Homestead Ambitions

So after my whole Going Green post, you’re probably thinking I’m starting to go off the deep end. Well, I am, and I’m loving it! We recently filed for our Homestead paperwork, which in theory means our home can’t be seized as its our primary residence, but I’m taking it one step farther. I want a legitimate homestead. Where we produce our own food and raise animals. I need to finally learn the mysterious arts of not only keeping plants and animals alive, but knowing how to help them thrive.

Do you remember the Saltbox Coop, Run, and Planter I shared last week? Well, we have some updates! First up…

We have chickens! We picked up three pullets. There’s a Rhode Island Red, a Leghorn, and an Americauna. We also bought a full grown hen that just started laying this week. She even gave us our very first egg today! I’m so excited. It’s a mystery brown breed, and she’s pretty friendly. Our dogs are really interested in them, my Boxer Rory sits and watches them all day. We’re taking it slow and keeping them penned in the coop and run for now until we can be sure there won’t be any problems. Even so, we plan to partition the yard so our dogs can’t access them when I want to let them run free in the afternoons.

As this is a portable coop we intend to move often, we didn’t bury the wire or add a bottom. So to keep the predators from digging under, we are surrounding the base with heavy native rocks. We also added a hinged door at the coop, which still needs a sturdy latch to keep any critters from getting in. I’m also making a canvas cover today for the wire gate that can roll up when it’s hot out and roll down securely when its windy or rainy weather.

I need to pick up some shavings today to replace the hay we spread as a temporary bedding cover. Jacob also whipped up a quick ladder, which is attached with hinges to the base of the coop.

The feeder also needs to be hung. But we’re getting there. So far they all seem happy enough, I’m surprised our brown started laying so soon! I expected her to take a few days to get acclimated with her new surroundings and not be stressed by over-eager canines. So far, so good! In other springtime good news…

The coop cukes are sprouting! Before I know it we’ll be stapling up wire for the trellis and thinning out the plants. I am so excited to watch them grow! Charlie is having a ball seeing it all in action. She loves checking on the chickens several times a day, and likes to poke through the dirt to find new sprouts. I’m so grateful we’re getting the chance to raise her around so much nature. I really hope to instill a love of gardening and food harvesting in her while nourishing my own burgeoning passion as well.

Oh, and did I mention we built raised beds along the south west side of the house? They get loads of light, and the seeds are already sprouting up, just over a week after planting. We’re growing some herbs, beans, okra, onions, peppers, tomatoes, carrots, broccoli, strawberries, watermelon, cantaloupe, squash, zucchini, cowpeas, and cucumbers. Talk about an ambitious start, right?! I also picked up a Mexican lime tree, a Satsuma, and some white grapes. We’re hoping to add even more as we go. A great guide so far has been the Backyard Homestead book, which shows you how to start living sustainably on a half acre, which is about the size of our yard. Which is also starting to make some progress.

My dad helped install the reclaimed iron gate, and we’re going to sub out that bar at the top for an arched trellis to grow our grapes. I think we’ll train other berries along the front section of that fence as well to hide the metal post braces. And those rocks? You would think we spent a pretty penny on landscape rocks. But that’s only about half of what was dug up when our septic tank was installed! Gotta love Central Texas for our rock supply 😉 I asked my neighbor to move them with the Bobcat (a small riding construction mover thing – my brain is blipping out on this one) and he piled them in place. We spent last weekend moving them into the shape we wanted and flattening out the slope. The plan is to move some gravel leftover from the house construction and build up the slope so it runs down away from the foundation and creates a smoother appearance. Because right now, our trough planters are having a rough time on the uneven surface! Oh, and we also got started on our rock path. We’re using leftover rock from the exterior and packing in some red granite gravel my dad has a random pile of on the property. Savings and repurposing! Gotta love it.

To the right of the front porch we have an old cauldron from my husband’s grandmother’s house. Her husband used to work at DOW and this was an old smelting pot. This is where I hope the strawberries will sprout. I may have to move them into a shallow wagon once they sprout, I’m not sure if this was the best container choice.

