Chickens are useful for cleaning up compost piles

This is the keep back hatching clutch of mixed eggs from this spring and a fine group they are, could not be more pleased with them. The purebreds are in their own group at this time and one of the hens is currently sitting on 14 confirmed eggs on day 8. We will see if she hatches anything if so they will be moved to their own area for her to raise them.

I will not be putting any extra light on the pure girl flock, they will lay or not lay is more likely and have a nice winters rest.

On the other hand my new flock of up an comers will have full light hours and I want them laying though the whole winter until spring for me 🙂

Here is a short version of a longer post I have done on keep your hens laying in winter..

Light: Yup, just like everyone else, I am going to say if you want your girls to lay thought the winter, you need to add light, but do not be afraid to think outside the box.. some folks are very successful at moving their hens to their unheated greenhouses during the winter, this helps you get every light bit you can, and keeps the heating (if you choose to heat) to a min and has the added bonus of them both cleaning and adding to the soil.  but I recommend that if you can, take your chicken light needs to solar, We have a solar powered light that collects during the day (when the birds have light) turns on in the evening as it gets dark and runs for about 4 to 5 hours on a winter charge, this is the best of three worlds, I use what natural light there is at all times, The light turns on by itself as it gets dark and the extra hours means that my birds get at least 12 hours of light even in the dark of winter and third, I am still on the same solar powered lights for the chickens and the big barn coming on 7 years, given that I got them on sale for 29..  that’s at power cost of 4 dollars per year to power a building.. if I was doing that at my local power costs.. it would be a lot more.

Protein:  that simple word that is just not so simple in real life.. you can go buy layer feed, it will have lots of protein in it.. mostly from GMO soybeans but its there.. or if you have a few chickens, you can pay though the nose for organic.. good for you if you can do so.. but most of us are on a budget.. So we are using a basic grain feed that is going to be a mix between 9 to 13 percent protein, it will get your birds though the winter but it will not be great that’s for sure..  and those lower protein will effect your layers.  So you can do a number of tricks, you can grow fodder, if you have a small flock, its quick and easy enough to do and it will increase the basic amounts to the need levels, you can hard boil and chop back a egg into the feed to increase the protein count, if you are doing small critter butchering on the farm in the winter ,like rabbits, you can give the leftover bits to the chickens and they will pick them clean, you can grow meal worms or red wiggers and once a week toss a handful to them, crickets are another choice I know that someone grows for her birds, I personally do fodder, meat scrapes and meal worms.  In a total pinch, I know folks that just toss them a handful of the dried cat food to give them that boost.

Age:  this is a great trick and when done correctly it works like a charm, keep the ages of your flock moving, if you have spring hatched hens that are young pullets that are coming into laying in the fall, early winter, they will start and as long as you meet their feed and protein needs they will continue to lay all winter, but be aware that they will take a spring break and first adult molt. but if you have older hens, they will have done a fall moult, a winter slow down and they will cover for your young girls in the spring..

One more reason to love ducks : LOL, no really, ducks are so good in so many ways, when the hens hit that hard winter slow down.. no I will not lay for you if they are older, the duck hens are out in crazy cold but sunny temps and she will start laying weeks before the chicken will stop looking out at the snow and giving you the eye, that says, make it stop and put another layer of fresh hay out there if you think, I am going to even think about going out of my hen house.

Farm Gal Tip of the Day – Give your girls hay once or twice a week, just a touch will do, they will use it like bedding but not before they find every bit of seed head, and good stuff in it. It will give you a bit of color in your winter eggs a well..  Do you not just love how eggs change all year long in color and texture a bit.. from pullet to spring, to summer to winter eggs, good cooks know that they are not the same

Posted in Chickens, Life moves on daily | Tagged , | 1 Comment

New Ram for the Sheep Flock and fall overview

After having a couple of the cutest Black Lambs born this year, I decided that we would at least for 2018 get a Black Hair Sheep Ram for the breeding season.. So we will be breeding with Onyx this year, he is a young ram and I will not have a clean up ram so it could be interesting.

I am breeding late this year, I am keeping the females without a ram till Mid-Oct so we should be able to push our lambing season further into the spring then we normally do but we are still breeding our Milking Goat Juno for the earlier kidding and milking time.

