If you're wondering how to utilize sloped or shady areas of your property, how to utilize animals to maintain the wooded areas, and how to prioritize homestead projects, then this is the podcast for you!
Today's Pioneering Today Podcast (episode #377) is a live coaching call I did with Briana-Jo, a member of the Pioneering Today Academy, came to me with her questions and I gave her my best responses.
A while back, Briana-Jo moved onto her grandparent's property to help out as her grandfather started having health issues.
In 2018 Briana-Jo picked up her first pack of seeds (they were green beans, which her family loves), and the rest is history.
Now, three years into her journey, she's looking for more guidance on how to maximize the property she's on, including how to utilize sloped areas, timber/shady spots and how to maintain it all while working 30 miles away at a full-time day job.
She's looking for tips on where to start to make a maximum impact toward the goals she has for this property.
This is a girl after my own heart because, when I was working as a Pharmacy Technician, I had pretty much the same schedule and commute, all while trying to grow and maintain a working homestead with my family.
How to Prioritize Projects
Briana-Jo shared that she has a handful of projects she wants to accomplish and just doesn't know where to start.
Briana-Jo's Project List
- She wants to build a fence to keep deer out of the garden (as they ate many of her crops last summer).
- She wants to organize the garage so she doesn't waste money buying supplies she knows she's already purchased.
- She wonders if she needs to create some kind of root cellar for additional food storage. Since the home she's living in is currently set above 70°F, fresh food storage isn't conducive to this temperature for storing long-term. Briana-Jo likes to buy in bulk from a local farmer those items she's not growing enough for the year on her own. Having storage spaces is key, especially for potatoes and onions.
- She also wants to replace the carpet in the house because the cats continually get infested with fleas.
Prioritizing the projects is the first step in knowing where to start. But knowing what takes priority can be hard to figure out. So how do you prioritize projects?
First, you look at the season. Since the garden is in a dormant state right now, we don't have to worry about getting the garden fenced in. That should have a plan put in place in early spring.
This plan should include a materials list, when you need those materials on hand, how long it will take to build the fence, etc.
Second, you look at what's most important to you. This allows us to turn the immediate focus toward the garage or the flooring inside the house.
Because the cats have also been dealing with constant reinfection of fleas, then this immediately makes the floor the immediate priority.
With the garage, once the flooring is replaced, this task can be broken down into sections. By splitting the garage up into bite-sized zones, you can accomplish this task in smaller chunks of time.
If anyone wants to declutter their home, check out this decluttering month-by-month blog post and this post on keeping your home clutter-free.
By organizing your projects into the season and what's most important to you, it's pretty easy to go from there.
As for Briana-Jo building a root cellar, I don't think this is necessary. There are so many great ways to create a “make-shift” root cellar, including using the garden itself! This is how we store our potatoes all year without a root cellar.
Also, when buying onions for long-term storage, it's important that they're actually storage onions. Generally speaking, sweet onions and purple onions will not store well. Choosing the correct variety of onions is key in keeping them all year.
Also, see if you can purchase onions with their stems still on, this helps them last longer. Finally, making sure the onions are cured correctly is crucial when storing them long-term.
Building a root cellar does not fall into the priority for now because we aren't harvesting crops from the garden. This is a project to focus on having completed (if needed) by the end of summer.
Raising Meat Birds
Briana-Jo wants to raise meat birds, but the only area for her to do so is over a drain field. She wonders if this is OK.
Yes! Because the waste field is built properly and underground, the chickens will be just fine.
Keeping Pigs in the Woods
Briana-Jo wonders if she can raise pigs in the forest.
Raising pigs to help clear the forested/wooded areas is a great way to create a permaculture homestead. We actually raised American Guinea Hogs and they were great at clearing wooded areas.
Do consider that this breed is a very great lard breed. It's not, however, going to give a large yield of meat. You can listen to this podcast I recorded on our reasons not to raise American Guinea Hogs again here.
We'll be raising Herefords again and possibly trying the Idaho pasture pigs.
Utilizing Shady Areas for Gardening
Briana-Jo also wondered if she could utilize some of the shadier areas of her property to grow any crops. Growing brassicas in the shady areas of the homestead is fantastic. It saves the full-sun areas for the tomatoes and peppers is a great way to expand your growing spaces.
I talk a lot about maximizing garden space by growing vertically here. You can learn so many more gardening tips by checking out my gardening tasks by month series here.
Pioneering Today Academy
If you found this podcast helpful and would like a chance to have a one-on-one call with me, or learn more gardening and homestead advice from us inside the Academy, you can click here and sign up for the Pioneering Today Academy waitlist. The doors open twice a year and will be opening up again soon!
Blankets, Towels & Sheets
I've shared my love of my American Blossom Linens before, but let me just say, the more I use them, the more I love them! Next on my list are some of their towels and the cozy throw!
They are actually the sponsor for this podcast episode. They're 100% made in the USA and have been in business for over 120 years. American Blossom Linens makes 100% organic cotton sheets, blankets and towels.
