Homesteading, Organic Gardening, How to Farm, Preparedness, Self-Reliance
I learned most of what I know from my Great Grandfather, He live right next door and he was always teaching me about gardening, seed starting, and animal raising. But I never really put any of it to use until many years later.
My adventure started in the early 80's when after 10 yrs of marriage I filled for a divorce and became a single mother of 1 collecting workman's comp. I was just barely paying the bills never mind putting food on the table so I decided to start a garden and raise as much as I could, well for 2 years I waged war with a very well fed woodchuck (some of you know them as groundhogs) and he was winning. The third year I decided to beat him to the punch and built a passable but very rough greenhouse out of some salvaged plastic and rebar and manged to grow enough to feed us both well into the fall.
That winter I met my current husband (we just celebrated 24yrs) the spring after we got married he bought me a real greenhouse with our landlords permission and I was off & running. That was also when I decided that a few chickens would be nice, my sister had been raising them off & on for a number of years and at the moment there weren't any. Well during these years we had added 2 more children and my sister & brother-in-law had added 2. I had saved all my change until I had enough to place an order for 25 chicks, when they came I decided the greenhouse would be a good safe area to brood them with a small heater & a heat lamp, well that first night it got wicked cold and one of the chicks died so my sister decided she had a nice big dog crate we'd move them into the house with them & my parents until they were big enough to move back out to the greenhouse. That afternoon she couldn't find her cocker and when we finally found her she was in the crate with the chicks and had them all tucked in under her ears as if she was a mother hen and she mothered the 24 of them until they were fully feathered and could be moved outside. My husband and father built me a coop for them and all was well until the day the 3 bigger kids (1 - 4 & 2 - 5) decided to shut the little one (2 1/2) in the coop so he would leave them alone, he was so scared that I ended up giving all of them away he couldn't go outside to play with out having a panic attack if he saw the birds. Around that same time our parents were on the verge of losing their house because the payments were higher than the income, so it was decided that both my sister & her family & me & my family would give up our rents and move home with the income from 3 families the home could be saved and it was less a month than rent. My husband and I converted the garage out back into a 3 bedroom apartment and my sister & her family moved in with the parents.
My garden was made in the back bigger & better than before and I was raising all the veggies for 3 families now and doing really good at it (the woodchuck had finally moved on - or ate himself to death) for a few years we had all the vegetables we could eat & I could can and freeze then came the spring that as fast as things were coming up they were disappearing, I walked out around the corner one evening to find a buck standing there munching on a whole row of lettuce I had just finished planting that afternoon and the war was on but this time I won!!!!
We were finally able to get a few more chickens and our son didn't have a panic attack when he saw them. Then an opportunity arose and my sister and I were able to buy 3 mini donkeys and a mini horse. Because I was the only one that didn't work outside the home I built the pen that they were going to be living in and a lean-to run-in for them and we could finally bring them home. We couldn't find a trailer to use to transport them from point A to point B so we did the next best thing - it's amazeing what you can do when you own a mini van. We took all the back seats out of it and off we went, we got all 3 of the donkeys loaded and headed for home, Then we went back for the mini horse and brought him home too. And life was good. That fall my oldest daughter, son-in-law and new born infant moved home after they got kicked out of where they were living, they moved into am in-law apartment up over us and the baby moved in with us. They lived here for 4 or 5 years before they found a place of their own in an other town 1 year later he reenlisted and the 2 of them left for TX.
During all these years I was working on my food storage and never had less than a 6 month supply on hand that would feed 10 to 12 people. And that was what kept our heads above water when in "09" after 27 yrs with the same company the doors closed and everything was moved to other places the company owned in several other states. Now that we're getting back on our feet since he found a new job and I've started my own business I've started rebuilding my storage.
