Saturday, December 29, 2012

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.......

Well, it's a bit after Christmas, but I hope you and yours had a wonderful time.  We had a very nice Christmas here but as always it sure is nice to wind down after the hustle and bustle of the season. 

I got a new camera to replace the one that I dropped into a bucket of water LAST winter.  My husband is awesome as usual.  I also got my very first drop spindle.  I haven't had a ton of time yet, but have done a bit of playing with it and I find it MUCH easier than the Great Wheel.  Maybe once I get the hang of getting the right draft and other nuances down I'll be having even more fun!!   I can say with confidence that as soon as I start washing fiber in the sink, Greg is NOT going to be that amused.

Making Christmas baskets is over for one more year.  I thnk in 2013 I should really start much earlier!! I did sugar scrubs, soup mixes, hot cocoa mixes and infused honey.  I need to make some more of the sugar scrubs just for ME now. 

The ground is quite white out there and the snowmobilers have descended in droves.  I'm glad we don't live one road over since THAT is the actual snowmobile trail.  Our road however gets it share of snowmobilers.  I generally don't mind, but hate being woken up at 2am by the ones that rev their engine and drive through OUR fields!!

We finally butchered the two American Heirloom Hogs we saved from the last litter.  They were only about  7 months old and I think we should have waited another two or three months.  I know they did give us some of the best tasting pork I have ever had, but just not enough of it.  We ground most of it, got a nice bunch of ribs, 4 little hams and a few pounds of bacon.  On top of that I got lots of lard!! I'm pretty happy that I got to render my own lard.  I've only done a few pounds so far, but I have two nice jars of pure white shortening.  I can't wait to try it in a pie crust and perhaps to fry up some chicken.  The bacon AND the hams both turned out a bit too salty for us.  However after brining the hams I don't think we gave them a long enough soak in a clean water solution.  The flavor is awesome though (underneath the saltiness).  Greg got a new smoker and it worked out very well for smoking the ham and bacon.  I was able to take care of some of the bacon saltiness by blanching it for a minute before frying it up.  We did the bacon in a dry cure which included brown sugar, salt and some applewood seasoning. We did the hams in a wet brine that included salt, sugar, saltpeter and a few other spices.  As some by-products of the butchering process we got around 4 days of dog food and a few days of supplemental chicken feed.  Although Greg thinks that maybe going with just purchasing a feeder pig each year, I'm pretty much against that for a few reasons.
 1) I really do like having Abra and Avidor here.  They aren't the friendliest piggies but they add another dimension to the farm. 
2)They are the garbage disposals of the farm.  I don't mean to make it sound as if we feed them nothing but garbage, but if there are cuttings and such - they get it. If there are bruised or bug-gotten veggies in the garden - they get it.  They get lots of the "wasted" hay from the goats and they take care of the goat's barn cleanings each spring by mulching it up into some VERY fine soil.
3) As a rototiller, they are hard to beat.  In the fall and the spring they work wonders in the garden and save me lots of work.
4) Baby pigs are SO cute so I like to have baby pigs and there is NO way I want a breeding pair of pigs with a combined weight of around 1200# that I have to contend with and feed year round!!
I have done a bit of research into perhaps adding another sow into our breeding program.  I was wondering about adding an American Guinea Hog sow, but after researching I don't think I'd have much different than what I have now.  A somewhat slow growing lard-type pig.  I found a farm somewhat near us that used to raise Guinea Hogs but since they are selling pork, they moved "up" to some AGH crosses. Most of their crosses I believe include about 1/4 AGH, however they have a Tamworth/AGH cross that they may sell after she farrows and raises her piglets.  "Food" for thought I suppose, I have some time to think on it.

Our two batches of hatched chickens are growing bigger, but I have to say, I won't be hatching chickens in the winter again!! What a mess keeping three sets of chickens (the older layers, the first brood hatched and the second brood hatched) separate in our small coop through the winter.  I think spring, summer and early fall will work much better.  If we were just raising one batch of chickens it would be no problem, but we have a limited space to try and keep everybody separate.

After having some issues with stomach worms in one of our goats, I have decided I am going to find a Famacha class to take.  We do our own fecals here and I've gotten much better at it over the last few months after continually testing, testing and re-testing one goat's poo.  I was even able to get a picture of one of the worm eggs.  I did take a sample to the vets to get a professional opinion and his conclusion was "stomach worms" (same as what I was seeing).  I am, as of yet, still unaware of exactly what kind of worm it is. 

