June 28, 2017

Wheat Harvest

Last fall I planted a quarter-acre of wheat. Last week it was ready to harvest.

Dan cutting the wheat with his European scythe. It would have been
much better to have a grain cradle, which I'll explain next time.

You can see how nice and green it is under the wheat. My original plan had been to plant this to pasture once the wheat was harvested. Last month, I decided to try overseeding the wheat with grass seed in hopes that the goats wouldn't have to wait to start grazing after we harvested.

The wheat is a bit sparse here, so you can see
how well the pasture grasses are growing.

It worked! After we hauled off the wheat I turned the girls in to graze.

Jessie enjoying fresh grass.

We didn't get it all, and quite a lot of the wheat heads remained behind.

Sky hunting for wheat heads.

Wheat is easy to grow but not so easy to process, i.e. thresh or separate the wheat grains from the heads. That's important for making flour, but fortunately, goats, chickens, and ducks don't need it threshed. The goats eat the entire wheat head and the chickens and ducks peck out the berries from the chaff themselves. That means we only need to thresh and winnow it for our own use.

Still quite a bit of wheat stubble left, and also quite a
bit of wheat heads to glean, but also plenty of grass.

I wanted to let the chickens in here too, because they would love gleaning the wheat as well, but to get there they'd have to go through a newly planted area of pasture. I didn't want to risk them eating all that seed!

Every year we experiment with threshing, and I think we've finally figured out a way that works well for us. I'll show you that in my next post.

Wheat Harvest © June 2017 by Leigh

June 25, 2017

The Homestead at the End of June

Inspired by Donna over at The Poor Farm, here's what's happening around our place.

Red raspberries


Black-eyed Susans





Goats (this is Daisy)


Cats (Sam and Riley guarding the ongoing hay harvest)


Green Beans


Tomato blossoms (green tomatoes too)

Winter wheat

More on that last one here.

June 22, 2017

Setting Hens and Baby Chicks

We've got both! Although I have to say that the setting hen business has gotten a little out of hand.

Chickens seem to be bad about wanting to lay their eggs in a setting hens nest, so that I can't keep track of which have been there for awhile and which are freshly laid. Then the other day our first chick hatched.

And then another so that this mama hen has two.

Yesterday I found a second 'Lorp mama with two more chicks. That still left three hens on the nests! I've not been allowed to get close enough to take many pictures, but hopefully the setting and hatching business will be done soon so I can get a chick count.

June 19, 2017

Dan's Workshop: Carport

It's been awhile since I gave you an update on Dan's workshop. In the last one, I showed you how Dan added the girders to the main structure.

So here's the workshop with our home-milled lumber
in front of that, and the carport slab under the lumber.

His next step was to frame out the attached carport.

For the piers, Dan used pre-fabbed ones leftover
from another project, rather than making his own.

Three posts and a beam were needed to support the roof. The beam was 17.5 feet, about the length of the carport. Even though the timbers had been curing for about a year, it was still very heavy. Here's how he moved it one-man fashion.

Using a strap and two short logs. You can see two
of the carport posts on the ground at the right.

Close-up. As the beam is moved the logs must be repositioned.

He attached the posts to the beam on the ground.

But the kneebraces pushed the posts farther apart than the piers were set. So Dan used the ratchet and strap pull them together and added some weight in hopes of correcting that problem.

The following weekend we were ready to raise the bent. First a final inspection.

He used the tractor the same way he raised the other bents.

To make sure it didn't move around too much on us when we got it on the piers, he first paced a slice of a 4x4 in the center of each of the piers.

In the center of those blocks he sank a piece of rebar (missed photos for that one), and then measured and drilled a hole in the bottom of each of the posts. Happily the posts slipped easily into place.

With flashing, because the posts are untreated

And here it is.

The last step was to remove the straps and brace the bent. Next - second thoughts.

Dan's Workshop: Carport © June 2017 by

June 16, 2017

Here's One for Your Bug-Out Bag: Prepper's Survival Navigation

I've reviewed quite a few prepper books lately, but I've got one more that I seriously have to share with you - Prepper's Survival Navigation: Find Your Way with Map and Compass as Well as Stars, Mountains, Rivers and Other Wilderness Signs by Walter Glen Martin.

Dan grabbed this book as soon as I got it, so I've had to wait my turn to read it. When Dan was in the Air Force his map and compass training was something he really enjoyed, so he was very interested in this book. Comparing it to his military training, he pronounced it excellent!

The author starts by discussing the need to be prepared and why land navigation is an important survival skill. Most of us are so used to Google Maps and GPS that if we had no electronic devices to tell us how to get someplace, we would be lost indeed. But what if you have to take off cross country, with no roads or other drivers' landmarks to guide you? Or if you got lost on a backpacking or camping trip - would you know what to do?

For the completely unprepared, chapter one will teach you how to find north without a compass. For those who want to be a little more prepared, chapters two and three discuss the topographical map and the compass and how to use them. You'll learn how to calculate the measurement of a curved path, adjust for declination, and orient a map. Dead reckoning is calculating your current position by using a previously determining location and using time and speed. You'll learn that too. Also how to use the terrain to find your place on the map.

The remaining chapters deal with getting lost, finding shelter, how to prevent and treat exposure, obtaining water, fire craft, and survival medicine. In the epilogue you are challenged to practice the skills taught in this book by starting your own adventure!

Prepper's Survival Navigation is part of the Ulysses Press prepper series. It's very reasonably priced and available in both paperback (recommended!) and Kindle editions. You can read more about it at Ulysses Press, or buy it now on Amazon.

© June 2017 by Leigh at http://www.5acresandadream.com/

June 13, 2017

Goat News!

Twins for Anna!

They were born last Tuesday around 10:30 that night.

Firstborn - a buckling

She wasn't due until Saturday, but Tuesday morning I noticed her standing in the stall, shifting her weight back and forth, not paying attention to anything going on around her.

There was no discharge (a very tell-tale sign), but I've seen this behavior in does before, usually half-a-day or so before they start pushing.

Second-born - a doeling.

I checked on her frequently but there was still nothing happening at dusk so I put her in the kidding stall for the night.

Right before I went to bed I made another check. The two babies had already arrived!

The little buckling was already on his feet and Anna was giving him a good cleaning. The little doeling must have just arrived because she was very wet and covered in the birth membranes.

So I had gotten there just in time to get her cleaned up and put her next to her brother so Anna could give her a good licking too. I think that's an important part of the bonding process and imprints each kid's smell on their mother.

Anna is a first time mom so she wasn't too sure about them at first. It took a little encouragement for her to realize that nursing them wasn't a bad experience after all.

Later the next day I let her out because she was hollering for the other goats. She ran off after them, and then remembered that her babies were still in the barn. Back she ran.

That first day out my two February born doelings (Ellie and Sky) took to butting the little ones so that I had to put them back up. Anna just looked confused.

The following day when I let them out, the first thing Anna did was flatten Ellie and Sky! Everybody keeps a respectful distance from her babies now.

So kidding is officially over for 2017. Five doelings and four bucklings made for a good year.

Goat News! © June 2017 by Leigh