How to save a life? And crow’s eggs

Yesterday was an interesting day, starting with morning chores which went as usual. Got everyone fresh water, food and miles Molly –  who stepped in the milk bucket 3 times… True to form. It seemed like an ordinary day, and I headed off to my day job.

A little after lunch, my boss came into the office and told me that there was a lamb stuck in the tar underneath our asphalt plant. Let me explain. At my day job I’m the office manager of our local gravel pit, where we also manufacture asphalt for the local cities and businesses. We generally have a local farmer who will leave his sheep on the property where the pit is located, this helps them by providing feed and us by providing us access to Greenbelt tax rates. This year he brought the sheep up a little bit later than normal, but they have been there for about a month. This poor little lamb had wandered under the asphalt plant and laid on the warm tar that had heated up in the morning sun. We are working on getting our asphalt plant running to supply product in the next week. When my boss went outside to work on it, he saw the poor little lamb lying on its side half submerged in the hot tar. He was barely making a sound, but struggling to get up. We knew that he was okay and would survive, if we could only get him out. He came to the office and told me about the poor little lamb, and immediately we walked out to the asphalt plant to try to save the little guy. We ended up being able to pull him out of the tar, and free him so that he could return to his flock. However, it did mean me ruining my favorite pants. Luckily I was wearing an old pair of pants and my boots and a hoodie that I didn’t really care too much about.

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They are covered in tar as you can see in the photo. He hopped up after we pulled him from the tar and ran off to join his mother down the hill from where the  plant was. It makes me happy knowing that he at least has a chance at survival, where he wouldn’t have if we had just left him In the end, it was all worth it to save that little guy. The farmer told me thanks and that was good enough for me.

Today was also a day of adventure at my day job, climbing half way up the lime silo to spook the crows nesting on the side of it. When I got to the best I saw that there were eggs inside of it! I haven’t ever seen crows eggs before, and if you haven’t either then here is a cool photo.

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My Wool Picker!

My husband finally got the wool picker built!

Let’s rewind a little bit. When we bought our rabbits back in March I noticed that the guy who was selling them also had an ad out for some 55 gallon bins of wool. I asked him about it, bought the rabbits, and told him I was still interested but doesn’t have the money for the wool just yet. He texted me a week later and asked if I still wanted it, and offered to come down on the price. If course I said yes, it’s Navajo Sheep wool, so it has long fibers, and would be great for spinning. When we went over to pick them up, the guy opened the drums to reveal these marvelous fleeces. 3 black, 2 gray, and 1 white. They stunk to high heaven! They had been tightly packed into these steel drums for nearly a year. When we unpacked them it filled the entire bed of the pickup, and each had to be put into its own garbage bag until I could process them.
Because I’m difficult, and I never do anything the easy way, I started with the white one. I boiled a bunch of water in the big canner pot we have, and added it to the tote with the fleece. I did it in the kitchen initially. Big mistake. The whole house smelled like stinky sheep pee. It was gross, so I gently moved it out onto the lawn, luckily not spilling any of the putrid water. Then I boiled some more water and added some Fels Naptha to it (I use it in my homemade laundry soap, so I have plenty on hand). I added the hot soapy water and let it sit overnight.
The next day it was a murky, dingy mess. I gently tipped the type to drain the water, and results it with cold water to rinse. I let it soak again, this time gently agitating it in the cold water so that it would pass through the fleece but not felt it.
We repeated the process 2 more times until the soapy water was clear the next day. A lot of the vegetable matter floated to the top, and after the last soap bath we took it out for one final rinse.

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This is sadly the only part I took a photo of, and I’m sure that some of you will probably cringe at my somewhat primitive process of cleaning the fleece.

At this point we created a drying rack out of some fence, and left it to air dry. It’s fluffy, clean, and doesn’t smell anymore!

Here are a few shots of the wool picker, it’s not the prettiest, but it should do the trick!

