Another Year Wiser (aka, A Long Overdue Homestead Update)



Y’all. I love to blog. I’d rank it right up there with showering, eating chocolate chips on a spoon full of almond butter, and sleeping. So if it makes you feel any better, it’s not just that I haven’t had the chance to blog much as of late, I also haven’t been getting my fair share of showers, chocolate chips, and sleep! Apparently life with two littles doesn’t leave much free time for mommy. Fortunately, they’re ridiculously fun to hang out with, and they don’t give a turkey how sleep deprived or dirty I am. (They do, however, try to steal my chocolate chips. Hence my lack of that little pleasure.)

But really, here I sit approximately one millions months since I last blogged, reflecting back on my homestead and zero waste goals for our fifth year at Whistle Pig Hollow.

State of the Homestead.

Gardens

Recall I had a mid-year homestead re-think, where I came to terms with the fact that I would not, indeed, be milking our lovely Jersey girls. So we sold them. And I realized I would not, in fact, be hauling the babies down to the garden every day to maintain it in the way it needed to be maintained. So we moved the gardens and downsized. Anyway, once I formulated realistic goals for the new phase of life we found ourselves in, I’m pretty pleased to say we actually made most of it happen.

We’ve got lovely raised beds up by the house.

house

And I must say, it is so much easier to work in the garden close to the house so the kids can roam in and out, access the hose for the water table (or making a giant mud pit in the yard, whatevs), and lug out whatever toys their little hearts desire.

Of course they still enjoy some gardening…

baby in raised beds

Meanwhile, I ate greens from the garden for most of the fall and into the winter. I had carrots, greens, roots, and cruciferous veggies. A nice little mix. Not a ton, but enough.

carrots

turnips

I planted strawberries in the fall too, and they are already starting to flower, so I’m excited to see how my first strawberry patch produces this spring.

strawberries

This was my first fall garden, by the way, and I loved it. Like, more than summer garden love. We were all set up to try low tunnels to over winter some veggies, but then I went out of town and came back after a hard freeze, and so that’s how the winter garden rolled this year. Whatever lived, lived. (That would be one broccoli, a few Brussels sprout plants, and strawberries, which it turns out don’t have to be mulched to survive the Tennessee winter we had this year.)

frozen

Meanwhile, this year it’s already seed starting time. The greenhouse is up and running and baby tomatoes are growing away!

greenhouse

Chickens

We still have our entire “new” flock of laying hens, whom I introduced to the Internet here. It’s so nice to have our own eggs again. So nice.

egg

chickens

We are keeping them in a stationary run that is completely enclosed, so they’re no longer free ranging (hence why they are all still alive). Even though they hang out in deep litter and composted straw, which gives them access to bugs and such, I have to say, I’m ready to get them back out on grass. Perhaps the electric poultry netting will get a whirl in the spring. I’m just a free ranger at heart.

deep litter

Meat

The number one priority for me is that we raise or hunt all of our own meat, which has been the case for the past couple of years. Farmer Dickie has restocked our venison, and we’re still eating pork and chicken we raised ourselves and slaughtered about a year ago. We need to get our minds right for this spring though, because it’s time for a new batch of meat chickens and another round of pigs.

chicken

Fruits, nuts, and berries

As far as my goal to start perennial fruits/nuts/berries, all I got planted was a raspberry patch. But hey, it’s a start. Blackberries were here when we moved in, so I think I’ll go ahead and take credit for them.

Zero waste

I also had some lofty zero waste goals, and let me tell you, I have had a year of learning that zero waste takes a level of intention that I clearly need to practice. My struggle has been with consistency. For instance, if I miss a Saturday farmer’s market, it’s so easy and budget friendly to go buy organic produce at Costco- all packaged in plastic. Or if I have an unexpected lunch out without my reusable fork/water bottle, it’s so easy to just get whatever disposables the restaurant has. Add in a skunk getting into my recycle bins on the back porch and a toddler getting into my recycle bins if they’re inside, and you guessed it- even recycling is no longer easy. I’ve wavered back and forth between zero waste success and utter failure.

However, if you know me, you know I’m nothing if not stubborn, and so I shall persevere. Onward, toward my zero waste goals!

I hope you’re off to a fabulous 2016! And I really, really hope to see you again before another six months has passed.

Love,

Ashley

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Comments

  1. Thanks for the update! I love to read them. 🙂

  2. So glad to get an update! Yours is one of the blogs I check regularly and I was beginning to give up hope. So many bloggers come and go. I’m glad things are going well with the garden and chickens. Making things more convenient is the key.

  3. Southern Forager says:

    You may want to try mustard greens in your winter garden next year. I planted some in September (TN) and they grew thick (no cover) until the second week of January. I was really impressed.

    • Thanks! Also, I’m working on learning all I can about the wild edibles on our property (still). Would you have any interest in coming out one day and walking around with me? I’ll send you home with all you can forage, homegrown eggs, and venison!

      • Southern Forager says:

        Would love to! You can text or call me at 615 – four hundred – six, five, two, nine. We can set up a good time. With all this rain lots of plants are popping up!

        Trina

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