Welcome!

In February of 2009, my husband and I bought our first home located on a few acres in Johnson, Vermont. We live here with our dog, Ollie, two cats: Elvis and Atticus, six Nigerian Dwarf goats: May, Chutney, Poppy, Juniper, Willow, and Jokers Wild, and about fifteen laying hens. And to top it all off we welcomed our daughter, Isabel, into the world on January 11th, 2011.

We're slowly updating our 1850's farmhouse while steadily working towards a healthy, meaningful, self-sufficient life together.

This blog details our endeavors along with our successes and failures- all in good fun. Thanks for stopping by, hope to see you again soon!

May

May
May and I enjoying some sunshine
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Followers

Renovations moving along now.

Lovingly Posted by Melissa Wednesday, June 30, 2010 1 comments

On Monday, I had my first day back at work after taking a week off to spend with Kyle for our first anniversary.  As always I had a ton of work to catch up on and, before I knew it, the day was over and I was headed home.  I stopped at the grocery store to pick up some items and drop off a handful of movies at the Redbox kiosk that we had rented a couple days earlier.  I pulled into our driveway, herded a few stray chickens back into our yard and greeted Kyle on his way out of the house.  We've been thinking about clipping the chickens' wings and the further they venture into the neighbor's yard the more we think its for the best.  Our original plan had been to let them be, but they have been wandering further and further away and spend too much time on other people's property, or in the road, for our liking.  We shall see.

After feeding everyone out in the barn we returned to the house for some downtime and I got a good look at what my husband had been up to all day.  Apparently, Kyle had just as busy a day as I had.  In my absence he had relocated our bed to the guest room so he could begin working on finishing our master bedroom.  By the time I had returned home he had taken down all the bead-board and trim (carefully enough that we should be able to reuse it all, yippy!) and ripped down the plaster and lathe.  We were not suprised to see a lack of adequate insulation, which is exactly why we wanted to tackle this project in the first place.  But we were pleasantly suprised to see that so far all the studs appear to be in great condition.

He was just about finished putting up sheetrock over the second half of our ceiling.  The room is divided by a long header and one side of the room has a ceiling that is fine, the other side was a little less than lovely.  He had also been sanding and mudding the sheetrock that he put up in the "carpet sample" room over the weekend to cover the horrid, old "wood" paneling.  We're close to being finished with this room and as we move along to the master bedroom I'm beginning to think our goal of finishing the upstairs before the end of the year is a little more feasible.

We're hoping to have the insulation and sheetrock finished in our room by the end of the weekend, and begin the painting of the "carpet sample" room any day now.  Things are really rolling!

Waiting....and waiting....and waiting....

Lovingly Posted by Melissa Monday, June 28, 2010 1 comments

Hey folks!  I'm not sure if anyone is following the "ticker" on the sidebar for May's due date but if you have (and probably now, if you haven't) noticed that it isn't counting down anymore that is for a very good reason.  We've officially flown past her due date.  Today marks the sixth day since she was due to kid.  I've sent a note to our breeder to ask for advice.  I know it is common enough for goats to kid up to five days early or five days late- but I didn't really think we'd make it this far along.  She still has her tiny udder and her tail ligaments are solid as can be.  I keep expecting to go out each morning to find a new kid in the barn but nothing yet.  I've read that it is possible for does to create an udder without being pregnant, but I just think the timing is too perfect for it to be this.  She started her udder exactly when she should have for a pregnant doe getting into her last month of gestation.  So, nothing we can do now but keep waiting...

Escapees

Lovingly Posted by Melissa Thursday, June 17, 2010 0 comments

We drove into the city last night for a lovely dinner in Burlington for my sister-in-law's birthday.  Its always nice going out with family.  The way home felt long, though; I was exhausted and lingered somewhere between sleep and gazing, dazed, out the window.  Kyle and I were discussing the next big home renovation now that the guest room and upstairs bathroom were finished and sometimes its just a bit overwelming when there is so much to do.  But we arrived home and there was a sweet, mild breeze in the air that greeted us.  I went out to the barn to shut in the goats and chickens for the night while Kyle checked on the pigs, who had been moved back under the trees next to the house.

We scheduled a date with the meat processor for July 16th, a mere month away, and we wanted to try to get them to eat the greenery and till up the soil there before they left us.  They were happily running around, like the pig races you see at the fair, and we watched them for a little while before heading inside.  As I was getting into bed half an hour later the dogs started barking wildly.  I looked out the front windows to see a neighbor's friend leaving our front yard- he must have been at our door a minute ago.  I mentioned it to Kyle as I looked out the back window- the pigs were out.

I hastily threw my jeans on again as I watched Freddy make a bee-line for our freshly planted garden, the other three were ahead of him in the tall grasses.  I ran downstairs to grab my boots hoping that the novelty of being loose would keep Freddy from exploring the soft soil in our garden beds.  Sure enough, by the time I rounded the corner to the back of the house they had moved on and were headed for the road.  I freaked at the realization that they really were loose and not contently eating grass in our backyard like they had done the few times they escaped before.

