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!