March 3, 2018

Around The Homestead

Last month focused almost solely on baby goats and Dan's hand, with the exception of my last post which showed you our recent progress on the goat barn. What else is happening around the homestead? Actually not much. Even though February finally brought us mild temperatures, it also brought a lot of rain which means it's been very wet and muddy. Still, here's a look around at what's going on.

Spring Color

Spring flowers are blooming everywhere!


Peach blossoms



Soggy weather isn't good for working outside, but it is a good time to catch up on some canning. I grabbed a cushaw from the pantry and made seven pints of pumpkin butter and one pumpkin pie.
Slow-cooker pumpkin butter from cushaw.

I made jam from my frozen figs and a bag of fresh cranberries I bought on clearance after Thanksgiving (happily, cranberries store well). The combo could pass for strawberry jam!

Cranberry-fig jam

Color, texture, and flavor are very similar.


It's too wet to work in the garden and there isn't much left to harvest. I lost most of my winter garden because of the severe cold, except for the cabbage-collards.

We like cabbage (or heading) collards better than the leaf kind.

The temperatures have been so warm, however, that now it's starting to bolt! It's still very tasty though.


Chickweed is everywhere. We eat it in salads and I feed it to the chickens and goats.

Chickweed is thriving.

Also I dry it for the goats' vitamin and mineral mix and for chickweed oil for salve.

Winter Wheat

I have to say eating our own homegrown whole wheat this past year has been a real treat. We plant it in the fall and growth slows during the cold. With warm weather again it's growing.

Winter wheat

It should be ready to harvest in June.


We had such a cold winter that we didn't have much in the way of winter grazing for the goats. Everything remained dormant until the tail end of February, and then started to grow. I've been taking advantage of mild days to do some spot seeding with my modified Fukuoka planting method. When the days are warm, it starts to grow in a hurry!

Mixture of pasture forage seeds growing through barn cleanings.

I planted this section at the end of January
when I cleaned out the kidding stall.

For the Chickens

In order for the pasture to grow I have to keep the chickens away or they will devour the seed. So we've been keeping them in the chicken yard and experimenting with grazing beds.

Grazing bed planted with wheat & oats for the chickens.

The chickens love it so we think it's a great idea. Hoping to add one new bed per week for awhile.

Big Duck

Big Duck was our Muscovy drake. One day I shooed him out of a newly planted area of the pasture and went into the barn. A few minutes later I came out and saw him lying on the ground. I went over to see what was going on and he was dead! I couldn't believe it. Gone. I went to find Dan and we decided on another three-handed project, harvesting at least the breast meat and legs. So even though we are now without a drake, at least his death wasn't a waste.

Baby Goats

Getting photos of nine baby goats is no simple task! Here are four out of the nine.

Parting Shots

Meowy in the box

Katy in the box

Sam in the box (or as much as he can be, anyway).

And Riley? Riley is too dignified to take a turn at anything the other cats do. He's on equal terms with the humans, after all, and far too superior to stoop to ordinary cat level.

Around The Homestead © March 2018  


Pioneer Woman at Heart said...

I can't wait for spring here - all those wild weeds and goodness. We just got told we'll get more snow.

M.K. said...

Fun post! I like what you're doing with your chickens -- is that rectangular seed bed in their coop? How do you keep them from devouring it in a day? I'd be interested to hear more about that and how it works. Now I want to go get some chickweed and give it to them. They've nothing green left in their pen, and the last time I let them out to free range, one of my chicks was taken away :( Looking good there, Leigh!!

tpals said...

Funny how the winter wheat is almost as pretty as the flowers when I'm starved for greenery.

I like your idea for the chickens; I'm planning on fencing off part of the pen when the snow goes so some grass (or something) will grow.

Michelle said...

For "not much going on," this was a lovely update!

Annie in Ocala said...

Very Nice! Love the pics, I have been living some form of homesteading all my life (55y) and still learn new ways to do things thru your blog, and others... But your are a favorite! :)

Leigh said...

Kristina, I'm afraid I'm getting spoiled with our nice weather. We can still have frosts and freezes through April, but at least it isn't snow!

M.K., thanks! The grazing bed is in the chicken yard. We've given them a pretty good size yard, but even so they've scratched it all up. The plan is to fill the entire thing with grazing beds, which will hopefully be at different stages all the time. Once the greens are fairly spent, the bed frame can be picked up and moved to a new location. Then they get to scratch up the roots, and they love that too.

tpals, I know! I feel the same way. Such a pretty color in it's own right.

