Homestead Roots Newsletter – 5/22/2024

Another week has passed and I am excited to share another update from the homestead and garden! We’ve stepped into a wet pattern here in Wisconsin. The way the past few years have gone it is difficult to complain about any moisture, so I won’t. I think we got about 3″ of rain yesterday. The garden will soak it up and grow and of course so will the weeds. That is just how it goes!

Great Progress on the Homestead Garden

The homestead garden. It’s a little ugly but should grow us food!

We made excellent progress on our homestead garden over the weekend. We really committed most of our Saturday to that project. Step one was to complete the prep for our garden beds. This meant bringing in healthy amounts of our homemade compost, dumping it on the beds and then raking it smooth. Each garden bed is about 6 feet wide. That will give us two 30″ beds and a 12″ walking path or just a nice wide 6 foot bed. Ingrid and the kids planted our potatoes after getting the beds prepped. Nice to have something in the ground down there!

The boys and I then got to work finishing up the fence. We know better than to put in a garden without a fence! The deer are pretty active around here, we use a heavy duty 7.5′ plastic deer fence. I did a quick video on the fence on our social media: The fence has two permanent sides and two sides that will be removable. This will allow us to take down the fence a couple of times per year for harvest and bed preparation. The alternative would be putting in a large gate or two, which is costly and extra labor.

After getting the fence up we moved down some of our orchard trees. The trees were overdue to be moved! We grafted them 3 years ago now and have been keeping them happy in a small nursery bed in the garden ever since. Last year they got really chewed down by the rabbits, so we had to cut them way back and basically start from scratch. They are all a bit odd looking but hopefully they find their path!

After transplanting the first round of trees and doing a little more research we decided to wait on the other trees. It isn’t the best idea to move trees that are fully leafed out. I think the trees we moved will be fine but moving the rest of the trees when they are dormant and not so vulnerable to drying out seems like a better plan. We will see if we stick to that. We might just do it anyway, if the first round of trees look OK. In all we transplanted 10 trees. We watered them in good for a few days and the rain has helped us a lot as well. I did prune the trees back as well to help them get established.

Next up we need to keep filling the garden beds! This will mean onions, dried beans, popcorn, winter squash and pumpkins.

Meat Chickens Part 1 of 2

Freedom ranger meat chickens.

Cornish cross meat chickens.

We’ve been doing meat chickens about as long as we’ve been homesteading. Many lessons have been learned! I will make this a two part series with more details on how we raise them next week. Here are a few don’t lessons:


Brood them in your basement, SO MUCH DUST

Start them too early or too late, if you start too early you might be delayed getting them to pasture and if you start too late it may get too cold for them

Be mindful of the heat. Full grown meat chickens in chicken tractors in the July/August heat can be a problem. We’ve had to mist birds to keep them cool and have lost birds to the heat as well

Be unprepared at butcher time. Find some friends or borrow some equipment. Butchering is much easier with the right equipment. If you only have a few birds it is doable but if you have more than 25, good equipment is recommended.

Let them go too long. Cornish cross (white) chickens can get too big. Too big for processing equipment, too big for the bags and too big for their own health when they die right before you are going to butcher because they are too big

Try to make up your own feed blend. We have a friend who did this two years in a row with horrible results! Trust the experts!


Check out next week’s newsletter for more positivity on meat chickens. We enjoy the process (and eating) very much and have a lot to share.

Battling the Rain, Reviewing our Plans

The garden is looking great!

As I mentioned earlier we have been contending a bit with the rain. Lots of weed pressure as a result so we’ve been doing some weeding. Ultimately we really need to get some more mulch into the garden but we just haven’t had time as of yet. Our crew is harvesting like crazy and we’ve been very busy which I appreciate!

In an effort to grow a more diverse mix of greens we’ve been adding in some new stuff. This year we are growing asian greens and trying to grow more mesclun, arugula and spinach as well. In the end it is all ingredients for salad but the diversity of greens add more flavor and texture to the salad. Many of the other greens also have more nutrients than standard lettuce.

We are finding with our garden plan that things just aren’t moving quite fast enough in the garden. So we have plantings coming up with no where to put them. We are doing our best to take notes and make adjustments. Hopefully, things don’t get too far off track. Our veggies grow far more aggressively in the summer than they do in the spring so we will need to adjust the timing to make al that work.

We are full on into the transition to summer crops in the garden. Tomatoes are looking really good now and we have cucumbers and zucchini in the ground as well.

Quitting Too Soon

We live in a world of instant gratification today. I can’t help thinking of the wonderful things sitting just beyond the point when people quit. Market gardening has been the hardest thing Ingrid and I have done as a couple. The hours, the labor, the stress, the failure. Through the challenges we made it a point to stay positive and not let the bad overshadow the good. There is SO MUCH GOOD. And if we had given time to the bad we wouldn’t have made it to where we are today. And where we are today is GREAT. We certainly don’t have it all figured out. We still deal with a lot of stress and challenges but through TIME we have built a base of knowledge and muscle memory and process to get things done. I remember us talking about how things felt easier at the beginning of last year. We had a new level of confidence as well. Last year was our 10th year growing and 5 year seriously growing for our market. Imagine if we had let the negative win in years 7, 8, or 9. We never would have had the breakthrough we experienced. We never would have experienced what we have today!

So this is just my message to say, don’t quit too soon. Good things take time. This could of course relate to any work you do, it also applies to our marriages and relationships and parenting. Keep your head down, focus on the positive, learn from the negative and failure and keep your eyes forward.

Thank you as always for reading and for following along on this journey. As always I would love to hear from you. If you have questions or suggestions just reply to this email and I will be in touch.