This Year’s Garden — The Backyard Homestead

The Beard lookin hella fine 😉

Well, it’s only been 2 months since I’ve last written a blog post. But I thought I’d get back on the wagon and see what I came up with. I know I’m a shitty blogger and I treat it like a diet or working out. But hey I’m trying.

We’ve been pretty busy around here. And by ‘we’ I mean ‘The Beard.’ Don’t get me wrong — I’ve put in some sweat equity and got my hands dirty but nowhere near as much as he has. Nevertheless, we’ve been piling on more and more each week, it feels like.

The Beard has still been knocking out tables and custom orders for clients. But we’ve also put tons of effort into our mini homestead this year. We’ve added so much and I thought I’d share it all.

We’ve created another source of income.

With homesteading comes self-sufficiency. And part of that self-sufficiency goal includes being your own boss and making money for yourself. Not Uncle Sam or the big CEOs. We make money strictly for us. Unfortunately, we still have to pay our taxes. So, in a way — Uncle Sam does get a little bit of our money. That greedy bastard.

And I know we have already written about it in a blog post, created a page just for it, and posted it all over social media. But we’ve created an AirBnB. You can check out our personal Homestead Loft here.

We cannot shout loud enough how much we’ve enjoyed doing AirBnB and how much we love the company. The people who stay with us are top notch. We have a very specific experience, so we get tons of like minded people who stay with us.

We’ve even had our best month in July! Super pumped about where we’re going with this little cabin! Cue the awkward happy dance.

Obviously, this one little cabin doesn’t afford us our sole income but it soooo helps! And we still like making tables so we’ll keep the multiple streams of income. That’s also a big part of self-sufficiency is not putting all your hopes, dreams, and securities into one thing. Diversifying your income is super huge when you’re self-reliant.

In the future we plan to have more AirBnBs on our dream acreage and we also plan on renting out our personal house here soon.

So along with the furniture, the rabbits, and the chickens, we’ve added AirBnB to the income charts.

And this was the best compromise The Beard and I have made thus far. He was totally not feeling the AirBnB when we worked on getting it finished for 2 weeks. There were so many unknowns. Did we offer what people wanted? Was I just batshit crazy thinking this would work? Where were they going to go to the bathroom? Would they stay warm enough in the winter? Did people want to actually visit the Quad Cities? We didn’t know. AirBnB wasn’t really that big of a thing in our area and still isn’t. The Beard being the amazing husband he is, supported my dream and made it a reality. He really is the man in George Strait’s song “I Cross My Heart.”And we’re doing hella great for our first 5 months.

The best thing about this was that The Beard has always wanted rental property. I, on the other had, have been super skeptical about it. I didn’t want to have to worry about 5 roofs, 5 foundations, an old AC unit, a furnace on the fritz, or a bad tenant. So, I convinced The Beard that this could be our first mini rental property. And as we say in our house, “I tricked his ass.” And now, we’re making more on our little cabin per month that we would on a tiny 2 bedroom house that we would rent out to a long term tenant.

As for The Beard, he won’t stop talking to people about how much he loves AirBnB. Sersiouly, I think he is still more excited about it than I am. And so, we’ve found  a way to have nontraditional rental property that really works for us. We get to choose our guests, they typically don’t stay for long, we get to meet amazing people, and we couldn’t rent this cabin out long term and make even half of what we make with AirBnB.

Don’t get me wrong, this one little cabin isn’t a 40 year retirement plan but it’s a start! And this is where we get the itch to build more cabins to rent out.

20180720_17211220180720_17203320180721_165258Our garden boxes.

If you haven’t heard about our decision to have garden beds, you can check them out here. When that post was written, they we’re even close to the height of their glory. They we’re pretty much just empty boxes.

Tomato and zucchini season have officially hit. And that means almost every single meal includes both tomatoes and zucchini. Oh and the basil is kicking ass.

Now even the watermelon and cantaloupe vines have taken over parking space in the driveway. We’re picking fresh purple beans, tomatoes, and zucchini daily. And we haven’t even gotten sick of them yet!

I cannot tell you how happy I am The Beard let us (I mean ME) splurge on these garden boxes. All in all, they each cost $100 with the wood and the dirt included.

Some people are probably going to judge our boxes and say they won’t last and we should have painted or sealed the wood or even used treated lumber. But all those chemicals are completely unsafe to use around edible plants. Do you want to be eating paint thinner as a dressing on your lettuce? I didn’t think so. So of course they won’t last as long, but they are working amazing right now.

We have over 50 tomato plants growing and never did I think I would be saying, “WE NEED MORE TOMATO PLANTS!” But seriously, we can’t keep them in stock and we also feel like it would be rude to have family and friends come over leaving empty handed. So we need some for us and some to give away. But there hasn’t been a surplus yet.

I also can’t tell you how nice it is to have these boxes up by the house. If we didn’t have the raised beds, we couldn’t have put as many plants close to the house as we did. The soil is pretty much straight rocky fill dirt and would be inhabitable for the plants. It also makes it super convenient for watering, harvesting, and admiring our garden. Because who doesn’t love admiring the fruits of your labor every morning?!

