Goats, Milk & Cheese

We have written many articles about our goat adventures. You will find them in the archives under The Goats That Feed Us & The Things You Can Do With Milk. Just a reminder – most of our archives go to the old blog over in Blogger. If you want to leave a comment, make sure you do it here, they have been turned off at the old site since we don’t check things over there anymore.

We have continued to downsize our herd. We currently have four adult does, three of which are in milk. Kids were born to them in January and are being weaned and sold now. The cycle continues. One of the does I am milking is a first freshener, what I call a first timer. She has been very easy to train to the milk stand and to hand milk, which is great. Some in the past have not been near this easy. I’m not sure if it’s the temperament of the animal or the years of experience training a goat to be milked. Maybe both.

My favorite milker before she had her triplets in January.

We have one more first timer to birth in May. I don’t really like this goat, and have thought about selling her pregnant, but want to see if she will hold us in milk through the winter until the others have babies again next January. We haven’t been successful in having year round milk because most goats won’t breed in the off season. This doe didn’t breed at all until we got a shot from the vet to force her into heat. We were told if she was pregnant and very far along, the shot would make her abort, but we had never seen any signs of heat or breeding and she had been with the buck for months. The shot worked and now we await her first kids.

This year we are keeping two adult does in milk, the third will be sold after we have our cheese supply stocked for the year. We will keep two young does for replacements, just in case. In years past we have tried to keep does from separate blood lines within our closed herd, but not this year. There has been one ‘family’ of does that consistently out performs the others with temperament, udder size and production, and ease of milking. That’s who we are keeping.

The buck we had, on the other hand, after breeding all of the does including the late one, started losing hair until he was practically bald. It happened over a number of months. We treated him a number of times according to the vet’s directions to no avail. He still ran around when he wasn’t freezing in the cold weather, ate well, hollered like the rest, but looked horrible. He is no longer with us. This was the goat with the strange story of purchase we wrote about on the other blog in this article – Goat Tales & the Stench.

Young buck

This leaves us without a buck, or billy goat, except for the three that were born here in January. We’re on the look out for a new unrelated buck, but if necessity mandates, we will use one of these young ones for future breeding. We will ban two of them for wethers for meat, but keep one for a buck.

We have started making cheese for the season, two batches of mozzarella so far. We ran out of our cheddar a while back and bought some in several different stores. It all tastes the same, kind of like what we remember Velveeta would have tasted like. It’s the first cheese we have bought in years, we don’t remember the last time we bought any. The plan is to make a dozen wheels of cheddar and set them to age while eating fresh mozzarella for now and freezing a whole bunch. We are spoiled to our own cheese, to me, it is so much better.

Mozzarella

You can find the beginning and progression of our cheese making experiences in many of the archive articles. I still make & drink kefir everyday. Frank has always been a milk drinker and prefers goat milk to any other he has had. We did appreciate Braum’s (a regional ice cream store that also has burgers and now some fresh market foods) going to A2 milk. When our does were dry, we bought milk there, usually six to eight gallons at a time since the store is 25 miles away and we don’t like to go to town very often. If you’re not familiar with A1 & A2 milk, look back in the archives. We were very glad we discovered the difference years ago and have tried to share the information far and wide. Our vet can’t drink cows milk without ending up on the floor with cramps. He can drink the A2 milk from Braum’s with no issues. If you don’t know the difference, check it out, it’s interesting information.

Now is the milking, cheese making season along with putting in the garden. As Bear Claw, from the movie Jeremiah Johnson would say, March is a green, muddy month down below, fit for farmers and such (or something like that – we have watched that movie many times, just not in the last decade or so). He’s right. It’s a busy time of year. A good busy. We planted blueberries and strawberries yesterday. Today we made bread and planted a few more things before a rainy spell comes upon us. We do the normal chores, milking the goats, feeding the chickens and gathering eggs, preparing for the rainy weather, planting more seedlings in the greenhouse. The things that make up our daily life.

