Homestead News, Volume 19

 It seems a number of things around here are aging, animals, people and such. Pearl, our Great Pyrenees, is now 10 years old and is showing some wear and tear. She is slower to get around and takes an arthritis medication regularly. Recently she started making this huffing sound, not really coughing, just a quick breath out, everyday. We took her to the vet, did x-rays and found out she has an enlarged heart, which isn’t unusual for a dog her age and size. She weighs about 120 pounds. Now she takes Lasix.  

One Stripe

One Stripe, our old lady goat, no longer gets to have kids. Two years ago she had her last, Two Tone. We had to take One Stripe to the vet to have the kid pulled because of a bony protrusion that had grown down into the birth canal. Without that assistance, they both would have died, I just couldn’t get the kid out. We really thought the kid was dead, but she wasn’t. The challenge then was to keep them both alive since neither could walk for about a week. One Stripe because of the trauma of birth, and because when we were loading her in the trailer to go to the vet, I pulled her leg out sideways trying to lift her hind quarters. Two Tone had front leg trauma from the long birth process where first I, then the vet, tried to pull her. We splinted her front legs for about two weeks before the ligaments were strong enough to hold her upright. It was a long haul to recovery, but they both finally made it.

Two Tone

This year Two Tone had her first kids. I have only been milking her for about three weeks, but it appears she will be a good milker.

There are a bunch of turnips still in the garden. Last fall we picked and canned a batch, then picked, cooked and froze about eight quarts. Now we plan to till them in and plant some more. We are going to try a perpetual turnip bed. We don’t eat the turnips, by the way, only the greens. I have found a type of turnip seed that doesn’t make a turnip bulb, just mostly greens, that I will try this year. The vast majority of my seeds come from R.H. Shumway’s. The turnips I grew in the greenhouse last winter did well enough for us to pick and cook a batch every week or so. Then, when I planted them out in the garden in the spring instead of taking off and giving us a head start on greens, they surprised me, and went to seed. I saved the seed, but let them cook in the greenhouse too long while they were drying, killing off most of the viability. Now, our experiment will be to establish a turnip patch, let them go to seed the following spring since they are biennials, and see if they will reseed themselves. That is the theory anyway, we’ll see how it works out in practice. 

We’ve been working on getting the barnyard to the garden when we can get into the corral through the mud. This past late summer and fall were exceptionally wet, and the trend has not changed. We are tired of the mud and would like a little more sunshine.

After Frank’s bypass he was anemic for about nine months. We tried iron pills, which he could not tolerate, we ate lots of liver and spinach. During my research at that time I found out turnip greens are much more nutritious than spinach and are higher in iron. We were surprised, and since turnips grow much more prolifically here than spinach, which just doesn’t tolerate our hot summer weather, we are now even more determined to have turnip greens on the shelf and in the ground. 


I’ve started the Pot Maker routine and have planted some carrots in the greenhouse. Next will be beets. I’ll wait until later in the month to start tomato, pepper and squash seedlings. The new garden map is planned and awaiting warmer weather to put into action. 

We have started the cheese making season with mozzarella, which we had run out of in the freezer. We still have chevre and cheddar from last year, so mozzarella was first on the list.

From mozzarella comes pizza, of course. The difference now is using sourdough for the crust instead of the previous white flour recipe we used before.

Right now I’m milking five does and we have way too many babies running around. I’ll do a goat tail story before long and get you up to speed on all of them.

So, how do you like our new Frank & Fern logo? It was Frank’s idea.

Life on the farm is good. Very good. We wouldn’t live any other way. We need your comments positive and negative, we need your ideas. We are all in this together. We need to share. How are things in your neck of the woods?

Until next time – Fern

25 thoughts on “Homestead News, Volume 19

  1. Looks like you'll be busy with babies and milk! Good for you, Grammy. Keep us updated on how things are going. Good thing you have good neighbors.Look forward to hearing more, Fern

  2. Our Saanen doe, a first time momma, had one doeling yesterday. My daughter-in-law (and neighbor) called me today and said one of the Alpines was kidding. She had FOUR, two doelings and two bucklings! We sent one of the doelings with DIL's sister. She's the one who had the buck we used, and she lost one of her does and kids during kidding last month.

