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Archive for the ‘Animals’ Category
Saturday, December 20th, 2014
We’re really grateful for so many different things. We are grateful for each other and for this wonderful homestead that just keeps getting better every day.
When I think of moving here in 2003, in February, when there was nothing but small trees, old logs and stumps with big woods all around and all we’ve accomplished it doesn’t seem possible: the log house, huge storage building, big gardens, berry patch, orchard, tons of fencing, fenced pig pastures or extra garden (whichever is needed), a training ring and adjacent barn, clearing two pastures, then the third huge one on the new forty acres we bought three years ago, plowing and planting many acres, buying haying equipment, and building the new barn.
Stocking up the pantry after nearly depleting it after our move here is beyond belief. We’re eating our own home-raised pork, chicken, eggs, milk, and beef along with some canned venison from last year as well as plenty of fruits and vegetables from our homestead.
The bread we bake is from flour we grind and after that bout with diverticulitis, I’m SO happy to be able to eat whole wheat bread again! It’s like a celebration, pulling a loaf out of the oven. We never take things for granted but appreciate every single day. — Jackie
Wednesday, December 17th, 2014
After a day without snow and rain, which is unheard of here in northern Minnesota this time of the year, we got a two-inch snowfall. Luckily, today the sun’s out and it’s pretty and not too cold. Our critters are happy and fat and seem to enjoy the fresh snow. The horses are running around bucking and playing and even the cows are joining them. (It’s pretty funny to see a big cow with her bag swinging back and forth, bucking and jumping with her tail kinked up in the air!)
We knew the snow was coming so we carried in extra wood and while I ran to town for feed, Will brought in the Christmas tree and got it set up. It seems like every year we have a prettier tree! This year, it’s a locally grown pine. Our own Christmas tree selection is dim; some nice trees are too big and others, too small. Maybe next year we can go out and cut our own again. But we’re happy to have a neighbor to the North that has a small Christmas tree farm. We get a nice fresh tree and keep the bucks local!
I’m excited; we’ll be picking up our beef from the processing plant on Friday! We’ve sold seven quarters of our natural beef, saving a quarter for ourselves. So I’ll be delivering beef Friday and Saturday as well as bringing ours home. Yum, I can’t wait! (We’ve also started selling quarters and halves from the next two butcher steers. Many are repeat customers, so that makes us feel good.)
Keep watching the box at the top of the blog as our new seed business, which we’ve named SEED TREASURES (we believe seeds are more valuable than gold), is up and running with many more selections this year! Click on the link. But if you can’t open it, just e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll see you get a listing. — Jackie
Monday, December 15th, 2014
Will went out our driveway to take some work to our local machine shop. When he returned, he told me there were the tracks of a big bull moose on our driveway! Wow! I went out with the camera, hoping to see the big guy, but no dice. He did leave huge tracks for a mile down our driveway to where he turned off to the north through the woods. That’s only the second time I’ve seen moose tracks here. David saw a cow and twin calves twice a year ago and my late husband, Bob, saw two moose nearby, at night several years ago. They’re around, but not common here.
Our snow is nearly all gone. Our low last night was 37 degrees, above! But we’ve sure made good use of our warm spell as it’s not “normal.” Will cut barn siding all day yesterday and now has enough lumber to frame the upper wall on the whole barn plus enough siding to do at least the whole west side and more. I’m getting real excited! The siding is wide; both 8″ and 12,” with beautiful grain.
I got another chicken canned up and had plans to do another but our carpenter friend, Tom, stopped by for a visit. We hadn’t seen him for awhile as he has been busy totally remodeling an old farm house for our veterinarian friends, Robin and John. We had a great visit and got caught up on what all we’ve both been doing. Tom had also built a huge storage barn on his homestead this summer, so we know he’s been as busy as we have been. Progress is such a nice thing.
My diverticulitis is just about gone and I’m just starting to eat “normal” food again. I’ll admit I was getting sick of broth, cottage cheese, yogurt, etc. Roasted chicken tasted real good! — Jackie
Friday, December 12th, 2014
Dirt piles in chicken coop
I live in Oregon and have a question about finding 8-inch-high and 12-inch-wide piles of dirt inside my chicken house. They have showed up within the last 3 days and are dry loose dirt. My coop is wood floored and 2 feet off the ground on stones, the hens are locked in each night at dark. Windows are secure. I have lost no birds and no eggs seemed to be eaten. One pile was inside a nest box and one outside the nest area. This is a considerable amount of dirt for any animal to move during that time and I see no other evidence of nesting.
