Skip to main content


Showing posts from March, 2019

Tending Fences

"In appraising the future of a farm, fences were reckoned a prime necessity. Almanac after almanac starts the month of March with, 'Look to your fences.'"
Eric Sloane, The Seasons of America Past
Even if one doesn't follow the agrarian calendar, this time of year seems a natural fit for projects such as looking to one's fences. The planting and harvest seasons are just too busy! Early spring is a good time, because the weather is starting to get mild and it's a joy to be outdoors again after a long, cold winter.

If you've read my blog over the years, then you know we've had a terrible problem with old pine trees taking out our fences.

This is all in our woods, and we've patched the damage as best we could. There are enough of those trees still standing to make us wonder when it will be safe to replace the damaged fencing. Probably not this year, so this year we turned our attention to fencing repairs closer to the house.

The first project was the h…

Happy Agrarian New Year!

Something that has always seemed odd to me is that the beginning of a new year is in the middle of winter. That isn't strictly true of all cultures in all time periods, but it's been standard enough for long enough that I doubt few folks give it a second thought. When I read Eric Sloane's The Seasons of America Past I learned that the old agrarian calendar began the year on March 25. This makes sense to me! So here I am, wishing you a Happy Agrarian New Year.

The roots of this go back to the ancient Hebrew, Canaanite, and Babylonian calendars, where the first month started in the modern late March. The early Romans celebrated the new year on March 1st, but this was changed in 45 BC with the Julian calendar. It made January 1st the beginning of the new year. The best I can figure out is that this was done because the month's namesake, Janus, was the god of new beginnings. When Pope Gregory XIII had the calendar revised in the mid-1500s January remained the first month. 

Carport Repair: Replacing the Old Siding

Ordinarily carports don't have siding, but the builder of ours added a small storage space at the back. Once Dan had the new metal roof on he was ready to replace that siding.

It wasn't a lot to replace, but of course there were hidden surprises to keep things interesting.

So that had to be replaced. Dan also added gable end studs for support and for something to nail the new siding to.

We decided to use the same barn board siding and color scheme we used on the house.

The other place that needed new siding was the gable end in the front.

It came with a surprise too.

Here's a closeup.

The two-by-four nailed to this ridge beam support was apparently only for something to nail the siding boards to. Dan replaced it with another two-by-four and a collar beam.

One fly rafter needed to be replaced and he added a couple of gable end supports too.

Lastly the siding.

Primer and paint will be next, once it warms up a bit.

Carport Repair: Replacing the Old Siding© March 2019 by Leighat http://ww…

Twins for Ellie

Friday evening I went to the goat barn to secure things for the night and found Ellie standing in the corner. She had that faraway look does get when they're concentrating on the early stages of labor. Into the kidding pen she went and about an hour and a half later, she started to push. The only concern was that it looked like it was going to be a tight fit for kids to pass. I helped pull them out and fortunately there was no tearing. She had a boy and a girl.

Ellie is a first-time mom but she took right to it. She's given me a couple of looks, though, as if to say "but what am I supposed to do with them?" Like so many things it's a combination of instinct and experience.

Twins for Ellie© March 2019 by Leighat

Book Review: Managing Cover Crops Profitably

It's too early and too muddy to do much in the garden, but I can work on tending to those bare spots in our pasture. Working on that reminded me of a book I wanted to tell you about: Managing Cover Crops Profitably  published by the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program of the USDA.

I learned about this book from a video by regenerative agriculturist Gabe Brown. (I don't specifically recall which one, but if you are interested in soil building, head over to YouTube, search his name, and pick one - they're all that good). Those videos set us on a whole new approach to how we homestead. When he recommended this book I didn't hesitate to get a copy. It then became a valuable resource for the experiments Dan and I started late last summer:
Carbon and Soil Building: Designing a PlanSoil Building Experiment #1Soil Building Experiment #2: Pastures
The book is a collection of articles written by a panel of cover crop experts. It is geared toward farmers in…

Carport Repair: New Roof

With all the rain we've had, progress on re-roofing the carport has been slow. Any time we have a few days without rain, Dan gets busy and finally the new roof is on! You may recall where we left off.

Bracing to stabilize the roof rafters was first on the job list.

The next step was roof battens (purlins) to screw the roofing panels to. What to use for them prompted one of our "time versus money" discussions. Dan looked through his stack of boards by the sawmill but didn't have many of consistent depth. The length and width of the boards could vary, but if they aren't the same depth, the new roof will have dips in it. We have a new "crop" of fallen pines thanks to the waterlogged ground, so should he drag them through the woods and mill new boards for battens? Or would it be more expedient to buy them? After consulting the piggy bank, we opted to buy them.

Dan orders the metal roofing panels cut to specifications from a small local company. It's actual…

Poised for Disaster

"I play a mental game with myself that helps me bring our progress into perspective. It's a “what if” game, based on whatever imaginary emergency or doomsday scenario suits my fancy at the time. What if Dan was suddenly unemployed for months on end? What if, for some reason, civilization as we know it collapsed? How prepared would we be?" 5 Acres & A Dream The Book, Chapter 5, "The Establishment Phase"

I don't blog much about preparedness. This isn't because I don't see a need to be prepared, it's because Dan and I believe that the very best thing one can do to prepare for __(fill in the blank)__ is lifestyle.

Changing our lifestyle over the years has been a top priority, because we have long seen the root of the world's problems to be its industrialized economic system. I know many people love this system's promises of convenience and wealth, while others hate the inevitable inequality it produces. Trouble is, both points of view are …

Introducing New Kids to the Herd

I was asked a question recently, about when to introduce new kids to the rest of the herd. It's a good question, because there are a number of variables: herd dynamics, individual personalities, and the dam's mothering style.

I like to leave mothers and their new kids in the kidding stall for their first couple of days. New mothers, especially, need to learn who these tiny creatures are and bond with them. The stall isn't out of sight from the other goats so there's no herd separation anxiety for the new mother. They can see and smell one another and it gives everyone a chance to become familiar with the kids.

This also gives new babies time to learn how to use their legs and get around. They need to be steady enough on their feet and able to run out of the way of any adult who is trying to teach them their manners. Learning their manners includes learning which teats are acceptable to nurse from and which are not! With so much access to milk at eye level, it's a les…