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Monday, April 4, 2011

State of the Homestead Address

Spring has definitely sprung and I am meeting myself coming and going. Aside from writing, editing, and blog tour planning, there are fences to put up and chicks to expect.

Chicks: I am a little worried about our upcoming hatch. I never could get the temperature and humidity to settle at mid range. It was within specs, but on the low end so chicks might be hatching late. The expected hatch date is next Monday.

Greg built the most awesome chick brooder, complete with a lift-away top that is attached to a counterweight so it lifts easily. The man is a genius! 

The counterweight is presently a log splitter until Greg can replace it with some lead weights. One finger can lift the entire top off the 6' x 8' brooder. It's quite a bit bigger than what we need, but we're trying to plan ahead for when we raise more or bigger birds.

Chickens: The hens are laying like crazy and everyone seems very content in their permanent digs. It's still too soon to see if this will be a viable business for us, but Greg has already been plotting a new aviary and a self-contained hatchery and brooder house.

Land Maintenance: Over the weekend, I managed to burn one big pile of brush, but I have at least three more on the horizon. And though we were cutting back trees, we also planted some. Two cherry trees went in this weekend. I have a spot for one more--the hole already pre-drilled, so I will go shopping for another fruit tree this week.

The auger makes quick work of digging. Since the loam on this part of the homestead is more clay than dirt, we dig until we hit the sand level (about 3 feet), then add compost, providing adequate drainage and nutrients.

Garden: Evil and dastardly larval life forms have chomped off several of my pepper plants. I didn't put foil on them this year and now I'm paying the price.

Goats: Next week we'll begin clearing land and putting up fence for the future goats. We're a little late on this, but to be honest, we've been so busy, this was the earliest we could manage.

Writing-wise, I am working on a new project that I hope to reveal in a few months. I am very excited about this one.

For the month of April, I'll be cutting back my blog posts to one or two a week unless something important comes up. With the weather so nice, we have to spend every daylight hour outdoors to finish up our projects before the oppressive heat descends upon us. Needless to say, something had to give if I was to keep my writing-time intact, and the blog seemed the most expendable.

Chances are good I'll make up for my lack of blogging by being on Facebook more. It takes less time and I get to hear from so many of you more often. You can friend me on Facebook here

Speaking of expendable, what's the first thing to go when you have a lot on your plate? Is blogging a priority to you, or is it farther down your list? I wasn't sure what else to give up, and blogging is more of an indulgence than a necessity.

Update: It turns out there WILL be a post tomorrow. Something came up that is forcing me to speak up.


Dru said...

I was going to ask what is brooder and even after reading the second paragraph I still don't know what it is.

I don't know what I would give up, with blogs I get to interact, even if I don't comment, with so many of my friends. But it is the most expendable.

Maria Zannini said...

Dru: A brooder is a box with additional heat and protection where you keep chicks until they're old enough to survive on their own.

Ref: what to give up
I thought about giving up sleep--but I kinda like sleep. :)

Darke Conteur said...

What gets cut? I guess it depends on the circumstance. Usually new projects that I might be playing around with, get put off to the side, especially if I have to work on something I thought was done.

Rula Sinara said...

I love reading about your home projects, Maria. I had chickens as a child, and would love for my kids to have some. We don't have any in the plans just yet. We spent yesterday buying and planting trees...tulip, sour cherry (love the shiny bark), japanese maple, chinese chestnut...I have a tree weakness ;) As for digging, we have rocky, clay soil. We hand dug and it was a bear.

Sherri said...

I try to switch out what gets cut but keeping up with FB and other people's blogs is usually the first to go, then my blog, LOL Right now it's my other crafts that are suffering, the dust on my scrapbook stuff created new life over the weekend!

Maria Zannini said...

Darke: I can see baby projects still on the bottle being put off. I do that too though right now I don't have any new projects, just on-going ones.

Rula: I'm so jealous of your trees! I love Japanese maples. The are so beautiful. The trees I bought are my first attempt at cherries. Crossing fingers.

Ref: clay soil
We dug the first batch by hand and almost killed ourselves. Then Greg brought up the auger from his place. I fell in love with him all over again. LOL. Hate digging clay.

Joanne said...

In another month, it'll get busy here too when it's warm enough in New England to start planting. I try to manage as much as possible by prioritizing with lists, and at least getting a little done on many things. I don't usually cut the blog except for scheduled hiatuses from time to time, including a long one in the summer.

Maria Zannini said...

Sherri: Scrapbooks are for cold winter nights when all the boys are asleep and the house is quiet.

What? Your house is never quiet? LOL. Never mind then. Catch it when you can.

Maria Zannini said...

Joanne: A little done on everything is a nice balance. Sadly, I was born imbalanced--from my father's side. :)

Angelina Rain said...

Good luck on all your projects, Maria. I’ll miss you on blogger, but I’m your friend on facebook so I guess I’ll see you there.

PS: Thanks for the idea you gave me on my Six Sentence Sunday post.

Grandpa said...

That's a huge auger Maria - all my planting holes are manually dug.

Looks like you are off to a good start. If you think you are busy now wait till the goats arrive... :) You may have to like sleep less then :)

Life on The Farm

Sarah Ahiers (Falen) said...

I CANNOT WAIT to see pictures of your chicks and goats!!

Sherri said...

