The weather is weird for November; I want to close the windows not because it’s cold but because I want to turn on the AC. The tomato plants are producing better right now than they did all the way through the conventional tomato season. The winter squash are growing fine, but I worry that the lack of chill in the air might make them not as sweet. The change in daylight hours has made the chickens lazy; they are laying less. This is a seasonal thing, it happens every year when it gets darker earlier, and the only way to combat that is to put a light in the coop. We are currently discussing it. So what better way to make ourselves feel good about our progress (or make us feel guilty about our lack thereof) than to sit and listen to the Mother Earth News online Homesteading Summit? We couldn’t think of one either. As we sit and listen to presentations by legends like Joel Salatin and John Kohler, and so many others, we are finding ourselves in each of the stories about how things didn’t always go well, and what it taught them. We are laughing along with the woman who struggled with fencing to keep her goats in at the same time that we are figuring out poultry fencing. We are learning what happened to our original tomato harvest and why the tomatoes didn’t make much fruit while listening to a guy talk about compost. This has genuinely been a good couple of days of presentations to listen to. And it makes it easier to understand in a practical way instead of a theoretical way as we are in many of the situations being discussed right now. Instead of taking notes and thinking about how this will change the way we do things a few months down the road, we are putting the techniques in place now, and hoping to see results in the coming year.
The thing about this whole homesteading thing is, even if you’ve done it for years, there is always something new to learn. And the moment you think you know everything, your homestead or your farm or your garden will find a way to prove you wrong. So far we have been lucky; we haven’t had any major catastrophes take out our entire flock of chickens, or decimate the garden. But we also have had some hard lessons learned. For one thing, putting a bleeding chicken in the bathroom so you can clean her up and try to save her comb is a bad idea. Thankfully we were planning on redoing that bathroom anyway. But in all seriousness, we have frequently had something throw a kink in our plans and drive us off the road we had plotted for the day, week or even month. We planned to finish securing the fencing on the duck yard yesterday; instead we spend a lot of time in the kitchen processing a mean rooster. Had he not attacked me, the duck yard might be crossed off the to do list. As it is, we are hoping to finish up tomorrow. Then it’s back to work on the chicken yard expansion, starting the pig yard, we still have floors that need to be put down in two bedrooms, the garden to prep for next year, trees to cut down and cut up, and the list goes on. But as they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is a homestead. I’m going to put another load of laundry in and turn on another presentation.