Tiny House Homesteading

have the courage to dream

Author: tinyhouse12 (page 1 of 4)

2017 Goals update!

At the beginning of the year I set some goals for this year.  We are just a little over half way through the year and so I decided to take a look at my list and see where I am with my goals and if I need to adjust some of them.

This is a list of the goals that we have set for this year (2017) for our homestead:

  • Continue to live without going into any new debt including cash flowing the kids college classes and the car repairs.
  • Make extra payments on our property.
  • Build up an emergency fund.
  • Launch our home business. We have launched our home business but are still in the very beginning stages of growing it.
  • Finish fence for the goat paddock. We have more then enough food on our 36 acres to feed our goats. However in order to keep the goats from eating our shade trees and our gardens we have to either fence in all our plants or fence paddocks for them to graze in. We have made some great progress on this but are only able to put up the t-post for some of our fencing. We will have to finish the rest of this project next year.
  • Add trees to our orchard. As of right now we have one apple tree in our orchard and one apple tree in the perennial garden we fenced in during 2016. We also have 2 goji berry trees. We have added 11 trees this year. This far exceeds for goals for the year and I am hoping that we can plant 2 peach trees from peach pits this fall in our orchard.  We have 2 trees to add next year and 2 peach pits to add this fall. 
  • Fence in orchard. We have fenced in the orchard, but I will add chicken wire to the fencing next  year to keep our some of the wild rabbits.
  • Add ducks to the orchard. We have added ducks to our farm. We added 11 Cayuga ducks and 12 Pekin ducks. We have enjoyed having them. We are still learning how to care for them and what their specific needs are with each new season.
  • Build Duck coop in the orchard area. We built 2 duck enclosures in the orchard, but we will probably need to adjust them for winter and hope to expand the duck enclosures next spring.
  • Add raspberries and strawberries to the perennial garden. We will also add comfrey and any other perennials that we can get our hands on that we think will benefit our homestead. We might add grapes to the perennial garden this year too. We added strawberries and comfrey, but we were unsuccessful with the raspberries that we added and we were not able to add grapes this year. Hopefully we can add grapes next year. I have yet to decide what to do about raspberries. 
  • Add pergola to the perennial garden. This addition is so that we can enjoy our perennial garden. In addition to adding the pergola we will also be adding shade to the garden as the summer months are brutal on the plants. This project will be moved to next year.
  • Add more shade trees to our homestead. (We added 3 shade trees to our homestead in 2016.) We love trees. Right now when you drive up to the property there is very little green. We want to create a self-sustaining oasis in the middle of the desert. We would like to add as many trees as we can but we hope to do this with free trees. In addition our homestead is located in an area where we can’t dig into the ground (because of rocks) to plant trees, but we will do everything we can to find places we can plant trees. Technically all our tree are shade tress and as I mentioned earlier we were able to add 11 new tress this year.
  • Build multiple cold frames to extend the growing season. We can only grown food for our family if we can manage to extend our growing season. This project will likely be moved to next year.
  • Work on our greenhouse. I would love to have tomatoes growing year round in our green house by the end of this season. This project will likely be moved to next year.
  • Paint our shed. Our poor shed has been neglected as we have rushed to build a home and fence in our garden and goat paddocks. However, the wood on our shed is now in desperate need of paint to protect it from the elements. We did get the shed painted.
  • Paint the old chicken coop. I have no idea how old this chicken coop/wood shed is. However, a fresh coat of paint will make it cheerful and pleasant. I stared this project and decided not to finish it. I will just leave it as it is.
  • Paint the house so it is all the same color. Our house was constructed in 3 stages and all three stages have a different exterior. Ideally they would all be the same. We did get the house painted and it made a huge difference.
  • Build steps for the house using bricks we got for free in 2016. I also need to build some functioning shutters for the windows on the front of the house for the hot afternoon son.
  • Get a water tank. We actually need to get a filter system for our water and then a water tank. Although we would love to do this project this year, we can continue to run our water from the well into the house until we can afford to do this. This project will likely be moved to next year.
  • Hook up the water heater to the large propane tank. This project will likely be moved to next year.
  • Finish the bathroom. This is also a project that we would love to do this year, but finances will dictate if we accomplish this in 2017 or have to postpone it until 2018. This project will likely be moved to next year.
  • Skirt the house. This will make the house a lot warmer, and this step needs to be finished before we build the cold frames that will surround the house. This project is 60% complete.
  • Put wood panels in the family room ceiling. This step needs to be done in order to install a fan in the ceiling this summer. If it isn’t finished before summer, than box fans it will be for another year. This project will likely be moved to next year.
  • Insulate and panel the library. Although I really want to do this project it will depend largely on free materials as this project is not currently in the budget. This project will likely be moved to next year.
  • Build bookshelves in the library. We have to build at least one bookshelf this year to get our books that are literally piled around our tiny house in a more protected space.
  • Add bees to our homestead. This is perhaps the project that I am most excited about and the most nervous about. I am worried that we won’t have enough flowering plants to keep our bees here and also that we will lose our bees to one of a dozen different issues. However we will go forward with this venture and hope that it works out. We did add bees. We are hoping that they make it though the winter.
  • Plant lots and lots of perennial flowering plants for our bees to enjoy. I planted lots of perennial plants for the bees, but nothing really seemed to make a difference until my friend gave me some catnip to plant. The bees and the butterflies love catnip.
  • Grow paddock for the chickens. Our goal has always been to grow enough food on our homestead to feed the animals that we raise on our homestead. Food for our goats grows naturally, but we will have to plant a variety of plants for our chickens. We did plant grass, but we have a lot more to plant to be able to rotate our chickens.
  • Plant winter wheat. This will help feed the ducks, chickens, and goats.
  • Add worms to our homestead.  I have already made two unsuccessful attempts to raise worms on our homestead. I am going to make a third attempt this year. Worms are not only great for the gardens but they are also a secondary source of food for the chickens. I had some success with the worms, but I was unable to figure out how to keep them thriving. As a result I took the worms that I had and I put them in the orchard and the perennial garden.  I will probably get more worms next year and continue to get more worms until we have tons of worms everywhere. We are seeing worms in new places around here and that is exciting. That is a sign to me that our land is becoming more fertile.
  • We added rabbits to our homestead. This was not originally on the list for this year, but we are enjoying raising rabbits.

