When choosing a property to buy for a new homestead, water is one of the most important things to consider. If you plan on keeping livestock, growing a garden, or being self sufficient in any way, you must have a good source of water, preferably more than one.
We have a well that has a hand pump on it, but we also have two ponds that have trouble holding water during droughts. We also have a windmill that isn't hooked to a water source, so we want to drill a well for our windmill to keep our ponds full. This man has an interesting lesson on how to drill your own well. I haven't tried it yet, but we hope to do so in the spring.
Have any of you ever used this method, and if so, what did you learn from it?
HOW TO DRILL YOUR OWN WELL
In our first year here, we purchased a flock of seventeen baby guineas, called keets. Cute as little feathered buttons, they are so tiny. As they grew, the guineas began to be more vocal. They grew some more, and were more vocal. By the time they were roaming around as adolescents, they were the most obnoxiously loud beasts I have ever been around.
All but one of that flock were eaten by owls and coyotes. So, last fall I bought ten more keets to roam the land this spring, eliminating ticks.
After guineas are one year old, they make less noise. It is between three months and one year that they nearly drive me batty. Don't believe me? Here is proof! My young guineas, throwing a fit...
Lavender is one of my favorite plants, because it is not only beautiful, but so incredibly useful. I have planted countless lavender plants at my place over the past couple of years (and at the last house too), and just adore it. So easy to care for, and it is lovely year round here in zone 6.
Lavender can be used for calming teas, for aromatherapy, in bath water, to make essential oil, to cook with, to make soaps; the possibilites are endless.
Last year when the parking lot plant sellers were getting rid of all their remaining plants, I stopped in and bought ALL of their lavender for about 25% of the original price. There are deals to be had, if you time your shopping just right. I gave some away to friends, and planted the rest. I can never have too much.
From www.crunchybetty.com, here are many different ideas for using lavender, one of the most useful plants out there.
Crunchy Gift Ideas: Love ALL the Lavender!
Spring is a busy time here, and although the calendar tells us that spring is still several weeks away, we are taking advantage of our recent good weather. We are finally making some progress on some of our many on-going projects. For us, creating all the spaces, fences and feeders from scratch is a never ending process.
The little rabbits are growing and the bunny enclosure is doing it's job, keeping the rabbits in and the cats out. Still some finish work (and clean up), to do, but we will wait until the kits are a little bigger so as not to disturb mama and babies. The below photo shows the rabbit enclosure being built. It's still not quite finished, but is enclosed. This photo will give you an idea of how we are using pallets to finish the space.
Mr. Elliott built a new hay feeder to hang on the wall of one of the barn stalls, and will be building more for the rest of the stalls. I am hopeful that we will be wasting less hay now, and the sheep won't have to bend down anymore to eat. This feeder was built with scrap wood and a hog panel.
The broody house, next to the chicken coop, now has a fence made from pallets and is fully enclosed above with netting. The net keeps our birds in as they grow, and keeps the hawks and cats out.
We have chosen to build our bird coops out of metal, rather than wood. I prefer the look of wood, but the metal seems to do a better job of keeping the predators out.
The first photo is of the pallets being set up for the fence, the second photo was taken tonight after we finished the netting and put the adolescent guineas in their new enclosure.
We are in the process of building a feed storage building out of pallets, and a moveable fence with pallets as well. Then we have more hay feeders to build, and some table height gardens for me. I am hopeful we will get most of our building projects finished before I have to consolidate my efforts into growing some food. Homesteading is sometimes hectic, and often exhausting, but always changing, and never boring.
Now I need to revamp my chicken tractor before the new chicks hatch...tick tock, tick tock...
I am dreaming of spring, and with spring comes the many ideas of building fences, arbors, and railings out of sticks, limbs and logs gathered here at the farm. Below are just a few of the ideas that I have gathered from around the web. I love the idea of building with materials that are not only free, but are also much more beautiful than anything you will find at a store.
Some people count sheep while trying to fall asleep; I count sticks.
What will you build this spring?
I admit I was hesitant to go check our three remaining baby rabbits this morning, afraid they would have been dragged beyond the nest and left. After the morning I had yesterday, gathering the little dead ones, this morning was a happy one.
Three healthy little bunnies, and mama seems to be taking good care of them. These are their first photos, although the color isn't great because of the heat lamp. I wanted to get these done quickly so as not to disturb mama and babies too much, so that you all could see the newest members of the farm.
As someone who has always done what I can to help the innocent creatures of this world, not being able to save a life might be the most difficult part of this homesteading lifestyle that I have chosen.
When I was a kid, I remember visiting a pig farm in Oklahoma. The place wasn't very well kept, and I was shocked at the conditions in which those pigs lived. As we toured the facilities, the farmer was gathering up the dead piglets, which he apparently would do every morning. He had a bonfire going, and was just chucking the little bodies into the fire without a care in the world. I was horrified, and that memory has stayed with me through the years.
Couldn't that farmer have done something differently to improve the conditions? Shouldn't he at least have been less cavalier about the deaths of his livestock?
Fast forward thirty years, and here I am with my own farm, responsible for the animals I have chosen to bring here, even more so for the new lives that are created. I do not take bringing new life into this world lightly. I don't see my animals are purely profit, and I don't measure their lives in dollars. I see myself as their caretaker, for better or worse.
On some days, the "worse" part of that phrase is just difficult to take without drowning in guilt over those creatures who might have lived if I had done things differently.
I haven't lost very many animals since choosing to travel the homesteading road, but those that I have lost stick with me. Unfortunately when dealing with the care of animals, learning how best to do so sometimes costs an animal it's life.
Sometime in the night, our French Lop rabbit gave birth to six babies. By this morning, three of them were not in the nest and had died from the cold. When my husband found them, there were three scattered randomly across the floor that were cold, and were not moving. I picked them up, wrapped them in a towel and tried rubbing their little bodies while holding them under a light to warm them up. No response. I ran them into the house where it was warmer and tried everything I could, but they were gone.
I can't help but feel responsible, and guilty, for their short lives that were filled with suffering. I was worried about this doe having her first litter in February for this exact reason, but because of her age she needed to be bred. I could have brought her inside to watch her more closely. She shouldn't have had as much room as she did. I should have checked on her more often, and sooner. On and on I go, knowing that things like this happen on a farm, but regretting that it happened on my watch.
And so, today I will be sad about the three that didn't make it, and tomorrow I will be happy about the three that did. I have learned some lessons, and while I am glad to gain the experience, it just breaks my heart that those lessons have so high a price.