Our Waipu Goats

Hello Readers!

It’s a beautiful day here on the Kiwi Homestead.  As we’ve almost finished settling into our new home I thought I might take this opportunity to share with you our new herd.  As part of our long term goals, we set out to find only rare breed or heritage animals for our farm.  We looked at several different kinds of goat breeds before settling on one of the rarest and most endangered pure breeds in the world known as Waipus. Waipus are thought to be related to the original angora (mohair/woolly) type goats but unlike the modern angoras of today, they are not hybrids.  They have pretty much kept to themselves as far as breeding and there are fewer than 50 in the world today.  We found a local breeding couple who have been spearheading the efforts to save this beautiful heritage breed.  They just happen to be quite close to us locally and were very much looking for other families such as ours to help take on some of the 30 odd goats that they had! As a result of many discussions and quite a lot of thoughts and prayers, we decided to get 6 Waipu goats of our own.  Normally a starting flock would consist of 3 females and 1 male, but in our case, one of the females we had chosen had recently given birth to a boy so we ended up with a little baby goat buckling and the bigger goat buckling we had picked out.  The breeders were also trying to rehome an older retired female goat, but we fell in love with her and we have plenty of space so we agreed to take her as well!

Our new herd’s names are as follows

  1. Tansy (doe), age approximately 8-9 years old (retired goat)
  2. Lily (doe), born c. 2015
  3. Marshmallow (doe), born c. 2016
  4. Elder (buck), born in August 2019
  5. Betony (doe), born in September 2019
  6. Pumpkin (buck), Lily’s kid, born in October 2019

Our verse of the day is Proverbs 27:23-27

“Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds; for riches do not endure forever and a crown is not secure for all generations. When the hay is removed and new growth appears and the grass from the hills is gathered in, the lambs will provide you with clothing and the goats with the price of a field.  You will have plenty of goats’ milk to feed you and your family and to nourish your servant girls.”

As always please follow us along our journey and enjoy the photos below!

~Grace

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Happy New Year!

…and a much belated Merry Christmas. The Kiwi Homesteaders hope all of you had an enjoyable and relaxing Christmas season, and could remember those things and people that are most important.

New Zealand is on summer holidays, after the insanity that is the month of December. The country virtually shuts down by degrees, and most businesses and Government organisations are shut by Christmas Eve, and don’t open until after New Year. Many people travel to see family at Christmas, or immediately afterwards head to the beach or preferred holiday spot.

We have spent our holiday season finally moving into our new home.

The Council held its final inspection on Friday 6 December, and our house passed with flying colours. We were blessed with a pragmatic building inspector who, while ensuring that the work was up to code, didn’t mind if it departed from the submitted plans or from the way things are conventionally done in certain respects. Some of the cosmetic work has yet to be finished – a small amount of painting (apart from wet areas) and such – but we are chipping away at that slowly.

Armed with our inspection results, we went out and got insurance right away, to remedy an unsettling gap in cover. (Contract Works insurance can be a nuisance, especially when Principal-Supplied Materials cover should have been included but wasn’t.) The little ones had to sit through a very lengthy meeting. Middle-class grown-up activities are not friendly for kids, but it had to be done.

And just as well. A mere two days later, we decided to do the first burn on our wood-burning stove, and cook some bacon and eggs on it. I had just called the children into the nursery where I was doing some cleaning, and Grace was in the living area wielding the pots and pans, when BOOM! I turned around to see the entire living room lit up with firelight. Interjections were uttered, along with shouts and screams of panicked children. Attempts were made to call emergency services while freaking out, administer First Aid to Grace, and douse the fire with a hose. Neighbours came to the rescue, followed by the local fire brigade and eventually the ambulance. It had to call for reinforcements after one of the firefighters went down with a heart attack. Fun times all round. Grace ended up being treated urgently in hospital, and our move was delayed by about two weeks while she recovered sufficiently from her injuries.

It transpired that a full, or nearly full, can of high temperature spray paint, of the sort used to touch up log burners and wood stoves, had been left in the ash tray during the manufacture and installation of the fire. The ash tray is invisible to the operator, and the operator has no reason to check it when the fire has never been used before. Or so we thought.

But God watches over his people, better than we could ever deserve or hope for. Grace’s injuries, and the damage to the house, could have been much worse than they turned out to be, and the insurance was in place in time, and the house is still habitable, and we moved in just after Christmas. The ambience out here is very peaceful and calming, and so far we don’t at all regret making the move.

Next, I hope to introduce our new “woolly” friends!

V.

Raising Turkeys (and assorted birds)

This week on KiwiHomesteading;

The challenge of raising turkeys

When Victor and I decided to move to Canterbury we were very interested in finding a place where we could become self-sufficient and build a sustainable life.  We started small by raising chickens in the city and growing a veggie patch. We always knew we wanted to do bigger things.   Now, I come from a long line of people who are used to eating turkey for a special day in November.  You might know what I’m talking about… That big day in the US when two birds are on death row for being turkeys and one is famously pardoned?

Yes, I’m talking about Thanksgiving.  Well in New Zealand it is really hard to come by turkeys prior to Christmas and even then they are extremely expensive.  Americans are used to basically buying all the “fixings” (ingredients) for Thanksgiving dinner (and pre-Christmas shopping for presents) and if they spend enough money the shops will often throw a whole turkey in for free! Even a small (by American standards) frozen turkey would cost about 90 New Zealand dollars.  That’s out of our price range for just the meat for one meal, to be honest.  So instead we’re growing our own.

