Wednesday, March 19, 2014

March Homestead Update

Happy Feast Day of St. Joseph!

St. Joseph is my adopted patron. I am not named after him, and chose another saint at Confirmation oh those many years ago. Since being married and working, though, I've come to appreciate how helpful St. Joseph and his holy example are. So, in celebration of his feast day, I'm dedicating this update of all of my work around the homestead to him.

First, the pigs are growing visibly larger and more comfortable with us daily. Holy moly, they are fun to watch.

BB'q saying hello. Escargo nervously watches in the background.
All them piggies hanging out. They're starting to root up the area (yay!),
and go nuts for milk and eggs. It's hilarious.
I'll likely leave them in place for at least another week, partially because the area isn't rooted to my satisfaction, and partially because I'm not ready to move the chickens into the reinforced cattle panel pens yet - I need to add the chicken wire, at the very least. And speaking of the chickens.....

Chickens pecking and grazing. They've been disrespecting the elctro-net recently.
Time to get them ready for the pens.

The chickens are doing very well. They seem to have figured out how to get out of the electro-net, which is not that surprising to me. Corn the Rooster has been sort of aggressive lately, so he may not be with us for much longer if this continues. That's OK, because we have another rooster or two waiting in the wings (pun!) to take over.

The baby chicks are entering their awkward adolescent phase now.
That Leghorn rooster in the lower right is crowing like a 12-year-old boy.
The chick-u-bator will be occupied for another several weeks at least. I have to cut the chicken wire to length first for the panels to see how much I have, then attach it to the panels, then build an enclosure out of the remainder so I can add it to the chicken pen, and THEN I can start to introduce the baby chicks to the big chicks. There needs to be some wing clipping in there as well somewhere....

And speaking of moving animals, the sheep are SO READY to be moved out.

"Get us outta here! Baaa!!"
I plan to spend the time this weekend setting up the electro-net out back so I can bring the sheep out of their winter dry lot and into the just-emerging spring pastures. there'll be several days of warm-weather in front of them, so it should be a smooth transition. I have some scything to do to level out the back pastures. I might also see if my neighbor can lend her zero-turn mowing expertise as well....

The cows are also going to start heading toward the back. I'm running low on winter hay, and the grass is beginning to come up. They are sick of the hay too, as every time I try to walk Bridget to the milking stanchion to milk her out, she stops 5 or 6 times to eat clover and grass nibblets. So yeah, the grass cannot pop up soon enough.

Bridget Da'Cow, tired of eating hay yet eating it anyways.

Brisket Le'Cow, in the same hay boat.
I've been milking Bridget thrice a day to up her production, and it is working. We went on a trip to visit friends and family in Indiana, and upon returning, she was down to about a half-gallon a day. We're up to closer to 1.5 gallons now, and the extra stimulation is definitely helping. I'l likely do the 3x milking for another week, maybe two, and then drop to twice a day.

I also have been working on efficiency in my routine, and the Cow Cart is a big one that went into the initial plan. The downside was that the hose bib I got originally was TERRIBLE. I got some new plumbing yesterday, and what used to take over 20 minutes of water filling took less than two this morning.

Filling up the tank on the Cow Cart at the hose.
The two metal stock tanks are Bridget and Brisket's water tanks.

Bridget tethered in the yard, with the Cow Cart water tank filling up her stock tank.
Look at that flow! It took no time at all to fill.

I'll be adding some extra wood to the Cow Cart so I can cart around the T-posts driver, T-post puller, T-posts themselves, manure fork, manure tank, chains, wrenches, mineral buckets, etc., etc. The end result will be that I can take the cart in one hand and the cow on a leash in the other, and set up everything in a single trip. I have not yet achieved that, but getting a properly working water delivery system is step 1.

While at the hose spot, I surveyed last year's garden spot for a moment.

Lots of organic matter ready to be spread out!
I have piles of manure to be spread and wood to be chipped. It should take a few hours one afternoon when I have nothing else to do (HA! like those exist...). I have some additional donkey compost and some regular compost to add, too. Time to have a homeschool "biology lesson" with the kids.....

The warm weather has also caused the orchard trees to begin budding ever so slightly.

A pear tree just starting to bud. I have no idea which variety it is.
It will be exciting to see the development of the trees in Year 2 of the orchard.

In other news, Wife is currently assembling a seed-starting greenhouse right now (separate post to follow). This is after a busy morning making butter, yogurt, and setting aside some milk for cream cheese. I'll post separately on our home dairy products as well.

St. Joseph, pray for us. Pray for success by the work of our hands. Pray for a happy, holy home for us and for our children. Pray, O Terror of Demons, that we may be freed from the bonds of sin and from the snares of the enemy. Pray that we might have a happy, holy death when it is time for us to be called home by our Creator. Amen.

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