Grit Blogs > Arrows and Minnows

Building a Kansas Homestead

Caleb D. Regan

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A photo of the author, Caleb ReganWe’ve accomplished much around the homestead this spring and summer, the two most significant tasks for me being building a chicken coop from reclaimed lumber and starting a pretty sizable vegetable garden from scratch. Right now, the hens – seven Buff Orpingtons, seven Rhode Island Reds, one Hamburg and one Dorking – are producing and our kitchen table is overflowing with garden produce. But here’s a look at the progress along the way.

Here's our old farmhouse. The only thing anyone knows about it's age is that it's between 150 and 200 years old, but was recently rebuilt.

Old Farmhouse

First up was the chicken coop.

Chicken Coop Under Construction

Adding Paint to Interior

We were going for barn-door red, and it's not quite done yet, but as it goes, when you have brooding chicks growing by the day, I had to keep it moving.

Coop at Twilight

Moving those rogue teenagers outside to get used to the coop. We're employing the deep-litter method of manure management, which I took from Harvey Ussery's book, The Small-Scale Poultry Flock.

Deep Litter

Deep Litter Chooks

Then it was time to build some fence. 

Building Fence

Fence Nearly Built

Gone fishin'.

Largemouth Bass

By midsummer, our garden was coming along. Lots of weeds, but producing well.

Peppers and Tomatoes

Our humble corn patch.

Sweet Corn patch

And beans, looking healthy. More on that coming in the October Grit Country editorial.

Green Bean Patch

But it was all starting to come together.

Free-Range Chickens

Occassionally, you have to throw it all down and cut a little wood.

Load of Firewood

Or go camping, tent by Paha Que – not bad, though we've had some trouble with pole strength in a good Kansas wind. There's no rain fly on the image because this was our preparation setup/cleaning for a 4th of July camping trip to Melvern Lake, just my wife and I. We knew we were going to be setting up in the dark.

Paha Que Tent

Late summer, the produce starting coming through – just when I thought it would never happen.

Small Bean, Cucumber, and Zucchini Harvest

One thing about working in an office: There is nothing like ending the workday sweating in the garden, while watching the harvests pile up. Of course, I say the same thing about deer season and sitting in the woods.

Growing Harvest

First corn of the year.

First Corn Harvest

More corn.

Larger Sweet Corn Harvest

Here's today's haul, August 30.

Cucurbit Harvest

And overall, a ton of blessings.

Bountiful Harvest Table

Caleb Regan and his wife, Gwen, live in rural Douglas County, Kansas, where they enjoy hunting, fishing, and raising and growing as much of their own food as they can. Caleb can’t imagine a better scenario than getting to work on a rural lifestyle magazine as a profession, and then living that same lifestyle right in the heartland of America. Connect with him on .