Balancing The Homesteading Life Part 2

Balancing The Homesteading Life Part 2

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Hey all,
I’m sharing part 2 of my multiple part series on simplifying your life and making your homestead not turn stressful for you. You need to keep a balance. So, with that said, here are some more things that we’ve found have helped us on our homestead.

As I mentioned in the last post, it’s easy to get so wrapped up in your garden or livestock that it becomes overwhelming. We do need to take a break for our loved ones. Stuff is just stuff. Sometimes the garden will need to wait. Be present for your family. Take time for friends. When they remember you, you want them to remember you not for the way your homestead was always immaculate, but for being a warming, loving and caring person who took time out to really love them.

Time with Keli

Also, while you are working on your homestead, look for deals. Lack of money can be a big burden. You don’t always have to go pricey on everything. Sometimes, you can find a great deal on just one component of something you would like to have, and you can get the pieces over time to make something, or you might be able to barter with someone to get an animal that you would want. For example, we’ve bartered meat before in exchange for a doe on the hoof that we really wanted. Craigslist can really be your friend. Keep your impulses in check and don’t buy something before you are sure that it is exactly what you need.

Also, be a learner. Being a learner means that when you have something horrible happen on the homestead, because bad things can and do happen to good people, you take it as a learning opportunity. A learner maintains a positive attitude, and asks questions about how to solve their problems. Learners try to make sure they are linked in with community because everyone can still learn something, and sometimes someone else in your community will have the answer to your difficulty. A learner is a person with perseverance.

Until next time,
Emily

 

 

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Balancing The Homesteading Life

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Balancing The Homesteading Life

Hey all,

This next topic that I’m going to be writing about will be coming in a series. This is just part one of that series. I wanted to talk to you all about something that every homesteader deals with at some point in time.

Sometimes, it feels like life is snowballing and you have things piling up at the homestead. It can be very overwhelming. How do you deal with that? How do you manage to keep it enjoyable despite the amount of work that needs doing? How do you keep it all in balance?

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First off, you don’t have to maintain absolute perfection. Homesteading is not about having your place look like something out of Better Homes And Gardens. It can still look nice, but sometimes you will need to let something slide that you feel ought to be gotten done that day. Homesteading is about learning and enjoying the process. It’s not a competition about who can have the neatest looking garden for example.

Because homesteading is enjoyable, it is easy to let things snowball, such as one of the challenges that we have to remind ourselves about, it is possible to keep one too many doe kids. The amount of milking involved past a certain number of does, is more than we can handle. (sometimes this is exceptionally hard if there was something you really wanted in your flock, but you have all the does you actually need)img_2578

I mean seriously, they are so hard to resist especially when they are this tiny!

You also need to keep in mind that more is not always necessarily better, whether gardening or livestock. You can plant too many gardens or keep too many heads of livestock. Sometimes, you have to make the decision to cut back on how much work you have. Sometimes, you may need to sell some livestock to do this. It doesn’t have to be permanent. The key phrase to keep in mind is “for now” Sometimes, “for now” you need to cut back. The dream is not ended, it’s just put on hold.

Stay tuned, I’ll be back with more that you can do for simplifying your homestead and your life.

Until next time,

Emily

Homesteading; The Good Life

otcp_wheelbarrow10_30_2014Homesteading; The Good Life

Life when you have a homestead is rich! Oh, it’s certainly a lot of work, no doubt about it, but the life quality is excellent! For example, right now on our farm, we are enjoying fresh tomatoes, green beans, okra, squash, corn, and fresh herbs for cooking.

We also harvested potatoes, onions, and garlic earlier. We will be eating potatoes for many months to come. The onions and the garlic will last almost until next harvest.

Another thing that we enjoy about homesteading, is that for about 10 months of every year we enjoy fresh milk and make our own cheese, yogurt and ice cream. We also have eggs, chicken, ducks, and turkey meat year round. Since we also raise goats, we have our own Chevron.

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Every two years, we raise a new calf and after two years we butcher that calf and enjoy higher quality beef than what you can get in the store.

