Our Mission

To live a self-sufficient and organic lifestyle for the next half century. With the Grace of God and the power of prayer, we will succeed. Nothing is impossible with His help. It wouldn't be us without laughter and joy at the Cockeyed Homestead.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Nursing Animals Inside Continues

This week on the Cockeyed Homestead, we are still nursing hurt and sick animals.

The hurt hen is now in physical therapy. Twice to three times a day we are stretching her hurt leg and working on her claw. After a week and a half post attack, she needs to use it or lose it. I can't imagine being a chicken and not be able to scratch. Her feathers are growing back in and she even makes allowances for me picking her up one handed. She doesn't like the therapy, but I think she understands I'm trying to help her. She has actually tried to put her foot down when she tries to catch her balance. So there is hope that she will rejoin her flock. Although she's not in danger of dying now, she is getting too comfortable inside where it is always warm and dry. She has unlimited food and fresh water too. I'm afraid she will become another Cuddles, who also stayed inside while she was egg bound. Now, Cuddles wants to be one of the domestic pets. She will come inside at any opportunity like she owns the place.

The Jersey Woolie, Ebony, is still in the dog crate. Her shoulder has scabbed over and it isn't tender to the touch any more. What's she still doing inside? She's next in line to be sheared. What Mel is waiting on I have no idea. Oh wait. That's right. Mel is trapped in la-la-land writing her next novel. I guess I could finish grooming her to get her back in her outdoor cage. If worse comes to worse, if Mel doesn't finish her this week I will. I've done the rabbits in the rabbitry (the girls Daisy, Moira, and Early Gray). It's a level surface for me to get around. Dustin, grey angora, is outside and needs to be done, but I can't climb stairs while holding a rabbit so he's left to Mel.

The new casualty this week is Mel's special needs cat, Devon Angel. He's sick again with our warm, and then freezing weather. He's got a severe head cold. But as usual, it's in his lung now too. I can hear him gurgling when I listen to his chest so he's back on antibiotics. For the past two days, he's eaten nothing. He has even turned his nose up at tuna! He's still drinking lots of water though so I'm not truly worried yet. He lost quite a bit of weight over the summer and fall, 4 pounds of his ten pounds, so I imagine his immunities are low too. But then, Mel says he's always been sickly.

In case you are wondering what Devon Angel is lying on, it's a homemade incubator. It's on the table nearest the wood stove. The hurt chicken stopped setting on them forty-eight hours later. I think it hurt her injured leg. Best laid plans and all of that. Inside are four New Hampshire Red eggs. Kind of over kill with that huge tub, huh? It's a plastic, lidded tub with a towel inside, and sitting on a heating pad. Then we wrapped the whole thing in a blanket. Inside are the eggs, a candy thermometer, and a small stainless steel bowl of water. That's it. No special equipment. It's on the table nearest the wood stove. We manually turn the eggs twice a day. It stays 99-100 degrees inside. I have no idea what the humidity percentage is but we are having to add water to the 3 oz bowl every couple of days. It's not humid or hot enough to fog up my glasses so it's about right, I figure. Mel swears by this method over the standard incubator. She had a 100% hatch rate of fertile eggs last time. She had compared it to her incubator hatch rate of 25%. We haven't candled the eggs yet. With a ratio of four hens to one rooster, I figure the chances of these eggs being fertilized are pretty good. But we'll know for sure in about a week when we do candle them. We are hoping for a couple of new hens, but if we get roosters, we'll just grow them out and butcher them.

Why so small an amount of eggs? Well, we plan to get other chickens this year too. We just wanted to replace what the predator killed. We figured if two hatched and lived to adulthood, Whitie, the rooster could easily care for his girls. They would produce enough eggs for us and friends. We also want a back up rooster like we had before Dinner gave his life protecting the flock from the predator. It gave Whitie a chance to lead the other four hens to safety. But if all four eggs are viable and hatch, it's just gravy for the goose. No, we aren't raising geese too. Roosters and soon quail are enough noisy animals. What with our neighbor raising cattle, we got a regular barnyard cacophony surrounding us.

Well, I'm off to make my sour dough bread. Mel was surprised that she liked it better than plain, white bread. Until next time...
Y'all have a blessed day!

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Starting Seeds and Preparing for Spring

This week on our homestead we planted English peas, carrots, potatoes, onions, garlic and leeks in the garden. Now our last frost date isn't until the end of April. In the greenhouse, I started my herbs, peppers and tomatoes. Am I nuts to think the cold won't kill them? Not really. I far too aware I'm farther north than my previous gardening experience.

