February 26, 2023

Garden Notes: February 2023


  • 2nd: 0.9"
  • 9th: 0.4" 
  • 11th-12th: 1.0"
  • 15th: 0.05"
  • 17th: 0.95"
  • 20th: 0:05"
  • 23rd: 0.05"
  • 24th: 0.15"
  • 27th: 0.125"
  • Total: 3.675 inches 

  • range of nighttime lows: 25 to 63°F (-4 to 17°C)
  • range of daytime highs: 46 to 79°F (8 to 26°C)

Weather Notes

With the exception of the past week, our lows have mostly been in the 30s. We're still in our winter weather pattern, which is that temps warm up as a new front approaches, then drop significantly after the front moves through. 

The wind is picking up as spring approaches. On gusty days it's strong enough for me to use extra clothes pins when I hang out laundry!

Winter Kill Survivors

In December, we lost our winter garden from a severe hard freeze. I was curious if anything would make a comeback, and amazingly, a few plants have.

Of course, the winter wheat survived and is now thriving.

Lone surviving kale plant in the African keyhole garden.

Field turnip (one of many) growing new leaves

You may recall that I harvested a lot of the turnips growing in my pasture before the winter kill. They've been in a box in the pantry, and have kept fairly well, although softening up a bit and sprouting leaves. So I've been surprised to find most of the turnips I left in the field have not only survived, but thrived. A few turned mushy from being frozen, but most of them are crisp and growing. 

My daikons, on the other hand, were all killed. Even the ones I mulched heavily in their garden bed. They all froze and turned to mush. That was be good for the soil, but left none for feeding ourselves and the goats. 

Lesson learned: If faced with a severe freeze again, harvest the daikons and mulch the turnips!

Some of my collards also survived.

I didn't plant this, it's a volunteer from the compost.

One of three surviving and thriving heading collards in the garden swale berm.

Mostly, I want to let these survivors go to seed for collecting. Whatever they've got genetically, I want more of! I harvest a few leaves now and then for a treat.

Chopped garden collard greens, goat cheese from this year's first
paneer, and sliced leftover potato oven fries, both sweet and white.

All scrambled with eggs because the chickens are laying again.

Garden Tasks

I tried to do a little leveling in the garden swale, but the clay is too wet, heavy, and sticky. So, I've continued aisle clean-up and wood chip mulching.

Daffodils are blooming everywhere

Dan is replacing bed borders, so everything is beginning to look neat and tidy.


It's early for planting, but these are cool weather veggies that I hope will make it.
  • snow peas
  • carrots
  • daikons
  • turnips
  • lettuce
  • radishes
I also planted some of the garlic that was sprouting in the pantry.

So far . . . 

Snow peas

Probably daikons

Seedling carrots with violets and fall planted garlic.

The cultivated burdock is awakening from dormancy and sprouting leaves.

A very welcome sight! But I know better than to succumb to the planting bug. The past couple years, we've had late frosts, so I'm not going to assume that lovely weather now predicts anything. As we all know, weather is very fickle.

So, there's the record of my garden happenings for February. How about you? Anything going on in your garden?

February 23, 2023

Our Newest Baby Goats

Born yesterday evening! I didn't think Ursa was due until next week, so I really hadn't been keeping a close eye on her. But when the others presented themselves for their evening feed and she didn't, I suspected something was up. She was lying behind the hay feeder, looking very much like a doe does when she's coming up on delivery. Dan helped me set up the kidding stall and we moved her in. She wasn't interested in her feed or hay, but since nothing looked imminent, we went in after chores to eat our own supper. 

After we ate, I went out to check on Ursa's progress. When I have a doe due soon, I always listen as soon as I get out the door. They often call or sometimes I hear the new babies first, which always gets me running! I heard nothing until I opened the barn door. Then Ursa cried out and I could see something was going on. Actually, two somethings, and she must have just pushed the second one out. I quickly cleared the babies' air passages and stuck them under her nose. She got to licking immediately and had them cleaned up in no time. 

Here they are this morning, about 13 hours old. 

Two stout boys!

These are Ursa's first, and it's always a relief when they take instantly to mothering. Some does are less sure with their first kids, puzzled by where these little creatures came from and upset that they want to get to their teats. But I've only had one kid rejected by a doe, I think because she had quads and knew she couldn't feed them all. He was the runt, and she tended to him like she did the others, but she refused to let him nurse. He became my bottle baby. 

Ursa couldn't have picked better weather, because while other parts of the country are experiencing a winter storm, we're having lovely mild days. No worries about the babies getting chilled.

So, only Caroline is left to kid. My anticipated due date for her is March 5th.

Our Newest Baby Goats © February 2023

February 21, 2023

Greenhouse: Progress on the Roof

Continued from "Greenhouse: Starting on the Roof."

I have a couple of progress pictures to share.

Sealed and partially painted.

How it looks from below.

A couple of you asked about using wood framed windows for the roof. I passed those questions on to Dan, who said he mulled over the same concerns. But when he was a kid, his folks bought a 3-acre nursery with a huge greenhouse and it was build entirely with wood framed glass windows. It stood the test of time, so he went with it as well.

