Updates on the Homestead

After taking what felt like a two-month hiatus on any progress on the homefront due to swim lessons and illness, we are finally back at work and getting things done!

IMG_20160715_155727485.jpgBeulah’s babies got a new pen a couple weeks ago. The piglets are 11 weeks old now. Beulah had mastitis so it was a priority to get that pen done and get those babies off of her. A couple shots of penicillin and she is all better. We’re keeping two of her babies for meat hogs – Baby Back and Bacon Bit. There are still three more pigs for sale as well.

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Bacon Bit

IMG_20160715_083231825.jpgThe goat pen is moving along. I painted the outside walls of the enclosure with a stain and sealant combo this week. It ended up being much redder than I expected or wanted. Nothing like the color pictured on the can. Hopefully it’ll fade. Still to do before we can get goats: finish the south fence, make the rain barrel automatic waterer, make a pallet hay feeder, build the inside wall and a door, cut out windows, and install shutters. I feel like we’re so close, but then there’s still so much to do. Hopefully with the pigs all settled we’ll be able to focus more on our goat acquisition again.

IMG_20160713_094203148.jpgThe rabbits are being rabbits. It’s nice to have one aspect of the homestead that isn’t requiring a lot of work or attention right now. Although we did just harvest six rabbits on Sunday. Hubby does the harvesting, using a noose to stretch the neck. It makes a quick kill. He then skins and guts them, and brings them inside for me to take over. On the day of harvest all I can do is a quick rinse. They are too floppy to do any more. Monday I got all the meat off the carcasses. Wednesday the girls ground up all the hind quarter meat with the Kitchen Aid stand mixer grinder attachment while I packaged everything with the Food Saver. They were fantastic and were a huge help! It saved so much time by dividing the tasks. Sure, there may have been a slightly bigger mess afterward, but it was done. All in all, six rabbits made ten human meals, five dog meals, and 12 x 16oz of broth to come, the second half of which is in the crock pot right now.

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Front to back: sweet potatoes, watermelon, tomatoes

The garden has been doing well, mostly. My tomatoes, which are much taller than me, are producing some fruit, but still too few at any given time to be worth canning. My green peppers have been producing a lot, but the red and yellow peppers are kind of puny and sparse. The lima bean vines are incredible, but I haven’t been getting many good beans off of them. Not sure what’s going on there. Last year we had a huge lima bean harvest. Our sweet potatoes and watermelons are taking over the east side of the garden. Some of the watermelons are huge! But I feel like I should wait until they change the color that’s described on the seed packet. But what do I know? I have no idea what I’m doing! I love having my little herb garden. It’s something I’ve always wanted, and it’s so nice to just run out to the garden to grab some extra flavor for dinner. Last night we had a yummy pesto made fresh from our basil plant.

Summer in Florida is HOT, so I’m trying to limit my outside work to before 10am. I haven’t exactly been handling the heat well with this pregnancy either. We take lots of water outside with us, and drink Gatorade or juice when we return inside. Still, I worry about over-heating, for both me and the girls.

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January: The before, after I had already cleared a path

I have plenty of inside work right now too. During Faith’s pregnancy I determined that The Forbidden Room is bigger and the layout is better suited for a shared bedroom, so I was working on cleaning it out. I’ve made huge progress, but there is still much work to be done. I hope to get the girls in there by their birthdays in September. The plan is bunk beds for birthdays, but I have to get the work done first. I’ve purged fabrics, papers and files, found homes for lots of items that were lost and unused, and have thrown away or donated a whole slew of other clutter.

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Still a mess, but fewer papers, fabrics, and clutter. More floor!

I put Gila heat-reflective window film on the east and south windows last week, still with one window to finish. Those rooms are the hottest rooms in the house. It was pretty easy installation, although the instructional video was 5 minutes, 40 seconds, and it definitely took me 45 minutes for the first one. They seem to be helping. The bedrooms aren’t quite as hot anymore.

After painting on Tuesday I was physically exhausted. It could have been so easy to just sit on the couch and watch tv with the girls all afternoon, but I had to break them away from Doc McStuffins, so I finally purged and organized our living room bookshelf while they played dress up, and campfire, and a little bit of helping. The disorganization had been bothering me for over a year. I donated a bag full of books to the library, but I still don’t have enough room on my shelves for all my books! It’s so nice to have everything organized though and to be able to easily find the reference books I’m looking for.

So we’ve been staying busy. I like to be busy. More so, I like to be productive. It feels so good to look around the place and see how far everything has come.

What have you been working on at your homestead this summer?

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8 thoughts on “Updates on the Homestead

  1. You amaze me. I have a smallish struggling garden and I long,long list of indoor projects I never get done. I need to get the kids helping or at least “helping” more so I can get it done.

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    • I really try not to let my indoor tasks last longer than 30 minutes, and try to involve the kids as much as possible. The Forbidden Room project has been great this week because they have all their Little People toys in there that they haven’t played with in so long, so they’re like new toys for them and keep them occupied while I sort through stuff. Outside, they have free reign of the yard while I work, as long as they always come see me when I call just for a check. Little Monster knows the boundaries well – never ever leave the yard without a grown up – and Little Miss is learning from big sis.

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  2. Thank you for your very honest and descriptive story about the rabbits! I know some people would be turned off by that, but I don’t know why we try to sugar-coat something very real…like floppy rabbit meat. We have yet to butcher our first chickens and I am both excited and nervous for that whole experience. I have never butchered anything before so I’m holding my breath! Our homestead has been busy, but mostly we both feel…overwhelmed by the amount of things to be done. So much so that it can be down right paralyzing at times! I will be home with the baby and our daughter tomorrow, so it will be a small crowd compared to normal. Looking forward to that break! Maybe the house will get clean AND I will be able to work on a few of our projects! We don’t have Florida heat, but we are having a hot summer. Plus we have to suffer through terrible Wisconsin humidity!

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    • The first time I helped process the rabbits I tried doing a couple immediately when they came in the house. It took so long! They say chilling them for just a few hours is sufficient, but once I get them settled in the fridge I’d rather just wait until the next day.
      Homesteading can be very overwhelming! When we got our land we had all these glorious plans for our homestead, but the longer we’re here the more we realize we need to take it slow and add just one thing at a time. Be kind to yourself. Maybe the house will get clean, but maybe it won’t. 😉

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      • With this many kids, I’m not sure it will ever be clean…at least not for more than a day…while they are gone! I think I’d be a lot farther into things if it weren’t for the new baby. Oh well! There’s always next year, right?

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  3. You really are so inspirational. Im over here freaking out about the idea of buying a homestead with an 11 month old and another on the way and you make it look so easy, even though I know how much work it all is! Amazing post.

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    • I’ve been there! Making that big change is scary. But it will all be worth it. You’ll get the homestead, you’ll develop a rhythm and routine, and you will all grow and learn together. Everything takes 10 times longer with my kids, which can be frustrating at times, but then I look back and realize how much they’re learning by being here with us and how much fun they create playing with whatever is lying around. I can say with two little ones on the homestead, baby wearing is a must! Congrats on your pregnancy!

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