Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Muharram/Safar 1438 November 2016

October ended with us having propane gas lines laid from the tank in three directions: to the trailer, to the mobile home, and to the shipping container (emergency shelter) so we can cook/heat water in all three places.

We also slaughtered the remaining 5 rabbits we had, freezing their pelts for later tanning. This freed up the structure we were using as the rabbitry to become our wood shed, masha'Allah. We started the transfer of our existing supply of wood to the shed while the weather stayed dry.









November began with us selling Tess, our first dairy cow, Rammy Ram (our Dorper ram), Babes (one of our ewes), and another 25 laying hens. Downsizing was now rolling along, masha'Allah. Our two girls took over milking completely this month, and now handle the feeding and milking of all the farm animals.

We lit our first fire on the 8th, and had our first sub-20s temperatures that same night. Allahu Akbar! How can anyone not be overwhelmed by Allah's infinite Mercy and the ease He gives us?

 
We have set up a separate, secondary solar power source in the living area, with one 100 watt panel wired to a 30 amp hour pwm charge controller hooked to a 125 ah V Max solar battery, that runs a 600/1200 watt pure sine wave inverter. This we use to plug in the blower for the wood stove, lights, and electronics. In having separate systems in the kitchen, living area, and in the trailer, we avoid having all our eggs in one basket, figuratively speaking, and if there is a problem with one system, others are in place to handle our power needs bi idhnillah ta'ala.

Sweetie was still not well, but it was no longer a parasite issue and our medical researchers (the girls) hadn't found a suitable diagnosis. The morning she died, Ahlaam finally found the accurate diagnosis – grass tetany – a magnesium deficiency that could have been treated with the same calcium gluconate we had on hand. Qadr Allahu wa maa shaa fa'al, it was a learning experience and a simple reality of life, which is death. Inna l'Illahi wa inna ilayhi raaji'oon. This leaves us with three ewes – one of our original ewes (Honey) now three years old, and our two 6 month olds (Honeycup and Sweetie Pie), along with our resident ram, Rambo. Genetically, this is the best combination we could have hoped for to breed, al hamdulillah.

Although we continued to sell milk to a few customers, we prepared to wind down sales and stop selling milk completely. On the last day of milk sales, a customer gave us this note along with a card, masha'Allah.

All this is part of us returning to our original plan to homestead and take care of our own needs, rather than make farming a business. The time it requires and takes away from our pursuit of religious studies, homeschooling, and family time, is not worth it. Shariyf will teach online, continue with his Judo instruction, and seek out whatever additional work is necessary to keep us afloat, bi idhn Illah ta'ala.

As the pressure of farm work reduced and our renovations slowed down, the appreciation of family time increased. We have hosted guests – neighbors and supportive families – and are building upon the foundations already laid. A local teacher and friend lent us a boxed set and children's treasury of James Herriot's memoirs. He was a British veterinarian writing about his experiences during the 1930's onwards. The children love these true stories and are learning a great deal while reading them, masha'Allah.












Homeschooling is now back on track, al hamdulillah. We are working through book 1 of Tafsir Ibn Kathir, doing our yearly refresher of The Prophet's Prayer Described, and continuing with our Qur'aan memorization and Arabic studies, masha'Allah. Afternoons they do secular studies for a couple of hours.

Creativity is flowing more freely as well, with the girls making crocheted jewelry, knitting winter scarves, and whipping up all manner of dishes from our various cookbooks. In response to a pressing need, we came up with effective topical treatments for atopic dermatitis and arthritic joint mobility. We also made our first jars of lacto fermented salsa!

November 29th marked our first snow flurry, with temperatures down to 15F in the night. We are well, safe, comfortable, and thriving...with all thanks and praise due to Allah, the Only Provider and Protector.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Dhul Hijjah 1437/October 2016

All plans were geared towards getting heat this month. We got our wood stove, only to need a new stove pipe. Then we received the new stove pipe, only to find out we needed a stove pipe adapter. Truly patience is blessed, and Allah kept the weather relatively mild while we remained without heat. The insulation on the roof and underside of the home kept temperatures at least 20 -30 degrees warmer inside than out, which meant that even when it froze outside, we were still okay inside, Al hamdulillahi Rabbil aal ameen!

 

On October 17th, Daisy calved – a sweet little Simmental/Jersey heifer we named Zinnia. We had a buyer for Daisy and her calf, but Daisy came down with milk fever (calcium deficiency) by the evening and we spent the ensuing five days treating her. We offered the family who were buying to take Freesia instead, along with Daisy's calf, so we could nurse Daisy back to health. And so, our downsizing began.





