Fencing

Fencing is a very important aspect of homesteading, whether you want something to stay in or keep something out of you don’t have a good fence it could cost you your whole investment. A quality, and well thought out fence is important.

When constructing fencing you need to ask: what is it that I need protected, how high does it need to go, how strong does it need to be, and how to balance this with your budget.

We knew deer love green baby apple trees, they would eat them to the ground in one night if not protected. We weren’t about to lose our beloved orchard the day we planted it. We decided to encircle our trees with a 5 foot wire fence attached to T-posts. It is strong, sturdy, and a small enough enclosure the deer won’t jump in it. So far it has worked great. The downside was: it was expensive and over a larger area deer could easily jump over it.

We researched into inexpensive deer fencing, as our garden area is quite large, and found an idea where you attach clear fishing wire to t-posts every 6 inches up the post. It forms an invisible fence that supposedly when deer try to walk through they hit the wire and back off, and won’t jump over because they can’t see how high it goes. We also attached plastic bags as a noise and movement deterrent and some plastic owls. This worked great for a while until the fawns figured out how to crawl under the fencing when the tall grasses grew enough to push the wires up.

When they discovered they could get in, they were relentless. They ate our raspberries, blueberries, greens, even our asparagus almost to the ground. The apples are still protected with the wire fencing. Darrick and I discovered they figured out they could chew the wires and walk right on through. On to plan B.

Plan B we found some 7 foot mesh deer fencing. Our farm land is a long rectangle shape surrounded by plantation pine trees. The trees are mostly in line and evenly spaced. Darrick cut the branches to about 7 feet up around the perimeter and took the deer fencing and attached it with galvanized screws to the pine trees. The deer can’t jump over because there are branches blocking it. They can’t go through it, under it, or around it either. We are hoping this will protect our garden from the beautiful, but pesky, creatures.

We will keep you updated on Wednesdays and Saturdays so stay tuned. Post any comments or questions below. Thank you for following us on our journey.

God Bless,

Darrick and Kay

And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place,

~ Acts 17:26

How to dry corn for beautiful Autumn decor

There is nothing more beautiful than the changing colors of the autumn season. Bringing those colors into your home is a great way to appreciate the beauty of the changing seasons.

This summer Darrick and I planted over 900 “Glass Gem” corn kernels by hand.

Glass gem corn is an heirloom seed with beautiful rainbow translucent kernels. It’s used mainly for popcorn, grounding into flour, and decoration.

It takes about 3 months to grow corn. In northern Minnesota that is just about all we have for a decent growing season.

When the corn was finished growing we had to peak through a few kernels to find out if they had gotten their colors. When the corn is growing it is a regular white kernel and get their pop of color when they are mature. We only harvested a few at first as most weren’t mature yet. By the next time we went out to check them it had rained and we got an early unexpected frost so unfortunately a bunch of our crop got ruined. We saved about 50 colorful kernels.

To turn them into decor I pulled the husks back and put them in a solution of bleach and water and let them soak for half an hour to kill any mold or bugs on them. If using for eating- don’t use bleach. After that rinse them well, tie each one to a cotton yarn string, and hang them to dry. I hung mine outside; but I wouldn’t suggest that as the squirrels had a hay day buffet. In the end we ended up with about 20 dried rainbow cobs, just enough to decorate our mantle.

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Thank you for visiting and we hope you are able to successfully make your own corn decor. If you have any questions or comments please post below. If you are interested in reading more, please subscribe.

God bless,

Darrick and Kay

You visit the earth and cause it to overflow; You greatly enrich it; The stream of God is full of water; You prepare their grain, for thus You prepare the earth.

~Psalm 65:9

Why we chose rabbits as a first homestead animal

Typically when you hear someone wants to start a farm or homestead the first animal -they usually get chickens. They are pretty easy to find, inexpensive, don’t require a lot of space, and generally easy to care for. Chickens provide multiple benefits as well: eggs, they eat bugs, and provide meat. Why would we choose rabbits over chickens?

Living in the upper Midwest we have long, very cold winters and just starting out we don’t have a barn or shed to house a flock of chickens. Rabbits are furry, hardy creatures that survive winters up here quite well. They also don’t require a lot of space. A roughly 2’x 3′ cage provides them enough room to move and hop around but also small enough to help them feel safe and cozy. A small enclosed rabbit hutch was a lot easier to build in this busy season of life than to try and build a big barn just to hold a few animals. Eventually, when we do build a barn, the rabbits will be housed there with the chickens and other animals. We will continue to use the hutch near the house to keep pregnant does and their babies until they are big enough to be moved to the barn.

The timing was also important when choosing rabbits over chickens. When we decided to start our adventure with animals we were moving into the fall season, with winter quickly approaching. In the winter everything freezes over so there are no bugs for chickens to eat. With less light they also may stop laying eggs. Other than using them for meat, there was really no benefit at the time to begin our chicken journey at this time. Rabbits are more hardy and can be bred through the winter with extra care that the kits stay warm.

If you are beginning a homestead, farm, or any other endeavor it is vital that you research and learn as much as you can, weigh your pros and cons, so you can make the best decision for your situation and family needs. Even so, it doesn’t mean everything will turn out as planned. Life itself is exciting and unexpected and you never know what is around the next corner.

