So this is actually my very first blog post. Yay! And probably all of two people are going to read this. Mainly my mom and my sister. But you have to start somewhere so here it goes.
In my dreams homesteading is this beautiful world where you are in harmony with nature and the sun shines while you milk your goats and the birds sing as you harvest your beautiful and bountiful garden. Homesteading in reality is a bit different. As I found out.
Six years ago we moved to our current property and I was filled with hopes and dreams of living a self sufficient life. We moved into a farmhouse that was really old and needed a lot of work. Our farmhouse is on an acre of land surrounded by farmer’s fields. Nice and quiet. I felt like all my dreams were coming true. It was so exciting. I wanted to plant apple trees and start my huge garden and have meat chickens and bees and milk goats and etc… Lets just say I wanted a lot of things. So we put in a huge garden, we got meat birds and I planted some apple tress and I started to research bees. I would also like to mention that we had laying hens that the previous owner left behind. On top of all these hopes and dreams we also had a whole farmhouse that needed renovating. When I say needed I mean the place had little insulation and we were about to freeze our tails off come winter.
Things started off great the garden was growing, the trees were blossoming, the meat birds were fattening up and I added more laying hens to our flock. Things were just rolling along. Then we started on renovating the house and that is when things got a little tricky. The truth is there is only so much time in the day and we were setting ourselves up for failure. Gardens apparently need weeding and a lot of watering. I couldn’t keep up with it. We also had our flock of chickens that were eating our bounty before we could pick it. My free ranging chickens were the best fed chickens around. But we couldn’t do much to change it because our time was so limited between work, kids, and renovating. It was totally insane. Things weren’t working out to well at this point.
So our garden totally sucked, 4 out 5 of my apple trees died, we did manage to grow the meat birds but we couldn’t find anyone to butcher them so we did it ourselves. Lets just say the chicken was edible but it wasn’t pretty. We definitely should have planned a bit better. Our first year was a little bananas and we had a lot of failure to learn from. There were some triumphs though. Our laying hens were doing awesome, my kids were loving the country life and we managed to insulate our house.
Well round two of the garden started out strong but then we had a horrible dry spell. Because we don’t have a well and we collect rain water for the gardens it was costing me more money to water everything. So we actually let everything die and ended up buying all our veggies and fruit from farmers markets. We didn’t do meat birds this year because our time was limited while we were working on the house. As probably many of you know renovations can be quite stressful and very time consuming. We did acquire some more animals though. My husband bought me two baby female Nigerian Dwarf goats for my birthday. One of the best birthday presents I ever received by the way. We also ended up taking in two baby minipigs. I was in baby farm animal heaven! Oh and I can’t forget the first bunnies we got that were both males and they constantly tried to kill each other. That was fun (it was horrible!!!) We ended up rehoming one.
Sadly year three I didn’t even attempt a garden. It was clear to me I had to definitely fence the garden if we were going to have free ranging chickens. I didn’t have the time or expanses to do that. So I kinda gave up on the garden. I knew I would go back to it one day but for now that dream was over. My one apple tree was doing amazing at this point. One triumph! Things with the animals were going pretty good until all my chickens ended up with lice. That was a nightmare! I had 30 chickens infested with lice. Yuck!!! I constantly felt like things were crawling on me. For those that don’t know chicken lice won’t actually live on a human being but you can’t help but feel like they are all over you. We finally did get rid of all the lice and then we ended up with mites. A barn swallow had made her nest on the coop and the mites traveled from her and the babies to my chickens. I know rookie move I should have removed the nest when I first saw it but I didn’t and so I learned how to deal with an infestation of mites. I felt like I was being tested at this point. After a ton of hard work we cleared up all the mites. I now check a chicken or two daily for mites and lice. I learned my lesson.
Now it’s six years later and I never grew that big garden, I never got those bees that I wanted and I didn’t ever get to replanting those apple trees. Where does the time go? The truth is I still have that dream of being more self sufficient and I am not willing to give up on it just yet. I did grow a smaller garden this year and I had a lot of success. I recently started researching keeping bees again and I am expanding our flock so we can sell more eggs and hatch chicks to sell in the spring. The house renovations are coming along and I am finding more time for the day to day stuff. So I guess what I am saying is don’t give up on your dreams and don’t feel to badly if you fail. If it is that important to you, you will find a way to keep at it. I am hoping to finally get my hands dirty in that big garden next spring and can my first tomato sauces, pickles, relishes, jellies and jams. I am so excited to get back on track. Who knows I might fail again but I would rather fail then never have tried.