This past summer, I received my first set of sheets and was immediately impressed. They kept us cool during the summer months, and every time I went to wash them, I just couldn't get myself to put on one of my old sets of sheets.
American Blossom Linens offers a two-year risk-free trial on their products. So go and snag yours and get an additional 20% off with coupon code “PIONEERING20” at checkout.
More Posts You May Enjoy
- New Gardening Techniques & Varieties to Grow
- Soil Remediation – How to Fix Tainted Soil
- Wood Chips for Garden Mulch (Beneficial or Not?)
- Science-Based Companion Planting Strategies for a Healthier Garden
- How to Grow a Large-Scale Garden Without Acreage
- Homesteading With Special Needs Children
- Troubleshooting Chicken Health & Best Herbs for Chickens
Melissa: Hey pioneers. Welcome to episode number 377. Today's episode we're going to be talking about home setting on imperfect land when you are in imperfect circumstances. And the reason that this is such an important thing to talk about is too often whenever we're looking at trying something new, now in this instance we're obviously going to be talking about home setting, but it's really true any aspect of home setting or when you're taking on something new, we tend to procrastinate by saying, oh, the timing's not right. Now, yes, there's exceptions to every rule and sometimes the timing truly isn't right for a new thing. But too often we stop ourselves from starting something by saying, oh, well I'm still commuting so many miles to a day job, so I really can't homestead because I'm still working. Well my friends. That is a fallacy and a lie that you are telling yourself. You may not be able to homestead at the capacity or at the level that someone who is home 24/7 can do or is home full-time.
However, you absolutely can begin homesteading even if you are commuting, even if you're not in perfect circumstances, there are things that you can do so don't let that be an excuse. So I'm really loved today's topic, which this is one of our live coaching calls. So if you've been hanging out with me on the podcast for a couple of years, if you're a, you guys are going to laugh at me, my kids are probably moaning if they were to ever hear this right now, if you're OQ, see throwing down that lingo if you're an old timer, okay, we'll come back to homesteading lingo, if you're an old timer of the podcast, then you are familiar because we do these live coaching calls once a year as we gear up for our big opening to the Pioneering Today Academy, which is the membership. And I really enjoy getting to do these.
I love getting to talk to members who are often listeners of the podcast just like you and really getting to dive into their specific situations and problems. But the great thing is many of you are also experiencing these exact same problems and issues, and if not, maybe growing on sloped or timbered property or trying to figure out how to grow food when you have a ton of shade. But there's going to be aspects from this episode you're going to be able to apply as well. And the other coin, part of that is in this episode was doing it while you're working and knowing where to start. I think a lot of us have things we want to do and we just are like, I don't know where to begin.
So if that is, if you've ever felt like that, you are going to love today's episode, of course we are going to be dropping a lot of links because a lot of the things I talk about, you can go in further detail either in a video or another podcast episode where we really dive heavily into that subject and sometimes it's a written blog post that I've got. So to access all the goodies in the show notes today, you're going to want to go to melissaknorris.com/377, just the number 377. This is episode number 377. Now, before we dive straight into our live coaching, I want to thank our sponsor for we're today's podcast episode. It's really sponsors who make it possible to continue putting out the podcast and all of the resources that go around it. So huge thank you.
I am really, really picky about who I pick as a sponsor because it truly has to be a company that I respect, use their products and firmly believe in. So there's a lot that actually get turned down. But today's sponsor is American Blossom Linens, and you've heard me talk about them before. They have been a sponsor of the podcast and I really just fall in love with their product more and more every time I go to sleep at night, if you've never heard of them before, if you've not heard of American Blossom Linens, they are 100% cotton.
So there's no polyester involved made in the United States. And I had trouble sleeping last night, actually, I woke up in the middle of the night, does that happen to anybody else, you make up in the middle of the night and you know need to sleep, you're so tired and you've got a huge day ahead of you, just always things to do on the to-do list and you can't go back to sleep. Well, that happened to me last night. And so I used to get really frustrated when that would happen and scrunch my eyes closed really tight and try to do all these things to get myself to go back to sleep. And now when that happens, honestly, I just take that time to pray. So I will just pray about anything that comes to mind and then when I'm done praying, if I'm still awake, then I'll just kind of go through my mental task list of what I'm going to be doing for that day.
And sometimes I just get up and do it depending on if it's an hour within of when I would normally wake up, as long as it's not like the middle of the night. And I was thinking about, because I was all cozy snuggled up in my American Blossomed Linen sheets, but I was thinking about would we buy things from a local company, we are definitely supporting local workers, fellow Americans, but it's actually so much more than that because you are supporting the workers directly yes, or whoever is making the product. And in this case, American Blossom Linens, they are making their 100% cotton sheets in the US and they are sourcing their cotton from the US as well. So this is cotton that is grown in the United States. And so not only with the purchase, are we supporting the place where the sheets are made, the workers that are making them, the people who are packaging the sheets, where the packaging for the sheets come from.