  3. Hi Grammy. Enjoy your kids and all the milk! We sure do.The articles for making chevre and mozzarella are list in the page 'The Things You Can Do With Milk' that is in the list at the top right hand corner of the under the header picture, under 'Things To Read'.The chevre article is called 'Chevre Cheese' and the mozzarella article is 'Making Mozzarella Cheese'. There are a few differences in how I do things now compared to then.We make the chevre the same, but I have tried a number of different seasoning combinations. Now I usually add about a teaspoon of sea salt, some pepper, basil, oregano and parsley. That has turned into our favorite.The mozzarella is the same except now when I stretch it, I use water instead of the whey. I've done it that way for quite a while and don't remember why I changed. I think it had something to do with how long it will keep. When you stretch it in water, it 'washes' some of the whey out. I find the whey is the first part that will start to go bad before the actual cheese curd portion. I also don't use the cheese mold anymore. I just break up each batch into three pieces and put it in the brine for an hour. The length of time in the brine is a personal preference on the flavor.I hope someone shares some lotion/soap ideas with you. I don't have any experience there.Both of the articles were written in 2013, so I may have changed other things since then. I have some chevre in a pot on the cabinet that I will hang tonight. I hope you enjoy your cheese making adventure. It never ceases to amaze me that I actually make our cheese. Frank gets to hear me say that regularly. It's a great life!Fern

  4. Fern, My three does are due to kid this month. They produce a lot more milk than the two of us use. Will you share your mozzarella and chèvre recipes? Also, do you or any of your readers have recipes for soap and lotion using goats milk? I prefer recipes using ingredients that I can buy at the grocery store instead of buying soap making supplies. Frankly, I love the Frank and Fern photo. 🙂

  5. Perfect new header!My how time flies, I remember you posting about Pearl and fire ants biting her. And One Strip kind of ruined me for goats….we have never found goats we liked as much as her. She deserves her pension!We don't have a dog. The highway is too close (The flaw in this property). We use turnips a lot here, we like the greens and the roots. We have been using them to break.up the clay. We plant them as a fall crop. Use them as long as we can and then rotary plow them under. The roots break up the soil alot. We also use Daikon Radish to do more soil loosening. They get huge and go down really deep. This year we are focusing on our cane fruit and getting the raspberries in better shape. Last year the weeds got ahead of us in a rainy spell and we couldn't get to them. Asparagus is old enough to yield this year. Some of our goals this cycle are…Learning to use our pasture efficiently, this will be the first full grazing season with the larger critters.Getting our hay cut baled and in the loft. Two cuttings. Last year we just got one and ran out.Its always work but so rewarding.God Bless uou both.

  6. Robin, I'm glad your radishes work, it never works here. I have planted radishes in every squash hill for years to no avail.We don't eat the turnip bulbs at all, we just don't like them. Turnip greens taste different than cooked spinach greens. The younger they are, just like any green, the more tender and less strong flavored. We much prefer turnip greens to spinach, and the bonus is they are more nutritious.Keep dreaming about your goats. Dreams do really come true sometimes. Like our greenhouse. We waited 30 years, but finally have one. It still amazes me every time I look out there, so hang in there.Good to hear from you. Take care, Fern

  7. Hi, CW. Excellent reminders about things that can't be replaced.I knew a lady once, her house caught on fire and unfortunately, it burnt to the ground. She had a husband and two kids, husband's at work, both kids are in high school. When she ran from the house, she grabbed some photo albums and her wedding dress. I always thought that was so odd. But I guess everything else could have been replaced. The photo albums I could see grabbing, but I guess that wedding dress meant a lot to her.That's very good advice. Maybe Fern and I will look at things a little different. What can and what can't be replaced. I hope others read your comment.Frank

  8. Good Evening, Spinnersaw.So sorry to hear about your fire, that has to be a horrible feeling. From that you can recover. The valve replacement? I'm glad it was successful. As much as I gripe about the medical industry, I'm amazed at some of the things they can do. And, I am thankful.A foot of snow causes me to cringe. I swore when I left Alaska I would never shovel snow again. But it will give you a nice deep watering for your soil.Keep us up to date about the treadle machine. Ours is advertised as one, but we've never used it for that purpose. I'm curious to see how it works.Stay warm, Frank

  9. Love the logo and am so happy you’re back to blogging. I have space cleared for goats, but no time as yet. I still work full time, so I keep it at gardening and chickens, with canning and dehydrating for preservation. I was interested in the turnip greens as my family dislikes spinach (I love it). The only way I really like turnips bulbs is as Sauerruben. Great tip I tried last year with squash was to plant radish seed with the vine seeds. It repels vine borers. Worked with all my vines, including melons!Robin

  10. I really enjoyed your tour and update about your animals and homesteàd! It is a lot of work, but so worth it. I have really enjoyed/learned much from your blog, and I am grateful for your return.We have more freezing rain, snow, and high winds on the way so gardening is a ways off yet. Therefore I needed to find an indoor activity to keep me busy. Each week, I try to focus my efforts on a prepping project which needs attending to for my family. This week I gathered important documents for each family member, organized them in a binder, and secured it in our safe. After watching the storm ravaged areas in the South and the people searching for the bits and pieces of their lives, I felt the need to put things in a more secure location. It is surprising how things can be floating around the house…in baby books, scrapbooks, desk drawers, etcetera. In the event that we would need to leave our home quickly, we should be able to grab the binder and go. Just one more way to prepare for the unexpected things that can happen. Take care, CWP.S. The new logo is terrific!