You’ve kind of got me stumped. Obviously some mammal is getting into your coop. Somewhere. Some critters who pile up dirt are pocket gophers, Norway rats and ground squirrels. But any of them would have to get into the coop. Is there a hole under the dirt piles? Pack rats will carry in sticks, moss, shredded cloth…but not usually dirt. I’d examine the entire coop for small holes or cracks then block them up with hardware cloth or tin to exclude your new tenants. — Jackie
We have finally narrowed down the area of Minnesota we plan to search for a place to homestead once our home sells. We really love the Itasca county area. However, I keep running across something called Blastomycosis that is said to be a very common occurrence in dogs, and people to a lesser degree, in both Itasca and St. Louis counties. As the owners of 3 dogs, with big plans to dig in the dirt, we are more than a little concerned. From what I have read it is a soil-borne fungus, and very deadly and painful to canines and humans if left untreated.
I am well aware of Blastomycosis in our area. Our friends are both veterinarians in the Cook area and have treated local dogs for this fungal disease. It seems to be most prone to the Lake Vermilion area and other “wet” spots. Of course, Lake Vermilion is a huge lake surrounded on most sides by high-end lake homes. (i.e. many people and many water loving dogs). We are concerned about it but do not worry about it. No matter where you live there are some sort of dangerous diseases possible. In New Mexico, it was the plague, carried by local prairie dogs. In Montana, Hantavirus, carried by deer mice and pack rats.
We dig in the garden (obviously) and our dogs do dig out ground squirrels. But they don’t spend a lot of time in the creek or swamp, digging in the ground. Neither do we. So we keep aware but don’t worry. If this is a huge concern of yours, you might consider nearby Koochiching County, just to the north. Less people and less occurrence of reported Blastomycosis. — Jackie
Wednesday, December 10th, 2014
I roasted two chickens yesterday. We ate part of one for supper last night with rice and carrots. Wow, was that good! Today I’ll be picking chicken off the bone and canning both of them up in the wonderful broth made from the pan drippings. I have four more in the freezer but as it’s supposed to hit the forties I think we’ll butcher a couple more and then can them up right after they’ve cooled down.
I also got whole boneless pork loins on sale from our local store for $1.99 a pound and I’ll be canning them up too.
We’ll be getting our beef back in about a week and we can hardly wait as we’ve been out of beef for quite awhile, except for canned beef. Canned beef is great but sometimes you just want some fresh meat too. Right now we’re starting to take orders for our last two butcher steers and hopefully we’ll get the meat sold before our butchering date in January. Craigslist has been good that way. It seems that lots of folks are concerned about where their meat comes from these days and that’s a good thing.
Will and I have been talking more about the varieties we plan to grow next spring and about fencing the 1½ acres that was our new corn/pumpkin patch. Unfenced, the deer left us the corn but ate all the pumpkins and squash. We can’t have that happen again so we’re trying to save up enough to buy fencing for it. We do have the fence posts already so I’m crossing my fingers! A local greenhouse has contacted us about supplying them with Halloween pumpkins and fall decorative squash next year so we’ll try to do that too out of our “test plots” on the new ground where we won’t be saving seed. (It’ll cross as we’re going to grow several different varieties.)
I’m feeling better but will sure be glad when I’m done with drugs! My stomach does NOT like them!
Well, back to canning. By the way, a big “thank you” to all of you who are continuing to order seeds from the click box at the top of the blog. We DO still have seeds but watch as we’ll soon be posting our 2014-2015 seed listing that will have many more varieties available. — Jackie
Friday, December 5th, 2014
Lids blowing off jars in the canner
I have been canning for over 30 years and had an incident last week that I have never encountered. I made a big batch of turkey soup and was canning quart jars in my pressure canner and heard a funny sound about mid-way through the process. When we opened the canner, one of the lids had blown off, ring and all, coating everything inside with soup. I used the new lids and prepared them the way the box instructs, not boiling but simmering. The jar seems undamaged; it was one that I have canned in multiple times before. I am mystified. Have you ever heard of this happening, and what do you think caused it? The other 6 jars were fine.