That's another aspect that we're supporting. We are supporting the male carrier or the UPS workers who are relatively local, at least my UPS person is like they live by me and then we're supporting the farmers. So the supplier of the cotton seed, the actual farmer who owns the land, who is planting it, who is harvesting it's like it's this ripple effect. And we don't even realize because we just think about when we're purchasing this product, the American Blossom Linens, we know we're supporting the sheet company, but it really has this ripple and it affects and supports so many more people within, if not our direct community, but at least other people in the United States and is actually reaching across state lines because you've got the American Blossom Linens company and where they're making the sheets, but then you've got all the different cotton farms throughout the different states.
And maybe it was in the middle of the night and I was really tired and perhaps I'm still tired, but it just felt like this beautiful epiphany. It's so amazing when we get to support and touch all of these different lives in a good way. And we don't even get to meet the people. We're not getting to meet the farmers that are growing the cotton and a lot of their cotton farms that they buy from are in Texas. But we get support all of these people by choosing to purchase it in the United States and not having products shipped way overseas and using up a ton of resources in order to get it here from halfway across the country. And anyways, I was just really excited about that.
So I was thrilled that today was the day on the podcast that American Blossom Linens was our sponsor and is our sponsor. And you can use coupon code pioneeringtoday22 to get an additional 22% off of your purchase. So of course I love their sheets. They are the softest best quality sheets I have ever had. But they also have heritage heirloom quality, blankets and towels. So go and check them out and use coupon code pioneeringtoday22 for 22% off. And now we're going to dive straight into my live coaching call with PTA member Briana-Jo. Well Briana-Jo, welcome to the Pioneering Today Podcast.
Briana-Jo: Thank you.
Melissa: So we have got some great questions to go over today, but if you could just do just a little bit of an introduction so people kind of know where you're at with your homestead and then we can lead right into what you're really needing help with the most.
Briana-Jo: Okay. So the property I'm on right now is my grandparents' property. I moved in to help them. My grandfather had a series of health complications and my grandmother couldn't take care of him and the acre and a third, and I needed a cheaper place to live. So I moved it in to help him with the property and she could focus on him. And I stumbled across the sale on green bean seeds and then there was some pots that were also on sale right next to them. And I'm just like, oh, that looks like fun. And our family loves green beans. And that was three, four years ago. That would've been like 2018, yeah, so like 2018. And then I've just been trying to grow the garden ever since.
Melissa: Awesome. Well we love green beans too. We are a huge green bean loving family here. So I totally feel you on that and I love that that was kind of your gateway into growing food and homesteading, feels very, very good and that you are on the property and helping with your grandparents. That is so lovely. I know my own father is starting to have some different health issues and so family members being able to step in and help different times is just a really a lovely thing. And I think something, at least in modern society as a whole, we don't see that as much of as I think we used to and maybe other cultures prioritize. So anyways, I just wanted to say thank you so much for stepping in there and just kind of acknowledging that. And so on your grandparents' property, so you have an acre and a third, and then are you there full-time? I think I saw that you were commuting. So what is the time you have available for actually on doing homesteading tasks I should say?
Briana-Jo: I do have a day job. So I live in Camas, Washington, but my day job is in Portland, Oregon and I don't know how many people know that on a map, but it's roughly a 30 mile commute for me. And I work Mondays through Thursdays, but I clock in at 6:30 in the morning and then clock out at 5:00.
Melissa: So those Monday through Thursday, the mornings are out of the question. And yeah, those are long days. It's funny, I had almost the exact, well not as far as location, but the same commute and very similar schedules. So I can definitely feel you there. So what's the thing that you're needing the most help with right now so we can make sure that we get that attacked first and then if we have time we'll jump into some other areas too.
Briana-Jo: I think my biggest problem is I want to do all the things. So it's like what is the most important thing to start with?
Melissa: I'm giggling because you're a girl after my own heart. I have very much had, and at certain times still struggle with this because yes, we want all the things well we shouldn't have to compromise.
Briana-Jo: Yeah. And so this is just a list of the current projects that are going on. They're not in order of priority but organize the garage. The recent project we had, I needed new blades for my hacksaw and I know the last time I bought blades I bought a big giant 10 pack. Now we can't find it because the garage ate it. So it's like I really need to organize the garage so I can find those blades so I don't have to keep going to buy new blades. I need a much better fence on the garden because the deer were just kind of mocking me this last summer and ate my entire crop.
Melissa: Oh yes, it was deer. Yeah.
Briana-Jo: And I would love to have a root cellar because we don't really have a great place for storing food long term. And I kind of marked a spot out. I also make all of my own clothes, including my undergarments, corsets, stuff like that. And then the flooring in this house is a carpet that is nearly 30 years old and we already do have the floor to replace it so that's been a very slow room by room ripping out the 30 year old rug and putting in the nice new hardwood. But just like order of priority, which one is actually more important.
