Monday, June 27, 2011

It Takes a Family to Build a Homestead

We are trying to take our homesteading efforts to the next level and incorporate farm animals.  We've had some animals before...a couple of horses, some sheep and a handful of chickens, but now we are trying to get serious about it.  Amy recently wrote about gardening as if her life depended upon it and that really struck a chord with me!  There is no way we could live off of our garden at this point, but we are making plans for enlarging it with 2-3 times as many beds this winter and building a greenhouse for some year-round fresh vegetables.  

And, as we are not vegetarians, we also need to get meat animals.  We are planning on adding in a dairy cow, a couple of beef cows, a pig or two and meat and laying chickens.  In preparation for adding in our meat chickens we decided to build a chicken tractor.  I had hoped to convert a trampoline into a chicken tractor/run, but after finding a free one this week and having Jeff and the boys bring it home I quickly realized that my trampoline/chicken tractor transformation was just a dream.  The trampoline will remain a trampoline!

Jeff works with several homeschooling/homesteading dads and one of them had recently built a chicken tractor and shared the plans with him.  So, on Saturday morning Jeff and I had a little one-on-one time at Lowe's for all the materials and then a quick Sam's run.   Lowe's and Sam's are our favorite date spots lately!!  After we arrived back home, Jeff and the children quickly got to work on building our first chicken tractor.  It is not completed yet, but here are some pictures of the work in progress.  I will post a link in the next day or so as I cannot find it on the instructions.

Jordan is drilling holes into the metal pipes after cutting them to the right length.

Instructions, galvanized hardware screen, drill bits and screws used to build the chicken tractor.

Drilling the holes was a little tricky.

My porch rooster is checking out the future home of his more animated friends.

Devin even helps out to hold the pipes as Jordan drills the holes.

Kaelan watches for now.

Jeff, formulating the next step.  I often find him in this pose!!  He thinks a lot!

Now Kaelan gets to hold pipes  as it starts taking shape.

Tying the pipes together with a heavy wire

It took several helpers to get the job done!

Three pipes held together with wire

corner pieces

Chicken wire is on half of the top.  The job will be finished up this week.  I'll share later!

Aaron was mowing and weedeating during the time the Jeff and the others were building.  The little guys were on the trampoline.  ; (  Jackson did wake up complaining of his neck hurting the next morning.  Sigh!!

I've shared before about buying our clothes on the clearance racks.  This outfit for Caedmon was only $7 for all three pieces.  He will probably be able to wear it next year as well.

Jackson started asking for shirts and ties last year and I have found a couple for him.  This shirt and tie combo made by Izod was less than $3!  I found polo-style shirts for the big boys at less than $3 as well.  They weren't too interested in posing before church yesterday, though!!   Love, love, love great clearance rack finds.  Saving money on clothes and necessary items is one of my contributions to the homestead.

 Every day we are picking a handful of strawberries and a pint or two of blueberries.  These ever-bearing strawberry plants were clearance rack buys as well.  I got 12 plants for $1.25 each last year.  They made lots of baby plants and we divided them into about 80 plants this year.  I gave most of them away.  Next year we will add more strawberry beds and use a different kind of strawberry that can be harvested in just a couple of weeks.

I think we will wind up with about three gallons from two bushes.  A first for us!!

Another first...hard squashes growing on a trellis!

Cucumbers are a first as well!

I can't wait for these and their little friends to ripen!!

Our basil is doing great!  We are making pesto each week and freezing it for use this winter!

We've started harvesting and drying sage to use in cooking and for medicinal use.  I post more about it later!

Cucumbers are waiting to be turned into pickles today!

Time for me to get up and get some more work done.  As you can see, we've got lots to do around our little homestead!


Loretta & Amanda said...

Jeff reminds me so much of Daddy in these pictures. The thinking "stance" is one that Daddy uses quite often, except that he is usually scratching his head while standing there staring ;) He can't pull his hair out, because there's not any left :)

Anita said...

Loretta, a lot of the time he is pulling on his hair!! Just runs his fingers through the top and pulls! We keep telling him to stop as it is getting very thin! We are thankful that he still has as much as he does...considering the genes!

Miranda said...

My husband is going to be making "something" for our chickens next week.

We bought 6 chickens a few months ago and were told that half of them would probably die. Well they all made it so we have to figure out if we are going to build another coop or just a bigger one.

Im anxious to see your pictures of the finished chicken tractor!

Loretta & Amanda said...

That is too funny. Heath does the running his hands through and pulling thing with his hair. He reminds me a lot of Daddy as well. Bless their hearts.

Anita said...

Loretta, I think your Big Daddy must have done the same thing. You better remind Heath that his days of having hair on his head are numbered. That particular gene is supposed to come from your maternal grandfather. My boys' should be dad has a head full of thick curly hair!

Mrs Mary Joy Pershing said...

I am fascinated by your homesteading project! Thank you so much for sharing! Also...what state do you live in and how did you get tomatoes to have fruit on them already? Mine haven't come close to producing yet!

I must be doing something wrong...

My green pepper plants are blooming hoping to get a harvest from them...our sweet basil plant is doing great! And SO yummy!

Thanks for sharing your inspire me, friend!

Dancing at the foot of the Cross,

Mrs Mary Joy Pershing

Thistle Cove Farm said...

Looks like y'all are doing a great job at establishing your homestead; other than preparing for eternity, there's no other work I'd rather be doing than farm work!

Anita said...

Thistle Cove Farm, Amen and amen!! Loving it...for the most part!

Anita said...

Mrs. Mary Joy Pershing, we live in the great state of Mississippi just down the river from you. Folks around here already have ripe tomatoes at a couple of the CSA's. I'm late!! I think they most likely started their's in a greenhouse, though. That is on the list for another day!

SarahElisabeth said...

Your outside basil looks great. I've not grown it outside-we are in the UK. We love pesto too and hope to freeze some for winter. The pine nuts are the expensive component here.

Found your blog via Frugal Gardening 101 and am now your newest follower.

Jill @ The Prairie Homestead said...

Ha- I find my hubby in the "thinking" pose a lot, too! But looks like you have a wonderful start to you chicken tractor! I really, really hope that we can get one of those built in the near future! Thanks for sharing this with the Homestead Barn Hop this week. :)

Mona @ Healthy Homesteading said...

I love seeing kids working with their dads. Thanks so much for joining the Raising Homesteaders blog hop. Hope to see you again this week :)

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