It’s a busy time and that’s great. I’m glad we have this time to continue our chosen way of life. The choices appear to become more narrow with each passing day, with each new executive order, and attempted legislation. I have no way of predicting how the next few months or years will turn out, but the folks out there saying local, local, local are correct. Frank has made more contact with neighbors in the last few months than we have in years. It’s a good thing. We’ll give you an update on the garden soon with thoughts about planting every square inch with way more than we need.

Always do what you can for yourself, your family and any you deem worthy of your efforts. Work is not a dirty, four letter word. It is what feeds the body and soul. Literally.

We would love to hear what you think. Ideas that will help us all. How to raise animals, grow food, where to buy supplies. God knows we all need help at this point in time.

Until next time – Fern

Where to live?

Hello Everybody, Frank here.
 
We received the email below a long time back. Through simple neglect we have not addressed this issue. Recently here in Oklahoma, recently like 10 minutes ago, we had snow on the ground and still do, and I would like to attempt to answer this email. But you’ve got to read it first. See you in a second.
 
 
 Greetings! Thank you for the work you do on your blog. I enjoy reading it.

   

On July 1 you wrote of places you have lived and experiences gained. Seeing you have lived in Alaska,  I was curious as to the specific reasons why you choose to live in OK over Idaho or Wyoming (one of the more commonly promoted places to live by prepper/survival circles).

   I am asking because my husband and I have been considering moving our family with 5 young homeschooling children away from our current central west Texas city. I grew up in Oklahoma and am familiar with the climate and culture. The majority of my family live in OK. We have talked of leaving Texas because it is incredibly hot and dry here. Any property with water is extremely expensive and most small creeks and the like would be gone by this time of year when we have had day after day of 105-110 degree temperatures. We are far from an interstate, though a few hours from the Mexico border.  I understand there is no perfect place, but the heat and low rainfall make growing a garden a challenge.

  We have discussed moving to Idaho, but neither my husband nor I have spent any time living where there is snow in the winter. We have also discussed moving to rural OK. You have lived in both the cold and OK, I was hoping you might have some thoughts/insights into the advantages and disadvantages of both. In which climate is it easier to raise livestock? Grow a garden? Survive the potential of long-term electricity outage?

Thanks for experiences you may share to help inform our decision.

Interesting questions and points I will attempt to address.

Everything is harder to do in the cold than it is where it is warm. Let’s qualify a few things here. I’m not talking about riding around on your snow machine or alpine skiing. You’re just not going to be doing that in southeast Oklahoma, so yes, there are some things you can do better in a cold climate. Let me include ice fishing.

When you have cold, you have a shorter growing season. Animals require significantly more maintenance and food to stay warm. I know some folks are going to say, well I grow this and I grow that in the cold, and good for you. I’m talking about your normal everyday person and not some super ninja gardener that pretends like life is easier in a foot of snow. It’s just not. It is just plain and simple harder on animals and harder on gardening, not to mention people.

This writer indicates western Texas. Fern was born and raised in western Texas out around Amarillo. I was born and raised in Dallas. That can stand for itself. Western Texas and southeastern Oklahoma have vastly different climates. Parts of western Oklahoma are just like western Texas. Look at a map. Parts of eastern Oklahoma are just like eastern Texas.

We thought about Idaho or Montana, seriously. Fern has a cousin that lives around the Spokane, Washington area. Then one day while I was shoveling a couple of feet of snow to walk a narrow path it dawned on me that I’m in my late 50’s and I don’t want to do this anymore. So that narrowed our search down sharply.

Again, we live in southeastern Oklahoma. In growing zone #7. Without super ninja abilities, I will never raise citrus, but I can raise almost any crop I choose here. On the average year enough rain falls from the sky, average is the key word here – some years it’s drier, some years it’s wetter. Amazing isn’t it, how you can take the two and get an average. Again, we can grow about any crop we choose.