I can see that I still have a few goals to work on and some that will be pushed to next year. I also have a few more goals to add.

New goals for the second half of this year

  • Grow lettuce
  • Make the front of the house more welcoming

 

We have grass!

When we moved to our homestead one of the first things that I wanted to do was plant grass. I had planted grass before, so I was sure that I could do it again. I prepared the area, planted the seeds, and watered it daily. Unfortunately that was not enough. I don’t exactly know all of the reasons why my grass was a failure, but it definitely was. Since then I have been growing whatever I could grow in this desert that we live in. We have also been working on putting up fences so that we could add more animals to our homestead.

This summer I decided that I wanted to see if I could grow wheat here. I learned that I could grow some wheat, but that I also had to contend with the wild rabbits who were more excied about my wheat than I was, and I was pretty excited.

To grow my wheat I covered my soaked wheat berries with straw to keep the ground from drying out. Because that was somewhat successful I wondered if I could do the same thing for my grass seed and have success. I figured that if I could just get my grass up and out of the ground then I would only have to cover the ground with straw once, and then I could maintian the grass. The biggest obstacle was just geting the grass to grow in the first place.

Fortunately after three weeks I started to see tiny blades of grass growing up. Success!

Here we have grass growing with wild purslane. The grass is growing through the straw we covered the groud with, and we hope it will continue to grow and spread through the next year.

Now as I look around at my test area I know that I can get the grass to grow for a pasture.  However I am pretty sure that I will have to concentrate on getting small areas up at a time.