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This is the base, and the kids removed. You can see the tooth panels on both.

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Here is the lid on the base, my husband made a cool little handle it off some scrap wood for me.

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Here is the inside view of the toothy bits, they are spaces just far enough apart that they don’t touch, and look like the mouth of a monster.

So let me know your thoughts or your tips, if you have experience with these sorts of things. I want to be better at it!

Thanks for popping by!

Garden Progress & More

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I checked inside the hoop house this afternoon abs our peas are waist high! I was worried about them for a bit because they haven’t bloomed yet, and I planted them way back in March, but upon some research it’s not unheard of in zone 5. So I have been patiently waiting. Today we have the starts of some tiny blossoms! I can’t wait for those delicious little pods, we love peas at our house.

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Our vertical bucket planter my husband made for our strawberries is working quite well! We kinda made it as a “trial” to see if we could get them to bounce back. We had them along the west side of the house, where they did okay, but the birds ate more than we did. So we plopped them into this bucket planter. They are thriving! The leaves are almost the size of my palm! I won’t be surprised if we don’t get any berries this year, because we moved them, but it may have been early enough. Time will tell I suppose.

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This is perhaps the most exciting development, we have tiny blossoms forming on the tomatoes! I will tell you that my mother in law Ave I are the only two people at our house that way them, unless it’s in salsa or spaghetti sauce, but seeing these always gets everyone excited.
These little tomatoes, let me tell ya, it’s been a heck of a journey. I started then from seeds back in February, in my little jiffy pods. When I bought them Scott rolled his eyes and said “great, now that thing is going to take over the kitchen table” to which I simply grinned and continued selecting seeds. When I started them in February he also laughed Ave said “don’t you think you’re jumping the gun a little bit?” I think he was right with that one, they grew so slowly! I thought they would never sprout. When they finally did, they wilted a few days later. It was disheartening to say the least. I finally got them into 3″ pots, then got topsoil put into the greenhouse. It was at least 2 months at that point, and more than one time I had been sure they are dead. After putting them into the greenhouse they wilted again. I wanted to cry, just buy new plants from the nursery and cut our losses. But a couple days later they perked back up. Now they are his, and ready to give us some produce. I won’t say anything else, I don’t want to jinx myself!

I didn’t have my phone or camera when we checked the bees today, but I was absolutely thrilled to see our fat little queen happily working away. She looked amazing, and we have 2 full frames with capped brood. We should have some new workers and drones emerging any day now. I’m looking into a pollen collector, if anyone has any experience I would love to hear about it.

Today I started my day job back at full time hours. It was brutal, and though I’m unbelievably grateful to have steady paychecks again, it means I don’t get to work the second job I have genuinely loved for the couple months I’ve been there. One day I’d like to have that he my full-time job. It was a crazy long day, I’m so tired, and I have to deal with my boss tomorrow. It’s kind of a down note, and my anxiety is pretty high (if you guys don’t know, I have dealt with bipolar disorder for most of my life). I will check in with you guys later, thanks for popping in!

The hands of a farmer

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My hands have been SO dry! They are splitting, which means I have a strangely large quantity of super glue at my house. The splits are filled with soil from pulling weeds and planting, and I don’t wear gloves to do that. I probably should buy some.

I also have Blu kote in the cracks of my hands (you can’t see it in this picture) because we put it on the chickens yesterday. They started molting and got mites around the same time, and then they started pecking each other. Now their poor little chicken bums are hate and sad. I read yesterday that putting Blu kote on them will discourage the pecking, because it’s so dark they came see blood or skin, so we thought we might as well try it. That lead to using a very large fishing meet to catch them, spreading their little bums, and putting them inside the coop until we had them all done. It’s much easier to catch the ones that aren’t sprayed when you don’t have to fight the ones that are.

It’s pretty rainy here today, and supposed to be pretty cloudy for the weekend, it’s a perfect time to finish planting the garden.

Planting season!

