Clearing Land for a Homestead

https://youtu.be/VqrfYbJOiOM

We spent the weekend chipping up trees for our homestead. One of the most valuable lessons we can pass along to those with wooded land is to be patient with the process. It might not look like much has been done, and yet so much has been accomplished!

If you would like to follow along on our homestead journey, simply click the “subscribe” button on our YouTube channel. We will be posting video blogs as we learn and progress. Thanks for watching!

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Fencing with a Turtle

Hey everybody! It’s a beautiful fall day in South Carolina with highs in the upper sixties and a beautiful breeze. Yesterday was our sixth wedding anniversary and we celebrated by visiting a nearby town for lunch then celebrating the marriage of two of our friends at a great event. There were even fireworks!

Today we brought the dogs out to the property to install some more fence posts. The dogs had big fun in the creek and we got a good bit accomplished. We also found a turtle hanging around and a lot of remnants of beaver activity.

Now we are headed home to make some seven-bean soup and prepare for a busy work week ahead!

Prepping for Florence

The Carolinas have been preparing for Hurricane Florence for more than a week. She finally made it to Upstate SC yesterday…..kind of. Mostly she was indecisive and moved like molasses.

She is now just hovering like a helicopter parent, blanketing all of North Carolina and most of South Carolina. We are blessed and really just enjoying 72 degree weather, a lovely breeze, and some light rain.

Just to be safe, we went to the farm yesterday to put up some silt fence. More underbrushing was accomplished this last week on the land, so we were concerned that this storm might wash all the small pieces down the property.

We forgot a hammer/mallet so Mike had to use the blunt end of a hatchet to get the job done. We made quick work of it and slept easier last night.

Prayers to everyone who wasn’t as lucky as us. I’ve lived through some devastating hurricanes and know how traumatic they can be. May peace be with everyone as the Carolinas band together to support one another. ❤️

Next week, a post about traveling with woman’s best friend! Mike and Tessa (our lab) are staying home to work and put up more fencing while Jax (our puppy) and I head to Texas to visit family.

Stay tuned!

Clearing a fenceline

45193671-B641-40BC-8828-74DCB0E5CC3FF9688EE2-25E1-47D4-9146-A957E6CD1DE365BD8F69-28DC-4D1C-B520-4004B45CA594E634F3C7-A227-42DA-95FD-B4B9D1D10AA6C3D1AC65-CF4A-4545-8763-4B3F1EDDD97E0BF5EE0B-8D60-4811-84B9-50AA8F5314C607C063CA-B7B4-47CB-92D2-78E1100F3EBC2C04D25C-9D38-4C47-BF5D-66A020141A59Last weekend we moved a LOT of dirt! Mike rented an excavator to clean the future fence line. It was his first time operating this kind of equipment and he watched lots of how-to YouTube videos ahead of time.

This machine is amazing! It can knock down trees, pick up huge rocks, and smooth out a surface super well. As you view the pictures and videos below, bear in mind all of this was dense forest (like you see all around it) 48 hours ago.
Thankfully, Mike had some help this weekend with this big project. Our close friend Korey has a lot more experience than we do with heavy equipment and spent several hours each day knocking a lot of this out. Mike’s dad Joe Bob also came to support us, on hand to help and ensure everyone was being safe. These machines easily tip over and when you are messing with big trees, it’s always helpful to have an extra set of eyes. Many thanks to these guys for making this weekend so productive!
I’m also incredibly grateful for my mom-in-love for having us over for a yummy supper Saturday night, knowing we would be worn out from the day. Thoughtful gestures like this make my heart happy.
I also worked on killing some grass in the driveway (in a natural way) and on our compost!

 

Sun Tans and Sweet Cheeks

Hey ya’ll! It’s summer time which means we are busybusybusy with both of our careers, working on the farm, family vacations, grad school for me, and lots of visitors. Last weekend our daughter, son-in-love, grandson, and two grand-pups came to visit. Wow! What a fun weekend! Photos below. 🙂

It was a delightful weekend full of a lot of fun, some work on the farm, and hundreds of kisses on that sweet baby boy.  We spent time on the farm (thanks Alyson for the awesome Butterfly Bush transplants!) and also spent a good amount of time simply enjoying our sweet family.

We have many plans over the next couple of weeks farm-related. We will be meeting with builders, graders, horticulture experts, etc. to really get rolling on our dream. Every day is filled with countless conversations, brainstorming, Pinterest-pinning, note-taking, and audio-book listening. We are taking advice from everyone who will talk to us and we are beyond excited to learn what we don’t yet know.

Thanks for sticking with us as we learn, the adventure continues!

