Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Knit in January-Mittens






Fighting off the winter blues with knitting projects.

January, my goal was to knit my first ever pair of mittens.

I started with making a simple pair of fingerless gloves. The pattern is simple. Looking for a picture, I realized I never took one of the finished product-but there is a picture of the gloves in the pattern link. This pair was given to one of my daughters. I knit up another set, in grey for myself. I love them and wear them all of the time.




Yarn: Lion Brand Wool-Ease
Pattern: Jordon's Fingerless Gloves/free Ravelry Download.


Next, Mittens.



I am a visual learner, so I love video tutorials when trying out something new. I found a pattern with how-to videos included from Very Pink .  Same place I purchased my first knitted socks tutorial.

Yarn; Vanna's Choice Heather yarn

I made both mittens and then went back and worked the thumb. That seemed to be the most intimidating part to me.



I knit up the "large" size. They are a little big, so I plan on making another pair, but knit the "medium" size.

It was a fun knit!

What winter projects have you been working on?

**the darker grey is the more accurate color of the mittens. (the last two pictures)

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Monday, January 30, 2017

Winter on the Farm

We found several groups of trees like this in one area of the woods..some past storm.


Winter in Michigan is never predictable. We have winters with extreme cold and lots of snow and you spend much of the winter contemplating a move down south. Other years, like this one, it is almost February and there isn't but a dusting of snow on the ground and January gave you days with 50 degrees, you think Michigan winter's aren't so bad.

But either way, winter feels like the longest season. A season that you have to make preparations for.



Hay

Sheep handle winter much better than I do. Our sheep stay on pasture through the winter, we leave it open, and they have access to all of it. They know where the wind breaks are, and manage the colder season well.  Unless there is a mountain of snow, and the temps are frigid, they roam the pastures all day, getting plenty of exercise. Over the 20 plus years we have lived here, we have only had to bring them into the barns on a few occasions.




What sheep do need in the winter, is hay, and plenty of it. The colder it is, the more they eat. We feed hay 6 months out of the year. Years past, we had to buy hay. That was not always an easy task, some years hay was scarce, and expensive and we would have to sell off more lambs, than what we wanted to. The years, that hay is plentiful, we still had to find good hay, and haul it. When using square bales, we also had to have room in the barns to store it. We know raise our own hay and feed round bales. My daughters loved when we went to feeding round bales. Their chores became a lot easier. When the flock was growing, we went from feeding one square bale of hay to feeding up to 6, when there is a lot of snow on the ground and it is below freezing, dragging square bales out to the field is not something you look forward to. Six months out of the year the sheep eat grass, but the other six months, hay is a necessity.



Wood

Living in the country, we have LP as an option to heat the house. We live in an old farmhouse and  and heating cost can get pricey. When we moved here, there was only a wood furnace for heat, after one winter, this city girl demanded a high efficient LP furnace.
Several years later, the wood furnace was put back in. We still have an LP furnace, for those times when we can't be home, but the wood furnace is where the majority of our heat comes from.
I am always surprised how much wood it takes to heat the house for one winter...when you think you have enough...plan on 50 percent more! We buy a lot of our wood, but we also cut our own. There are always dead tree in the woods, or in the tree rows around the fields, that need taken down. I love wood heat, but by the end of winter, I am dreaming of warmer weather and campfires.



Water
All of my girls have memories of breaking up ice in the water buckets. I know some say that sheep will eat snow, but we water them every day. We have had winters,where the outdoor water hydrants have broke and we had to haul water from the house (worst chore ever) And on occasion we have had to deal with frozen or broken water pipes in the house.

This past summer, Mike had to replace all of the outdoor hydrants. This winter everything is working as it should, and with the warmer winter, we have had much less ice.



Winter Blues
Winter brings with it short days, and more time cooped up in the house. It can cause depression for many. I know by February, I am looking forward to longer daylight hours, and warmer temperatures. Having indoor hobbies for me is a must!  Knitting projects, handspinning, reading, and last year, I set up a dye area in the basement. It helps to keep busy.



