Wild Country Homestead Update : Texas Hill Country Homestead
We get questions every now and then about what in the world goes down on this little homestead of ours. When we first moved to the Texas Hill Country we did not imagine we would become homesteaders at all. When we first arrived in San Antonio, Texas, Brady was involved in business and marketing at the corporate level and I was a Montessori teacher. We moved a little farther West to our beloved Boerne, found ourselves a little piece of wild land by the river and got to work. Three years later we have a gaggle of geese, endless chickens, plenty of plump ducks, bee hives, a freezer full of meat, a show pig that has become a pet, gardens we struggle to keep up with and plenty of humble homesteading endeavors in the kitchen; cheese making, bread baking, and canning and preserving food and crops.
Our goal for this year was some really awesome tomatoes. We have succeeded! Over winter I realized my desire to eliminate buying organic canned tomatoes and work toward having our own homegrown supply of tomatoes. One of the most important healthy recipes I keep on constant meal rotation is homemade pasta sauce with TONS of healing herbs, bone broth, and delicious ripe tomatoes. I make huge batches of the sauce and use it on homemade pizzas, spaghetti, tortellini and store the leftovers. The tomato garden has been Brady's main gardening focus this year, working tirelessly on soaker hose placement, tying the plants up, keeping the birds out, fertilizing, and it's finally paying off. We are harvesting baskets full of tomatoes on a daily basis. It's a task to keep up with it all and preserve, cook or freeze them all as fast as they are coming in. I know we will thank ourselves this winter when we can still enjoy the taste of summer straight off our pantry shelf.
Another new endeavor this year is Beekeeping! We took the plunge and put a deposit down on two hives earlier this year with Gretchen Bee Ranch and we, (Brady and the kids), have been learning ever since! Brady got the hives all set up and has been feeding the hives regularly and the kids go along and watch from a distance. Devon, one of our older boys, is taking the initiative through a grant program with Alamo RCD, to enhance the amount of plants needing pollination on the property, acquiring his own bee suit and gear and learning as much as he can about bees and their endangerment in order to educate others in a final project presentation to other kids in our Boerne community. I consume honey on a daily basis in my coffee to keep my allergies in check and could not go a day without it. I truly cannot wait for the boys to harvest our first batch of Hill Country Homestead honey!
This year Brady has been learning the art of processing chickens. This has been very educational (just like everything else homestead related!) for him and the kids. Ordering the correct equipment, finding the right processes, and streamlining the job have all been a work in progress. So far he has purchased a culling cone, plucking fingers, sanitizing buckets, a turkey fryer for heating the feathers for removal, shrink wrap bags and who knows what else. He just recently got to the end of our current meat flock and I think we have decided to wait until we can afford a plucking machine before we reorder broiler birds. At least now we know we can do it in the event of a food shortage or power outage. The more you know, right?
Tomatoes, meat, and honey have been our biggest focus this year to date. Right now President Business is out planting me some pickling cucumbers because our earlier crop this year failed due to neglect. Aiden, one of our older boys, has been managing community garden plots in town and we have been up to our ears in Armenian Cucumber's which are sweeter than regular cucumbers and taste a little like watermelon so not great for pickling but they are delicious. We have had plenty of chicken, duck and goose eggs this year and we did invest in some Easter Egger chicks who should start producing some beautiful pastel colored eggs soon! Our backup show pig from last year is living fat and happy and never made it to processing so she is living the life of a freeloader and will have some new friends here in the next few months as our new show pigs start coming home for Stock Show season. I finally got a medicinal herb garden started in the kitchen including lavender, aloe, eucalyptus, holy basil and German chamomile. Regular basil was recently planted outside to satisfy my pesto cravings in the future. I'm off to put up this weeks batch of tomatoes and a little bit of okra and to start mixing the Sourdough for the Farm Connection this week.
What have You been up to this week? Let me know in the comments!