“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1
For the past couple of months, I have tried to maintain a blog on this website. It has been irregular at most times, and I apologize for that. I never could seem to make the time for it between school, work, church, and chores. Something else always had my time. This has been a great opportunity to tell my story. Thank you to those who have checked for posts throughout the past year.
That verse is very true, and pretty well sums up my experiences right now. I’m at a crossroads, and am headed down a new and uncharted path. I have spent the majority of the last six weeks finishing up my first year of college, and preparing for Kentucky FFA Officer interviews which will take place next Monday. If elected as a state officer, my summer will be filled with a lot of work training for the upcoming years, and working on behalf of the Kentucky FFA Association. Then the next thing will be moving to Lexington to attend the University of Kentucky in August. I’m transitioning from the familiar homestead life to the urban race.
Then I have to wonder where am I headed after that. I have a passion to teach agriculture and advise an FFA chapter. However, in an equal (and sometimes more powerful) passion I want the life in the backwoods. As BHM’s managing editor, Jessie Denning, pointed out to me, these two lifestyles are not entirely incompatible. So, maybe you will find me doing both in the years to come … who knows?
For now, my days of blogging and writing self-reliance articles, serving as a youth group leader, and some homesteading activities have come to an end so that I can focus on school and (hopefully) serving Kentucky FFA in the next year. I am saddened by it, but understand that to every thing there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven.
It has been a beautiful past couple of weeks on the homestead as flowers bloom and nature comes back to life. The past three weeks have been extremely busy! My classes are winding down for the semester, and I am trying to get everything caught up so I can be done on time. I have two (of my six) classes done, with the exception of the final exams. We also spent every night last week at church for our annual Spring Revival meetings. That went well, and we had two excellent evangelists present.
My housing plans for college next semester have also changed for the better. A friend and I will be sharing an apartment in Lexington. The cost is roughly the same as university housing, but I get to keep my independence, which is very important for me. The apartment has a wonderful kitchen, which means I’ll be able to do my own cooking from scratch like I am used to doing. I can’t imagine not being able to cook! Our place will also have its own washer and dryer (I plan on rigging an indoor clothesline to conserve energy). The apartment is also a walking distance from the buildings where my classes will be taught. Not to mention it has private parking, and is very secure. So, I’d call it a win-win situation!
My turkey hen I posted about hatched five chicks last Wednesday, and is being an excellent mother with them. I also happened to get some Easter Egger and Red Star chicks at Tractor Supply last Sunday. It is spring, and I have chick fever! All of the chicks are doing very well.
My turkey hen and her chicken family.
The chicks I purchased from Tractor Supply. I love new chickens!
On the homestead, the apples are blossoming, and the lilac smells heavenly. Our irises and crabapples are also in full bloom. It is so pretty outside right now! The ride to work and school is beautiful as the mountains start to green up, and the red buds blooms.
A honeybee pollinating an apple blossom. If the weather cooperates we will have tons of Apples this year!
My second turkey hen disappeared the week of March 23rd. She was gone without a trace. I am hoping that she will come back with a brood of poults next week. However, I have a bad feeling something may have snatched her.
I am enjoying the spring weather, and staying busy with school and work. This many classes has proved to be a challenge!
For the past six years, the Passionately Pink program has brought awareness to cancer and has raised money to help cancer patients cope with the many costs this terrible disease brings. The program is headed by a committee and student chair leader, and donated baskets are auctioned off with the proceeds benefiting cancer patients in the county. Last year, I was the student chair leader and helped coordinate the event. On Friday, March 20th, I was back at the auction as a guest and was able to bring home a pretty neat basket.
It has quite a sad story, though. The basket is filled with all kinds of equipment necessary to begin knitting, sewing, and quilting. I bid on it just to get the process flowing, and ended up bringing it home after nobody bid against me. This was donated by a lady who had been helped by Passionately Pink, and she was still financially strapped while undergoing more cancer treatments, but had a burning desire to give back to our program to help other folks. This sewing basket was compiled of many sewing heirlooms passed down in her family and is really quite a treasure. I hope I can get plenty of use out of it! She donated two other baskets similar to this. This is a good example of country people who can cooperate for a great cause and build a better community. My family donated a basket with four jars of our homemade tomato products, and some other items to go along with it.
My hens’ egg production is finally back up, and I have been able to start selling them again. Additionally, I hope to get my plants started this weekend. I’m not in any hurry since we have a good, long growing season here. I am also officially a state FFA officer candidate for the Kentucky River Region, as I found out on Saturday. I’m excited! Busy times are surely ahead.
Friday, March 20th, 2015 by James | Comments Off on Turk-A-Bator
We have had such great weather these past few days. It was actually 70 degrees the other day! I have gone hiking three different times in the last week and it has been wonderful. Hiking and exploring the woods are favorite activities of mine. If we go down onto the farm behind our homestead, we take Hannah’s German shepherd, Pongo. He has a great time.
Thanks to all the nice weather, our huge lilac bush has budded out!
