Ready to Ride

Spring has sprung which means it is time to start riding my horses again. Last year at this time Penelope was 2 months old so I didn’t really ride. I have a good support system but it was hard to go anywhere when my newborn infant refused to drink from a bottle. My horse is also not trustworthy enough to take a passenger with until he has been ridden all summer long.

Before I saddle up in the spring I work on groundwork:

brown and black leather horse saddle on white and gray animal

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  1. Stop/Go Signals
  2. Leading
  3. Grooming/Foot Work
  4.  Lunge Line Work

Jack is 24 years old now but he still needs a short review of the basics before we get started. If I were a good horsewoman I would ride all winter but I don’t like to be cold. This means feisty springtime horses for me.

Last fall we brought home a new horse, Melody, and I didn’t have a chance to ride her before it became cold. We worked on ground work with her before the weather turned but I didn’t get out for any rides.

This year is turning out to be a good horse year. So far I have been working with horses at least twice a week and each horse has had two little rides on them. While both rides were difficult because of recalcitrant horses I still had fun.

Horse lessons with my niece have also resumed for which I am grateful. She is 9 1/2 now and has grown more confident with groundwork but more skittish with getting on the horse. I have been having her work with Melody most of the time because Melody is half her horse. Our lessons always start with groundwork and I have a general outline of what we work on for the first few lessons.

  • Lesson 1: Grooming, foot work, gate safety, and leading. During this lesson I get the horse from the pasture while she learns how to open and close the gates safely. Then she learns how to groom her horse and pick-up and clean hooves. Lastly I have her lead the horse while I walk alongside her to give pointers. While they are walking around they work on stop/go commands, turning, and maintaining correct position next to the horse.
  • Lesson 2: Haltering, grooming, footwork, gate safety, and leading. This lesson is basically the same as lesson 1 with the exception of learning how to properly catch your horse. Melody is a little hard to catch and sometimes likes to run away so it is good practice for my niece.
  • Lesson 3: Haltering, grooming, footwork, gate safety, leading, lunging, and saddling.  We repeat the basic horse care skills from lesson 1 at each lesson. Lesson 3 adds lunging which is a simple way of both establishing dominance and exercising the horse. We also went over saddling Melody to fit her to the saddle we would be using on her.
  • Lesson 4: Haltering, grooming, footwork, gate safety, leading, lunging, saddling, bridling and riding. Most lessons are a review of previously taught skills with the addition of one or two others. During this lesson my niece completed most of the skills from lesson 1 on her own. After lunging Melody we saddled her and I took her for a ride in the hay field next to our property. When we got back my niece worked on mounting. She was nervous about this part but she did it. I led Melody while my niece “rode” her . As she gained confidence I let her ride while I walked next to her offering advice. Aurora Melody

The next lessons will include more riding skills as she grows in confidence and builds muscle. It is also her job to help clean the barn where the horses have been housed all winter. I’m hoping with a little work she will gain muscle tone which will help her when getting on and off the horse.

After my ride on Jack I let each of my kids, nieces, and nephews take a little turn on him. Jack is a temperamental Appaloosa who thinks he is still a stallion but he is GREAT with kids while Melody is skittish and has a proclivity to bolt. At our last horse lesson my nephew was a bit put out because he wanted to ride Melody but I wouldn’t let him. While he likes the horses and will occasionally brush them or take a little ride on Jack he hasn’t shown an interest in being involved with the lessons. He would rather play on the trampoline or on the hammocks which is perfectly fine but if he wants to go for an actual ride he needs to do the work. Riding is the fun part but there is a lot of work involved with horses before you get to that.

We’ll see what next week brings but I am looking forward to each lesson!

Tricky Kids

On our small hobby farm we only keep as many animals as we can take care of. That being said some of the animals are easier keepers than others. For example, we have two goats that we breed so we have milk and we sell the kids later in the summer when they are old enough to be weaned.

