June 28, 2018

June Blooms

Closing out the month with a collection of photos I've been taking. Color abounds! All of the May flowers have continued blooming in June, while others are made their debut this month.

Southern Magnolia

Butterfly Weed


Black-eyed Susans

Multiplier Onion

Hardy Hibiscus, AKA Rose of Sharon


Meyer Lemon

Summer Squash

Beauty Bush

What's blooming in your neck of the woods?

June Blooms © June 2018 by Leigh 

June 25, 2018

Prepper's Livestock Handbook Giveaway Winner!

And the winner is ....


Please contact me at 5acresandadream @ mail dot com and tell me where to send it!

Thank you to everyone who entered via my blog or Facebook. And thank you to everyone who already has or plans to purchase a copy. If it isn't in your budget to order one at present, ask your local library to do it! Your purchases support my blog and help Dan and I continue to build our homestead.

Lastly thank you for the good reviews! If you read the book, please consider leaving the book a review! Honest reader reviews really help, and I'd appreciate your helping me.

Next time - back to homestead blogging as usual. :)

June 15, 2018

New Book Non-review and Giveaway!

I don't know if anyone else has been looking forward to this announcement, but I certainly have been. My Prepper's Livestock Handbook is now available! It's part of Ulysses Press's Prepper series, which includes a lot of truly excellent books. I'm proud to be part of that group.

Why a non-review? Well, because I can't exactly review my own book, and I don't want to give you a sales pitch. I do want to give you an idea of what you can expect to find in it, and to host a giveaway!

Here's the official blurb from my Kikobian.com website.

Livestock care from a preparedness point of view. 

You will learn: which livestock is best suited to preparedness, options for shelter and fencing, how to establish and maintain good pasture, how to grow and store hay, strategies for feeding your farm animals without going to the feed store, options for breeding, birthing, veterinary care, and sustainable dairying. Also pitfalls to avoid and how to keep things manageable. And if the grid ever fails, you will know how to preserve and store eggs, dairy foods, and meat without electricity. The Preppers Livestock Handbook focuses on simple, low-tech, off-grid methods for managing your land and your livestock. It is an excellent addition to any prepper, homestead, or self-reliance library.

  • Ch. 1   First Things First
  • Ch. 2   Best Breeds fpr Self-Reliance
  • Ch. 3   Barns, Shelters, and Fencing
  • Ch. 4   Forage and Feed
  • Ch. 5   Breeding and Pregnancy
  • Ch. 6   Blessed Events: Birthing and Hatching
  • Ch. 7   Eggs, Milk, and Meat
  • Ch. 8   Keeping Them Healthy
  • Ch. 9    Keeping Them Safe
  • Ch. 10  Keeping Things Manageable
  • Conclusion: If SHTF

Includes at-a-glance charts and lists for:
  • Livestock overviews (sizes, ex[ected production, acreage needed, natural and productive lifespans, example breeds)
  • Grasses, legumes, and forbs (annuals, perennials, warm and cool season examples)
  • Hay Feeding Needs
  • Homegrown and foraged feeds
  • Natural vitamin and mineral sources
  • Gestation times for livestock
  • Labor times and number of offspring
  • Incubation times for various poultry
  • Homemade feeds for hatchlings
  • Supply lists (birthing, hatching, milking, routine and emergency care)
  • Alternative de-wormers and medications
  • How to know when you need a vet
  • Normal range of vital signs
  • Common livestock predators (includes signs of attack)
  • and more

Resources are listed by chapter, so you can know where to find the things I talk about.

It's available in paperback or several eBook formats. The paperback is 192 pages and lists for $15.95. You can find it at the following websites and bookstores:

Giveaway is over. Congratulations to the winner!

June 12, 2018

Barn Quilt

Actually, I wasn't familiar with barn quilts until Mrs. Shoes mentioned them in a comment on my "A Cupola For the Goat Barn" post. Quilting was my very first fiber love, so of course I had to look it up. After seeing hundreds of photos of beautiful barn quilts, I knew I wanted one too.

Barn quilts aren't quilts in the traditional fabric sense; they are quilt patterns painted on barn doors or walls. Most of them are large and can be seen from a distance. I think they give a wonderfully decorative touch to a barn and apparently they have quite a following. There are barn quilt trails, tours, and books available around the country.

My first step was to decide on a pattern. I got out my 849 Traditional Patchwork Patterns (republished as Classic Quilt Blocks: 849 Inspiring Designs), and began to consider possibilities. My finished quilt was going to be 4x4 feet, so I wanted a pattern that was a multiple of four squares. To further narrow down the possibilities, I decided to choose a block pattern with a nature theme, something with leaves, trees, mountains, or birds.
I also wanted a pattern that would incorporate the X pattern on the milking room Dutch door. Those criteria narrowed my options, which helped a lot because I love all the patterns.  

I made a short list of possibilities, got out some graph paper and colored pencils, and played around with several that I thought might work well.

Delectable Mountains

Crow's Foot

Crow's Foot variation.
Are they trees or fish?

From looking at photos of dozens of real barn quilts, I observed two things. Since they are usually viewed from a distance, the pieces need to be large enough to see the pattern far away. Too small or too busy, and the pattern is indiscernible. It needs to be large enough to make visual sense from, say, the road.

Also I observed that there needs to be good contrast in the colors. If the colors are too close in value (same depth of lightness or darkness), then the pattern becomes hard to distinguish at a distance. The best examples of barn quilts uses good contrast in their colors and kept the block pattern simple.

That meant paint samples.

I bought quarts of yellow, blue, and green, but colors never look the same on large areas than they do on the sample cards. I wasn't entirely satisfied, so I did a little mixing on my own to explore more options.

