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.