 

 

Getting Started with Compost

For years, I have cringed every time I have thrown away food scraps, paper towel and toilet paper rolls, leftover coffee grinds and tea leaves, etc. As we currently live in a condo until we move out to the farm, I’ve been unable to save all these valuable materials for our future orchards, berry bushes, and vegetable garden. Until now, that is! While our space is limited, we do have a chest freezer in addition to our fridge/freezer combo.
A couple of months ago I started placing all my food scraps into recycled ziploc bags and sticking them in the freezer. I also started a paper grocery bag full of “brown material” (paper, cardboard, etc.) and created a sign over the trash can to educate our family and visitors about what should go where. I now have an entire chest freezer full of food scraps and a big plastic tub of brown material. I can’t believe we have been throwing this stuff away all these years!
In addition to the garden/orchard compost, I have also collected all leftover tea and coffee and theirs leaves/grinds so we may gift their wonderfully acidic qualities to our blueberry bushes. I even have a friend who manages a teashop bringing me her leftovers!
My hope to is build my compost container system out of used, untreated pallets this weekend. I have found plans on my handy-dandy Pinterest to construct this system out of 9 pallets, some screws, and chicken wire. This three-container system will process the compost at it’s three stages of development. I can’t tell you how excited I am to watch my compost break down and create rich goodness for our garden and orchard!
Yesterday I went out to the farm to treat the blueberry bushes with the coffee/tea “potion” and check to see if there were any blackberries left. There weren’t any blackberries. I did find, however, that my corn and pumpkin that I randomly planted is growing strong!
Stay tuned for this weekend’s adventures…we’ve been mostly away from the farm for two weeks and we are itching to jump back in!

Planning a Homestead

Productive Down-Time

We are on vacation for a long weekend in the South Carolina Lowcountry with my side of the family. Momma rented a house at Isle of Palms for the family, plus a few of our significant others and friends, and we are having a great time! We have eaten great seafood, enjoyed the warm sunshine, and explored on our bikes all over the island. My brothers are thirteen and twenty-five and even thought I’m the “old” sister (per the thirteen year old), I have enjoyed our first true vacation together. Since  I zipped off to college when the youngest was eight months old, there are a variety of reasons this is our first trip together. I’m sure there will be more to come. 🙂

One of us is in our early teens, one in our mid-twenties, and one (me) in our early thirties! Despite, and maybe because, of our age differences, we lead different lives and appreciate each other even more every time we spend time together.  Below is a precious picture from this trip.

The Farm Homestead Cove
My 13 year old brother (Fitzhugh), me, Momma (Lauretta), and my 25 year old brother (Matthew).

 

Since we normally spend our weekends on the farm, we are feeling a little guilty about being away from our HUGE project. To make up for it, we have spent a lot of time planning over the last few days. I have created a state-of-the-art notebook (ok, it’s a five-subject notebook from Staples) divided into sections: Notes, Plans, Resources, Writing (this blog and more), and Records.

Our drive down to the lowcountry from the upstate is usually 3-4 hours, and we realized on Saturday that we have never driven this direction this time of the year. Apparently we chose a weekend when just about everyone from the Carolinas and surrounding states were also headed toward the South Carolina coast for vacation. The drive ended up being about six hours, so we had a LOT of time to talk and plan.

Planning a Self-Sustainable Garden

It is important to us to figure out how to make our vegetable garden and fruit orchard as self-sustainable as possible, avoiding using city water (cost of water) or even well water (cost of electricity for pump) as much as possible. Ideally, the cost of seeds and the initial fruit tree will be the only investment made on the front end, especially since I plan to learn to seed-save for future annual plantings. While we are committed to growing our own food, it’s hard to justify not j.  Weust buying organic food in the store if it costs the same or more.

Part of this sustainability is irrigation, so we are beginning to plan our rainwater roof-catchment in addition to the natural rainfall in our region.

Here are our calculations for potential rainwater collection from our home:

1,000 SQUARE FT ROOF X 1″ RAIN = 620 GALLONS GENERATED

Our area, Upstate South Carolina, gets about 51 inches of rain per year. We are currently thinking our roof surface area will be around 2,000 square feet, so we expect around 16,000 gallons of collectible water during the growing season.

We are designing the house very intentionally to allow the rainwater to be easily directed to the garden.  We’ve placed the home at the high point on the property, and designed the roof to maximize the catchment from the gutters.  We are grading the meadow and orchard to create permaculture swells in the land to catch, store, and distribute the water off the meadow in a natural way.  We have also considered a ram pump coming up from the creek for supplemental water, but we aren’t sure yet if we have enough of a “fall” in grade on the creek to accomplish this.

To be completely honest, we have no idea how much water we will need to water our garden and orchard. We plan on enough of a garden to feed us and our family, plus water for goats, ducks, sheep, chickens, rabbits, pigs, etc. So we are counting on capturing as much water as possible to keep everyone happy and healthy!

We did a lot of other planning including meeting with experts, renting or buying equipment, getting fencing up before hunting season, and much more. On Wednesday we head back home and jump right back in to the work!