What challenges do you face in the winter?

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Thursday, January 26, 2017

Simple Homestead Hop # 88



Welcome to the hop!


Still no lambs...I think they are waiting for a snow storm!
Any farm babies at your place?

 Co-hosts





Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead - Facebook - Pinterest - Instagram Tracy at Our Simple Homestead - Facebook - Twitter - Pinterest Nancy at On the Homefront - Facebook - Twitter - Pinterest Dash at Bloom Where You're Planted - Facebook - Instagram Delci at Heritage Homestead - Facebook - Google+ - Pinterest - YouTube;Sandra at Clearwater Farm - Facebook - Pinterest - Instagram
Most Visited Post from last weeks hop...

Poverty in the 1800's
Congratulations!

 If you were featured be sure to pick up your, " Simple Homestead” button. We look forward to seeing what you have to share this week!  If you would like to be featured in the future, be sure to link back to the hop. We love to read encouraging posts about homesteading. Please stop by to congratulate the featured bloggers this week. If you were featured, grab a button to display proudly on your blog.


Oak Hill Homestead


The Rules


You are invited to share your original homesteading, homemaking, and homeschooling posts. We have a few little rules: 
  • Family friendly posts only!
  • No links to blog hops or posts dedicated to advertising products.
  • Please share posts that you haven’t linked up previously to keep the hop fresh.
  • Please visit other bloggers and let them know you found them here.
  • Please follow us by email! You’ll receive notice when the hop is open for business.
  • Only share content and photos that you have created or have permission to share.
  • By linking to this hop you are giving us permission to link back to your post and share one photo if you are featured.
  • Please note: Posts that don’t follow these few little guidelines will be deleted.

Let's start hopping!


code:



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Monday, January 23, 2017

Added to the Bookshelf; shepherds of coyote rocks




I have always loved reading and collecting books. I will admit, that I had not done much reading this past year. One of my goals for this year, is to read more.

In January, we attended the MSPA (Michigan Sheep Producers Assn.), and one of the guest speakers was, Cat Urbigkit, a sheep rancher, author, photographer, and LDG breeder. She had a wonderful presentation where she shared her experiences raising sheep out West and using livestock guardian dogs. Afterwards, she had a book signing, where I picked up one of her books. "shepherds of coyote rocks'.

It was the perfect book to start out my 2017 reading challenge. I loved it!  It was very interesting to read about raising sheep out West on public lands, the trials they experience, and the successes they have. Very different than my experiences, raising sheep in Michigan.

 The book was also shares her travels visiting other shepherds in different parts of the world, with some added history about shepherding and using LGD's.

If you have a interest in shepherding, ranching, LGD's, or nature, it may be a good read for you as well.

Anything new on your bookshelf?


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Thursday, January 19, 2017

Simple Homestead Blog Hop #87




Welcome to the hop!


Still enjoying 40's in Michigan, what a crazy winter.
We are expecting a few winter lambs this month, any day now...
What has you busy?

 Co-hosts





Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead - Facebook - Pinterest - Instagram Tracy at Our Simple Homestead - Facebook - Twitter - Pinterest Nancy at On the Homefront - Facebook - Twitter - Pinterest Dash at Bloom Where You're Planted - Facebook - Instagram Delci at Heritage Homestead - Facebook - Google+ - Pinterest - YouTube;Sandra at Clearwater Farm - Facebook - Pinterest - Instagram
Most Visited Post from last weeks hop...
Getting Rid of Stuff
My Featured Post
Keeping Your Dollars From Taylor Made Ranch
Congratulations!

 If you were featured be sure to pick up your, " Simple Homestead” button. We look forward to seeing what you have to share this week!  If you would like to be featured in the future, be sure to link back to the hop. We love to read encouraging posts about homesteading. Please stop by to congratulate the featured bloggers this week. If you were featured, grab a button to display proudly on your blog.


