January 17, 2018

Ceaberry's Homesteading and Haberdashery: The beginning of 2018

As much as our homestead came into its own last year, we have even more changes ahead that hopefully will become easier as the years go by. Rebuilding an old homestead that hasn't been used as such for well over a decade is hard, overgrowth is a constant battle and breaking old habits is even harder. But I have seen my changes implemented elsewhere on the family farm, as competition with your neighbors (which in this case are my in-laws, whom I love I should add) gears up we will both push each other to be better. My shocking and downright crazy tactics have showed it is possible to not just accept the way things are as concrete, you can just go out with a hand-saw no matter what anyone says and cut the limbs and debris down!

I have opened up my house, stopped the "well we will get to it eventually," stopped waiting for my busy husband to find the time, and ignored any naysayers. I am a homesteader, business owner, stay at home mom, and homemaker. All those things have me at this homestead A LOT of the time. Shouldn't it ultimately make me happy? That sounds selfish, but If you aren't happy in your environment, you are happy and every one else will suffer in some way because of your unhappiness. You don't need all those titles as a reason to be selfish, everyone needs happy, safe, and peaceful places to be. Peaceful may be an explosion of color and sounds or a small white reading nook. If you have ever watched Harriet the Spy with Rosie O'Donnell there is a scene they go into this lady's garden that is full of wonder. Another scene that touched me as a child are the wind chimes from the movie Twister. Small things can make the largest impact.

As 2018 comes to life so will my homestead. I am already planning Ceaberry's Homesteading and Haberdashery renewal for the next year. I am excited, for once, about what is to come. I still have naysayers, doubters, and unhelpful people. However, recently my in-laws cut down some big brush that was blocking the view from their driveway to the backyard (they live off the road so this was purely for them). They were effected by the West Virginia flooding a few years ago (their basement was flooded by a nearby stream because the culvert was blocked), and they are still recovering but I hope to get my mother-in-law back out in the garden this year. It makes her happy. The whole house breathes, you can feel the uptightness of privacy give way to the open arm feeling of un-obstruction. That's how I felt with everything I did last year, I chipped away the closed, private feeling of our homestead and gave back the open arm feeling I knew was here from my childhood. Me and my husband have been friends half our lives (literally) so I knew this place that was so warm from childhood and sadness had taken over it and made it cold. There are private reasons for that sadness, but now a new little family is growing inside of it, I want my kids to be surrounded by the love I used to feel from this homestead.

As 2017 ended, my husband lost his job. They were downsizing and he was laid off a job of 10 years. Being a county where everyone knows everyone and family is just a stone's throw away, he had a job lined up before the end of employment. We are adjusting as he has gone to a night-shift job, this makes the whole of everything on me. He is awake and here, 5 hours a day and every other hour is mine here. I am hoping, like last year, that I will take my kids outside more of the day then actually be inside. Because we implemented a bed-time routine that works for everyone, it has made life a little easier. If you don't have one, get one, because it saved my sanity!

As you can tell, I have been a bit busy over the last few months. Hopefully, I will set reminders to get my hands typing and share how it is to homestead, and own a business on a family farm with little kids and a husband who has to work at nights and still has a family farm to take care of some days! Let the ride begin!

November 20, 2017

Ceaberry's Monday Musings: It's not goat season...

"It's duck season, it's rabbit season, no it's duck season, NO it's RABBIT season..." As my 3 years old says, "No, it's deer season!" Here in West Virginia deer season opened today. Where most people only get Wednesday-Friday off of school, we get the whole week because kids just wouldn't attend school. Mr. Native Farmer is off work as well. That is how big deer season where I live actually is, and it brings all new issues this year.
I have an alpine goat named Cammie, who is currently heavily pregnant. She looks just like a deer. Granted she is in an enclosed area, in my garden, with a pink collar on, but that hasn't stopped people from telling me they thought she was a deer. They go a bit deer crazy here... This whole week, especially the first and last days of the season, I will be worrying someone might mistake my goat (who is amongst other goats might I add) will get shot. Now you think people wouldn't shoot at her, through a scope she would clearly NOT be a deer, but people shoot cows, dogs, horses, and other creatures mistaking them for deer all the time. People shoot OVER our black Angus cows all the time. If they were to hit one of our cows they are responsible for the price of the cow and any calf it has with it, since it would stunt at this point in its life if it lost its momma.
I am not against hunting... I am against stupidity. Just like I am not against running bear dogs, but there are some dumb people in this world... and it seems they love to wield a gun. Mr. Native Farmer is currently out on his stand trying to get us a deer for this year, but we shall see if he gets anything. I heard a few shots around this morning, which is why I am waiting to feed and water the animals this morning. Hunters have been known to "kill the noise" if you catch my drift and there is no need putting my animals in harm's way.

