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Showing posts from 2016

In Winter

I enjoy winter when it arrives at the homestead. Though the gardens are long since dormant there is still plenty to do.The rabbits and the chickens need constant care. A couple of times a day I have to break ice from the animals water and make sure they have enough warm bedding.

I don't mind though. No matter how cold it gets. There is poetry in the garden during summer. Birds sing with triumphant melody. Soft summer rains baptize new growth. But the winter features a more solitary form of art. For the most part there is a resonating silence that is a canvas for the occasional temperamental gust of wind and snow. These same squalls force the breathe from my lungs and scatter the frozen mist before my eyes. Then, once again, there is silence. As any good steward I try not to disturb this peace. If anything, I try to move unnoticed among it.

When it is cold enough the trees will produce an individual moan as they threaten to splinter in the darkness of the woods. They all have their…

Bossy Hen Homestead Update

I would like to take a moment and provide an update to those of you who read our blog as well as those of you who were kind enough to donate to our cause.

As many of you know we are beginning to refine our focus in regards to the short and long term goals of our urban homestead.  Recently we have been able to take a few steps towards accomplishing our desires with the help of some very generous people.

To begin with, we were able to winterize the hutch for our eldest doe rabbit. It will provide her with a dry and warm home this winter with plenty of room to stretch her legs.

We purchased three new varieties of  organic heirloom garlic from The Seed Savers Exchange to go along with our existing "postman" garlic. This in turn aloud us to plant well over 300 cloves of garlic. Not only will our family directly benefit from this planting but so will many of the members of our community who live below the poverty line and receive donations from our local food bank.

We also invest…

The Land of Plenty

The idea that I am about to present to you is certainly nothing new. Wonderful organizations such as Ample HarvestPlant a Row for the Hungry and countless food banks and pantries across the country have been confronting the issue of hunger in our communities head on for some time.

Food insecurity is a cornerstone of the human condition. A little research will lead you to discover a long history of charity in opposition. For example, the seventh century Irish Benedictine monk St. Fiacre who was a master herbalist eventually settled in France and practiced a reverse tithe by keeping 10% of his harvest while giving away 90% to those less fortunate.

Life is complicated, as we all know. There are no easy answers to any of the problems that plague our society but there are some very simple issues that could be addressed that could in turn have a ripple effect on a number of other dilemmas such as poverty, health and even violence.

According to the USDA 40% of the $161 billion dollars’ (yo…

The Year in Review 2016

Though we are still some months away from 2017 I tend to measure the "year" in terms of our summer garden and its eventual harvest. I truly believe that this may have been our most successful year to date. We were blessed with cooperative weather, fertile soil and endless generosity from a number of friends.

We approach each season with a list of new avenues we are interested in pursuing. Some become reality while others are crossed off the list.

One new venture this year was raising chickens for meat. Though the birds were a little on the small side, due to my impatience, I still consider it a successful move forward for our little urban farm. We now know that it is possible on our homesteads limited property and will look to repeat the act with far more success next year.

We also raised two litters of rabbits for the freezer this year as well. I understand most peoples hesitation, they are cute but they are such an amazing animal for the small homestead. They are quiet,…

After The Rain

~To see a world in a grain of sand and heaven in a wild flower. Hold infinity in the palm of your hands and eternity in an hour~ William Blake

I have not put up a post in some time because I have simply been attempting to be far more present. Rather than document every step of this wonderful gardening/farming journey I am just trying to take it all in and enjoy the moment.

With that said we had an unexpected rain storm today. I went outside to feed the animals when I thought there was a break in the weather and got caught in the rain. It was beautiful. I just stood under the apple tree by the chickens and watched it fall until a rainbow appeared. I decided I would break my technology fast and grab my camera to document this lovely moment in time.

The garden is in full swing. Garlic and peas recently harvested. Tomatoes poking their green bodies from the dense foliage.

Moments like this I really appreciate my little piece of land. 
We are in full swing here at Bossy Hen Homestead.



'The Russians believe that Elder-trees drive away evil spirits, and the Bohemians go to it with a spell to take away fever. The Sicilians think that sticks of its wood will kill serpents and drive away robbers, and the Serbs introduce a stick of Elder into their wedding ceremonies to bring good luck. In England it was thought that the Elder was never struck by lightning, and a twig of it tied into three or four knots and carried in the pocket was a charm against rheumatism. A cross made of Elder and fastened to cow houses and stables was supposed to keep all evil from the animals.' 
~Lady Rosalind Northcote, The Book of Herbs 1903~
We have been interested in adding elderberry plants to our homestead for some time. When we found out some good friends of ours were ordering a number of plants we jumped at the opportunity to be included.

They are a very hardy plant that can easily be grown up to zone 4. Some varieties can survive in zone 3. When planting your elderberry remember th…

Dwarf Pear Tree

~ People in suburbia see trees differently than foresters do. They cherish everyone. It is useless to speak of the probability that a certain tree will die when the tree is in someone's backyard. You are talking about a personal asset, a friend, a monument, not about board feet of lumber.~ Roger Swain

As an urban farmer I have to be very conscious of the limits of my property. Part of my goal this year has been to extend my harvest season and to introduce more fruit trees to the Bossy Hen Homestead.  In an effort to honor this goal my family planted two dwarf pear trees on my sons birthday.

