Sunday, July 20, 2014

Our Homestead Anniversary, 5 years and 200 posts

Finally, all the raspberries I can eat.
That's right, this is The Reluctant Homesteaders' 200th blog post! And it has been 5 years, almost to the day, since Buck and I cautiously and at that time, a little reluctantly, took up the reins of my family's dilapidated and blackberry covered Homestead.

There had not been a major repair or replacement on the farm for over 30 years.  We had a huge job ahead of us and had enough house rehabilitation experience to know that the obvious visual signs of neglect were probably only the tip of the money and time iceberg. 

In honor of this momentous blip on the work work work timeline I have put together a collection of time lapsing photos of just some of the things we have accomplished here on the land. But there are many things that have gone by on the Homestead without a post or a picture because we are so busy with Homestead work here and $$ work in the world that it scarcely leaves time for writing about it.

 So, here goes my effort to collapse 5 years into our 200th post!

One of the first things we had to do was bring in something to live in. The house on the property had plumbing problems and a leaking roof. It was also completely infested with termites and carpenter ants and was not fit to live in, so we bought this RV off a friend of a friend and they moved it up to the Homestead for us.

What we don't dwell on in our blog is that we were sleeping in our cars until the arrival of the RV. We didn't just wake up one day and say "Let's be Farmers!" Instead we were faced with 3 burglaries of the property in 2 months and the last one was to pull the wire out of the buildings, as Meth addicts are prone to do. We did install a beefy security gate, but it was broken down and then after the third ransacking it became very evident that the pillaging would not stop until someone was physically there to stop the thieving.  So there we were, instant Homesteaders.

Early developments included building a chicken pen, which was meant to be a "tractor" but never was.

 Another thing we did right away was to put in a garden.

May 2009

May 2010

and to plant some apple and pear trees.


Then we really got into it and learned how to graft our own fruit trees.

Many hardships befell our little trees. Including a bigger tree falling on them and killing 4.


But 9 made it to their third year and I finally got them planted on the hill this spring. I would have liked to have gotten them in the ground last year, but it just didn't happen. Most had to be cut out of their pots because they had taken root in the garden, but they transplanted fine and are growing very fast.


We started the Hay House pretty early in the process since a Homestead needs somewhere to store feed and hay. The Hay House was literally still standing because I had shoved a 4x4 under the low corner, the year before. That casually placed 4x4 ended up keeping the whole building from shearing sideways and falling down.







Shortly after the Hay House was finished the Loafing Shed
was constructed to keep Rio dry.

Then Chiquita came to keep him company. 

Then Long John Silver moved in for a little while.
Fun times are often had with Rio, the funny mustang, who never tires of finding things to make us laugh.
For those who don't know, he has turned his halter sideways somehow and thinks it is very funny.

We learned a lesson about raising Heritage turkeys. Just don't.
 Although we would have missed out on knowing Gimpy McGimperson if we hadn't tried raising those delinquent turkeys.

 We have had great success with raising meat chickens under our Cuckoo Merans hens.
And we pursued a harebrained idea I had about making a Micro House out of this 8x12 granary and a 1958 Oasis travel trailer. We named it the Art Shack.





Last month. Starting plants for the new garden at the Art Shack.

The tub at the Art Shack is getting good use.

I discovered that a hedge trimmer does a very good job of getting a giant wall of blackberries down to mowing height. Mowing has been our number one organic method of keeping down the invasive weeds. Without mowing we would make zero progress around here with Herbicides.

I also learned not to leave these tip-rooted plants to just regrow a new wall.

I built my first Top Bar Hive and filled it with bees.
2010-I built my first Top Bar hive

I built 2 more hives and then got stung on the face and had an allergic reaction. Thus Buck became my Deputy bee helper even though I don't think he would have ever pictured himself doing such a thing 3 years before. The same goes for our son Jake.


I got an idea I might want to roast my own coffee while I was in the middle of nowhere, miles from good coffee and invented a roaster out of a George Foreman Rotisserie Oven.
Since then we have drunk gallons and gallons of home roasted coffee and our son has started an online custom coffee roasting business, Black Market Beans.

I planted raspberry plants in my Blueberries and wished I hadn't. Then I planted Raspberries in the back of the garden.
2011 we had only a hand full of berries
2014 more berries than I could eat! QUARTS AND QUARTS.
And I finally achieved my dream of having all the Raspberries I could eat and extra for the freezer.

Now we are expanding the garden with cattle panels to make room for more kinds of berries and to have room for winter squash and cucumbers this year.

We found out that our 2 dogs adapted very well to the farm life.

While our farm dogs grow old, we seemed to keep adopting Rescue dogs that love the Homestead but are not really farm dogs.



There is talk here of making a move to adopt a couple of farm dog puppies before our beloved Mr. B (12.5 years)
 and Mrs. B (14.5 years) die of old age.

 If we could afford it, we would clone them!

We also have had to deal with many years of accumulation of what I'm sure seemed like a good thing to save at the time, but was not so great for us, the ones who had to clean it all up.

 The Smoke House is the last existing building from the original Land Claim Homestead. It is very close to collapsing and so it is slated for a renovation. We can't let this piece of history just fall into a pile! Stay tuned for the details.


There are so many things that need to be done for this land to function as a real working Homestead. There are also many buildings left to be rehabbed or salvaged. Like this out-building which was originally built for chickens but which now holds an amazing amount of salvaged building material and future usefuls.

 I call it the "Junk Zoo" because each category of item is in its own chicken cage inside. Windows in one cage, pressure treated lumber in another and so on. We walk down the center isle looking into each cage to choose the item we need and then unlock the cage door to pull it out. The roof is still good and it's structure is sound but the walls are just chicken wire with old plastic and even though the roof does not leak it is damaged and covered in 5 inches of fir needles on the north side.
2014- there is a gate in there if you look closely. There is a pasture past that...I think.

Five years have flown by and we have accomplished a lot, and yet, there is still much to do.
We have, literally, miles of fences that need be repaired or built, acres and acres of land to be cleared of invasive Blackberry and Scotch broom, and some big decisions in the future about the ultimate use of the land.

Do we graze beef cattle or plant orchards or plant alfalfa to be sold on the feed market?
Or do we just realize that a hill of rock is no farm and create a space to be used for workshops and peaceful retreats.

But these decisions are another 2 or 3 years ahead and right now we are keeping our nose to the grindstone and moving in the right direction, "Slowly but surely" as my Granny used to say.


  1. Congratulations on both accounts! I don't do much blog visiting these days but was pleased to see this post nonetheless. We've been on our homestead now for 5 years too, so it's fun to think back of first visiting your blog. You gave a great review and what a joy to see the fruit of all your labors! So here's to 200 more posts and another 5 years.

  2. Has it really been that long?! Wow! You certainly should be applauded for hanging in there. Lots of work!!

  3. Great post! The pictures speak for themselves. Have you considered control burning an area/field to get rid of the blackberries and brush? What about goats? We considered goats to get rid of the thorn bushes and poison ivy but fencing is a big project!

  4. As always, awesome work! Keep at it...the "work" part never ends, but it does get easier to manage.

  5. Belated congratulations for the fifth anniversary of your homestead! You really did a lot of amazing things in transforming the property. Seeing the time-lapse, like pictures, are proof of that amazing feat. It's been a wonderful journey for you and I wish you many more years of success and productive homesteading. Thanks for sharing!

    Darren Lanphere @ Mirr Ranch Group


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