04 September 2008

Our Homestead

This is where we spend our days and nights. We both fully employ and engage ourselves at home.

We have a diverse garden where we organically grow all of our produce for the year. It also sustains a growing ecology of birds, insects, bats, toads and snakes who provide invaluable service keeping the garden pests in balance.

We have begun to grow small scale grains in 2008, both traditional feed grains such as oats, wheat and rye, as well as grains for the kitchen. Golden Amaranth is shown in the picture, we are also growing dry peas, dry beans, sunflower seeds, hulless pumpkin seeds, quinoa, hulless oats, and hard red spring wheat for bread making.

Our pastures border on 90 acres of mixed forest that was clear-cut 15 years ago. We have been sustainably logging and thinning for firewood and building material. In just two years we have observed a change in the diversity of undergrowth, as well as more nesting birds in the summer.

Our standard bred horse helps us bring wood out of the forest and does some cultivating in the garden.

We keep a small flock of Isa Brown hens and a Plymouth Barred Rock rooster. We hatched out 13 chicks this summer showing strong Barred Rock characteristics.

We have kept a Jersey milking cow for 4 years. She provides an abundance of milk and butter. The realities of a small homestead do not fit well with the Jersey breed, and we are looking to change our dairy herd to goats this fall.


Susy said...

Beautiful. So, why are goats better than a cow for the small homestead? And how many goats do you need for the two of you?

Freija and Beringian Fritillary said...

Susy, a dairy cow requires a lot of high quality food, and cows are less efficient digesters than goats. The amount of hay and grain we had to plant and harvest for her, we were finding ourselves stretched just to keep her going. For comparison: a Jersey cow gives 4 gallons a day on the same amount of feed required for at least four milking does. From four milking does you could get 8 gallons a day. So we could keep two goats, get the same milk and on half the feed. We didn't realize how high maintenance Jersey cows were when we bought her.

tansy said...

the downside is no butter. :( this is something i struggle with since i love butter & buttermilk. the cultured stuff just isn't the same. we have la manchas & nubians.

but, the feed issues are logical.

i look forward to reading more about your life!

Freija and Beringian Fritillary said...

tansy, I love your new collaborative blog, very exciting.

About the butter, Mother Earth says it can be done http://www.motherearthnews.com/Real-Food/1975-05-01/How-To-Make-Butter-From-Goatmilk.aspx. We have an old cream separator, and I am pretty sure the goat farmer who owned it used it to separate goat's milk. I spoke with a woman who used to make goat butter. She put the milk in a shallow pan in the fridge with a layer of wax paper covering it. I think she left it 24 hours, maybe more, and when she peeled back the wax paper, the cream came with it. She would scrape it off and keep it until she had enough for butter. She didn't get all of the butterfat, but enough to keep butter on the table. I don't think I could live without butter, so one way or another, I'll get butter from those goats!

Gail said...

I received your comment on our Gelvieh bull. We love the breed. They are gentle, easy to fence, and easy keepers. We have just buthered our first meat. The meat is marbled, very tender, flavorful and quit lean.
For more Gelbvieh information check out http://cattle-today.com/Gelbvieh.htm
Thanks for reading my blog...I was beginning to think I was alone in cyberspace.

Freija and Beringian Fritillary said...

Hello gail. You are not alone! Love the goat in the bag pic. We are looking forward to butchering time, he is really filling out.