Wild Moon Cottage is a small working homestead in the pristine Ozark Mountains. We have dairy goats, poultry, organic herb and vegetable gardens, a start of a tiny fruit orchard, several black walnut trees, wild berries and fields of wildcrafting goodness. We raise our own milk, our own eggs, much of our own medicine and food. I do laundry by hand, make my own vinegar, candles, soap, bread, cheese ........ For a living I am an artist and herbalist. My goal for myself and our homestead is to be as self sufficient and self sustaining as possible.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Aug. 10, 2015

I missed most of the day for sleeping. I don’t know why but I was unable to sleep during the night and so napped for some hours today. I needed the sleep, to be sure, but I really missed being a part of the day.

Something has taken all our duck eggs. There were 4 Ancona nests and one Pekin nest, all with eggs. This morning all the eggs were gone. No shells or evidence, they were just gone. I was suspicious because Grace, the Pekin hen, has been sitting on hers regularly, which means we would have had more ducklings in another couple of weeks. She was off them longer than usual this morning so I checked and there are none left to sit on.

We have a very large black snake (Henry), who lives under Rabbitville. He keeps away his deadlier fellows and in exchange, takes an occasional egg. But, he only takes one at a time and I find the regurgitated shell the next day. This is probably a raccoon. I’ve left the barn door open so Nemo can go in. Hopefully he will sort it out and we can remove the culprit. The loss of all the duck eggs is a hard thing. I have a waiting list for ducklings and we needed duck meat for the winter stores. But things will work out, they always do  :)

Last Thursday I did some bartering and got us a beautiful little full blooded (no papers) spotted, Nigerian Dwarf doe. Her name is Willow and she’s fitting right in. The plan is for her and Hickory (our full blooded, blue eyed, moon spots, Nigerian Dwarf buckling from last fall) to add homestead income, meat and milk.

We also have two full size dairy does due late this month or early Sept.. Selling the weaned kids should give us a little profit toward winter animal prep and a good fresh supply of milk/dairy for many months.

We currently have 5 regular laying hens with 3 more to start soon and eight more to start next spring, so that should keep us in eggs. Plus duck eggs, if I start gathering them. Just the thing for rich winter breads and pastries.

We don’t have ducks or chickens for butcher though, which I had hoped t have by now. That will leave the meat very lean for the fall and winter. But I’ve concentrated on rebuilding our smallstock and pens etc rather than breeding.

We’ve not had rabbit babies in a year because of rebuilding the rabbitry. But it’s close to done so breeding has started again. We’re down to 5 Mini Rex, 2 does and 3 bucks. The plan here is to continue raising the rex for sale/trade but to add a larger meat breed as well. I love the Mini Rex but it take 4 to 5 to feed all the meat eaters for a day. A larger meat breed would make that 2 rabbits for a day. That’s feeding Nik, 3 dogs (1 huge) and 8 cats. I don’t care for rabbit and it’s hard for me to eat what I kill. For meat twice a week, that would be up to 10 mini rex or 4 new zealands.

The vegetable garden is starting to dwindle. A few tomatoes every few days. It didn’t do well this year at all. A few squash, peppers, tomatoes, onions, greens….  Next year, there’s always hope for next year  :)  And I have some fall planting to do, which may do better. The Ozarks has a fairly long growing season, thank The Mother.

Wild and herb harvest have been very good and I have a lot drying now.

I’m hoping to get a top back on the cold frame before the weather turns. The old top broke when a limb fell on it and I’ve not gotten it replaced. I have two old, very heavy, glass doors I may try to use. Plexiglass would be much lighter and easier to handle. We’ll see, there are advantages and disadvantages to both. The doors are much heavier but insulated.

We have turkey eggs in the incubator. I trade rabbits for 21 Royal Palm and 4 Bourbon Red. Plucked fresh from under the turkey hens. Which actually makes it a bit trickier in hatching them because I have no idea when to stop turning. But it’s worth the trying. There was one cracked egg which got tossed so we’re down to 20 RPs.

Like our Nigerian Dwarf and Oberhasli goats, Shetland/Leicester sheep, Ancona and Welsh Harlequin ducks and Autralorp, Buff Orpington and Plymoth Rock chickens, both the Royal Palm and Bourbon Red are heritage breeds. The RPs in particular are what I want t raise for trade, meat and eggs. They’re the smallest of the full size turkeys and will fit better here. But the Bourbons don’t seem a lot bigger than the RPs in person. I was surprised at that. And the BRs are beautiful birds.

I had gotten away from keeping a harvest journal but am getting back into it. It’s an important tool in many ways. To be able to see what’s usually in season in your exact area and to monitor harvests from year to year….  It’s also a joy to read on lazy days and remember harvests past. I keep it by weeks and try to note the days as well. I note what I harvested, where I found it, how much and how the whole plant/plants looked. The basic weather that season or week or month etc… I was reading through and found that the raspberry harvest 2011, from our cultivated wild patch, was abundant thought the berries were smallish they were still quite juicy even with the drought of that year.

This week, in addition to regular chores, I’m working on … sewing an apron or two, two Spirit Totem art dolls, preparing to paint the kitchen cabinets, walls and floor, enlarging some animal pens, preparing to fence in more area, harvesting and preserving foods and medicinals, shearing the sheep, reorganizing the cottage, bartering for a lovely working treadle sewing machine, inventorying the pantry and freezer and cleaning the freezer out.

Nik gave me a most excellent gift last week. A book I have wanted for years! The Garden Cottage Dairies, by Fiona Houston. I can’t stop reading it, I absolutely love it! It’s wonderful to read the first hand accounts of a modern woman living the old ways. I live many of them now but am striving to move further that way each year. There are plenty of wonderful accounts of life in the day but it’s very different to live that way now. http://www.amazon.com/Garden-Cottage-Diaries-Eighteenth-Century/dp/1887354662/ref=sr_1_1_twi_2_har?ie=UTF8&qid=1436561257&sr=8-1&keywords=cottage+garden+diary

How incredibly grateful I am to be so nourished by life. I live daily, surrounded by profound beauty. A slice of homemade bread on a stoneware plate, the gentle eyes on a loving dog, my feet and knowing how far they've carried me with the hope that they carry me many miles more.  I am truly blessed.


Gloria Easley said...

Good morning Juli, what a beautiful morning read!!! Reading your blog is like stepping back in time!!! Enjoyed the journey with you.

Peggy Lineberry said...

Love all your posts but this one really got me to slow down and count my blessings. Life really is wonderful. Love to you and yours!