Wednesday, May 3, 2017

January to May 2017

How the winter passed and we found ourselves in the midst of spring, only Allah knows! While we had less snow and roller coaster weather over the winter, we kept busy with a variety of things masha'Allah. We decided to do some indoor planting in January so we could enjoy fresh produce earlier. We planted strawberries in stacking planters and hanging baskets. We planted lettuce and mesclun mix, spinach, kale, and two types of chard in stacking planters and pots. We planted parsley, oregano, sage, three types of basil, cilantro, thyme, chives, garlic chives, and spring onions in stacking planters and pots. Then we planted cherry tomatoes, jalapeno and cayenne peppers. When we ran out of pots and planters, we planted in old wellies. We planted snow peas, sugar snap peas, ginger, turmeric, and micro-greens. We planted and Allah grew those seeds! While others decorate their homes with ficus trees and spider plants, we have 5' tall cherry tomato plants with basil surrounds and hanging baskets of ripening strawberries and fresh cilantro. Al hamdulillah. While people spend hundreds of dollars for oxygen therapy, we have it free by filling our home with hundreds of edible plants.




By early March we were enjoying fresh salads and herbs, pinching off flowers from the strawberry plants, and moving plants into larger and larger pots. By mid spring we planted out broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower transplants, lettuce, greens, and radishes in our cold frames, carrots, turnips, radishes, rutabaga, potatoes, beets, and more snow peas in big tubs outside. That is the tip of the iceberg. We have  trays of strong, healthy plants ready for transplanting once we pass our last frost date.  Meanwhile, our hot peppers are fruiting, cherry tomatoes are ripening,  greens are readily available, and we have all the fresh herbs we need al hamdulillah.

The  chickens increased their laying by February and we became egg tycoons, masha'Allah. 15 hens keep us on our toes trying to use and store eggs. We are freezing them, making homemade egg pasta and noodles, whipping up meringues, lemon meringue pies, raw ice cream, quiches, mayonnaise, and a plethora or egg-rich dishes and desserts. Needless to say, it's eggs for breakfast! With over 25 dozen eggs a month, the chickens earn their keep and add value. Al hamdulillahi Rabbil al ameen!


March 24th our oldest ewe, Honey,  lambed. Our girls were there to watch and assist. She had a boy and a girl, named Rambunctious and Honeydew. Our other two ewes, being younger, are not expected to lamb until this month insha'Allah.


With his job finished and a need for new bloodlines, Rambo became dinner. We hung him in a walk in cooler for 16 days and enjoyed roast lamb for our Jumuah dinner. We have 51lbs of meat from him, masha'Allah. We do economic analyses for our farm and only get 10lbs more meat on a one year ram than a 6 month old. Although it was a different situation for Rambo because we kept him for breeding, it is most economical to slaughter at 6 months, meaning each lamb costs $5-$23 to raise. Pretty marvelous when the price for lamb starts at $10 per lb, and that's not organic, zabiha, or exclusively grass-fed like ours! Al hamdulillah!

 



We calculated that as long as we get $180 worth of milk from Daisy (our A2A2Jersey cow), she is covering her costs over the winter when we have to feed her hay. What we actually get is anywhere between $300 - $1200 worth or organic milk from her, depending on her stage of lactation. That is in addition to a calf each year that can be sold for considerable profit once weaned insha'Allah. We are increasing our ways of using our dairy by making mozzarella, yogurt, and more frozen yogurt & ice cream. We hope to get a cheese press soon, so we can start producing our own hard cheeses properly, without the whole family taking turns standing on makeshift cheese pressing contraptions.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

So so sorry

We know we are extremely late with our post. So many things have been happening, but we will try to post by April 1st. Snack on some of our homemade mozzarella until then.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Rabi' Al Awwal 1438 December 2016

December 2nd brought about an inch of snow, masha'Allah – our first snow on the ground this season.