Goat kids are about the size of rabbits with long legs when they are first born. Over the years we have had kids die but with the exception of the kid that died last year it is always within the first two days of life. During these first two days they are very sensitive and require close monitoring.

Like newborn human babies it is important to:

  1. Keep goat kids warm.
  2. Make sure they latch on properly and are drinking milk.
  3. Be sure they pee and poop, at least the first time.

Nora is our oldest goat at 8 years old. Out of our two does she is the better mother. She cares for her kids so well that I never really have to worry about them at all. She keeps them warm, makes sure all of them are eating, checks on them if they are yelling, and enjoys her time with them.

Fauna is two years younger and a pain in my butt as far as kidding season goes. Some years are better than others but every year there is one kid that she just doesn’t care for as much. I usually have to bring one into the house for a few hours to warm it up and bottle feed it. She is the goat that needs constant monitoring for the first few days until she gets accustomed to her kids.

kimg0852This year she had triplets again! There is one black and white doe, a creamy buck, and a red doe. While they were all born healthy there were a few touchy days to keep them that way. She has larger teats that hang down pretty far so the babies were unable to find them for a first feeding. After about an hour or so they were still not having any luck and were screaming for milk so I bottle fed each of them a few ounces. New babies will rapidly weaken if they don’t get milk every few hours.

Two hours after that I checked on them again. They were still having trouble and making noise which was upsetting Nora, the other goat. She is our better mother and she wanted to check on Fauna’s babies to be sure they were okay. Fauna stood nicely while I maneuvered her babies to help them latch on. This worked while I was on my knees and elbows angling her teats in place but not if I moved. So I milked a little more into a bottle and fed all three babies again. The next time I checked on them two of the kids had it all figured out but the little red one had not. She was also by herself away from the heat lamp so I fed her again and moved her under the warmth.kimg0855

The next day she was weaker and more lethargic so Trenton and I took turns going out every hour or so to bottle feed her a few ounces and try to convince her to nurse from her mother. Unfortunately, the other two were hungry little buggers and Fauna was getting annoyed with her kids and didn’t want to stand still anymore. Thankfully, the little red one has regained her strength and has figured out how to nurse from Fauna so I don’t have to bottle feed anymore.

Soon Nora’s kids will be big enough that we can start milk sharing a bit to have a little fresh goat milk in the house. Fresh goat cheese on crackers sounds delicious right now!

kimg0860On a side note goat kids are little escape artists. Fauna’s kids are moving around enough now that they have figured out how to get out of their pen to say hello to Jack, our horse.

 

Almost Easter Kids

One of the reasons I love spring is because it is time for new babies on the farm. New fluffy chicks, noisy little piglets, and bouncy kids (the goat kind).

Nora is our Oberhasli/Alpine cross that we have had for 6 years but last year we did not breed her because we were about to have a new baby of our own and I decided I only wanted to milk one goat at a time with a newborn in the barn with me. It worked well for us and I wish I had only been milking one goat when Fiona and Lucian were newborns but I grew up on a dairy farm and cows are bred back every year. On a homestead I have more flexibility.  For example, while we were milking Fauna last year one of her kids mysteriously died at 4 weeks. This left her with too much milk for one kid so we experimented with milk sharing. It worked out so well we decided to sell her remaining kid in the fall rather than in the summer like we usually do.

This year we bred both goats and Nora is pretty consistent about kidding around Easter. This year was no different, she had her kids the Monday after Easter. Lucian and I noticed her acting funny in the pasture Monday afternoon so we watched her for a while to be sure she was in labor. She was standing in one spot without nibbling the grass, laying down, getting back up, pawing the ground and looking completely uncomfortable. If it is nice outside I will usually let them have their babies outside but Easter Sunday we had a bit of a spring blizzard so it was wet, cold, and windy. It took a bit of coaxing but we were able to get her into the barn.

kimg0811We made sure she had food and water then left her to settle in. I went out to do chores a little while later and she had one baby almost dry and standing in the stall with her. Trenton brought the kids out so they could see the new baby and we got  the heat lamp hooked up. Fiona was so excited to finally see a baby goat. 

