So it’s already February and I probably should have written this post last month but ya know, we all get busy right? Or sometimes I get lazy. Sometimes, I’m going in 12 different directions, trying to juggle all my creative projects and making the Beard go insane. But I’ve finally set aside time to give you all the good, the bad, the tears, and the laughs that 2017 brought us. And let me tell you, I went through all the emotions — bordering on schizophrenic. But we made it! And we also want to let you in on some things we have planned for 2018.
2017 — The birth of our homestead.
What went well on our 2017 homestead
We successfully raised and sold pet rabbits. We sell Lionheads and Holland Lop bunnies for pets. These two breeds are the best for pets because of their small size and because they’re freaking adorable. Oh and their shit is amazing! Literally. The garden is gonna be happy this year. This was probably the number one thing that went well in 2017. Thanks to The Beard’s uncle for getting us freakishly obsessed with animals, particularly rabbits. Rabbit lady is the new cat lady.
Okay so our rabbits were definitely top notch bitches and bucks, but our chickens were pretty awesome too. The Beard brought home 5 of his uncle’s Buff Orpingtons for my birthday! Man does he know how to treat a woman. Definitely a favorite gift. Or when he brings me home house plants or seed packets. Ya I’m cooler than you think. Anyways, back to the chickens. And like anyone who knows a damn about chickens, you can NEVER EVER have enough. They are like spiders multiplying in every corner of their coop. But the only difference is that I’m the one putting them there. So, still on my birthday — we had to get some feed for our new pretty hens and low and behold, the store sells baby chicks. And so we had to have more…. I’m a sucker for Rhode Island Reds and unbeknownst to me, also Barred Rocks. 15 chicks later, we were all set up to have a full on hatchery. The Beard’s aunt and uncle who homestead on 30 acres let us borrow their galvanized trough, heat lamp, and chick feeder set up. Of course, when we got the baby chicks — it had to be record breaking freezing temperatures. I’m talking -36 degree cold as shit weather! Your face is frozen before you can even open the door the entire way. But 2 heat lamps, a couple moving blankets, constant warm water — and 14 of our 15 chicks survived, no matter the fire hazard. I really don’t know how I did it. Honestly, I think it was those bad ass chicks all on their own and I am just stealing the credit. But then again, we were feeding and watering those little babies every hour. And then someone else contacted us and they had 4 hens that were laying and they needed to get rid of them before they moved. So ya we were sporting over 20 chickens like a boss. The first time we walked out to the coop and there were eggs, we were screaming we were so excited. A dance party may have ensued shortly after that. That is the moment we thought we could rule the world as homesteaders! Little did we know, a couple weeks later — we would have a coon and a hawk problem. Since though, we have predator proofed the coop. Or so we think. Only time will tell. But all in all, we have had a really successful month raising our chicks. We got them in December so clearly there is still more we have to figure out.
At first glance, this doesn’t seem like it belongs on the top list of successful homesteading but when you’re actually doing it — you understand completely. We don’t own a clothes dryer. Haven’t for over a year. And so, we resort to the uber frugal, energy free way of drying our clothes. We have a three string clothes line outside. It’s never big enough. Or maybe we are creating way too much laundry but when the sheets need cleaned, we have to get creative. It’s hard enough for laundry to do itself around here. So it adds a little more effort when you aren’t just switching the clothes from the washer to the dryer. You look at that closed lid on the washer and think to yourself, “Oh hell no! I am not doing that again today.” But then we realize that if we don’t, our clothes will smell moldy and we’ll just end up washing them again. Not really helping with frugal or energy free. On nice days, especially in the summer, we load up that over-the-shoulder-sack and get to pinning on the line. Honestly, it works great and our clothes smell fresh (when we get to them in a timely manner). The biggest problem, other than moldy smells after being left in the washer too long, is the fact that our ever massive dogs like to take big ol’ shits under the clothesline. It doesn’t matter if clothes are on the line — all the more better. I don’t know what it is about pooping under the clothes line, but it ain’t cool ya’ll. And we aren’t talking little pebble size brown droppings. We’re looking at English Mastiff and Saint Bernard sized shits. But that’s enough poop talk for one day. Now that it’s winter, and it’s been winter for a while, we had to move the clothes back inside. There really isn’t too much in our basement, but it looks like an atomic bomb went off down there when clothes are hanging up everywhere and you can’t walk around without someone’s underwear hitting you in the face. Real life homesteading problems. But we honestly feel like we’ve made the right decision with going dryer free in our home. And I have to brag a little because The Beard and I have made a marital agreement. He does the laundry from now on and I do the dishes. No arguing. And we get to tell each other if something needs done. It’s been working well for the past few weeks.
Cabins, Coops, + Storage
Another thing that comes with the homesteading territory is building infrastructure. And man did we have our work cut out for us when we opted to build our own 10X12 storage shed for our table business. When we went to local home improvement stores and saw that they were charging $3,000-5,000 for a small 8X10 storage shed. Thing was, we wanted a sky scraper tall shed. Because code just stated that it couldn’t be bigger than a 10X12 without getting a permit. But there were no restrictions on how tall it could be. So naturally, we decided on a 10′ back wall and a 12′ front wall. That was until we put up the back wall and realized how tall it was. And our ladder wasn’t big enough to work on anything higher than those 10′ walls. So, we just added a 2X6 on the front to get a slope on the roof.
This is the point we didn’t know how many decisions we would need to make together. And I don’t care who you are, but two people are never going to completely agree on the same thing. For instance, which way the siding should go, what doorknob you want, how high to place the window boxes, how to frame out the windows. It all gets overwhelming and when you’re working on it, you feel like those little details are the biggest obstacles in the world. But we’ve made it through. It’s been standing for 4 months now. And it’s already had 3 lives. It started out as a storage shed/workshop to store tables and our tools for our furniture business. Then, because The Beard knows me too well, he brought home those first 5 chickens — which quickly turned into 20+ chickens. And so, after moving into a more formal workshop downtown, it was turned into a chicken house. Those chickens loved that place and it was perfect for them when temperatures dipped below -30 degrees. And then, we bought a barn. Of course, I had to use all the scrap wood to make an adorable chicken coop for all the single ladies. The Beard just finished hawk proofing the chicken run this week. Those were just our shed’s first two lives. And now, it’s being converted into a rustic cabin to be rented out on AirBnB. I’m not going to give away too much because I want the final review to be jaw dropping. So you’ll just have to wait.
Those were definitely our top 4 for the list of successful homesteading in 2017. But what about 2018?
Our homesteading goals for 2018:
- We want a goat or two. Or maybe 50, but let’s start out with 2.
- We want our garden to produce this year. We have been nerdy researchers, studying how to produce the best garden. Our garden was basically a shit show last year.
- We want more chickens — you can never have enough chickens!!!
- We want to learn to preserve all of our food. Canning, dehydrating, roasting, you name it. It’s gonna be done.
- Get better at sewing.
- Rent out our AirBnB.
- Have a wildflower field in our front yard.
And we’ll keep it simple this year because it’s only year 2 and we really need to stop biting off more than we can chew. But then, who knows, maybe I’ll see a cow I just have to have. Or The Beard will want to set up a produce stand. Anything more than this list, is like an added bonus. But for now, we’re keepin it real on the homefront. Just doin our thing and being weird animal people.
What are your homesteading goals for 2018?