Monday, March 30, 2009

Garden and Rabbits

The corn has started to sprout and we seem to have survived the cold snap alright. I joined a few yahoo groups on homesteading. That lead me to the idea of raising rabbits for the manure meat and fur. We got three white New Zealand rabbits this weekend. They are the cutiest things.

My toe was doing better but I put shoes on and went to town a couple of times this weekend and now its killing me again. But, the dogs, cats and chickens have all been fed, the straw I put down to keep the garden from feezing has been racked off.

Im going to take the rest of the day to prop up my foot and relax.

Friday, March 27, 2009


I want honey bees but Arkansas has some strange laws regarding them that even the regulators say are outdated. The last time they were updated was in the 70's. The main problem is finding where to get bees. I found plans for hives. Bear could build those easy enough. Then all we have to do is get the protective gear and the bees themselves.

Problem is that I have to have written permission from the land owner. The name on the deed for the land is my father. He died over a year ago. We don't actually have to file the paperwork to have the land put in our name. As long as the taxes are paid no one can come in and take it from us. But, with the land deeded still to Daddy it could cause problems. I don't know.

I put in an email to the head of the Arkansas Beekeepers Association. Hopefully I will hear from him soon.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Why Im doing this

This past weekend and start of this week has brought me to a point of wondering why in the world we are doing this. I'm not the kind of person that sticks to things that are hard if I can find an easier way to burn through it all. The easy way would be to keep buying my food from walmart, and forget about all the other things I plan on doing from the solar panels to the honey bees. The strange thing is I'm not considering giving up. I have an aunt who would take the chickens off my hands. Yet, somehow despite the broken toes, despite losing two chicks to the cats, despite the knowledge that the only plants I may get any kind of produce out of might very well be the ones I bought at walmart to transplant, I'm not ready to give up. I'm not even thinking about it. If anything, I'm annoyed that my broken toes are keeping me in the house and away from the chicks, garden and dog training.

All of this lead me to wondering why. What was it about this need to raise my own food, knit my own clothes, and one day have my own wool to spin? We aren't drinkers but, part of the reason I want honey bees is so we can have free honey to brew mead with. I have had one glass of mead in my entire life and I hated it, yet I want to try making my own. So where does all this come from?

It could be genetic I suppose. My grandfather and great grandfather were both farmers and good ones. I watched grandpa garden. But, with grandpa gardening was a spiritual thing to be done by himself. He wasn't interested in letting anyone help. So, as much as I loved my grandfather, my interest in growing things couldn't have come from watching him or helping him. All I can figure out is that its genetic.

Then I today, I read a post on the Children of the Corn blog that got me to thinking. She was talking about the farm that belonged to her grandparents and now to her parents and how it made her feel as a child. Though my Great Grandfathers farm was eventually sold off then re-bought by one of my grandfathers brothers, I spent a lot of time there as a child.

Her post sent me on a mental trip through the past and the memories that were the easiest for me to access. I of course remember the large gardens both of my grandfathers always had. Picnicking under the pear trees next to my paternal grandparents house. Running through the hay fields next door to my Maternal grandparents house. The flower and vegetable garden of the elderly lady who lived across the road from us when I was in Kindergarten. She brought me Tulips every day I was home from school, after I broke my arm. To this day Tulips are my favorite flower.

I also remember the long walks through the woods on top of Brock Mountain, the hundreds of hours spent just driving through the countryside looking at farm house after farm house. The houses were all separated by Chicken houses, Corn, Cotton, rice and wheat, or cows. There was the occasional trip to the odd museum or tour through the Ozark Folk Center or the Blanchard Springs Caverns. But, my favorite memory of all was learning to bake fresh hand made yeast rolls from Mrs. Johnson. She made me swear to only pass the recipe down to my daughters. She gave it to me because she didn't have daughters and her daughter in laws weren't interested in learning to make it. I remember exploring her chicken farm and the small cattle farm next to our house up there on Brock mountain. Those are the happiest and most peaceful moments of my life.

I want my children to have those things. We started a small orchard this year. My younger three and my nearly teenage son, will have memories of fresh fruit straight off the tree, my grandchildren will have memories of picnicking with Me under those trees. Along with the memories of helping me collect fresh eggs, bake fresh bread, picking fresh veggies and making meals using the veggies, eggs and meats we grow ourselves. I realized that the most relaxed I have been in years has been standing out by the coop listening to the sound of the wind in the birds wings as they fly around a bit. Its also the most crazy I have been, trying to check to make sure there is no way any of them can get out again.

