Friday, January 10, 2014

2014 & the Homestead

 2013 was a very very hard year here!  Nothing seemed to work! Failures out weighted the successes.... but the successes were really good :-)

This year alot of MAJOR changes have to happen...

First thing that has to change is the chickens...
our chickens are free ranged over where ever they feel like going on our 25 acres! (now 37 acres)

Good for the chickens... bad for egg production of an already very expensive part of our farm!
 and my losses of birds ofcourse is a factor if our stupid neighbor decides to get a dog to turn loose and not feed it again!
Chickens are expensive to keep.... seriously... they are!  It would be way way cheaper to buy organic eggs than to keep chickens... esp. the true dual purpose type breeds. Their feed to egg ratio is not economical at all... but they tend to have nicer carcasses for meat... but raising dual purpose chickens for meat is not economical either... nothing beats a cornish cross for chicken meat.. but I refuse to raise them! They are just sad little creatures I can't stomach seeing them...
the 'egg layers' have a better egg ratio but then when you have to cull them , their meat is scarce and not real good...
I love having chickens though.... I enjoy watching them..and the very fresh eggs are truly better than store bought.

So we have come up with a new plan... we call it "the affordable chicken act" lol!
and we hope it will be more successful than the 'other' affordable act taking place in America!

Another major change is the dairy animal we are now raising... dairy sheep... which are no easier than a dairy goat health wise... but they are less expensive to feed, easier on the barns and fencing... don't fight like goats,thus much lower stress for me to manage them! So I'm all in with the sheep... out with goats.. but will get fresh goats milk from a neighbor for my goats milk soap and lotions... though I will probably cut back on them and expand the sheep milk products as I have more sheep milk available.
Plus from a business stand point the sheep milk can be frozen with no loss of quality , important for lotion making and for a personal reason, important for winter cheese making!

the dairy sheep have the same parasite problems & same typical dairy animal problems...
and I may have said this before but ....They have good tasting milk and incredible high cheese yields! And their fleece is nice to spin for yarns... and sell to other spinners for extra feed money!
Extra rams are good for the freezer and tastier than extra goat bucks... plus more meat in a shorter amount of time with sheep.
Making the dairy sheep way more economical for us than dairy goats...
maybe....time will tell....
If our homestead is going to work, the numbers have to make sense...

Fiber is a big change too! With the sheep , alpacas and angoras I have farm raised fibers and handspun yarns to add to our farm business!!!
Which I'm so excited about!!!

Heres a lovely art yarn below... made with East Friesian dairy sheep wool (dyed with food grade dyes), bamboo and fancy gold thread!

 From there the yarn can be sold... or I can crochet it into other things to add to the farm store...and my closet ;-)

This is alpaca and ribbon yarn... I did not handspin this yarn but its one of my favorite pieces! Pattern from an old 1970's oop crochet book.. I like finer yarns even before I raised them myself!
Handspun art yarns using alpaca (the black) Friesian (the blue) and Cotswold cross locks (the purple & aqua)
This is my own hat pattern and will be available in a kit with the art yarn to make it..coming soon!

Suri Alpaca blended with yellow bamboo
Other changes... More PIGS! My husband 'the bald man' is ALL in with the pigs! The American Guinea Hog herd is growing here since we've added another 12 acres.
It has been a challenge for him to find bloodlines to grow the herd... they are very rare
and we have thought about switching breeds...but after looking at larger breeds and actually buying 2 to try..
its all AGH for us! Theres no nicer hog to keep... and no easier hog to keep that doesn't tear up the land or fences!

So with all this going on... I should probably get to work :-)

Blessing this weekend!

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