Work I Enjoy

IMG_20170304_153903575

It has been a long time since I have posted here.  It isn’t because I have done nothing, but because my life has been so very full.

In the last year I have learned to carve spoons, spin wool, and tan hides. I have built barns and started cleaning up my old garden space so I can plant this spring.  I have worked endlessly around the farm.  My house is almost done being remodeled.  But most importantly, I have been loving my life.

I don’t think there is anything more important than loving life. No matter where we are, I think that should be our goal.  When I go to my employment, I work with people I adore.  I run the farm with my partner/daughter who works as well as I do and the jobs become fun.  I square dance with people that are loving and fun to be around.  And life is very satisfying.

Why should it be any other way?

Why work a job we hate, with people we can’t stand?  For the money?  There has to be other ways.  For retirement?  I have heard of many people who die shortly after that…..and never live in the meantime. For status?  I don’t want to stress about impressing people who don’t care a bit for me.   I quit jobs I couldn’t stand to become self-employed.  It was a scary jump, but I only have one life and I will not give that up for something I hate.

Why do we tolerate the unrest and unloving atmosphere in our home?  Why do we sit and stare at a screen for hours to loose ourselves in the life of someone else?  I tried to make relationships work , but it really does take two so I cleaned house and became single while starting to take care of loving myself.  I have a ways to go, but it had to start someplace.

Fear has a way of stopping us.  Keeping us locked in the known world. Sometimes the pain is tolerated only because we are afraid of change.  I decided a few years ago to stop living like that.  And I do not regret it.

What if I fail?  Well…….I will step up and try again.  Fail again?  Oh well……..  It is all a learning curve.  I would want it no other way.

I have one life.  Only one.  I will no longer trade my precious life for things that I despise.  And that is the best decision that I think I have ever made because my life is full of satisfaction and peace.  And work that I enjoy.

Make a Personalized Milking Stand

Milking stand measurements

I recently had someone ask me for the measurements of my milking stand which I gladly gave her.  Mine is made to fit my space and her space and needs are probably different.  For instance, what size are her goats?  Mine are Saanen which are large and long.  Smaller goats would not need as much space.  So I will describe the way I decided on size and shape so that you can design your own.

I started with either a mat or a piece of cardboard the size of the stance of the largest doe.  My mats are 15” by 30”.   If I want 2 stanchions I made two of these…..or 3.  Whatever I need.   I put these on a piece of 3/4 inch plywood that fits the length of the space I had.  I also took the feeding container that I would be using and put that at the head of the space with a couple of inches between them. Then I adjusted things around until they fit with space for me to sit beside each goat.

When I had my 3 goat stanchion, I sat behind one to milk the one in the middle.  I have found that the width of the space to sit did not have to be the width of my backside.  I have a carpet sample stapled to a half inch piece of plywood.  The plywood hangs over the side but is still stable.  This makes it comfortable to sit and so I don’t have to sit in dirty footprints.

Once I got the placement of the mats where I wanted them, I traced around the edges with a couple of inches to spare.  Then I found a place about the middle of the mat that I would need to cut out for my seat.  I traced those out too.

One thing I would like to emphasize; Measure twice……cut once.

Measure twice

I have had to do things over a couple of times and it is very frustrating.  Especially when I knew better……if I would have thought about it.

  • Make my seat cuts square to the goat, not to the plywood.
  • Half inch plywood base is not strong enough for Saanens and me.
  • Think through what I really want and make it a little bigger.

After I cut out the plywood, I made a 2X4 frame under it with legs.  My goats will jump up easily to 16 inches so that is my height.  The head holds are made of 2X4s.  After using the chains for a while, I am going back to the scissors type soon.  I love the peace of milking and the clang of chains bothers me.  And it is not as easy to open and close.  The head holds are connected to the base with metal framing brackets.  For the stanchions not against the wall, I put a side piece on it to keep the goat from stepping over into the feed bucket of the other goat. My side pieces were only a little longer than half the length of the goat.  That allows me space to fill feed dishes and for general cleanup.

Untitled

I love my milking stanchion. It fits my space, my needs, and it is even pretty.  If this has helped you, please let me know.  Or if you have questions I would love to help.

Cooking on a Wood Stove

 

20150908_184900

I did it!  This time I successfully made a full turkey dinner in my wood stove.  The last time I tried it, I had a different stove with some major problems and my wood wasn’t very dry.  So I will go through some of the things I have learned so you may not have to make some of my mistakes.

