Chicks and Chicken brooder

We have been wanting chickens since day one of the homestead. Actually we wanted chickens years before the homestead.

Being on our third year in we decided to go ahead and get some.

4 barred rock (turns out we did not get these as expected maybe just got 8 Rhode Island reds)

4 Rhode Island red

4 Golden Comets

So not going into the chicken industry yet, but it is always exciting to get new animals on the homestead.

We started them out in a giant Rubbermaid tote which worked great for the first few weeks!

We did some research on a bigger area for them and found this brooder idea from Lumnah acres. Chick Brooder

It was easy to build and has worked fantastic for the past few weeks. I made mine a good bit taller than their plans, mostly due to Bandit, our dog, and we had the materials.

The things I like most about this set up is when taken apart can be stored easily , and it can be used for various animals for a little holding pen when need be. I’m thinking I might make another one for our rabbits at some point.

The chickens are healthy and happy. They started out in the house but were eventually moved to the porch. They are now in the simple coop we built and in the area we want them to prep for next years garden. Have not let them out yet, letting them get used to where home is. Hopefully we get to release them soon.

Will be posting more about the coop later. Any questions? Comments? We would love to hear from you!

2019 garden updates

Just a quick post on the 2019 garden so far.

The garden woven fabric is working wonderfully so far.  If it holds up through the year and comes up in good condition we will be getting more for sure. See our previous post about it here: 2019 Spring garden .

Rabbits destroyed the rows of lettuce,  spinach, cabbage, broccoli , cauliflower.   They ate what they wanted and are leaving the rest along for now.   We are at war with them at the moment but they are still winning I think.

The plants have gotten to the point that they are outpacing the weeds which saves us some time.  Between the weeds that come up still, the black fabric ,  and the hay bedding from our rabbits that we added to the rows, the soil is keeping its moisture.  It has been very much needed in the hot dry weeks we have had recently.

 

We have already been eating squash,  zucchini , radish, garlic (planted last year) , spinach, peppers.

Our herbs are also rocking and we were able to use them and the garlic with the last of our frozen tomatoes to make an amazing batch of sauce.

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So many great things going on.   Very exciting time of the year.

Speaking of the war on the rabbits – we have recruited some help.  They are small now but once they get some size on them… varmints beware! We’ll share more about Callie the Calico and Ursa the Little Bear, in a future post.

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Blackberries, Strawberries and Blueberries. Oh my

Just a quick post about our berry production on our little homestead.

The first year we planted strawberries and a thornless blackberry.   The second year we added more strawberries,  blackberries ,  and then blueberries. Third year we added more blackberries and blueberries.

We are adding more as we can afford to and also when we can get an area cleared for them.

 

The strawberries were a mix of Alpine,  Ozark,  and probably some others we are forgetting. We tried a white strawberry too, called Pineberry.20190515_181305.jpg

They are planted in a old building foundation with a concrete wall that has fallen down.  It was a defined area that we always try planting things in.   Strawberries are about the only thing that we have found to work there.   We say work but even though we are currently getting lots of strawberries,  we are not getting lots of flavor.   They have all been so bland this year!  Our theories on this are that we have had record level of rains this year effecting the taste  or they do not get enough sunlight.  Or both. There are a few trees surrounding them we are considering cutting down.

Any suggestions from you guys are welcome in the comments!

 

The blackberries are a thorn less variety we like, named Apache . The property is covered in “wild” blackberry plants,  but they do not produce as much due to their thickness and the wild animals get most of them before they are what we consider ripe.

We are planting them on the edge of our young orchard and keep adding as we take back the woods.   They will have plenty of room to expand in the future.   The plants do well for us despite a few bites taken out by deer and rabbits from time to time.    Last year we even got enough to make a cobbler.  I would be fine if we got enough this year to make 20 cobblers.  We might be planting more,  or we might give it a few years to see how far they expand on their own.

Blueberries  we have planted several varieties so far,  mainly because where we buy them from seems to change what they  have every year.   They are all doing a great job despite the light deer grazing,   we have not gotten a significant amount off them yet,  but maybe this year!

 

 

We also have some grapes we have started that we will go over in a future post.  Thinking about maybe doing raspberries.  We are in zone 7b so researching what we could realistically grow here.

What berries are you growing?   What are some of your favorites?  Are we forgetting any that we should get started?   Let us know in the comments !!!

Starting our small greenhouse

Having years one and two gardens past us , we started to dream bigger. We wanted a place to start seeds earlier and a little bit more substantial than our hot box we used our second year.

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Small but effective.

We also wanted a potting shed, and a place to start some young trees, and nut bushes that could use a safe environment for the first couple years. With all of these things in mind, we decided to build a small greenhouse. There is a future plan on building a larger greenhouse/sunroom on the future house. We needed something a bit sooner though.

We spent some time figuring out where would get good light but not block anything in the future. It made good sense to put the greenhouse by the gardens, too. With our site in mind, we got going!.

