Hexemaus Farms

Adventures in Homesteading

Hexemaus Farms - Adventures in Homesteading

Been Awhile…Missed You Guys!

So I’m finally home and settled back into normal farm routines. Figures, just in time to split wood and winterize the place. But, this is the time of year I love the most. :D

What happened since the last time I posted? Well, a lot. But the only thing that really bears repeating is I have a NEW GRANDSON!! He is so stinkin’ cute, it’s not even funny. See…look for yourself:

His name is Korbyn William Alan Conger. He was born on October 9th, 7lbs 14.25 oz, and less than 24 hours after his father landed. Jody got in from Afghanistan for his R&R late Saturday night. Roxie went into labor (again) Sunday morning, and by Sunday evening, little Mr. Korbyn made his appearance.

I left to come back to the farm the day they all came home from the hospital. I was surprised to arrive and find flowers from a dear friend waiting for me. That got me to thinking, actually. I’ve had several friends become grandparents in the last few weeks. I wish I had been un-busy enough to think to send flowers to everyone. (Sorry guys – you know I love you and if I hadn’t been busy with my own grand youngin’, I woulda sent ya somethin’.) Although, truthfully, one of my recent grandma buddies actually lives in England.

I mentioned to a writing colleague of mine that I guess it was a good thing I didn’t start sending flowers, as I have no clue if you can even send flowers internationally like you can in the states. It wouldn’t have been fair to send flowers to some and not the other, right?

I know you can find companies that do gift baskets and such, and most will ship overseas to certain areas. (There are limits as to where you can send things, and some places don’t let you send perishable stuff – are flowers considered perishable? It’s not like someone is going to toss up a salad out of the flowers you send, right?) So just to answer my own curiosity, I went looking. I’ve never sent flowers internationally, so I didn’t know if you could.

Well now I’m happy to say that I know. Yes, you can send flowers internationally. There are companies like Serenata Flowers that can arrange international flower delivery. Since my fellow grandma buddy lives in the UK, I could have even gotten same day flowers through Serenata – not that knowing that does me much good NOW. But at least now I know it’s possible. I browsed around their site (you can opt to have flowers delivered locally here in the States, too – even though Serenata is UK-based) and I couldn’t find information about their green practices. However, they do have a sister site that does plant delivery, for those of us who would rather send something that will live on.

In other farm news, I’m browsing around my local area to find some gardening classes. The fall garden has done horribly, although some of that might be due to Josh snacking in the garden constantly…and forgetting to water it while I was gone for nearly 3 weeks. I know places like Rutgers have classes for the home gardener, so I’m trying to see if one of our local universities has something similar. Perhaps there’s something I’m missing to get a big harvest (other than not being home for so long.)

I do know I need more space for the Spring garden. That’s part of our problem with harvest size. The little side garden just isn’t big enough to plant much. However, I want to find some community gardening classes so I can learn what I don’t know before spring gets here. The plan is to replant the little side garden so Josh stays out of the big garden. We’ve started referring to it as the Snack Garden. lol. But I really want to get enough out of next spring’s garden to start tinkering with canning. I love the idea of a pantry lined with garden goodies for winter. It would be nice, now that the cold weather is setting in, to be able to grab some tomatoe paste from the pantry to make a big ol’ pot of chili. :(


Busy, busy, busy…stay tuned

Wow, has it really been six weeks since I updated the blog? Gee, time sure does fly when you have hens layin’ and a garden bubbling over! I can’t believe we’re already heading into the Halloween season. Didn’t I just post about spring gardening stuff??

Let’s start with some quick updates…

The garage-turned-barn project – It’s going to take more than we thought to convert the garage over completely. Starting with the front wall – it’s nowhere near hoofproof. The normally-would-be-fine 2×4 stud wall just would never hold up to a few good kicks from a bored draft pony or an irritated don’t-you-have-a-clue-what-you’re-doing milk cow. So until Spring, the chickens have taken over the barn. We have nesting boxes mounted on the wall, but the girls seem to all favor just one or two nests. They have run of the yard during the day, but get closed into the garage-turned-henhouse-til-Spring in the evenings.