 We are heading into kidding season here.  (See the previous CONTEST post "Pregnant or Not Pregnant?")   I was originally thinking that most of our girls were bred by the bucks later during their exposure, but after an inspection on the milk stand of most of the girls this evening I now think our "little men" got busy sooner than I thought.  We have 9 girls (hopefully)  bred.  A 10th doe miscarried earlier in her pregnancy and we have one doeling that won't be bred until next season.   It's going to be a BUSY few months here.  On my next few days off in a row, I'll be juggling goats and getting everybody assigned their kidding pens.  I think we will move the dogs out for kidding - I think the buck pen is going to look pretty crowded for awhile. 

While I had the some of the girls on the stand doing their routine "maintenence" I was extremely impressed with the hooves on most of my girls.  It's been 6 months since most of them have been trimmed and they didn't get much more than a quick cleaning out with a hoof pick.  For two this is there first trim in over a year and there hooves look like a newborn kid's.  Also, (although I have NO Famacha training) they all have nice bright pink lower lids and have not needed to be wormed in a good amount of time.  These girls are most certainly keepers!!

Well this post has gotten long and drawn out and it's really late so......Until next time.....

Pregnant or Not Pregnant?

Here we go Ladies and Gentlemen, another contest!! 
Big prizes and lots of fun....
I have posted pictures of our goats (mostly belly shots) on our Facebook page.  We would love for you to try your hand at guessing their due dates.  With the use of three very young new bucks this year we have quite a large window of time that our girls were with our boys.   Kidding can be anywhere from January 8th to the middle of May.  Of all the goats pictured only ONE are we certain of pregnancy status. 

1) You may only have one qualifying guess per goat. I will post updated pictures periodically, if you change your guess when looking at updated photos, ONLY the most recent guess will count.  Goats are listed by number.  There are 10 goats total to guess on.  There are multiple pictures of each goat. 
2) Only EXACT dates will count
3) If two contestants guess the same date, ONLY the first guess counts (there can not be two winners per goat so if somebody has already guessed a date before you, please try again)
4)You may only win once (if you guess correctly on more than one goat I can not "double" your prize)
5) I reserve the right to "close" guessing at anytime. Tentatively at this time I will close the guessing around mid January.
6) Please remember I really have no idea if any of the goats are actually bred (except one) and have no idea of expected kidding dates except as noted above.

(your choice of one, dependant on availability)
1) a 25% discount on any ONE goat I list for sale
2) an assortment of laying hens (and a rooster or two if you choose)
3) a Satin rabbit OR a Satin/Checkered Giant/New Zealand cross rabbit (gender depends on availability)
4) an assortment of heirloom tomato, pepper and bean seeds (and a bad full of rabbit poo if you want it)

 (PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE submit your guesses on our FB album instead of here, thank you!!)

Monday, November 12, 2012

Just some farm babbling (and one awesome recipe)

Here is another fall update….

The little piglets have been moved into the garden to forage and rototill.  I am keeping Abra and Avidor in their summer digs for a bit longer to allow the babies to grow a bit faster without the competition of their parents for food.   We figure we will be butchering at least one in December and perhaps the other in February.

We had our first hatching success and have 12 little Light Brahma chicks.   Our success rate was about 50%.  I don’t think that was too bad for our first clutch.  These baby chicks are so friendly compared to the ones I have purchased via mail or at TSC.   I have another 30 eggs going into the incubator this weekend.

The Guinea fowl have been banned into the horse barn for the duration of the winter.  They don’t like the chickens so they can’t stay in the chicken coop and they can’t free range because they like Greg’s truck as a daytime perch.   They were doing well up there until they found the cat door……sigh, they are NOT the smartest birds, but they sure do know how to get into trouble.

