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Faithful Homesteader

First Time Archery Adventure

Faithful HomesteaderFor quite some time I have been interested in learning archery. Money is always a factor in every new thing that I would like to try, so I was excited to see that my Texas state park offered introductory lessons for nothing more than the cost of the park entrance fee. They also provided all of the equipment.

Initially, I was unable to attend a class because it was always on a day when I had prior commitments. They finally offered it on a day when I could go and then it was rained out. Finally, they offered it again on a day that I could go and after several days of rain, it was a beautiful day for it.

Taking a shot at archery

My husband took our puppy for a hike while I did the lesson. The original site for the lesson was pretty much washed out, so we had to move to a new location.

It was a little bit of a trek to get there, but I am always happy to get some exercise in when I can do so. There were two family groups and then me there for the lesson.

I was concerned that I would be very bad at archery and not able to hit the targets at all. I was glad that was not the case. The instructors did a good job of walking everybody through it all step by step.

The archery equipment

The program that the park used is the Texas National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP). It is a program that provides international style target archery training in schools.

The Texas NASP program provides the training from 4th-12th grade in physical education classes. Texas Parks and Wildlife sponsors the program.

When I was in school, we moved around quite a bit. I never really got involved in extra curricular activities.

Now is my time to try new things. I love finding new adventures and learning opportunities.

I liked that we had a small class. It meant that we had multiple opportunities the practice.

We had two teams and did a little bit of competing. I was worried about being a weak link, but surprisingly I was not.

I only missed the target one time. The time I missed, I was aiming high because of the particular exercise, so I didn't really feel too badly.

The time went by too quickly. I really was wanting to practice so much more.

One of the instructors said that archery is addictive. I could see how that could be true.

I like doing the archery on the Nintendo Wii, but the real life activity is better for sure. I would love to get my own bow and arrows.

My husband said that we could set up targets in the yard. I definitely want to do that.

Learning archery is just the latest in my learning adventures. I certainly think you are never too old to learn and I love to exercise my brain as well as my body.

Often times my brain doesn't work as well as I wish it would. I am glad that it cooperated enough for me to enjoy a lovely morning learning a new skill.

Photos property of the Faithful Homesteader.

Fall Homestead Updates on the Garden and New Animals

Faithful HomesteaderWe had quite a dry spell that wrecked our garden over the summer, but it is interesting to see some renewal now that it is fall and we have some rain. We have also been adjusting to our new puppy who is now about 13 weeks old and some pullets as well.

This requires rethinking the garden because of the puppy and chickens. Our puppy loves eating peppers off of the vine among other not so cool things.

I noticed we have okra, eggplant and some cherry tomatoes growing. We have a bunch of gourds growing too, but I have not figured out what I want to do with them.

Our peppers have made a come back as well. Our kale has actually done great the whole summer and is still doing great.

These days we are getting an abundance of rain. It always seems to be too much or too little. I was glad to see the dry spell finally end though.

We rely on rain water to keep our pond full and we were not able to do that for a few months. I was not liking the water bill.

I wanted to have a fall garden, but it does not look like we will be doing anything this season. I guess I have to just enjoy what is left. I am hoping some of our Jerusalem artichoke and asparagus will return.

Dog on hike

The new puppy has turned my world a bit upside down. Everything has to be adjusted because of him.

My morning routine is wrecked and I often have to get up even before the chickens to make sure I have time for my stuff and the puppy stuff. I still have not adjusted to all of it.

It is interesting to me how much people are into our new puppy. People used to always ask me how the chickens were doing, now it is how is the puppy doing.

I make sure to take cute puppy pictures. I still love my chickens and like taking cute chicken pictures too.

Girls in pot

We are really working to raise the puppy up with the chickens and we do want them to be friends. It would be great to have our little Nudnik become a great protector for the ladies. It does seem like he wants to play with them.

We are careful having him around them. The young ones are especially brave and have no problem coming near to the puppy. That makes me nervous.

I was concerned about one of the pullets because she seemed like she was losing weight and was just not as active. Someone has worms and we suspected her.

We dewormed everyone and all seem to be doing well now. I sure hope that continues. Because of much chicken loss, I am definitely a high strung chicken mama.

I am looking forward to having eggs again, but I suspect it will increase the noise volume on the homestead. Our crowing hen has settled down a bit.

The puppy can be quite loud and I am hoping that will pass. My husband says that our kind of dog is not known for barking much. Just my luck I get an exception to the rule.

Photos property of the Faithful Homesteader.

Reflections on Ten Years of Marriage

Faithful HomesteaderThere was a time when I wondered if I would ever get married and now here I am celebrating ten years of marriage. It is hard to believe that it has been that long.

I was 35 when I finally tied the knot. My whole life has changed. I am not the same person today.

I certainly feel like we have grown closer over the years. Even though we have so many differences, it seems we have more in common after ten years.

love written brick wall

We first met when I was just finishing up Bible college and really had no direction or job prospects. On a practical level, the timing was great to get married.

It was not the reason to get married, but it definitely was on my mind. I wanted a life partner and a person that shared my faith. My future husband was in Bible college when I met him so that was a real bonus for me.

Our faith helps our commitment to each other. Everyday we say I love you and we don't bad mouth each other to other people. It is important for us to support and encourage the other.

We are accountable to each other and openly share our phone and e-mails. I think these are all things that help us have a strong marriage.

When we were first married, we lived in a tiny apartment, but about six years ago we moved to a home in a semi-rural area. Over the years, we have had a large garden and two ponds. We ended up chicken parents when a stray one wandered into our yard.

All of these things led to me starting my Faithful Homesteader blog. If it wasn't for my husband, I doubt my life would have gone in that direction.

I have evolved over the years and now we even have a puppy. I have always preferred the low-maintenance lifestyle of cats. We are also proud parents to our sweet cat Abigail.

We bought an old church bus that we are turning into a tiny home. I have even worked on the bus myself. I cut wood and put up some walls.

I don't know if it is all the marriage or not, but I have become a lot more adventurous in my older age. I went off-roading with my husband. We did a rock climbing wall and trampoline park.

I am learning to work on my truck. My husband walked me through replacing the belt on our garage door. I replaced some parts on my dryer.

I like that my husband is able to teach me a lot of things. It definitely gives me plenty to write about and gives me a sense of accomplishment. I think we make a good team.

I am not sure what is in store for the next ten years, but I know we will be there for one another. Marriage is hard, but if both are willing to put in the work, it can be rewarding.

Photo property of the 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

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

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

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.

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