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……….








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