Relentless Schedules

1 Comment

These last few weeks have been relentlessly busy.  I spent several years living that way, working days upon days in a row, cramming as many to do’s and outings with family and friends I could possible fit into a week.

Since Neil and I have settled in to our house together 7 months ago now, we both have worked hard at aligning our schedules and not jam packing our days full of obligations and chores.  I hadn’t realized until now just how used to that quieter lifestyle I had become.

The way our schedules fell the last few weeks has been tough.  In addition to this, I start a part time job this week at a new hospital so I’m working six shifts instead of my usual three.  We will both be super glad to get things settled back down in another few weeks.

My current assignment is only a few weeks away from coming to a close (3 months flew by!) and I will be starting my next assignment at a hospital in Raleigh, NC in September.

I was able to catch up on some homesteading chores this week, for which all the critters were grateful!

I cleaned out all the nest boxes and got them ready for our soon to be big girls to start earning their keep in the coming weeks.  I’m so curious as to who will lay first!

I was able to fertilize our plants and crops as well as catch up on harvesting tomatoes this week.  Our cherry tomato bush is out of control. Check it out…

image

Neil and I will start our master bathroom overhaul in the next few weeks.  It is the last room in the house we have left to renovate and I can’t wait to show ya’ll the end result.  For my birthday my parents bought us the gorgeous vessel sinks we wanted and we had a custom vanity built for them to go on.

Hope all is well with you and yours!

Until next time…

FINALSIGNOFF

Cherry Tomatoes Galore

9 Comments

Neil and I spent the day yesterday browsing the big Raleigh flea market.  It was so fun looking through the eclectic collection of things.  If you are anywhere near Raleigh, I definitely recommend checking it out, there is something for everyone!

Our work schedules have been a bit hectic lately, but we are both working hard to get out of debt.  Since traveling is a great opportunity to catch up on debt, I have been budgeting carefully.  Six weeks into my current assignment, I have been able to pay off the chicken coop, half of one credit card and my not so friendly IRS bill from taxes last year.  Every time I get to remove something from my bill calendar it is so rewarding.

Since our cherry tomato plant has gone completely crazy, it now towers over me and has eaten the cucumber plant and invaded the rest of the tomatoes, we are getting tons of cherry tomatoes every day. Luckily I have found plenty of people to share them with, so none have gone to waste so far!

We harvested the potatoes this week, which were much smaller than we anticipated.  Overall the one ton potato box was a bust, so next year we are going to use it for something else and do a different potato growing plan.  We have gotten a few meals out of the potato harvest though so it wasn’t all bad.

potatoharvest

In the evenings, we have been free ranging the girls and the rabbits.  We weren’t sure Raffi and Rosie would stay around, but so far they run around the yard and go back to the coop when it is time to go to bed.  The girls adore this free ranging time-despite the magnificent home they have!-and run and fly around like they have been locked up for weeks.

The frizzles are definitely an interesting breed.  One frizzle has turned out beautifully.

frizzle

However, her two sisters are a bit special needs.  They have very odd behaviors which leads me to assume genetically they are not good stock.  We definitely won’t be breeding these two, but do enjoy the uniqueness they bring.  The smooth frizzle actually comes when you call her and will perch on your shoulder.  She is one of my favorites.

smoothfrizzle

A typical day in the Chicken Palace,

cooplife

Oliver’s porch got a makeover this weekend, he now has a new bed and a hopefully Oliver proof litter box.  He enjoys dumping all the dirty shavings out all over his porch, which is super fun to clean up.

piglife

My grandmother is giving us a freezer next week which we are so grateful for.  This gives us the opportunity to look into a cow/pig share and prepare for next Spring when we plan to raise quail, turkey and rabbits for meat.

I hope everyone has had a great weekend, anyone working on any fun homestead projects?

Until next time…

FINALSIGNOFF

Chicken Palace Tour

9 Comments

After hours and hours and hours, did I mention hours?, of work the Chicken Palace is complete.  Although the girls, Raffi and Rosie (our resident coop rabbits) have been living there for several weeks, we still had some finishing touches to put on the palace.

We still need to haul in a few loads of dirt to help fill in the side panels and add some extra scratch material for the girls, but for the most part the Chicken Palace is complete.

This is what the area looked like before we started building.

beforerun

A few months later…

frontcoop The white flower sculptures are made out of spoons.  We bought that on our trip to Southport from a local artist, he had some amazing work!  The pots are filled with Rosemary.

sidecoop

Since chickens are notorious for pulverizing vegetation, I am using chicken wire to protect the new plants until they are strong enough to withstand the chickens.  This vine is a flowering bougainvillea which will eventually grow up the post.

coop1 Part of the run is roofed so the girls will have shelter from rain and snow.  The rest is covered with netting to keep the hawks from having a free buffet.  The feeding and watering station is under the shelter to protect the food from getting wet and mildewing.

