Whew! What a weekend! I’ll try and post about it in a bit, but it involved heavy equipment, money, electricians and well, a lost weekend of work for certain… but we’re back on track again and all that down time without power for the weekend, gave me a lot of time to think and plan about our coming growth season for the homestead.
I’m beginning to understand that on a farm, even a little one, there are two main seasons, really. Growth and Dormancy. Growth starts from early spring until late fall. And then there is Dormancy… otherwise known as deep winter. It’s when you just hang on where you are, and try to make it to the next growth season!
This year I really wanted to take on a few new projects, namely, really stepping up the garden, finalizing all our fencing issues, a bee hive, a milking goat and building a lot of whimsy into our home. And we do intend to work on all those goals, it’s just that I think I’ve come to a few scaling down issues on the reality of making it all work.
Gardening and fencing are top priorities for certain. We have just one more pasture to finish fencing and as soon as the weather warms up and we can get posts into the ground, we have the funds to finish that up. And we plan to move a few other fences and make things a little more streamlined and such in the plans. Mostly day projects without much or any cost.
Gardening is going to be fun and productive as well and the cost will be very low since we have most of the supplies already. Lots of new raised beds, almost all our seed stock is ready, (just need potatoes, onion sets, strawberries and a few special heirloom seeds from Baker’s Creek!!!) and we have LOTS of compost and manure for the beds!!! Fun stuff!
And the whimsy part… well, that will be a fun thing through the whole growth season… with Maggie and her sign and woodworking, we hope to add a few fun touches throughout the place, using our hillbilly engineering, yard sale prowess and crafty touches! That will be a fun, ongoing effort.
So that leaves me with two other ventures… our milk goat and the bees!
Well, let’s tackle the bees first. I really want a hive. I just do. I love the idea of it and I’ve read about it and think it would be an awesome addition to our homestead. It would help our gardens, provide us with a sweet nectar and wax for our crafts… as well as just be fascinating and help our Mother Earth. All good things! However… here’s the thing. To get started, I am figuring it’s going to cost about $300, realistically. The bees alone are nearly $100. Add a hive, even if we made it ourselves, there is wood costs and some materials… and then you need at LEAST some basic equipment to handle your bees… a good hat, a hive tool, a smoker… and all… We have only just begun to really cook and work with honey here. So our annual honey consumption is probably less than a quart! Of course, we’d like to improve on that considerably. Still, it will take us a while to ramp up to a gallon or two a year I imagine.
So I think for this year, the bees are on hold. My plan is to get all my garden expansion and flower garden creation done this year so that my bees of 2014 will have plenty of ready fodder to feed upon. I plan to contact a local beekeeper, purchase a gallon of good local honey and start USING the stuff a lot! See if we can reduce our dependance on white sugar. I know it’s much better for me and my diabetes to get off the white stuff. And it’s good for the girls are well. And we will get the plans for building our own top bar hive and work on it next winter. A nice project for Maggie and I.
I think too, that the bees would be arriving and setting up right when we have lambs and the garden and clean up and fencing going on! That’s a bit much!! Next year will be perfect! More time to learn and visit with other local beekeepers to learn the craft!
And if you’ve been following this blog for any time, you know that one of my dreams is to have a milk animal… I’d love a jersy cow but I’m just afraid of all the milk! Hahaha… even at 3 or 4 gallons a day, that is a whole lot of milk and I think I’d end up like Lucy on that candy factory conveyor line with buckets and bottles and cans of milk all over the place! Waaaa!!!! But I am really getting into making cheese and butter and baking with milk and all that. And I love the idea of self sufficiency, even on a smaller scale.
So I’ve been doing my research and I have determined that I would like to get a nubian goat doe. The nubians milk is the closest in taste to cow milk due to it’s high butterfat content. You can even make butter from it, so I’ve read. And it makes a lovely cheese as well. And they are sweet tempered, smallish goats that don’t flood you with tons of milk. A good doe might do as much as a gallon a day, but more likely 2 or 3 quarts. That is so much more manageable for us.
Problem is, no one want to part with a good doe in milk around here! At least not for a reasonable price! So I have decided that it would be better to just get a little doeling, and raise her to breed perhaps next fall and start slowly. If we do it this way, she will bond with us and we can ease into the whole situation. And we’ll have a cute kid or two once she freshens that can help us with excess milk! She will be happy with our two angora goats so she will be part of the family. And I found a farm family that is not too far away that has a big load of sweet babies for super reasonable prices…
In the meanwhile, we are going to start ramping up our cheese and milk usage to see if we’re really ready for our own little milk producer next year. I’m looking into a herd share with a family that has a Jersey herd and even though it’s a little pricey… ($6 to $7 a gallon at a time…) it’s still a heck of a lot cheaper than a whole cow and I can always stop if I find that it’s just too much milk for us.
I guess it’s going to be a year of milk and honey for us! Add in a big garden bounty, lambs in the spring and more crafts and fiber arts and it’s going to be a wonderful place here on the homestead!
How are your plans for the season of Growth coming along???