Once the pattern and color decisions were made, I drew the pattern on my plywood and taped it off.

I'm using two 2x4 foot pieces of sanded plywood because the finished quilt will become part of the hay loft doors. It should be ready to hang soon. Looking forward to that!

Barn Quilt © June 2018 by Leigh 

June 9, 2018

Sweet Potatoes Galore

Sweet potatoes grow well for us, so every year I plant as many as I can. I've found that two beds-worth will provide enough sweet potatoes for a year's supply for us and the goats.

For our first several years here I experimented with different varieties. We've tried Porto Rico, Beauregard, and Vardaman. I have to say that we've liked the Vardaman the best. They are good keepers with excellent flavor, and have pretty purple foliage. Plus they are a bush type, so they are space savers in the garden. For the last couple of years, however, I haven't been able to produce many slips. That has meant having to ration the harvest for special occasion meals.

I missed having the larger harvest, and especially being able to feed them to the goats. So this year I decided not to count on making my own slips. I decided to order some as well.

Nancy Hall sweet potato slips

Sow True Seed featured an offering of several heirloom varieties this year, so I decided to try one called Nancy Hall. Apparently this variety was very popular in the early 1900s, but after being replaced by commercial varieties became quite rare. I liked the write-up, so I ordered 36 slips.

Well, guess what!

Vardaman sweet potato slips

My Vardamans decided to put out more sprouts than they ever have! So I should have plenty of those too.

All my slips have been planted and are being diligently watered to give them a good start. If they get adequate rain this summer and the deer don't eat the vines, I should hopefully have a bountiful harvest and sweet potatoes galore!

Sweet Potatoes Galore © June 2018 by

June 6, 2018

What's Growing in the Garden

Thanks to subtropical storm Alberto, everything! Both wanted and unwanted. It was time to get weeding!

Before: not a pretty sight, is it?

My rain gauge froze and broke last winter, so I don't know how much rain we got, but it went on for days and days and flooded all the low places on the property. It also left the soil we'd prepared for planting very, very muddy and sink-to-your-ankles soft. Earlier this week I was finally able to get back into the garden and start weeding. With the ground soft and the weeds young and tender, it was an easy job.

After: one section of the garden done and ready for mulch.

I'm almost ashamed to say that in my very earliest days of gardening I threw all of the weeds away. Weeds were bad and bad things were gotten rid of.  Eventually I figured out to add them to the compost pile. Then I read Sepp Holzer's Permaculture and was surprised to find out that he just tossed the weeds back onto the ground. Having goats changed my perception of weeds as well, because some of them are obviously great delicacies! So now when I weed the garden, I do different things with different weeds.
  • Anything that the goats will like is put in a basket and then dried to toss onto the hay pile. These tidbits add variety and interest to their hay plus extra vitamins and minerals.
  • Anything that hasn't gone to seed I leave in the garden to die and decompose back into the soil. Every plant takes up nutrients as it grows and when it's removed from the garden those nutrients are removed as well. I'd rather keep them in my garden.
  • Anything that's gone to seed is piled in the chicken yard. They love to scratch through the pile to find fresh greens, bugs, and seeds to snack on.
  • The exceptions are things like horse nettle and nutsedge. The goats can't eat them and their painful little thorns put them on my get-rid-of list. 
  • Anything that is edible, medicinal, or that acts as a ground cover gets to stay: marigolds, chicory, clover, violets, lambs quarter, heartsease, etc.

I also have learned to leave one or two wild amaranth plants.

Wild amaranth

Their young leaves and seeds are edible, but also, I've observed that cucumber beetles really like them!

Wild amaranth and cucumber beetles

Amaranth grows abundantly, so I pull most of them, but if I leave one or two they serve as trap plants to attract the beetles away from things I don't want them to eat!

Also, volunteers get to stay!

Volunteer tomato plant

Volunteer cucumber plant. Already blooming!

Once in awhile something is transplant-worthy.

4 o'clocks

I planted 4 o'clocks a number of years ago. I don't even remember why now. They are an attractive plant with beautiful flowers that bloom all summer long. They grow thickly, about 3-feet tall, which means they are kinda in the way in my kitchen and canning garden. Hopefully this one will transplant, although June is not a good month for that because of long hot, dry days ahead.

So what did I plant in this section of the garden this year?


Swiss chard

Bush beans

Yellow straight-neck squash


I replanted spaces in the rows where the seed didn't germinate. Mulching is next. I start with paper seed and feed bags and cardboard in between rows and then cover everything with wood chips, dried leaves, or straw. Then I've got the rest of the garden to do. I've definitely got my work cut out for me.

June 3, 2018

Shortening the Barn Completion Checklist

The to-do list to finish the goat barn is gradually growing shorter. Progress is somewhat random, depending on weather and resource availability.

The second Dutch door is done.

The first one was the front entry to the milking room, this one is to where the goats will live.

The windows in the hayloft help a lot for light, but I wanted a light for winter evenings when it gets light so early.

Solar light for the hayloft

The solar light pictured above is a smaller version of the one that's in my current milking room. It has only one brightness setting instead of three, which is fine for the purpose.

The light's small solar panel.

You can also see the roof flashing in the above photo. That's another project Dan's been working on when it isn't raining.

Flashing (in progress)

Before we move the goats in we needed to fence the barn entryway.

For this we used goat and sheep stock panels, like we did for the hay feeder. They are higher in price than cattle panels, but the openings are smaller to keep baby goats in. That's a necessity!

In the milking and feed room I now have a workbench!

Shelves will go to the right.

Even with good progress the checklist of things to finish still seems endless, There are so many little things on the list, but they all take time! Even so, we are slowly getting closer to goat-moving-in day.