Let’s talk livestock. All the above applies to the livestock. We can raise just about any type of cattle, goats, chickens that we choose to in this area. I have lived where reindeer are harvested. A reindeer is first cousin to a caribou and they are tasty. As is muskox. But I have no desire whatsoever to raise reindeer.

So let’s get past being that super ninja herder and get in touch with what people in the south call reality. I can raise a normal cow, a normal goat and a normal chicken, and do the normal things on an average day with my average, normal animals. Here the last few days we have gotten four to six inches of snow which is extremely unusual for our area. At the same time, we have had record breaking temperatures, cold temperatures, that is. Here is that term – record breaking temperatures. They’ve been keeping temperatures records in this area for more than a hundred years, which means these temperatures have not occurred in more than a hundred years.

Now, we have normal here and that means normal for us. We raise normal animals. Our plants are normal. Summertime? It can get hot and humid, and it’s going to this summer, it’s going to get hot and humid. Hot. Plants like hot. Most of them do anyway. A key word to focus on here is humid, which means moisture. Look at that map again. The part that’s green is green for a reason, the part that’s tan, like in western Texas, is tan because it is the color of sand. I can grow food here. Read some of our older articles like, Without Food You Are Dead.

We have moisture here and without moisture, or water, you are dead. The temperatures here on the average winter, you can survive with a medium weight coat. So let’s see. Here we have food, water and survivable temperatures. This is a conservative part of the world. We do not have “water wars” here. The people in the northwest know what that means. We are conservative. We are for the most part Christian. We are patriotic Americans. If you want to live in western Oregon or Washington in that moral cesspool, you go ahead. I like living where we have more churches than bars. During deer season around here, people wear bright orange and camo, but then here we wear camo year round. We don’t give a shit what outsiders think about what we do. That’s part of why I live here.

I hope I didn’t miss any major points for the folks seeking information about why here, and hopefully I was able to answer their questions. The farther east you go from here, the more moisture content. In the last few years we’ve had quite a few people move in. It’s not unusual to see a tag around here from California or New York. I would assume these are just folks trying to escape. Most people want what is good for their families and some have the ability to relocate. Good for them. It’s a slower way of life here.

For us, we’re 60 miles away from a Sam’s Club, 25 miles away from a Wal-Mart, 6 miles away from a Dollar General and 4 miles away from a small town convenience store with gas. We’re a half mile from a wildlife refuge, about 2 miles from a national forest. We don’t get AM commercial radio, but we do get FM. I assume TV signals come through the air. We have reliable rural electricity, rural water, good well water, high speed DSL via a phone line, and we get cell phone signals with a booster. There is a hospital in a functional town about 25 miles away. If there is something I missed here, I apologize.

This is where I choose to be and these are the reasons I am here.

A bonus. There are no nuclear power plants west of me, so when the melt downs start to occur, it won’t directly affect us, just indirectly.

To be fair, we have people just like everywhere that like to participate in criminal activities. But you’ve got that everywhere.

Again, I hope I answered the questions. If you’ve got relatives that live in rural Oklahoma, I wouldn’t even consider Montana or Idaho. Give thought to it. If you’ve got young kids, then that means you’re probably young enough to harvest, process and chop eight to ten cords of wood a year. Give thought to it. They have crime there too, by the way.

One last thought here. Remember the movie Jerimiah Johnson? Remember the man that gave him his 50 caliber Hawkin? I think his name was Hatchet Jack. Have a good day.

We’ll talk more later, Frank

You Can NEVER Have Too Many Books – An Update

Several recommendations from the last article about seeds mentioned a book, Susan Ashworth’s book Seed to Seed: Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Growers. This reminded me of an article about books that I had written a number of years ago.

With all things internet being censored, banned, deleted or taken down, real live books you can hold in your hand may turn out to be a precious commodity, especially when you are trying to do things the new-old fashioned way. A number of the links from the old article no longer worked so I have updated them.