Another idea for chickens (which I haven't tried) is fodder. Makes the grain go a long way and gives them fresh young grass to eat too.

Michelle, well, compared to summer I feel like we aren't doing much, LOL.

Annie, thank you! I agree with you about learning from others. The grazing frame was something I saw somewhere else on the internet, so I'm just passing the idea on. :)

Quinn said...

This is the time of blogger-year that is hardest for me to sit still here in MA instead of packing up and moving to North Carolina or West Virginia or Tennessee - you are all SO FAR AHEAD in the warm weather department!

jewlz said...

Goodness, some days reading your blog are a lot of work!
Your righting is clear, easy to follow and entertaining, but invariably my project list grows by leaps and bounds after I drop by :)

Leigh said...

Quinn, until about July and August! Then I'm wishing we lived back up north. 90s to 100s is way to hot but it's the price we pay for milder winters and earlier springs. :)

Jewlz, LOL. This is a good time of year for pasture planting and freezer canning. The rest of it is just enjoyable to look at. Things will pick up as the weather does too. :)

Donna OShaughnessy said...

Love this walkabout in photos. Also love seeing all the color you have already. Will be several weeks before we get that here in Illinois. Tomorrow will be 50 degrees and we have many barn plans!

Mrs Shoes said...

Oh, your flowers are so pretty! I sure wish peaches would grow here, they're one of my all time favourties, but it's not nearly hot enough.
I do have a row of beautiful apple trees though, and Mr Shoes eats a lot of pies from them. I would really like to start some blueberries this year; the apple trees are covered in sweet white blossoms in about May/June that I am looking very much forward to right about now.
Yesterday, the water line to our stock waterer froze solid. Took Mr Shoes about 2 hours to steam the line free (thank heavens he was able, because hiring it done costs between $200-300!). He was whistling as he worked though, because that frozen line gave him an excuse to buy himself something he's wanted for a long while, a tiger torch.
Springtime, please come soon!
I LOVE your idea for a chicken grazing yard - I think I shall set up one similar as the hens yard is completely bare. Thanks for the idea; that makes 2 ideas I'm borrowing from you in 2 days, I think! Haha

Goatldi said...

I would love to borrow your borrowed idea for my chickens. Great walking tour and the cats are hysterical! But those kids are way too cute to be legal. Love the baby bums. Nothing like chubby kid thighs and bums.

Mama Pea said...

What a great update, Leigh. This is the time of year when, after reading blogs from warmer (kinder, gentler?) regions of the country I start to feel we really are living in the Arctic! Good to see all the greenery and happy, healthy animals. (Well, all except for your drake duck. Wonder what in the world caused him to conk out??) Cats do love a good cardboard box, don't they?

Cozy Thyme Cottage said...

Beautiful flowers and your jam looks amazing. Love the pictures of the animals! Nancy

Ed said...

Wow! What an explosion of color. I'm guessing we are a full three weeks behind you at this point. Everything is a dull, soggy, brown with more of that white stuff forecasted for tomorrow.

I really need to get a bigger freezer someday. The idea of spending days during the winter canning is so appealing but I just never have space to store things until then, except for perhaps some squash. Coincidentally, squash is high on my list this year for preserving since we ran out of our canned squash this winter.

Leigh said...

Donna thanks! The color is such a treat after our very cold winter. Yours is right around the corner I'm sure! On my way over to check out your barn progress!

Mrs. Shoes, oh no! about your stock tank line. Sounds like the torch was an excellent investment because I'm sure it will get used again and again! Peach trees do pretty well for us, except every year we have a freeze during blooming so that everyone predicts no peaches. But they usually manage to make and I figure even a few peaches is a treat. :)

Goatldi, I borrowed it from someone else, LOL. Love the internet for ideas!

Mama Pea, thanks! I don't envy your cold weather and am so glad the worst of ours is over (I hope) especially since we're very low on firewood. I just hope spring lingers and summer doesn't descend too quickly!

Nancy, thanks!

Ed, I kinda wish I had a larger freezer too, but must say that I'm very glad for what I do have. Being able to toss things in during summer to can for later is wonderful. Gotta love that squash. How do you can yours, in chunks?

Judy said...

Love the Kitty-in-the-box photos. Must admit, I'm beginning to miss having a cat around the house so we are discussing getting another one. Hopefully one not as psycho as the last one! But there have also been noises about wanting a dog this go-round so we shall see.

Seeking Serenity said...

Yikes i would have been totally freaked out the duck dying like that I would have been afraid he got into some poison or something...
I cannot Believe you have FLOWERS!