So a few months ago, my work from home contract ended and I found myself in the job market again, looking for work off the farm. It was a nice run and I very much enjoyed the six months I spent home and with the baby, but we knew it was a short term gig and that it would invariably end. So now it’s time to look at how to balance the Homestead and working off the farm!
So I put together a list of things that have allowed me to keep my sanity, at list for now. Here you go:
Seven Tips for balancing the Homestead and working off the Farm?
1. Share the load
It helps to have a supportive husband who works from home. We have discussed our options and we will continue to keep our 2 year old out of day care and share the farm chores for when I’m home. This is what we feel is right for us right now. We will continue to revisit the division of labor and balance as needed.
2. Patience is a virtue
Our first five and a half months have moved along rather quickly. We started with nothing and now have 2 dogs, 24 chickens, 2 ducks, 5 goats, 2 sheep and a pig (who very likely is pregnant).
3. Organization is key!
Have a place for everything and put everything in it’s place. It will keep everything organized and you will be able to know ahead of time if anything is running low. It will keep you sane in the long run.
4. Create a Schedule
Break up the chores into parts and do little things each day! Wipe down the kitchen one day, clean the toilets another. It makes no sense to leave it till the weekend and spend your entire day off cleaning! And, don’t forget to include Fun time and date since you are planning the schedule!
5. Don’t be a stickler
The homestead is not going to be perfect ALL the time. There will be muddy boots and the occasional fruit loop thrown at you Roll with the punches and enjoy the journey. So the dishes may take a little longer to do and the laundry pile might be a little larger than you’d like but give yourself a break!
6. Celebrate the small victories and cherish every new experience!
Most of the time, I catch people looking at us like we are a couple of weirdoes, because we take the time to celebrate little milestones which for them might be every day! Like Hubby’s happy dances or my ecstatic “squee” when Hubby brings in the eggs.
7. Above all, Be Grateful!
In the end, it will get overwhelming and things may not go as planned but, like with all things, what matters is the attitude you approach it with!
Hubby and I have been jonesing for some good television and have been checking out new series over the last couple of weeks, and we got to talking about how we really haven’t seen any comprehensive list of TOP SHFT / TEOTWAWKI Themed Series.
Now, we were looking for more fictional series so that is the direction this list is going, we will cover the reality stuff in a separate list.
Ok, so since this is OUR LIST OF Top SHFT / TEOTWAWKI Fiction Television Series, we set the rules so this rank is totally subjective to our own personal tastes but we did take continuity of story and quality of cinematography into account.
We also limited ourselves to only include TV Series that revolve around SHTF / TEOTWAWKI events.
Our Thoughts:Not the most realistic but so far our favorite, this series has been gritty, gripping and creative! Definitely #1 on our list. Although I’d love to see the group run into a Prepper that isn’t crazy or a Beekeeper Zombie or something off the wall like that! The online extras are great! Bicycle Girl’s story is a definite must see!
The 100 — Set 97 years after a nuclear war has destroyed civilization, when a spaceship housing humanity’s lone survivors sends 100 juvenile delinquents back to Earth in hopes of possibly re-populating the planet. Stars: Eliza Taylor, Eli Goree, Thomas McDonell
Our Thoughts: So far the first season seams promising, it has gone on some tangents we’ve enjoyed and moved a little quickly over certain events but kept us watching.
Our Thoughts: I was surprised at Noah Wyle’s ability, being that he had been sticking to quirky comedy adventures like The Librarian but he really brought the ER Noah Wyle back. Very much enjoyed what I have seen so far.
Our Thoughts:Had a little trouble getting caught up in this one. I felt like it was too slow or fragmented and I couldn’t get into the story.
We were surprised at how little fiction has made it to TV as we are not huge fans of the contrived nature of was is called “Reality TV”. We did see two new additions, The 100 and The Strain, this year with promising starts and we hear The Walking Dead will soon be releasing a new series set in the Walking Dead Universe but not related to the current ongoing story.
