Faithful Homesteader


New Chickens on the Homestead

Faithful HomesteaderAfter dealing with multiple chicken losses, we finally brought in some new flock members. We were down to two hens and my husband felt they were bored and needed some new friends.

I am always hesitant to get new chickens since it is always uncertain about how the new arrangement will be. I did finally give in and we brought home three pullets of all different breeds.

new chickens

Our two original chickens were spending a lot of time crowing and my husband was convinced that the crowing would stop with a new flock. It did not cease immediately, but it has overall been quieter on the homestead.

We were convinced that our original chicken Buster would be hardcore with the new girls since she has always been that way. It turns out that our sweet little Nailie has been the bigger bully.

My husband says that Buster is letting Nailie be the muscle so she could mellow out in her old age. I do see her go after the new chickens some, but Nailie definitely does much more.

The three pullets get along pretty well at times, but they are always going after each other. It's rumble on the homestead. They are funny to watch when it happens.

new chickens
Andie

All the chickens are bantams, but our Andalusian seems pretty big. I feel so bad for her because even though she towers over everybody, she is the low one in the pecking order.

When I look at her and how tall she is, it reminds me of a model. She even looks like she has painted toenails and lipstick. We named her Andie.

new chickens
Katana

Our Blue Rosecomb bantam is named Katana. She is the smallest one of the bunch, but I think she is a bit of a bully. I like to say she has "little chicken syndrome."

I think she is very pretty. She also looks like she wears lipstick.

new chickens
Sage

The last of the girls is a Bearded D'anver. We named her Sage and both my husband and I seem drawn to her most of all.

She is the most social of the bunch and is definitely the bravest. She comes closest to our new puppy. I love her face.

I think the girls are adjusting to their new home. It took them awhile to figure out that we came bearing treats, but now they have it figured out.

It is difficult to catch them and I sure wish that wasn't the case. Our old flock members seem to have finally embraced them although they do make sure that the new ones know their place in the pecking order.

So far the new girls are so quiet. They are not laying yet and I wonder just how loud they will be once they do. Right now we have no one laying so it will be nice to get some eggs again.

We got a new puppy just one week after we brought the chickens home. We are hoping to raise him right so that he can be a good protector of the girls.

The chickens did come from a home with dogs and the puppy was in an adjacent yard with chickens. We hope all will get along.


Photos property of the Faithful Homesteader.

Our New Homestead Puppy

Faithful HomesteaderI have always been a cat person, but I did have a few dogs when I was a kid. I love dogs, but other people's dogs.

My husband has always been a dog person, but we have not had one in the 10 years that we have been married. Over the years he talked about it and we weren't sure if really fit into our lifestyle, so we stuck with our cat and eventually some chickens. But lately the urge for a dog has consumed my husband.

new puppy

We have been talking for quite awhile about what kind of dog would fit with us. We wanted to get a puppy at not more than eight weeks of age. We want to train it up young to know that our cat is part of the family and to protect the chickens and not think of them as some kind of prey.

I have soft spot for pit bulls because I think they are unfairly maligned. After doing research my husband decided that an American Pit Bull Terrier could be a good fit for us. However, he has also always loved the American Bull Dog.

new puppy

He was very excited when we found some six week old puppies who were a combination of the two. Dad is an American Bull Dog and mom a pit bull. A "Bullypit," as they are often called, seemed a great compromise for us. I decided it could be his birthday present.

I don't have the level of excitement as my husband does because I am used to the laid back, low maintenance style of cats. I am not used to an animal that I need to supervise so much.

The little one is quite the handful, but my husband is so ecstatic to finally get his dog. He is in love with the adorable puppy.

We always have such a hard time naming our animals. I prefer what I consider dignified names for animals, but my husband generally likes weirder kind of names.

I had made an agreement with him that he would be able to name the dog so we have ended up with the name "Nudnik." The word has Yiddish origins and means pest or bothersome person.

In these early puppy phases he can certainly be that. Some people think it's an awful name for a dog, but others find the humor in it. He just really likes the way that the word sounds.

