welcome to our little slice of paradise

We bought the most stunningly amazing acerage with five old logging cabins and the most gorgeous land we ever could have imagined. Follow us on our journey of cabin rehab and turning an organic hay farm into a sustainable oasis of fruit, veggies, berries, nuts, and culinary and medicinal herbs.

 

blue, teal and aqua eggs (how to get them in your basket)

I originally started this blog to keep friends and family up to date on our progress on the farmstead (or lack thereof, sometimes). Every day is busy and I generally forget, plus I feel limited to what I “ought to” share. Let’s face it, 99.9% of my family cares zero about chicken genetics, for example.

Blue eggs, aqua eggs, teal eggs, how to get bluer eggs

But guess what? I care 110,000,000% so I’m sharing. I have been tinkering with egg color for amazing blues, aquas and teals, and want to share how I’ve gotten the hues I have. My olives and greens are my next project, but I’ll get there.

Aqua chicken egg, teal egg, blue chicken eggs

This particular aqua egg is infinitely more beautiful in person. My cheap camera phone washes colors out. Regardless, this is how I made that egg color happen:

I started with a regular feed store blue-laying Easter Egger (boring, but cute and easily obtainable for most) and crossed her with a Lavender Ameraucana (some of you may remember my duck humper I had to rehome — I bred him with a few girls before sending him on his way). I kept a couple of those girls that hatched as a result. We’ll refer to these girls as A. I bred the bluer egg laying A girl but we’ll get there in a sec.

Best blue egg, Easter Egger, rainbow, blue

Just before that, I crossed a Crested Cream Legbar female with a Welsummer Male. We’ll call those girls B. You could also just buy an Olive Egger if you want to speed things along.

Later I crossed a B girl with a different Ameraucana and ended up with all boys. Joy! We’ll call the boy I temporarily kept C (though his name was Nettleton, who I no longer have either). I keep calling him a second generation Olive Egger but I think I’m wrong on that front, though mom was an Olive Egger so…? Semantics.

Green egg, Olive egg, speckled egg, blue speckles

I then crossed A girl and C boy. Those kiddos are just starting to lay over the past couple of months (see photos). Two are aqua and teal. The rest are/were mostly mint or greenish, one more of a light olive color. 3 of the 5 girls were gifts to my neighbors so they could add some color to their egg baskets and I kept the amazing blues. Unfortunately I don’t currently have any roosters with the blue egg gene so I’ll have to work on that again soon.

Now I’m working on darker greens. I accidentally sold all of my second and third generation Olive Egger girls last year (I was broke and the guy offered $30/bird for 10 pullets and I caved) so that’s next.

Rainbow eggs, rainbow egg basket, bluer eggs

I really didn’t do anything fancy — I just look at it as if I were mixing paint colors and wanted to see what I’d get. Then more pinks, though that girl is just an anomaly.

Rainbow eggs, egg rainbow

Here’s to the path to pretty egg baskets!

we almost have a cabin

Now that the goats, ducks and three flocks of chickens have houses and coops and paddocks and playgrounds and runs, we’re back on cabin rebuilt and rehab. And we’re almost done! Yeah, that makes just over two years but it’s been worth the wait. We’re super excited to have some friends over for a celebratory feast. The above photo is the “before” shot when we very first moved here. It’ll be a while before you get an exterior after shot.

Finn’s room has been taped, mudded, textured and primed for months but he only recently decided what color he wants to paint the room. Purple. That’s what happens when you allow a 16 year old to choose paint color (his last bedroom was Batman red with a super hero blue ceiling). Our only stipulation was “it will have a white ceiling” this time. Oh, and “not black” because yes, he had wanted it black. So… purplish it is. Rosy eggplant? Purple Queen Zinnia? I have no idea what you’d technically call this color but I actually like it. The back wall where are the built-in closet and desk will be wasn’t painted but we decided that since it’ll be a fair amount of time before those are built, we ought to just paint it purple for now. Hopefully Finn and I will be working on that within the next day or two and can get a better shot of what the color actually looks like because that picture is a little off.

The living room is now fully drywalled, taped, muddled and primed. After much vacillation we decided to go with Wasabi for the living room color. It matches our new rug and will make us smile. Originally we wanted Frothy Curacao but that’s almost exactly the color of the bathroom. The kitchen will be Kinetic Teal with white upper cabinets and beadboard backsplash with butcher block counters. I’m kind of thinking of doing the lower cabinets a darker hue instead of white but we shall see (thank you Pinterest for the inspiration!). I’m going to start painting the cabinets soon, though the kitchen won’t be completed probably until next year. We’ll have a fridge and a stove but the lower counters, cabinets and sink will be a future addition. Probably spring along with siding.

I originally wanted to do the kitchen cabinets like this, but that might be crazy over-the-top. What do you think? So I’m thinking maybe the tiny little built in shelves between the cabinets. I wish I knew who created this so I could get them credit friend emailed the picture to me.

This is a really old picture and none of the counters or lower cabinets or sink or anything exist. I just wanted to show you the little built in. If I don’t do the mini built-in shelves like the photo I’ll definitely be painting my old buffet similarly (and another matching table that just miraculously happened to be here and when we moved here).

