Proud to Announce!!

Mervin (our buck) and Millie (our doeling) are the proud parents of two little kids a little buck and a little doeling.

Mom is doing well.

The babies are doing well.

Yesterday Amanda and I went to look at a horse a few hours away. When we got home Amanda was headed towards the barn to put everyone in for the night. She was talking on the phone with a friend who had just called upon walking into the barn she heard a little cry and immediately said I will call you back I have baby goats. She hung up and yelled for me to come.

Millie had twins but being a new mom we wanted to spend some time to make sure everything was good. (Which is a good practice regardless of how many they have had). She was spending time with the little buck but not so much with the little doe. We watched to see what she would do. After a little while we went into the pen with her and tried to get the little ones to nurse. She wasn’t having anything to do with that. So we dried the little doe off a little more as it was a little cool out yesterday. After she was dry Amanda and I worked on getting Millie to allow the littles to nurse. I stripped (a milking term for pulling milk from a teat on an goat or cow) about 15 to 20 strips to make sure she was able to provide the milk she had produce. Once we had her realize that she did much better with everything.

I got up in the middle of the night to check and make sure they were doing well. Amanda got up in the early hours to check in on them to make sure they were doing well. So today they are 24 hours old and have a better idea of what their feet are about.

It is so nice to see littles come into the world here at Split Rock Heritage Homestead. Looking forward to our goat herd growing.

The great pig dilemma

I have a confession to make, I’m addicted to the cute irresistible sight of pig snouts! I love pigs. The one animal we always new we would have on the farm, in fact we had an adorable potbelly as a pet when we lived in town.

We researched pigs before the sale was final, before we ever picked up the keys from the lawyer, we new the perfect breed.

Berkshires, a heritage breed from England reaching north America as early as 1823. A large black pig with white feet, nose and tail tip. Black pigs are better for pasture their dark skin protects them from sunburn. Berkshires have an up turned snout which means they do slightly less deep rooting in the fields. They produce a richly flavoured dark red marbled meat. But the selling factor for me I think is their docile personalities at 600 lbs you don’t want a pig that doesn’t want to be your friend pushing you around.

I spent a large amount of time looking for these special pigs, although the Berkshire is making a comeback pure pigs in general are fading away, for quick cheap easy mixed breeds that are ready for market faster, and no one’s knows anymore your grocery store pork doesn’t say Berkshire or duroc. The delectable pork you picked up today may not be available at your local grocer tomorrow and you would never be able to pinpoint the difference if it was. I contacted a lot of people, claiming to have Berkshires only to be disappointed by thier spotted red piglets. I contacted registered breeders but they didn’t have litters last year. We looked and looked until it was getting to late in the season to buy piglets and we settled on the much enjoyed Seven and Ate that taught us such great lessons and have feed my family well all winter.

One lesson we learned from Seven and Ate was you have to get pigs early. Or you feed them when they eat the most long after the feed is supplemented by “free ” pasture feed. So I have been on the prowl for my dream pigs again.

Meet 22117-69 now known as Thelma. And her darling sister Louise the formally 22117-70.

We found them!

3 hours away in a little town called Parham with a wonderful couple at Tryon Farms. The whole experience was wonderful. The couple was great informative and shared not only the long search for their berks but the love for them as well, we pet all the “big pigs” and walked right in with mommy and her piglets, she wasn’t the least bit upset to share her babies with us and came over for some loving of her own.

The next dilemma…… We are going to keep Thelma and Louise as breeding stock so I’m not quite sure what’s going in the freezer…..

Bacon and eggs!

Mornings on Split Rock are not like they were when we lived in town. In town we had to feed the dogs and cats…here in Split Rock our mornings involve mucking out the animal stalls and adding bedding where and when needed, hauling water to the animals as we don’t have running water in the barn (believe me it is on the list of wants and dreams). Mornings involve feeding the animals and putting them out for the day. 

Some mornings (many mornings) Amanda does the majority of the chores with help from the kids as I am out the door well before the sun even considers breaking over the horizion. I pitch in when I can and where I can. I know the work that she puts in here in the homestead. I know the work that I put in and the work that out kids (sometimes willingly sometimes not so willingly) put in to help. Regardless of who put in the work it is nice to reap the benefits of what have been sown. It is nice to see some of our dreams come into reality.

Well today dreams became reality! We ate breakfast (closer to brunch time as I got called in to work for a few hours this morning). Now eating breakfast isn’t new here on the homestead nor would it be new when we were in town. The difference is that we had on our plates our very own eggs (which we have already had over the summer) but what goes amazingly well with eggs…that’s right! BACON! But bacon that we raised here on Split Rock Heritage Homestead! 

What a great taste left on the tastebuds of bacon and eggs…bacon that has been fed organic feed and no garbage…eggs that have come from our own free range chickens…yolks so bright that it reminds you of the sun coming up…our chickens are free range and get grained with organic feed as well.

