Sunday, June 27, 2010

Homesteading from the Ground Up

When my husband first bought this land...before we was five acres of wooded wild. :)   He had a driveway cut down through the trees, and had about a half to three-fourths of an acre cleared off to put a home.  Two creeks wind their way across the property.  A culvert was put in to enable the driveway to cross the first creek.

I'm telling you this to tell you that we did not buy a ready made farm.  There was no pasture, no barn, no orchard, no fencing, no outbuildings....nothing.  When we got married, we started with a single wide and that was it.

Four years after we got married, Darren built a shed.  A small one ...out of odds and ends.  A short time later, he had gone to get a part for a lawnmower, and came home with two chickens.  I'm not sure exactly when we planted our first tiny garden, but I figure it was around this time.  And thus....began the making of our little homesteading venture.

Thirteen years after our marriage, we have moved out of the single wide (we have remained on the same land)  and we've been blessed with four beautiful children.

We now have around twenty chickens, two rabbits, five goats....and three kittens.  We have planted six apple trees, one pear tree, four blueberry bushes, one blackberry bush (in addition to the numerous wild blackberry bushes that grow with no help from us), and  two grapevines. 

Two medium sized gardens have been planted...  these have involved a lot of work.  When the land was cleared, the little bit of topsoil that was there, was scrapped off.  Our soil is very rocky and very much red clay. ...not very conducive to gardening.  Over the years, we've tossed rocks ...added compost (from our compost bins) ...added manure.....added leaves....added fertilizer...and added a lot of sweat, tears, and muttered oaths.  On a "normal" piece of land with good soil, we would not have had to expend near this much energy just getting things to grow.

In the beginning, the little shed was in the backyard, adjacent to the chicken coop.  There was also a clothesline...which I love having, by the way.  Love the smell of fresh, line dried sheets and clothing. However, the shed was moved farther back into the woods, and the clothesline was taken down ... to make room for the barn that was just completed.  We have yet to put up another clothesline...  we are running out of cleared land...  :)

The shed that was once a shed, we are planning to turn into a shelter for the goats.  At the moment, they sleep under a truck bed camper cover....I know, I know...that is lacking in true "homesteading" fashion, but you gotta do what you gotta do.  That's the thing about starting a farm from the ground up...  there are so many things to be change your grow.... you move things around...  you decide there's a better way to do it...  you "wish" you would've put something in a different place but you just have to go with it sometimes.  It is a constant educational process and a constant progression of thought and decision.  And if we want more land cleared, it's a lot of work.  Seems like there's always so much work to do right now.  I imagine at some point in the future, when all the shelters have been made, and all the land cleared that we want cleared, and all the fencing put up that needs be... *then* it will shift over into maintenance and an occasional addition as we see fit or desire.  But until that point, I reckon it's just going to be work.

Currently, we are thinking about where we could conceivably put another garden spot....where the soil is good...  course you know the soil is better on the land that hasn't been cleared.... the land with all the trees...  yeah...we're going to chew on that one for a bit.......  :)

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