I don’t know if I shared but the bathroom was painted a long time ago, sink installed, etc. Outside of the kitchen, there’s lots of little things we still need like light fixtures (we will use the old ugly ones temporarily), a mattress for Finn, etc. We just want to get our butts in there! Trim is mostly primed and some painted. It will be going up this weekend after we paint the walls which we will either be starting tonight when Paul gets home with paint or tomorrow.

Soon, we’ll post an abundance of unveiling photos. We were going to be moving in next week but we have torrential rains and snow on the horizon. No fun. I’m not moving couches and beds and things in the rain, thank you very much.

goatboss. goatmom. goatcrazy.

I didn’t realize it until the day after but we finally got our first goats on our 2-year anniversary of moving here! Meet Juniper Skye and her aunt Flora.

Flora, in front, may or may not stay here for long. My little Nigerian Dwarf Jasmine will be here in a week or two and then we’ll see. Flora may go home to be bred and one of her sons may come here or another auntie, older sister or mom of Juniper. We shall see. I absolutely adore her and she’s head-over-heels in love with me as well (she cries if I get more than 3 feet away from her) but she’s kind of a meanie to Juniper and if she doesn’t get over that nonsense, she’ll have to go back home when Jasmine arrives. My goal is to get her to chill the heck out because she’s in milk and what an amazing treat that is. She gave us an entire half gallon yesterday!

Juniper is my girl, 3/4 Toggenburg, 1/4 Nubian. She was born on one of my best friend’s farms down the street and I claimed her as my own before she even came into this world. She is amazing beyond words! She hasn’t been handled much and was very skittish the first day but she’s really warmed up to me and now lets me pet her 89-91% of the time and will eat out of my hand. That’s in less than 48 hours. My friend says I’m a natural and I may just need to raise/train all the babies between our two farms. Yes please! So on that!!

Paul kicked ass and finished building their house a couple hours after they got here. He is amazing! The whole thing, with the exception of screws, door hardware and some of the two-by-fours was totally free. Or trade. We are huge barterers around here. We traded pears, duck and chicken eggs for a mountain of wood pallets and barn metal, a hen for some more wood pallets, duck eggs and hugs for some plywood and were gifted a piece of suntuf for a skylight. Then I traded more duck eggs for grass hay and grain so we can just get a little bit at a time until we actually have a place to store it all (that’ll be in the shipping container when we finish the cabin and it’s not full to the hilt with furniture, art and music supplies). Actually we’ll probably build a metal shed. That may be faster. I need to come up with some sort of fundraiser like jam sales, art or healing sessions.

I laid out all of the pallets deciding how I wanted to make it and had Finn help me do the first hole to sink a peeler core a couple feet deep to slide to the corner pallets over for super strength and stability. Paul did the rest because apparently my designs are better on paper. He asks me questions about structural engineering and I stare blankly so he takes over. He’s the best husband I’ve ever had! (Only husband ever and it will obviously remain that way because he’s the best.)

I’m going to build a little covered feeding area off the right side of their house. And then it’s on to building their play structure. A goat playground is totally necessary! And the hammock to watch them from. I make chicken playgrounds out of branches, twigs, pallets and random things all the time but this is going to be so much more fun. Paul won’t let me use the chainsaw (because he’s smart!) so I need to wait and get a bit of help on that, but I can do all of the other necessary cutting now that he has adequately trained me on all sharp power tools. 🙂

Here is a picture of Jasmine, purebred registered Nigerian Dwarf, from a few weeks ago. Her birth name is JasmineJade but I call her Jasmine Meadow. Both girls were born in March, the 1st and the 8th, and that means more female Pisces energy up in here. Everyone needs more of that! I haven’t been able to pick her up yet because the breeder does shows at the state fair and some of the girls got a cold. They can spread that and it can develop into pneumonia so we’re waiting until her entire herd is 100% healthy and well before we bring her here. That’s why I borrowed Flora to begin with but now I like the idea of having three goats until I breed Jasmine next April or so. Then whoever I’m borrowing can go home if desired and I’ll have another baby goat. Juniper will be bred in summer for a spring 2020 baby. Hopefully they aren’t all boys because I don’t plan on keeping more than one, which we will make a wether. Any other boys either will be sold, traded or eaten. (I still haven’t even processed my own chickens yet so can you imagine me processing one of my baby goats!? Yeah, not happening, though it makes me feel more homesteady talking about it. Of course if we have another apocalypse like we did last year for any longer than a couple of weeks, all of that changes.)

Since bringing the stanchion over, all non milking creatures are loving it. Scruff the chicken first and then baby Juniper. Flora, the only one that needs it, isn’t terribly fond of it but yesterday was our second milking and it was infinitely better than the first. Day one was bucking bronco. Day two was finding her favorite back and butt massage spots and getting her to mellow out a bit.

Oh yeah, here’s the skylight. This will give them extra warmth in Winter as it’s south-facing but they’ll still stay cool in summer due to the angle and the trees overhead.

Excited so many people will be here to meet them this weekend. Pretty much all of our favorite humans will be here to celebrate all the things worth celebrating, like Paul’s 40th birthday, goats, life and all other good things. ♡

summer abundance, and a year of eggs

We/I haven’t posted in eons, again. It’s not that farmstead life is slow or uneventful, but rather bursting at the seams and overflowing with amazement, awe and sheer but-kicking busyness.

