Archive for the ‘deer’ Category

Beauty in Homesteading

Saturday, October 4th, 2008

We’ve learned over the past year that homesteading can be a lot of hard work. Even though it’s very rewarding work, it can be physically demanding – and it seems that it never ends. There’s always a list a mile long that needs to be accomplished. Just when summer is coming to an end, it’s time to gear up for colder weather. Clean the chimneys, cut, split, and stack firewood, winterize the chicken coop, prepare the garden for winter…. and the list goes on and on.

This morning is a crisp, chilly morning. We started it at 5:30AM. I grabbed a cup of coffee and Bernie got a fire going in the fireplace. I am not a fan of cold weather, but fall brings a beauty all of its own and I enjoy sitting in front of a nice, warm fire.

Just as dawn had broken, we noticed a young buck in the backyard. We see doe in our yard daily, as many as 10 or 11 at a time, but we rarely see a buck. I managed to snap a picture of him through a window:


He’s a handsome young buck, isn’t he? We’ve seen another coming around recently. He’s very easy to identify because one of his antlers is either deformed or broken. He hasn’t gotten close enough for us to really determine. This is a new buck that wandered up this morning. I’m pretty sure we’ve not seen him before. I wonder if these bucks will come back to visit so we can watch as they grow into strong and powerful bucks?

We left the “city life” just over a year ago – and we’ve never looked back. We work around our homestead daily and we live with purpose now, more than ever before. Yes, it can be hard work. But there is a beauty in homesteading that can’t be experienced outside of living it. That beauty is in what we see, what we experience, and how we live.

I’m not sure if homesteading is a part of us, or we are a part of it. I simply know the beauty of it is all encompassing and leaves me with a sense of peace and well being. In “these times”, that alone would make our journey into homesteading worth it.

Bee Free,

Oh Deer, That’s Good!

Sunday, April 20th, 2008

We’ve got the Chicken Coop DeVille building pretty much complete – minus trim, chicken door, nest boxes, roost, and fenced in chicken yard. We still have a little work ahead of us, but the lion’s share of it is finished. You can check out the pictures on the website.

Yesterday, after we finished working on the coop, we spent some time walking around the yard and enjoying the wildflowers and trees that are just starting to bloom here. I found a crab apple tree in bloom. Most of the blooms are up high, but I found one at just the right height for me to get this picture:


It was such a pretty little bloom, and I spent quite some time studying it. Which is a good thing, because this morning I looked out the back window and saw this:


Look at how calm and sweet those girls look. Look at how…. wait. What is that one on the right, in the back doing? Why is her head so far up? It looks like she’s…..


Ugh. Yep – she’s eating a crab apple bloom. The one, single crab apple bloom I could actually reach and see. We went out a few minutes ago, and this is what’s left:


*Sigh*. It’s hard to be too upset about that though. It’s a wild crab apple and I’m sure that deer was quite happy to find it. Living with nature means accepting nature as it is. We chose this exact location for many reasons, and one of those reasons was the amazing range of wildlife that calls this homestead their home. We’re learning to live with the wildlife. We’ll do what we can to protect the food we raise for ourselves, and part of that includes planting extra food for those inevitable times when one of those furry little buggers sneaks past our efforts and finds the bonanza of tasty vegetables. We’ll all get this figured out eventually.

Several of you have asked if I will be willing/able to butcher any of these chickens for our meals. Let me first say, I am getting these chickens to be pets, and I am extremely hopeful that they will show their appreciation of being pampered by rewarding us with eggs. Having said that, I also understand the basics and necessity of practicing good flock management. While my primary purpose is having these chickens as pets, we really can’t afford to feed a bunch of pets that serve no purpose at all. Mean chickens/roosters should be culled. Non-layers should be culled. You will notice that I said “should”.

A couple of you asked if I have ever killed a chicken in the past, and I said no. But the truth is that I have killed a chicken before. It was such a traumatic experience, I think I temporarily blocked it from my memory.

Many years ago, my parents had a rooster named Roy. Roy was the meanest rooster on the face of the planet. I hated that rooster – and that rooster hated me. In all fairness, everyone hated that rooster – and that rooster hated everyone. My parents kept him in a large fenced in area and, while it kept him from viciously attacking anything that moved in the yard, it did not keep him from trying to get at us through the fence. Well, one day Roy managed to get out of the fence. And my parents’ little terrier, RJ, finally got back at Roy for all the tormenting through the fence. My mother and I were the only two at the house that day, and when we heard all the commotion, we ran into the back yard to find that RJ had all but killed Roy. Roy was a bloody mess of rooster feathers. He could not get up and he was certainly dying. My mother said “We’ve got to kill him and put him out of his misery.” I completely agreed. “How are you going to do it?”, I asked. The look in her eyes explained everything. By “we”, my mother meant “me”. She told me where to find an axe, and then stood behind me as I sent Roy Rooster off to his certain reign in Rooster Hades.

As much as I hated Roy, I hated killing him even more. It was very unpleasant, to say the least. I will spare you the gory details, but if you’ve ever chopped off the head of a chicken, you understand just how unpleasant that experience can be. There is a fair amount of flopping and kicking involved – and all of it occurs AFTER the head is detached from the body.

So CAN I kill a chicken? The answer is apparently “yes”. WILL I kill any of these chickens? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

A friend told Bernie we could make some great chicken noodle soup out of these chickens. Bernie told him he didn’t know if I would be able to kill any of these chickens. His friend said “Well, I guess she better learn how to make the noodles then.”

Bee Free,

Oh Deer!

Monday, October 1st, 2007

It’s that time of year, and the deer are really starting to move on the homestead. We could barely look out a window today without seeing a deer or two. Last night we saw two bucks lock horns on the side of the house. They are truly fascinating and beautiful creatures.

