KW Homestead

Pasture Raised Poultry from Our Family to Yours

Tag: observation

Birthday Reflections: Why I Love Living on a Homestead in the Country

Today is my 29th birthday, and I thought it would be a good (and fun) time to reflect on our almost 2 years in our house in the country…

These are just a few of the many reasons why I love living in the country on our homestead:

  • When the seasons change, you get to witness them in full color and bloom!
    tree

    Our blooming Bradford Pear; Bolt loves the spring too!

     

  • Where else to have our wedding except on our own land?!
    fall homestead wedding

    Our wedding.

     

  • That drive home from the city… When I leave the lighted ares of the world and finally get to the dark… Then I feel like I’m home.
  • Being able to use our land the way we want without anyone telling us otherwise. Gardens, animal fences, etc.
    garden

    Growing cucumbers in the garden.

    fence

    A yard full of chickens!

     

  • Having an entire fridge in the basement dedicated to chicken eggsduck eggs (in the future), and beer.
    fridge

    Eggs and beer!

     

  • Having an entire freezer in the basement dedicated to venison.
    meat

    Oh, meat!

     

  • Having all the animals we want without thinking about city ordinances, etc.
    geese

    Those crazy geese!

     

  • Being able to explore all of the crazy, old outbuildings we have and search for treasures inside!
    corn crib

    The awesome corn crib!

     

  • Having acres and acres of land to explore.
    woods

    Walking in the woods!

     

  • Knowing that our children will have lots of space to explore, run, play,and grow.
  • Feeling like our project ideas are endless and boundless.
  • And many, many more reasons that cannot all be stated here…

    tree and love

    Happy at home!

.:.

rainy day reflections

well, finally we’re getting a steady, lengthy, solidly wet rain. i feel like it’s been months since the garden swales have filled up with water, and the moisture in the air is thick and sticky (luckily the weather has turned a little cooler). as i was walking around today i noticed that everything was super wet and saturated, which can only come from a nice, long rain. it must have rained most of the day when i was at work and coming home i found muddy puddles all around the yard. the geese seemed perfectly happy in the rain, either sleeping under their tarp or swimming in their pool. the chickens, on the other hand, didn’t have a great day. since they’re not water birds like geese they look hilariously scruffy and horrible when they’re wet. they hid in their house most of the time, but came running out into the rain every time they thought i was coming by with their food.

the cement floor of the carport always starts to sweat when there is a lot of moisture in the air, and i noticed that some decorative wood slices had begun to grow a beautiful green fungus right beside the bark. this made me think about our shittake mushroom logs and whether today’s weather has given them a boost in colonization… hopefully they’ll begin fruiting soon!

n

this wood grows an extra decoration!

perhaps the greatest thing about the rain is the fact that we don’t have to water the garden! plants that are under the carport can come out for a drink and as i said, the swales filled up. so did our little frog pond right by the garden and bolt enjoyed drinking out of it as we went on his afternoon walk.

the ferns that hang in the carport get brought out for a long drink of rain water.

the ferns that hang in the carport get brought out for a long drink of rain water.

 

tonight jason and i are hearing a frog chorus that is much louder than what we’ve heard any other night.

and on top of all of this, rain is just plain cozy. it’s a time for introspection and taking it slow. i love rainy days!

.:.

escaping the scorch in the carport-porch

although this title is goofy, i assure you that our awesome carport is not!

since the weather is steadily warming up and we had a few 90 degree days this week, we have again begun to use our carport like an extra room of the house. last year we did the same but it wasn’t nearly as decked out with awesome places to sit and cool contraptions!

we have a long, wooden handicap ramp that was here when we bought the house. it comes off of the kitchen door and ends nearly at the edge of the carport-porch. there is also a gate that opens from the side of the ramp into the main area of the carport and right beside a door where we have our chicken food and the stairs into the basement. we have hanging baskets attached to the the railing of the ramp with a bunch of cool plants in them.

carport

a view of the carport.

the rest of the carport is one big open space! we have a wooden chest that holds planting equipment and also acts as a seat, an older table where we sometimes do planting or potting, and an awesome patio table that my dad found for us in someone’s junk pile by the side of the road. we’ve also got a handful of comfy seats surrounding the table and a hummingbird feeder directly above. what a view!

porch

our planting and relaxing tables!

plants abound in the carport-porch, as they do in the yard and gardens. there is always a flowering bush in bloom that we can see from our awesome carport and at night we cut on our string of christmas lights… very romantic and dim enough that the bugs don’t flock to the light source!

flower

the snowball bush that we can see from the carport.

since the eaves of the house are wide, you can almost always catch the shade from our relaxing table. i also recently hung a little handmade bird house that my father crafted from the natural hole in a hollow tree and an antique, iron bell that is so loud you would not hear a jet engine over the ringing!

our awesome, iron bell. dinner's ready!

our awesome, iron bell. dinner’s ready!

this is why we love spending time outside in the carport-porch! sometimes we plug in our box fan if it is really hot or to keep the biting insects away and sometimes we plug in our computers and work on posts like this one. other times we sit and watch the sun set over our land and trees, while bolt runs around or hides under his new favorite bush.

sunset

watching the sun go down through the trees.

one thing is for sure, though: our carport + two glasses of wine = one amazing, relaxing, and beautiful time!

