Livin the Homegrown High Life

The New Wish Book: Grit Magazine

Jessica headshotI haven’t written in forever it seems.  My usual excuse….we’ve been busy.  It’s no excuse for not writing but it’s the only one I have!  I have plenty to share so you’ll be seeing a variety of topics in the near future.  Just a teaser…we scalded and scraped our hogs, OH MY!! 

I figured a perfect return topic would be exactly what my title says. The New Wish Book:  Grit Magazine.  The girls still enjoy looking at the ToysRUs book at Christmas time but every month they are more excited to see Grit in the mail.  Even before I get to look at it the oldest is paging through with her sisters at her side, standing in the kitchen saying “Mom, look. Mom, we need this.  Mom, Dad could do that. Mom, you could do this.  Mom, we could do that.  Mom.  Mom.  Mom.”    

Hopefully the day comes that we can have our own farm and then the girls can have SOME of everything that they want.  We keep telling them to save their money, they are going to need it with the wish list they have.  So far here’s the list: 

  •  A Milk Cow – Regularly I joke that I need a cow because of the amount of milk they drink.  Aurora is the leader of this band wagon and the other morning when we ran out of milk (I was going to the store anyway) she argued that if we had the cow we wouldn’t have run into that problem.  She was as serious as serious could be. 
  • Goats – Eliza is behind this one.  She bought goat milk soap at the Mother Earth News Fair and loved it.  Seriously, the stuff is amazing and even Chad tells everyone that it is great.  Liza says that it would be a good thing for us to make and she read that the milk is good to drink.  We’ll be our own variety dairy mart with cow and goat milk! 
  • Lambs  
  • A Maple Sugar Camp  
  • More Chickens  
  • Bees – They aren’t fans of store bought honey. 
  • Turkeys – Royal Palms to be exact.   
  • More Hogs – They may get their wish on this one. 
  • Pheasants  
  • Our Own Cattle – They like the Highlands, Herefords, long horns, and short horns. Oh and don’t forget the miniature cattle too. 
  • A Bigger Garden – Apparently we didn’t plant enough cucumbers, lettuce, or turnips last year and we forgot the brussel sprouts and yellow squash.  The size of the garden is not a problem.  I could fix the cucumber and turnip issue without increasing the size of the garden.  They would have to quit eating them while they are picking them. 
  • Fruit Trees – We have crab apples and pears but they want big apples and oranges.  We can work on the apples but the oranges would take a miracle! 
  • Horses – Here again we have it down to certain breeds.  Belgians or black percherons.    

The list continues to grow every day.  We discuss each addition including things like the responsibilities, supplies, feed, and so on that is associated with owning whatever we are talking about and if need be, why it wouldn’t be possible to have it.  There’s no need to quickly reply no.  Who knows there might be two Belgians residing in the barn one day!   

Well I’m off to make some bread bowls for tonight’s asparagus soup.  We are also blessed with three girls that love to eat everything and anything and don’t have to have chicken nuggets in order to survive.  By the time they are teenagers and have *gasp* boyfriends, we will have to butcher 2 beef, 3 hogs, and a gazillion chickens!!  Have a great day! 

Not Always Sunshine and Roses

It’s been an interesting few days to say the least.  There is never a dull moment around here even if the girls whine on occasion that they are bored out of their minds!!  

 Henny Penny Houdini 

On a positive note the hens are laying like crazy. They are still obsessed with the first nesting box though.  A few of them use two and three but mostly they fight over one.  I think they are starting to take turns now that they are getting this laying thing down pat.  Henny Penny insists on laying her egg in the feed room though.  I may add Houdini to the end of her name considering that she manages to get out and back in without tearing anything down. We are up to a dozen eggs a day so far.  It seems like each day or so we add another egg to the daily count.  I even bought the girls one of the red wire baskets to collect the eggs in.  They are tickled pink and carry that basket faithfully even if they only bring in one egg during that particular egg checking run!!  Liza has become the egg warden.  She keeps track of how many eggs come in, inspects them, and then puts them in cartons and has them organized in the fridge by date.  It’s amazing that during school we struggle with math but when it comes to eggs both Eliza and Aurora can add in their heads without any hesitation.  The chickens may be of more help than just providing food!