I finally found something at which I can rival an Amish woman.  I found a superb recipe for a pumpkin log that tastes JUST like one made by the Amish (and maybe better).  A few notes:  1) I did not use any nuts. 2) My jelly roll pan was larger than the required size so the cake batter didn’t cover it; I had to make an additional ½ batch to fill out the pan (but didn’t use ALL the batter). 3) I’m pretty sure they are wrong on the amount of servings; there were a few less than 8.  J 

Pumpkin Log


3 eggs

¾ cups granulated sugar

1 cup pumpkin puree

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup oil

1 cup chopped pecans


Grease and flour a 10” x 15” jelly roll pan; line with wax paper or parchment paper and grease again.  Preheat oven to 360 deg F. 

Mix ingredients together in order listed, excepting nuts.  Spread into prepared pan; sprinkle with nuts.  Bake 15 minutes.  Turn out onto dampened towel. Roll up lengthwise in jellyroll fashion (including towel and paper).  Cool



2 tablespoons butter, softened

1 package cream cheese, room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup confectioners’ sugar


Combine all ingredients, beating until smooth.  Unroll cooked cake and remove paper and towel.  Spread with filling, re-roll, and refrigerate. 

Makes 8 servings


My dearest hubby hooked up our dishwasher – what a wonderful help.  I had (sort of) forgotten how nice it is to have one. 

My dearest hubby has been such a busy man, since he also finished up the new goat barn and his farm equipment storage shed.  After we had a week of heavy rainfall, they were happy to have this extra space during the next rain.   This barn actually has height enough for me to very comfortably stand in it.  With an additional 200 square feet of floor space I know I’M going to be happy with it.  I’m now storing quite a bit of hay in the goat feed room adjacent to this new living space; this makes it even easier this winter as I won’t have to trudge through the snow nearly as much to put hay into the feeders!! 

Powder, our Satin doe, has finally come of age and we attempted our first breeding.   Not quite enough proper action from our buck, Fudge, the first couple of tries.  We put her in with him and the third time was the charm.  We are due for our first babies around November 20th, 2012!!

Speaking of bunnies, I picked up two more rabbits yesterday.  They are two young Checkered Giant/ New Zealand cross does.  One will be heading to the dinner table while the other will be a kept as a breeder.   I am seriously on the lookout for some nice size angora does.   I’m doing some research into them and found I can use them for fiber (when not bred or rearing young) and for meat.

The goats are growing wider and wider and wider.   Got the baby monitor fixed and set up ready to alert me to babies (in a few months). 


As I get deeper into this world of quality goat breeding, I find more things that are hard for a softie like me.  While I believe that my stock is of pretty darn good quality I concern myself with the small (or maybe not so small) things.  For instance, if I have stock that is of very nice confirmation, good feet, decent worm resistance, good meat to bone ratio, fast growing, has large litter sizes, friendly and  of amazing color but for some reason seems to be more prone to unknown illnesses and/or nutritional deficiencies.   Are those the first I should cull? Or would it be better to cull a family line that is slower growing but that is NOT prone to any illness or deficiencies?  Or perhaps the family line that has EVERYTHING but only gives me single births?  Currently I haven’t had these specific issues or choices to make but I tend to make mountains out of molehills sometimes.  I don’t want to cull anybody to be honest, but I’ve been thinking more and more about currently having 9 does bred and only space to keep 3 more goats!!  I know I would like to keep one Myotonic doeling and two are most likely already sold.  I am hoping I get at least one SUPER colorful and built doe from Nitro and would like to keep that one.  I’m not sure however if I want to keep any offspring from Demon.  He is growing wonderfully and I’ve bred him to Berry and Fiona, but I don’t like his scrotal conformation.  If he throws that trait to his male offspring he will be culled.  I do know that before closing our herd I need at least three bucks that I am extremely happy with or my herd won’t be that constant improvement that all (okay hopefully at least most) new breeders strive for. 

I will be getting gift baskets together soon for this year.  However I wish they could be as full as last year, but unfortunately I didn’t do the canning this year that I did the previous year, so my cupboard is almost “bare”.  However without as many home canned goods, I hope to add a few craft projects, maybe some homemade soap or body scrubs and maybe a few homemade mixes!! 

I’ve put Icee and Reign back together to guard the girls pen as a team.  Icee finished her first “season” at 11-1/2 months of age.  If all goes well, she won’t be coming into heat again until spring; at which point I will either separate them again or allow them to produce their first litter.  I have been extremely impressed with the guarding ability, temperament and intelligence of these two.  When kidding season hits this spring however I think I will keep both Reign and Icee with the boys until the dams and their kids settle in.  I’m just not sure I want to trust ANY dog with my newborns at this time until they prove themselves (supervised) with little ones first!!

