Yes! This week I am back to doing a Sunday Homestead Update FROM the homestead!!! What a blessing that is!!! AND it is our 200th post! Good timing. 🙂
As far as living back home off-grid goes – it is going SO well! I am SO glad we decided to come back. It hasn’t been as hard as I thought it would be. Conserving water has even been pretty easy, and has made me fully realize how much water we waste every single day in our normal lives. Granted, my aunt is doing our laundry, I’m sure if I had laundry to do the water situation would be MUCH more uncomfortable. And I’m cheating a bit by using mostly paper plates until we have the water tank. We then burn them in the wood stoves as we use them to heat the house. So it is kind of cushy off-grid living.
Tundra, the farm dog, is very happy to have his barnyard and barn back, as opposed to the attic he was living in during the evacuation. But I think he is a bit bored and missing having his livestock to protect.
It pretty much just feels like normal life around here, minus the animals, and with a few twists. The biggest inconvenience is the lack of road access really. Of course, the colder it gets the more problems we will have if we can’t get a propane truck in here. So we are praying for a quick road fix, soon, and that the weather will hold out for us. It has definitely been unseasonably warm, which is a blessing as well.
We are back to school with no problems. And I have been focusing on getting the house fully cleaned back up from the chaos, and also the basement flooding.
This weekend we have been working on finishing the flood clean-up down there and then moving all the furniture and storage boxes back down there and out of our living room (thank goodness, I was tired of walking around them). We were very happy that about 7 years ago I went through all of our storage boxes, purged them, and repacked them into plastic bins. So no “stuff” was damaged during the flooding, just flooring. Actually, wait, that is not totally true, my new stove top insert was down there and it got ruined. 😦 I SO wish we had found time to install it before this all happened. But we can’t go back. And I have a stove that works and someday I can get another new stove top. It is not a big deal.
Remember how we just got the guest room painted, decorated, and set up in the basement for my sister’s visit in early August? The guest room flooded and all the carpet had to be removed and it is not the nice guest room anymore. Sigh. So we are just going to store everything in there for now while we deal with the rest of the basement flooding and we will get it carpeted and re-made into a guest room again in a few months.
My husband has also gotten the water system all hooked up this weekend! He can’t tote the water in on the back of his truck yet, but he is bringing it in by the jug (5 gal) several jugs at a time in his truck off-roading in the ditch past a very questionable missing road section (don’t get me started on how I feel about that) and filling the tank slowly but surely. We had some people give us 5 of those jugs to use, so that is convenient.
Look Who is Home!
The chicks are home! It feels SO good to have them back. We decided, since they only drink about 5 gallons a week, and we have over 100 gallons of rainwater right now, we should bring home all the chickens, starting with the chicks.
They have grown and changed a lot in the almost two weeks they have been gone. They are 6 weeks old now.
The first thing we did when we got them back was check them all over, update the records (we can now start to tell which are roos and which are hens), and change all their leg bands to the next size up. It was so fun to be doing something so “normal” for our farm. And I really enjoyed looking over the records afterwards and seeing better what we have in this flock.
The bad news is that this breeding proved that our rooster is a split wing carrier. You can read more about the genetics of split wing and how it affects our flock in my posts about it here, and here. We will have to make some decisions regarding this and our breeding program.
Out of our 23 chicks we currently have 8 males, 12 females, and 3 still undetermined. As far as our success with our first time ever feather-sexing day-old chicks: we were right on 14 of them, wrong on 6, and unknown whether we were right or wrong on 3 of them. Not horrible, but also clear that we don’t really have it down yet. I am guessing the more you see the better you get. We have only done it on 24 chicks thus far (that extra one is the one that survived the first unsuccessful hatch, and we were right on that one as well).
We are hoping to get the lower coop insulated in the next few weeks and separate the males from the females (the males will go down in the lower coop and the females and unknowns will stay in the growing-out pen in the barn).
I am excited because some of the chicks from the high-altitude eggs are blue or lavender colored. I don’t know which for sure yet, but it is such a pretty color. And it is a color we didn’t have in our flock yet (except one easter egger that I would say is blue/lavender with red/brown markings – there is probably some official name of her color, but I don’t know what it is, she has some lavender lacing around red feathers on her chest, she’s a beautiful bird). So I am excited about that new color. The rest are solid black, or barred, and there is one brown barred.
The adult hens are coming home this afternoon. I can’t wait to have them back too! It will feel SO good to have all my chickens back where they belong.
My sister and I did come back to the house (before we had moved back in) and harvest the garden. We took everything out except the cabbage, brussel sprouts, and one pumpkin plant. We then went to her house and washed, chopped, and froze all the carrots and beans. We handed out lettuce to friends and family (there was WAY more than we could consume in time), and we kept the acorn squash for ourselves.
The light frosts we have been having have killed the pumpkin patch plants, with several acorn squash on that didn’t ripen. Can I just pull them and get them to ripen on the counter? Or not? I need to look that up. Same with a couple of pumpkins on the garden pumpkin plant – plant dead, unripe pumpkins on.
Right before we evacuated I brought all the herb containers inside (except the big wheelbarrow with mint) and put them in the mud room, since I didn’t know how many months it would be before we were home and want them to overwinter in the mud room. I was shocked to come back to huge growth on all of them.
I had cut them back majorly and dried the herbs before the flooding and they were just stalks and pathetic little plants left. Now I can do another harvest and drying of them this week!
I am sure you have all seen plenty of pictures of the damage around here online and television. But this is a picture I wanted to share. The damage isn’t just about what the water did itself – like rushing and pushing out roads and houses and such, it is also about how much dirt the river moved with it as it went. Unimaginable amounts of dirt have been taken from all over and deposited in the lower areas of water flow.
This little building is about 4 feet by 4 feet and it is some sort of machinery housing for sewer stuff or something. It is about 8 feet tall and has a man-door. The bottom of the building used to sit 4-6 feet ABOVE the level of the stream. That stream turned into a raging river during the flooding. And that raging river brought tons and tons of dirt downstream as it wrecked everything. And this is the building now:
That is the top of the man-door on the right. It is buried. So you are looking at 12-15 feet deep of dirt that this thing is covered in (because it used to sit above the stream bed). It is CRAZY. I wish I had a picture from before the flood so you could truly grasp what you are seeing here.
This week was supposed to be the week that Violet came into heat and we had the AI guy come up to the farm. Well that’s not happening. But something better is! The farm she is staying at during the flood recovery happens to have a miniature beef bull. So Violet is spending some romantic evenings with him and we are hoping she will come home bred. Won’t that be convenient!?
With all my “extra” time, since I don’t have all the animals to care for each day now and the garden is pretty much done, I have been working to finish my youngest son’s scrap quilt. This is the final of the four kids’ scrap quilts that I talked about here. I hope to have it done in the next week. My son will be so happy, he has been patiently waiting for this quilt for a long time.
So that is our first Sunday Homestead Update Post-Disaster. I am so glad it was able to come so soon. We are very blessed despite all that is going on. 🙂