Behind the Scenes: March 2019 – A quick recap of some of the homestead happenings that occurred on the Zenstead this month!
Two words to sum up March: BABY GOATS!
Our mini-Lamancha doe, Gypsy, gave birth to four healthy baby girls! It was a picture-perfect kidding that happened overnight on the full moon and the Spring Solstice! And, you guys, these little doelings are soooo stinking adorable! We are planning to sell them in a couple weeks, so I’m soaking up all the baby goat love while I can!
While Gypsy did a great job kidding without any extra assistance from us, I was still relieved to have our kidding and first aid supplies ready to go! Having gloves, puppy pads, towels, navel dip and all of our other supplies on hand made the event go even more smoothly! This is why I love having our 1st aid kits packed in 5 gallon buckets! They are easy to grab and go and they keep your supplies clean and waterproofed. Best of all, they double as a stool for those long nights in the barn!
Check out what I keep in our kits and how I stock them here – and go get yours packed! Because, believe me, animals will never pick a convenient time to have an issue! I guarantee you that those little suckers will wait until there’s a long weekend when all the feed stores are closed and the vets can’t be reached! So get your first aid kits packed now!
Speaking of being prepared, we have been working on renovating the barn that we use as our milk parlor and kidding stalls. This building was honestly the most disgusting place on our property when we bought it – which is saying a lot! We found dead chickens, layers upon layers of mouse droppings and every other gross thing imaginable! ? But it’s a good solid building and it even has power run to it!
Currently, we have the kidding pen side of the barn almost completed. It still needs some trim work and paint, but we were fighting the clock to get it this far! We moved Gypsy into the kidding pen about 3 hours before she had her first kid! Here’s a look at the kidding pen then. You can tell the walls weren’t even completely finished! Once we finish the full renovation, I’ll share a bunch of before and after pictures of it!
Here’s a quick look at our other March projects:
Seed Starting and Garden Planning:
For the first time since we moved here, I have my garden planned and all of my cold crop seeds planted out in the garden before the end of March! I also have my warm crops (with the exception of cucurbits) started indoors in the new grow light cabinet!
It’s amazing how much more efficient you become over the years as you build your skills and your homestead! So, if you are still in the “hot mess” stage of homesteading – be patient with yourself! It really does get better! (Totally talking to myself from two years ago! ?)
I’m really excited about my garden plan this year because I’m incorporating a polyculture approach. That is, I’ve carefully planned companion plant groupings to maximize the benefits of diversity. You can check out my companion plant groupings and learn more about this approach here!
New Pathways from Recycled Materials:
There’s something so charming about a good pathway! I’m an absolute sucker for them! Pathways are also important for us because we want this home to be a place where we can live long-term. Since Lindy has Multiple Sclerosis, it’s important to make the property as accessible as possible. And pathways do just that!
We found a bunch of free broken cinders posted on Craigslist by the local recycling company. In case you haven’t realized my love for Craigslist yet, you can read all about it and how we score tons of free resources here!
We literally had to climb into a giant dumpster full of broken cinders to get them… totally worth it! We used the broken cinder pieces to create a pathway from our backdoor to the chicken coop and also to our front walkway. The pathway turned out amazing and keeps this area by our back door from washing out and turning into a mud puddle during the rainy season.
Renovating Flower Beds to Increase Growing Space:
Since we were putting in the new pathways, we decided to go ahead and start on another project that we had planned to do! Our entire yard is lined by flower beds that are about 4+ feet wide and are covered in old weed mat and rock.
That’s a lot of planting space that is currently being wasted! And, even worse, the fruit trees and plants that are in the beds aren’t receiving any nourishment from the soil! ? Some are even being choked by the weed mat!
I do love weed mat, but I think it has a very distinct purpose and that it rarely belongs in growing spaces. I want my soil to be alive and vibrant, not repressed!
We started removing the weed mat and shoveling out the rock. We moved the rock to to the dirt driveway by the barn. The driveway is in desperate need of gravel to help choke out the weeds growing there, so it worked out perfect. No resources wasted around here!
Once the rock and weed mat was removed, I amended the soil by mixing in a bunch of compost. I’ll use bark mulch to help suppress weeds, retain moisture, feed the soil and encourage worms and other micro-organisms. I’m so excited to have more planting room! But most of all, I’m excited to be able to properly feed and nourish the plants and soil!
Creation of the Bee Yard:
We should be getting our first bee hives any day now! In preparation, we created our bee yard by laying weed mat and mulch.
This is an example of a place where weed mat serves a good purpose! We want the area to be low-maintenance. We also don’t want tall grass or weeds growing around the hives because it can be difficult to mow and trim around the bees. I will eventually plant some low maintenance plants (like lavender and yarrow) in the bee yard, so I will pull back portions or the weed mat and enrich the soil at that time.
For now, I’m happy and excited to have the bees’ new home ready for them to move into! Lindy even built this super cute fence and gate completely out of materials we had around our homestead!
Bring on the bees!
What projects did you work on in March? Share in the comments!