Before we moved to the Twelve Acres back in August we lived in Fremont, a little town 15 miles south of here. We had neighbors on all four sides of us and we lived on a tiny city lot. No peace, no privacy, no sense of contentment whatsoever. We could look out our living room window and watch the people across the street sell drugs out of their house. We HATED living in Fremont with a passion. So you can imagine how peaceful life is out here in the boondocks. Our only neighbor is my cousin and her family. There is no crime here...period.
When we lived in Fremont I talked to Jim about homesteading. I wanted to have a few chickens and some rabbits in the backyard. But it just wasn't feasible for us. Our neighbors were jerks and it would have been impossible to keep the peace with them having a snit over some birds and bunnies in our yard. Things are vastly and hugely different now, though. Now I can raise all the critters I can feed and no one can stop me. The freedom I feel out here is AWESOME. Homesteading is about taking tiny steps toward freedom and self-reliance.
All anyone ever talks about anymore is how expensive things are--from gas to groceries. I've had enough! It's time to start homesteading and producing some of our own food. I can't justify spending $2.59 for a carton of bland factory-made chicken eggs when I know I can produce a dozen free-range chicken eggs for $1.29. Not only that, I can eat some of the chickens too, which is the whole point of homesteading: raise more of your own food and stop relying on the grocery store as much. Any extra eggs will be sold for $1.75 a dozen. It is my hope that the chickens will pay for their own feed.
When I got home this morning I immediately got online and ordered 9 raspberry starts (3 each of yellow, black and red), 5 asparagus plants and 3 blueberry bushes. These perennial plants only have to be planted once and I can count on them to produce more each year. I can fertilize them with aged chicken manure and bedding cleaned out of the coop. They can be incorporated into the landscaping around the house, or better yet, in the windbreak. Nine raspberry bushes would fit nicely into a particular empty area I've got in mind. I would also like to plant a small "postage stamp" orchard in the yard but the area I want to use is currently occupied by the leach bed. Here's hoping the township will install sewers in the near future! In the meantime, I can pick dropped apples in the orchards, free of charge.
After the chickens are established and producing we plan to install three large rabbit hutches so that I can begin raising meat rabbits. I raised rabbits on the Twelve Acres when I was growing up and involved in 4-H, so I know I can do it again. There's nothing to rabbits, really. They're a great source of inexpensive and nutritious meat and the breeders can be treated as pets, so why not?
I can't forget the pond. There are hundreds of blue gill and large mouth bass for the taking as well as the recently stocked yellow perch, red-ear sunfish and channel cats that were added last fall. This source of delicious protein is absolutely FREE for us. Jim and the boys caught lots of blue gill and bass last year and at the end of the summer we had a wonderful fish fry! YUM-O! Jim is anxious to get out there and start fishing again. I told him if they catch all the fish they can, I will gladly fry them up for a feast.
We are installing a wood burning stove this year to save on heating costs. I'm also going to put a collapsible clothes line behind the shop so that I can leave the dryer off during the warm months and let nature dry the clothes instead. After forking over $529 for propane last month, you can be sure I am determined to use far less! How do families making minimum wage survive in this horrible economy?
Almost everyone I know is already a gardener or is putting in a garden this year. With all this land around me, I'd be foolish not to use it. I cannot allow myself to take the Twelve Acres for granted. Not only is it my childhood home (and it's a dream come true to be living here once again), but it's the perfect place for us to provide more for ourselves so that we can rely less on the grocery store. I thank God above every day for being able to grow old out here on my family property. I feel sorry for folks who live in tiny apartments in big cities and never know the freedom of running barefoot in a huge lawn, swimming in a large farm pond, or resting their weary bones under the shade of an ancient tree. How truly blessed I am!