For now, hope everyone stays safe this week and have a Happy Turkey Day if you are in the USA!

November 6, 2017

Ceaberry's Monday Musings: Juggling a Homestead Day

Now, I have talked a lot about homesteading lately. I am in the process of imbedding that word in my life permanently. When I was in Scotland, I was into crafting and school work. Now I am up to my elbows in animals, garden, homesteading, and kids. That kind of shift in perspective hasn't happened just once in my life. I have picked up and changed my entire lifestyle in a moments notice many... many times. I know the old adage that people don't change. That is a bunch of malarkey, many people do it ALL the the time, I have a friend from when I lived in Dallas who now is on a family cattle farm, she was the most city girl I knew but she upped and left that and started a new adventure (strange me and her live almost identical lives and we grew up across the street, literally, from each other). If you think the homesteading life isn't in conjunction with your lifestyle then I urge you to think about this: If it appeals to you think long and hard why it does, if your current lifestyle was everything you need you wouldn't be peeking to see if the grass is greener. One thing I like about homesteading is you can take it in small chunks or dive in head first and hope for the best (don't expect it though, research is key).

So let me enlighten you about yesterday and what is on the agenda for today. Full disclosure: I am writing this at 4am, I have been up since 2am because Miss C decided to wake up. Once I have had 4 hours of sleep, I physically can't go back to sleep once I get up. That whole sleep when kids sleep doesn't apply to 95% of parents, so nicely don't give that advice.

Yesterday (Sunday):
5am wake up due to Miss C (she is teething and having a milestone so these wake ups are common until it passes)
7am Miss P wakes up and we do our morning routine: YooHoo and a show.
7.30am I do my morning feed everyone routine. Takes about 30 minutes.
8am Miss C and Daddy wake up and are hungry
9am I make breakfast of flakey biscuits, bacon, and farm eggs.
9.30am I go out to finish my milk stand (I got goats last week).
10.15am Our neighbor came by to level our driveway so Mr. Native Farmer had to go out and I had to finish getting Miss P ready for her day out with Papaw.
10.45am Me and the girls go to the grandparents (they live next door) to drop Miss P off while the leveling is going on.
11.30am Me and Miss C come back and I am back to finishing the goat stand... in the rain.
11.45am I check the chickens for eggs (normally there are eggs but this day they waited until 5pm to lay any).
12pm Lunch
12.30pm Me and Mr. Native Farmer dropp Miss C with Grammie and we go work on fencing on the farm to fence off hay lots from the cows.
4.30pm We finish all of that work and go on the farm to check for calves.
5pm We come back to the house to milk a goat for the first time... not even kidding.
5.30pm I head back to pick up Miss C and Miss P
6.15pm We come back to eat dinner
7pm Girls and Daddy go to bedtime routine
7.30pm Me and Mr Native Farmer relax and watch some shows
9pm We are all out asleep.

That was my Sunday. My last 3 weeks have been that jammed pack. There are untold household chores mixed in all of that plus cooking and childcare.

Today I plan on doing my normal feeding routine, cleaning out the coop, maybe tying out the goats, and of course milking some more. On top of that I have countless chores and small tasks to complete today, all before 8pm. That is my Dancing with the Stars break. I LIVE for Mondays during these times.

It is HARD, I am not going to sugar coat it because there are more then just a single person's life on the line when homesteading. I have my husband, my kids, cats, chickens, ducks, and goats. They all require parts of me, and I need to tend to them like I do my garden. Without tending to them they will not get the full benefit. My kids absolutely adore their animals and they love the pigs that are temporarily on the farm (neighbors are holding 2 pigs here for a short time). They get so excited seeing the cows, every time. They love my garden and the cotton plant that is in the house, that thinks it still needs to flower. Really, the exhaustion is from being a bit out of shape and after two close pregnancies, it takes a toll on your body that takes years to recover from, time you don't get when raising kids.