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Sir Loin, our calf hanging out with his buddy. Spice is one of our milk goats.
Sir Loin

We also raise sheep and enjoy eating mutton. In the past we have raised wool sheep which give us the pleasure of not only having mutton, but also having fiber which we then wash card and spin to be able to use for knitting or crochet.

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Some of our flock with their lambs
We also raise our own honey, which helps with allergies because it’s local honey.

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As I’ve mentioned before, our extra livestock is money on the hoof. The livestock pays for itself, and it’s not a burden on our income and we also know what is in our food because we know what went into the animals.
There is also a pleasure in knowing each of the animals on the farm, and being around them. Raising livestock, while it is a lot of work, is also relaxing and rewarding. The same is true of working the land.

What Animal Is It?

IMG_0845A few days ago I saw this video on Facebook: https://youtu.be/LAbSv0qiGhM

Of course as always there were people wanting to argue that the animal in the video is a goat. I can understand why they might think that. After all, sheep are woolly and goats have hair right?
There are different types of cattle, sheep, and goats. Not all cattle are good milkers, not all goats produce milk. There are even goats that aren’t prized for milk or even necessarily meat.

It takes time to learn about the different types, especially hair sheep. We even mixed up our ram, Bucky, with being a goat kid, when he was rescued by Commando until we saw his tail. They do have some similarities, and if you’re expecting goat kids then if a hair lamb shows up on your doorstep, you may not realize that what you have is a lamb and not a goat kid initially. Especially, if you don’t currently raise sheep.

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Bucky as a lamb.
So, how do you tell sheep apart from goats? The main thing I look at is the tail. How long is it? Does it stand up or does it flop?

Sheep have floppy tails that are often docked or cut short. They are all born with long tails. Wool sheep will likely have a short floppy tail because wool catches poop and it can cause health problems. So, they often dock the tails of young lambs.
Hair sheep on the other hand, while looking the closest to a goat, are kept with their tails long. Their tails come past their hocks. Note the docked tail on the back end of the ewe in the below picture and the long tails of her babies.

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Shetland Sheep which are kept for wool

Here is a link for or a picture that will show you what the hocks are on a sheep. https://classconnection.s3.amazonaws.com/18/flashcards/699018/jpg/sheep_term1315582630148.jpg
Goats on the other hand, regardless of the breed, have short perky triangular tails.  Take a look at this picture which has both one of our up and coming dairy does, and our hair sheep ram Bucky. IMG_1513

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Notice the perky little tail on these goat hind ends, and the long hanging tail on the ram. Sheep tails always droop. They never get lifted up as high as a goat tail. Goats only droop their tails as a general rule if they don’t feel well, and then it’s clamped, not really drooped.

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Hopefully, this will help you in identifying if you’re dealing with a sheep or a goat if you have absolutely no experience with dealing with either animal.

How We Got Into Goats

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One of our first bucks. This was Chief. He was pure bred Nubian.

When I was growing up, my mother had two hard and fast rules about the animals her children were allowed to have. No snakes, no alligators, and oh yeah there was a third and fourth one that I forgot about. No cats and no goats!

Mom hated goats because she had never had a good experience with goats. So, with that said, how did we get from no goats or cats to having a barn cat and a whole flock of goats and sheep running around? Well, it has been a journey!

I mentioned on this blog before that I spent my childhood in Mexico. Every year, my parents were required to take the three of us kids up to the States so that we would learn to speak English as well as we spoke Spanish, and hopefully we would stop mixing the two languages. While we were in the States, we would visit some friends of ours, the Blackwell family, who raised dairy goats. Their milk was so nice and sweet and creamy. They made the most wonderful goats’ milk ice cream for us. Their goats were so well behaved. It took some time, but mom was slowly relenting.