That chicken coop I posted about before and promised a part two of its free construction and completion? It’s been done since the next day, sans paint, and so far has housed three rounds of babies, totalling 25 in all. We’ll be moving it to the garden sometime within the next week or two for my impending Swedish Flower Hen breeding endeavors (three out of four are laying, and the last is 6 weeks younger). The older girls are not yet 6 months old but by Spring, I’ll have plenty of hatching eggs and chicks available. If I ever end up painting the coop, I’ll post photos. But the main chicken coop, Cluckingham Palace, still isn’t painted either. Or the goat house, but that’s another post.

Despite our late start, our gardens are thriving. And the late start was not my fault. I had almost 200 (or 300?) starts die during our winter storm with the implosion of our greenhouse under snow weight and round two mostly became squished by neighbor cats thinking I planted them cozy plant beds. We have been harvesting and eating and even selling an abundance of zucchini, crookneck and yellow squash, round zucchini, lettuce, kale, rainbow chard, onions, tomatoes, green beans, purple beans, peas, herbs, chives, potatoes, cucumbers and a little bit of broccoli and cauliflower. The latter weren’t fond of our almost a hundred degree days in April and had a rough start. But I planted a ton more (plus more beans, greens, roots, etc.) so it’ll be great.

This also was the first year we got raspberries. We only got 6 but next year we’ll have 6,000. We got tons of blueberries and still are from some of our late season bushes, mountains of blackberries which is one of my favorite foods, and loads of plums, but mostly from friends and neighbors — we had a couple dozen of our own. Pears and apples are too many to keep up with. Oh and we had heaps of figs and some cherries. The deer ate most of the cherries along with all of our peaches and nectarines, mountains of apples from our baby trees and most of our plums. Not just the fruit but the leaves and branches. Thanks deer! I think I’m going to relocate 95% of our orchard in autum when the ground is nice and soft and the trees are more dormant so I can put 10 foot fences around them to allow them to establish themselves, then take the fences back down.

I’ve been loving doing lots of small batches of canning this year. So far I’ve done spiced fig and golden plum jam, garlicky Plum barbecue sauce, blackberry jam, apple pie Jam to use in baking or for the guys to put on French toast, blackberry apple spice jam which I only did one jar of because it was leftovers that wouldn’t fill a jar and I just added to it. Interestingly enough is pretty awesome. I’ve also done apple pear sauce, a crapload of pickled cucumbers and zucchini, and spiced plums. I still need to do some more maple bourbon plum butter and blackberry pear jam because those where everyone’s talk to favorites last year, along with pickled apples and 700 more apple sauce, plus salsa. I found a recipe for zucchini bread jam which I may try as well because we have so many zucchini! Oh, I also did pickled green beans. Pro tip: don’t pickle purple beans. They end up looking like long wrinkly alien appendages.

A couple of weeks ago was our one-year anniversary of when my very first chicken started laying eggs. I kept track because I wanted to see how many eggs we received from our girls in a year. It was kind of silly to count because we had anywhere between 8 and 30 layers at any given time with hatching out new ones, selling old ones, etc but we received exactly 3450 eggs in year 1. That’s 287.5 eggs per month, or 66.3 eggs per week on average (just over 5.5 dozen). Yay girls!! I only have a couple of weekly chicken egg customers but it’s perfect. We’ll have more laying hens this year so I’ll be able to sell more. For a while there we couldn’t sell our duck eggs for the life of us. We were giving them away by the dozen because our girls lay 20 times more than I read their breeds will lay. Now though, things have changed. We have waiting lists for duck eggs. We only have three ducks, one who is special needs and rarely lays, but we get over a dozen a week. It’s so funny when people now offer to prepay for eggs that haven’t yet been laid. So we are getting four more ducks. Three girls and a boy so not only will we have duck eggs for eating, we will have fertile duck eggs for hatching and ducklings available to anyone who wishes to buy them. Our duck breeds: Cayuga, White Layer, Saxony, Black Swedish and Chocolate Indian Runner. This autumn we should start breaking even on egg sales. Meaning we make as much selling eggs as their expensive food costs. Spring, especially with hatching eggs, chicks, ducklings and rare breed pullets, will mean I’m making a little profit. I think I’m profiting regardless. We used to spend a minimum of $56 a month on sub-par organic grocery store eggs.

I babble. Anyway, that’s what we’re up to. Just living the dream. I’ll do another post here in the next day or two (or month) to tell you about our new goats and likely share stories and photos about our impending gathering with friends and family. A bunch of people are coming down from Portland and it’s going to be lovely.

building a free chicken coop and goats again, part one

With the craziness of falling nesting boxes when the tree fell on the coop (that still need to be fixed) and a couple little naughties getting confused about where to lay so laying outside, coupled with too many roosters (3), we’re building another coop. This project is 100% free. And who wouldn’t want a free chicken coop?

(That’s 3 duck and 12 chicken eggs, discovered under an overturned wheelbarrow on the burn pile — Stella the duck started it and others soon followed.)

And I must rephrase. I decided to build a small garden coop out of a trailer that was on the property when we bought it, but the husb abruptly took over and made it his project. Apparently my ideas were structurally sub-par. We started with the idea and this past weekend the project began.

The roof is framed in with peeler cores that we had, back panel/front door was swapped out by an old piece of plywood we had on hand.