On December 6th, we sold our third cow, Primrose, leaving us fully downsized with just Daisy for milk. We have Azalea, who should be bred next summer and be providing milk by spring 2018. We have Youngbul, our steer who is scheduled for slaughter in autumn 2017. Barbecue is our upcoming bull for breeding next year. Rambo is doing his job, so insha'Allah, our three ewes will be lambing in April/May 2017.


We downsized our chickens again, selling another 10 and keeping just 15 plus our rooster. Calculations are three chickens per person, so we have the exact amount for our family. All the chickens have finished their molt and are in their beautiful winter coats, back to laying on a less frequent winter schedule al hamdulillah.

Funnily enough, we have brush rabbits running around all over the farm, so while we are no longer paying to raise meat rabbits, we have them running wild to shoot whenever we feel like a rabbit stew or pot pie – free!

Focus is on stocking up on wood to get us through the winter, cataloging our seed stock and adding where necessary, and setting reachable goals for our future projects. 2017 is our year for focusing on growing – for us and our animals, insha'Allah and adding extra fencing to our barbed wire on two sides of our 28 acre plot so our sheep and chickens can free range. 2018 is our goal for our own bee hives, ducks, and geese insha'Allah.

 
 

We have over the past couple of months added 3 more 100 amp hour, sealed lead acid AGM solar batteries to our bank, upgraded to a 40 watt MPPT charge controller, MT50 meter, and changed out our cables to 2 gauge, 9 inch ones. This gives us maximum efficiency from our main solar power set up, masha'Allah.

 
 
 

December 12th was a beautiful day for cooking, as we prepared all our meals on top of the wood stove. From griddle scones, oatmeal, and tea to chicken, broccoli au gratin, and potatoes, we never turned on our gas stove once. We even made healthy chocolate peanut butter cups on the wood stove, masha'Allah! It also was the day we received a gift of a pressure cooker – another time and energy saving appliance that will reduce our use of propane to nearly nothing insha'Allah.

 

December 16th we had clear skies and up to 60mph winds, which blew the roof off our milking shed masha'Allah. We could only say Allahu Akbar wal hamdulillah, as we needed to redesign it anyway. Now we will be focusing on doing the roof a bit higher and setting it up for water catchment, channeled into a 1650 gallon tank. The tank will be used for water for the livestock and guardian dogs, and will be a part of the design to insulate and heat the milking shed. Creativity and design details are flowing as we plan our future milk shed refit.

 
 

December 17th brought about three inches of snow, up to 40mph winds, and temperatures that never exceeded 10 degrees Fahrenheit. We hit a low of -15 that night, the coldest it has been since we moved here masha'Allah. Needless to say, we were all extremely grateful to be safe and warm inside, taking the chance to make a fresh stock of salves and whipping up some healthy homemade peppermint patties!


December 22nd we started collecting stones for the base of our cob pizza oven from the neighbors land.


December 26th we set up a couple of bathtubs we picked up for free. One will be used as a cold frame, the other for worm composting. We also brought all the plastic tubs we had prepped during the summer with straw, fertilizer, and dirt along our fence line, to be used for planting.


December 28th we ventured outside after dinner to look up at our dazzling New Mexico skies and see Venus and Mars. New Mexico has the darkest night skies and light pollution laws in effect to safeguard them masha'Allah. We can, on most nights, see all the constellations clearly – truly a dazzling display of Allah's Majesty and Power!

December 30th was our monthly shopping trip. We usually try to stop into a thrift store in Las Vegas, NM on the way and pick up whatever is good. One fantastic thing is that the children's books are only 5 cents each. As it is a college city, we have found many good homeschooling books and boxed sets of school books for the children. A few nice books the children have been enjoying from these trips, and as loans from friends, are: Kidnapped by the Taliban, Ishi, A Buffalo in the House, There's a Seal in my Sleeping Bag, The Pioneers, Winterdance, Black Elk Speaks, The Alamo, World War 1 Heroes, Your Chickens – a kids guide to raising and showing, and some nice animal and nature books masha'Allah.

Next month we will be starting our growing – inside and out, insha'Allah. With snow on the forecast, we hope to post some photos of a winter wonderland.

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!