Work is going good. It is slow, but I’m getting paid, so that is what matters. I am putting in all in the bank to help me through school. I am hoping to get a transfer scholarship to UK so that I only have to pay community college prices for UK classes which would be a major help financially. I plan on getting through as quickly as possible while enjoying all the experiences it has to offer. So, this August, my work on the farm will be paused while I am in Lexington during the week and possibly performing any other jobs I’ll have at that point. I hope to be working for an Equine Veterinarian when I begin school, which will be a good experience for me.
I plan to be posting more on the blog as I’ll have more to post about since spring is here! Not much goes on here during the winter time except high school girls’ basketball games (on a similar note, nine UK Men’s Basketball Championships would be awesome).
Yesterday, after my post-work-hike, I got the turkey hen settled in on her new nest. I have her in a cage in the coop with a big clutch of chicken eggs to hatch. I’ve never had a broody turkey, so I wasn’t sure how many eggs she could handle. I figured since chickens can hatch about 18, she would be able to hatch 24. She covers them all very well. I gave her 6 blue and green eggs, 3 white eggs, and the rest brown. I can’t wait for them to hatch!
Since, his counterpart died, my goose has followed me around everywhere. He was waiting outside Gran’s storm door and was pecking at the window. Silly goose!
Last week, I received my acceptance letter for the University of Kentucky! I am so excited. I’ll be able to start my career in three years, and get started saving up to buy my next place where it is secluded and off the grid. I am excited and can’t wait for all the adventures I am going to have.
It’s been pretty wild here. We have spent the last month in a snow storm, and sub-zero temperatures. That has finally ended now that spring is here. The frogs are hollerin’ and the evenings are long and warm. It’s a good place to be for sure! I am working two days a week now as an English tutor, and my schedule has been expanded to six college classes totaling 20 credit hours. So, I stay pretty busy.
My turkey hen is nesting right now, and I am collecting a clutch for her. Her eggs were lost during the weather due to the bad temperatures; they froze before I got to them.
Soon we will be starting seeds and thinking about a garden. I’m ready for it!
In the past month, we have had the most severe winter weather in Kentucky for nearly two decades. Lots of cold, and lots of snow. I have spent the better part of my time fighting the weather. Schools have been cancelled for two weeks or more. My computer died during this time too, and that has been aggravating. I have also taken up a job as an English tutor at my school which proves to be pretty enjoyable.
However, the winter weather is depressing to this Southerner and I look back to a nicer time when we had color and fresh veggies at our fingertips. Enjoy the photos!
Winter in Kentucky is not anything like winter in the Dakotas or Wisconsin, but I’ll just tell you I am tired of it! I’m ready to play in the dirt and hatch baby chicks. Luckily, this weekend we had a brief reprieve from winter and got to enjoy some sunshine and warm weather. It was warm the entire weekend, and is supposed to be today, too.
On Saturday, I was able to do plenty of straightening up around the old place. We cleaned out all the garbage, which for us is anything that can’t be burnt, recycled, or reused. That was a relief just to get that stuff out of my sight. I also took the opportunity to clean my coops and lay down some fresh bedding, which the chickens loved!
Our homestead experienced another death on Friday: my prettiest, lop-eared rabbit, Thumper. She was one of my original breeders, and I have had her for quite some time. She was an excellent mother. I’m not sure how it happened, but if you have animals you’re going to lose them eventually.
Me and Thumper. She was a good rabbit!
On a lighter note, I took advantage of the weather and did some hiking. We took a hike down onto the farm behind us and took two different trails that are cut on it. It was a great adventure, and we got to take Pongo, the German shepherd with us. It went really well, and we spent about two hours just having fun.
Then Sunday, after church, a friend and I went on a hike in the Red River Gorge. It turned into more than I bargained for. The trail to Swift creek was good except at the very end when it turned treacherous. It went downhill sharply and was covered in ice. We managed to navigate down it, but once we reached the creek, we decided we should use a different trail on the way back up. The trail forked and we decided to take the left. Then we embarked on the most intense trail I’ve ever done. I can’t describe it. It took us four and a half hours just to get back to the main road. Somehow, I managed to make it back in time for church that evening. It was fun, but I won’t be doing that trail again anytime soon.
I did get some exciting news last week. I will taking a new job at my school for the semester as an English tutor.
Right now, girl’s basketball season is full swing and we are away from home to watch my sister play at least three nights a week for games. This past Saturday, we took a fairly long trip to watch her play basketball at a small private high school in the mountains. This place is in Knott County, Kentucky, and is around one hour and thirty minutes from our house. Knott County (and surrounding counties) is famous for the fact that they host the largest free-roaming elk herd in the eastern United States.
I, being an avid wildlife enthusiast, had to see these majestic animals. Elk have been reintroduced to the area for the past 15 years as part of an effort to reclaim land that was used in mountain top removal for coal mining. These animals were turned out there, and left to their own devices. There are around 13,000 elk in eastern Kentucky. Here are a few links about the project:
After the ball game (which we lost) we set out looking for a place to find an ideal place to view them. We managed to come upon an old strip mine, and were able to drive up through it. I was dead set to see an elk, but it didn’t happen. However, we did see a few deer.