My husband is looking forward to doing all kinds of things with the dog like training it with sign language, going on hikes and doing an obstacle course in the backyard. He is thinking the dog will help him get back to being more active.

I don't think the cat is too thrilled to be sharing the spotlight with a dog, but she has tolerated him. She has hissed at him a few times, but we have not seen her swat at him. They have both napped in the same general area on the sofa.

Our younger chickens don't mind him, but the elder chickens are not too fond of the whole experience. Hopefully they will come around.

I don't know if I am ready for this next new adventure, but here it is. I am looking forward to getting the puppy trained. I am sure I am much more cut out for an adult dog, but we need one we can train young to fit into our little homestead family.


Photos property of the Faithful Homesteader.

Two Crowing Hens and a Summer Garden Update

Faithful HomesteaderIt has been a bit of a crazy summer. Overall we have had a way too dry summer and both my hens are crowing. Most of the garden died early on because of the lack of rain.

Due to illness we have been down to only two chickens. My husband thinks they are bored and in need of more chickens to balance things out again.

My original hen Buster started crowing years ago and she goes through stages of crowing and then she will go for a bit without doing it. It seems as if she is crowing for a longer period of time this year. We are ready for her to stop.

We live in a regular neighborhood and we always worry about the noise of our little Buster. We actually will bring her inside so she is less likely to annoy the neighbors.

Thankfully, she has become easy to catch over the years. One day I heard some other crowing, but thought that it was maybe the television.

But then I soon figured out that it wasn't the television, but instead it was my other hen Nailie. I can't believe that I now have two crowing hens.

two chickens

I am convinced that our little Nailie wants to be just like Buster and so that is why she started to crow. She even molts the same way as Buster where the main thing that is noticed is the loss of the tail feathers. They usually look okay otherwise.

The bad thing about Nailie crowing is that we can never catch her. Fortunately, she does not crow quite as loud. Her crow is even one note shorter than Buster's. I feel like I have dysfunctional chickens.

We had such high hopes for the garden this year. I like having plenty of squash and zucchini to make veggie pasta, but we think it was grub worms that killed them early on in the season.

We usually have an abundance of tomatoes to make a spaghetti sauce, but the drought has been bad. My husband did not anticipate such a dry summer so he did not use as much mulch as he should have.

I was really looking forward to some good corn and we usually have an abundance of beans. I like going for a spell without buying vegetables from the store. I think the fact that we did not have as much abundance from the garden has been a factor in me not eating as healthy this summer.

The lack of rain has been frustrating. We had a spell of extreme heat and we were just longing for a bit of rain. We usually use rain water that we collect in our rain catcher to fill up the pond, but we were not able to do that most of the summer.

When we finally were able to get several inches of rain, it was so refreshing. The below normal temperatures were pretty great as well.

I am looking forward to fall and a fall/winter garden. I am hoping we get some Jerusalem artichoke and radish in the garden.

I am not sure what else we will plant. Hopefully I will eat better in the fall and winter than I did over the summer.


Photo property of the Faithful Homesteader.

Enjoying a Painted Bunting Backyard Visit

Faithful HomesteaderI love bird-watching on my little homestead. Over the years we have seen a great variety of birds.

We used to put out bird seed, but having an abundance of birds around attracted hawks which would prey on our chickens. I was a bit discouraged because I loved my birds. We have however still provided water and some birds are attracted to the garden so all was not lost.

bunting fence

Several years ago I was so excited when we had a Painted Bunting visit our backyard. I could never get a great picture because I only had my phone to use. When I finally got a good camera, one of my goals was to get a good picture of the Painted Bunting.

However, as the years went by, I was not seeing my beloved Painted Bunting. I always hoped that we would have another good garden that would attract the beautiful creature.

bunting tree

This year I was thinking about the Painted Bunting and had given up hope that I would see it. Because of drought conditions, the garden was dying and didn't seem to have much to offer.

We ended up with record high heat and multiple days of heat warnings. That ended up attracting multiple birds to the yard for our water sources and garden scraps. Much to my delight the Painted Bunting was among them.

