Monday, April 28, 2014

New on the Homestead

Moving from our 10 acre farm a year and a half ago, I wasn't sure we were going to be able to have another homestead. When we moved to this one acre plot, I was almost positive that a homestead wasn't going to happen. But then I changed my thinking, and started to plan out how we could convert this 'lot' to a homestead... And this last few weeks has been that change that I have been imagining!

In the last 2 weeks, we have done 'homesteading on the cheap'. We have got free mulch from our county compost site, and free rocks for landscaping from the farmer whose field is right behind our house. We are going this week or next to get some free hostas and ornamental grasses from a friend who wanted to split theirs up... 

This weekend, we got our 5 chickens! We paid a little more to get ones that are ready to lay. So in about 2-3 weeks, we should start getting fresh eggs!!! 

My strawberry patch was getting run over by our dog, so I took some extra chicken fencing and set it up around the strawberries, and our dog seems to be respecting that perimeter... Thanks goodness, because I think I am starting to see some growth on some of the plants.

I still haven't planted my peach tree in our new orchard area, it's been getting in the 30's at night and I don't want to freeze off any buds. Looks like maybe tonight will be the last of the 30 degree temps and it should stay above the 40's... 

Yesterday, as part of homesteading on the cheap, I had bought 3 packets of seeds: Shasta daisies (my favorite flower), coneflowers (echinacea), and lavender (called true lavender). I took some old milk/ water jugs and some potting soil that we had from last year, and I planted a bunch! I put them in a big window in the basement where they can keep warm and get plenty of light.  

What's next? Well, we bought a pretty large bit of (used) treated lumber from a family member that was getting rid their decking. It was super cheap for the amount that we got!  We will be using that to make a deck safer to be on. When we bought this house, the deck didn't look safe. A year and a half later, it still looks the same, but now we can do something about it!!

I am also going to be planting the garden in the next 2 weeks. By then, it should be safe to plant. I'm excited about having a garden again!

Well, while today is cold, rainy, and windy, I figured I could get a bit of blogging done... Hope you all are getting a bunch done on your homesteads also!! 

King of the goat hut!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Strawberry Plants in the Ground- More Work Today!

What an incredible blessing Springtime can be! I absolutely love when the grass starts to green and the trees start to bud out... Fall used to be my favorite, hands down, but Spring has tied for the lead. I love how everything can go from being "dead" to alive again and thriving! Such a blessing and a reminder of new life!

On Friday, we got a new garden plot tilled, and right away I planted some June-bearing strawberry plants. 30 total. We don't have a fence up yet, so I am hoping our dog doesn't plow through them too much until then. 

Today, we have already been working on my new orchard area and garden! I'm so excited. My husband is getting loads of free mulch from our county compost site, and I have been busy spreading cardboard boxes on the ground so grass doesn't pop up too bad in the mulch. I am also spreading mulch in my garden! For questions about why I would do that, you can do a search on Eden Gardening. Very good free info on the web. I'm hoping this will work out for us!!

I have to go for now. Hubby should be here anytime now with another load!! I will post pictures soon of our progress!

Boys helped plant strawberries!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Don't Just Throw Away Those Food Boxes!

I was just talking to my sister about one way of saving money which I will share with you another day, but that got my mind going on how we save money in other ways.

Yesterday here in Indiana, it was 72 degrees!! Woohoo!! But today temps are dropping all day and we have chances of snow this evening!! Ugh!  So as temps are dropping, I am starting a fire in our fireplace, and am reminded of yet another way we save money!

It's not a lot of money, but it is also using things we have on hand instead of buying.

We use cereal/ food boxes to start our fires!

When we get another box empty, we take the box and rip it into strips or pieces. You could then store them in a cute container or basket close to you stove, and have free fire starter! And unlike other fire starters I've tried, this takes a lot less work!

Even though it's getting warm here, we will continue to use this for our campfires!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Homesteading on Whatever Size Land That You Have...

I read a great article a few weeks ago, and it captures the very thoughts that I had this winter when I started thinking how much I missed having 10 acres and a mini farm...  While I was feeling sorry for myself (boo hoo!), I started to remember how I need to be thankful for what God has given us, and to bloom where we are planted. We need to bloom on this one acre that God has blessed us with.  It may not be ideal to us, but it is the perfect place for my family, right now.  Check out this great article, and don't forget God put you where you are right now, in His perfect timing. It may not be our ideal place, but it was given to us so we could learn and bloom...

Thursday, April 10, 2014

So Much Happening- Spring on our Homestead (FINALLY!!!)

