Homesteading

What Day is it?

As usual, we’ve been pretty busy in recent weeks. I’ve had a few restful days, and I have needed every single moment of them. My thoughts have been deeply enmeshed in gardening, animals, and housework, to the point that I nearly forgot about three different scheduled events. I continually find myself thinking “What day is it?”

Since I last wrote, I built a rabbit hutch with a run for the kids’ rabbits. Adam’s bunny, Sonic made a surprise reappearance by the produce stand while I was working on building the new hutch, and thankfully, the kids were playing by the stand and noticed him! We set a live trap the next morning, and within 15 minutes, he was back where he belongs, safe and sound. I was honestly not expecting that after he was missing for a few days. An answered prayer, for certain!

The rabbit hutch took about two days to build. I spent quite a few hours on the whole set-up. I kept stalling on the project because I wasn’t working with a specific design plan. I couldn’t find anything that fit my needs online, so it ended up being a combination of designs. The kids love it, and I’ve gotten several compliments on how it looks, which kind of surprised me. We’re still going to paint it, probably the color of the house, with white trim. I want it to last a long time!

The whole thing ended up being a lot more expensive than I wanted it to be, though I was still able to do it on a relatively low budget, all things considered. We had some of the supplies, and thank heavens, Scott’s brother gave us a bunch of 1×4 boards last month. I had sticker shock when I went to the store to price out supplies. I ended up only purchasing fencing, screws, and the hardware needed to finish the structure. Oh, and a few wooden stakes that I used for part of the frame. The roofing was leftover from another project, and we got that from a friend.

The run has a hinged cover so the kids can go inside of it to clean it out or grab a bunny. We’re going to add some removeable dividers to the bottom so that we can keep them all separated, but they each have separate living quarters. And so far, they all seem happy. The bunnies were so cute their first day in the run. They were so playful, and they all sat up on their haunches at some point or another. Poppy is happy too, because she’s able to have a little more freedom again, though we do still need to keep an eye on her.

I’m not sure if I wrote down the wrong date, or if the person at the mill did, but we won’t be getting our turkeys until THIS Wednesday (tomorrow). We got set up for them two weeks ago, and we’re ready for when they arrive! And in two more weeks, the meat birds arrive. We’ve got to get the outdoor living spaces ready for the chicks we currently have, as they’ll get moved outside when the Cornish Cross arrive.

The wild turkey eggs that were dropped off a few weeks ago should be ready to hatch around the weekend. We’ve got to turn off the egg turner in the next couple of days, and then it’s a waiting game! We’ve never successfully hatched anything yet, so we’re really hoping this goes well. We candled one of the eggs last week, and everything appears to be growing well. I’ll keep you posted on that.

Bacon and Sausage are doing very well. They’re growing at an incredible pace these days! I think we’re to a point where we could very well be going through a bag of feed a week. We’re feeding them all of our kitchen scraps, and pretty soon, we’ll have garden leftovers to share with them, too. They still haven’t touched certain areas of the run, and we think it’s because it’s mostly thistle. Scott’s going to take the weed whacker through there soon, and then we’re hoping that they’ll root up the rest.

These little guys aren’t so little anymore! Bacon is getting pretty round, and he’s starting to become closer in size to sausage. She’s still noticeably longer, but what he lacks in torso length, he makes up for in width.

I’m not quite done with the Secret Garden project. I have one more huglekulture bed to finish burying, and then I need to replant as many of my strawberries as survived as possible. I have the flower beds all planted, but not the berry beds. I didn’t mean to take so long getting it done, but the main veggie garden is more pressing. I finished moving all of the rock a few days ago. I was dawdling to get that done, but it went pretty fast once I regained my ambition.

Overall, this garden season has been surprisingly easy on my body, but this last week was rough on me. My knees and elbows started to act up a little, but I’ve been doing my best to rest, drink plenty of fluids, and take the occasional bath with Epsom salt and baking soda, and that seems to be working out well for me. Well enough that I did a 8.5+ mile walk/run on Sunday! Of that trip, about 2 miles was running, but in bursts as my body could handle it in the heat.

I’m not totally sure what the cause of my joint pain is, though I have my suspicions. It’s the same thing I’ve dealt with in past years. Last year was pretty good, and though I had some swelling, I had minimal pain. So far this year, it seems to be minor pain with minimal swelling. I’m trying to find a happy balance of exercise and rest so that neither one thing causes more problems for me. We tried to figure out what the issue was a few years ago, and while I don’t have a diagnosis, we’re kind of thinking possibly rheumatoid arthritis.

