Don’t you just love a good farm tour? Honestly, if I’ve got to leave ours, I hope that’s where I’m going! Even better than a farm tour though is getting to see the in’s and out’s of farm life from not one, not two, but several homesteads… seeing what life is really like during a day on the homestead!
I’m joining a group of homesteader’s and we’re giving you a peek into our lives… A day in the life of a homestead.
A Day in the Life by Ashley of Whistle Pig Hollow
Homesteading On The Farm: A Peek Into Our Life by Ashley of The Browning Homestead
The Answer to “And what did YOU do today?” by Chris of Joybilee Farm
A Day in the Life of an Urban Homesteader by Connie of Urban Overalls
Homesteading Rhythm with Little Kids & A Bump by Isis of Little Mountain Haven
Homestead Truths, Minus the Sugarcoating by Janet of Timber Creek Farm
A Day of Homestead Living by Jessica of The 104 Homestead
A Day in the Life of a Homesteader by Katie of Livin Lovin Farmin
A Typical Day of Homesteading by Laurie of Common Sense Homesteading
It’s Not About The Work by Leona of My Healthy Green Family
Life, Unfiltered by Melissa of Ever Growing Farm
A Day in the Life of This Urban Homesteader by Meredith of ImaginAcres
A Day on Acorn Hill Homestead by Teri of Homestead Honey
Bleary eyed, I tried to focus on the window and gauge what time it was to plan my early morning before the little children are awake… Instead in my line of vision was a spider dropping down from the ceiling and about to land on me. Thankfully, I had enough sense not to panic and wake up the baby, but swiftly executed it, which I instantly regretted. The value of a spider simply can not be fully understood until you’ve spent hours swatting flies in the kitchen in a single day or picking bugs from your vegetable in the garden. Spiders have a home in my home until we have guests coming. Most folks won’t understand and so I’ll clean up the webs then.
After reading a Psalm, I realized that Bill had already done the milking and was back outside building a cage for the new trailer. He had decided last minute he wanted to haul the lambs to the auction later in the morning. I had been trying to talk him out of it (I like when livestock comes to the farm. When it goes away… not so much) but he was quite insistent and clearly meant it because it was only quarter after 6.
The excuse that I had made to postpone taking the lambs to the sale was that this was our first forecasted day in over 2 weeks that didn’t have us getting pounded with rain. We had over 8″ of rain last month! I haven’t seen if it was record amounts yet, but it was real close. We are woefully behind with everything and the place is a dump. I was looking forward to getting a lot of work knocked out.
After managing the laundry, a job I’m trying to teach my 12 year old daughter to take over full-time but keep having pity on her for staying up too late, I started making breakfast, Challah French Toast, a very, very rare & special treat.
Normally, Bill has the older children with him doing farm chores while he does the milking, but this morning they were on their own with the incentive to help him on the trailer when they were done. By the time breakfast was ready, the little girls were up and I had given them all good morning snuggles & stinky breathed kisses between flipping toast.
Immediately following breakfast we do family devotions which has kind of morphed with our formerly school devotions. It was taking too long to get everyone done with their morning chores all at the same time and wrangled together in the school room. Now I can simply snag a child who is done first and start while I wait for the others to finish.
For devotions, we’ll read a chapter from the Bible, do some review questions, sing a hymn together (usually the hymn of the month from church because it gets them excited & makes a connection when we sing it on the Lord’s Day), and then study a question from the Westminster Catechism and review a memory verse taken from the topic question we’re studying.
Afterward, the children divide their time among breakfast dishes and getting ready for the day while I do the same in addition to working with Hannah on moving laundry. Since farm clothes normally only have a 1 season life span, I don’t worry about sorting loads. We just wash whatever laundry was made the day before… usually 1-2 loads a day (sometimes more on Monday since I don’t bother with laundry on the Lord’s Day).
After showering, I went out and tried to ascertain how much longer Bill would be. He had promised that taking the lambs to auction would only take a couple hours and it was after 9 and he hadn’t even left yet. It was going to be awhile.
Now that we’re in a gardening “lull” between the rush of spring sowing and the late summer harvest, I’ve purposed to pick up on lessons again with the children. We have a pretty unusual Agrarian Calendar in our homeschool, but it works really well for us and allows me to break for the busy times of year instead of according to other’s schedules.
For “school” we’re doing history, science, a reading lesson, writing, and math for a few hours each morning before lunch. This morning it was cut short because of the impromptu auction plans. Naturally, everyone wanted to go.
