, hoof trimming, or treatments. I usually pin his neck between my knees (below actually because he's only 18 inches tall). That has worked well enough, except this time. He did not want that scur messed with. He tried to take off running, dragging me to the ground. I held on with my knees, but he kept running. He couldn't actually drag me away, but it didn't stop him. The best he could manage was running around in a circle, with me in the middle, my shoulder as the pivot point. After 2 or 3 turns Dan managed to grab him and we switched places.

Community Stuff

Dan and I pretty much keep to ourselves. That's just us and besides, we're busy. One day though, he was out in the pasture playing with the dogs when a man in a pick-up truck stopped and commented on our fence. He wondered if Dan hired out to do that kind of work (which he declined). Anyway they got to talking and the fellow told Dan his wife calls us a couple of hippies. That really took us aback and we wondered why. Because we have a large garden? Because we do a lot by hand? Because I wear my hair in a long braid down my back? Because we're not diligent about mowing the lawn? Because we'd rather let the weeds grow than drench everything with Round-Up? ;) Back in the day, I would certainly fit the hippy description (a little of my story here). But Dan? Never. He's been as square as they come from day one. [Que background music, "It's Hip To Be Square"] We were kind of hoping to be an inspiration to others, you know, to do something similar. Then again, maybe not.

Puppy Stuff

"We'll get up when it's time to eat."

I wanted to mention that the gelatin is still helping Kris, though he has set-backs on occasion. While Kody is growing at a slow, steady pace, Kris grows in spurts. We can almost see it. Those days he's mopey and limps, and I up his dose of gelatin. Usually the next day he's fine again, playful, happy and active.

Kitchen Stuff

Here's what I decided to do with that blind corner opening between the base cabinet and shelves...

lacy curtain to cover blind corner
I covered my blind corner with a lacy curtain

It's one of the lace curtains I'm going to use for the windows. Some of you suggested that the cat might find this spot and he has. He goes in through the curtain and then sits there and meows for me to let him out by opening the cabinet door. Like I have time for cat games.

Winter Wheat

I showed you how we got half of our harvest ("Winter Wheat 2012"). The rest was a problem. A lot of it was knocked down, by what(?). A lot of it was dragged down by vetch. It was impossible to scythe, so I used my hand sickle for some, then we decided to let the rest be. Á la Sepp Holzer, the stalks are forming a thick mulch mat and it will reseed itself. I'm interested in seeing how this turns out. There should never be a loss on a homestead, just a different purpose than originally expected. Successful permaculture seems to take some work to get established, but it certainly works for you once it is. Hopefully this will be one example of that.

I reckon that's all for now, except for this....

Parting Shots



Anonymous said...

I love that last paragraph of your post, and it so embodies the mentality you have to have with mother nature....you have to be able to "go with the flow" a lot, and if it didn't turn out the way you planned, how can you take advantage of it anyway. The place is looking great!

Theresa said...

Goats are surprisingly strong aren't they? And those little ones have such a low powerful center of gravity.
I use to do the goats myself and it was hard, bruise producing work.

It's hard to be an inspiration when you aren't out and about talking about what you are doing and why. A big part of homesteading was also being part of a community. Maybe an open house or finding a like minded community group. I like to keep to myself also, but friends and neighbors are a joy too. I know in a lot of parts of the country a homesteading type life( and look) is associated with poverty and people tried to distance themselves from it when they were able. Not so much here and certainly not in the New England area, but down south it may still look like poverty to a lot of people. I don't know, just throwing it out there

Clint Baker said...

Riley looks like hes found a safe place!

Anonymous said...

My first stop on your blog and looks like I chose a great time to get to know more about you today on this post. You have the neatest little farm!

A Wild Thing said...

But we wouldn't have it any other way, the struggles of homesteading...I put a little roof over the entrance to my coop too, keeps the rain and snow out and the girls play happily in the straw all day when incarcerated.