Turkeys themselves are very interesting creatures.  They tend to be excellent “egg-sitters” and go broody easily but they’re terrible mothers who often lose track of their turkey (or chicken) chicks.  They are also not very smart and will accidentally squish a bantam chick that they’re trying to keep warm.  The males are stunningly feathered and have very hilarious and comical “strut-dances” as they eye their females.

Now it happened that our three species of hen — turkey, chicken and guinea fowl — all started laying eggs at about the same time. It also turned out that at least one guinea fowl, at least two turkeys, and several of our chickens were male. Barnyard complications ensued. For example, the females would all share the same nesting boxes when laying, and so the broody birds ended up sitting on assorted eggs that would take different lengths of time to hatch. Moreover, even though we had more nesting boxes than simultaneously broody females… You know how in real estate, it’s said that the three most important words are, “Location, location, location?” It turned out that some nesting boxes were particularly highly sought after, so that we might find two turkeys and a big chicken in a nesting box that might comfortably accommodate one large bird or two small ones.

We also discovered something biological. As mentioned previously, turkeys don’t make very good mothers, so we salvaged a lot of our early eggs to incubate them at home (we’re still living off site). Many of the hatchlings were easily identified, but there were some that confused us. They came from little white speckled eggs, so we thought they were guinea fowl chicks, but as they grew they looked way too much like either chickens or turkeys. Well, as it turns out, guinea fowl are capable of interbreeding — and producing viable offspring — with both chickens and turkeys! So we now have guinea chickens and guinea turkeys running around. Do not try this at home, kids — guinea fowl hybrids are high-spirited animals.

It was shortly after that, for (mostly) unrelated reasons, that we decided to sell our adult guinea fowl. But that is a subject for another post.

We will leave you with a picture of our star turkey, Tom, although his career is now drawing to a close.  Jerry will continue on in his place as per tradition!

Verses of the day

2 Thessalonians 3:5 “May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.”

Romans 15:13 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as  you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

~Grace

Tom Turkey 2019

Still alive.

Winter is not an easy time of year for the Kiwi Homesteaders. The coughs and colds come out in force, with three kids in kindergarten. We’ve also been house-sitting for Grace’s parents, and that has at times felt like a mission, with maintenance items coming out of the woodwork and a lot of floor space to deal with.

So this blog took, once again, a back seat. I’m sure that, like exercise, blogging requires a slog of commitment until a habit is formed.

Less than halfway through winter, though, our Araucana hen, Mary Hen, decided to start laying very pretty blue eggs, and our rooster, Robbie (yes, based on Robin Hood and the maid Marian), rose to the occasion. So we had high hopes that we would welcome a batch of pure-bred Araucana chicks.

But, alas! Disaster and disappointment were our lot! Grace had bought an incubator off Trade Me in April, and it passed its first test, but when she turned it on again it failed badly, going into an endless cycle of rebooting, and shocking me while I attempted to investigate the problem. Time to invoke the warranty.

So what to do with the eggs? Eat them, or try something else? Well, in business, there’s no sense doing anything by halves.

So off to Chook Manor we drove, to equip ourselves properly. We spent about five times as much, but instead of a product of indifferent quality that could just as easily have died in the middle of a batch of eggs and lost us hundreds of dollars worth of livestock, we now have a Brinsea Ovation 56 EX, reputed to be one of the best on the market for small to medium-sized batches of eggs. And because it has a thermostat and a hygrostat, we don’t need to worry about the temperature or humidity, once we figured out one or two knacks to operating the equipment.

And so, between Mary Hen’s contributions and a number of Waipahi eggs (the Waipahi being a recently developed breed from Southland), we started our first incubation batch of 20 eggs. It turned out that four of the eggs were duds — infertile, perhaps, or the avian equivalent of a miscarriage — and another two were stillborn, and a seventh died a few days after hatching. But the remaining 13 are healthy and happy, and we moved them into our chick coop today at four weeks old.

And Mary Hen, not content with her efforts, is still laying. She seems determined to be a mother one of these days.

Don’t worry!

It is, “Situation normal, completely crazy,” at the Kiwi Homestead right now. I don’t believe we’re called upon to practice Zen-like detachment, though. This world is real, the battle lines are real, and we’re in the thick of it.

Grace fell a month or so ago and hurt her leg. By God’s mercy it wasn’t fractured, but a good couple of months, at least, of recovery are needed. For our readers who pray, prayer for swift and complete healing would be much appreciated.

Our builder applied for a building consent (the current New Zealand term for a building permit) for our house a month ago. The Council has come back to us twice wanting clarification on many points. Peace and patience are the order of the day, and they sometimes feel like a tall order. We hope to hear back within a few days.

Grace’s parents, with whom we have been living, are off overseas for several weeks, and we are house-sitting for them. No sooner did they leave than a leak in the plumbing became apparent. Cue calls to plumbers and builders to stop the leak and repair the damage already caused by it.

Sickness has been rampant, with back to back viral illnesses brought home by our children in kindergarten. Everyone is, though, getting better.

It is the shortest day today, and winter is definitely here, with long nights and crisp frosts. Serotonin and Vitamin D are at their yearly low.

And yet, in the middle of the chaos, the sun is still shining, the world is still turning, and God is in control and will see us through.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. — Philippians 4:6