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Monday, May 20, 2024

Our Homestead Garden, from the DIY Homemade Household side of life.

I think this move to East Texas is at least my 35th move! As a child we moved frequently, often once a year. It was rare to go to the same school two years in a row...and while I would have never thought, that sitting here just shy of 7 decades traveling around the sun, I would be starting from scratch in a new state. And yet, here we are...



In East Texas the weather is hot, humid and often unforgiving. 

The spring rains brings on swollen rivers, and homemade lakes. Many folks planned for and excavated a low spot in their yards to collect the excess water. All the little man made lakes are a great idea, providing drinking water for livestock and prevent flooding around the home. Some are also quite large and perfect for a canoe on a quiet day. Along with the rain, we get a fair share of thunder and lightening storms, to shake things up a bit. But with all that, I am having a good time here in East Texas. I think for this last move I was looking for a challenge, yet one I would be able to complete. I think that means I am probably not moving again...



When we had some trenching done to run a power line to the utility shop, we learned we live on layers of sand and clay, it turns out there is almost no dirt where we live. But that is the reason the trees and all the green scrub brush is so healthy and grows so fast, both sand and clay hold water and the trees and shrubs are never thirsty. Keeping up on all the brush is a full time job, and one we essentially do not have time for. So we employ three helpers I refer to as the "chew crew". 



Meet our chew crew, Oaty, Blackie and Spot. 

They are usually in this electric (portable) fence to browse down the shrubs. Depending upon how thick or how hungry they are, the movable fence is in place for three to seven days. They came to us from a young woman who is working on her degree, related to Animal Husbandry. Blackie and Spot are small Nubian goats (they came nurtured, and are a bit easier to handle), but Oaty who is full sized has all of his equipment. We purchased Blackie and Spot, and Oaty was thrown in for free. I have to say, he is a hand full, but once all the humans got on the same page for commands and handling the goats, the goats fell right into line...



A funny thing about goats, they hate the rain. And they absolutely know when a storm is brewing. They begin baying out loud and continue baying getting louder and louder. All we have to do when they are ready to be penned up, with a storm on the way is open the gate to the electric fence, and say "pen up" and they run to their shelter! Of course it helps that they get molasses coated goat chow as a treat...As they browse down the bushes they are also helping the open ground with a bit of their goat pellets left behind for future growth. And the best part, once they have been moved, it is so much easier to clean up sticks and weeds in the area where they just finished doing their job. 
 


We have had a lot of rain storms in the past month, and I am a bit behind on the garden. 

This morning I realized I must get the rhubarb plants into the ground. Clearly they do not have enough nourishment in such tiny pots. So I spent a couple of hours gathering downed branches and small logs to get a raised garden bed put together. 



To make a bed deep enough for the rhubarb, I will need to gather this much or more usable material again tomorrow. This style of gardening is frugal, cleans up our land and is an easy riff on H├╝gelkultur. The steps are as follows, first I will make the outside frame, then in the bottom of the frame, I will add a layer of cardboard (a great weed barrier) then eight to twelve inches of wood chips. Over the chips goes the garden soil. With our heavy rain fall, this style of gardening keeps the garden beds from flooding. So far we have not lost any plants due to the heavy rains, because drainage is really good with the wood chips at the bottom of the garden bed. 



This is one of the raised beds, this one has a fairly good sized cucumber plant and it is doing quite well. It is probably now safe to confess that I have not had much gardening success until now...

Around here garden soil is quite expensive. So we are making our own from compost. Yes it does take a lot of composting material to get rich garden soil. How exactly are we doing this? It turns out, we called our local electric company and asked if they have chip trucks for the trees that are trimmed to keep the electrical lines free. Why yes they do, we asked to get on the list for a chip drop. I highly recommend this for any and all gardeners out there, plus the electric company doesn't have to take the chipped up trees and branches to a landfill. 

You can get as much as you want, and we wanted a lot! 

After all we are making compost for future gardening needs. On the last trimming done along our country lane, we got about 20 loads delivered to our area. This fall when things slow down a bit, I hope to speed up the composting by laying tarps over some of the piles. Last years, chips composted down into a lovely rich soil with plenty of actinomycetes throughout. Bags of compost at the local garden center with these beneficial bacteria strands, sells for $18.50 a cubic yard. I feel fortunate we can make it for free with a bit of time...



Our green beans are blooming, along with bush peas and sugar snap peas. 

 

Our Blueberries are beginning to get ripe!



We thinned out some of the pencil thin pine trees on our property and used them to build this fence around the garden. I love having the fence up. The goats don't get funny ideas about playing on the raised beds, and the hens can't fit through the grid of the wire fencing. 



I believe chickens should be a part of every backyard garden. 

They are great for eating the overload of bugs, especially here in East Texas where we have biting ants! We keep a large watering system outside the coop as our ladies free range all daylight hours. They are all over both front yards, scratching and eating and doing a great job of it all. I love having chickens again, we have not had any since we lived in Montana. I will be making grit for them this week. It is one of the items on my prep list. I also like to throw them a treat from time to time, some of their favorites are dried split peas, oats soaked in the whey left from making our favorite Greek Yogurt and dried worms...

The tire sitting next to the water system is used for kitchen scraps. Chickens will eat just about anything, so all the vegetable trimmings etc. from the day come out to the tire at dish washing time. What ever the ladies don't eat, naturally composts down and when it does, the ladies enjoy the worms that help with that process. There is so much to eat in this environment, we will be letting our ladies free range as needed and in time we will not be purchasing chicken pellets. They are hardly eating their pellets at this point, they are full from foraging. 



