The Homestead

Okay, ‘homestead’ is perhaps a slightly grand term for what I’ve got. The basics are there (a home in the country, plenty of land), but I suspect actual homesteading, in the sense of some level of self-sufficiency, is years and years away. What DO I have?

A garden — Right now it’s a 28′ x 35′ plot with a 6.5′-tall fence going around it (a necessity with our deer population!). I planted two plum trees in 2015, and I’ve also got raspberries and rhubarb; the vegetables have to start anew each spring. I’ve been gardening since 2007, and I always enjoy trying new varieties to see what works best for us.

Chickens — Five Buff Orpington hens, to be exact. The feed store wasn’t even sure if I could order so few chicks, but it turns out I could, and they’re all crazily healthy and fluffy (Have you ever seen a grown Buff Orpington’s backside? Fluff!) I built them a well-insulated coop, and they free range every day, so long as it isn’t raining or too cold-windy. They started laying eggs after about six months, which have wound up being the most expensive (but also tastiest) eggs I’ve ever bought.

Cats and dogs — Three cats (Beany, b.2006; Birdy, b.2010; Bear, b.2015) and two Chihuahua-style dogs (Henny, b.2007 and Nova, b.2012). They are utterly useless to any kind of homestead, apart from keeping the homesteaders’ laps warm (and amusing the mini-homesteader).

The land — We’ve got about 35 or 40 acres of hay field, which our neighbors currently cut and keep for their horses. The previous owners had a fenced-in pasture, although only about half the fence is still standing. It’s still the best prospect for a future pasture, as it contains a small pond. (There’s a larger pond closer to the house, but the wild waterfowl own that one.) We also have a fair bit of woods, but the wild raspberries and other thorny plants make them all but inaccessible.

The future — I have no plans for the future of the ‘farm’ (too busy with everything else!), but I do daydream about the possibilities. Goats or cows for milk? Guinea hens for extra tick control? Piggies for… piggies? Who knows! I’ve thought about tilling an extra patch of land to grow more squash or maybe potatoes, and that’s the closest thing I have to an achievable near-future goal.