The reason that I have to do small areas at a time is because I am limited by our solar power (which powers our well). I only have a few hours during the middle of the day where there is enough sun to ‎set our srinklers and water my grass seed.  Because I have to water the grass daily until I can get it out of the ground, I have to limit myself to starting small sections of grass as a time.

Sometimes our monsoon season lasts for a few weeks where we live,  and we get lots of rain in August and September. Unfortunately this is not always the case, but if we do get a few weeks of rain this fall then I might get a larger area done at one time. If, however,  I put the seed out and it doesn’t rain then the ants, mice, and birds will surely escape with a lot of of the grass seed before it gets a chance to grow.

In the area that I have managed to get grass up I do have several spots where the grass didn’t come up, but I think that I can just reseed next year when what I have planted is well established.

What have I learned from all of this? Well basically I have learned what I keep learning. First to grow things out here I have to keep trying; I have to have patience; I have to keep learning; to be successful I can’t give up.

 

Help from friends!

This summer my husband decided to take a position as camp director for a summer camp.  He is really good at what he does and he enjoys the job, but the pay is pretty low. Because of that we were not able to put any money into our farm this summer. However, I have still been able to make progress despite our current situation. The reason why I have been able to make progress is because when I set goals, I discuss my goals with my husband, my friends and my family.  This simple steps creates opportunities that I might now otherwise have.

A few weeks ago a friend of mine who was cleaning up her property and making some changes offered me some bricks and t-posts. I had shared with her my goals which included fencing in paddocks for my animals. When she was cleaning up her property she thought of me and made the offer.

My friend gave me enough t-posts to add a paddock for sheep next to my cow paddock. I still have to get the field fencing, but having help from others helps me to keep moving forward on my projects. We should always be willing to share our plans with others because we never know when we might get a little push forward on our goals.

Likewise another friend of mine offered me some catnip for my garden after taking a tour of my garden and learning my goals. She planned to thin out her catnip and thought me.

 

Catnip from my friend and neighbor.

Another place I received help on my projects was from my birthday. Because I shared my goals with my family my daugher and my mother-in-law gave me trees to add to my orchard for my birthday.

Black Mulberry tree given as a gift from my daughter for my birthday.

 

Honey Locust give as a gift for my birthday.

Sharing our goals with others is really powerful.
It can be difficult because it can make you feel vulnerable, especially if you don’t know if they will agree with you or make fun of you.  We leave ourselves open to feeling judged by others, but we also open ourselves up to help we might not otherwise get.

 

Finding Balance

We are often told that finding balance in our lives is important. I couldn’t agree more, but I have found that balance looks very different than what I use to think it was. I use to think we give a little bit of what we have to all of the things that are important, but if we do that then we run out of resources before we can get to everything. We have to make choices to find balance and this requires focus and sacrifice.

We have a finite amount of time and resources.

Occasionally I hear a story about someone who has so much money they don’t know how to spend it all, but that seems to be the exception, definitely not the rule. And even if the resources for a person were unlimited, they would still be bound by the same time restrictions that we all have. Most of us have a finite amount of time and resources.

This is important because when we talk about finding balance we have to acknowledge that balance doesn’t mean we equally give our time and resources to the people and things we love. Rather it means that we have to choose what resource we give and how much we give to each person and each project. It means that we find a way to focus on one thing at a time.

Balance requires focus.

In order to have balance in our lives we can’t have our attention so divided that we are spread thin. This leads to stress, frustrations, and anxiety. Yes it is possible to spend time with your children while you are working on a project. In fact not only is it possible, but it is important. When we work with them we are teaching our children that we love them and that they can work hard and accomplish a goal. But balance requires that we also teach them other things like love, charity, and faith. Although it is possible to teach a lot of these things while we are working along side them, if we only spend time with our children then we are working then we lose that balance that we are seeking. Balance also means that we have to walk away from daily chores and play with our children.

Balance requires sacrifices.

