Around the Homestead

Finally feels like Autumn

The garden produce has been collected, the firewood hauled to the house, the chimney is clean, the fire is lit. Autumn has finally arrived on our homestead. We absolutely love this time of year.

We are preparing for a season of celebrating. We have cozy fall books stacked a mile high, boxes of apples, jugs of apple cider, and candles lit.

Lenny

It is finally cool enough to work on the school bus some more. We are getting close to having it insulated.

We took our last trip to a local zoo with our cousins before it closes for winter.

Collected the last of the herbs before the first freeze.

A broom Canyon and I made from catmint.

Willie Nelson helping…

Sage

Bandit curled up sleeping in a nesting box.

First fire of the season. We love this time of year.

Hope everyone is enjoy the changing seasons. After a really hot and dry summer, we are enjoying the cool days ahead. A time to curl up with a good book and a mug of something warm to drink.

Animals

Llamas on the Farm

We have three guard llamas on our farm. Their ages range from roughly 10-20 years old. While we are on a waiting list for Finn sheep and patiently biding our time. We decided we needed to be thinking about a younger guard for our soon-to-be-sheep-flock.

Dolly

We were originally thinking we would just buy a male and geld him like we did the first time we needed a guard. However, we saw this guy we knew he was too beautiful to geld.

Dante

So we ended up driving 4 hours away for a starter flock of females to begin breeding our own guards and pets.

We ended up with two registered females and a rescued mama and baby. It was a package deal, so they could all stay together and we absolutely love them. The two younger, registered females need a lot of work, but the older mama is incredibly sweet. She just needs a lot of special nutrition to get her healthy again.

One of our original llamas, Sylvia, has fallen pretty hard for the new guy.

Baby, Simone
Willie Nelson

Willie Nelson isn’t sure about the new arrivals yet.

We hope to have registered and non-registered llamas for sale in the future. The coyote population has gotten really dense here, so as we listen to the howls surrounding our farm at night, we feel completely satisfied with our decision and comfort in knowing our farm is heavily guarded.

Around the Homestead

It’s Fall…

Without the hassle of cooler weather or misty, rainy mornings! It’s officially fall!!

Everyone around here is just trying to stay cool and survive.

Jose
Frida

The girls and I have decided that regardless of the brutal upper 90s-100 degree temperatures and the endless drought, we are celebrating fall. I have Cozy Cabin from Edens Garden diffusing, pumpkin spice hand soap in the dispensers, and a batch of hot cocoa mix ready and waiting.

Foam Soap:

3 T. Seventh Generation Dish Soap, Unscented

2/3 cup water

10 drops essential oil

Mix together, do not shake, pour into foam dispenser.

Pumpkin Spice (diffuse or hand soap)

5 drops cinnamon

2-3 drops orange

2-3 drops clove

1 drop ginger

I also whipped up some of this cleaner to spray the dining room table and counter tops.

Our library books are stacked high because we don’t intend to be outside in the afternoons unless we absolutely have to be out in the heat.

Mine
Girls

Cocoa Mix:

1 cup gentle sweet or lakanto

1 cup cocoa

3/4 cup powdered milk

1/4 t. salt

Mix together in a glass jar. Store in a cool, dry place.

To enjoy, add 2 tablespoons to a mug, pour hot water over, stir to mix. Add Dandies (marshmallows) or fresh whipped cream with a splash of maple syrup if desired.

Aspen & Laila

It’s time to celebrate. We have one single pumpkin purchased so far, afraid they will rot in the blazing heat. But today is the day we will bake something warm and delicious and curl up with a autumnal book and a cup of something warm. Hope everyone enjoys the first day of fall and create your own rhythms and traditions wherever you live.

Around the Homestead

Homestead Update…

Aspen with an Araucana-Barred Rock cross we hatched in the spring and her pet hen, Arial
Our newest baby Jersey, Heidi
Willie Nelson
Wolfgang, our newest stray to trap, neuter, and tame
Steve, Dad’s Scottish Highland bull we are borrowing
Opossum
Armadillo
My bestie, 1112

We have a lot of things going on around our homestead. Besides being in an incredible drought and an intense heatwave, we are also expanding our farm endeavors.

We are currently on a waiting list for a starter flock of registered Finn sheep. We are halter breaking our Jersey heifer, Tina, who will be for sale once she calves in the spring. We will soon have Scottish Highland-Hereford crosses growing on our farm. Rachel, Aspen’s Savanna goat, went to mom and dad’s to be bred to a really nice Savanna.

The Araucana-Barred Rock chicks we hatched in the spring just began laying. So we now get about a dozen eggs a day. The girls, Randy, and my dad processed the roosters together, so they aren’t terrorizing our hens anymore.

Last but not least….

Dante

We just bought a registered male llama, Dante, and are in the process of buying females so we can begin breeding guard llamas. We have wanted to do this for a long time and everything just kind of fell into place for us to make this happen. He is adjusting really well, and we can’t wait to see what the future holds for our llama herd.

