By homesteading I mean setting up our home and garden to eventually provide all our food, water, meat, power and heat… and trudging around in spangly gumboots at 7am on a freezing bloody cold Blue Mountains winter morning.
So, how was our first week at it? We-ell… surprising – and not always in a pleasant way either!
We started out by getting some more poultry. We had 4 hens (Sussex x Bantam) and wanted to add to the brood. So I collected 4 more hens from a lady in Greenacre who was too sick to care for them. After dragging their completely poop covered coop to my trailer, by myself (that I fun!) after which I was covered in a lovely scent of eau de poopette and catching the hens, we then set off to get some ducks.
We collected 8 ducklings and a mother duck, all Muscovy ducks from a lovely guy who builds gates out near Picton (so 2 hours from my place – it was a really long day!) and took them home to their new abode.
Initially I had dug a full size spa bath tub into the ground up the back of our block for our ducks to swim in but The Eco Dad decided that was a good time to fell some more dead gum trees for firewood. Seriously? How many times do I dig a bathtub into the ground by myself? *sighs, rolls eyes, desire to kill strengthening*
So after my 4 hour stint digging in this biggest bath tub I’ve seen and building a lovely homely pen for our new duckies, we had to pull everything up and move them up nearer the house where the chickens are. Grrrrrrr….
The Eco Dad – always impeccable timing…
Then when I got up in the morning, I noticed that a couple of our bitchy Bantams were pecking constantly at one of our newer hens… and worse! She wasn’t moving.
I moved toward the Taj MaHen (aka The Hen Palace) to rescue her – she still wasn’t moving. When I got into the pen & tossed some pellets at my bitchy Bantams to teach them a lesson (“Yes – reward them!” The Eco Dad says. Smart arse.)
I picked her up. She was breathing but wasn’t in a good way at all. Vets were closed and she was in shock. So I wrapped her, place her in a warm box with straw, food and Rasberry Jam (a tonic for chooks) under our house, where it is dark and quiet. We kept checking on her throughout the day and night but by morning, she was gone. That was sad.
I never knew chickens were SUCH bitches! I was very disappointed in my Bantams. I would never raise such ill-mannered and cruel animals. Must be a bi-product of their birth parents because WE are very nice people! ;-)
Then, we built a new pen for our duckies, right next door to Taj MaHen. We loaded them in and all looked like it was going well there. They had a shallow bath with stepping stones to get in and out, feed bowls, water bowls and a nice thick bed of fresh straw. Job well done. All was well with our duckies.
I reinforced the pen, blocked every single gap and now they are basically in Fort Duck-Knox. So far, so good – I checked them the morning and we had 7 ducklings and 1 mother. Present and accounted for.
Once again though, tragedy has struck. Since the first duckling passed away, another has gone.
I arrived one morning to feed our duckies and one little duckling was keeled over, laying on its side, barely alive. I don't know why - they are warmth and shelter and they are secure. I rang the vet but by the time we got him there it was too late. :-(
The next thing we did was buy over a dozen fruit trees, vines and bushes – blueberries, mulberries, blackcurrants, olive, pomegranate, lemon balm – heaps of trees.
We want to make a little orchard down the back but have to fell some more pines first for more sun and dig a swale (long, trapezoidal ditch which waters the trees planted up on one of the sides) for watering. Our plan is to create a hedgerow of berries, just like they have in England and have the fruit trees in a line nearby. This time, The Eco Dad can do the digging and when he’s done I will tell him to move it *evil laugh*
Lots of work but will be awesome when it’s done!
We are years off creating all our own fruit and vege and meat, but we are slowly working towards that. Next step is getting a doe and kit goat, for milk and meat and some bunnies for meat. We have a very healthy crop of tomatoes going in our greenhouse, experienced an epic bushy fail with our carrots and have some not-so-healthy beans coming through. It’s been a VERY steep learning curve for this Little Black Thumb!
How are we enjoying our homesteading? I won’t lie – getting up earlier to feed the ducks and chickens whilst wrapped in my pink fluffy dressing gown & wearing my black spangly, glittery gum boots is not my favourite thing in the world. Nor is dealing with dead animals... but its very rewarding in another way as they are SUPER cute and its so grounding for me to outside, in nature.
Though I'm sure the neighbours find it humourous… or just plain creepy.
Missy loves our little menagerie and it seems everyone is growing and happy. Means Eco Dad and I have to spend more time in our yard, which is very grounding for us both.
Though I can’t work out why 3 laying hens have suddenly stopped laying since they arrived here… very weird. Any tips?
Love the Homesteading Eco Mum :-D