When it comes to finances balance means that we have to allocate a limited amount of funds for an unlimited amount of costs, and in order to do that we have to make sacrifices. We have to choose how to spend the money we have and what to give up. We have to work hard to compensate for the things we can’t buy which often requires sacrificing time. We have to be creative and intentional. However being creative often requires giving up time for other things.  We have to pick what projects to work on because we can’t work on them all, and we can’t work on them all at once. We have to decide what we will work on and when we will work on it. This all requires that we sacrifice projects and time with people we value.

How then do we find balance.

When we understand that balance requires focus and sacrifice we can then find a way to truly have balance in our lives. At the point when we see things as they are we have to step back and look at the whole picture. We need to look at our long term goals in order find and have balance in our lives.

My long term goals look like this:

Raise my children with love and teach them.
Serve God and his children.
Strengthen my marriage.
Build a home business.
Build our homestead.
Play with my family.
(Not necessarily in this order)

It is easy to get focused on just one of these goals and allocate all my time and resources to accomplishing just one of these. That is why it is so important that to find my balance I look at the big picture.

When I look at my long term goals, then I have to look at my time and resources. I take out my calendar, and I first put on it the things that I can’t change. Then I hard things that are occasional but necessary. But what is important is that when I decide what to do and how to spend my resources I look at the entire list. If I don’t have things that are important to me on the list then I will run out of time and resources before I can put those important things into my life. The truth is that I will run out of time and resources and I will have to make sacrifices. In order to find balance I have to make sacrifices but I also have to make sure that I am seeing what is important.

Balance requires charity.

If we only have time for ourselves than we missed the point entirely. When our list of to dos is super long and our resources time and energy is spent we become exhausted both spiritually and mentally. In order to keep from wearing out we must find time to serve others. Charity rejuvenates us. Charity lifts our spirits. Charity heals us. Charity helps us to find our focus again and look at the whole picture again.

For me balance requires God.

This last part is probably the most important in my life. I already know that I don’t have enough time and resources, and to find balance I have to pray for help and guidance in both making choices about priorities and in reaching my goals. I know that God loves me and he wants me to succeed. Because I know this I ask him for help. When he doesn’t give me resources he gives me patience, understanding, and love. He helps me to see that what I have and what I can do is enough if I put him first.

 

An Upgrade For the Cayuga Ducks

Sometimes when we build things there is a plan that is made months in advance. Other times we build based on what is available. This is the case with our Cayuga ducks. We had an area where we could raise our Cayuga ducks, and all we needed to do was add a fence to keep them in. We knew from the beginning that at some point they would actually be able to fly over the small fence we built, but it was necessary to put up the fence until we were able to do more.

This is the original space for the Cayuga ducks which they have out grown.

Our Cayuga ducks haven’t started flying yet, but the water container they used needed to be upgraded to a bigger container. We already had the bigger container (which was a small kiddie pool), but it was half the size of their living area and there was no place to dump it. Since we dump and wash out their water daily this was a big problem. The first time I tried to dump it I ended up flooding their living space. Well ducks do like water and it was a hot day, but we definitely needed to make some changes if this was going to be a daily problem.

The Solution

I realized that I needed to increase their living space while at the same time finding a new space for their water so we could dump it daily. My daughter and I examined the current place and tried to come up with a new solution. All of our solutions involved moving the ducks to the back side of their current place and enclosing that. The biggest problem with that was we would be losing the protection from the weather and would need to build an new covered enclosure for them. The second problem was that it would be roughly the same size as the first space, so we wouldn’t be giving them more space. However, we would be able to dump the water daily without flooding their living space.

I called my husband to talk it over with him because he was temporarily out of town on business. I really hoped he might have some ideas. He immediately understood the problem and said, “Okay put a hole in the back of their coop.”

Why didn’t I think of that? Oh well, as long as someone was smart enough to think of it; it doesn’t matter if it was me.  So today we cut a hole in the back of their covered enclosure and then we added fencing to enclose a new area. This doubled the size of their living space while keeping a covered space for bad weather. It also allowed me to do something that I wanted to do. It allowed me to take their water out of their covered space. I didn’t want water in their sleeping space so this was a great solution.  Having damp flooring really isn’t a big deal in the hot summer months, but in the winter months wet bedding could be deadly.

