Ladies and gentlemen…it happened!
Our dream of a homestead has begun! We broke ground and planted all 10 apple trees!
We had set up a plan of how we wanted to set up the trees this winter, but once we got in the space realized it wasn’t going to work as well as we hoped. We had planned to place the trees to one side and have the berry orchard on the other in the same area, but when we measured found the space was a lot thinner than we had planned. So we improvised, measured out new spacing, and reorganized the layouts of the trees.
As we broke into the soil, having really no idea what type of soil we would be working with, and we were overjoyed to find we had between 5-9 inches deep of dark black loamy soil mixed in with some marbling of sand. It was PERFECT! We figured with so many years of this land being unused and untouched the grasses and organic materials had grown and mulched over and over forming a rich, deep black soil. We were overjoyed!
This plot had the most sand of any of the plots, several had almost no sand.
It was a lot of work, and late in the day to start our process, but we finished planting just before dark. We put close to 30 gallons (meaning filling milk jugs and various containers with water) on our trees by hand. We don’t have a well out at the farm yet and it’s 1/2 mile away from any water source. It was quite the work out but we plan on figuring out a better watering system soon.
We have a lot of deer on our land that would LOVE to eat fresh new apple trees. We didn’t have any tree wrap or fencing yet, but had seen a trick at a forestry museum where you staple paper over the branches to deter deer from nibbling. We tried that until we could get more permanent fencing. (Update: When we checked the next day it worked except one little branch where the paper fell off)
We planted 5 Honey crisp and 5 Sweet Sixteen. We have an orchard! Step one of starting our farm is complete!
And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions
Spring has sprung! This week we did some spring cleaning and blew the pine needles and leaves off the grass hidden below. It’s amazing how green it turned when you take off a good inch of brown.
Our apple trees are planted and protected with 5ft fencing. We’ve been busy figuring out how best to lay the garden out.
So far we’ve laid out the asparagus patch, blueberry patch, strawberry rows, and raspberry rows. Speaking of raspberries, when we were on a walk to grab the mail we found a bunch of wild raspberries right in our front yard. Go figure, at least we all love raspberries!
Our apple trees are doing great, all ten are starting to get tiny leaves! We may not have any apple harvest for years, but we are so excited that they are all doing well.
We are experimenting with growing some of Darrick’s dads willows. We cut a few twigs from his willow plant and we can post an update on these as well if you are interested. Let us know in the comments!
Darrick and Kay
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.
We bred our New Zealand white rabbits on September 23, 2018 with hopes that the end of October we would have some new baby bunnies.
We had no idea what we were doing, I was holding the rabbit book reading out loud to Darrick as he placed our doe in the bucks cage. The doe has been a feisty one. We had no idea a rabbit could be aggressive, lunging and biting even when we tried to put food and water in her cage so getting her out of the cage, into the bucks cage, was no easy task. A helpful hint: wear thick gloves when handling feisty rabbits.
The book said the doe should be submissive, raise her tail, and let the buck mount her. That wasn’t the case as she scratched at him, lunged, and ran in circles around him in the cage. We let the buck mount her 3 times like the book said and got her out. That night Darrick did the second breeding by himself as we had guests over.
During her pregnancy she really calmed down. She let us touch her, no longer lunging or biting, even coming to the cage door to greet us. This is a picture of a very pregnant Gloria just days away from having her kits.
On October 24th she got feisty again and started lunging, but she was also carrying straw around in her mouth. According to the book it sounds like she was getting ready to have her babies!
October 25th was a wet rainy day and Bee and I went outside to check on them and our doe had pulled out her hair into the nest and she was acting very friendly again. The hair in the nest was moving so I peeked under and there were 3 tiny babies squirming around. We are rabbit breeders!
Some things we learned in this process is…
*If a mom rabbit smells human on her babies, she may kill them. Don’t touch the kits.
