Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Keeping Busy

While the boys are at school...

I start every day making coffee for #1 to take in his thermos, then tea for me (my tea 'coffee pot' bit the dust last week), waking kids, packing lunches.  Then I start a pot of pig slop cooking, and enjoy a bit of computer time and drink my tea.

When the pig slop is done, I pour it in their bucket, then refill the pot for the meat birds.  Since the pigs seem so satiated and content, and the volume increases with cooking, I thought I'd try it with the meat birds.  It's a little better, but they're still very, very hungry.  I started letting them back out to free range through the day.

When the bird slop is done, I take both buckets out, turn on the hose, and go feed and water them both. 



I let the birds out, then pick a bucket full of raspberry leaves for the pigs.  I hook the water up to one of the greenhouse hoses, lift the plastic door, and head back to the house.

Next up is Murphy and Mildred.  They spend the nights together in the old chicken pen.  I plug the kettle in and get the powder for Murphy's bottle.  I have just enough time for a second cup of tea before it's done.  I go out with the bottle, milk buckets and teat wash.  Murphy gets fed first, then let loose in the yard.  I get Mildred's grain from the workshop and I milk.

About this time Sharlotte and Mindy return from their nightly wanderings- they're still getting out!!  I open the gate and let them back in the pasture.  I take Mildred out and tie her in the yard.

I get my milk buckets, the bottle, etc., and take them back to the house to strain and wash.  Once the new milk is in the freezer, I skim the cream off the old milk and start the butter in my kitchen aid mixer.
I go out and get my water trailer and start it filling, turn off the water to the greenhouse,
then it's time to feed the dogs. Afterward, I refill the doggy stew pot and set it on to cook.
Cindy enjoying her chow.
The butter is usually close to chunking up by then, so I wait for it to start sloshing.  I strain off the buttermilk into the pig slop pot, to cook into their supper.  I add cold water and turn the butter on again.

Out to the new coop to see my ladies.  They reward me with an egg about every other day.  I have one of the old girls in with Sexy rooster,  and another with White rooster.  No eggs from either of them yet.  I have an old red and the last barred rock in with Spotted rooster, and it's there that I find the eggs.  I believe the barred rock is doing all the work, with an occasional egg from someone else.  The rest of the ladies, in with Original rooster, have not produced an egg since I took the other four hens out.  I feed and water them all, collect the egg, feed and water Mouser, and go back to the house.

I drain the butter water into the pig slop pot, add new, restart.

The egg, if there was one, gets dated and goes to the basement, where they all get a slight turn and continue to await the incubator.

I take the water trailer out to drain into the pasture tub. 

One more butter rinse is usually enough, then I work it over with a spatula to get any remaining water out, then into a container to freeze.  I get the milk from the freezer and put it in the fridge. 

I take the laundry out, remove yesterday's, if dry, and hang it up.  Morning chores complete.

One more cup of tea, and then I find something to do for the day.  Odd jobs I've been working on...

- Finishing the new coop.
- Firewood (just some bits and pieces left in the yard from construction and fence posts, so far)
- Piling firewood in the basement (there's a good pile tossed down that I've been working on piling properly)
- Cleaning out the old coop and chicken pen
- Picking up random stuff, like shoes, scattered across the yard.

- Painting trailers

Our oldest trailer is rotting out badly.  #2 added some supports.
After the first coat of paint.

- Woodshed plastic and strapping
- Pickling cucumbers
- Making snacks for lunches- jello, puddings, macaroni salads, cookies...
- Picking tomatoes
- Tidying up the house
- Washing dishes

I keep a white board on the fridge with a running list of odd jobs for the boys to do or help me with when they get home from school.  #2 added tin to my trailer one night,

both of the Bigs have put in a couple of fence posts, #1 helped with the new coop and adjusted the garden gates, the Littles have unloaded manure onto the garden, and #3 helped with the woodshed plastic and put away the rototiller for winter.  Just little things that they can get done within an hour.  It all adds up, and helps get the fall chores finished and out of the way.

Then supper, homework, tv or computer, then off to bed to start again the next day.


  1. Your post on my blog role has shown no post for you until just now. It seems you all are very busy. You make me tired and ashamed for lack of busyness. What is with the wandering cows? You have got some fine boys, hard workers, and reliable.

    1. I have no idea why they keep wandering. I found a spot yesterday where they had worked the staples out of the bottom of a fence post. I put new staples in, and so far today they are all still in. That means they were crawling UNDER the fence. They have pasture and hay, and water of course. They really don't go anywhere, just walk around the back of our pasture, then up to the house when they want back in. I seriously think they're just trying to drive me crazy.

      I am quite proud of them, though I will admit I occasionally resort to bribery to get things done...

    2. Silly cows!

      There is nothing wrong with bribery or threats...lol. I would say "you can do (whatever) after you (whatever)." Or if someone asked me to take them to the pool: "Yes, I will as soon as I get the beds made, laundry downstairs, a load of laundry in the machine, and the dishes out of the dishwasher." Of course, the chores varied. After this little comment, I had volunteers. I think I manage to bribe and threaten then without meltdowns most days.

    3. Pretty much the same here. 'I have to do x y z before I can drive you wherever...' They always put more effort into the work closer to the weekend. :)

  2. Another thing, you say you find something to do for the day after the chores. It seems you have done lots! How long does it take you to get all the animals fed, watered, and milked before you "find something to do"?

    1. Right now, I putter about for about two hours, including my tea break while waiting for Murphy's bottle. That'll shorten up once the birds and pigs are in the freezer. Then shorter still once we stop milking and turn Mildred loose in the pasture for the winter.

    2. Thanks. So fattening everyone up until it turns cold enough to butcher is the goal? It would be really hard to do all you do in the snow, considering you hate the cold and that you get so much snow. I know I ask too many questions, but why do you stop milking? I thought cows were milked for longer so families would have milk. Do you then buy milk at the store or can you freeze enough?

    3. Yeah, I'll start butchering the meat roosters in the next week or two. The pigs will wait til it's cooler. I try to minimize and centralize chores for the winter, so everything is closer together and takes less time.

      Some people milk through about 8 months, others go over a year. The big thing with Mildred is we really don't know when she calved or how long she's been in milk. She is starting to lose a bit of weight though, so we need to quit soon to get her back in condition before winter.

      My original plan was to milk until October, then let her out in pasture to rebreed and winter with the herd. She hasn't shown any real signs of heat though since Toothless broke through the fence to get to her in April. That most likely means she'll be calving in January/February, only five months away. She needs to put on some weight and grow a healthy calf, and that will be easier if we aren't milking.

      Our extreme winter weather is also hard on all of the animals, requiring more feed just to keep their body temperature up. Milking and washing teats at -40°C won't be fun for either of us, and may lead to frost bite as well.

      Milk should be a seasonal food, allowing the cow time to gain condition, recover, and deliver. If you want milk year round, you really should have two cows, breeding in opposite seasons. That would not work in our extreme weather though either.

      I should have enough butter to last until next spring. The cheese is not nearly what we would use in a year, however, I didn't try to make that much since I don't know what it will taste like yet. We'll be buying yogourt for winter, or making it from store bought milk, as well as buying milk for household use. We don't drink store bought milk like we do our milk though. It's really just for tea/coffee, making pudding, etc. No one here drinks it by the glass. Where we've easily consumed 4L per day of fresh milk all summer, through the winter that will last closer to two weeks.

      I did not freeze any milk, except a bit of Nelly's colostrum for any future calf needs. I don't have the freezer space required to keep us in milk through the winter.