Hi there! Long time no see!
In fact, I hadn’t realized that it had been several weeks since my last post until a lifelong friend emailed me to make sure I was OK because I hadn’t written a post in awhile. There are several reasons for my silence, but none are particularly compelling.
Aside from generally trying to keep up with my busy schedule, I’ve been a little paralyzed by the fact that I tend to think that every blog post here should be epic and filled with enlightening tidbits of knowledge sprinkled with wit. Well, today I’m just going to tell you what’s going on here on the farm, and what our immediate future holds.
First of all, I would like to personally thank everyone who has purchased a copy of The Homestead Kitchen *affiliate link* already. I have been receiving positive feedback from readers and it already has a few review on Amazon so far and they are all kind and supportive. Writing the book was a labor of love and it is very lovely to have people appreciate the work that went into it.
The next big thing going on right now is the chickens in the basement. Well, just chicks really. We have our first batch of broiler chickens brooding in the basement right now, along with a few laying hens. A stray dog greatly diminished our flock a few months ago and now we are trying to get our numbers back up.
We still have our 500 pound pet pig running around the pasture, but it is time to be thinking about raising more meat pigs, so we brought home 4 tiny little bacon seeds last week to be our next batch of pork. We plan to keep 2 for ourselves and we are raising the other 2 for a friend.
The next exciting thing going on is that we have begun our aquaponics project! We have been discussing and planning this for almost a year now, so it is darned exciting to have broken ground! We chose a relatively flat and non-muddy spot in our “orchard” area and we have built a 16’x16′ deck on which our new 12’x12′ greenhouse will sit. It will have a nice little “porch” area on the front on which I hope to have pots of herbs that could be brought in during cold weather.
We went back and forth about what type of greenhouse, hoop house or other enclosure we wanted to build for what felt like an eternity, but in the end, we ordered this cute little kit from Amazon *affiliate link* and it arrived this week, so weather permitting, we will be building this weekend! (Psst! I think it needs a chandelier, what do you think? Please leave me a comment in with your opinion so I can convince Eric of this necessity!)
Once the greenhouse is in place, I will immediately begin (again) growing fodder for the animals in there, and we will get to work on our aquaponics system. The current plan is to grow tilapia in a large tank, while housing Australian Red Claw Crawdads in the sump tank. We will also have lots of grow beds full of happy vegetables. I can hardly wait!
If you want to learn more about Aquaponics for yourself, I recommend the book, Aquaponic Gardening: A Step by Step Guide to Raising Vegetables and Fish Together by Sylvia Bernstein *affiliate link* and anything by Murray Hallam of Practical Aquaponics! I also have a Pinterest board dedicated to aquaponics you might want to follow!
Outdoor Sink and Cleaning Station
Next to our aquaponics greenhouse, we are going to have an outdoor sink and cleaning station. The idea is that this space will be used for washing vegetables if needed, although they will likely be squeaky clean when grown aquaponicly. (Is “aquaponicly” a word? Well it is now!) It will also be useful for fishy hands after our daily water pH checks. Most importantly though, it will serve as an outdoor fish cleaning station, and potentially even a meat chicken cleaning station!
Currently, it is sitting in my carport waiting to be assembled near the greenhouse. It is in 3 pieces that all weigh a ton right now, so we won’t attach it permanently until we get it moved. The table is constructed of 2×4 boards and leftover boards from our deck project, topped with a solid core door and a lovely sink that I rescued a year or so ago when my sweet friend Susie remodeled her kitchen. It is amazing to have friends who will let you
pick through their trash give new life to their old things!
We plan to oil the top with butcher block oil regularly for preservation. That sounds like a good job for the children, doesn’t it?
Clogged Pipes & Flooding
In other news, my stubborn do-it-yourself streak came out earlier this week when we had a large clog in a pipe leading out of our kitchen. In the end, we were able to fix it using one of these nifty plumbing do-dads, *affiliate link* but not before I moved the clog and flooded our laundry room, living room and exchange student’s bedroom.
The shop vac I got for Christmas was invaluable in cleaning up the mess, as was my mom’s carpet steam cleaner. The lingering problem, however is that we are now inundated by a “cat pee” smell in the house that occurs every time the basement slab gets wet. I blame the previous owners, but still, ICK!
I’m diffusing essential oils, but it still smells in my house. I suppose that is all the more reason to get outside and work on the projects I’ve been talking about, huh?
Finally, we are expecting a calf to be born here on the farm in about 3-4 weeks time. The problem is that I am currently kicking myself because I chickened out on learning to do a bovine blood draw and sending it off to the lab to have her pregnancy confirmed.
Instead, I went with the old fashioned method of watching for returning signs of heat and then assuming that the lack of signals equates to the presence of baby. Of course now I’m second guessing my every move and checking her “lady parts” for signs of impending birth every time I venture outside. True story.
Photo credit: Marcus Kristoffersen
Luckily for me I have a great network of homestead blogger friends who ensure me that this is totally normal behavior. Then again, it probably depends on how you define “normal” since many of these people make similar lifestyle choices to me and would hardly be defined as “normal” by most of the industrialized world. (That’s what makes me love them so much!)
If you are looking for a supportive homestead community like this, you might want to join the “Livestock Anonymous” Facebook group or if you are in Alabama, the “Alabama Homesteaders” group. Both are closed groups, but that is just to keep the spammers in check. Simply request membership and someone will approve you as quickly as possible! But heck, if Facebook isn’t your thing, just leave me a comment and I’ll commiserate with you about the uncertainties and hilarity of homesteading! We crazy homesteaders have to stick together!
Another great way to keep in touch is by signing up for Beulah’s Moooooosletter! She’ll deliver all the farm news from the cow’s point of view!