Every so often, I like to share scenes from our life at The Hobson Homestead. What isn’t always seen in these images is the dirt, sweat and oftentimes tears that happen every single week in a family with four kids. Just know they are there, behind the scenes. Life isn’t perfect or easy, but I’m blessed to spend it with the ones I love.
Quite a bit has happened on our Hobson Homestead since the beginning of the year. So here’s a quick update using scenes from our homestead!
First off, did you see my post about getting Covid-19? We are grateful that we had a very mild case and amazingly our kids didn’t get it from us, despite being cooped up for two weeks.
Sexing Chickens: We bought six 5-month-old pullets locally right after Thanksgiving. Everything was going well until we realized Ziggy, a cuckoo maran and one of my kids’ favorite hens, might actually be a rooster. Though all the hens acted similarly the first few weeks we started caring for them, all of a sudden Ziggy changed. I think that those male hormones finally peaked, leading Ziggy to crow all day long. That was the first sign that she may be a he.
Now that we’ve dug into the topic a bit, sexing chickens is hard, even for experienced pros. So just because we were *told* we bought 6 hens doesn’t make that true.
Now that we’ve entertained the idea that Ziggy may be a rooster, some of her characteristics are lining up to support that theory.
The only thing that could throw a wrench in this new theory is that SOME hens will take on the role of rooster if one isn’t present. So the real way to know if she’s a he is if she doesn’t lay any eggs. Unfortunately, Ziggy began attacking some of the other chickens, so we had to remove her from the flock. Ironically, two days after we removed her, one of our Red Stars laid her first egg. Coincidence? Who knows!
Now that we are fairly certain Ziggy is a rooster, we are also wondering about Hairy, our black cochin, who has also begun to crow regularly. If Hairy is a he, he is not as aggressive as Ziggy at this point, so we have kept him/her with the other hens for now.
The Coop: During our quarantine, we relocated our chicken tractor up the slight hill to our side property. We didn’t mind the chickens near the house in the grass, but the poop all over the driveway and up our porch steps was getting old. On our side property, they have plenty of space to roam (more than an acre). Unfortunately, they still love to venture down to the driveway near our house.
First Egg: After more than 7 weeks of coaxing our chickens, we finally got our first egg this month. You’d think we won the lottery with all our hoopla-ing. My chicken whisperer (above) could not stop grinning from ear to ear.
We’re guessing the egg came from one of our Red Stars, since it’s brown and we see one in the nesting box a lot. We are hoping she encourages the other hens to start laying soon. We also got our first white egg this week, so it looks like our girls are on a roll!
Baby Chicks: In case you missed it, we got 30 baby chicks in the mail last week! My kids are beside themselves with excitement and we have set the bar high with a new definition for “happy mail.” They are learning how to care for these chicks and while we are figuring out how to adapt for this expanding brood of ours. We just tackled our first few cases of pasty butt earlier this week. See my Instagram post about it here.
New Coop Pen: A new 20×10 foot chicken pen is in the works to accommodate our growing brood. We have quite a while before our baby chicks will be ready to fend for themselves in the outdoor elements, but we are researching tactics for integrating them with our hens. We will likely set up our chicken tractor right beside our new pens so that the chicks will be near the big girls. Part of the large pen will be covered and my husband will also build a nesting house to put inside the pen. We are already dreaming of summer days when we will get a basket full of eggs rather than 1 or 2!
Despite everything going on with our chickens, I’ve found some time to tackle some of the house projects on my list for the winter. Some rainy days last week made this the perfect time to start painting projects since I was in the midst of a mild case of Covid-19 and couldn’t smell the paint fumes.
I spent part of two days painting my foyer the same color as the rest of the downstairs. It was a dated blue color with yellow undertones originally, and with limited natural light coming through the front door, it made the foyer look even darker than it should. But the new Classic Gray by Benjamin Moore (which is not really gray but more of a light greige) has lightened up the whole small boxy entrance area.
