Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Soap Website

I've been making goat milk soap from my Nigerian Dwarf goat milk for the last year.  I started selling at our Homesteading Fair and at local farmers markets.  A friend of mine set up a website for me, yippee!!  www.highprairiehomestead.com

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Saying goodbye

This week was one of the hardest for me.  I had to say good-bye to 2 of my family members. 

On Monday, I woke up to my Rottie mix, Morgan, not being able to stand or eat.  I got her as a puppy in January of 1998, she would have been 15 on December 1st. 

She had moved all over the country with me and was a great companion.  The girls and I took her to the vet, kissed, petted, and told stories about her life as she passed away.

Two days later, I lost my 94 year old Grandmother.  I had flown back to Michigan 2 weeks ago to say my good-byes to her, and I'm so glad I was able to make the trip to tell her how much I love her and what she meant to me. 

I'm actually more relieved knowing that they are no longer in pain or struggling.  They lived long, wonderful lives and they've enriched my life having been in it.  It will take awhile for me to stop going to feed Morgan or calling my Grandma for our weekly chat.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Skinning a rattler

Over the last 6 years, I've killed more than my share of rattlesnakes.  After we've buried or thrown out each one, we always say "We should have skinned it!"  or "We should try cooking it!"

Well, this year we had a bumper crop of them!!  I just killed the latest one ever in the year, usually September is when we've seen the last one, but I found one under the deck on Tuesday.  Using our machete, I pinned it down between the deck boards, but unfortunately only got it by the tail!  (Note to self:  buy another machete!!)  I know from past experience not to lift up the machete because that sucker will start moving and it's almost impossible to catch them again, and all you have is a hurt and very ticked off rattlesnake,  so I put all my weight pinning it down into the ground.  As I was doing this, the snake started striking the machete, then started climbing up the blade trying to get it's head through the deck boards.  EEEEEEEEEEKKKKKKK!   I propped the machete up with a heavy bucket so I wasn't putting myself in harm's way.  I left it overnight and it was dead by morning.  (Ok, we checked on it a million times, the kids were fascinated and I had to show my hubby when he got home!!)

After dragging it out from under the deck, we decided to skin it, so we looked up information on the net (where were we before the internet???) 

My wonderful and adventurous hubby sharpened his knife and went to work.  He cut off the head and tail where I had stabbed it.  We didn't want to mess around with the fangs and getting out the venom, too hazardous for our first try.  Some day, though, I envision having a cowboy hat with snake skin wrapped around it with the head and rattles crossing in the front.

Made a slit up its belly as neatly as he could (found out that my kitchen shears did a much better job than the steak knife).

Pulling gently, he removed the meat from the skin.

Skin pile.

I got a board and some little nails, push tacks would work well, too. I laid the skin out on a 2"x4" and tacked it in place, upside down. It reminded me of science class, pinning down the frog we were going to dissect. 

The internal organs and shape of the muscles, etc were pretty interesting.  I didn't know it was shaped like a "C", I thought it was a solid tube! 
I'll let the skin dry for a couple of days and see how it comes out!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

1st Annual Northwest Homesteading Fair

This Saturday my friends and I are putting on the 1st Annual Northwest Homesteading Fair

In some of our many chats, we realized that each member of our community has a skill that they have perfected in their homes and farms and others who would be interested in learning these skills.

I have a lot of dairy experience and one of my friends knows how to sprout grains and make breads and crackers from scratch.  We had a great idea to put on a fair to help others in and outside of our community.  One little idea grew into a HUGE production and the fair is being held this Saturday in Lyle, Washington with workshops take and booths to shop.  The workshops and admittance to the fair are ALL FREE!!  We are having a food truck that sells all locally grown, organic food.  Vendors (like myself) will be selling goat milk soaps and lotions, quilting supplies, hunter's safety instruction, candles, and homesteading supplies.  We even have a blacksmith who will help us make our own spoons.   Local musicians will be entertaining us all day and there will be wiener pigs and goat rides for the kids, along with faery gardens to make.  We are really excited for all the local businesses who have donated their services and products for raffle items and all our wonderful friends who have volunteered their time to help us out.  If you're in the neighborhood, come join us!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Cow dating

For the past year, I've tried unsuccessfully to breed the jerseys.  We've done artificial insemination twice with each and I started looking for bulls this spring.  I can't believe how difficult it has been!  I finally found a jersey bull 3+ hours away, and the owner was getting him ready for the butcher.  I convinced her to wait a couple weeks, borrowed my neighbor's trailer, and drove them down.

