Sick Goat and House Remodel Update


Well, that was a day.  We arrived home to a sick goat today.  He had been showing signs of weakness last night and this morning, but I didn’t think much of it at the time.  This afternoon, I came out to the poor little guy laying helplessly in the straw.  At first glance, I thought he was dead.  Shelly rushed him to the house where he spent the next seven hours under our supervision.  He had just been dehorned several weeks ago, but it seems the wound on his head became infected (it smelled putrid).  The vet instructed us to give him 2ml of penicillin twice daily, along with half a baby aspirin.  We took turns babying him until he decided he was ready to start walking around (along with other natural bodily functions).   At that point we brought him back out to the barn.  Tonight he will spend his time with his brother (so he won’t be alone) in our chicken brooder under a heat lamp.  Hopefully the little guy pulls through!

Besides goats keeping us busy, the house has been coming along.   We gutted out the bathroom down to the studs, adjusted some walls, and carried in our clawfoot tub.  Plumbing to the tub is complete!!  Thanks to my parents, we were hooked up with some nice quality bead board, produced at a local lumber mill in Two Inlets, MN.

Well, I am off to check on our poor little Hawthorne one last time for the evening.  Stay warm!  (UPDATE:  We ended up erring on the side of caution and immediately moved Hawthorne back to the house for the night)


2016.12.12 – Hawthorne passed away last night.  We did everything we could for him, short of giving him an IV.   He was a fighter and Natalya had many hours of snuggle time with him on the chair in our living room this weekend.  Even with the antibiotics, electrolytes, love, and warmth, he succumbed to the infection.


As we dig more into the practice of debudding and dehorning goats, the more we are beginning to lean towards the natural route of letting the goats just grow out their horns.  I found this blog post very insightful into this position:


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House Remodel – Part 1


We spent much of Thanksgiving weekend salvaging wood flooring in our old farmhouse and repairing the subflooring.  Our house was about as messy as it has ever been, one disadvantage to living in the house as your remodel it.  Everything had to be taken out of its place to get to the floor.  One hundred years worth of dust trapped in between the flooring and subflooring was released as we pried up fur flooring for salvage.



By Thursday, Shelly and I were ready to cry because of the daunting task and the mess this project was becoming.


Friday, we pressed on.  By Saturday, hope started setting in that our house will one day shine.  Our house started to transform from a run-down old house to a house under remodel.  We have never been so excited to see plywood floors and counter tops!


By Sunday evening, we had the kitchen plumbing complete and the kitchen sink set in its new home.  We also had the dishwasher back up and running, wahoo!

A quick tour of the process and progress:


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Unpredictable Winter Weather Adventures

Last week it was a blizzard, this week rain and sleet.  Because of priority put on other projects this summer, I never had time to put up a proper cow shelter on the back of our barn:(  So late last night Shelly and I cleared out our kid-goat pen and led Blacky (our beef calf) indoors, out of the cold rain.


By morning Blacky was dry and happy.  Once the weather improves later this week, we’ll let him back out into the pasture with Daisy.  This shows you can never have too many pens.  Looks like I will not only be adding a cow shelter next spring, but an extra pen or two in the main barn.

Besides adjusting our chore patterns for winter, we also adjusted our attire.  I made a quick stop to Fleet Farm and outfitted the family with matching insulated coveralls.  Oh, the things one gets excited about when you live on a farm!


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Letting the Chickens Out of the Coop

This seems like a simple, no thought required topic, but it is a bit more involved at second glance.

To give you a little background information, we raise a flock of egg layers consisting of Red Rangers, Rhode Islands, Black Australorps, and two Guineas for tick and snake control.  This flock provides eggs for our family while also allowing us to sell some to recoup part of the feed and electrical (chick brooder lamps and coop light) costs.

We have trained all of them to roost in our coop, the old barn milk room.  This room has a (currently manual control) chicken gate to the outside world.  Although we let our chickens free-range in our yard and woods, we do lock them up.  Why, you may ask?

