Sustainability

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kittymillie

Somehow this week has been filled beyond the usual with various homestead projects. I suspect it started with Kitty who welcomed Millie to the homestead very late Monday night. This was our first kidding on the homestead and I was completely taken off guard with just how exciting and day-filling that process would be.

After two days of me checking on her probably more often than she would appreciate, Stewart was the first one on the scene late Monday night. This little kid was born in a grove of cedar trees and we asked Ruthie if she wanted to name her. After many, many suggestions by all of us, Ruthie settled on Millie.

barnstalls

It was a welcome expectation to see rain in the forecast Tuesday night and now over the weekend as well. But with a fresh kid and two more goats expected to drop any day now, we needed to make preparations. The barn is now walled in on all sides except the south wall… and just in time, too!

One of the major projects for Stewart was getting the solar panels, batteries, and whatnots moved over from in front of the barn in order to finish the south wall. Well, he had to put up a new roofline behind the house to mount the solar panels on and that entailed taking down the old roofline in front of the barn in order to salvage materials.

So while Stewart spent a frightening amount of time on the roof this week, the children and I worked on cleaning out the barn and putting in some temporary kidding stalls. We spent much of Tuesday pounding T-posts and moving hay and holding ladders (gulp), in between checking on goats and little Millie.

beansrow

And then, with the rain that came Tuesday night and further percentages in the forecast, I figured it’d be a good time to get over my fear of the bean field and take the plunge. There are still several hay bales to break up and spread out but I knew if I didn’t jump in and just get started somewhere, I might never do it.

So we started on the east side of the field and finished that hay up and got to planting. We marked and raked back rows and then the boys got a chance to try out this little plow they put together with scrap materials months ago.

beansplow

I’m not sure how efficient it is but it got the job done and created a furrow two inches deep into which we planted black-eyed peas. We may or may not get to planting some more this afternoon after school books close and babies awake.

I think I realized the other day that we tend to rush around in the spring in an attempt to prepare for the hot months ahead. Finish up building projects, get all of the garden in (and somewhat harvested) before June, bolster the homestead for several months of heat. In many ways it is akin to preparing for winter up north.

So maybe that is why the days are full and the hands (and floors) perpetually dirty – it is spring!

hogs
I have probably said this a hundred times now: Almost nothing on the homestead happens as we thought it might. Take for instance the prospect of raising hogs. We’d been talking about it for years but of course always had higher priorities. Chickens and dairy animals and barns for those dairy animals all came at the top of the list.

And then there is always this question of what will you feed the animal? We always thought it seemed like a good idea to have an abundance of eggs and milk and garden scraps before getting hogs. GMO corn and other animal feeds were something we wanted to avoid and, besides, we had a barn to finish and more milk animals to get online and didn’t even have a pigpen ready so surely raising hogs was a ways off, right?

hogs-in-trailer

Well, actually no, no it wasn’t. A couple of weeks ago our friend let us know that there were some wild hogs being kept by a family up the road from us and they were looking to get rid of them. So Stewart contacted them and they said sure, come on over. He had planned to go pick them up and bring them home to butcher and maybe I would can some of it.

hogs-in-pen

Well… they were practically babies, so out the window that went. So he brought them home and by mid-afternoon he had assembled a pen beneath the old camper and grabbed the first screaming hog and threw it into the pen. Within a couple of minutes she found a way out and took off so he doubled up the fencing and we tried again.

After that, the two hogs went in and haven’t come out since so now I guess we’re raising hogs… at least until we butcher them. And while I thought that first hog that got out was long gone, I was wrong about that too. A few days after the other two hogs got settled in, Stewart found her in the food forest while he was watering trees. Since he couldn’t catch her, we decided to go ahead and butcher her that evening and got our first taste of wild hog meat which is actually quite good, by the way.

And now, morning and evening, we feed them a collection of weeds, grass roots, cattails from our pond, whatever slop we have from the kitchen, and some non-GMO grain from a local grainary. I doubt we will repeat this endeavor once the jig is up for these hogs, but then again, we didn’t think we’d be getting hogs for quite sometime…

And here we are.