safe house for hens

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We have worked very hard this week.  We finally made a huge yard for our chickens.  After two years of them pooping on our porch, and all over the concrete barn, they are fenced in.  They are still free-ranging by definition.  The decision will also make it safer for them and easier for us.

I went back and forth about this.  I wanted them to roam, but I wanted them to stay out of my garden too.  They had free-range on our whole twenty-acres, then five, but they never utilized more than a hundred foot areas anyhow.  So space didn’t seem as important anymore.  Safety was also a concern.

There are many, many coyotes where we live.  We hear packs of them almost every night.  The hens now have a yard within a yard.  Double safe.  Now that they are laying solely in the coop, our Pyrenees dog Leia cannot eat their eggs.  That’s her favorite.

She is 100% trust-worthy with the hens, but boy does she love eggs.  She is patrolling happily, and making the safety of our animals even more secure.  She is a sweet and clumsy thing, but her bark is ferocious; she knows those coyotes are bad news.

The kids find it more convenient to check eggs when they know exactly where they’ll be.  Those hens used to lay everywhere.  In the hay, in the coop, in the back of Nick’s truck, in buckets, in twine, everywhere.  Easter egg hunts loose their excitement when everyday is hunting day.

Guess what?  I can now plant flowers to my heart desire too.  Things are always coming along here at the farm.  What improvements have you made lately?

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humble homesteading: plans and dreams

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Oh, Winter.  The time here on the farm to make plans for the rest of the year.  We have some grand plans for this year.  Gathering knowledge these past (almost) two years has been beneficial.  We have wanted to jump into everything, but thought it better to bide our time.  We finally have a way to get a beef cow.  We are preparing for honey bees.  The pasture has a plan for expansion for more goats.  The chickens are gearing up for their very own yard.  And (Lord help us) we’re making calls to buy pigs again. Many talks have happened here.  The funding is seeming to come through.  Nick has side jobs one after another.

Our neighbors who have had many head of cattle in the past have offered to host one cow of ours.  This is grand news since we haven’t ventured that far due to fence mending we need to do.  Nick is as happy as a clam.  How ever happy that is.

I’ve read no less than four books cover to cover this week on beekeeping.  I stay fascinated by bees.  They are intriguing creations.  I have a feeling they will teach us all some important lessons.  I’ve made calls to local pros and really honed in on the Africanized Bee dilemma.  I am making plans on the best ways to keep them from invading our future colony.  While they really aren’t as scary as the movies dipict, there are reasons why they can be.  We will be keeping bees on our property.  That calls for extra measures of caution.  Any breed of bee can do damage to people and livestock to the point of death.  This is rare.  It can also be nearly preventable by being observant and educated Apiarists.  I don’t take this topic lightly.

Nick has spent the better part of a particularly restless night planning the expansion of our goat pen.  We want our ladies on pasture as soon as we have the funds for the materials.  We are also getting real serious about keeping another one-two girls this year.  We just never seem to have enough milk between ourselves and customers.  I really want to venture into selling goat milk products (soap, cheese ect) this season.  More milk please!

Bottom line with the chickens– I’m done with them pooping on my porch.  They’re getting a nice big yard this year.  Just last week we were late to the library because a certain tiny girl placed her special box on the porch steps while making her way to the car.  I can’t accurately describe the wailing that ensued when she discover it was covered in chicken poop.  Ahhh, the things you never think of when you start a farm from scratch.

This brings us to the pig talk.  I am semi-confident they won’t get out of their pen this year.  Semi.  We’ve learned not to make definitive statements when it comes to this topic.  The plan is do get 4-5 pigs and sell meat this year.  With all the hub-bub going on about pig illness on the East coast, we think the demand will be good for us.  I’m on the search for Heritage Breeds in our area.  Just pray.  Pigs are all they said to be in movies and books.  Except Wilber.  Wilber was a good pig.

Do you have plans and dreams?  Move forward.  These plans are subject to change depending on the provision and direction of God.  We pray and think plenty before we make plans, however we know who’s running this homestead.  We try to stay humble as we keep that in mind.

enjoying now

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Last week we saw some very cold weather.  By cold I mean in the teens, which isn’t normal here.  This week couldn’t be more opposite.  I love 70.  Doesn’t it feel perfect?

Today, I finally made some headway on laundry.  I really missed drying clothes outside.  I have no idea how you East coast friends survive without a dryer.  We were struggling here without one.  You can only do so much laundry with a 24 hour drying time.

Nick worked on fencing in the back of the property.  I am thankful he works so hard.  Our little hens got some roaming time under the close and constant supervision of Nick and the kids.

It was a productive and beautiful day.  I could handle a few more like it.  Especially in the clothing department.