In the 6 years I have had goats I have never had them kid only one baby so after the kids (the human ones) were in bed I checked on her again and sure enough there was another baby snuggled up with the first one. I made sure they both drank milk before going to bed and thought about the fun little surprise Fiona and Lucian would have in the morning.

“There are two of them!” Fiona yelled when she checked on them while we did chores. They are both boys and Lucian named them Collin and Jake. Penelope had her first experience with kids and baby giggles have filled the barn every morning and evening when we do chores. kimg0798

Easter Chicks

Happy Easter! To me the coming of Easter also signals the coming of spring. This spring has been a little off to say the least. Normal seasonal events have changed and evolved but we are adjusting. The kids still enjoyed coloring eggs and hunting for their Easter baskets exactly like they have in previous years. Rather than having a large family celebration and egg hunt we will be having a small egg hunt in our own yard this year.

kimg0768I usually hatch chicks with the 4th grade but this year due to our home-boundness (I may have made up that word) we are hatching chicks at home. It has been fun to share the incubation process with my children, and nieces and nephews. They have followed along with daily growth, listened to various chick stories, and made scientific hypothesis as to how many chicks would hatch.

We placed 37 eggs in the incubator on our first Science Saturday. Our second Saturday was held via Google Hangouts and we read a chick book and worked on a few pages from a Chick Hatching booklet I found online. For our third Science Saturday which was day 14 of chick development we candled the eggs to see if they were developing. We took 5 eggs out of the incubator that were not fertilized. The kids really enjoyed seeing the veins through the shells and the chick developing. Day 18 was not on a Saturday but it was the day the eggs needed to be taken out of the egg turner so we held that science lesson via Google Hangouts.

I was a little worried that the eggs might not hatch at all because my incubator is getting a little old and the temperature was fluctuating more than normal. The last two years I have had to turn it up so the interior temperature would remain at 99.5. It was acting the same way except for one day it got really hot inside. I noticed the thermometer was reading about 102 which is almost hot enough to cause chick death. It took awhile for it to level out again and I was worried we would not have any eggs hatch. I re-candled them on day 18 to see if they had developed any since I candled them before. I took 2 out that looked as if they stopped developing but I was hopeful because it looked like more development had taken place. My darling husband said it was because I had “hard boiled” them.kimg0767

On Friday which was day 20 of chick development we had a sleepover with a few of my nieces and nephews so they could watch the chicks hatch. One chick hatched before they we here and I was thrilled that I hadn’t cooked them. Everyone was super excited to watch the “miracle of life” as my sister said. Everyone was able to watch a chick hatch and to transfer a fluffy chick from the incubator into the brooder box.

Before they left Saturday afternoon 10 chicks had hatched. This morning we have 21 healthy chicks and one more that is struggling to hatch. Percentage wise this may be our best hatch-out yet. 21 chicks out of 30 viable eggs gives me a 70% success rate which I think is pretty good.

kimg0765We are helping the last one to hatch by peeling back it’s shell a bit at a time hoping it will pop out soon. Every once in a while we help a late hatcher come out of it’s shell but many times the chick is malformed or will die the next day. I hope it will be healthy so we can add it to the box with it’s siblings.

The kids had fun with this project and I was glad we were able to enjoy it as a family. Although I didn’t actually plan for the chicks to hatch on Easter it is nice to hear Easter chicks peeping in the house.

I hope everyone has a Happy Easter!