LOL, Maria! I've been trying to come up with codes for them all weekend. What kind of nickname do you give four boys with enough energy to power a small city and if they worked together could break the sound barrier?

Maria Zannini said...

Angelina: Looks like there will be a post tomorrow after all.

Ref: opening
I got the idea from you. I just fed it some fuel. :)

Grandpa: The auger was for the fence posts we're planning on putting in, but as long as it was on there, we might as well use it for the trees. We're trying to save our muscles as much as we can. :)

Sarah: I'm excited too. It's an adventure.

Maria Zannini said...

Sherri: Well...Nuclear, Black Hole, Supersonic, and Quasar come to mind. LOL.

You deserve a medal or at least Mother of the Year.

Lindsay N. Currie said...

Wow, this is so very cool. I live in Chicago, directly in the city, and we would kill to be able to have chickens, a huge garden, etc. You should set up an egg cam for us city folk to watch them hatch:)

Maria Zannini said...

Lindsay: I grew up in Chicago, which probably explains why I moved to Texas as soon as I could. LOL.

I miss the excitement of the big city, but I love the wide open spaces of Texas. (I don't like being crowded.)

I wish I had thought of the chick-cam. That's a great idea. First I have to get a camera. :) I'll talk to the husband and see if we can do it for next time. Thanks!

Angela Felsted said...

I'm impressed by all your work with animals and plants alike. Gardening can be so frustrating when things keep eating your plants.

Hmmmm, wonder what came up that you will speak about it tommorrow. I am very, very curious.

Sherri said...

I like it!

Curious what you came up with for tomorrow.

Happy Monday :)

jackie b central texas said...

Okay I want more on the new project you are excited about, chicks and goats and trees can wait....

Chick cam, game cam for deer and turkey same thing.. You just set it up for timed exposures and you should be able to catch the chicks as they appear from the egg.. WalMart had them cheap and maybe since deer season is over they still might be..

OKAY speaking of what gets cut first when Real Life has to take first place... My blog, other peoples blog posts, time on my computer at all and worse my book reading time is cut way back!

Case in point, spent all weekend with my Husband putting in Electrical Conduit and Water from the house to our new storage building that took our contractor 2 weeks to do the slab and build from the ground up... We had him dry it in and we are going to finish it, the electricity had to be done first as it had to be rewired from the house all the way to the back yard and that meant ditch digging and busting up some concrete sidewalk... (Hubs did it all by hand and we have the mess from Hades beside the house and in the back yard until he and I can get it all cleaned up...
(Ran out of time and energy this weekend and with my back can only do so much myself to help with the heavy work of filling in holes and etc!)

Maria Zannini said...

@Sherri: Something came up that made me angry so I want to make sure people know about this incident. It'll post early tomorrow. I would've posted it today, but I hate to cram two posts in the same day.

Jackie: Oh, you guys have been busy. We have some rewiring jobs up here if you're ever in the neighborhood.

--Well, we'll let the husbands work while we sip on cocktails and supervise. LOL.

Take it easy with that back.

Linda Leszczuk said...

I read something like this and I feel like such a slacker.

I want to see the baby chicks. Pictures. Or better still, videos. (Be glad I don't live closer; I'd show up at your door.)

What do I cut when I'm busy? Easy - housecleaning.

Maria Zannini said...

Linda: D'oh! Housecleaning! How could I forget that?

Next winter when you're tired of all that cold weather, Texas would be a fine place to visit. You'd always be welcomed.

Kay Theodoratus said...

Sounds like you're having a productive time.

As for the chicks, you raised fond memories. But, I just as happy to live without them.

Maria Zannini said...

Kay: It's never as easy as it sounds. LOL.

Jenny Schwartz said...

Goats! You're going to have goats! *envy* I love the idea of keeping goats. Not practical where I am in the suburbs, but goats! I remember going to an agricultural show one year and just standing there scratching a goat's head and dreaming. Of course, given the problem feral goats are in the north of my home state, I oughtn't to say that I like goats too loudly. But good luck!!

As for what goes when I get busy. It tends to be online stuff ... keeping up with people, comments, more interesting blog posts, facebook, everything really except email :)

Marianne Arkins said...

I swear, I'm coming down there to live. LOL...

What would I give up? No idea. I do know that I'm not able to blog-hop as much when I'm busy (and it reflects in my blog stats, darn it).

Facebook IS easier. It's where I tend to keep in touch most when I can't bloghop.

I have cherry tree envy. We don't grow them here because they are a favorite of the Japanese Beetle. I tried once -- my tree was decimated in a matter of a few days. Completely leafless. Stupid bugs.

I look forward to seeing your chicken babies!

Maria Zannini said...

Jenny: Feral goats!! We have feral pigs where we live, but not feral goats. It'll be interesting to see how we do with goats. They are completely new to us.

Marianne: There's a ranch that's for sale just down the road from us. Do you want me to send your hubby the listing? LOL.

Ref: trees
I don't know how the cherries will do or if they have any natural pests here. Time will tell. The only trees I'm having trouble with are the apricots. They're gorgeous, but so tiny. I am seriously considering taking them out and putting in larger trees. I'm so disappointed in them.

Boy*Roy said...

Gardening is awesome. All yardwork in general actually. Do it for yourself and beautiful mother nature. Take pictures, leave only footprints, and be selfish with it, because nature loves to show off. If you know the how to look...