As I sit here, enjoying a glass of sweet tea on my front porch, I am amazed that an entire year has passed since we purchased our property and began building our homestead.
In some ways, it seems like it was just yesterday, and in other ways it seems an entire lifetime ago.
When we purchased our home, Jeff was freshly retired from the army after 25 years. He was hired on as a contractor and headed to another country a month before we closed on the house. Jack and I cleared military housing for the last time and moved to the house we had dubbed “The Blank Slate House.” People may laugh about those house hunting & remodeling shows that give prospective houses nicknames, but truthfully, it helps you keep them all straight in your head.
We looked at houses like the “Quirky Cottage” – with two bathrooms, side-by-side at the end of the hall. Both bedecked in colored tile, one all pink, and one all blue. Then there were the bedrooms that were all attached to one another in a circle. You could go in one bedroom, through to another, and on to the third, then back to the hallway. The house was cute, and the land was pretty neat. It already had an established garden, two wells, a carport and a large garage & workshop. But the yard was tiny and we would have been right up on our neighbors. Not enough room to do the things we wanted.
Then there was the house we almost bought. “The Pond House.” It was built in the 50’s, had a gorgeous sun room that looked out onto a well-fed pond, stocked with bass, brim and something else I can’t recall. The inside of the house was all knotty wood pine and reminded me so much of my Grandma Engel’s house.
Behind the house was a second large pond that was stocked with catfish. Beyond the second pond was woods. And the flower beds! Oh the beautiful flowering trees around the house were stunning. The house itself stole my heart, but the land, though adorable, was congested. There was very little grassy area. Everything was water or woods. It would have been difficult to have chickens or goats, and nearly impossible to have a garden. Even though the house had decent acreage, it was narrow, so the neighbors again were only a few yards from the house. But that house was so cute!
So as I said, we settled on “The Blank Slate House.” This house that we bought wasn’t that old. It didn’t have much character…or any character at all to be honest. Not at all what we envisioned buying. The property came with a large storage shed/barn and that was it. But when we walked out here around the house, even our realtor said we looked at home here. The land was wide and open and I felt like I could breathe.
The first morning in the house, I woke up to the sight of a gorgeous mist floating through the pasture. I was mesmerize. Little did I know, that this was to be my pleasure most mornings.
Since then, we’ve taken advantage of the wide open land…the blank slate and have added chickens, gardens, rabbits, a baby orchard and so much more.
Speaking of chickens, those of you that know me, know that the plan was to only add things to the homestead that either A) provided food/sustainability to the homestead, or B) Did something to aid in the production of food/sustainability to the homestead. The garden and orchard are food providers, the chickens provide eggs and the rabbits we raise for meat.
So never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined having a pet rooster.
Let me explain.
Where I live, I don’t have many neighbors. Two, to be exact. The neighbors closest to me, I have met, chatted with, we’re friends on Facebook. They are great people. My other neighbors live on the other side of those. I’ve only briefly met the husband once, when we took their dog back over. Their dog had come to visit, and had followed me all the way out to the road. I was afraid he would get hit by a car, and didn’t want to leave him out there. So I walked him back to his house.
While I’ve only met them that once, I have met their animals many times. They have 2 ducks that occasionally come to visit – mainly to eat grass seed out by the gate. They have two tiny chickens (I think seabrights) that sometimes hang out with the ducks…though I haven’t seen them in a while. They also have goats that I occasionally see in the closer neighbors’ back yard, though they haven’t come to our house at this point.
So last week, Jeff went to take out the trash, and a little tiny rooster was out there. And yes, I know that “little” and “tiny” are redundant, but I say that to express just how little this guy is. Well, he followed Jeff all the way back to the house.
And never left.
So I contacted my close neighbor and asked them to message the other neighbors and let them know that their rooster was here. He tagged them in the post. Their response?
“How our animals love to visit! Let us know if he’s bothering anything. Or if you want to keep him!”
So… it looks like he is staying. I’ve called him Wilson. You know, after Wilson Wilson Jr. The neighbor from Home Improvement.
The first night he slept on the front porch, on my bench. Chickens poop when they sleep…so that wasn’t going to work for me. The next couple nights he slept on top of the electric smoker. So we made a little shelter and set it on top of the smoker. Every night now, he hops up there and sleeps. He has a little shelter, and the smoker stays clean.
Just to give you a better idea of how small he is, here’s another picture that could give a better perspective. My truck does not have big beefy tires or a lift kit…and look how far below it Wilson is.
My best guess, is that Wilson is a Japanese bantam. Whatever the case, he follows us around as we do our chores and I suppose he could also be a productive addition, since he is too tiny to damage the garden, but can still eat bugs that make their way there.
Which brings me back to my front porch. It’s been a whole year here on the homestead. As you can imagine, we lived many different places over the years of our military life, from a German apartment to a farm house in North Carolina, to a townhouse in Alaska. Each of the 18 homes we had in our army life was different. Over time, each of them felt like home, though others got that way sooner than others.
Of course there are the memories of all those other places – the kitchens I’ve cooked in, the yards I’ve mowed, the flower beds I installed…leaving blessings to future residents. But my heart is here. My soul is in this soil, and I have reached that point where it feels like we have always been here.
Sitting on the porch, sipping a glass of Southern Breeze Sweet Tea, watching butterflies flutter across the garden beds, and robins hop around the orchard.
Southern Breeze Sweet Tea was kind enough to send me a box of their classic southern tea and this adorable glass to drink it in. (I love these mason jar inspired glasses.) If you haven’t heard of Southern Breeze Sweet Tea, they are based in Marietta, Georgia. (Have you ever eaten at the Marietta Diner? It’s pretty amazing!) They have teas in four different flavors: Original, Lemon, Peach and Raspberry, as well as an original decaf version.
Their tea has zero calorie, Splenda sweetener already in the bags, so when you brew the tea, it is sweet from the start.
I know several people who eat a low/no carb diet, and this is a tea that they can actually enjoy. Even the fruit teas are calorie and carb free.
You go ahead and brew a pot of sweet tea for yourself. I’m going to sit here, enjoy a peaceful spring sunset, and listen to Wilson crow.