We’ve had a couple of mamas coming with babies to munch acorns in the yard throughout the summer. The babies are big now – no more spots. But they still hang with mama. One mother in particular has peaked our interest. She has a deformed or injured front leg. It doesn’t seem to slow her down much though. She has two daughters that are always with her. One of them has a scar on her side. We’ve been watching them all summer. They now come right up to the windows. It drives our cats wild. They’re not quite sure what to think. This morning one of the babies came right up to the window of the room I use as an office. Elvis and Priscilla were sitting in the window, quietly watching. Then all of a sudden the deer looked up and stared at them. The cats looked shocked! The three of them just stared at each other for about two minutes, and then the deer just started grazing again and wandered off – with two set of cat eyes watching her the whole way.

Bernie managed to get a few pictures of them through the window tonight. Here’s one of Gimp Mama and her babies:

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Gimp Mama is the one on the far right. Cute as little buttons. No question they will end up on some one’s table by the end of hunting season. Maybe even ours. But that’s the way nature intended it. And before we butcher any animal, we take time to reflect on cycle of life and appreciate that this animal lived a beautiful life, and now provides sustenance for our lives. I believe that shows far more respect for these wonderful creatures than what is shown for the animals that provide the meat bought in a grocery store.

We’ll continue watching in awe as animals travel across our homestead. We will also take care not to take any of the young ones when deer hunting is in season. We’d rather allow them to grow up and procreate.

Other than our Extreme Deer Watching, Bernie has been busy as a beaver on his back hoe. He’s just about got that bucket fixed. I’ve been working and then walking around identifying trees. We discovered this afternoon that we have a Persimmon Tree on our property – and it’s full of delicious fruit. The fruit is just becoming ripe, and I intend to can a few jars of it in the coming weeks. Thank the stars for Bernie’s extension ladder!

The bees are doing great. We watched them for quite a while this afternoon. I could just kiss their little wings right off of them!

Bee Free,

It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! It’s……. A Bear!!!!

Monday, July 16th, 2007

Well, after finding bear poop in the yard many times and seeing, first hand, the destruction they can cause to bird feeders, I guess it shouldn’t be so surprising that we actually saw a bear in the yard this weekend.

But it was surprising. At least it was to me. My niece and great-niece came up for a visit and we were enjoying Saturday afternoon just visiting in the living room. Bernie was out greasing his backhoe and all felt very calm on the homestead. I glanced out the living room window just in time to see a big black butt walking past the window. My first thought was “Now what is that huge dog doing in this yard?” followed immediately by the thought “Wow – that’s the biggest black dog I’ve ever seen” followed immediately by me screaming “Bear! There’s a bear!”. The three of us jumped to our feet. My niece ran to get her camera. My great niece ran to the window to get a better look. I ran to the front door and screamed “Bernie! Bear! Bernie! Bear!” frantically waving for him to get inside and look.

We all gathered at the window and I pointed and said “There he is – wait – where is he?” My eight year old great-niece looked at me and said “When you screamed for Bernie he took off running. That way. He ran fast and now he’s gone.” Doh!

After we all calmed down Bernie and I realized that the direction he was traveling was straight for the apiary. That worried us a bit. But we checked on the bees several times over the weekend and they were just fine. Probably the bear was just thirsty and headed for the creek for some water. I imagine his ears are still ringing from my shrill screaming to get Bernie inside.

Other than that the weekend was relatively calm. I did manage to render wax and I wrote about it on The Bee Buzz. I’ll try to get pictures up of the whole process in the next week or so. My niece got a picture of the little fawns looking for food in the backyard and she seemed pretty happy about that. My great-niece seemed more interested in the rabbits that ran about when I took her for rides in the Trail Blazer.

All in all, we had a great weekend on the homestead. Great company with lots of laughs and plenty of hugs. And we saw a bear! I really hope he doesn’t make visiting us a habit. He could ask his deer friends about the result of that. Bear season is at a good time of year……

Bee Free,

Lions and Tigers and Bears – Well, Sort of

Sunday, July 8th, 2007

For some reason we saw more wild animals this weekend on the homestead than we ever have before. We saw a doe with two precious little fawns, a fox, two coyotes, a skunk, and several rabbits. As remote as our homestead is, it really is fairly unusual to see many animals. The animals there are still wild and not used to a lot of human noise or motion. Unlike the animals in town that graze next to the highways or the skunks that visit our yard, any sound or slight movement will send them tearing into the woods on the homestead. I must say, although I enjoyed watching them, with each I saw I thought of either food on our table, or predator to our chickens and goats when we move out there permanently.

When we got to the homestead Friday, we immediately began rendering some of the beeswax we’ve collected. As I wrote about on The Bee Buzz, this was a little more involved than I had anticipated. I did manage to get enough wax rendered to make about 48 little tins of beeswax lip balm. I’ll have to work on getting the rest of it rendered in the next few weeks.

The soap is curing quite nicely and changing to a creamy white color. In three or four more weeks or so I should be able to try it out. If it passes approval, I’ll have gifts for my Christmas victims.

Other than that, Bernie and I mowed the lawns and took care of a few things on the homestead. As a result of me hitting a huge stump with the riding mower, we had to spend a little time on Saturday fixing one of the blades on the mowing deck. I hit it good enough to bend the frame it’s attached to. But Bernie managed to pound it back into shape and it’s running right along again.

Next weekend my neice is visiting us on the homestead and she’s bringing along the only kid she’s got that isn’t staying at my parent’s for the summer. We’re really looking forward to that. Two of my most favorite people!

I’ll be posting the lip balm recipe on The Bee Buzz website soon, so be sure to check it out!

Bee Free!