 Awesome Homegrown Eggs 

So now I’ll move onto the not so positive yet enlightening happenings of the past few days.

Our beautiful garden looks like a train wreck.  I have absolutely no love for skunks or deer at the present moment.  Chad and the chickens are even in a little bit of hot water!  The skunks have been hanging around the house and have even so graciously sprayed the front door.  I would imagine Otis spooked them.  Yes, them. Plural.  Two to be exact.  For future reference you can throw fire crackers that only emit a seizure inducing light show out the door at them and they will run to the other side of the driveway while you grab the phone out of the rain that you left on the ledge…just saying.  We are going to battle out the rest of the gardening season but there will be some sort of fence put up around it next year.  We have also been battling a bit of blossom end rot.  I love the fact that we are learning so many new things that will only make our garden better next year.  Unless you have awesome, self-adjusting soil, it takes a little bit of effort to be able to grow a bountiful garden.  Calcium levels are important for preventing blossom end rot.  Too much or too little water can throw the levels off.  I have read that putting eggs shells in with the plants at planting time is a huge help.  We applied a commercial fertilizer that included calcium this year but next year the egg shells are going it.  We have also learned that while fertilizer is a good thing, it can also be a hindrance at the same time by producing huge plants with no yield.  Chad is a fertilizing maniac.  I’ve kept him at bay this year and I think it is helping a lot.  Over fertilizing can also affect the magnesium levels of pepper plants and keep them from producing.  So with those few tid bits in hand, it’s only August and I’m already planning for next spring!! 

 Garden Destruction 

Saving the worst for last, our pigs embraced the Chik-fil-A advertising campaign of Eat Mor Chikin.  Up until this past weekend the chickens have been confined to their coop and run.  Chad and I have discussed letting them out but we were concerned about Otis attacking them.  We finally said we would deal with Otis if it happened and left them out.  They were in bug eating heaven and Otis didn’t do a thing.  They were in the garden but the damage was already done.  Day 1 was awesome and we were so happy that we made the decision to let them out.  Day 2 went south.  The girls were staying with their Aunt and Uncle so Chad and I went out to do the chores and left the chickens out.  Then we headed down to the shed to change the oil in the big truck.  Chad forgot something up at the house so we ran back up.  He headed to the garage and I headed to the “barn.”  I could see two of the pigs dragging something and I thought maybe Chad had thrown in some weeds but then it hit me that he hadn’t. I ran over and sadly it was a dirt-laden barred rock.  I started screaming and ran for a stick and the pitch fork.  There was nothing that I could have done but I wanted to get it away from the pigs as quickly as possible.  I hopped the barbed wire fence and Chad came running with the shot gun.  After everything had settled down he said the way I was screaming he thought a coyote was after me!!  Needless to say, a pig will eat ANYTHING.  I did some research and they are classified as omnivores.  Under stress they will eat their young and feral hogs will eat the carcasses of dead animals.  The chicken was able to slip through the 4” x 4” squares of the pig fence.  We picked up some of the same fencing that we used on the chicken run and are going to put that around the pig fencing so that everyone can co-exist in harmony.  We stressed to the girls that it’s important not to be afraid of the pigs but at the same time they should not let their guard down.  An animal is an animal.  Same rules apply to the chickens and rabbits.

 Enjoying the Outdoors 

We’ve had some ups and downs but it’s all a learning experience.  I think that I say this in every closing but we love the choice that we made to have the animals and to get back to the basics.  The girls are learning so much about the animals, the garden, and life in general.  I had better get back to the kitchen.  There’s plenty of canning, freezing, and dehydrating to be done.  Until next time!!

 Digging for Potatoes