Melissa: Yeah. And it really is, at least you're on the right track honestly on when it's like you're overwhelmed and I'm trying to do all the things and really prioritizing is the first key. And of course then that's a whole nother set because we actually have to figure out how do I help prioritize, but at least you're already on, you're on the right track in that and knowing that you do need to prioritize. So kind of the way that I break down or look at when I'm trying to prioritize my own things is by really one the season and then what's really most important to us. And so for example, you don't have anything growing in the garden right now, I'm assuming this time of year?
Melissa: Yeah. So the garden is kind of in a dormant phase right now. However, we do know that by this spring you'll likely be wanting to plant out there and of course then the deer will be coming in. So right now I wouldn't put getting the garden fenced repaired or putting some new fencing in that's more effective at keeping the deer out. That wouldn't be my top priority now. But I would definitely put in a plan so that once it comes, you're not like, oh man, here it is summer again already and I didn't get any of this fencing in and I'm losing all of my crop, which really is wasted time, it's wasted money, it's wasted resources, putting in all of those plans and then not getting to harvest any of them. So I would make a plan on deciding what type of fencing you're going to do, making sure you get it, if I'm going to order it, where and when am I going to order it so it's here in time, kind of like a supply list and getting a plan in action.
So I would prioritize that for your upcoming months so that you've got that kind of reverse engineer, I want this fencing done by this point and then going back through the months so that you've got the steps needed to make sure it doesn't slip through the cracks by the time summer hits. But the actual physical work of actually going out there and repairing the fence, of course that's not top priority for the next say two months or that type of thing. So then when we were going back so root cellar, so I don't have a root seller yet either though a root cellar and using some of those techniques we do without it.
But with the root cellar specifically, which types of food do you have now that you don't have storage space for or what crops are you like, okay, we really want to make sure that we've got this crop specifically enough for a year that we're going to be storing it through the winter? Do you have that kind of outlined or you're like, gosh, a root cellar just sounds like it would be really great for our food storage?
Briana-Jo: Well, I have tried to store a couple months supply of potatoes or onions and things like that and they always either go bad or they start sprouting and stuff. And I've tried a few different techniques in the house. I think we just leave the house way too warm, my grandparents like it at the seventies, so I can't really keep potatoes and onions and those types of crops in the house for very long. And so I do end up canning them up so that they will survive and we can have a supply.
Melissa: Are you growing the potatoes and the onions? Are you purchasing those and then just in a bulk amount?
Briana-Jo: Yeah, I'm just purchasing them in a bulk amount for now. I'm hoping eventually I could have a year supply.
Melissa: So the reason I was asking is because I know your climate is similar enough to mine that if you're growing the potatoes, those you could leave in the ground over winter and just put a really good layer of straw mulch on top and they would keep in the ground. Potatoes you do truly need, in most cases an actual root cellar. It's not just the heat, it's actual light of course and then humidity because a lot oftentimes they will shrivel after about a few months of storage, sometimes even four weeks worth of storage. And so the root cellar, because it's down in the ground and you have the gravel or earth and floor preferably in a true root cellar that helps keep the humidity level where it needs to be as well as the cool temperature and darkness to store the potatoes, which is why I leave mine in the ground at the moment.
And I know that your winter is very similar to ours and so it's conducive in order to do that. But if you're not growing them, I've never tested putting them in the ground when it's potatoes I've bought from the store or from another farmer just because I don't know how they're cured and at what age they are and all of that. So the root cell definitely would be a helpful answer for storing the potatoes. Now the onions are those items you're growing. Are you purchasing from a farmer or just from the grocery store or what is the source for the onions?
Briana-Jo: From a farmer, a local farmer, I actually have to pass them to get in and out of town.
Melissa: Okay. And do you know what variety they are? Are they an actual storage onion variety?
Briana-Jo: They just have them live as sweet, white and red.
Melissa: So sweet onions will not store. So if you're trying to store the sweet onions, they have a very short storage span. They're not meant to be long-term storage and most of your reds don't store as long either. So part of it could be variety because onions you don't need a root cellar for, in fact they do really well. But the reason I'm going is one that it is definitely variety dependent. So if people are trying to store the red onions or the sweet onions, they often get frustrated because they won't store more than about four eight weeks max usually in most cases. So I would ask the farmer if they have the yellow onions, kind of what varieties they are and focus more on those.
But then also when they're coming to harvest them is if you can get them when they're pulling them up and they've got all of the stems still on them because if you're going to be storing them at room temperature, they need to be cured so that they will store and ideally with the stems still on them on the top can help because if they get clipped too close then it can allow oxygen to get in through the layers. And of course that can break it down faster. So whenever I'm doing my long-term storage of the onions, I will do them, make sure they're cured and then I do them in braids and after they're fully dried and cured, sometimes people will snip the tops off on those long-term storage onions and have success too. I just tend to braid mine because I don't have enough containers to put them in. And so if I braid them, I can just hang them up on the walls in our pantry and stuff. But onions don't need nearly as much humidity as potatoes and they don't need to be kept as cool either.