There has been one sad departure since our last blog entry.   Monte (aka Monkey) has moved to live with children.  I think the change was most likely sadder for me than it was for Monte.  I’m sure he will be very happy with a couple of kids to dote on him!!

There have been two additions since our last entry.  Jasmine (aka Jazz) is a gorgeous 10HH pony mare.  She will need a lot of work on trust issues, being a bit head shy.  We have had her here about three weeks now and she has come a long way, if the weather would cooperate I’m sure I could work her more often.  She is my new cart prospect and hopefully by spring we will have a harness on her.

The second addition to our homestead is 10 acres surrounding our current 2 acres.  We have put in the fencing for a two acre horse pasture and will be planting pasture grasses and a few trees in the spring.  The remaining acreage will be planted for haying.  Hopefully in the spring I will be also doubling the size of the both the buck pen and the girls pasture. 

Well, until next time…..

Another contest - FINALLY!!

Make that fudge!! 
Here are the goats milk fudge flavors I made last year:

Plain chocolate
Habanero dark chocolate fudge
Gingerbread chocolate fudge
Maple walnut chocolate fudge
Cherry dark chocolate fudge
Chocolate spearmint fudge
Chocolate peppermint fudge
Chocolate peanutbutter fudge

This year I will be adding another flavor:
Chocolate cranberry

What I would like to see is  YOU help me with is come up with a few more flavors!! 

Your mission:
Give me a flavor name and what you think it should have in it.  For instance my gingerbread fudge includes a bit of ginger, cinnamon, cloves and molasses.  My maple walnut has maple flavoring as well as crushed walnuts inside and one nicely formed walnut on top.
Be creative, be unusual and have fun.  Even better if you have made it yourself!!

Your reward:
If I add your idea to my Christmas fudge line up I will send you a jar of one of my homemade mixes (hot cocoa, soups, cookies, etc) or jams!! It's a surprise and I will certainly try and have it to you before Christmas.  In this contest there will certainly be more than one winner!! If I choose more than one of your submissions I will send you more than one gift jar, but reserve the right to limit the number of jars I send one individual.

Make sure I have a way to contact you if you post on the blog.  If there are duplicate posts of the same flavor that is chosen, the prize will be awarded to the person who posted first. 

Contest begins today:  11/12/12
Contest ends:  11/21/12
Winner announced:  11/25/12

PLEASE if you would like to submit a suggestion, post on the facebook page so I can keep them all together.  Thanks. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

It all comes down to portion control…….

While eating healthier and more organic foods is a wonderful thing, you might need to remind yourself how much of it to eat.   Just because the pork is more flavorful and raised “better” than store bought, doesn’t mean you should eat twice as much!!    Oh, and by the way – when I say you I mean me!!  I am writing this blog during another one of my self-imposed Facebook boycotts and this also happens to coincide with my new diet plan.  I use diet loosely as there is no real diet foods included this time, however there IS a plan.  I have started increasing the amount of exercise I’m getting as well as exercising significant portion control.  I have to face the fact that I’ve always been a big eater.  I love 2nd’s (and 3rd’s are great too if we are having spaghetti or homemade wet burritos).  Until I quit smoking (and somewhere along the lines started getting OLD) this really wasn’t a problem.  My weight had remained quite constant at just about 10 - 15# over my high school weight.   I enjoyed implementing part of  my plan for the first time yesterday, beginning with a brisk two mile walk/jog with Reign (the Pyrenees) and ending with another brisk two mile walk/ride with Monte (the pony formally known as Monkey).   I did not however enjoy the implementation of the other half of my plan – the portion control!!  It did work out okay though, I just need some low calorie/high fill snacks to add in to alleviate the in between meal munchies.  I will be off to the store today to pick up baby carrots and some celery (next year’s garden MUST include more carrots and perhaps some celery).  I have at least 30# to loose, but 50# would be my ideal.   (But 50# is more of a pipedream as that would put me back at my high school weight.)  We have all the workout equipment (Total Gym, Bike, Treadmill, weights, Wii)  in our spacious basement, so although winter is approaching there will be NO EXCUSES.  Besides if my 80 year old neighbor can ride his bike daily all winter long (and rollerblade until the snow begins to fly), I certainly should be able to get my 40ish butt out to walk daily.   You may ask yourselves why I am airing this fairly private bit of information, after all women don’t generally say much about their weight or diet plans in public.  I’ll admit, I hesitated a bit but then thought it might be a bit like quitting smoking.  The more people you tell, the more embarrassing it will be if you give up!!  If people ask how is the quitting (smoking or eating LOL) is going it’s a much better feeling to say “It’s going good” than to have to say “I gave up”.  So to any of you actually reading this…..feel free to ask me how it’s going from time to time, just to keep me on my toes.