We also put in roosts, formerly closet rods, which the girls love to climb on while out and about in the run.  We can also put battery operated candles in the lanterns when we are out enjoying the evening.  One of the Polish photobombed this picture!

run

Chickens need stimulation to help prevent as much bullying as possible.  We added a brick staircase and some ladders for exercise and entertainment.  The girls love to climb on these.  Staying up off the ground also helps them cool off on our high 90 degree summer days here in North Carolina.

coop2

Outside the run, we have access to the nesting boxes for daily egg collecting.  The girls are only a month away from laying age and we are so excited!

coop4

We purchased this cedar coop from a local business and are so glad we did.  We can walk inside the coop for cleaning and there is a vent and window that can be opened or closed, depending on the season.  We still need to fill in some areas with dirt, but put cinder blocks under the legs to ward off rot.

coop3

Although I am not a huge fan of the metal feeder bins, I am going to spray paint it one day, it is easily accessible for feeding and throwing out scratch.  Just make sure you have a tight fitting lid because raccoons are experts at removing them!

I hope you have enjoyed our Chicken Palace tour.  What do you think?

Until next time…

FINALSIGNOFF

Enjoy reading Homestead Redhead adventures? Help our homestead grow and share with a friend or two!

My Gypsy Soul

12 Comments

Contentment is a word that I have always addressed with slight apprehension.  I feared the delicate boundaries shared by contentment and complacency.

Even as a young child, I was kept awake at night with the whispers of fear that I would awake one day, significantly aged, and look back at my life with intense regret of making choices I was supposed to make, instead of those I desired to make.

Over the last 29 years, these whispers have somewhat guided my path, and for that, I am forever grateful.

I have always had a gypsy soul, my wild, red curls seem to sometimes reflect the essence of this, as they tend to go and do as they please.  Even though my passionate spirit has led me on ferocious adventures, I am positive, I have never let a significant amount of time pass without following the path that felt right to me.

This journey has not been an easy one.  There were times I disappointed and hurt loved ones for choosing to turn in a direction that they did not agree with.  Although these choices were desperately hard to make, I choose to live my life with no regrets.

I have been infinitely blessed with family and friends to hold my hand, and sometimes drag me, when I needed it the most.

Over the last year, I have felt my gypsy soul settle in a bit.  I have felt a conscious release of the unsettled ache in my bones I have felt for so long.  This is the first time in my life I have felt utterly complete and content.

From walking around the Chicken Palace to listening to the quiet grazing of the goats, my gypsy soul looks around slowly and I feel no desire to uproot and find a new path.

I am exactly who I am supposed to be, where I am supposed to be and with who I am supposed to be.  It is one of the most incredible experiences I have had so far.

Do you feel this same contentment in your life?

Until next time…

FINALSIGNOFF

Concluding Year 28

8 Comments

It has been a good week. I have worked hard in the ER all week, and we were still able to get things done around the homestead.

We added a dust bath to the Chicken Palace to help keep pests off the girls.  We combined Diatomaceous Earth and dirt in a dish tub.  We buried this slightly so it wouldn’t tip over when the girls hopped up on the side.  Dust bathing is super important for chickens, it helps them fight off pests that live on their skin.

dustbathe

We also added grit, which helps them digest food in their crop, and oyster shell, since the girls are only 6 weeks away from laying age!

Our garden is producing literally hundreds of tomatoes, I have never seen so many tomatoes on a plant before.  It is like a tomato jungle in our raised bed garden.

tomatoe

Oliver and I spent some quality time together this week.

candidpig

However, shortly after, Oliver ate my entire kiwiberry plant I have been nurturing for months, and I almost turned him into kiwiberry flavored bacon.  Luckily for him, I think he is pretty cute.

Poor Sawyer got terribly sick this week with the 100 degree weather, but with some extra care, a fan and a big bottle of ice water to lay up against, he turned around in a few days.

goatpeek

Neil and I are working on an exciting new feature to add to Homestead Redhead, and I can’t wait to share it with you.  It is going to be super fun!

On Monday, I officially begin my last year in my twenties.  Getting older can be a tough pill to swallow, but after some deep reflection, I am choosing to have a positive attitude.  I am in such a fantastic place in my life, I have an amazing homestead, family, friends and partner. I literally could not ask for a more blessed life.  I can’t wait to see what the coming year will bring, bring it on 29!