All the lambs are reserved as is Yearling ewe’s..  They will head to the butcher right around the second week of Oct, so I will only have them for another six weeks.

So we will head into fall with a flock that is a third of the size of normal for us..  We will have our old girls 9 coming ten years old already Bubble and Mocha, our young yearling ewe Babble, our lovely two year old female Maude and then we have our prime girls between three and five, Spot, Tandy, Tawny and Tully..

I have not had this small of a flock for about ten years on the farm but I think it will be a very good thing for the coming years plans.  It means that we are going to be able to move the expecting girls to the croft(little barn) for the winter instead of needing the big barn for them. The big barn will be for the horse’s and for Jack and Crème the male goats and for Onyx the Ram.

We are not getting a new calf to start raising till next spring, we will be butchering our pig in the next month and so its going to be a very quiet year in the big barn and a very busy winter in the croft 🙂

Posted in sheep | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

The Sun came out -Bojangles

The boys are steady and lovely.. they poke their heads around the big barn when they hear us in the main yard and if they think there is even a chance we will be heading pasture way, they are up at the main gate, even if its just for a hello, pat and scratch on favorite spots.

Caleb has been getting his feet cleaned x amount of times and he has it all figured out.. come out, get them done, get a cookie per foot.. good deal.

Bojangles does not need his done as much but he waits nicely for his and so its part of his routine right now as well.. they both get some grooming when the evening fresh hay goes out.

And that’s been pretty much it for the past while with Reno mode in full swing, I had Farm Helper #3 ask if she  could come riding this week and so Bojangles got a nice ride-workout this week. He has been riding out with Caleb and playing follow the leader and he is gold at it.

But he was ridden out alone and he was not quite as happy about it, he settled and it was all good and it ended on the high note etc. It made me realize that I had been slacking on ground work with the boys. Caleb has had enough ground hours put into him that he is very steady as it goes with me even if off for a while.

Bo has been such a good boy when he is following caleb that I didn’t realize that he needed to be pulled out and worked with a bit more on his own.  Today we worked our half day reno Friday and while my homework list is long enough (reno related) over the long weekend, I am planning lots in the garden, canning, some butchering and in general being a home body and does that not sound wonderful! Maybe even hit the river and do a touch of fishing..

After lunch was done and the hounds given their run, I grabbed the gear needed and went out an Bojangles and I did 45 min of ground work.  I love this horse so much, he is such a good boy! I am just in love with my wonderful herd of two good old boy’s!

Posted in horse | 4 Comments

Elderberry Season is on us!

O Elderberries, those amazing fruits of the Elder Bush, while they are not safe to eat raw, the dried or cooked berry or juice is amazing for our health. One of the things I have heard time an again is that it takes forever to pick the tiny berries off the stems.

One of the best ways to do it by hand it to freeze the berries first and then rub them off while still frozen and cold, then they can be processed and or easily bagged up for the freezer again for use in future baking, drinks and so forth.

You can of course also dry them, they will cost you a pretty penny to buy a small bag of dried berries, which makes sense because it takes a ton of them once dried down to make up that 6 oz but they add amazing color and flavour to winter teas.

However I don’t typically process smaller amounts, I tend to process 50 to 100 pounds worth of them and I do freeze some because even I at times need to do them later in the winter when I have time as long as I have room in the freezer but when I want to do them fast, the video above while not the best quality will show you how I do it.

I made this wee video on the fly, as in I was talking to hubby while working away and he said, you should put that up and so we took it, it’s real life, the table is covered, and so forth. Maybe someday I will make a pretty version of this but for now.. real it is..

What is your favorite way to use Elderberries?

Posted in Canning | Tagged , , , , | 15 Comments

Monday.. This and That.

I was going to do a detailed post but I realized that I had to many small updates that it just made more sense to do a this and that post.

So lets get the sad news out the way first.. Its been a very hard summer on my farm cats, we have lost a number of them over the past weeks.  I don’t know what got them to be honest, they are just gone. These two were regular house-yard-croft cats,  stick close to the house up to date on vaccines and altered females.. (no chance of a walk-about looking mates or off hiding for kittens etc)

Both my hubby and myself were sad when blue passed away from the longer term after effects of having been stepped on by the horse as a kitten, but at least we knew what happened.  We find it very hard that we have lost our little Meow-Meow, she was a true sweetheart of a cat and I still find myself calling for her and checking roads and asking folks around me to keep a eye out for her.

