Monday, July 28, 2014

Chicken Harvest

Our roosters getting some fresh air and relaxation before the end...
Farewell, Gussie, Kung Pao, & Hot Wings! We'll miss your lovely crowing!
(though I don't think our neighbor will)

I really never felt this day would come, but it finally did! We had four roosters and only needed one. So, with the help of a lady down the road with a large flock of chickens herself, we killed and processed our extra three roosters.

Wow! What an experience!

I did feel a little trepidation since it was my first time. I thought a lot about what we were about to do and wondered how I would feel. Doing away with them humanely was not as hard as I thought it would be, but I did feel a great feeling of gratitude and some sadness that they were giving their lives to feed our bellies. I also thought that it was the way of life and I felt honored to finally be apart of it in such a personal way. I love knowing where the chickens lived and what they ate - because we fed them ourselves! They were happy roosters too. 

I helped pluck feathers and clean out one of them. It was good learning what it took to get a chicken ready to eat. We even had to chill them in the fridge and wait a few days before we could eat them which I didn't realize. If we decide to get into meat birds, I now know what that would all entail!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

It's Been Awhile...

Oh, dear! It's been awhile hasn't it? I've taken a long break from my homesteading blog to nurture my history blog. Lately, though I've been wanting to post things about our homeschooling, gardening, and other such things. So I thought it might be nice to post here again now and then.

Some exciting homesteading updates - we finally got chickens! Out of 12 chicks we ended up with 4 roosters and 8 hens. Right now we're trying to figure out where to send our roosters because our neighbors have late hours and I don't blame them for not wanting an alarm clock at 5:30 am!

I've expanded my garden to 3 raised beds, put in asparagus, some thornless raspberries, and planted a fig tree. It's already got a dozen little figs growing and I'm so excited! The deer have left it alone too, which is a miracle. I even got some rhubarb to grow by accident. I quite gave up on it last year and I thought I planted the dead plant in the fall in my garden, but this spring my husband found a rhubarb plant in the compost and I have NO idea how it got there! Happy day, though! I've had a heck of a time getting rhubarb to grow.

We're also in the midst of some big home improvement projects. As we've stripped away the layers of time, it's been interesting to see the original beams and methods of construction in our 1900s house. It's slow going, but we're excited about getting the house closer to the way we want it.

Also, while we were in northern Montana for vacation I did a little photo shoot of farm equipment. It sounds a bit funny, but I love the look of industrial mixed with other things like nature.

I'm busy planning for our next year of homeschooling and I'm excited! We're studying American history with an emphasis on technology. Some field trip highlights: Robert Fulton's birthplace (invented the first working, practical steam boat) and the Daniel Boone Homestead with a functioning, original saw mill - both in Pennsylvania. We're also studying Physics this year with a fun trip to the Maryland Science Center for their homeschool week. Lots of fun planned for this year!

Well, that's a pretty good update. Happy Summer!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Get Into The Garden


I've had to trick myself into going into the garden. Last year, after moving into our new house in May, we rushed to get the garden plowed up and planted. And then I just let it do its thing. What I discovered, however, is that you can never just sit and let a garden "do its thing". If you do, without even realizing the weeds take over practically overnight, your tomato plants grow exponentially before you have a chance to pinch off any suckers, and your squash plants take over everything until you can't find where your pepper plants were. Let's just say my gardening plan was majorly flawed.

This year we're trying a different tactic. I changed my garden to raised beds using the plot markers, put down newspaper and a bunch of mulch and the biggest key: I told myself I had to spend at least 5 minutes gardening a day - I would not only be taking care of my garden, but I would also receive much needed exercise and therapeutic relaxation at the same time!

The amazing thing about the 5 minute promise to myself is that I rarely only spend 5 minutes. Most days I spend a lot longer digging, weeding, pruning, etc. But if I told myself I had to work at least 15 minutes, I don't know if I would feel as motivated to get out there, especially if the day was hot. 5 minutes though - I can do that!

