Category Archives: Homestead

A visit with the forest ranger

Two, actually.  We had them come out because we are thinking about doing a “select cut” of our timber.  The forest rangers will come out for free – their services are covered by our property taxes.  So two guys come out and we got to tromp around our property for about an hour and a half on a beautiful day!  I didn’t know this, but we have all kinds of trees – red oak, white oak, hickory, poplar, loblolly pine, ironwood, sourwood, sweet gum and probably some others that I’ve forgotten. I was glad to learn that sourwood is favored by honey bees – I know the bees have been hit hard lately with bee plague and all. We have several big trees that are over a foot in diameter – here’s one that actually grew *around* some barbed wire:

One of the trees looked like it had been drilled 100 times – it’s from woodpeckers looking for grubs:

Right now there’s not much color out there, it being the dead of winter and all.  About the only green is some holly, and there’s some honeysuckle that’s blooming early due to the weird and mild temperatures.  Here’s a shot of one of our cleared property lines.

All in all, the forest rangers recommended we thin out the woods.  The trees are too crowded, and some of them have fallen over due to high winds and a relatively shallow land composition (lots of clay about 2′ down that prevents roots from going deep).


Produce and chickens

I went shopping and when I saw this, I was glad we’re growing our own:

Later on, I went out to work in the garden and to my horror, I saw this had happened to one of my watermelons!

So I did what any self-respecting chicken farmer would do. P.S. The chickens didn’t do the initial damage – they were on cleanup crew.

Updated farm post

It seems like everything grows about a foot overnight, so here are some quick “look how far it’s come” snapshots.

Grape arbor just a little while ago:

Grape arbor now:

Bonus package:

Until this spring, we pretty much kept everything in the greenhouse. We have now expanded and thanks to this scary/complicated plan that C. thought up all by himself, we now have container gardening imitating row crops, complete with a bamboo forest theme! Watermelons are in the red pots, then we have a ton of cucumber plants. We’ve already made pickles. Hope C. likes ’em. We’re about to give Mt. Olive a run for their money. Pineapples, eucalyptus tree, and day lilies are in there somewhere.

I think we will have 27,893 watermelons.

Panoramic view. Strawberries are hanging and also on the ground, followed by tomatoes, cucumbers and all the rest of the stuff I already listed. Those wooden frames in the background will be our next experiment: potatos!

Epic chicken update!

It’s been a while, so here is an overview of the current chicken operation. We have 51 chickens (there is a story behind it). We’ve been accumulating dog kennel panels for 2 years and now I present to you ….. Chicken Gitmo!







There is a central No Man’s Land heading from the main gate down to the coop.








Here are Fluffy (Light Brahma), Mange (Turkhen) and Brownie (Blue Laced Red Wyandotte).











And here is Big Head Fred! Named thusly because his comb grew disturbingly large early on, and now is so big it flops over.






We have a lot of these stupid white roosters. I believe they are White Leghorn.








I’ve got 9 Buff Rock girls (golden) and 10 Barred Rock boys (black & white striped).








And now, some action shots. Things get kinda exciting in the General Population yard of Chicken Gitmo. The staredown:





Fight! Fight!! The action is so fast and furious, the picture is blurred!






But it’s over with in seconds, they hug it out and go out for a beer.






If anyone is still reading this, here’s the story on the chickens. This could be a great math “word problem” if any of you have 4th graders. In the beginning, almost 3 years ago now, I started with 6 chickens. I figured a couple would die and I would end up with about 4, which was my goal. They all lived. Well, until we ate the two roosters that were in that batch. Of the remaining 4 girls, one got attacked by something, and one died for no reason, so I’ve got a black Aracauna (lays green eggs) and a Barred Rock hen from the original batch. I got those from a very nice man who is an avid deer hunter. We let him hunt our property, and when I was ready to get some more chickens, he said he would just give them to me in exchange for all the hunting. I said great, I’d like 10. He brought me 14. Three of those died a mysterious death (we think they were poking their heads out the chain link and a stray dog broke their necks – no wounds, no blood, just dead inside the pen, right next to the fence). So I’m left with 13.

I go to order more from a hatchery. I order 10 girls (for eggs) and 10 boys (for meat). They send me 15. I call them up and say, “Hey, where are my other 5?” They said they could send them to me, but they would have to send extra (commonly referred to as “packing peanuts”) so they could all stay warm. They ship them overnight through the post office; when a chick is hatched, they can live for about 2 days on leftover egg stuff. I said okay, go ahead and send me extra. They sent me 20 extra – all roosters. I ended up with 40 chicks for the price of 20. Two died, which is common – some just can’t hang with the whole trip. I now have my original 13 girls, 9 additional girls, and 29 roosters – 51 in all. I’ve already talked with the neighbors – I have no idea how much racket 29 roosters will make, and they are starting to crow little baby sounds. Most of those will end up in the freezer but …!!!

So there you have it. If any of you out there would like some fresh chicken, come see me around Memorial Day! 😉

Aracauna – 1
Blue Laced Red Wyandotte – 1
Plymouth Rock – 1
Barred Rocks – 11
Buff Rocks – 9
Delaware – 7
Turkhen – 1
White Leghorn – 20

Epic farm update

This post will have lots of pics – here’s what’s growing at the farm these days. (Maybe I’ll do an updated chicken post soon.)

The last of the broccoli.








Eucalyptus tree and other stuff in the background.







One of four pineapples we’re growing.







Hot peppers that won’t die – we had these last year.








Christmas present from M. I didn’t kill it! It’s an amarillys.








One of many strawberry plants I managed to keep alive through the winter. Made a Belgian waffle dessert with these on top.








Happy strawberries.







Onions. I’m not sure when to harvest them, but I think it’s when the green stuff turns brown and flops over.








We chopped off the main part of this broccoli plant, thinking the season was over. Guess not!








Hanging strawberries.







Dark purple bell peppers. These won’t die either.








Something we’re trying this year – moving the containers outside, and the pull-up bars will eventually hold the plants vertically. Bamboo will help in the meantime. We’ve got cucumbers and 3 types of tomatoes outside.








Got 4 of these going – these are watermelon.








Partial shot of our grape arbor. We’ve got blueberries and grapes together.








There are actually little green grapes – I think!