Think about your situation, your family and what your needs may be if this electronic gadget you are reading these words on were no longer available. We have all become dependent on this thing I am typing and reading on for everything. Computers literally control the world at the operators behest, from how much water is released from a dam during the rainy season, to controlling your banking activities, to ordering diapers for the baby – everything. What happens when a storm rolls through knocking out the power? You can’t buy anything because the cash registers don’t work, or if a company can still sell something, they can only take cash because the card reader is down and can’t process your debit or credit card. No gas pumps, no internet, cell phone towers have back up generators or alternate power, but they won’t last long with their life giving electrical grid being gone.

No power = truly the dark ages. Short term or long term, man made or natural causes, electricity, and thus all things electronic, are just another means of control. Look what has been happening in California over the last few years with intentional brown or black outs. Any reason will do when an intentional control of a population is the desired effect. Those with the power have increased their methods of control in the past few years and no longer try to hide many agendas, instead they have been blatant in wielding that power in an attempt to woo or force the people into subjugation. We can stand up, stick out and announce with a loud voice that we will not comply and get slapped down to the ground via censorship, incarceration or the disappearing act, or we can fight back from the shadows doing all we can to provide for ourselves no matter what comes.

Books. Do you have enough? For everyone under your care? Adults, teens, children? You can never have too many useful books. Enjoy the article.

Until next time – Fern

Originally published September 20, 2013

It’s true. You can never, never have too many books. I know, I know. What about your Kindle, or Nook, or iPhone, or laptop, or computer, or….or….or…..What about when the power goes down – and stays down. What if…..

We have bought ebooks. We bought all of the past issues of Mother Earth News on CD and downloaded them on our computers – a great wealth of information. Even if we had a solar panel system that would keep our computers running, it would be a waste of energy to do so. Printed material is a necessity for information preservation.

This is a wall in our living room. It is my favorite wall. Frank built this bookshelf just for me and I love it. After we put most of our books on it there was a lot of extra space. I told him, “You know what that means? We need more books!” Then after a while, we had to have the floor reinforced – a worthwhile investment.

A friend of mine – I have mentioned her several times – I told her the next time I mentioned her I was going to give her a pseudonym.

– Grace – for by the grace of God we met and have become friends. So back to books. Grace has laughed and told me I am her only friend that has a ‘bug book’. We have talked many times about needing to know how to do things for ourselves in the case of a collapse or downturn in the quality of life in our country. When she has asked me about a variety of topics, my answer is often, get a book about it. I have been trying to stock my library with many useful reference books over the past few years. 

Patrice Lewis at Rural Revolution recently reminded us that having our important information on an electronic device may not always be a dependable medium. She has printed out and organized her important information so it will not be lost if she can no longer access it on her computer or online. It is a great idea.

I would like to share a few of the many books I use regularly. I will also share a few new ones that I have not had the chance to read yet. Here are a few of my favorites by category.

Gardening

The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible – great general information

The Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening – We have a very old version that is literally falling apart at the seams. Tons of great, fairly detailed information.

Rodale’s Vegetable Garden Problem Solver – Good book. All kinds of plant and pest information.

Carrots Love Tomatoes has taught me a great deal about companion planting. I have changed my garden planting patterns with the help of this book.

The Organic Gardener’s Handbook of Natural Insect and Disease Control – My favorite bug book. The one Grace was talking about.

The Seed-Starter’s Handbook is not only good at helping me get my seeds started, I use it for information on how to save seeds as well. It is an old book (1978), but one of my favorites. 

The Gardener’s A-Z Guide to Growing Organic Food is one of the new books I just got from Backwoods Home and I haven’t had a chance to look through it yet.

I have several new and old reference books I use as well. I have begun keeping my annual garden ‘map’ of where I plant things in a binder to make sure I rotate crops and don’t plant a new crop where it will not thrive because of the last occupant.

Food Preservation

Stocking Up – the old and new version. This is a great book. It covers canning, freezing, drying and storing. 

Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving is a book I use every time I can something.