Imagine what your neighbors would think if your house was pink, you lived alone, with long silver hair, let the grass grow long and cultivated wild flowers in it, like milk weed, chickory and Queen Anne's lace...Hippie, yup, my daughter calls me Mother Earth or a Clampett, my husband was of like mind. I'm sure he's looking down at me wondering still if I'll ever plant a straight row...lol!

Love your homestead...and the crew!

Woolly Bits said...

well, if every woman with a braid is a hippie - we form a very large commune:) I've been called weird, a hippie, a strange one and so on, just because I don't do all the things my neighbours do (or I do them differently). I stopped caring a long time ago - and it's not your fault that your neighbours are not inspired by what you two do - you sure inspire me with your blog, even though it's so far away! or maybe you should tell them about it - might be easier for them to read about what you do than to go over and talk to you about it (the wonders of the internet - it catches even couch potatoes:))

I think you're doing great - even though it's often tough going for you!

Tombstone Livestock said...

Love the pictures of Riley.

Corn Starch will also work if you don't have blood stop powder, Cayenne might irrate the goats eyes if he shakes his head and gets any in his eyes.

I have an old pop up here that I thought about using for shade for ram, top has a few holes but would work.

Renee Nefe said...

Thanks so much for the Homestead update. I really enjoy reading all the happenings.

about your neighbors see my previous comment. ;o)

Wow Kris is getting so big! Glad his gelatin is working.

Love the pictures of Riley. Sorry about the cat games...silly kitty.

Anonymous said...

Leigh, loved your blog today (and everyday); so many interesting things to learn and use on a daily basis. Riley pictures are priceles;just checking to make sure everything is in place and safe!! LOL Does Dan still use the gelatin on a daily basis? I have started using the gelatin for my dogs and myself.

Sheryl at Providence North said...

I have been called a hippie before too :) It's the long braid and the natural/organic/DIY mentality. I do all things my own way. And, anyway, I think I am a hippie :-)

Loved the cat pics!

Lynda said...

I was given the name "Bill's Little Hippie Gal" when I first started dating my husband in 1976. He was a very "square Jock" and I'd just come back to the area after a short stint in the mountains of Oregon (sorta' commune)...we couldn't have been more different...36 years later I'm still the hippy and he's a good ole' boy redneck! BTW: I cut the braid off last year and I miss it desperately!

Mama Pea said...

We've used buckwheat as a cover crop a lot. Isn't it beautiful in blossom? (Another Dick Raymond fan, hooray!)

I'm betting you have a few aches and bruises from your "carnival ride" provided by Gruffy.

Even if you aren't "inspiring" neighbors (people are so dumb . . . sorry, that just slipped out), you are providing untold inspiration for those of us out here in Blogdom who truly care. We moved up here to NOTHING (with no money!) in the 70s. Hubby taught school all day but a lot of comments filtered back to me of people wondering "what does she DO all day?" Answer: Just about worked myself to death. But at a time when most women were leaving the home for outside jobs, it was impossible for me to explain our life to them.

So glad you got the second pup. They are quite the beautiful duo!

Love the kitchen curtain corner cover. I've been drawn to that type of curtain myself lately.

Never question the "rightness" of what you and Dan are doing, Leigh. Your life is soooo much better than any of the naysayers!

Farmer Barb said...

Cool picture of the buckwheat. How do you sow it? I am also interested in growing wheat. I would love to be able to feed my animals from home grown grain. I think there is too much soy in my chicken feed. They're pastured but they still get feed.

I am looking forward to a barn so that my homestead can have a cat, too. We can't have one in the house.

The goat thing worries me. I love goats, but I don't know if I can handle it. I think I'm going to start with sheep. They are more predictable. I started chickens like a bat-out-of-&#$* and ended up with 47 in my first year. I learned to butcher and haul water half a mile to the birds in their tractors. My new motto is "smaller is nice". Can I see more pictures of how you keep your goats contained? Thanks!

Leigh said...

Stephanie, I think that's one of the most important things we've learned so far!

Theresa, good suggestions. Our first winter here I suggested inviting the neighbors over for Christmas cookies, but Dan wasn't too keen on it then. It's true here too, that home gardening and food preservation are associated with an old poverty that no one wants to look back at.

