Until the Cows Come Home

As we’ve mentioned before, I, Nathan, am a banker, and Meghan is a full-time student, working through her clinicals to be a registered nurse. We balance life with work, school, and make sure we fit in as much time as possible with our six-month old baby, Harper. On top of all of that, we are in the final stages of flipping a house that we bought before the homestead, a project that got put on the back burner with everything we had going on. Because of all of this, getting cows was something we had to wait patiently for. Luckily, the waiting is over and we are bringing them to the homestead this week!

Growing up, my Dad always kept a breed of cows called Angus Cross. They are well known for grain finished beef here in the states and one of the most common breeds. After we bought the farmstead I started to do research on what type of cows I would want for myself thinking that maybe I would differ from what my Dad had. My research led me to a breed I’ve seen around but didn’t know a lot about, a breed called the Belted Galloway. We primarily want to raise grass fed beef so these seemed like the perfect fit. They are a heritage breed known for their ability to forage and live on rough terrain in southern Scotland. They are somewhat rare in the US, but have recently started to become slightly more popular now that grass-fed animals are being recognized for all their health benefits. I went and visited a homestead not too far from our own that raised these Belties. I spent some time with the owners, looking and having a great conversation, but I decided that these aren’t for us, not yet anyhow. They are great, but they are definitely more costly than some of your more common breeds making it hard to get our money back from their offspring. If we would end up trying to sell the beef, the cost would be too high for most who don’t know the great benefits of having that particular breed of beef. I still really like this particular breed though and think I will have some someday.

For now though, we are sticking with Angus Cross! We have a great opportunity to start with three heifers that are actually already tied to our family. My dad shares a bull with the owner of the heifers we are buying, so, while they weren’t born on his homestead, they are from one of his own. We loved this tie to the homestead I grew up on, to start our own with cows that are tied into my dad’s , the place I was born and raised and developed a passion for the lifestyle. The plan is to have them mostly grass fed, but may finish on non-GMO grain if we can find something nearby that doesn’t break the bank.

This past weekend I spent a lot of time out in the barn, clearing all of the old broken things out that were left when we bought it, preparing for the cows. After clearing everything out, I got the watering trough ready and installed a couple gates to keep them contained to the appropriate area. Luckily, I had the help of my parents, when Meghan was in the house entertaining Harper. After all the hard work, we did one of my favorite parts of the weekend. We hung a swing (thanks Grandma) for Harper to be out, learning to spend time in the barn, having fun and enjoying the animals!

 

It was another productive weekend on the homestead. A lot of work was completed, memories made, and one step closer to the homestead we’ve dreamed of.

A Small Taste of the Work to Come

This weekend we got a little piece of what spring will be like on the homestead. Moving here, it was easy to day dream about the reasons anyone wants to be a homesteader; self reliance, happiness, peace, and living a healthier lifestyle. Although we knew it was also hard work, it’s more fun to just think of the peacefulness. This weekends beautiful weather was a quick reminder that a large percentage of homesteading is WORK!

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Before and after the awning was removed

Our house is a never ending project. As we shared in an earlier post, we had to get the inside in a livable state in a short amount of time so we could move in before the baby was born. We will update you all soon on how it turned out soon! However, the outside needs plenty of work as well, both cosmetic and repairs. We want to make this house as beautiful as possible and have plans to do just that. So today, we started with the front porch on the house. It had a very dated awning that had to go. Honestly, it was a pretty easy task to take it down and made, what we think is, a world of difference. It will need more work, boards will need replaced, siding needs patched, the porch needs shortened, and we will be putting a metal roof over the area. It will take little money, a lot of work, but it will be a small part of giving this old farmhouse the makeover it needs! Future plans include painting the front door and adding some window boxes but those projects will come when the weather really starts heating up. My father, who luckily lives less than a mile away, helped me tackle this project. We needed his tractor with a loader on it to hold the awning up as we took it down. Meghan tackled our inside chores, cleaning and laundry, and spending time with our ever changing daughter. She did have a front row seat to the show though!

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After taking just a little bit of time to take the awning off, it gave us a surge of energy to tackle more duties on the “to do” list. So, my willing father brought a trailer, hooked it up to his tractor, and began the daunting task of removing A LOT of rocks in the yard. We don’t really prefer them for our landscape, and my dad had the perfect spot for them in a wooded setting. Three tractor buckets, two large trailers later, and the sun setting, it was time to call it quits for the weekend. Thank goodness! We were beat. We were rewarded with homemade beef jerky that my mom prepares annually, but a bit late this year due to all of the help she was giving us to rush into the new house.