This morning was a bit crazy, after our regular morning chores, and getting the kids to school, we got home and started getting the house ready for our cub scout den meeting this afternoon. We are meeting together with the Webelos to pass off the cyber chip badge. As I was helping my mother in law in the kitchen, we noticed our neighbor walking down the road with her two cows. It was a strange sight for sure, and when I say walking I really mean she was struggling to control them in the general direction of her house. My husband told her dogs are much easier to walk, and we all laughed, and then we helped her get the cows home. She’s a tiny little bit of a thing, and there was more cow than person, we were glad to help her get them home.

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It’s finally planting season! Actually, we cheated a little bit and planted or corn earlier under a cold frame, as well as loads of herbs, peas, peppers and tomatoes inside the hoop house. Everything looks really healthy thanks to some fantastic topsoil we got.

The bees look great, and I got my first sting of the season.

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It’s kind of crazy cause I actually stung myself – because I got the stinger in my thumb after I had returned to the house from checking them. I took the veil jacket off, and add I brushed the hay of from feeding the goats I got the stinger in my thumb. Luckily I remembered what we learned when we took our wolf den to the honey farm, and flicked the singer or quickly instead of squeezing the venom into my hand more by pinching it. I was more sad than anything, because I knew after seeing the stinger in my thumb that the poor little bee it belonged to most likely died. 😔 Today the sting site is nice and swollen, and tender. It’s been a while since the last time I was stung by a bee, and I’m sure that this is the first of many.

We are going to try to get our cucumbers, beets, and more beans (we planted a few Saturday) in the ground today. Stay tuned for more updates!

Welcome to our crazy world!

I don’t know how you found us, but I’m sure glad you’re here! Welcome to our online home, so to speak, and the representation of our little homestead. I’m hoping to have a little tour of the layout of our homestead up soon, but for now I’m just going to share what I have! That’s the mentality we are trying to live by after all.

We just picked up or honey bees the first Saturday of this month, it’s been a long process getting to that point. I decided a couple years ago I wanted to try beekeeping, but like anything I take on, I researched it thoroughly. I wanted to be sure I was prepared for the task, and that I understood what I was getting into. The information I found just made me want to dive in even more! So, after two years of research, learning, and building hives for the day we got them.

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I even remembered to bring out my good camera, but I forgot to press record for video! Total newbie mistake! I felt so silly, so I missed the installation of our bees! But, they are all tucked in now. We bought an entrance feeder from Tractor Supply, since it was really rainy for about a week after we installed them. They hadn’t drawn out much comb, and the general consensus seems to be that supplementing their feeding with sugar water mixture helps. We did a 1:1 ratio, and within a couple days we had frames fully dream of, and we could see eggs inside the cells!

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I checked them again this morning and we can see the developing larvae!

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It’s pretty exciting, and I was worried for a couple days.

We also have two little piggies! The kids named them Baconosaurus and Porkachu. They will be ready for harvest this fall, we are shooting for October.

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And we have goats! It’s been something I wanted to do since we moved back home in 2011, and I finally have a milking goat! She was really skiddish at first, and didn’t like milking, but now she’s gotten into the habit of it, and she goes right over to the stanchion. I’m so glad because it was a rough couple weeks getting to that point. Her previous owner tried putting bands on her horns to remove them, one fell off, but the other one is still intact. Our daughter calls her a uni-goat. This is Molly, she is half nubian and half lamancha, and her milk had been wonderful!

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When we got her, we also got a little Billy goat. He’s a full bread nubian, and just barely weaned. We named him Smeagle, he is the sweetest little guy! We have bottle fed him, and he has become very friendly and follows us all over the yard. He’s a great companion.

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We have rabbits, chickens, ducks, and a hoop house with veggies growing! I will have to make a video tour so that I can share it with you all!

Hope that this is as exciting for you guys as it is for me! I will keep things updated, and share our developments!

Thanks for stopping by! Watch for our next post, and follow us!