This Month On The Homestead: May 2018 - Kitchen Reno & Chick Updates, A Whistle Pigs Wind Tunnel, Jack's New Bath Mat, and More!

If you’re just tuning in, this is a brand new ongoing series in which I document each month of our lives in our transition to a simple, homemade life on a modern homestead. We ditched town and moved to the country in 2008 and we blog about both our successful and not-so-successful ventures in homesteading, switching to natural products, and embracing a whole foods lifestyle.  Check out the entire series here.

Oh, the weather.  It's been quite a blend of beautiful days, a sprinkling of humid days, and a day here and there of rain (also deemed a beautiful day - particularly to the garden!!).  While April ended up being one of the warmest on record, May was a bit cooler than normal overall.  It was a lovely month though and we were even able to get the garden in early and without row covers to keep it warm.

The Garden
The dehydrator has now taken it's summer position on the pellet stove.  We leave it there all summer and the first part of fall so we can throw fruits and veggies in as they come in season.  It's annual reappearance actually came about a bit early this year to ensure apples didn't go bad.  I had a few apples from our local orchard that were starting to go past their prime so I wanted to slice them up and dry them out.  So, it's all set for it's first in-season produce which will be strawberries!

I did restrain myself on the garden and did not plant as much as I would have liked to.  I'm a sucker for seeds!  I really wish I had the time to plant it all as it's so gratifying to nurture it to harvest.  Instead, I resisted the urge and only planted sugar snap peas, spinach, kale, tomatoes (a LOT of tomatoes.......), peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, zucchini, green beans and cucumbers.  Most of our garden will be for putting up.  Green beans, spinach, sugar snaps, broccoli, kale and peppers will be frozen, what cukes we don't eat fresh will be transformed into pickles and canned, and tomatoes will be made into sauces and salsa and canned as well as canning them as whole tomatoes and diced tomatoes. 

This is if the critters stay away - I did not plant enough for us AND them......

We have a small asparagus bed as well, which we will be expanding.  We are going to add more once the harvest is complete for the year - should be over next week.  Our blueberry bushes are still small so we'll be picking at a local field again this year.  I removed our strawberry plants last year because I just couldn't keep fighting the critters for them so I'll be picking those at a local field as well in another week or two.  We'll also do u-pick for winter squash rather than growing it this year.  Our pear tree is looking good so, fingers crossed, we shall see some delicious pears, and our elderberry bush will produce a generous amount of berries that we will need to make time to dehydrate (so we can make elderberry syrup throughout the winter for amazing immune system boosting). Our farmer's markets will keep us in supply of the remainder of veggies & fruit.

Rhubarb is in season right now.  I don't grow it, however, we're able to buy it at our farmer's market.  I've made Strawberry Rhubarb Pie (using up some of our frozen strawberries), and super moist Rhubarb Cake.  I also plan to make and can a few rhubarb recipes for use this winter.

I was thrilled to be able to weed and mulch our flower beds.  Well, I have 3 to go, but it's almost completed.  I haven't had time to do this in a couple of years and it looks really nice.  We added a few plants too, just to bring a bit more life to the front yard.  I also moved my zucchini plants to the front yard.  I'll be interested to see how this works.  We've struggled with squash bugs for 2 years so I'm hoping that moving them 1/2 acre away will help.

Whistle Pig vs. The Wind Tunnel
Ground Hogs, a.k.a. Whistle Pigs (I like this name better so I'll be using it) are quite bountiful in these parts.  They are cute little things who completely terrorize my garden from time-to-time.

I haven't seen any this year, although I continue to keep a lookout, knowing they must be around.  I've seen wild bunnies, but no whistle pigs.  Until last week.  I was walking up the driveway to retrieve the garbage cans.  Although we've had whistle pigs live in our front ditch before, it didn't even strike me that there could possibly be one there.  Until we almost collided.

I had grabbed both the recycling can and the regular trash can, but the recycling can was falling over.  As I leaned into it to catch it, a whistle pig whizzed by me at top speed, narrowly missing my leg as he dove into the ditch.  I jumped, causing the recycling can to fall into my leg and lodge the can's edge into it before I was able to grab it and keep both it and myself standing up.  My leg hurt a bit, my heart was racing a bit, and I headed up the driveway, pushing one can and pulling the other.

I shared my near collision with J who shared the same concern that I had.  It's likely to get hit by a car if it stays in the drainage pipe in our ditch.  Every single year, for the past few years, we've had a whistle pig hit and killed.  We're assuming they were the ones who took up residence in the drainage ditch.  So, it was decided that J would try to catch and relocate it.  Off he headed to the barn and reappeared armed with the have-a-heart cage in one hand and the leaf blower in the other.  Leaf blower?  What is THAT for?  I wondered.