During the winter my sister and I pass the time doing remodeling both at their house and in the apartment upstairs. We started with the apartment when my daughter & son-in-law moved out - that was when we found out why they kept getting kicked out of places - all the carpets had to be ripped out, the shower stall replaced, and a lot of plastering, painting, & papering. As soon as that was done my father-in-law moved in and stayed until his passing. From there we moved into the yard starting by finishing building the wraparound deck my dad had started. Then our daughter was given a pair of ducks so we built a duck pond and decided we needed a flower garden around it and one thing lead to another and we found ourselves building 2 brooder pens and raising our own meat chickens & turkeys. That was also the same year we all decided that a few winter raised pigs would be nice to have in the freezers as well so we went to work building 2 pig pens. We raised some good sized pigs that year and the following summer I had one of the best gardens I've ever grown, that year our son got a crash course in slaughtering & processing when one of the pigs bit the turkey and took such a big chunk out of his butt he had to be killed. That was also the year that all the complaints started from the neighbor on our south side started - he had decided after 2 years of living there that he didn't really want to live beside a farm and we had to go. He figured when he started emailing complaints to the town that they would force us out but instead they brought in the state to inspect everything and we passed with flying colors, we were forced to give up the "boys" (the minis) the powers that be told us that even though minis are considered pets and as such don't need as much land as full sized animals they were going to enforce the equine ordanance that says we had to have a minimum of 5 acres for the 4 so we had to find them new homes. That fall we got 4 more pigs for winter and turned the donkey yard into a pig pen and the run-in into housing for them. The complaints stepped up. In the meantime my dad got cancer and passed away that following summer. As soon as he was no longer with us the nitpicking really got bad and he forced to town to look back at things that had been done 25 to 30 yrs ago and when Code Enforcement did even though it was well over the time limit they decided to play one last card and told mom either she signed an agreement that we would stop raising anything but birds or we were going to be evicted, She fell for it and signed. We found out later that if we could have kept her from signing for just a few more hours because he refused to show up for any of the meetings that the board of Selectmen were going to find in our favor. So here we are forced to raise our meat critters an 1 hour drive away but we're all still here much to his disappointment.
Sis & I are still doing renovations, the winter before last we redid the dining room in their house and last winter we started on the kitchen, We had to redo the ceiling and put in a couple new lights then we laid new flooring right thru into the livingroom, this winter we're finishing the kitchen job, we just added some more cabinets and a new faucet, next is going to be new counter tops & a new dishwasher. This spring she plans on putting in a new front door then we're going to redo her livingroom make that the diningroom and move her livingroom where the diningroom is now.
This spring my husband & I are going to build me a greenhouse out back attached to the garage. We've been given sliding glass door panels to use as the main wall, all the framing lumber, and the big ventilation fan. The only thing we're going to have to buy is the polycarbonate panels for the roof. My husband is still debating if he's going to put the door on the side or if he's going to make the access thru the garage. Either way we're going to be replacing the windows on that wall with slightly smaller ones so that the pitch to the greenhouse roof won't be so steep & long. We've also been making that more usable by insulating the walls and sheetrocking, this summer we're going to hunt for a woodstove for it and that will also help heat the greenhouse in the winter. We're looking into a pellet stove for the house as supplimental heat. He put up a wall of shelves in the kitchen with a counter underneith for me to us for my storage and a place to do my prepping for cooking, canning & freezing. We also finally after 22 years put in a dishwasher so I don't have to spend so much time standing at the sink washing dishes.
The half of the livingroom that is set up for me to do my sewing ect. has a long folding table that most of the time is used as a cutting table is right now holding 2 incubators one has chciken & turkey eggs in it the other is going to have goose eggs in it by the end of the week. For the past 2 years I've been buying my eggs off E-Bay last year I had marginal success but this year I've made some improvements such as adding an auto-turner. This will be the 3rd year of hatching our own and we've really been enjoying it. Everyone loves the countdown to hatch and watching as each little body emerges from that even littler shell and then watching as they transform from little balls of fluff into the feathered versions of what they are going to be fully grown. Roosters & Toms go in the freezers - we do keep one of each so that we'll have fertile eggs for the next round. Last year I hatched 3 of 6 turkey eggs, 2 of 10 chickens, and 2 of 2 ducks only to have a raccoon slaughter the whole batch as soon as they were big enough and feathered out so they could be moved outside to a brooder pen. This year sis & I are going to build a better stronger brooder pen so that the samething doesn't happen again - but we did get our revenge the raccoon is now sleeping the eternal sleep in one of my freezers until the son can find someone to teach him how to skin it & process the hide.
I have since gone from the mini van into a Ford Focus and you just can't haul as much in one of those as you can a mini van. I need a truck
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