He added the most awesome nesting box! My girls like to share, two to three to a box, so this is perfect! 12″ high and 18″ wide. Plus it’ll be a nice drinking spot on top — that’s where I will hang the waterer so it doesn’t get funky with straw and pine shavings. Again, all scrap wood, some of which was pulled from pallets. See the truck overflowing with pallets and barn metal in the background? That whole collection was traded for duck and chicken eggs, and future veggies from a non-farming neighbor.

I squealed with delight when he showed me the egg door that goes right to the nesting box!!! Again, pallet wood. Still totally free.

I love that the handle is made from the actual trailer — there were 2 on each side for tying things up.

The front door also has one of those cool handles and again, 100% free/recycled/upcycled wood. Look at the peep holes! Omgosh, so cute! I think there needs to be a Rustic Garden Cottage Coop sign over the door.

The side is so cute too. I love this little coop in progress! If I recall, it’s 30sf so more than perfect for 3 girls and a boy. Although my chickens are only inside to sleep and free-range the rest of the time, I still like to give them lots of extra space. This coop is going to live in a portion of the garden, behind a big Russian Olive for shade. I’ll probably plant a couple other big things over there as well (we need mulberries!). They, like the others, will have a compost area in their run to graze upon as well (this really cuts food costs and doesn’t effect egg laying negatively at all — my 30 layers we’re giving me over 12 dozen eggs a week in the dead of winter without supplemental heat or light). These ladies and gent are going to prepare next spring’s garden area — chickens and ducks are such amazing gardeners: weeding, aerating the soil, fertilizing it as they go, eating any potential invasive pests, excetera. Also, because the husb is a Virgo and said the floor needs to be replaced in two or three years, he made it so we can just unscrew the corners, pull the whole house off the top out of the metal frame, replace the floor and put everything back easy as pie. He’s so brilliant! I never would have thought of such a thing.

All that’s left is the roof, a roost bar, a ramp, a couple of coats of paint (I may splurge and buy a gallon of mis-mixed paint for cheap, otherwise we have a light sky blue and a deep purple, also cheap color faux pas paint we got last year). I think we also have a bunch of the nursery coop (former duck house) recycled green paint (above) as we got 5 gallons of it. Part of me wants to just seal it and leave it as is because I think it’s awesome in its rustic wood beauty.

That mountain of pallets and barn metal in the truck? Obviously that wasn’t for this little coop but rather… (drum roll)… a goat house! Yes, looks like we will be getting goats after all which means I need to get my ass in gear and start painting, book making, selling and advertising my healing services again in order to feed them.

Meet Julia (who I will rename Brida), the 3/4 Toggenburg, 1/4 Nubian baby. She’s 3 days old in this photo.

I was so excited meeting them the other day that I couldn’t get a good picture for the life of me. I was bouncing around like a baby goat myself so all of them are fuzzy. This is Mama Fauna who will also be coming to our farm. Fauna is 4 years old so can have another batch of babies or two before Brida can start having her own. She’s 1/2 Toggenburg 1/2 Nubian. In the meantime, we have milk for drinking, baking, yogurt, butter, and selling. Oh, and maybe soap making if I can make goat milk soap without lye.

Papa Hercules will not be coming to live with us but will breed any future babies Fauna has. He’s full Toggenburg and a soulful and beautiful guy. I fell in love with him and would be honored to bring up another round of his babies. Or at least another girl. I’m not ready for boy goats yet.

Hopefully all of this works out, otherwise we will be getting two baby girls, likely pure Nigerian Dwarfs when we can find some that aren’t disbudded. I won’t keep goats without horns (or cats without claws).

Stay tuned for completed Chicken Coop photos at its new location… and future goat house construction. (The above baby is half Buff Orpington, half Wesummer — I was so excited because orpingtons are one of my favorite breeds for friendliness but I think it’s a boy which means we’ll sell or eat him.) Always have to sneak in a chick pic, don’t I?

assessing the damage, a miracle, and baby chicks

As usual, I started this post over a week ago so some is old news. Updates will be in bold again. It all probably reads like someone with multiple personalities conversing amongst themselves.

As snow and ice begins to melt, more and more storm damage is coming to light. Heartbreaking and devistating are both huge under statements. The landscape has been forever changed, at least for our lifetimes. It’s overwhelming and hurts my heart to see so many damaged and fallen trees (I like a lot of trees more than a lot of humans). We were originally thinking around 50. Now it’s appearing to be at least 100. We used to live in a beautiful, private oasis. Now it feels more field than forest that offers significantly less privacy, though still beautiful. Before we could hear but not see the highway from the courtyard near the cabins. Now we can see passing cars up the driveway (and they can possibly see us). Guess that’ll make outdoor bathing a little more interesting this summer if they can, eh? I’ll be replanting that area first and think it’ll only take five or six trees once grown in, and maybe a couple of shrubs.

Although 95% of the greenhouse contents had been lost, a couple things survived — 7 cauliflower seedlings. And the greenhouse damages are infinitely less severe than I thought so I can fix it without having to ask anyone for help. A bit of UV plastic and some greenhouse tape and it’ll be good to go, needing only a new door but we’ll get to it when we do. In the meantime there is a UV plastic flap door.

Update: I’ve been planting like a crazy lady, both in the greenhouse and in the garden. Let’s see if I can remember it all: 64 heirloom tomatoes, 36 strawberries, 48 broccoli and cauliflower each of several varieties, more radishes, carrots and peas (those three love being planted together and thrive as companions), cabbage, poppies, calendula, lavender, dill, coriander, mint, thyme, sage, turnips, beets, onions, green onions… There’s more but I don’t have my garden journal with me and I’ve not had enough coffee yet.

