Friday, July 15, 2016

Making a Homestead: Getting Off Our Lazy Butts!

             Hey folks! I am super excited to be bringing you the very first Farm Fridays post and link-up here on Mixed Bag Mama this week! I have so many homesteading posts going on right now (tis the season, right?) I figured why not? Some weeks I will be doing a separate post and just linking up to the link-up post. Others I will just have the link-up post with a bit about what we've been doing that week in the intro. It just depends on how long my post is. :P We were pretty busy outdoors last week, so this inaugural post gets its own separate page!
             Hey folks! I have to admit that other than the chickens, we have TOTALLY been slacking on all the homesteady type stuff we started this spring. We recently came across the Abundant Permaculture guy (Justin Rhodes on YouTube) and just watching his videos has given us the push and motivation we needed to take back our yard and gardens that we've been neglecting.
I can breathe!

             Despite our utter and complete neglect, we do have some plants that are actually growing and some that are even producing already! I got out a couple of days ago and freed our blueberry plants that actually made it. Unfortunately, we planted our berry bushes too early and the raspberries didn't make it. However, we have a TON of wild black raspberry bushes growing all over the place, so we're pretty set on those anyways. Also, I'm not gonna lie: I completely forgot we planted a grapevine too until hubby pointed it out while I was weed eating.

            Speaking of those black raspberries, check this out. This is just from going out and picking the easy-to-get-to ones several evenings. There are easily 2-3x this many in hard to reach places! Myka and John have actually been picking the majority of them, so I hope to get out there more myself and try to sell some!

            We've had a crazy amount of chamomile too. It's right next to the back walkway, so I've been better about keeping up with harvesting it. We've got a buttload already drying, so I can't wait to make some tea with it! I'm not sure how long it keeps flowering, but if I get much more I might try to sell some of it too. I let a lot of them go to seed, so I'm hoping even more grows back!

            So, what else is growing? The peas seem to be doing well despite not weeding the garden AT ALL since we planted everything. Seriously. It's super sad and I'm hoping to get around to weeding some more in the next few days when/if it's not raining. We also have onions, carrots, tomatoes, and green beans. Some pumpkins (that the damn chickens didn't get to!) are starting to flower and produce and some of the corn seems to be growing decently for now too.

            Are you sick of my chicken obsession yet? I hope not, because again, no homesteading update would be complete without them! So, this first picture above...Yah. The struggle is real. The chickens have officially taken over the poor cats' area. I'm glad they're not afraid of us or the cats, but between the chicken crap all over the walkway and them ravenously trying to eat the cats' food, it's gotten out of hand. I had to start putting the food bowls in the window sill and a few of the cheakier ladies will still get up there and eat it. (I'm especially talking to you, Gladyss!) Oh. And on top of that they come through and trample all of my chamomile plants and eat the flowers off the pumpkin plants. Sigh...

             These are the Three Amigos. (The two big ones are Brahmas and the other is an Easter Egger.) To be honest, they are my least favorite of all of our chickens because they're the most skittish (which is obviously our fault, for the most part) and they're kind of a-holes. The Easter Egger (Plucky) was picking on the bigger Easter-Egger (Yasmine) for awhile, which isn't cool because she has messed up toes and doesn't like to get around much unless she has to. All three of them come and eat the little ones chicken food as soon as I fill it, which drives me nuts. (The crumbles are supposed to be for the five little ones and the pellets for all the others.)

 Isn't she cute? “Whatcha doin'?”

             I've not given the five little chickies much love besides the super fluffy bantam Silkie I call “Don” on Instagram, so here's a few pics of the others. We somehow have three names for the gray one on top: Lil Chicky (I know. Real creative on my part, huh?), Gandalf, and The Hamburglar. (John came up with the last two. Hamburglar because it's a Silver Hamburg. Hardy har.) She's my new favorite and I've been calling her Gandalf more and more, so female chicken Gandalf it is.

             Live I've said before, I just love watching the Easter Eggers change colors and patterns as they grow. It looks like our two littlest ones are going to be the darker colored variety instead of light like the older two. (Yasmine and Plucky. ;) ) I decided to call this one Amber since she has a lot of dark coloring on her chest. I still need a name for the other Silkie bantam and Easter Egger. Let me know your suggestions in the comments below! I'm obviously open to ridiculous names! (Have I mentioned one of the Australorps is named Australorpennegger?)

            Guess what this stuff is for! I was recently looking into “chicken tractors”. (A caged in area for chickens to clear land.) However, I came across a message board and learned that this can be both detrimental to the land and the chickens, but that pigs are much better at this without affecting their nutrition and the nutrients in the soil. So, we did some more research on using pigs for clearing land and we're deciding to go for it! Since I had some extra money from a sponsored post last month and a lot of the items we need for fencing were on sale at, you guessed it, Rural King, we went ahead and bought all of the supplies we should need for portable, electric fencing.
            We think one pig will be sufficient for our needs, even though there are several areas we'd like to get cleared before next spring planting. Oh. You might be wondering, “Why don't you just till the land you need for planting?” We still don't have a tiller and quite frankly, I can't see us being able to afford one any time soon. Even including the fencing, the cost of purchasing the pig, and having to fix up the old hog shed (which should be free or close to it since we have lots of extra wood and tools), it will still be significantly cheaper to keep a pig than buy a tiller. Like, a fourth of the cost, in fact. Especially since we're cheap and we're making our own fence instead of purchasing one of the pre-made portable electric fences. (Although that might be nice to have in the future!) Maybe I'll do a cost breakdown of that soon too!
            Well, I think that about wraps things up for this time. I could go on about the pigs, but this post is already running long. ;) Until next time...

Fun fact: That pile of dirt that shovel is in? That's where our massive, volunteer pumpkin vine is growing!
Click the image above to head to the link-up!

Our Simple Homestead Blog Hop
Thinking Outside The Pot


  1. I am so jealous about the black raspberries. If I was nearby, I would buy them from you!!! Thanks for sharing at the Family Joy Linkup! Hope to see you again next Sunday!

    1. I'm hoping to sell some next year! The blackberries should be coming on strong soon...but I tried a few and didn't like them. :/ I did make some pancakes with the black raspberries earlier this week and they were SO. GOOD.

  2. Thank you for linking up with us at Family Joy Blog Link Up Party!

  3. It is amazing to see what good a little old fashioned work will do. A lot of work even goes further.

    1. We don't have a lot of money for fancy machinery, so we're all about old-fashioned work around here. ;)