The word "farm" puts into mind men working out in the fields, but homesteading is normally a joint effort. My kids truly enjoy this lifestyle, homesteading and farming. If they chose to pursue it later in life that is great and they won't have to start from scratch but if they choose it isn't their lifestyle then that is ok as well, I have been in a lot of different situations in my life and whatever they come up against I, as their parent, will be there to help guide them and watch how they figure it out for themselves.

That is why I do it, the absolute joy of my family have in taking on care of the animals, farm and garden. Miss C feeds the chickies and goats one blade of grass at a time (thankfully the goats seem to understand littles and gently take the blade without getting snotty). Miss P feeds "her" chickies she has been waiting for "forever" and she loves feeding the goats. She has favorite animals. They enjoy handing apples to the cows and tossing them to the pigs. I had to move the mealworm farm because they kept looking in the drawers. They also love putting shredded paper into the worm tub.

Under the surface of all of this, I do all the household chores, inside and outside; I do the childcare and most of the raising decisions; and I maintain and upkeep an old farmhouse. On top of this we have the same little issues that creep up here and there. Let's not even mention I do have a full business I am running as well. One day, when I get my house under control, a lot of what I will be doing will be old hat and habit. My house won't be out of a catalogue, my family makes sure of that every day, but it will be effortless and streamlined. I hate having to search 45 minutes for a tape measurer or some tool I need or running out of screws. You know... those niggles but once I am a bit more simplified I will get this homesteading juggling act a bit more refined and then my family or animals will throw a wrench in the works and I will adapt and change.

Happy Homesteading.

October 30, 2017

Ceaberry's Homesteading: Yellow Wax Snap Bean

Mr. Native Farmer decided to bring home some Yellow Wax Beans. I decided to store them since we didn't need to eat that many beans at once.

First step was to soak them to get the grime and muck off them.

Then I had some helpers come in for the end snapping part of the process. Penelope is showing Calliope how to snap the ends off! Such a good helper!

After we were done we were left with a pot full of shells (went to the worms), a handful of beans (which I saved for seed), and two small sandwich sized bags of "green" beans.

I took the more colorful ones and decided to see if they would ripen.

Not too bad, after about 2 weeks...

More seed saving coming up all this week! Happy Homesteading!

October 23, 2017

Monday Musings: I am not in the Meat business...kind of.

I live on a beef cattle farm. That is the only type of meat business I plan on ever being in on this farm. I am in it for the product of my animals including the cows. My ducks give me eggs (eventually), the chickens give me eggs and more chicks/pullets, and the cows give me calves. One day we might have goats for milk, and we will soon have temporary pigs (not our pigs) and they are for meat but that's a different story since that is our payment for housing the pigs.

So I am not technically in the meat business when it comes to my poultry. They can be on this farm if they do 1 of 3 things: 1. Lay eggs, let's face it that is why I got chickens, 2. Provide protection, my roosters/drakes are living here on the basis of alerting the entire flock to danger plus fertile eggs, and 3. Provide "pet" value love, I have a few (and I mean few) chickens I will let live past their prime on this farm because they provide a special place in my heart.

I bring this up because yesterday I did a trade of some money and 4 cornish hens for 3 Khaki Campbell ducks (a drake and 2 hens). I know exactly what is going to happen to the Cornish hens, what should have happened over 18 months ago but the previous owners were without running water for almost that long and butchering a chicken without running water... *shutter* So they were overweight, really sick because they caught a cold before I got them and couldn't shake it, they couldn't walk, they waddled like a duck, and they were one scare away from a heart attack. They lay 1 egg/week. That, on a production farm, just can't happen.

I know a lot of people may not think it was necessary to have the chickens taken away to be culled just because they weren't producing. I pay the feed bill, I decide what chickens to bring into my flock, I protect my flock as much as I can from predators and illness, and I use their products to make money to pay for said feed bill. That is my homestead, I don't like making the hard decisions but that's what I signed up for when I decided to get living animals. We have had the unfortunate task of putting down a dog recently (not via a vet) because he got hit in the road and we have lost a few cats and put one down (used a vet, $120 later) due to cancer. Those are the decisions you might have to make as just a pet owner none-the-less a farm animal owner. Our poultry are just as much livestock as our cows and both balance on the edge of being livestock and being pets. We love all of our animals as caretakers but you have to be one step removed from "pet" or else those hard decisions add u quickly and take a toll on you as a person.