Until next time…

FINALSIGNOFF

Shift Work Perks

9 Comments

Last week was my first week at my travel assignment and it went great.  The drive isn’t too bad at all and everyone has been super friendly.  It feels so good to be back starting IVs, managing critical patients and back on night shift.  With days off during the week it is so much easier to keep up with things around the homestead.  I don’t know how people who work Monday through Friday manage to stay on top of their to do lists-I definitely have a greater respect for you folks!

With more time at home, I was able to whip up a batch of laundry detergent.

laundry soap

Haven’t ever made a batch? It is super easy and saves a ton of money.  There are plenty of recipes out there, here is one of my favorites liquid laundry soap recipe.  If you prefer powder, just add one cup borax, one cup washing soda and grate one bar of soap.  Mix well, you can use a food processor for a finer powder, and use 2-3 tbsp per load.  This recipe makes enough for around 30 loads.

The garden has had quite a few challenges this season, but what has survived is doing great.  The tomato plants that survived are flourishing.  We are going to be knee deep in fresh, delicious tomatoes in a few weeks! Our cherry tomato plants have more green tomatoes on them than we can count.

tomatoes

The potato box is growing out of control, I can’t wait to see what is growing underneath the soil.  We added another layer of wood to the box this week.  Look at these pretty little potato flowers.

potato flower

Our cucumber vines are starting to climb and are full of yellow flowers and mini cucumbers.  We are so excited to make homemade pickles.

cucumbervine

The girls are thoroughly enjoying their Chicken Palace.  We used closet rods in their palace as roosts.  These help with entertainment and keep the girls cool since the breeze can get to their bellies.

chk roosts

After a year of having her, Rosie finally learned how to go up and down ramps, and she loves being up in the chicken coop, watching everything from her perch.

rabbitqueen

Our kiwi-berry vine is continuing to grow, I am so interested to taste those little mini kiwis in a year or two.

kiwi vine

I can’t believe the second week of June is already here, time just seems to fly by.  I take every opportunity I can to memorize the way Neil’s eyes crinkle when he is smiling at me, the chaotic combustion of laughter and little voices of my nieces and nephews, every corner of our little homestead and the diverse creatures that live there; I don’t want to forget a single thing about this season of life.

Until next time…

FINALSIGNOFF

Be Careful What You Wish For

7 Comments

Homesteading is a living, flowing entity whose challenges and joys ebb and flow.

flowerquote

Spending time, sweat and your hard earned money on planting a garden is one of the most rewarding experiences there is.  The hours spent researching, watering, fertilizing, harvesting and observing your crops are usually well rewarded.  However, Mother Nature is a moody force and she rarely cooperates with your desires.

It has been weeks without rain here in the heart of North Carolina.  The upper 80-90 degree days have been hard on the crops and animals.  Everyone has been hoping for a good rain to nourish the dry earth and wash away the dust.  Be careful what you wish for.

The sky opened up this afternoon and brought tremendous thunder and sky cracking lightening.  Along with the surround sound effects that only Mother Nature can bring came heavy, fast falling rain.

This happened to coincide with when I was doing my daily chores outside, so I became a very wet redhead.  The goats squeezed themselves as tight in the corner of their house as goatly possible.  The chickens took cover in their dry coop, all but one very upset Polish girl.  Apparently she is low on the chicken totem pole and was not allowed in-or she wasn’t smart enough to go under the very large portion of the Chicken Palace that has a fabulous metal roof.

I assisted her into the coop and almost stepped on poor old Rosie the Rabbit.  She was drenched and muddy and very unsuccessfully trying to stay dry-again, she must have missed the memo about the giant metal roof.  I lifted her up into the coop where everyone else was taking refuge-including her husband Raffi who left her in the rain!  He did win back some of his gentlemanliness (that’s a word right?) when he protected her from the hens who loudly protested her arrival in the coop.

After getting everyone situated, I headed to the garden where I was very upset to learn a tomato plant that was covered in soon to be ripe tomatoes, had fallen prey to fusarium oxysporum f. sp. radicis-lycopersici, aka fusarium crown rot.  (More info found HERE) This fungus is said to live in the soil for up to two years, which is not good news.  I am so hoping it does not spread to our other tomato plants.  I carefully removed the diseased plant and put it far away from the garden.  Anyone have any experience with this?

This has not been a great garden year for us, we will definitely have to put some thought into what can do better for next year.  At least the potato plants seem to be flourishing.  I guess I will be paying tribute to my Irish ancestors with all the potatoes I will be eating in a few months!

Until next time…

FINALSIGNOFF