This is an unedited day in the life story. After you read my tale, I hope you will read the stories in this series submitted by some homesteading friends.
Homestead Truths-Minus the sugar coating
So many times, as we share bits and pieces of our lives with our readers, the nitty gritty homestead truths are cut from the final edit. Maybe they aren’t added at all. The final post about a day in our lives is usually meant to entertain, to encourage and to give you a glimpse of what life on a small farm or backyard homestead is like After all, we aren’t trying to discourage you! Most of us do this because we want to encourage you to take steps to be more self reliant. A few of us were talking about what would it be like to share the truth. The real side of homesteading, growing crops so we have food all year, raising animals for the table and for eggs. Picking up the remains of a garden after a strong storm, watching your fields turn to dust during a drought. How does it affect our every day life. Just how many showers do we need to take in one day? Are you ready to hear my Homestead Truths?
It’s not the heat, It’s the Humidity!
It’s been at least 85 degrees with 70 percent or higher humidity here this summer. As a lot of my friends in my age group say they hate being cold, and hate cold weather, I am longing for a February cold front to move through. I am sweating. ALL THE TIME. Not from hormonal changes, mind you, but from being outside. It may feel good for the first minute or two, as you take a few steps to your air conditioned car and drive to the air conditioned store to shop, but after the first few minutes of farm work, I am a sight to behold.
Its all well and good if I could just stand there and look around, toss some scraps to the chickens and go back home. But, that is not what I signed up for. From the moment I grab the feed buckets and start distributing feed, I am drenched in sweat. Then its water buckets. Buckets and buckets of water to distribute because all these cute animals need a lot of water. They are hot too. We are all just looking at each other in awe. Wishing for a breeze. And then, I hear it. Thunder. Another storm is about to break. No breeze. Just a pop up storm and more water draining from the sky. Everything is wet. The ground has mold growing on top. I spend hours of my week, scraping mud out of the chicken run. The rabbits house smells almost as soon as it is cleaned.
Someone recently pointed out to me that I was hot because I was wearing a long sleeve t-shirt. Yes, it is either that or be eaten alive by mosquitoes, biting flies and other stinging insects. Because, our farm is near a river the insect population is happy here. That and the shaded woods, combine to make it an insect paradise. And, they think I am sweet. I should have been anemic earlier this spring from the blood loss. So I decided to just wear long sleeves. Its easier than finding new skin.
Coffee – A Homesteader’s Best Friend
My days are pretty much the same routine, with weekly bigger cleanings done on every few days. I start the day by leaping from my bed because I can’t wait to start. Actually, my morning starts pretty much the way it always has. I bury my head in the pillow and pray for more sleep. I drag myself to the kitchen and make coffee. One day I hope to have a maid specifically here to make coffee and bring it to me in bed. Is it really too much to ask?
I pull on the same clothes that had mud and ick on them from the day before because, well, its just gonna happen again. The barns are about a quarter mile from the house and I am lazy so I drive there. I do feel a little better when I hear all the morning wake up sounds from the barn. The animals know the sound of my car and they are ready to eat. So, grabbing the feed buckets, I get started.
After feed, water and hay for all the ruminants, the ducks are checked on to make sure they still have some food. We have a broody duck hen this summer. I encourage Margarita to get off the nest for a few minutes so she can stretch her legs, get a bath and something to eat.
Unfortunately, Margarita’s efforts will probably not lead to any cute ducklings because a persistent snake is making its way into the duck house every two or three nights and stealing an egg. I have added decoy eggs, and unfertilized eggs but it seems to know which are the developing embryos and takes those. It is heartbreaking. There is a fair amount of heartbreak with homesteading. I refill Margarita’s water bowl and check that she has some food near the nest.
The chickens are tended and after they have feed bowls filled, water refilled, and some greens for treats, I collect up the morning eggs. I love this part. It never gets old. And its always like a little mini egg hunt. I beat back the flies and do some cleaning so that the flies will want to leave. I use the kitty litter scoop to scrape out any chicken poo which is attracting the flies. Fluff up the nesting area and check for any wet spots or broken eggs. A bright spot in the fly ridden coop is finding the four eggs from the oldest pullets from this year!