Into Spring

Spring is one of my favorite seasons. It is starting to get warm, the sun is shining more, and the grass is starting to grow again. I see spring as a promise of better things to come. A sunnier outlook if you will. Spring is also a busy time of year. There are additional repairs to be done, new babies being born, seeds to be planted, new animals joining the farm, and yard work to do.

kimg0749Repairs:

  1. The chicken coop needs to be fixed so the chickens will stop escaping. There are a few holes in the fence so the chickens free range. Last year in early spring we had a fox take about a dozen chickens before I was able to scare it off. This year I want the coop fixed so we don’t have hungry fox issues. I plan to let the chickens free range later in the summer for short periods of time but for now they are safer inside.
  2. We are going to change the design of our duck coop to try a pair of ducks. I know I said I didn’t want ducks again but I want to try only having two with a better set-up. The ducks were good at getting rid of potato bugs in the garden and their eggs were nice too.

kimg0714New Babies:

  1. It is almost kidding time! Our goats, Nora and Fauna, are looking pretty wide and are almost ready to have their babies. Having goat kids on the farm is fun and exciting but it also adds a few extra chores to the day. During a kid’s first day of life it is crucial to be sure they are warm and nursing properly. So we are monitoring the does for labor signs and getting ready for new kids. The pens are cleaned out, heat lamps are ready, and Franky has been moved out of the barn. Fiona has been checking for baby goats every morning and can’t wait for when they arrive. She will be soooooo excited!
  2. Chicks will be hatching soon! Due to the school closures I was unable to start our incubator at school with the 4th grade like I usually do but I was able to start it at home with my own children and their cousins. We have been holding Science Saturdays when we do chick related activities and discuss how they are developing. Our last Science Saturday was via Google Hangout but we’re making it work.

Planting Seeds:

  1. We decided to plant our own starter plants this year. We’ve planted our own starters in the past but most of the time we purchase our broccoli, tomatoes, and peppers from local greenhouses. The trend right now is panic buying so we thought we would prepare for that and just plant our own. It will save us money and hopefully they do well.
  2. We are also trying to grow an Avocado tree from a few pits we have saved. This was part of a Science Saturday project so I’m hoping between the 8 cousins we will be able to start one tree.

New Animals:kimg0751

  1. We picked up our spring piglets from my dad’s farm last week and they are settling in nicely. They are still little so they are inside the barn in the farrowing pen Trenton made when we had a bred sow. They will stay inside until we are able to put a load of sand into the pig pen behind the barn. The pen is still a bit mucky from last year’s pigs and it needs to be cleaned out and filled in before we put the new pigs outside. Our niece decided they should be named Despereaux and Wilbur.
  2. Ducklings have been ordered and will be here by May 15th. I am looking forward to having ducks again with our new coop idea for them. I think having fewer ducks in a different area will be better than what we had before.

Yard Work:

  1. Dog poop, enough said. Cleaning the yard from the winter mess is a process.

There are also a few new challenges that were unexpected but we are rolling with them. Predicting to stay at home for the next month wasn’t in my plans but now that it is we’re getting a little inventive as far as work, school, and farm life goes. For example, I will be making video’s for the Kindergarten class I am still teaching as a long-term sub. I will be making calendar time videos three days a week as well as sharing my family’s Science Saturday projects. I made my first video for them last night and even though I had to do it twice and lock everyone else in the basement I think it went well.

I will also be making short “Story Time on the Farm” videos for Northwind Book and Fiber which is the local bookstore I work at. Today I made a clip of me reading in the pasture with Nora and Fauna and next week I think I will make one with the new pigs.

 

 

Cooking Sap

I am glad we live on a small hobby farm in the country because although I have to stay home I am still able to go outside and enjoy spring. Trenton is considered an essential employee and is still able to go to work which is a great relief for our family. I am currently working from home gathering resources for my Kindergarten class while I am still long-term subbing for the regular kindergarten teacher who is out on maternity leave. I have also been planning lessons for Lucian who is now kimg0674being home schooled. I am also supporting my sisters as they work to home school their children as well. A small upside to this is that it is finally getting nice enough that we can be out with Penelope for longer stretches.

It’s sugar season! The kids love hiking through the woods to check taps. Especially since their dad will sometimes literally throw them across the creek into the snow bank on the other side. Even Penelope goes in her sled or stroller to check taps.

