The woodstove

"Firewood warms you twice, once when you cut it and again when you burn it." - some lumberjack
At the end of this summer we got a wood stove for heating the house. It has been a learning adventure. There is a famous permaculture guru Geoff Lawton that says with traditional wood stoves you will always "be a slave to your heating source" He is a firm believer in using rocket mass heaters or masonry heaters. We explored both of these for a while and decided that at this point it was just not safe to have a rocket stove in the house and a masonry stove is just to expensive. So we went with the most efficient stove that we could afford.

On our property we have a lot of woods. In fact the majority of it is woods. Did you know that if you cut a tree down split it and stick it in the wood stove it will not burn? So this year we are not going to be able to use the firewood from our property. We need wood that is seasoned and dry. It needs to be seasoned for year or more before it can be burned in the wood stove. Anything less just smolders in the stove and does nothing good. I had no idea that this would be a problem, but it is. So I built a large wood shed that will hold a little over four cords of wood. So now for the "slavery" part. I will be collecting wood to fill that shed for the rest of the winter. Not only collecting it but splitting it, stacking it, letting it season, then carrying it to the house to burn. 

The main reason that we leaned towards burning wood, is that it is a renewable resource. With proper management we should always have a power free option for heating the house. If we add this with other sources of heat like passive solar, and a solar water heater, we should be able to drastically diminish our power consumption.

While we are speaking of cold. We had also had a new arrival on the farm. We had no idea that Dot the mom was even expecting. Then  around 2am on the 14th we heard a goat crying. When i went down to the goat house to see what was going on i found that Polka Rose had been born. She is the sweetest little goat. They are Kiko goats that we got from a friend. The mom is really sweet and good natured. Im not sure if it is just a Kiko trait or just her, but either way they are both really sweet. 


Winter is leaving

This is the time of year that I look forward to. Some would say we are deep in winter. But all I can think is that Spring is near. We have been busy making new shelters. Putting up more fences, building a woodshed, planning and preparing the garden for spring. 

There will be baby goats in two and a half months and we hope to have at least four goats that will be milking this year. If you have never had goats milk before all the rumors of it tasting really bad are simply not true. Our little heard makes some of the sweetest milk I have ever tasted. Its way better than cows milk. Thanks to our wonderful and sometimes creepily friendly Sire "Uncle Buck" we should have some great little kids. Uncle buck will follow you all around the farm. Most goats will, but most goats follow you because they want you to feed them. Not so with this little guy he follows you around because in general he enjoys your company. By the look on his face he really thinks you enjoy his too. It is pretty fun to have a goat that likes me for me. Not just for the food I provide.

In  three months it will be time to start another batch of broilers. At the end of this year I had vowed to never raise meat chickens (broilers) again. We had decided a while ago that we would never do cornish cross because of the ethics of raising such a breed. So we tried a few different types of heritage broilers. Jersey Giants and Delawares, both with promising reviews of giving great carcasses. We fed them well and let them go well past the twelve week mark but every time we were greatly disappointed with the size. In general the finished size was in the two pounds and that was sadly mainly bones. This year the last batch we did on a whim of desperation was the freedom rangers.  They were great. Really friendly, very healthy, and finished around four pounds. In the spring we will be getting another batch of these guys to raise.

Our Great Pyrenees Rutabaga

The seed catalogs are in. We have the garden planned. We can see some of the garlic starting to sprout out of the heavy mulch. We will be expanding the garden again this year. Hopefully to add another five or six rows. 

We added some new pasture for the goats. This time we went away from the traditional woven wire fencing and used hi-tensile wire fencing. We did six strands that so far seem to be keeping everyone in. The first day that we let them into the new area things did not go so well. One after another they would do up to the fence get shocked and jump through. But it seemed that all they needed was the shock. Since then no one has tried to go through and they all keep their distance from the wires. If it continues to work we will be adding new sections back into the woods on the other side of the pond. Its our goal to start clearing out that section next.

The other thing that we added was a new feeding station for the goats. Since we keep our hay and feed at our shed it seemed really crazy to carry it all the way down the hill. So now just across from the shed we can feed the goats under a roof. It also has a hay feeder that will hold three bales of hay at a time so we don't have to fill it every day. We plan to collect the rain water off the roof into a small pond for the goats to drink.

We still have perennials to plant, more fences to build, a barn to put up, a woodshed to fill with firewood and more pasture area to make for the chickens. This has been a busy winter so far and looks like it will continue to be. 

 It is time to prepare for the coming life of spring.

What are you doing to get ready for spring?


Poultry Day

The Sunday before thanksgiving is our last processing day. Its the day that officially ends our poultry growing season. Here is how we do it.

We gather all the birds the night before. We go into the coup with a red light and catch everyone and then put them in cages. Make sure to keep them protected so nothing eats them over night.

The night before we plug in the scalder and let it run all night. In the morning its nice and hot you dont want to be waiting on the water to heat up. We keep a propane burner and large kettle going just in case we need to add more hot water. The cone you see is what we use to kill the birds in. The bucket is for heads.

After the scalder its into the plucker

Then to the processing table. After that we put them into a cooler of ice cold water to bring down the temp as quick as possible. This year we got a fish fillet table. Its way easier on the back and has a hole for guts.

Then they go inside and get a final rinse and dry.

Then into the package and ready for the freezer.

The best and final step is to enjoy with friends!


Basket Love

Baskets of Baskets

A Haiku Ode to Baskets:
baskets on the farm
You hold my treasures
You invent new collections,

One by one by one
Like an ark for nature
for yarn and blocks and produce

When ere there's a need.
A creativity nest.
Simple, ancient craft.
One by one by one,
I gather baskets.

by Lacey