Now I could have gone out and spent a small fortune on those seed pots but the Cockeyed Homestead is a shoe string operation. My seed starting pots are made out of toilet paper and paper towel rolls. If more are needed, there are plenty of free newspapers available. FYI (for your information) we also use toilet paper rolls stuffed with dryer lint and dipped in paraffin for fire starter in the wood stove, and also use them for rabbit treat toys. We recycle as much as we can. In fact, it takes us two months to fill three 32-gallon trash cans. Even my empty one liter bottles of tonic water are saved. But I digress.

For frost protection
It's almost the end of February. It will take a few weeks to grow the seeds big enough to transplant from the greenhouse.The plants outside can be covered with sheets to protect them from an overnight frost. Our daytime temperatures are in the 50s and 60s. We even hit the 70 this week. Or for really tender plants, my empty tonic water bottles protect them. We simply cut the bottoms off and place them over the plant in the afternoon before a frost. During the summer, a small hole is drilled into the top and they are inverted as a slow drip watering system for the plants. The water goes where it is needed most...the roots. As an alternative, I can replace the water with either worm, compost, or rabbit poo tea for a slow release fertilizer. If slower release is
For summer drip waterers
needed, a quick trip to my local dollar store for a supply of sponges. Two sponges pack will net twenty sponge inserts in the caps to slow the dispersal down. For a buck and some change for tax, it's a good deal.

Two liter bottles work better, but we don't buy two liter sodas opting for aluminum cans instead. Recycle centers actually pay you to recycle these. Everyone can use a few extra bucks back, right?

I take tonic water for the quinine to help with my nocturnal leg cramps. There is nothing like waking from a deep sleep by Charlie horses. Before the tonic water, I was awakened a couple times a night with these.

Planting, setting seeds, grooming angora and Jersey Woolies has dominated the week. Fifty English peas, ten pounds of russet and red potatoes, forty leeks, onions, and garlic cloves all in the ground. Ten bell peppers, cayenne, turmeric, ginger, ten types of lettuces and spinach, fifteen assorted herbs, and thirty tomato seeds are snug in their pots in the greenhouse just germinating and growing for spring.

How has your week been?

"Y'all have a blessed day."

Sunday, February 12, 2017

On the Homestead: When Predators Attack

It's been a disheartening week on the homestead this week. With the cold snap came the nocturnal predators. I awoke and started my outside feeding of our critters.  I noticed that only four hens out of six showed up and were closely followed by Whitie the rooster. Dinner, the other rooster, and the other two hens were no shows which were highly unusual. Well, I figured it was their loss and went on the tend to the rabbits.

I rounded the corner of the house and headed for the angora rabbitry building. I noticed a huge amount of feathers on the ground near where the chicken roost at night, then I knew the cause of these chickens absence. A predator had entered the chicken pen during the night. There were rooster feathers all over the place. I do  know Dinner had not gone peacefully, but had put up a fight. No bodies, not much blood, but loads of feathers littered the ground.

We are still not sure what predator got the hens and rooster. Needless to say, Whitie and the hens have abandoned their newly built coop and are back on the front porch for the time being. They are safer. We'll clean up the mess after we build a proper enclosed area for the chickens this spring.

A couple of days later, Mel was bringing in one of the Jersey Woolie, Ebony, to groom  and she noticed Whitie harassing a hen to walk to the other hens so he could protect them. The bird was obviously injured and hobbled on one leg with the other tucked tucked up under her. She was using her right wing as a crutch. Mel filled a milk crate with straw, placed the hen in it, and brought it inside. She now has a permanent spot by our wood stove.

After checking her out, we found no cause for her leg being drawn up. No obvious breaks or wounds. It might be muscular which time may heal. Her comb is a ragged mess and you can see where feathers have been stripped of their fluffy bits around her head. We figured she survived the attack and went into hiding under the house and hunger brought her out. For now, I'm calling her Gimpy. I know cruel, right? But it's true. Whether she survives or not is still up in the air. All we can do is hope. She just might be able to join Whitie and the other hens again.

Meanwhile, Mel cut a little too deeply while grooming Ebony. Rabbits have tissue paper fine skin. It resulted in a rather large cut on her shoulder. We are tending to it with an antibiotic ointment. She's been placed in the dog crate in the living room. She'll get the preferential treatment until she heals.

Mel was doing dishes and I was at my computer last evening when she looked around the corner of the short wall that divided us, We're running an animal house!"
Three of five cats were on the breakfast table because it's next to the wood stove, the border terrier, Herbie, was under my feet, and Nnyus, the pit bull, was lying on the kitchen floor. Plus the chicken by the wood stove, the rabbit in the living room, and two other cats lazing on the back of the couch. "We can move out and let them have it," she said.
I responded, "Sure we could, but none of their houses would fit us. We wouldn't be the Cockeyed Homestead, if things were normal, would we?"
We both had a good chuckle about that.

