It has been just over two and a half years since we made the leap from city to country, moving from our urban life with homesteading hopes, to the rural spread where we can fulfill our dreams. The first thing we did, was have a baby, and since then we have been trying to "homestead" and grow our own food. Here is a quick summary of a few of the homesteading-esque types things we are doing...
Usually I would start with the garden, because it is basically been my obsession for the past decade, but the animals are so much fun, that I want to start there. Here is a run down of all of the animals we have:
- Fifteen laying hens who provide our daily eggs. They are laying nicely in the coop and we are getting about ten eggs a day at the moment.
- Four ducks just hatched nine little ducklings. In the winter, the ducks were consistent layers and their rich eggs nourished our winter-sleepy bodies with delicious sauces and cookies. And we plan on eating some of the ducklings, when they are no longer ducklings, and look more like dinner. I plan to save the fat for cooking. Yum.
- Six guineas with one sitting on a clutch of eggs. Now these pesky little creatures would make an excellent dinner, but they are pretty wild and would be impossible to catch until winter, at which point I might consider it. They also eat ticks and are pretty funny, so I might let them live. They eat a ton in the winter time, so it might be a good time to send a few to the pot.
- Four lambs to be harvested in the Fall. Sky, Zuma, Red Marshall, and Orange Marshall. Can you tell who named them? We ate two lambs over the winter last year, and it wasn't enough meat for us, so we are hoping four is enough, although we will probably sell/trade some with family or friends.
- Twenty-two Western Rustic meat birds. Yes, you read that right, I will be processing birds. At the moment, they are chicks, but in nine weeks time they will be dinner. You know what that means, right? Killing. Me? Ah ha ha. But Cam said he wasn't into killing anything, so this is my deal. And this meat will strictly be for our family. And should save us a fair bit on the cost of chicken.
- Ten rhode island red chicks, who will become ten laying hens. We have the fifteen already, but they seem to die and you need to replenish the supply. I know, why are they dying? That is a whole other blog post to dive in to.
- Four Bronze Orlop turkey poults, who will ready to go by Christmas, but we might harvest a smaller one for Thanksgiving. And yes, this is all my endeavor. Certainly will be a learning experience (insert cringy face emoji.) And they too will be our meat for the year.
So all together that is sixty-five animals on the farm. Do I love animals? YES! I love the babies, the older ones, I love feeding them, changing their bedding, and all the dirty jobs that come with it... well, we will see about the processing. The enjoyment of that may be questionable. Of course I am reading Farm City again and she is sharpening my resolve to be self sufficient and see the value in raising your own food, including meat. And we really do eat a lot of meat, and we only eat happy meat, but that also means expensive meat, so raising our own, really is a good option.
Onto the garden.
We have two large garden beds (roughly 30'x40') and the greenhouse. This year, I am trying to take a more relaxed approach to gardening since I have felt like the gardens have been a lot of stress the past two summers. No matter what, they will grow an abundance of food for us to eat, it might just be a lot of cucumbers and less tomatoes or vice versa instead an abundance of all the things we would like to eat that I had planted. But I am learning that the garden is a temperamental being that is teaching me something every day from soil fertility to weed pressure to watering and on and on. Throw the weather changes in there, and every year is really different. Wilf is older now and Cam built a sandbox right next to the garden so it affords me more time to plant and weed. Not a ton, don't get me wrong, but more spurts here in there that feed my sanity and keep me from feeling like I am drowning.
So far we are eating lettuce, cucumbers, and radishes with every meal, and the garden is choc full of weeds, but I am legit optimistic that I will have the garden weeded sooooon. So soon...
The other good news about the garden is that the greenhouse is taking off. The tomatoes are flowering, the cucumbers are bearing fruit, the oregano and basil are nuts, and I see some tomato sauce in the future and I think I can beat my thirty jar record from the last two years.
We have also planted six more apple trees, a cherry tree, ten blueberry bushes, and four currant bushes. Who was it who said the best time to plant an apple tree was yesterday? Well, we are just catching up on that. Ha ha.
Other things that have changed around here include a new roof on our garage, new fencing around the garden, cute gates, and two new chicken tractors. Cam has also renovated the bathroom (previously referred to as the Cave) and the two upstairs bedrooms. Our home isn't fancy, but I really love it. Cam wants to rip off the sunroom and the porch, but I won't let him until it is absolutely necessary because those are my favourite rooms in the house. Right now, it just feels perfect. Mess and all. Ha ha.
"I'm the best helper"
What's in a name?
We don't sell any of our meat or veggies or have farm status, but I still like to think of our place as a farm. I now refer to it as Ferngully Farm and that may or may not be coming to a t-shirt near you. Next year I hope to raise some cows, pigs, and rabbits, to fulfill our carnivorous diet, and then we might actually become a farm, but next year is so far away and it is crazy how much can change in a year, so we will see. Referring to our place as a farm might sound crazy, but so did the title "mom" after having Wilf. I think it is something that grows on you with each animal that you raise.
Our Farm Help
I also can't go without mentioning the best helper we have here on the farm, our son Wilf. He fills the water buckets for the animals and gives the chickens their scratch each morning. He likes to refer to himself as the best helper, and I think he is right, because everything is more fun with him around. Sure, I get WAY less done each day because I am looking after him, but none of this is worth anything without him so whatever I do get done is good enough.
I will give an update at the end of the summer on how the garden did and how all of our animals fared. But the real question is...
Would you buy our t-shirts?