Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A homestead update: what’s going on

Since I don’t have a post prepared on a specific topic, I thought I’d do a general update about what’s going on on the homestead.

It’s been cold here for the last week like it has been for much of the country. We haven’t been above freezing during this time, which is unusual for this area. It’s been getting down into the teens and single digits every night. This pattern will continue until maybe Monday when the forecast says we might make it up to the freezing mark. The children are excited about the possibility of snow tomorrow.

We’ve been keeping the wood stove going and staying warm. No pipes have frozen, thankfully. I generally don’t like really cold weather, but this hasn’t been too bad, actually. I got out yesterday and today with Dad and Danny and cut some firewood. We brought two truck loads back from a neighbor’s farm. He had 40 acres logged about three years ago. We can drive right up to the tops to cut them. We cut, split, loaded, and dumped the four loads all together in about 1.5 hours each. The total amount was about 3 cords of firewood.

The animals are doing fine with the cold weather. I have no running water at the barn. Usually, I pump water into five gallon buckets from a shallow well near the barn which I then have to carry to their water troughs. When the temperature drops into the twenties, the water in the pump freezes, rendering it useless. I have to drain the water out of the pump or it will break when it freezes. It’s done that two or three times in the past. We’re on our second pump because I can only repair it once or twice with the welder if it breaks. So, since the pump is inoperable during this freezing weather,

I’ve been dipping water out of what we call the

spring pond

spring pond,

a small pool about the same distance away from the barn as the well


There is a spring that flows during wet weather at the base of the hill near the barn. There was a small area dug out near it to hold water when we moved here. I dug it out more two years ago. It’s still small, but it holds several hundred gallons of water. Because the spring is still flowing right now, this little pond hasn’t frozen. I’m very thankful that it’s there. If it wasn’t, I would have to make other arrangements for getting water to the cows (about 40 gallons a day).

Our new calf is doing fine. She loves to run around and jump in the stall. I’ve decided to name her Cleopatra, Cleo for short. She and mama will have to stay in for a few more days. I’m glad to have a relatively warm, enclosed space for them during her first week of life.

Our new pond is frozen over. It has 3+ inches of ice on it now. I’ve played with the children a little bit on the ice at the shallow end. They’ve enjoyed that. We would do more, and may later, but I want to be sure that it is thick enough so that no one might break through – the water under the ice is cold!

On this coming Sunday, a friend was going to bring his Woodmizer saw mill over to Gill’s house to saw beech logs for me. We’re rescheduling the day for sawing since the logs are frozen and it’s supposed to be 2 degrees (or thereabouts) Sunday morning, and that would be hard on his blades. When we do get to it (maybe later next week), his LT-40 Super Hydraulic mill should be able to cut all the logs within the day. We’ll load them on my trailer to bring back over here. We’ll cut the slabs into firewood for Gill which he’ll use for making maple syrup. The sap ought to start flowing soon. It often starts in the middle of January and continues into March. We’ll see how the cold weather affects that. I may tap a few trees here, and we’ll gladly accept sap from Gill’s trees (he usually lets us collect after he’s made as much syrup as he wants).

I should receive more of the items for our solar power system this week or early next week. It would be nice to have it all set up by the end of the month. That’s doable if I have everything here, and if it isn’t too cold outside. There have been a couple delays in getting some things shipped, but I hope that’s resolved now.

Classes for the Spring 2010 semester begin next Monday. I have a few things to do to be ready for it. That won’t take too much time. I’m glad to have at least one class to teach. Even though the income amount is small, it’s enough (at least theoretically) for us to meet our monthly expenses.

We’ll keep plugging along.


small farm girl

It's a good thing you have that pond there for your cows. We have a spring that runs in the winter. Good thing too, I hate breaking ice in our pond.

We had our lumber for our house cut from trees that were on the property. It saves lots of money.

Try to stay warm,


I'm very thankful for the little spring pond during this cold weather. Before we had cows, we had goats. They didn't drink as much. So, carrying water from a longer distance to them wasn't as big a deal as carrying 8 five-gallon buckets of water every day.

I'm glad you had the opportunity to have lumber milled from your own trees for your house. That's great! It not only saves money, but there's something about having your building materials come from your farm.

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