I have half a dozen other canning books including Jackie Clay’s book Growing and Canning Your Own Food. It is a great book and full of a lot of information besides canning and preserving.

Another book I have had for a while and just started using with my dehydrator is Making and Using Dried Foods. After I bought the dehydrator, I was surprised that it didn’t come with more instructions. Then I got to thinking…… don’t I have a book about that? Sure enough, I did.

Enola Gay‘s new book The Prepared Family Cookbook is another one of my new books I have not had the chance to read through yet. 


Cheese Making

I have several books, but the only one I have ever used is Mary Jane Toth’s  Goats Produce Too! The Udder Real Thing

Herbs

Our book collection about herbs for cooking and medicinal purposes started many years ago. This is a mixture of old and new that I use most often now. The Herbal Antibiotics book is another new one from Backwoods Home that I have not had a chance to read yet. 

The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants and The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Healing Remedies both have a great deal of information about how to use plants medicinally, but little to none about how to grow and harvest them.

One of my older books Growing and Using Healing Herbs has great information about planting, harvesting, preserving and using herbs.

But the best one I found for information about growing and harvesting herbs is Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs. 

When I was researching sources of perennial vegetables that I could get established here I ran across Perennial Vegetables, which has proven to be a good resource.

Animals

When we got our first Great Pyrenees to guard our goats, we wanted to make sure it was a successful venture. We had read enough to know that training a livestock guardian is not like training the Labrador Retrievers we used to raise. We found that Livestock Protection Dogs gave us very valuable information. Otherwise we probably wouldn’t have kept Pearl. She has turned out to be an excellent dog. 


I have a good selection of books about goats – my goat book collection. If something comes up, like an abscess, I look in all of my books and compare the information I find. I feel much better informed this way because not all authors have the same opinions or give the same advice for a particular situation.

All About Goats has some good basic information.

Storey’s Guide to Raising Dairy Goats is a good beginners book with fairly thorough information.

Raising Milk Goats Successfully and How To Raise Dairy Goats are very similar and have good basic information.

Natural Goat Care is by far my favorite book. It raised my learning curve on the natural needs and health of goats. I would highly recommend it.

We have other reference books for animals which include The Complete Herbal Handbook for Farm and Stable and The First Aid Companion for Dogs and Cats.

Resource Books

We have a variety of books that we have not and may not ever use. They are for references when and if the need ever arises for the topics they cover, such as, establishing a black smith shop, how to train oxen, small scale grain raising, cooking on a wood stove, building small tools or equipment, and more. 

Grace and I have been doing some bartering for eggs. One of the things she brought was this Chicken Health Handbook which is another good reference book. Books that will add to your peace of mind are also an important part of a good library. The Simplicity Primer from Patrice Lewis is one of many. We read the Little House on the Prairie series last summer. They are a great resource of information for living without electricity and growing or raising what you eat, or how to do without.

So, to go back to the title – I truly do believe you can never have too many books. Printed information may one day be in very short supply. Electronic media may one day be a thing of the past. As memories age, they don’t keep details stored as well either. I have felt a strong need to include a plethora of books as a very important part of my ‘preps’. 

We have even stored more than one copy of some books to share with others if the opportunity arises. Books such as James Wesley Rawles How To Survive The End Of The World As We Know It and The Ball Book of Complete Home Preserving. James Wesley Rawles’ book is what got Frank started in radio. It was the first place he read about MURS radio frequencies. You never know when that little bit of information can revolutionize a person’s perspective and greatly increase their ability to be self-sufficient and provide for their families.

I will continue to encourage to you learn something new each and every day. It will bless you and yours in untold ways for years to come.

Until next time – Fern

Homestead News, Volume 24

Life goes on here on the homestead, in the local area, in the country and in the world. Precarious though it may seem at times, the store shelves (here at least) are still filled with an abundance of frankenfood, the lights are still on and water still comes out of the tap when I turn it. 

