We all like to picture the rosier side of things and try to gloss over the negatives. I and a lot of homestead bloggers show crafts, recipes and projects we are involved in that turn out great and I can tell you that there is lots of trial and error involved.
A prime example of this is my chicken coop. It is by no means cute or a showplace but it is functional. It is comprised of t posts with pvc slipped over it, recycled Craig's List cyclone fencing, chicken wire, hardware cloth along the bottom, old pallets, old political/election signs, recycled milk crates, cedar picket fencing, tarps, irrigation tubing for a mister system and shade cloth. I will do an update in a future post.
So today, I am going to tackle some of my issues from Part 1 and some solutions.
1. Time Management:
A. I have ordered a book I saw on Quinn from Reformation Acres facebook page. It is a 5 year journal. What I like is that it is 5 years on one page. So I can look at any day and see what happened. I plan on including weather, egg production, maintenance schedules, etc.
B. I also ordered Quinn's Printable Homestead Management from her Etsy Shop and
7 Crop Record-keeping Charts from Hobby Farms. ( I am not endorsing, supporting
or receiving compensation for recommending products here.)
C. I got a white board and large desk calendar for reminders and projects and have
blocked out a day every week to tackle blogs, the receipts and invoices and even time
to catch up on all my reading.
D. This one may seems odd, but I told my Manager that I do not want to work more
than 28 hours a week. This will give me back 10-12 hours a week for farm related
A. I went garage saling and got a 5 tray desk organizer and labelled the trays- receipts,
invoices, letters, to read and to file or pass on. This will alleviate the piles on my desk.
B. I am going to use the envelope system for filing receipts. One for each of the main
categories from my financial chart of accounts. Once I enter the information on the
Excel spreadsheet it will be filed immediately.
C. To organize all the irrigation/pvc parts and other things, I am recycling the 1 gallon
condiment jars from work. Each jar will be sorted by size and use. The lids will be attached to a cedar fence board by a screw and suspended between shelving units. I bought another used tool box for commonly used hand tools for small projects.
D. As mentioned above, I am implementing some time management and record keeping tools.
3. Shared and leased land:
A. I have begun a forced savings account by having an extra $10 withheld from each paycheck for taxes which will come back to me at the end of the year.
B. I am also using the 52 Week Savings Challenge. These will help me build funds for a downpayment on my own piece of land.
C. I am looking around and talking to some of the older homesteaders/farmers in my area (not inside city limits) and seeing if they are looking to get out of the "business" but wishing to keep their dreams of keeping the farm going by financing the property themselves.
4. Predators and wildlife:
A. I am currently relocating the raised beds which is giving me the perfect opportunity at re-building them to include 1/2" hardware cloth on the bottoms to prevent burrowing in and eating all the crops.
B. The chicken coop and run are along the section of fenced land between the driveway and the house in what would be considered a Zone 5 or native/untouched area of the property. There are already cacti and heavily thorned Palo Verde and Mesquite trees and I have taken some of the cactus pods and planted them all along the bare spots near the fence. This will provide a natural barrier and prevent coyotes and javelina from getting close to the girls.
Improving on our accomplishments:
1. Egg Program:
A. I have doubled the layers in the flock this year and the 2nd group is set to begin laying in a couple of weeks. They are currently being introduced to the existing flock and the chicken wire barrier will be coming down at the end of this week. My original intention was to build a 2nd coop in the area where I had them outside but again the landlady stepped in and I had to come up with a new plan, which was to integrate them into the existing flock.
B. This coming fall I plan to take my older girls that aren't as productive as their flock mates and introduce a rooster and allow them to breed replacement hens. The roosters will be sold or sent to freezer camp as male fowl are not permitted in city limits.
C. I am looking at a couple more local health food stores and even a bakery and restaurant that use only local suppliers as a market for the eggs.
D. I have sourced some heirloom seeds and plan to grow some of their own feed including a plan to start a fodder system for them and the rabbits.
2. Local/civic involvement:
A. I plan to continue to push to remove the restrictions just put in place by our Mayor and City Council. I have a tentative meeting with the Director of Planning in a couple of weeks.
B. I will be getting more involved with some of the environmental and permaculture groups and Farmers Markets Managers that I met and got involved with last season.
A. I have set aside a good block of time each week to read and keep current of new ideas that I can adopt or adapt for my situation.
B. I found a class through the local Food Bank and Community Gardens to learn how to can my produce.
4. Sustainability and Environmentalism:
A. I will continue to get used coffee grounds from work for the compost pile, which I will be expanding this year. Also, going to use some of the grounds in the chicken run as they seem to love to take dust baths in the grounds which I mix with some local sand.
B. I am going to contact local micro breweries and the local clubs and try to get their spent grain to feed the hens and to share with the landlady for her sheep.
C. I will continue to rely on public transit but am looking to find a feasible way to deliver the eggs into the store by bike. My problem is maintaining a temp range above freezing but below 40. (Suggestions welcomed!)
D. I have read some blogs and posts and will begin dabbling in making my own natural soaps and detergents. I am buying natural detergents as the washer is hooked up to a greywater system.
E. I want to put rigid plastic roofing over the coop to collect rainwater to offset some of the water used for the crops. Problem is, that takes rain and this is the 15th year of lowering rainfall. Last year this property had less than 9" of rain.
F. I will continue to look for ways to recycle and repurpose everyday items.
Thanks for dropping by and spending some time reading this blog. Your suggestions and comments are always welcome!