Thursday, January 12, 2017

State of the Homestead Report January 2017

We are in the throes of a strange winter, one day raining (in JANUARY IN MICHIGAN???), the next flirting with zero degrees. As we do the rounds of watering, feeding and caring for the animals at age 52, we still laugh like kids, even when limping away.  But we won't be kids forever...

Next fall, we'll butcher most of the animals prior to winter and keep only a minimal number of "breeding" stock to begin with.  Our rabbits, we'll take all the way down to zero and repurchase a trio in the spring.  Goats will be reduced to just pregnant moms and our buck. No puppies in the wintertime.  Chickens we'll winter over hens but plan to totally restart the flock every other year. That certainly feels more manageable and more $$$ efficient.

And let me tell you--heaven is a slow-cooker rabbit, prepared with the spices for Chicken Curry.  :-)  Yum.

We added a new breeding stud to our North American Retriever program, a lovely AKC Standard Poodle named Maverick of Family Wild.  My hope is to eventually have a chocolate Goldendoodle male, Maverick, and our CKC registered F1B Labradoodle all standing at stud and working actively on agility and obedience.  In some ways, that would be more "efficient" than doing the puppy routine.  :-)

Staring out over my snowy backyard, watching a Hairy Woodpecker attacking the suet, I'm already working on garden layouts, greenhouse positioning, and research vertical gardening techniques, raised beds, and more.  My goal is to have enough food for Mike and I, plus enough to share with family and some friends.  I want to make my own teas with my dehydrator, get long-term berry crops in place, and grow several beds of flowers for cutting.  I plan to freeze or dehydrate most of my crop for winter use. With the gardens, and eggs, chicken meat, rabbit meat, and goat meat, as well as the fish we catch in the summer, we should largely be off the grocery store food grid except for the occasional "exotic" like artichokes or wild salmon.  :-)

I'm also trying one of the recipe-and-grocery delivery systems this year.  I'm starting with HelloFresh because they offered a five meal a week option.  I'll keep you posted about how that adventure goes.  I had looked into all kinds of diet plans like Nutrisystems (it's all dairy and I am lactose intolerant), weight watchers (too expensive and tedious), etc. My hope is the smaller portions, cooking with fresh veggies and meats and new recipes each week will help me learn to broaden my culinary options. Weight loss is simple: eat less, exercise more and find your joy.  :-)  HelloFresh is my "cooking class" and "portion control" rolled into one--I hope.

I start teaching yoga again after yet another stint in the hospital with kidney stones, kidney infection and then sepsis.  Ick.  That's what I mean about getting older--poor Mike had to take on not only his work, but the care and upkeep of all the critters.  I suspect we'll become more efficient with everything over time.  I'm glad we keep our "small house" on 1/2 acre or so rented but ready for us when 50 acres become too much.

My new book will release next week most likely.  I'll be doing heavy editing today on it.  And then I'll start in on a whole new series: gentle 150 page introductions to some of the world's more difficult religious texts.  It'll be fun.

I've sketched a huge mural on my bedroom wall, and am getting ready to paint a fairly challenging zen garden there.  I keep weaving and crocheting at well, usually when my mind has given up on the day and I am immersed in Game of Thrones.  HA!

I'm enjoying using the Jerky Extruder gun with my dehydrator.  Pork makes wonderful jerky by the way.

We'll start pruning our apple trees this month--we have 23 that haven't been cared for in years, so "steady on the slow side" is our best option. We'll bundle the branches and sell to folks who want to use the wood for smoking meat. And we continue to thin and clear our rather scrubby cedar forest, keeping materials for gardens, hunting blinds, trellises, and more.  It's easier work in the winter--no bugs!

Well, that's the basic update on the homestead!

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