State of the Homestead, Summer 2021
I haven't done a homestead report in a while. Things are changing around Casa Zannini. It's a case of letting go of certain responsibilities and rethinking how we want to live out our "golden years".
I never quite understood what makes retirement golden. I certainly work harder now than when I worked for da man, though I'll admit it is less stressful.
We've been streamlining our homestead for the past couple of years. Less animals and better equipment so we don't have to work so hard. This year will be the final push to live more simply.
Chickens: We have 11 chickens. One rooster and ten hens. That's five hens too many. We get so many eggs I'm feeding them back to the chickens. The Ameraucana have been spectacular layers, but this particular flock are oddly picky about feed. Past birds would eat nearly any greens or human food leftovers, but these guys act like gourmets. Only the more expensive chicken chow, please.
When it comes time to replace this generation, I'm going to spend more time varying their diet when they're chicks.
Guineas: Ah, the bane of my existence. Have I mentioned how much I hate guineas? They're an experiment. We bought 12 'fertile' eggs from a seller and eight hatched.
The guineas are even pickier than the chickens when it comes to food. They won't touch scraps and only occasionally nibble on greens. They want insects--which is why I'm raising them. But rather than letting them loose and getting nabbed by coyotes, I want to raise a second generation for insect control. This way I have a way to replenish them if the hawks or coyotes get them.
Speaking of coyotes, one of my neighbors lost a goat to a coyote. Coyote attacks are on the rise this year. Lots of pets and livestock going missing or remains found.
Quail: Still my favorite livestock to keep. They eat very little, incubate quickly, and grow to eating size within 8 weeks.
Goats: The full size goats will have to go. I will miss Brownie the most. I'm hoping I can find a good home for them, but once they leave your farm, you can never be sure. I desperately want them to be safe and in experienced hands.
The Gardens: We had the WORST gardening year in memory.
2020 had been the best, but 2021 will go down in history as the worst. I think it was a mix of many things.
- I waited too long to plant.
- I started with seeds instead of seedlings.
- Too much cold.
- Followed by too much rain.
- Followed by too much heat.
- An immense number of grasshoppers, loopers, and scorpions!
Shockingly, my tomato plants were duds! And a new-to-me squash and okra were dismal performers. The cucumbers, peppers, and black eyed peas are doing well though. The soybeans (so far) are also full of pods.
I left the cabbage and brussels sprouts in the ground too long making them a little 'hot', but I'll try again in the fall with them.
My blueberries got gobbled by birds, but my elderberries produced a bounty. I'm going to try making jelly and an elderberry tincture (with vodka) as a medicinal.
I think most of my problems were the result of timing. Once crematoria sets in, there's no point in planting unless you provide shade.
da Dogs and Jammy the cat: Nana and Odin are doing well. Nana still growls at Odin, but since he's so big, she doesn't do much more than grumble. Odin is a big goof. Just a kid wanting to play. He turns two this Friday. Odin is dangerous--not because of his bite, but because of his speed and size. He is by far the fastest and most powerful dog we've ever owned. It's like getting hit by a train. He doesn't do it on purpose. He's just an oaf.
Jammy is doing okay despite his eating disability. Nana has started chasing and biting him so they're no longer allowed together unless Nana is under my direct control. She can't be trusted. I don't know what's made her turn aggressive, other than the fact she can no longer bully Odin so she's starting on Jammy. She's a rotten dog. Good thing we love her.
Greg and I are okay. My spidey sense has been tingling lately and I told Greg it's time for us to isolate for a while. We've gone back to wearing masks in stores, but it's time to take it a step further and stick close to home for a few weeks.
We've had several good friends die recently. One after another. Most died of old age. Greg's best friend died from a long term illness. And one good friend died from complications of covid. He was a smoker and overweight so he was already fighting a stacked deck.
It doesn't matter what gets you. You don't want to see your friends die.
On the bright side, my mom is almost 90 and healthy as a horse despite her jet-setting ways.
Since I don't think we're as lucky as my mom, we're stepping back from the world.
If you haven't stocked up on essentials, do it now. Just in case. The price of all food has gone up. I'm really bummed about that.
How's it going at your end? Have you tried anything new or different this year?