Homestead Still Productive During The Drought

Reader Contribution by Anna Hess And Mark Hamilton
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Mark spent most of the last week fencing in a new chicken pasture for our second round of broilers.  Our usually wet farm has spent the last few weeks with no rain but with lots of scorching sun, so the grass is turning crispy and the chickens are looking annoyed.  We expanded up into the powerline cut, figuring that the area has to stay un-treed, so it might as well be put to productive use.

Mark’s homemade, solar fan hat made the project possible while the sun was pounding down.  It’s a good thing no one was around to laugh at his fashion statement except me.  (By the way, this is Anna typing today since Mark is taking our dog to the vet for her checkup and shots.)

Meanwhile, I was pitting my scythe against Mark’s weedeater.  I figured out that the scythe makes it very easy to harvest ragweed and wingstem from alongside the driveway and use it to mulch our berry patch.

The bees in our Warre hive have moved down into their third box, but we’re still feeding.  White clover is one of the few uncultivated bee plants currently blooming, and I’m afraid the drought will make the flowers produce less nectar than our young colony needs.  We’ve been slowly adding more flowers to our garden, though, and New England asters have just started blooming, with buckwheat buds nearly ready to pop open.  Maybe once the cover crop comes into its own, we can cut off subsidies to the hive.

Finally, I had fun using google planimeter to figure out that our core homestead is just over an acre in size.  We grow all of our own vegetables, chickens, eggs, and an increasing amount of fruit in that small area (and we live there too!), so urban homesteaders should take heart.

Mark Hamilton and Anna Hess blog about their homesteading adventures at  They make a living selling POOP-free chicken waterers that keep hens happy and healthy and allow their owners to leave town for the weekend without worrying about their flock.

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