2017 on the Homestead

2017 was a full yet wonderful year for our family. We purchased our homestead on May 2nd and started the process of moving in.

That was quite the adventure due to the previous owners selling the home ‘fully furnished’. This meant they just chose to only take the things they wanted and left us with over 50% of their belongings (including furniture, dishes, junk and even trash!) We basically had to move them out before starting to move our belongings in. And, I was 37 weeks pregnant at the time. But, that nesting energy had me moving fast and we got quite a bit accomplished in a short amount of time.

By May 3rd, our bedroom and kitchen were mostly unpacked and somewhat organized and I was beginning to feel ready to welcome a baby. Our kitchen is one of my favorite parts of this house – it’s a bit dated but I really enjoy having a large kitchen.

Our very first addition to our homestead was a hive of bees. We had ordered them back in the winter and were planning to start keeping bees at our former home. We picked them up May 6th, just 4 days after moving in!

On May 12th, we welcomed our fourth child, Laura Kathryn. My labor was very slow but I went through transition and delivered in a span of about 15 minutes so she was born into her daddy’s arms without our midwife present. It was a definitely an experience we’ll never forget.

On May 15th, Weston purchased 10 Olive Egger chicks with his own money. He was so excited and proud to finally have his own chickens. He ended up with 4 hens and 6 roosters from this batch of chicks. Weston is our second child and he is our little farmer – he loves farming, animals and nature.

John David’s parents brought our chicken coop back to us (we had built it back in 2013 for the hens we had at our former home before we found out we couldn’t legally have them where we were living). We made a little chicken pen for the chicks and were given a 6 hens and a rooster from a family who were relocating.

I started brewing Kombucha once again in June after nearly a year off due to weeks of morning sickness, pregnancy tiredness, moving and having a newborn. I quickly got back into the routine of brewing and we’ve been enjoying probiotics in our diet ever since.

We put in a small garden this year but between settling into our new home, having a new baby and traveling for nearly two weeks in June, it was quite neglected. We did manage to harvest a few things – our okra did pretty good until the deer found them, we had a pretty good crop of squash and zucchini and our cucumbers did very well.

We made a couple batches of Garlic Dill Refrigerator pickles which all of the children love – it’s so much fun to preserve our own food.

In July, we ordered Silver King meat birds. It was so exciting to have baby chicks arrive. We got them settled into their brooder and enjoyed having chicks.

We started our homeschool year on July 31st. Paxton started second grade, Weston started Kindergarten and Cecilia is preschool age. I jokingly refer to it as farmschool because living on a farm presents constant learning opportunities.

In early August, we purchased a couple pigs and a goat. Our favorite is Wilbert, he’s a black and white spotted boar and is as sweet as can be. He loves having his back scratched!

John David and the boys built a chicken tractor and got the meat birds onto pasture in early August.

We all shared responsibilities of moving the tractor and feeding the birds. They were very friendly chickens and we enjoyed caring for them and watching them grow.

Weston harvested a beautiful pumpkin that he grew from seed – he was very proud of this pumpkin and has hopes to grow an even bigger one next year.

In August, I started making soap. I’ve wanted to try soap making for years since I prefer buying soaps from artisan makers instead of store bought soaps. I finally decided to give it a try and am really enjoying the making process and having homemade soaps to use.  I’ve made several batches since then and have given several bars as gifts and even sold a few bars.

On September 19th, we had a baby pig born. That was an exciting day and the kids named him Wilbert Junior – he is very healthy and thriving!

In early October, my grandparents gave Weston a katahdin sheep from their farm. He was so excited to have his very own sheep. Since she has calico markings, her name is Callie.

In mid October, Weston purchased another sheep so Callie wouldn’t be alone. He named this one Ginger. Both Ginger and Callie are doing very well.

In late October, we harvested meat birds with the help of our neighbors (we have been blessed with amazing neighbors here!) All 26 of the baby chicks we started out with survived. (Yay for a 0% mortality rate!!) The result was delicious meat and bones that make a very gelatinous broth.

On December 8th, it snowed! The homestead was so pretty covered in snow and our children had a blast playing outside.

Sweet baby Laura’s first snow!

We enjoyed the month of December, John David had several vacation days left that he took in December so we enjoyed being together at home and working on some projects around the home and on the homestead.

We ended 2017 with a hog killing. John David has been studying butchery via online courses and resources. John David, along with his dad and our neighbor, slaughtered and butchered one of our pigs. The result was delicious pork, an abundance of lard, ham and bacon that are curing and a satisfaction of learning a new skill.

2017 will definitely be a year that we remember with much fondness and we’re looking forward to what 2018 holds on our homestead.

-Rachel

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