What’s your take? Did we miss any? Any you recommend?
This week marks our first six months out here on the Homestead and I am feeling nostalgic and proud of just how far we’ve come in that short period.
So let me explain. No, there is too much, let me sum up…
After the baby was born, we risked everything to find our forever home and start our homestead. We were hoping to get an acre in the outskirts of Miami with a beat up old home to fix up where we would probably have to fight tooth and nail to get a couple of chickens and a goat for milk. A year, a life change and a couple of career risks later, we are living on a 5 acre farm, in a Ghost Town named Fort Lonesome (How cool is that?) with a beat up old home to fix up and 2 Dogs, 23 chickens, 5 goats, 2 Sheep, 1 precocious Piggy, 6 Rabbits, 3 turkeys and 5 guinea fowl.
Back then, if you would have told me where I’d be now, a year later, I would have laughed right in your face! The idea of a 5 acre homestead wasn’t even on the horizon. But now, each day we are faced with new blessings and challenges we could have never expected, and we are grateful for each and every one.
So here is a list of things these blessings and challenges have taught us in our first six months on the homestead:
They can also create elaborate webs in a heartbeat.
3. There are A LOT of BUGS!
There aren’t a lot of roaches … (See Above! SPIDERS EAT ROACHES and all sorts of other bugs!) … but you will see bugs you have NEVER EVER SEEN BEFORE! Some are beautiful … others terrifying! Our best tip is get a bug guide for your area and get informed.
4. You need the animals just as much as they need you.
The animals all serve a purpose on the homestead. Be it to provide us with food or tilling and fertilizing the land (yes, we are talking about you Charlotte!) or taking care of bugs (like the Guineas, Turkeys, Chickens, etc.) and don’t be surprised but Pigs eat spiders, even the REALLY BIG ONES, and so do ducks. Who knew?
5. We have a lot to learn about keeping animals.
First of all, and this one is easy, You need fences for those animals! Not so much to keep them in but to protect them. There are other big baddies that would love nothing more than a free lunch. Did you know, kids and teens actually take Ag classes in school to learn all this stuff! They didn’t have Ag classes in my high school! NOT FAIR!!! I feel a little bit robbed!
6.Going to bed before it’s fully dark out, is not weird.
In these summer days, when the sun goes down later, and it stays bright outside for hours on end, it is not strange for the whole family to make it to bed before the sun goes down. We’ll catch a movie or the baby will read to us!
…so appreciate your guests and be kind to your neighbors.
We get it, it’s a long drive. And the drive is rough, not the road, but driving for long periods isn’t easy. It takes time and energy … finite resources … so we appreciate everyone who makes it out here to help and generally treat them in a way that shows that! But that also applies to Handy Men and plumbers and tile layers … It’s not easy to get people to come out and work on things, even if you PAY THEM!!!! It takes a special kind of person to want to come out this far. It even applies to Grandma, only makes it out every other week and stays the weekend.
This means, neighbors are your new best friends. Treat them that way! We try to treat them about once a month to a treat I experiment with in the kitchen.
8. Planning is key.
Before long, you too will become your own personal MacGyver. But for now, whatever it is … if you’re at the store wondering if you should get something to have a back up, that answer is YES! You need a back up. And, more than likely, that back up needs a back up. It’s hard to come by certain things. So stock up on staples and things that can be made into other things. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, a trip to pick up that little something you forgot quickly becomes a 20 mile drive to the store and a 20 mile drive back and can take you upwards of an hour! It’s not 5 minutes anymore!
Pizza is now homemade, Chinese Food is improvised and has our own distinct twist on it, and Bread is fresh baked! None of these things are necessarily bad, but they were things that never occurred to us! Especially the bread thing, and without a bread machine! WHO KNEW!!
9. Study and Prepare.
First Aid is at the top of my list right now. The nearest hospital is about 40 minutes away so we frequently discuss potential risk situations and study how to mitigate those risks and how to prepare should something happen.
