Saturday, January 7, 2012


     Happy New Year everyone.  I am looking forward to this new year.  I don't make New Year's Resolutions.  I do however make plans and try to create goals to implement and complete my plans.

     Since I last blogged, we have added a boar/nubian mix buck goat to our homestead.  His name is Dobby after the house elf on Harry Potter.  When we add a doe, I plan to name her Winky.  He is the beginning of our meat goat herd.  He really is kind of fun and kind of mischievious like Dobby the house elf.  We don't have any other goats so he has adopted us as his herd.  This can be trying sometimes when he is loose as he likes to get into everything including the car.  He's managed to make it through the door into the house once.  We do have him trained fairly well to walk on a leash.  We are wanting to add at least 3 does to our herd no later than early Summer if at all possible.  We will most likely do this one at a time.  We are most thankful to some friends that are willing to teach us about raising goats as this is an all new experience for us.  In return for their teaching, we try to help them with caring for their herd.  This is in keeping with learning to use the bartering system.

     We had our pot-bellied pig butchered in early December.  I did find out that I don't like meat being vacuum packed as it takes up too much extra room in the freezer.  We usually wrap our meat in plastic wrap and then in white butcher paper.  The vaccuum wrapping took almost twice as much freezer space and it doesn't stack well and likes to slide out.  We got about 150 pounds of meat from her and have found it to be very tasty.  While I don't recommend buying a pot-bellied pig to raise for meat if you should have the opportunity to get one for free or nearly free it isn't a bad thing to raise it for meat.  We did keep ours a lot longer than we should have.  She had a tremendous amount of fat on her that was wasted.  In the future, we won't make this mistake and will take a pot-bellied pig to the butcher just as soon as it is large enough.   Say about 180-200 pounds.

     One of our neighbors will have piglets ready to wean sometime in March or early April.  The plan is to have a pig pen ready for at least 2 or 3 piglets to raise for meat to be butchered late fall or early winter this year.  We aren't quite ready to get into breeding hogs.  This is still a maybe.  But we definitely want to raise them for our own eating pleasure and to share with family.

     We now have 4 small pullets.  They have grown quite a bit since we got them.  I believe they should be laying by Spring.  We don't really know how old they are or what kind they are.  We have them in an open bottom cage together and will be adding  on some laying boxes.  I should say if they don't lay they will make great chicken noodles.  My thinking is we will need about a dozen and a half laying hens.  We average using about 7 dozen eggs a month.  That will probably increase as I get to making more of our bread.  I'd like to have some extra eggs for trading.

     We have one rabbit at this time.  I need to get out there and get her a bigger cage built.  Yes, I know how to build rabbit cages.  We have all the materials now.  I am wanting to build at least 3 doe cages and one buck cage and a cage for the weaned babies to get us started.  I am planning to raise large meat rabbits.  We raised rabbits before and 3 does and 1 buck made plenty of rabbit meat for us at that time.  It would be nice if we would be able to raise enough to do some bartering with.

     I am planning to make some drapes for our windows.  This will be my first experience at making drapes.  I am looking forward to seeing how this is going to work out.  I will be making some curtains for the kitchen and bathroom.  Also, in my plans for this year is to make at least one recycled denim throw rug.  I have already begun collecting the denim to do this.  I also want to make myself some scrub tops and a couple of skirts for summer.

     So far, we haven't had much luck with gardening here.  Our soil is really bad from the strip mining done here in the past.  We are trying to do some container and raised bed gardening and we are working on improving the garden soil bit by bit.  This year I plan to use a different kind of soil in my containers to see if that makes any improvement in our harvest.  I also want to get a fence up around the garden before Spring to keep the wildlife and livestock out so that we might be able to harvest at least a little from the garden.  Last year we had a continual parade of deer, turkey and ground hogs in the garden.  I want to can a lot of veggies and meat this year to help stretch our food budget and maybe even reduce it.  We did have good luck this last year with habeneros, jalapenos and cilantro.  I got a few small green peppers off my plants before they died.  We also got a few tomatoes off our plants.  All these were in containers except the cilantro.  I planted the cilantro in the trays like tobacco plants are started in.  It worked very well for it and I had a nice harvest with only about 1/4 of the tray planted.  It took very little soil to fill the tray.  I just needed to remember to keep the tray floating in water.  I am going to do this again next year and I want to try growing some other herbs this way.  A couple of years ago, my brother built a frame and lined it with heavy duty plastic to float my tray in.  It worked very well.  I am thinking of starting some other plants this year the same way.  Cabbage for early spring cabbage should work well.  I am wondering if it would grow leaf lettuce?  If this works, I will be building some more frames and getting some more trays from the tobacco barn.  I can grow in these on my front porch where the varmits can't get to them.  I'm thinking of making a cold frame type cover for it so I can start earlier.

    One way that we save money is to buy our food in bulk.  We buy our sugar and flour by the 25 pound bags.  I have two large wheeled containers, we bought new that were meant for dogfood that works very well for storing my sugar and flour.  We also buy whole cuts of meat.  Wayne cuts it and we wrap it in family size packages for the freezer.  Most stores will cut it for free but we prefer to do it ourselves.  Just today we bought a whole NY strip steak for $4.99 per pound.  It made 15 steaks and a small roast.  For the 3 of us that is enough meat for 6 to 7 meals.  We are big meat eaters.  I buy my plastic wrap in commercial rolls and my butcher paper the same way from Sam's Club. 

     We are making progress on the house.  Wayne is finishing the drywall in the living room.  We should be able to move upstairs soon.  Definitely on the planning agenda is moving upstairs.

     These are only a few of the many plans for this new year.  We are continuing to live off-the-grid and learning new ways to do things.  Until the next time...



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