Clint, sort of. He couldn't figure out how to get down, LOL.

Diane, welcome and thank you! I'll be over to return the blog visit directly. :)

Sharon, LOL. You and I are pages from the same book. :)

Bettina, the other thing I think is weird is that anytime I wear a skirt (which is often), folks think I'm "dressed up." It can be a dirty, torn, dog slobber covered skirt, but they still think I'm dressed up!

TL, thanks! I appreciate the tip on the corn starch too. I didn't know that.

Renee, thanks! I thought about your comment when I wrote that!

Pam, yes, Dan still takes it and wouldn't be without. I've started it for myself too, but since I don't have arthritis I don't really notice any change. Still, I know the glycine is good for me.

Sheryl, good to hear from you! So nice to hear there are a lot more long braids out there. :)

Lynda, I've thought about cutting my hair, but never go through with it. It's so wild it would be a real nuisance if it was short. Funny how opposites really do attract. :)

Mama Pea, it's true, blogging is where we truly find like minds and hearts. I envy that you got your place when you did. All your hard work shows! It's interesting now, that so many women now are abandoning the work force to be stay at home mothers, homemakers, and homesteaders. Anyway, I appreciate your encouragement!

Barb, thanks! I just broadcast the buckwheat by hand. It's starting to go to seed now, so it's not so pretty. I hear you about growing your own feed, that's a major goal for us. Threshing has been the holdup with the wheat. We need a different system than by hand.

I'll do a post on our goat pastures with pix and a "map" if you'd like. I'd love to get feedback from others on this topic too. It's true that smaller is nice. We're just so used to "bigger is better" that we don't realize the other things that come with that!

Tami said...

So glad to see the buckwheat picture. Being a "suburban" person I wouldn't have know what that was!

It's funny how the first thing we do as human beings is form a judgement. Now that I'm older, I'm ashamed of how the younger me, catagorized people based on looks, speech and material things. It's hard to turn that switch off but I've come to realize that you just can't judge a book by it's cover.

Funny about the braid thing. I've had SUPER short hair my entire life until I started the gardens. Long hair is just easier to put up, less fuss. A few of us older women were out talking one day here in the neighborhood and I mentioned something about letting myself go grey. One gal said she always thought that women with long grey hair looked like witches. (I knew the moment she said it she wished she could've taken it back.) @;)

The grey is coming in, it's a curly-frizzy bush, and I ain't cutting it...BOO!

Denise said...

I've grown my hair long a couple of times and cut it all off and donated it. Right now it's growing out and this time it can stay long.

My kitties like to go in the cupboards in the bathroom and then spend a half hour trying to get out. I'm not being mean to them but if they can get in I figure they can get out and they do. It seems to just take a while for them to figure out that if you push and hold you can get out LOL. Our one kitten got behind the false wall on one of our kitchen cupboards when we first got him. We had to tear down the false wall to get him. It's the crying that gets you doesn't it? He didn't get hurt.

We live in a subdivision and the neighbors across the street watch us constantly. Apparently we are so weird we make a good diversion ;) Might be cause we don't spray our lawn and have dandelions, we recycle, etc, etc. Used to bother me what others thought, now I don't care and figure to each his own.

Bernadine said...

What a great idea to put up the canopy! It looks great and the shavings looks great too. That should keep things dry. Your description of going in circles with the goat locked in your knees was funny but I'm sure it wasn't at the time. And hmmm... being called a "hippy" by the neighbors... well, weren't they known as being nature lovers? Maybe it's your grass roots approach. Either way, you have a great farm and a great lifestyle. Enjoy your week and I hope that buckwheat chokes out weeds, wire grass and whatever else you don't want growing there.

Unknown said...

I've been told by my family that I am "crunchy" and "granola", but ultimately, I wouldn't have it any other way.

My husband and I tend to keep to ourselves too, but we are best friends, so why not :)

You homestead looks like it is coming along quite nicely. Hopefully, you get a little sunshine soon.

And your kitty is just too cute!

Leigh said...