  1. To keep them safe from predators at night when they are roosting.  Skunks and coyotes are pretty common around here, along with the occasional stray dog).
  2. To ensure a predictable egg laying location.  We typically keep them locked in the coop until early afternoon.  Although I hate keeping them locked up during the morning hours, we have learned (and been given advice) that the hens will lay there eggs anywhere they please if they are allowed to roam in the morning.  This leads to either daily easter egg hunts or, alternatively, the surprise discovery of a nest full of like 20 eggs.

And here it is, our chickens favorite part of the day:

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Our First Bee Hive Arrives

Honeybees are amazing!  Not only do they make great tasting honey (with all the benefits that come with it) and useful wax for homemade candles and deodorant, but they are excellent pollinators.  That means our fruit trees and garden will thrive with the presence of these busy little creatures

Here is the start of another adventure….

I picked up a bee suit earlier this spring to deal with a wasp nest in the barn, so that part is already covered!  We will be fabricating additional boxes and ordering the rest of the tools in a week or two!  Will be fun!

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Barn Wood Flooring Update

Earlier this summer we collected old hayloft flooring from a neighbors barn that was getting demolished.  Due to other higher priority projects, the wood has been sitting in our garage all summer.  We are finally getting around to reclaiming and refinishing this old lumber for use as flooring in our home.  Amazingly, this flooring matching some flooring that we still need to pull out of our house to restore.  Here is a quick glimpse into the restoration process on the old barn wood flooring:

Update (2016.11.14):

I took a “vacation” day on Monday to attempt to get though as much of the flooring as possible before the snow storm hits this Friday.  It is nice to keep as much of the dust and fumes outdoors!  We are about 3 hours worth of sanding / polying away from completing the layloft flooring.  Then we’ll start removing the flooring in our house to refinish it in the garage (which, btw, is not heated or insulated).  Here is about 1/8 of the flooring sanded and one coat of polyurethane complete.



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Winterizing our Barn Water System


Although we have been spoiled with a beautiful fall this year in Minnesota, old man winter is bound to make his frosty appearance.  With an average January high temperature of 6 deg F, any pipes filled with water and exposed to the weather will freeze and crack.  A typical winter in our region of Minnesota will bring with it a solid 1-3 week period where the high temperature will fail to get above 0 deg F.  With this in mind, I spent a few hours over the weekend prepping our barn water system for the harsh Minnesota winter.

As everything at our homestead goes, projects happen in phases.  Phase 1 normally consists of getting the bare essentials in place.  This is the first, bare basics, step of preparing our barn water system for winter.  Additional steps will be taken to improve upon the system next year, expanding its easy of use and improving its energy efficiency.  Two areas I did not cover in this video include our chicken and rabbit watering systems.  A future video will cover solutions to these systems.

As always, if you have any comments, ideas, or questions, feel free to contact us on facebook or drop a message in the comments section below!



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Winter Preps and Baby Bunnies

“In Minnesota, there are two seasons, winter and preparing for winter.”

Now that I live on a farm, I can relate to this saying. It has been a busy fall, cleaning and winterizing the barn, tilling the garden, stacking bales, among many other things. If you are doing the homesteading thing too, I hope your winter preps are coming along smoothly!

Onto the, err.., meat of this post.   Our momma New Zealand had her first batch of babies!

First impressions:

  • Baby rabbits are kind of ugly.
  • Baby rabbits are born to hop.

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That was embarrassing…

Sorry about that.  I was running our server on a raspberry pi and recently had some issues arise.  We are now on a new server.  Here are links to our youtube videos from past articles that are now lost 🙁


Reroofing our hip roof barn during the summer of 2016

2016 Barn Tour



2016 carrot and beet harvest

2016 potato harvest with the kids


Goat banding


Lake Itasca (condensed to 6 minutes)

Almost hit by a semi truck while cycling in Roseau, MN



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