Pears are a wonderful tree to grow. They are hardy from zones 3 to 10 depending on the variety you choose. This year we planted a Bartlett and a Karl's Favorite in order to increase the chances of pollination by offering our local bees more than one variety of pear to scamper on.

When planting keep in mind that healthy soil means healthy plants. We composted rabbit manure in the area wher…

Food For Thought

a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage.” 1928 Republican Party claim if Herbert Hoover won the election.
One of my favorite agricultural books is The Gift of Good Land by Wendell Berry. There are a number of elements at play in this particular piece of literature but one of the most interesting aspects presented is the idea that good farm land exists in a number of locations that tend to normally be overlooked as viable options. Most Americans tend to think of the sea of corn and soybean that the mono-culture giants produce in the Midwest. Berry counterpoints with his opening chapter, “An Agricultural Journey in Peru” in which he discusses his visit with the potato farmers of Peru who use ancient plots on steep mountain sides with great success. This is just a small window into the juxtaposition Mr. Berry presents throughout the book in regards to the polar opposites of traditional farming and the current monolith of American mono-culture.
With that in mind allow me to tr…

Chickens, Rabbits and Fruit Trees

We have been busy here at the Bossy Hen Homestead. After a household bout with the flu in February we were all eager to get outside and enjoy the unseasonably warm temperatures that have settled in southern New York State.

Our doe had a liter of six healthy rabbits so we went to work building a larger pen for her and her little family. It was a crash course in power tools since I bought a miter saw and a drill this winter. Previously I had been using hand tools that were long past their prime. (That is another very long story!)

The rabbits on our little homestead have been a focal point of late. One of our bucks passed away. We sold another at a local livestock auction. We have decided that we will keep a buck from the new liter. We then purchased a doe from a local farmers market to keep our bloodlines strong. Though our established doe and buck are doing rather well at some point it will be time to let them retire. They have really made me appreciate how lucky we are to have such h…

Book Review of Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver

Homesteading is not a stagnant lifestyle. It is constantly evolving. Each step is a genuine mystery that has a tendency to unfold unexpectedly thus leading us to another interesting pursuit.

The knowledge that we gain along the way is as important as any harvest. In hind sight I am able to gauge specific instances in which my stride lengthens momentarily. Every so often I discover a book or an author who displays information in a manner that resonates to the root of my soul yet until reading their literature I had been unable to find a voice for the specific notion.

I recently had the wonderful opportunity to read such a book. Though written nearly 10 years ago I read it for the first time this month. I am talking about Animal, Vegetable, Miracle ~A Year of Food Life~ by Barbara Kingsolver.

An amazing book. The general premise is that the authors family of four move from the food desert of Arizona to the lush farmland of southern Appalachia and decide to eat local and raise their own…

As Winter Settles In

"Most people who are coming into farming are doing it because it answers something really deep inside of them. It's not so different from being a writer or a painter or a dancer." ~Kristin Kimball of Essex Farm~ 

As winter settles in on Bossy Hen Homestead I am aware of the cold silence that settles over our property. We had an extended fall this year with temperatures hovering around 70 degrees F. on Christmas Eve but winter has suddenly appeared with a frosty bloom.

A chill wind will occasionally hiss through the forest just beyond our yard. Crows rarely break the contract of nature by calling to one another. Instead they just glide overhead from oak to maple, limb to naked limb. It is as though the forest herself were holding her breathe.

The hens are vocal in this cold weather emitting a low purr of sorts as I scatter seed for them to forage. Sometimes I think they chatter out of nervousness rather than having anything to really say, a bit like some people I know. T…

Roots of an Urban Farmer

I recently began blogging for Mother Earth News. My first post described our unique property and how I became an urban farmer. You can find the story here,

 It was one of the few times I had actually taken a moment to reflect upon the unexpected path my life has taken. I tend to be rather private and am wary of exposing myself on the internet but the more I thought about it the more I started thinking it may be of interest to you, the reader, to know a bit more about my history. Everyone likes a little glimpse into the lives of others from time to time, don't they?

If I really want to go back in time I suppose it should be no surprise that I am an urban farmer. My last name means "Wheat Acre". It refers to the plots of land that existed in English cities where wheat was grown for consumption by the residents of the densely populated areas. This is not to say that my…

The Importance of Urban Farming

"Urban farming is not only possible, it is crucial. But it can't be like the farming techniques of yore." ~Homaro Cantu~

I am not attempting to be dramatic by claiming that the majority of the worlds ills have to do with poverty. Whether they be financial, spiritual or ethical. I also believe that I would not be overstating a solution to these difficulties if I said that one very important step in the right direction would be empowering people with the ability to control a portion of their own food supply. 

There are some very basic requirements for survival. Food , arguably, being the most important. It is easy to forget this in the American fast food culture. Healthy, delicious food is radically important. It is a foundation of survival. It brings family together. It honors guest. There is a reason we "break bread" with those we care about. 

I grew up in a single parent household. We ate to consume. To fill our bellies. Food was not prepared with the intent of l…