A tomato plant (the classic annual veggie) typically ripens from seed to fruit in 6-8 months in the PNW. They’re an intensive plant that requires seeding as early as February, babying the seedlings with heat and light, then transplanting to the ground and covering with plastic to protect from cool nights (which stunt their growth), … Continue reading American Guinea Hogs: the perennial pork
“If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing poorly first.” -Joel Salatin Whenever Josh and I tell someone that we live on a farm, the polite followup question is inevitably “what do you raise?” I think most people are hoping we’ll say tomatoes, but “pork and chicken,” is what we say. “Raised on grass, organic feed, … Continue reading Growing up as farmers and processing our own pork
Did you know that a chicken can “collect” fertilized eggs for up to a week before she begins sitting on the eggs? And that the 21-day gestation cycle doesn’t start until she begins sitting on them? Which means that there’s a one-week period where that fertilized egg could become either a chick, or an omelette? Our … Continue reading Hatching chicks
I work in a big office environment, where people tap away feverishly at keyboards for 8.5 hrs a day. It’s not quite an information services company, but IT impacts everything we do, and there’s not a single department in our building that doesn’t have a wishlist full of menial, tiresome tasks that could be … Continue reading Automation comes to Bellfern Homestead
The natural progression of homestead animal stewardship usually goes like this: laying hens (females only), then after you build some confidence with chickens, a rooster is added to the mix, then chicks follow shortly. Because poultry is so much fun, ducks and turkeys come next, then meat chickens. Then goats. Goats are the gateway quadruped … Continue reading The Joyful Chicken, Part I
About 4 times a year, I make soap. Making soap is one of my favorite recurring homestead chores, and I deliberately make it in small-ish batches so that I’ll have to make it again a few months later, giving me an opportunity to try a new design, recipe, or fragrance. The main ingredient in my … Continue reading Tallow: a foundational homestead product
With a favorable forecast, a three day weekend, and hip-high grass in the pasture, it was time to make some hay. I got home from an 11 hour workday Thursday and busied myself peening the 85cm (33″+) scythe blade I’ve dubbed the haymaker. Peening is the process of hitting the very edge between a hammer … Continue reading Making Hay by Hand: Year 2
Have you seen the Big Lebowski? The Dude, hopelessly adrift, finds purpose and grand adventure in recovering a stolen rug that was the keystone of his humble abode. That’s how I feel about the scythe on the farm. Like, The Dude’s feng shui, the farm’s flow is totally blocked without it. How strange that the … Continue reading The scythe; it really ties the farm together.
It really is a load off my shoulders and mind. All the design deliberations, cost considerations, material requisitions, and top-of-ladder installations…done. Done, done, DONE! Well, there’s still caulking, painting, and power to run, but that’s pretty mindless… …point is, no more big decisions! Geoff Lawton, of Permaculture Research Institute, says a design is made … Continue reading DIY greenhouse; 11 months in the making.
The Thursday morning before Christmas, I got up to get ready for work and discovered that we had no running water. NOOOOOO!!!! I knew it was below freezing outside, and my first thought was that our pipes had frozen. But it wasn’t that cold. Why would they freeze now? I hadn’t had coffee yet, so my … Continue reading Water, an abundantly scarce resource