Hunting and Homesteading

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Deer hunting season just started where we live, and as usual, I take the first day of the season off to spend in the woods.  No I didn't get my deer that day, but while I was sitting in the woods enjoying the crisp fresh morning air, I got to thinking about how I got started in it and why I enjoy waking up at 5am to sit and walk in the cold all day ;o)

Growing up, hunting was always a part of my life.  I remember making rabbit/partridge pies for the holidays.  Having rabbit stew (we call fricot in Acadie) and eating deer roast/steaks all winter.

I remember hunting rabbit with my dad when I was about 6yrs old and tagging along for deer hunting when I was about 12yrs old, maybe earlier.  It was a bonding experience that I now share with my son and hopefully will with my daughter when she is of age.  When my son came rabbit hunting for the first time last year with me and my dad, we were 3 generations walking into the woods and that was a very neat day.

So what does hunting have in common with homesteading?  To our familiy, it's part of learning to live as self sufficient as we can.  It means family time, learning new skills and passing them along to our kids.  To enjoy the outdoors and be thankful for the bounty it provides.

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Second Round Seed Starting 2012

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In our part of the planet, we're still about a month away from last average frost date.  We started our second group of seedlings to fill up the rest of the shelves in our "seed starting hot house".  So far our little hot house/green house has been great.  Our first round of seedlings have all taken and thriving.

We planted 3 more trays to fill in the rest of the racks in the hot house/green house: Onions, Jacob's Cattle Beans, Scotia Tomatoes (ya more tomatoes!), Cucumbers, Green/Yellow Beans and Giant Oregon Snow Peas.

With the nice weather announced this week, we're going to take advantage to start prepping the yard and garden.  It's been a very dry Spring and I hope we get cues that Mr. Frost is now gone for good so we can uncover the strawberries, garlic and start to work the garden ;o)  We're also pretty excited to move the starter seeds with greenhouse to the garage to start the hardening process.  It should make a big difference.  A few pictures....

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Homestead Plan: Year 1 Wrap Up

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This was our first full year in our digs in the country.  We had an OK productive year, no thanks to the wet and cool weather over the summer.  Our garden consisted of one large row garden, approx 20x40ft, and some pilot projects like SIP containers and upside down hanging planters.  We had some good trout fishing this summer and so far hunting has provided good source of wild meat.

The self watering containers worked excellent!  Unfortunately our issue was they worked too well.  We planted our less than stellar seedlings and they just took over and choked themselves.  We planted too many per container and didn't thin them out enough causing them to stunt some and not produce as many tomatoes.  We won't make that mistake next year.  We will also come up with another idea for staking the tomatoes in the buckets.  We used traditional tomato stakes and they didn't work well.

Our hanging planters didn't do so well, but I assume this was more due to their placement.  I don't think the tomatoes and snow peas got enough sun where they were placed unfortunately.  We planted tomatoes underneath and snow peas on top which worked out pretty good, just not the yield expected... so we have some changes to their location for next year.

Extending the garden into the fall didn't go as planned as we got caught up with putting in a new septic bed.  We were planning on putting together some cold frames and some row covers, but timing was never right.  This was unfortunate, but we'll do a bit more research... we're shaking up the garden next year to convert the current row garden to raised beds.

So now that year 1 is almost over, we're already planning for next year.  We have the following goals for next year:

  • Start beekeeping... our first hive this Spring and still reading all we can on this topic
  • Planting our mini fruit orchard: Apples, Cherries and possibly some Peaches/Pears
  • Raised garden beds which includes provisions for row covers & cold frame covers
  • Proper documenting and tracking of the garden: planting dates, harvests, etc...
  • Front and rear decks including fire pit & pergola. Planters for herb garden and grape vines

Our extended plans should finances and time permit:

  • Plant dual layer tree wind break to help manage the crazy winds we get
  • Plant our grape rows in the front yard, table and wine grapes
  • Put up fencing to separate the different areas: Family Fun, Gardening, Mini Orchard, Animals
  • Finally add chickens to our homestead.

I'm sure our plans will change and grow over the winter, but you have to have a plan with some goals so you feel like you're getting somewhere.  Year 1 rant/summary done ;o)

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