The girls and I have a pretty good routine to manage all of our chores. Randy is good to do the bigger projects as needed, fencing, hay, hauling feed bags from point A to point B. Our barn is full of hay, our bins our full of grain, and we are ready to begin another season on our farm. We are so excited to see what the future of our farm and family holds.

Animals

Sheep Shearing

We have been shearing our own sheep for a few years now. We use old-fashioned hand shears and a stanchion. It’s a rather time consuming process, but the sheep aren’t stressed because they are handled gently throughout the process.

One down…15 to go!

The finished product

We store our wool in cardboard barrels in hopes of learning to utilize it this fall. We hope to learn to clean, card, spin and felt the wool from our farm.

I sheared the one above by myself, but usually we both take an end. It goes a lot faster!

Around the Homestead

From Hot Cocoa to Lemonade…Life’s Simple Pleasures

This morning we had temperatures in the upper 30s which warranted our new favorite our-cow-is-dry-so-we-have-no-milk drink. Hot cocoa made with dry milk powder.

Hot Cocoa Mix:

1/3 cup THM gentle sweet or powdered Monk Fruit sweetener

1/3 cup cocoa

1/4 cup A2/A2 milk powder

1/16 t. Himalayan Pink Salt

Combine and mix well. Add 2 T. to a mug and top with hot water. We don’t do super sweet at our house, so if you would like your cocoa sweeter, just increase the sweetener to your liking.

We warmed our water on our wood cookstove, topped our mugs with Dandies marshmallows (again no cream for whipping), and began our homeschool day together.

As afternoon approached, our temperatures were climbing into the 80s. This called for fresh-squeezed lemonade sweetened with honey.

Honey-Sweetened Lemonade:

1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/2 cup honey

5 cups of ice water

Combine lemon juice and honey into pitcher and stir until honey dissolves. Add water and chill in refrigerator or serve immediately.

We tackled our science lesson on the front porch with a ice cold glass of lemonade and a handful of cats lounging and napping all around us.

Chance

What I’m Diffusing:

My favorite essential oil site oneessentialcommunity.com

California Coast:

2 drops cedarwood

2 drops orange

2 drops lavender

1 drop spearmint

1 drop frankincense

What I’m Wearing:

Happy Mama:

1 drop each

Peppermint

Patchouli

Lemon

What I’m Reading:

Anne of Green Gables-L.M. Montgomery

We are praying for rain here as we are as dry as we can possibly be here. My early garden is planted and growing, just waiting for some April showers. Hope your day is filled with simple pleasures too!

Around the Homestead

The end of winter

You never know what the weather will bring here. We experienced a 90 degree day and woke up to giant snowflakes falling from the sky the very next morning. I love the changes in our weather. You never have the chance to grow weary of the same thing day after day. I love winter and the excuse to snuggle up with books and warm drinks, but I also look forward to spring and the May, one of the prettiest months here with the green wheat fields and all the trees and bushes coming back to life.

Canyon and Aspen
Maria and Aspen
Maria and Canyon

We enjoy some sunshine. We enjoy some snow.

Rachel, Aspen, and Canyon

On cold mornings, we snuggle.

And on sunny days, we play!

Kidding season at Dad’s.

All boys, the girls called them The Three Billy Goats Gruff

Our garden is nearly all in and growing now. I have cold-frames full of greens (kale, spinach, and lettuce). The raised beds are full with potatoes, peas, carrots, beets, and brassicas. We west garden is still waiting for warmth and then we hope to fill it with sweet corn and okra.

The season is slowly changing and with it our daily life will change. Our menu has already started to change to a simpler fair and things harvested from the garden. The asparagus is popping up, the lettuce is ready for picking, and the green onions are oh-so-close.

Happy Spring!

Around the Homestead

Spring Chick Hatching

We decided this year we would try to hatch our own eggs instead of buying more chicks this year. We haven’t kept a rooster in a long time, but we took on a rooster from a friend who had way too many.

Walter

The girls and I were on our way home from a fun outing to a museum, in our “good” clothes, and decided it was time to stop by our friend’s house and grab our rooster. We had a shepherd’s hook, a large cat carrier, and determination. In a few minutes we had a barred rock rooster loaded in a cat carrier in the front seat of our car and off we went for home.

After 21 excruciating days of anticipation…a tiny Araucana/Barred Rock chick appeared in our incubator.

We literally all worried.

Laila

The cheeping was almost to much for her. She just couldn’t quite figure out why the box was cheeping.

We ended up with 13 adorable little chicks and couldn’t be happier with the experience. We are already talking about hatching more in the fall.

We don’t know if they will end up being roosters for hens, but hopefully they are mostly hens. Some of our hens are really old, so this will help our egg production having some younger hens coming up the ranks. We also are trying to focus on breeds that are good foragers since the cost of grain and the availability of feed is so hard to predict for the future. We want hens who not only can forage, but prefer to forage over bellying up to the food trough.

We had hoped to purchase:

Leghorns, Black Minorcas and/or Light Sussex

But do to cost, availability, and the Avian flu just decided to try hatching our own. We are so glad we did. What a fun experience for our whole family!