Homestead Update: Autumn Tasks

Oh friends… So much has been happening on the homestead! Not the least of which has been a yucky cold circulating the family. Thank God for elderberry and astragalus syrup, pink juice, and I’ve got some fire cider on the docket to complete later this weekend. This is one of our busiest times of year. Spring, and fall, where we’re pitted against the clock to accomplish all the things before the weather changes.

We completed the chicken hoop coop a few weeks ago, and we liked it so much, we decided to go for a similar design for goat shelter/separation sleep space. Sidebar– someone asked me, “is it ok to keep them contained? Don’t they have to be free ranged?” Translation: “I’m new to chicken-keeping.” I stifled a chuckle-sob and marveled at the ways we’ve learned why exclusively free ranging doesn’t work for us. It is my preference, and the eggs were awesome, but we were essentially running an all you can eat chicken buffet for the predators, and feeding the wildlife more than we were feeding our family. So do I love the romantic notion of free range birds roaming about the property, waddling after me in their silly chicken way of running? Yes. Yes I do. But more than I love that, I love not having to dispatch half-eaten birds that have been attacked, or treating my birds for shock, or losing egg production to stress. Our hoop coop is secure, and that’s our priority for now.

Back to the new goat shelter. Now our current “barn” can be more exclusively milking shed, mama/baby area, and we can sleep the buck(s) separately. Right now we only have Tumnus, our first baby born on the homestead, and he’s our whether for a couple reasons. 1) he’s our first baby, and we love him and wanted to keep him. 2) he can’t be used as a herd sire for the GGBOA breeding up program, so we decided to fix him and keep him as a pen mate for our future herd sire. A perpetual wing-man, if you will. Right now, Tumnus gets crated at night in an XL wire doggy crate inside the barn, but he’s nearly outgrown it. But if we leave him un-crated, he drinks all Luna’s milk. And we need all the milk we can get. So, a secondary shelter was necessary.

My husband got the frame put together Wednesday, and will presumably finish up later this weekend. It’s essentially the same as the chicken hoop coop, but wider rather than taller, and will have more of a gate than a door. And we don’t have to mess with all the 1×1 hardware cloth over the cattle panels like we did with the chickens, so hopefully we’re quicker to finish this one up before yicky weather hits.

As far as weather goes, we’ve dipped down into the upper 30s a couple nights so far, and had our first frost warning this week. So far the fall garden is still looking good with all the cold-hardy plants doing awesome. The kale really made a comeback, which I’m thankful for! The carrots… I’m not psyched about. Definitely need to try either seed tapes or pelleted seed next time. I had one small section of parisienne carrots that were pelleted and they’re all doing well, so lesson learned. The Detroit dark red beets are up and hopefully will produce some decent beets for us to freeze dry, and/or pickle. Beans are ready to be harvested for seeds, and most of the annual herbs are done.

I harvested our first ever crop of marshmallow root. I know there are mixed reviews on tincture-ing it, but I did it anyway with 40%ABV vodka. We’ll see how it does, being a mucilage. I have more to experiment with as tea, freeze dried, powdered, etc. So if the tincture doesn’t pan out, no great loss. Just more experiential wisdom gained. It is good to know it’s a viable substitute for slippery elm, as I use slippery elm as an antiparasitic for our goats, and slippery elm is harder to harvest and takes longer to grow and establish. So as far “regenerative agriculture” goes, (which we don’t practice “officially” but in principle, we’ve always been focused on regeneration,) we’re on the right track.

Lots and lots of other things are happening around here, but I’ve no time to expound for now. Always lots to be done this time of year!

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