Grit Blogs > Livin the Homegrown High Life

A Little Heat, Some Hay, & Tractor Pulling

So I have started writing this about a hundred times over the past 4 weeks and never get past the first paragraph.  I am bound and determined to finish today.  I need to become more disciplined and write every week so that it isn’t a small novel when I do.  I feel like when the girls come home from somewhere that they have been without us and their mouths are running a mile a minute trying to tell us everything that they did or saw!!!

The weather has been interesting; it pretty much goes in hand with the winter that we just had.  Last week it was almost 100 degrees and you felt like you were going to die and this week it’s in the high 70’s.  We also experienced what we are certain was a mini tornado.  It managed to blow all of the screens out of our windows, move a pipe hay wagon through the field and into the middle of the road, push the windows out of the Allis, and blow our wood pile down through the driveway.  Amazingly it didn’t touch the coop or pig pen, the garden, or even move two little tables the girls had in the front yard.  Chad was holding on to one of our windows and said if one of the girls would have been by the window he has no doubt they would have went out.  Luckily we didn’t have any major damage.

Scattered Wood Pile 

Wood Blown Across County Road 

Our building projects for the past month have been the outside runs for the chickens and pigs.  Both were well overdue and were a great addition.  My great uncle had sent Chad a care package of old nails, hinges, and so forth which we were able to put to good use during this phase of “construction.”  The chickens made short work of the grass and congregate at the fence when Chad mows the yard because they know they are going to get some of the clippings.  They still enjoy being inside when it’s incredibly hot but everyone pours out as soon as it gets cooler and like clockwork, head back in when the sun is setting.  The pigs also enjoy being outside but unfortunately they can’t handle the sun and got sunburnt on day 2 of being out.  They have since learned to stay inside during the day and go out when it’s not so hot to play and even sleep under the stars now and then.

The Chicken Run

The Pig Run

Just as with the chickens, the pigs have also been a huge learning experience.  I went to feed one evening and it wasn’t too horribly hot but one of the smaller pigs wouldn’t get up but was breathing.  Everything stopped and all of our attention went to this guy.  Liza jumped right in and started scooped cool water on his ears and snout.  Luckily the air temperature was cooling as well and by morning he was considerably better.  We have since put in another fan and keep a portion of their floor muddy so that they can cover themselves in mud and cool down. 

The Pigs Working on Their Mud Hole

All’s quiet on the rabbit and broiler front.  No baby bunnies so apparently I separated them in time or they were too young.  That’s fine with me.  In the mix of things we didn’t need bunnies to contend with.  We butchered the second group of broilers on Sunday.  We decided that we would skin them this time since we don’t eat the skin anyway.   Everything went off without a hitch and we have a nice supply of vacuum sealed chicken in the freezer now.  I will probably get another batch in September when the weather is a little cooler.  The heat added about 2 weeks onto the time that we had to feed to broilers.  The heat also seemed to wreak havoc on their poop.  I added oregano to their diet and it cleared it up.  I think that an outdoor run will be put on the list of things to do for the future broilers as well.

I am happy to report that we are now collecting eggs from the four ladies that I purchased to replace the roosters that will be departing.  There aren’t enough words to describe the excitement when we found the first egg on the floor.  We quickly constructed the nesting boxes.  Chad had plans for, frankly I’m not sure how many, but a lot of nesting boxes. Thankfully I convinced him that they would pick probably one or two and only use them.  Of the four boxes, nesting box one is their favorite.  It won’t be too much longer and the rest of the hens should start to lay.  I hope they decide to utilize the rest of the boxes because I’m not sure one will hold 30+ eggs!!

The Nesting Boxes

Our garden is doing very well.  We have never had tomato or pepper plants grow like these.  This year Chad took a suggestion from an older gentleman to put peat moss in with the dirt when we planted plants and seeds.  He said that the peat moss would make the soil looser and allow the roots to grow and take a better hold.  If that is what made the difference it was a cheap way to have an awesome garden.  We have been enjoying lettuce, onions, and cucumbers so far.  I didn’t realize that the girls hadn’t eaten garden lettuce before since we have only planted tomatoes and peppers the past few years.  We have had creamed lettuce & onions every evening for supper and if Chad doesn’t pay attention he usually doesn’t get any!!  I think I’m going to venture into the world of pressure canning this year.  It’s a little intimidating but I think I can handle it.  I’m not sure what kind to get so if anyone has any suggestions I would love to hear your thoughts. 

The Garden in July

We have also been up to our ears in hay which is another reason why I’m behind on writing.  Chad and I help his cousin as much as we can during the summer.  Last time I checked we were above 5000 bales but that has been awhile so it’s hard to tell now.  I do know that there will be about 5 wagons to unload this evening!!   Luckily his bales are short so they aren’t quite as hard for me to handle.  Listening to everyone tell stories about how they used to have to make hay makes me thankful for disc bines, hay tedders, & kick balers!!

Pulling the Hay Wagon  

Chad with the Mower 

The Hay Making Fleet

Eliza and Jorja did get to pull one time this year at a local festival.  They did a great job!  Eliza took 1st in the kids 850 class and a 2nd in the kids 950 class.  Jorja took 5th and 6th in those classes as well.  Liza also pulled in the adult 850 and 950 and took 5th in both of those.  As much as we love pulling we are still glad that we took a break from the traveling portion this year.  There are two more local pulls that the girls will pull at this year.  Both of them are evening pulls and the girls are excited because they will be able to run the blue LED lights that I Installed under their frame rails.

The Girls After the Pull 

 Jorja Driving Wild Child 

 Liza Digging a Little Dirt 

 

 

  

 

So that's what’s been happening around here in a nut shell.  Every day there are little things that happen that make us glad that we chose to venture down this path.  It isn’t a lifestyle that is for everyone but it is for us.  I hope everyone is having a wonderful summer and successfully battling the heat.  Hopefully by my next blog I will have convinced Chad that we need to enter the Farmer Olympics being held at the  Mother Earth News Fair in Seven Springs!  I'm really excited that something is finally close to home that we can go to.  Until next time!

nebraska dave
7/12/2012 10:52:45 PM

Natalie, welcome to the GRIT blogging community. I admire your determination to follow in your ancestors footsteps. It won't be easy nor will it make you wealthy but there's just something about a functioning homestead that just feels right. I'm from German heritage as well but my ancestors settled in Nebraska. I spent time away during my early adult years of life but returned home (Nebraska) in my late twenties and vowed never to move away again. I'm now retired and in my 60s and still take that vow seriously. In my humble opinion the midwest is the greatest place to live on the planet. I look forward to hearing about your return to Kansas homesteading. Have a great day following your dream.