Homestead Update

Formerly known as “garden update,” but we have more than the garden to discuss!

Not a huge post, but some excitement happening here on the Walbacz homestead – we’re getting our chicken coop built this week, yay! We’ll be ready for some new feathered friends come springtime, which is pretty exciting.

A friend of ours is completing the vast majority of the project, since he knows what he’s doing (he’s a career carpenter/contractor). Getting help with big projects (or even small ones) is not a sign of failure on the homestead; in fact, it’s a mark of being a good homesteader. It’s important to find and create a network of who can do what, and well, among neighbors and friends. I know that I often feel lost in a void of information and possibilities for getting things done out here (or really, any purchase of goods or services). Sure, Internet searches will turn up hundreds of results for tasks, but it’s nice to not only actually know someone who can do something like build a chicken coop, but to be friends and to have goods and services (and money) for equal exchange. Let’s just say that, along with being paid fairly for his work, he’ll be getting lots of eggs and baked goods, too.

Know your talents and skills, help others with those skills, and build a network with others to fulfill what you cannot do yourself. In Year 3 of living here (and Year 2 of living on this property), we’re still working to build our friends and network. We’re no strangers to exchanging produce and baked goods – we like to do so with another homesteading friend of ours, and are excited to do even more exchanges and perhaps selling of excess produce this year. Yay!

Speaking of produce, this wonky weather has resulted in some, errr, mixed outcomes for our winter crops:

Our collards and kale (the first two pics) are gorgeous and delicious – the frequent cold and frosts have harbored sweet, tender leaves. I like to use young collards interchangeably with recipes and dishes that call for spinach, although I tend to cook them a bit longer, since collards are tougher than spinach, with just-as-tasty results. And kale, to me, is even more versatile: winter salads, pastas, and straight up greens shine with kale. Our crops still look good, even in February:

Now, here’s the sad news: our Brussels sprouts (top right) and cabbage (bottom left) have not fared as well. Sure, we’re getting some rudimentary cabbage heads, and hardy stalks of Brussels with hints of sprouts. But the flip-flopping weather (and perhaps other unseen culprits) have yielded only these, with nothing particularly palatable at this moment. Perhaps true, consistent spring weather will yield better results, at least for cabbage. I’ll keep you posted.

In other news, I made kimchi with the kale and parsnips in the garden, woohoo! Recipe to follow once the process is complete. I’m calling it Appalachian Kimchi, because I can. So there.

That’s about it for this week’s homestead update. In the works for late winter/early spring chores include prepping seed beds, scraping the awful paint off of our front deck and refinishing the wood, sheet mulching swaths of our yard, and SPRING PLANTING!

Until then, happy homesteading!

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