We move in about 5 weeks. I need to get started purging and packing! Mainly, I am dreaming of how to make the new home a homestead.
Anna-Lee and Nugget, Summer 2010
One of the first things we have planned is getting chickens again. Our hens that we had were all sold off or killed by the basset hound we had (she killed the last one 3 weeks before dying, a troublemaker up to the end!). It has been almost a year now since I have had an egg worth eating! Chickens are our at the top of our priorities once we move.
That's not to say we don't have decisions to make! Do we build a coop utilizing the wooden swingset we have in the back yard? Or do we do a dog house set up? Enclosed run is a must, but so we use a chain link dog run? Or build something out of wood and hardware cloth/chicken wire that we can move to different parts of the yard?
Then there's the biggest decision: buy chicks or started pullets? We will only have 3-4 laying hens tops if we stick with large fowl birds. Kelton says chicks. Not only because they're cute and fluffy, but so they can bond with us and the kids before they're pecking size. I lean towards started pullets since they freeload for far less time, and we get eggs sooner. I do understand his reasoning, but my argument is the bird in the photo above. Nugget was an 18 month old hen when we got her. I don't know if she was bought as a started pullet, or rescued from a commercial egg setup. She came to us from a small farm about 50 miles away. She was part of a trio, but the other two were too flighty (common in Leghorns) for us to keep in our backyard. Nugget, however, was the lap dog of chickens. She jumped for her food, followed us all over, and sat in our laps when we were outside enjoying chicken TV. She ate spiders around our house, and gave us a huge egg every single day. Best. Chicken. Ever. I think a started hen from a breed known for their friendliness would have no problem adapting to us fairly quickly.
I tried to garden last year. I really did. I had a container garden with some tomatoes, a pepper plant, and some herbs. They did well, even with our unusually HOT summer that was muggy with little actual rain. However, I was pregnant with hyperemesis. Combined with a streak of hail and wind storms (bonus to container gardening is that we can throw the garden into the camper when there are 80 mile per hour freak winds!) and my inability to get out and tend to things like I should, the garden failed. Sure, I got some great herbs to use in cooking, and a few tomatoes, and maybe two peppers. I'm still very much a noob when it comes to this gardening thing. I think we're going to try square foot gardening, or maybe stick with the containers. It's something Kelton and I need to figure out before we move. I'm checking to see when I should be starting seedlings, though most will be bought as starts. As we pick the fruits (and veggies!) of our labor, canning and preserving will be part of our gardening journey.
3. Continue on the DIY Train
We are do it and make it yourself-ers. I make my own toothpaste, and our own laundry detergent. We tried a homemade dishwasher detergent, but it definitely left a film, so still searching for the perfect 'recipe'. My Ga-Ga had clothesline in the backyard, and the posts are still there. Our clothesline was something that was a selling point with this house for me, so we'll be getting some line and putting those posts to good use again. Once we are done with freezing temperatures and snow on the ground, I'll be drying outside as much as possible. I'm wondering if it's legal to have clotheslines visible from the front of the house. Right now the line is in just about the most inconvenient spot in terms of having to lug baskets of wet clothes! Moving it to the side yard would be much easier on the back. Since we don't dry underclothes (aside from diapers, which don't count!), the embarrassment thing isn't a factor.
Other things that we want to learn to do for ourselves include sewing, making more of our own health and beauty products (soaps, lotions, etc), brewing our own rootbeer (I say I want to brew my own beer, but I'm not a fan of beer at all!), and I may look into wine making. With the herbs from our garden, I'm planning on making some loose tea blends for myself as well.