Our chickens have been spending the winter in our garden area. Recently, though, with the weather being so much nicer (and chickens being more prone to wander) and the fence not being in good repair, the chickens have basically been free ranging. Aside from many droppings, the main problem with this has been the loss of eggs (we don't know where they are laying them). So, we ordered 168 ft. of electric mesh fencing and a solar energizer from Premier 1. So far, it is working very well. You can see the solar charger next to the front corner in the first picture.
I received a great book for Christmas this year: Storey's Basic Country Skills: A Practical Guide to Self Reliance by John and Martha Story. As I read some of it, several ideas that have been swirling about in my mind emerged. I am coming to understand that homesteading is not easy. It is rewarding, but not easy. It takes time, energy, and money (at least at first). I am at somewhat of a crossroads in life where I can decide how much more to put into homesteading. I am beginning to think I should go ahead and put more into it. Here is a list of reasons why:
- We can grow food that is good for us: fresh (at its height of nutrition), organic, and whole.
- We can be producers instead of consumers. This is more than something you do; it is an attitude. God calls us to work and produce. We can see in our culture what happens to people who primarily consume and rarely produce. It allows people to see a certain standard of living as a right. Often it produces laziness, self-centeredness, and dependence on the system.
- We can learn to build things and solve problems and learn skills for life. All of these things contribute to a broader, sharper mind and spill initiative and confidence over into other areas of life.
- We can be more self-reliant . . . in a good way. Not independent from God or community, but from “the system.” From industrialization that focuses on mass production of unhealthy goods, from government, and from an economy highly dependent upon oil, gas, and transportation. In addition, the US economy is not stable right now. The vast amount of debt and the ridiculous solution of printing more paper money only ensure some type of economic crisis. Self-reliance may come in handy.
- We can pass on homesteading skills to our children and grandchildren. “If I figured out the cost per jar in our pantry, that wouldn’t be impressive . . . . But none of that is important . . . to develop and pass along some country skills to children and grandchildren, makes it all worthwhile" (Storey's, xi).
- We can integrate our children’s education into homesteading. I have already written about how important it is to allow education to take place in a real life environment as opposed to primarily a fabricated classroom/textbook type setting. All the work, problem solving, creativity, discipline, and business required for a homestead provide a wonderful learning environment.
Our Rhode Island Reds are doing very well. We are down to 20 chickens now (we lost four along the way to unidentified varmints). We are collecting at least a dozen eggs a day! That is more than we eat, so we are starting to sell some to others. I moved the portable coop into the garden so they can fertilize the area all winter. Still haven't decided what to do with them next Spring since I have concluded that I do not like to keep them inside the small coop I built for them even though we were moving it every day.
We had a nice Father's Day at our house yesterday. We started off the festivities with a game of Wiffle Ball (me against the three oldest) and then capture the flag (we made up our own every-man-for-himself version). Then we sat on the front porch and enjoyed a glass of iced tea. Then we fired up my new grill (Father's Day present) for some burgers. Caleb helped me flip them. You can see Samantha in the background - her first cookout!
As the grill was heating up, it reminded us of sitting around a campfire, so we decided to build a fire and roast marshmallows. Well, that got us to thinking about camping and so we decided to go ahead and set up the tent and sleep outside! We all had a great time together! I am so thankful for my children; they are blessing from God.
Josiah is posing that he is in the middle of a bite.
You can see the chickens in the background. They are growing fast! We should have some eggs by October.
We finished building our movable chicken coop yesterday. It is made out of PVC pipe, a little re-bar, some wood reinforcement, chicken-wire, and a tarp. It houses up to around 25 chickens and is light weight so that it can be moved each day. So in addition to their feed, they get fresh grass and bugs all the time. A friend of mine designed the coop and sent me instructions on how to build it. The kids did a great job helping me build it. Our little chickens moved into it yesterday and seem to be happy. So far, so good.
We have been asked from time to time how are chicks are doing (more specifically "Are they still alive?"). We are glad to report that all 24 chicks are still alive and rapidly moving into chickenhood. Here a picture of them about a week ago.
A unrelated, random update: Over the winter Caleb started digging a hole in our garden. By the time Spring hit, it was deep enough for him to stand in!