*A mother rabbit builds a nest by pulling out her hair and hiding the babies in it. A female rabbit has extra skin and hair called a dewlap under her chin for nesting purposes.
* A mother rabbit leaves her babies alone all day and will only feed them in the dark of night 1-2 times a day. This is to avoid drawing attention to predators.
*Kits will start growing fur about day three, open their eyes at day 10, and jump out of the nest box at day 16.
We are so excited to begin this journey of raising baby rabbits. It’s just proof to us that we, a pair of city folks, CAN do this. It’s such a big accomplishment for us. We will keep you updated on the baby bunnies as they grow. Thank you for following us and if you have any rabbit questions post in the comments and we will do our best to answer.
Darrick and Kay
Bring out with you every living thing of all flesh that is with you, birds and animals and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, that they may breed abundantly on the earth, and be fruitful and multiply on the earth.
We’ve planted the garden, but getting our first Homestead animals has been the biggest step for us to having the life we dreamed of. We decided on rabbits over chickens as our first animals because they require less space (as we don’t have a barn yet) and we would be keeping them in the shed until a more permanent structure is built.
We researched, talked to breeders in our area, and spent weeks discussing the best breed for us and decided on New Zealand’s for their meat and fur. We found a reputable breeder close to us who uses his rabbits for meat and show. We also discovered we liked the breed champagne de’argent (grey) because their fur is incredibly soft. In the end we decided to get two white New Zealand’s and two champagne’s to start with, with the idea of adding black New Zealand’s at a later date. A big undertaking for us since the most we’ve owned is a dog or a cat and know nothing about rabbits.
We also had no clue how expensive getting rabbits would be either. The cage, nesting boxes, food, water bottles, hay, all the way to nail clippers. It all adds up. Plus, my wonderful husband built the permanent outdoor hutch and the cost for lumber, roofing, and siding adds into that as well, we will release a post on the hutch coming soon. The rabbits themselves are also pedigree rabbits so they were a pretty penny per bunny. Start up costs are not cheap so buy quality stuff that you know will last and be worth it.
We are planning on evening out the start up costs with the long term investment with the meat we will get from them, keeping the best breeding stock, and selling the kits as meat or show rabbits. We had looked into doing pelts, but found that process to be an undertaking we aren’t quite ready for yet.
We allowed Bee to name one rabbit as she will be our breeding doe “Gloria” and will be kept longer. We don’t plan on naming the rest but we will see. In the end, we all know that the rabbits are for meat so although we take care of them daily, we try to keep our attachments to a minimum and remind ourselves that they are animals we will use.
So far Bee has done really well with the idea, is open to talking about it to others, and understanding that they are not pets.
It is an adventure and we will learn a lot in this process as we shift from city folk to country folk. We will make mistakes, the google machine will be our best friend, but in the end- we know we have this and we will succeed.
Darrick and Kay
The righteous care for the needs of their animals, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel.
This, ladies and gentlemen, is the beautiful future home of our tree orchard, berry orchard, and our garden plot.
It doesn’t look like much, but to us it is a dream come true. A land of possibilities just waiting for us to start working it. We’ve spent a lot of time walking this area, planning it out, drawing it up, and are excited to start our dream.
In this blank canvas we plan on having an apple tree orchard, berry orchard, a small corn field, and large variety of vegetables. We question ourselves daily if we are doing too much, we probably are for our first year, but in the end we want to see what will work and what won’t so a large variety gives us a lot to work with. As we expand further we would like to add various berry bushes, grapes, and refine our crop varieties to our favorites.
On the other side of the field we will build a barn. We’ve discussed cows, rabbits, goats, sheep, pigs, chickens, and ducks but we will be going over the discussion figuring out which animals will work best for us. We want to get animals with the intention of using them for meat, eggs, fiber, and milk but cost, health, and time each animal needs will be weighed into the final decision. We will keep you updated as we get further into our dream come true. It will be a lot of work, but so worth it in the end. It is only the beginning!
Darrick and Kay
Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies have no sense.