Encouragement for the Begining Homesteader

Ahhh… It has been a long day, and a long week with another long week to follow. It feels really good to put my feet up and wind down here on the farm. I was just thinking, as I milked the goats, that life is very interesting. Here we are, on our new farm, with lots more land. Life is pretty darned good. However, as with many good things in life, it feels like we are always working (or looking at things that need to be done). It made me think of all of you who have commented on this blog and on our Facebook page over the years. Comments have always kind of embarrassed me; many times you were patting me on the back or telling me you envied how easy it all seemed for us. Other times you would be asking for help and all I could think was “What? You want help from ME!?” *squeaky voice*. “I am nobody, I am self-taught and screw up more times than I care to admit!”. Yet there you all were, and your encouragement and comments have meant a lot to me. So, I am writing this for all of you.

Both my husband and I have done farm activities throughout our lives. Both of us were raised with gardens as a mainstay in our homes. Both of us did a little of that after leaving home even. When we married we kept it up, but then we added livestock… and more livestock… and a bigger garden, along with kids. Over time our little plot of land became this amazing source of food and relaxation. It was wonderful! The kids could play in our little swimming pool while I worked in our very productive raised garden beds. The sounds of roosters crowing, hens clucking as they searched for food, goats hollering as evening neared  to remind me not to be late for milking. It really was wonderful, even with some small drawbacks, like the small size of our land and the fire siren that went off many times a day.

Then we moved. It took a while to adjust to a smaller house and more land. We have only been at our new home for 8 months, and it seems at times like we haven’t stopped working. I was so excited about the large space for the livestock… only to find out just how many predators live at the edge of swamps.  It seemed I would finally have a garden big enough to fill all our fresh food needs and beyond… but I forgot how long it took to turn 1/2 acre plot into something bountiful (it took 7 years). Our garden feels like a dismal failure this year. The beds I worked so hard on are full of termites, and one has very nasty ants. The late, unexpected frost killed almost all the early crops, and the rain has about drowned the rest. Many root crops simply rotted in the ground. We have gotten a handful of beans this year, and a few tomatoes are starting to ripen, but most of the garden stuff has gone to the pigs. We are having to learn everything over on this new property, from what kind of soil we have to parasite management with the animals. Since the property is so much more than before it means there is simply more of everything like cutting grass, weeding the landscaping, cleaning the new (and in need of repair) pool. Sometimes it gets very hard to get out of bed in the morning.

So, here I am thinking that this is great news for all of you! It really doesn’t matter if you are starting out with your very first plant or animal or if you have been doing this for 50 years; we all have to start somewhere, and sometimes we have to even start over and learn it all again in a whole new way! Here we are, after a lifetime of learning how to do the basics, and we are starting fresh. Sure, we have some information, knowledge and skills to fall back on, but often it needs tweaking in a new situation. And you? You have those who have been there! You have people to help guide you, but you are going to have to take what they “know” and tweak it for your own situation and home. It’s okay to make mistakes, for things not to work out. It’s okay to stop and remember that a huge garden doesn’t get claimed out of a long-time lawn in a single season. It’s okay to have half done projects or not know quite how to fix something. Eventually, if you really want to live on a homestead and make your own personal oasis, it will happen, and one day you will be weeding your garden and looking at baskets full of bounty and think “Wow! Seven years ago this was nothing and I thought I would never succeed, and now I have enough for us and plenty to share!”. So keep at it, you are not alone. Remind yourself of that often, and keep on trying, friends, and we will too!

Our work in progress

Our work in progress

 

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About nigerianmeadows

I am a homeschooling mother of 2 autistic children and cook gluten-free, I homestead on 2.5 acre and raise goats and chickens for dairy and eggs, I garden, cook, quilt, and take photographs. I build, paint, scrub, and dance on tables. I am the ultimate WOMAN!!! Oh, yeah, and I like my husband a whole lot (he is the one that makes all this possible, and he loves me like no other!)
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3 Responses to Encouragement for the Begining Homesteader

