I mentioned in my last post that life had become rather overwhelming. For a couple weeks, I ran things alone here while Byron was chaperoning a student trip to Europe. I went to Europe in graduate school and we both felt like this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for him, and he spent much of his time taking photos and videos to share with us.
Amid sickness (and we rarely get sick, so go figure), 100+ degree weather, the loss of three chickens, a violent storm that left many people without power for days, and a nasty computer virus, friends and family came to our rescue while Byron was away. You know who you are, and we are so grateful to you.
During Byron's time away, I've been whittling away at my many responsibilities. Homesteading has a romantic ring to it, but the reality of it can be a slap of mud to the face - literally and figuratively. I'm happy we're raising much of our own food - don't get me wrong - but one homeschooling mom and a dad who works outside the home for much of the year can only handle so much.
Here's where I'd like to do some whittling:
1. Number of chicken flocks: Right now, we have four flocks. We have our Cornish Cross we're raising for meat, and their time on earth is nearing an end. However, we also have three old Barred Rocks and three guineas who wander around, almost thirty six-week-old Barred Rocks, and 18 one-year-old Rhode Island Reds (two died recently). This makes for quite the little dance to do during morning chores and during the day to check on water. We're hoping we can combine the young hens with the one-year-olds, and we may either eat or give away the old hens and guineas in the fall.
2. Water: Right now, I haul water in buckets placed in a wagon to the various animals throughout the day. We'd like to dig a pond and figure out a pump system, but since we move our animals, I'm not sure if this would be any more efficient than what we already do. The benefit right now is that I have no need for Jillian Michaels workouts.
3. Goats: We recently were given four Nigerian Dwarf goats, and while they are very sweet, they DO escape and they ARE extra work. Case in point: we were rather late for some church responsibilities today because when we woke up, we found them wandering around the front yard. And to be honest, I don't see myself becoming a master cheese maker one day; I see myself pursuing photography or another art form. Byron wants to make a permanent, fenced-off area for them. And while I don't mind having a couple goats, I'm not sure we need four.
4. Meals: I make all our meals from scratch, and while that is something I would never give up since you can't beat the nutritional value, I have decided to rotate the same. seven. meals. every. week. I'm sure this sounds terribly boring, but to be honest, I don't enjoy cooking very much (though I do like to bake) and my family is rather picky. So with seasonal variations, I shall venture forth into the overly chartered waters of pasta night, burger night, roasted chicken night, and so forth.
How do you simplify your life while trying to homestead?