Portion control isn’t just for diets either.  If you ask my husband he’ll tell you, I need to learn better portion control when it comes to owning animals.  Our totals are currently at the following:  3 horses, 1 pony, 13 doe goats, 3 buck goats, 1 wether goat, 2 Pyrenees guard dogs, 2 breeding pigs, 2 freezer pigs, 2 guinea fowl, 2 bantam roosters, 1 bantam hen, 1 New Hampshire Red rooster, 8 assorted laying hens,  22 eggs incubating, 2 rabbits, 2 barn cats, 3 house cats and 2 house dogs!!   I think my plate is quite full, however I have allotted space to add 3 more goats, a honey bee hive, a litter of rabbits destined for the freezer/canner, a box of baby chickens to eventually be stew meat or flock replacements and I’d like our actual laying flock to stay around 15-20 birds.   However keep in mind my original goat limit I had set was 7 and rabbits were never even on the original list!  Exercising control is so HARD.  I still would like a cow someday (maybe) and a smaller pony and a llama or alpaca just for kicks…….

Another area of my life lacking in portion control?  Facebook.  Geez is that stuff addicting.  It is so easy to join more groups, add more “friends” and play more games.  I could literally spend a day just catching up on the games, reading new posts on my home page and reading posts in all the groups I belong to.  Here is what I have decided:  NO MORE shall I be part of these mindless masses.  I may need to pare down my friends list and most certainly will remove many game apps.  I will continue to use FB in the future, but if I’m not looking for horses, tack, livestock, pets, etc.  I will STAY OFF those groups, just because somebody posts something doesn’t mean I have to read it….why bother -  I’m NOT going to purchase anything!!  So basically don’t peruse the for sale groups unless there is something I need. This my friends, is my Final Answer…..

Here’s an area where I have reverse portion control issues - housework.  My barns might be organized and (sometimes) spotless – but my house usually has dishes to be done, laundry to be put away and more hay on the floor than my barn has!!  With all the time I cut out of FB I should have plenty of time to increase the housework portions of my day.  Or not…..I’d hate to be biting off more than I can chew.

Until next time…… 


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Fall season updates......(It's been one heck of a summer)

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve been able to update the web page and take the time to compile a blog post.   I have LOTS to say in this blog, I should make it into two or three parts, but that seems like too much additional work so we will just have a nice long post.  Grab a cup of coffee, prop up your feet and dig in!!

In August I challenged myself to a homegrown/homemade challenge.  The “rules” were nothing but homegrown foods (as much as possible) and if I couldn’t stick completely with homegrown, it at least had to be homemade (from “scratch”) using the most basic of ingredients.  It was a phenomenal week!! I can’t wait to incorporate more of this into my everyday living.   Here is the menu of foods eaten (please note that of course I used store bought salt, cinnamon, sugar, oils, vinegar and flour: (red = homegrown; blue= “cheat”; black = store bought)

Rolled oats
Maple syrup
Goats Milk
Mashed potatoes
(store bought butter)
Sweet Corn
Banana Chips
Cucumber- Water
Fried slice of ham
Ham Sandwich: Mayo
Banana chips
Zucchini Bread
Soda(1 glass)
Egg Salad Sandwich:
Bread and butter pickles
Scalloped Potatoes:
Potatoes, Ham, milk, mushrooms, can of cream of mushroom soup
Yogurt, frozen fruit Gelatin to set yogurt
Soda (1 glass)
Tomato Soup:
Tomatoes, herbs
Went to the Manistee fair…. So big cheat here: elephant ear, sausage w/peppers and a soda!!
Hardboiled egg, mayo
Zucchini bread
Zucchini Bread
Kimchi and hardboiled eggs
Spearmint and Lemon balm tea
Chicken and Dumplings:
Chicken, vegetable stock,  frozen veggies, dumplings


Okay there are a few blanks where I’m sure I ate something, but just forgot to write it down.  All in all however I was happy with my ability to adhere to my (all be it loose) rules.  I have done much better  incorporating more homegrown into our diet the way I did that week.  Isn’t that the POINT of homesteading?