.:.

stepping outside in the country: what animals to expect and what to do

jason recently posted about ways that living in the country can be different than living in the city. i have a few more thoughts about that… especially looking at ways that simply stepping outside can be different!

nature is, of course, much more present in the country than in the city. there is the beauty of the land and the nearness and noise of trees, crops, and lovely birds. and there are also creatures which you are much more likely to encounter in the country and for many of these creatures you need to know how to deal with them!

here are just a few of the creatures you can expect to encounter often, if not every day:

ticks

most people find these critters disgusting, and they certainly can be, especially when they swell up with blood. it’s frightening enough to find one on a beloved pet, but it also isn’t fun to find one on yourself (even if it has just attached). but, if you plan to move out into the country and you also plan to do nearly anything outside in the woods, you will definitely get some ticks (how does that country song go… “i want to check you for ticks”…?). expecting that you will get some and knowing how to deal with them is the trick.

sometimes you can feel them crawling on you before they attach, but sometimes you can’t. just know that you can avoid them somewhat if you avoid getting down and dirty and the leaf litter and if you try not to bump small trees or limbs (they can wait on these until they feel movement and then leap off). but for most folks who do a lot of outside work, this is hard.

we always check ourselves for ticks once we come inside and periodically throughout the outdoor work day. once we find one that has attached, our go-to is to dip a q-tip in tea tree oil and dab it on the tick and “mess with it.” most of the time, since the tick has just recently attached, the tick decides that his current location is no fun and he detaches and tries to move on (which means he ends up getting tossed in the toilet). but, sometimes they won’t let go and must be removed with tweezers. i am the primary surgeon (ha, ha!) in the family, and i always make sure to grab a little bit of skin when i pinch down on the tick’s head, to be certain that i do not leave the head still in our skin. so far this technique has not met with technical difficulty. despite this, the tick bites are very itchy for me–much less so for jason. we put a little more tea tree oil on the bite afterwards and watch the area to make sure nothing becomes infection.

ticks can carry different bacteria but it is unlikely that if you are bitten by a tick you will have any issues. but, do keep your eyes peeled and watch yourself; if you have any funny symptoms like a fever, a rash, an infection, or any shakes, go see a doctor!

snakes

we’ve seen a half dozen snakes in the past few days working in the yard; all of them have been harmless and they are always seen trying to get away from us fast. i love to pick up some of the little brown snakes, but we found another snake recently that we were not sure about… the markings on it were copperhead-like. upon further  investigation (we were safe!), we found that it was not a venomous snake. the way we safely checked to see was a multi-step process:

  • we saw that he was cold and sluggish from being found underground where it is still cool and noticed that he did not act angry and was not coiling to strike us. this says nothing about if he was venomous or not, but it did show that we were not in a high-risk situation.
  • because of the above details, we were able to look at his head shape, which was ovular as opposed to being triangular (usually venomous snakes have triangular head shapes, but not always).
  • since he was sluggish, jason was easily able to pin his head down with a tool (without injuring him) while i checked the underside of his belly to see how many scales he had below his anus. one row usually means that he is venomous and two means that he is not. this does not always apply but i know that it applies in our area, where the only venomous snakes are copperheads. i have even created a rhyme to help everyone remember this fact: “two is true for you, one is un-fun when done.” meaning: a snake with two scales below the anus will not poison you, while a snake with one scale below the anus will!

although most snakes that you will encounter are more afraid of you than you are of them (yes, that old cliche…) you still have to watch out for the occasional copperhead, which we luckily have yet to see!

cows

this might sound silly, because you’re thinking of cows behind their fence quietly munching on grass. but what about a cow on the loose? so far, i’ve seen one of our neighbor’s cows out of her fence. this is generally amusing (even though bolt disagrees, and thinks that the cow is an evil bad guy coming to get us any minute!), but the sight also gives me pause. both times i’ve seen her out she has been right across the road, staring at me. it is an unnerving feeling to look up and see anything staring at you, even a cow. it makes me hope that i never see a bull wandering around…

cows are big after all! and what will i do on that fateful day when i look out and see a runaway cow munching on our vegetables? any suggestions, folks?

.:.

more spring flowers… what a lovely time of year!

i’ve decided to write another brief spring flower post, partially because flower pictures can usually speak for themselves and don’t need a lengthy explanation and partially because i have so many things to write about and i just can’t decide where to start. so, i just picked something simple and lovely to start with.

this means you can expect some other posts coming soon about the many things we’ve been doing here on the homestead, like:

  • planting our spring vegetable crops in trays and in open beds
  • planting our 50-ish fruit trees and bushes
  • clearing out some of our wooded area around the corn crib, barn, and yard for planting and to expand our work/activity space
  • cleaning a bunch of trash out of the woods, and finding some useful junk (love me some useful junk!)
  • skunk sightings
  • snake and salamander encounters
  • finding a soft-shelled egg
  • altering a wedding dress

for now, though, i would just like to share more lovely flowers that are coming out for a visit. most of these flowers/trees/bushes started blooming last week or the week before.