I could not believe that all my waiting was finally over. He seemed to like our Egyptian Walking Onion patch. I did take some pictures, but they were not quite what I had hoped for. The next day I was on the look out again and was thrilled that it returned.

I was finally able to get some better pictures, but still not that great picture that I have been wanting. Nevertheless, I was so happy to be able to spend so much time observing the bird.

He did go for the water when he wasn't being run off by the bigger birds. Eventually a female Bunting came along too, but a photo op was even more challenging with her and she was not around near as much.

I was certainly glad that I could help the birds out during the heat wave. It was the first time I noticed just how hot the birds could get.

After seeing the Painted Bunting hanging around for a couple of days, my husband did some research about them. He said they were actually more likely to come around because we were not putting out seed that would attract so many birds that would then run them off.

Also the way the garden was done provided a nice food forest for them. The Sunflower patch was another nice place for them to forage for insects in a sheltered environment.

I am not sure if I will see the Painted Bunting again this season, but it has given me great joy. I love that he would choose our humble space as a worthy place to visit. I was so happy to see him making himself at home. It is definitely one of my most thrilling bird-watching experiences.


Photos property of the Faithful Homesteader.

Learning How My Dryer Works

Faithful HomesteaderFor many months now, we have been dealing with our dryer not drying. We discovered the ancient art of hanging our clothes out to dry. But because of our schedule and various weather conditions, sometimes that's not practical and a dryer is needed. One thing I hate about hanging our towels out to dry is that they end up stiff as a board. I do like the benefit of saving on electricity and by doing things the old fashioned way. But I still want a dryer that dries for those times when I don't have time to wait.

My husband finally ordered a kit so that we could replace the heating element and all of the thermostats, which is a common problem on our model. This was another opportunity for me to learn, so I did the replacing as my husband walked me through everything. I had no idea that a dryer even had multiple thermostats. I never even thought about how a heating element worked so I was glad to learn something new.

thermostats
Old and new thermostats. There was a little bit of a difference.

After making sure to unplug the dryer, the first thing I needed to do was to take off the back panel on the dryer using a ratchet and socket. I have not had a lot of experience using one and didn't even realize there was a switch for when you are screwing and unscrewing the bolts. I learned that the hard way.

I then needed to disconnect the heating element and the thermostats. We took pictures to make sure that we would connect everything back the right way. We replaced three thermostats. When I pulled out the heating element, I was able to see that half of it looked burned. I could see the big difference between it and the new one.

heating element
The old and new heating elements side by side

Once I got everything replaced and connected, it was back to putting the panel back in place and screwing in the many bolts. I felt a good sense of accomplishment and I was excited to see a positive result. But after all the work, the dryer would not work. We eventually figured out that the fuse was tripped. Even after all that, our clothes still would not dry. It was such a disappointment for me. I was ready to have a great sense of accomplishment because I fixed my own dryer.

My husband was ready to source another dryer, but I really want us to fix it. It is a hassle to find something that we can afford and then we would still have to dispose of the old one. I told him that I want us to still try to fix it. He says the it will be fixed by replacing the control switch.

I am really all about learning everything I can about the dryer and the different appliances around the homestead. In the past I was content to let my husband fix everything around the house and do all our vehicle maintenance. Now I get a bit of a rush from learning and doing some of these things on my own.


Photos property of the Faithful Homesteader.

Volunteering in Your Community

Faithful HomesteaderI haven't had a regular paid job in several years, but I have found worthwhile ways to spend my time. It feels like I have several jobs even though I don't get paid. I am glad to have the opportunity to give back to my community through volunteering. I want to encourage others to get involved.

Several years ago when I moved to my semi-rural area, I found that we were surrounded by many ranches and there was certainly no shortage of horses. I told my husband that I would love to find a way to be around horses. Sometime after that I found an ad for an equine therapy ranch. They were looking for volunteers and no experience was necessary.

horse therapy
Photo property of the Faithful Homesteader.

