Our family's journey to the heart of a handmade life

Author: Oxridge Farm

Homestead Goals 2017

Homestead Goals 2017

This seems like a lot. And it is. I am definitely two parts idealist to one part realist (and that one part rests more in my husband than me). But last year a lot got pushed aside to make way for all the new animals […]

Year in Review- Homestead Goals 2016

Year in Review- Homestead Goals 2016

2016 was intense, a proverbial roller coaster. Unbelievable highs and ball-your-eyes-out lows. A lot happened purely based on circumstances out of our hands, and some things were the result of inadequate preparation. I actually have 2 more posts following this one, a more in-depth analysis of the year […]

Our Vision

Our Vision

This began as a quick Instagram post for Boots and Hooves Homestead’s #augusthomesteading challenge. But as I entered in my THIRD paragraph, I thought it might work better as a blog post.

Watch out, I’m ’bout to get all wordy and melodramatic on you guys…

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While I know exactly why we are doing this homesteading gig, I have never really sat down to consider our vision. The whys are so practical and, many times, serve mostly to justify the cost.  We want a cow because we want raw milk. We got pigs because pastured pork is expensive, and we believe we can raise it cheaper in the long run. We garden because it reduces our trips to the grocery store, is healthier, and, if we save seeds, WAY cheaper. The whys are boring and predictable.

But our vision? That’s where we get lofty, and really work out our purpose here on this earth.

Our vision is one of freedom, security, and sustainability.

Freedom from the constraints of a consumerist society, where you make money just to spend it, and the focus is on things, convenience, instant gratification, bigger, better, newer, faster. A society where you walk over others just to get the bottom line, as long as your closet is full and your car is shiny and your kids have the loudest toys.

Freedom from the idea that life revolves around a 9-5 job at some building with recirculated air and fluorescent lights and a water cooler.  We want freedom from the status quo, which involves eating food that someone else grows, wearing clothes that someone else sews, having your children taught by a stranger. What we do is considered weird, on the fringe, people can’t even imagine how we live like this. And I think that is so sad. We want to break free of those modern expectations. We want to be free to live as God intended, on His land, utilizing His creatures that were created for us.

our vision

In our vision, security means the ability to live autonomously regardless of the state of the society surrounding us. It has become a dirty word nowadays, but to be perfectly honest, homesteading is the grandest form of prepping that anyone can do. It’s more than stockpiling boxes of pasta and buckets of beans (which is still commendable!).

Homesteading is cultivating a sustainable ecosystem in your own backyard!

We are preparing for an uncertain future, yes, but we also want to be independent for the sake of independence (see freedom above). No trips to the grocery store where we are bombarded by advertisements, images of half-naked women, artificial food created in a factory halfway around the world by people paid less than one item costs us to buy. To me, grocery shopping at major chains is feeding the very monster we hold accountable for society’s health woes: big agriculture, and mega corporations like Cargill, Monsanto, and Tyson. Most grocery store food is made by just a handful of these “evil empires,” and I despise being forced to support them.

Security means knowing our children will forever have a sanctuary, a place of peace and prayer. We are forming their memories, which is in turn forming them as adults. Our land will fill their hearts with happiness, as they remember milking Georgia, seeing the baby chick hatch out of her shell, the pigs following Papa like puppies. Our children will always have access to the healthiest food we can provide, and in turn, will also have the ability to grow it themselves one day. We are giving them the foundation to a sustainable life, so perhaps one day they can give their own children a safe haven.

our vision2

Sustainability. This is the very root of our vision, as without it, the other trees cannot stand. We want a full circle farm, where everything depends on everything else, and everyone benefits. Bees, pigs, cows, ducks, chickens, a garden. They are all inextricably linked, and though they technically can stand alone, all our lives are made so much better with the connection. Sustainable living is ultimately about taking that final leap out of modern society, with its plastic and microwavable convenience and purposeless entertainment. Every dollar, every grain of wheat, every weed pulled from the garden, is seen as useful. There is hardly any waste in our ideal farm future. It can all filter around the circle, helping feed someone, house someone, build something.

There it is, friends. Lofty and wordy and honest. Our vision is grand, the work is back-breaking, but the process is our purpose and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

What is your vision? Share below, or link to your Instagram if you are following the #augusthomesteading challenge!

Why We Homestead

Why We Homestead

This began as a quick Instagram post for Boots and Hooves Homestead’s #augusthomesteading challenge. But as I entered in my THIRD paragraph, I thought it might work better as a blog post. Watch out, I’m ’bout to get all wordy and melodramatic on you guys… […]

Life on the Farm

Life on the Farm

Hello friends! I wanted to stop in and let you know about all the happenings here on the homestead. Grab a cup of coffee and let’s chat! First and most important, most oh-my-goodness-no-way-yes-way-whaaaaat is… ::drum roll, please:: WE ARE GETTING A COW! A real live […]

Homestead Goals for 2016

Homestead Goals for 2016

We purchased our homestead in the autumn of 2014. We had massive plans for 2015, figuring we’d be all settled and raring to go by spring. But a new house, especially a first winter in a big old (like, built in 1850 old) farmhouse, with limited funds and two small children makes settling difficult (one of which was born a mere month before the big move. Yes, we got our house ready for the market, sold it, bought another one and moved within three months, and our littlest lady was born right smack in the middle of it all. During her labor, we didn’t even know if we would have a place to live, as it was one week until closing on our old house and we had yet to find a new one to move into. Good times.)

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Spring came and went with not much to show for it. We did get bees! And some more chickens! But that’s about it. No garden, no cow, no pigs, and not many check marks on our little goal list.

2016 is going to be our year. If we do nothing else, we will at least get our cow. Because that it, afterall, the point of all this.