My previous stove had been stored in an open barn and when I rescued it I had to dig it out from years of hay….some rather rotten.  Because of this there was structural damage that would affect the efficiency.  I cleaned it up then heated and cooked on that stove all of one winter.  I didn’t have the metal working skills to do the repairs that could have made all the difference.

Most of the time I struggled to make it work.  I didn’t have a woodshed so my wood was wet.  This caused me to have to dry the wood before burning.  What a pain.  I never could get the oven to work very well because of the holes in the side of the stove that drew in cold air as I was trying to circulate the hot.  The time I tried a turkey in this stove it took me 12 hours to get it mostly done.  We cut off the outside for dinner and I cooked the rest for soup.

So for this part I would suggest that the stove be repaired before trying to use.  That alone would save a lot of frustration.  The second thing would be to make sure the wood for your stove is covered, seasoned, and dry.

When I took out that stove, it left me with a burning desire for another stove and another try.  I hate not getting things to work.

Years later I found a stove that was listed as possible yard art.  As beautiful as the picture showed it, I purchased it sight unseen, had it brought home and cleaned it up.  Everything was there……everything except a lid lifter which I soon found at a second hand store.  There was some structural damage……a crack here, a little too much rust there, a warped top plate.  But there were no major functionality issues that I could see.  So I painted the black, polished the nickel, put it back together and lit a fire.

Smoke seeped through the warped top plate and I thought it was going to have to be yard art when the stovepipe took over and drew the smoke outside.  YAY!!  I now have a beautiful and functional stove.  And later, the turkey turned out amazing!

The 13 pound turkey was supposed to cook for 4 hours so I planned on at least 5.  And from previous experience, I thought it might take more.  Dinner was planned for around 2.  I lit the fire and started warming the stove at 7:30.  As it was heating, I prepared the stuffing and primed the bird.  The turkey was in the oven by 9.

To cook on wood, I have to keep the firebox full.  If I wait to fill it until the fire dies down a little, the whole stove cools off.  I had to go do chores after I put the turkey in and when I got back I could tell it had cooled more than I would have liked.  So for the rest of the time I was able to stay right on top of it.  What I find strange is that when I put my hand in the oven to test the heat it never felt as hot as I thought it should feel.  Not as hot as my propane oven.  But I kept at it.  I may have to buy an oven thermometer one of these days.  But our great grandparents didn’t have one……I intend to try to cook without it too.

20151225_143448

Two o’clock came around and my guests were there.  We opened the oven and there it sat…….an absolutely beautiful turkey. YAY!  It only took the 5 hours that I hoped for!  It was not as brown as I would have liked it, but it was falling-off-the-bone done.  I put it back in to brown a little more as I cooked the sweet potatoes, and heated the buns and kept the corn soufflé warm in the warming oven.   When I took the turkey out, I made gravy and set on water for after dinner tea.

Before we ate, we washed our hands in water warmed in the boiler of the stove with my own homemade soap.  Then we sat down to an amazing dinner.  My guests called it a “Little House on the Prairie” experience and loved it!

Cooking on a wood stove takes more time than on a conventional stove.  But the flavor is somehow vastly different and worth every extra minute that it takes.

Building with a Nonexistent Budget

20150907_164422

As we have been expanding our herds, we have been in need of shelters in places that our barn cannot accommodate.  So we have built some incredible shelters that have cost us little to nothing.  Our lower barn took a huge hit with the pigs and horse rubbing on the rotting walls that were built over 25 years ago.  So we had to fence the bigger animals out of that building.  We have plans to rebuild it someday but now it is housing our chickens.

The first shelter was built to cover pigs and the buck goats that we had in the lower pasture. We started with pallets that we had picked up from behind Home Depot for free.  These we nailed together and made a large square with one missing in the front for the door.  To make it so that the pigs couldn’t push it down, we put log pieces that we had picked up from the local mill around the bottom and sank T-posts at each corner.  On top we put an old garage door that was made with tin siding that we had picked up from a building recycle place for $15.  After nailing that down we had our shelter complete…..or so I thought.

20150410_182939

Katrina had another idea.  She wanted to have several stalls so the sows could choose one to farrow in.  So we put together a second group of pallets with the scrap wood from the local mill dividing it down the middle, and pallets on each side, we had 4 stalls.  With the other $15 garage door on top, we had it made.  Because of the two parts, this outbuilding we call the “Suite”.  Total cost…..about $36 for the garage doors and T-posts.  The funny part about this is that the sows never used them to farrow in.  They chose to go into the open woods and have their babies there.