Fix it up, wear it out, make it do. or do without! 

Before we go to the store and buy anything for a project the first thing that we do when we need to make changes is go on a walk-about. We walk around our property and take note of what resources that we have that we might be able to use for our project. When we did this we found two pallets that we thought would work on enclose the west and the north sides. The south and east side were already part of the duck coop. We also found  some fencing that we would be able to use to cover the bottom half of the pallet on the west side to keep the ducks contained. On the north side we just cut old 2x4s that we also had and filled in the holes of the pallet to make a semi-solid wall.

I am super happy that we were able to come up with a solutions for our ducks and to stay within our budget (which was actually $0).

Sunflowers and Mice

Last year I tried a few different things to get my sunflowers up and growing without the mice eating them every time they came out of the ground. You can read about some of my attempts here.

This year I planted sunflowers again, and I knew that I needed to try something new. I knew that I was planting my sunflowers in an area where there are mice. However I wanted to plant them in this particular space because it was partially blocked from the harsh winds we get here. In actuality it is common to get winds that are 20-40mph quite often.

I have lots of sunflower seeds and lots of determination, so I decided to go ahead and plant the seeds in the area that I knew had problems with mice. I also want to add that I have been told that if I can get the plants big enough then the mice won’t bother them anymore. So my solution only needed to protect the plants temporarily.

I used cans to temporarily protect the sunflower plants while they were little.

When I first planted the sunflowers I planted 25 seeds and I had 3 metal cans that I put around some of the seeds. I cut the top and bottom off the cans and stuck them about 1/2 inch into the dirt to provide a barrier between the mice and the sunflowers. Those cans protected the seeds as they grew. However I still had quite a few seeds that I had planted that weren’t protected by the cans. As I saw more of the plants break through the soil, I added cans around those plants to protect them.

 

Unfortunately the mice did discover where I was planting the sunflowers, and we found evidence of seeds they dug up and ate. The good news is that they didn’t touch the plants that were in the cans. I did want more sunflowers though, so I decided to plant seeds one more time. This time I again put the cans where the seeds were instead of waiting for them to grow to the surface to add cans. I am happy to report that the cans seem to be protecting these sunflowers from the mice until they can get big enough for the mice to ignore them.

I got this idea when some friends of mine told me they they knew a lady who used this method to protect her plants from the strong wind we get while the plants were still young and through spring which is an especially windy season for us. So although I used this method to protect from mice, it has also been used to protect young plants temporarily from strong winds.

 

My Green Thumb

Many years ago I planted my first garden. It was a complete failure.  Then I planted my second garden. FAIL! A few years past and I tried again, fail. I can’t grow anything I resigned.  I have a black thumb not a green thumb I would declare, and I wasn’t alone. I ran into a lot of people who had resigned themselves to the title of “having a black thumb.”

Ironically, when we moved to the desert where the ground was clay and only the toughest plants survive I finally found my green thumb.

What I discovered, however, was that I had failed before because I was treating my plants like objects and not like the living organisms that they are. If I took care of my children, the way I did my plants in the beginning, they would have died too. I had the attitude that if I put plants in the ground and watered them then that was enough. I think I was just a little lazy.  Every time I hear people talk about someone who has a green thumb they talk about how much they love to spend time in the yard or the garden, and that is actually the secret.

 

Plants are living. They aren’t objects.  They need a good home, food, and water. Plus they need to be checked on often to make sure they are okay. You have to keep them safe from danger. They are subject to predators,  freezing,  baking, and wind. If they get sick or diseases you need to nourish them back to good health. Plants need us to check on them daily to see how they are doing and to take care of them.

I found my green thumb when I learned that green thumbs aren’t accidental,  they are earned. Plants aren’t objects, they are living and need to be taken care of. Neglect is the biggest enemy. I still have a lot to learn, and I still lose plants. However now I spend more time with them, and I have a better success rate. How did I get my green thumb? I feel in love with my garden.

