I’d like you to please read the following in a sing-song voice: “It’s giveaway tiiiime!” Why a giveaway? Because I want to celebrate with all of you out there who have taken the time to read our blog. I know that a lot of you are family or old friends, but then there are those of you whom I’ve never met in person, and apparently you enjoy following our journey. To all of you, please let me offer you a deep, heartfelt “THANK YOU!” Knowing that you are reading helps make this more enjoyable for me 🙂 June is coming to a close and once again, I find myself wondering where the time has gone. Before I get to the fun part, I need to journal what we’ve been doing the past two weeks, because after all, that’s why I write this blog in the first place!
It seemed as though it took forever, but the gardens are all finally planted! Yippee! The final seeds went into the ground about 2 weeks later than I had wanted, but everything has sprouted, and I think we’ll be just fine. I could list all of the things we planted, but maybe that should be a post unto itself. (It’s a long list, and I think the question to ask is “what didn’t you plant?”) I did do a pumpkin patch this year, though we planted it in the Pie Field this year instead of the field we used last year. That’s going to be beautiful in the morning as the sun shines on the pumpkins and the fog is rolling through the field. It hasn’t even happen yet, but I know it will be G.O.R.G.E.O.U.S!
I think the one food that I am most excited about growing this year is popcorn. I know, it’s a silly thing to get excited about, but I am! And we were able to get gardens planted for the three older kids this year. I did not fail them 🙂 They were just checking on the garden beds on Saturday and were pleased to see their plants beginning to sprout. Can I just say “Thank you” to all of the sweet people who gave us plants this year? You are so sweet, and we are very grateful for your kindness.
What can I say about the chickens…It’s been a tumultuous season. If you weren’t aware, I am not in the least bit fond of raccoons. They are nasty and vicious. I don’t care how cute they appear, they are little fluffy monsters. We’ve lost quite a few of our egg layers this year, and we’ve even lost both of our roosters this year. I’m fairly certain that a couple of our chickens were taken by hawks, but the rest I know to have been attacked by raccoons. After last year’s debacle, we’ve been on guard, but they’ve become even more daring this year. Grrrr!
So yes, we are down multiple egg layers. Of the original 50 Cornish Cross we ordered, we lost 16 to those darn raccoons. We’ve been fine as of late, and I think the issue we now have to watch for is health issues with that batch. As of right now, we still have all 50 of the second batch of Cornish Cross. They are just 1 1/2 weeks old, but boy do they grow fast!
But there’s more. Pumpkin and Peanut decided that they would like to raise chickens as well because they would like to sell the eggs. Scott and I were on board with this plan, so we talked to the boys about what kind of chickens they would like to have. Pumpkin just wanted chickens that lay brown eggs, and Peanut wanted ones that lay blue eggs. (Blue is his favorite color, after all.) Pumpkin’s were going to have to be ordered, and we found a possible connection for Peanut’s that would get us his chicks for free. Well, Pumpkin got into a bit of trouble with us, and we had to decide that he’s going to have to wait until next year to be a chicken owner. This year he will help me…all of the work, none of the reward (money from egg sales).
All was going well…I had already ordered Pumpkin’s chicks when that “incident” happened, so I was going to keep those chicks instead, unless the free chicks for Peanut ended up falling through. We ran into a few hiccups. We still haven’t heard word on those free chicks, so that may not happen. No big deal, right? He can just raise the ones that Pumpkin was going to raise and he’ll get brown eggs instead of blue/green ones. Well, it is a big deal, because the kids didn’t close up the brooder properly and a raccoon got into the room where we keep them and ATE THEM ALL! Thankfully I was the one who figured that one out not them. So I cleaned up the brooder, fixed the lid, banned the kids from the coop without adult accompaniment, and we took off for The Country Store where we got another batch of slightly older chicks. The silver lining to this whole situation is that we were able to buy 5 Ameracauna chicks, so he’s still going to get his blue/green eggs!
Now we just have to do some work to secure everything even more than before, and stay on high alert.
I feel quite certain that we cannot be the only homesteaders who feel as though they are battling a constant battle with stuff. Even if you live very simply, this time of year leads to lots of extra work and projects. More work and projects equates to more things to clean. We moved into a place that came with a decent deal of “stuff” that is practical and useful. We moved here BRINGING a lot of things that are practical and useful. And then through a friend, we acquired more stuff that is practical and useful. But getting it all cleaned up and organized has been a slow, slow process.
Last summer, I began to clean and purge the garden shed. The chicken coop is actually divided into two parts. One half houses chickens and the other half is a garden shed. The garden shed is now almost completely clean! I have two things left to do in there. 1) Clean up the fencing. And 2) get rid of the “extra” tools we don’t need. After all, we don’t really need 5 hoes.
And there is outside stuff to clean. I have a couple of projects that need to be wrapped up, but I worked on things that have been sitting even longer. There was the apple wood from pruning trees that needed to be cut and stacked (hopefully for smoking/cooking meat), and there was a fire pit that we put up last fall on the back of the property that was a one-time use thing. I had to clean out the pit and remove the boarder from it. I also went to gather rocks from the old fence line to use as a boarder for the new fire pit that we are putting in in the center of the Pie Field. (I really need to write a post just about that…) There is just always something to be cleaned up outdoors…maybe it’s mowing the lawn or pruning trees, pulling weeds in the garden or picking up after the kids, but once it gets warm outside, we stay pretty busy outdoors.