This was our first time having to treat a sick animal with medicine, rather than simple natural remedies, as there was no way to get enough calcium into her quickly enough otherwise. Shariyf consulted with the vet in Raton (70 miles away) and went twice to get necessary medicine and equipment. He learned how to give calcium gluconate intravenously, subcutaneous injections, and get Daisy to drink her other medicine. We all helped, so we would know what to do if we need to do it without him. We learned a great deal about various conditions that can be treated quickly and effectively with calcium, masha'Allah. Al hamdulillah, Daisy recovered and is back to her darling self!
 

We slaughtered two of our rams, Dodge and Ramtastic, as part of our winter preparations and filling our freezer with meat. This was the first meat we had eaten that was born, raised, and slaughtered on our farm masha'Allah – our first organic, zabihah lamb! Tender and delicious, we are planning to raise sheep for meat as a long-term, sustainable part of our homestead. From the ease of raising them to the wool and meat, they are a huge blessing, al hamdulillah.

 
 

Just after Daisy recovered, we saw signs of bottle jaw in two of our sheep – Honey and Sweetie. This is unusual, as our climate does not support parasites well. Our cool, arid climate is well suited to animals that would otherwise need medical parasite prevention in more humid areas. Straight away we went to our most valued supplement on the homestead – diatomaceous earth. We plan to do a whole post just on the variety of uses and benefits of diatomaceous earth, as we use it for ourselves, our animals, our homes, and our growing. Within two days of giving them the diatomaceous earth, they bottle jaw was down, al hamdulillah. Honey was the most cooperative, but Sweetie took longer as she is our most mischievous sheep, always trying to eat the dogs' food and rushing to the chicken feed. It is quite possible that this was a factor in her not returning to her old self, masha'Allah.

 
The most notable fruit of October's labors is the completion of the interior painting of the mobile home. From the things we already had, we put together a comfortable living space bi idhn Illah ta'ala, with only seating for the living room missing. As always, Allah provides! October 27th we saw an ad on Craigslist for a free sofa and loveseat that the owner wanted to go to a good home. We contacted her, telling her we were a family of 5 who just got an old mobile home and needed something to sit on. In conjunction with eye appointments in Las Vegas the next morning, we collected our super comfortable, feather stuffed sofas, masha'Allah. They go perfectly with a rug we already had and we welcome you all to sink into it and spend some time with us!

 
 
 
 

Sunday, November 20, 2016

A Special Gift from Allah

On November 16th, we received an email notifying us that we had received $50 via PayPal from a sister. She read about our stolen wood stove and sent money to help. Subahaan Allah wa bi hamdihi, subhaana Rabbi al Atheem!

While there are lists of things we need for the homestead, we prefer to spend money in a way that will benefit the giver in a lasting way. Therefore, we plan to buy another developed Pinon tree and plant it on her behalf as a sadaqah jaariyah (continuous charity) bi idhnillah, ta'ala. This will bring this year's count to five developed trees on our farm; we need trees desperately but have no budget for them.

Al hamdulillahi Rabbil al ameen wa jazaak Allahu khayran to the sister for her generosity and caring.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Dhul Qi'dah 1437/ September 2016

Near the beginning of the month, at the end of August, we received a welcome basket from the Roy Chamber of Commerce. This is something we have never received before, in all the various places we have lived masha'Allah. The basket had a letter from the Chamber, a beautiful New Mexican blanket, artwork from a local artist, a $25 voucher for the gas station in Roy, and a $50 voucher for Mahoney Construction, who we use for our fencing. It was a blessed gift from Allah and hugely appreciated.

Shariyf traveled to Cherry Hill, New Jersey from 1-5 September to do teacher training for GCLEA's Islamic weekend school. This drove home the need for us to return to simpler homesteading. The preparations that needed to be made to ensure the animals had water and hay, and milk was delivered on alternate days to make things manageable for us during his absence, made us realize that running the farm without him (the only man) was very difficult.

One day before his return, on September 4th, Freesia calved – a beautiful brown Simmental/Jersey bull calf that the girls promptly named Barbecue. This was yet another huge blessing for us, as we need a bull to breed Azalea in about a year's time, and also to breed the other cows. Being a mix, he will have the hardiness, meat, and foraging abilities of the Simmental and pass on the easy calving and creamy milk of the Jersey insha'Allah. He may also be used by local ranchers to breed their first time heifers. Once he has served his purpose, after 1.5 – 2 years, he will, insha'Allah, be meat for our freezer...and make great barbecue, LOL.