The sheep had been corralled in a pen previously, so gathering the lambs was pretty easy. They were still light enough that Bill could carry them to the pen and slip them behind the gate as I quickly lowered & raised it.
The children said their good-byes while he cleaned up. This is the part of homesteading that sucks. Second only to death. Selling these lambs wasn’t in the plan and I find that if the plan was in place from the beginning, it’s a lot easier for everyone to deal with. But the lambs had made the flock very difficult to manage. They were constantly leading the whole group out of the electric netting. It’s been devastating to the gardens & orchard. Honeyberries, elderberries, blackberries, raspberries all destroyed. Beets are gone, the broccoli, kale, swiss chard, whole heads of cabbage, tops of corn all damaged. They’re here for a purpose and if they refuse to cooperate they can’t stay. If selling the lambs doesn’t solve the problem, they’ll all go. It’s a tough but necessary decision.
First blue sky I’ve seen in a long time!!
Before we left, I snuck into the Pantry Garden to assess the damage and see what we’d be dealing with in the days ahead. I grabbed my glove and a jar because I knew I’d find more Colorado Potato Beetle larvae to pick & drown. This is my first year dealing with them and I’m hoping to keep the population in check.
It drove me nuts going to the auction. The inactivity was maddening. I needed to DO something, anything and there was so much to choose from. Riding along only postponed the finality of the decision in my mind and I’d have rather stayed home to rip the bandaid off more quickly.
Once they were gone and we were home, it was lunch time. Signifying a whole morning gone. My mind was on one track: Weeds. And not one had been pulled yet.
Before heading outside after lunch, I thought I probably should put dinner in the crockpot so I didn’t have to worry about it later. We were going to have kielbasa but I don’t know what we did wrong this year for the meat is falling apart & the casings are coming open when I try to brown them. We didn’t use our own casings and I wonder if that has something to do with it. The link slices turned to mush in the pan but I put the slop in the crockpot to warm up anyway. Dog food. Thank you, Lord for my Homestead Waste Management Partners!
I set out some frozen strawberry juice to thaw and can into jelly for the next day. These seem like bonus jam to me because I found them in the basement freezers and had forgotten all about them. Before heading outside I remembered that I needed to take my newest batch of Rose Hip soap out of the mold. I could have stayed in the house & kitchen doing a thousand other such little tasks, but at some point you just have to walk away. After all, it seems pretty likely to me that it will rain again tomorrow leaving me with plenty of time to do indoor chores.
I reminded Hannah to take the laundry to the line to hang it then went to find Bill and make a plan. It wasn’t long before we were interrupted.
There was a crisis of some sort at the Purple Martin house as reported by the children and we found they were right as there were several dead babies on the ground. Bill cranked down the housing and looked inside to find that there were tons of dead babies and the boxes smelled putrefying. Since all the nesting material was soaked, we suppose that the heavy rains made it in the nests somehow. Cleaning it up was less than pleasant work. The stench of death was horrid. Hopefully, though, now that the nests are cleaned (and sprinkled with cedar wood shavings) the remaining alive babies will stay alive and flourish.
I sent all the little ones who are more apt to stick their fingers in their mouth to the tub after that task was over. The very air felt like it was filthy. And with the awful humidity (even though it was only 75) it felt like it was a filth that could stick to you.
Bill went to clean up since he did the actual handling and I went to go start pulling up (or rather wrestle with) the sheep netting. I got it all up and across the pasture and ¾ of the way in before he showed up again. (I told him off because the photos I was taking wouldn’t reflect my work, but rather the last 3 posts he stepped in which he found rather amusing.)
The sheep seemed to have lost their senses after being penned up on hay the last few days and went crazy for the grass and didn’t even consider following me with the grain bucket to the new paddock. Two of them jumped into the mysteriously empty pig netting and were too stupid to get back out. Two were off grazing and only the ram was interested in me and was pushing the bucket in my hand around not willing to wait for his girls to get it together. After several fruitless minutes I shouted for backup to round them up. Somehow we managed to get them all together and following the bucket to the paddock. The fence was electrified, tested in the most entertaining way imaginable (with a husband), and we moved on while waiting to see how long it would be until they jumped out.
The pigs were found hiding between two round bales of hay and thankfully getting them in the pen was fairly simple so far as rounding up loose pigs goes. We got the livestock a refill of water, checked on the broiler chicks in the barn, put the flying rascals back into the brooder, covered it back up with the apparently useless screen, and got them another couple scoops of feed before heading to the garden to get weeding. (FINALLY!!!)
