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This year was definitely different for us. Our 2017 was heavily affected by our 2016 so they kind of wrap together in my mind. I don’t think I could sum up our 2017 alone, it’s really the past 18 months that make a whole.
I wrote about all of what 2016 going into 2017 encompassed when I did an update on our life a while back. In 2016, we moved to our new homestead in Florida and my dad had a major health crisis.
That brings us to the beginning of 2017……
We started out 2017 with our truck still (since November 2016) broke down and it stayed that way until February. Derek and Jack replaced the whole diesel engine in it. They worked on it in the evenings after Derek got off work and on the weekend. It took about a week and a whole lot of hours (and dollars) but they got it done.
We also started 2017 without feeling like homesteaders because we didn’t have any animals, we didn’t even have any fence to put animals in. We were kind of aimlessly wandering around in life.
Finances were very tight so funding the engine was priority and we couldn’t build fence or buy any livestock just yet. Once the truck was fixed, Derek was able to pick up side work and we were finally (9 months after our move) able to start planning for our new homestead.
We got pigs for Derek’s birthday and used our portable electric netting fence to keep them in. They also doubled as garden tillers/expanders. This was a step in the right direction.
There’s a small herd of cattle across the road from us and the man who owns them doesn’t live out here. He lives about 20 miles away and can’t get out here very often due to some health issues. We met him and agreed to look after his cattle for him. He’s a very kind hearted man and we were glad to be of help to him.
We worked out a deal to purchase a steer from him. Now, we were on our way to pastured pork and grass fed beef in the freezer. We just needed fencing up to bring the steer home.
In the spring, we were able to put up perimeter fencing. This was a huge step for us, we started feeling like homesteaders instead again.
We also bought some chicks in this spring and then Kylie was gifted some more from our friend, Tonya in Va, for her birthday in June.
We were also given the opportunity to take down a pole barn and put it on our property for free. All we had to do was invest the time and labor into it.
After all of this, we put in our cross fencing. This became a necessity after we brought Chuck (the steer) home because he liked to hang out and poop under our front porch. That was unpleasant!
Chuck was a 2016 calf and we want to be able to continually raise our own grass fed beef so we worked out a purchase of a 2017 steer from the same neighbor. He is a pretty little black and white steer. We named in Sir Loin.
Some friends from church asked if we would raise a steer for them so we worked out the details and brought a third steer home from the neighbor’s place. They named him Phil-A.
Derek and I found out that we are both A1 milk casein sensitive. Most cow milk is now A1/A1 because of genetic mutations from modern cross breeding. You can have cows tested for A2/A2 but certified A2 cows tend to be a bit pricier. That just isn’t in our budget right now. Eventually, we would love to have an A2/A2 Jersey but for now………
Goats are all A2 casein so that is what we did, we got goats! Tango and Maura joined our homestead in September. They have been great addition! We also ended up goat sitting/borrowing 5 more does in milk and a buck. We kept them up until December. We made sure both Tango and Maura were bred before we took them back. We should be having baby goats in April. We can’t wait!
We also surprised our farm kid, Emma for her 13th birthday with a horse named Pepper. It’s all that girl has wanted for a very long time. Just a few weeks later, we were given another horse named Ruby. Kylie is responsible for Ruby but she’s a family horse for everyone.
I can’t forget to mention the time that the neighbor behind us almost burned our whole place down. That was ummmmm interesting….
As for the garden this year? Well, the soil is so sandy here that it is pretty much sterile. We had big plans and started a ton of seeds. To be honest, the garden was just a huge battle and mostly losses. We planted seeds in the ground and some type of bug would eat the insides of the seed and leave the hulls. We could dig up where we placed the seed and find the empty shells.
The seedlings we started in pots were quickly eaten up by fire ants and the ones that made it to the ground just didn’t have the nutrients in the soil to grow enough.
We had almost 200 tomato plants that just petered out and didn’t set fruit.
We planted 9 30′ long rows of green beans. Surely we would get a decent harvest of beans. Most of them did sprout and they looked great until something got in the garden and ate them all one night. We guess it was a rabbit even though we had low chicken wire to keep critters out.
What did grow ok for us was squash, okra, a few watermelons, some peppers, and some cucumbers. We didn’t get enough of anything to put up or can. It was very disheartening and disappointing.
I love gardening so this was definitely hard. We had a beautiful garden bountiful harvests on our old homestead. We are working on our soil building so we next year should be a different story here.
A great thing that 2017 brought about was me blogging regularly again as well as our whole family putting out more content on our YouTube channel. We are excited to continue this into 2018.
I also wrote my first ebook! It’s called “Pasture Raising Livestock- A Beginners Guide”.
The best part of 2017? That is so easy. Our sweet new farm baby, Hope was born in July. She definitely was a ray of sunshine to our weary souls.
As 2017 has progressed, things have gotten better. We are looking forward to the new year and seeing what it holds. We have big plans and we will be sharing that with you soon.
No matter how much we plan, we know who holds everything and orchestrates our lives. No matter what happens in life, we have a peace and reassurance that everything is according to what God wants for our family.
I hope that you’ve had a wonderful blessed 2017 and pray for an even greater 2018 for you.
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