September 7th, we bought 100 organic laying hens at a great price, masha'Allah. Within two days we had twelve dozen eggs and needed to move quickly with our plans for them. We added some to our existing flock to make 25 hens. We slaughtered 32 of them, taking our neighbors up on their offer to use their plucking machine, and filling our freezer with a good supply of chicken. We sold the remainder – which recouped the cost of the full 100. Al hamdulillahi Rabbil al Ameen!












We went to Santa Fe for Eid prayers and lunch, grateful to be hearing an Arabic khutbah and catching up with familiar brothers and sisters. The day afterwards, Mahoney Construction came to move our shipping container, making a large open yard area in front of our mobile home. We moved three 1,650 gallon water tanks near the mobile home and shipping container, so we have plenty of water stored over the winter. We also moved our 200 gallon mushroom tank beside the door so we have a convenient source of water for daily needs.

The complete month was spent painting during every available daylight hour, and great progress was made masha'Allah. We first did the kitchen, after which we moved the stove, solar freezer, fridge, and solar power system in. We then did the children's' bedrooms, the bathroom, and our bedroom, after which we moved in. As the living area needed the most work, we left it for last.













The wood stove being stolen was an amazing blessing. As we began our search for a new one, we learned that the one that was in the mobile home only heated up to 800 square feet and did not meet code for mobile home installation. Al hamdulillah, we were saved from settling for what was there and not being warm enough or safe! We found a wood stove that was mobile home approved, heated up to 1,200 square feet, and planned to get it by early October, insha'Allah before the cold weather hits

While September started out quite stormy, for the second half of the month it was much drier and temperatures dropped notably to 40 - 50s at night and 60-75 during the day. We continued to harvest vegetables, but by the end of the month we had to pick what was left of the tomatoes so that they weren't ruined by the cold. They have since ripened nicely indoors, al hamdulillah.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Shawwal 1437 /August 2016

August wins, hands down, as our favorite month of the year, masha'Allah! Although we were already living here last year, we were traveling a great deal and really weren't on the farm enough to see the changes in weather and growth, This year, we were here the whole month and have named it Amazing August, wa al hamdulillah,

Of the 31 days in August, we had rain for 28 of them – long, nourishing rains, huge thunderstorms with torrential rain and hail, half-hour drenching showers, you name it! Every morning, bright sunshine and by afternoon/evening or night, the familiar approach of clouds and that blessed water from Allah. While temperatures in July were in the 60's at night and 80-90's most days, August nights were in the 50's to low 60's and day temperatures fluctuated between 70 – 80 degrees F.

This was our month for maximum growth. We enjoyed zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes, onions, and corn from our land, sunflowers grew in rows large as trees with 40 – 60 heads per plant, the pasture flourished, and the cream line on our Jersey cows' milk was almost half the jar, masha'Allah. Needless to say, we ate plenty of homemade, organic ice cream during this month!

 

Here is the recipe we love the most.

1 quart raw cream
1 pint whole raw milk
3 organic egg yolks
2 teaspoons non-alcoholic vanilla
pinch of sea salt
½ – ¾ cup organic maple syrup




Mix together well, freeze in a shallow container, stirring every hour for first four hours then leave to set.

August was also a month for preparing for colder months, as we reassessed our aims and did a reality check regarding animals over the winter. We originally came here to be modern-day homesteaders, taking care of our needs as far as possible and selling any surplus. We have gone far beyond that within the past year, but considering the cost of feeding animals and the amount of work involved, we started looking at downsizing to return to our original plan. With three pregnant cows, and one still needing to be bred, we started planning to sell three, keeping only one for our family. We also decided that it wasn't cost effective to keep the meat rabbits over the winter, because it is too cold for the bunnies to survive immediately after birth and so we would be feeding them for six months of the year with no production.































We continued to have difficulty getting the final permission to get our mobile home moved, and resorted to calling our congressman, and then our governors office. Al hamdulillah, the governors office came through and on August __ we finally got our mobile home delivered. This was important because we knew we would need time to renovate it before the weather became too cold. During the time it was sitting, before being transported to our land, the wood stove and an air conditioner were stolen from it. Al hamdulillah! We knew that Allah would give us better than what was taken from us, and that on Yawm il Qiyamah we would be extremely thankful to whoever stole from us, when they provide us expiation or elevation.

