This Month On The Homestead: January 2018

If you’re just tuning in, this is a brand new ongoing series in which I document each month of our lives in our transition to a simple, homemade life on a modern homestead. We ditched town and moved to the country in 2008 and we blog about both our successful and not-so-successful ventures in homesteading, switching to natural products, and embracing a whole foods lifestyle. 

January 2018
I switched from the weekly (or bi-weekly.....or bi-monthly......or when I could remember) "weekend" posts to a more formal compilation of our homesteading goodness, all pulled together for you once a month.

For us, like many of you, January was mostly about the weather.  From the extreme (EXTREME I tell you) cold snaps that lasted weeks, to the snow and the ice.  Since I very much enjoy snow (not driving in it, rather, sitting at home with the pellet stove humming enjoying a nice hot cup of coffee while I watch it) this was a positive for January.

For me.

The animals, however, do not hold snow in such a high regard.

Coop Girls
Well, we receive 3-6 eggs per day.  That sounds great until I remind you that we have 27 chickens.....  Mind you, some of them are older, but the majority should be producing and that's just not happening.  We don't use lighting to force them to produce throughout winter but they usually do ok.  Like more than 3 eggs a day ok.  Apparently not this year.

The cold certainly causes some stress and we had single digit and negative numbers for a few weeks.  When it's that cold we just don't let them go out and that very much stresses them out.  They need to get away from each other (although they still tend to cluster while free ranging) and have some space.  Instead, they were stuck inside with the flat panel heaters keeping the coop just into double digits.  (Too much heat can make them sick so we heat it just enough that there's no risk of frostbite)

Interestingly, the newer girls are not much for veggies.  All of our flocks over the years have been ecstatic at the sight of greens.  These girls, well, not so much.  They look and go "meh...anything else?"  They do enjoy carbs - oatmeal, pancakes, rice, bread, pasta, and the like but are not so excited about the taste of greens, squash and beans.  And they prefer their carbs with a little sauce - milk, yogurt, broth.....whatever we've got that can be added.  Not too picky, are they?

Dogs + Jack
The boys are doing well.  Ollie is on to a new food.  This seems to be an annual thing with him.  I'm not sure why.  We are now on to Fresh Pet.  He seems to love it, although I'm not thrilled with how much space it takes up in the fridge.  We'll see if we can convert him back to the dehydrated food from Honest Kitchen.  Although J was right when he said - what's the difference?  They're both ridiculously expensive.  Oh well.

Oh, hey, they turned 8 this month!!  No longer "babies" although to me, they always will be.

And Jack is, well, Jack.  He's the same pain in the buns as he's been.  We love him, don't get me wrong, but the guy is something else, as you know.  Our newest ritual, it's been going on for about 3 months, is that he "picks me up" when it's time to go to bed.  Here's how it works:  he's upstairs sleeping in our walk-in closet (his little cat tent is in there).  About 9:45 he strolls downstairs, howling and crying - letting me know he's on his way.  He strolls into the living room, and hollers, until I get up to brush my teeth.  Once I'm in the bathroom, he insists on getting on the sink and smelling my toothpaste......while I brush, he brushes his entire body against me.  Over and over.  Once I'm done he is at my feet, again, brushing against me over and over until I head toward the stairs.  He gets so excited when we head up the stairs together and then he goes back in the closet and I go to bed.  I have no idea why in the world this seems to make him happy, but it does.  That's our Jack!

The rush of the holidays are over and the great news is that our online sales are remaining steady.  Typically, there's a dip in sales post holiday, but not this year.  Woot to that!  The farmer's market has slowed down, for the most part, but we still have some pretty good days.  We decided to pay for a double booth this year, like we do for summer, and it has made a world of difference!  It's so much nicer for our customers to shop and it's so much nicer for us!  I like to wrap soap while I'm there and it gives me the space to do so.

We started a new thing for 2018 where we are making one limited edition soap scent per month for the year.  I'm excited about that - we've found some of our best selling scents with limited editions.  We will also be adding a couple of products to the line-up as well as taking some away.  Our soap is by-and-far our most popular product so the more popular it becomes, the more time we've got to spend making it, which means we don't have time to make all of the other products.  As I've shared in the past, we are bound and determined to keep this a smaller company of just the two of us, but also keep it running successful.  This is what we continue to strive for.

Around The Farm
We are excited for spring when we can begin moving outbuildings around in order to renovate the new manufacturing space.  Unfortunately, not much we can do in the dead of winter.  So, no projects have been completed this month.  I'm hoping for a few loose ends to be tied up next month (bathroom floor replaced, bathroom cabinet replaced, office light installed, etc.).  We are replacing our stove.....again.  The oven just won't keep the temperature and they continue to replace parts but it does not fix it.  So, when your cookies get burnt-crispy on the outside and are raw in the middle, well, you know it's time to buy a new one.  I hate that we have to do this with big projects coming in the spring, but that's how things seem to go, isn't it?  But the new one has double ovens so I'm a bit ecstatic about that.  Simple things that make me happy.....

And I was one of the unfortunate ones to be stricken with the flu.  It was bound to happen, I suppose, with all of the people I come into contact with everyday.  I'm still dealing with the upper respiratory after effects, but I'm getting there.  So far, knock on wood, J has not come down with it.

And that, my friends, is January in a nutshell!!

How about you?  
I would love to hear how your first month of the year has gone.


  1. oh, my goodness! jack is SUCH a character. you can see it in his eyes. your soap looks amazing!

  2. That's a busy start to the year! Sorry you had to deal with the flu. I'm hoping that your dietary changes helped you recover more quickly.

    Your soap looks beautiful! And I love the setup of your booth.

    Happy birthday to the boys. Glad they are well.

    We've had several family projects going and are making progress on our 2018 project list. The weather has been cold, but manageable, so a bit of outdoor clearing of the woods has been a fun thing to do on sunny days. Even my self-proclaimed "indoor boy" has been out there working with me.

    Enjoy your weekend. It's always good to catch up here.


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