Hello, dearies!

My, it has been a while since I’ve been in this lovely space! Given how chaotic things have been, can you blame me? 

I hope all who still come to read my posts are here, and are enjoying their lives to the fullest that they currently can. 

The homestead has been a a low buzz of activity during the winter. Clothes being mended, household tasks being tended, and projects imagined. Our initial idea of building a brand new coop for our flock has been kibosh-ed due to the house having a leaky roof, so that will get first priority. Instead of new digs, the chickens will get a new run – their’s is roughly a decade old and starting to show it’s age – and the coop interior will get a healthy dose of whitewash. 

This spring will see a return of two things to the homestead that have been missing the past couple years: seedlings and chicks. We’ll be creating a (hopefully) successful seedling set up in the basement so that we can go back to being a bit more self-sufficient in that arena. After getting a larger wood stove for the house, we lost our regular set-up that we had been loosing as the space was no longer available in the living room. (Not to mention having a cat who likes to munch tomato seedlings…..not helpful.) 

The chicks, as much as we’d rather buy local, have been purchased via a hatchery and will be here on May 23rd. I’m very excited as this allows us to add new blood to our crew. Why did we go hatchery instead of local? Unfortunately the breeds we were looking for are not established here in Maine. Trust me, if I had the space and time, I would certainly create a established flock of Andalusians and Anconas to hatch and sell. (While I only have experience with Andalusians, Anconas seem to be cut of the same cloth.) Along with those two breeds, we will also be getting a couple new Ameraucanas and some Welsummers. 

The part of ordering chicks that feels the most out of sorts to me right now is that we just – yesterday, actually – lost one of our matriarchs to old age. Snowbird was an almost 10 year old Ameraucana that we purchased from a hatchery via the local hardware store during our second year of chicken keeping. She was a lovely bird and we will miss her greatly. Her sister, Beardie, is of the same age and still with us. Rest easy, Snowbird. 


Photo of Snowbird taken when she was about a year old.

The Rhubarb Start

It’s been a long time since I hopped into this sphere. Why?

I could attempt the excuses that everyone else has. Pandemic. Kids. Work.

But…I think it’s deeper than that. Every now and again people, just like the rest of nature, need to hibernate. Regaining strength, direction, and purpose are all necessary to continue on as a living, breathing entity.

This little homestead has been though a vast amount of changes in such a short time. We no longer raise our own animals for meat – eggs only – and our focus on doing everything we can ourselves has shifted to doing what we can, but also utilizing local sources to the fullest extent.

The focus right now is getting geared up for gardening season. We have the idea to expand one of the gardens in order to allow Mister and Miss their own little spaces. They will each get two 4′ x 2′ gardens that they can plan, grow, weed, and harvest all on their own accord. This will also help fence in the blackberry bushes as well, a wonderful two-fer.

The plan to rebuild the chicken coop may have to wait as finances have — once again — gone into the vehicles. At least one small cold frame will be hammered together this week. Unfortunately, raising our own seedlings are still out for this year as we have yet to figure out a set-up that our newest criddo won’t destroy on us, so those will be bought from the local organic seedling farm.

So much of this planting season seems…rough. It’s a rough, ugly start, like a rhubarb plant poking it’s way out of the ground. It’s this weird looking, ugly, alien thing that is slowly emerging. You know in the end it will be marvelous, if not a little sour, but it will be worth watching grow.

Here’s hoping this season can see me time to get back into writing on a normal basis, eh?

Peeking From the Brush

Rose comb Rhode Island whites and a few barnyard mixed cockerels peeking from between the raspberry bushes.

I feel like one of my free-roaming chickens, peeking from between the brush, tentatively watching everyone else live their lives. The other chickens go about their day, picking bugs out of the grown, running down grasshoppers, yanking mosquitoes out of the air. All the while, I stay in the cool shade and contemplate what to spend my energy on. 

This year, 2019, was supposed to be the year of expansion for the homestead. The idea was to add ducks, grow a couple turkeys, and possibly start building a pig pen. A family member’s health problems, car troubles, and the sudden shift in academics for our children had to take front and center. The ducks and turkeys will wait another season, and who knows about the pigs. 

To satisfy our want to add anything at all to the homestead this year, plans have been hatched to rebuild the woodsheds (they need it) and to add a greenhouse built of old windows and pallets. The only funding that may be needed for that would be paving stones for the base. If the greenhouse scheme doesn’t seem to be working out, we’ll put energy into building coldframes instead. One small step can sometimes work out better than a big leap.

In an attempt to catch up on things, this weekend looks like it will be celebrated by working on our independence from oil by building our woodsheds. While I wait the sudden chaos and energy it’s going to take to rebuild the bins and begin the process of stacking four cord of winter warmth, I’m going to enjoy this shade and watch everyone else for a few days…..well, in conjunction to the normal day to day doings. 

Winter Quiet

It’s been quiet here on the blog, yet life has been anything but.

Family illness, the loss of our beloved feline son, and the financial chaos of vehicular problems has been sucking all our energy. Very little time has remained for thinking about the spring and the sudden onset of energy that will be needed to get another season rolling on the homestead. the “winter quiet” of hibernating and enjoying warm food and the comfort of friends – despite the aforementioned chaos – is coming to an end. Soon seedlings will dress the window sills and the countdown to peeping chicks will begin.

I welcome it.

The Wind Down

The end of the 2018 growing season is upon us here in Maine. The gardens are slowly growing empty. I removed the rest of the tomatoes at the beginning of September. The potatoes have been pulled, the cucumbers have slowed to a crawl, and the peppers and beans are beginning the dwindle down. Next will be the rush of buttoning up the gardens for winter, mulching down the beds to keep the more delicate perennials happy, planting garlic, and canning the last fruits of the season, predominately apples.

This time of year always reminds me of an old pocket watch, the type you have to wind in order for it to keep time. As the kinetic energy slowly slips from the movements, the hands slow down and time begins to feel like its moving at the pace of molasses. It’s a slow, steady, and sometimes boring pace, dragging you through the happiest moments until even they start to become dull due to simply overstaying their welcome. Inevitably, you wind the clock back up because things have gotten too slow, only to be shocked as suddenly the opposite emerges. Time feels like it’s flying by, faster than it ever has! The winds are blowing crisper than before, the leaves are piling up by the minute on the ground, frosts come in consecutive nights and then don’t leave at all, and the next thing we all know, the first blizzard is pounding at the door, demanding to share in the comfort of our home.

Yes, this is the slow time. The time to indulge and try to remember that in mere days, if we’re lucky, we’ll be back to the break-neck speed so many of us homesteaders have learned to love.