So you can keep onions in the 55 is ideal for long-term storage, but I have quite a few of mine that I just keep in our actual kitchen. And then I have a back pantry that it doesn't have any direct light, but it's a darker area, but still it ranges anywhere from 65 to 75 degrees and they do really fine there. So I think it might be more variety dependent on the onions and then the question on whether or not if they were actually cured all the way so that they will store for months on end. So the reason I was kind of whacking through this is because the time and work and money that it would cost to build a root cellar, if it's only for potatoes, I don't know that that would actually be worth it at this point, especially if you are able to can the potatoes or find doing something, I know we're people will take a metal garbage can and actually dig down just a hole.
So instead of building an entire actual root cellar like a room type thing, they'll just make small root cellars in the ground for smaller amounts of crops. And so that might be something for the potatoes if you want some that are not [inaudible 00:22:29], I just want to have some potatoes like you baked potatoes, you're that type of thing or different things like that other than just cubed up and putting them in into stuff. So that would be something that would probably be a lot more feasible and it wouldn't take nearly as much time or money if it was just for the potatoes. And then priority wise, potato harvest usually isn't going to be until next summer. So again would be like, okay, I want to make sure I've researched how to do, basically it's more of a clamp style of a root cellar than where you're digging out a whole room, et cetera.
So that would give you time to research that, decide how you wanted to go about that, but it wouldn't be something that you'd be implementing until this summer at very least spring when the weather is more conducive to digging that type of thing. So that would kind of help you on that priority. And again, kind of reverse engineer like, okay, I know that I'm going to need this for these potatoes by let's say August, so I'm going to backtrack and so that I've got all the pieces in place so that I can make sure that this is ready to go in and done by the time I need it. And then that would free up for the immediate since a lot of the time for some of the other projects. So again now then that we're kind of looking at, okay, flooring versus garage.
So with the garage not being cleaned up, you are spending time trying to find things and then money because you can't find what is there. So your re-buying things and also wasting time trying to find it first and then getting to the point, I can't find it, I got to move forward with this project, I'm just going to go buy it again. Whereas the floor would be great to have done because it allows you to put the room all the way back. There's something about seeing a completed project, all of that.
Briana-Jo: We also were having a problem with the carpet. Our cats keep on getting reinfected with fleas no matter what we have done and I've tried everything up to, but not including flea bombing the house and I'm just not into the whole idea of flea bombing the house. So my grandmother really jumped on the idea of let's get rip up the rug and get rid of it so we can get really stupid fleas.
Melissa: So that makes it your number one priority right there. Now we know. For me that would be, okay, I can't handle this, I don't want fleas, health issues, just the itching part if you're getting bit by them. So that would be where I would do that. And then once that's done, then I would move to organizing the garage and even maybe breaking that down into sections obviously on the garage, okay, I've got this part of the weekend, we're going to attack this shelving area or this square foot area here this day and then kind of move it on down because it may take organizing a whole garage and usually that can't be done in a day, but that way if you've got at least a plan laid out on this section and this section, then you can see how long it's going to take you.
And if you're able to do more in a day, great, you get further along. But that way you don't just look at it and be like, oh gosh, I can't get all this done today. At least maybe that's my personality. Oftentimes I'll look at something and be like, there's no way I can do this all today, so I'm not going to do any of it. And then of course it just never gets done because most of us never can find a big chunk of time all at once or even a whole weekend sometimes to tackle a full project, so just kind of breaking it down into bite size chunks. But if you have a flea problem and getting all that carpet out in the floor replaced will help with it, that would become my number one priority.
Briana-Jo: Yeah, right now the garage is like I walk in there and on the cartoons when the character gets overwhelmed and their eyes just start spinning their head.
Melissa: Yes. So that's where I would definitely pick an area or pick one thing. And there's some great episodes, so for those who are listening in, we'll make sure that we link in the show notes in today's blog posts that it companies this episode, but there's a decluttering by month episode that I did last year and there's a few other decluttering ones that I think would be really helpful, so I'll make sure to get you those if you haven't went through them either so there's a plan in place and it's easy to implement once you have a plan. Yeah. So hopefully that gives you a clear plan on prioritizing some of those things. Do you have any other homestead issues that you would help with? Because I think yeah, we've got a little bit more time if you've got some other questions.
Briana-Jo: So for the fence, I do actually have all the supplies. So do you think a good time to start working on it would be when I go and start my seeds starting to just jump out there and then also start on the fence too because the seeds won't be ready for [inaudible 00:27:29] for a while.
Melissa: Yeah, that would be good because then this is your starting point and it also, it's kind of like, okay, I've started my seeds and I don't want to put all this time and money in to plant them out in 8, 12 weeks depending on what it is. So it gives you a natural countdown timer that puts a little bit of pressure on like okay, I really want to make sure that these grow, so I'm going to make sure that I get the fence done in time. I think that would be a really good time to begin the actual working on the fence.