The wood window sashes you see in the photos have one side sealed by the manufacturer (they say, "this side exterior") plus they take the paint (a good quality exterior trim paint) well. Dan is using DAP Window Glazing to seal between the windows because that product works well with wood and glass.

If the weather cooperates, I hope to show you the bottom portion of the roof soon. Dan has different windows to work with, so their installation will be different too. 

February 17, 2023

Sorting, Rearranging, & Clearing the Way For the Interior Greenhouse Door

Two of the items on our winter project list are:  

  • Continue working on the greenhouse
  • Tackling our two unfinished rooms, which have become catch-alls. The accumulation needs sorting, purging, and re-arranging before we eventually finish the rooms.

Although progress on the greenhouse is slower than Dan would like, because of the weather, I need to make some progress on those two rooms before spring planting beckons. My first goal is to clear one end of the sun room to install an interior greenhouse door. The greenhouse will have two doors, one from the greenhouse to the outdoors, and this one, to give us access to the greenhouse from the house.

This was the sun room when we first moved in.

May 2009 image from The Sun Room (My Studio)
The window on the left is where the door will go.

By the next month, I had set the room up to be my textile and fiber studio.

June 2009 image from Trial Set-Up For My Studio

Unfortunately, that didn't last long because we quickly started in on some major renovation projects and needed to clear out the rooms we were working on. We ended up taking the loom down, packing up my yarns and supplies, and using this room as storage. I eventually managed to carve out enough space for a comfortable office area.

2015 image from Evolution of a Room. I have a
different chair now, but the set-up is still the same.

It's been that way since. But to replace one of the windows with a door to the greenhouse, means everything must be moved out of the way. And that means I have to find a place to put it.

We always planned that once we got the interior of the house done, this room would become my studio again. (Our proposed floorplan is here). But it's a narrow room, 9.5 feet by 20 feet with one small closet. We'll need a clear path to the greenhouse door, which will further decrease the usable size of the room, and to be frank, my equipment, tools, and supplies need more room than that. Instead, I proposed eventually turning the front bedroom into my studio. It's large enough for my loom, spinning wheels, sewing machines, yarn and fabric stashes, plus a work table and my computer. 

Before I can do that, however, the room will have to be finished. We've already replaced the windows (one when we re-did the front porch, the other three years ago when we finished the exterior of the house). But we left the interior unfinished, so the framing and insulation are still exposed. That needs to be finished. And if we manage our masonry heater project this summer, the wall where the old fireplace was will create a lot of dusty work. But to do all of that means I have to rearrange my boxed up studio stuff to give Dan room to work. 

All of this has been a slow go for several reasons. One is because on nice days, I want to work outside.  Another is because I don't want to simply push boxes from one corner to another. I want to sort, reorganize, and discard stuff that isn't needed. I want to reduce the amount and clutter. Then too, every time we push boxes around, I lose track of things and can't find things I need, such as my needlework, knitting, and crochet tools. 

Why are we humans such pack rats? We do love our stuff. I don't consider myself materialistic, but if something appears to be useful, I want to hang on to it. Anybody else that way?

February 13, 2023


Of all the varmints we have to deal with on our homestead, coyotes are the most worrisome. We've lost poultry to stray dogs, skunks, 'possums, rats, snakes, hawks, and owls, but except for a large hawk when the goat kids are still very small, none of these are a serious threat to our goats. Coyotes, on the other hand, are a concern. 

We've heard and seen coyotes on occasion over the years; always in pairs and always moving on. I don't know what their range is, but there is a vast stretch of vacant fields and wooded land that offer cover all the way from our small town up to the mountains. It's not a surprise that we see them from time to time.

Late last month, I heard what sounded like several coyotes off in the distance - first alert. Last week, I heard them again, just before sunrise, and was surprised by how many I heard; five or six maybe, possibly a family group(?) I was especially alarmed at how close they were; just across our bottom fence in the woods where I walk the girls. They were hidden by the ridge and brush. Our neighbors told us they saw them from their backyard, traveling along the edge of the woods. Too close for comfort.

Our neighborhood could provide a plush hunting ground for coyotes. Many of our neighbors have poultry, plus we have the goats. Then there are abundant populations of rabbits, ground hogs, mice, rats, squirrels, chipmunks, and pets. Deer too, and the larger the coyote pack, the larger the game they attack.

Last Friday afternoon, Dan saw a coyote running across the neighbor's field. The folks who live over there have chickens, ducks, and turkeys. Crows were chasing it and it disappeared into the woods. It was just the one, maybe a scout? Those neighbors have pens for their birds, but not the fencing we do. Even so, our fences are only four feet tall, and coyotes can easily jump those. 

According to our state Department of Natural Resources, coyotes were introduced in the state 1978 for hound running (an illegal activity). They can now be found in every county and natural expansion continues as the coyote population grows. According to National Geographic, coyote populations are expanding all over North America. 

