March 28, 2015

Around the Homestead

Well, while we're waiting on Daphne,

Day 146 and counting

let me give you an update on various things happening around the homestead. I showed you the garden and hedgerow last time, but also growing is

Winter Wheat

Looks great, doesn't it? Can you make out the
blossoms on my crab apple in the background?

Also around the homestead -

Volunteer rooster

Remember my volunteer day rooster from next door? Sadly he met his demise a couple weeks ago. I found him in the front pasture one morning with his head chewed off. Dan thinks it was probably a possum, although we caught nothing in the live animal trap. Now one of our hens has been trying her hand (or perhaps beak) at crowing. This is not uncommon in roosterless flocks.


Egg production has at last picked up. I think this was the first year we actually had a totally eggless period, so I'm glad I experimented with those various preservation techniques for my little eBook. Our youngest hens are going on three years old, the oldest hens, four. That means a natural decline in egg production, but I'm getting 6 to 11 eggs per day from those 15 older hens. Not bad, but also time to think about adding some new stock.

Chicken Composting

I added another compost bin to the chicken yard.

Theoretically I have one to add to (on the right), one working (left),
and the one in the middle should be finished, although it isn't quite. 

This time of year I have a lot of barn cleanings due to daily mucking out in anticipation of kidding. Having the chickens help make the compost has been a success. It still requires some turning, but not as much not letting them help. Any time Dan or I come to stir the piles or I bring out the compost bucket they come running.

Goat Herbs

Cut and drying on an old window screen.

Things are starting to grow so I'm starting to collect them for my homegrown vitamin and mineral mix for the goats. So far:
  • Chickweed - beta carotene, copper, phosphorous
  • Cleavers - vitamin C, calcium, copper, sodium
  • Dandelion - beta carotene, dandelion, copper, iron, magnesium, potassium

Last year I gathered and dried enough to fill a large trashcan full. This year I'm hoping to at least double that. I tell myself I ought to go out and pick a little every day, but then several days go by before I remember again. 

Kid Games

Helen's kids have progressed from playing 'King of the Hill' on their little block of wood to the big time stump!

Until Bunny comes along and spoils the fun.

Book 6 of The Little Series of Homestead How-Tos

How To Garden For Goats: 
gardening, foraging, small scale grain and hay, & more

Details here. :)

Honey bees

As in getting ready for!

Kit ready for assembly. Bees coming next month.

That will be another thing to check off our 2015 list of goals.

For all our recent pretty weather, the temperatures have taken another nose dive. I reckon winter isn't over yet.


1st Man said...

Yay! Things coming along nicely!!! How exciting. And wow, baby goats are adorable. I bet they are so much fun to watch. I'm not sure i"d get much done watching them, ha.

And the hives will be so exciting. We'll be learning at the same time! :-)

Unknown said...

I'm picking up my hives tomorrow! A friends father is retired, and done beekeeping, he told me to come get all his stuff. My bees come next month also, so excited to learn this!

charlotte said...

The goats are so cute! Their playing reminds me of the kids in the schoolyard quarreling on who is king of the big snow heap shoveled together by the tractor.

Leigh said...

1st Man, baby goats are my favorite thing to watch. :) Very exciting about the bees. I thought it was pretty neat when I saw on your blog that your getting them too! It will be fun to compare notes.

3 Roosters and a Chick, what a deal! Who could pass that up. :) Last time you commented I looked to see if you have a blog but G+ didn't list one. This time I looked at a couple of your YouTube videos. Pretty nifty solar lighting for your chicken coop! Would love to follow your blog if you have one.

Charlotte, isn't it funny how that same game is so universal? Instinctive!

Mama Mess said...

Everything looks great! Things are beginning to green up here, but our temps got cold again as well. I'm sure this is the last time before we hit spring for real though! Can't wait to see Daphne's babies!

Very exciting about the bees! It's a thought I've always had, ever since I used to buy honey from my Ag advisor back in high school, but I've never taken the plunge! I'm interested to read about your journey with them!

Kate said...

I love these homestead updates!

Sandy Livesay said...


Great updates! Countdown for Daphne, she looks like she's tired of waiting for those babies to deliver.

The pictures of all your baby goats playing are just priceless. I could just watch baby goats play all day long. These pictures sure put a smile on my face this morning.

Farmer Barb said...

All that green makes me teary. That overstuffed goat makes me sympathetic. The bouncing baby goats makes me want some. The chicken composting system gives me an idea.
More to come...

Leigh said...

Goodwife, seems like the bees are about the last on our list of critters to get, except turkeys and perhaps a few more guinea fowl (love those birds). I confess I've put it off for several years until I finally made a commitment to myself back in 2013. This is the year!

Kate, thanks!

Sandy, those kids are a real joy. It is so much fun to watch them. Looking forward to the next batch, whether it's one or four. :)

Barb, the chicken composting has been our best system yet, and believe me, we've tried about everything!