20150419_190446

Then we decided to fence off a small part of our pasture to put the sows and bucks in for the winter.  This was to help keep them out of the muddiest part of the pasture and so we could reseed.  But the “Suite” was not where we wanted the winter pasture to be……so we built another shelter.  This one was built out of the outside of logs that had been peeled off to start making lumber.  These we got free from the local mill.  We had 4”X 6” lumber that we had salvaged from some unremembered place that we used for the corners and started nailing stuff together.  We cross braced it with other salvaged lumber then put another set of garage doors on the top for the roof.  Katrina said that these didn’t cost us because I bought the doors for the siding and that had been removed before we used the frames.  Then we roofed it with tin roofing that I had gotten free from someone’s shed that had fallen over.  Total cost…..about $30 only because we needed really long nails, screws and roofing screws.

20150901_173157

But wait…..we still had the boar hog that needed a place for part of the winter.  We did not want him with the girls because we don’t want winter babies.  With no electricity to keep them warm, we lost all of them last year. The boar is in the pen with the chickens but with electric wire to keep him out of the barn.  As we were thinking about how to house him our neighbor asked if we wanted a truck canopy that she had buried in the ivy.  So we went and picked it up, free.  Then we put together pallets, 2 down each side and one in the back, and screwed the canopy on top of that.  With T-posts on the front two sides at the opening, we have a very adequate house for the boar.  Total cost…….$2 for T-posts.

20150920_180517

So with a little ingenuity and some of someone else’s scraps, we have shelters that work very well and cost us almost nothing. (I am going to have to replace my camera……sorry about the broken lens.)

The 3 Lists

Every weekend, there are 3 lists. Whether they’re on paper, on my phone or just in my head, there are always 3.

#1: What I’m going to get done this weekend. This is the list that is reasonable. The one that I’m sure I can complete if I work hard. Fix a fence, throw together a pallet shelter, clean a barn, that sort of thing. Usually it’s a couple of small projects and one big one.

#2: What I’d like to get done if I have time. This one is a fairy tale wishlist. If every job I have set for myself goes smoothly, there are a half dozen non-emergency tasks I’d love to work on. Clean the parking lot, organize the barn, brush the dog, etc.

And list #3: What I actually get done…

It’s Sunday night and dusk is falling fast. I look around and swallow back tears. Between making a trip to town for pig scraps, giving 2 farm tours (which I LOVE doing), 3 tasks coming up that weren’t expected, and the inescapable complications that seem to surround every single project, I have half of list #1 done.

I don’t know where my weekend went… For the life of me I can’t remember sleeping in, taking a lunch break, or leaving the farm before dark, but that small, carefully calculated list of manageable goals has beaten me again.

Mom and I look at each other and I know the gall is burning in her throat too. I know that the sense of falling short is making everything we’ve completed over the weekend look like nothing. And I know she sees the same disappointment in my eyes. At the same time, we smile brightly at each other and start running over the list of things (planned and not) that we’ve accomplished. It’s a long list. It doesn’t make either of us feel better.

But in bolstering each other up, we push down our own frustration and look forward. There’s always next weekend, right?

Saving Mr. Pigger

20150820_181106

 

I have been a farmer for a long time and I should know better, but with a mother’s heart I cannot just let a newborn baby die without trying.  And that is what I had to do now.

Our American Guinea Hog, Blitz, just had a litter of piglets.  Twelve of them to be exact.  I had the pleasure to be present when the bulk of them were being born.  There is something about watching the birthing process that never gets old.  Blitz had farrowed before so I was not worried about the babies.  The next day I went to work knowing that my daughter would be there to check in on them soon.

20150813_104247

What she found was one of the piglets not doing well.  He was weak and appeared to not have gotten to the colostrum.  So she warmed up some goat colostrum that I had frozen for such a time, fed him, and left him with his mother.

When I got home, the piglet was clear out of the nest and huddled in some old blackberry vines trying to stay warm.  That is when I knew that I would have to do something more for him.  He was very weak so I fed him and wrapped him in a towel so he could stay warm while I did the rest of my chores.  From then on he was my baby and I would have to be, as a friend called me, Momma Oink.

Not having electricity, I have to do some strange things.  Like……to keep him warm I put a thick towel on the bed and let him sleep with me.  I set my alarm every 2 hours to get up and feed him.  He never went to the bathroom in my bed.  I put him in a shopping crate with handles so I could carry him around with me during the day and make sure that he stayed warm and fed.