Briana-Jo: Okay, cool. So I do have a spot that might work for growing some meat birds. Probably not going to do it this year, but the area is our last flat spot and it's where our drain field for our septic is. Do you think that's a safe place to grow some meat birds?
Melissa: Well, I'm assuming it your drain field is underground, right?
Melissa: It's not an open. Okay, just double checking. Just double checking there. Yeah I do because well one it's a drain field but it's covered by dirt. It's not like they're actually in the waste from the septic system.
Briana-Jo: Knowing my grandfather, he overbuilt it because that's what he does. He overbuilds everything.
Melissa: Yeah. In fact, I have our chicken tractors over top of where our septic drain field is out in our backyard all the time. So yeah, I think it's fine because it's not like you're well as drawing water from that where you would be maybe potentially worried the chicken poop, anything, see I don't worry about that either. Our well is out in the middle of our cow pasture and I'm like, well, I know how many feet down it is. There's a ton of soil between there and here. We've never had any issue whatsoever, but I know sometimes people would be concerned about having an animal pin right near their water source, et cetera, depending on how many feet down your well is your water source, all of that. But I would have no qualms whatsoever putting your meat birds on top of that ground and that underneath.
And plus your meat birds don't weigh a lot. So I mean there is a concern I wouldn't build a really heavy structure over that drain field because one, if you ever do need to get into it to repair and you don't want to have a ton of heavy weight on it, but we have chicken tractors and we even drive over ours with our tractor and four-wheeler. I'm not super worried about it, but there is, just for somebody listening depending on it doesn't mean it's necessarily fair game for everything. But for something as small as meat birds and the weight of a chicken tractor and just a run, I would have no qualms.
Briana-Jo: Okay. Yeah, I'm not worried about the well, our property, the bottom part is at 1500 feet in the top side is at 2000 feet and that's where the well is that the 2000 feet, the meat birds would be at the 1500.
Melissa: Oh yeah, I wouldn't worry about it either. Yeah, you're good. No, that's a good slope. You've got some slope happening there.
Briana-Jo: Yeah, no, I am seeing everything.
Melissa: I could definitely see why you would need to do that.
Briana-Jo: So I was watching the tutor farmer thing and they were talking about the old breed of pigs that are more foresty, woody stuff and I have a lot of woody outcroppings. I was wondering, do you think it would be a good idea if I like fence that air off and then I can throw some pigs in there just for raising meat. I'm probably not ready for breeding anytime soon, but do you think pigs would do fine in that?
Melissa: Yeah, that's a great question. And we have raised American guinea hogs, which is a more heritage foraging breed versus versus more like Hereford are still heritage as far as pigs go, but they're not considered along the lines or the same type like American guinea hog is more a lard pig, but they are more of a forger. They will still root. Sometimes there could be a little bit of a misconception that like American guinea hog and some of those really older breeds like that they don't root that they really are just pasture grazers, but they will still root, but they tend to first graze on pasture and eat some of the brush back and forage more than some of the more hybrid or other breeds where they don't. But however, where I'm trying to go with this very long windedly is they do still root.
So sometimes I think people think they won't root at all that they'll act more like a goat, and that's not really true. They just don't tend to root up as fast as some of the other breeds. So that being said, they will still do some rooting up, but if it's an area where you've got brush that you actually want them to help clear yes, then it's a beautiful match and it's perfect. However, we personally, and I've got two whole episodes actually on the American guinea hogs, the whole process, the pros and cons of them, I think they can be good in certain areas as long as you go into them with eyes wide open on what you're going to get as far as yield and harvest on the meat. We personally won't raise the American guinea hogs again, I don't think, unless I really just want a large amount of bacon and lard. But as far as actual meat yield, we're going back to the Hereford and I am going to investigate, I just don't have a breeder near us for this year looking at possibly the Idaho pasture pigs.
They intrigue me. But with the American guinea hug specifically, and one of the things for the breeds to take into consideration that are more of the forage and the raising in the forest is now, I don't know about where you are, but I'm going to assume based upon your location that your forest is very similar to ours and we don't have a lot of natural nut trees. So a lot of the American guinea hogs, which are more kind of on the eastern and southern areas, one their winters are a lot warmer. They have a lot more vegetation growth throughout the whole year compared to us. And they also have a lot of nuts in their forests so that they're out there eating, not just brush, but they're actually able to eat a lot of the nuts that are in their forests more naturally than they are here.
So here we don't really have, at least in our forest, we don't have nut trees that are growing. And even our brush, especially green leafy type brush really by the end of September, maybe October, we've hit winter and it won't really begin to grow again until May here. So you've got a long span where there's just brush, but there's not a lot of even green leafy growth coming on that brush on those trees for them to eat. So just being aware of that. So we have to still had to feed the American guinea hogs all the way through the winter months. And of course they eat more going through the winter months, but they did clear and putting pigs, pigs do need shade 100%, so they will grow fine in forested areas, but you don't have as much grass growing and we don't have as much natural food in our forests because of the nuts that I was saying.