The Great Chicken Adventure – We lost a hen last week to a overzealous puppy. Chasing is soooo much fun to a young dog, but what do you do when you finally catch one of those birds? Well, you try to play with it and when it stops playing, there’s always eating it to fall back on. *shudder* Not a fun morning. As for our final head count, turns out we have four roosters in our midst…can you say bar-b-que? :D The remaining five hens have all started laying, although one or two of them aren’t consistent yet. Last week, we were averaging three eggs a day. This week we’re up to four. I haven’t bought eggs in a month & have sent a few over to my inlaws. I’m lovin’ having farm fresh stuffs…it’s so damn cool. :D :D

The garden – Our early summer cucumbers are producing more now, even with wilting vines and browning leaves, than they did during the summer. The new fall vines are working their way up the fenceline. The sugar snap peas have barely reached halfway up the little climbing fence we made for them (less than 3 feet tall) but they’re poppin’ out hulls all over the place. The limas are eeking out a little here and there. I had planned on pulling up the watermelon vines to make way for lettuces and such, until I went outside a week ago to find a half dozen watermelons slowly plumping up. Guess we’ll leave those a little longer. The fall corn is about 3 feet high and sprouting those little brown cat tail-ish tops.

Funny thing with the garden? I haven’t been able to bring in the first pea, cucumber, bean…or anything else for that matter in weeks. Josh keeps walking by me, mumbling something about having the munchies, and next thing you know? Everything in the garden is picked clean! He stands in the middle of the garden munching out on anything even close to being ripe. He does it every morning. I may not have anything to cook or can, but at least I know my boy’s eatin’ good, even if he doesn’t save anything for the rest of us.

We have a variety of other little projects moving along…working on the wiring for my office, fixing little odds and ends that bust before I can get to this project or that, and testing out ideas for other projects. Josh and Mike are itching to get started on wood splitting chores for the winter. Josh fired up the bench grinder and sharpened everything with a hint of an edge on it. He’s wanting to chop stuff, just so he can have something else to sharpen. Who woulda thought a Porter Cable bench grinder would be the perfect Christmas gift for a 16 year old? But Mom & Dad sure hit the mark with that one last year!

I leave for the first leg of my New York trip in just a few days. Going to see the oldest for a week, then back again in a few weeks after the grandbaby’s born. After three granddaughters in three years, I’m ready to buy some cute little baby boy stuff. Korbyn William Alan Conger is due the middle of October…and all us grandmas and great grandmas are getting excited!!

With chicken chores, attempting to beat a teenager to the garden so I can actually harvest something, trips to New York, and everything else going on in the next few weeks, I don’t expect to have much time for the farm blog. However, I’ll post as soon as I get out from under, well, a few things…something…anything. I’d really like to finish SOMETHING this month. :D

If we don’t see you before then, enjoy your Halloween or Fall Festival – whichever suits your fancy!

It’s Blog Jog Day! Welcome Everyone…

Welcome to Blog Jog Day! Glad you could stop by and visit for a lil’ while. Welcome to our little patch o’ heaven online, Hexemaus Farms. Pardon the construction debris and watch out for the chicken poop. If you can make it to the front door without muddy paw prints on your good slacks, we’ve got ice cold sweet tea waitin’ on the porch for ya!

So what is Hexemaus Farms? Well, ya ever wonder what it’s like to live on a farm? Ever think to yourself what an adventure it might be to cash in your city livin’ chips and head out to the boonies to live a greener, more self-sufficient lifestyle? Well, our family did just that! We chronicle our adventures here on the farm blog – from learning how to raise chickens to remodeling the garage into a 2-stall barn, from gutting the house down to the bare studs to growing our first vegetable garden. It’s all shared here on the blog – warts, dirty fingernails and all.

Please enjoy your stay here at Hexemaus Farms, then click over to VHP Author Blog to see what the next Blog has to offer! Lost in the links? You can always go back to the main Blog Jog Day Blog at http://blogjogday..blogspot.com and find a new link to jog from. Thank you for stopping by my site!

I Just Spent HOW MUCH On Fall Seeds???

Well, now I’ve gone and done it. I spent a small fortune on seeds for the fall garden. We may not have utilities next month, but I’ll have PLENTY of stuff started for cool weather crops. Oh well. Electricity is overrated anyway. :D

On the agenda for fall…

I’ve already started some radishes, some iceburg lettuce, and some carrots in cups indoors. I’m gonna try my hand at container gardening inside for some of the stuff this year’s heat and drought burned up. I figure one of two things will happen – I’ll have plenty of stuff for salads in a few weeks…or I’ll have a ton of cups full of dead plants. Worse things could happen, right?

Most of the seeds have sprouted, thanks to a quickly rigged grow light over the Rubbermaid bin. For the first time this year (after 3 attempts already) I finally got some carrots to sprout. Cross your fingers they do more than just peek out of the seedling cups.

