The first winter on the property was one of the most frustrating times spent there. The place is surrounded by fields . Although we love the privacy when those are cut back at the start of winter, the mice decide to move to our place. We could hear them in the walls , see their evidence on the counters, it was just horrible.
With not many fast options, that first year we put out poison. Poison has its place, but we prefer not to use it if there are other options.
Meet the other options!
Callie and Ursa! Callie is named after her coloring, Callie the Calico. Ursa is named after the bear constellation Ursa Major, because she looks like a “great she-bear”. They are cousins or half sisters, we’re not sure which. 3 mama cats had litters at the same time and they all were raised together.
Two new additions are already keeping the porch cleared of flies and crickets that stray too close. When they are bigger we have no doubt they will wreak havoc on any pests trying to steal our food.
They get along great with Bandit even if he does step on them often.
We are also hoping their presence deters the baby rabbits that love to eat on our garden. They are very welcomed additions and have been hours of entertainment watching them play.
We’ve made sure to get them fixed, as well. We don’t want them to wander off when they go into heat and we don’t want any strays to come up and be a problem, either. It is for sure the right thing to do.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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 !!!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The first non pet animals on the homestead -rabbits! We will be talking more about them in future posts.