Eventually, I would love to add more boxes or use galvanized steel troughs to help with durability but also look aesthetically pleasing. But for now, I’m loving these 200 sq ft of previously inaccessible growing space.

IMG_20180708_210618_658_resizedGarden boxes aren’t the only garden we have.

Well, with me being preggos and all — my first trimester I was pretty sleepy. I loved my naps. And still do, but I don’t need them near as much.

One day I was in for my nap while The Beard borrowed his uncle’s tiller for a very small patch of a garden down the hill. I should have known not to take my nap at that very moment.

Two hours later, I woke up to an almost completely tilled back yard. My jaw dropped and now I was the one questioning The Beard’s rational thinking. Why did you make it SO big? This looks terrible. Nothing is going to grow down there! It’s just going to be this big dirt pit, eye sore. But of course, I kept these comments to myself and settled on a more subdued response, “Hi Honey, this is pretty BIG.”

And he responded with the biggest smile and said, “Happy Mother’s Day! I thought this would be a perfect gift for you. Now you have all the planting space in the world.”

So how could I be mad at that response. I kept my mouth shut and let him make his rows and I started planting seeds in starter pots. I researched a bit about the three sisters garden and I thought that would be perfect for down there. We probably wouldn’t be down there much and we might not get anything to grow. But, we’ll try it and see what happens. I mean it was already dirt anyway.

I tried my best to fully embrace it, though not expecting much. A week or two later, we planted our 3 varieties of squash seedlings, corn seeds, and purple bean seeds. A couple months have pasted and now I’m the one wishing we had even more growing space.

The area where he tilled has produced so much with very little effort. We don’t weed. we barely water down there. We only harvest it when things are ready. And it’s been amazing how this garden just keeps giving. I call it our Passive Aggressive Garden because we seriously don’t have to do anything to maintain it. So yes, The Beard has given me my first Mother’s Day gift that just keeps on giving! And I love him that much more for it.

Chickens and rabbits galore.

We can’t seem to ever have enough rabbits. Every time we go to a swap meet, we tell ourselves that our cages are full and we can’t buy any more. Well, one cute rabbit always turns into 20+ rabbits and the story continues. Obviously, we don’t keep all these rabbits but we sure as hell keep their poop. We love selling pet rabbits to families and kids that we know are going to take great care of them. But we also get the added benefit of the most amazing fertilizer there is.

And we have weened ourselves off of chicken overload. At one time we were housing over 30 hens with way less than adequate housing. Since then, we’ve raised and sold many hens but we’ve only stuck with 4-5 personal hens. They still aren’t laying yet because we don’t believe in overfeeding grain. We want them to eat a more natural diet of kitchen scraps (we’re mostly vegan) so they don’t get dairy or meat scraps. And they get to forage in their pen that is definitely big enough for 30 hens. We also have a chicken tractor that The Beard puts them out on fresh grass to forage. He can’t wait until they start laying though.

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Rebuilding our home.

Still 26 weeks pregnant and I haven’t been able to help The Beard out much with our furniture business or our house. Our tiny 576 sq ft home needed a major renovation before we brought Soaring Eagle into the picture in human form. Clearly on a time crunch, The Beard took the renovation on all by himself.

He did have lot of help from his dad, his best friend, and his dad’s friend, but he busted his ass and works so hard for us! When we initially bought this house, there were mice droppings everywhere. In the walls. Permanently ingrained in this matted blue carpeting. The kitchen tile was just crumbling and individual tiles were popping up on their own. The ceilings were slopped down due to poor drywalling. And I don’t even want to get started on how the entire house was covered in the cheapest, ugliest ‘wood’ paneling.

The Beard took every room, except the bathroom which is mostly salvageable, down to the studs. Of course, last winter when we got a heating bill for $160 and were still freezing our asses of — we knew there was no insulation in the walls. Like NONE.

He put and the insulation in. Knocked out the wall between our kitchen and living room. Hung drywall. Covered the walls and ceilings with tongue and groove knotty pine. Replaced the kitchen floor. Put in new windows. New doors. A front porch. And all new appliances within 2 months.

I’d call him Superman but that name doesn’t do him justice. Not to mention, this was also while he was completing furniture orders for our customers. And now Soaring Eagle definitely has a place to arrive that looks amazing and is completely safe for him.

And of course our furniture business.

I’ve had a couple ideas for pieces I had The Beard make, but all-in-all it’s been all him. He has been knocking out orders. Creating custom one-of-a-kind pieces. And getting back to the normal routine of pre-demo working.

And our customers have been super awesome to work with so it makes our jobs a lot easier. Not to mention all of their great decorating skills that make our tables look amazing!

So ya, I’d say this summer has been one hell of a crazy ride. But you know us. We’ll always be adding more to the list. Like how we’re already looking for acreage in Missouri after only weeks of completing our own house.

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We always have the itch to travel, to keep expanding, and do more. I don’t think that will ever go away. I’m probably the one to blame, putting too much on our plates but I think The Beard likes it. Or so I just tell myself that. We aren’t the type of people to sit at home and watch tv or do the same things over and over again. Adventure and risk our in our blood.

What risks or bold moves did you make on your homestead this year?



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