Spring Garden

Phew! Spring is starting out to be busy. IMG_20150318_090709459We have both had extra busy weeks with work stuff and are trying to fit in home projects when we can in order to help us get ready for the season.  Thankfully, the past two Sundays have been very productive.   We spent all day  one Sunday building 260 square feet of raised garden beds and filled them with compost over the the past weekend.  We found a great deal on the lumber which was locally milled right down the street from our house. We made nine rectangular beds and they are beautiful.  As of right now, we still have two to level and fill with compost. IMG_20150324_165650169

Last year, very soon after we moved to the homestead, we tilled a nice big plot of a garden bed and planted right in the ground.  The harvest was phenomenal!  It is amazing how much food you can grow right in your back yard.  While this was successful, we did not keep the plot very tidy over winter, and decided to place the raised beds over the existing plot.  They look great and I love the organization of the beds.  We are planning to plant them square-foot garden style in order to maximize our yield, and we have just started planning them out.  While paper and pen are great tools to track a garden plan, this year we are trying an online program, smartgardener.com.  IMG_20150324_183631196It looks very promising, providing a detailed plan, journal, and to-do list, but definitely takes a long while to set up with your seeds and desired plan.  I at least got all of the seeds we have in our collection in our virtual garden plan and began thinking about how we will plant things; and perhaps, soon we can organize our seed collection. It has gotten a little haphazard.

On Wednesday morning we had 18 cubic yards of local compost delivered which we filled the beds with, but there is still a ton of dirt.  I am excited to use it around the yard though, and be able update all of our existing garden beds.  IMG_20150318_090756665_HDRFor our veggies, so far, we have lots of lettuce and kale sprouted and our beets and peas have shot right up.  We also started some of our Summer goodies like corn and tomatoes. We will do squash and a few others next week.  Getting those seedlings in the ground will be so satisfying!

Also, we adopted four hens who needed a good home.  Michael picked them up yesterday afternoon and they seemed to have already adjusted pretty well.  Their IMG_20150324_170001538previous owners did not feel up to caring for them any longer, so we thought we’d take them under our wing.  They may have another good year of egg laying, we will see, but we are already super happy to have them around.

Happy homesteading!

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The Chickens

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One of our first homesteading experiments on our half acre was getting chickens and building the chicken coop. We decided for Michael’s birthday, soon after moving to the homestead, we would go check out a local family who sold chickens and we came home with five. We were hungry for fresh eggs everyday.DSCF2351

I immediately checked out Building Chicken Coops for Dummies from a local library and we re-purposed and salvaged materials to make ‘the minimalist’ design.

minimalist coop

Nearly one year later it has been such a joy and quite an experience! We began with five baby chicks, and one dog attack and one hawk attack later we still have four egg laying hens; one of which had a difficult day with a bird of prey.

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Dozens and dozens of eggs later we are beginning to entertain the notion of keeping meat birds. Once the little ducklings are finished brooding and get settled into their new home, it is possible there will be a new lot of baby chicks to care for at the homestead. Stay tuned…

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Happy homesteading!

Raising Rabbits

At the end of December we decided to get five rabbits–two bucks, and three does–who are all getting close to being four months old. Our plan is to raise these five bunnies, breed them, and harvest their litters for food.  We got this great hutch off of Craigslist for a great deal.  10838057_10152514010353994_3375092796978780821_oWe have now separated the ladies and gents, but we think a couple may have already mated.  We keep checking out the does to see if anyone is pregnant, but can’t be sure yet.  If so, we think someone could deliver later this week.

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We tried our hand at planned breeding yesterday and we will see what comes of it.  We found two more nice used cages off of Craigslist and will eventually build a structure to cover and hang cages from.  We’ll have to figure out the best way to house all of these little ones.  Ideally, it would be a semi-permanent structure from which we could hang the cages, allowing us to easily collect the compost from below.

The bunnies are sweet little beings and we have really enjoyed having them around.  I am also super excited to practice some French cooking techniques to make delicious rabbit dishes.  Recipe suggestions are welcome!  Stay tuned for pics of baby bunnies.

Happy homesteading!

Year One Inventory

We can hardly believe we have been on our half acre for a year now.  The time has flown, but working with the earth through the seasons really helps us to remember the progress we’ve made over this past year.

One of the beautiful things about homesteading is you can begin anytime, anywhere.  Homesteading is a lifestyle of self-reliance.  What we love about that is we began with what we had available (a rental property), and did not feel discouraged by what we didn’t (our very own dream farm).

As soon as we moved in we began sowing seeds for an early Spring garden and kept planting through Summer and into Fall.  We view a garden as a continuous, ongoing project, so we were excited to add some fauna to our lives this year.

So, on our one year homestead-iversary, we now have:

4 egg laying chickens   IMG_20150131_144027609

5 bunnies 10401945_10152541768843994_7622560708564101386_n

2 pigs  10269466_10152618892498994_8339796715640002491_n (2)

8 baby ducklings   1511218_10152671627618994_2198901058063708291_n

2 house cats IMG_20141220_193633285~2 IMG_20150111_090932062_HDR

and us.

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We don’t know how long we will be at this house, but we will make our homestead wherever we are. We are so excited to see what this year will bring and are looking forward to documenting and sharing the journey.

Happy homesteading!