our front yard crab apple, which never bloomed last year. we were so excited to see it show its true colors this year.

our front yard crab apple, which never bloomed last year. we were so excited to see it show its true colors this year.

flowers

some low-lying, ground flowers blooming under the crab apple. what are they? we don’t know their name!

flowers

our dwarf apple tree, planted last year, beginning to bloom!

buds

our first blueberry, also planted last year, going green!

tulips

these tulips have been much more plentiful this year than they were last year. they were already in the bed beside our carport when we moved in last year.

lemon

and these are perhaps the sweetest smelling flowers ever! jason got this meyers lemon from his workplace. it is exciting to see it blooming since that means we’ll see some baby lemons arriving soon (fingers crossed!).

.:.

spring is here: and the celebration of flowers begins!

although we welcomed spring last week, i haven’t really had the time to stop and think about what that means until today. as we all know, spring, of course, means flowers! it also means planting and growing vegetables, and the beginning of the hard-work-every-day-on-the-homestead phase of the year. this time of the year is fantastic, filled with excitement about the upcoming growing seasons, the fresh air (and the desire to be outside in the sun), and the anticipation of eating, eating, and eating-some-more our homegrown crops.

today i finally took the time to notice and photograph the flowers that have just recently started to show their true colors!

daffodils

daffodils are my very favorite flowers, ever. i love the different varieties, i love the way they smell, i love having them growing all around! i love them! i had originally wanted to get married during daffodil season to be sure to have some around, but spring turned out to be not-the-best time for us to have a big celebration here at home.

the daffodils came up a few weeks ago, around early/mid-march and have been going strong ever since. when we got some freezing and icy weather shortly after they came up, i was worried about the blooms, but the already existing blooms recovered well and new blooms just keep on coming!

daffodils

daffodils growing by our front walk

daylillies

yum! not only are daylillies wonderful to look at, they are also delicious! the flowers can be eaten, but my favorite parts are the “greens” (the fresh shoots that have just come up). they are wonderful when sauteed in olive oil and soy sauce, not to mention nutritious.

these guys just popped out a few weeks ago, and since i never transplanted them out of a bucket from last year, i was glad to see them (since i was worried that being in a metal bucket above ground during the 7 degree nights had killed them).

day lillies

daylillies just starting to join the spring flower dance!

irises

our irises are planted in a bed next to the house, and we don’t have any blooms yet, but we do have some fresh, green growth. i am looking forward to seeing their large purple blooms in the next few weeks. these flowers ventured above ground about the same time that the daylillies did.

irises

irises: a new beginning!

forsythia 

i’ve finally learned what the name of these bushes are (because jason keeps telling me every time i simply say “that yellow bush by the road”). their lovely yellow flowers just appeared mid-march and if last year is any indication, there should be shocking, 4-foot tall, bright yellow poof balls in our yard soon.

forsythia

one of our many forsythia by the road beginning to bloom

bradford pear blooms

we moved into our house almost exactly a year ago, and i remember that our bradford pear went into bloom right after we moved in. i will always associate the bright white blooms with the happiness of our housewarming month, and i’m glad that i finally got a picture of it this year! because the flowers are fleeting, that makes them even more special; the tree started to bud about 2 or 3 weeks ago and finally bloomed a few days ago. we should only have another week or so of seeing the flowers before the petals start to blow away in the wind, blanketing our backyard with the best confetti ever–a perfect celebration of spring!

our blooming bradford; bolt loves the spring too!

our blooming bradford; bolt loves the spring too!

happy spring to all!

.:.

Winter Homestead Chores: Where to Start?

The leaves have changed, fluttered from the sky, and now coat the forest and garden floor with a thick layer of organic mulch. Winter is here. For many, this means little more than bundling up, celebrating the holidays, and mulling over seed catalogs picking out new experiments for next year’s spring garden. But while these are wonderful things, there are many winter chores and homestead activities that can still be accomplished. From splitting wood for the wood burning stove to winter gardening pursuits, inspiration and opportunity abounds in the winter landscape.

Winter Homestead Chores

Photo courtesy Chad Cooper

Yet while there are many winter chores to be done, remember to take the time and enjoy the season with friends and family. The great thing about winter chores is that they are not usually too pressing, and can be easily budgeted into our schedules.

It isn’t wise to try and tackle winter activities around the homestead like you would your summer gardening chores. Especially around the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, daylight is at a premium and winter is traditionally the time of resting. Instead of compiling long to do lists of winter home maintenance or DIY projects in the cold, plan for plenty of time to contemplate both your life, and your land.

Winter is an excellent time to follow one of permaculture’s most useful tools. Observation.

Observe the rising and setting locations of the low winter sun, watch the long shadows, and maybe plan the perfect location for your new winter garden beds. The forests are easier to enter and navigate in winter, and are great places to look for patterns and enjoy nature.

Winter homesteading offers both challenges and opportunities, but remember that this is the time of year to recharge and relax to get ready for the ramping up of spring soon to come, and to reflect on the seasons that have passed.

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