Welcome back to another season of farm and homestead tours! I'm ready for more entries for 2013! Please read here for guidelines.
We're heading down home… to your farms! Urban, suburban, or rural — whatever you're growing and doing, we want to see it.
Welcome, Rockin' the Green Life Farm!
Today you get to visit Heather and her family at Rockin' the Green Life Farm in Elkhart, Indiana. Heather, her husband Ryan and their four children have a large garden and orchard, plus raise chickens for meat and eggs. And, they have plans for much more! Heather's blog is Rockin' the Green Life — visit there for more pictures of her garden and life.
What is your name and the names of your family members?
We're Heather and Ryan. We have four children.
How long have you been farming/homesteading?
We have been farming/homesteading for three years now.
Share a brief description of your farm/homestead.
We live on 8 acres in Elkhart, Indiana, a small city about two hours east of Chicago. Our home is a 1915 farmhouse which my husband Ryan gutted and remodeled into our dream home.
What are you raising, growing, and doing?
I have a nice-size garden that feeds my family fresh produce so I don't have to buy organic at the grocery store. I raise 25 to 50 meat chickens each year; Ryan and I butcher them ourselves. I also have 62 laying hens and one rooster. He came accidentally with our last order of 34 laying hens. I don't want a rooster, so in a few months I will sadly butcher that beautiful rooster and eat him. I find it's a lot easier to butcher ugly Cornish chickens than a beautiful chicken. I also have a small orchard of 24 fruit trees (peach, apple, pear, cherry, plum) which I planted amongst the chickens area. I keep adding fruit trees each year. I have sectioned off two different sections for the hens. I'm guessing each section is around one-half acre. I keep the hens in with the fruit trees to try to keep down the bug population (so I don't have to spray). This is my first year of trying that so we'll see how it works. So far it's looking good and the fruit is looking good. I found that my garden is doing awesome because of the chicken mulch that we laid on each row!
How did you get into farming/homesteading?
I got into farming/homesteading from watching Food, Inc. I then bought the book and Joel Salatin's books. Ever since then, I have been reading and reading and researching. I started writing a blog to share what I have learned. I have grown VERY passionate about what I am putting into and onto my family's bodies.
Any future plans?
I would like to add some beef cows and sheep. The sheep will probably come first. I will probably start out getting lambs in the spring and butchering in the fall. I don't want to have to buy hay all winter long yet. I love raw milk, so a dairy cow or dairy sheep might be in my future. I don't think I'm ready for that responsibility quite yet. Maybe when the kids are older.
Do you have any sad stories to share?
When we got our first laying hens, one turned out to have spraddle legs. Ryan and I tried taping her legs together but they weren't getting normal. So, every day, I would get her out of the hen house and at night, lift her back in. One night, I thought Ryan had closed the door to the hen house and he thought I had. Spraddle (what we named her) ended up out all night and the next day, she was gone. No sign of her. An animal had gotten her. I felt so terrible!
Another sad story: I was going out to feed the chickens in the afternoon and saw one of my Buff Orpingtons caught in our electric poultry netting. I ran out there and what greeted me was a hawk with my Buff. The hawk was alive but my Buff was dead. Long story short, my brother-in-law came over and got the hawk free. I was so sad about my Buff dying that I couldn't even bury her. I waited for Ryan to get home and he did it. The good part of that story is that the hawk hasn't come back since!
Let's Tour Rockin' the Green Life Farm!
(Wardee: In the captions below, you're hearing from the Heather, as she tells you what is in each picture.)
Butchering our meat chickens. We slit their throats and then peeled off their skin. We felt this would be easier and cheaper than buying a scalder and plucker.
My first 30 laying hens with 19 fruit trees. These are Buff Orpingtons, Black Jersey Giants, Black Australorps and Americanas.
My garden with the hoop house added last year to try to extend our gardening season.
My 33 laying hens and one rooster. They are Columbian Wyandottes, Speckled Sussex, Partridge Rocks, Americanas and Black Jersey Giants. In with them are five fruit trees with more to be added next year.
My husband found these burn barrels next door. We decided to use them as planters so we can have tomatoes, peppers and herbs right out our back door! Not that our garden is that far away. But in my family, the more (tomatoes) the merrier!
Our 1915 farmhouse — my husband Ryan gutted it and remodeled it into our dream home.
Heather, thank you for sharing with us! We hope you enjoy your free thank you video, our gift to you. Plus, feel free to display the following graphic on your site. (Right-click and save to your computer, then upload to your site and link to this farm tour post.)
Would you like to be featured?
Are you a homesteader or farmer at any level? You don't have to live in the country, you don't have to be doing everything.
Being on the journey is the only qualification. We want to see what you're doing, no matter how big or small.
Click here for submission guidelines for the Down Home Farm Tours series. We're excited to hear from you!
If you're selected, we will share your farm/homestead pictures and stories in a dedicated blog post, plus you can add the featured graphic to your blog or website. And, we'll give you a free thank you video of your choice!
Please give Heather a warm welcome in the comments! Be sure to visit her blog here.
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