We continue to adjust our lives for our current and future physical abilities while continuing to prepare our minds for what may be coming down the road one day. We have recently had two and a half acres of our ten acre pasture fenced off for our much smaller herd of goats. This still allows us to have four small pastures for animal rotation, but makes it much easier to manage. We are debating about trying to hire someone to brush hog the remaining acreage once a year, or listing it for sale. Our decision changes from day to day, so for now we are just going to let things settle. We are in no hurry.

Our four does – two adults, two kids

Buck and young wether

The eleven year old matriarch of our goat herd is no longer with us. One Stripe was part of the first herd we acquired when we moved here in 2008. She never met anyone she didn’t like and loved to be petted. She gave us many babies, lots of milk and much affection. All of the does we have now are from her line. 

One Stripe


We also no longer have our wonderful Pearl. She was a one of a kind dog and we miss her. She was great with the goats and devoted to the two of us. We’ll be dog-less for a while. We don’t look forward to training another puppy, but one will come along again when the time is right.

Pearl


We’re also preparing the acre surrounding the house for eventual use as pasture. When the day comes to really downsize the land, if we haven’t already, we will sell the ten acres with the current barn. Then we will use this area around the chicken house for any pasture we may still want to use. It will maintain a couple of goats, although we would have to feed more hay year round.

In preparation for that we have had some overgrown brushy areas cleared out along with tons of pine needles.

This older storage shed has seen better days. We’ve been fighting a leaking roof for years. Now we’re working on emptying it out so it can be moved out by a neighbor that wants it. In the process we are donating many things to a local church that works with individuals and families that are in recovery from alcohol and drugs. It’s good to be able to pass on some things to people in need, but it’s also difficult to start downsizing instead of building up. It’s probably something most people go through as they age, and now it’s our turn.

I have been making some simple cheeses since we are enjoying fresh goat milk again. I tried an herb cheese with onion and garlic, but it came out really strong. Frank doesn’t even like to smell it. I tried a small wheel with fresh basil from the greenhouse a couple of days ago. We haven’t tried it yet, but it smells much milder so I hope this wheel is edible.

 

As time goes on we find we eat less, quite a bit less. Our sauerkraut crock is wonderful, but is now too big. We recently got some air lock lids to make kraut by the jar. This is our first experiment. We had them in the pantry for a dark place, but I didn’t remember to check on them, so I moved them into one of the kitchen cabinets. Two of the jars turned out fine, but the one that wasn’t full didn’t. I don’t know if it was the amount of cabbage or if it was because we didn’t include the rubber gasket in the lid when we put it all together. Another learning experience. It’s always good to learn. I am going to try peppers this way this summer. I think that would be good. And maybe okra? I’m not sure if they will ferment/pickle very well. I will have to read more about that before I try it.

I have been working on a door hanging for my mother who is in the nursing home with dementia. She has been there for two and a half years now. I agree with all of the people that told me over a year ago that this is a very cruel disease. We pray for her peace and comfort every day, and I pray for her release from this world. I can usually still get her to smile and laugh. She even sang Happy Birthday to Frank (I got it on video on my phone) recently and she hadn’t sang with me for months. It was very touching.

The greenhouse continues to feed us some nice green things a few times a week, and is now housing some seedlings, or the dirt that holds seeds that will soon be seedlings.

Two ages of cabbage seedlings

Will be carrots, tomatoes and peppers.

Carrots are just beginning to peek out.

Onions

I am going to cut the tops of these tomato plants, root them and start them in pots. I hope to get some big seedlings ready this way. We still have that one tomato that has been growing slowly all winter. I don’t know if it’s going to ripen or not. Frank thinks it will be really tough if it ever does.

 

We are saving eggs to start the incubator tomorrow. These eggs will be hatching the same time the day old chicks we ordered will be arriving. We’ll raise them all together, keep a replacement laying flock and butcher the rest. It’s a good seasonal activity. Eggs to meat to the table. Wouldn’t have it any other way.