Whatever it is, it’s definitely affected by diet and weather. Heat and humidity seem to aggravate it, as well as excessive use. All of which tend to be an issue this time of year. I ordered a new copy of The Whole 30 (I gave mine to somebody), and I’m thinking I will try doing that for a month to see if it helps bring down any inflammation. It definitely made a difference the last time I did it, and I really enjoyed a lot of the meals. I may end up using dairy though, as I know that’s not problematic for me like the other things you cut out can be.

But I digress. The heat has been pretty intense in recent days. We’ve had a lot of 80-90 degree weather the last few weeks, and this is after we just recently escaped the frost that could have wiped out the gardens. It’s been really dry, too. Thank goodness, I planted when I did, or I would have had to do a lot of watering right of the bat! We waited as long as we could to turn the AC on, but by this past Saturday, we cracked and had to turn it on. There was no way we’d have been able to sleep at night!

I can’t remember when exactly, but I helped Aaron plant his garden. Adam and Adeline ended up planting in the plowed field by some of the gardens other people planted. We still have half of the kids’ garden that can be planted, probably by Paul. I’d like to get that done this week. Everyone has plants coming up, and the kids are happy!

Aaron’s garden is in that awkward phase where you can’t weed much until the seeds start to germinate. I’m really hoping he has some success this year. So far, things seem to be off to a good start.

Last week, after we knew that we probably wouldn’t have anybody else planting a garden here, I used the double-wheeled hoe to clear up another area in the field to plant more food. I picked up extra seeds and planted a pretty intensive area. Beans, onion sets, carrots, garlic, spinach, tomatoes, rutabaga, kale, and maybe one or two other things got planted. I also threw in a bed of lettuce back behind the garage where we used to have our compost pile. Gardens everywhere! That’s the new MO.

It just looks like dry dirt right now, but I hope that soon it looks like another garden!

The tomatoes were all starts that we pulled out of our friends’ garden area. They planted a lot of tomatoes last year, and there were tons of volunteers. Hopefully, they’re mostly large tomatoes, good for gardening. I dug them up based on where they had different varieties planted last year. In fact, our friends had so many volunteers, that I probably dug up about 50 or more. Some were planted in the field by the barn, the res were put in the main garden because the seed I planted didn’t seem like it was going to do anything.

Everything but the herbs that I planted have come up from seed (with the exception of waiting on the area I planted last week). I’m thinking I’ll pick up a few starts when I do my shopping this weekend, and I should be able to propagate some of them to make sure I have plenty growing this year.

I’ve been spending my mornings weeding at watering this past week. I’m not watering everything, but if I weed a section and the plants seem like they need a boost, then I water that area. If I dig down in the soil, there’s very little moisture down in the top inch, and the soil was hot today.

I’m so grateful that I planned out the garden the way that I did. Weeding has been so much easier so far this year! All of the rows are able to fit the double-wheel hoe in between, and I can take the stirrup hoe through and do all of the cleanup weeding. The manure that we tilled in is making the soil very loose and workable, so weeds come out with ease. Wherever we didn’t get manure on, it’s much harder to hoe.

It didn’t take much for the rows between the garden beds to become grass again! The garden beds are starting to look like garden beds, though! Everything looks so sparse at first, and I always question if I planted things too far apart, but I know that in another month, this is going to be full and lush!

I’m still doing a lot of hand-weeding. You can only get so close to things before they’ve fully come up. The carrots and onions are fully visible now, so I have been able to start going through and cleaning up close to the plants. Once they are a little bigger, I’ll be able to get even closer with the stirrup hoe and keep the hand weeding to a minimum.

Scott has been working on a variety of things around here. He mowed all of the fields within the last two weeks. The goal is to let certain trees start to grow up to create a grazing pasture with shady spots in the one field. In the other, we’ll eventually plow more and we’ll plant perennial crops in some areas and annuals in others, and cutting the field every so often helps keep trees like box elder from growing and burdock from taking over until then.

He sprayed the fruit trees with neem oil last week. We were starting to see some bugs on the trees, and I hope it’s not too late. It looks like we have really good fruit set this year, and it would be such a shame if it was all wormy! He intended to spray before the blossoms opened, but I think we were just a little too busy to get that done.

Lots of fruit set, but we’ll have to wait until we see the June drop before we’ll really know what kind of harvest to expect.

Scott and the boys will be taking a trip with their dirt bikes soon, so he’s been busy getting different things prepared for that. They’re doing maintenance and repairs on as many vehicles as they can before they leave. The boys have been doing some online courses so that they can ride their bikes on the off-road trails.

Over the weekend, Scott helped a neighbor fill some of their raised garden beds using the new tractor, and last week, he took it over to my brother’s house and helped them take care of a few odd jobs around their place. He’s also been using it to take care of a few things around here too, but honestly, I’ve been a bit too distracted to remember what exactly for. I don’t think I’ve driven it in two weeks! My jobs haven’t required the use of it yet, but pretty soon when we have animals on pasture, we’ll be using the tractor to move those shelters around.