The sap has really been flowing since it has warmed up a little more and we have cooked down our fist batch for syrup.

Cooking Process

  1. Start Outsidekimg0697

We start cooking our sap on a homemade outdoor sap boiler. It is basically a small wood stove with a stainless steel tub fitted over the top. The tub can hold about 25 gallons of sap but for our first batch we only had 15 ready to cook. It is best to cook your sap within a week of collecting it and needs to be kept cool while it waits. We keep the fire going in the fire box for most of the day until the sap has cooked down enough to bring in the house.

2. Finish Insidekimg0698

Once the sap has cooked enough outside to fit into my stock pot we bring it inside to finish. During this last stage of cooking the sap needs to be watched closely to be sure it does not cook down too much. If the syrup is cooked too long it will crystalize and turn into sugar. It still tastes good but we want syrup. The sap must be kept at a continuous rolling boil without boiling over until it is the right consistency.

3. Checking the Syrupkimg0699

This year we invested in a hydrometer which is a tool that measures the density of a liquid. In previous years we have always boiled the syrup until we felt it “thicken” when stirred. Using a hydrometer takes the guesswork out of cooking sap down. This year all our batches of syrup are consistent rather than runny or crystalized.

Pulling Taps

We could have made more syrup but after three batches we decided to be done for the year. Making syrup is not particularly hard but it is a time consuming process that we like to do but we are also glad to be done.

For our sugar season we boiled 60 gallons of syrup for a grand total of about 1 and a half gallons of finished syrup. Hopefully it will last us until next spring but it depends on how much syrup the kids need on their pancakes!

 

Getting Ready to Tap the Maples

It is finally starting to warm up a little. The sun is shinning, the days are mostly warm, and the nights are cold. The warm days and cold nights mean the sap in the maple trees will start to run. It is time to tap the maple trees and collect the sap to make syrup.

There are however, a few items that need to be prepped.

  1. Milk jugs need to be washed and collected.

A few years ago we decided to use milk jugs instead of buckets to collect sap. We cut a small X into the side of the jug and push the tap into it. We drink a lot of milk so we reuse our jugs and turn them into inexpensive sap collectors. Using the enclosed jug also works well to keep various bugs and moths

 

kimg0673out of the sap.

2. Five gallon buckets with lids need to be collected and washed.

Once the gallon milk jugs are full we dump them into clean 5 gallon buckets that Trenton has brought home from work. These buckets originally were filled with barbecue sauce so they need to be washed very well and aired out a bit so the sap doesn’t take on a bit of BBQ flavor. The buckets also need to have lids to keep us from spilling sap out of the buckets when we carry them.

3. Sap boiler needs to be cleaned out.

For some unknown reason my children, my nieces, and my nephews decided to fill the wood box of the sap boiler with various bricks, rocks, garbage, sticks, and twine. Why? No idea, but the result is that it needs to be cleaned out before we can start a fire to heat the sap.

4. The sap tub needs to be washed.

The metal tub that sits over the fire box of the sap boiler needs to be washed out before we can use it. It has been upside down all winter and has acquired a fair amount of dust. Moving the tub is a two person job because of how big and heavy it is. Which means washing it is also a two person job.

The weather is perfect for starting to collect sap from the maple trees. I’m hoping that my next post will be about the successful maple syrup harvest.

kimg0676

Change of Pace

Tragic events in one person’s life affect many others in different ways. The unexpected passing of a much loved teacher left Northwood School District of Minong sad and shaken. They really pulled together to comfort their students and staff. There was also a scramble to find long term subs for his class and for one of the Kindergarten teachers meant to go on maternity leave this last week. The school district decided the long-term sub lined up for Kindergarten would be a better fit for the 5th grade class who had lost their teacher so suddenly. She had helped with that class several times over the

person reading a book

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year and is more familiar with their routines.