10. Self sufficiency is a lifestyle not an end goal.
Each day, in every way, we are working to become self-sufficient. But it’s not a goal that you can throw enough money at and be self-sufficient for the rest of your life, although that would be nice. It’s a continuing every day journey and it takes the help of the animals and your household to move toward it, together, day by day.
Stay tuned as our adventures and rural education on the homestead continues.
[Living on the Fringe is a series of musings, thoughts and observations by a once city girl recently relocated to a rural-fringe area and opening her eyes to all the similarities and differences between the two life styles.]
Last night, when I arrived home from work, as I got off the car, I was assaulted by a high-pitched sound pulled straight from the score of Hitchcock Movie.
The sun had finished setting leaving behind a dim grey afterglow and this sound, a high-pitched siren, raising its mass and volume in my ears.I searched for the source of the sound and found it to be in the branches of the three mountainous Water Oaks that surround our house like a group of school yard bullies.
The unknowing might be fooled into believing the trees themselves were writhing motionless and shrieking in pain.The noise pulsing like a soulless mouthless warning from within their core, menacing from within their branches.
While waiting for my husband and our toddler to come back from the gate, I stood enveloped in the sound.I recognized the screech as Cicadas but imagined there must be a horde hiding in the branches, as I was overwhelmed the sheer magnitude of it.
I asked my husband if he knew what was causing them to do that, fearing a storm or some predator that might mean to cause us harm.
“It’s just that there are so many!” He said, as he handed me our son so I could snuggle him a Hello.
As we walked in, the fatalist in me posed the question, would the Cicadas still be here when our son was old enough to know what they are and their place in our world? And from the quantity of sound being emitted I retorted it seemed a safe bet there would be plenty of them for years to come. At least out here on the Fringe, and considering their extended life cycles, there should be no danger of them disappearing any time soon.
The story and the mythology of the Cicadas is very beautiful. They hibernate for as long as 17 years under ground neutered by the roots of the trees to emerge and release their husks and be born a new.
But then I recalled that I had only heard of them in movies and books while growing up, any good Southern Story has a mention of the cicadas at one point or another. But I had never seen one in real life until the day I wore one as a brooch for half an hour without ever noticing it was there. I had been robbed of knowing their existence. I had never experienced finding their empty husks abandoned in the most unusual places, or sitting on the back porch as they sing their siren song into the night.
The most striking difference I find since moving to the fringe has been realizing all this nature is so close to us here.Nature we didn’t have in the city, or at least, I didn’t notice. I now feel like much of the city is sterilized for our protection. Not that the city is any cleaner than living on the Fringe, just that out here someone isn’t trying to protect us from what is outside.
I know, most city people appreciate that protection. But I can’t help but feel a little robbed by it. I had never known there was such a thing as a male mosquito, and although huge and lanky, they are harmless and rather amusing to watch. I had never seen spiders as big as your hand and, although I am terrified of them, I find that there is nothing quite as beautiful as an Orb Weaver suspended on its web.
I now pity the people, who live so protected, having been one not so long ago but already realizing there is nothing wrong with a little “Nature” in your life.
I am grateful to not live in a place that is so sterilized for my protection I am robbed of seeing the splendor hidden in nature’s details. And although I am still terrified of most of it, there are a lot of wildly beautiful things out here.
I guess the difference now is that I am learning how to “SEE” them.
It was a particularly hot August day on the homestead, which is not unusual for our particular part of Florida.
The mercury had been playing chicken with the red 100 degree line on the thermometer for the better part of an hour, when Hubby decided he wanted to head out to give the area gun range a try.
My mom was visiting and asked us to take her car and fill up the tank while we were out, so we piled into the Prius, our guns and a selection of ammo in tow, and headed out.What I failed to realize being that we had never been there before was that once you take the last turn off 39, the road quickly turns from asphalt to dirt making for an interesting ride.
