There is only so much stress a person can take on before tears begin to flow and frustration takes over. When setting out to follow our dream of becoming self sufficient I never thought it would be so hard. I have learned the hard way that renting was the worst thing to do and that four years ago when I had the chance I should have purchased a home just to have that equity and then maybe I wouldn't be sitting here today frustrated with the fact that I have no way to purchase a farm without a co-signer because even though I have a great income it's government funded and private lenders don't like that. So even though I am trying to become self sufficient and start a small market garden to begin our goals, right at this current moment I am frustrated enough that I want to just sell all our belongings and give up.
I mean sure, I know I am not going to give up because if I was going to I would have done it back in 2014 when I was renting and then was told they where selling and we had to move so we left all our crops and lost out on four thousand dollars worth of plants. It is amazing how we traveled two and a half hours and spent $10,000 just to end up in another rental disaster though. I was really sure this was the right place to rent in the beginning and then not even six months in right after we got our ground worked for a garden we were told they had an offer on the property and although they declined if they got a better offer they would sell! Talk about frustrating, I didn't know whether to put our crops in the ground or forget it all. Mind you we put our crops in and then got hit by frost and lost thousands of tomato plants and corn..maybe it was a sign that I should have quit, but no I planted more plants and spent time out in the garden but the weeds were just to much to keep up with and the deer....oh those beautiful deer..what a pain in the butt! All my brussel sprouts and kohl-rahbi disappeared not to mention my squash, although I do have to give credit to that lovely ground hog family also as they helped eat my squash patch..I saw them!
So now sitting here in a house that in all honesty if it was mine would be torn to the ground, I try to hold everything together planting seedlings, figuring out the best place for my garden and saving every cent I can while hoping for a miracle. I know that I only have one more month to find something or we will have to just rough it out for the season in order not to fail again. I had hoped to get a few cows this year but obviously that's going to have to wait another year as I really don't want to put the money into fencing. I still hope every second that something will work out but whether it does or not we still are going to wake up every morning feed animals, plant seeds, make bread and dream. I have to say though, if you have a chance to own a property even if it's smaller then you wish for snatch it up...start small and own because renting is never permanent and can become extremely costly.
Becoming self sufficient is not as easy as it seems, sure books and online blogs can make it seem simple but it takes a lot of work, can be super stressful at times and although you feel your going at it alone there is always another self sufficient family out there somewhere sharing their mistakes and learning experiences.
Thanks for listening...back to planting and planning I go!
Between February and March I like to pollute my small little homestead with starter plants. We heat with wood so our back room in the homestead we rent is always the hottest room in the house and the plants seem to grow like weeds. Since I started gardening a few years back I have learned that pepper plants need the extra time to grow and after last years success I have started even more plants this year so I do not have to run out and purchase a bunch. I would rather start 400 seeds then purchase 24 plants from a green house.
Now when it comes to onions we love to plant thousands so after doing a lot of research I have decided to plant them from seed this year as it is a lot cheaper in the long run, although I my need a bigger green house built when the weather gets nicer as my house fills up fast. So next week once this cold snap passes through I will begin my onion seeds and leeks.
I learned last year that I started my leeks to late last year and when I transplanted them I ended up loosing more then 3/4 of my crop because my weeds grew faster then my leeks did. This year I plan on planting my leeks in raised boxes in hopes to get a better yield.
We sure have been busy here on the homestead and with the thought of our 2016 garden exciting us we decided to try planting apple trees and pear trees from seed! As many of our readers know we rent the land we are currently using and so do not want to invest in a ton of fruit trees that won't benefit us in years to come. So while doing my seed orders I was eating an apple and that's when I came up with a bright idea...Let's plant the seeds!
By planting our apple and pear seeds and letting them grow we have more time to tend to them before having to put them in the ground, this way we will be moving with buckets if all goes well this season instead of trees.
We read up on planting from seed and how they tell you to freeze the seed for so many months before planting but I couldn't be bothered, the hubby brought in some soil from outside (because it has been such a mild winter) and we planted the seeds a week and a half later we had two seed sprouts! So thrilled that it worked we grabbed a bunch of containers and got the children to eat a few apples and pears and planted a bunch more!
Now as the seeds begin to sprout the children are learning and charting the growth as these trees will be theirs in the future.
