May 2021 Homestead Update

And we’re back! Let’s talk a bit about what’s going on around here lately, and our plans for the summer and beyond, shall we?

New Baby Homesteader

New Baby Homesteader is, of course, the biggest bit of news and change around here. She’s a bit over seven weeks old as of this post, and has been making life quite interesting, to say in the least. While we have mixed amounts of sleep and time to get things done as usual (namely, cooking for ourselves, let alone taking care of homestead tasks), we’re adapting to life with a baby human in the mix.

In the past couple of weeks, we’ve managed to get most of our summer planting done – more on that in a moment. We’ve also learned to say “yes” more for help around the house, and we’re super grateful for the help we’ve received. Yay!

Chickens

We’re definitely glad to have egg-laying machines around here, as eggs are an easy and excellent source of protein for humans taking care of a small human. That being said, we’ve had some drama with our beloved chonks in the last month.

One of our chickens decided to go “full dinosaur” (as one of our friends calls it) on another chicken – husband caught her and her partner in crime just in time attacking and pecking the hen’s head to kill. So, for the past month, we’ve quarantined the injured hen in a pet carrier, as chickens (whether they’ve gone full dinosaur or not) will quickly attack and kill other chickens with visible signs of injury, especially blood.

Some good news, however: last week, we reintroduced the formerly injured hen back into the flock, and it appears they’ve accepted her back, hooray! This was likely helped by two factors: a) Alpha Hen Tikka escaped to lay an egg and ended up hanging out with Parma (the injured hen) for a couple of days with no fights and b) we’ve now separated the aggressive hen.

Bad news is, the aggressive hen doesn’t seem to be acclimating to the new flock structure, and is still jumping on Parma when she’s put back with the other hens. This likely means we’ll be re-homing her to our friends, who have a much larger plot of land for her to roam on that what we can offer.

All of this nonsense happened, of course, while we were dealing with some other household nonsense, on top of taking care of Baby Homesteader. Such is life.

The (Not as) Big Plant!

With all of that happening, we still managed to have ourselves a big plant these last two weekends, yay! Grow lights definitely helped in jump starting the process this year, as was having herbs established on the porch before baby arrived. Although I didn’t manage to get the strawberry plants moved to a new bed away from the rampant crabgrass invasion, we did manage to get tons of other stuff done. So, our plantings:

Back Vegetable Garden:

  • Row 1: Sweet Corn (Golden Bantam)
  • Row 2: Sweet Corn (Golden Bantam)
  • Row 3: Peppers (Bell, Jalapeno, Habanero, Banana, and Poblano) and Zucchini (Black Beauty)
  • Row 4: Okra (Clemson Spineless and Mr. Bill’s Big)
  • Row 5: Tomatoes (Cherokee Purple and Mr. Stripey) and Cucumbers (Marketmore 76)
  • Row 6: Winter Squash (Butternut and North Georgia Candy Roaster)
  • The inner third of each row, as well as the last three rows, will be cover cropped to repair the soil and erosion damage from last year’s terrible yield and wet season, as well as prep the last three beds for fall and winter plantings.

We also planted some pollinator and pest control flowers within the beds (borage and marigolds, anyone?), as well as daikon for a tasty aerating crop.

Moon Garden:

  • Rhubarb! We got this in just before baby arrived. One of them has sprouted through the soil, yay!
  • Rosemary
  • Our delightful perennials: lavender, bergamot, phlox, daisies
  • Some volunteer borage from last year
  • Moonflowers, of course! I planted some that I started a few weeks ago, but they all died, so I, uh, tried that again with some seeds. Cross your fingers, as this has worked for the past two years.

Various other beds and plantings:

  • Asparagus – it came back, it came back, hooray! We’re letting it root again this year for a (hopefully) good first harvest next year.
  • Despite not having moved the strawberries to a fresh bed, they’ve come back up with tons of flowers and potential fruits! Sorry about the lack of pictures.
  • Our porch garden is booming – Genovese and Thai basils, arugula, lettuce, parsley, oregano, sage, thyme, mint, peppers, tomatoes, marigolds, cilantro, and dill are planted and/or coming up as perennials from years past.

Other Cool Things We’ve Done

Related to planting but not actual planting, we’ve also been busy the past couple of months (before and after baby arrived) building and setting up various structures around the property. These include:

An actual trellis for the moon garden! Now the moonflowers can actually climb on something without destroying it. Huzzah!

Actual trellises for our berry brambles. Oh man, these are so much better than the string-and-wood-stake trellises I made last year.

So. Many. Blackberry blooms!

Dismantling the front circle bed that I hated. Don’t get me wrong – there are some nice daffodil bulbs in that bed that come up every year, but everything I plant in that bed gets overrun by crabgrass, and because of the stones around it, I could never mow within a foot or so of the bed, which drove me nuts. Now, the stones have been moved to encircle the moon garden, and we’re letting the front bed blend into the meadow we’ve got going in the front yard. Ahhhh.

Some new sheet-mulched and tarp-covered planting beds. The sheet mulched bed is the new home for the strawberries from the front bed, which I’ll now need to wait until fall to transplant, while the tarp-covered bed is reserved for sunflowers and other cool pollinator plants.

Bat box! We haven’t quite set it up yet, but we got ourselves a bat box for the property. If you’re wondering why we’re encouraging bats to hang around here, I have two words for you: pest control. Also, bats are cool as hell and need our help to thrive.

That’s about it from me, for now. Come next month, I’ll be back at the Weaverville Tailgate Market (alternate Wednesdays from 2-5) and East Asheville Tailgate Market (every Friday from 3-6) selling breads and pastries once again, so come on out and get some tasty treats!

Until then, happy homesteading!

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