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Homesteading in North Carolina mountains  RSS feed

 
Posts: 45
Location: Appalachian Mountains
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I missed the pecans when I moved to the mountains, but the black walnuts are delicious.  You appreciate them more because you have to work so hard to get them out of the shell.  Picked up 8 bushels this year, and haven't started on them yet. 

Went to Athens, Ga., (2 hour drive) yesterday to pick up a Saanen buck, (Registered star buck out of Grand Champions, Superior Genetics).  He had a serious leg injury that didn't heal properly in the knee, so it throws out when he tries to walk, which meant he was a bargain price.  Hopefully it won't interfere with his job...which is to give me really great kids.  Already have a great Reg. Saanen doe, and several grade Nubians which I'm presently phasing out.  The owner who sold him looked a little perplexed when I told her, "yes, I plan to carry him in the back of my Hyundai hatchback, its my goat mobile".  That's why I have a bed liner in the back with plastic and hay over that.  He rode just fine, and out of the wind, too.  Didn't smell so great so had to drive with windows partly open.  raw milk sells well, so many people need it for their pets, which is legal to buy from the farm.  The kids sell well too, especially when people see the udders on their dams.  I already have a great barn for them, with 4 stalls 10 x 14 feet and a big lounging area.  Each two stalls share a hay rack, all of which I built out inside myself.  I'm not a great carpenter but I learned a lot as I went along.  A friend told me to lean into the drill with those long screws because I'm a small woman and wasn't strong enough to do it.  It worked and I got pretty good at it.  Since then I closed in my back porch, did ceramic tile on my steps inside the house, etc.   The Saanens have great longevity in milking and that is the primary reason I keep goats, for the milk.  The doe I'm milking now is in her second year, so kind of important she gets bred this year, and the breeding season is almost over. 

I'm working on having really great pastures with good rotation.  Lespedeza and chicory grow on the high mountain pasture behind the house.  Lots of clover, mixed grasses, dandelion, plantain in the front three pastures.  I use a mix of minerals so it has everything known on the planet in it, on everything, even the pastures, blueberries, garden.  Garden and pastures get an extra dose of ag lime or the garden gypsum because the grass doesn't like it and I'm trying to get it in a PH range so grass doesn't grow (less work for me).  I also mulch over everything in the garden in winter with leaves (not walnut or pine,  but nearly everything else)  That keeps it from drying out and killing the beneficial microbes and rots down into rich, humus filled soil.  It also prevents most weeds from growing.

Last year I had green beans that were producing about 4 or 5 lbs. per week on EACH plant.  I don't know if it was the minerals, the fact it was on a lower level and the water from the chicken pen washed down, or if it was indeed a genetic mutation.  I did save a few beans for seed but only a few.  Wish I'd thought of that before I ate all the beans or sold them at Farmer's Market. 

I left the corporate world over 30 years ago and have not regretted it for one minute.  Sometimes the only thing I have to eat is what I grow, but what's wrong with that.  Absolutely nothing.  I am rich beyond measure, I have the best of everything. 

My favorite tool around the homestead is my hoe from Portugal which is concave and angles backward from the handle.  You pick up the handle and drop it and it cuts the soil several inches deep.  Great for turning garden soil or digging trenches, or just making holes to put in peppers or tomatoes.  My next favorite tool is the Greenworks chain saw, battery operated, 16 inch blade.  Charges for two hours, then cuts a cord of wood if you turn it off (flick of a button) every time you don't need it running.  Just went out today and cut about 10 more trees, to thin the forest for more understory to grow in, for the goats.   I have a hard time hand tightening the blade and it came off four times when it hung up in a tree which wedged or fell against the blade.  So spent a lot of time refastening it.  Once I had to duck and run, because a tree started falling on me.  At least I didn't get hit in the head this time, like I have in the past. 

Would love to hear from other permies doing this alone and how they are managing. 

Faye at Heartsong Farm


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Faye Corbett
Posts: 45
Location: Appalachian Mountains
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I added a picture (from last March) of the Dexter/Jersey heifer, Mirabella.  She is adorable, thinks she is a dog and comes running up for any visitor here to pet her.  They are usually alarmed and jump back into their car when they see a cow running toward them, but after meeting her and realizing she just wants attention, they love it!  You have to watch though, sometimes she licks you in the face.  She is bred AI to a Jersey bull for a March 1 calving.  She is pastured only, no grain at all.  I do feed free choice minerals and a little hay in winter when pastures are getting too short, but not much.  The good rotation keeps plenty of grazing for everyone, ala Joel Salatin method. 

I do teach herb classes, and how to make medicines from what grows on your land.  (I have a Naturopathic degree).  Used to have a health food store and worked nights and weekends at a local hospital, but glad those 20 hour workdays are behind me.  Farming is so much more fun. 

