The Collapse Experiment: Homestead update

Starting a homestead from scratch is a very time, labor, and money intensive project. Add the fact that you are trying to use mostly manual labor and you get the collapse experiment. The main question I’m trying to answer is, how to run a homestead after a societal collapse. Consider that electricity might not be around, fuel for machinery may not be available, and a limit of resources I find that it is important to learn how to do such things in the same way.

My day was filled with using left over materials from my house to work on projects. A large pile of siding was used to finish a chicken coop that I put together with small pallets and lumber from housing projects. My wife and I bought 10 chickens to add to the 6 Rhode Island reds, and two turkeys. 4x4s were salvaged from the side of the road and used for a large run to keep the new additions in.

When we bought our house a large pile of insolation was left behind. Our house has three levels and only the lower level was finished. Today I decided to lower the pile and filled in sections of wall that had not been finished. The outer wall of the gym was insolated today along with areas in the main room and above the side door.

Early in the morning I took out three containers of material to the compost bins. I picked up trash from previous years on the way back to the house. At one point the property had been part of a golf course and later bought as a project to convert into a home. While we own two of the nine holes and the club house, the 15 acres had collected empty oil bottles, an old five-gallon bucket, and dozens of golf balls that have been lost and left behind.

The garden is coming along with five 50-foot rows that have a small portion of what we will be planting. Two rows have potatoes, the rest includes strawberries, swiss chard, Detroit beets, and kale. I haven’t even planted the fun stuff yet. In the window there are tomatoes, peppers, and tobacco. I decided to try a test of the forbidden leaf in upper Michigan since it does grow well in Connecticut. There is another plot that has been plowed for either soy beans or corn. I will be planting both this year.

Out of the land we bought about five acres is cleared and the rest is thick woods. That means we needed a mower. Just before stepping out of the door, I noticed the washing machine wasn’t running. When I lifted the lid, I noticed the clothes were sitting in brown water. I clicked the dial and the motor would not kick on. We also needed a washing machine. While I have several scythes for tall grass that doesn’t cut it for the front lawn.

We stopped at the local Home Depot and bought a John Deer 160 lawn tractor with a trailer. There will be more additions down the road but at the moment I will be able to mow the lawn, haul wood on the property, collect lawn clipping for chicken food and compost, haul fresh compost to the garden. This will be a work horse for the rest of its life and hopefully mine.

We lost a turkey the other day. It was the healthy one of the two. One day it went from moving around and sticking its head out of the brooder to lying on the floor struggling to breath. I tried my best to give it water and make it comfortable and a few minutes later it died in my hands. The gimpy, weird legged, mangled feathered turkey is still kicking and will soon be outside once it gets big enough.

There is still a lot to do and there always will be. I haven’t been able to work on any of my book projects and it looks like hours will be picking up at work. The rest of the logs have been inoculated with mushroom spores and in two years we will start harvesting Lion’s mane and oyster mushrooms. I still have to collect more clean logs for the Button and Shitake spores waiting in the fridge.

At the moment, in a way, I am broke. This is a blessing in disguise. It will keep me home and working on things that need to be done instead of heading into town. There is something comforting about working outside, handling the soil, watching the chickens racing around the run, and feeling that satisfaction of a job well done.

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Back to basics

 

As of today, I am not supposed to go back to work until May 15, maybe. The governor extended the stay at home order and my place of employment still has to make several changes to the building before employees can return to work. Meanwhile, I am still at home, still trying to stay busy, and still being paid. I’m lucky, I know that. With all the people filing for unemployment and crossing their fingers for another Corona Virus check I am still ahead of the game and looking to the future for what will likely transpire in the coming months.

I made a run to the grocery store the other day and found most of the meat unavailable, as I expected with all the processing plants shutting down across the country. I wanted some Cornish hens for easy to bake meals at home and found none. My old bachelor food of choice was no longer in the freezer. I left Aldi with a full cart of food and racked my head for the next day trying to figure out where I could buy meat that would stay in stock.

A small family owned grocery store downtown only carries locally sourced meat and produce. I made an appointment, the only way they do business these days, and went in. Amish chickens were in the freezer, along with elk, wild boar, cured bacon, and several cuts of beef. One of the owners of the store is a third-generation cattle rancher and I was told beef would always be available. The only thing they could not guarantee was pork. The garden is growing, I can still buy food, and the chickens are growing quickly. At the moment life is good.

I keep myself busy these days. Since the lockdown has started, I have built a chicken coop, a new shifter for the compost bin, cleaned out the garage, kept the pantry filled, fixed several small things around the house that have been buggy me, planted a garden, and refurbished a crossbow from the 1960s. I can’t help but wonder if this is how people are supposed to live?

There is a man on YouTube that I started following after this whole thing started. He has a prepping channel and was in the navy for 20 years as a SEAL. He went in to get tested today for Covid 19 after feeling sick and having shortness of breath. He is young, about my age, in better same than me and has been on top of this thing like me since the beginning. In his last couple of videos, he wasn’t looking good and I had to wonder if that was going to be me in the near future.

I need a new project. The chickens are doing their own thing, needing little care except for feeding and a weekly cleaning of their coop. The crossbow is almost finished. The only thing I can do with the garden is wait for it to grow. I’m sure there are a few old projects I can dig out and start working on. With the new space in the garage it would be a lot easier to get things done and have easy access to tools that I didn’t have before.

Cooking is becoming a new favorite pass time. Cookbooks are becoming my new best friend with thousands of recipes to go through and plenty of time to try them out. Having a three-year-old daughter to likes to help makes it an activity that lowers the stress level in the house instead of the usual chaos that comes with cabin fever. I need a new list of things to do. Netflix isn’t cutting it anymore.

If there is one thing that can be said about this virus, the situation it created, is that it gives one time to think about many things. I doubt things will go back to normal. What ever has been unleased on the world will have a lasting impact and I have a feeling many people are considering what they have been doing with their lives and what they would like to do instead. I have three weeks, three more weeks to things to do. Most of the projects I have going on are waiting games now to see how plants will grow and feeding chickens. It’s time to find other things to do.

The late Philip Roth, the under-appreciated writer, once said that the road to hell is paved with unfinished projects. Maybe its time to dig a few of those out and take care of things once and for all.

 

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