Homesteading in the 21st Century

I have been struggling for months to establish my farm philosophy. One thing I often consider is how to incorporate technology into my life, without allowing it to take away from the non-technical aspects. Whether to purchase paper books, or e-books is an issue that I think about a lot. And this blog, for example. I want to share my farmsteading experiences with people all over the country (and the world!), and in this era, blogging is the best way to do it. I can write about what we’re doing, share pictures, resources, whatever! And I get to hear the feedback from my readers,

I have watched this video quite a few times over the past year, and twice again last week. I’ve been roasting whole chickens for a few years now, but I’ve never been able to get more than one meal out of each bird, so I thought parting the bird might help me extend the investment. So I was inspired to give it a shot! I got my whole chicken from Athens Locally Grown and after it was completely thawed, I was ready.

21st Century Chicken

I had to pause and rewind the video a few times, and I regret that my knife was not truly sharp enough, but I got it done without any real problems. We’ll be eating the chicken breasts & tenders with spinach and noodles tomorrow night and I put the rest in the freezer.

The result!

The most important thing I learned from the video, other than how to part the chicken, of course, is WHY and when to do it, when selling chickens off the farm. Birds that weigh less than 5lbs after being butchered, should be sold as whole birds. Carcasses over 5lbs can be parted because you’re likely to get at least one pound of chicken breast from each one.

The internship so far…

I can’t believe it’s already been a month! You heard all about my first day on the “job.” Days #2 and #3 were cut short due to some off-farm commitments Cyndi had, but last week we got to spend the whole beautiful morning on the farm. We had a guest along for the morning as well. We weeded, again, fed the bees, re-arranged some fence panels in preparation for loading the two beeves on Sunday, and “cleaned up” the pig pen. No, seriously, that’s what we did! I’m asking questions like crazy, trying to learn everything I can before my time is up. I just wish I could spend more time out there – there aren’t that many more Thursdays between now and April…

I think I will be able to have bees in our next home, so I’ve been really excited to learn about them. Some neat things I’ve gleaned so far:

  • Beekeepers harvest honey once, sometimes twice, each year.
  • Wax comes in lots of colors, from white to deep brown.
  • Bees use tree sap (in Georgia, they use pine sap) to plug the gaps and holes in the hive. This nutrient-dense material is called “propolis” and it is harvested and used in natural medicine. Read about all the great uses for propolis here.
  • When looking at a hive, the bottom “box” is called the Brood Box because that’s where the queen lives. The others are known as Supers.
  • The bees fill the hive with honey from the bottom to the top. Beekeepers add supers as the lower levels become full.
  • Beekeepers tend to situate the hives with the opening to the east – so that it gets warm in the morning as early as possible.
  • Hives with solid bottoms are placed on a slight tilt to allow rain water to drain. For even better drainage, some hives are equipped with a mesh/screen bottom.
  • During the winter, if you notice a hive with a glass jar on top, it’s full of sugar water. Because there aren’t any flowers to visit during wintertime, beekeepers have to feed the bees to keep them IN the hive; if they get too hungry they will leave. However, one doesn’t want to feed the bees too much, or else they might become dependent on the sugar water and refuse to leave the hive in the spring! Also, over-feeding the bees over winter could cause them to think it’s spring, which leads to more bees, and demands even more sugar water.

Beehive

In other news, we’re trying hard to sell our home here in Athens. We had our first showing today and have another one scheduled for Friday! Tripp also spent last weekend in PA searching for our next home. He visited about 10 places, and drove by a few more. We’ve narrowed it down to three, the one I mentioned before is now #3, due mostly to the price. #1 is a really cute, historic home on 10+ acres. #2 is not very cute at all, but is super safe and has a pool. I believe we eliminated #2 from the running today when we learned the owners were not willing to come down on the rent, putting it outside our budget. Here’s a picture of MY #1:

Could this be the future (temporary) home of Owl Moon Farms?