wpid-cymera_20150131_132252.jpgDays on the homestead are both slow and fast. That sounds a little Dickensian, it’s true, but that’s how it feels to me. Part of it is because of winter, and part of it is because accomplishing most tasks on the homestead is a series of small steps that complete a big task. Goals are broken into subgoals. Unlike a 9-5 job, there is no end of the day. The activities blend.

Here’s what a typical morning, right now, in winter, looks like. I wake up and check the incubator, and turn the eggs if they need it. Right now, we only have one egg in the incubator, Mrs. Leedle’s last egg before her departure from this earth. She’s given us 20 chicks so far, and her death is a huge loss to us. I’ve been thinking of what to breed her offspring to, in order to preserve their fast growth, their size, and (hopefully) their steady egg laying ability. I found a Buff Orpington rooster for sale locally, and if he looks like a likely prospect, I’ll incorporate him into my breeding program. I’ve also decided to try to acquire some Brahma hens (also for sale locally), as I hear they’re good egg layers and have a larger size. I was going to order chicks from a hatchery, and I still might do it, but for now, I think I’m hanging tight with what I got.

But I digress. Because it’s winter, I pile on the clothes to feed the horses, chickens (both inside and out), and the pigs. The horses each have different grain needs (everyone eats the same grain but in different quantities). I distribute hay rather than use round bales in their fields because it saves on wasted hay. Right now I wait until mid-day to fill their water tubs. Usually I need to adjust someone’s blanket. I try not to get stomped by a colt that’s eager for its grain.

The pigs eat different things each day, right now it’s potatoes and corn and whatever scraps are left over from the previous nights dinner, excluding meat products. For a long time they got pecans every meal but pecan season is over, and they ate them all. Next November, we will construct a mobile pen for them so we can just put them under the pecan trees, which would save me from the chore of picking the pecans up, and the pigs get the added excitement of looking for food. They love to root!

I check the boxes to see if the hens laid any eggs, and to see if the red hen, the only layer we have right now, is laying. If she’s laying, I wait until she’s done. If I don’t, the other chickens will eat all the food before she can have any, and if she’s laying in the winter, she needs all the food she can get! The bigger chickens get their regular feed and I also give them sprouted wheat for additional protein. It keeps them from getting bored, since they can eat the berries, the wheat grass, or the roots! They love it! I mix my own feed because it’s higher in protein and more bioavailable so they eat less and get more nutrients from it. Fodder is amazing stuff, and you can get 6 times the nutritional benefit using sprouted grains than simply feeding or eating the grains alone.

A young pullet I’m raising for eggs.

After the outside animals are fed, I give the baby chicks their breakfast, which includes filling their water (my 4-week olds are crazy and dump their water constantly). If I have baby chicks just born, their water includes a probiotic. Otherwise, once a week they get vitamins. We have a lot of roosters right now, so a fight or two breaks out during meal times usually. They’re crazy! The 4-week olds are growing rapidly, and in a week or two can go outside. I’m working on building an automatic waterer for them, since now we are quite chicken heavy, with 29 chickens.

I also water my indoor plants, which are growing tremendously in the manure I started composting earlier this winter.

When everyone is fed, I can finally eat. Breakfasts here are usually fast, and usually include eggs and some sort of meat. I prefer sandwiches, because they’re easy to eat. I wish we had a dairy cow so we can have fresh milk. That’s something we’re working towards!

What do mornings look like on your homestead?


Maat van Uitert is a backyard chicken and sustainable living expert. She is also the author of Chickens: Naturally Raising A Sustainable Flock, which was a best seller in it’s Amazon category.  Maat has been featured on NBC, CBS, AOL Finance, Community Chickens, the Huffington Post, Chickens magazine, Backyard Poultry, and Countryside Magazine. She lives on her farm in Southeast Missouri with her husband, two children, and about a million chickens and ducks. You can follow Maat on Facebook here and Instagram here.

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  1. Hi! I’m enjoying getting to know your blog. I am a beginner homesteader. We bought our place a couple of years ago in preparation for the empty nester phase of our lives which began this year in February. We moved here to live permanently in March. Hubby and I knew we wanted chickens and goats, but there hasn’t been a blueprint per se. He found a family that raises goats and sells the kids so we got twin girls — they are named Reagan and Lily after two littles in our lives (long story). I got 7 baby chicks that were supposed to be all girls, but I suspect 2 roosters made the cut. Sadly Abby the daschund killed 2 of my chicks and we also got 2 ducks, but one of those succumbed to some sort of illness. ANYWAY, for now, my mornings are fairly relaxed since there aren’t a lot of critters to take care of. I generally make coffee first thing and head for the pond to visit with Ira (pretty sure it’s a drake but the jury is still out). I will often take Reagan and Lily with so they can forage — we have a growing number of those wild, white “rose” bushes and they LOVE those! They get a little sweet feed and some Noble Goat later in the day — usually as a bribe to go back into their goat house. My 5 remaining chicks live in a sweet little coop I built them from primarily reclaimed lumber. I’m looking at adding some sort of run or tractor so I can move them around. The coop ain’t going nowhere! Thanks for all the awesome advice and I’ll be seeing you. 🙂

    1. Hi, thanks for stopping by and sharing your morning with me! Sounds nice and relaxing! Sorry to hear about your chicks, unfortunately they’re fragile creatures and that’s just how to goes sometimes. 🙁 I love your goats’ names! When you start a garden, if you haven’t already, be sure to put up strong fences or they’ll find themselves a snack! But the nice thing about does is they produce so much for the homestead that it’s ok when they do get into the garden!

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