“Having solved all the major mathematical, physical, chemical, biological, sociological, philosophical, etymological, meteorological and psychological problems of the Universe except for his own, three times over, [Marvin] was severely stuck for something to do...” ― Douglas Adams. Life, the Universe and Everything
Whose journey is this anyway? I sit here on my golf cart to take a look around, I think to myself "Wow, the homestead is beautiful! And we aren't even done yet!" I am beat to a pulp yet I want to do more. Yes, I remember the pep talk at the employee meeting at my very last job. Boy o boy was it geared up to excite. The boss believed we'd give 1000% to help build a business that someone else owned. And then 5 o'clock finally came around. Whew! That was a close one.
Here it is. Everything.
By mid May all the summer food is planted. For some reason I decided to use the entire overflow garden rather than fix the chicken garden. Crabgrass completely overtook it and left us scratching our heads. I was completely overloaded with my 'to do' list so we just covered it with a heavy duty garden fabric and mulch. We'll come back to it at some point in time. But thanks to a little planning, we had extra rows ready to go so the animals could still enjoy yummy treats like pumpkin, watermelon, chard and corn.
The best advice I can give? Get organized and stick to a schedule. That is the answer to running things smoothly, lest they run you. Okay then, we get the first thing underway. Pickling is top priority in June since the cukes seem to all come at once. And there is a lot of squash right behind it. I grab my go-to recipes and get to work. The hubby has been able to stay home more these days, and so he gets to work on cutting the grass. He enjoys working for only himself too.
And then the tomatoes start to hit ya. You can never have enough plants because each new variety is more delicious than the last, right? By the end of harvest you've achieved the impossible: you've grown the perfect, prize-winning tomatoes.
Equal parts of thinly sliced tomatoes and cucumbers, throw in a little bell pepper and onion, a little chopped basil and minced garlic. Toss with your favorite vinaigrette. Optional: Salt/pepper to taste.
Every component of the homestead works hard. No employee meeting necessary. Got eggs? I do. The hens do not disappoint and I have plenty eggs all year long. Good for our breakfast, hard boiled for the hogs and crushed (shells) in the garden. In fact, so much of what the homestead produces is multipurpose. Sustainability at its best. And my favorite expressions "trial and error" and "practice makes perfect" also help describe the very spirit of sustainable living. You make it all work together... it's just what you do.
As I continued the journey around the gardens I realized this was a great year for summer food. Oh, it was a hot one (and sometimes unbearably hot!) but it was worth the buckets of sweat because so much more than we could have imagined came out of my humble little kitchen garden. It doesn't always happen that way you know.
Again, what a great year for growing food. 300 feet of beautiful heirloom potatoes were harvested in August and will feed us all winter. This may be the perfect staple. Store potatoes in a single layer in a cool, dark place or can them, diced in a little salt water or dehydrate them.
My attempts to contribute to "Fluffy Butt Friday" on Instagram are constantly foiled by this gorgeous gal who watches my every move. Why do I raise chickens? Well, the silent questions I ask about the way things are happen to be a hot topic in my brain, and I wonder if anyone else feels the same? In my opinion, "Where did this come from?" should be the question on every brain as we peruse the grocery store isles. Some farmers. They really take you for a ride. Catch a few good documentaries like Food, Inc. and get yourself on the right track.
The plot sizes vary in our little town but 5 acres seems to be common. Some of our neighbors have large, pristine homes with manicured lawns and flower gardens. The maid service washes away the grime inside as the gardeners drive up with their leaf blowers and weed killers so that it all stays perfectly perfect. That's it, they believe they've found the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. Our pot of gold? It's a bit more complicated than that. It's nice to hear the cock-a-doodle-doo of a rooster every morning. But they don't just wake you up each day, they fertilize the eggs that become the delicious chicken dinners for your family each week. What happens within ourselves when we grow and raise our own food? We instantly gain respect for life. We stop being wasteful, we stop being picky and we stop being victims of the current food system. And the hubby is a vital part of this operation, building and fixing things in his shop. But he doesn't just think of it as a hobby, he builds the out buildings, fences and is remodeling our home. We save a small fortune because he can work on our cars and more. What happens within ourselves when we build and make the things we need and use each day? We take pride in it, take better care of it and never take it for granted. We don't have to chase the gold. We know we've been sitting on it the entire time.
Mr. Tom Tom is missing some feathers because of molting but that doesn't stop him from doing his dance! The turkeys follow the hogs after a rotation. They do a good job spreading out poop and cleaning up before it's time to re-seed the paddocks. How much more can we add to our little farm you ask? How about a mama cow and calf, fish, ducks and bees? These should round things out nicely, I think.
Our homestead is my universe where every day I head out to learn something new about myself. Only recently did I discover that it's the reason why I'm here. Every inch will have a purpose. Every inch already has a name. Maybe when it's all said and done I'll create a directory, a guide of sorts with a 'you are here' arrow pointing to the very spot you're standing in and details about how it all came to be.
Chickie Central (coops and runs for meat birds and egg layers)
Pig Palace (shelters and paddocks for hogs/piglets)
Turkey Terrace (a turkey tractor for 2 turkey families)
Duck Dynasty (pond w/nests for several duck varieties)
Aquatic Acres (tilapia tanks in greenhouse)
Bovine Boulevard (barn and paddocks for a milking cow and calf)
Market Garden (large, mostly for the farmers market)
Kitchen Garden (small, for our family and for testing new varieties)
Chicken Garden (fruit and veggies for (all) the animals)
Fruit Tree Garden and Bees' Bend (honey bee boxes near all gardens)
Herbs and Flower Garden
Staples Garden (everything from wheat to sorghum and beyond)
Top it all off with our lovely home and the hubby's shop and you've got quite the little community.
To enjoy life for what it is.
The hubby and I finally started the remodel. He asked me how I was holding up without a proper kitchen. "Hang in there, we'll have it done in no time." I responded, "The end of the day is just the beginning again. That's everything to me."