I do say it is such a great feeling when you can plant a seed and watch it grow
It's been a long and somewhat disappointing year for us here on the homestead, but we are still learning and taking things day by day. There is so much to learn and do and with a large family that some days can become a bit overwhelming, but we always make it through. We have lost quite a few chicks to a nasty weasel that I have yet been able to catch, we have a large family of deer that have made our back wooded area their home and although I love watching them graze in our fields during the evening hours, I am dreading the amount of extra work we will have next spring when we plant our garden. We have purchased two large black piglets to raise for next years meat, and are raising turkeys currently to fill our freezer. Last month we were graciously given some spent hens and a loving rooster from a farmer down the road, and our mechanic also gave us nine young hens that where laying with their coop, so we have farm fresh eggs each morning.
As for the weather, well it has been very unpredictable. Rain and wind, a few flurries then Spring like temperatures, it seems no matter what the weather channel predicts it changes day by day and I have grass growing in our old rabbit coop in December! With all this climate change I am expecting that before Spring we should have a deep freeze but that is alright as we are well prepared. The only thing I do fear is that with the unpredictable weather we will have a drought in 2016 and I just cannot have another failed crop year.
Now as we approach the end of December we are still awaiting the arrival of our ninth child, who has decided not to rush into the world as quickly as the others. I have become quite tired the past couple months and now with only two days left until I hit 40 weeks I am experiencing lots of back pain and just don't have that get up and go that I usually have. I was lucky enough to get my Christmas shopping completed early, but I just haven't been able to bring myself to decorate like I would like to and my baking has almost come to a complete stop as I just don't have the energy. I am over excited to find out if this little one will be a boy or girl and eager to be able to move around again without looking like I am one of our Muscovy Ducks.
With so much planning and prepping ahead I hope to share even more experiences and life lessons with you all in the New Year!
As most of you know we are still learning as we continue to follow our dream and we took a big step last year buying some meat bunnies. Unfortunately because I knew nothing at the time we ended up with three females and no male. Then I went online to search for a male, instead I found a New Zealand rabbit that I was told was pregnant...again I was duped. So after a long 9 hour round trip I traveled to a small backyard farmer who I knew was a breeder and bought three trio's home to start again.
I do not like to leash or cage animals unless absolutely necessary, as I believe they should live as they would in their natural habitat. Although with the amount of predators in our back yard we do how ever fence them in making their surroundings as natural as we can provide. We have hardware cloth below the dirt so our bunnies can not escape and so nothing can dig its way under. We provide the rabbits with a large amount of dirt and use old milk crates with wood attached to the front for nesting boxes. It's great to watch how they dig and build their homes and interact with one another.
We feed our rabbits a mixture of cracked corn, wheat, barley, alfalfa pellets and oats to give them a nice hardy meal during the cold weather, and during the warmer weather supply them with alfalfa pellets and allow them to eat naturally outdoors in their large space. We have found that they love barrels to hide in, old tires to play on and in and we set up umbrellas close to the ground for them to lounge under when outside to hide from that hot sun. On extremely hot days we found that freezing bottles of water and placing them in their home and in their water supply helps them keep cool.
Now that the weather is becoming a bit more Winter like we have decided to take them into the barn, so we covered the cement floor with straw and have bucketed in dirt so they can dig as they would if outdoors. They seem to be very happy and I have to say our new stud is doing his job. We have had two batches of bunnies so far and another on its way!
The children adore taking care of the rabbits and like to spend their free time in their large home letting them hop all over them! A lot of people don't like the fact that the children are so interactive with our animals we raise for meat, although I believe its the best way. They know these animals will feed us, but by interacting they also learn that in order for them to feed us we need to care and attend to them in order to keep them happy and healthy and they gain so much knowledge along the way and get so excited about it.
This winter will be our first time butchering our own rabbits and we look forward to sharing our experience when we do.
Lots is happening on the farmstead as we move into the Autumn months, as there is so much preparation to be done before Winter comes. Being that we where unable to find a new home for the end of season we are staying another year. We had many people ask to cut our fields but have found that a persons word isn't much around here as they still need to be done, so we have decided to do them ourselves...well cut them that is. We have plans to move our garden to the larger hay field behind the house in order to keep a better eye on things and I plan on putting fencing around it to keep the night critters from helping them selves...those deer really like my kohl-Rabi and brussel sprouts. The fields all need to be ripped, and worked before Winter comes and I need to get my garlic garden ready within the next few weeks. We have decided to change some of our raised beds in the yard and build coops for the bunnies out back of the barn so they have more room to run and play. In the kitchen I, myself have been canning up a storm and am awaiting next week when I will travel 3 hours just to pick up all my whole sale items we will require for the winter and spring season, such as flour and oats.
