Thursday, April 18, 2019

Homestead hardships and how you choose to handle it.

Happy New year!
This is my first post for 2019 .
Yes, I know it's
I felt it was good and would shed a light on the way we make mistakes and learn from them!!

House was almost sold...
Processing our chickens...

You might have a decidedly romantic notion about homesteading. But let me tell you what it takes to make your homesteading dream  come true, if your not rich.

When Gary was fired from his job after working there for 40 + years, we had to make some serious decisions. That took us almost a year to implement. Looking back I think we would have done a great number of things differently. But hindsight is funny that way.

1. We would have sold more of our stuff, purged more of our stuff and given away more stuff. Before we moved.

2. We would have found out more about what we needed to do to sell our house( we have a deed restriction) before we started the process.( can't sell the house for 15 more years!)

3. We would not have moved forward with the purchase of our Homestead. Not before we had all of our debt paid off.

4. We would have paid more attention to the local laws about building codes and their enforcement.

I look back at all the early mistakes we made in our rush to start a new life here on the Homestead, and those are the most obvious mistakes I feel we made.
I hope that this will help someone elses transition to a homestead life a bit easier than ours has been.

But once we were here we had to start from scratch almost entirely.
We did make sure there was a building, a drilled well and septic. Other than that we were at square one with this property.

So we dug right in and started to create our living space in the garage. We partitioned off a portion of the garage for our little one room apartment. Then we started building an addition for a bathroom.
To this day it is not complete, but that is not because we don't want a bathroom, we just won't be able to build it where we planned to. Again we had to roll with the situation. It was about the local plumbing laws this time.
So we changed our plans and kept on moving forward.
I have spoken about this at length on my Vlog on youtube if you want to check it out here:

As we moved forward with the infrastructure on our homestead we made sure that all of our structures were small enough to not need permitting.
We built our chicken palace first.

We are not done yet with the exterior, and there are a few more things I want to do inside as well, but we have come pretty far in the past 2 years.
Last year we raised 24 chickens and 2 turkeys.
12 chickens were meant to replenish our laying flock and we made a few mistakes there as well.
1. We ordered 6 straight run Black Australorps so that we would get a rooster. What we didn't expect was 5 of the 6 would be roosters!
2. We ordered 6 sexed layers and 1 turned out to be a rooster!(odds are 1 out of 10 will be even if sexed)

If you're keeping count that makes 6 roosters out of 12.
That is not really a laying flock at all! So again we had to roll with it and figure out what to do with all of those roosters we ended up with!
All 4 of the extras went to good homes with flocks of their own, instead of processing them into stock and dog food.
I didn't want to do that because I raised them and handled them daily so that they would be sweet boys.
But nature has a way of taking over and that many boys in one space means that they fight and become territorial. We have enough hens to comfortably keep 2 roosters, but not 6.

This is Lancelot our Arcauna Rooster.

This is Danny Kaye our Black Australorp Rooster.

Speaking of processing chickens...we ordered 6 Cornish X
and 6 Freedom Rangers for meat birds as well as 1 Bronze turkey and one white (like the butterball).

We had a really bad experience killing the first one of the Cornish X and neither of us could do it again for several days after that. (Gary is the designated Artery cutter now)
All I can say about that is no matter how many videos you watch and books you read you will not be prepared for taking a life, no matter what you think it's going to be like.
It was hard. Very hard.

But I had made the decision to do this, I had all these birds that HAD to be processed, because they were getting too big very fast.
You can't ethically raise and care for an animal that is 100% meant as food, and then decide to keep it. It is cruel to the animal.
So we soldiered on. We have processed all but 2 of the Freedom ranger as of today. ( doing very well despite their size, and laying eggs)But they are on the schedule for this spring.

We realized that we were not going to be able to process our turkeys here on the homestead. We don't have the proper pots (large enough to hold a large turkey) to dunk the turkey in to get all the feathers off easily.
So we took them to be processed at a local farm that does it for you. It cost $.69 lb. to do the deed. $40  total, you do the math!
I did find this sad in a couple of ways.
1. I really loved their personalities. They were so much fun to watch and the white one was such a sweet girl.
2. But as I said before about the chickens, they are bred as a meat bird and must be processed at a specific age or weight. I do not want them to ever suffer.

I talk about all of this because if you were not raised on a farm or homestead, hell even in a farming community or rural area, you just are not prepared.
You don't know what it takes to eat. You don't know how long it takes to grow food, to raise birds for eggs or meat. How it feels when it is time to kill that animal and eat it. You saw it the day it was born and you knew what it was like to snuggle it and talk to it. To have it's little eyes looking at you, and If you believe that they have emotions, loving you.
All the while knowing that one day it will nourish you.
You have to be able to keep your humanity alive during this entire process.
You can't divorce yourself from any of it.
You must care for them. Nourish them. In the first week of their lives I watch them like a mama hen. I clean their little butts, so they don't get pasty butt. I keep their pen/box clean. I change their water 4 to 5 times daily. I make sure they are snuggled and loved.
I am the only one keeping them alive.
It is a very loving and sad decision that we made.
To only eat what we raise. To have complete control of what we eat. To take on the care, and the very long process of growing our own meat.

It is hard. But it is what we choose to do.

I hope this is helpful to you and gives you a better understanding about why we do what we do, and why we do it the way we do.

There are so many more lessons for us to learn this new year.
And hardships and hurdles to get past.
Please follow along with us as we grow our homestead and share what we learn!

With love from the homestead!
Gary and Victoria