Quinn said...

It's always an exciting day at Cloud Harvest Cashmere when the baby goats discover Goat Mountain!

Florida Farm Girl said...

Isn't this blast of cold something else? I was hoping we were done with winter. This Florida girl is way past ready to be planting things!! You guys just keep ticking things off your list and it amazes me.

PioneerPreppy said...

Still no trees blooming here except for the Maples that my girls only got to work about 1 day before the cold came back. Lambing should start tomorrow maybe and I am way behind on getting this year's bee keeping stuff built.

Never enough time during Spring it seems.

DebbieB said...

Once again I want to thank you for sharing your doings with us, Leigh. I always enjoy peeking through this window on your homestead life. I can imagine the sounds and smells of growing things and frisky animals. A welcome break from my suburban life!

Kirsty said...

Poor roo and he was doing such a good job!
I can't wait to see how you get on with the bees, I'd love a hive one day. Keep us posted.

Mama Pea said...

Seems as if much of the country is experiencing a wonky spring . . . warm, cold, hot, freezing. Mother Nature cannot seem to be rational.

Give baby goats something to climb on and they get all the exercise they need! (Same goes for big goats, too, although maybe not Daphne in her current condition.)

Not surprised to hear your volunteer rooster met his end. He was probably not in a very secure spot at night and was taken advantage of.

Sound as though you are well into spring time. Enjoy hearing of what's happening in your area.

Erika keller said...

So exciting about the bees. They have been on my to do list for 2 years, but maybe next year.
I love having the chickens help with composting, and so do they!

Fiona said...

I am so enjoying our blog...solid ideas and good experimentation to see what works and what does not. With just enough totally cute goat photos to brighten our day!

Unknown said...

Cute goats!!! I've wanted to get bees going here, but hubby vetoed :(

primrosesattic said...

Love the goats on the log.


Julene said...

You have done so much this week! And, the baby goats are growing quickly! It's a delight to watch them jump straight up and frolic! Goat herbs...what a great idea!
Thanks for a great update on the week! Can't wait to see how many babies Daphne has!
The bee keeping fascinates me. I'll be watching as you go!
Have another great week!

Ngo Family Farm said...

Your goat pics brought such a big smile to my face today. Thank you!

Harry Flashman said...

Chupacabra got the rooster! Better keep the goats under lock and key. I'd say another rooster killed him and then something else scavenged the corpse, but if he was the only rooster I don't know. Seems like a predator would have eaten more than the head.

Leigh said...

Quinn, funny how they all grow the same, but it's always something to look forward to!

Sue, you too? I know better than to get too hopeful about spring, but I never appreciate the cold snaps !

PP, I think "way behind" is the plight of every homesteader, farmer, prepper! So true that there's never enough time. Here's hoping your lambing goes well!

Debbie, aw, it always amazes me that anything we do could be of interest, but I agree it's not the way we lived when we were in suburbia!

Kirsty, I don't like to see any animal get killed like that, but since he was one of the neighbor's roos, we really didn't want him here. But how does one stop chickens from being chickens?

Mama Pea, Sr. Rooster would head back home at night but since there were two others next door and he was the smallest, I don't think he ever actually went back over the fence.

For the baby goats I'd love to have some of those round wood cable holders, but Dan thinks they look dumb! I at least need to get something that will accommodate more than three kids!

Erika, it was the same way for us, bees were always maybe next year until I sat down and ordered all the stuff plus the bees. So glad I did.

Glad to hear someone else composts with their chickens. I'll have to check your blog for posts on that to compare notes. :)

Fiona, thank you! What a kind thing to say. :) It's an encouragement for me, you know.

Nancy, was it a firm veto or just a no? Maybe there's hope!

Rosezeeta, baby goats and that log give me some of the best photos every year. :)

Julene, and that was only a fraction of what was on my list, LOL

Jaime, thanks!

Harry, that's a scary thought! We've found a few headless chickens over the years and have been puzzled as to their killer. The summer the rat killed all those baby chicks I found several headless. Hawks only leave a pile of feathers. Foxes, dogs, and coyotes carry them off. That leaves possums or coons. We think.

John said...

Love the pictures of the goat kidds, It certainly appears things are taking off in your neck of the woods, thanks for sharing.

Rosalyn said...

I'm amazed that you've had time to get ready for honeybees, plan a new goat barn, plant your permaculture hedgerow and garden when you have that much cuteness to occupy yourself with! I LOVE your homestead updates. :)

Chris said...

Seems like you're set for Spring to get cracking! You're doing the bee thing that I wish I was. Though we do have some lovely honey merchants in our neighbourhood, and they stock us in the meantime.

Fingers still crossed for Daphne. :)

Leigh said...

John, thanks! it actually seems like things are greening up here a bit earlier than usual. Odd how that happens.