Saturday, Scott spent most of that blisteringly hot day working on projects around the yard. I, on the other hand, basically hid in the house all day. He’s working on getting the old green trailer converted into a mobile chicken coop. It’ll be different from the chicken tractors in that the it will be outside during the day, it will be fully sheltered (the chicken tractors have exposed sides), and there will be nesting boxes attached for egg collection. He made decent progress, got the roof framed, and started attaching the roofing material. I felt bad because I think he was looking for some design input from me, but I felt so terrible between the joint pain and the heat that all I wanted to do was go take a nap!

The future mobile chicken coop. I kinda love how it looks with the old paint. We might keep it like it is.

The grass we planted back where the debris from the old coop was has sprouted nicely, and soon that area will be able to be mowed. We still have to clear the scrap steel off the slab, but Scott is thinking about doing that this coming week when he has some time off.

Our friends’ garden is doing alright. Could be better, I suppose. But I wasn’t able to help them get it planted, and so I really wasn’t able to help them with any maintenance in the three weeks since they had planted. They came over the weekend to work on weeding, but then it was late in the day, and the sun was at a terrible angle for trying to see anything, and again, I couldn’t help them.

Yesterday, however, I was able to get out there and take a closer look, and it’s not as bleak as it seemed the other evening. Adeline helped me weed around the plants, enough so that they can see what they are looking for, and then we watered the things that looked a little rough. Hopefully, that’s enough until they can come to work on things again, so that they have an easier time working on the job of weeding. They may do some replanting this week for the things like corn that just didn’t do well for some reason.

My mom’s garden is doing really well. I think everything she planted has come up. I helper her plant, so it was a lot easier for me to help her identify her plants when she came over to weed last week. It should provide a nice variety of things for my parents to enjoy throughout the warmer weather!

I’m cautiously optimistic about this year’s pumpkin patch. I planted a decent amount, but far less than last year. The patch is closer to the main garden, which should make maintenance a little easier for me. All of the hills were made using manure and had bone meal mixed in, and I think everything is now up. I planted a large area of sweet corn in between hills, and that also seems to be coming up okay. And yesterday I planted black bean seeds next to the corn, so… weather permitting, I hope those come up alright!

It doesn’t look like much… it’s hard to tell what’s what, but there are hills of pumpkins growing in the dirt section. corn is growing in between the hills.

I still have several seed packets that I plan on planting throughout the season. I’ve never planted quite so much, but it feels like the right thing to do. I don’t feel overwhelmed by the idea, I don’t feel like I’m setting myself up for failure…. I feel like it’s going to come out well in the end. I hope so, anyway!

The kids are doing well. They’re still enjoying their animals and being responsible, so we’re off to a good start there. We’ve been casual about book work, but they’ve been getting plenty of useful education in other ways the last few weeks. Gideon is talking more now than ever, which has been incredibly helpful, because it means less temper tantrums. Paul and Elijah are still getting into mischief, but it seems like it’s at a slower pace. Aaron is still doing odd jobs, and Adam and Adeline have actually been helping me quite a bit with things as I need the help. Scott has been using most of his free time to work outdoors on whatever needs to be done. Praise the Lord, his allergies were not as terrible this year as they have been some other years. He has been able to get more done this spring than probably all of the years we’ve lived here so far!

The kids spend a lot of time playing in this corner of the yard… their gardens are here, and now the rabbits are, too!

I’ve been walking daily for months now, and I’m still sticking with as much of my strength training routine as possible (which I think has been a huge help this year with the joint issues). Gradually, slowly, little by little, the weight I put on over the past year has been coming off. I’m almost back down to my low from last year, and I hope I can take off the rest of this weight by the end of summer if I keep up the work and change those eating habits. I have been thoroughly enjoying watching the sun rise in the mornings. I’ve never been up early enough to consistently be able to do that! And as we’re seeing no end in sight to this hot weather, I’m planning on trying to use my afternoons to be as productive in the house as possible. We need to do more deep cleaning (again), and I’d really like to start working on some projects for the produce stand.

It’s looking like the next couple of weeks will be even more causal than these last two weeks, hopefully with a little more time for summertime fun! There will be plenty of weeding and watering, feeding of animals, and yardwork, building projects too, but the deadlines slip away after awhile, and we get “a break” until harvest time is in full swing. We definitely have some beach weather on our hands, and we’d like to spend time with cousins while they’re off from school for the summer.

Well, that’s enough writing. I have more work to do! I hope you are doing well!

Love and Blessings~ Danielle

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