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Just a small example of the amount of rocks that need taken off the property

The chickens also enjoyed their time being outside of the coop. As we picked up rocks that had been in place for decades, they were right by our side picking the bugs simultaneously as each rock was lifted. After their back breaking day of scratching and eating, they are as happy to be roosting next to each other as I am laying in my recliner with Meghan and Harper by my side.

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Sitting here thinking about the weekend, it’s easy to actually understand the happiness, self reliance, and inner peace that homesteading brings. It isn’t sitting on the porch, with a cup of coffee, watching the animals graze. Sure, that’s an amazing experience as well, but the hard work that homesteading is makes the memories we strived to make when we moved out here. I feel fortunate to be able to spend time out working with my dad, making memories, and being self reliant.

Who Are We?

Who are we? Who do we want to be? What do we want out of life? How do we want to raise our family? These are the questions we often discussed sitting in our house in the middle of town, surrounded by neighbors on a tiny lot, trying to figure out what direction we wanted our lives to head. While we still often talk about these questions, and we certainly don’t have everything figured out, we have made many steps in the right direction towards what we want to get out of life. Sitting in the living room of the first house Nathan ever bought, the first house we shared together, we often talked about how city life wasn’t for either of us and someday dreamed about living as modern homesteaders. Modern is key to homesteading for us, as I’m not quite ready to go back to my Amish ancestor roots. We’re still trying to navigate exactly what that means to us, but we’re figuring it out as we go and just completed our first real step in the process, buying our forever homestead.

We are Nathan and Meghan McCarty, married in September of 2014 and just recently added a daughter to the mix, Harper Grace, born in December of 2016. I, Meghan, am a full-time nursing student and with four semesters left I’m excited about starting my new career. Nathan also works a full time job as a branch manager of a bank. We recently bought our first and forever homestead, a beautiful 28 acres of rolling hills, the perfect size for what we are hoping to do. This was a once an active hobby farm, with mostly beef cattle, owned by Nathan’s great aunt and uncle. When he was a young boy, he has fond memories, feeding the cows and fish, playing with their collie, and fishing. The homestead is not exactly in tip top shape and will take some work to get back in running order. So far we’ve brought our chickens over, Nathan made them a coop in the barn, and they seem to be happy in their new home. As the weather starts to warm, we will be adding new animals, getting the property cleaned up, starting a garden and working on making this homestead as efficient as possible for us.

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This blog will be used to keep track of everything we are up to on the homestead. Nathan and I will both be writing articles about what we’ve accomplished, successes and fails, as we both learn how to run a homestead. We also look forward to hearing from other homesteaders, get advice from those who have been in our shoes before and what has and hasn’t worked for them. Please introduce yourselves in the comments and follow along with us on our journey!

We’ve Got Some Work To Do

We bought our house not knowing if we would eventually do a full remodel and addition or build a new one someday. Until we make that decision, we needed a roof over our heads and luckily, the farm we bought does have a house on it. It is an old, original farmhouse dated past 1900, the actual build date is unknown, and while I have a love of old houses, this one was rough even for me.

Nathan had wanted this house for as long as I have known him, it’s been his hope to buy this farm that he spent time at as a kid and I was more than happy to live out that dream with him. When the opportunity finally came up to buy the house, I was seven months pregnant and was pretty set on staying in our gorgeous, Pinterest-worthy home at least until the baby was here and we had a little more time. However, life doesn’t work that way and, with a leap of faith, we decided to list our home and buy the farm.

Looking at the pictures you may think, that’s not so bad! That’s a perfectly decent house to live in! However, pictures can’t say it all. My first time walking through it I cried. Sure, you can blame the pregnancy hormones but I know my thoughts were on the amount of work it would take to even partially restore its former beauty. Normally I can walk into a run down house and I can immediately see the potential, I can see exactly what it needs to fix it up, but with this house my mind was drawing a blank. It’s small, much smaller than what our current house size was, and the condition wasn’t exactly ideal to bring a newborn baby home to. Once I got over the initial shock and Nathan started the demolition, my fears had subsided for the most part and I got into the mind set that I didn’t need our big, beautiful house. This house would be more than sufficient for now and more than anything, we just bought 28 acres of farmland that was worth way more than an old run down house. We are well on our way to having the house done and ready to move in, the transformation is nothing short of a miracle and I will make sure to give an update once we are settled in.

It’s not going to be our forever home but it’s on OUR farm, on OUR land, our daughter will only know life on OUR homestead and that is the important part to us.