Virginia Beach, Virginia
This has happened a couple of times to me too. One of two things has happened. Either you didn’t tighten the ring firmly tight enough (the ring vibrated during processing, loosening it so it came off) or you have a bad ring. I always toss a ring if this happens, just because. I have tons of rings! This is just another of these things that can happen during canning. I’ve found it’s usually been a highly liquid food such as broth or soup that blew the lid. It’s annoying but nothing to worry about. — Jackie
GMO corn and alfalfa
Do you feed Non-GMO corn and alfalfa? Around here (Modesto, CA), the farmers are growing GMO corn and GMO alfalfa.
Well, no and yes. Unfortunately, little non-GMO field corn is out there. And even some that isn’t GMO on purpose is contaminated by GMO pollen blowing in the wind for up to two miles, from neighboring GMO fields. That’s depressing. We do grow some of our own corn for our livestock, but not nearly enough as we don’t have enough open fields to do so. We’re definitely NOT happy about the GMO corn! No, we don’t feed GMO alfalfa. Our hay is mostly clover, birdsfoot trefoil, and grass mixed — which is non-GMO. — Jackie
Thursday, December 4th, 2014
Fertile eggs and planting potatoes
If I put a rooster and a hen in a small pen together how soon can I be sure that she would be laying fertile eggs inspired by the handsome fella she is cohabitating with?
If I save some nice potatoes to plant in the spring, what do I need to do to them before planting them? Do I need to spray or dust them with something?
Thanks for sharing all your wisdom and experience. I’m sure some of our questions stretch your knowledge but somehow you still have answers. We, your readership, appreciate you. Gail
Usually after a rooster mates with a hen, her eggs are fertile about 24 hrs later. Eggs she lays for two weeks following this are also fertile.
Some folks dust their potatoes with sulfur before planting to help ward off disease. But others just cut and “chit” theirs. Chitting is letting the potato sets dry and be exposed to some sun so they begin to produce sturdy green sprouts. Be sure there is no disease in your potatoes before planting your own sets. When in doubt, it’s best to start with boughten seed potatoes that are certified disease-free.
You’re welcome. Glad to help. You all help me learn more and more. It’s fun. — Jackie
Tuesday, November 25th, 2014
Last Thursday was one for me. My adopted son, Javid, is still getting his ducks in a row after we moved him here from Montana. To get his Social Security Disability, he had to have a photo identification card. To get that he had to have a certified copy of his birth certificate, which the “helpful” Social Services in Helena had lost. So I tore off to Virginia (the city, not the state, thank God!) and got one for him. $27. Then we reserved a handicap bus to pick him up at the nursing home. That was $77 for a round trip of 10 miles. (OMG, how could they charge that much?) We were on the bus five minutes. We got to the driver’s license bureau and the bus left. Inside, we filled out the form and took it to the window, where the nice lady informed us that the computers in the whole state (motor vehicles/drivers license) were “down.” Couldn’t do a thing, sorry. So I called the bus back. It took half an hour to get it back, in which time the lady tried again to get the computer to work. No go.
So back to the nursing home we went. Of course there was no refund for the $77 for the bus. There was no way I was going to spend another $77 for another bus the next day, so, thank God, David didn’t have school Friday and he came back with me and lifted Javid into the car seat and back out again at the Driver’s License Bureau. (Yes, I did call them Friday morning to make sure the computers were back “up”!) We got that done and Javid will get his card in about 6 weeks.
Then David and I tore off to Hibbing, 23 miles west, so he could apply for a replacement Social Security card after losing his wallet this summer. Got that done for free with no glitches. By then I was more than ready to get HOME!
And back to homesteading. As we had great warmer temps, into the mid thirties, Will and I butchered six big fat meat chickens. With his handy-dandy Tornado Clucker Plucker, it went fast and easy. Today I’ll wrap and freeze the birds to can up after Thanksgiving. (They do need to chill for at least 12 hours in refrigeration before eating, freezing, or canning so they’ll be tender.)
Today Will finished hauling rotted goat manure out onto our garden and buried a bunch of old rotten stumps, logs, and branches, shoved into a dip, with more rotted manure. No, we’re not doing hugelkultur gardening, just getting rid of ugly wood and flattening out a big low spot. One more job well done! — Jackie