For income from the farm I grow and sell a wide assortment of herbal teas and produce for farmer's market.  What I don't sell fresh in the produce line, I eat, can, dry or freeze.  Those frozen bell peppers and green onion tops sure are good on homemade goat cheese pizza!  Of course I love to cook anyway and sometimes get into a frenzy with it, as shown below in the pictures. 

We have a responsibility to keep the land as healthy as possible.  I have riparian areas fenced off from the goats browsing, so the native plants can grow undisturbed.  Trilliums, lady slipper, pipsissewa and others. 

Faye at Heartsong Farm
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Posts: 148
Location: near Athens, GA
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I grew up in the Appalachians of NC, went to school a the University of Georgia and have lived in 5 southern states.  I have no doubt that, despite the fact that most folks bring as much trouble on themselves as they can, that patchwork quilt, lying rumpled over the landscape, that we know by various regional names... those old, weathered mountains with treasures hidden in every wrinkle and fold... that can be as harsh as they at abundant.. are as close to paradise as Ill ever see in this life.
 
Posts: 31
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Ooohh, you sound like a woman after my own heart! Wonderful pictures, too! I love working with the animals, getting my hands dirty with plant stuff, and doing all kinds of carpentry projects around the house, outbuildings, and fencing. Where we differ, however, is the love of cooking. You'll never see me get anywhere close to a frenzy when it comes to cooking. Do you sell your cows milk also or just the goats milk? What county of NC are you in? (No problem if you don't want to answer that.)
 
Faye Corbett
Posts: 45
Location: Appalachian Mountains
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Annie Collins wrote:Ooohh, you sound like a woman after my own heart! Wonderful pictures, too! I love working with the animals, getting my hands dirty with plant stuff, and doing all kinds of carpentry projects around the house, outbuildings, and fencing. Where we differ, however, is the love of cooking. You'll never see me get anywhere close to a frenzy when it comes to cooking. Do you sell your cows milk also or just the goats milk? What county of NC are you in? (No problem if you don't want to answer that.)



Annie,  I'm in Macon County, near the Georgia line.  Don't have cow's milk yet, not until March.  I plan to make butter, but may put another calf on her, and she has such strong maternal instincts she would be ok with that.  The baby goats all think she is just another "mother" to them.  Sometimes they jump up and try to nurse her not yet lactating udder, and she allows it.  Very gentle around them.  Depends on how much time I have next spring.  Dexers usually have A2 milk like goats or most Jerseys or Guernseys.  It gets to be crunch time with spring planting (I do everything by hand, don't usually use a tiller) and spring goat kidding season.  The animals are my favorite part and my "family".  Sometimes I do my yoga exercises out in the pasture and once when lying on my back with my feet elevated doing a deep breathing exercise, Mirabella (the cow) came over, concerned about me, and started licking my feet.  Ok for a minute, but it was just too much and I finally got up and went elsewhere.  A few good laughs though.  She is a real sweetheart.  She would allow me to ride her if I wanted to.  Thought about posting a picture of me on her back in a cowboy hat with a caption saying "real cowgirls don't ride horses."  Not that I have anything against horses, I love them too.  But after getting thrown more times than I can remember, I don't ride horses anymore.  I would, if I could find a nice, gentle one that someone else owned.  My pasture is limited so I try to use it for livestock that are productive. 

The cow in the pasture with the goats is good protection for them too, as she will not allow any intruder in the pasture, that she doesn't know.  The coyotes are bad here and lot of livestock predation occurs, so I lock the goats up in the barn at night, which helps.  With young kids I have a small paddock with 8 foot fencing for protection until they are at least a month or so old.  Even then, I lose one sometimes to Bobcats or coyotes.  My guardian dog, Bongo is getting up in age and can't run like he used to.  My other guardian dog was kicked and killed by horses (not mine) and one dog alone is not enough.  Even they are susceptible to being killed, so he usually sleeps in the barn with them at night for his own protection, or when very cold, in the house now that he is old and can't tolerate the cold as much.  Normally I don't allow animals in the house (except baby goats sometimes). 

I disbud my baby goats with a 3/4 " piece of galvanized pipe, fluted down at the end so it makes better contact, and held with channel locks, heated in the coals of a really hot fire.  It gets super hot if the coals are hot enough, and more dependable for me than an electric disbudding iron which sometimes doesn't get hot enough.  If I can hold them still enough, there are never scurs.  Fast and quick, so no danger of brain damage like you get when you have to hold it longer because it isn't hot enough.  A few seconds usually does it.  Disbudding is my least favorite part of goat keeping.  I also lay the iron against the scent glands just inside the horn buds on the baby bucks, to descent them.  They still smell enough the does know they are a buck, but not so offensive to humans. 