The garden holds a great deal of death. A dozen dead four year old blueberry bushes. A dozen dead raspberries. Our two potted/need to be planted blackberries will likely return, plus all of our delicious wild blackberries. It looks like our garlic is safe and most of the radishes remain. I would rather have blueberry and raspberry bushes than radishes, but someday we can buy more berry bushes. Plus we have 8 more to plant so our annual blueberry cravings will be satiated in a couple of years. There’s frog life in the garden too, and frogs are a symbol of luck and abundance. I’ll tale that!

Update: Raspberries are resilient plants. This one above is our golden raspberry which sprouted these leaves in under a week. Now most of the others are sprouting. It looks like we only lost two heirloom raspberry plants but I’m still hopeful. I’ve grown huge raspberry bushes out of tiny little pieces of raspberry roots so I’ll work my magic and see what happens. (Tip: if you have raspberry loving pest, plant some onions and calendula around them.)

So far only four orchard trees are lost: a wine crisp apple (ouch!), our only apricot (also ouch!), a peach and a nectarine. We’ll have to watch the rest and see. Fruit trees can only tolerate only so much ice and frost before the decide to just give up. I’m trying not to be the same. I’m trying to force on my fighting gloves and kick ass on everything. At least the free stuff to fix, like replanting seeds that we already have.

Update: The wine crisp may be saved. It was laying flat on the ground due to other things falling on it but I replanted it. Plums and cherries are starting to blossom.

The the chicken house was so new I never even finished painting it. It has trees on it. The roof is smashed. The sheathing under the roofing is smashed. Support beams are smashed. Once it rains, it may leak and that’s no place to keep chickens. But fixing it can’t happen until we fix the cabin first. I would hate to rehome all of my girls to have to start over again later so I’m not even going to think about that. It’s not raining right now so that’s good. I would put that big tarp over the roof instead of their enclosure (that I was planning on covering in suntuf next month) but it’s now riddled in holes. Clearly my husband is an amazing builder though. The force of the trees and branches falling on the coop jarred the nesting boxes off the walls. But the whole building remained. He’s awesome! But now, the girls are so traumatized today aren’t laying eggs in the coop. I went from an average of 18 to 23 eggs a day all winter and now I’m getting 3 or 4. Spending $50-60 a week to feed chickens to only get three or four eggs a day is not my cuppa tea either, haha.

The chicken house damage hasn’t effected the mama hens Juniper and Olga. Both hatched 5 babies and all are thriving.

Update: A massive oak tree had fallen on part of the chicken Nursery yard fence and apparently that gave any access to the neighbor cat. It ate one of the babies. 😦 That’s fixed now. Out of 10 babies there were only two black ones, fathered by my barnevelder that I rehomed and that cute little black and white one in the front was one of them. That’s the one that got eaten. Farm life.

Update: We also have 7 eggs in the incubator and 100% fertility rate. I candled them all again last night and five were moving so we will have at least five more babies soon. And the Coastal Farm store has a few kinds of day old baby chicks I’m also going to add into the mix. I’ve been selling lots of babies and pullets to keep my flock rotated so am rewarding myself with some blue egg laying Ameraucanas. This baby above is the only one I’m keeping, except for the roosters to put in the freezer, out of the first two batches. She, if she’s a girl, is half Partridge Cochin, half Welsummer. Feathered feet! I call her Hild.

Easiest part of everything is all the fencing. It’s fairly cheap and easy to run. The duck area, the chicken area, the garden area, all need fencing replaced. We should be able to get that done in the next couple of months. And hopefully I can just do it myself without having to harass the husb who already works six days a week and has a million other things on his plate.

Paul has been kicking ass on chainsaw work (thankfully we had 2 offers to borrow one as we don’t currently own one). We’re going to have many years of firewood. Just need to build a wood storage shelter.

The cabin is the biggy, but also the biggest question mark as we haven’t totally gotten to assess damages yet. This is the cabin we took down to studs and have been working on rebuilding the past year-and-a-half. The cabin we were going to be moving into in about two weeks. The cabin that was finally soon to be insured because everything was redone so amazingly well. It could be infinitely worse. In fact, it’s kind of miraculous that it’s not. So on that note, we are so lucky.

The brand new metal roof has damages. The back covered deck is kindling. The front porch awning was ripped off on one side and is being propped up by a peeler core (log). I’m not sure if it needs to be replaced or if we can salvage it. Redoing it eventually was on the To Do List anyway, along with gutters and well filtration. The already problematic septic system has been completely jacked by a tree going roots-up. We hoped we could just have it pumped. Now we have to replace the whole thing. That in itself is bare minimum of $8,000 we dont have but I’ll figure it out. I’ve been looking for cheap leftover building materials on Craigslist that they would like hauled off. Then we can have an awesomely mismatched hodgepodge of recycled material goodness to live in. With the wood stove! That will be so amazing, warmth.

