May 17, 2012
We had a wonderful visit today with one of our readers, Luann Barbagallo, who stopped by to pick up two pints of syrup and to see just what PHF was all about.
Luann and her family are starting their own homestead in a nearby county. I’m not sure what pearls of wisdom we had to offer as Luann has twenty years of gardening, canning and raising milk goats under her belt. That experience will go a long way in starting a homestead. I hope to keep in touch Luann, you never know, we may need some milk goat advice when we finally get to that stage.
We showed her how the off grid system worked and then took a tour of the farm, stopping by to see the princess piggies. The girls were on their best behavior and allowed Luann to view the pig palace set up. She was interested to see what methods we use to raise our pigs since she and her husband will be purchasing their own feeder pigs in just a few days.
We showed her the smoke house where we smoked eight hams last fall, because if your going to raise pigs you have to have a smoke house. She whole heartedly agreed.
In the past few years we have come to know several homesteading families and one of the nice things about it is that we all share ideas. Everyone has abilities that can help another. We are all folks who choose to live a simpler lifestyle, who choose to leave the whirlwind world of consumerism and depend on our own ingenuity to provide for ourselves.
It was a great experience to meet someone from our blog family of readers. Luann, thank you so much for stopping by, we thoroughly enjoyed your visit. Wish you lived a little bit closer. You and your husband are always welcome.
December 10, 2011
Sonny and I should have been catching up on outside chores today, but instead we went to Sycamore Creek Farm to pick up five meat chickens for the freezer. Al and Julie Bolin raise and process their chickens then freeze and sell them. These are free range chickens that will have a bit different flavor than your grocery store roasters. They will be closer to what our grandparents and great grandparents would have tasted on the farm. Al said the dark meat will be darker the white meat whiter with much more flavor.
Al showed us around his farm. We walked on frozen mud as winter cold wind clawed at us. Chickens meandered around the grounds looking at us sideways as if to say “who are these people and what do they want?” The Bolins have a small orchard of fruit trees and two high tunnels. High tunnels are large green houses built from heavy plastic stretched across galvanized metal hoops.
Al took us into the high tunnels and showed us his raised beds of spinach, chard and leaf lettuce. Like us he and his wife Julie are striving to be more self sufficient as well as trying to make their farm bring in some income. The inside of the greenhouse was warm and it felt good to be out of the biting wind. The sides of his raised beds were built from two rows of staked concrete blocks that help to hold in the heat and keep the soil warm.
Al also showed us his homemade chicken plucker. Its a large blue plastic barrel with rubber nubs attached to a wheel. A small motor turns the wheel and plucks the chickens clean as a whistle. You can see how it works on their Facebook page. Sycamore Creek Farm.
They also sell eggs, and produce as the season provides.
Al has a wealth of information and experiences under his belt on gardening and farm life. Like most of us on this self sufficient lifestyle journey he has learned most things by trial and error. There are many books and articles out there with info too, but we still seem to learn more from like minded people and their experiences. Oddly enough they also know Lynne and Sandy from Two Lynne’s Farm.
We are beginning to become members of a network of people who want the same life as we do. Providing for ourselves and depending less on the outside world of the grid, grocery stores, and food that is packed and transported hundreds of miles. We are rookies and have little experience to share at this point, but we do have one thing that this network of self reliant homesteaders do not have. Living off the grid. That is the experience we can share and teach to those who are interested. In time we too will have the notches of farming experience carved into our hoes and will be able to pass that knowledge on to others. Thank goodness their are others out there, who are considered to be a crazy as us.
May 19, 2011
PHF was full of surprises today. First John and Carol called this morning and offered to come over and help us get the broken down greenhouse back together. I think they got tired of hearing me whine about it or maybe it was having to look at its creepy skeletal frame ominously sitting in the yard every time they came to visit. With stormy black clouds looming above and peeking through its missing panes it could have been a prop for a haunted scene in a horror flick. But no more. Its good as new.
We moved it from its original location and put it across the driveway opposite of the garden. This way if we want to expand the garden some more we have room and don’t have to try to relocate the greenhouse again. Everything went back together just like it was before except that we could not tell which side of the panes were UV resistant. When we originally installed the panes the first time they had a sticker attached that indicated the UV side. Of course we removed all of those before the wind blew the greenhouse to kingdom come. The company said if the wrong side was facing out it would turn yellow in a few years. Well, we can’t do much about that and it won’t interfere with the performance of the greenhouse in any way. It might just look like a patchwork quilt in few years with its yellow and white panes. Oh, and it is anchored down too. We still need to put some gravel in the inside, but it is ready to start new plants whenever needed.
Good as new.
While we were working on the greenhouse John heard a guinea call from the direction of the pasture next to the driveway. It was not one of the three guineas milling about and one of the males immediately went running toward the direction it came from. Carol and I walked over and searched to see if we could find a nest. There must be one. We looked deep into bushes and grass but could not find anything until all of a sudden Carol yelled “There she is.” She was in plain sight and we had looked all around her. She was sitting with her wings spread slightly out protecting her nest of eggs.
Sitting on her nest.
Later when she went to feed we snuck back to see how many eggs she had in the nest. She is sitting on about twenty-two eggs.
We are so excited that we may have some little guineas, but I have read that guinea mothers are not the best moms. Most of the little ones do not survive due to the fact that the mothers take them out into the wet grass and they get cold or predators get them. Sonny and I are debating on whether or not to move her nest into the dog kennel and put it into the pole barn or let nature take its course. I don’t know if by disturbing the nest she might abandon them or not. It would be wonderful if we could successfully raise the first babies born to PHF.