Well, at the end of March we have several birthdays in our family (3 in house alone!).  So making each day special takes time. Then parties for 2 sides of the family (families are too big to combine!), makes for a crazy few weeks!

BUT, I am sooooo excited because Spring has rolled into my part of the country!  And since last weekend, it seems like we have been working on making our new little plot of land a homestead. though it may be small, I think we will be able to accomplish much on it!

Last weekend, we went and got our beehives. We moved 2 years ago in June from our old house. When we moved, we didn't have a 'home' yet, so couldn't take things like our beehives with us. So, I'd say for over 2 years, we let our hives (2 out of 3 had bees in them) fend for themselves. Not because we didn't care about the hives but because all the moving and the chaos of finding a home was too much. Bees CAN be petty self sufficient too, if they aren't getting what they need, they will swarm and move on. Which is what we figured our hives would have done. 

When we got there last weekend, what we found surprised us. There was actually an active hive! After the crazy hard winter we had here in Indiana, we never expected there to be a hive that lasted. But there was. And we couldn't be more happy!!  But this added to the complication of moving the hive! In the end, we got the bees all tucked away and we carried the hive through a muddy field, about 2-300 feet to our trailer.  We loaded them up and took them to their new home.

When we got here, we unloaded the live hive and prayed that they would make it ok.  The next day, my husband (still concerned over the moving of the bees) check on them.  He found a lot of dead bees in the bottom of the hive (which can happen) but he also found a large bee, which unfortunately could be the queen. 

We are pretty sure that it's too late for us to buy new bee packs for the hives by now, so we are going to sit it out and pray that the hive can replace the queen on their own. Which if they are as strong a colony as we think they are, they should be able to do it, no problem.  As of last night, the bees are traveling around they found one of the other hives and the honey that was left in it, and were getting that honey. I've even found one honey bee on the outside of my kitchen screen giving himself a bath. There a lake across the road from us that I'm SURE that our bees are now enjoying. 

I'm just so happy that they made it. We will continue to monitor their well being over the next weeks and months. And I will share here.

Being Spring, we also got our chicken coop cleaned out (ready for our new chickens on April 26th!!), and built our goat pen for the boys' 4H goats. We aren't technically allowed according to the old record on the property to have goats, but none of our neighbors mind, and that's the big thing. Plus it's a temporary arrangement, and though I wish we could have goats permanently again, we have to abide by the rules.

Tomorrow, the boys are going to help a neighbor lady by cutting down a few trees that she wants out of her yard, and she is letting us keep the wood! Great thing is she is right across the road. So free wood, and it only needs to be hauled 30 feet or so. It feels good to be stocking up for next winter already.  

While my boys work on wood, I will be making trips to our county compost site and getting free mulch! We need lots of it.  I am going to be making a few planting beds around our one acre and I'm also going to start a new garden plot.  I am going to use mulch in the garden. Watch Back to Eden gardening. It's a new, old approach to gardening... This will be my first year trying it, but I'm excited. We sold out big honking tiller last weekend too and I'm hoping not to need it anymore with this planting/ gardening method. 

I also have an idea for a small greenhouse where maybe in the fall and early spring, I can still have some of those precious greens growing! We will see if I can talk my hubby into that one... Or maybe I'll just doing it myself! It seems as though it could be a petty easy project, but I will keep you updated on that also.

Yesterday, while on my grocery trip (I go once every 2 weeks), I saw some fruit trees and immediately sent some pictures to my husband. He said he didn't mind if I got something's to plant. So I picked up a peach tree!! I'm beyond excited about it!  When we bought this house, there was already one apple tree and one pear tree grown up and almost seeming to be a lost cause, but my husband chopped those trees down to where he thought they should be (after he did it, I panicked, knowing that you aren't 'supposed to' cut that much off all at once). BUT the tree came back that next year and produced beautiful fruit! I'm so excited to add peaches to the mix!  We will probably get it planted tomorrow! Yay!!

And I guess last but not least, I am going back to my friend's greenhouse on Monday with my mom. I'm hoping to pick up some herbs for an herb garden I will be starting, and hoping to get some other plants and seeds as well. Only problem is that I put an ad in the area advertisement outlets asking for someone with a tractor tiller to till a new, small garden plot, and I haven't had any takers yet. So... Here's to hoping that gets done really soon so I can start my garden.  If not, I am not looking forward to doing that all by hand! :/

Well, it is going to be in the 60's today in my area, so I look forward to some time outside! Talk to you soon!