Happy Monday Homesteaders! It’s time for a weekly update!
Happy New Year! My New Year’s resolution is to produce a weekly blog during 2018 so that you can join us on our homesteading adventure. Sometimes it is easy to let the responsibilities of homesteading and family life overwhelm you and blogging gets pushed to the back burner. This is a slippery slope as once a week goes by it is easier to let the next, and the next….. So my intention is to stick to my resolution and produce interesting and engaging content for all of you who are following our blog.
I’ll jump right in and let you know that we did not end up getting the milking goat. A potential buyer who had contacted the seller before us, but had cancelled a couple of times, made another appointment to see Flame (name of prospective goat) prior to my contacting the seller. The seller was pretty peeved about the cancelations and let me know that if the other buyer cancelled again that Flame was ours, but it was not meant to be. She purchased Flame. I cannot say that I was not disappointed, but being the practical individual that I am I overcame my disappointment and used those monies to purchase a nice stack of hay for my goats.
But not to be deterred in my quest for a milking animal, in early November we purchased a seven month old heifer calf. She is a Shorthorn/Black Angus cross. She is a super friendly girl who has an affinity for horse treats and pumpkins. The goal with Blue Belle is to get her into peak condition so that we can breed her next fall. If she produces a heifer calf then we will raise the calf to breeding age and produce calves to sell. If she produces a bull then we will raise him for meat. Although we have a long way to go, we are working toward a degree of sustainability. I am continually working with Belle to ensure that she is gentle and used to being touched and handled. Our hope is to calf share with her so that she is feeding her calf and producing enough milk that we can milk her once a day.
In late November and early December we harvested animals, sold some, and even gave a few away. We harvested five turkeys. Three were broad breasted bronze that were intended for that purpose and two were Sweetwater’s. We purchased four Sweetwater poults and were hopeful that we would get at least one if not two hens. It became clear fairly early that we had at least three Toms, so two were harvested with our Thanksgiving birds. We thought that the youngest poult was a female until he started strutting around too. We found a nice home for these gents on the coast with some lonely girls. Our ducks were rehomed too. We had four hens that we gave to a nice family that had a couple of drakes and were looking for hens to complete their flock. I enjoyed the ducks; however they love water and kept our chickens water filthy. These girls went to a lovely home where they can dirty the water freely without reproach. Lastly we harvested two of our Gloucestershire Old Spot (GOS) hogs. They were purchased in the early summer months with the express purpose of being harvested for meat.
On our homestead we are very respectful of the animals that we are raising and provide a healthy diet, plenty of room to roam and graze, and our attention and affections. Although we purchase these animals with the express purpose of harvesting them for meat, we get attached as we feed and care for them. We engage only humane and respectful abattoirs to harvest our animals. However, with the exception of the unexpected death of one of our animals, these are some of the hardest days on the homestead.
Humphrey and Hazel (pet Kune Kune pigs) are doing great. They have been thriving since being put on limited rations and are often found high on the hillside eating pasture. It is great to see them out and about.
Jo our (GOS) gilt is having an extended sleep over at the breeders. He is breeding her to one of his Berkshire boars. When she is bred we will decide whether she will farrow at his farm or come back to the homestead. That decision will be made depending upon her due date and the weather that is expected. We do not yet have a barn facility which is necessary if she farrows during the rainy season.
The goats are doing great! We have a new addition, little orphan Annie. She is eight weeks old and came to us after her mother died. A necropsy is being done on her mother and we are waiting on the results. She is a cute and lively little gal who has stolen our hearts. It has been so cold here that she was in the house in a crate for the first two weeks that we had her. She has just been out for about four days as I write. So no doubt you will understand that she is our baby.
The chickens are enjoying a prolonged holiday as I am generally getting less than five eggs from about fifty hens. I am a believer in “a season for everything” and do not put lights in my coops. This is a time for my girls to rest and revel in their freedom from production. The days are already getting longer and soon my egg basket will be overflowing, literally.
This week we will continue to render the leaf lard from our hogs and start doing the projects that we have on our 2018 projects list. We are looking forward to the New Year and all of the adventures and new friends that it will bring.
Have a great week!