5 Defining Projects of Our Homesteading Family Summer

homesteading familyNo doubt about it that we were destined to be a homestead family. The kids have slipped nicely into a new way of thinking, with animals to care for and chores to tend to. As far as Wendie and I, our new life has allowed us to grow not only as individuals but as a couple as well. 

We get our income from our small, self-owned businesses. We are growing food and connecting with our neighbors in ways that we only dreamed about in our previous life. Homesteading suits us, and it is difficult to imagine what life would have been like if we kept living in the city.

This month, we have quite a bit on our to-do list, just as everyone else does in the homesteading world. The garden is exploding with maturing plants, we have a new construction project underway, the bee colonies are growing and the broilers need to be harvested for the freezer. It is an all-hands-on-deck experience that we are excited to complete.

Homestead Poultry

homestead family
As regular readers know, we have two focuses for our poultry. One is a flock of 20 or so egg layers, ranging from NH and RI Reds to black sex-linked, Polish to Isa Browns. Until recently, we also had a rooster, Bruce, who we held back from last fall's broiler flock to act as a protector. 

That will not be a mistake we make again. Though beautiful to look at, Bruce was a bully, and as Wendie so often commented, a rapist. The ladies were stressed and enough was enough. 

Last week, our friend Iro came over to demonstrate the proper way to harvest a meat bird. It was my first time experiencing it, and after learning all I could, we are set to harvest our remaining 15 broilers next weekend. 

homesteadingThe idea came to me to invite friends over to assist with a trade of a broiler or two. Maybe we will have help from a few takers and maybe we won't, but the job needs to be done. We have the gear and we have the know-how, so all we need now is the time to do it.

Bruce the rooster served his purpose, and Iro brought him home for some coq au vin.

With the broilers processed out of the summer coop, we are excited to introduce our flock of five guinea fowl to the homestead. The guineas are a solution to a problem we were facing with ticks. As we are adamant about not using pesticides, partly for the long-term environmental impact and partly for the safety of the bees we keep, guinea fowl were the obvious choice. 

These little French-breed dinosaurs will be our first defense against the ticks that like to show up when we're not looking. We know we have some startling cries in our future, but that is a small price to pay for having a tick-free homestead.

Our Homestead Family Garden

homesteading family
Everything in the homestead garden is exploding. We harvested our first crop of radishes last week and immediately turned around and planted more. The garlic hasn't shot up scapes yet, but we suspect with the next hot stretch we come across we'll be sautéing up some yummies as a precursor to the bulbs being harvested soon after. 

With 22 tomato plants scattered throughout the raised beds, Wendie and I were a little late in putting up cages. Yesterday we fixed that oversight, and now our lovely plump-to-be ladies have the support they require. 

We are about to harvest the last of our green leaf lettuce, and the parsnips still need some thinning to really thrive. The carrots are topping nicely, as are the turnips.

homestead familyThe sweet green and hot peppers are budding, as are the sweet peas and various squash and melon plants. Each day we do a little weeding and care-taking during our homestead walk-about, and though it seems like a massive task, it truly isn't. Everything is under control.

The blueberry bushes have all fruited, with clustered, light-green kernels of mid-summer expectations just tempting us with the possibilities of jams and compotes. 

The raspberries and blackberries are flowering, and the postage stamp orchard is surrounded by tall crimson clover that the bees will get into when it fully blossoms. Down b y the lakeshore, the root-stock elderberries are leafing nicely. In the meantime, we pick a handful of wild strawberries to satisfy our sweet teeth.

Homesteading Handy Man

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I'm no master carpenter, but I've been known to nail a couple of boards together in my time. Right now, we are building from the ground up an 8X8 garden shed. 

As the shed resides in the front yard, we want it to look good as well as to be functional, so I'm going all out with a frugal budget in mind. It has a raised foundation, with as much reclaimed lumber and components as we can cobble together. 

The roof will mimic the slope of the house, and will be properly finished with cedar shingles. Today, the hemlock floorboards will be laid down, and an earnest search from reclaimed windows and a door will begin. The more windows the better, as we would like to use the shed for early-spring potting to help get the garden off right next year.

The Bees Are Thriving

homesteadingA few days ago, both bee hives received their second brood box. Though not quite full to the brim, both were at about 80% capacity with brood, pollen and honey stores. We were able to spot Queen Jade in the Italian hive, but couldn't quite catch a glimpse of Queen Xena in the Carniolan hive. But she's there, or at least a replacement is there, because we have fresh brood.

We used pre-waxed frames that sped up the bees' development of comb, so we're still on the fence about harvesting any honey this year. If we have a surge in nectar, we might be able to put up a super or two on in late summer. If not, we will let the bees do their thing and winter over, starting the spring with strong hives.

Homesteading Family Values

The kids are full-on invested this summer with activities. Carolyn was invited to a STEM summer program and Elizabeth is continuing her Olympic 2024 goals with the summer swim season. Sammy is off to California for a few weeks to write music with Joey while Wendie and I are rediscovering ourselves with scheduled dates. Today, it's lunch out.

On July 4th, we are having our neighbors and friends over for a lobster bake to share the company we're learning is so important in our lives. We aren't an island unto ourselves, and being with friends lets us relax and enjoy the moments in life for what they are.

As we complete our daily walk-abouts, there is still much to be done to make this piece of property our own homestead. There's still fruit trees to be planted, garden beds to be mulched and tended, an additional roof to be added to the shed to shelter our winter firewood and a she-shed to be built down by the lakeshore.

homesteadingWe find that we do what we can with what we have, taking each day in stride without overwhelming ourselves with a need to complete everything at once. We are doing it ourselves, and that is making all the difference.

Wendie and I enjoy sharing our homesteading family experiences with you all, and truly love it when you join the conversation with your own stories. How does your homestead experience match up to your previous life? Do you find homesteading to be as fulfilling as we do? Let us know with you comments below!


Laurie said…
I enjoy reading about your homesteading life.

Ours is still in the newbie stage, and so many projects to do keep looming overhead.

But little by little, we will make it like you guys are!

Happy homesteading!
Blessings, Laurie
WT Abernathy said…
Thanks Laurie, and outs is only 10 months old at this time. Tons to do, so we're glad you've come along for the ride:)
Wow seems like a busy time ahead - to be expected at this time of the year. It sounds lovely though :) #goinggreen
It's always fun to read about how others do things on their homesteads. We've also had some "not so friendly roosters" that we had to butcher. I didn't like how they stressed out my flock. My flock's health and their delicious eggs are most important to us, so the roosters had to go... so I feel ya there!

Thanks for sharing with us on the Homestead Blog Hop!
WT Abernathy said…
We're getting comments from our neighbors recently about how they don't hear him crowing anymore, so I think we've told this story about 10 times the past week-
But, it was an experiment, and seeing as he was a hold-over from our broilers last fall, he had a longer life than expected.
Sounds like you are really busy ... and with such great results for your efforts. Thanks for adding this to #GoingGreen
Laina83 said…
I have felt very drawn to homesteading too, I'm hoping that we can keep adding more and more sustainable practices to our little urban homestead. Thanks for the inspiration!
Anonymous said…
I would love to spend some time on a homestead. Sadly we live in London so that's not easily achievable but reading your posts are very interesting. You have done well with your projects.

#goinggreen for July
WT Abernathy said…
There's something that everyone can do every day that can make their lives better. Whether it's an urban, backyard homestead or an off-the-grid experience, we can make a difference. Cheers, and keep at it:)