20150812_141055

But he didn’t gain strength.  He was constipated so I thinned the milk a little and gave him an enema.   I found out that pig milk is 8% fat and goat milk is only about 3% so I stopped thinning it and added coconut oil to the milk.  Then I added some egg yolk.   But he didn’t thrive.  Something else was wrong.

All this time, I took him everywhere.  People loved him.  He was soft and had this cute little cowlick on his head.  The tellers in the bank would come to hold him.  The people at the coffee shops would come to the car to pet him.  I was told very often that to see and pet Mr. Pigger made their day.

There were days that Mr. Pigger was doing great.  He would walk around and seem to be getting better.  Then he would go to sleep and be so asleep that he would not respond to me trying to wake him.  The hard part……was that I loved the little stinker and this broke my heart.  Almost every day there was a point in time when I thought he had died.  And I would weep.  But then he would get up and want to eat.  That roller-coaster was the hardest part.

I went to the Clallam County Fair and talked to a lady that raises a lot of pigs and was told that pigs need to eat every 15 to 20 minutes.  What a shock!  I was starving him to death…..was what I was thinking.  So I went and started to feed him as constantly as I could.

But there were little things that kept nagging at me.  Why was he not sucking out of the bottle?  Why was he not getting strong? Why did he keep choking on milk as he was trying to eat?

The day after the fair I had a board meeting that I had to attend…..but I would not leave Mr. Pigger.  I was 45 minutes to the restaurant where the meeting would be held, the meeting would be at least 2 hours, and then the return trip.  I could not leave him that long……so I put in in a lined tote bag and smuggled him into the restaurant so I would not leave him in the hot car either.  On one of the trips to the bathroom to feed him I knew it was over.  I put my game face on, finished the meeting, and went to the car……and cried, and cried.

I cried all the way home and while I buried him.  And I am crying as I write this.  Love can hurt.

That night I called the lady that I met at the fair and was able to ask a bunch of questions.  Since I am new at raising pigs, there is still much to learn.  I was thinking that I had unwittingly starved him to death.  And the guilt was overwhelming.  But what I found was a different story.  The reason that he wouldn’t suck and that he would choke on the milk is probably because he had a cleft palette.  The two times that he had sucked, milk poured out his nose like a coffee creamer.  Cute on the table but not in real life.  I had never had to deal with that before so I had no idea what to look for.  And now I know……and if it happens again, I know what to do.  Let it go.

Now……….I know, as a farmer, that this stuff happens.  But as Momma Oink, it was just devastating.  And I know as a farmer, that I should not get that attached……but I did anyway.  But the joy that Mr. Pigger brought for the two weeks that he lived was worth the pain.  Not the day it happened, and not for the next few weeks.  But the love remains even though Mr. Pigger is gone, and the pain is slowly going away.

Cool Your Rabbits!

20150730_130621

A couple of weeks ago the temperature got up to over 90 in our “temperate climate” in the Pacific Northwest.  Unfortunately, we lost 4 of our rabbits to the heat.  We had them shaded and in ventilated cages but it wasn’t enough.  Today as I was worrying about the return of the heat for our rabbits I remembered……I know how to make a non-electric cooler.

Since I live off the grid, everything has to work by itself and although I have known how to do this for years, I have never even tried it……up until now.

The way that people used to keep their stuff cool above ground is to have a cloth over a box and water dripping on the cloth.  Then as the water evaporated, the box was cooled…..and the stuff in the box.  So I used that principle to make the rabbit cages into coolers.

I took an old towel, got it wet, and hung it over a side of the cage.  Then I took a 5 gallon bucket of water and put it on the cage with a tube reaching from the bottom of the bucket to the middle of the towel.  I put a stick into the end of the tube so the water came out slowly to keep the towel wet and evaporating.

20150730_103935

The immediate relief was evident in the first cage I put it into.  It was 10 in the morning and she was already stressing…….but within a very short time she was breathing normally and eating.

The second rabbit pressed herself against the wire by the “cooler” and seemed to breathe a sigh of relief.  The mother and babies in the third cage seemed to come alive…..they had been acting sluggish and lethargic.  The fourth cage was a double deck hutch which had a bunch of young rabbits in it.  They laid against the side of the cage next to both levels of the cooler.

The rabbits are now safe in a cool spot……but I was dying…..  I had to come and write about it so I had a chance to be in a cool spot for a bit.