One last note: Besides being inhumane to allow them to live any longer, they were very very sick. I tried to bring them out of it but they only got sicker. Here are three of the 4 chickens that gave someone else meat today. Just want to thank them for being good chickens.

Happy Homesteading.

October 21, 2017

Ceaberry's Haberdashery: Egg Apron

So when we first got our pullets I wanted to collect eggs in an egg apron. I found a pattern online for one and set out to crochet it. I finished their version in a couple of days. However, it was quite large, nothing wrong with that but I get a bit bored with long arduous rows. So I decided to modify it to have attachable pockets (instead of sewing), and Tunisian crochet for the strap. 

So I set out to make my own pattern: Adult Egg Gathering Apron
It features attach-as-you-go pockets and the Tunisian crochet straps. It is a lot more streamlined. I am coming out with an added larger pocket size soon, now that I have jumbo and duck eggs. 

Since that is the adult version, there is a kids version as well. It is basically just one row of egg pockets. and it does have straps, I just hadn't put them on in the picture.

So if you want to get the pattern it is currently FREE, just add it to your cart and it will apply the discount automatically! Adult Egg Gathering Apron!

Happy Crafting!

October 16, 2017

Ceaberry's Monday Musings: Inheriting Chickens

This weekend our flock grew from 16 to 57 plus 5 ducks. We inherited a flock from friends that are moving. Now my coops are not set up to house 57 chickens and 5 ducks, nor are my runs. However, we are fixing that as soon as we can and actually the big coop seems to be handling the influx just fine. For some reason, 15 or so chickens from the new flock refuse to go into the coop at night (although they lay eggs in the nesting boxes inside the coop). The ducks just can't physically get into the coop. I will be remedying these things in a short while since winter is coming very soon.

So we got a message on Friday to say that our friends were willing to part with their flock. We didn't know then they were moving so I and Mr. Native Farmer decided on at least 3 chickens we were going to buy. My mother came up since my husband and father-in-law were moving the rest of our cattle home. We loaded up the van with two crates and two children excited to go see chickens. I had the map loaded up to get there, it wasn't hard but they live a bit back in the woods and I had never driven there by myself.

We get to their house and were talking with my friend, who told us she was moving. I asked her how many chickens she had, she said 30 chickens... well, after getting everyone it was 41 chickens. We have enough knowledge of chicken owners that a few may go to a different home but for now, they are all part of our flock.

We had just lost a silkie hen to a raccoon only a day before and one of our silkie hens turned into a rooster so we had 5 roos already on the farm and she guessed she had 4-5 roos. We told them to give us a price for all the chickens, and somehow ducks got added into this price and a new small coop. Now if you know me, I was adamant against ducks but here I was loading 5 into the back of my mom's van. C'est la vie.

Two trips and we got them all except 5 that were roaming around. Now, me and Mr. Native farmer went back the next day and got the coop and the 5 chickens we left, including a one-eyed rooster. The chickens were surprisingly clean, it was the ducks that made a mess of my mom's van.

So they all made it through the night, and we got 22 eggs the first day of having them here. 22 eggs... we normally get just 3 eggs!! Quiches and frozen eggs here I come! Just kidding, I will be doing some of that but we have some to sell, some to give to friends, and of course, it is how I pay my mother back for setting up our now chicken farm.

Now for the array of colors, we got today. The first picture has the 4 we ate for breakfast in it and the second picture is of the other eggs minus those four plus one more we got a bit later. As you can see we got some Marans (the chocolate egg), a mint egg layer (she is a white beautiful easter egger), and an olive egger (we don't know who she is just yet but I have my suspicions).

Here is the flock in our large coop run. Yes, I know it is A LOT of chickens in one space but they were used to each other so not really a lot of fighting and no pecking either. They get plenty of water sources and food, plus fresh treats like apples and squash which they demolished. As you can see from the pictures they love to congregate in the extension so it looks more jammed then it really is, there is the whole original run plus under the coop they seem to just not like going to, granted I was near them and they learned quickly I have the food.

Happy Homesteading.