I have a new appreciation for life and living that I haven't had in a while and I can associate that all to the trees both natural to the land and planted, the smell of the garden after a rain, and the sound of the birds. Rather than run from the work that I know will be ahead, as I make plans for expansion, I am instead debating between trying to get honeybees here in the next couple of weeks or finally doing that writing course I have been wanting to take.

I'm going with the writing program, pacing myself in a way I have never done before because, I know with all my heart that if I let my excitement for all of this get the best of me, I will add to many things to soon. To many things will lead to burn out and my dreams won't come to being because I pushed it all to fast and too soon. So, I will wait and bide my time. I will accept the moment I have right now and appreciate it for what it is. And I will pray that my children will find the same joy in these woods and on this homestead that I found in all of those places that became my places of refuge as a child.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Chicken Update

We finally got the chicks out of the house this past weekend. Hubby did an amazing job on the chicken coop and fencing. I know it doesn't quite count as free range but its more free range than what they would get being raised by Tyson or some other chicken or egg company.

We ended up doing a lot more than we intended because of the cats. First we didn't realize that chickens could fly five feet into the air. So we had everything set for about 4 feet. One of them flew up on top of the coop and before we could get over our shock and get it down, one of the cats jumped up and got it. We couldn't save the chick. So, now we are down to 31. But, we learned our lesson and spent the rest of Sunday getting a roof on the pen.

The coop is small but it has five nesting boxes and a natural roost. Bear found a long tree branch that worked perfectly as a natural roost for them. they survived the night just fine and are getting bigger by the hour.

Everything around the coop makes it look like we could win the redneck yard of the week award. But, that is one of the things I am still trying to figure out. How to get rid of all the crap we have out here. It got here in a lot of different ways, left over from when mom and dad both lived out here, from when my sister was here, the stuff that belonged to my grandparents no one knew how to get rid of.....

I'm hoping to be able to contact a guy in the area that will clean up your yard for the scrap metal he finds laying around soon. But, I can't until Bear has all of his tools put up and the only things that are out there are things we don't mind him taking. But despite the way the area around the coop and run look I am proud of the work Bear and the kids did on those.

When he has the time, I'm going to get him to write up his design and post it here.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Life seems to get more hectic every day. The peas are doing great. So are my strawberries. But, the stuff I planted inside that wasn't suppose to go out until the beginning of next month is dieing on me. I ended up transplanting several of them today and Ill do the rest tomorrow. I don't know how many will actually take off. I hope they all do but I'm not holding my breath.

To be honest, I'm not even sure what plant is what thanks to the kids being so helpful in the planting. Everything got mixed up. Lucky for me companion planting tends to be easy. For the most part the things you can plant together get planted at the same time. That's not completely true but its close.

I found a great website on planting the three sisters that includes a lesson plan for kids. I just have to find some fish that won't cost me an arm and a leg. I wonder if canned tuna will do it?

The website is to help kids learn how to garden.

not sure what I'm doing about supper. The chicken didn't defrost. Someone put it in the fridge. It was probably me. But since its still frozen, I can't cook it to make Mexican chicken so I'm going to have to think of something else. May go with my Tamale Pie or something.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The chicks have been here a week now and life has been crazy. They sent 33 though I only ordered 30. One of them had a birth defect. It was a hole in its stomach. It lived until early this morning. Tristian was upset. He took a liking to that chick because it was the smallest but it wasn't growing and I told him several times it probably wouldn't live much longer. But, it didn't stop from upsetting him. He is only 7.

Ive almost got the puppy crate trained. Buddy, is getting a bit better though he still isn't happy with the puppy being around. He at least isn't fighting with the neighbor dogs now when he and the kids go for a walk.

My oldest turns 16 on Monday. Her boyfriend is coming for the weekend and we are going to take them to the mall and let them hang out for a while. She doesn't get to see him but about once a month and that could become even less often if he gets the job he is trying to get.

I want to get her something special for her birthday but I don't know what. Ill have to keep thinking about it. Though I don't have much time. I want it to be something she will always remember and will have a special memory for her but I don't know what. I thought about a piece of jewelry, but I have to agree with my mother on that. Neither of us can outdo the ring aunt Glenda gave her the last time we were there. I guess I should ask her what she wants.