A Day For The Bees

Today was all about the bees. This morning I put on the bee suit for the first time. It is my husband’s bee suit, so it is a little big on me. However, it still does the job. Then I put syrup in the hive. We still don’t have a lot of flowering plants, so we decided to syrup them for a little longer.

This is me in my husband’s bee suit. It was custom made for him when he worked for a season as a bee keeper many years ago. I am quite a bit shorter than he is, and it really shows here.

Then I went with my son to the swap meet. I was delighted to find some beautiful roses for an amazing price. I thought my bees are going to love these roses. With the help of two of my beautiful girls I planted 7 rose plants in the perennial garden.

I have 2 more roses to plant as soon as I can decide where to plant them.

We are finally seeing out bees buzzing around the garden. It is exciting to follow their progress and to be part of this amazing process.

We are currently using a Warre Hive. It is top bar hive design. So far the bees haven’t complained.

 

 

 

We Finally Named Our Farm

Welcome to…WINDSWEPT FARM

Of all the things we have worked on, naming our farm was one of the most difficult. Probably because although we can rename it, we probably won’t.

Our breakthrough came when we started playing around with a farm name generator which was created for online farm games.  The online generator came up with some fun names and helped us find the perfect name for our “real” farm.

We have been working really hard this year adding new farm animals and crops that will soon be available for purchase from our farm. We hope to have lots of visitors over the next few years as our farm grows and our products increase.  Plan your visit today!

Plan your visit by sending us an email with your contact information and we will set up a visit.

tinyhousehomesteading@gmail.com

 

 

 

Summer Garden Challenge 2017

DAY 1

Today we planted 9 zucchini seeds, 7 raspberry plants , and 1 oregano plant.

Oregano

Raspberry

DAY 2

Today I planted 15 green beans around the base of my plum tree since green beans are nitrogen fixing plants.

DAY 3

Today I planted some green onion roots. In the spring and summer when we buy green onions from the store we leave the root and replant it to regrow it for future meals.

Green Onion Roots Planted Today and Last Week

Green Onions Roots After A Couple Weeks Growth. These Were Planted 3 Weeks Ago.

‍DAY 4

I planted 3 more green beans a space next to the other green beans. I am not sure why there isn’t any there yet but hopefully there will be some growing there soon.

I also planted cilantro in a new location.  We planted them twice before in a location where they didn’t grow. I still had some seeds so I tried a third time in a new location and this time I hope they grow. We love cilantro!

DAY 5

We had fried rice for dinner again tonight! That means that I was able to plant some more green onions.

DAY 6

Today was a very windy day. However we finally got our strawberry plants in the mail, so when the wind died down just before sunset we planted 80 strawberry plants.  The soil was already prepped, so it was fairly easy to plant them even though it was quickly getting dark.  I ordered these bare root through the mail so I am really hoping that they do well.

DAY 7

Today landed on our Sabbath so we took a rest from our labors.

DAY 8

Today was a super windy day. We had sustained winds around 30 mph for most of the day, so instead of digging in the dirt we built a planter.

Day 9
Summer Garden Challenge
We planted 14 comfrey root cuttings today!
They come about and inch long and should come up in 5 to 6 weeks.
110 more plants/seeds to go.

Day 10
Summer garden challenge
300 plants or seeds in 30 days.
My sister sent me some sunflower seeds, so today I planted 25 sunflower seeds. I will probably plant more later because the mice LOVE baby sunflower plants.
85 more to go.

Days 11 through 15

311 seeds/plants in 15 days.
I had to take a couple days off my challenge to get some other projects finished, however I was able to meet my 300 plant challenge today.
8 cantaloupe
18 cucumbers
4 pumpkin
8 squash
14 watermelon
9 corn
30 beets
I really hope these seeds grow. They are all non-GMO and open pollinated.
This is not the end of our planting season, just the end of this challenge. I also had a very special helper today who loves to plant seeds.

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