Now as for the astronomical amount I just spent on more seeds…all I can say is those folks at Johnny Seeds better have nothing but nice things to say about me. :) Even getting a bunch of seeds on sale for $1, I still spent $100 on nothing but seeds. No fertilizer. No seed trays. No garden soil. No nifty little gardening tools. Just seeds. Lots and lots of seeds.

So, what are we planting for the fall garden? Well, straight from my Johnny Seeds receipt, we have:

  1. Baby bunching leeks
  2. Smooth leaf spinach
  3. Arugula
  4. A winter density pack of Romaine & assorted other salad greens
  5. Indigo radicchio
  6. Endive
  7. Escarole
  8. Arcadia hybrid broccoli
  9. Hercules carrots
  10. Cherriette radishes
  11. Celery
  12. Candy onions
  13. Sugar snap peas
  14. Bicolor late season corn
  15. Diva cucumbers
  16. Buttercrunch bibb lettuce
  17. Chinese leeks (chives)
  18. Stiffneck (Ajo Rojo) garlic – won’t ship til September or November
  19. Sage
  20. Creeping Thyme

So, a few more herbs to add to my already-exploding herb garden, a bunch of lettuces/chicory/salad greens, some good late season veggies, and stuff that I’ll mulch over for the winter & harvest in spring.

I can’t wait! As a matter of fact, some of these I’ll have to start the day the seeds arrive, and even then I’ll be a little behind. According to our climate zone, I should’ve already started the leeks & the celery. I should be starting the broccoli, radicchio, and the peas this week. I think everything else can wait a bit. I think. I hope.

I should have everything (except the garlic) in the ground by the first week of September. That’s a good thing. Come September, my trees from the Arbor Day Foundation should arrive. Did you know that if you become a member of the Arbor Day Foundation, they send you 10 free trees? For a $15 yearly membership, that works out to $1.50 a tree. Not bad! I opted for the flowering variety for my zone. They’ll ship in time for fall planting. I’m thinking I’ll plant them along the driveway so that in a few years, we’ll have a nice row of flowering trees as we pull into the drive.

The other cool thing about joining the Arbor Day Foundation, and the actual reason why I signed on, I can get my fruit trees, living fence trees, and other tree stuff for around half what it would cost elsewhere. I was pricing honey locusts for our living fence project. For 3-5′ trees, everyone else wanted an average of $10. My member price through the folks at Arbor Day is around $5, with free shipping no less! Can’t go wrong there. And besides, my dues help pay for some of their educational programs, so I can feel good about tossin’ my hard-earned greenbacks their way. Always a good thing.

So what about you? Are you braving a fall garden? Whatcha plannin’ on plantin’, if you don’t mind my asking?

Anyone in the southeastern part of the US care to share tips/ideas/suggestions for our fall garden? If so, I’m all ears!

Chickens, chickens, and more darn chickens

Raising my first batch of baby chicks has been an interesting adventure. I’m lucky in that I bought 6 unsexed chickens from our local feed & seed and didn’t wind up with all roos. 3 Australorps and 3 Rhode Island Reds. Turns out, we got one of each rooster and 2 of each hens.

The Australorp rooster seems to be the alpha. The RIR rooster regularly gets his tail feathers plucked out almost as fast as he can grow them in. Since Big Blackie, as I’ve come to call him, seems to be the most interested in protecting his little harem of hens, I imagine the Rhode Island Red rooster will end up dinner at some point.

I’ve started letting them roam in the garden for an hour or so each day. They love that! The girls line up at the edge of the coop as soon as they see me reaching to lift it. Mike and I have fun chasing them down after their play time to get them back in the coop. I’d love to just let them run, but they’d destroy the garden and one of our cats has taken a fancy to the idea of a fresh chicken dinner. Yikes!

I need to finish the coop so the girls have nesting boxes to lay their eggs. I also need to figure out when to remove the roosters. I’m hopeful that I can just let Big Blackie roam the farm & do what roosters do, but I dunno how well he’d fair against cats, dogs, and other preditors. I guess, at some point, we’ll just have to take our chances and see. I like the idea of a few chickens just having free reign to roam the farm.


Everyone was being camera shy while I was snapping pictures. They kept huddling up together under the roof, rather than coming out to be photographed

Why Can’t I Do It All?

When friends, family, or other folks stop by the farm and see all we have going on with house renovations, kennel projects, garden projects, etc., I usually get comments like

“Gee, you sure do have your work cut out for you.”

