Once Upon a Farm Homestead Happenings

TheFatBlueCat

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Hello all,

I am a regular over at Back Yard Chickens, where I have a flock thread. I though I'd start a journal here where I can share things that are less chicken focused. I do talk about gardening on BYC but I do try to keep it chicken focused, since that's what the forum is about! I have a mini (or micro!) homestead on 1/3 acre. I live at the rural edge of a small town, and the back of my property is bordered by acres and acres of commercial apple orchards. I'm a rural kid born and raised, and have had a multitude of animals over the years. Currently I only have a chicken flock due to space and time constraints. In the past, I have had dairy goats, cattle, a milk cow, sheep, and many horses and ponies.

I've been much more active in growing our own food over the past 5 years or so. When I was younger, gardening didn't interest me as much, I wanted to be out with my animals. Now I really enjoy the full process of all the systems that go into growing our own food. I operate on permaculture principles for want of a better term. If you would like to meet me 'in-person' I have a youtube channel where I create helpful (hopefully!) videos about a range of homesteading topics.

My Channel:
Once Upon a Farm NZ

The Great Question and Answer List:

1. What state/province/country are you in and what is your climate like?

I live in New Zealand, in the Tasman region.

2. How many people are in your family? Marital status?

Married with one child (age 11)

3. How would you define self sufficiency?


For me, self sufficiency is more about community sufficiency. I don't try to do everything myself (That would be impossible!), but I do try where possible to get what we need from the local community. Failing that I try to get it from within my country, before I look outside the country.

4. What would you do with your spare time if you had any resources you needed?


I'm not really sure what 'spare time' is when you are homesteading! If I had all the resources I needed I would just do more of what I already do, with more animal species, more crops, larger volumes etc. Spare time is a slow weekend morning enjoying a cup of tea after the chickens are fed, without having to jump up and get into the next task.

5. Have you ever built a house , or other types of building? Do you want to?


Only built chicken coops and garden beds.

6. Can you weld? Steel, aluminum, MiG, TiG, stick, Oxy-Acet?


No I cannot.

7. Who or what inspired you to become more self sufficient?


I've always been this way to a certain extent, it was how I was raised.

8 Cloth or paper?


If we are talking about toilet paper, then paper for sure!

9. In what ways are you self sufficient now and in what ways would you like to learn more?


We are self sufficient in 100% of summer produce and 50% of winter produce. I don't grow a lot of root crops (yet) as they can use up quite a bit of space and they tend to be pretty cheap to buy, so it doesn't seem like a good use of time and space. I produce all of our own eggs and would produce all of our own chicken meat if I actually butchered my cockerels instead of giving them to other people to eat. I don't grow all our own chicken feed, so, it depends on the definition! I have some skill with herbs and herbal medicine, can sew, cook, preserve etc etc.

10. In what way(s) will you never choose to become self sufficient?


I'm not interested in living off grid, or not having toilet paper. I like the idea of having alternative energy but if I had it I still would stay on the grid.

11. Are you interested in stocking up for future needs?


Yes, and I do to a certain extent. Mostly that is in the preservation of summer produce for winter use.

12. Where do you end up when you sink into yourself, away from the outside world?


In my garden.

13. Can you drive a farm tractor or a semi?


I can drive a tractor.

14. Do you make crafts or useful items? Would you want to teach others how to do these?


I can but I don't generally. I make my own salve and moisturizer. I repair clothing, but don't sew complete clothing.

15. Can you have legally livestock where you are at? Do you have any? What kinds?


Yes I live in a rural zone but I don't have the space for anything really more than chickens. My current flock is 22, but that changes constantly as chicks are born, pullet sold and cockerels are eaten.

16. Can you operate a lathe? Metal, wood?


No

17. Do you like to garden? If so, what do you enjoy growing?


I have a large garden. I enjoy growing everything, I have fruit and nut trees, vegetables, berries etc etc.

18. Do you fish? Bait or explosives?


Not often, and bait only. Explosives could be a fun experience though!

19. How much space/land do you have or rent? City? Country?


In the country, 1/3 acre

20. Are you a Novice, Technician, General, Advanced? ARRL?


Not sure entirely what the question is asking but in a lot of aspects I am quite capable and highly skilled. In other aspects (like carpentry) I am very much a novice.

21. What is your self sufficient specialty? Or what one would you like to learn?


Gardening and chickens I would like to learn how to farm with horses, as I have a large amount of skill and experience with horses and it would be nice to bring the two skills together.

22. If you could create a degree and curriculum, what would you major in and what classes would you take?


Well I would rather serve an apprenticeship, working practically with people to teach me. But a degree, I would major in integrated systems as related to agriculture and the environment.

23. Do you do wood work? framing, finish, cabinet?


Badly and only when I have to.

24. Are you interested in herbal medicine?


Yes, my mother was quite her herbal woman and she taught me.

25. If you could live any place you chose, where would it be?


Right where I am - but maybe a few kilometers down the road with more land.

26. Do you use a wood stove for heating or cooking?


Yes for heating the house. Not for cooking.

27. What would your ideal super hero/villain be?


I really haven't thought about that before! Somebody who had the super power to show humanity that we really all want the same things at the base level, and we can all work together to get them.

28. Are your family or friends also interested in self sufficiency?


Some are. Nobody thinks I'm crazy! (Well at least they haven't said so to my face).