Oak Hill Homestead


The Rules


You are invited to share your original homesteading, homemaking, and homeschooling posts. We have a few little rules: 
  • Family friendly posts only!
  • No links to blog hops or posts dedicated to advertising products.
  • Please share posts that you haven’t linked up previously to keep the hop fresh.
  • Please visit other bloggers and let them know you found them here.
  • Please follow us by email! You’ll receive notice when the hop is open for business.
  • Only share content and photos that you have created or have permission to share.
  • By linking to this hop you are giving us permission to link back to your post and share one photo if you are featured.
  • Please note: Posts that don’t follow these few little guidelines will be deleted.

Let's start hopping!







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Monday, January 16, 2017

The Search For a New Sheep Shearer




One of the biggest challenges with raising wool sheep is finding a sheep shearer. There just isn't that many people who shear flocks, especially smaller ones.

The last several years sheep shearing has been pretty stress free. We call up the shearer, schedule a date and time, the sheep get sheared at the scheduled time, and I am knee deep in wool fleeces for months.




This year, we texted our shearer to schedule our 2017 sheep shearing, the reply is not something that we were expecting, our shearer is no longer shearing sheep! I am so disappointed!  It is not easy to find a good sheep shearer. I was comfortable with the guy we had. I even teased, that he promised he would be shearing for a very long time....sigh. I guess wrestling sheep is not something he wants to deal with, after working his regular job. 



I know some learn how to shear their own sheep, and though I feel comfortable shearing a few here and there, our annual sheep shearing is not something that I am remotely interested in taking on. I have never regretted handing over that check to the shearer for a job well done, and making shearing day something that I look forward to.






So the search begins for another sheep shearer...a task we have had to take on before...one that I am not looking forward to.


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Thursday, January 12, 2017

Simple Homestead Hop #86



Welcome to the hop!


We have had strange weather for January, which included a short thunderstorm a couple of hours ago. Snow storms are what is expected this time of year in Michigan.

How are things in your neck of the woods?

 Co-hosts





Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead - Facebook - Pinterest - Instagram Tracy at Our Simple Homestead - Facebook - Twitter - Pinterest Nancy at On the Homefront - Facebook - Twitter - Pinterest Dash at Bloom Where You're Planted - Facebook - Instagram Delci at Heritage Homestead - Facebook - Google+ - Pinterest - YouTube;Sandra at Clearwater Farm - Facebook - Pinterest - Instagram
Most Visited Post from last weeks hop...
A List of Chores - Amish Short Story
Congratulations!

 If you were featured be sure to pick up your, " Simple Homestead” button. We look forward to seeing what you have to share this week!  If you would like to be featured in the future, be sure to link back to the hop. We love to read encouraging posts about homesteading. Please stop by to congratulate the featured bloggers this week. If you were featured, grab a button to display proudly on your blog.


Oak Hill Homestead


The Rules


You are invited to share your original homesteading, homemaking, and homeschooling posts. We have a few little rules: 
  • Family friendly posts only!
  • No links to blog hops or posts dedicated to advertising products.
  • Please share posts that you haven’t linked up previously to keep the hop fresh.
  • Please visit other bloggers and let them know you found them here.
  • Please follow us by email! You’ll receive notice when the hop is open for business.
  • Only share content and photos that you have created or have permission to share.
  • By linking to this hop you are giving us permission to link back to your post and share one photo if you are featured.
  • Please note: Posts that don’t follow these few little guidelines will be deleted.

Let's start hopping!

This week's hop code:





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Monday, January 9, 2017

Pasture Happenings-The New Year

New year on the farm....welcome 2017! 


Things have been pretty quiet around here. Most of the sheep are out on pasture, with the replacement ewe lambs in the barnyard.  We have a few ewes that are due to lamb in January,
 they are being moved to the barn as the temperatures have been in the single digits this past week. 
We could see lambs as early as this week :) 


Delaney took Scout out on a pasture walk, 
the sheep didn't know what to think, as her and her camera are usually alone.
He behaved and once the sheep figured out that he wasn't out there to work,
they went about their business.


