We got a goat!

It happened!We got a goat! Her name is Gracie and she is a monster!

She came to us a little over 3 weeks ago at the ripe old age of about 6 hours old. Mama goat had had a very young surprise breeding and as with many goats bred young, she did not want to have anything to do with the kid. She also didn’t want anyone to touch her udder so it was a job and a half to get a little colostrum for the kid. Anyway, long story short, we were given Gracie free of charge as long as we were willing to take on the responsibilities and costs of bottle feeding and raising her. She is an Alpine, Nubian cross which is not at all what I originally wanted( Nigerian Dwarf, or at the very least Nubian X Nigerian dwarf), but I am so pleased with her and if she takes from her mother, she should still have a high butterfat content. Our days are now filled with a bleating kid doing tricks and stunts on everything and anything. It is both adorable and overwhelming, but she’s such a cutie!

Just look at this little face!

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Here’s to a future filled with milk, cheese, butter and yogurt!!

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The bridge is up!

It has been 9 months since we moved into our little homestead, five of which were solid winter and not much was getting done , and yet I am seeing so much progress. The coop and run are up, the garden is tilled, the house is coming together well..and now the bridge is up! The bridge was one of our big goals because without it, we are partially cut off from the largest part of our land and with that, most of our wood. What was in place of the bridge was a washed out section around a large cut out drum. We could still get across by walking through the stream or jumping over it when it was running low, but we could not get across on the 4 wheeler, therefore couldn’t really haul firewood back. Even if we wanted to really put our backs into it and use a small sled and pull it ourselves, it would mean going down a steep embankment, across the water, and up the steep and rough other side. No thanks.

Anyway, there’s no need for that anymore! The Mister spent several days cutting and hauling large logs to lay over the washed out area and across the old drum, then cut and lay really old 2 inch thick floor boards we had in the garage and now we have a bridge!! There is still work to do, railings to put up, some sort of protection to put on the wood and smooth off the ends where we would drive onto and off the bridge, but the most of it is done. I am so happy and proud of my Mister! His hard work has paid off beautifully!

It especially looks great from the end of our backyard when we look down into the gully through the trees and see the fresh bridge below! Have I mentioned how excited I am about this yet? 😛

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Isn’t it great? What big projects do you have going on on your homestead?

Me and my breadmaker

I’ve always been one of those people who goes on way too long missing a crucial piece of information but somehow still getting by. It’s a blessing and a curse and it struck again in the form of a breadmaker. I just didn’t get it. How does it make bread for you and whats the point? Then hubby came home with another thrift store find. Can you guess? Yes you can. A breadmaker! It’s one of those little ones that makes a tall load with a small cap, almost like a funny looking mushroom.

Well! I was curious. I looked up the model for instructions and a recipe and got going with a basic rapid bake bread. It was SO. EASY. I felt dirty it was so easy. Just pile the ingredients in, close the lid, press the button and it does it all. What. the. what? It took me a few loaves before I stopped feeling dirty using this super simple contraption and started to feel like a superhero. Make a loaf of bread while my little peanut finishes her cereal? Why sure! It’s that easy!

Now I know I get that weird little paddle indent at the bottom and sometimes the crust isn’t the best…but it sure beats the invisible bread I was making before. HA! The best part is that it rises every time, regardless of the temperature in the house. I still sometimes feel like a cheater cheater pumpkin eater, especially when I remember my mom kneading away at a half dozen loaves of bread in the kitchen while I ran around being my little snot nosed self, but in general I’m loving this super easy way.

Do you use a bread maker? What are your thoughts on them?

Canning debut!

I grew up watching my mother can food. Well, not really watching..more like, I saw her canning in my peripheral vision while I played! Either way, you’d think having been exposed to it all my life, I’d feel confident tackling the task myself right? Nope! I am days shy of being 29 years old and today was my very first attempt at canning. So exciting! So..scary!

The Mr. often picks up reduced-to-sell produce when he happens to be in town and as I was psyching myself up to try canning, I asked him to have a look for some tomatoes. Walmart had a large produce bag full for 2$, so he brought that home and I made my first 4 bottles of canned tomato sauce! I was nervous, but I set myself up a work space with everything I would need and got to work. It took a significant amount of time to get my large pot to boil with only 4 small bottles in it, but I’ll know for next time to make a bigger batch or use a smaller pot.

 

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About to begin

Even more exciting than the 4 jars of sauce I made is the fact that the ice is now broken! A whole new world of possibilities just opened up to me and I am eager to create a garden plan that involves canning surplus and not just veggies that store well or can be dried/frozen!Bring on the 2018 harvest season!..In you know..8 or 9 months..

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Finished result

Winter troubles

Today has been one of those days!! It started great..and then I turned the tap to fill the water jug to take out to the animals and…no water! What? I headed for the bathroom sink..no water. The tub…no water. UGH! My first thought was frozen pipes as they run really close to the closed porch which is nearly as cold as the outdoors. However, a few texts to hubby and tests later, we established that our water pump kicked the bucket.

The kiddo and I headed out to care for the animals, and found the rabbits water frozen solid. -.- We have a heated water dispenser for her but unfortunately the extension cord was unplugged last night and we forgot to plug it back in. My fingers are crossed that the waterer did not crack since it wasn’t full! At least Marge, our hen who has been under the weather for the last few days was still alive and even seemed a bit more lively today!