To the left we have our first trough, and my set of succulents. I’m not sure what happened to my once-thriving aloe vera. I moved it here because I thought it wasn’t getting enough sun, now maybe its getting too much rain? We’re having a very rainy spring, but the summers are typically very dry. If this is any indication of my green/black thumb, this year may not be as productive as I’d hoped!

 

And despite Rory finding the trough to be a toasty resting place (see all the dirt she pushed out?!), I’ve kicked her out and the zucchini and squash have started sprouting.

Anyway, that’s it for my homesteading rambling! I’m sure we’ll make more progress as the summer progresses, and I’ll be sure to share any good tips or tricks we learn along the way. And please feel free to share your knowledge! We’re total newbies to gardening and husbandry, so we will take what we can get!

 




18 thoughts on “Homestead Ambitions

    1. She’s actually very gentle with them, and a bit cautions around them. So far she pats them with a finger or two and squeals. She prefers to just sit near them and look!

  1. This. Is. Awesome. And so awesome that Charlie gets to grow up around this! My grandma had a huge property and, while she didn’t do much hardcore gardening besides some annual flowers and tomato plants, I love that I got to grow up running around outside and playing in the dirt and tossing around a baseball and exploring. So much better than sitting inside watching TV all day.

    1. Sounds like good memories. I need to do more outside with her, right now I’m finally getting a bit more energetic as I enter the second trimester. Plus with the warmer weather it’s enjoyable to be out. Even moreso now that we can check on cute chickens and watch the plants progress.

  2. Very nice!! That pot seems perfect for strawberries. They don’t need a lot of space and their roots are fairly shallow — I’ve been growing them in a similar size pot for years and they do really well.

    1. Thank you for the tips Elaine! I’m slightly concerned since this was used for chemicals/metals, but I’m thinking over 60 years of use as a planter may have filtered them out enough. That’s why I voted for a shallow root plant instead of say, carrots or potatoes.

  3. OK so now we all know where to go when North Korea starts a war with us on Wednesday…..Good luck with the adventure….

    1. Well thanks Maddie! I feel far from anyone’s hero, let’s just hope I can keep everything alive for now 😉

    1. Thank you Jane! I’ll find it a sunny spot on the porch, and find a better container with more drainage

  4. Ahh! You have a Beyonce chicken!
    Ahem, anyway… how much land do you have? You’re well on your way to having a backyard homestead! And my aloe plant was looking like that until I brought it inside. It didn’t like so much sun. After I brought it in it perked right back up.

    1. I do have a Beyonce chicken! We have 5 acres and fenced in a quarter acre. It sits on a total of 60 acres that belong to my parents and a family friend, so we hope to eventually add in our own livestock to their small herd. Maybe a steer or two, a pig, some sheep. Who knows! I’ll be sure to try the plant inside. It definitely isn’t looking happy out there

      1. Oh, I’m so jealous! We have three acres, so we have to be pretty creative with how we use it, be the plan is still to raise/grow as much of our own food as possible, including chickens and turkeys this year, then a dairy cow and goats next year.

    2. Re: the aloe … they grow without any problem outdoors in Southern California, planted in the ground. It is possible that they could get too much sun, but only in the hottest times of year, I would think. They would also be a little frost-sensitive, I’m guessing. Okay … just looked this up on the Gardening Channel website: “Aloe Vera plants are semi-tropical plants and can only be planted outside in areas of the country where there is no threat of frost, or in USDA zones 10-11. If you live in an area in this zone, place your Aloe Vera plant in full sun or light shade. It will need to be placed in soil that drains well. If you live in a cooler area, you can still place your Aloe Vera plant outside during the warm summer months. It will need full sun and semi-frequent watering. You can let the soil dry out completely between watering.”

  5. I love all that you have done! Amazing! With the trough planters did you drill holes in the bottom for drainage? I like how they look and am thinking about trying it out, so I am curious.

  6. Aaaand that is called walking the walk. Amazing. Out here there is so much talk about all of these concepts, but it’s mostly talk that goes as far as what people put in their shopping carts, or order at restaurants. And then I click over and see you enacting these principles of sustainability and whatnot and it’s just totally awesome.

    1. Well thank you Ellie, it’s definitely not the easiest or most convenient lifestyle, but it speaks to me. Hopefully I’ll inspire more people to make big changes too!

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