Thursday, October 20, 2016

We ARE alive, but farming takes 28 hours a day

Assalaamu alaykum!

Four months might seem like a long time, but it went by like a whirlwind masha'Allah. We are striving to give a massive update on November 1st, insha 'Allah. We are making dua for the time to get it done! Stay tuned...

Monday, June 20, 2016

Thinking about living off-grid or a more sustainable life

Here's some advice for those thinking about making a change. It's only 13:21 minutes of your time.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Ever so late - Rajab & Shabaan 1437

Rajab (April) was a month of...

April 1st, we completed our chicken run. Now, each child has a basket to gather eggs in the morning. Here's the HEG mon "Head Egg Gathering mon"

April 4th, we made our first soap – a Jersey cream and honey soap, masha'Allah. It needs 4 weeks or longer to cure. We then made a farmhouse cheddar, which also needs to age for a few months. We then made Peppermint and Rosemary shampoo and body bars, and a grease cutting laundry and cleaning soap, also left for a month to cure. This was the final piece of our puzzle in meeting our needs for personal care and cleaning, as we already make our own toothpaste, deodorant, salves, balms, etc., al hamdulillah.

April 5th brought a big surprise to our farm – an orphaned Simmental/Black Angus bull calf, just two days old. We will raise him on Jersey milk, just as we are raising Azalea, our Jersey heifer. They are happily keeping each other company in the calf enclosure, al hamdulillah.

We slaughtered two sheep and two goats on behalf of a brother who needed to fulfill his commitments for his sons' aqeeqahs, We ended up being given a young Dorper lamb, who had been rejected by his mother as she had triplets. We named him Rammy Ram, and put him in with the chickens to keep him safe until he grew a bit stronger.

We planted seeds for some cool weather plants: peas, turnips, beets, parsnips, radishes, cabbage, broccoli, etc.

By April 30th, we had the honor of planting a fuji apple tree, an apricot tree, a fig tree, and a grape vine on behalf of a sister, her deceased mother, another sister and members of ICCU, as sadaqah jaariyah (continuous charity). May Allah nourish and grow the fruits, and bless the givers. Al hamdulillah for this beautiful honor.

May 1st brought a huge snowstorm – al hamdulillah the last really big storm However the weather remained very cold at night and continued to drop below freezing after the 15th, the supposed last frost. We decided to wait another week before planting out our seedlings and other seeds, al hamdulillah.

As life sprang up all over the farm, we had a wide variety of wildflowers to enjoy and identify masha'Allah, We have crownleaf evening primrose, ox eye daisies, dakota vervain, soapwort yucca, bitter vetch, common vetch, curly cup gumweed, thistles, snake broom, kota, sunflowers, and a host of other beautiful flowers we have yet to identify. While there are far too many to process, we plan to dry some of them for medicinal use, as they are traditional used for wounds, infections, respiratory ailments & conditions, arthritis and joint pain, soap, fodder for animals, and a food source, masha'Allah.

We planted four pinon trees on May 7th, each around 5 feet tall, as a sadaqah jaariyah (continuous charity) for another family, masha'Allah. These are spaced along the front of the farm, facing the main road, and look beautiful masha'Allah – our first developed trees that can be seen by passing traffic and the beginning of our pinon forest, insha'Allah.

May 8th, we dug, filled in, and poured the foundation for our cob oven in our food forest. It will need a month to fully cure, and then we will be able to start building, insha'Allah.

We finally started using our soaps, thrilled to have silky soft skin, shiny clean hair, and fresh clean clothes from our own products, al hamdullillah. We are in the process of making more, in beautiful molds, to sell as part of the Naturalcraft natural and organic line of products – our daughters' home-based business. They already make this range of salves: All-Purpose Healing, Rejuvenating, Anti-Aging, Minty Foot Fix, Soothing Relief for bites/sunburn/headaches, and Warming Chest & Muscle Rub. They also do organic lip balms and bath & massage oils, masha'Allah.

Our three sheep lambed during Shaaban (corresponding to May 2016). Honey lambed first, having a boy and a girl, named Dodge and Honeycup. Then Sweetie lambed, again a boy and a girl, named Ramtastic and Sweetie Pie. Third was Babes, who had just one ram, named Rambo. The rams are for meat, the ewes for breeding, insha'Allah. That means, by the autumn we will have five sheep to breed, giving us between 8 – 10 spring lambs in 2017, and three rams ready for slaughter...or to keep fattening up for next year's Eids insha'Allah. Rammy Ram was moved into the animal corral after they lambed, so he could enjoy the company of other lambs. A good thing really, as we were worried he might try to lay an egg, living with the chickens!

