Don’t you just love the New Year? The fresh, cool breath of January is such a contrast to the richness and warmth of the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons; I can’t help but be inspired and excited for what’s to come.
After reflecting on our wonderful life in 2013, I have made a few resolutions for the upcoming year. At the top of the list? Doing more of what I love: living sustainably, gardening, caring for chickens, writing and finding homemade alternatives to anything and everything. I hope you’ll join in and follow this journey of getting back to our roots and living a simple natural life.
Let’s start by meeting the Dreckman family!
Hi. I’m Jessi, and I’m the voice behind the blog (and the big dreamer on the little homestead). I am a 26-year-old lover of all things natural and self-sufficient. I have a great respect for Mother Nature and all living creatures. I appreciate anything handmade, homemade or full of old-fashioned charm.
Roles at the homestead: raising chickens, growing vegetables, cooking and being the dreamer of the family
Occupation: reporter for our small-town, weekly newspaper
Hobbies: camping, getting dirt under my nails, reading, anything artistic and handmade
Drew is my red-headed, light-hearted, goofy counterpart. He’s been there since our first date, 10 years ago, when I was just a 16-year-old cheerleader and his life centered mostly on beer and trucks. It makes me laugh to think back to those two gangly kids, falling in love. As we’ve grown up, we’ve grown together. Our ambitions, dreams and fears have intertwined, and we are so happy to be living the life we are.
Roles at the homestead: hunting, fishing, building chicken coops and being a realist when my dreams are too ambitious
Occupation: body shop foreman
Hobbies: hunting, fishing, hunting and more fishing
All three of our dogs were strays that found a way into our homes and our hearts. Pete and Chelsea came to us as puppies, both just a few weeks old. Chelsea was found starving and shivering on a snowy dirt road. Pete was left abandoned in the parking lot of a gas station. My bleeding-heart couldn’t just leave them behind.
Jack, on the other hand, came to us as an adult dog. At the time my sweet rat terrier, Skip, and our long-time family pet, Puglsey, both went missing. I was devastated. I put up lost dog posters with hefty rewards for both, but we never found them. After seven months, we received a call from a woman who said she thought she had found Skip. I was ecstatic. We brought him home with hope in our hearts, but after comparing photos we determined the markings on the new dog were different than Skip’s. We decided the new stray dog needed a home too, and the rest is history!
Today they are all a little older and hold a very special place in our hearts. Jack is my right-hand man. If I am home, he is with me… trailing at my feet as I walk, laying on my lap when I sit, even sleeping outside of the shower until I am finished. Pete, our largest dog, dreams of being the size of a chihuahua. He longs to curl up on your lap and lick your face. He is full of energy and very much a puppy in many ways. Chelsea is just as sweet as she can be, unless she is near a food bowl. Then she guards it with her life, baring teeth and snarling all the way. It’s something we’re working on (and have been for the last nine years).
We currently have a flock of five including three blue-laced-red Wyandottes (including a “splash-colored”) and two Rhode Island Reds. We raised the Wyandottes from chicks last Spring, along with three others. Sweet Pea, the “splash” colored BLR is by far the most friendly and at the top of the pecking order after the rooster. As a chick, when we would come down to the brooder, she would fly from her newspaper-lined brooder to perch on your shoulder. Today, when she lets us hold and pet her, she cozies up under an arm, her eyes fluttering shut with each stroke. Bonnie is more interested in scratching up a snack than being held, but she’s still a beauty. We’ve kept our distance from the rooster, Clyde, in an attempt to gain a mutual respect for one another. He’s a very good flock leader and protects his hens. So far no one has been flogged.
After four of our six chicks turned out to be cockerels, we had to butcher three roosters. It was a difficult process, but it was the best thing for the roosters and the flock. We added two Rhode Island Red pullets in August, after buying them from the local farmers’ market. There was a long and stressful integration process, as our three home-grown chickens didn’t take too well to the newbies, but they have finally become one big family. At one point, “the reds” had individual names (Big Rhonda and Little Red), and we could tell them apart because one had most of her tail-feathers plucked and the other had a crooked toe. Now, their tail-feathers have grown in thick, they are inseparable and indistinguishable, so we just refereed to them as “the reds.” They are still a bit skittish, but I hope they warm up to us more the longer they are here.
So, that’s the family. We’re happy to be here and happy you are reading along. Until next time…