The other one that is now on the missing, gone list is our much loved Freckles, I know that folks would have loved to have taken her home, she was a middle aged and knew the farm very well, she never let strangers touch her or pet her or pick her up, she was very much a “us” love bug.  We have also had two more of our “farm” barn cats going missing. Five farm cats in one summer, we have never had a year like this and I want it to stop.

We have been calling all the outside farm cats into the croft in the evening with a shake of a kibble in the bowl and then locking them up at night and calling in the house-farm cats in the house at night as well.  Since we have started the new locked up routine so far we have not had any more missing purrpots.

So my mom who is moving here later in the fall, will be here by oct at the latest took a fall and ended up breaking her elbow, cracking her wrist and also giving herself a hair line crack on her knee (of course the one that is the replaced knee) and is doing well all things considered but it certainly has set her back in a lot of ways. She had a cast on her elbow and arm for two weeks and then got it off, the knee is so swollen that its in a brace an with the walker etc  The doctor says that the arm is healing well but that the knee will take a full year to properly heal.

Hubby’s mom has been having a rough go as well, she has been in an out of the hospital over the past months and is currently in at the moment..  I hope that we hear news soon.

We have had enough rain this year that the pasture keeps on growing and we will get a second cut of hay which is great, not sure on the volume for that second cut but at least its going to happen.

I have been able to get my hay booked for the coming year, its gone up in price (no real surprise there) and this year its going for .10 cent a pound so a 650 pound round bale of hay will cost 65 dollars and a big 850 pound square bale.. yup 85

That’s a pretty good size jump over normal but close to being in line with prices from last year and the truth is that there is a lot of very poor quality hay out there at the moment so even if I need to pay more as long as I have enough, I will take it.

The garden is very hit and miss.. some things have produced very well, all the soft fruits and some hard fruits are having amazing year, but the main gardens.. somethings are at least 4 to 6 weeks behind and only time will tell if the frost’s come early, on time or late this year. I am having really nice pepper crops but poor tomato crops, I have a outstanding potato crop but no corn. I have a few types of squash doing well and I have more doing poorly..

My best crop of the year is my bean.. pounds and pounds an more pounds of green beans to put up.  I still am having more then many of the others across the valley, I have gotten lucky, I have not had mid to later summer floods like others have, nor have I had my gardens flattened in the last few bigger storms with hall. so for that, I have been blessed so far.

We are hitting fall temps, low 20c in the day and single digits in the evenings already, which will tell the plants to start switching gears from growing to putting that fall push on.

Well, I had better get back to work this morning.. For my friends in Texas, and area, I am sending you a heartfelt.. stay safe and I hope that you and yours will be safe!

Posted in At the kitchen table | Tagged | 12 Comments

Fire’s and Farm Sales..

After chores where done yesterday. It was time for a fire and a wee drink of some fine sherry after it was done we switched to coffee for the rest of the evening. It was truly a fall evening. It had reached 20’s during the day but it is not cooling off majorly in the evenings, only getting to plus 8c last night.

We had sat and relaxed by the fire as the evening darkened, the coy-wolf pack started talking right across the road, three adults and a couple very excited young ones from this year. We took the time to make sure that the flock was safely in the barn, as we had lost a lamb this past week but tracks appear to show that it was a bobcat that time, not the coy-wolf pack. The camera’s are up and hopefully we will get some night shots on what is checking out the barn area for sure. Regardless the flock is getting tucked into the barn at night.

The stars came out, the moon sliver was hiding behind the tree’s and the coals where lovely and in need of roasting marshmallows over 🙂

Today after a bit of time on the farm and morning chores, we headed off to a local farm sale and I was after these amazing stacking bins for holding garden produce in the cellar

Ten of them in total, so well built and just perfect to meet the needs of expanding the space for holding squashes and so forth in the house over the winter..

Farm sales are a hurry up and wait type thing, I found so many fun things that I would have loved to have added this or that or at least bid on it.. but given that my mom is coming with her household, it made little sense to do so..