I tried homemade goat’s milk yogurt but as of the writing of this blog I am still unsuccessful in making a decently firm and good tasting yogurt.  I did use gelatin in one batch to firm it up, which worked, but I think the batch had been sitting out too long as it had quite a goaty flavor!!  If I find the ideal way to make it and a good recipe, I will be certain to share.

What do Elmer Fudd and I have in common?  We both went a’huntin’ for wabbits!! What is the difference between Elmer and me (besides the male pattern baldness and lack of fashion sense?)?  I wasn’t carrying a gun AND I got my rabbit (or two).  I did some research into meat rabbit breeds and found that the Satin breed was going to fit nicely into our homestead.   With one of the loveliest coats (second in my opinion only to the Rex breed) I have ever seen on an animal and a good quick finishing weight (with superior meat/bone ratio) they might be more efficient than our pigs.  Their coats have a hollow shaft which allows light to reflect differently, this causes that gorgeous satin sheen.  I can’t wait to try my hand at curing and processing pelts and then actually using said pelts for something warm and cozy.   We added Powdered Sugar Doughnut (a Siamese Satin doe) and Maple Nut Fudge (a Black Otter buck) to our homestead this summer.  We will be trying our first breeding in October of this year.  (see our “bucks” and “does” pages on our website for pictures)

Our goat breeding season has begun with our line up as follows:  Nitro is being paired with Rosie, Snapdragon, Penny, Lily and Ruby.  Demon is making his mark with Fiona and Berry while Spyder is falling (literally) for Buttercup and Blossom.  I do have to say I regret having switched entirely to three immature bucks.  However I just didn’t (don’t) have the set up for keeping an adult buck and three young bucks and you do what you have to do to accommodate things.  The youngsters just don’t have that male drive as strongly as a yearling buck or older would have this time of year.  I haven’t had the time until just recently to observe for signs of heat or breeding.  This fall we are just “winging it” and hoping for a good kid crop.   I don’t regret the purchase of Nitro at all.  He is one of the most handsome bucks I’ve seen even at his young age. His conformation is ideal and extremely complimenting to my girls here.  I really hope he throws some additional color into the mix.   The young girls (Ash, Angelica, Ivy and Glory) aren’t scheduled for breeding until March 2013 which will allow them to mature more as well as allow me to see which buck will work best with them genetically.  I do have Ash up for sale as she is not filling out to have the look I am going for in my herd.  However if she doesn’t sell before her scheduled breeding I will breed her to the buck best suited to her as she IS a very nice little doe and I’m sure will throw some nice kids. 

The garden yield was a shining success this year.   While I was planning on keeping immaculate records this year, that just never happened.  My recording of the harvest was sporadic at best.  However I will say I AT LEAST got the following harvests: 

Approximate growing area
Tomatoes (all varieties combined)
100 square feet (2 raised beds 4x8 each plus a few rows)
Purple Royalty bush beans
8 foot row
Hot peppers
6 foot row
4 towers
4 square feet
10 head
8 square feet
Brussel sprouts
8 square feet
16 square feet
1 plastic grocery bag full
4 square feet
4 square feet
3 plastic grocery bags full
4 foot row
8 square feet
3# (semi-bust)
4 square feet
Yellow summer squash
10 foot row
6 foot row
Spaghetti Squash
8 foot row
Undertermined – they outgrew the garden fence until the vine borers got to them
Heirloom squash
8 foot row
8 foot row
6 square feet
Not ready for harvest until 2013
Assorted herbs
I harvested a year’s supply (for us anyway) of chives, oregano, sage, mints, lemon balm, tarragon, thyme and basil.
A handful
1 dozen plants
Grapes, peaches, pairs
Not ready yet
Apples and cherries
5 trees
80 Square feet
6 plants