All four of the new girls are now The other 7 will be laying soon which should give us almost a dozen a day just from the new flock. With aging chickens in the older flock, it’s been a long time since we filled the egg carton in one day.
On to the rabbit pens. We don’t use cages for our rabbits. Instead they have wooden housing built up off the ground so they can burrow under in this heat and cool down a little. I remove any spilled food (rabbits are messy) and add fresh food and water. They spend most of their days lying in a cool spot during the heat.
Next, time to do any upkeep or extra tasks. Currently, Ms. Featherfoot, my older Light Brahma hen is recovering from two bumblefoot infections. The bandages need to be changed at least once a day. I get everything ready and then go pick up the patient. By now I am so sweaty and disgusting that holding a muddy chicken against my body doesn’t even phase me. The first day when I discovered the bumbles I had to clean the feet first in a foot bath of water, iodine and antiseptic. One of the cysts had burst so it was quite messy and draining. Now it is just a matter of re doing the bandage and adding more antibiotic wound ointment. Unfortunately these take a long time to heal up, so we will be doing this procedure every day for a few weeks.
Meanwhile, down at the barn….
Don’t forget the Sheep and Goats! They are probably the least needy on a day to day basis. A handful of grain, fresh hay and water and they are ready to take on the day.
Since I am already a big mess, I go ahead and pick the wine berries. They grow wild all over our property so I am getting quite a lot of them this year. They love the wet weather and the berries are large and sweet and plentiful this year.
Our farm is also home to two breeding sows and one boar, and however many piglets are currently here. We also raise beef cows but currently have none in the fields. I am not the primary caretaker of the pigs or the cows so my job with them is to get all the cute photos I can while they are here. Its a tough job! Actually, its one of the highlights of my day. My camera is almost always with me.
The rest of the day
Now I am back home and its time for something to eat and then I must get to work! Yup that was just my farm work. We also run a family business and I am the bookkeeper. So I have to do a few hours of that work. Any errands and house chores are fit in around the work. Our children are grown so the laundry monster isn’t as angry as he used to be. A few loads of laundry a week is normal for us. Currently we are getting ready for some renovations so I have to add packing up stuff into my day.
And guess what? It’s time to go back to the barns and do it all again!
We normally try to feed as late as possible in the summer. One its cooler and the animals have had time to cool down a little too. And I hate to lock the chickens, ducks and rabbits in their houses when its still so hot. Usually we are returning to the house before dark to get dinner. So that is why we have little to no social life! It’s all about trade offs in this land of homesteading. It’s still my dream come true and I am happy, mud and all. I still believe the benefits out weigh the negatives, although I would love a cool breeze.
Take care and if you don’t think that this is the life for you, be sure to thank your local farmer!
There’s more to the story! The links to my friends homestead tales are below. I hope you will continue reading and in some cases, enjoy the fun video’s they made of a day in the life at their homesteads. These are some amazing women, taking care of gardens, children, large livestock, flocks of poultry and doing what ever needs to be done, all in the course of a day. Is this lifestyle for everyone? No, of course not. But it’s a good life. Enjoy their stories by following the links.
A Day in the Life by Ashley of Whistle Pig HollowOn The Farm: A Peek Into Our Life by Ashley of The Browning HomesteadThe Answer to “And what did YOU do today?” by Chris of Joybilee FarmA Day in the Life of an Urban Homesteader by Connie of Urban OverallsA Day in My Shoes by Emilie of The Toups AddressHomesteading Rhythm with Little Kids & A Bump by Isis of Little Mountain HavenHomestead Truths, Minus the Sugarcoating by Janet of Timber Creek FarmA Day of Homestead Living by Jessica of The 104 HomesteadA Day in the Life of a Homesteader by Katie of Livin Lovin FarminA Typical Day of Homesteading by Laurie of Common Sense HomesteadingIt’s Not About The Work by Leona of My Healthy Green FamilyLife, Unfiltered by Melissa of Ever Growing FarmA Day in the Life of This Urban Homesteader by Meredith of ImaginAcresA Day in the Life of a Homestead by Quinn of Reformation AcresA Day on Acorn Hill Homestead by Teri of Homestead Honey