So many times, as I share bits and pieces of our life with 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, I’m not trying to discourage you!
My intended goal is to encourage you to take steps to be more self reliant. What would you think if you read a post containing the unedited truth, the REAL side of homesteading? What’s the story behind trying to grow food, and raise 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 90 degrees with 70 percent or higher humidity here this summer. A lot of 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 it’s 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. Sometimes the ground has mold growing on top.
This is NO Place for a Farm
I joke that we are farming in the swamps. At one point on this property, the chicken yards would be nothing but mush. We spent hours, actually days, scraping mud out of the chicken run. Finally the area was regraded and it no longer floods. Over the years we have learned a lot about utilizing swales and trenches for water run off.
The Homestead Truth Behind my Wardrobe Choices
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.
One Day of Homestead Truth
My days are pretty much the same routine, with weekly bigger cleanings done 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. Lots of coffee fuels this farm.
No One is Going to See Me Anyway and the Goats Don’t Care
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 half 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 to make sure they still have some food. Occasionally we have a broody duck hen. I encourage mama to get off the nest for a few minutes so she can stretch her legs, get a bath and something to eat.
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.
The Chicken Care Routine
The chickens are tended to 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. But there are the days that the egg eaters beat me to the eggs and I reach for a messy half broken pile of yolk and shell.
Oh and those pretty pictures of chickens roaming through green fields? Well in our area that’s the best way to provide a chicken dinner for the fox and coyote. Or the hawk. Any number of predators will grab your free ranging chickens. Even the neighbors dog. We let our chickens free range when we can be on site to supervise.
Time to do some cleaning so that the flies will not want to stay around. I use the kitty litter scoop to scrape out any chicken poo which is attracting the flies. Over the years I have tried different products to repel flies and pests. My favorite choice has been using First Saturday Lime, formulated to be safe for humans, poultry and livestock. A generous sprinkling of herbs in the nest boxes is the most glamorous part of my day. Fluff up the nesting area and check for any wet spots or broken eggs.
A true heartwarming moment in every morning is the egg collection. Since I have never subscribed to the practice of culling egg eaters, I am always happy when I win the egg collecting game. Currently two of my coops have at least one egg eater. Now maybe this egg eater thinks they are doing me a favor and eliminating the eggs before I have to pick them up. I don’t know. I combat egg eating by frequently picking up eggs throughout the day. Not a solution, but a method I can live with.
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.
Health and Welfare Checks
Next up, time to do any upkeep or extra tasks. Currently, a hen is recovering from two bumble foot infections. The bandages need to be changed at least once a day. We have far less incidence of bumble foot after installing rubber stall mats in the chicken coops. I get everything ready and then go pick up the patient. By now I am so sweaty and disgusting that holding muddy chicken feet 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. At this point it is just a matter of redoing 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, Back at the Barnyard….
Don’t forget the Sheep and Goats. They are probably the least needy on a day to day basis. No grain when it’s this hot. Fresh hay and water are brought to them. They are ready to take on the day. Depending on the forecast, I may let them out to free range, or decide to keep them in because it’s cooler in the barn. They had a nice shelter in a grassy field but a couple of large trees came down in a thunder storm and that was the end of the shelter.
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.
Highlight of My Day
Our farm is also home to two breeding sows and one boar, and however many piglets are currently here. We have also raised 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.
Somewhere in the midst of everything else, I manage to do some writing. Honestly, I have no idea how that even occurs.
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. My homestead truth defines who I am. I still believe the benefits outweigh 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!
Want to Read More?
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 whatever 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
The Answer to “And what did YOU do today?” by Chris of Joybilee Farm
I want to be a Homesteading Housewife by Ann of A Farm Girl in the Making
A Day in the Life of an Urban Homesteader by Connie of Urban Overalls
A Day in My Shoes by Emilie of The Toups Address
A Day of Homestead Living by Jessica of The 104 Homestead
A Day in the Life of a Homesteader by Katie of Livin Lovin Farmin
A Typical Day of Homesteading by Laurie of Common Sense Homesteading
Life, Unfiltered by Melissa of Ever Growing Farm
A Day in the Life of This Urban Homesteader by Meredith of ImaginAcres
A Day in the Life of a Homestead by Quinn of Reformation Acres
A Day on Acorn Hill Homestead by Teri of Homestead Honey