Gettin' Those Ducks in a Row, Popular

Deciding How to Grow

Though we have dreamed of this hobby farm for years, and each grown up on a farm ourselves, there was (and is) still much to learn. As soon as I knew we would be able to move home I started adding homesteading books and equipment to my Amazon WishList. Telling anyone for any occasion that THAT is what I wanted.

I moved home before my husband (as my job was the one that allowed us to move) so he could finish out his last deployment for the Air Force and the end of his contract. While living in my childhood home, without my husband, and with my parents I slowly acquired book by book. It filled my time while we were apart and helped me to look forward and not dwell in the present.

I took notes as I read and applied my new found knowledge with what my parents already had established. I got excited and shared my learnings with my coworkers, who also displayed a certain amount of excitement for this homestead I hoped to one day achieve. Additionally, Eliott and I would discuss options and our individual intentions for this future hobby farm as we Skyped each day. Thus our dream grew.

The first, and most influential, book I read on the topic was Welcome to the Farm, by Shaye Elliott; I’m pretty sure that this woman is my spirit animal. Her words leap off the page and are the product of personal experience. She’s funny, inspirational and real- a person whom I’d love to be friends with. As a result, her book is a quick and easy read that provides so much knowledge about how to grow and sustain a small farm or homestead with love, care and humane practices. Not to mention that the way she describes her farm life is intoxicating, even when she discusses the difficulties and hardships. This is my #1 recommended read.

Next, I immersed myself in The Backyard Homestead. A more dense wealth of knowledge, this book has been a great supplement to the real-life-experience information provided by my prior reading. It adds some helpful information on gathering from the wild as well, which is great information for where we live. In addition, this book gives me multitudes of diagrams for an entire homestead based on acreage, for vegetable gardens and even some diagrams for building projects! In fact, I intend to use said diagrams to plan the layout of our hobby farm.

I quickly realized, as I traversed the above pages, that I needed one place to list all the items that needed to be done throughout the year; a checklist of sorts. Thus, I found The Backyard Homestead Seasonal Planner, a fantastic source for the To-Dos suggested to be done in the early, mid, and end portions of each season. It even have a description of how each portion of a given season is differentiated from another. I was especially tickled when I found this book had blank lines for each section of the “To-Do” Lists for me to write in things that may apply to me that the book doesn’t have covered. Ah-mazing.

Though I have not deigned to delve far into this particular book yet, we have also purchased The Homestead Planner and Logbook for the potential business aspect of our hobby farm, as well as the nitty gritty of farm maintenance. This particular book comes equipped with worksheets, envelopes and pockets for all those receipts and all that other important stuff. Super duper handy.

The last book I read on homesteading, I honestly haven’t even finished. I got slightly over halfway before I took an extended break from it (I do plan on finishing as it DOES have helpful information). The Do-It-Yourself Homestead was a VERY dense compilation of what the author described as 4 different levels of homesteading. Super great for someone who is a beginner and has no idea where they would like to start or what they even might like to do. I simply found it slightly tedious to sift through the information for information that applied to me in the first couple chapters. It is, however, organized into easily identifiable sections of what are essentially “haven’t started yet,” “beginner,” “intermediate,” and “advanced” homesteading within each chapter. It also provides homework in the form of “action items” at the end of each chapter with suggested readings for further information on the topics covered. For me, this was my favorite aspect of this book as it has given me future reading material on fermented foods, cheesemaking and so much more!

Thus far I’ve only read one book on a specific topic… The Big Book of Kombucha, which you see in the photo above… but that’s a blog post for another day.

The above books have all been influential in the decisions we have made growing our Hobby Farm. Chickens, a herb garden (shown above) and an expanded vegetable garden came last year. This year we have expanded with two bee hives and are considering the addition of a bottle milk calf (I already have her name picked out) and/Or a feeder pig.

Though I have not read these yet, the books on my list that I already own are:

-The Backyard Homestead Guide to Raising Farm Animals 

-The Woodland Homestead

-The Backyard Homestead Building Projects

I hope these are helpful for you as you start to grow your homestead or hobby farm. If this isn’t something you plan to do full scale I still highly recommend Welcome to the Farm, if only purely for entertainment, or The Do-It-Yourself Homestead for ways you can produce some of your own food on a small scale from an apartment or rented home.

Fur, Feathers, Fluff and Fuzz, Popular

Crazy Bee Lady

6CFCAB94-6BD9-46F7-BA5B-CA1B4559F550Well, I definitely didn’t expect it to be so soon after we got bees that we’d have our first bee incident. Nor did I expect to have anything new to write in this blog the very day after I started it.

Yet, here we are.

We had planned a short weekend trip to my in-laws house, for which we had to leave first thing this morning. Since I work 10 hour days Tuesday through Thursday, I’d been preparing all last weekend and nightly through the week. My bag was packed Monday, our food was prepped, our weekly grocery list for the following week had been made and we had a game plan for animal care.

That is we HAD a game plan until 10:30 last night when we realized we had no sugar. Why is this problematic, you ask? Well the really important main ingredient for the sugar water syrup we were instructed to feed our newly acquired bees on Day 3 (today is Day 3) just happens to be, you guessed it, sugar. Of course, this apparently can’t be any old type of sugar… we checked. Our Midwestern Beekeepers Association Beginning Beekeeping Manual specifically states that you cannot use:

-Powdered Sugar

-Karo Syrup


-Store Bought Honey

-Brown Sugar

-“Other” sweeteners

Great… besides 1 1/2 cups of the white stuff… that’s all we had.

*Side Note… Did I mention that we needed 2 gallons of 1:1 sugar water? Yea, 1 1/2 Cups ain’t gonna cut it.*

Except…. hey we had Raw Sugar for our kombucha… maybe we could use that? Nope, think again. Apparently (from my frantic internet research) the particulates in Raw Sugar can actually give the bees dysentery. So unless we sadistically wanted to come home to two sick hives, that was a hard pass.

So I googled open stores.

We live out in the boonies people. It was 10:30 pm, and we had to be up at 4:30 am today to get everything done before we left as it was. The closest open store was 30 minutes away. So, I googled the closest convenience store. Closed, but happened to open at 5 am. Great, it’s only a 7 minute drive, that would work.

So at 4:50 am this morning I was in my SUV and on my way to the convenience store. I got there right at 5 and saw a head bobbing between aisles… yesssss. I get out of the car and go to open the door… Nope. Locked. So I got back in the car and called. They didn’t open until 5:30. Google lied.

Welp, I had things to do and wasn’t going to sit there for a half hour, so I turned around. I got home, changed into my muck boots ran food and water down to our chickens, ran back in the house, changed back into my prior attire, got back in the car, drove back to the gas station and arrived at 5:31. Success. I walked in and grabbed the last 2 sacks of sugar they had.

It wasn’t until I was on my way up to the counter with my 8 lbs of white sugar that I realized this lady is probably wondering what on earth I’m doin’ here at 5:30 in the morning buying nothing but sugar, in my sweats and moccasins. No gas, no breakfast, no coffee or other beverage, just all the sugar they had in stock.

Is she a local looney?

Nope, just your local crazy bee lady.