Many hands make light work and I fully intended on using as many as possible to help me knock out as much weeding as possible before the weather turned on us. It is CRAZY how much hay mulch we’re going through this year. The worms are turning it back to dirt faster than I can get it here and lay it down. Now that I need more of course, every field is too wet to get to the bales and get them out. One day we’ll hit the hay bale jackpot, load up with them and continue to source them to get a constant supply. (We did get something like 9 round bales several days later. Yea!)
It took until dinner time (Hannah took a break and threw together a pasta salad for us- what a blessing!) but we got most of it done except for 2 bare dirt patches where the corn & cabbages are that were just too muddy to work. We even made an impromptu garlic harvest. The soft neck garlic was all laying down and obviously ready at some point the last several days. The hardback garlic is still looking vibrant & healthy so I’m leaving it in a bit longer.
Everyone was thrilled to finally be able to dine outdoors again! Phoebe drew our attention to how the grapes are growing and we noticed they developed some sort of they-got-too-wet-disease again this year. ( I won’t tell you that it turns out she did not have a diaper on under there and after we were done eating did her business up there on the table while she continued to play with the grapes. That’s highly inappropriate.)
After dinner comes dishes & farm chores for some. It’s pretty simple right now, especially since we refilled waters mid-afternoon. They were checked & topped off for the sheep, pigs, cows, & chickens and the chickens & pigs were fed.
Bill & I went to the orchard and attended to the plums that needed to be hand-thinned. They got brown rot a couple years ago and were getting it again. Fruit that touches each other seems particularly susceptible. We’ll do it now and hopefully remember to thin again later this month to allow for larger fruits and keep up with removing the diseased ones so it doesn’t spread. Seems like such a lot of potential fruit to waste, though!
At this point, I handed the camera over to Lydia (8) so that she could continue photo-journaling our day while I continued working… The remaining shots are all hers (except for the one of her which Ben took).
More fence testing entertainment.
As we finished up working in the orchard, I heard as startlingly close sheep cry out. “What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in my ears?” Nothing except they didn’t stay in their netting very long once again. Very poor decision making on their part, it was. Bill rounded them up with vows that they would be the next ones in the pen off to the auction.
I reminded my laundress-in-training to pull the clothes from the line and finished weeding the beans that I didn’t quite get done before dinner. Afterward, I gathered up the harvested garlic & spread it in the barn to dry.
We gathered the supplies we wanted to use to start separating Daisy from Stella. With Holly due to calf in 2 weeks and Candy drying up, we’re counting on Stella for our milk and we’re only getting a quart a day thanks to the calf. Because of the early 5 AM sunrise, milking would have to be awfully early to get at it before she does! Now that she’s a month or so old, it’s past time that we started handling and halter breaking her anyway.
We walked out to the pasture and quickly saw that it wasn’t going to be easy to catch Daisy. I didn’t expect it would be, but it didn’t help that our 1-testicled steer was “excited.” I don’t trust him through no fault of his own and I didn’t want to get Daisy’s knickers all twisted and upset him. I had flashbacks of Bill doing the same with ‘Gus as a calf and the bull we had rented freaked out, busted through the electric fence, and came barreling after him. No repeats, please. The sensible thing to do was to take Stella up to the barn and hope that Daisy followed. It took a while and she didn’t want to, but eventually she did. We got her tied up, watched her act like she was dying, and did some grooming before leaving her for the night.
These chickens crack me up… they’ve one up’ed each other till there’s nowhere to roost higher but on the roof.
By then it was nearly dark. Which meant it was way past Phoebe’s bedtime, my favorite time of the day because I get to snuggle her while she pulls at my bangs.
Before shutting down for the night, I need to jot some notes for in my Homesteading Binder. It will go a long way to helping me be more efficient & organized next year.
At the end of the day, I realize there was always more that could have been done or needs to be done. But at some point, you just have to say, “There’s always tomorrow.” Ultimately, I went to bed feeling pretty good about how productive we were, especially where the weeding was concerned, and it left me hopeful that I could get the weeds under control before the next time it rained. Sure, the pasture needs clipped, the compost needs to be sifted and new pile built, the grass desperately needs to be mown, I need to start my fall garden seedlings, but more than that I end the day worrying if I did enough mothering and hope that the busyness of what we’re doing by having a homestead doesn’t ever get in the way of why we’re doing this which is to foster a close-knit, home-centered, connected family.