Winter in Georgia is not the worst weather I have dealt with in my life but it can get pretty bitter some days and the wild temperature swings can be rough on everyone. This season has been a touch crazy, it was 70 degrees the week of Christmas and then dropped into the 30’s over the span of two days. Since then it’s been staying pretty steady which is fine – it’s cold but it’s always better when everyone can adjust to one temperature rather than the random ups and downs. I’ve had to break ice out of the water troughs a few times and the duck pools, water bottles like to freeze up and can be a pain to thaw out but overall everyone is pretty happy and healthy and that’s all I ever ask for. So with all of that news out of the way, here’s what we’ve been up to this winter homesteading season
Winter Homesteading, What We’ve Done This Season
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We are on baby watch with the goats, both girls are crazy big and have developed some pretty full udders. Judging by the discharge I have seen from their vulvas we are pretty close to having some new arrivals on the farm. I expect they will wait until Friday because they are predicting a mix of snow and rain that day and that’s just my luck! But I’ll be keeping a close eye on them in the meantime just in case they decide to be nice and have them during the nicer weather.
We definitely have two tom turkeys and one hen with our Bourbon Red’s this is slightly disappointing but at least we got a hen, it’s a better outcome than the three female Cayuga ducks I suppose. Hopefully, they continue to be gentlemen as spring rolls around, so far they are protective but respectful and are getting along fine with each other.
Our olive egger project is up and running – we only wound up with 4 hens out of the last hatch but that’s enough to get things started and I will likely hatch some more in the next couple of weeks. We are all really excited to see what color eggs these hen’s will lay. Once they start to lay we will pick our breeders and choose a Maran rooster to cross them back to. I actually have a pretty sweet little guy growing up in my brooder at the moment who might become the lucky gentleman.
We also hatched some blue/black/splash Ameruacana chicks with good success and have sold some hatching eggs and chicks over the last few months which has been a nice bit of income for the farm. I recently added a third incubator to my stash so more chicks are definitely in the future!
I did however finish building my repurposed pallet grow-out pens and so far they are working great!
I have not done much with the quail over the winter as they slacked off laying but I found a good number of eggs this morning so hopefully, the quail egg drought is over and I can start hatching them again. I believe I will have to replace a good portion of the breeder flock this year as our older birds are nearing the end of their productive lifespan.
We have had several litters born on the farm so far this season from our first round of breedings. I held back one doe from Mapleshade x Solarflare’s litter as she showed great structural promise. I’m really hoping that she continues to mature well and will be able to join the breeding herd in the fall. Currently, we are working to improve our breeding stock and I’m crossing my fingers for a nice buck out of Alice’s next litter.
I have decided to host the farm website here on the blog, it’s just easier and while our goat herd is registered under Ether Skies the Rabbits and Poultry will be Tales From Home, I even ordered business cards that I can send home with any rabbits, eggs, and chicks I sell. I’ve been working on the pages and you can expect them to go live sometime in the next few months. It will be a place where you can get to know the animals on our farm and will have some more in-depth information on our breeding goals.
I have started working on some garden beds, here is hoping I can get something to grow this spring, I will be the first to admit that I’m not the greatest gardener, animals I understand, plants tend to die. But! gardening is a pretty important homesteading skill so I really need to figure this out. Maybe I will do a small mini-series about our gardening adventures (and mishaps) here on the blog and you more garden savvy people can give me some tips.
I actually did work on tanning some hides, I have two that are pretty much done, I need to get some softening oil and work them a little bit more but I learned a lot and that’s all I was really hoping for out of them. I also have a third hide that currently sitting in a bucket of water to shed the hair so I can try my hand at making buckskin and a 4th hide in the freezer that I’m not sure what I will with yet. It’s been a pretty big learning curve, I definitely figured out a few tricks along the way and I’m really hoping that this will help me use more of our rabbits when we process some of them.
Overall I think I made some pretty good progress on our far to-do list!
Things We Still Need To Do!
Fence in the Bigger Pasture – This was supposed to be one of our major focuses over the spring and summer and something we would really like to get finished sooner rather than later but things didn’t quite work out. Fencing and post prices are still crazy high. We were hoping things come down a bit come fall but that hasn’t been the case. At this point, we will likely be buying a couple of t-posts or corner/gate posts a paycheck until we have enough and if we are really lucky the goats will have some doe kids that can fund buying the actual fencing because at the moment it’s just way too much.
Work On The Farm Website – While the blog will always be my main focus the farm requires a website of its own where we can advertise items and animals we have for sale as well as showcase our breeding flocks and hatching eggs. I’m considering working this into the blog somehow, as a separate page rather than a whole new domain. We’ll have to see how it goes! I’m actively building this at the moment rather than toying with designs so it will hopefully be active before Spring hatching season.
Redo My Brooding Area – This did not happen as planned. It certainly wasn’t for lack of desire – I really wanted to get this done but other more pressing projects demanded my time and funds. Do I love my current brooding set-up? Not really but it is safe and functional which means it tends to slide down the priority list pretty easily. I can deal with the current system but I really HAD to get the breeding pens and such set-up or I’d bottleneck myself for the entire hatching season. I still want to do this and I’ve found some ways I might be able to swing it without spending so much in the process, I just have to keep my eye out for some sales or used goods.