Update: Holy crap! As it turns out, the book of the weight of the oak tree that fell on the cabin is resting on the now shattered deck and roof. A branch is propping it up both from the ground and the deck rubble. If you look closely in the photo above you will see that the oak isn’t even actually touching the roof. A couple of branches are and it appears that they did not pierce through. It looks like it might not even be dented. That means we don’t have to replace any roof panels, only a couple of pieces of flashing. Less than fifty bucks, I’m guessing but a crap load of work. Trees are magical and wise. I asked them to please not fall and if they had to to do as little damage as possible. If it fell even a few inches towards the north, the entire roof structure could have been crushed.

I haven’t even gone to the creek again yet via the multiple trails after the first attempt. I’m kind of terrified to do so. The loss in itself is painful to me, as dramatic as that sounds. But there are also about 10,000 widow-makers, some as long as 10 or 12+ feet. It’s dangerous now, our once safe and beautiful forest. Is no longer a place of solitude or peace but a war zone where shit can fall on your head at any given second. We’ll find a way to fix it all, replant a couple of hundred trees and bring new/different life back to the forest. Same spot, before and after, on my favorite path:

chickens and gardens. wait. nevermind.

This is the blog post I started a day or two before our storm. Updates are in bold.

Though it’s still winter, our gardens and crops are already well underway. The recent frosts have set things back a tiny bit, but I’m confident that I’ll catch back up with my original plans and intentions within the next week or so.

garlic, heirloom garlic, homestead, garlic farm

About a dozen chickens and all three ducks had a recent garden party and unmulched all of the garlic I so carefully mulched in November. I had planned to cover it again but it’s doing so well. I decided that I’ll only do it if we have more freezing spells (garlic likes a little freezing, fyi). We’ve never had garlic this big at this time of year. So lush!

Sheep sorrel

I was pretty upset with the feathered ones at first but now we have an abundance of sheep sorrel growing where the mulch was which is an awesome addition to salads and stirfrys. Their leaves are a great source of vitamins C and E, and lots of cartenoids and beta-carotene in the seeds (seeds come way later in spring and summer). New studies show that it also is a great cancer fighter. Definitely a good “weed” to welcome to your garden. (This photo is from last year. It’s still quite tiny right now.)

Radishes sprouting in the garden

I recently planted 325 radishes and a crap load of carrots which are now coming up (two of which are too close but they’ll work it out). I need to put some more carrots in between and add some peas. The three are a wonderful companion plant trilogy or permaculture guild. I also have started an abundance of broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage in the greenhouse and plan to start tomatoes in there today or tomorrow — I’ll have to check my calendar as I’m doing things on a 100% biodynamic agriculture schedule. Oh yeah, and planted more herbs and a crapload of greens. And a million other things. If you’re not planting yet, you’re missing out! I have probably 300 starts going in the greenhouse already. UPDATE: The weight of the snow imploded most of the greenhouse and surely all starts are dead due to freezing. Guess I get to start over and kick some butt once this snow finally melts. Hopefully everything in the garden is safe but seeing as how it’s been sitting under a foot or more of snow for over a week, I kind of think not. As long as our garlic survives, I will be happy. I’m most concerned about our Orchard since the trees are still so young. That was over a $3,000 investment last year. But I’m going to be positive and say all will survive because being hopeful is good.

Organic kale, heirloom, heirloom kale, in my garden

I want to add another 100 kale or so in the garden (this is from last month’s frost). I could eat kale every single day so I will just plant a bunch (maybe not really a hundred, but a lot) and reseed every month or so along with peas and radishes. And spinach. You can never have too many greens or fresh veggies.

On another note, chickens. This one you see here, right above? Her name is Myrtle. She’s on my shit list. She’s a baby killer. She went broody just over a month ago and I gave her some eggs to sit on. I candled them after a week and all were viable but one. I candled them just over 2 weeks and I could see all of them moving, outlines of little feet and all kinds of cute and magical goodness. We were about to have 9 babies! Then, that night, she pushed the four brown eggs out from under her and pecked a hole in one of them. All four died. The very next night (which happened to be 20° f) she decided to leave the brooder and go to the nesting box for the whole night, leaving all of my second generation Olive Egger babies to die. I removed all the eggs and she continued to sit on fake eggs. I caved a couple of days later and gave her nine more eggs. She sat wonderfully for a week and then decided to move and sit elsewhere again. What the hell!? She is a defective chicken and I think she killed babies again. I candles last night and 1 looks alive, 4 look possible and the rest look dead. Long story short, she is either going to be rehomed or… soup. That would be a dozen dead chicks due to her malfunctioning brain. Not cool! I had 10 of the chicks pre-sold. UPDATE: unless she malfunctions again, there are at least two or possibly three chicks due to hatch on Thursday. In 2 days! That’s far less than nine but much better than zero.

Thankfully I caved and bought an incubator, starting nine more eggs the same day as Myrtle. I candled those last night also and 6 are 100% viable and the other three are too dark to tell but look good. Sometimes it’s really hard to candle dark brown or green eggs. These babies are 2 Golden Cuckoo Marans and Welsummer mix, a Black Copper Marans and Welsummer, 5 Olive Eggers and Welsummer or Barnevelder, a blue Easter Egger under Welsummer and a total mystery just for fun. Mom could be a Partridge Laced Cochin, Buff Orpington or something else entirely, and dad could be a Welsummer or Barnevelder or Swedish Flower Hen. Or Swedish Flower Cock as we call him. UPDATE: With the power outage, all babies died. It hurts my heart.