All in all it was a great meal. This morning was a realization of a dream. It was hours of work put into caring for these animals that give some much back to our family. It was a lesson learned by our kids that hard work pays off. 

I am inspired from this mornings meal to work harder to continue to chase our dreams of being self sufficient. 

What a great meal!

Shane

A day of opportunity

Slaughtered our first pig today, that in itself creates A lot of thought. I loved her , I feed her, cleaned up after her and chased her around every stinking time she escaped the pen. I also talked to her softly for her last few minutes and thanked her for what she would provide my family.

There’s more to it then that though, I mean beyond the farm part, beyond where knowing where your food came from, how it was treated and what it was raised on. More today then I  imagined, then I hoped for, far more that went beyond why we are here at Splitrock and why we wanted to be.

My beautiful brillant child that struggles with so much anxiety cooked from scratch a full meal today completely on his own, pushed through his anxieties and tears and struggled through it. All his adult helpers were busy with the pig not available for his rescue or his questions. I thank her for that what an amazing experience she gave us what a great opportunity for growth!

The rambuctious 8 year old is snuggled up with my husband, asking a billion and one questions about how bullets are made how guns work, you can see his mechanical braining turning, absorbing, listening, his future understanding is being shaped. I can thank her for that.

The goal is to appreciate all “ate” ( the pigs name) gave us and part of that is not being wasteful. I collected all of the organ meat, for the dogs meals today. As I served the liver the kids all wanted to touch it, yet again another great learning moment…. I encouraged them to feel the lung, it’s different then almost anything they could feel. 

Our prideful but shyly curious child, asked to dissect those lungs, we looked at them, how they work, what they do, all theirs pieces I watched her future unfold and there it is 1 more reason I can thank her.
She filled my heart today, she feed my family, she encouraged personal growth, she pushed the mind of a mechanic in the making, she opened the blossom of a surgeon be it a vet tech, or open heart. She created family conversations and memories that they will all look back on.

Its a bittersweet process, one I will be forever grateful for. In that one single act of slaughter all our dreams came true, We loved, we appreciated, we understood. We became homesteaders, We made homesteaders of our children, that understand, Love and appreciate where thier food comes from both the sacrifices and the joys.
Thank you Ate for a most wonderful first experience.

It has been a while…

Well I suppose it has been a while…you might be thinking that we dropped off the face of the earth…but that is not the case…we have been busy here on the homestead. We have been working on settling in with homestead life. 

We have moved the pigs from where the garden site is located to a new location where they will most likely spend the rest of their summer until they fatten up for our winter meat. 

I have built a new generator shed (roof and posts) I plan on wrapping it with straw in the near future as that will dampen the sound of the generator while it runs. Currently the generator is housed over 100 feet away from the house. It will now be closer to 30 feet from the house (getting moved tomorrow if everything goes smooth).

I have passed my rough in electrical inspection of the electrical work I have completed. I rewired the complete house. I hope to have my final done this week. That means once that is complete I am able to start buttoning things back up in the house. 

We have a banty hen sitting on a clutch of eggs so in about 21 days from now we should have a bunch of chicks. Now we don’t want to have a huge flock of banty chickens however we want her to learn to sit and brood a clutch as she will be one of our incubators. In the long term plan we plan to use them to incubate the silver’s eggs.

We have been getting and eating quail eggs from our quail. I hope to build them a new run shortly. Their eggs taste good it is just a lot of work to do anything fancy with them.

We have planted part of our garden and will expand on it for next year. This year has been too busy and too wet to get everything in on time with starting from scratch and with other stuff that has come up. 

I know reading this that some of it doesn’t seem like much (some of it is a whole lot on it’s own) but between working full time and commitments to family, friends, and events on top of all of that I feel like we have been busy. Real. Busy…

I will try to post more again as we settle into our new crazy and find ourselves again. 

Until the next time…happy trails…

“Sit tall in the saddle, hold your head up high keep your eyes fixed where the trail meets the sky and live like you ain’t afraid to die and don’t be scared just enjoy the ride” – Chris Ledoux

New-ish members of the farm

Chickens, I believe a staple at every farm and Split Rock is no exception. I knew just the ones to Silver Laced Wyandottes, the original of the Wyandottes an American heritage  breed of the 1870s, dual purpose and rose combed excellent for our cold winters. Not as easy to find as I first thought with all the great things going for them, but find some I did.

Our first adventure in late March, we travelled quite a distance for 25 day olds we preordered in January when our farm life became a reality.  Upon arrival for pick up only 19 day olds hatched ( over about a to week period) so we picked up these cuties as well hopefully our future incubators.

The first challenge was keeping the little ones warm, they spent the first 24 hours in our propane oven ( cracked open of course) until we could get a small generator running 24/7. Keeping brooder lights on without constant power proved to be a challenging feat I spent one night on the couch with my sleeping babies on my chest under a house coat because the generator decided it needed an oil change at 2am.

