State of the Homestead: April 2019

#spring homestead

It’s Spring! The birds are singing, the grass is growing, and there are already figs and limes on my trees. Time to get to work!

We’ve got a full house what with new chicks, new goats, and new quail. Here’s what’s happening this month.

Garden: The garden is still being planted. We’re just a tad cooler than usual. It’s not too hard on the plants, but I’m still waiting before I put out my warm weather plants. All the cool weather plants: peas, brassicas, and greens are getting big. They might be ready for harvest about the time the warm weather plants get moving.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’m disappointed at the cost of seedlings this year. Last year’s trend should’ve alerted me that they were raising prices. I’ll not make the same mistake for next year. I plan to plant a lot more from seed. Maybe I’ll sell my extras to my neighbors. That would be a nice bonus.

Asparagus: Asparagus is back! Every year I feel like one of those ancient humans who wondered whether the sun would return after an eclipse. That’s how I feel about asparagus. It looks so empty for months and then BAM!, you have asparagus everywhere.

We eat our fill of fresh, but I’ve had a hard time getting good quality spears after freezing despite blanching them. I think this year (once my neighbors are tired of our asparagus) I might make soup with it and freeze that.

Goats: I think the babies might be already sold. One man who I sold to last year called me up in January to remind me he was still interested in more doelings. And then that same day, when we went to disbud the babies we ran into two women (who were also there to disbud their goats) and asked if we’d sell the babies to them.

Since the other guy was first I couldn’t say yes, but I went ahead and took their phone number and promised to call if the other buyer backed out.

We’re downsizing this year which means we’ll need to sell the big bucks too. I hate the idea of losing Ray Charles (our male Boer). He’s got a good heart and isn’t mean at all, but I think he’d be happier in an open field where he could protect his girls. He’s a big boy for our pens. Although he’s never hurt us, we get caught in those horns all the time in tight quarters. I really want him to go to a good home. He’s a magnificent buck, and an excellent sire.

To that end, we disbudded the only buckling he gave us this year, Red. I thought if we kept a hornless buck, it might be easier on us. I’ve been trying to socialize Red like we did Ray so he’ll be easier to handle as he gets bigger.

I know I want to keep Brownie, our gentle Nubian doe. And although Greg doesn’t agree, I think we should keep Pan, our only horned Boer doe. Pan is a little mean to Brownie, but with less goats, there should be less competition for food and attention.

Quail: I got my first egg last week. And promptly dropped it. D’oh!!

I bought five quail. One male, and four female. Two are skittish and the other three are calm. I hope a little more time in a quiet cage will help to calm them all.

Chickens: The first set of hatched chicks are big and healthy. We’ve decided to hatch a second set. These I’ll sell. Ameraucana seem to be going for higher than average prices on Craigslist.

I’ll be moving the first set of chicks to their outside home this week. I haven’t sexed them so I’m anxious to see what I’ve gotten.

Pig???: Greg is funny. He swore up and down that he wouldn’t get another pig, but now that he knows we’re down to the finish with our last pig, he’s been wondering if we shouldn’t raise one more.

Pigs are efficient creatures. The last one was cost effective too because a friend let us take all the pears we wanted from her trees. Aside from his regular meals he also got all the weeds I pulled from the garden.

I’m not sure yet if we’ll get one, but if we do, we’ll have to unload some goats first so we’ll have room. Pigs are kind of pricey on Craigslist right now. A lot of people are selling pure bred stock. Pigs aren’t one of those creatures where breed matters to us. I will say though, the best breed of pig we ever raised was a Landsrace. They are gentle creatures. I haven’t seen one of them in ages.

The Front Yard: Aside from all this, I’m still working on the front yard landscaping as time and money permits. The weeds are starting to crop up so I’ve got to keep them at bay until my perennials are safely rooted and stable.

I’m still searching for the right ground cover to outgrow the weeds. Right now I’m putting in creeping thyme because it’s a sturdy little plant that spreads, but I’m looking for other options too. It’s a big area I’ve got to cover. If anyone has any ideas for a tough ground cover that spreads rapidly for Zone 8a, please let me know.

My front yard irises are blooming, but my huge backyard bed of irises haven’t finished opening up all their buds. They’re magnificent when they’re all in bloom. A big field of purple pastels.

Speaking of landscaping, my peonies have come back and some have tight buds waiting to flower. If these work out for me, I might grow some more for next year.

We’ve been going to bed exhausted every night. I think I’ve been bitten by every bug imaginable and itching constantly. I made the mistake of trimming some trees and some of the branches fell on me. Unfortunately, whatever was on those branches also fell on me and had me as a snack! Ah, spring. What’s spring without insects? Heaven. That’s what.

I think I need more Benadryl.

Nana and Jammy: These guys have had a busy first quarter. We’ve had friends over for dinner, overnight guests, and even a four-legged boarder who stayed with us for a while.

This picture was taken immediately after our guests left. They look exhausted, don’t they?

I’m happy to report that Nana (the border collie who wants to rule the world) behaved herself, though I never let my guard down. She hates it when she’s not the center of attention and gets snippy with the competition.

Jammy, the cat, responded well to our dog guest though he still runs and hides when people come to visit. Jammy turned one year old in April. We don’t know what his real birthday is so give or take a couple of weeks, I opted for April 1st.

He turned out to be such a nice cat–and grateful too. He never seems to forget about his hard scrabble beginnings. Jammy is all about staying safe. When strangers show up, I can always find him hiding under the blankets. He scared the hell out of me the first time he disappeared. I searched everywhere until I figured out where his safe place was.

That little guy is sweet too. Through the darkest days when we were nursing Iko through his surgeries, Jammy snuggled with me constantly and brought me a lot of comfort. Or maybe I was a comfort to him. You never can tell with cats.

We’re in a good place right now on the homestead. It’s true, we’re achy, (and itchy) and tired, but my fur kids are healthy and Greg is with me. That’s all I need. The work will tend to itself as the year unfolds.

Where are you at in seasonal chores right now? Any pet news you can share?


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  1. For ground cover, we have two things that grow here that should work there and once they’re planted they spread like crazy. One is pachysandra ( That link says shade, but my SIL has it planted everywhere. It might be too hot and dry there, not sure. Also periwinkle or vinca ( We grew that successfully in Colorado Springs which is dry as dust so dry should be okay. I also have tons of creeping phlox (I’d share if you were closer). Good luck! Our snow has only just melted, so we’re barely starting to ready the gardens here.

  2. Jenny Schwartz

    You sound busy – and itchy 🙂 Summer is hanging on here. It would be lovely to get some real rain. I had to smile at the picture of your exhausted people herders and supervisors.

    • Jenny: You should’ve seen them. The moment our guests left they came out of nowhere and hopped up on that couch and didn’t leave until it was time to go to bed. You’d think they were the ones that cleaned house and cooked dinner. Sheesh!

      They were exhausted.

  3. It’s a good feeling to go to bed after a full day of work! I’m glad the pets are doing well. We have 2 dogs and 1 cat…the cat is a pain in the butt! He is always trying to escape and chase birds…sigh. We live on a busy road and he worries me.

    I’ve planted potatoes and strawberries now. It’s starting to warm up in the Chicago area. 🙂

    Best wishes with the perenials and ground cover!

  4. I love hearing all the news, especially about the beasties. I’ll take some of that asparagus off your hands. (Do you deliver?)

    One thing I love, you gave Jammy the same birthday as my Uncle, who is a passionate cat lover. He pretty much turned his home into a shelter for wayward kitties.

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