The concern, of course, is that this recent pack of coyotes will stay. I figured it was a good time to review the research I did when I wrote the Prepper's Livestock Handbookto see if there's anything else we can do. I'll share the coyote segment of the extensive predator chart in the book, and information from the relevant coyote passages.

Clicking on the chart below should enlarge it.

From Prepper's Livestock Handbook.

Coyote deterrents
  • Fencing is the first line of defense, but be aware that coyotes can easily jump 5 to 5½ feet. 
  • Keep fences in good repair and fence lines clear of brush to deter predators from spying on your stock.
  • Walk fence lines frequently to check for areas needing repair.
  • For problems with digging predators (coyotes or foxes), run an electric hot wire on the outside of the fence close to the ground.
  • Guardian animals. Livestock guardian dog breeds are the most useful to protect against coyotes. Llamas and donkeys might be useful against a single coyote, but they are no match for an aggressive pack.
  • Roosters are always on the alert and quick to sound an alarm if they spot a threat.
  • Most predators are shy, so it is helpful to check livestock frequently, walk fence lines often, and generally make your presence known.
  • If you are able to, secure stock indoors for the night. 
  • Motion detector lights at night or radios can be useful deterrents. If using lights, keep stock from becoming visible by letting the lights shine out and away from the barn or barnyard.
Coyote controls
  • Before taking action, check federal and state laws and regulations regarding wild predators. Some are protected by wildlife laws, others have legal hunting seasons.
  • County animal control may or may not be able to help, but can advise on a course of action.
  • Killing predators can be controversial, especially amongst people who don’t understand the real-life problems of protecting livestock. In general, killing an animal is a temporary solution, because it won’t eliminate the possibility of another of its species taking its place.
  • Live animal traps are usually considered more humane than killing, but there are a couple of considerations in regards to relocating predators and pests.
    • Don’t let your solution become someone else’s problem. Relocating a predator to where it can kill and maim someone else’s pets or livestock is bad form. The golden rule applies here—would you want someone to relocate their problem predators close to you?
    • When you relocate an animal, you will be placing it in unfamiliar territory. It will not know where to find water, food, and protective shelter. Your kindness may not be as kind as you think.
I'd like to think that these, like coyotes in the past, will move on. But I'm not going to take that assumption for granted. Hunting coyotes is legal on one's own property in our state, without a license and any time of the year. We'll do what we have to to protect our critters.

Coyotes © February 2023 by Leigh

February 9, 2023

Saluda Discovers Sunshine

I've been looking through past goat kid posts and discovered that I don't always mention the kids' names. I think that's because I'm often slow to name them. The name has to suit them and this takes awhile to figure out. Then, as the years pass, it's hard to remember who's who, no matter how cute and  memorable they were. So, I'm making a point to post photos of kids with their names! Plus, it gives me a chance to show you more cute baby goat photos. :)

First, River's twins.

River's little buck is named Mosul

His twin sister is Saluda

Saluda with her mom, River.

And Sky's doeling.

Sky's little girl is named Willow.

They still wear their sweaters if it's very cold.

So, that explains who Saluda is. And the sunshine? I took the following photo when the twins were three days old.

Mosul was looking directly at the camera, so I cropped his photo and added it to my blog header. What was Saluda looking at? The patch of sunshine!

Did you notice that she quickly figured out what to do with it?

Here's one with Willow. She's one week old here, the twins are two weeks old.

Parting shot

Saluda basking in her discovery.

February 5, 2023

Greenhouse: Starting on the Roof

My last dedicated greenhouse blog post was something like six weeks ago ("Greenhouse Project: Weather Permitting"), with a couple of progress pictures in other posts since then. 

From "2022 Year in Review"

From "Around the Homestead"

It's been slow going because of the weather. Dan wants the framing dry before he puts the windows up. We finally had several rounds of dry sunny days, and he got a start on the roof.

These are more windows he found on craigslist, which are doors, actually. They are different shapes and sizes, which makes it more of a challenge.

But they all have heavy wood frames.

Not an exact fit, which meant a lot of measuring and some trimming.

First roof window in!

View from the top

A set of four smaller windows was next.

The roof windows aren't all the same, but we figure as long as they are installed in a symmetrical pattern, it will look fine. Or as my grandmother used to say, no one will notice from a galloping horse!

The roof windows will all still have to be sealed and painted, and I've just realized that they'll all have to be washed periodically too! (Duh! LOL)

More sunny days ahead, so hopefully, I'll have another progress report soon.

February 1, 2023

A Doeling For Sky

She arrived Monday afternoon around 5 p.m. Thankfully, it was a warm day! Sky was so big we expected more than one, but this little girl was it.

She's big for a newborn! She was conceived the same day as River's twins, but had close to a week more gestation to grow. 

Here she is the next day.

She'll have River's twins as playmates, which is always nice for singles. Once she's consistently steady on her feet, I'll let her and Sky out of the kidding pen.

Kidding Round 1 is a wrap! Two doelings and one buckling; not a bad start. Kidding Round 2 is expected sometime in March.