What another beautiful week!
The kids spent the better part of each day outside. I did not drag my feet when it was time to do my farm chores, in fact I am getting antsy to get things rolling.
I know better than to stick the plants in the dirt, we will have a few unexpected freezes, but that doesn’t mean I am not tempted. Those in warmer climates make me envious posting their beautiful greenery and flowers – for now my houseplants will suffice.
The chickens and duck have been laying almost daily, however none of them are broody – no chicks… yet. We should be getting enough eggs to sell this year!
I was able to boil down 2 batches of syrup bringing my total syrup count to 40oz with some change. I ain’t mad about it. My goal for the year was 70oz, but I think I mentally upped it to 100oz. I would be happy with 70oz, but 100oz would make me ecstatic. There would be enough to share!
My goal was to go out to our trees once per day to collect sap – I have been so excited that I went out twice almost every day. I had to check that the trees were flowing and my set-up was fully connected. Plus.. I will admit. I enjoyed the walk and seeing how much wildlife is coming out of the woodwork and how much the snow is melting.
The ONE DAY that I did not check the sap during the day, I got out to my buckets that evening and there was 3 of my 8 flowing buckets tipped. So disappointing. Had I gone out during the day, I would have been able to fix this problem and salvage most of the sap. Live & learn. I still got a few gallons of sap.
For the first two weeks I have gotten little to 1/2 gallon of sap for 9 trees tapped. Lately I have been getting 4+ gallons for 9 trees tapped. The warm weather is really gushing the trees – just have to watch for the buds now. Once the buds pop I am told the sap is horrendous because the tree is utilizing the sugar.
In case you missed it, I posted a blog about tapping trees. The difference in the pic above shows my first batch vs. second batch of syrup – look at that color difference!
I suspect one more week of Maple Tapping, and then we should be getting into Birch Season! I put a test-tap in a Birch this week.
Each day on our walk to the woods, more and more animals leave their mark on the path.
One day while walking our beaten path to the woods, the boys spotted a pile of brown pebbles and asks, “mom, what is this?” “son, that is poop.” “ohhh.” 🙂
Next to the poop I spotted a pile of white hair. I showed the boys the deer fur and they thought it was pretty cool. We even saw a deer print in the leftover snow.
Around the farm we have wasps – AKA the bee with NO purpose other than to be assholes. Sorry, but it’s true. I didn’t tell this to the kids, but I guess the other purpose they serve is a lesson. There was an old wasp nest in the yard and the boys saw their first bee’s nest (that they remember). It’s pretty fun to teach them these things. I cannot wait until we get honey bees and I can show them the real purpose of bees.
I dare you, whether you have small kids or by yourself, to take a walk in nature. The birds are in full-force, the animals are marking their tracks, and there are buds of green emerging. Go outside and look around. I double dare you.
There have been a few days nice enough to let the little chicks outside for a bit. They are 4 weeks old at this point, in another short 4 weeks they will be outside a majority of the day.
The first time chicks go outside, it is hard not to laugh. They cower in the corner and even a leaf blustering by is an enemy. Haha. They are so skiddish outside their safe little bucket.
I realized that in this batch of chicks we have handled them very little. The kids and I have been so busy outside that we have hardly handled these chicks – which is important to have friendly hens. I gave my 4 year old full-permission to pick up the birds when he wants, he is always very gentle.
Hopefully they aren’t too skiddish as adults, and hopefully we can break them now and are not too late!
Not only did the chickies go outside this week, but so did Pheobe! Babygirl can walk so well in the grass compared to our hard floor. I am still unsure of her outcome in this whole scenario, but I do know that as long as she isn’t miserable, she will be loved and alive.
The biggest chicken task of spring – I was scooping out the chicken coop from the winter. Pheobe was outside for most of this, balancing and flopping in the grass.
Holy Poop, Batman! With 10 chickens and 2 ducks over a cold winter there was a LOT of poop.
