And then there were five….

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A little doe was born 7/27 to Rita. She’s a cute little thing!

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Ellie

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Manson and Singapore. They like to hang out.

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Ezra and one of our new chickens.

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Winter Around the Homestead

It’s been a while since we last had an “around the homestead” update. Freezing temperatures and snow is here to stay. The piles of winter coats, boots and drying mittens are growing. As is my collection of empty milk jugs to tote water out to the animals.

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The goats never seem to enjoy the snow. Already their tracks are mainly confined to a path between their shelter and the waterer. Manson has been taking his job very seriously so we should be expecting a new kid or two in the coming months. Nonetheless he still chases all the does around- just to be sure.

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Now that the snow is sticking the chickens are glad to stay in their camper. A week or two ago I gave the camper one last good mucking out and a deep bed of new shavings. As long as the cold temps are here the deep bedding shouldn’t get too gross and it acts as a layer of insulation. I stir it around every few days and add additional shavings when needed. The camper has a handy hatch in the back that makes mucking out the old shaving that much easier.

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Sad news- my bees have already succumbed to the harshness of winter. I checked on them a while back while I was prepping the hive for winter and they had already devoured their store of honey. I didn’t have my camera with me but they were positioned headfirst in their comb, in what my resources say is a classic starvation position. They had plenty of natural food around them and I had been supplementally feeding them. I didn’t take any honey nor is there another hive nearby (that I know of anyways) that could have robbed them. My thought is that perhaps our warm season is too short for a package of bees to really have time to get established and really produce enough for our long cold winters. If I can convince struggling_along I think our best bet would be to purchase a nuc, or two. Of course with bees there are no guarantees.

On a happier note: PUPPIES!

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They are all doing well and growing plump. They’re quite fun to have around but… 9 dogs! The very thought makes me glad the puppies are being spoken for left and right. Still for now we can take advantage of all the puppy snuggle time we can get, right?!

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{this moment} Miss Lala Bianca

DSCN2161Born to Rita on May 23rd 2013

Joining Soulemama in {this moment} – A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

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Goat Sweaters {Yarn Along}

Our goat, Ells, is hugely pregnant. Just by looking at her (which is in no way an accurate gauge) I’m thinking she has to be having twins, possibly triplets- and soon too.  I feel much better this year with the temperature being so relatively mild  but the first few days are hard enough for a newborn without battling cold winter nights.

Enter goat sweaters!

Last year I modified one of the kid’s (mine) vests for one of our kids (goat). Hopefully I can find it and, with luck, also knit up a sweater in time for Ells kidding. I found the pattern over at Fiasco Farms- an excellent site for goat info.

Reading wise I just finished The Birth House which I enjoyed immensely as the subjects of birthing and midwifes vs doctor are definitely  topics near and dear  to my heart.

I’m also reading bits here and there from The Beekeeper’s Handbook (great resource). One of these days I will have bees….one of these days…..

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farmgirl friday

Making Soap Without Lye

On Plastic Pumpkin Farm we have a herd of Oberhasli goats. Their breeding season starts at the end of August and runs through January. During this time our bucks get well…bucky. Which means, among other things, they smell quite pungent. This scent transfers easily and lingers through most hand washing soaps. My solution- make Buck Off Soap.

Someday I’d like to try making soap with lye.  In the meantime a store brought soap base with added essential oils is fast and easy and it actually gets rid of strong scents- I also use it after handling onions, garlic, etc.

Here’s what you need to make soap:

This is what I use. (Plus a bottom pot)

A bain marie. I highly recommend you dedicate a bain marie (aka double boiler) for non food purposes only. Once the base melts it gets into every crevice and you don’t want your food tasting like soap. Check out yard sales and thrift stores and save yourself some cash.

Soap base. I’ve used the goat milk base available from my local hardware/general store.

A knife or grater to cut base into small pieces to melt. You’ll also need a knife  to cut a large brick into smaller bars.

Essential oil of your choosing. I used Lavender but any will do, be sure it is an essential oil and not an extract or flavoring.

Soap molds. You can buy bar molds or make some out of a carton (i.e. milk, oj) or some plastic PVC pipe cut to length with plastic wrap secured with a rubber band on the end.  have these ready BEFORE you start melting the soap base.

Plastic prefab soap molds.

Optional additions: I added lavender buds to several bars. You can add anything you want-dried flowers, oatmeal, ground almonds, even a small toy for a child.

A freezer helps to loosen bars from the mold but you can also use  petroleum jelly. And don’t forget the stove!

Once you have the soap base grated and melting your almost done. It’s actually a very fast process.

If you are interested in soap made with lye check out this post  at  Homemade Alaska

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