For now, the garden lays fallow, but it won’t be long before we will plant it once more. Hope is eternal when there is spring on the way.

Our country? The world? Viruses, plagues, pandemics, politics, food shortages, lies, corruption, greed? It just goes on and on and on. Every so often I get a small, tiny spark of hope that the world will keep on turning, people will come to their senses and we can continue to live in some semblance of peace, but then the next ‘thing’ appears and extinguishes that spark pretty quickly. So, life goes on. Until it doesn’t. We do what we can and try to be realistic about what we can and can’t do. We try not to play head games with ourselves and pretend we are going to go running through the woods chasing bad guys if the collapse occurs. Not going to happen. Reality. Sometimes difficult to deal with. Choosing not to? Not an option on our homestead. How are things going on yours?

Until next time – Fern
 

Homestead News, Volume 23

Things have slowed down somewhat here for the winter. Outside of the opinion pieces we have been sharing for news, in our little corner of the world things are relatively quiet. We have our daily routines of animal chores, cooking and eating, and eating. The small lane that leads to our house is about 1/4 mile if you walk round trip. Frank walks it twice a day for about a mile or so. I usually make it about half to three quarters before the arthritis in my back starts complaining. We take the half hour drive to see my mother in the nursing home regularly. Some of those trips are easier than others. Her dementia is now limiting her speech significantly and it’s hard to keep her attention. So, go our days. Watching the demise of the world and wondering when it will reach our doorstep.

We have some food growing in the greenhouse along with some basil and flowers. More flowers than usual and surprisingly, some of them like to bloom in the winter.

Turnip greens

Salad fixings – amaranth, pak choy, kale, cress, lettuces

Looking out of the door that goes into the house.

Balsam – I had no idea they would bloom in the winter greenhouse.

And believe it or not, the tomatoes are blooming. I don’t think they will produce because it gets too cold at night.

But this will be the first plants I set out come spring if they make it until then.

Our baby goats are all on the ground for the year. We had one set of twins and two sets of triplets. One of the does has continued her mastitis problem from last year so we gave away two of her kids when they were four hours old. They got a few good drinks of colostrum and we sent more home with them. 

Now we have fresh milk again which we both consider to be a wonderful treat.

I have been using up some of my fabric and quilt batting making lap quilts to donate to the nursing home where my Mom lives. It’s part of my downsizing effort.

And speaking of eating, today is a good day for a pot of soup. It’s still warm outside, t-shirt weather, but I wanted to use some of our harvest for a good hot meal.

 
I don’t like the feeling that these tools are always necessary when I walk out the door to go milk the goats, or garden, or take a walk down our lane, but so go the days of our lives. Anymore, you just never know what you need to always be prepared for.


 Until next time – Fern
 

Prepper’s Livestock Handbook by Leigh Tate

If you are interested in livestock for a homestead, we would highly recommend Leigh Tate’s book Prepper’s Livestock Handbook. Leigh writes from experience and research, which is something I appreciate and have learned a lot from her over the years. It is an easy to read, informational text that will help get you started and be successful traveling down the path of raising livestock in a self-sufficient manner.

Leigh is an author of several books, eBooks and the blog 5 Acres & a Dream. Her blog is what led us to raise American Guinea Hogs, make and drink kefir, and this 

year, grow amaranth. Leigh’s extensive research in ways to become more self-sufficient for both the humans and animals at their homestead has led Leigh and her husband to try many different things. The benefit for all of us is that she writes about those experiences.

Leigh includes many resources and references in The Prepper’s Livestock Handbook that will lead you to more information beyond her experiences. I would highly recommend it for anyone starting out with livestock, or anyone that is looking to expand their animal husbandry experience. It is full of natural ways of raising animals and maintaining their health beyond dependence on chemicals and purchasing all that is needed. Leigh’s information focuses on being able to provide for the health and vitality of livestock independently, with knowledge, trial and error according to differing climates and environments, and with forethought and planing. She and her husband strive to provide for themselves and their animals in ways that decrease dependence and increase the probability of survival should the SHTF.