Rosalyn, well, we're trying! ;)

Chris, I'm so ready for spring but every time it seems the soil is drying out enough to plant, it rains again. It's nice that you have a local honey supply! I only wish we had that for maple syrup. :)

Anonymous said...

I really enjoy reading your posts! I found your blog a few months back and have been quietly reading through it when I have a quiet moment to myself. I have to say, this post might be my favorite! It is great to see spring happening. We live in Northern MN and are still getting snow showers. Spring still feels so far away for me right now but I have 6 new chicks growing like weeds in my basement and herbs sprouting on a windowsill.

Leigh said...

Clarajteixeira, welcome! Thank you so much for taking time to comment. I have a dear blogging friend who lives up there in your territory and her weather posts have amazed me. I love that you have a bit of spring in your home: baby chicks and sprouting herbs are a lovely reminder of better weather to come!

Bill said...

It looks like a chicken came over to watch the kids play. Or to join in the fun. :)

I enjoyed your update. Sometimes I wonder when you find time to sleep! :)

Joanne said...

New here ... I look forward to when I have a little bit of time to look around. I am getting my first goat soon and hope to find some tips here. Thanks!

Frugal Home and Health

Cozy Thyme Cottage said...

So sorry about your volunteer rooster and I didn't know a chicken would try to crow. So that was interesting. I can barely remember my folks having chickens when I was growing up. I am afraid I would get no work done but would want to sit and watch your little goats play!!! Nancy

Sarah said...

oh my goodness! Love, love, love the goat pictures! Thanks for sharing!

Linda said...

Raccoons rip open the chest of chickens. Possums get the head. At least that has been my experience.

Leigh said...

Bill, in only seems like we get a lot done on paper, LOL.

Joanne, hello and welcome! Congratulations on getting goats! I can't imagine a homestead without them. If you look at my "goats" label (also "breeding" and "kidding") you can read what I've learned, some through reading but mostly through experience 'cuz it seems that goats don't read the same books. :)

Nancy, I get less done than it sounds like, LOL. But this is the time of year for enjoying baby goats. It was unfortunate about the rooster but we really didn't want a rooster at present. Worse, no one next door (where he came from) seemed to care.

Sarah, thanks!

Linda, thank you for that; it confirms Dan's suspicions. We've seen opossums around but never a raccoon, although we know they are native to the area. Don't care to see any either; much rather keep my chickens!

Paula said...

I just got twenty-five posts from you, all of them posted eight hours ago. You didn't really do that, did you? I'm guessing an issue with Blogger, but can't imagine what did it. Makes me wonder if the lack of comments I don't get anymore means that my posts don't get delivered either.

I wondered what had happened to you.....

Joanne said...

Thanks Leigh - I will certainly check out your goat labels :) I responded to your post on my blog but I'll put it here just in case you did not subscribe to the comments ...

Mainly what I am concerned about is the TASTE of the goat milk. Rarely have I had goat milk that did not taste 'goaty'. Today I learned that it *might* be the breed, it *might* be the bloodline, it *might* be having a male in the pen, it *might* be different grasses they are eating, it *might* be not getting it cold soon enough and not keeping it cold, etc.

But, the most promising thing I read was it *might* be unsanitary milking paraphernalia. I read it was important to sanitize the equipment before using it (any sanitizing advice? I'm not usually one to sanitize anything ...), and this is something NOONE that I know of is doing, so maybe it's the cause of most of the 'goaty' taste I always experience? We'll find out I guess!! I was already planning on milking over bottles of ice to cool the milk off right away, but that's the only 'trick' I knew of.

If you have 'how to have good tasting milk' advice, please share! I'll look around here now too.

Thanks again!
Joanne (Frugal Home and Health)
in SW MO

Leigh said...

Paula, good to hear from you! How strange about the posts. You're correct, I only post once every couple of days!

Awhile back I bought a domain name for my blog. It went from to eReader subscriptions, including Blogger's didn't catch that so on some blog lists it looks like I haven't posted for a couple of years. It also affected subscriptions by emails, because that uses Feedburner. But I thought I updated Feedburner! If it continues to be a problem will you let me know? I'll try to sort it out based on whatever clues we can come up with.

Joanne, I agree that cleanliness and quick chilling are two keys for good tasting milk, for sure. Another problem can be if the goat has a vitamin B deficiency. They manufacture their own B vitamins, but sometimes goats on high grain diets, or under stress (kidding is stressful) can cause a B shortage and the milk will taste goaty. I like to keep Diamond V yeast culture available as a feed additive. If B's are the problem it will sweeten the milk right up!
I'm not one for over sanitizing either, but I do wash my milking bucket and milk strainer immediately in hot soapy water and occasionally scald with boiling water. I also wash my hands immediately before milking and wash the udder with soapy warm water, then waste a squirt or two for each teat to clean out the orifices. It's all common sense stuff but easy to get slack on.
Sounds like you are doing a really good job with your research and that's great! I'm always happy to answer questions if I can. :)