Burning is allowed here in East Texas. 

This "clean" burn pile is only for tree limbs. The ashes from this pile will be used to make a dust bath for the chickens. We also have a scrap pile and a burning barrel, those ashes will be added to the compost pile, and not put directly into the garden. Petty much like my kitchen, we use what we have and make the best of what we have available. 



There were several railroad ties laying around on the property. We did a count and we have enough to make a large frame for a green house in the garden area. The ties will be placed on the sand, and the actual walls of the green house built on the ties. This will give us a place to winter over some plants and start seedlings as needed. Especially Marigolds, we will have many more in future years. They are great as pest repellants, they also add a cheery look to the garden. 



It's not all work!

We do work hard, but we also share a lot of time with our daughter, son in law and grandson! Family time is important to us all. We are partners in this six acre project and I could not imagine living any other way! We all work well together and help each other out with chores and projects. As well as plan all future needs, wants and ideas!



We now have part of the deck completed! 

I cannot tell you how wonderful this is. We live in a 40ft 5thwheel (stationary) and while it is quite comfortable climbing up and down those RV steps to come in and out of your home, with bags of groceries or baskets of laundry had gotten to be a burden. I love this part of the deck into our caravan. And can't wait for the rest to be built...it will look nice and we will have more outdoor living space. 

In two months we will have been here one year! It has gone very fast, but this recap shows me how much has also been accomplished. Thank you for stopping by, I appreciate it!


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This post featured at: 
Scratch Made Food! & DIY Homemade Household featured at Will Blog for Comments Link-up and Blog Hop.
Scratch Made Food! & DIY Homemade Household featured at Will Blog for Comments Link-up and Blog Hop. 


Scratch Made Food! & DIY Homemade Household featured at You're the Star Link-up and Blog Hop.
Scratch Made Food! & DIY Homemade Household featured at You're the Star Link-up and Blog Hop.
 

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Would you like to comment?

  1. I'm so impressed at your garden, given it's in East Texas! I've only driven through once, but it seems a tough place to grow a garden. Yours looks wonderful. Thanks for sharing this post with us at the Will Blog for Comments #38 linkup. Hope to see you next week at #39, too!

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    1. Jennifer, it is a bit harsh here, but so far I am really enjoying this project. Thank you for stopping by, I appreciate it.

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  2. Nice garden! Visiting from "Calling Fellow Bloggers"

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  3. Melynda, I love your homestead garden. I'm so happy to hear you got your deck on. I can just imagine how big of a help it is. Visiting today from Will Blog For Comments #4&5

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  4. Wow! That was really interesting to read how you use the different things on your land to create the garden. I really enjoyed your post today!
    www.chezmireillefashiontravelmom.com

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    1. Thank you so much. I have never been the most successful gardener, but this has been a labor of love!

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  5. Wow I feel like that year has flown by; I remember when you moved in! You sure have accomplished a lot and your garden looks great.

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    1. Joanne, you are so right! Each day I take a look out there and think, I need to get busy!

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  6. Great info, Melynda! I wish my chickens would eat ants....they will eat any bugs but those for some reason lol. Pinned to share!

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    1. Donna, thanks! We have been invaded here, but to be honest we were warned by one of our neighbors last summer when she said, "just wait for spring time..." and my gosh she was right!

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  7. What a fantastic looking garden!! And I am in love with your chew crew, what a cute name for them. I hope that you have been out of harm's way with all the storms that have been hitting the midwest.

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    1. We are on the fringe, getting a lot of wind, rain and thunder and lightening. But so far so good! Thank you so much for stopping by, I appreciate it.

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  8. Popping in again with congratulations! This post was one of the most-visited at the Will Blog for Comments #38 linkup this week, so it will be in the spotlight all next week (starting today). You're welcome to save the "This Blog Post Was a Featured Favorite" image there to share with your readers here. Have a wonderful weekend! We'd love to see you sharing more posts with us--old or new--next week at linkup #39.

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  9. What an amazing life you are building there in East Texas! We had chickens when I was teenager. I always enjoyed them. And your goats are so eco-friendly. My husband and I moved from the west coast to Blue Ridge Mountains in NC a couple of years ago. We say that this is our last move too. I hope it’s true! LOL!

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    1. Michelle, thank you so much for your kind words! I appreciate that you took a moment to stop and say hello! Best of luck on your Blue Ridge Mountains home.

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  10. I love the idea of using goats as helpers.

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    1. Hello, so far they are earning their keep! It did take us all a bit of time to learn to work together but now it all goes pretty smooth. Thanks for stopping by, I appreciate it.

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  11. Hi Melynda. How exciting you have the goats. The homestead is looking great.

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    1. Michelle, the goats are a lot of fun, they are so vocal about their wants and pretty much only quiet when it rains and they are under cover! Thanks for stopping by, I appreciate it.

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  12. Melynda, your completed deck looks wonderful. I am sure it has helped out so much having that project completed. Thank you for sharing your homestead with us at The Crazy Little Lovebirds link party #39.

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    1. Stephanie, it is so nice having that portion of outdoor space to be comfortable in, but I must confess, I can't wait for the rest of the deck to be completed! Thanks for stopping by, I appreciate it.

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  13. Melynda, thanks' so much for sharing your families homestead garden with Sweet Tea & Friend's May Link Up.

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    1. Paula, thank you for hosting! I appreciate being able to share with your readers at Sweet Tea and Friends!

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