Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A New Rabbit Hutch from my stud

When I found our rabbits, we were going to slap a rabbit hutch together and call it good. Just something easy. Well, the plan kept changing. In the meantime we had them in a temporary cage that my friend let me borrow.

Joel spent a little time here and there on it and it was finally finished a couple weeks ago. He rocks my socks off. More on that in a little. I've got to save the best for last.

How have the rabbits been doing?
Well, Pumpkin is perfect. He is doing great. He is very friendly and even friendlier than Theodore a few times.

Coming in for a visit with the family. They aren't litter trained, but they prefer to only poop on the towel. Works well!
But Joel spent a lot of time taking care of Theodore one night while I was with my sister and the boys. Something had been up with Theodore. He had bare spots on him and scabs! We've got three thoughts on this:

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Oh. My. It’s a latte.


Do you love coffee? Do you love lattes? Me too!

I made a latte.

And I did it at home.

Okay, if you didn’t know, I worked in a small café for a short time and made a few drinks. They trained me on the hardcore skills, which I didn’t master, but still loved. I know that what I’m doing at home does not match up to real espresso, but what I loved the most and wanted to keep doing was latte art and drinking that lovely taste!

Guess what. The taste is fantastic. FANTASTIC. And now I can work on that art all I want!

Now, I’ll share with you my unconventional set up, and include a little info after about the differences between the real stuff and this tasty near match.

The mess. I think my stand mixer feels a little out of place in the coffee mess.

New Facebook Blog Page - how did that happen? + some of my favorite blogs on facebook

Why blog?
Sometimes, it’s lonely out here in homesteading land. Having a blog lets it be less lonely. Why? Well, because when someone wants to know what we are doing, they can read about it and comment, or talk to me about it. I know what we do is a little crazy to some, and I’ve noticed that it isn’t an easy topic of conversation. But it is fairly easy to share on my blog, where I can lay it all out, and let people start a conversation at the point they want to talk about it. Otherwise, I can just have the normal conversations (which are still fun) about other stuff. So, I’m not generally lonely, I just mean it can be lonely in homesteading land (which is a huge part of our life) – does that make sense?

Not everyone wants to read a blog that is heavy on the homesteading, or facebook updates about manure – and that is plenty fine. I guess I don't really want to make updates like that  on my personal page anyway. We are friends with different people and share different things in common.

Some friends are:
coffee friends
mom friends
Bible Study friends
farming friends


There is a core that lots of facebookers end up posting – pictures, family updates, current events… Homesteading(/all that other crazy stuff we do) is like that peripheral part I’d like to share and blogging is where I do that (and now the “opt-in” facebook blog page).

Modern technology, the internet, and all these small bloggers have made what we do possible and manageable – and I enjoy adding to that conversation a little.


How the internet has helped homesteading
Small homestead bloggers have been so helpful to me. Pinterest has been an invaluable tool. And Facebook is. When Joel went away overnight one Thursday a couple weeks ago, I started doing a little giveaway rampage. It was fun. I didn’t win any, but I found a whole lot of really cool bloggers. It was a wonderful find and I started to realize how valuable (and fun) all those facebook updates and community sharing have been.

In my facebook news feed, you’ll see John Piper, Voddie Bachman, Polyface Farms… and then the homestead homemaker blogs like The Elliott Homestead, Reformation Acres, The Prairie Homestead. And just recently I found all these wonderful people on facebook (in no particular order!):

Friday, December 27, 2013

Christmas time is here - photo overload

We had a wonderful Christmas time. It is the day after Christmas, but it still feels like the holiday.

I have to say, it was genuinely sweet and joyous. While I was making a calendar for my mom, I came across a few pictures and couldn’t help but get a little sentimental and miss my Grandparents. Thankfully, we have such sweet memories this time of year. And while going through these Christmas days, I could think back to similar days with happiness.

Just a fun picture I ran across. It says it is from summer 1991. Melissa is almost 1 and I'm 2 1/2 in this picture. 

Christmas 1997. Starting to open presents. We would visit with Grammie and Grampa (they came down the hill to us)
 after we did our family thing.
We got up Christmas morning, read from the Bible, put the baby Jesus in the manger and brought a shepherd and a couple sheep to the scene.

Christmas Eve Nativity

Christmas morning nativity

Sweet, oblivious, milk-gotee face
Next, we decorated the Christmas tree to add some sparkle and fun to our little celebration and put on a CD that got some dance moves from the littlest man.

Noah did a lot of decorating for us.


Adding the star
Of course, I had to attempt a few pictures after the tree was finished. Out of maybe 50, there were only a few where both boys were looking, smiling, sitting nicely, etc. It was hilarious:

Sunday, December 22, 2013

First Snow Day - family guitar sesh, happy animals, free choice bark, and wonderful hay

We had our first real snow storm last Saturday night into Sunday morning. We tried to think of everything. Put all the chickens together, closed them in their insulated coop, came up with a makeshift mega-feeder, and filled everyone’s water. We filled the bathtub with water to flush the toilet with, and stored 3 ½ gallons of drinking water. We weren't planning on days of power outage, just a little inconvenient overnight type. I told Joel we would just fire up his grill and melt snow if it really came down to it. There is an abundance of wet around here.

This is our first year with a variety of animals. I had already heard all the horror stories of going out in the storms to check on animals, making sure they are okay etc. I figured we would have a little work to do Sunday morning.

Turns out, we had about 10 inches on the porch and no power outages. Our road crew was out, and I’m not complaining, but I still didn’t want to go out on the road Sunday morning to get to church by 9:30am. Since we live 25 minutes away, we wouldn’t know what would be between here and there.

