Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Long Time No See

Cornish X Meat Birds
Wow It has been a really long time since I've been able to sit down and write up a post. As I'm typing this I'm not even sure that I will have time to finish it today. We have had such a warm winter this year and spring has come upon us the fastest that we have seen yet. Which of coarse means that we are extra busy trying to keep up. Most of my online time lately has been spent doing paperwork and research into upgrading our homestead. Some of the things that we are looking into are: A Large seasonal high tunnel, A fodder system, growing our own hay, and getting quality breeding stock. All of these things take a lot of time and effort to research but will hopefully make us more self reliant in the future. This year we ran into issues with feed pricing and availability that made us rethink how we acquire food for our animals as well as the quality of the food that we are feeding them. We also want to have our own closed heard and flocks so that we don't have to order, buy and transport chicks every spring to supplement our laying flock and for meat. Our laying flock is pretty well set this year but we want to raise our own meat chickens so we are looking into a small breeding flock of Dark Cornish chickens. A long story short there are millions of things that we would love to do but what we can afford and what we have time for will limit what we can do.

Cornish X Meat Chicks
So here is what we have going right now. I have a huge jungle of plant starts in the front entry and as of yesterday I started moving some out to the greenhouses even though I'm still afraid that the temps will drop and I could loose them I was out of space. 

A Couple weeks ago when they were still small
We have our first spring batch of Cornish X meat chicks that we have scheduled to butcher this weekend. We also have a small batch of Broad Breasted Bronze Turkeys that are just a couple weeks old and still in the brooder. We are expecting an order of Turkeys and Dark Cornish chickens to come in the first week of June that will hopefully be our new breading stock for our own meat birds and turkeys. 

Broad Breasted Bronze Turkeys
We bred 2 does this year, Petunia and her daughter Lilly both Toggenburgs to our Lamancha buck Guy. Petunia is due this week and Lilly is due next week. So we will have a whole new batch of baby goats. All of our baby goats from last year have homes. Most stayed right here on the homestead. Petunia's son Birch is now September's 4-H pack Goat, Ian has Lillie's son Aspen, and Lisa has Hazel's son Tamarack. We also kept Hazel's daughter Iris. Lillie's other son Spruce went to live with a friend in Manley Hot Springs to be a pet/pack goat. We had to put down our buck Guy this winter. We had a problem with Copper Deficiency over the winter. Once diagnosed we took measures to resolve the issue but Guy had become very weak and we made the hard choice to put him down. It was very sad for us all. He was the sweetest buck. None of the others seemed to be hit as hard by it and showed only signs of fading in their coats. I'm not sure if it was an issue of breed that it hit him harder or what. Sooo, we are hoping to get a buckling from Petunia to keep as our new heard sire. This will most likely be the last year that I breed her as she is getting older and will be a good candidate to milk through as I actually had a very hard time drying her off.

Petunia (with half horn), Lillie

I'll try to post some good pictures when the babies are born. Petunia's tendons were feeling a bit looser this morning so she could go any day now. Tomorrow will be 145 days and she is HUGE! Both were bred on purpose so we have a good idea of when they are due but like with women there is some wiggle room. 150 days is average but anything in the range of 145-155 days is considered term. To breed each doe I kept a lookout for signs that they were in estrus. When the time was right I walked them up to the buck barn and let them spend about 15 minutes with the buck and then I walked them home. That was all it took. It was our first shot at controlled breading and it was a great success. I will say though that it takes time to get to know your goats and to read their cycle. When you are milking twice a day it makes it a bit easier to notice the subtle changes in your doe. I also keep my weathers and my buck in the habit of eating on a milk stand. It really helps when you are trimming hooves every few weeks. The two weathers that live with the buck at the buck barn don't get to do it as often but they still remember that the milk stand means extra yummy food and will stand pretty well for their trimmings.

BEES - We are doing two hives worth of bees this year. We bought one hive of our own and we're borrowing one from our friends who taught us how to bee keep last year. We're keeping them in our area this year rather than transporting them half way through the year. This may delay them a little as we are a couple weeks behind Manley Hot Springs when it comes to blooming flowers. So far they seem to be doing well and I think that we have done a pretty good job of remembering what we learned from last year. If it is even close to the success of last year per hive I will be thrilled. I just wish that we could figure out a way to over winter them as I hate the idea of having to kill them off in the fall. We have a couple of ideas and if we do end up with a high tunnel we may attempt to over winter at least one hive this year.