The mobile home was painted completely orange by the previous owner... walls, ceilings, floors, closets – everything. It also had a propane water heater and furnace that we didn't want, and appliances that we didn't need. We first went about stripping it of old carpeting, excess shelves, removing the water heater and furnace, taking out all the appliances, and moving all the things we wanted to keep to storage until we finished renovating. 



















































The children were excited that they left a homemade sled, some good books, and bag of winter hats, gloves, and scarves.

Shariyf was pleased that they left tools, a water pump, air beds, storage caddies, and several trash bins.

Mai was grateful that they left high end baking trays, kitchen ware, and all the large stones surrounding the wood stove.

With an estimated two months needed to paint and move in, armed with painting supplies, rags, and buckets of soapy water, we set aside time each day to work on our new home.

Check back for the next update to see our progress.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Ramadan 1437/ June-July 2016

We have split the updates into monthly sections, to keep it more manageable for us and you. This is update one of four.

The usual heat wave came for a week at the end of June, with temperatures up in the 90s and long sunny days. /As always, Allah sent relief with the dry climate and cooling winds each afternoon, with occasional rain. This weather was the general trend through Ramadan, and the rest of July. We saw the emergence of new wildflowers and plants, the dying out of some of the early spring flowers, and plenty of free veggies in the form of lamb's quarters...a delicious spinach substitute that grows plentifully on our land, al hamdulillah.

After Eid, mid-July time, we moved water troughs and the mineral block over to our 23 acre pasture and took our cows over there to graze for the summer. We were late getting them over this year, but plan to move them over by May 1st next year when things are fresh and green. In letting them graze the 23 acres, we cut our cost of hay down drastically over the summer months, only having to feed the calves and sheep. Ideally, if we can arrange for sheep fence next year we will put the sheep over to graze as well, but with the cows gone, they had the grass in 2.2 acre animal corral to graze.











Another change we made was to have the half ton bales of hay, which contain oat grass, set out on the pasture in the corral. This has several benefits, including eliminating the need to feed daily bales to the animals, leaving them to eat what suffices them, and seeding the pasture with oats and other grasses from the seeds in the bales. Already we have seen oat grass sprouting up from the oats in the straw bales used in the barn, so it is an effortless way to reseed and introduce new fodder for the livestock, al hamdulillah.

Accommodation was placed, by way of a travel trailer that sleeps five, over by the Masjid, which also provides a place for visitors to make wudhu. This is now part of the Masjid al Muqarraboon endowment/waqf, along with the three acres of land it sits on to be developed into a campground for Muslims, insha'Allah.

Just before Ramadan began, we purchased a 1975 single-wide mobile home. With three bedrooms and 1.5 baths, the 14' x 70' mobile home cost just $950, included many appliances, furnishings, and a wood stove, masha'Allah. Insha'Allah, we will be remodeling it over the next few months. The cost to move it was the greatest expense, at $1800, but difficulties in getting traffic department permissions delayed us getting it as initially scheduled on the second day of Eid. Al hamdulillah, it was surely for the good.






















This marks a complete year that we have been living on our farm, seeing the changes and building relationships with families and individuals in the neighboring villages. The support offered and given to us has been heartfelt and generous, al hamdulillah. If an ignorant resident makes a comment about us, people who know us will either refute it or check with us to verify the truth of the matter. We have remained open, frank, welcoming of all questions, and giving of whatever we can, masha'Allah. We moved here with the intention of giving, not taking, and yet Allah has provided for us from people and places we would never have imagined.

So what do we have, bi idhn Illah ta'ala, after a year and starting with nothing?

15 laying hens and a rooster
9 Suffolk sheep – 5 ewes, four rams
4 Jersey dairy cows
1 Jersey heifer
1 Simmental Angus calf – a steer being raised for our own organic zabiha beef
19 rabbits - 3 New Zealand does, 1 Dutch buck, 15 bunnies
2 Great Pyrenees/Anatolian Shepherd guardian dogs



Three travel trailers – one small to sleep two, the Masjid one sleeping five, and the one we have lived in since October 2015 sleeping six.

Three shipping containers – one for the Masjid, one for the livestock barn, one for our storage, dairy, and emergency shelter.

Plowed areas for planting, tilled and mulched areas for growing food, seven more trees, several more fruit bushes, and much more...

Then which of the favors of your Lord will you deny?

We say, “Not a single one, alhamdulillah!”