Today I came across a great little blog series called Day in the Life of a Homestead via Little Mountain Haven. I read through most of the blogs during our daily quiet time, which is when my toddler plays quietly by herself, my newborn naps in the carrier and I get some downtime of my own. This series inspired me to tell you a little bit about our day to day on our fledgling homestead. We hope to someday have a massive garden, milking goats, rabbits for meat and maybe even pigs and alpaca (on 3/4 acres!), but these bloggers made me feel that our life with chickens and a garden is already very homestead-like.
The day I’d like to share was a particularly harmonious one spent entirely at home. During the week, we sometimes head out for a playdate, errand or fun outing to the beach or library but my toddler and I are both homebodies and our best days are spent in the kitchen, gardens and chicken coop. Even if we do go out, we still do all of the regular chicken and garden chores. I give you Wednesday, July 15th, 2015.
The rooster crows; my toddler strokes the back of my neck; the baby stirs. I sigh inwardly and check to see if my husband (M) is still beside us or (hopefully) in the shower or (please) already making coffee downstairs. I fantasize for a moment about a future that includes everyone in my family staying home; a day that begins with me milking a goat while watching the sunrise. Instead, I pass the baby downstairs and shower, blissfully alone with my coffee.
It is just me, the babe (3 months) and toddler (E – 2.5) for the next ten hours. I’ve already put on a load of laundry and E and I are enjoying fresh boiled eggs and local strawberries. I add yeast, water and honey to the bowl of my stand mixer to proof because we are out of spelt bread. Rain is in the forecast so I decide it is a kitchen day – bread, cookies and a huge pot of minestrone. I pull some homemade chicken broth from the freezer and soak some chick peas. I decide on extra so that I can make hummus tomorrow. My baby is napping in the carrier and E plays happily in the living room. I mix the bread and set it aside to rise.
Baby wakes up to nurse. An hour gets lost to toddler problem solving and baby smiles. Not a bad way to spend an hour, really.
I pop baby back in the carrier for chicken chores. I suggest that the naked toddler put on some clothes and rubber boots. She is always eager to go out to the chicken coop, so she obliges and also grabs an egg carton and carries it out the door.
E knows to stand back as I unplug the electric fence and turn on the water for the hose. She helps fill the water containers and we open the pop hole. It is a daily pleasure to see our hens and rooster fly out of the pophole, trampling each other to see what treats await them. Today it is a huge pile of strawberry hulls, cabbage trimmings and some of my toddlers spelt crust.
I inspect the hens’ legs, squatting with an almost asleep baby. Some of the hens have a bad case of scaly leg mites that we really need to treat soon, but we never have the child-free time required. It will take two people to wash and brush their legs and then oil them several times a week plus the coop will need to be thoroughly cleaned. A nearly impossible task, though maybe with the baby on my back… We are getting three new heritage chickens tomorrow, so I feel extra guilt. We also need to whipper snip the long grass and weeds around our electric fence. (Let’s hope the foxes don’t read my blog.)
Forgetting our troubles, we take a peek at the two week old chicks and freshen their food and water, throw down some pine shavings in the main coop under the roosting bars and then collect a few eggs. Most of the hens don’t lay until afternoon.
Chickens chores complete, I plug in the fence and we continue on our rounds, checking out the gardens, The toddler eats a leaf of lettuce, a green onion and a nasturtium petal. I wish aloud for rain and wonder how bad it is that the garlic is overrun by weeds. I marvel at the garden I was so pessimistic about only a few weeks ago. Every year it is a happy surprise to see it take off in July’s heat. But it is so very dry and I don’t have much time for watering.
We come in and the bread has risen over the bowl in the humidity. I punch it down and knead it into two loaves and pop them into bread pans for a second rise. We have a snack of crackers and cheese and try our friend Jeny’s fresh raw goat milk, which she brought for us to sample yesterday. For the second time today I dream of having my own goats. I glance at the pile of garlic scapes on the counter. I really should get to those. Instead I read a blog or two and fold some laundry while E chatters away and plays with her tiny farm animals.
I make some cookies while E plays happily in the living room (this much happy independent play is wonderful – not every day is this easy); I pop the bread in the oven and then the cookies while I prepare leftovers and cut up veggies for lunch. Baby wakes up and E and I sit down at the table to have lunch together and chat.
A rare treat, M comes home on his lunch break and we share a brief coffee and cookie break. The baby gets cuddles with dad and E gets to nurse and cuddle with me.
We head outside to collect a few eggs for my neighbour, eat more lettuce and green onion and play on the swing for a bit. A good friend stops by for a short visit and admires the sweet baby. (See, I told you it was a lovely day).
My toddler has quiet time while I begin to prep supper and then take a break to look at those addictive homestead blogs while bouncing the teething baby in the carrier. I alternate making supper with soothing baby and chatting with E for the next two hours. My neighbour stops by for eggs.
M arrives home, a bit late because of a meeting. Hooray! I hand him the baby and E and I head out to the coop again to refill waterers, check for eggs and hold a chick (which she can only do when I am not wearing the baby) and harvest kale and herbs for supper. We are kindred spirits and love this time together. We both long for goats and orchards and gardening all day long.
We hear a crack of thunder. E tells me she does not like thunder. Or rats. The air cools instantly and as soon as we are inside the rain begins to pour. E goes out on the patio to dance around and gets soaked. I am so thrilled that the garden is getting some water.
We sit down for a supper of minestrone loaded with veggies and garden herbs and fresh bread and butter. E gobbles it up. After some negotiations, M takes her to bed and I get baby ready for sleep.
Miraculously, both kids are fast asleep and we can enjoy our free time. I glance at the pile of garlic scapes again. I’ll get to those tomorrow. I work on the blog and then settle in with my tea and my latest stack of library books. Homesteading books, of course. I remind M to go close the pop hole.
We head to bed. E still wakes up through the night and joins us. With four in the bed, we have learned to expect the unexpected and since we value being well rested, we turn in early. Besides, it is good training for aspiring homesteaders.
I fall asleep listening to the rain and dreaming of goats.