Sustainability

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Coffee. Morning and ni-night (and as many as I can get/give in-between) squeezes. Three meals and a snack. Chickens out and back up again. Falls, fights, and wiped-away tears. Goat tending. Someone in mismatched socks. Checking for eggs.

These are some of the things you are most likely to see here on a daily basis.

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Chickens – besides a little kitchen garden – were one of the first homestead endeavors us greenhorns took on when we moved to the land. Our very first chickens were gifted to us, as so many things here have been. The first coop Stewart put up was made from reclaimed pallets with a couple of drawers from the camper acting as nesting boxes. I think screws may have been the only cost involved.

Since then we’ve built a bigger coop twice as we tried to build the flock. We’ve had broody hens and freshly hatched chicks, homegrown laying hens and many, many lost birds. We’ve purchased dozens of new chicks only to see a handful make it through. There have been periods where no eggs come in the door and others when we can make a meal after two or three days of saving them up.

IMG_9993And then, just the other day, a full dozen eggs came through the door. Little Annie brought half of them from what we call the “chick coops” which are small nests where we’ve kept broody hens in the past. The other half came from the chicken coop and a stray hay pile – all of the nests we are currently aware of.

I thought it might have been a fluke – one of those days someone forgot to collect from a nesting spot the day prior. And then yesterday eleven more came in when Abram brought a bowlful through the door and then went back for more. This is happy news for the big egg-eaters among us – Ruthie easily knocking back two at breakfast time all by her little self.

I’ve been sticking plenty of egg yolks in our smoothies recently and eggs are on the menu most mornings. Fried, scrambled, and homegrown – all favorites in this house. And we are so thankful to the Lord to be able to serve these nourishing provisions up to our little ones.

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Like most things on the homestead, having goats around has been both a big change and a seamless incorporation into our day. In the same way that life and work and family intertwine to form our days, these goats have worked their way into our homestead.

In the morning, Daddy and Elijah and Annabelle head out to the milking stand while Mama and Ruthie make breakfast and Abram cares for the chickens. Afterward I strain the milk, pour some into my coffee, and jar the rest. (After trying a few straining methods, we’ve landed on this reusable coffee filter. It’s a one-time, no waste purchase and works very well for us.)

Abby is a vocal one, so we hear from her throughout the day when Daisy starts to wander or someone departs from visiting hours or she simply wants to be heard. Throughout the day someone heads their way to pet, play, or refill water. But her level of communication (ahem) means we never really forget that they are there. And that’s fine by me. I love watching the children interact with them and grow up with animal contact – for their physical as well as their mental well-being.

At the end of the day, right around (or after) dark, the milking crew heads back out again. This time Abram mans the milking stool next to Daddy and almost always the little ladies insist on trailing along while Mama gets supper on the table. And when they return we gather around the table, strain and jar the milk once again, and wash up the milk pail. Because first thing tomorrow, it happens all over again.