I had also hoped that maybe one of the shotguns that was for sale would go for a good second hand price but all of them went right past my top price I was willing to pay, the gentleman who got them all thought they got a good deal on them, I figure if they hit the same price as a current new one, then its not such a great price but I expect from what I could see that some of them where collectors an they were older rifles. Some of the others were even black powder ones..

What I did come home with was three new rain barrels.. each one holding 55 gallons of water or use for grain-feed etc. Did I ever get a good deal on them. If you buy a new rain barrel (food rated) at the store, its 80 and up. If you buy them second hand in the city, they are around 50..

I got each of mine for 3 dollars.. grand total 9 dollars, with tax 10.20 Outstanding!

The rest of the day is evening chores and some garden puttering and maybe a second primer painting on the upstairs hallway and then maybe another fire, just because I can and its so delightful.

Hope you all had a productive and also taken time for yourself over the start of the weekend!


Posted in Critters | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

The Reno’s are on the go..

There is so much in this photo that I love, I know its not perfect but o my.. so as you can see the shelves are coming along, the lovely pine wood has been picked, the drywall and first mudding is up on most of them, the glass has been ordered, the foyer has the glass pine door in (and let me tell you that was a afternoon of AHH! because the 2 by 4 warped and so it was a lot more work then you would think to hang that door but both the inside an the outside foyer walls are on second mudding and the ceiling is ready for me to prime paint 🙂 the new subfloor is installed and waiting to be tiled.

Then on this side the built in counter is in place as it the new flooring under it, and I was able to save my awesome wooden doors from a different project.. it will be a four door counter, two matching wide and long and then the two you see already. It will hold all my big canning pots and so forth 🙂 No more up and down the stairs to the cellar. The top will be tiled to match the floor and you can see the two tiles, it will be a turned pattern. so I will have a huge new counter to work with as well as all that amazing extra storage.

So this is the other half of dining room, so the back wall of the foyer and the new walls around, the little wall on the left is the front wall of the new pantry, you can see the new flooring that will go in it as well. The freezer will be put on rollers and moved into the pantry area and then shelves will be built on both sides to the roof and above it as well for lighter items and then there will be sliding doors in front of it.  the ceil is on final touch-ups and then I will prime painting it and then final paint 🙂

Half the walls are on second coat and a few are still on single coat but soon enough (next week ideally) we will have the painting done and then we just need to finish the floor in there and that room will be done.. someone is coming to put in the new thermal window panel which is the only thing that window needed for fixing.

We have also been working on the deck and its a good thing that we got enough done for the new fridge-freezer combo to be delivered and the still newish (but not working well older fridge to be taken away) Its bigger then my other one was and I know that it will be a good thing to have the smaller freezer in the bottom as well.


Posted in At the kitchen table | 2 Comments

Homesteading Event – Quick View

After doing a reno work morning and early afternoon, I ran around getting the last bits of this and that together for the big homesteading day event.  While we had X amount of seats booked, only about a 3rd of them showed up for the event. Most of the time folks where seated on tables around me, but the nice thing was for some things I could get them come in nice an close to see the cheese forming in that class.

Regardless the day was great! everyone had a good time an the information, laugh and learning flowed which is always the goal for me!

Rabbit 101 was a huge hit and while everyone went home with a copy of my Personal favorite rabbit hutch design, and lots of tips.. we also had some good laughs when I was using my stuffie rabbit to show a few things including a proper fall off LOL

Big Thank you to the ladies that all donated to the door Prize table.



Posted in Life moves on daily | 1 Comment

This and That Post.

Hello Folks.. Way to long since I have had time to sit in front of this computer and connect with my readers. This is a this and that post, I will put a hour each day this coming week booked to get my last months reports out for the canning, gardening, and farm updates and report, I am not going to try and catch up the other days  but those other three days post are on the MUST DO LIST.

So Where do I start.. my mother has sold her rental house and she now has her home up for sale at this time, just going on the market and already has viewing this week, so I expect that it will not be on for long.. its a outstanding home.

This means that we have started on the reno’s in our house and it has exploded, as can often happen in older homes, you start with this plan and then suddenly you figure out that you need to pull this and that out, and then suddenly you need this repaired and or redone because while it’s open, lets get the professional’s in and get this up to code (yes, I am grateful that in many cases things are grandfathered in) but I figure if you get the chance and choice to upgrade, upgrade but it all add’s time and effort an cost because many of the upgrades need a contractor to make it happen etc.