In 2001, my whole family had a huge change in our lives. June 13, 2001 we left Mexico and moved back to the States. We bought four acres in the state of New Jersey. As you may remember from a previous post on ducks, I had always wanted them but was never able to have them in Mexico. Now, in New Jersey, we had muscovy ducks, krainkoppe chickens, turkeys, and guinea hens. We also kept horses. Our fences weren’t good enough for goats though, we couldn’t afford fencing that would hold a goat and mom was still not sold on the idea.

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Krainkoppe Rooster

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Then August 8, 2005 we moved to Oklahoma where we now have 10 acres. When we moved here, the land was already goat ready. The fences were up and would hold goats. Mom had continued having positive contact with the Blackwells. In 2006, we got our first goats. They were just crosses but they were very sweet, one was an amazing milker, and we have descendants of one of those does still in our flocks today. Most of our brown goats are descendants of the doe named Chiquita.

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Here my sister and I are bundled up, waiting for Chiquita to kid. She was “just kidding” that night. Simply positioning babies, but she sure had us fooled.

Rut Season Is Coming!

Bilbo our La Mancha Buck
The last month of bad heat is an important time to start thinking about bucks if you are a homesteader who has or is getting goats. This is because once cool weather hits, the boys will be looking for girls and the girls will all be in heat.

If you want to raise goats and you don’t have a buck, now is a good time to get one for your girls. At this point, the buck should be old enough to breed. The disadvantage to buying a grown buck is that he will be more expensive. 
You could choose to rent one instead but I would caution you on that idea. There are a lot of devastating diseases to be found among goats. Be certain that he is disease free. Otherwise, your whole flock may be infected and depending on which diseases they get, you could loose all of them thanks to one diseased goat. 

My family prefers to buy a buck or two and rotate them for several breeding seasons. They don’t cost much to keep and we often buy a buck kid in the Spring time when we want to replace a buck. We often keep a pair of bucks just in case something happens to one.

Chief, a Nubian buck kid who was one of our first bucks.

When you are looking for a dairy buck (I don’t have any experience in meat only goats), you want to look for a buck who has a long back and a wide thigh gap. That buck will have daughters with a wide gap for their udders and a long back that is indicative of a good milker. 

You also want a buck that is sweet natured. Keep in mind that he will naturally be rougher than your girls. Don’t let him be rude when he’s little if you get a buck kid. Just like puppies, buck kids grow up and depending on the breed, they can get big. 

Until next time,

Emily

What Breed of Chicken Is Right For Your Homestead?

What Breed of Chicken Is Right For Your Homestead?

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Buckeye Rooster

 

There is a saying “Different strokes for different folks.” The type of chicken that works for us, may not be the type that you want.

Years ago, my family raised Kraienköppe chickens which are a game type chicken that is endangered of extinction. They are very flighty, excellent at self preservation, good egg layers, with smaller carcasses.

 

 

The downside to the Kraienköppe was that since it is a flighty bird, they are very hard to catch when you need to catch one. Being game birds, they are also a bit aggressive. They used to kick our tom turkey’s butt!

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Krainkoppe Rooster

 

After having Kraienköppe chickens, we decided to change breeds to something less flighty and therefore easier to handle. My mom wanted to get Rhode Island Reds. Dad wanted chickens from a different heritage breed.

 

 

The biggest differences between the buckeye and Rhode Island Red is that the buckeye is a better meat bird, and the Rhode Island Red is the better egg producer. That said, both are good birds. In my father’s experience, the Buckeye is a little calmer. The Buckeye was almost extinct at the beginning of the 19th century. However, Rhode Island Red was second most popular in the world. Unfortunately, over time the breed has been hybridized and now there may be more Buckeyes that pure Rhode Island Reds.

It’s an excellent idea to really research your breeds before selecting what type of chicken you get. If you ever have any questions about a breed, feel free to contact. George is a poultry specialist and can rattle off lots of positives and negatives about many breeds, including their history.

As a side note, I apologize for no Rhode Island Red pictures. I wasn’t able to find any free. The pictures posted here are genuinely our birds. Unfortunately, we haven’t had Rhode Islands in years so I don’t have any pictures of them.

Until Next Time,

Emily