First thing we did was set the posts. It is not the first thing we should have done. The ground seemed level to the eye. However we quickly realized it was no where close. It took some time and lots of shovel work to get it level for the walls and floor. It would have been much easier without the posts already in the way.

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Chief inspector Bandit the dog was there every step of the way making sure everything passed inspection. We will be posting more about this awesome pup in a future post.

Once the posts and brick were laid, the frame went up pretty quick.

 

The only thing on this part we should have done differently was to slope the roof more. It drops six inches but would have been better to do it ten or twelve. We have not had any issues yet, and we don’t usually have any snow accumulation here so will have to wait and see. We have had one of the rainiest starts of the year on record, and it has not leaked a drop yet. Fingers crossed, it continues to hold.

For the lower section we used metal just like we did on the barn.  The reasons being it helps prevent rot from rain splash back, also it matches the barn kinda.

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Below you can see between each rafter we have venting. So 4 holes on each side to help the green house cool down when needed.   On a sunny day even if its only in the 60s  the greenhouse can hit 120 pretty quickly.

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Vents out from the top.  Vents laying on the ground. 

After the outside was up, all the rain that came showed us we needed to work on the drainage around our little building.

We dug a simple ditch around the side that was causing the issue. From a previous post we mentioned there was a little decorative pond on the place when we bought it. Around that were loads of pea gravel and large rocks for a wall. We filled the ditch with buckets of the gravel, then laid the stone on top. Fixed the issue so far, and looks great to us!

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Inspector Bandit on the job.
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Front
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Left side

We are so happy with our first little greenhouse. It is already being put to good use. So many seeds started and even ten small trees. The pictures below do not even show all of them.

 

In a future post we will go through what we did on the inside and show you guys what it looks like . Got any questions? We would love to hear from you all in the comments!

What’s in a name?

We want to start by saying thank you to everyone who has read anything on our blog so far! Blogging is a new world for us and it is so rewarding and exciting to get the views/ comments/ likes from everyone. We’re enjoying sharing what we have learned so far and hope that we can inspire or motivate someone to do something too.  Plant just one thing – you don’t have to wait until you have acres or until you can retire.  Plant one tomato or one sunflower; it doesn’t matter.  Just do something! It will be so rewarding.

A few years back life did a big reset. After the dust settled on that it was clear a plan had to be made. The idea and the want of homesteading and a more simple life style was in the background but it started coming forward. This idea is expounded on in our first blog post if you want to check that out.

Having always kept various journals and date books it seemed only natural to do the same with the homesteading idea. A green journal that had been a gift was picked to be the one to start the daydreaming.

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Pages and pages of drawings and writings . Things from TV Shows, original ideas , hopes and dreams were all written down in the simple green journal. Bank accounts, types of loans, dates with a realtor and appointment times. Anything that had to do with finding a place and what to do with that place was written down in the journal. It became a treasure in itself and a constant companion.

There was a 6 month period of doing nothing but working towards a goal. No weekends off, no vacation, no thought other than getting a place started. Pennies pinched, clutter sold off , constantly thinking of how to get closer to the goal. One singular obsession and the journal becoming a manifestation of that obsession.

After buying the property it just felt like it needed a name. There were not even any other names considered really. It was obviously Green Journal Homestead.

It is a fun memory , a fitting name, and a reminder that anything is possible even when it seems like it is not.

That first Green Journal was filled up a few years ago but recently another journal gift had been given to celebrate the start of this blog.

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The journal might be new but it is like finding an old friend. The pages are already filling up just like the last one. Ideas flowing on paper just like before. We are very excited for the new adventures to come. We hope that all of you come along with us!

Reclaiming a barn part two

From the first post about the barn you can see that it was a job in itself just clearing around the barn to even begin to work on it.

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Once we got it cleared where we could get into it, the first thing we did was get out all the old tires. There were over 250 used car tires in the barn. We don’t know why, we don’t know where they came from, but they were our problem now. The second project was to get the tin off the sides. Half of it went to the scrap yard and the other half has gone to different projects. The frame of the barn was actually pretty good. Just an old pole barn that has probably been there forever. You can tell the cedar logs were cut by hand, probably from the land itself or somewhere close by. There was an addition put on at some point that is probably only 10 years old or so.

Old barn as a whole
The barn of many colors

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With the tin off the sides we started on the roof. There were no leaks in the old tin roof, and the structure was sound, so we just put a new roof on top of the old. Green, of course.

For the sides and inside walls, we went through several layout ideas as well as several options on what materials to actually use. We didn’t like the look of tin even though it would be the longest lasting. We also never liked the look of the sheets of siding that look like boards, even though that would have probably been the cheaper option. We also weren’t sure how long that would last, since it was the lower cost option. We decided to go with a board and batten style with 6 inch boards for the 1st layer. Putting the boards on this year and after they have some time to season the plan is to go back and put the batten on later. Probably doing 4 inch or so boards for that.

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Front
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Left side. This whole wall had to be rebuilt
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Back

We are leaving the addition part without walls, Just a half wall in the back. It will be used as a place to park equipment or anything we need to work on with a roof over us. If our needs change we can always close it in at a later date.

