First Week of December on the Homestead
I’ve decided to take this blog in a slightly new direction.
While my social media and books are very focused on education, I feel the day-to-day challenges of homesteading are sometimes overlooked. There are plenty of posts about what to do if this happens, how to pick the best of this for your needs, recipes, and why this or that. But sometimes the biggest challenge of the homesteading lifestyle is the daily routine, the monotony of it and the unexpected ways in which difficulties arise.
With this in mind, I’ve decided that I’ll use this blog to post weekly roundups of farm life. Much like how my online presence started, it’s just a glimpse into homestead life and may have some how-to elements but will be more of a journal. My Instagram will still be focused on education and explanation, and if you want to delve deeper there are always my books and consults available. But the blog space will just be sharing what homesteading life is really like.
The first week of December has been relatively quiet around here. After a long fall of unseasonably warm weather, winter finally arrived over Thanksgiving weekend with about 2” of snow and a drop in temperatures. The snow wasn’t deep enough to plow, but it did make things look much more festive. Generally, first snowfall indicates it is time to bring in the rotating electric fencing, but the ground still isn’t frozen solid. So I’ve continued with pasture rotations for the goats and sheep, simply supplementing with a few flakes of hay since forage is a bit harder to come by. They aren’t able to go out as many days (I don’t put them out in severe weather or intense cold), but the longer I can keep them in rotation the better. We save on hay and bedding, and everyone is happier.
While elaborate Christmas decorations are popping up all over social media and every house we drive by has a tree in the window, we have hung back a bit on Christmas decorating. All my life I’ve been someone who prefers decorating a week or two before Christmas, I find sustaining the holiday excitement for the whole month to be a bit exhausting and the tree is much fresher and better looking when it has been recently cut. Nevertheless we did string up some lights and wrap some presents, and plan to head out on the land to harvest our tree soon.
We also found the first week spot in our pig fencing, an area right by the door to their shelter that they’d started to push out. We spent one chilly, snowy morning re-attaching the hog panels and running extra electrical line along this area, and expect it to no longer be an issue. The pigs hate this time of year — the garden area has been thoroughly routed up, so it’s either mud in warm weather (which they don’t mind so much) or a frozen mess when it’s colder. It’s hard for the pigs to walk over the frozen ground, since it’s very uneven. When snow arrives they’ll be happy, as it covers the roughness of the ground and makes it easier for them to walk around.
We brought home our first ewes a week ago, and the sheep are doing wonderfully. When they first arrived Nero was obsessed with Orla, one of the ewes who we believe was in heat. That passed within a few days, and I do not believe she was bred during their first courtship. Now we’re waiting for the other ewe, Libby, to go into heat and for Orla to go back into heat. Once bred, Orla returns to her home at Starboard Farm in Machiasport while Libby will stay with us to lamb in the spring. And can I just say, sheep’s mating season are so much easier than goats! Nero doesn’t do any of the disgusting things a buck does, he is his usual sweet self except for when an in-heat ewe is around and even then he isn’t aggressive or smelly.
Apparently by Monday we will have temperatures returning to the 60s and rain — a good time to button up anything last minute that we hadn’t gotten winterized before the cold snap begins for good. I did the full fall “spa” treatment for the does a few weeks ago (inoculations, wormer checks, hoof trims) but need to do the whethers and sheep. The warm days will also be perfect for a thorough barn clean, and in addition to Christmas decorations and a tree I’m also planning a holiday dessert tray which means plenty of test cooking for the next few weeks. Stay tuned!