As I called them from the top of the hill, carefully picking my way down along the edge of the drop-off, Kyle arrived with a bucket of grain.  As soon as they saw him they forgot all about their adventure and trailed along back to the barn.  We're lucky the neighbor stopped by, if we had gone to bed with the pigs loose, who knows where they would have ended up, or the damage they could have done.  Once they were safely back in their fenced-in pasture we surveyed the electric-net fence that we hastily put up over the weekend.  Brick Top must have been chasing one of them because it appeared that one of the pigs had gone straight through the fence, leaving a nice hole in the netting.  I'll have to fix that so we can resume using it for the goats and chickens.

So, now the task is to get a better fence up out there for the next few weeks so they can continue eating the grass and ferns.  Kyle has the next two weeks off so he'll have plenty of time to work on fencing.  But I'll say it again, I'm ready for some bacon.  Pigs.

Gardening Update

Lovingly Posted by Melissa Tuesday, June 15, 2010 0 comments

Last week we were fully into June and our garden had yet to be planted besides a few cold weather plants here and there.  The major road block was that we hadn't touched our garden beds in weeks and the weeds took up residence with a vengance.  All our lovely rye grass and crimson clover that I planted last fall as a cover crop really burst into life and the beds looked more wild than ever.  As it was a little late in the game to try to cut all this into the soil we decided to just weed it all out and feed it to the pigs.  Oh yes, they loved that rye grass.  They squeeked and grunted as they picked through the piles of grass, finding the best pieces- pigs never save the best for last.

My family took pity on us and our lack of enthusiasm to get the garden in and they came over to help weed and plant.  We managed to get all the weeding finished and our potatos planted before the black flies forced us to retreat back to our porch for a bbq dinner.  Sometimes you just need a little help, ya know?

This past weekend the weather decided to take a break from the rain so Kyle and I decided it was time we finished this project up.  I planted the rest of our seeds while Kyle transplated the rest of the tomatos and peppers that were ready to go.  We still have a good deal of tomato and sweet pepper plants that have been started but just are still too small to move outside I think, they can wait.  I planted the dry black beans, sweet corn, summer squash, spinach, broccoli, bush beans, and our started celery plants.  I'm going to plant another round of carrots soon, once the rain lets up again.

So our garden is officially in.  Of course I still need to get our sunflowers and pumpkins planted, but those are just for fun.  Now its just a matter of getting weeding into my daily routine so we don't let it get out of hand again.

On another note, May is due to kid this weekend, give or take a few days.  Her udder is still small, but she has time.  I think she's just got a single kid in there as she is just so narrow still.  I'm hoping for a buck.  Chutney's doelings are growing strong and Poppy runs up to me each time I go out to the barn.  We ordered our disbudding iron last week so I'm hoping we'll see it soon, their horns are growing and with all the neighbors and small children that we have stopping by to check out our farm we don't want to risk it.

Dear friends (a letter to my lovely readers),

Lovingly Posted by Melissa Wednesday, June 2, 2010 3 comments

Sorry I've been a little sporatic in my blog posts lately, things have just been super hectic at home the past few weeks and my laptop has officially kicked the bucket.  Kyle and I had to finish up our guest room (YES, it really is finished!!) before my father and step-mom came up for the holiday weekend.  We also had to clean up the house (which ended up taking way more time than I really thought it would) and semi-finish the upstairs bathroom.  On top of all this we, of course, have been working on barn stuff.  Kyle made me a milking stand a week ago which I took out for a test run with Chutney a couple days. 

I was planning on starting the bottle-feeding this past weekend, my hope had been that I'd milk a little bit every day up until then just for us to get the hang of it before we really got serious.  But unfortunately, I haven't been feeling well and trudging out to the barn twice a day to fight with a goat and her teats wasn't high on my priority list.  So I'm hoping to give it another go soon because the kids are getting pretty skittish.

Our pigs are growing fast.  Bricktop is definitely still the biggest out of the four boys but the other three really aren't that far behind.  Kyle and I are pretty sure we'll be able to have them all processed before fall, which would be great.  They haven't eaten any other chickens, as far as I have been able to tell, and I hope that our barracade that we created around the dividing gate will continue to be successful.

Speaking of chickens, our second experience of the Cornish crosses is nearing its end.  Our fifty (or so) meat birds are amazing.  Last year when we raised these birds it was too late to put them outside because the weather had turned too cold.  This year they've had free range of the pasture and all the tall grasses.  We started only feeding them for a short time in the morning, forcing them to forage for the rest of the day.  I am always amazed about how healthy they seem compared to our first batch.  These birds are active.  The most common thing you hear about this kind of bird is that they have heart and leg problems, they really can only walk from the feed dish to the water dish, and the rest of the time they have to sit down because of their massive weight.  We experienced exactly this last year and it caused us to think we'd never raise these birds again.  But what a difference a diet can make.  I'll be posting some pictures when I get a chance.

I really do have a bunch to catch you up on- I really would love to show you some before and afters of our guest room and bathroom.  Oh, and we started our garden a few weeks ago, still have a lot to plant, but we've got a beginning at least.  May is due in a few weeks, she started making her udder a week ago.  So much has been going on I can barely remember it all!  Please bear with me, friends, life has really been getting in the way of my blogging but I hope to make a full comeback soon.

Thanks for stopping by!!
Melissa