After the foyer, I moved on to painting the master bedroom and the crown molding. I love the lighter color and have added some emerald green velvet blackout curtains (that I love!) and throw pillows that pop against the new paint color. Still working on wall décor, but that will happen in time.
Hydroponic Seedlings: We’ve had a tough time getting our hydroponic greens going (and growing) at our new house. In our attempts, we get seedings, get super excited, then get super confused when they stop growing at 1 to 2 inches. We’ve tested the water, questioned our seeds and contemplated our lighting.
For this attempt, we chose to focus on the lighting to ensure the seeds are not only getting enough sunlight, but enough darkness. Because they are in a high-traffic area with more natural daylight and artificial light (instead of the unfinished basement at our last house), we’re wondering if they aren’t getting enough true darkness. So we’ve adjusted the hours of light and dark a bit—and are waiting until the seedlings are several inches high before we move them to our Aerogardens. Fingers crossed this new method works!
Outdoor garden: My husband has taken care of any outdoor gardening we’ve done in the past—from porch planters to an in-ground plot to a bucket garden. But this year, I’m determined to take a stab at some kind of outdoor gardening. I’ve been absorbing articles and YouTube videos in my spare time, and I think I want to start with one or two small raised beds. I should have more of an update and plan next month!
When we moved this summer, two large fig trees on the property were flush with fruit. We made fig syrup and fig preserves with the fruit and can’t wait to try more homemade fig things this summer. We also replanted two of my dad’s muscadine trimmings and a friend gave us a pink lemonade blueberry bush. And for Christmas this year, the husband gifted me (aka us) six muscadines plants (Fry, Cowart and Summit varieties) that will produce fruit in two years, as well as two blackberry, two blueberry and two raspberry plants (Apache, Navaho, Heritage, Latham, Powerblue and Brightwell varieties) that should bear fruit this summer. I cannot wait to be so overflowing with fruit that we get to be creative in how to use it all up.
We are still waiting on our muscadine vines and berry bushes to arrive. Apparently a lot or nurseries are slammed due to Covid-19. I’m not sure if it’s affecting the workers or if everyone is wanted to plant their own fruit bushes!
Earlier this month, we stopped by Mountain Sweet Honey to grab our 10-frame bee hive along with 12 pounds of local honey to get us by for a good while. We ordered an Italian honeybees package and will pick it up in late March. So we have a couple months to learn all we can before our bees arrive!
When we have any extra time at night, we watch beekeeping or chicken videos with the kids, who are completely fascinated with this modern homesteading journey. The good news is that we are starting this new journey with Italian bees, which are more laid back, gentle and easier to work with than other types of bees.
My husband and my oldest son put the hive together last week so we are ready two months ahead of picking up our bees. We are still deciding where we will place the bees. I want to put them near our orchard on one side of the property, but my husband wants to put them up the hill near our chickens farther away from our pool.
I mentioned in my goals for the new year that I’m reading through the Bible chronologically this year. I’m following along the Bible Recap program and really enjoying it. The plan assigns 2 to 4 chapters to read each day, and follows it up with a less than 10-minute podcast to recap things. So far, I’m most of the way through Genesis and have read all of Job.
Earlier this month, I finished another Charles Martin book called Where the River Ends. I’m a huge Charles Martin fan and was surprised to stumble upon one of his books from long ago that I haven’t read.
After that, I started A Voice in the Wind by Francine Rivers, who most notably writes Christian historical fiction. I’ve read two of her books so far and enjoyed them. It took me a few chapters to get into this book, but now the story seems to have taken off. It’s set in Rome during the gladiator age, and so far is quite descriptive about slave treatment if you are sensitive.
The Great Outdoors
We’ve also spent a ton of time outside at our little homestead, clearing the land. We may only have a few acres—in a neighborhood, no doubt—but we are learning how to maximize every area.
Check back next month for more updates on life and scenes from our homestead!
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