There’s a lot that goes in to running a blog. There’s ways to get traffic, grow, etc. And in the midst of all of this “how to do it right” sometimes one loses sight of why they do this blogging thing. Sometimes one forgets to share the behind the scenes stuff that really matters and makes a difference.
Our homestead is far from perfect and far from finished. Our garden space needs expanded and a high tunnel of some sort needs built to help keep the farmers spray off of our food. The beautiful chicken coop we built by hand last year with recycled lumber isn’t completely painted. There’s mud. There’s piles of stuff that needs utilized, put away, or put to rest.
We have numerous chickens and a few ducks that have lived out their most productive egg laying days that need put to another purpose.
We have seeds that need started to have onions for storage this fall. Greenhouse areas that need set up for the rest of the seed starting season.
There’s chicken poo concentrated in specific areas within the run due to snow. Straw that needs set out in the run to reduce the mud. Compost that needs turned. Driveways that need freshly graveled.
Our laundry room has been half finished for well over a year, there’s a hole in the side of the house from a wind storm that blew some of that lovely piled up stuff into the siding and busted it. Our roof needs replaced… last year. And our bathroom has only hardibacker in part of the entrance in anticipation of renovations that have long since been forgotten.
Our hunting season did not go as planned, we harvested not one single deer. Too many poachers, not enough time, and a million other reasons (excuses). Budgeting for half a grass fed cow just isn’t really on the list of to-dos so other meat plans need to be made.
A brooder needs made up for our anticipated goslings, ducks, chickens, and turkeys. Rabbit hutches need built.
There’s never, ever, a lack of things to do on our homestead.
But, in the midst of lost opportunities and unfinished projects, we found a silver lining last night. On his way home, my husband saw a small deer (about a year old) that had just been hit by a car lying on the road.
He called me up in excitement “I’ve got to come get the truck, I found us some deer meat.” To which my heart instantly sank thinking he had struck the deer and, in the process, ruined our car. But no, he told me, he did not hit the deer.
He finished his trek home, picked up the truck and drove back over to the site and called the local sheriff so he could get our very own handy, dandy permit for possession of deer.
He waited, got the form, picked her up, and brought her home. The deputy told him they had just recently called her in, but no one had claimed her and the state hadn’t gotten around to picking her up. So, she was all ours. All 80 pounds of her.
We hung her up in the garage, cleaned her out, quartered her. After cleaning up, it was 2AM. Sleep is for babies, I suppose. We got up, he went to his off-farm job, and I went to work butchering the meat into recognizable cuts. For the first time all by myself. You see, he has butchered deer. I haven’t. It was a learning experience. And I’m quite proud of all I accomplished. Butchering, my dear friends, is a lost art and a skill we should all possess at least a rudimentary knowledge of.
And yes, I admit it, we eat road kill. This isn’t our first, and likely won’t be our last. Hunting season doesn’t work out or our freezer is looking lean, I will gladly take that animal to feed our family (or our dog if the meat is completely unsalvageable.
We were able to save all but 10 pounds of the meat, which on a deer that small only equals about 30 pounds total, but it didn’t go to waste. It will feed us, the dog, and the flock. Her life, though cut short due to our encroachment on her turf with roadways and 3,000 pound machines barreling down it, didn’t end in vain. It still had meaning, and she provided sustenance to another living creature.
Waste not… want not. If we pass up opportunities to feed our family because something is unfamiliar to us… we’re part of the problem, not part of the solution. If we say we finish every project, our homes and properties are spotless, and no to do list goes unfinished… we’re probably not really homesteading.
With all of these unfinished projects and imperfections, it would be so unfair of me to say we’re perfect. It would be ridiculous for me to claim we will eat wild game, but only if we hunted it. That deer on the side of the road was fresh, healthy, and going to waste.
Our goal in this journey toward self-sufficiency is to produce at least 70% of our food (and hope for 80%). But… where is that other 20-30% coming from? Sure, there are local farmers around to whom we are forever grateful. We purchased our first hog to butcher from a local farmer last year. We’ve purchased fresh milk, produce, and even eggs from local farms and I try to keep at least a portion of our money there in supporting local farms.
But, just because we can’t produce it on our own land, doesn’t mean we can’t get it… for free. There’s hunting and fishing. There’s foraging for wild edibles. And, well, when some things don’t work out… there’s road kill.
This life is all about reducing consumption and waste. If someone isn’t going to make that animals life meaningful, you should. I should. Everyone should. Don’t let those animals die in vain. Those beautiful creatures served a purpose on earth, thank God for their provisions in death… even if you weren’t the one to dispatch them from their earthly existence.
While our multiple unfinished projects continue to go on unfinished, I’ll have 30 pounds of fresh venison in the freezer. I helped my husband clean her and I’m learning to butcher. We had anatomy lessons for homeschool and life is good.
Roll with the punches my friends.