Hobbitry Homestead: Past and Present | Fall 2016 |

Probably around this time last year, I intended to write a post giving a little tour of our very humble homestead. I probably should have, because last autumn we had just reached our peak (in only the two years we’ve lived here) and since then things have reached a standstill. Regardless of our slow progress, please humor me as I relate our current state of affairs! 😉

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humble beginnings (circa May 2015)

When we first found this home, we automatically fell in love with the property. We live on 3/4 of an acre, but it feels a little larger than that because our property is narrow and long. When we moved here, instead of maybe painting or undergoing minor renovations to the inside of the house, we instantly began to work on the outside. First by laying the bed for our first vegetable garden, purchasing our first chickens, building our first chicken run, and planting our first fruit trees.

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sowing seeds

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building the chicken run

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the day we moved the first flock of chicks outside

Within the past year and a half, the homestead has been through quite a lot. Some of our blunders include…Losing our first flock of chickens to a mean decapitating raccoon. I still remember the shock when my husband told me that morning. (They were the most beautiful breed with have had so far too!) We have gone through four roosters. Two were lost to the raccoon, two were lost to us because they were too aggressive. Two meat birds escaped by accident and never came back. And then of course, there are your typical gardening blunders that everyone runs into if they have a vegetable garden (squash vine borers, frost, wild rabbits eating young plants, crops shooting to seed too early, etc). With each set back though, we have been able to learn much more. Over here we truly do learn as we go.

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Jean Lafitte, our 3rd rooster, still a little teenager here

Writing about all these gardening specifics makes me sad…why…well ever since I became pregnant and started to [temporarily] work part time last Fall, the garden has fallen by the wayside. You see, our homestead would not be alive were it not for the stamina, enthusiasm, and resourcefulness of my husband. If he wants something done, he gets it done. He mainly oversees the animals, and I [used to] oversee the garden. We work together, and we just get excited about different things. However, with the pregnancy and the part-time job, I slowed down – which was necessary and good. I focused more on lesson planning and soaking up my time with my toddler, soon to be big sister.Unfortunately [and not a surprise] the garden gradually went dead soon after Rainer was born. But thankfully, our rabbits [again, my husband’s work] have been flourishing.

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One of the last harvests, this past May

 

At the height of our garden days, we had healthy blueberry bushes, producing lemon trees, and an annual vegetable garden of all sorts of greens, herbs, and veggies that would make its way to the dinner table. Since then, we have had to get rid of the blueberry bushes, my lemon trees have been struggling, and our vegetable garden is no more. On the plus side, the guava tree that we thought was killed by frost has grown back and is just as healthy as it was last year. Our fig trees are beginning to produce, our apple tree is strong, and our front porch herb garden is growing wonderfully. Our feijoa bushes might be struggling a little bit though.

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Guava tree guild in its infancy

The animal side of things is still looking good! We have 6 hens at the moment, and they are probably over a year at this point. In the Spring, we plan on getting some chicks to eventually replace them. Last winter Ross started our first meat bird operation, which we might do again once we have a better set up to raise chicks.

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Last Spring

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newly built chicken tractor last fall

This past spring we introduced rabbits to the homestead, which so far has been more economical and efficient than raising our own meat birds. When we first began, both Ross and I were a little hesitant. Rabbits are much cuter than chickens, but in the end, it’s really not all that bad. It is much more fulfilling knowing exactly how the meat on your plate was raised and treated throughout its life and knowing that you had a hand in it.

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Scruffy the Rabbit, one of the Papas

Now that I am finally at a comfortable rhythm with these two kids, I am really eager to get back at work in the garden. I plan on preparing a new bed, this time closer to the backdoor for easy, quick access. There is also a lot to be done with the existing fruit trees, but I’m working on one step at a time. There are many more goals and dreams to move forward, but for now, it is a blessing to take a step back and see far we have come. Most especially, I love that we have our two littles who can enjoy the yard.

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This used to be our main garden. We are now clearing the area completely.

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Ross built that gate from scrap wood, using his own design. There are muscadine vines on each side.

For those of you that do garden, what are your favorite things about gardening? What is your strong suit?

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