Happenings Around Our Off the Grid Homestead

off the grid homestead
We figured it was about time to sit our butts down and write a post. Granted, we've allowed the summertime chores to overrule most of our creative efforts, but posting the blog hops only for weeks on end surely is getting somewhat tiring. We decided to share what we've been up to on our little one-acre, off the grid homestead to keep you all in the loop, and perhaps begin to warm up our writing muscles for the fall and winter deluge of nearly daily posts one again.

The kids are two weeks away from the start of school, and camp is two weeks behind them. We have been diligent in planning sleepovers and gatherings with their friends, but in the between time, they've been helping us keep busy with all of the projects our hands have been in. To keep this post organized, we'll move step by step with little digression. Hopefully.

Our Off the Grid Life

homesteadWorking from home allows Wendie and I a great deal of freedom when it comes to scheduling our days. Early morning sees us tending the chickens, checking in on the bees and walking the garden. The kids will get up around 7:30 or 9, depending on if we let them sleep in a bit and then they get along to their chores. Kitchen cleanup, dishwasher emptying, collecting eggs and doing a spot of laundry.

Once we have the kids' plan in place for the day, we'll get to our own work. Grading papers, reaching out to clients, paying bills and doing what needs to be done in our professional lives. With lunch comes leftovers, usually, then another walkabout the property to stay in tune with our environment.

Dinner planning commences, and a trip to the store with a library pause for incentive usually follows. We eat around 7, maybe play a board game or two, then it's off to bed. Honestly, it's a good schedule for us and the kids.

The Chickens

off the grid
Currently, we only have layers in the coop. The broilers were processed a while ago, and the freezer is so stocked that we might well be skipping a fall raise and slaughter. We have 16 layers as of now, with a few named and still a good selection of ladies held over from our first broiler raise. They are doing fine, with good health, and are noticeable as they waddle about looking for good forage.

We have six new birds we picked up early summer as pullets as well. We call them the 'Gang.' Not old enough to lay, and still on the lower rungs of the pecking order, they hang tough together and cause mischief anywhere they go. Right now, it's spooking the Guineas and scampering away for fear of being caught.

Homestead Garden

tomato hornworm
On the garden front, the tomatoes have finally started to ripen, just in time for a nasty attack of tomato hornworms. Though damaging if left untreated, all we've done so far is pluck them off and toss them over to the chickens and Guineas. It is a shame in a sense, because hornworms are the pupal stage of the five-spotted hawk moth, and it is a lovely thing to see.

The purple potatoes were harvested a week or so ago, with no disease or pest issues to speak of. They're currently residing in a cool, dark downstairs bathroom and have been incredible for baked potatoes to date.

Our watermelons are growing every day, though they haven't colored out to indicate that they are ready. They still have that flat, dark green tint that suggests they are still maturing. We've done well with Carolyn's summer squash plant she started at school last June, and the eggplants are bulging out quickly.

We harvested and dried the garlic and brought in all of the basil and made a huge batch of pesto that was quickly frozen. The onions are healthy and being pulled as need, while the carrots and turnips and parsnips are being held in the ground until cooler weather and the season of beef stew begins.

Lastly, knowing I'll be forgetting something only to remember it after this post is published, the pumpkins and acorn squash and Brussel sprouts are all doing well as we race toward September. The Brussels seem to have little insect nibbles here and there, but as the sprouts fill out, we don't expect much trouble.

Our Homestead Honey Bees

honey bees
Perhaps the most significant thing that happened in the past two months was a swarm led by our Italian package queen, Queen Jade. She didn't get far, as they balled up on a low tree branch not far from the hive. Upon inspection, we discovered she had been honey bound from the nectar Ruch of the crimson clover. We had to re-queen, and went with an Italian hybrid that immediately moved in and started laying like a champ. She is of course, the new Queen Jade.

On the Carniolan side, the one we named Queen Xena, the crimson clover wave was so great that she filled up the second brood box so well we ended up putting a honey super on about a week ago. We're doing bi-weekly hive inspections, preparing to put up mouse guards and do an oxalic acid treatment for mites in a month or so.

Handiwork Around the Homestead

garden potting shedLastly, our big project for late summer was the building of a garden potting shed. We laid a raised foundation, framed up the sides, raised the roof beams and started putting on the cedar shingles. The idea is to build it one paycheck at a time instead of using credit, and according to plan, it is coming together. It should be finished with roofing shingles and trim by the end of September.

The workshop has been kept clean and organized through necessity on this project, so once it's done, we will be heading in to prepare for our winter projects such as spoon carving, game-board crafting and of course, ornament making. All of this is captured on our Instagram feed if you're inclined to follow along.

Wendie and I really enjoy sharing our off the grid homestead experiences with you all, and truly love it when you join the conversation with your own stories. How is your summer going? Have you gotten to all of the projects you planned in advance? Let us know with you comments below!


Lisa L Lombardo said…
Looks like a great summer on your homestead! I love the potting shed!

I'm having trouble finding time to post too...I totally get it. :) Thanks for sharing your update on Farm Fresh Tuesdays!
Michelle said…
Really interesting post! I have long wondered what the tomato caterpillars would grow up to be. Thanks for that tidbit of info!