We had an issue with the squash vine borers and squash bugs so our squash harvest was minimal this year.  The only squash that survived with flying colors is my bird house gourds!! I have some very nice specimens of these.  I can’t wait to try my hand at making a bird house or two.  The early spring and frosts following that early spring killed off the apple and cherry harvest this year.  These totals do include what we gave to the livestock .  Things such as the spinach, beets and radishes I should have devoted about 50% more space to them so I could have done some succession planting and allowed myself a longer and larger harvest.  Without much of a spring (or at least with such an odd spring) some of my cooler weather crops seemed to suffer.  I did leave quite a bit of the broccoli on the plants that ended up going to flower.  I will be putting more space between my raised beds in the future.  I will make some very sturdy tomato cages/supports from something similar to cattle panels next year as I lost quite a few tomatoes to moles or mice and to rot from being on or near the ground. 

I didn’t put by as much produce as I would have liked this year.  We have been eating lots of fresh while it is available though.  I was lacking in time during peak cucumber season and the pigs got cucumbers as a large part of their menu for a few weeks, so no pickles this year.  I did bake and freeze a dozen or so loaves of zucchini bread and a few bags of shredded zucchini to make fresh baked on some cold winter day.  I made two batches of zucchini candy, but couldn’t find my recipe so tried it from memory.  Somewhere I messed up as the pieces were perhaps cut to small and I ended up with little candy boogers!! No, really they looked like little green boogers since I used a lime Kool-aid flavor – a bit hard to stomach.  I canned up a good number of quarts and about 2 dozen pints of whole and crushed tomatoes.  I also froze about 6 gallons of whole tomatoes, this however is an experiment brought on only by lack of time and we will see how these turn out for future use in sauces or stews.   It looks as if frost is coming soon, I will be making a few green tomato spice cakes to throw into the freezer.    I pickled a few jars of hot peppers.   I dehydrated potatoes, onions, celery, squash and (soon) hot peppers.  I fermented cabbage and made my first Kimchi (Oh boy was THAT yummy!!).  The Kimchi made me decide to devote more space to cabbage next year.   I erroneously bought the wrong kind of basil this year.  I normally only like the sweet basil with the large green leaves and lots of delicious flavor.  Somehow I ended up with one I was much less fond of.  However in another fortuitous mistake I planted seeds for flowers and ended up with a few very nice Sweet Basil plants placed among my morning glories growing on the goat barn.  I froze a tray of pesto.  Some year I need to make sure I get enough plants to make TWO trays of pesto as one never lasts me a whole year.  Just take a cube and defrost for mere seconds and add to plain buttered spaghetti noodles….yum, yum, yum.   I did dry herbs again this year including lemon balm, spearmint and peppermint for warming teas this winter.  And of course I did make sure to get our seeds saved for next year.  We have a nice assortment of tomato and bean and pepper seeds saved now.

I am still debating whether or not to open the CSA next year with two shares available or wait one more year.  We will be expanding the garden next year by at least 50% if not 100%.  If you read this far you saw what kind of totals the garden has given us this year and how much of it I have fed to the livestock.  I really don’t consider the feed that I’ve thrown to the livestock to be wasted bounty, just the opposite in fact.  I’m wondering if with the intended square footage I plan to add if I will still be able to largely supplement the chicken and pig feed rations from the garden throughout the summer?  And of course still cover our needs as well as the needs of any CSA participants?

During our first attempt at separating our girls into breeding groups we had a case of goat polio.  It sure was a scary thing.  Any nursing mommas had been separated from their 4 month old kids for about three days when it began.  It started with our dear Snapdragon having the shivers around noon and by that evening around 8pm not getting up for grain.  At that time she was also having what I can only describe as the “thumps” which was like a whole body hiccup.  There was no fever.  She stared into space for the most part and was quite unresponsive.  A friend and neighbor and I tried a course of treatment for possible Milk Fever which is brought on by lack of calcium.  By morning there was little change and after some on-line help from the wonderful people at we came up with the goat polio diagnosis.  After our wonderful vet Dr. Allen Meyers of Meyer Veterinary Clinic in Cadillac was kind enough to come into his office just to fill a prescription of Thiamine for me, I began a heavy hitting course of treatment.  I also bought a bottle of injectable B-complex  and in the beginning she also stopped drinking AND swallowing.  The course of treatment I took was as follows:   Every  6 hours injectable with the Thiamine;   Every 2 hours with injected B-Complex;   Every hour drenched with Water (one hour plain water one hour some molasses in the water)  I tried to get as much into her has she would tolerate each hour.    We went to giving the B-complex orally after the first day and the last couple of doses of Thiamine were orally.  We treated for three days even once symptoms diminished, but about ¾ of the way through day two I began pulling the B-Complex back to about every 3-4 hours instead of every two.   