  11. HiIt is snowing here today and we have at least a foot of snow on the ground still. Not unheard of in our part of Washington, but unusual. I miss goats! After a house fire we gave the critters away because we were displaced for most of a year. Since we have been back home hubby retired and had an aortic valve replacement and we move slower than we used to. We replaced the chickens and are gardening but have not gotten around to the other critters yet. I am enjoying your humor again and still find you inspiring. One of the inspirations is we recently purchased a Janome treadle sewing machine. Hubby still needs to do a few adjustments to get it into the old cabinet we bought but I am looking forward to using it. Looking forward to more posts.

  12. Hi, Steve. No, turnip greens do not taste like spinach. In my experience, you need to cook turnip greens. We eat our spinach raw, like lettuce. I prefer turnip greens over spinach. Go down to the store and get a package of frozen or a can of turnip greens. Some come with little diced turnips included, but I just don't care for turnips, period. If you like the turnip greens, canned or frozen, give it a try, they are very nutritious.Yes, age and open heart surgery do have a tendency to slow people down. I speak from experience. But that's okay. I get as much done now as I did before.On a different note here. Today I was looking out one of my windows and there was a skunk walking across my garden. First time I've ever seen that happen. And it will be the last time that skunk ever walks across my garden, I sent him to skunk heaven with bird shot. Hopefully the scent will go away in a few days. That's the first time I've ever seen a skunk walking across my garden. Well, it's not a garden right now.Take care, Steve. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.Frank

  13. Nina, I know little to nothing about ground cherries, probably closer to nothing. Maybe somebody else here can share their experience with ground cherries.We have never been successful with any type of tree fruit. We tried strawberries last year and we'll see how they do this year. About every third year we get a great wild blackberry crop. That is about it for us in the fruit line.We try a new variety of something about every year, heirloom type plant. Some years we'll plant something and it will grow great. Next year, terrible. We change locations, but as I've told people for many years, even the most seasoned gardeners have bad crops. We always keep one year seeds as a back up, just in case things don't go well. And we keep a lot of our own seeds, too. We don't eat corn and potatoes, but we still grow a small patch of them every year. I hope your garden does well this year.In reference to old things. I'm an old thing. Fern's not, of course, but I am.Thank you, Frank

  14. Hello, SJ. You're right about the gardening, it changes from year to year. In reference to turnips and greens. I have not found a turnip that I have ever liked, a lot of people do like them though. You are aware when you peel a turnip the external layer is extremely bitter. If you look very closely you will see a thin, dark line between the skin and the bulb. Make sure you peel down past that dark layer. We have tried this with young, tender turnips and I still don't like them, but they do taste better. I wish we could eat turnips raw on salads, but they just don't work out.My dog, Pearl. I know this will open a debate, but she is the world's greatest dog. She is getting old. She has arthritis problems, heart problems, it's just a matter of time. I guess that's the same for all of us, too. It's just a matter of time.Enjoy your wheat, it's actually quite versatile. It makes pretty good flour, too. SJ, thank you for your comment and thank you for reading. Take care, Frank in Oklahoma

  15. Hi, HH. Sorry about your garden woes. Every now and then we have a really great garden, most years we don't. Last year few people in our whole area had good tomatoes. Our squash, winter and summer varieties, terrible. Some years it works, some years it doesn't. Hang in there, keep trying. I'm not real sure that raised beds are your answer. The bigger the garden, the more weeds you're going to have. If you bring in mulch, there is a chance you will be bringing in different types of parasites and weed seeds. Chicken manure is very good fertilizer. It's higher in nitrogen than goat or cow. I would put it in early and turn it under. New gardens can be a real burden and a lot of work. Keep us updated.FrankP.S. Today Fern and I cleaned out our barn and put all the manure on the garden. It's a little wet. I only got stuck twice and had to pull myself out. So, it was not what you call a great day, but in a couple of days I will turn it under, let it sit, clean my little chicken house, spread the manure thinly, and then turn it in. Then it will be time to plant. We'll let you know how it goes.Frank, again

  16. I'd like to join the train of thanks for writing again. It's a pleasure to read another's thoughts on animals, gardening and such. We do find that what once was easy may no longer be. Heart surgery and age slowed me down. We here in central California can grow year round and that is tiring also. But as you said, we couldn't think of any other way to live.I'm curious about the taste of your turnip greens. We grow spinich and other greens in the winter because the summers are too hot. Does the turnip greens taste similar to spinich?