So my main contractor is a amazing gal and the deal we made was that I would be the helper, the gopher, the worker.. so while I say that I have a contractor and I do, I am working full time beside her and under her teaching and guiding hand.

It turns out that running the farm, sort of keeping my house clean, everyone feed and adding in 6to 10 hours a day hands on work means that I am falling into bed when my day is done.. I get up, do chores, just get the house stuff done and my reno work day starts at 8, which means my blog post writing time with a coffee normally done around 8 to 9 am is not happening!

I had thought that I would try and write in evening but I have a few times just looked at the screen, so tired and no writing mojo..

I had this weekend off! but I also had my yearly Romance Readers and Writer Con and I had said to both a dear friend and my hubby, I think I will just hide in my room for a whole day and do nothing  but get caught up on writing and blog and so forth and I got a strong round of NO!! this is to be break.. so hubby asked that I leave the computer at home which is what I did.. no camera, no computer, just the cell phone

I got home yesterday and was so tired, hubby said go to bed and I slept from early sunday afternoon till the alarm went off this morning.. ok then, I might have needed some sleep LOL

I have today off the Reno job and I am working today on two main things.. one getting this blog post out for you all and working on my coming homesteading Convention this coming Saturday Aug 12th.

I sat today and took papers and pages and gathered this and that and started making the final lists, the project items for each one, and then started doing the bullet points for each talk.. thankfully it is all there in my head and in my gear but I need to tighten it up.

I feel like my hubby in a way, when he became a professional writer, it greatly improved his ability to write at work.. the different presentation I have done this year means that as I am coming into preparing for these talks, I am able to tighten up certain parts and that I am doing certain parts talking out loud to get a feel for how long will that take time wise..  and so forth.

The reno job starts back up Tues-friday but we are calling it a early day on Friday so that I can switch mental gears for the homestead event day.

Now added in there is that the farm is thriving, babies are growing, sheep are being sheered, new litter of rabbit kits are being born and the gardens are in full production and so food production happens daily..

Example.. help on the reno day but in a lull, I was snapping beans tip and tail for processing later in the day..  so even when I get a small catch your breath, it heading into picking beans or rashberries or pea’s .. you get the idea 🙂

I am also trying to keep up on the herbs that need drying as they come into their peek times.. I am keeping my head above water.. and man so much is getting done.. I just have to figure out how to find time to share it with you all

Ps, for those kind enough to send me a note or email to check up on me.. HUGS! you are so sweet and I am grateful..

Posted in At the kitchen table | Tagged | 8 Comments

Honey Whole Wheat Bagels

I was making a batch of Honey Whole Wheat Bread on Monday and thought.. why not make half the batch into a loaf of bread and the second loaf in size into a nice batch of bagels.

Sure its a touch extra work but not much and its such a nice change to just the sliced loaf of bread!

As you can see, the bread was made and allowed to rise, this is after its doubled in size and its ready to be worked with, I poked it just to give it some texture to get a interesting photo 🙂

Split your dough and make your one loaf as planned, let it rise and then take your other loaf and cut it into as equal as possible pieces

On a lightly floured surface, roll your piece into around a six inch rope

Clearly as even as possible, which is not what mine looks like LOL but I did thin the thicker end and plumped up the thinner end, roll into a circle and pinch-half twist the ends together.

Let them rise for 15 to 20 min and in that time, you will need to pre-heat your oven, get your bowl of toppings ready if you are using them and get your large wide pot of boiling water ready.

Mine was able to do three per batch, one min per side with the water kept hot and going.. I dipped mine and put a touch of salt on the tops and into the hot 400 oven they went for 12 to 15 min till cooked though and golden brown. Mine are very nicely brown on the bottom I could have let them go another three to five if I had wanted the rest to be as brown.

By the time I got them all done and on the cooling racks, the bread was ready to go in and start baking.

They were outstanding as my fresh Egg Salad Sandwich for lunch today! So consider next time you have a batch of bread on the go.. it’s just a bit of extra steps to treat everyone with a different bread item and the chewy texture is a nice change then regular loaf bread with that bite of salt and flavoured top



Posted in Baking | Tagged , , | 2 Comments