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.
So many people were holding out hope that the local news stations were pulling a fast one on the people of Maine. Here’s the thing: It’s only March. Yes, it’s the last day of March and tomorrow is April, but you can’t bag on a lack of snowstorms until after April 15th, especially when this month has been so cold compared to normal. (If I recall correctly, they said it’s the fifth coldest March on record.)
What’s that mean for this homestead? Not much. We’re only getting 2-4″. That’s a dusting, enough to annoy the chickens and make things pretty. I’ll indulge in once again not being able to see dog shit piles and broken fences. One small breather before the craziness of prepping season begins.
One of the most difficult things about homesteading is knowing when to limit what you’re going to take on each season. I have seen one too many homesteaders who dive in head first, getting all the cannonical homestead animals – chickens, ducks, goats, sheep… – and attempting a full jump into complete and total self-sufficiency all at once. Some of these people have a good chunk of change in the bank for fall back. Some have a rich uncle to bail them out of bankruptcy. Many are leaving a paycheck-to-paycheck situation, tired of having someone lording over them, and with very little in the bank for backup. What they all have in common is diving into the deep end without treading through the shallow water first.
I get it. I do. The self-sufficient lifestyle of a full functioning homestead is very alluring, especially to those of us with that as an eventual long term goal. Unfortunately there are a few rip-currents along the way, and without at least planning for the ones you know will come – set backs in loss of income, seasonal changes and the problems that can arise, the necessary care costs of certain animals – it’s easy to get pulled under and in over your head when you’re being pulled from one rip-current to another. The longer you go without catching your breath, the sooner burnout comes.
This is why, despite how badly we wanted to try our hand at it this year, maple syruping has been put on hold. We’re planning on expanding our gardens this year by adding an allotment on a family member’s property. We have a scheme to actually get blueberries from our own bushes. Our sights are set on high yields in our own backyard gardens. Syruping would have been aiming too far over our heads this season. Maybe next year we’ll test out those waters.
As gorgeous as raptors can be, I would appreciate it if the pair of goshawks flying overhead would bugger off. I have one hen held up under the coop who won’t come out. She left a pile of feathers where the hawk almost snagged her. Snow is a five year old Easter Egger and she’s lived through a lot, but I’d feel better if I could check her out.
On the plus side, the two Roos worked well together to keep the ladies safe.
This past Sunday, the 14th, seven eggs went into the incubator. I candled them yesterday, on day three, and all seven have veins! I am beyond excited! While this development may not be constant and we may lose some throughout the incubating period, it’s exciting to know our boys are doing their duty. Here’s to the nail biting wait of the next candling session on day ten.