2012 was quite a year.  It was a year of joy and blessing.  Oh sure we had our share of trials and struggles, like any homesteaders, but we found that those trials only make us stronger as a family and as homesteaders.

Our homeastead grew by leaps and bounds last year.  Not in the size of our homestead property but by the size of our little homestead family.

First we added Conrad and he helped to make the livestock numbers grow by leaps and bounds.  That little fella took his job serious and it wasn't long before we had 5 little goat kids bouncing around and crying on the homestead.

Tsarina had triplets and Buckets had twins.  They were the cutest bunch yet. (of course I say that everytime one is born).  The last born of Tsarina's triplets was tiny and struggling but at the same time she was a determined little one.  She struggled for a few days but she won the battle.  I became so found of this tiny little bundle, I named her Malia, that I decided should would have to remain a member of our homestead and our family.  Even all these months later she is still the tiniest doe we have had.  And when I say tiny I should say in height because she is her mother's daughter and she loves to eat.  She is really a doll.

Another member that joined our family is Burr.  Burr was a kind of unplanned addition but really quickly became a permanent part of our homestead and hearts.

I found Burr through an ad in our local "peddler" paper.  It said "Anatolian/Pyreneese mix puppies 8 wks for sale 75.00".  I thought "Wow, that's cheap".  I threw around the idea of going to look at them but Ronnie had told me I could not have any more dogs.  I argued that this would not be "dog", this would be a "livestock" guardian.  My daughter-in-law thought I should go look too and I thought about it but was worried that it was a 50 mile drive and what if the pups were falsly advertised.  At that point Ronnie even said I should go look so that solved that issue.  Cara and I jumped in the car with Jonathan and 2 grandkids in tow and drove the 50 miles to see what we could see.

I had called to make sure the person would be home first and he was.  He said he was a long haul driver so I figured the pups must be being kept by a wife or relative or such.  When we pulled up and the man greeted us he seemed friendly enough.  Then he led us towards where the pups were kept and my heart sank and my stomach sickened.

It was June in Texas, so you can just imagine the how hot it was.  The pups were locked in a horse trailer in the middle of an open pasture with no shade.  The food in the dish that was covered with flies did not even resemble food anymore.  The pups were laying in puddles of their own feces.  Yes puddles.  There were three pups and I asked if I could just buy them all.  The man answered that two of the pups were already spoken for by someone out of town and would be picked up the following day.  The new owners had not seen any of the pups yet though so I was free to pick the one I wanted.  I picked up the only little bag of bones that would me pick him up.  He didn't resemble his breen or any other for that matter.  He was so matted and covered with burrs that Cara said we would have to shave him because just bathing would not help.  The poor little guy had so many fleas that Cara said his fleas had their own fleas.

A trip to the vet confirmed that the pup, which we fittingly named Burr, was malnourished and would need some serious tender loving care.  That we could do.  The 75.00 pup ended up costing closer to 400.00 after the vet bills but no price would be to high for the loving look that big ol' pup gives me everyday, twenty times a day. 

Burr is now 8 months old and roughly the size of a pony.  He is a loveable, protective companion for the livestock and family.  During the day he hangs out in the house or goes with me on errands and at night he is in charge of the goats and chickens.  He is wonderful with children and people in general and a good judge of character.  He is super friendly as long as he does not feel there is a threat to his family or livestock. 

Our chickens continue to be an important part of our homestead and we had two very sad days towards the end of the year when we lost our oldest rooster, Cinderella, and his favorite mate, the hen matriarch, Ursula.  They died within a week of each other.  I believe Cinderella died of old age and Ursula missed him terribly.  They were always together.  When we added a new rooster to our flock last year Cinderella was very possessive of only Ursula.  Jonathan said he prayed that Cinderella and Ursula were happy in heaven with God. 

Jonathan's favorite chicken, Stitch, is now the oldest of our flock.  Stich is a polish bantam and really more of a chicken mascot then a layer.  Every now and again - maybe once or twice a year she will lay us an egg and we celebrate with joy for the little egg she graces us with.

On a happier note on the Chicken home front this spring was the first time we hatched one of our own eggs and were happy to get to add another layer to our flock. 

As a family we grew closer as we learned new things together and worked together to keep the homestead running smoothly, well okay....running.

We learned new skills and continue to work on being as self-sufficient as possible.  We even started playing with a little solar and are planning on doing more with solar.  We started with a small 45 watt Harbor Freight kit and have been adding to what we have and planning on a larger system that will allow us to run the majority of our home more efficiently.

All in all, though we had some beloved losses we also had some wonderful additoins and the year was quite a year.  I hope that this year will be as good as the last.  If it is then we really can't ask for much more than that.

We live, we laugh, we homestead.