We have most of the roof on the long barn addition done.  Before winter I should have the inside done so the goats will have a larger loafing barn.  That will free up my current barn and lean to for kidding pens this winter.  With 9 does kidding out this year at unknown times I’m going to need all the space I can get.   This “new” barn will also have the added honor of being the ONLY one I can get into with the tractor for cleaning. 
My camera did that odd lines-thru-the-picture thing again, but you get the idea.

This is the inside the wire gate you see will be attached and become part of the dividing wall between the milking room and the goat area.  Thier area will span from the gate to the far post.  Approximate finished size is about 16 X 16.

We decided to sell our lovely draft mare, Belle, to a wonderful couple who recently moved here from Alaska.  We decided she was just a bit too large to sustain on our small parcel right now.  However, I still was bitten by the driving bug.  We picked up a super gorgeous little (big?) pony to train for that purpose.   Monkey is a 11 or 12 HH Welsh cross gelding broke to ride (sidepasses and everything!).  We picked up a harness but have yet to throw the entire rig on him and try him out.  We did put the harness bridle on him and did a bit of ground driving in the yard with just the bridle and he really did pretty well.  I’m going to go out on a limb and say he’s probably been driven before.  If not, he will be quite easy to break at least.

We are unsure of his lineage, but think he has Welsh in him.

Along the lines of new additions, I would like to introduce: Chief the new house kitty.  Greg found Chief as a sickly little runt barn cat.  Now he is warm and safe in his very own house.  After a few vet visits he seems to be good as new (all be it a little stunted in size).  Seven has certainly fallen in love with Chief.

Both Seven and Chief have "a thing" for my harvest basket. Here Chief isn't letting the fact that I have my egg basket in his way stop him from sleeping in the basket.

Here Seven is giving Chief a bath.

Greg and I were evaluating our homegrown and homebred pig venture the other day.  We were thinking that maybe they were going to be a bust. However I was realizing today that they are just slightly older than their parents were when we got them and they are about twice the size at just 4 months of age.  We are hoping to butcher them in February or March when they will be about 9-10 months old.  If we are lucky Abra (aka Momma Pig) will have another litter to allow for an earlier fall butchering in 2013. 

We are going to REALLY try to save out a goat or two to process for the freezer next year.  The 30# or so of goat meat we got this year just didn’t stretch far enough as we are already out.  I can’t wait to fill the freezer next year with goat, chicken, rabbit and pig straight off the farm.  Greg isn’t really looking forward to the rabbit – but I’ll have to WOW him with some really great recipes.

I will be picking up my first incubator this week to try my hand at actually hatching eggs.  I have been having one heck of a time finding a hen to go broody for me.  However if I would stop collecting eggs on a daily basis maybe one would decide to sit.   I am afraid I may have waited just a week too long to start saving eggs for hatching though.  My lovely Turken rooster, DH, seems to have been ousted by our Light Brahma rooster and is nowhere to be found.  I really did want some if his offspring.   I have also noticed the disappearance of one silkie rooster, although after some thought I realize he has been gone for quite a while now. 

Speaking of eggs, my favorite egg eating hen (well she has moved herself into the horse barn and no longer eats eggs) named Little Red Hen left this lovely present for me in her nest!!

I think "OUCH" says it all.....

Cornerstone Acres Farm will be again attending an “Animal Days” at our local Tractor Supply Company in Cadillac, MI.  Come see us September 29th, 2012 from around 9am-4pm.   This time we will be bringing just two or three goats and two (maybe three) of our Silkies.  Perhaps one of the rabbits would volunteer their time as well?  If I could just figure out a secure penning and moving scenario for the pigs, I would love to get our little Abra trained to be a petting zoo piggy!!  Well, maybe it’s time to get out the marshmallows and see about bribing Abra into a cage.

Thank you so very much for reading until the end and until next time……….