They weren't too happy with the trip, but seeing the herd of jerseys and lush green grass, they immediately made themselves at home.  Three weeks later, I got the call that they had been bred and it was time to make the trip to pick them up.  Of course, summer finally hit, the Pacific Northwest and it was upwards of 90 degrees today.  The cows weren't too happy to get back in the trailer, but a little coaxing of grain got them up and in.

I got stuck in a backup from a car crash, so my 3.5 hour trip home turned into 4.5 hours, but they were happy to get out of the trailer.

They went right into their pen and ate some hay and visited with Meathead and the bucks.

Then I got to work cleaning out the trailer (be thankful for no one has invented smell-o-net yet!)

Took me 45 minutes to clean it out and I immediately took a LONG shower to clean myself up.

I'll be doing a preg check in a month, that should be exciting!
I'm participating in a homestead abundance link-up, click the link below to find other amazing blogs!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Things you experiece when you come to my homestead.

I was sitting on the deck waiting for some people who may or may not show up to buy our bucklings.  While waiting, I was reminded that our home is vastly different from others.

1. Our driveway is 1.5 miles long.  I've had people call me from every cut-off and say "Is this the one?"  Nope, keep driving ALL the way to the end!  City dwellers are astonished at 'how far out you live', amazed even that I have all my teeth. But realistically, it's only a 25 mile round trip to pick our mail....we once drove to Alaska and visited some people whose nearest town was a 5 HOUR drive, one way.  Now that's far.  We do get snowed in sometimes in winter, I have people who are worried that we are starving up here.....um, no, not gonna happen.

2.  We have a gate and lots of 'No Trespassing' signs, people ignored these until we put out the "Trespassers will be shot, survivors shot again" sign.  Now I've seen tracks turning around at this sign.  (Maybe that explains the amazement over our teeth.)

3. You will see at least 1 child dressed like a ragamuffin running screaming towards the house like they've never seen other people before (this is not true, we take them off-property at least once a year.)

4.  It's windy.  No, I mean it's WINDY, almost constantly a 20+ mile per hour wind.  You get used it (or you don't....I've heard it drives some people crazy...please excuse my nervous tic.)

5.  Free-range Cows.  Cows on the deck, cows in the garden.    I used to have the deck decorated nicely with knickknacks, chairs, and flowers, but really, why bother?  The cows just pull them out and eat them, or decide (again) that they don't like the taste, so my (used-to-be) nice deck is littered with dead plants and hoof prints. 

6. Chickens running crazy, all over.....and poop everywhere (but not in the house, we try to keep that out, sometimes even successfully).

7.  Rattlesnakes.  They are more afraid of you than you are of them....uh huh, yeah, at least that's what I keep telling myself.

8. A huge windmill that sometimes works (I don't think it likes the wind).  And solar panels that are strapped down so they don't blow away.

9.  Gorgeous views of 3 mountains.  Makes the long drive, snakes, and wind worth it.

10. I may or may not greet you in a beekeeper suit....do not be alarmed, the bees are well-trained...mostly.

11.  Lots of hospitality.  You will not leave my house without a dozen (at least) free-range eggs, a carton of goat: cheese, milk, yogurt, soap, or lotion.  Fruit of some sort and some honeycomb, maybe something made from chicken feet.  Oh, and recipes, I love to share recipes!

Ready for a visit?  ;-)

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Bigger goat pen!

For the last year, I've been lamenting the size of the goat pen.....it's TINY!  My hubby keeps reminding me that it was built for the ONE goat that we were going to get....which has now turned into 13!! 

We spent the day cleaning up the area destined for the new pen, wrapped the pine tree with chicken fencing to protect it, moved the debris, and killed a baby rattlesnake that was hiding under it.