The dirt road was surprising smooth and level that even our low laying electric car didn’t flinch at the challenge.We pulled up to a house and I feared the road had more challenges in store,but the 3 gentlemen on the front porch kindly directed us to just pull in around the back.
There we found, exactly as advertised, a quaint wood building baring a sign on its top with big red letters reading “Shoot Shack”.
It has everything you could as for in a rural gun range. In previous weeks, there had been a special appliances shooting event, leaving the landscape looking rather dystopian and reminiscent of zombie apocalypse film, which only added to the fun!
The shelter was a great relief from the blaring sun, and we thankfully had enough forethought to bring a cooler with refreshments to enjoy during the periods where the range line was cleared to check targets. Each spot was ample and comfortable and sight rests were readily available if we so desired. The owner was also on hand to answer questions, offer help or just offer a pleasant conversation.
He explained the rules and Hubby was off to set up his target on the freezer door of an old refrigerator, a previously discarded milk jug he set atop that same refrigerator and a water bottle he set on an old stove top. He kept to the fifty yard line, although spots at 100 yards were also available, because it was our first time shooting the particular rifle we brought out that day and he wanted to work on getting a feel for it.
Next time, we should bring Zombie targets!
Hubby shot to his hearts content, and even gave me a few turns to get some shots in (as I hadn’t really been in the mood to shoot before we got there)
The atmosphere was fun and relaxing and a nice breeze even picked up to make the heat more bearable.
It’s been a while since I’ve seen such an ecstatic grin on hubby’s face!
Please note: Although several of the subjects look similar, I was very careful to select only one picture of each subject to show the vast amount we currently have. Also, this is only from the back side of the house and does not include the half dozen we have in the front yard as of my last count.
The below is not an orb weaver but is also currently in our yard. I believe it’s a huntsman spider. Do you agree?
We have a laundry list of lofty plans for the farm this weekend, including hubby and his cohort checking on the bee hives. I was left to find my own assistant to help me get the farm chores done, so I enlisted our two year old son to be our Farmhand for the day.
He proved to be up to the task and taught us some lessons in Farm Management!
Six Management Lessons as Illustrated by our Two Year Old Farmhand
1. Stay persistent!
Our farmhand continued to chase the chickens although they evaded him!
The goats seemed more intriguied by his size but still did not let him herd them.
2. Don’t be afraid to confront an issue head on and talk it out!
Our sheep were leery having probably never seen a tiny person roaming around. Our sheep nuzzled him enough to knock him over but he did not let that get him down.
3. Lead by Example!
He didn’t expect the chickens to get into the chicken tractor if he wasn’t willing to do it.
4. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty!
I feared he would find a fresh pile of poop but thankfully he was more interested in sticks and leaves! Color me relieved!
5. Always know when to call in professional help!
He knew when he met his match and called in help from our professional herding pup, Bane.
6. Always know when it’s time to relax!
After all that hard work, he definitely earned a leisurely swing and enjoyed the afternoon shade.
[Living on the Fringe is a series of musings, thoughts and observations by a once city girl recently relocated to a rural-fringe area and opening her eyes to all the similarities and differences between the two life styles.]
As I listened to the news on my way home, it occurred to me just how far away we moved from the city. We live on the fringe of society. Don’t get me wrong, we still occasionally venture into the busy central hub of Tampa/St.Pete and even to the more organized Sun City/Riverview/Plant City areas for work and supplies but we always get to come home to the outlands.
Thankfully, so far everyone has been rather welcoming.
I also think my Guava Cheesecakes didn’t hurt.
But I still wonder if it’s isn’t due to all the space we have, not being on top of each other crowding each other in, or if it’s that living on the fringe attracts a different type of person.
People who want to live and let live.