I have an apple and pear orchard, but squirrels raid them both a lot.  Last year my Honeysweet pears were about ready for harvest and the day I went out to pick about two bushels, the tree had been stripped by squirrels and nothing was left.  Those pears are incredible (if I ever get any)   The apples were so abundant, they could not get them all so I had a few of those from the six mature trees.  Also have grapes, blueberries, elderberry, peaches.  The peaches get too much rain usually, when they are ripening, which means they rot.  I prune out the centers of the trees a lot to allow better ventilation, but with late frosts, plus the rains, rarely get a lot.  Last year was exceptional though.  Got down to 17 degrees after they set fruit, but some how there was a temperature inversion (don't fully understand how it affected them this way), and they made it to ripe fruit, and a lot of it.  So I ate a lot, sold some at Farmer's Market at premium prices, and froze some.  Not really enough left to can in jars, but would have had there been sufficient quantity.  Also have several plum trees, don't know variety, seedlings, and they are large and good.  Made plum syrup and it was fabulous on French toast or waffles, or goat milk ice cream.  Also grow Nanking cherries and they are delicious, though small, and super hardy.  Have figs outdoors and some in pots indoors.  Also grow Ponderosa lemon indoors and take it outside in summer, but it is getting pretty heavy to manage.  It was a clone, so started bearing at one year old.  I put my mineral mix on the newly rooted figs and they start setting fruit at one year old too.  I do a lot of plant propagation and sell plants at the Farmer's market, primarily figs, Nanking cherries, some Turmeric and Ginger plants, veggie starts, peach trees, etc. 

I cook on the wood stove a lot in the winter.  This is a Fisher with double doors, not a regular cook stove with oven, which I would really love to have.  But I can use a Dutch oven and set it over the coals in the grate inside if I needed to.  It's just heavy.  Unlimited firewood here with all the forests.  Plenty of mature trees falling so I only have to pick up fallen branches or cut up some for all I need.  I make use of a lot of fallen branches because it saves the work of cutting them with the chainsaw.  I have an Amish crosscut saw, but takes two people to use it.  At least 8 large trees, some 100 feet tall and two feet in diameter have fallen on my perimeter or inside fences this year.  I can't get one cut off before there are two more. 

Shiitake mushroom do great here in the mountains, with the high humidity and cool nights.  My logs were incredible last spring, but nothing much this fall. 
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Annie Collins
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It all sounds wonderful! I love the image of Mirabella licking your feet while you are doing yoga! Hilarious! I wish I lived closer to you. Unfortunately I am almost 2 hours from you. It would have been great to be able to offer to come over to help with whatever projects you may have had that needed extra hands while also learning more about goat care, Mirabella antics, and maybe even how to bake one of those delicious looking pies! Anyway, it sounds like you have a wonderful place and life where you are. I am happy for you, as well as all the beings in your care. Thank you again for sharing all the great stories and photos; they were thoroughly enjoyed!
 
Faye Corbett
Posts: 45
Location: Appalachian Mountains
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Annie Collins wrote:It all sounds wonderful! I love the image of Mirabella licking your feet while you are doing yoga! Hilarious! I wish I lived closer to you. Unfortunately I am almost 2 hours from you. It would have been great to be able to offer to come over to help with whatever projects you may have had that needed extra hands while also learning more about goat care, Mirabella antics, and maybe even how to bake one of those delicious looking pies! Anyway, it sounds like you have a wonderful place and life where you are. I am happy for you, as well as all the beings in your care. Thank you again for sharing all the great stories and photos; they were thoroughly enjoyed!



Thank you Annie.  Maybe if you are going to be up this way, you could drop by and at least meet the animals.  Those animals give me a reason to get up in the mornings. 
 
Annie Collins
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Faye Corbett wrote:
Thank you Annie.  Maybe if you are going to be up this way, you could drop by and at least meet the animals.  Those animals give me a reason to get up in the mornings. 



That sounds like a wonderful idea - I would love to meet you and the animals! I will message you when I find myself heading toward your area!
 
Faye Corbett
Posts: 45
Location: Appalachian Mountains
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With a 12 inch snowfall a little over a week ago, several more big, older trees came down.  Another black walnut landed squarely on the pasture fence (that makes 10 big trees this year, from 80 to 100 feet tall).  A lot of work to clean it all up and repair the fencing, but the oak and poplar, I use for firewood, so it isn't wasted.  Black walnut smells too bad when it is burning, to use as firewood, and is a valuable lumber if I could get in contact with the right people who might want it. 

A recent picture of Mirabella, only 10 weeks to go to calving. 

Last picture is of a group of roosters free ranging until they are big enough to dress out.  Love that great chicken bone broth for pot pies and soups!
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I think I'll just lie down here for a second. And ponder this tiny ad:
2018 Peasant Permaculture Design Course in Montana
https://permies.com/wiki/74473/permaculture-projects/Peasant-Permaculture-Design-Montana
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