Excuse the quality; they were trying to get away from us!
It was dark when we got home that night from the ball game, but I did manage to spot some wildlife. When I went to shut in my chickens, I saw a hugeskunk! It was the biggest I had ever seen, and to beat it all he was eating my turkey eggs. I have had numerous encounters with skunks over the past few months and I have come to the conclusion that sometimes it is best to leave them alone. So, I did just that. I shut the second building up and then I went to the house for about an hour then came back after he was gone. I didn’t get to see an elk, but did manage to meet a skunk. What a trade!
We also have a homestead mystery on our hands. My female goose is missing-in-action. I have no idea what has happened to her. She was there last Saturday night, and was gone the next morning. I cannot find any traces of an abduction, and I don’t believe she is nesting since the gander is acting normal and staying close to home. I feel a fox or coyote probably got her in the night. I’ll miss her even though she was Satan’s spawn.
What is so ironic about all of this is that I have had the same gander since I started raising geese, but all three of his goose women have died strangely. They were also acquired separately. I usually just keep a pair. Now he is a bachelor yet again…
Happy belated New Year! I have spent the majority of the past month on the road. We’ve had quite a busy time. Since my last post on December 9, I have had college finals, Christmas festivities, and lots of basketball! I helped out at church one night for four hours to record a CD to give away at the Christmas program. Unfortunately, my homestead has suffered for it; I haven’t gotten many projects done lately.
The week following my last post I had all of my college finals, and last week of fall semester classes. I was happy to see my grades were finalized at four A’s and a B. College is a lot of work! My B grade was so very close to an A in the other class, but I didn’t get it in the end. Oh well, there are more important things than grades in the world.
After that (thankfully) we began hitting play practice hard. We practiced twice a night four days a week, and boy did that really wear us out! We worked hard, and it turned out great. We had around 180 people come to our church (which is the last stop on a dead-end road) for the program.
Before I knew it, it was Christmas! We spent Christmas Eve with my dad’s family and had Christmas Day at the homestead. This year my mom tried something new — she wrapped the gifts in recycled newspaper! I thought it was pretty ingenious.
After Christmas, we spent the majority of the following week at two basketball tournaments for my sister. They didn’t win the championship, but it sure was fun watching her play. She even made the all-tournament team (and she is just a freshman)!
My family then hit the city for a day. We went to a book store in Lexington, where I managed to raid the entire place, but didn’t buy anything. It is much cheaper to buy them used on eBay. But I do think it does a body good to go on an adventure every now and then.
This past weekend we took a hike to Sky Bridge in the Red River Gorge which isn’t too far from our home. It was a dreary day, but seeing the sights were interesting anyhow!
Now we are two weeks into 2015, and I will strive to make the best of it. My next semester of classes start tomorrow, and I will be taking 17 credit hours this round. The good news is, I will finish community college at the end of this semester.
I am enrolled in:
Human Anatomy & Physiology
Appalachian Literature (I am really looking forward to this one)
Preparation is part of my personality, and always has been. I’m currently preparing for my move to Lexington in the fall to attend the University of Kentucky and pursue a degree in Agriculture Education. I am also preparing for my second attempt to run for Kentucky FFA State Office. I ran last year and was defeated. However, I never give up, so I am working now to prepare myself again and hopefully succeed. FFA is a co-curricular student organization that is built upon agricultural education in high school, and seeks to develop its members in premier leadership, personal growth, and career success. It is actually the largest career and technical education in the nation with 610,240 members in 7,665 chapters. My preparations will involve interview practice with a variety of teachers and university professors, parliamentary procedure, FFA knowledge, and agriculture issues and literacy. So wish me luck! This has been a dream of mine for quite some time.
“You can’t have a million dollar dream with a minimum wage work ethic.” — Oguz Serdar
So, in between my crazy life I have been thawing rabbit water bottles in the brutal cold and collecting eggs like normal. Hope all is well with you and yours during this new year.
A couple of years ago, a stray cat and kittens were dropped off here on my homestead. The people who dropped them off knew we would probably take care of them as we are big animal lovers. The cat population exploded, and at one time we ended up with 40 cats — way too many! Eventually, we gave some away, some died, and we got the females spayed; consequently our population lowered to around 17. This past week we had an appointment to get the last two female cats fixed, so I had to catch them the night before. The first one was easy enough to catch, but then I had to catch Janice. She is wild and mean, so I had to use a fishnet to catch her, which she ended up destroying. This was my third fishnet, as we have destroyed the others catching various crazy cats over the past two years. The next day, my aunt, Terry, took the cats to the vet’s office before work and I picked them up on the way back from college. I went into the vet’s office to pick the cats up (they know me well by now; we’ve had 11 spayed). But when I went to pay the bill, I noticed it was half the usual cost for two cats. So I questioned the vet, who told me that Janice had already been fixed! My aunt and I had spent all that time and effort on a cat already spayed. I guess after catching 11 female cats, they all blend together! Luckily, the vet figured this out before he performed the surgery. This should end our kitten days on the homestead … at least until another cat is dropped off! We live a fun, crazy life here on the ridge.