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Second Week of December on the Homestead

Last week I said winter had finally arrived — but I spoke too soon! By the end of this weekend our temperatures were back in the 50s with gusty winds and rain. The weather isn’t too much to complain about, I’m happy as long as the ground is soft enough that I can move temporary fences around. But continuously freezing and thawing earth is messy, and strong winds are always a nuisance. Nevertheless I’m just grateful to be continuing to rotate my goats and sheep out on pasture in mid-December!

We did not have a hugely busy week when it came to farm chores, but we did manage to get all the farm Christmas decorations up. We harvest any and all Christmas trees from our property. They may look a little bit Charlie Brown-esque, but we know they’re all natural and safe for our animals, which is important since our goats get to eat them after the holidays. This year we have a tree in the house and a tree in the garden shed, as well as lights in various places around the farm. I don’t go all in with animal Christmas since they don’t actually know what day it is, but we will take the excuse on the holiday to bake up some warm squash and apple mash for the pigs, sheep, and chickens. The goats are a bit more picky and seem to prefer extra grain to any human treats we offer, so they’ll get some sweet feed and Stanley always gets a new rawhide chew.

Every morning in the wintertime I do chores between 5am and 6am, and in the summer between 4am and 5am. In other words, about an hour before sunrise in the winter and as the sun rises in the summer. When I first started working from home I thought that without a morning commute I might get some extra sleep, especially in the winter when doing chores in the dark means I’m waking up the animals, not the other way around. But personally, I find early AM chores to be critical to getting things done. I want to start my day first thing in the morning so I can accomplish all of my to-dos, and most days the dawn hours between coming in from chores and the sun fully rising are the only opportunity I get to do my ample piles of computer and paperwork. I’ve never really described myself as a ‘morning person’ and I don’t love waking up early — but I am a morning person in that I can push myself to get things done early and I find it nearly impossible to push myself to stay out late.

What else is going on around here? House pup Yury celebrated his second birthday this weekend! As anyone who knows me can tell you, Yury is the light of my life and has been an amazing addition to the farm. We hope we’ll celebrate many, many more birthdays together.

Christmas is hurrying up on us, and I’ve volunteered to take care of the ‘dessert table’ at our Christmas family gathering. While it’s just going to be a small gathering of immediate family, I love sweets so the dessert table should (I hope!) be fit for a party. I need to practice a few of the recipes I haven’t tried before this week, and I’m looking forward to sampling the results!

Next up for the farm animals is the arrival of our buck for breeding our Nigerian Dwarf goat does. We already have a list for spring kids, which is always a relief, and I plan to retain 1-2 doelings for our breeding program this year. We’ll be breeding 4-5 does: Rogue (our champion mama who had quintuplets last year), her daughters Janie (had two kids last spring) and Layla (this will be her first freshening); plus Lily, who had two stillborn kids in her first freshening last year, and Tater, who had kids in 2017 and 2018. The buck will be arriving around Christmas, and then the fun begins! Both goats and sheep are around 145-155 days for gestation, so it looks like May will be a busy month around here!

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