Friday, September 29, 2017

Summer Update

The fencing has helped, but not completely
prevented chickens from helping themselves
to the herbs and veggies in our potager.
How can it have been 5 months since our last post???

Oh, right.... we live on a working homestead. Well, in the past five months a few things have happened.

Our outside garden was planted, weeded less than it should have been, produced decently considering how dry the summer has been (and the lack of weeding), and will shortly be prepped for winter. The greenhouse garden is still in full production and the tomatoes, sweet and hot peppers, egg plants, basil, cantaloupes and beet greens living there are doing well. We only have it half planted, but we have plans to start peas, salad turnips, lettuces, more onions, kale, spinach, and other cold weather crops. This is our first year with the greenhouse at the homestead and we are anxious to see what we can grow in there and for how long.
Cantaloupes are growing well. This one is HUGE!
Score! 60+ pallets to use for fencing! 
The little buck's pasture got expanded by
30 new pallets. 
We were gifted 60+ pallets recently and spent some time using them to expand the current pasture spaces for the big bucks, our young bucks and we are now working on adding a third pasture in the wooded area for the does. (We have such an issue with barber pole worms that we are hoping to be able to practice pasture rotation as part of our plan to manage parasite loads. More on that in a later post.) The pallet fencing works decently for us. It keeps the goats contained (for the most part), is relatively quick and easy to install, it is cost effective to build and maintain, and replacing damaged sections is easier than patching wire fencing or replacing posts. An added advantage is that as we obtain more pallets, we can expand the current fencing without too much of a hassle. I really like it. I will love it when we finally are able to paint the exterior so that it looks finished.

Lip curling, urinating on their heads, calling loudly... Rut is upon the homestead...
Benjamin is enamored with Becca & Cassie.
Not this year, Lad.
The goats themselves are doing well. This year's kids are healthy and growing. The Momma does are still producing milk at a decent rate. The boys are making fools of themselves trying to entice any doe willing to spend some time with them into their yards. They have been unsucessful thus far and I have hope that we may be able to control who is bred for the first time... ever.

Our plan is to make the following introductions:
In October~ Asher and Cassie, Leah, Eve, and Phoebe (if her new owner wants her bred before she goes home.) Kids will be born in Feb/March.

In November~ Elijah and Sarah, Keziah, Atarah, Becca and Tabby. Kids will be born in March/April.

That will give us 8 bred does this year. Compared to the number of pregnant does we had last year, it will be a much smaller season for us. We are looking forward to that.

Jordan hatched a white Silkie chick.
The birds had an interesting season. They produced eggs at a decent rate, but we only ended up hatching two nests of ducklings, one clutch of Silkies, one hen hatched a nest of two chicks, another hen hatched one chick, and one turkey hen hatched two chicken chicks (one didn't survive, though). No turkey poults, guinea keets or goslings hatched this season. We don't use incubators; the birds hatch their own nests, so it is interesting to see what they do. We are enjoying the additional Silkies running around the homestead, but I can be honest in saying that I missed having baby turkeys. They are my favorites.

Jasmine was diagnosed with Cushing's disease and arthritis in her old lady knees in June. Our vet, Dr. Tanja Ebel of Apple Creek Equine prescribed Pergolide Mesylate and VetriBute for her. In addition to these, feeding her senior grain, hydration hay, and rubbing Actic Ice analgesic gel on her knees has done wonders for our old gal. Nothing is going to turn back the hands of time, but Jasmine has put on some weight and is holding her own.

This little black male is still available for sale.
Bella had her first (and only) litter of bunnies this summer. She presented us with five kits; three gray and two black. We had them all spoken for, but for different reasons, two of the buyers cancelled. So we still have two bunnies available for adoption. Sean helped me expand the current hutch so we now have an upstairs for the girls and a downstairs for the boys. Once the last two bunnies find their forever homes, the girls will have the run of both upstairs and downstairs.

Student soaps curing
The retail part of our homestead is growing. Our products are now available in 19 shops spanning seven states. We hope to grow to 25 shops by the end of the year. And, our classes are filling each month. We offer a Soap Making 101 class in two locations. Starting in October, we have added a Soap Making 2 class and a Feta cheese making class. I am enjoying meeting new students and helping them to learn how to make cheese and soaps for themselves and their families. We have committed to five craft shows in November and December. You can find us in person at:

Sunshine Club Marketplace~  November 4th, Bangor Shrine Club, Bangor, Maine
Market at McKay's Research Station~  November 5th, Unity, Maine
Zonta International Craft Show~ November 11th, Brewer, Maine
Winterport Craft Show~ November 18th, Winterport, Maine
Rollie's Early Bird Craft Show~ Dec. 2nd, Belfast, Maine

Wyandotte style bracelet set in hand-crafted sterling silver.
One of 20 available designs.
Plus, we developed and launched two new products and partnerships. Our eggshell jewelry got a face-lift with the addition of locally crafted sterling silver bales, bezels, settings, and findings from the very talented hands of Bethany Coulombe of Sweet Sincerity. We now offer bracelets, rings and earrings in styles we could not create before. I am so proud of these pieces. And, your response to them has been touching. Thank you. Plus, we added our Farm to Fashion Totes line. Not your average totes, these are fully lined with recycled canvas, boast a large inside pocket and soft, colorful handles. They are available locally at Silkweeds, Tiller & Rye, The Not So Empty Nest, The Local Variety, and Marsh River Cooperative. We're working to list them online, too. Finally, we started making organic herbal tea blends in July and you love them: all seven varieties! We sell out nearly every Farmer's Market. I cannot fully express how much your support of our homestead and the products we create on it means to our family. But, I can say, "Thank you" and mean it from the bottom of my heart.

Time has just flown by! I hope it has been kind to you and your loved ones.
Thanks for visiting with us, Friends.

~Sean and Sonja ♥