Speaking of roosters, remember my Swedish Flower Hen and Lavender Ameraucana that I was so excited we’re both girls? I lied. Mr. Jasper Florington (previously named Flora) is a boy. Lumin, the Lavender Ameraucana may be a boy now too. She has a boy tail and a super red comb for her age of Ameraucana but despite everyone telling me she’s a boy, I’m not fully sold. I only have one other blue egg-layer and twice now I’ve had two blue eggs in a day. I’ve never seen her anywhere near the nesting box though. And she did mount someone yesterday, but one of my Rhode Island Red girls used to do that too. She’s never crowed. I just got rid of a sweet, sweet rooster because I didn’t need three and now I may have three again. Soon to have probably 10 with the babies, haha. Two are sold, but the rest will become my chicken processing practice. We need another freezer.

Oh yeah, in addition to the 18 eggs in the incubator and under Myrtle, I have another Broody sitting on 7. That was not my plan but you know how things go sometimes. I have no clue what Olga the Black Copper Marans is sitting on other than some crazy mixes with Olive Egger, Easter Egger, Barnevelder, Welsummer and I think Rhode Island Red and Barred Rock mamas. Basically she hijacked those eggs from the nesting box one day and I just let her go with it. Barnyard mixes can be so fun! And like I said, I have 10 chickens pre-sold. 2 boys and 8 to 9 girls. I’ll keep a couple girls, sell the others, and eat or sell the roosters. I have 100% of the supplies necessary for chicken processing now so need to make that next step. UPDATE: somehow her 7 egg clutch turned to 17. She doesn’t get up much so I didn’t notice in time. I think this means we will start getting hatchlings from her on Monday and then a couple of day for about a week after that? I have no clue but… yeah. That’s a lot! I will candle them again tonight but there are at least two that I think are not viable.

Anyone else need some baby chicks or started pullets or cockerels? So far no one wants day old babies but I have no problem keeping them to 4 or 8 weeks and selling them for a bit more money. The above picture is my first batch of 28 I got last April, 17 of which were sold and 1 died at a couple of days old.

My next breeding endeavors are going to be much more controlled with Easter Eggers, second generation Olive Eggers, pure Welsummers and pure Swedish Flower Hens, with a few mixes thrown in because tinkering can be fun. I really want a Swedish Flower Hen and Buff Orpington cross and a Partridge Cochin and Welsummer Cross. I also thought about getting a few Lavender Orpington girls and crossing them with my Lavender Ameraucana for a pale blue egg laying lavender bird… if the feather color would breed true. I know Lavender Orpingtons breed true but beyond that, I know nothing. I need a couple more chicken coops! Material donations accepted, or I’ll trade for eggs and future babies. ♡ Update: probably not going to be able to build a second coop this year. But next year for sure! After the storm, the ducks moved in with the chickens and really seem to be enjoying themselves. As soon as I can get some materials together I’m going to build a little stall for them in there and clean out their old house to make it a chick nursery. With all the babies coming I should do it now but there are only eight million things on the list.

I’m going to do a full post on everything here in the coming days or weeks. All of the good, bad and ugly. The amount of trees that have fallen is absolutely devastating. It seriously looks like someone took a bulldozer through our property. But good things can be birthed of bad things sometimes. The second strip of snow beyond the trees in the above photo is the property across the creek. We’ve never been able to see it and they’ve never been able to see us. That is a tiny glimpse at how many trees we’ve lost.

Oh, and here is Jasper Florington:

snowmageddon. the apocalypse. chaos.

It’s kind of stupid to use the last little bit of phone juice to do a blog post but because we will likely be unreachable for days or potentially even weeks, I wanted to do a quick update.

We are under two feet of snow and counting. There is no power. There is no heat. There is no water. Very soon to be no phone. The roads are closed. Power and internet lines are down. Trees are falling left and right. Branches on the chicken coop, a huge oak fell on our cabin… all kinds of horrible crap. It’s not fun. It’s devastating, in fact. But we are sucking it up and getting shit done. We’re safe and alive, albeit cold, but that’s an easy fix next door.

We set up our camp stove on our neighbor’s covered porch. We are all feasting on hard boiled eggs. We are about to start a stew of Random beef parts that we could find in the freezer and we are putting it on the neighbors wood stove. It will be a dual Family Feast. Soon we will add carrots, onions, potatoes, garlic and a lot of goodness. They are sharing their heat and we are sharing our food. They have a lot of food to share too so no one will starve. We could last a month, the 5 of us. We will probably have to sleep in their cabin because our main house is 40 degrees.

It just started a blog post yesterday about the excitement of my first incubator hatch but the babies have died. No power means death. Absolutely heartbreaking.

If I can charge my phone on the neighbors generator, I will keep up little updates here. All of our roads are closed so we aren’t going anywhere. Cross your fingers things don’t get worse. Almost two feet of snow and no end in sight. It’s snowing like a mother clucker out there! The photo below is from last night and the snow never stopped.

Another scary thing is that there have been numerous massive trees of falling in the creek. It’s starting to overflow. It could flood our entire lower field and the neighbor’s back acreage.

goats. opinions accepted.

Sooo… goats may happen here. I’m not entirely sure about all of the particulars yet but we have a few potential scenarios and I would love some opinions. But only if you have goats, or have had goats. Blind opinions based on fantasy don’t count. I’ve got plenty enough of those on my own.