We now have ducks! Two to be exact. A relative shared an ad for a homestead that is shutting down/moving, and they had a pair of breeding ducks for sale. One is a Pekin (also called a Peking) and the other a Rouen (Mallard). The woman I bought them from said they just hatched out 14 ducklings recently, so everything works with them 🙂 I’m not entirely sure what we’ll do with them, but I’ve always wanted to try duck eggs, and now we can, plus, if we should so choose, we can probably raise a flock for meat, and that might be interesting. (A cookbook like this might be something we have to invest in.) We purchased a little kiddie pool for them to swim in if their little hearts desire, though I haven’t seen them use it yet. And since they are mature, we already have our first eggs!
From what I’ve been reading, they can produce between 200-250 eggs per year and will continue to do so for anywhere from 5-9 years. Chickens may produce more eggs in their first year of life, but ducks will outproduce by far over time. I’m mostly just excited to try using duck eggs for my baking! And I may put them on bug duty in our veggie garden once we have the fencing up. Since they don’t scratch, they won’t cause mayhem in the same way a chicken will.
My nights have been a bit restless as of late, so I have been getting up out of bed to work on fixing the blog, but also to sew! I’m finally getting ready to quilt a quilt that I began over 4 years ago. FOUR YEARS. I think that’s a record for being slow to complete a project for me! I’ve also been working on odd sewing projects…fun things for me, fun things for you…
For those of you unfamiliar with my story, I have been sewing since I was about 4 years old, but very actively since I was about 8 or 10 years old. In the past two years, I have done far less sewing than I ever have before. It seems as though there just hasn’t been much time. I spent several years working for a seamstress in town, and eventually only doing alterations for others out of our home. But that got to be too much, what with the little kids and all of the other obligations, and to be truthful, alterations are just not very fun to me anymore. So over the past few months when I find a little spare time, I’ve been focusing on sewing just for fun. Because I want to, not because I need to. Man, I have really missed that! I am contemplating doing odd crafts here and there to put in the roadside stand or to have up for sale on Etsy or the blog. No taking orders, only selling things that have already been made. That would be really nice if I can do that!
But the reason that all of you are here in the first place is because I decided we should journal our journey and share all that we work on around here. I started this blog after some friends and family told me that I should really be writing about all of the stuff that I do. I think the first person to mention it to me was my cousin after she saw the built-in bookshelf that I built at our old house. After that, I started getting more and more people telling me the same thing, “You should write about that!” So I did, and here we are!
When Scott and I first discussed me starting a blog, the agreement was that I would start a blog that cost next to nothing to run. If it went well, we would switch things up and move to a set up that cost a bit more to run, but could potentially bring in enough money to at least cover the costs of running it. Maybe it could provide enough to provide a little extra to pay for some of the many projects that we’ve got going on around here, which would in turn, give us more to write about 🙂
So I’ve been spending time here and there over the past few months to make changes on our site…improving it for you! I still have a lot to work on. I’ve got a lot of pictures to add back in yet, but I think I’ve got my pictures back into about half of my posts. As frustrating as it is that I have to put them back into the blog, it is sort of a blessing in disguise, because now I can make a few changes to it all to get them to work better for you.
I also purchased a neck strap for the camera, because it can be kind of a pain to carry it around. I was looking for just about the cheapest ones I could find, and I’m happy with what I chose. I found this strap on Amazon, and the company that was selling it had a bunch of different pretty straps…for about $8! They were 49% off, so if you go looking at them, I can’t guarantee they’ll still be $8.
Writing and editing and updating the blog is not all I have been working on for the site. I’ve also been working on prizes for the giveaway! I thought it would be fun to celebrate a full year+ of writing, hard work on our homestead, summer, and our readers. I thought about what I could do to celebrate, and I decided on a giveaway with prizes that I made. After all, a huge portion of what I do and write about on here is making things, so why not let you be a part of it? And as I said before, I’ve been toying with the idea of having some homemade items to put for sale in the roadside stand once that is set up, and this would give me a good practice run…see if I enjoyed making the items, figure out what kind of time commitment it would take to do make this stuff, and to see what kinds of things appeal to you.
We have 4 prizes to give away! A pair of beautiful pillowcases (at least, I think they are beautiful!), two different but similar potholders, and a purse. To any guys out there reading this, I’m sorry I don’t have manly things to give away. We’ll do something that might be more exciting for you another time 🙂 In order to choose the winners of this giveaway, there is something you’ve got to do. We need you to leave your comments below! It’s the only requirement to enter the giveaway. You can earn more entries by completing the other tasks listed. A winner will be chosen on July 4th (Happy Birthday America!), and I will send out prizes after the contest has closed.
But the comments really need to be more than just “hi” or sad things like that 🙂 I want real responses from you! Leave a comment on here answering ALL of the following questions:
1. What is your favorite thing about our blog?
2. What is something you think I could improve on the blog?
3. What, if anything, has our blog inspired you to do?
4. And which prize is your favorite, and why?
It’s okay if you are new to the blog and just checking it out for the giveaway. Just say “I’m new here,” if you don’t have an answer. If you’ve been reading along, I expect real answers 🙂
The reason I am requiring comments from you in order for you to enter, is because your feedback is really important to keeping this blog running. I know that not everything I write about will interest you. I do not aim to please everybody, but I would like to make sure that I continue to share or teach and write about the things that we do that interest you the most. Make sure you fill out the entry form AND comment! If you don’t do both you won’t be entered! After you enter your name and email into the form, you need to click “begin” to submit your entry.
Thank you so much for being a part of our journey, for the positive feedback that you have given us, and for helping us to share our story with even more folks out there. You are a great bunch of people!