Other books Leigh has written include:

Critter Tales

5 Acres & A Dream: The Book

I learned to make lotion and lip balm using one of Leigh’s eBooks, which I still make and have for years. She has written a number of eBooks on a variety of topics. They show the efforts she has made at becoming more self-sufficient and knowledgeable about decreasing dependence on store shelves.

Leigh is a prime example of life-long learning. I truly appreciate her willingness to share her experience, knowledge and research with us. It has, and continues to enrich our lives daily.

Until next time – Fern

Homestead News Volume 21

We are enjoying below normal temperatures here this week which is a welcome relief to the hot humid weather we have been having. Our hot weather has been similar to what is happening across the country east of here, we have been having daily heat advisories for a while now. We know the heat will return because that is what is normal for this location in the middle of summer, but this morning the low was 61*, normal is about 80* in the midst of summer.

Self discipline has kicked in a little better this summer with rising early and getting out of the house before 10:00am. We don’t always, and definitely haven’t always in the past. It’s easy to sit and drink coffee, visit and peruse the internet. That’s more fun than going outside and sweating. But when we do get up and about and get things done, it feels better, physically and mentally. The bonus is that things get done. So, here are some things that have been happening around the homestead.

We have put about two dozen roosters in the freezer, with the last of them butchered today. Now that the chickens are finished we have six wethers we need to get in the freezer as well. That will be next on the meat preservation list.

There are now more jars on the shelf including green beans, turnip greens and beets.

The garden continues to produce a good harvest almost daily. We are currently getting okra, tomatoes, peppers and green beans.

The pinto beans have been pulled and I’m working on shelling them for canning. The harvest would have been much larger if I had realized pinto beans are pole beans, not bush beans. 

Pinto bean harvest

The first planting of cow peas, purple hull peas, are just about ready to begin blooming and the second planting is up and growing well.

We have harvested the first cutting of amaranth. I will be doing a separate article soon. The second planting is in and also doing very well.

Amaranth after the main seed head has been harvested.

New amaranth seedlings

I have pondered doing a Goat Tale for you, but there really isn’t much to tell so I will include them here. The doe, Patch, that had mastitis and a retained placenta, is now healthy, and I am still milking her on the ‘good’ side of her udder.

Patch – you know, see that patch of white on her side?

In the last few weeks all of our does have bred which has happened before, but is unusual. Neither the does or the buck seem interested in breeding during the heat of the summer most years. This breeding means in the next few months our milk supply will diminish and dry up sometime before they give birth in December. Winter babies are good. They tend to be healthy and thrive better than summer babies, but we will miss having our own fresh milk while waiting for them.

Here is a sneak peek at a project Frank has been working on. He will fill you in on the details in a future article.

We have begun reading Leigh Tate’s book Prepper’s Livestock Handbook. Leigh blogs over at 5 Acres & A Dream which is packed with information about developing their homestead and becoming as self-sufficient as possible. Leigh does a lot of research and tracks data covering their successes and failures. This is where I discovered amaranth and kefir. If you haven’t been there, go take a look, she has a wide variety of information available. We’ll be telling you more about her book after we have more time to graze through it. After all, it is about livestock. 

Frank and I were talking about plans for our activities yesterday and came to the conclusion that this time of year almost everything we do is related to food. It is the food production and preservation time of year. Other things can be postponed until winter when the harvest is in and the weather cools down. 

Life is good on the homestead. Very good. The world? Well, that’s another story. I could direct you to all sorts of horrible, troubling things, but you know what is out there. You know what is coming our way. Prepare accordingly. Don’t be caught by surprise. What comes may shock us, may devastate us, may end the world as we know it. But until that time arrives, the sun is shining, I get to spend my days with the man I love at my side. The flowers are blooming. There is food on our shelves. We have a wonderful life.

Until next time – Fern