During winter, I do not scoop the coop at all. It is frozen, there is no real way to move it from beyond the coop because of snow and ice, plus it is COLD out!
During the cold winter, I just add straw and wood shavings every couple of weeks to their bedding. For a true composting method, it is wise to turn the bedding as well. Not sure if it is because we have ducks that make everything wet and frozen or what, but that is not possible in our winter.
I put all of the chicken bedding in the compost – this should be a great start to our season. The straw and woodchips are the carbon and the feces are the nitrogen. This combined with our winter collection of scraps – we should have a pretty good heat pile going soon!
Back to Pheobe – how can we get her outside without leaving her in the coop? That is the biggest question circling our heads. She surely cannot be a house chicken. Once she starts laying, I cannot leave diapers on her, they could make her egg-bound which is life-threatening to hens. Plus, she is an outdoor animal, she would be happiest outdoors.
The hubs and I were talking about building her a small enclosed doghouse to live in. She can be close to the house and outside. Maybe when we get the greenhouse set-up, she can live in there? Like I said, we have a few plans rolling around our heads, but we are waiting on an answer.
I keep praying on it, our sweet Footless Friend.
One thing I have also done a lot of this week as well is making snacks for the kids.
This is one thing I haven’t written about on the blog yet because I try to blog about ‘homestead’ things as that is what my audience is here for. My kid’s snacks are not necessarily ‘homestead’ but they do fit our lifestyle – making something we used to buy processed.
So, let me know what you think – do you want recipes or info when I do things not necessarily homestead related, but are in our version of living ‘more simply’?
My children used eat at least one box of mini-muffins and one box of chewy granola bars a week… or a weekend. This always bothered me because they were processed and unhealthy. Not the worst, but not the best. Plus… they are kinda spendy.
I started with granola bars and ran through a few recipes until I found one that I loved, then with my 4 year old taste tester, we altered it to be healthy AND yummy. He loves my granola bars far more than from the store. YASS. We do rolled oat, sunflower seeds, peanut butter, honey, marshmallows and m&m’s. They really are delicious. Sometimes he asks for raisins instead of marshmallows.
Another thing the kids devour are mini muffins. Every day they each had at least one bag of 4 mini muffins. My first batch of muffins I tried to make with sourdough starter and they were a HUGE FLOP. They were mushy and dry at the same time. HOW?! I have no idea, but kids lose interest fast and have no patience with yucky food, so I threw the batch.
Next I tried a muffin pre-mixed box. These were also dry and seriously lacking flavor.
Finally, I made a recipe that has flavor and the muffins are moist. The kids love them, and I ain’t mad if they don’t finish them because that means more for me!
I will probably mess around with the sourdough more because that is ultimately what would be best for the kids, or some other version to make chocolate chip muffins healthy. For now I am happy to be better than we were not long ago – we are making our food and not buying processed.
We try not to be overly-obsessed with buying non-processed food, I mean… look in my cabinet. NOT INNOCENT. However, for the food that we consume the most, I try to find a way to make it.
What are you looking forward to this spring?
One thing I am going to put some effort into is mushroom hunting. This was not on the original 2019 docket, but I am intrigued by the idea. Morel mushroom is Minnesota’s State Mushroom and Morel season is just around the corner – they pop out when the Birch starts flowing.
Another thing I planned this week that I have been procrastinating on is docking our ewe’s tails. We are sheering and hoof trimming in the next couple of weeks, our sheep medic is coming out to dock the tails and teach us how to give vaccines. I am so nervous.
Does anyone know – is it too late to stick fall bulbs in the ground for spring? I bought some on clearance and was hoping to save them for this fall, but I was also thinking maybe I could stick them in the ground now since we have 2 more months until our actual growing season? I have daffodils, tulips and a few other in the mix. Comment below or send me an email! Thank youuuuu!
If you ever have any questions, or ideas for future blogs, comment below or shoot me an email!
From the farm,