I followed behind him, inquiring about the tactic.  His thought process was to blow into one side of the drainage ditch and leave the trap at the other end.  This way, when he runs out, he runs right into the trap.  No concerns with him getting in the road this way.  Oh boy, I said silently.  I just don't think this is going to work.

The leaf blower was turned on and the wind went through from one side to the other.  Leaves came out, a few sticks came out, a random piece of trash came out, but no whistle pig.  He tried it again.  No whistle pig.  I tried to reason that the poor guy was probably traumatized and wouldn't come out for days just as J began to start round 3.  He agreed and gave up on the wind tunnel theory.  We left the trap the remainder of the day, checking it every hour, but no luck.

We haven't seen the little guy again.  I'm not sure if he packed his little whistle pig suitcase up and left on his own or if he's just hunkered down waiting for Armageddon to come to an end.  Only time will tell.

Kitchen Renovation/Projects
Well, it's not done.  We still have painting left to do but everything else is completed.  For now....... I have one final project on the calendar for next year which is to open up the wall a bit more between the kitchen and the dining room.  Because of this, we made sure we had extra hard wood flooring of both the dining room (that was installed last year) and the kitchen (the kitchen is a vinyl "hardwood" flooring).

We absolutely LOVE the larger window, the countertops, the stove, the backsplash, the sink, the faucet (who knew I would love a faucet?) and the flooring.  Love, love, love it all.  The window is only inches taller than the previous window but it feels even bigger!!

I will share more photos once it's completed.

We are hoping to go through the garden shed in the next week.  This isn't a huge project, although I'm sure it will be time consuming.  The garden shed has, unfortunately, become a catch-all building and because this "catch-all" will be going away this year, well, we need to go through it.  Anytime you need to go through things and assess "keep", "sell" or "give away" and then box up the "keep", it seems to take more time than one would expect it to, doesn't it?  It's not, for the most part, my stuff, it's mostly J's, so I'll just be there to help organize.

the chicks are getting big!
The Coop Girls
The "littles" are getting so big!!!  They are so sweet.  It's really enjoyable to watch them as they figure out what their wings are for, as they realize grass and bugs are delicious, as they learn to roost, and as they see and react to new things in their world (seeing the dogs for the first time was quite scary for them - something, I swear, they chatted about all day long).

The big girls stand and glare at them.  Actually, only a few of the big girls do, but it is really funny to watch.  They are so disgusted by them and their cute little chirping - you can just read it on their face.  Egg production is up, however, and that's a good thing.

We continue to get jumbo eggs about twice per week.  Still not sure who's laying these marvels, but we love to collect them.  It's always fun to see their shape (one actually looked very much like a football in shape) and size. 

About a month ago we switched them to a new Certified Organic feed from Green Mountain Feeds.  They seem to really like it.  It's non-GMO and soybean free.  We are able to get it from our local feed store which makes it very handy.

The Dogs + Jack
Oh Jack.  A guy who discovers new obsessions from time-to-time.  He has a new one.  The new bathroom rug.  He believes it was purchased for him and gets very upset when anyone else dares to step foot on it.  He's a guy who loves texture so, apparently, I selected a nicely textured rug.  I bought a second one once we knew we liked it.  This way it doesn't get worn out so quickly.  J joked that we should give one of them to Jack and put it upstairs so we can once again use the bathroom in peace and without his attitude.

The dogs are doing well.  They LOVE the sunny weather so there can be more outside time. More time to supervise the school buses, UPS man, and postal delivery guy.  And any white vehicles.  Oliver hates white vehicles.  I have no idea why, he has since we adopted him. 

There is also some construction going on a few properties away so anytime the back-up beeping starts he jumps up and listens.  Our previous Fed-Ex guy used to back up our driveway when he would deliver to us.  It's been about a year since he's left our route but Oliver still remembers this and waits for "Mr. Mark" to come and visit him.  The poor guy is always disappointed.  So, back to napping he goes.

Although it's not technically summer, to us this is the start of our summer season so we are in full swing!  We are trying to keep production running smoothly.  We start our second farmer's market next Wednesday.  It's a market we did two years ago and loved it.  Last year we were too busy to attend.  Since we are now both working for the business we can pick it back up again and we are thrilled!  It's a beautiful market.  It lasts from June through September, making it a nice addition to our week.

How was your May?

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  1. Wow! So much going on!

    The kitchen is gorgeous! Did you tell us what type of countertops you got? The window makes everything so bright and cheerful!

    Glad the pooches are doing well. Everything's easier when our babies are healthy.

    Congrats on being able to work from home. I am proud to say I saw it coming in no uncertain terms. You have brought your dreams to reality. Continued blessings...

  2. Daisy - you are so sweet. Thank you. I did not give the details on the kitchen yet, sorry, I'm hoping to do a full post on it soon. They are granite countertops - Atlantic Lava Stone is the name. Yes, the window definitely brightens things up!!


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