“Wow, this is a lot to take on.”

Or my favorite…

“Why don’t you <insert some well-meaning idea about how we could do things easier or how I should focus on one project at a time, etc.>”

They’re all spot-on in their comments and suggestions. I’m sure there are easier ways to do things.

But who wants easy? It takes all the satisfaction out of doing something.

Yes, we do have our work cut out for us and this farm is a lot to take on. All the more satisfaction when we’re done.

Now the focusing on one project at a time thing…oh geez, don’t I wish. There are days when I look around at the upteen million projects in various stages and I just want SOMETHING to be finished. Something. ANYTHING. I want one room that is completely re-wired, with pretty new sheetrock, and completely painted walls, finished floors, and furniture where it is meant to stay for good.

I would love to have that one room. I really, really would.

It just doesn’t work that way. We had to stop hanging the ceiling in my office to leave an opening to get to the electrical. The floor under my office is completely bricked in and concreted (it used to be a porch) so there’s only one way to run wiring – through the ceiling.

But, we can’t finish the wiring until I figure out how I’m going to get to the junction box under the house that currently feeds the office. I can’t just pull the old breaker, cut the wires, and drop them under the house. The office is on the same 20amp breaker as all three bedrooms, so first, I have to trace back to the main junction box and disconnect the main feed to the office without cutting power to the bedrooms.

But, I can’t do that until the guys finish the septic tank move, because the only access to that side of the crawlspace is…you guessed it. Right next to the old septic tank and all it’s leaking, puddling the yard splendor. I don’t mind getting dirty, but I draw the line at belly crawling through septic tank ooze, thank you.

So, we’ve been working on other things. Like wire moulding for the living room and dining room (since we can only fish wiring into certain walls in those rooms.)

This is just the way things go. Stop this project because you have to work on this before you can proceed. But, before you can work on this, you have to do that. It’s a neverending renovating circle of Hell.

I would love…really, really LOVE to focus on one project at a time. And I guess, in a way, you could say that I am. I’m focusing on the house and it’s 23,943 smaller projects required to make it a decent home again.

When I can’t STAND my lack of walls, or plethora of exposed subflooring, or lack of a real kitchen stove, or the Pepto pink bathroom that always looks like it needs a visit from a hazmat team no matter how much bleach I pour on everything…I go outside and work on outdoor projects.

Or I dive into my computer, researching everything farm-ish to learn all I don’t know about homesteading yet. And believe me, there’s soooo much I have to learn. So much, it’s overwhelming at times. Kind of like the house project gets overwhelming.

Today, I think, is one of those all around overwhelming days. I just want to scream “why can’t I do it all? Why am I limited to only 24 hours in a day? Why can’t I get these projects finished faster? How the holy Hell do contractors get whole house renovations done in a few weeks, yet I’ve been at this two years and still don’t have a barn, or fencing, or walls, or a single solitary finished room?” Then I remember…

…they have crews full of dozens of professionals that could do this stuff in their sleep. They don’t have to pull up a blog or DIY website somewhere to find out how to replace a kitchen sink. They don’t have to research how to install a new holding tank for a well system. They can just do it. And they have lots more manpower than an inexperienced Mom and 2 teenagers. They don’t have to work a full time job first, then do laundry, feed the kids, take out the trash, talk to the boys about their school work, pick up the grandbaby, THEN work on renovation projects if there’s any daylight left.

So, while some days I really think I might have bitten off more than I can chew (like today) it’s still not enough for me say “uncle” – not yet, anyway. I do hereby reserve the right to say uncle at some point in the future, just not today. Instead, today will be a work day. I’ll spend the day, holed up in my as yet unfinished office/craft room, working on writing projects.

I will ignore unfinished walls.

I will ignore miles of Romex coiled near virtually every wall in my house.

I will ignore the partially finished subflooring in my office.

I will ignore the garage wall that STILL does not have windows, or siding, or even a door…even though we started that project two years ago, before we even moved in.

I will ignore the odd placed furniture (because I can’t put it “there” until we finish the wall, which I can’t do until we finish the wiring, which I can’t do until we find the junction box, which I can’t crawl under the house to find until the septic guys drain the mud field that has become my backyard…)

I will ignore all these things today and hide out in my favorite place…the written word. I have plenty of work-related deadlines to meet and writing projects I CAN finish today.

Tomorrow I can be Farmer Jane, the Do It All Gal. Today, I’m just going to be Hermit Me with a pen, my reference books, and some article ideas.