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I don’t think that’s right 

With summer in full effect the garden is doing very well.

Our bean teepee is approaching the peak and starting to set some beans.

The corn is about 7 foot tall at this point.

We had to pull our our red potatoes out of the ground earlier than ideal.  One of the ducks decided to go broody in the middle of the potato plants, and started uncovering some of the potatoes.  We chased her off long enough for us to discover the poor girl had been sitting on a bunch of potatoes.

Once we harvested the potatoes into a bucket she came back and was trying to figure a way to get into the bucket to sit back on her eggs.  The poor girl. 

Oh well so long for now.


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Fall day off

I woke up on this Friday off to a drizzly morning which meant I wasn’t going to be mowing the lawn as was planned.  So what’s a boy to do on a cloudy day with intermittent rain? Go fishing in his pond, of course.

And sometimes you get a little lucky.

When I returned to shore, the ducks had made their way out into the open.  Only problem is I only count nine ducks.  The last time I counted there were ten.  We knew when we decided to let our ducks roam free around the pond and property that we may lose a few, but it is surprising when one just disappears.

River spent the day doing what River does best, sleeping on the porch swing.

Have a great day world.


Knit life

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Summer arrives

Summer has arrived here on the homestead, and with the summer comes sudden thunderstorms.  The last one to move through took out the top of one of trees near the house.

With a downed tree in the yard it was time to bust out the chipper.  Unfortunately the chipper decided to continue its winter slumber a little while longer and educate me on how to work on small engine carburetors.

While walking out of the goat barn the other morning I found one of my wife’s new puppies hanging around.  This one was not as soft and cuddly as the last.

This is Vivi, our oldest and highest producing goat.

She was not milked correctly by one of her previous owners and has blown out/ballon teats.  This makes it much easier to see when she is full of milk versus when she is empty.

Summer is bringing the first crops of the season, including squash, beans, melons and tomatoes.

The ducks continue to wander the yard leaving eggs like the water bunny.

The wife found another puppy she wanted to keep.  This one is one I’ve looking for, though.

Have a great summer, world.


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a new rhythm

Once again I must ask for your forgiveness, my friends, with regards to the tardiness of my blog posts.  The new rhythm of a spring daily life on the homestead has left me with little time, and at times little energy, to write.  Today though is a day off from work, and it is raining very heavily here in the Piedmont region of the Commonwealth of Virginia.  I have just reawaken after having gone back to bed after completing the morning chores.  For the moment I sit listening to the rain on the metal roof and watching a summer Tanager trying to attack himself in the reflection of the cabin window.

Now that spring has arrived, it seems that there is not a moment that should not be filled with something to be done.  The goats, which have been here for over a month now, have learned the daily routine, which as I understand by their nature, is most favored.  They get milked twice daily, once in the morning by myself at about 5:30 am and then at the same time in the evening by my wife.  The mornings start for me with an alarm at 5am, then I throw on some clothes and it’s off to feed and water the chickens and rabbits in back of the house.  Then it is a hike down the hill to the pond to put out food for the ducks,  which we no longer confine to their house at night, but let them stay on the pond.  Then back up to the house to get a bucket of warm, soapy water before heading to the goat house to milk the girls.  After I have milked, washed all the equipment, and put it back in its place, the clock usually reads about 6:30am.  Now it is time to start the pre-work routine of washing up, breakfast, and watching the weather channel.  I rarely watch the news any more; the weather always seems more relevant. Then off to work, a 40 minute drive.  To be honest my wife (which I say here because she prefers I not put her name down) does most of the work while I am away earning a paycheck.  I return close to sundown to help wrap up the day.  Days off work, such as today are filled with trips to the hardware store or feed store, and a plethora of other chores, which are never-ending.  This though, is not  a bad thing as it has helped me cut my television-viewing down drastically.

The goats seem to be doing well. Caro, the Alpine/Toggenberg mix, definitely has a like for human contact. We have a scrub brush in their house that she loves to be brushed with, and was the first of the goats that would let us take her for a walk on a leash, as you can see my mother-in-law doing below.

The other two nubians, Sidda and Vivi, are coming around though, especially since we discovered their love of raisins.

Our milk over-floweth from the three ladies.  We have been drinking it raw, and when it is fully chilled it is so delicious.  But being the child I am,  I have to keep the chocolate syrup handy, for the milk is even more heavenly when it is laced with chocolate.

Among the other things happening here on the homestead was the addition of 100 channel catfish to the pond this week.  We hope to have them as a occasional food source in the coming years, a well as just another fish to catch for the family and guests that like to come out to our place for family dinner.

River the cat has spent most of the past few rainy days in her favorite spot, the front porch swing.  Surveying her kingdom and standing guard against all intruders is what I’m sure she would claim, but daytime naps is what actually seem to fill her time.

