State of the Homestead Summer 2023

I haven't done a Homestead Report in a long while.

The summer has been all about streamlining. We incubated some eggs and sold some chicks. And because we had way too many layers we sold some hens too.

And I finally sold our guinea hens! The homestead is so much quieter now.

As for big jobs, we took down three big trees and two small ones. Thanks to Greg's expert rigging they fell exactly where we needed them to fall. Fences, gates, and outbuildings survived intact. And we never got hurt once. Hallelujah!

Greg had a birthday and we celebrated at our favorite restaurant.

We did some tree pruning along our fence line. That was a bear of a job and we still have a little more to do. What made it hard is that so much of it was covered in thorny vines. I enjoyed watching those vicious vines die on the bonfire.

For all the pruning and tree cutting we do, we no longer chip our own wood. We have a machine but it's way too loud and you can only stand it for a little while. It'll go in the next garage sale.

As luck would have it, a new power station three miles down the road is getting ready to become operational and there has been massive limb cutting for miles in every direction so their power lines can be free of entanglements.

I'm not happy about the power station or the fact that they're butchering all those beautiful trees but we are getting some benefit. We stopped the driver of one of the rigs and encouraged them to drop off their chipped loads in our pasture.

Even if we don't use it all, (I'm sure we will) eventually the chipped wood will turn into compost. I've lost count but I think we're over 40 truckloads. We've moved at least half.

Meanwhile, we got chatty with someone who bought our guineas and he happened to be a landscaper. After Greg was assured he was insured, we asked him for a quote to have him limb a tree that's hanging over the roof. Despite what seems like a lot of dangerous work felling our other trees, I don't want Greg up on the roof trying to limb this tree. That's a young man's game.


The garden is producing well. We're using the secondary garden this year to give the main garden a rest. The cucumbers have been especially delicious and prolific. I planted a Persian cucumber that sends me to food heaven. 

We're getting tomatoes and okra left and right. The corn has been tasty but sparse. Will I ever learn just to buy corn at the grocery store? I can never grow them to maturity without something absconding with them.

Squash: Every year I fight squash bugs. This year I brought the fight to them. I planted spaghetti squash in the garden, but zucchini and yellow squash are in pots near the house.

They're growing slower near the house, but no bugs. My spaghetti squash almost got away from me. I started checking for egg masses too late and one mass had just hatched. 

I was able to kill the eggs and the nymphs with a little duct tape. I check every leaf, every day. After more than two weeks I found only one grown nymph that somehow escaped my inspections, but he too met his demise.

Die squash bugs!

Melons: Our big winners this year. We got a bumper crop of watermelon and a new-to-me melon, called Mango Hybrid Melon. It tastes like a sweeter and finer fleshed cantaloupe. Lately though the raccoons have been taking bites out of the mango melon. 

Deer also decimated my entire soybean crop and all the leaves of my cucumber vines. The secondary garden is fenced but there's no gate. There's a quasi-gate now. At least we can keep the deer out, but there's no way to stop the raccoons.

It's been a lot of maintenance this year, but we're keeping up.

Update on the garden: We had a bit of a mishap during the last week and we lost most of the garden. More on that next week. At least we got most of the produce before we lost it.


My friend, Mel introduced us to Piri Piri sauce. Piri piri is a pepper that is absolutely delicious, but hot. When she saw how much we liked it, she bought me a seed starter kit of piri piri. I saved one, but planted two. Something snatched one of the two plants. Just poof! Not even a root. 

I can vouch for the piri piri sauce above though. It's mildly hot, but tempered with a refreshing vinegary taste.

Right now I'm coveting my lone plant hoping to get some seeds out of it. I'm looking forward to making my own piri piri sauce.

Weather: It's hot! That's not really news here, but it's always a lot of work keeping plants and animals from roasting. 

I brought the quail into the house. Despite a fan and shade, quail can't tolerate triple digits. We made them a large pen in the atrium with three inches of wood chips. I'm not smelling anything funky so they can stay until the weather cools back down to the low 90s.

Da Kids

Dogs are doing so-so, while Jammy is living the life of leisure.

Odin's left eye is starting to droop ever so slightly, enough to make it weepy. I'm keeping a close watch to make sure it's not serious.

Nana is now on the most powerful anti itch medication available as well as specially formulated food that protects against allergens.

She did well for two months, but she's starting to itch again. It's not horrible, but only because I'm constantly tending her with medicated baths, topical lotions, and antibiotics.  I'm trying to avoid using steroids because she has to be free of steroids for several weeks before she sees the specialist.

Unfortunately, we can't see the specialist until September. I hope he can help her because I am out of options.

And the biggest news of all...we went on a trip! More on that in a later post. It was trip for the books, but I'm glad to be home. Other than necessary chores, I plan to vegetate all week to recover.


Dru Ann said…
thanks for keeping us updated.
Looking forward to hearing about your trip.
Maria Zannini said…
Dru: It was a huge logistical problem, but we finally figured it out and we were able to go. I'm so glad. I wanted to see my mother.
Luba Meader said…
What a delightful update. While busy, things turned out real well for you and Greg. Looking forward to hearing about your trip. Reading through, I was curious about Persian cucs? Never heard of them, and how are they different? In color and taste. Thanks for sharing, Maria! I always enjoy your updates.❤
Angela Brown said…
Your "State of the Homestead" shares are always so enlightening. From gardens to animals, it's certainly been busy and,, hot, hot. These triple digit temps must serve some purpose beyond making me sweat bucket loads just to walk the block.

Thank you, as always, for the update!!
Maria Zannini said…
Luba: The Persian cucumbers have a weird name, Beit Alpha. Although they can grow larger, you want to pick them when they're no more than 5 inches. They're slender cukes that are very sweet and flavorful.

I bought them years ago at a grocery store. It took a long time to find them in a seed catalog, but now they're everywhere.

It's my favorite cucumber.
Maria Zannini said…
Angela: It's been terribly hot, but not near as bad as not having rain. That's typical for July, August.

We had an extraordinarily long spring so I guess I'm not allowed to complain about hot summers. :o)
Luba said…
Thank you Maria. I am going to plant the Perian cukes next year. I can hardly wait. I may even go to my Co-op to see if they sell some. They have some produce that are not found in grocery stores. Hopefully, next year it won't be in triple digits.🌹
Maria Zannini said…
Luba: I think you'll really like them.

It's triple digits every year between July and August here. Can't wait till fall and rain.
Luba said…
❤I'm a summer person Maria, but I'm looking forward to some cooler weather. It's been brutal...🤭❤
Mike Keyton said…
Hope your enjoying your vegetation, Maria. We’ll deserved. Looking forward to hearing ire of your holiday and intrigued as to how you lost half your garden. But what really puzzled me was this: There's a quasi-gate now. At least we can keep the deer out, but there's no way to stop the raccoons.
What with the raccoons, a penchant for Persian cucumber ?
Maria Zannini said…
Mike: Raccoons love melons. They take a couple of bites then go elsewhere.

They took the corn too. The problem is, they can climb. Short of building an aviary there's no way to stop them.

As they say in baseball, there's always next year.