Amy on the left
Our Wwolfer, Amy, and her son were here last weekend. Mel showed her how to groom angora rabbits. I had him building a drop down nesting box out of wire for the new/old 30x36 rabbit cage. It was Colleen's, meat rabbit, previous home on my old homestead. I'm still waiting for his return next weekend to attach it to the cage itself. I got the idea from the Hillbilly Half Acre Homestead channel on YouTube. It seems like a more natural way to have litters for rabbits. In the wild, rabbits would have their babies in burrows. It would also free up floor space in Colleen's cage by not having a nesting box cramp her up. She's a big bunny. Once the babies are big enough to climb out of the drop down nest box, they can be weaned and placed in grow out cages within a couple of weeks.

I have been researching the raising of quail on our homestead. Now that the angoras have been moved to their official home, our angora rabbitry, we have empty cages outside. It would be another meat source for us. I was talking with Jason at the Big Bear Homestead, and he raises Cortunix quails. He has offered to hatch half a dozen for us in the spring. They are easy to butcher, clean and are delicious! So stay tuned to our YouTube channel for further updates on this.

I kinda like this one with additions
I could get hatching eggs but the plan is to get some Buff Orpington chicks in the spring. They are a broody bird so hopefully we can hatch out more birds. We will also be incubating some of our own New Hampshire Red eggs. We're both sold on this breed. I wouldn't mind getting some Americauna, Easter eggers, chickens also. Yes we are branching out in our chicken and egg production. Since Mel has the certification to sell eggs, why not take a stab at the market. They will be semi free range eggs and definitely organic once I start sprouting their feed in the spring. Only semi free range because I want to have a productive garden this year. I plan on housing the different breeds in chicken tractors. They are mobile and can be moved daily if necessary even close to the garden. I figure all it would take is one 4x8 piece of plywood, some 2x4x8s, chicken wire, and some screws. Maybe a couple of latches, a tarp, and a tow rope. We've got enough paint leftover from other jobs to paint them for weather proofing. We could even stick rabbits and quail in them too. I figure under $50 each.

Anyhow that's my plan. Mel may have other ideas. That's it for this week. As always,
"Y'all have a blessed day."

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Confession Time and New Video Series on YouTube

But I love you too!
My only New Years resolution of sorts that I made was to focus on me more than others in 2017. If you really knew me, you'd realize what a challenge this is for me. In all my almost 60 years of life, I've put others before me to the point where I literally drove myself constantly into the ground. Do I sound selfish? It's not totally going to be a meme year though. The homestead is a huge undertaking and that's where my main focus will be, but there are other goals I'd like to explore and do that I've put on a back burner for far too long putting out everyone else's fires. Everyone else needs to take responsibility and just deal with it.

Sounds strange coming from a professed minister, right? Not entirely so. A huge part of my meme year involves others and their well being including my own. What I've wanted and been guided, by the Lord, is to reach more disabled folks and show them an alternative to just existing. I've been shown that this is my ministry field now. While I've continued writing my post stroke blog, I've done very little else. I've done very little else. This will change in 2017.

I'm starting with a subcategory of our Cockeyed Homestead YouTube channel with a series of videos on homesteading and being disabled. I'll probably start a whole new channel. How does "Single-Handed Homesteader" strike you? No, I'm not leaving the Cockeyed Homestead and will still do videos for that channel, but this will go more in depth of my faith, philosophy, how-tos, to give those disabled folks out there both a kick in the pants, and hope that they can also have their dreams or at least some of them. This was a goal I set for me almost three years ago. It's time for me to get cracking on it. For many over at my stroke recovery blog, it's been a long awaited promise fulfilled. No, it won't be as originally intended with me by my lonesome. Homesteading is hard enough without disabilities, and with the move here, I'm no longer alone.

I hear you. "But Jo, that's not selfish!" True, in part. I don't think I've got a totally selfish bone in my body. It is my commitment service to the Lord that guided me to this. Why else would He have allowed me these challenges to overcome? Especially with Him knowing me so well. (grinning) It nourishes my soul and blesses me abundantly so in my mind it is selfish.

The second part is to get involved on the local level.  I researched stroke support groups. While being a leader and unique in life is admirable, it can get lonely at the top. I used to say even a minister needs a minister from time to time. Yes, I have my Heavenly Father, but it doesn't hurt to have a good support system here on Earth too. After repeatedly calling the local stroke support group and not getting a call back, I'm going to present myself in person at the local hospital, which sponsors the group. I'm not leaving until I have talked to someone who knows what is going on. Yes, I can be stubborn that way.

So that's the plan. Work continues on the cookbook and life continues on the homestead. As always...
Y'all have a blessed day!