Homestead Update: June 2015
I struggle with what to call our little home and hobby farm; I’ve settled on “homestead” because it seems more appropriate than “farm”, and while I do have an interest in being more self-sufficient, I certainly don’t consider myself a “prepper”. So… homestead it is, and hopefully in a few months we’ll grow into that title. Going forward, I hope to do these little Homestead Updates monthly, to share with you all the things we’re up to around the house, related to livestock, gardening, canning and freezing, etc.
Gardens and CSA
I had grand plans but failed miserably at having a garden this year. I managed two tomato and one green pepper plant in containers. They all have blossoms and I have tiny tomatoes on one plant, but that’s all so far. I’m hoping we’ll get some much-needed sunshine soon to help with that. I also planted some basil and some lavender but I’m afraid it’s getting lost in all the weeds that have sprouted. If we get a break from the rain, I’ll make an effort to weed them out.
To make up for my lack of gardening this year, we signed up for a quarter share of a local CSA for the season. Our first delivery was last week and it will run every week through mid-November. Full disclosure: I’m a terrible vegetable eater. I grew up eating corn and peas and that was about it. I’ve branched out a bit since then, but this is pushing me to a whole new “try new things”-level, and that’s part of the goal.
Our first share included mustard greens, kale, mizuna, summer squash, calendula flowers, a gorgeous head of lettuce, scallions, and beet greens with small beets. This was a quarter-share, and I felt like it was the perfect size for us.
We’ve had chicken salads, steak salads with blue cheese, and Mizuna Quinoa Salad with Lemon Scallion Vinaigrette, which was quite adventurous for me!
I’m not sure it will be my new favorite, but it certainly is pretty!
I think the chickens may have to learn to swim very soon, or I’ll have to buy them inflatable water wings and snorkels. We’ve had what feels like non stop rain for several weeks, with more on the way. My yard is a giant mud-hole and my chicken run is a mess. I keep raking it up as best I can whenever there’s a dry spell, then throwing down fresh straw again to soak up the mud and keep the chickens’ feet dry.
Despite that, our hens are doing well. They’re almost 16 weeks old now, so we’ll be switching them to layer feed soon and hopefully seeing our first eggs next month! I couldn’t be more excited!
They also continue to entertain me to no end. On one of the few sunny days we’ve had, I took my laptop outside to work, and one hopped up on the picnic table bench beside me to supervise. I wish I’d had my phone to take a picture! I love letting them free range, but sadly I don’t get to do it much because I don’t trust our neighbor’s three labradors. So the hens get to play outside their run when we’re outside, and they’re lots of fun to watch.
This summer will be a big year for re-stocking our pantry and freezers. I plan to get sweet corn and fresh strawberries to freeze, and I need to can tomato juice and quarters. I’d also like to try my hand at canning salsa and spaghetti sauce if I have the chance. July and August will be very busy months.
The more I learn about factory farming and its mistreatment of both animals AND farmers, the more it drives me to want to be more sustainable on our own. I like knowing that the produce, meat, and eggs I consume come from animals that were treated humanely by farmers who are earning a reasonable wage. We’re not there yet — not even close — but that’s where we’re headed, and I’m looking forward to it!
Amanda lives with her family on a little red farmstead in northwestern Pennsylvania. By day she's a web developer specializing in WordPress and in her off time she enjoys working with goats and other livestock on the farm, canning, knitting, and crocheting.