Thank you for following us, leave a comment or questions below. We look forward to see you next time.

God bless,

Darrick and Kay

I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.

~ Psalm 16:8

Fall update

Just another day in paradise.

This fall has been very busy with getting rabbits and building the hutch. We are working on installing insulation on the house, Updating our fencing for our garden, and expecting a new baby in January. We are also beginning the process of Darrick adopting Bee.

Last winter we discovered the reason why the previous owners had used the house primarily as a summer cabin: the basement had no insulation from the Northern Minnesota weather. We use mainly wood heat with a furnace in the basement so naturally all the heat from all the wood we put into our furnace was successfully heating the outside instead of the house. We ended up going through somewhere between 7-9 cords of wood. Not this year! Darrick worked hard and insulated all the block around the basement and we already notice the house stays so much warmer. The only downside is the basement will be pink until spring when we plan to finish it.

Our rabbits are moved into their new hutch and loving being outside. Our breeding doe, Gloria, has calmed down significantly. We aren’t sure if it’s due to her liking being outside or if she is enjoying being far away from the bucks. We attempted to breed her in late September so that could have calmed her down somewhat. She had her three babies late October but didn’t pull enough hair to keep them warm. We attempted rebreeding her so we will see if that worked in December. Stay tuned for updates.

Our monofilament wire fence worked for a while. We drove 6 foot stakes into the ground about every 8 feet and tied fishing wire about every 6 inches up the stakes. We read somewhere that if the deer can’t see it, but run into it, they won’t try to jump it. Which is true. We haven’t had deer jump the fence. Instead they’ve been digging under it when the grasses grow up enough to push the wires up, or lately they just chew the wires and step through. Just this fall they have eaten our blueberries down to a foot tall, chewed the raspberries, the strawberries, and even the asparagus! So time for a new plan. We bought 7 foot mesh deer fencing and Darrick is attaching them to the outlying trees. The branches will also prevent them from jumping over so we hope this works!

Yes we are expecting again! This pregnancy has by far been my hardest pregnancy. Severe morning sickness for the first 24 weeks caused me not to gain any weight during that time. During our 20 week ultrasound the baby only measured in the 2nd percentile so was flagged for being small. That means monthly ultrasounds to monitor baby’s weight gain and growth. At our previous appointment baby was in the 13th percentile, he or she started at the 2nd percentile, so that was a big relief to us. I’m a small person, at a whopping 5 foot tall, and Jr is also a lil guy as he is in the less than 1% for his weight and head size, but 7% for height. The doctor we seen told us: I’m a small person, so is our son, and she’s not surprised this little one is either. After several growth scans baby is healthy and growing strong, so we feel comfortable not getting ultrasounds at every appointment. We are excited to meet this new little one in January!

Our newest adventure in country life is we have experienced our first stray cat drop off. We had two cats dropped off near our house. The first one ran off that night but the other one decided to adopt us and would not leave. We called every shelter and person we knew to take a cat, since Darrick is very allergic, but no takers. In the meantime Bee, and her big heart for animals, fell in love with the cat. So we sucked it up, bought some cat food, and decided to take the cat as our own. With Darrick’s allergies we decided an outside cat to hunt mice would be ok. Happy early birthday Bee.

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This is Elvis, named because never stops singing. He sleeps happily in a straw pile under the rabbit hutch and meows at the window all day for Bee to come play with him.

Stay tuned for more updates! Thank you for following us. Please leave comments, questions, or suggestions in the comment box below.

God bless,

Darrick and Kay

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

~Isaiah 41:10

Deer season 2018

Dear ladies and gentlemen,

We interrupt this blog to bring you….deer hunting opener!

We’ve been seeing a number of deer running around our property and several on the trail cameras. Most of them are does and fawns, but we do have a small 8 pointer (for those west coasters that’s a 4×4) and a spike we’ve seen several times. The 8 pointer likes to hang out somewhat near the house on our driveway. Most of the deer we see closer to the garden area, which I’m sure they see as a free food buffet. We are still working on updating the fencing.

Back to hunting; Darrick set up a stand near the garden/ future farm area. The area is covered in regenerating aspen after the logging last year and the deer love nibbling on the small trees.

His second stand is located on the west end of our property covering a ridge that runs between two lakes, as he states a perfect pinch point.  As he went to set up his stand he kicked up the 8 point buck where he was bedded down. We hope he didn’t get scared too bad so he will come back.

Our plan is to hunt the garden/farm stand in the morning, and move to the hill stand in the afternoon to follow the deer’s natural patterns.

We got the big buck! I was so excited to be able to be with him on this harvest.

We love venison and count on a deer or two to get us through a year with some meat. Last year we got two small deer (a spike buck and a doe). This one buck was bigger than those two combined so we are OVERJOYED with the thoughts of venison steaks, chops, stews, bacon, and sausage in our future!

Though not overly impressive in the ground picture he looks massive when hanging up!

With my tag filled Darrick went out hunting on Sunday morning before church and as he had hoped a nice doe and another buck came across the ridge and this buck provided him the perfect opportunity for another successful shot and harvest.  Our freezer is now full!

Good luck and safe hunting to all the hunters out there!

God bless,

Darrick and Kay

Now then, take your weapons, your quiver and your bow, and go out to the field and hunt game for me,

~Genesis 27:3