As you can see our Romney ewes look like they need their bangs trimmed!
They tend to be our  messy sheep. We really need to buy a round bale hay feeder,
that limits the hay that makes it way into the fleeces. sigh...



We haven't had much snowfall so far- and no, I am not complaining about that. I am perfectly happy with just  few inches here and there.

How are things at your place this winter?


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Thursday, January 5, 2017

Simple Homestead Blog Hop #85



Welcome to the hop!


What has you busy in January?

 Co-hosts





Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead - Facebook - Pinterest - Instagram Tracy at Our Simple Homestead - Facebook - Twitter - Pinterest Nancy at On the Homefront - Facebook - Twitter - Pinterest Dash at Bloom Where You're Planted - Facebook - Instagram Delci at Heritage Homestead - Facebook - Google+ - Pinterest - YouTube;Sandra at Clearwater Farm - Facebook - Pinterest - Instagram
Most Visited Post from last weeks hop...
Refinishing kitchen cabinets
Congratulations!





 If you were featured be sure to pick up your, " Simple Homestead” button. We look forward to seeing what you have to share this week!  If you would like to be featured in the future, be sure to link back to the hop. We love to read encouraging posts about homesteading. Please stop by to congratulate the featured bloggers this week. If you were featured, grab a button to display proudly on your blog.


Oak Hill Homestead


The Rules


You are invited to share your original homesteading, homemaking, and homeschooling posts. We have a few little rules: 
  • Family friendly posts only!
  • No links to blog hops or posts dedicated to advertising products.
  • Please share posts that you haven’t linked up previously to keep the hop fresh.
  • Please visit other bloggers and let them know you found them here.
  • Please follow us by email! You’ll receive notice when the hop is open for business.
  • Only share content and photos that you have created or have permission to share.
  • By linking to this hop you are giving us permission to link back to your post and share one photo if you are featured.
  • Please note: Posts that don’t follow these few little guidelines will be deleted.

Let's start hopping!









 photo number2sig_zps2f1f6501.png

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Raising or Buying Beef



Over the years, we have purchased several feeder steers from our neighbor who raises beef cows. We buy them at about 500 pounds and raise them on our pastures until they are finished.

With our sheep numbers growing and work that needs to be done on our pastures, the last two years we have opted to purchase finished steers from the same neighbor, instead of raising our own. We choose to use a local, reputable meat processor for the butchering of the steer.

There are many benefits to buying a steer.

1) Money Savings 

We save money when we  buy a steer (half/whole) over buying it by the package at the local food markets, especially the more expensive cuts of meat.

2) Better Quality 

When we buy or raise our own meat, it has always been superior to what we have found at our local markets.

3) Supporting local farms

I like to know where my food comes from and how it has been raised. When we raise our own, I know exactly how the livestock is treated and what it has been eating. If I can't raise it, I like to support the local farmer who can. Our neighboring farmer, raises steers that are fed primarily on pastures/grass, which is what we prefer.  I also know he can use my hard earned dollars, more than the local grocery.

I always find it interesting when I read post in homesteading groups that declare, if you don't raise it or butcher it yourselves, you shouldn't eat it. I have a different mindset. I think raising and processing your own meat are important, useful skills to have. We have done it!  But, I have no problem supporting local farmers and butchers. We have purchased chickens, hogs, steers, turkeys etc. from other homesteaders/farmers. Grateful, that when I can't (or simply don't want to) do it, I can support someone else who can/does.

Maybe I am just not a hard core homesteader.  Just a city girl who moved to the country, happy that her kids have a connection with where their food comes from. I see many people trying to be more self sufficient, and getting discouraged because they can't do it all. I say, do what you can and shed the guilt when you can't do it all.



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