We are still doing Homeschool but we are winding down for the year. Since we have more time in the winter we tend to blow through the years curriculum pretty fast. It's nice when this time of year rolls around because we can be more flexible. My step dad who was a gymnastics coach in AZ comes over on Thurdays to do tumbling with the kids. He also teaches tumbling at the Manley Hot Springs school as well as driving the school bus. This is also a great time of year for science on the homestead. Growing things babies being born or hatched. The spring thaw, and birds returning from migration. So much to see and learn.

Lisa doing a back bend

Ken took a black bear this year with Rugger Super Red Hawk 44 handgun. He shot the bear from his stand with 1 shot through the chest. The bear ran 100 yard and dropped. It was a very humane kill. He was a very large bear. He had a hard time getting him into the back of the Big Boss to get him home. He got home around 11pm and woke us all up so we could go and see.

Ken's Black Bear
 Wyatt was the only one who would get close to look at the bear. Even the dogs didn't want to get close to it. After we went back to bed Ken skinned the bear and quartered him.
Wyatt looking at Daddies Bear
 The next morning we all got to work cutting the meat off the bones. This was a lengthy process. Ken and I worked together the first day. The second day I was working alone and the third day I had help from my mom. As we cut the meat off it was cut into cubes and then ground. We used both the hand crank grinder and the kitchen aid grinder. The kitchen aid sucks the power from the battery bank and clogged up so often that it wasn't really worth using, but the kids could do it so it was a way for them to help. The hand crank #10 went really well as long as we kept the chunks down to about a 1". I also rendered the fat into lard which he had a lot of for so early in the season. He must have eaten very well before hibernation and kept it on due to the mild winter and early spring. The bones and connective tissues were cooked up for the dogs to eat. The Hide was frozen until we have time to work it. Nothing went to waste.

Ken cutting, Wyatt picking off any hairs and Oak watching

Packs of Ground Bear Burger

Kids helping grind the meat

Over all it was a long process but the end result was well worth it. The meat is very good. We've been eating Bear burgers, meatloaf, spaghetti, meat ball subs, bear and rice, etc etc etc..... I have found that Bear meat goes very well with Italian seasoning. It is also a little on the greasy side which is a drastic change from the very dry Moose meat.

Bear meatloaf topped with cheese and ranchy broccoli
OH and because I can't remember if I mentioned it before the remodel is done on the church library and it looks much nicer. Also we are now having bible study out here in Eureka with Pastor Earl on Wednesday evenings.

Also A little note on the sled dogs. I have been looking for a dryland training vehicle like an old quad or something. Since I haven't found anything I decided to take the girls out one at a time and give bikejoring a try. It was successful with at least two of the girls Kitty and Tisha. Quinn just looked at me like I was nuts hooking her up with no snow on the ground and just wanted to go back to her dog house. I haven't tried Pam yet because she's a bit of a spaz and would probably drag me off into a tree or ditch. When I get it down with one dog I'll try two and then let her run but she needs a good leader with her so she doesn't just spaz out on me. lol... I'll try to get someone to take a picture that I can post.

Well that's the most recent news here. I'm going to get back to getting busy. I have starts to transplant, school to do, and animal chores. Maybe I can even get done in time to relax for a minute. HA HA HA HA ;)

Isaiah 41:17-21 When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the LORD will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them. I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water. I will plant in the wilderness the cedar, the shittah tree, and the myrtle, and the oil tree; I will set in the desert the fir tree, and the pine, and the box tree together: That they may see, and know, and consider, and understand together, that the hand of the LORD hath done this, and the Holy One of Israel hath created it. Produce your cause, saith the LORD; bring forth your strong reasons, saith the King of Jacob. 


  1. As always, love reading your stories. You have a very interesting life, to be sure. I am glad you all are so happy.

  2. Nice update! I look forward to your next one. Until then, enjoy every waking moment!

  3. Hi Sarah, LOL, you guys have been really busy. Sorry to hear about Guy, good going on the bear hunt, you can't beat the hand grinder. The meat looks good. I really enjoy your posts.

  4. Your got your stuff together..I love to read your blog. (update more often please ;-) )
    Want to share what I do with my chickens, it might work for you. I use an incubator and the hens are my laying stock..I butcher the roosters.
    NOT as big as Cornish X, but this way I use all...also the chickens from last year will be butchered and canned..that way I have always chicken broth and meat on hand for a quick meal.
    Good luck with everything you do (and accomplish)