Ok….It has been 3 hours.  The temperature is 83 degrees and I just went and checked on our rabbits.  The sticks in the end of the tubes needed pulled out a little because, as wood is apt to do, it swelled and slowed the water flow.  But only one towel was getting dry.  The doe in that cage was up against the drying towel and breathing a little fast.  I wet the towel thoroughly and adjusted the stick in the tubing and within a couple of minutes she slowed her breathing and went off to eat.  NONE of the other rabbits are showing any sign that it is roasting out there.

OMG….How I wish I had remembered how to do this before we lost the does in the last heat wave.

Last year we tried freezing 2 liter bottles of water and put those in with the rabbits.  And I had that started for this time……but the results were not as dramatic and cooling.  In fact it was so not memorable that neither my daughter nor I can remember what the rabbits did with the bottles.  A couple bottles got chewed.

I heard that a lady lost some chickens in the last heat wave.  So how can this be applied?  I would drape wet blankets over the coop and have a hose or sprinkler on just enough to keep the blankets wet.  Over your doghouses?  Over the goat barn?  I bet if I put a wet blanket over my car with a 5 gallon bucket dripping on it I might have a cool car several hours later.  Anyone want to try that?

How else could this be applied to make the lives of the animals in our care more comfortable?

Hand Dipped Beeswax Candles

IMG_5607

This last weekend I was asked to give a little talk about the different uses of beeswax.  What a great time I had.  And I became aware of how much I enjoy creating with wax.   I use it for lotions and lotion bars, in soaps, lip balms, salves, and candles.   I have been making hand dipped beeswax candles for a few years now and I love the smell of the wax and the clean clear light they produce.  So I am going to share what I know about hand dipping candles.

I have not had the pleasure to purify my own wax yet.  I have researched a couple of ways to do that, but until I can do it myself, I just have to purchase it.  I am sorry that I cannot tell you where I got the last batch because I got it years ago and I am just now in the market for some more.  Now I have access to beekeepers so I will probably get some fresh from them.  So the directions will start from the understanding that you already have clarified wax.

The tools you use for beeswax need to be dedicated to that purpose only.  Trying to clean your good dishes will be very frustrating, if not impossible. I go to second hand stores and find what I need.

Tools:  Double boiler with the inside depth the size of desired candles, wooden spoon or paint stir stick, wicking, spreaders, board hanger, washers, plastic wrap or newspapers, scissors, optional candle molds.

IMG_5600

Find or make a deep double boiler.  I have a large aluminum pillar candle mold that I put in a 3 gallon stainless pot.  It is possible to heat the beeswax over direct flame, but it is highly flammable and could scorch or ignite unless you are always on top of it.  Since I am usually multi-tasking, I prefer the double boiler. Beeswax melts at a rather high temperature so it takes a while to get ready so I tend to get it started while I get the wick and surface prepared.

IMG_5597

Have the spreaders made ahead of time.  I cut mine from metal hangers in an inverted “V” with hooks on the bottom.  This separates the candles so they don’t stick together in the dipping process. I like making at least four sets at a time so I also have a board with nails in it that I suspend on a cabinet handle to hang the spreaders on.  When I make a new one, I will use hooks on the bottom for better balance.

Prepare the workspace.  The surface below where you are going to hang the candles should be covered with plastic wrap or newspapers. It is very hard to clean beeswax and it will drip.  Since my container is very deep, I put a board on my chair to protect the chair from the heat so I can reach the wax.  Then I put papers on the floor between the chair and the counter.  Not much space there, but it is easier to clean that way.

Here is the way to figure what size wick that you need.  I use the roll of square braid cotton wicking from Candlewic Company.  Here is the chart that I use.

Candle Wick Chart

Cut the wick in this manner….

two lengths of candles is from the bottom of the pan to top of wax

+ what it takes to knot the washers on it

+ what it takes to go around the spreader

+ a couple of inches of extra to keep fingers out of the wax

Tie a washer or other slightly heavy object to each end of the wick.  This will help make the candle straight.  Fold the wick in half and then loop it over the hooks, behind the spreader and over the top.  This helps hold the wick in place.

Untitled

Stir the wax with either a wooden spoon or a paint stir stick and make sure that it is totally melted.  Then with potholders, move the double boiler to your dipping area. Leaving the wax in the water keeps it hot longer.

Gripping your spreader, dip the wick with the washers on it into the wax until it bottoms out, wait a second for the wick to soak up some wax and then bring it out and hang it.  Right away pull the wicks straight by gripping the wick at the top and the washer at the bottom and pull. Remember that the wax will be hot.  This will only need to be done once or twice per candle. The washer does the rest.  Do the same with all the spreaders that you have prepared.  Since I do at least 4 candle sets at a time this allows me to keep dipping while the others cool a bit.

