Summer Days

Well, another month has passed and we’re having as much fun as ever. We are still house hunting which we knew would be a challenge but did not anticipate it taking so long to find the right home. We do have a very particular list of needs because of our long-term homesteading goals which has made it extra tough to find one that is just right. Thankfully, our realtor has been very patient and understanding with us. I don’t think any of his other clients have space for chickens, goats, pigs, and a huge garden on their list of requirements.

As usual though, it is never a dull moment on the homestead. I’ve been off work and enjoying time at home cooking, working on organizing projects, and putting together homesteading materials. Michael has enjoyed some much-needeIMG_20150719_135807280_HDRd time off work and got to visit his brother and we have a big family trip to the mountains coming up.

IMG_20150719_095425640We had an extra fun Sunday Funday a couple of weeks back when we participated in Loose on the Neuse and did a trash pick up on our kayaks a few miles down the Neuse River. The group ended up picking up hundreds of pounds of trash. We got over 80 bags and dragged in lots of lumber and very random items like bikes, tables, and chairs. Michael even won these killer Sweetwater Brewing signs which we will be happily displaying in the new house.

While doing my usual homesteading reading online one day, I came across a saying which read, “an only goat is a lonely goat,” so we had to get IMG_20150717_183335433Geoffrey a friend immediately. We came home with Georgia just a few days later and we’ve loved having her around and for them to keep each other company. They’ve only gotten into a tiny bit of trouble. They got in the garden one day and ate all of our ripe tomatoes, our only two pepper plants (the whole plant), and our cucumbers. Geoffrey also learned how to climb under a particular spot in the chain link fence so I spent one Saturday chasing him down and retrieving him oIMG_20150728_075029018 (1)ff of a neighbors porch about 5 times until I finally caught him in the act and barricaded the spot. Thankfully, no escapes since. Georgia was raised with lots of goats and little Geoffrey was bottle fed and treated like a pet with humans since about 10 days old, so she has been a little skittish with us but is coming around. They have lots of fun grazing and palling around, and of course terrorizing little chickens.

IMG_20150701_154602814Our wee ones are coming along nicely. In about another month or two we will butcher all eight and load up the freezer for the fall. We also tried incubating duck eggs with no success. We did stick a few under a broody chicken so we’ll see what happens with those. We think we may have one successful experiment with the rabbits. We took our bunnies to a friends who has a female rabbit for a play date and we are expecting a litter in just a couple of days. The rabbits have been our biggest challenge. We thought they would just do their thing and we would be getting to stock the freezer with fresh meat but since December we’ve had no litters.

IMG_20150730_132605839We are blessed to have lots of friends who keep a big garden because ours has not done well this year. We put in the raised beds but in our eagerness to get stuff in the ground did not amend the soil and it has been slow going indeed. It will be a late IMG_20150730_133005374harvest but thankfully our friends and neighbors have lots to go around so we are still enjoying fresh local veggies everyday and keeping our grocery bill super low. We trade pork and eggs when we need to and have gotten pounds and pounds of kale, tomatoes, peppers, and squash. Nom nom!

Day-to-day we post a lot on Instagram so please feel free to visit us there to keep up between posts. There’s always some cute critter just begging for us to take a picture and share.

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!

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!