Good morning everyone!
So like my intro post mentioned, this weekend’s post will be filled with information about our property, our why’s, and our short-term goals. Hopefully this gives you an overview of what we are workin’ with, so that anyone looking to embark on a similar adventure can use our information!
For starters, our homestead is located on 28 acres, running along the edge of a municipal side road. Unfortunately, of this, only about 1.5 acres of this is cleared (meaning we have a TON of forest! As shown below, our property is above the sideroad and below the pink line. Lots of trees, rocks, and soon to be hiking trails!
When we moved in, there was an OK chicken coop on the property. There is also a 2 car garage (which needs a bit of repair, but alas), as well as a creek. The yard didn’t have any gardens or trees in it, and the house had a leaky roof. BUT, at $127,000, it was a steal of a deal really.
Fast forward 5 years, and our house has a new steel roof on it, we have apple trees in the yard, we have established raised beds for both flowers and food, and we have the BEST front porch for sitting and enjoying our hard work! Really, at this point the front porch is the highlight of our house. It is the most used area of our house, as we can sit out there in the pouring rain and listen to the frogs. It also provides a covered-over area for our shitty boots and muddy clothes so we can keep those out of the house.
And, thankfully, to the south of us (see those cleared fields?), my parents have a big old beef farm! This means that we won’t be using our homestead property for any livestock bigger than chickens, as meat chickens, turkeys and beef can be produced in the barns (and fields!) next door. Any pork we require we order through a local butcher who also raises the animals, so for a pretty awesome price we get locally sourced meat, that is MUCH easier than trying to raise them on our property!
So essentially why we want to become homesteaders is because… we’re broke! Hahaha!
All jokes aside, we love the idea of doing everything ourselves. We know that this, in the longer term, will save us money on food, clothing, and electricity. This extra cash can be put into our current debts, and will rollover into having us mortgage free by the time I am 40 (that’s the plan!). Then from there we can save for things that matter!
Also, we really want to homestead to slow down life a little. We both live in a huge whirlwind of chaos, and having chores around the farm(s) to do helps us to slow down our minds, physically work our bodies, and just get back in touch with nature. I also remember growing up on the farm and the hard work that went into it all, which I can honestly say is probably why I’m where I am today. I want my kids to grow up with hard chores and responsibility, knowing where their food comes from, and teaching them a love of animals like I have. They need to appreciate nature and all that she provides to us, and learn the problem solving skills that only farming can bring.
Now, in all honesty, I (Laurie), could not imagine a better person to be my partner in homesteading crime than Jim. It’s true. And I highly recommend that if you are going to start an endeavour such as this, you really are 110% on the same page as each other. Jim and I are on the same level of homesteading (although I could go a little further, but I will explain that a little more further in this post), and we are constantly bumping cool ideas off of one another to make it work. We both share the same level of excitement in the hard work that is coming our way. I couldn’t imagine having to do this all myself, or with someone I’m merely dragging along for the ride, so we are in a great starting spot!
Our Short Term Goals!
Yes! Our starting spot is key! So… Everything I have read about homesteading, and everything I feel in my very soul, has said to start slowly. Don’t bite off more than you can chew, build your way up, and focus on attainable goals. So that is where we are at. The last thing we want is to start big, invest, and end up demotivated and wanting to give in. Baby steps are what we decided on for our first year of homesteading, and they are as follows:
- Plant an amazing garden. This year we have decided to go with less variety of goods, but more of the easy stuff so that we can process it at the end of the season. For the past couple years we have been trying to grow some weird shit in our garden (that I doubt would actually grow here without a greenhouse), so this year we are keeping it simple. From seed, we will be growing: carrots, peas, beans, beets, onions, lettuce, radish, herbs (basil, rosemary, thyme, parsley) and garlic. From plant, we will grow hot peppers, tomatoes, green peppers. I will do a further post about where we will be growing all these goods, but any spare goods that we can’t eat up right away will be put at the end of our driveway in a bin with a “free to a good home” sign, so that the folks that drive by can have fresh goods for free!
- Cut and split all our wood. Thankfully, our house is heated with an indoor wood furnace (saving us money on oil or electric heat), but it still is a few days full of work to fill our wood room and put a couple extra rows in the garage. This will allow us to be warm should the winter drag on (like it has these past couple days)
- Can for the fall and winter! I am SO excited to can this summer/fall for the winter, and I know that Jimmy is too! We are going to can the following: peaches, strawberries, applesauce, strawberry jam, pepper jelly, carrots, beans, peas, potatoes, pickles, salsa, tomatoes, beets, soup, stew, chili, spaghetti sauce. Wondering how we will can all that weird shit? Read on my friend!
- Put a bear (or two) into the freezer. Where we are, we have an area of crown land located next to our house. We also see anywhere from 9-15 bears on our single game camera out there, so we know we have a healthy population of bears in our area. At first I was hesitant to hunt bears, but after we had a 600+ pounder chase the dog through the yard, we knew it was time to do something! This gives us a good wild source of meat that we all like to eat, and saves us money.
- Upgrade the old chicken coop! This summer we want to make our coop work for one more winter. This will include whitewashing the walls, insulating it a little better, trying to build one of those solar heating panels (check them out on pinterest), and line it with sand instead of the dirt bottom it currently has. Next summer we want to build a smaller coop that is more efficient, closer to the house. But this summer we will work on making due with what we have.
- Finish off our new deck! Last summer we put the new front porch on the house, but unfortunately we ran out of money before we could finish up the curb appeal of it all. This summer will be pulling down all the old siding, and putting up a new wooden backdrop plus new lighting. Needless to say, I am excited!
- Clean out the garage! I think this is something that’s pretty standard on everyone’s lists for the summer. This includes purging a lot of the old shit that we never use from there (the inner minimalist in me is jacked about this).
- And our last task is to hang new doors on the garage. The old doors that are on there are broken and hard to close, so we need to build new doors that will allow us to easily get in there and at everything in the winter time (instead of struggling). Between this and the clean up, we should have an awesome usable space in the winter.
Like I had mentioned, this list is a lot of what we would be doing already, but expanded on and more focused, allowing us to grow our homestead while still not mentally committing ourselves to doing a bunch of stuff that we either don’t have the money or skill to do. Simple, fun, easy. That is how we are going to get our start.
Oh! I almost forgot! How are we going to can all of the weird shit I listed above? Well, anything that you can’t water bath can (low acid and meats), will get done in our new pressure canner! We just ordered a new All-American 21.5 quart pressure canner from Amazon, that is totally badass. I will do another post about pressure canning and it’s importance on a homestead in another post (as this one has already gotten a little long-winded). Stay tuned for our first adventure with it, which will be making a batch of spaghetti sauce to can in two weeks (when we don’t have Landyn, incase we blow the place up!).
Failure to plan = planning to fail. I think we have a pretty good list down for our first summer on the homestead!
Happy long weekend!
Laurie & Jim