So far, this method has been working great. Minus days that it's raining, I have been outside gardening way more than I was last year. Some days I get a lot done, other days I don't. But the point is that little by little I'm making progress and keeping tabs on what's going on with our property. One day I just spent hacking at an ugly bush by our front porch. Another day I dug up a miniscule part of our heavy infestation of daffodil bulbs and planted some along the front of our property by the street. (That was way more work!) Sometimes it's hard to grasp that little tiny efforts along the way add up in the end. The nice thing with gardening is that you can actually see the fruits of your labor fairly quickly. If you don't do anything, though, the weeds will let you know - that's for sure!
Raised beds using plot markers.

A massive carpet of daffodils. It's ridiculous.
The cute fuzzy little caterpillars (tent worms) that I suspect are responsible for deflowering our entire pear tree and some of our currant bush. Arrrrh!!! We definitely need chickens!
A pretty iris - this is the only one of this color on our property. 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Spring is Here

Spring arrived on our little homestead a few weeks early! Well, ever since January, the stubborn spring flowers have been coming up. We even had violets spring up in the beginning of February! So, to say our winter has been on the mild side would be an understatement.

Here are some pictures of our early bloomers plus a couple cute birds visiting our bird feeder:

Sweet little guy!

White Crocus
The first flower to appear (not counting the very early violets)
There are some purple ones blooming now!

Another bird visitor

My red currant is showing buds! Yay!

Daffodils growing like crazy in our yard.
Why the previous owner planted them here is beyond me!

A bulb I planted back in October. I can't remember what it is.

Daffodils!
(There are plenty)

Budding Bartlett pear tree

The strawberries are growing too!

We've had two snow storms since they've starting growing and budding, but it doesn't seem to phase them too much. Now I really need to get going on planning our garden and starting some seeds!

Happy Early Spring!

Monday, March 4, 2013

An Owl Visitor

A beautiful barred owl 

Look who came to visit us the other day! There were actually two in the trees, but we didn't see the other one until they both flew away. And then just a few nights ago I was loading my daughter up into our car. It was dark out and I heard 3-4 owls hooting loudly to each other in our trees. We hear them fairly often from a distance, but when they're in our treeline by our yard, they are loud! It was so cool! It was too bad it was so dark, because that would have been neat to see.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Dyeing Mishap

Today I was dyeing my daughter's white comfort blanket a nice shade of blue. I sewed a bunch of her baby burp rags together into a large blanket, and even though she's 3, she still loves snuggling with those burp rags! Well, I didn't want 8+ years of stains showing (I used them for my son as well who is now 6), so dyeing was the obvious solution.

I put on my rubber cleaning gloves and was squishing the fabric in the dyeing water for about 10 minutes before I had to take my gloves off to do something. Little did I know that one of the fingers had a tiny slit in it and...

Yikes!
Of course it had to be my middle finger that was dyed! I don't really want any attention to be drawn to my middle finger, especially because I'm not the sort of person that just flips people off, you know?!

Next time, a thorough inspection of my gloves will be done before I start dyeing.

Sheesh!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

From Pallets to Chicken Coop

Our own homegrown eggs are so close!!!

My husband and I are preparing for the project I've been waiting for most of my life: building a chicken coop to house some chickens! We got this great idea from Mother Earth News for building a chicken coop out of wood pallets. You can usually get wood pallets for free and we're lucky in that our neighbor occasionally ends up with pallets in relation to his job and doesn't know what to do with them. Now that he knows we're collecting them, he just brings them on over! Sweet!

Well, we only have 2 pallets so far, so it's going a bit slow. I guess that's okay though. The wood is free! Sometimes "free" takes time. :-)

I am so thrilled to finally be able to seriously think about chickens! It's always been so far in the distance that I haven't even settled on what breeds I want or how many. I'll need to bust out my chicken book and get studying.!
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