We have planted most of our gardens, but the constant rain of the past weeks has made it difficult.  On the other hand those plants that are in the ground are loving it, as long as they can survive being trampled by the duck squad that in the rains seems to feel free to travel all over the place.

For now I will leave you to your own devices, world and I think return for a little more sleep until the rain lets up. Say good-bye, Caro.

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Snow again

Well the snow is falling again on the homestead.  

As of yesterday the ducks had been fighting valiantly to keep a small home of open water in the icy pond.  I am amazed every day how cold tolerant ducks are.  The fact they can swim in that ice hole and stand for long periods on the ice is astounding.   
   When I’m not mesmerized by the ducks, I’ve been working on the goat area. I’ve got three side of the area enclosed by fencing and have installed a gate to the front side.  

I’ve started construction on the barn and was able to get the floor leveled and built before the snow.  
   In clearing the area there may have been a former structure where I’m building, or at least a dumping ground.  

The new chickens have started laying and our egg cartons have gotten much more colorful.  
  Until next time my friends.


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And the snow came down

The massive snow storm that blasted the midatlantic hit us about 9am on the 22nd. It started for me earlier than that, I woke up about 5am and started thinking about all the things I should do before the snow got too heavy.  I checked the generator in case of a power outage, that thankfully never happened. I put whatever wood I could put my hands on around the bottom of the rabbit hutch and an extra tarp for the top.  Then we sat back and waited for it to arrive. 

The ducks don’t seem to mind the snow, as opposed to the chickens who look outside the coop and say “oh heck no, I’ll stay right here.”

The duck house provided on of my favorite scenes from the snow. 

As did the path lights. 

We did have to deal with one small downed tree blocking the driveway.    
We worked hard and shoveled ourselves out.


And the state and county have done a great job on the road we live on.

And now, after a hards day work, we are cleaning out some of the left over meats in the fridge to make a big pot of chili.


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Back home 

We are back home after a week away from the old homestead.  We were in Atlanta for a week.  Thankfully we have a great friend who loves the country and is willing to take care of all the animals.  That is an aspect of homesteading that we really are lucky with at this point.  If ever we need to go out of town, you can’t just drop 15 chickens, 13 ducks, 2 rabbits, 2 parakeets and a cat off at a friends house to watch. 

We have also been really lucky with the winter temperatures so far this year, but they are falling this week. Last night got down to 12 degrees, and the same is expected for the next couple.  There is also a forecast for 8-12 inches of snow starting Friday, and while we dealt with snow last winter, we didn’t have quite as many mouths to keep track of.  

The ducks I know are suppose to be very cold hardy, but I still can’t help but worry about keeping them safe.  They are the farthest from the house, so I don’t have power where they are.  I have a freeze-free water set up for the chickens but not for the ducks as of yet, so we will be making many trips down to them to make sure they have unfrozen water to drink.  As of yesterday they still had an unfrozen spot on the pond, which this morning is gone.  We will prepare and do the best we can.  Until later world. For now here is a video of the ducks coming across the frozen pond last night to be put into their house. 



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adapt and change

     As we start off the new year it is a time of change.  Oh sure the spring is still a ways off, but that doesn’t mean change doesn’t happen.  Let us take for example the water that we give the ducks.  While the ducks arrived last winter, they didn’t make the change to living outdoors until spring.  This meant that we didn’t have to worry about their water supply freezing until now.  I knew the pond could freeze over, as it did last year, so I needed to be prepared to have water available to them.  Since the time the ducks moved down to the pond, I had two 3-gallon plastic containers filled with water near their food along with a water fount.  Well these obviously froze when temperatures dropped into the teens for two nights in a row.  I thought “no problem, just knock the ice out of the plastic containers and refill them with fresh wate.”  Of course if I had thought about it, plasti becomes brittle when frozen and the containers shattered as I tried to dislodge the ice.  Lesson learned. 

    So it was off to Tractor Supply for new options.  I now have two fiber reinforced molded rubber containers to fill with water for the duckies to dip their heads in. 

     The other change I was thinking about recently, has to do with an earlier blog post I did, in which I talked about how dark the nights are in the country.  I commented how in the city you don’t know how dark the night is until you move to a location where the only light around may come from the moon and stars.  To be honest the darkness was a little disconcerting when we first moved out to the country, but now it seems different.  The nights are obviously just as dark but my comfort level in moving around in it has gone way up.  My senses are still on alert when I walk through the darkness with only the flashlight to lead me, but they are not to the mind  absorbing phase they had been.  The darkness is now an accepted part of the day, not a time to hide.

And a great big happy birthday today to my beautiful bride today.  You are the greatest.
      Until next time my friends.  D.