Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Homestead Highlight: Heather



My greatest inspiration in my own backyard farming adventure has been to hear the experiences of others. I invite you to read along here as Homesteaders share their adventures and experiences from their own farms, backyards, and homes.

Want to be featured as a Homestead Highlight? I would love to hear about your experience. For more information follow the link to the information page and share your own homestead here at the Backyard Farming Connection!
 
* * *

Today I would like to welcome Heather to this space.


 
Heather is a teacher, homesteader, blogger, and writer living in western Virginia with her husband, cattle dog, cats, and chickens.  Her blog, Scratch Cradle, chronicles her flock chickens, life in the Appalachian Mountains, and research on chicken health and genetics. 




My husband and I live on a little over 3 acres in a town of just 2,000 nestled in the mountains of western Virginia.  We bought this land in 2004 to be more independent and immerse ourselves in the beauty of our diverse ecosystem.  In the woods behind our house, there are black bear, coyotes, bobcats, whitetail deer, pileated woodpeckers, and wild turkey among many other species.   We love our land and our place in it.


The property had three mature apple trees an entire hillsides of wild raspberries.  In our first few years, we added several types of dwarf apple and cherry and tilled a large garden.  Despite our best efforts to prepare the soil and water them in throughout our first year, the varieties I selected caught cedar apple rust and have never borne fruit.  However, the established trees and the garden have done well.  Something always does better each year than it’s ever done before, and something else usually flops completely.  It balances out, and we have enough.  Along the way, we’ve been learning what works for us and our land.


For the fun, challenge, and most importantly for us, the healthy and ethical protein, we began keeping chickens in 2011.  I really found a passion!  After experimenting with a few breeds last year, we have settled in to work with Basque Hens, a productive homesteading breed from Spain, and the German line of New Hampshires.  Chickens have brought us a great deal of enjoyment and provided us with amazing eggs and rich soil, definitely a great success!


We have learned that all things have a time of plenty and a time of scarcity.  While there are warm months when we can provide our neighbors and families with eggs and vegetables, there are also times when we barely produce enough for ourselves.  For this reason, we are now learning more about preserving our harvest, working to learn methods which do not require freezing or canning.


I love that our journey is always evolving and that there is ever more to learn.  We have recently purchased a new home on 33 acres in the far-away but enchanting Ozarks and are preparing for a new phase in both our personal and homesteading ventures.  We plan to be off-grid, finally construct raised beds, and build a larger chicken coop!  We grow, our animals grow, and our farm grows; we evolve and adapt.  I love the process, the work, and the journey.  May it always be so!

4 comments:

  1. Great story Heather, I really enjoyed reading it! It's so nice to read how others are working towards self-sufficiency and to get to "meet" the people in the blogging circles! You must be really excited about your next venture! We are currently looking for another piece of property in Northern New England to farm on and live sustainably. Thanks for sharing!
    ~Rob

    ReplyDelete
  2. Congratulations on the new home, Heather! Sounds like it will be a wonderful adventure. I just checked out your blog and I love it! Your photos are great. I'm a chicken-lover as well, so I enjoy looking at your gorgeous chickens. Following your blog via email now! :) Thanks for sharing your story.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank you both! We are very excited. In fact, this week we are getting ready to make a trip down to our property next week. It will be a great time to explore the land and the area. I can't wait!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Very inspiring, Heather! Thanks for sharing.

    Kathy Shea Mormino

    ReplyDelete