Tami, interesting about your hair. So many women tell me they have short hair because it's easier to take care of. But it ain't so! I let my grey go awhile ago. It was too much bother to keep it looking natural, LOL

Denise, I think that's it, we make a good diversion, something juicy to talk about, "Did you see what they're doing now?" Funny how cats find their way in quicker than out! Fortunately, we've never had one get stuck anywhere.

Bernadine, I hope so too! No bumps or bruises from my goat adventure. :)

Jaclyn, is that what "crunchy" means? I confess that I'm too busy with projects and chores to keep up with the latest slang. I agree, there's no other way.

Cat Eye Cottage said...

I love the cat stories and photos, and good idea with the covering. I hope it helps. I can understand your frustrations with the chickens. They do the same thing in my rabbit house, which is a pain because they scratch everything on the stepping stones I placed inside for walking.

TxFarmhouse said...

Wow, your post was full of information. I've never heard of using cayenne pepper. I've always used baking soda. I like the idea of the canopy cover for the goats. And I learn something new every day...scur!

Unknown said...

Great info! The tent was a good thought, but chciekns do love to make a mess. And come over to my site and enter my 1 year blogversary giveaway! :)

luckybunny said...

Thanks so much for the update, I enjoyed catching up and seeing what's been going on. Good news about the pups and they look great. I love the canopy cover too! We are the same way at our farm - quiet. People think we are weird, and most of them are not very like minded so it's hard to find people to really connect to properly. Too funny about the hippie comment.

Leigh said...

Candace, one nice thing about it is that I don't have to leave the goat shed open for the dogs. Now they have shelter without going in. They're getting so big and sprawl all over the place, they really need a house of their own!

Berte, I'd not heard of baking soda to stop bleeding. Thanks for mentioning that. The canopy is working out great!

Nancy, thanks! So true about chickens. Your giveaway is a great one, BTW.

Donna, I'm thinking that it's because we like quiet that we're attracted to country living. If we were social butterflies, we'd prefer the city! (We got quite a few chuckles out of the hippie comment too.)

Marie said...

I've been awhile from the blogging scene for quite awhile (I'm bad about that) but it was great to read up on your happenings again and your Community Stuff tidbit made me chuckle! :) BLessings!!!

engelsk norsk said...

Your place looks so nice and "homie"

Adesazz said...

Long, thoughtful, amazing posts lately, Leigh. Please keep writing. And I can use all the homesteading advice I can get!

Anonymous said...

Hippies, what! Come to think of it, that is a complement - you are independent and self sufficient. Riley is a brave sort of cat, I like his attitude.

The curtain on the kitchen cabinet looks wonderful, just as I thought it would.

CaliforniaGrammy said...

Great post yet again, Leigh. We'd love to be called hippies . . . nothing wrong with living off your land, loving being with the love of your life who happens to be your best friend in the whole wide world. . . there's nothing negative about that thought at all!

Beautiful shot showing the buckwheat garden with the house... so pretty!

Leigh said...

Marie, so good to hear from you! And congratulations on your new addition!

Engelsk, thanks!

Adesazz, thank you for that. Actually I've been worried my posts are too long lately and I've been trying to make them more concise. I appreciate the encouragement.

Martha, hippies yeah, LOL. The curtain was a great idea, thanks. :)

Janice, thanks. That's an excellent way to think about it.

Carolyn said...

Haven't had as much time to follow my blogging buddies because of gardening (or attempting to garden) but this was a great post to get up on thing around your place, thanks for the pictures! (Especially of the kitties)

Leigh said...

Oh Carolyn, I know exactly what you mean about finding the time to blog visit. It's just that time of year!

Mama Pea said...

Aint't that the truth!! I feel neglectful and slovenly and irresponsible, but I just can't find the time I want to keep up with all my favorite blogs!

The Stay @ Home-Gardener said...

I'm partial to the last Shots of Riley. :)

Jody said...

What a beautiful homestead! You must be very thankful.

Leigh said...

Mama Pea, it's just that time of year. I don't think anybody minds because we're all in the same boat. :)

Cloud, thanks!

Jody, thanks! And yes, very thankful.