Country Living & Penny Pinching

Getting back to "Little House on the Prairie" living

Month: October 2015 (page 1 of 3)

You Know You’re a Homesteader if…

  1. Your daughters have and wear bonnets. We got ours from Calico Ghost Town, but I would love to make them myself.

    the oldest Little

  2. Smash ants with your hands. These are the least of my worries out here.
  3. Leave the daddy-long-legs in the shower to eat the other bugs. that come crawling in the night.
  4. The barn cat makes friends with your inside cat. Our barn cat has become like a big papa.

    black is inside cat, orange is barn cat

  5. You have a barn cat!
  6. Chickens come to the front door clucking  for dinner. In our case a few of them have to have a baby gate up so they won’t actually come inside.     
  7. Turkeys cuddle with your feet.. and you love it.

    ignore my feet 😉

  8. The Littles bring chicken feathers for the teacher. At least our eldest brought only the cool looking feathers for her teacher.
  9. Wake up to the sound of a rooster

    Red the Rooster

  10. 9pm rolls around and your bed is calling for you.

Getting the Flock

Chicken Math!!!!

Have you ever heard of this? It’s where you think you want six chickens so you end up with double if not triple that number. I thought people were crazy until I started buying.

6 Cochins and 2 Buff Orpingtons

We too started out with the number six. That number of hens would support just our family, but it would be nice to sell some extra too so I doubled to twelve. (The chicken math has started) There were twelve Leghorns in the incubator, bought four from the feed store, three from the lady incubating our eggs, two lemon buff Orpington, six bantam cochins and two Muscovy ducks.  I think this is way more than even the doubled number of twelve. After incubation we ended up with eleven eggs hatching which put us at twenty seven birds.

Hello! 11 Leghorns

TWENTY SEVEN, how did we go from six to twenty seven! haha this is the finest example of chicken math. Here is the problem, when buying chicks there has to be the extra chickens in case of boys popping up in the herd. There has to be extras in case of sickness or death. There have to be extras to keep each other warm so a heat lamp isn’t needed as long. There should just always be extra because they are so darn cute!

2 Muscovy Ducks

2 Muscovy Ducks

So back to bringing them home…I knew how many we were expecting so I made a brooder to fit about 100. I did not want to have to make another brooder once the chickens were bigger so here we were, the brooder is all made, I’ve attempted DIY feeder and waterer (that post coming up), and we began the waiting game for receiving chicks.

all ready for the chicks

Ten chicks came by car and feed store, two ducklings were waiting for pick up, and the 12 eggs were still cooking. The Hubby just about died when he found out how many birds I had purchased, but once he saw them he fell in love. He named half of them and his favorite were the ducklings.

To sum up we went from thinking six birds, to having twenty seven when all was said and done. According to statistics half of them should have been boys, which means I would have been close to my second number of wanting twelve. But nope, only our incubated eggs had that statistic. About five of them were boys but everyone else was a girl!

half of them getting used to their new home

Imagine our good luck and surprise when we found out we had twenty two females!!! Now the harder part was going to begin, keeping them alive until they start laying eggs.

How have you brought your birds home?

Lessons From a First Time Gardener

 1. Research all of your options

I knew about raised beds and the old fashioned method, straight in the ground. There are many more ways than those. Permaculture, square foot gardening, containers (even for the big stuff), etc. different methods are everywhere. I will be implementing permaculture and square foot gardening next. They are opposites but I want to experience both to see which one is better and why.

straight in the ground and a short fence

straight in the ground and a short fence

2. Observe the wildlife

Look at all of the creatures of the sky and ground. Will you need a scarecrow, rubber snakes, gopher wire, short fence, tall fence, or no fence? I know its awful to wait but even watching your land for a week or two will give you some insight on the best ways to protect your garden.

3. Ask around

Good neighbors love to help. Some might even have extra materials to have/borrow. Now don’t get me wrong, all neighbors love to give advice but be wary of the naysayers who tried once and failed. They will have advice but it may only be what NOT to do. No matter what don’t poo-poo what the neighbors have to say.

4. Prepare the soil with out breaking the bank

According to experts my garden was not going to do well. The pH levels weren’t just right, the soil was on clay-y side, i had quite a few little rocks mixed in, and I did not perfectly measure out the fertilizer. Making everything ideal would have cost WAY TOO MUCH money. Just get out there, do your best with what you have, and there is always next year. My crops could have been much bigger if I had used the chemical fertilizer but we don’t want to use chemicals so we suffered through a smaller crop and learned more this year that should allow a bigger harvest next year.

5. Plant a garden for the Littles

Keeping kids out of a fenced garden is quite difficult unless…they have their own space. Giving kids their own garden responsibilities makes them feel good about themselves and helps them not step on your precious plants. I do recommend getting the dollar store fences to place around their garden so they know the borders and the house pets and even littler Littles don’t walk in the garden.

6. HAVE FUN!

Starting Eden Part 2

I’ve got some bad news… I killed my seedlings. All of them! It wasn’t my fault though, out of sight out of mind right? Ok, it was totally my fault. I put them outside because I was tired of trying to find sun in the house. Remember how I complained about moving them twice a day everyday? It got to be too much.

seedlings in the wheel barrel

seedlings in the wheel barrel

I kept them in a wheel barrel. It had wind protection, and I was using the soak up method to water them. Well seedlings aren’t supposed to dry out at all…during the heat of the day and three Littles who would need me to put their shoes on for a 3 minute venture just didn’t sound worth it. The seedlings dried out faster than a run away train.  Obviously I did not use good judgement, next year will be different.

There has been some debate about just buying grown plants but…there has been no wiggle room in the budget and this blog is about penny-pinching so…we are not going to buy $4 plants.  By the way the bell peppers never sprouted. I googled the brand and it turns out they were an all bad batch. So for now we are waiting until we can plant straight in the ground.

If I till it, seeds will come! (I’m a big movie buff, so get used to movie references)

How did your seedlings turn out?

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