Seed Selection for the Homestead Garden

The weather here has certainly taken a turn, which has been a welcome reminder that it is actually winter out here…meaning that spring is only weeks away. 

The current wintering garden

And with spring comes work in the the very first garden I have been independently responsible for. Garden prep is a little behind right now as I could easily be starting some seeds indoors right now if I had my game together. Newsflash: I don’t. Not yet. But I’m on my way, and in the next few weeks I will be starting seeds both indoors and in our tiny garden shed. I’m very excited for the entire process to begin, so below is the culmination of a weekend’s work: my shopping list of garden seeds.

Continue reading “Seed Selection for the Homestead Garden”


Guinea Fowl Frenzy

The end of our holiday vacation is an absolute mess. The husband is sprawled across the unmade bed, completely wiped from driving seven hours back home after the holiday weekend. A developing stomach flu that persisted throughout the trip threatens to make him vomit at any moment. The dog is restless and gassy from the ride and can’t stop wandering the bedroom in neurotic circles, reassuring himself that the room is as he left it. Every lap he stops by me, nipping at my hand in a constant vie for attention. We came home to a note that Pepper the cat had been locked in the spare bedroom for two full days during the holidays. Investigating the room for evidence of his past imprisonment is beyond this night’s abilities. And the reason for out late return, the four newly acquired teenage guinea fowl, are spending the night in our bedroom because Ian was too exhausted to lug them to the outdoor coop. It was all I could do to heft them out of the car and into our room.

So far their screeching dismay for their caged life is all the proof I need that the claims of their incredible volume are true. I’ve also learned that trying to make their first night a little more comfortable with bowls of food and water was a terrible idea. Both substances were spilled in a matter of seconds by the panicked birds, dirtying the bedroom floor with a soupy mix of bird poop and soggy food. And on the bed I sit, trying to find the motivation to make up lesson plans about earth worms for the next school day. It would be a long night, but internally I think I gave up on this project the second I walked into the room. going to be a long night. think I gave up on this night a long time ago. After almost a week away and a drive from Pittsburgh longer than we thought possible, I stumbled back into a freezing cold, stale smelling animal-filled home, left my sick husband to find his way into bed and the luggage to settle deeper into the car trunk. The last thing I want to do is make a PowerPoint about worms. And to think we wanted to introduce four new fowl into this crazy mix.

But everything I’ve described is also what I love about this place. Here, we have the ability to just go and DO the crazy things we think about. If we want to go ham on farm animals (no pun intended) we can simply peruse Craigslist until we see some that fit our land and budget. In my “former life” of being a college student and city dweller, I used to spend a lot of time dreaming about a future like this. Ian and I used to spend hours planning out our lives together, often down to minute details of farm projects. But here, I don’t do that much. In fact, our “big picture” conversations have all but ended. Our present is so chock full of projects and potential it’s all we can do to keep with the flow of ideas. If that means that sometimes I will have to go through a some crazy hectic nights of less than stellar decision making to take a risk with a new animal species, then so be it. Because this time in our life is woefully short and soon these opportunities will pass us by. I don’t know what the future holds, but we probably won’t live on this incredible land for more than a few years. And when we do move on to some horrid suburban home, I want to leave fully satisfied that we have pursued every homesteading opportunity that came our way. 

So cheers for Guinea Fowl! And farm animals in general. But what with the dog, the cats, and our twelve birds, I think we are set for a while. At least until Spring….or the next good Craigslist deal.

The fowl’s previous owner was a prow at catching them for us.
Poor little caged babies.


These girls sure aren’t going to win any beauty pageants.
Leaving the shelter is the best thing that ever happened to Wendell. He hasn’t had a dull moment since
We let the fowl into the coop this morning, Anyone that doesn’t get along with be promptly eaten. Except for my precious silkies.
Early morning coop shot filled with happy poultry.

Have any questions about guinea fowl? Leave them in the comments and I will address them in my next post!

putting the home in homesteading

Putting the Home into Homesteading

Ian and I have been living at The Knob for less than a week and we are already up to our eyeballs in projects. First off was the task of unloading every shiny new kitchen tool we received as wedding presents into an already amply stocked kitchen. The process of cleaning, organizing and stowing away everything that was already there took us a full day and allowed us time to full appreciate the idiocnycracys of our new living quarters. Shelves that aren’t quite level is the norm, and it’s almost expected that every couple cupboards will have a gaping hole cut into the bottom for reasons now unapparent to us. It’s very obvious that this home was built over decades by many different builders with varying skill levels, all with different intentions of how the space should look. At first I thought it would drive me crazy, but at least in the kitchen, the ability to fill the space with my belongings gave me a sense of attachment and also allowed me to appreciate the quirks as character rather than inconveniences. But maybe the novelty will wear off.


Cleaning the kitchen made it look so much bigger!
Other adventures have included the long and tedious process of getting
ourselves to be legal Americorps volunteers. To ensure the FBI stays off our backs, we were requested to get fingerprinted in Michigan before moving to West Virginia, but upon arriving learned that those tests were invalid for the state and that we needed to get retested here ASAP. With limited wifi, finding a fingerprint location and booking appointments is a lot more difficult than back at home. No matter- Ian was a champ and got us 9am appointments in the next town over…meaning we had to leave our home at 7:20 am. After the 25 minute drive down the mountain and into the land of cell phone service, Ian punched the coordinates into his phone and we were on our way. Or we thought we were, until google told us we had arrived at our office destination when we were in fact on the side of a very narrow highway near the edge of an old coal mining site.Following the online instructions from the office itself proved to be equally unhelpful as we were directed to a road that didn’t appear to exist. Finally in frustration Ian pulled over to the nearest public building to search for phone service. To the left was a building that advertised drug and paternity testing, and on the window a sign about fingerprinting. By dumb luck we had actually found our place, and right on time too! Sadly our excitement about being on time soon dissipated when the opening employee showed up 15 minutes later than expected. To make a frustrating situation even worse, the credit card machine was down and we weren’t allowed to pay with cash so our only option was to drive five miles back to the nearest bank in order to buy two money orders at premium prices to pay for our tests. Suffice it to say I think Michigan and West Virginia should both realize that our fingerprints don’t change when we cross state borders and if we we haven’t been found guilty of a federal crime in Michigan, odds are good we will be clear in West Virginia too. But what do I know.
Onsite projects have been a lot more fun and rewarding. The first priority at our Knob house is to get the garden prepped for a new fence this fall and to get the chicken coop functional as soon as possible. Super exciting news, because anyone who knows me knows how much I love chickens!! 😀 I’m practically counting the days until they can come. Ian and I have had a lot of fun going through the old flower gardens and orchards, pulling up weeds and brambles and clearing spaces for light to filter through to the ground. Every task seems to reveal five more jobs that need to get done, but while the weather is gorgeous we aren’t complaining. Starting next Tuesday we will both be spending several days a week being aids in the local schools, so we are taking full advantage of our unscheduled outdoor time while we can.
The poor chicken coop really needs some work done before it will be inhabitable
Terry Noyes planted annuals in my butterfly garden this spring and they are doing great! Even better now that the weeds are removed.
There are several pear trees on the property, and we are hoping that now that we have removed the choking vines from the trunk the pears will have a better chance of ripening.
Ian spent a lot of time chopping brush off of where the garden fence will be and hauling it deeper into the woods.
Ignoring my wrath, Ian started a massive brush fire in the middle of our yard.
The afternoon was spent on a compost-gathering mission: we tried to find as much “brown material” as we could, like apples and horse manure.
One of our compost benefactors.
Yummmmmm future good soil!
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