We came to the fringe looking for just that, space to live and let live. Both my husband and I grew up in Miami, where space was not lacking but still minimal. We grew up where acres were divided into quarters and eights and tenths and houses plopped on top of them. Where you could stand outside and reach over your pristine fence and touch your neighbor’s house without much trouble. We tried to push toward sustainability and found obstacles at every turn. Each change we made, each pot we planted, judged and demeaned unworthy. So we decided to search for more open pastures.
At first, we were warned that not everyone would be as welcoming to our Hispanic last name or our caramel skin and that there were still people stuck thinking in older ways. We did have one incident at a restaurant where a sour older woman asked us to “go back where we came from” because my son has an overly zealous love of reading the letters of the alphabet on signs at the top of his voice. Thankfully, we were defended by everyone else in the restaurant which filled me with a sense of community.
The jokes on her though, although I am Hispanic, I came from Kentucky … which was probably not what she expected!
In two weeks we will be celebrating six months living on the farm and we have been loving the changes that have come with living a rural life.
Some things I didn’t expect to like are that we actually enjoy the fact that we are far away from the city and we don’t even mind that NO ONE delivers out here. We have had some stellar home cooked meals and I have taken on some cooking challenges I might have never tried if everything was so “convenient”.
We also didn’t expect to have so many chickens so soon!
A couple of weeks back, the homestead became home to 10 displaced Chickens and Roosters, about a 40/60 split on that as far as we can tell, and I am excited to report we are now regularly getting between 2 and 3 eggs a day from them.
Multiplying our flock to a total of 23.
I want to get a flock of meat birds, but we still need to finalize housing for our 3 Turkeys and our 6 Guinea Fowl so the meat birds will have to wait until the spring.
We will probably try trading some of the roosters out as they are very beautiful but we now have way too many!
We are also now host to two ducks who seem to love the kiddie pool pond we have set up for them. We are not sure of their gender but one has a poof on his head and one does not.
Our piggie, Charlotte continues to do well and we are taking bets as to her being pregnant.
She has been with us for just over 40 days and has gained weight rather well but doesn’t show overt signs that she is pregnant.
The problem being that gestation for Pigs is 3 Months, 3 Weeks and 3 days or roughly 114 days, so we still have a ways to go and we’ve been told some breeds don’t always show signs of pregnancy until they are due.
So for now, we will continue taking bets.
We also welcomed a new goat.
She seems to be partial to getting her head stuck in the fences, so Hubby has to go out and save her on an almost daily basis.
As you can see here:
Growing our herd up to five now but we need to trade out the smaller of the two boys as he is related to one or more of the others.
Some things I’m having trouble getting used to are:
The Cicadas leaving their shells in the most unusual places.
When we moved to our Homestead, we were lucky that most of the property was already fenced. If you are looking into purchasing a homestead, fencing is definitely something you should include on your check list. We were also blessed to have a great group of neighbors (also something to put on the check list), so fencing the front of the property was not an urgent priority. But, now, as the animal head count continues to grow, the urgency level began to reach critical levels. It’s important to keep your animals in but also to keep other animals out.
We considered trying our own hand at fence building, as we are both fond of the DIY and Hubby has some knowledge, but found that we lack some key equipment. Also, being that the farm chores currently fall on us alone we forewent that route rather quickly. We reached out for recommendations in some local Facebook groups and one name kept coming up again and again.
We even called a competing fence company but ended up with the same recommendation. We scheduled an estimate and once they came out, we knew we contacted the right people.The owner was professional and informative. He explained the potential options that would work best for our particular situation. They provided clear estimates and we scheduled our date.
On the day of, they called us to let us know they were on their way and when they arrived, they got right to work and started plotting the positions and laying out the ground work.
Work moved miraculously fast and before we knew it the posts were up.
Their team was prompt and professional.
All expedience and service.
They even noted a problem with our existing gate and corrected while they were here.
The fence looks amazing and I can not express how happy I am to have it done so quickly and professionally.
And these guys were happy to be finally playing outside in their own space.