  1. Darryl Siegel says:

    I just came across your site while looking for some instructions for drying figs. As a 63 yr old male I suspect I’m an anamoly to other posts I read here. We grew up in South Dakota, lived in Mn for 10 yrs and then moved here, with our 3 children in 1985 in far southern North Carolina. We lived in a (large) rental home with a few acres until 1999, then bought a house with an acre with a sunny, slightly sloping lot where I developed a beautiful garden space with several hundred bags of leaves, each fall. The garden grew more drought resistant and productive yearly and then we moved just across the line into S.C. in 2008. I started with 5 or 6 small raised beds in the rear of the house where there is about 5-6 hrs of sunlight and had some success there. I knew the sunny, slightly sloping front yard would need to be my main focus and it helps that our house is nearly 80 ft from the road. I’m always looking for good soil, composting material and plants I can add to our space to make this a more productive space. There is quite a bit of space in the rear (over 100 ft) but only about 50 ft to tall trees – if it were just me I would begin clearing some of those out but my spouse loves the mature pines with some mixed hardwoods and the view is pleasant. Anyway, all of life is about compromise if you love your spouse and mine is very dear to me.
    I heard from a fellow utility worker in 2009 about a farm where the lady was moving to a rest home and he said she said to help himself to the fruit tree produce there which consisted of 3 huge fig bushes, 2 peach trees, Asian pears and 3 or 4 kinds of apples, 2 persimmion trees, 1 black (?) walnut and several pecan trees. I later found asparagus I transplanted to our space and found a small fig start I brought to our home also. I picked fruit there for 3 seasons before the property was sold to the county and posted with no trespassing signs. There were huge piles of composted soil there and I took (with permission) several loads of good soil and added to the 5 raised beds I had in the rear of our house and made a 4 ft x 80 ft raised bed on the east side of our driveway. Since then I’ve added a 4 x 36 ft raised bed on the west side of our yard in front where there is the lone fig tree in the middle. I intend to convert that to a fruit corridor and planted 4 grape vines there in the bed and to the front of it that need a trellis built for it this fall. I plant veggies there now but will phase those out as the grapes take over. and will remove the 2 x 10 wood supports for the bed.
    I come from a humble beginning and have always loved gardening, photography, reading and trekking into natural areas. I am a casual rockhounder. My spouse loves photography and is doing a day to day this year. We’ve both done some Shutterfly books and are getting better with that. My latest I titled, “An Abundance of Barns” and she did one recently about her journey to better health via a nat. health Dr, supplements, juicing, 5 x a week walking and a strict food combining regimen and drinking fresh juices daily. I am a certified Natural Health Professional and plan to work toward full time employment in that field within 18 months.
    Something happened last year in a fenced in compost pile that confirmed we need to watch for what the land gives us in our time and space. I threw some sweet potatoes in there in April or May and noticed over the weeks that there were some large vines growing in there. From a previous years experience I had learned you don’t grow sweet potatoes from tubers but from slips so I didn’t expect the vines would yield any potatoes because they were from tubers AND the sunlight there is only about 5 hrs a day. At the end of the season the vines had filled the fenced in compost pile (about 12x 12 ft) and probably 3-4 ft around it. In mid November before our first hard frost (didn’t come until about Jan 10 here) I decided to pull the vines with very low expectations, yet hopeful, and I was in for a wonderful surprise. I found nearly 11 pounds of sweet potatoes! So this spring I planted regular Red Pontiac potatoes in there and some beans. The beans have yielded “average” as did the potatoes. Then one cherry tomato came up in the rear fence area that is tall and spindly but has yielded a dozen or so tomatoes so far and 2 volunteer pickler type cucumbers came up and they have yielded great. The beans are harvested and most have been removed and I planted 5 sweet potato slips. So far no problem with insects and I have expected squirrels might cause a problem but so far none I can see. The soil is very rich there from constant fresh fruit and veggie trimmings and leaves but with the limited sunlight I never expected a result like I’ve had this year.
    I also have done a work share at two certified organic farms – the first was 50 miles away and that fall I stopped in at the closest one (17 miles) to us I know and have been there 3 yrs now. That has been a great experience in seeing all they do to increase productivity and the fabulous job they do with succession cropping. Three of the guys there and some volunteers (all women) are almost like family to me. That is a whole ‘nother story I will discuss another time if anyone is interested. Excuse the length of this. Writing is another one of my hobbies or sidelines. . . Darryl Siegel

  2. Debbie says:

    We are so excited to hopefully get our goat barn soon! I need to learn so much before getting our first goats but want to thank you for your hospitality last fall. Your welcoming smile and wonderful knowledge is such a rare gem. I stumbled onto your blog again and it appears there is a wealth of information here I can use. Thank you for sharing.

    • Hey Debbie! I so very much enjoyed your visit to our farm! You know you are welcome back and can call or email me. I am not so great at making contact since I am usually doing something or other besides thinking *grin*, but I love getting a call or email so I have the excuse to talk. I am trying hard to get back here and do more blogs as we work our new property, but sometimes my fingers are too tired to type!

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