June Fun

The summer season has started off with a bang, and as usual there is never a dull moment on the homestead. I am off of work for the summer and have enjoyed having extra time around the house. We have had an early heat wave though and it has been too hot to get much done outside unless it gets done early. This has given me time to work on projects in the house which we have been putting off. I have also been working on a homesteading binder to help us keep all of our inventories, records, and ideas in one place, rather than scattered all over the house and on the computer as they are now. I got some great ideas on Pinterest and think this will become a valuable resource.

IMG_20150606_170932654We rescued a little goat and he has brought us lots of joy. Michael found him wandering on a very busy road near our house. We took care of him a couple of days while trying to locate the owner. We finally found some notices for him and found out this poor lady adopted him but they couldn’t IMG_20150609_164154958_HDRhave him in their neighborhood. She gave him to some people and he got out of their lot, but they weren’t keen on trying to find him. She wanted to find him to make sure he was okay, so Michael talked to her and she came by to see how Geoffrey was doing and was happy we found him. So little Geoffrey has a new happy home. He is getting on well with the chickens, ducks, and rabbits, but we’d like to find him a friend soon.

IMG_20150614_135017923 (1)Michael also found 8 baby broiler chicks for free on Craigslist which we also adopted. They were a second grade class project on life-cycles and needed a home once they hatched. We are going to try our hand at raising them strictly for meat, no names. When the time comes, we will have eight freezer chickens which will be great for the fall.

We are also so proud to have shared our homesteading exploits with a summer camp for tenth and eleventh graders. Michael has a friend who works with the Design CampScreenshot 2015-06-20 at 9.44.34 AM at NCSU, and she needed a last-minute speaker from the restaurant industry to talk about food and sustainability. Screenshot 2015-06-20 at 9.48.28 AMMichael agreed to do it and we prepared a presentation about his work at the Art Museum, what we do at home, and our overall philosophy about local food and simple living. I wasn’t able to attend but he said it was a great experience sharingScreenshot 2015-06-20 at 9.46.16 AM what we do with these high school kids and that they were very interested and engaged. We’re so happy to share our lifestyle and encourage others to leave a smaller footprint and connect with their food, and to do this with passionate high schoolers is even more rewarding.

In other news, we want to buy a house with the intention of homesteading on it. It is such a big task! There is not a lot of inventory in our area right now and everything is moving fast. This has become my new full-time job. We currently rent from people we know, which has worked out great, but we are ready to have our own place. Trying to find the right house in the right place so we can do all of the fun things we love doing with all of our animals has been a real challenge, but I know we will find the right one. This has given us the opportunity to really articulate and identify what our long-term goals for the homestead are and think about the things we really need, instead of just what we think we want. We will be looking at a couple of places this weekend and hope we will have some luck.

Happy homesteading!

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Month of May

Where did the month of May go? The time has flown by. We finally finished the pigs after nearly two weeks of breaking down meat and getting items ready for the freezer in the evenings after work. That was some real work! We thought this would be the easy part but it was one of those things that had to get done and we could only do it after work. Needless to say, those were very long days. But we ended up with 285 pounds of pork in our inventory and over 200 packages of meat. Since it is just the two of us, we tried to keep things in relatively small portions, enough for just two to four people.

IMG_20150606_085424369We have steadily bartered for some nice items and have enjoyed having all this fresh pork around. There certainly is something very gratifying in a full freezer of meat you butchered and prepared yourself. Our first batches of bacon have been delicious! The pigs even left us of lots of nice looking veggie plants in the dirt where they lived. 

We’ve been a little disappointed in the garden so far this year. In our excitement of having the raised beds and fresh compost wIMG_20150606_085522107e eagerly planted things, but did not test the soil and it now appears we have some nutrient deficiencies and our veggies just are not getting there. We are upping our watering routine and trying to keep a close eye on things, but have not been able to eat anything out of the garden yet this year except for a couple of peas. We did get a fence around it which looks great and is doing a good job of keeping away the chickens, ducks and deer.

IMG_20150606_085440011Sadly, we lost three bunnies. We thought it was an early heat spell where we got to just over 90 degrees, but after three died in a row in two days we think it was some sort of disease or virus. We got the last two moved away from where the others were and each other and they seem to be happy and healthy.

The ducks are super sweet and appear to have begun trying to mate. They are just over four months old so it will be awhile until we get eggs and possiblyIMG_20150606_085631355 little ducks, but we are hoping they will all come. We ended up with three sets of male and females, but we butchered two of the males yesterday. They were beginning to be aggressive so after a tough decision it was decided to butcher two of them. We chose the rouens so we have one pekin male now. I am happy to have been at work while this occurred because I was sad to see them go.

As usual it is never a dull moment on the homestead, and our days have been full of hard work and lots of fun. I am looking forward to my Summer break from work and devoting myself full-time to backyard fun and lots of time outdoors. Michael reminded me today it has been way too long since our last update, so we hope to post more about the farm and work more on our site very soon.

Happy homesteading!