Monday, October 28, 2013

Chicken Coop

I've paid for the coop and am making payments towards the delivery charge. Should have it paid off next month and then the coop will be here!!! I'm not getting my chickens until spring because I've never had chickens before and would like to get some experience with them before I have them over a winter.  I'll probably put the coop in the garage until spring to keep it safe and pretty.

(image from Wesphalia Trading Company facebook page)
It's from Westphalia Trading Company in Westphalia, MO (about 2 hours or so away). He made it especially for me. Since I'm going to have just three banty hens, he made it smaller than usual.  He was able to put wheels on it and the yellow rope is to pull it around the yard.  Usually the ones he makes are larger and don't have wheels as people move them around with ATV's or tractors. I don't have either and have some sloping in my yard so I needed something I could move on my own.

(image from
This is what my hens will look like, basically. I'm getting them from a friend who has been raising and showing chickens for years.

(image from
The chicken on the left is a regular sized chicken and the one on the right is a bantam breed.

(I forgot to write down where I got this picture from, sorry!  Trying to find it again but it's really hard - almost impossible - to find one lone picture again)
Bantam hens are smaller than the usual hen people know so they lay much smaller eggs.  I like this as I shouldn't have as much trouble using up the eggs on my own.  I think it take at least two bantam eggs to equal a regular egg when it comes to cooking and baking.  I'm sure I can find people to take/buy extra eggs.  I'm not planning on rooster anytime soon so I won't have any chicks.

The plan is to have the hens live in the portable coop and move the coop around the yard about once a week.  This will allow them to dig up and eat bugs plus fertilize the ground they are on.  When it's time to prep the garden, they will be enclosed in there to root around for bugs and things.

(image from
My set up won't look like this but it will give you an idea. In fall, when the garden is spent and everything is harvested, the chickens will dig it up looking for bugs and will fertilize it. Then the winter crop of clover (or whatever is needed) will be planted. In spring, when that has died back, the chickens will dig it up (working it back into the soil) and will fertilize again.

My garden will have to be fenced off to keep the cats out of it - they would use it as a litter box - not to mention deer and rabbits and whatever.  In all likelihood, I will end up getting 10' high kennel panels as the fencing because the ground is so damn rocky here.  For example, I planted a single mum and in order to make the hole big enough around and deep enough, I dug up just over 28 lbs of rock. Yeah, 28 lbs of rock.  Most of it was one rock in particular.

My garden will likely be a combination of tilled earth with good dirt and compost/manure added to it.  And it will be at the bottom of a slight slope so inside the fence, I will have to have some kind of border that will keep water from washing everything away.

I'm checking out craigslist as often as I can, hoping I will find good deals on kennel panels and good dirt, etc etc.  Right now I'm finding lots of listings for livestock of all kind - peacocks and alpacas, horses and pigs, goats and chickens.  Farmers are culling/thinning their herds so they have fewer to feed over winter.  And I'm wanting some of the livestock but don't have any shelter or fencing for them.  So frustrating. The prices are good right now but will go up come spring......  so very very frustrating.

Oh well.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Bunny pictures and update on my day.....

On the right computer tonight so I'll try to include some picture.

 Bunny the day he was brought home.
 He's a big boy already at 5 months!!
 Hmmm... A box....
 Yeah, a box.
But I can't get in the box....
 Cause my play buddy, Itsy the cat is in the box!!
Another box!  Love this box!!

The bunny, now officially named Bugsy but more often called Bunny or Hippity-Hoppity, is 1/2 Flemish Giant and will be a big boy.  He started on a diet of pellets and hay but we are introducing veggies into his diet.  Tonight he had a nice plate of romaine lettuce and dried cat nip.  Yum!!!  He does get baby carrots once in a while but it's actually too high in fiber to be a usual food item.

I mentioned before that I have several black walnut trees.  They have started dropping their walnuts and I have started collecting them.  I started off using a large outside plastic garbage can on my old dolly but it got too heavy to lift and dump the walnuts into the rubbermaid containers.  Now I just take containers with me and leave them when they are full. I then drive around the yard and put them into the back of the car one by one.
"Nut Wizard"
I use a nut wizard to pick them up. I usually fill the "basket" completely then dump it into the container.  Today I drove down to the farm that buys them and sold what I had already collected. The containers took up the entire back of the car.  The weight is after it's hulled from the outer seed - I turned in 204 pounds of walnuts and walked away with a check for just over $26. Doesn't sound like a lot but it was enough to get a bag of dog food and get enough gas to last me until payday and that's all that matters.  I started collecting again when I got back home and even used my extension pole to knock down walnuts still up in the one tree.  I filled four containers.  Since it's supposed to rain Monday through Wednesday, I'll try to collect more tomorrow but won't sell any until later in the week - after the rain is over.  I won't have nearly as much but I need to get the nuts out of the yard so I can mow one last time (they can damage the mower blade) and any amount of money will help.

I get paid on the 15th and 30th of the month and only work part time.  I'm lucky to clear $500 a month. With this walnut money, I didn't have to ask Mom to MoneyGram me gas and dog food money.  They are buying walnuts until November 4th so it's not an income I can count on for long.

A friend has offered me $20 a week to clean her house and I've agreed to do that.  I pet sit for her already and get some money for that as well but it's only once every couple of months. The next pet sitting isn't until Thanksgiving.  Her house is much smaller than mine and she only has the two dogs (indoor/outdoor) so cleaning her house isn't quite the chore that cleaning mine is!!!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Here We Go - Finally!

Welcome to The Almost-Homestead!!

I'm working towards having a homestead and, when I think it's ready, I'll have to think up of a better name.  Maybe y'all can help when it's time!!

So far the almost-homestead has 2.84 acres (not all usable), 10 black walnut trees, one 1/2 Flemish Giant rabbit and a paid-for but not received yet portable chicken coop.

I will have a garden next year large enough (at least) to feed myself and my bunny but I'd eventually like to have a garden large enough to sell produce then donate the rest to a food bank.

There's also several cats and dogs not directly associated with the homestead, per se, but they are a huge part of my life (they are my kids).

So, about me. I'm 42 years old, never married, no kids except the 4 legged kind. Born in Ohio, grew up in Ohio and Florida. Moved to Missouri to attend the University of Missouri - Columbia; earned BA in Anthropology. Then attended Columbia College, also in Columbia, Missouri and earned a BS with honors in Forensic Science.  Eight years ago I found myself living 4 miles from a "town" with a population of 641 and 42 miles round-trip from the nearest Wal-Mart.  I currently work part-time as a librarian.  A friend just offered me a job that I accepted - cleaning her house once a week. The extra money will help.  I'm in the process of collecting walnuts to sell for $13 per 100 lbs (it takes a LOT of walnuts to get 100 lbs).  I've been thinking of getting certified as a private tax preparer. It depends on the cost of the classes and the certification.

And I just remembered that I have to be up extra early (for me) to work tomorrow so I need to get my butt to bed.