Back in the house, I’m trying to find my groove but you use water a lot more than you realize!! Funny how fast we get spoiled..I grew up without typical running water, and now I’m constantly reaching for the tap, even knowing that our water is out for the day. Luckily, we have our water dispenser that we use for drinking water( an old habit that hasn’t died yet) so we aren’t totally dry for the day. I greedily parked the kiddo in front of the tv ( I KNOWWWW shame on me!! but she’s so quiet..) while I tried trouble shooting the water. Then she was so quiet and entertained that I used the time to make a fire. And then I started a batch of spaghetti sauce. And now I’m venting in a blog post..and my kiddo is still quietly sitting there. What is this sorcery!?

 

6 days ’til christmas!!

 

 

Homestead update

It’s been about 3 months since we moved to our little homestead and things are going well! I wouldn’t say it’s an ”Actual” homestead yet, but things are moving in the right direction and I am so glad! In October, we chose the spot for our ”real” garden ( we had done a rushed, makeshift pallet garden this summer while between the 2 places) an tilled it. For now it will be a 20×20 garden and each year we will extend it some more until we have the full size we want. I have not determined what that size will be just yet! 😛

Since then, I’ve moved the perennial herbs into that space and prepared their beds for winter. It was a job keeping the hens out of there after letting them feast in the freshly tilled soil for a few weeks. They were NOT impressed with the new rules!

Since the start of November, the Mister finished building our chicken coop(inside the barn) and an 8×8 run outside that will eventually be covered. One step at a time!

I am so very, very pleased with it and so are the chickens! We welcomed 4 new ladies(hens) to the flock. They are young Cornish Bantams and are currently living rent-free. I expect they will start laying soon. I hope! The adjustment went well, although the bigger hens are not too fond of sharing the lovins’ and especially the food. Oh well, they’ll learn!

Our winter project on the animal front is a goat pen! I am set on getting Nigora goats ( Nigerian dwarf crossed with Angora). On paper they are perfect for our family. Small in size, high butter fat content in their milk, and usable fleece. We are not interested in having a high turnover with our animals. I know that isn’t the homesteading way per say, but it is our way. We want animals that will serve several purposes and grow old  on our farm. Perhaps we will change our minds as we get more freeloaders, but for now, that’s how we want it. Hence the fleece/milk goats.

It has been hard for me to hold my horses so to speak and resist jumping on the first goat add I come across. I’ve seen several good deals on goat breeds I don’t actually want and have nearly made a hasty decision a couple of times but luckily didn’t!

And finally, just a few weeks ago I ordered 10 grape vines for spring. A mix of Frontenac Gris and Frontenac Blanc. If all goes well, I expect to add some new varieties over the years. Last but not least, we are planning to order some mushroom for spring, just as soon as I get some proper research done on them!

It feels like we have come such a long way since we first moved in late August! The house is more cozy by the day and our many many projects are coming together steadily. The mister is always busy tinkering in the garage, building something or cutting firewood and the little munchkin is such a helper! She just loves helping out in the garden and doing her little chores to help mommy get the animals fed. She has even gotten pretty good at ”herding” the chickens home and has learned to be more gentle with the eggs! I am so happy with how things are going! 🙂

We moved!

Ouf!! Well, it’s been a busy busy month!! On August 12th we finally did the big move! It seemed like all the rain we didn’t get up until that point all came down on that day, but we did it, and aside from partly wet beds and a broken stove clock, it went well. I am so glad the driving back and fourth between the 2 places is finally done and we can just focus on settling in! I had expected some stress issues from the animals, mainly our house cat, but I was pleasantly surprised! He was appeared very comfortable on the drive over, and once we got to the house, he went in behind the couch for 5 minutes tops before coming out to explore. Within a half hour he was wandering around the kitchen purring and sniffing around. He is especially fond of the large window we set his cat tree in front of, and sits up there enjoying the breeze coming in through the screen.

Ten days later, the in laws arrived from Belgium for a 9 day visit. We put settling in on hold for a while to spend time with them and do stuff. It was a nice visit! Kiddo warmed up to Granny quickly, and the rest of the 9 days were spent to a chorus of ”Nanaa? Nanaa?”s and ” sitsit!”. It was nice to see them bonding! She even warmed up to her Bompie after some time and had him building block towers for her. On the Sunday following their arrival, their luggage arrived ( I forgot to mention their luggage was delayed do to a strike in Brussels) and we were showered in gifts! It was like Christmas in August! I received a beautiful handpainted Delft Blue teapot among other things, and the wee Tot received a bunch of cute cloths, toys and books. ”Sinterklaas ” even sent some stuff with Granny for E to open in December! 🙂

As always, the goodbyes were difficult, but we managed without tears this time! It helps knowing they will be back for Easter, it makes it feel like we’ll see them soon, even though it’s still several months away. E doesn’t really understand it all yet, but she handles it well. She only looked for her Nanaa a couple of times( and broke my heart) before she realized Granny and Bompie were not here anymore. She is still very needy while she adjusts to having less attention again, but she’s coming around.

Tomorrow we will unpack the rest of my books! I’m excited to see my beautiful shelf filled with books again. An empty book shelf is such a sad sight!