Start at one end of your board and dip them all, then start over, and over, and over.  When the candles are nice and straight I will cut off the washers so I have a longer candle.  I will frequently cut off the drip on the bottom too.  When the candle is the size that will fit snugly into a candle holder you are done.  Cut the bottom of the candles straight across and then let them cool completely before you handle them much.

IMG_5589

At this point, you could use the rest of the melted wax to make poured and molded candles.  Or line up your board and start over.  You will have to add wax to your double boiler to bring the level up again for your second round.  But it will not take as long to melt this time. and you will have your rhythm down.

As I was making my last batch of candles, my 5 year old granddaughter was here and wanted to learn how to dip candles.  As I was doing this she drew out the process for me to share.  She calls it her map.  It is well done so I thought I would share that with you as well.  Enjoy.

Scan

 

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask.  I would love to hear your stories too.

 

Goat Birthing 101

Brample

I love the miracle of birth.  There is something about the way the female body is made that allows for expansion enough to pass that little body out.  Whether it is human or animal, the basic process is the same……and it is all miraculous.

I never get tired of witnessing the birth process.  But for those who have not seen it or are just getting acquainted with raising animals, I made a little video for your enjoyment.

Goats tend to have easy births.  In all the years that I have raised them, I have had to really assist only once.  So I tend to keep it simple.  I allow the goat to do the work and I, as a mother myself, hold my breath and push when the time comes in sympathy and camaraderie.

To know when a doe is ready to kid, I look for the hollow in front of the tail and in the flank area.  That seems to be the signal to tell me that it will be in the next 12 hours.

When she starts pawing, then the fun begins.

It takes about an hour or two for the birthing process after she starts pawing.  So if you are watching your girl, don’t get anxious.  Really……let her do it. Any assistance from us can make a BIG mess if it is not needed.

I will not go into detail on the rest of it so you can watch the video here.

When the baby is born, make sure that the nose is clear so it can start breathing.  The mother will start licking it to clean and dry it and if it is very cold outside, I assist with drying it so it won’t get chilled.

What I tend to forget to film is the birth of the second baby……which is almost like the first, except it doesn’t take as long.  If the second baby is in a separate sack, it will come out head first like the first one.  If it is in the same sack, it will come out back feet first.

And I forget to film the afterbirth.  That should be expelled within a couple of hours.  Under no circumstance should you pull it out.  You could kill the doe by causing her to bleed to death.  Let the contractions of the uterus do its job.  The baby nursing will help.

I love the antics of newborn baby goats and their almost instant interest in the world.  Up on their feet within a few minutes and trying to run and jump soon after.  They will start looking for a nipple and nursing should begin as soon as they can stand.  The colostrum is essential to getting the healthy start that they need.  Here is one place that I tend to help.  Not because they really need it, but I do.  I have to help someplace so it is safe to do it here.  I just point the nose in the right direction, spray a little out of the teat so I know it is not blocked, and help them find their food.

I hope that you enjoy the video and if you have any questions, please post in the comments below.  I would love to hear from you.

It is Spring!

13266_1012507635430238_4750086676090714363_n

These last couple months of winter have been extremely difficult. When I went to change over the title on my new vehicles last month, I ended up having to pay for new plates and tabs, even though the ones they had were current.

Then at the beginning of the month I accidentally paid my credit card bill twice, and it will take up to a month to process my refund.

And finally the propane milk fridge at the farm broke, and it cost over $600 to fix it (propane fridges are rare and expensive, and apparently so are their workmen).
$1200 in unexpected expenses within 6 weeks.

And the last part of the winter is always the hardest. Most of the time the farm pays for its own expenses with the sales of eggs and animals and such. But during the winter no babies are being born and the animals aren’t producing anything to sell.

But they’re still eating… Ohhhh are they still eating.

And this is when the hay runs out…

Then our first batch of ducklings didn’t make it through the cold snap, and an entire litter of piglets (worth apprx $1,000) were stillborn.
We swallowed hard, buried those poor little piggies, and tightened our belts another notch.

But we’ve made it. We have 5 beautiful baby goats, all born happy and healthy (and even the genders that we wanted!) with more due any day. 4 litters of bunnies have been born, and even our first-time momma did a perfect job. The chickens are laying like crazy, and we have sweet, delicious goat milk in our fridges again.

Another crazy stressful winter is over, and spring… Spring is beautiful.