I decided to give them a call and I set up a time to tour the ranch and I went through the training. It was great to get hands on with the horses. I learned how to groom and tack a horse. The ranch works with a variety of students with disabilities. It is great to see the connection between horse and student. Equine therapy ranches are a great place to volunteer. I know from my personal experience and hearing about other places that they are always in need of volunteers.

Another area that I have become involved with is in helping fight human trafficking. A couple years ago we had a speaker come to our church and talk about her ministry that was started to join in the fight to help human trafficking victims. The ministry is involved with education and there is a safe house as well where girls can come and have a chance at recovery and healing. Another aspect of the ministry is doing outreach with posters of missing girls who are at a high risk of being sex trafficked.

Equine therapy and human trafficking are both important causes that are always in need of volunteers. However, there is no shortage of ways to give back to the community. Meals on Wheels provides an important service for people who are unable to purchase or prepare their own meals. There is always a need at food pantries and for helping the homeless.

In my area there is a great non-profit center that helps connect people with volunteer opportunities. They put out a monthly newsletter that lists the opportunities. For anyone looking for ways to give back, non-profit centers are a great resource. Jewish Family Services in my area also lists volunteer opportunities.

One thing for me about volunteering is that it gets my out of me comfort zone and around people. I spend a good amount of time alone, but when I volunteer, it gets me out there. Volunteering at the ranch also gives me another chance to get fresh air. I figure a bit of manual labor is good for the soul and body too.

Volunteering can open up a whole new world of experiences. It brings us all closer together. It can be a way to discover new passions. I certainly never imagined being involved equine therapy or human trafficking ministry a few years ago.

Garden Update in North Texas

Faithful HomesteaderEven though it is not technically summer quite yet, it sure has felt like it. We have been able to harvest some things like our squash and peppers.

The fish seem to be enjoying the new pond and we finally seem to have a handle on the mosquito population. There is lots of life and activity on the homestead.

garden

I am so happy that this year we have been able to enjoy the peaches off of our trees. Last year was the first year for the trees and we actually had peaches since my husband planted at just the right time. Unfortunately, someone helped themselves to all of our peaches and we didn't even get one last year.

peaches

Our squash had been doing pretty well and I love to make noodles with it for spaghetti. We are starting to lose the plants to a worm that always seems to strike.

I am planning to make a squash bread with some of the larger squash. I may also make some fried squash to add some variety.

Our peppers always do well and I love the looks of the bright-colored ones. I think the orange ones are my favorite because the color is just so vibrant. We had been getting a good amount of asparagus, but it seems we are coming to the end of it for the season.

This year we are growing eggplant and they are getting close to being ready to harvest. I am not sure how big they should be before they are ready to pick.

The kale has been great for smoothies and I have also used it to add to a mackerel salad. My husband said that he is going to start eating it too.

I am not sure if the corn is doing well. I sure hope that we do end up with some. It was so good last year and I have not had any good tasting corn in quite a while.

The blackberries are doing well and they make a nice treat for my husband to take with him for a snack. We are also growing blueberries, but don't expect them to do anything this year.

We are slowly getting some tomatoes, but we usually have them well into early fall. The ones we plant are quite heat tolerant.

Spaghetti sauce is my favorite way to enjoy the tomatoes. We will probably end up making chili even though it is more of a cold weather dish. We like it because it is easy to make.

If the birds don't get them, we should end up with quite a bit of grapes this year as well. We may have plenty to share with the chickens.

We usually have at least a watermelon or two to share with them as well. I am actually not a big watermelon fan, but my husband and chickens sure are.

I really like that we planted more flowers this year. My husband planted some flowers that he doesn't even remember what they are. I think we have zinnias. He planted some other flowers that are said to attract hummingbirds.

We love our hummingbirds. We have a lot of marigolds and giant sunflowers as well. Sunflowers are my favorite. They do a great job of attracting birds and the squirrels love them too.

I hope we do get to enjoy the garden for a bit longer. It is certainly a lot hotter early on and perhaps that is going to affect things in a negative way. We will just have to enjoy what we have for as long as we have it to enjoy.


Photos property of The Faithful Homesteader.