I was called on Sunday with a temporary job opportunity that I couldn’t pass up.  For the next ten weeks my family is going to have a drastic change of routine because I am going to be a full time Kindergarten teacher while the regular teacher is out on maternity leave. Do I have much experience teaching Kindergarten? Not really, but I will soon!

kimg0646This will be a bigger change for the girls than it will be for Lucian because he spends most of his weekdays in school while the girls are home with me. The girls will be spending half of their week with their great Aunt Candy and the other half with their Daddy. Lucian will be riding the bus every morning rather than me bringing him to school and Grandma “da” will be picking him up half the week as I will not be home in time to get him off the bus.

In order to get to work by 7:45 (ugh) I’ll need to do prep-work every night.

In the barn:

  • Unravel enough hay from the round bale for the horses so I can just pitch it too them in the dark of the morning.
  • Put hay out in the winter pasture for the goats.
  • Fill chicken bucket with feed.

For kids:

  • Pack diaper bag with diapers, wipes, snacks, extra clothes, sippy cup, and baby food.
  • Pull outfits for Lucian, Fiona, and Penelope.
  • Find snow pants, boots, hats, and mittens for the morning.

For me:

  • Pack my bag.
  • Set coffee pot.
  • Pack lunch.

It is going to be completely different and a lot of work but I am looking forward to it. I am also glad my boss at the bookstore is awesome and is understanding of my need to take a 10 week hiatus from work. As long as I am back in time for her to go to Ireland at the end of April she will be able to fill in the schedule. Thank goodness it is the slow time of year at the bookstore or this wouldn’t work out.

 

Horse Classes

I love taking Continuing Education classes of all kinds and I don’t think I’ll ever be too old for school. These classes have come in many different forms from college seminars, to night classes, to online classes.

A little list of classes I’ve taken since I graduated from college in 2010:

  1. Cake Decorating

    people notes meeting team

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  2. How to Make Goat Milk Soap
  3. How to Knit Cables
  4. NW Graziers Conference
  5. Coffee and Canvas Painting
  6. Zumba
  7. Creative Journaling
  8. Conflict Resolution
  9. Minority Relations Workshop
  10. Tree Medicine
  11. Grammar Refresher
  12. Making Medicine From Backyard Plants
  13. Guided Reading: Strategies for the Differentiated Classroom
  14. Response to Intervention: Strategies that Work
  15. WI Responsible Beverage Server Training
  16. Introduction to Internet Writing Markets
  17. Knit Spinner’s Mitts with a Latvian Braid

A majority of the classes are education related with a smattering of randomness in the mix. I know the list is not complete as it is missing various webinars and other in-school professional development events. Looking back on this list I feel I need a cooking class or two to round it out.

Horses have been on my mind lately so I decided to look around the internet for any interesting classes that pop up. I found an online course called HALTER (Horse Adult Leader Training and Educational Resource) Level One. This class is to help understand horse behavior, develop safe horse handling practices, and to use the horse as a learning tool to foster positive youth development. It sounded perfect to help improve my skills of teaching with horses so I signed up for it. I am still on the first section which is devoted to horse behavior but it has been a great review so far.

Three years ago I supervised a group of students who were involved in an Equine Therapy Program. It was definitely my favorite time of the day. I was able to help teach students about horses and watch them become both physically and mentally stronger. I think about that experience often because while it had it’s challenges it was amazing. I am taking this new online course because it is similar to the program I was assisting with before and I would like to become skilled at using the horse as a learning tool.

kimg0402For the last two summers I have been giving my niece, Aurora, horse lessons because she is interested in riding and loves horses. This last August we acquired another horse, Melody, a Halflinger pony who supposedly knows how to ride and drive. I didn’t have a chance to try her out last summer as Penelope was a brand new baby and my time away from her was very limited. This summer is going to be a completely different story. The goal for this year is to help Aurora be confident enough to ride on her own so we can take both horses out on a little  trail ride.