Toggemburg goat
Photo credit: CultureCheeseMag.com

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Long story short, I just traded $120 worth of chickens for a goat credit from a lady farmer friend of mine who has a sheep and goat farm down the street. Hers are primarily Toggenburg and Nigerian Dwarf crosses. Or Dwarf Toggenburg? Both being milk breeds, they should be awesome. The photo above is a Toggenburg. The photo below are Nigerian Dwarfs.

Nigerian Dwarf babies and mama
Photo credit: Weed ‘Em and Reap

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These are the potential scenarios we are looking at:

1. Getting a 1 year old boy and impending doeling from my aforementioned friend. She has two pregnant mamas due in the first couple of weeks of March. The good part is they would have a different parentage and we could breed them later. The bad part is they would need to be kept separated 24/7 because a pregnant teen goat can mean a dead teen goat. He could be put on a post moved around on the property to graze and laze and forage happily. We don’t have our entire 7 acres fenced. I’m not sure how I feel about keeping an animal tied up though. I mean I know a lot of people who do that and with really long leads but is that mean? Chime in with opinions here. But again, only if you’ve had goats. And for argument’s sake, he frequently jumps over 6 foot fences and goes off on little boy goat adventures, the boy she thinks we should have.

2. A second option would be to buy one of her doelings, presuming she ends up with at least a couple, and purchasing a pure Nigerian Dwarf doeling elsewhere at the same time. The beauty of us purchasing from my friend is that she literally lives less than three miles from us and we could pick anything up anytime so she could definitely work with us. We don’t even have a house built yet. I’m trying to see what I can do without putting yet another building project on Paul’s list since he already works at least 6 days a week. Maybe I will buy a shed. That’s another question mark. But I think I could build something with 8 foot peeler cores, four by fours, plywood and pallet wood that we mostly already have.

3. This is a potential fantasy scenario presented to me by farmer friend. She said it’s possible, depending upon this kidding season, that I could care for a mama goat and two babies. And by care for, I think that means she would want mama goat back and I would be totally cool with that. I just want goats.

So basically I don’t know what we’re doing but I want to figure it out. Goat milk would be awesome for feta and other goat cheeses, yogurt and butter, plus an emergency milk source for my coffee when the cartons of organic whole cow’s milk run dry. Or who knows? Maybe I will love goat milk coffee? It would be awesome not to have to buy milk. (Though this leads to the conversation about my deep desire for a miniature Scottish Highland cow as well, shhh.) Yeah, I really need to start working more and creating/selling art again! Animals aren’t cheap but oh my gosh, they make me so happy! And they feed us. ♡ Best of both worlds.

I actually did start one painting but I haven’t finished it yet. Flower Farmer. I worked on her some after this, but not much. 6×12 and soon for sale.

ducks, ducklings, and a waterfowl oasis

Last year we we so excited (and a tad nervous) to get our three ducks but they have been the most amazing and fun (absolutely hysterical) addition to our ever-growing farm and homestead. Our first three are a Saxony named Stella (below), a Black Swedish named Frida (above) and a Chocolate Runner.

None of these crazy quackers have laid a single egg yet, but we love them none the less. They’re just about to hit 7 months old. Tip: don’t buy ducklings in June because it will be too dark by the time they’re ready to start laying.

We (Paul) built them the most precious house with a shady veranda… and apparently I never got a completed/painted photo of it so I’ll work on that once the torrential rains die down for a minute.

This year we decided to add three more ducklings which quickly morphed into five. In about a month an a half, we’ll have a Cayuga, a White Layer (because I’ve wanted a “Jemima Puddleduck” since I was little), a Khaki Campbell and two Welsh Harlequins (a boy and a girl).

Their current house will become the chick and mama hen(s) nursery and the duckies’ new house is in the works — we just have to add a couple of laying boxes on the back, a little footer at the base of the front door opening so teeny littles don’t escape and a roost bar or two. It’ll be fantastic, and totally separate from the other “big chickens”.

Because there isn’t a huge amount of shade in their new homeland, we got a bunch of fast growing shade trees to plant around the area to create a duck (and potential future goose) waterfowl oasis.

I planned on digging a big pond for them and to serve as irrigation for garden watering but upon sharing my idea with the neighbor, I found out that due to the proximity of our property to the creek, we’re not allowed to create any permanent water feature. I looked it up and they were right! Good thing I found that out before rather than after. Instead, we are buying a huge stock tank and burying it, putting river rock around the edges. It’ll definitely beat their little kiddy pool but we’ll probably leave that for them as well.

They’ll still be allowed to free range with their chicken siblings, but these duckies will have such a lovely new home, especially as the trees start growing in. I’m still working on planting them.

Stay tuned for baby duckling photos in mid-February!

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I see I wrote and never posted a blog post again. And now it’s mid-February. And of course we just got a call from the breeder that our Welsh Harlequin ducklings are not available for our hatch date and our preferred types won’t be available in unison until June. What a bummer!

But in good news we have duck eggs!! They started laying Sunday before last, starting with a pretty green egg, presumably from Frida, and laying one single egg every single day since. It’s the weirdest thing. All the new ones have been white so it seems like maybe Frida started and now Brunhild and Stella are taking turns? Or she just wanted to practice with a green egg and is now laying white? I have no idea. But we get one duck egg a day and it’s pretty awesome. Paul prefers duck eggs to chicken eggs so I have deemed them all his but will sell a half-dozen here and there to anyone interested.