So you will still have to feed them, which it's probably not a surprise, but I think sometimes people have heard little snippets here and there and think like, oh, you don't have to feed them. Like they'll just forge in the woods and you won't have a food cost. And that's not really true either. At least in my experience that's not been true here in our climate at all. We still definitely had to supplement and to feed them, but yes, they can be in that area in that could work really well as a way to get your brush cleared out and also provide meat for your family.
Briana-Jo: Yeah, that's kind of what I was looking towards because one of the last fires, it was like three miles from our house.
Melissa: Those were scary.
Briana-Jo: So I was looking at it as brush clearing to make the area a little less flammable. And then also I don't have a lot of nice open areas and those nice open areas I want to come in. So it's like, okay, can I just toss them into the forested area and they'll still thrive even if I do have to feed a bit.
Melissa: Yeah, you still have to, yeah, you definitely will still have to feed. But yeah, they will do fine. The only thing is when it's really cold, and this depends on the breed you get and how long it takes them to reach vegetable size, so if get a Hereford pig, we get ours in the early spring and then they're at complete harvestable size by October, so we're not really raising them through the winter. Now, American guinea hogs and some of those older heritage breeds they don't reach butcher size that fast. So you usually have to take them over a full winter and then butcher that next summer or fall in order to get them to full harvest size for to be worth your while, honestly. And so in that instance, you're going to have to make sure that you've got a place for them to go in where they can get dry, they can keep warm because they don't have have a heavy winter coat in order to keep themselves warm like a lot of other livestock animals do.
So that would just be something cognizant of the breed that you pick if you do have to overwinter them. And it can be something really simple for just a couple of pigs we just took some pallets and just made a foresighted with just a little door opening that they could get into to completely block all the wind and then we just fill it with straw, like five, six inches thick of straw so that they could actually go in there and then burrow underneath the straw to keep themselves warm. So it doesn't have to be a barn or a huge construction or anything like that, but if you have them through the winter, you really do want to make sure you've got something where they can go in and get warm. Yeah. Well this has been fun.
I love it. You've got a lot of ambition and a lot of projects putting in place for your homestead for next year, so it'll be really fun to see how those go. And we have just a few minutes left, so is there anyone last question that you'd love some help with?
Briana-Jo: So because I do have a lot of dappled shade, I was wondering do you think the brassicas, especially cauliflower and brussels sprouts would be able to survive the summer in the dappled shade?
Melissa: Yeah, they should do pretty good in the dappled shade in summer because it definitely keeps them a cooler temp. And brussels sprouts, I don't usually worry in our summers, I grow mine throughout the entire summer and I've never had issues with them bolting. But in the summer, because that's obviously we're so northern that we have more daylight hours, especially if it's dappled that I think they'd be fine during the summer. You may find them a lot slower if you try to do them in the fall and spring if it's in full shade. But in full summer you should do well with Nebraska's, especially if it's true where they're not getting direct sunlight or significant hours of direct sunlight.
They may, even in summer, it might take a couple extra weeks to reach maturity, but they should still grow there just fine. Kind of any of the cool weather crops, honestly in dappled areas or more shady areas in full summer that they usually will grow in kind of thrive there where a lot of the other ones just kind of tend to stay a little bit spindly or don't want to produce the actual harvest, et cetera.
Briana-Jo: Okay. I was just trying to save my full sunspot for the tomatoes and peppers.
Melissa: Yeah, like spinach, lettuce even, like you said, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, any of types of things should do just fine in that dappled area. It just sometimes it takes them a couple extra weeks in comparison to being in full sun. But the other beautiful thing is then they usually don't bolt on you in the middle of summer when if they were planted in those other areas, then you run into that danger.
Briana-Jo: Especially since now we're getting a hundred degree weather in summers.
Melissa: Oh, bless the weather's heart. I sound so Southern. Yes, we have definitely the past two summers have been here in our area of the Pacific Northwest have been extremely abnormal and a bit more challenging than usual.
Briana-Jo: Yes. And wonderful time to start growing food.
Melissa: Hey, the good news is though, when we do have a, I'm doing air quotes, normal year, you're going to be a pro. You're like, oh, I grew through the other stuff. This year is nothing.
Melissa: Got [inaudible 00:40:51] by fire.
Briana-Jo: Yeah. Almost early this last summer.
Melissa: Yes. Yeah, this past summer and the one before it, we had the most extremes as far as heat and drought here that I've ever grown through myself.
Briana-Jo: Yeah. I grew up in this area too, and it's just like, I don't remember this at all.
Melissa: I've asked my husband and I've had this discussion, it's funny too because he grew up here as well when I actually have lived on the exact same road. So as far as being in the exact same location and I'll be 42 in January, I'm like, as a kid, did I not pay attention? It's not something you were paying attention to like we garden, but I was a kid, wasn't responsible for that. I don't think so though. I think we definitely are seeing a switch because even my folks who have been here, my dad has been here in his upper eighties, and he doesn't recall the weathers. We had a few hot summers here and there that were kind of atypical, but nothing like the past two.
