Hilltop Homestead: July

For the first time in a while we’re enjoying a cool summer morning. There’s a light blanket of fog over these hills and the temperatures are pleasant and comfortable. An inch of much-needed rain fell 24 hours ago and the soil is still damp from it’s long-awaited drink.

The littles are outside playing “wilderness”, and I’ll head out soon to pick chokecherries so we can make jelly later.

The hens are locked up in the coop until midday, so I can gather some eggs. It appears they’ve begun to lay in a top-secret, un-findable location on the property. I went three days with zero eggs as a result. Consequently, they stay in the coop until a majority of them have laid their eggs before they’re allowed to wander freely.

We’re still somewhat recovering from a fun-filled weekend spending time with out-of-state company. Extended family came out to see our South Dakota home and spend the holiday weekend with us. A lot of activity (and a lot of food) was packed into a few days time, and naps have been as much a necessity as a luxury the last couple of days.

Sometime in the last week, we lost another hen. I did find several chicken bones in our tree row, but I’m not sure if those are new, or from our first chicken murder back this winter. At any rate, the mysterious disappearance of our egg laying supply is troubling.

Our pullets should begin to lay within the next month, which will help us from having to ration our egg consumption. Our meat birds should arrive next week, and we’ll carefully tend to them until processing day, where we hope to stock our freezer with several pounds of the most delicious chicken we’ll have the privilege of eating.

The guinea keets continue to prove they’re annoyingly loud and largely unintelligent. I keep expecting them to endure the same fate as our mysteriously missing hens, yet they continue to thrive and survive despite their lack of critical thinking skills.

The garden is proving fruitful so far as well. The green bean bush plants are looking healthy and should begin flowering soon, which means beans will be ready to harvest before we know it. The tomato plants and bell peppers may actually produce fruit, though it will be well into August before we see any of it.

The potatoes, which I had lost all hope for, appear to be thriving. Of course you can’t tell how well the potatoes are doing until you harvest them. Because of how late they were planted, it will be late September before we can see if they produced any potatoes, or only nice looking leaves.

Time will tell if the onions I transplanted will make it, or if the rabbits will let the raspberry and honey berry bushes survive.

We found several coyote tracks in the garden area, since the soil is wet now and prime for print-making. I hate that they’re so close to the house, or on the property at all, but I suppose it just comes with the territory of living out this way.

I also found a pile of dove feathers behind our tree row. I’m guessing an owl recently had a midnight snack right there.

We’ve been here almost twelve months now. While we’re still learning how the seasons flow, what does and doesn’t do well out here, it absolutely feels like this has been an old-soul home for our family. I feel like our property is as much a steward of our household as we are stewards of it.

Soon enough, we’ll be in the throes of autumn and preparing for winter. For now, I’m going to revel in the summer sun (or rain, this week!). I’ll keep making mental notes of what the land needs from us, and adjusting what we need from it.

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