The warmer temperatures were the perfect environment for our meat rabbits to kindle (give birth). Crystal kindled first, having six kits (bunnies). One was a runt, that died, but all the others are thriving and furry, al hamdulillah. Cutie Paws kindled next, having nine kits, all alive and thriving. Lastly, on this first day of Ramadan, Cliff Bunny kindled, having seven adorable kits, masha'Allah. Dutch Buck is a proud daddy!

We have deep mulched most of the tilled areas of the food forest and planted out many other vegetables and fruits, masha'Allah. Our goji berry and josta berry bushes are growing beautifully and our gooseberry bush is producing a few berries al hamdulillah!

The next time someone says, "go fly a kite" do that. As we are raising the children to have fun without modern technology, kite flying seemed like the perfect activity, especially with our high winds.

Since we arrived in July last year, we have had record precipitation, al hamdulillah. We went directly from snow storms into an early rainy season, which is growing our plants bi idhn Illah, and making our 23 acre plot a nutritious, green pasture for our Jersey cows to enjoy. Yet again, Allah shows us that only He can bestow bounties and provide water in abundance – all thanks and praise is for Him alone!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Jumada al-Thani 1437/March 2016

As salaamu alaikum wa rahmatullah. Tilling of the potato bed and the food forest was completed this month in preparation for our spring planting. Three goji berry bushes, 2 jostaberry bushes, 3 blueberry bushes, and 2 grapevines, along with fava beans, Egyptian onions, broccoli, cabbage, and parsnips are already planted. Hundreds more seeds need to be planted in the coming weeks. Grow trays are being planted with a wide variety of organic seeds ready to be planted out over the next two months, insha'Allah.

For the big stuff, our neighbors borrowed a plow and lent it to us, al hamdulillah.

Freesia and Daisy are well settled in and the dairy deliveries are building up a customer base in Roy, Mosquero, and Las Vegas. We are now selling fresh milk, cream, cheeses, and eggs along with our Naturalcraft line of homemade organic bodycare products.

Temperatures rose and the milder weather encouraged some creative placement of things to turn the food forest into something that resembles a small park. We are anxious to get it fenced in, or fence in a chicken run, so we can go full steam ahead with our planting.

Every day is an egg hunt here, as the chickens are laying their eggs all over the place. Under the trailer, in tires, beside the compost pile, in the rabbitry, and around the coop as well as in their nesting boxes, they have the children checking all over for eggs during the day.

The milking operation has gone solar, with everything set up in the milking shed and hooked up to a solar panel, charge controller, and inverter. Now we simply go up, prep the cows, and flick a switch to milk them. Real luxury!

Caring for our dairy cows and the milking process looks like this.

The cows are fed organic hay and alfalfa twice daily, just after milking. They are taken into the milking shed one by one, and go into the stanchion where they are prepped and milked. First we brush off their undersides, udders, and teats, then wash their teats with a homemade organic teat wash. Then the teats are lubricated with a homemade lubricant of organic oils of coconut, olive, and glycerin. The first squirts of milk are discarded and then they are milked with our Ultimate EZ milker. The milk is poured from the bottles into a stainless steel milk can. The teats are sprayed with a homemade organic teat spray and that's it. After milking, we filter the milk and pour into half gallon glass mason jars. Jars are labeled by milk type (A1A2 or A2A2) and the date. It is put in an icy bath for at least an hour and then transferred to our solar refrigerator, stored between 34-38 degrees Fahrenheit. Then all the dairy equipment is washed in warm water with a homemade soap, rinsed with hot water and vinegar, and finally rinsed with plain water and laid out upside down to dry.

The weather warmed up as spring approached and the rabbits were nearing their due dates. They really didn't seem to be doing what they were supposed to in terms of preparing the nests for their kits, and on the 28th, in the midst of a howling snow storm, Crystal kindled (gave birth) to six kits (baby rabbits). It was far too cold for them and they died within hours. Inna i'Illahi wa inna ilayhi ra'ajioon – an excellent lesson on the realities of life and death for the children.

We hope to build a fence around the chicken coop in April, to give them an area to forage in without destroying our food forest. Aside from planting, planting, planting, we will see what else we can get done as the weather warms up bi idhn Illah, ta'ala.