As we were finishing putting up the fencing, my hubby reminded me that this was NOT an invitation to get more goats....then I reminded him that the angora buck that I wanted is still for sale.  ;-)

We decided to leave up the existing posts *just in case* we get a goat (or few) that I want to separate out into different pens, my hubby bought enough fencing for that brilliant idea (he's such an enabler!!)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Vertical Strawberry Patch

Last summer I found some plans for PVC gardening online.  I showed them to my hubby and mentioned that I would love to do our strawberries like this.  We discussed and planned over the winter and finally got to work last week!  One of our main concerns was that the tubes be UV resistant.  We spoke with our favorite 'garden' store, Bryant Pipe and Supply, and they told us about the UV resistant tubing that was CHEAPER than PVC!!  BPS employees have patiently guided us through our different watering scenarios, allowing us to keep most of our trees and plants alive after years of killing them!

 My hubby put in 4"x4" posts, then assembled four 4"x10' PVC type tubes for each row, which he screwed together.  We hung them on the posts using plumbing tape.

I drilled 2.5" holes every 6 inches using a drill.  
 Then I used weedbarrier on the end of the tubes, secured with hose clamps.  We discussed using solid end caps, but I liked the idea of having drainage on the ends.
We love the "Square Foot Gardening" method and I've had great success with 'Mel's Mix' of vermiculite, three different composts, and peat moss in the greenhouse.  

My hubby built a garden box in the garden, so the kids and I were able to mix the different dirts in the box.  Using old milk jugs, we slowly filled each hole and tube up with dirt.  We had to cut our workday short after our eldest got dirt in her eye.  We took a trip to the ER after irrigating her eye at home with saline solution to make sure it was completely out (it was!).   

(You can see that now we were wearing goggles to keep dirt out of our eyes!)

We were able to re-use the 6" drip system tubing we used on the strawberries last year and fed them into the tubes, luckily they were the perfect length, saving us from buying more tubing.  I ran around hooking up hoses trying to make sure the water was flowing in each tube.  We will need to add a pump eventually, since we water using reclaimed rain water, but to test it all out I hooked it up to the well water.

Then came the task up digging up the plants in the garden and transplanting into the holes.

We have about 320 holes.

 I have about 200 or so plants STILL in the garden, so now I have to figure out what to do with them!

I found this plan and maybe we'll build this next:  http://www.pvcplans.com/trellis.htm

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Best buds

 The kids are bouncing all over the barn, even venturing outside when it's nice.  However, when it comes time to chill out, they snuggle up in pairs, Jett and Marlee (above) and half-sisters, Diamond and Star (below).  It's too cute!!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Rough Kidding

{Graphic picture warning!!} 

 I still have 2 goats that were due to kid this week, they are both a couple days late, but I wasn't too worried.  Both are second time mama's.  I went into the goat barn to feed and noticed that Greta wasn't eating and was just standing around, so I knew that it was her day!

 Throughout the morning, I kept checking on her and around noon, she finally started laying down.  No babies were coming, and I started to worry.

After an hour, I noticed a protrusion, but not the snout and front feet I had been hoping for, I couldn't figure out what I was looking at, and it was NOT coming out.  By this time, Greta was screaming in pain and I could tell she was getting exhausted.  I ran inside for my goat birthing books, gloves, vaseline, towels, warm molasses water, and some disinfecting iodine.  I came back to find Greta lying down and grunting, so I got right to work.  I slipped my hand up inside around the baby, trying to distinguish body parts, but it was still confusing, bumps where there should not have been bumps.

I worked the baby slowly out, her head was bent under instead of pointing out and she was stillborn.   I cleaned up and showed her to Greta who gave her a couple licks and nudges.  I even tried giving her some chest compressions, but I knew she was too far gone.

 Just then another baby came sliding right out, followed by another one!  Triplets!!!  I knew she was pregnant with twins, but didn't know there would be a bonus kid!  Greta was too exhausted to move, so I opened up the sacs, wiped off their mouths so they could breathe and gave them to Greta, one buckling, one doeling.

 She couldn't even lift up her head to lick them, so I dried them both off and gave Greta the molasses water.  She started to perk up, so I kept the kids by her head and cleaned up the afterbirth.  The kids got up and started staggering around looking for food, so I got Greta up on her feet, gave her some grain and attached each kid to a teat.  They took to nursing right away and I knew that they would be ok after that.  I came inside and got the big girls so they could see the new babies.

It was an exciting, stressful, happy day!  Her granddaughter, Star, wants her up playing with her!