This was from another day, but the bundled up look was the same.
I bundled up, and went out to tend to the animals, and was inside in less than 10 minutes. It was cold out – but I wasn’t in because it was cold. I was in because there was nothing to do. I guess we have a pretty sweet set up here. The chickens were toasty in their insulated coop, the cows were perfectly happy in their shelter and their water heater was working fine, and the rabbits were fine… I didn’t have to shovel my way to anyone because we made everything so that we wouldn’t have to do that in the winter.

So we all settled in for the morning, turned on the Christmas tree lights, and read Luke 2, focusing on the Shepherds. We sang a few Christmas songs and a few specifically about joy - the specifics of Joy and the Shepherds because this was the advent week with the Shepherd Candle representing Joy. The boys got to actually interact with Joel and the guitar, and “play” the guitar with him. I think it was a treat.


Friday, December 20, 2013

Looking forward to Christmas 2013

It’s the holiday season!! I’m so excited this year. We are keeping it pretty simple and unpolished here. We are trying to be intentional and I think that is why it has been so pleasant.

Our church family is going through the advent candles and each week is themed according to the Advent week: Hope, Peace, Joy, Love. It has actually been pretty challenging for Joel to pick out themed songs, but each week comes together nicely with the sermon, songs, and candle lighting. It has been really wonderful, actually.

At home, the simplicity of our celebrating and looking forward has been refreshing and everything is a really helpful teaching moment.

The tree itself doesn’t have a lot of significance right now other than what it will become on Good Friday like we did last year. We got the tree early, so it sits in our house with lights and a few ornaments. But we will do most of the decorating on Christmas morning as part of our celebration of Christ’s birth. The tree will be fully decorated on Christmas morning and stay decorated through Epiphany, at least. This is also pretty convenient with little kids. We’ll see how it goes, but so far, I don’t mind having an undecorated tree until the big day.

Last year's tree. I posted HERE on facebook about it.
(You can also see our previous Jesse Tree behind the decorated one.)

This year's tree - the bottom of the lights are out. :-(

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The past month or so, Part Two - Chickens, Winter Pasture, Norway's Return, Cheese.

Part One is here: http://www.onbrowncroftacre.com/2013/12/the-past-month-or-so-part-one-vacation.html

I’m totally impressed with our buckeye chickens. The ladies are sweet and big now! They took longer to get to their mature size than the NH Red and Barred Rock, but they have surpassed them. They were bread to be good meat chickens originally – so this isn’t really a shock, but nice to see. I may just need to order more Buckeye chicks next year and transition our flock to all buckeye.

Barred Rock Hen and Buckeye Rooster - the nice one.
One of our roosters is friendly, and the other is not. The mean one has been mostly confined to the coop. I might want to clip his wing to make sure because he did get out a few times. He’s so big that it is hard for him to fly over the fence, but it’s his size that makes us want to keep him for our meat chickens. When I say he’s mean, I really just mean he tries to be bossy. He doesn’t attack relentlessly, but he tries to show Noah who’s boss, so this momma went out there to show him who’s boss a few times. He needs to be taken down the pecking order if he thinks the pecking order includes humans. Since the pecking order is established by physical conflict – this basically means I gave him quite a few boots to the chest when he starts to try to ruffle up his feathers at me and “start a fight”.

On Thanksgiving, I went out to take care of our animals and found a dead chicken in our coop. The poor thing. But I am endlessly happy with our chickens because they never peck each other, and are not cannibals. So I found her looking as peaceful as a dead chicken can, without a spot on her that helps me determine what might have been wrong with her. My only guess is she may have been one of the chickens that had yet to start laying and may have had a blocked vent that we wouldn’t have noticed. There really was nothing odd about her though, and none of the other chickens are sick. So I moved her out of the coop to wait for Joel to bury her and thanked God for the chickens we had and their sweetness and respect for her.

Monday, December 9, 2013

The past month or so, Part One - Vacation, Milking Shed, Norway, Pregnant Cows, Kitchen Painting, and NEW Rabbits!

There is so much to tell. I’ll give you a two or three part recap on what we’ve been up to:

We had the best vacation ever in November. I kept telling Joel the whole time that it was the best vacation we had had yet. It was a time of getting a lot done around here, but that is just how we wanted it. We did everything together and it was wonderful! I thanked Joel endlessly because I just loved being together and apparently really needed it. 

My Dad helped us get a shed that we found on Craigslist. It was free, but was also pretty far away. It was in really good shape and will be big enough to milk a mini cow in.

They cut off one of the eves to make it road worthy, and because we plan to make a larger one anyway.
This is before they finished the "winter pasture". I'll show you some after pictures in the next post.
More work was done clearing some trees, and building a fence for the winter pasture. So now I have a “Milking Parlor”, that awesome heater that Joel picked up (remember that $7 find?), and a surge milker just in case I need it or want it. I know I can hand milk because I’ve done it a few times, but I wanted the option of an electric milker and found one on craigslist – so we sold a few things and used that to purchase the milker. Just lovely.

We also started painting our kitchen cabinets. We only have the doors left to paint, and we purchased enough new door handles from a thrift shop for around $12. Our cabinets were laminate and I had done a bit of reading on how to paint them. We chose Olympic paint from Lowes that was semi enamel and was primer and paint in one. Joel sanded everything down with his orbital sander, we wiped the dust off, and just painted. It took 5 coats on the bookshelf, but everything else took about 3.

It's starting to get white!

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