Briana-Jo: Yeah, my grandparents actually came from North Dakota, so they're not like, oh, I don't know.
Melissa: Yeah. But I think kind of everyone I've talked to from various locations around the US and even in Canada, that it does seem that things are shifting and what was their normal has not really been normal the past five years. There's definitely extremes one way or the other it seems.
Briana-Jo: Yeah, yeah.
Melissa: Well, Brianna-Jo, thank you so much for joining me today
Briana-Jo: And thank you for your advice.
Melissa: Yeah. You're welcome. I'll be excited to see what progresses this year.
Briana-Jo: Yeah, lots hopefully.
Melissa: Yes, yes. Lots. Definitely. Well, thank you so much for coming on and I will be looking for your pictures in the Pioneering Friends community.
Melissa: Okay, thank you. Well, I hope you found that episode helpful, and if you would like to hop on the wait list for when we do open the doors to the Pioneering Today Academy again, which will not be until mid-March, go over to melissaknorris.com/pta, melissaknorris.com/pta and you can sign up to get on the wait list to get first notification when we open the doors. And now our verse of the week, I have to say there was a lot of verses that came to mind when I was getting ready for this portion, but the one that I decided to share for this week is Matthew 6:15, Matthew 6:15, and this is the amplified translation, "But if you do not forgive others their trespasses, they're reckless and willful sins, leaving them, letting them go and giving up resentment, neither will your father forgive your trespasses." And I thought that was a really good one.
All of the Bible verses are good, but I think this is one where I know for myself that it's really easy for me to forgive the people I really love, my kids when they mess up, my husband, my parents, my siblings, people that are really close to you. Yes, it hurts sometimes, you can hurt one another, but I find if they just come to me and say, hey, I'm sorry, I have no problem forgiving them. And oftentimes I forgive them before they even come to me and say that I'm sorry. But then there's other times where people hurt us and especially when we don't feel it's deserved. When it's those situations that just completely blindside you. You are so shocked that it happened and you didn't see it coming and you feel betrayed and you feel hurt and all of these things, I have to say that those are the situations where I have a really hard time sometimes truly forgiving people in that instance, and a lot of the times in those instances that come to mind, they've never did ask for forgiveness.
They never really cared that they hurt me or that there was a situation that they had a part in. And so because of that, it can be easy for me to hold onto that. And you probably have situations that where you have experienced that too, where you feel very wronged. And those are the times, especially if they haven't even asked for forgiveness where I struggle with that sometimes and not even on purpose. I think that I have forgiven them and then a thought will come up or a moment will come up and I'll realize, no, I really haven't forgiven them because I'm still holding on to parts of what happened. But on the same hand, I can't go to God because I sin against him way more than I would like to admit. I mean, I think all of us would love it if we never sin again. And I think that that's usually once we come to Christ and are Christian, nobody really wants to do wrong, not on purpose yet all of us do still sin.
Nobody has become saved and never sinned again. And so I can't go to God and ask him and expect him according to his word right here, to forgive me if I'm not willing to forgive others. And so I was just really pondering with this verse this week because I realized that there was some situations and some areas in my life where I haven't really forgiven the person. I say I have and at times I think that I have, but when I really examine my heart and emotions that I still have tied, haven't really forgiven them. And so that's where I have just been meditating on this verse and whenever it comes to mind, purposefully handing it back to God and asking him to bless them to bring true forgiveness and for his will in that situation. So I thought, you know what? I might not be the only person that's struggling with that.
And so I hope that that is helpful to you. It's funny how many of you like where I'm not sure what to share and so I just share with what I am dealing with on the verse of the week aspect. And it's amazing the stories I get back from you guys. You'll send me emails, you'll send me messages, and you'll tell me things that are going on in your life and how the verse of the week aspect, God used that to talk to you. And I don't share that with you to be like, oh, as anything to myself because it's nothing that I am doing. I share that to give glory back to God because it's really amazing how he knows each detail of all of our lives. And truthfully, my brain, I can't really comprehend that not truly how God is omnipresent.
And he knows every single detail of every single human who is alive on earth right now. Would I really sit and think about that on a deep level? My brain can't really comprehend that. Yet, I can see these little pockets of how he works. His hands are so close on our lives, even when we don't see it. And I think that's going to be one of the most amazing things when we get to heaven, is when we're able to look at our lives and look at the way he has been there and circumstances and in ways that we never see and that I don't think we can see until we're on the other side.
So the glimpses that we do get when we can see that just like that, where he is using a story and using it in different people's lives just through the modems of a podcast, it's going to be really incredible when we get to see how much he is doing and our eyes are truly open to that in that fashion. Anyways, so I just share that to hopefully further encourage you and to give the glory back to God. And as a reminder, if you are on the lookout for new linens, make sure that you check out our sponsor American Blossom Linens and use coupon code pioneeringtoday2022. And with that, I will be back here with you next week, blessings and mason jars for now.
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