  17. We have 3 horses and it has been so terribly wet here we're not sure our field will come back without a whole lot of work being done to it. Right now it's still freezing so we'll have to wait and see just how much ground will have to be dragged and reseeded as it gets warmer. EVERYTHING here is getting old. You name it – we've had to replace it. Since everything was bought about the same time it can sometimes be a little overwhelming and expensive too. My hubby has gotten very handy at fixing things! I've planted our vegetable garden seeds and they are already popping through. That makes me so happy and am looking forward to transplanting them to the vegetable garden. I like turnips but hubby doesn't. We try to grow what we will eat so I keep the seed around for \”if the time ever comes we HAVE to plant and eat them or grow them for the animals\”, but for now I'm turnipless! LOL! I always try one new fruit or veggie each year and since I've never grown ground cherries we're giving them a try this year. Are they really any good? I thought perhaps you might know.

  18. Love the new header – I chuckled, thanks.I read all the posts but don't comment every time. Like your last post, I enjoyed seeing all the photos but didn't comment.I picked up my 50# of wheat and then wrestled it into two buckets with gamma lids. One bucket would have worked but then be too heavy for me. I just read a recipe about making wheat blender pancakes which sounds like fun. Essentially – whirl the berries and milk until smooth then add some baking powder and sugar/honey. Sounds easy enough.I've been enjoying 'your' oatmeal with keiffer every day for the last week. I've been alternating savory with salsa and sweet with cinnamon and maple syrup. Thanks again for that recipe.4Fun to see your dog and the goats. My golden will be 10 in June, Lord willing. He too has health issues and gave me quite a scare last August. Also got him on some medication and so far he's holding steady. He has slowed down quite a bit but still surprises me.Also very interesting about your perpetual turnip patch and the iron content of those greens. I found I didn't like the bulb no matter what variety I grew. I'll search out the 'greens only' variety and try that. I can't grow spinach here at all and rely on chard and beets mostly. Turnips also grow well for me. For me,gardening is always a time of learning. No season is the same and best to learn now, right?Have a great day. SJ in Vanouver

  19. Greetings Frank and Fern, so glad to see you posting again. My struggle this year is I just want to give up on gardening. The past 5 years or so I have planted many seedlings from seed and squeezed as many plants in my garden as I could, more than I could really take care of in some cases. A couple years ago we moved to 3 acres and I have finally had room to have a really big garden. Last year almost everything I planted died. I planted so many things. We did take a vacation and I mulched and watered in and maybe half my plants survived. I replanted, bought new seedling from the store and watered and weeded and mulched and weeded and mulched and the weeds just kept coming and took over and killed most of it. It just took all the fun out of it. My plan is to try again with raised beds, but that has a cost in wood and soil. I have started a few seedlings, but I'm sort of forcing myself rather than excited. I know if I don't try I will regret it this summer. At lest my chickens are flourishing. We are getting 9 to 13 eggs per day from fifteen chickens, 5 are older but have been pets. They will live out their natural lives, not the homestead way really, but it is our way and our choice. I would love to have a perennial greens bed of various greens. Hope your turnips do well.

  20. Hi, Carol. Well, the green thing was a plastic fern. The red thing was an all beef hotdog, but on the package it said all meat frank.We didn't eat the plastic thing, but we did eat a whole package of franks. That was our once a year package of hotdogs.So the picture depicts Frank & Fern. Ta-da!Tell your boys thank you.Take care, Frank

  21. Hi, Mary. That was my mother's name. Thank you for your kind words.It is nice to be writing again. It's easier to write about bread and oatmeal, which Fern and I think are really cool stories. It's more difficult to write about current events and where our society is currently sitting. I think we're in dangerous times. Please plan accordingly.The good news is, the cold is breaking where we are. The sun was out today. We sold three baby goats to a family that was very appreciative.Fern and I are both from Texas. She is from the Amarillo area and I am an inter-city Dallas boy. Everything I know about homesteading, prepping, survival in general, has been learned from books and asking people that know. The internet has been a very useful tool. Some people are afraid to ask for information. If somebody is doing something and you want to know what they're doing, ask them.40 acres is a big chunk. Check out A1/A2 milk. There are a couple of articles here about it. Take baby steps at first. Best of luck.Frank

  22. Hello from Texas! I thoroughly enjoy your blog, and was sad but understood when you stopped posting 3 years ago. What a joy to find that you're blogging again! A little over a year ago, my husband and I bought 40 acres with a home, barn, shop, and shed on it. It is a challenging process to mold it into the productive homestead that we wish to live out our days on. Your blog has inspired us to do all that we can to become as self sufficient as we can. Thank you for all of your previous posts that shared so much insight and information. Your blog has been sorely missed. I am glad that you both have weathered your personal storms well by the grace of God. I know this is long (I have never posted a comment here before), but I wanted you to know that our family has appreciated your efforts to encourage and enlighten. God bless!

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