By the end of January, we had eight snowfalls masha'Allah. One had us snowed in for three days, and another for two days. This is because our driveway from the gate to the living quarters is 600 feet long and snowdrifts made it impassable. We have changed our strategy accordingly and now park the truck up by the gate whenever snow is forecast for a relatively trouble-free escape. We plan to invest in snow fence in preparation for next winter to minimize the huge snowdrifts that tend to develop.
That is what Shariyf posted on Facebook, knowing that it costs locals $4-$7 per tire and $16 for other materials to be dumped at the local transfer station (like a middle man to a dump). The response was overwhelming, with complete strangers coming up to him in the village offering tires, pallets, enough wood to build a barn, tin, landscaping cloth, planting buckets and pots, and MUCH more, all thanks and praise to Al-Haseeb, Al-Kaafee – our Sufficer!
We use the tires as surrounds for new tree saplings, for raised bed planting, for animal feeders, and even for shelters. We are using the pallets for fences – one for our calf enclosure and another to completely enclose our food forest, protecting it from the critters that would likely eat or damage our plants.
We got two chest freezers (not working) and are using them as excellent insulated storage for animal feed and supplies, which the animals cannot get into. We also got two upright freezers that serve well for our own food storage. Everyone was happy to get rid of what they consider trash without having to pay to dispose of it.
We finally slaughtered the one goat that was left, after selling the other three. All family members were involved, except our three year old who fell asleep. The girls walked her down to the stock trailer, which was set up for the slaughtering and hanging the meat. We tied up three of her legs, Mai held her ears over her eyes, at which point she was totally still, and held one horn in preparation for her jerking during the slaughter. Shariyf said, “Bismillah Allahu Akbar,” and cut her throat. All watched as she breathed her last and then she was hung, and the head and innards were removed.
The carcass was hung for a week to age the meat. Afterwards, Shariyf butchered the goat the best he could. Insha'Allah, we plan on investing in some proper butchering tools so we can do a better job next time.
Life changed drastically for the better since having our Jersey dairy cow, al hamdulillah. We felt like the richest people on earth having quantities of raw milk, cream, butter, cheese, and yogurt every day - huge blessings from Allah, Ar-Razaaq! With our homemade cream cheese, sour cream, butter, and eggs, we have been enjoying New York baked cheesecakes to keep up our energy this winter masha'Allah.
Even though Tess was dried off in the beginning of December, we had enough milk frozen and in cold storage to keep us in dairy up to the time she calves. She is due anytime now, but it looks like sometime in the coming week to ten days, and we have been preparing for the calf.
As the calf needs to be separated from the mother but in sight to cool the mother's eye, we build the calf enclosure on the outer corner of the animal corral, with a pallet fence which cost us absolutely nothing. The pallets are from the local construction company just down the road, who had them in their yard, unwanted. With thirty of them and some t-posts we got free on a trip to Colorado, we put up a sturdy fence that will provide a good windbreak for the calf insha'Allah.
With the goat gone, we moved the shelter (made from the water tank salvaged from the fire) into the calf enclosure. We've cleaned the barn, composted the straw and muck, purchased half gallon bottles and a calf jacket, and are just waiting for the big day, with hope in and reliance on Allah, subhaana wa ta'ala.
With the temperatures warming and their molt nearly over, we let our chickens out to free range again, cleaned the coop – and within a week they are laying eggs again, masha'Allah!
As payment for judo lessons, one family has given us an alternative to money – rabbits! We have received cages, bottles, three New Zealand does and a litter of seven bunnies. The bunnies are being raised for meat, and should be ready for slaughter in about a month's time. The does will be our breeders, and on the last day of this month we will get a Dutch buck, named “Dutch.”
With the Expedition burned to the ground in August, we only have our V6, 2 WD, 2000 Chevy Silverado truck to get around in. We went on our monthly shopping trip to Santa Fe on Thursday 21 January, instead of the scheduled Friday 22nd, thinking it would be better as our dairy cow is due to calf any day now.
After completing most of the shopping, we broke down while exiting Whole Foods Market car park, masha'Allah. With a battery light showing red and everything totally dead, we found a Firestone service center just two minutes walk from us and purchased another. Then as we set off on the three hour journey back home, the light came on again and we realized it was the alternator that was the problem.
We made it to Las Vegas (the only city between Santa Fe and our home) and broke down just around the corner from the mechanics we use, wa Allahu Akbar! It was still afternoon and they were open, and gave us an appointment for first thing the next morning to fix the truck. They even took the truck in that afternoon and kept it inside so our truck bed full of groceries were safe.
As we checked into a hotel for the night, just $89 for the Comfort Inn, we reflected on the mess we would have been in if we'd broken down along the highway or if we'd traveled on Friday when we wouldn't have been able to get an appointment for the truck to be fixed until Monday morning.
In addition, if we had made it home there is no mechanic around us and no parts – we would have been in serious hardship. As always, Allah is the most Merciful and Perfect of planners. Al hamdulillahi Rabbil al ameen!
We decided to reposition one of the tanks that was in the 23 acre pasture as it isn't being used for cows at present. We have brought it over to serve us near our living quarters, and will use something more mobile when needed for the cows insha'Allah. The tank that serves the washing center was moved to the south side to get all day sun. This will minimize freezing during the winter and also provide solar passive hot water for much of the year.
Our first winter presented us with various challenges, one of which was the animals' water freezing. After a couple of weeks of boiling water each morning for the chickens, our 9-year-old had the incredibly simple solution of bringing the waterer inside at night. Al hamdulillah, that instantly solved the problem, and we have since done the same for the rabbit waterers.
We have a plan to construct a small greenhouse structure out of cattle panels over the livestock waterer in the animal corral. This should provide solar passive benefits, a comfortable haven to drink in during windy and harsh weather, and keep their water cleaner.
Ever wonder what we'd do if the water tanks freeze? Well, it happened during the snows, but Allah sends water in many ways. Snow is simply fluffy, frozen water, after all. So when the girls said they couldn't do the dishes because the tanks spigots were frozen, we simply filled pots with snow and heated it on the stove and those dishes could be done with ease, masha'Allah. We had plentiful water supplies, through the melted snow, for our washing needs and water for the animals, al hamdulillah.
We received some advice about how to stay warm while out doing farm chores, which we adapted and found ourselves quite toasty masha'Allah. Someone advised us to get ski pants or ski bibs, and in looking for them online we happened across the US Military ECWCS (extreme cold weather clothing). For $1.50 per pair we purchased polartec overalls for the whole family.
It was the extra layer that kept us all comfortable, along with sheepskin mittens, down or wool coats, snow boots, and warm head gear, Next year, we will be looking at getting the military bunny boots, for better and longer lasting foot warmth and some insulated overalls so only one set of clothes smells like a barn, insha'Allah.
Insha'Allah, we plan on two major projects for February, enclosing the future food forest and greenhouse prototypes. Check back on February 29th to see how we progressed, Barak Allahu feekum.