29. Do you like to cook? Are you interested in whole foods and natural foods? raw milk? farm fresh eggs?


I cook pretty much everything we eat from scratch. I can't say I enjoy it, but I like the way it tastes when I'm done. I buy milk from a local dairy, and have my own eggs.

30. What was your MOS?


I'm unsure what this question is asking.

31. Do you forage or hunt for part of your food needs?


I do forage a bit, but we don't hunt.

32. What skills do you have that help you be more self sufficient?


I have skills with livestock, poultry, gardening, orcharding, preserving, cooking, sewing (basic), animal nutrition, human nutrition.

33. In which fictional universe would you most like to live?


Star Trek

34. Do you have solar panels? Plans to use solar energy?


Not currently but maybe in the future. The electricity I use in the South Island of New Zealand is all hydro, so if I was going to have solar it would only be as a backup to the grid or to save money.

35 What is the mass/weight ratio of a European swallow carrying a coconut from the tropics to England?


I assume the swallow would be dead if she tried it because this seems like an impossible task.

36. Have you ever lived completely off grid? Would you like to?


I have. I don't to.

37. In what do you trust?


I trust in the turning of the seasons, that spring is coming, and winter will bring me rest.

38. Do you make things yourself to save money?


Yes, not always. It's a time/money equation. When I have the time, I DIY, when I have the money I usually don't have the time, so I buy.

39. Has trying to be more self-sufficient changed your attitude or habits about money/spending?


Not significantly, I was raised to be frugal and I remain fairly frugal. I am happy to pay good money for good quality, and often spend more to buy a well made item that will last.


Phew that is a long list! I would love to hear from you all what you are up to, and I am super happy to answer any questions you have about me and my little corner of the world.
 

TheFatBlueCat

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Well, it's been a little bit of a lazy week for me, my husband had an unexpected opportunity to take some time off work. I've been enjoying his company! I have been trying to get on top of tasks to complete before spring arrives. I've almost finished pruning, and I'm halfway through breaking up my alpine strawberry plants into many more plants. I've got some out in the garden under a cloche and some repotted into a growbag in the greenhouse. And of course, I've been adding calcium and fertiliser to my resting beds and mulching them up ready for spring planting. The chickens do a great job clearing them out in the autumn and keeping them weed free over the winter. I do however have to shoo them out at some point so the soil is ready for plants to go in. I always get a bit trigger happy and plant out too early, but this year I have quite a few cloches so I think I will get away with it!

I have been working away at my little homestead now for about 5 years, each year I produce more, and learn more! It's really astonishing how little changes and additions add up over time into something much bigger. I've lived here on the property for much longer than 5 years, but I just wasn't that interested in gardening in my younger years. Now I find it an essential part of living life.

The garden cloches I am using this year:

20230719_155211.jpg


Garden bed mulching with 'help' - I use linseed straw and the flock like gobbling up any stray seeds they can find.

20230704_141805.jpg


Alpine strawberries repotted into the greenhouse - also in the garden but these ones will get going faster. I started them from seed a year ago, they are very vigorous I have already split them and repotted them once before:

20230725_134845.jpg
 

TheFatBlueCat

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Welcome to SS. It looks like you have a good handle on growing a lot of the food y’all eat.
Thanks so much for you welcome, I'm glad you stopped by! I see you have sheep, what kind have you got? I'd like some sheep again in the future, I've been toying with the idea of dairy sheep.
 

flowerbug

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...
Phew that is a long list! I would love to hear from you all what you are up to, and I am super happy to answer any questions you have about me and my little corner of the world.

welcome to SS from mid-Michigan USoA. :) sounds like you have a lot of experience and are doing just fine. :)
 

The Porch

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good morning, here, 1am at your house,
I am glad you are here, it is a great sufficient family here.
It looks like you got a start on your spring. I feel its never to early to work outside.
 

TheFatBlueCat

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welcome to SS from mid-Michigan USoA. :) sounds like you have a lot of experience and are doing just fine. :)
Thanks for the welcome, I wouldn't say I'm any kind of expert, I know quite a bit about a small number of things, and a small amount about a lot! Haha, I imagine everyone is the same and that is why communities are so important.
 

TheFatBlueCat

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I raise Katahdin hair sheep. They are low maintenance and easy to care for.
Oh how cool, I haven't actually heard of them before, I don't think we have them here in New Zealand, of if we do they are very rare. I have looked into the damara sheep, and I have a colleague who has a small flock of awasi sheep. She has had quite a bit of trouble with the awasi though, I don't think they suit our climate very well! The dorper sheep is quite popular here as it sheds, but isn't a true hair sheep I don't think. I've only ever had regular sorts of sheep, and only as weaner lambs I raised for meat.
 

TheFatBlueCat

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good morning, here, 1am at your house,
I am glad you are here, it is a great sufficient family here.
It looks like you got a start on your spring. I feel its never to early to work outside.

I am glad to be here! I adore being outside, I try to spend most of my time out of the house and always have done. I'm sure it's not doing any favours to my skin but such is the price for happiness. The sun here in NZ is pretty brutal, the UV is extreme. I wear a hat pretty much all year and sunscreen for most of the year. Visitors to the country always get a shock at how fast they get sunburned (usually in less than 10 minutes).
 
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