The beginning of April will mark the start of my time to work the horses in. Starting in April will give me roughly two months to remind both horses and myself of how to behave properly. I’m going to develop an actual written program and scheduled days this year so I make time to spend in the saddle. I’m looking forward to it!

 

 

 

Maintaining Over the Winter

The days are getting longer as we enter the hard winter months. I consider January and February as the two months of hard winter. November and December are the months that start winter and March and April are the months that start spring but January and February belong only to winter.

During the hard winter months there is not a lot progressing on the farm, we mostly huddle down and wait. We wait for the weather to warm up, we wait for the days to lengthen, and we work at maintaining our health and the health of the animals.

Hay for Horses

This year was not a good year for haymaking which means hay is in short supply. We bought most of the hay we needed in July before it became really wet and obvious that it would be a bad hay year. I say most because we have an extra horse this year that we hadn’t had before. I calculated how much hay we would need but I forgot that when given free rein on hay horses are really pretty pigs. I figured a 1,000 pound round bale would last two horses about two and a half weeks when apparently they can eat a round bale in a week and a half. This harsh reality burned about a month off my hay supply.

I am feeding small squares now and rationing how much hay they get. They are no longer fat like they were when I let them free range on the round bales but now they are maintaining their proper weight. They are also pissy about their new diet it but last year I bought 50 pound small squares for $3 while right now the price is $7 -$10 for a 50 pound bale. Needless to say they are sticking to their regimented diet for the remainder of the winter.

Goats

There is nothing new with maintaining the goats over the winter. Mainly we bring them in at night, give them hay, break open their water, and make sure they have a good salt and mineral block. The block is important for the does to keep them healthy while they, hopefully, develop healthy babies. Goats need copper and selenium in their diets to stay healthy. We discovered this a few years ago when one of our goat kids was born with a little lump on his throat. It didn’t bother him in anyway but it was a deformity that we wondered about until Trenton’s uncle Kenny told him our goats needed a better mineral block. He had raised goats a few years before and had the same problem until he provided goat specific minerals and then poof no more lumpy babies.

The girls huddle together in the barn at night and Franky, our buck, has also been enjoying time in the barn. The good part about Franky in the barn at night is that he gets handled more when we bring him in and put him outside in the morning. The bad part is that he is not always docile. Right now his behavior is mostly playful but there are times when I can see him think about being more aggressive. He is on my watch list for aggressive behaviors. We have a strict no aggressive males on the farm policy but I would like to get one more breeding season from him at least.

Chickens

I think the chickens dislike the winter the most. They are unhappy about the snow, cold, and darkness of winter. Of my 17ish flock I am getting 1-2 eggs a day. That is enough to keep us mostly in eggs but not enough to sell to anyone. We were able to clean the coop with a mid December thaw and the fresh straw to pick through kept them happy for a few days but now they are back in their winter slump. I’m hoping with the longer days they will start laying soon. We are also trying to decide if we want to incubate chicks at home this year or buy a few chicks to freshen the flock.

Kids (The human kind)kimg0581

Lucian, Fiona, Penelope and I unloaded a trailer full of firewood on Sunday while it was above freezing. It was nice to have all the kids out working without them crying they were cold within 10 minutes. Penny sat in her sled and watched us work while I hauled the wood and Lucian and Fiona slid it closer to the end of the trailer so I could reach it. Lucian and Fiona have been enjoying going sledding down one of the giant snow banks created when we plowed the driveway. They sled each day when Lucian gets done with school and come in rosy cheeked and wet from rolling in the snow.

Other Projects

kimg0619

Cable Hat for my dad!

I have been hastily knitting birthday presents for a while  but I think I am done now and can work on more leisurely projects. I’m looking forward to warmer weather. Before long it will be sugar season and we will start tapping the maple trees. The kids love hiking out to collect sap and I do too. Penny is old enough now to go out in the sled so I hope we do better on sap this year. Last year we didn’t tap as many trees as we usually do so we ran out of syrup a long time ago.