Poultry

  • Fix fencing in the run
  • Move green coop to be for ducks? Guinea hens? Geese? Broody coop?
  • Buy bulk feed from local farm, to eliminate our reliance on Tractor Supply

Cow

  • Frost seed the pasture with clover
  • Purchase and set up electric fencing for paddocks (3-4 paddocks)
  • Prepare the barn: sweep and dust, close up any drafts, put up gates from door to outside for easier moving
  • Purchase general supplies and a couple bales of hay (enough to last until the pasture is ready)
  • Purchase the dairy cow, ideally a Jersey or Guernsey

Pigs

  • Build the shelter from salvaged materials (second floor of barn, Craigslist)
  • Set up electric fencing at tree line, either for movable paddocks or fence in whole area
  • Gather supplies (container for water, buckets to carry scraps from the kitchen, medical supplies)
  • Purchase 2 heratige breed feeder pigs

Garden

  • Grow 80% of our produce, and try to attain the remaining 20% from local farms
    • We will be outsourcing potatoes, sweet potatoes, garlic, and assorted non-necessities, like asparagus (too short of a growing season to justify the space) and corn.
  • Properly mulch the garden next autumn

General

  • Pull out hostas- we have dozens surrounding our house. I want to pull them up and plant lavender, catmint, and other more beneficial plants
  • Clear out area around the apple trees to make it more accessible in the fall
  • Build 2 more hives and purchase bees
  • Prune back roses
  • Trim bushes
  • Finish stacking leftover wood from last winter so it can dry by next winter
  • Create a proper compost pile
  • Rain catch system for chickens, pigs, and garden
  • Get more carboys so we can do bigger batches of mead

 

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Do you have specific goals for 2016? Do you write them down each year? Tell us below!

From the ashes of disaster grow the roses of success

From the ashes of disaster grow the roses of success

When we began this homesteading journey a few years back, we knew failure was an accepted part of the process. Trial and error..and error..and error. A success deserves only cautious recognition, a slow motion high five with breath held tightly, always an eye on the […]

Honey bees have arrived!

Honey bees have arrived!

We have bees!!! Three pounds of them, or approximately 10,000 bees. They are Russian, Carniolan and Italian hybrids raised in natural small cell comb. So says the husband, who is entirely in charge of these little guys. I had a hard time staying the same […]

The state of things

The state of things


Things are picking up around here.

We have a beehive! Bees are arriving in early May!

Two baby chicks sleeping in their food bowl. They did this regularly.
 
There are 14 chicks in our front porch. 10 are one month old, 4 are one week old.
 
We lost Rizzo over the winter. She was one of what we called the Old Guard, the first 6 chickens we bought back in 2011. We also lost 5 chicks from the first new batch, and 1 from the second, which was the hardest. I tried desperately to keep her alive- giving her water with a little dropper, fortified with trace minerals and a bit of raw apple cider vinegar. She drank reluctantly, and became increasingly lethargic. I then switched to feeding her a bit of milk kefir, hoping to give her some much needed calories. But I guess it wasn’t enough, and she died. Homesteading is hard, man. Not for the faint of heart.
 
I started a bunch of seeds last weekend, and many have already sprouted. However, I somehow managed to lose my heat mat and haven’t been able to buy a new one yet, so I fear many of the more finicky seeds won’t germinate (cucumbers, tomatos, and peppers). I have to see if I have enough time to try starting them again (with a mat) or if it’s too late and I should just purchase transplants in May. The growing season is quite short up here in Maine, so if you don’t start early, you lose. I wonder what homesteaders did back in the day, before the creation of heat mats and grow lights and the internet, when you simply saved your seed from last year and started them in a sunny window. Did they have trouble with things like tomatoes and cucumbers if it wasn’t warm enough? Or has the internet led us to believe (like so much) that things are far more complicated than they really are?
This weekend, we will have a brand new lawn tractor, 210 cubic feet of soil, and 90 concrete blocks. So, weather permitting, this weekend we will finally be able to mow the land, mulch the leaves, start our compost pile, build the raised beds and plant the spring garden (lettuce, peas, carrots, kale, cabbage, radish, and probably other things that I can’t remember right now). Most people relax on the weekend, but that’s our busiest time! 
 
We were totally going to get a dairy cow this year, but figured it would be piling waaaay too much on our plates. So we’re sticking with the huge garden, bees, extra laying hens and 50 meat birds. Next year, dairy cow and pigs. This year, trying to figure it all out and not let anything else die.
 
I’m still adjusting to life with two littles and a big house. To say I haven’t found my rhythm yet is a massive understatement; I don’t even know what song I’m playing anymore. Each day is a new chance to flounder and stress out, to raise my voice too much and leave another project unfinished. I’ll get it, I know. I keep writing my lists, planning things that will never get done, but hey, I tried! I sometimes look back on the day and wonder what on earth I accomplished, what exactly prevented me from doing what I needed to? Then I remember that I kept two little humans alive and (usually) happy. The house is clean, just a bit cluttered. We ate real food that didn’t come from a box, even if it was just scrambled eggs and an unseemly amount of cashews. Everything else is secondary, everything else has time. Childhood is fleeting. 

The last of the snow still holding on for dear life.
If you are interested in our little journey and what’s happening in my kitchen, make sure to follow me on Instagram. And put your email address in that little white box at the top of this page, so you will get my new posts via email. And comment! Facebook is totally lame and my posts hardly reach anyone anymore, so the conversation needs to move here.
Do you homestead? What are your spring plans? 
Spoon

Spoon

Valentine’s Day isn’t really my thing. They say you either love it or hate it, but I am indifferent. It’s a nice excuse to make a fancy dinner or to partake in overpriced chocolates, but my husband and I don’t typically make a big deal […]