Our new home has been wonderful when it comes to the homestead. We have only been here 5 months, but it has come a long way. We put in hours upon hours working to make it run smoothly, which is one of the reasons I seldom do blogs of late. My hands are usually so covered in blisters and calluses I find it hard to type (I guess I need one of those thingies that doctors use that types up what is said). Amid all the work I have really tried to bring a touch of whimsy and fun to our farm through decorating the utilitarian things with thrift-store finds and paint. It makes all the work so much more enjoyable!
So…. Here is what we have been up to. When we moved we gave away all our chickens and just moved the goats and the rabbit (we got rid of most of the rabbits before moving). Last week we lost our bunny due to me feeding him weeds where the previous owner had sprayed herbicides multiple times a year. That was really sad, but it clued me in to how careful I am going to have to be in certain parts of the yard.
The goats have loved their huge pasture (compared to what they had) and we have had spring babies, and still have more to come. The barn is coming along slowly, though in the big scheme of things it is actually going pretty quickly. A friend helped me get power set up and run to the goat barn and I am currently working on wiring outlets and lights. I ran power to the garden and the chicken coop which will allow me to have eggs longer (light therapy for the hens) and even plug in pond pumps and a radio in the garden. Since I know we eventually want an aquaponic system in place I knew we needed power out there. I managed to blow up the first outlet I put in, but today I will try again and possibly be able to get the extension cords out of the yard.
We were blessed in March to be able to help a friend out by taking her ducklings and chicks she couldn’t keep, so we have 6 chickens (but I think only 3 are hens) and 6 ducks. We are not really sure what varieties of ducks we have, but they sure are cute! I love ducks a lot more than chickens, but I will be very happy to have them in the swamp instead of the garden; ducks are MESSY!
I have our first bee hive outside with a sugar and water solution to hopefully attract a swarm. It has been out 4 or 5 days and has quite a bit of activity. The previous owners of this place landscaped for flowers year-round, there is always something blooming. The bees loved the Bradford Pear, and now the flowering cherry. Then there are roses, crepe myrtle, irises, daffodils, lilies, etc. Oh, and a tulip tree, I was told by a friend that bees LOVE those! It is amazing to go out under one of the flowering trees and listen to the hum of bees. I climbed into the cherry tree and watched them, it was awesome! There is actually a ton of wildlife on this property since part of it is in a swamp.
Anyway, back to the bees. I got the first hive set up, and the boxes are very pretty. I painted them the typical white, but I stenciled images on them. I did the same thing with the chicken coop, and have more planned. I really enjoy the paintings. They are so bright and cheerful, and lend something, maybe a hominess (?) to ordinary items. It reminds me of how women used to paint inside their cupboards, often painting designs or stories so that they could enjoy them every time they went in for dishes or food. Or the way women would carefully choose fabric patterns or decorate with embroidery or quilting, taking something plain that they used daily and giving it a touch of uniqueness and beauty. Since it takes time, these touches cannot possibly be on everything, but that makes the ones that are done really stand out.
Now, on to the most interesting thing I have had happen. We are being given a pig. Yes, a pig. My husband has wanted a pig for years, and not to eat! He likes them better than dogs for some reason. In any case, we are getting a weaner pigglet. It is a Kunekune, a heritage breed of meat pig. These are more of a grazing pig, and as a meat breed I find that valuable. To me it would seem the meat would be cleaner, plus they won’t tend to root up everything in sight and can be maintained on our homestead far easier than other varieties. They can get up to 300lbs. so they are no light-weight, but not all of them get that big and they are often kept as pets. It would seem good breeders are few, but the family we are getting this one from is trying to promote the breed to homesteaders. While expensive to get into (a good breeding pair will probably cost well over $1,000) the sows make good mothers and your investment will give you a good return in meat alone, much less the show and pet market if you are interested in going that route. If this one works out I fully intend to get a breeding pair for meat. We enjoy bacon, but I can only imagine what is in the pork from the store, plus it would be nice to know you have a meat source that is fairly sustainable. They will also devour kitchen scraps and extra milk, all around a great addition to any homestead.
Now, I am off to start my day. Today we really need the electrical up and running in the barn, I have some more water pipe work to do, a little planting to get done, and some painting while the weather is nice. I hope you have a great day!