It’s crazy how fast January has flown by! It seems like just yesterday that I was planning and hoping for the new year and here we are, already almost one month through it! It’s been cool and rainy here on the homestead so homesteading in the new year has been a somewhat messy affair so far and I think we are all looking forward to some warmer weather (and then we’ll probably complain about the heat but that’s just the way it goes!).
Despite the rain and mud, we have managed to get a few things done around here – and we’ve made a lot of plans for spring! Don’t forget to check out our new Meet The Critter page if you’re interested in learning more about the animals on our Homestead!
Homesteading In The New Year – What We’ve Done In 2021 So Far!
This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking one of the links I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Released Shannon and Shelly Successfully
You might recall that our young guinea fowl, Shannon, and Shelly were still separated from the rest of the flock. I’m happy to say that they are now free to roam with the rest AND returning to the coop at night without any trouble! While they don’t seem quite as attached to our chickens as the original four they don’t seem inclined to wander too far and pay attention to the warning given by the older guineas and roosters. So far everything is going smoothly and I’m eagerly waiting for guinea eggs this spring!
Re-bred The Rabbits
Turns out the first time wasn’t the charm, no baby rabbits appeared after the expected due dates. That’s okay! All of the rabbits were somewhat new to the process and I wasn’t sure if they were successful last time. This time around things went much smoother and I realized afterward that I bred them on the 14th which makes their due date Valentine’s day!
Baby bunnies on Valentine’s Day seem like a pretty fun way to celebrate the holiday and I’m crossing my fingers and hoping for some cute new additions!
Located & Put a Deposit on Our Future Herd Sire
I had always planned to search for a male Nigerian Dwarf buckling this spring or pay for a stud fee. This would allow our girls to be fully grown by the time our buck was old enough to breed. With that in mind, I have been keeping my eye out for good breeders in my area over the summer and ultimately we have decided to purchase our own buck. Since I am interested in creating a nice milk herd I was really looking for bloodlines with a good amount of milk testing in the background. This can be challenging to find as a lot of Nigerian Dwarfs are bred for pets rather than production.
I was ecstatic when I found a farm close by and reached out to them about future kids. It must have been fate because a little buckling had just been born that was exactly what I was looking for!
He won’t be coming home until April but that works out perfectly with the time frame I was thinking of anyway and I know he’s in great hands with his breeders. We could have brought him home as a bottle baby but I tend to prefer dam raised livestock if possible as I think that just gives them a better start to life.
Started Getting The First Garden Plot Ready!
It might be cold and rainy but I know that spring is just around the corner! We have picked out a nice little spot for our first spring garden plot and I have started to prepare it for planting. After attempting to get a fall garden started a few months ago and learning that our ‘soil’ is basically red cement that our tiller can’t even scratch the surface of I have decided to try a no-till garden bed and build my soil on top of the clay.
Thankfully our compost bins have been pretty productive and I was able to spread out a pretty good layer to start. While playing with the dogs I also discovered that the hill I thought was an old overgrown brush pile is actually a hill of dirt! Perhaps it was leftover from clearing and leveling the pasture or an old project the previous owners started BUT it was a gold mine to me! This means that I don’t have to buy bags of soil to mix with my compost layer and sure it’s a lot of work transferring wheelbarrows of dirt across the property but it will hopefully be worth it!
My hopes for this year is to get this plot started and perhaps the herb garden and we can expand from there if this no-till method works out. Getting the garden figured out is very important to the homestead long term. It’s hard to be self-sufficient without the garden!
Worked on the Woodlands!
While we still have a lot to work on we started out by adding some new salt rocks out for the deer. Minerals are extremely important for healthy animals of any sort and giving them a bit of a boost seemed like the least we could do!
Since our property lacks a natural water source we also purchased a stock tank and filled it up for them. It might take them some time to get used to the change in the woods but in the hot summer months, all the wildlife will appreciate it! We also plan to seed some of the sunnier areas with natural food sources closer to spring.
Homesteading, What’s Up Next?
Spring is coming closer and I have a feeling that it’s going to be a pretty busy time of year. With that in mind, there are a few projects, I would like to keep working on and planning for.
- Finish Fencing in the bigger Pasture – An ongoing goal that is going to take some time as the current price of lumber and wire is quite high. However, now that we have added a buckling to our livestock this has been moved up on the priority list.
- Build A New Chicken Coop – Same as above, this project will be slow until prices return to normal for materials. We have also decided to build it in a different location as we would like to move the majority of the chicken movement to a different part of the property.
- Breed The Goats – Since we have put a deposit on a buckling this one is sure to happen!
- Increase the Ducks – Currently, we have only three female ducks, I would like to get some more to round out our numbers and increase the potential for duck eggs. I also want to move away from Pekins due to leg issues. At the moment two of our Pekin drakes are slated for the freezer.
- Turkeys? Geese? – Maybe! Both are animals we have talked about trying out on the homestead. It’s possible we will dip our toes in this spring and see how it goes. We are going to have a lot of birds!
- Learn to Tan Hides – I saved one of the deer hides so that I could learn how to tan them.
- Move the Rabbit/Quail & Duck Housing – Currently, these guys all live in the side yard, however, we have cleared out a nice spot beside the pasture that we want to fence in and use as our small critter habitat. We plan to expand the rabbit and quail hutches and while I love the ducks roaming about they have taken to wandering closer to the road then I’m comfortable with and keep getting confused when coming home and ending up on the other side of the property fence so they are going to be pastured in. This project is going to be pretty labor-intensive as our current hutches are very heavy but I think it will be worth it long term. I’ll feel far more secure handling the rabbits and quail when I know they are fenced in and I will have a chance to catch them before they run off into the woods if they happen to get spooked while I have them out.
- Keep working on the garden! – lots to do with this project but I’m slowly working on it!