The metal wrapping around the bottom is for rain splash back. It helps the wood walls to not stay soaked from the ground and rain and hopefully last much longer. We also like the way it looks. The outside is fully done and the inside walls are done. Had to move a few poles on the inside to put exactly where we wanted them. Mainly where we needed the doors to go. The only things left are to build the five doors, and then the trim work around all the corners and edges.

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Inside . One full walled stall . One half wall stall

Other projects such as the green house needed finished so it has been a little while since we have worked on the barn. Hopefully we can get back at it this fall.

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We still have some cleaning up to do on this side……

Eventually on this side of the barn closest to the road we want to build a chicken/ rabbit run. A protected place to grow our meat chickens and rabbits.

Behind the barn will be the barn lots with pigs helping clear the brambles and helping fill the freezer after.

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View of the barn from the front porch.

It is very rewarding to see the barn every morning on our way out. So happy with how it turned out!

Even though the barn is not completely done, we already have inhabitants.

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The first non pet animals on the homestead -rabbits! We will be talking more about them in future posts.

First year garden

It was August when the property was bought,  followed by a large drought in the area all the way till the next year.  No garden that first half year so the following spring we were super excited to get it going.

For the first year we started several seeds to hopefully make it into small plants to hopefully plant in the garden.   We started several types of tomatoes, peppers, and some cantaloupes.  Out of those only the Cantaloupes produced anything for us (and boy did they).

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We ended up having to buy  tomato plants and pepper plants, but there were several for sale around here.  Since we bought ours kinda “late”  we actually got a great deal on them as most plant places were getting ready to change into firework places  as is their usual rotation every year.

The garden itself was designed to be part raised bed part hugelkultur bed.  Knowing the ground was clay dirt it just seemed easier to build something to hold “good” dirt. If you have read the other posts on the site  you know that in our section of woods there was an impressive pile of trash.   Part of that mountain of garbage was fencing that had been pushed down with a bulldozer.  It was a painstaking and slow process but we were able to get enough old cedar fence posts to build the bed.

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(sneak peek of the barn in the background with the walls off and new roof)

The layout went ok,  just carrying up fence posts,  stacking them with wood stakes cut from the woods and driven into the ground.  Cutting a few to fit when need be.  Then the middles filled with sticks/brush/rotten wood gathered from fence rows and previous cleanings of the property .

As for the dirt, my mother and step-father have a spring feed creek that runs down the edge of their property.  This mini creek was great but would flood their yard every year during rainy months.  While it was dry he would dig it out deeper to prevent the flooding, which meant he had dirt.   It was great soil with silt-like qualities from the wet weather creek bed.  Several truckloads of that and we had our garden filled.

The first year garden had several successes and several failures also .

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Failures include– All the seedlings we started died ,  aside from cantaloupes.  The cantaloupes took off –  we probably had about 50 or more.  The problem is they all were ripe at the same time.  We ate as many as we could,  gave away just as many.  Even with all the giving away after a 2 day rain storm the remaining cantaloupe just rotted on the vine.    We grew enough okra for a small army, and much of it went to waste.  That area in our raised bed could have been better used growing something else.  Lettuce was planted late and didn’t grow.  Corn was planted a little late,  and not deep enough or in a good location.  Storms knocked it down so many times we lost count and it stopped trying to stand back up.   Planted the fall garden way too early the first time (on what ended up being the hottest day of the entire year) and wasted several packets of seeds.  We had enough to replant some when it was the right time and did manage a few turnips,  beets,  lettuce and carrots.

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Cucumbers came in numbers we were unprepared for and seemed rushed to make them into pickles.  We probably made 60 jars in one day which seemed like lot for first time trying pickling and canning, too.

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We tried to grow potatoes in tires (remember, we have 250 of the things).   Red potatoes didn’t produce,  but sweet potatoes did alright .

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All in all, the garden produced more than we could have asked for.  The tomatoes were delicious and made amazing sandwiches that summer and delicious soups that winter.  The pickles were so much work that one day,  but delicious all year long. Thinking about the fried squash makes my mouth water even now.  Going to cans and freezer for veggies instead of grocery store shelves every time felt like a win.

Most importantly, we were reminded how wonderful it is to have a garden. The amazing feeling of waking up,  walking outside and picking some spinach , onion, peppers to go with breakfast.   Getting home from work and for dinner having whatever was perfectly ripe that day.  The smell of the freshly turned dirt,  the pride and excitement when sprouts started poking up.  The satisfaction of looking at freshly weeded rows.

If there is only one thing that anyone ever takes away from this blog I hope it is to plant something.  There is a peacefulness and joy we have felt ourselves and have seen in others that came from gardening; we’d have to suggest it.  It really is something special.

 

It was a great first year and we will always love our little raised beds.  That being said it turned out to not be enough space for our ambitious goals .  In an upcoming post we will discuss the 2nd year garden which was two areas each 25ft by 50ft.