The next obstacle, I admittedly was so excited to actually find a source for the chicks I wanted I didn’t do enough research on the people supplying them to me a mistake I will not make again. After we got the heat situation figured out we lost chicks almost every other day. It called for drastic measures I didn’t want to take but we treated the remainders with some medication and although the numbers are way done we now have 8 happy, healthy little chicks growing well and fast, eating mealworms and fresh greens and now organic scratch. Getting ready for their transition to outside living….. With their ever faithful watchdog by their side.

Rewiring life…

Well we needed to update our electrical panel for insurance purposes…apparently the 50amps that we produced (at most) was way to much for a 60amp panel we had in the house when we moved in…in order to update the panel it needs to be inspected by esa…this I understand however it is a frustration as we are not plugged to the grid, however if we were to sell and someone else wanted to hook up to the grid it needs to be up to code. When the gentleman who built this place the esa inspection was not a needed requirement for off griders…

So here we are needing an inspection for a panel which results in needing to change where our generator is housed (including digging a new service ditch to run cable to the panel from the genny), grounding the house (was never properly grounded), and after finding out that esa needs to inspect all the electrical in the house I looked at some of the devices and decided it was safer to rewire the house (this has resulted in walls moved and opened up, fishing wires, lots of hours of work on top of working full time). I disconnected the generator from the house so it is no longer a danger after some of the interesting wiring techniques used in the past wiring of the house.

The silver lining at the end of all this is…wait for it….we will have an up to date, up to code electrical system that I know where every wire runs and what circuit runs what…but the best part is knowing it will be SAFE! That means my kids and my wife and pets are safe in the house with no concern over electrical issues of the past.

Quest for power….. part 1

I am going to apoligize now if this post gets a little long, so far we have learned lots, and had quite the adventure in the process.

We looked at this off grid paradise in December, covered in snow we went home that evening knowing 2 things.

1) We had to have it, it was the perfect mix of highlands rocks, flat fields and an abundance of water. The cozy house would accomadate our family of 5, and it was already off grid so we didn’t need to try and convert it.

2) We knew the 3500 watt generator wouldn’t meet the things we knew we needed for ourselves and we would need to upgrade to constant power and still maintain our desire of being self sufficient and thus produce our own.

This story our dear friends is the start of our journey for point 2.

We researched some and then some more and then lots more. We talked to people who are  living off grid, we talked to people with solar micro fit attached to the grid. We talked to Haliburton Solar and Wind(HSW) the solar guy himself.

HSW sent us a plethora of information the most important being how on earth to complete the dreaded load analysis. ( I will warn all you wanna be and future off griders this is at least a solid 2 week task) 

Step one you make a list of everything you own that uses power and I really mean everything even the things you don’t use often or forget you have ( your sons remote control recharging truck that you had safely packed away until spring). Then you make a list of all the things you may possibly want in the future ( because let’s face it spending thousands of dollars on power to then find out it won’t run the fun new gadget you just picked up is going to suck)…don’t forget every light bulb you use!

Step 2 figure out how many hours per day you run each item ( like when was the last time you notice your fridge kicks on approx every 1.5 hours for 13.574 minutes?)

Step 3 figure out how many running watts each item uses which has about 3 different mathematical ways I will allow you to Google yourself ( math isn’t my thing)

4. Does it surge? If so how many watts does it surge at? And how long? ….more math.

We complete this project and luckily enough for us the wonderful team at HSW sent us a fancy little excel sheet that totalled all our running watt, surge watt, daily running watt hour math stuffs for us. I send the fancy sheet back and presto that part was easy.

HSW worked out a beautiful system for us and it came with a beautifully unattainable price tag….. Back to the drawing board. After cutting everything we could cut good bye lava lamps, hair dryer, 2 light bulbs in 1  room, and forgoing the actual solar panels for now, We have a system design that fit our budget and our needs.

It’s a simple little plug and play kind of system, 8 batteries holding 21 kilowatt hours of power a tiny 3500 watt inverter and the current generator we already own. 

Our plan early spring installation…….

Just pause

 Trekked out to check sap buckets,

 On the way into the bush you stress about how fast you can walk out, how long it’s going to take you to get there, how many times you will fall through the snow and how much you have to do when you return. When you arrive to near empty buckets ( which you knew but decided you needed to check anyways) you experience that brief moment of wasted time taking up valuable space in busyness that is life.

If though when you sigh with disappointment you take a deep breath, I mean really breathe close your eyes stop thinking. Once you open them again you know you are right where you need to be.

After a week of work, of sick kids,  kids with allergic reactions and snow days in March. This peace, this calm is just what you need and if you walk slowly back to the house you notice the pair of mallard ducks on the still frozen pond. You realize that even though you are so ready for spring to really come the freezing rain makes the forest look so mystical. 
Your world becomes righted again that simple pause, that deep breath, the peaceful forest is just what you needed to face next week whatever that may bring. You are reengerized and recharged….. Remember that the next time you have to take that to far to long to much wasted time trek and slow down breath deep just pause.