I have made an appointment to get our last two pigs slaughtered before the season ends, I was going to keep them over the Winter but have decided that I will just keep my poultry and bunnies over the Winter season and start fresh next year. I also learned that now all pigs in Ontario have to be tagged or tattooed, so I have also registered for that!
With so much more to learn the days never get dull! I'll be back soon to get into more detail about raising our meat bunnies, but must get back to my kitchen as I have lots of cooking to do in order to stock the shelves for all our growing children. :) Jenn
From the time I was a young girl I always knew I wanted to have a big family. When anyone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would tell them a Mother and a Teacher. As of today, you could say that I have accomplished my goal! I am a mother to eight beautiful children, and I am their teacher, their nurse, their friend...oh the list goes on and on. When people see me now they always shake their heads and say you know there are ways to prevent that..it just burns my bottom to hear that from anyone. I always wanted a big family and that is what I have been blessed with! Now a days people fear things that are out of the ordinary, a family now a days consists of 1-4 children! So when we go to the local Wal-Mart to go shoe shopping or pick up a few clothing items we watch people count our children as we pass. To us we find it quite amusing, especially when they ask if they are all ours, how we manage or did I have them all myself :)
I honestly don't understand why people would ask how we manage, it's actually very simple. If you can raise two children you can raise eight! It's all about routine, I myself am a charts and list person and well honestly my hubby is anti-charts but we have made it work. When it comes to food, well we could feed an army....oh wait that's what it feels like I do daily. Before moving to the country I depended on the local farmers market for produce and hit all the sales at the grocery store down the street. Now that we raise our own animals for meat and grow our own vegetables it is a lot easier, although we do depend on our local farmers when we loose a crop here and there. We freeze our meat and vegetables, make homemade bread and goodies and can our food. I buy our flour, rice, oats, and sugar in bulk and we purchase four to eight 4 litre bags of milk a week.
Currently we rent our homestead so we run hydro, which I would love to get rid of but before I do I must learn how to store meat without a freezer or in our case five freezers and two fridges. Also I am without a cold cellar which I am hoping to have one day but until that day comes I store items in a fridge!
On a fixed income we are able to feed and clothe our family, take care of our animals and live happily. Sure it's a lot of work and there are days when we would love to sleep in but homesteading for us and our children is relaxing and rewarding!
It's been a while since I last posted and do apologize but things have been crazy and we have had some disappointment along the way.
We were suppose to be moving although things fell through when we where told the landlord had no plans to lay floors in the bedrooms and that he was expecting us to. When asking a large sum for rental you would expect to have floors. So after a very stressful few days and lots of disappointment we continue on our journey even though we are not sure where it is leading us.
Our garden has been keeping us quite busy as those darn weeds just do not want to stop growing, but we are keeping up and all 25 different kinds of tomatoes are growing and its almost time to start canning ketchup and tomato sauces! Unfortunately our cucumber plants that we replanted after the frost didn't take well and so I currently am in search of Pickling cucumbers as a Winter without pickles would not be very pleasing for the children. My cabbage is ready for me to start fermenting and the kohl-Rabi is almost ready to harvest.
Our corn did make it! We thought for sure after the frost we had lost it but its almost ready to harvest as well.
In the kitchen here on the homestead I have been keeping myself extremely busy canning all sorts of different jams, jellies, and some preserves with the help of the local farmers market and their early crops!
Currently we are still living out of boxes for the most parts in hopes that we find another farm to rent, but with fall on its way I am becoming impatient and just want to unpack everything...but there is still hope.
We are expecting our fall order of turkeys, as well as meat and egg chicks in the next two weeks and purchased 10 Muscovy ducklings and a teen duckling from a farm up the road. I always wanted a white Muscovy and was super excited when I found one close by, now I have a large assortment of them! Oh yes and we also added 9 more bunnies to our homestead.
From here on in I plan to write at least once a week in order to save on the short but sweet updates and give a little more details into the journey we are embarking on.
It has been a stressful process but we finally have found a new farm! It took a very long time looking to find the perfect home that would fit us all and we finally did so this weekend. Although we will be loosing acreage, we will be gaining a larger house, a separate school room and good grazing pastures. It's such a relief to know that once we move we will not have to pick up and move again!