The Art Of Failing Forward
Win some; Learn some
Its official Thomas Family Life have gone full on homestead! Well kind of. The last four months have been quite the journey. We bought land this summer and pushing ourselves into this new world of growing our own food and raising animals. We have had many epic fails and a few good wins but more than anything the knowledge we have gained is priceless. This rings alive the famous quote in our family from one of Roland’s favorite authors ” sometimes you win sometimes you learn” by John Maxwell.
Sometimes you win, Sometimes you learnJohn Maxwell
This summer before we purchased our land I felt in my heart I wanted to learn to grow my own food since I was stuck at home like most of the world this past year and since I live in an RV and was parked outside of my moms house with no backyard I decided to grow food using containers lined up behind our RV out of site. And so it begins, even though I always thought I had a black thumb and killed everything I ever tried to grow I learned that my mistake wasn’t my thumb at all, rather my expectation of time needed tending to my garden all together. I was use to watering it when I thought about in checking on things when I had a free moment from my busy life and never really tending to my garden on a regular basis. Well since we were nice and settled with no place to go, what better time to learn?
I gathered all my seeds, not having a clue the difference between heirloom and hybrid seeds and to be honest I didn’t really pay much attention to it. I just grabbed what sounded like something we would like to eat or have eaten on a pretty regular basis. And from there I started trying to see what would emerge from the soil and produce fruit. and to my surprise with patience and care I managed to grow quite a bit.
Now after having purchased some land and starting our family homestead. I realize that if I wanted the biggest bang for my buck it would be wise to purchase heirloom seeds that I can grow time and time again. While I’m still in the process of collecting. We have had a little fun trying our hand in an “no-dig” garden and had a few failed successes lol. I say failed successes because I had a successful winter garden with cabbage , brussel sprouts, and herbs that I failed to secure with some kind of fence or netting. One random day the chickens decided to investigate and ravaged through my beautiful garden. Yes, I was sad at my rookie mistake and equally yes, I have learned my lesson. As I said before we have learned a laundry list of lessons so far lol.
Since we moved to open pastures the kids have been loving being outside with space to roam. Most days you can find Victory playing with grass rocks and mud cause who needs toys when you have mud? and Ariel you can find planted near the fire pit or under a tree with a handy dandy book or four lol. Roland and I have kept busty building a chicken run and figuring out how to raise chickens as our first homestead animal. And let me tell you this is where it all went down hill.
After a month or so living on our land in our RV still planning and thinking of ways to turn this blank canvas into a dream come true homestead. We received a surprise phone call from my mom, she needed us to take in her chickens because she wasn’t able to keep them anymore. It was no doubt a sad loss for her and an unexpected surprise to us. We are so happy to have had the ability to give my moms chickens a good home. And she is happy to be able to visit and receive eggs from them. Receiving my moms chickens unexpectedly left us with having to rush and get their coop and run ready in a hurry. Using materials from their original coop and run to make a much larger home for them. With the addition of using pallets because we wanted to think ahead and have enough space to add to the flock.
Flooded in with nowhere to go;
The plot thickens and if you have any sense of humor you will find it funny that yet again things got rough for us. One decision that led to two months of mud hiking and let me tell ya it was a load of suck!
The week of Thanksgiving Roland mentioned that we were going to get quite a bit of rain and I so naively thought that it would be no big deal. I thought we would get a few inches and it would all dry up in a week or so, no big deal. And because we had been traveling and away for what seemed like forever I was just ready to be home, andddd lets just say I should have absolutely listen to Roland because…….. It rained and the a few days would go by and be dry and it would rain again and this pattern continued day after day to this day. Both of our vehicles had their fair share of getting stuck in the mud and after so much of that we just started parking our cars in the driveway and hiking in and out for a good two months. My biggest concern was “what if it floods” with the ground being so saturated and no ability to drive our truck onto our property, this concern grew as the rainy days continued. That is until a neighbor pulled us out with his tractor. Now we are out and safe. We are currently staying nearby (benefits of living in an RV I guess) We just go by to feed our animals until things dry up. And yet again, another hard lessoned learned.
Finally Some Success! Well sort of;
Success! We have eggs!!!! So exciting to have our new hens finally laying eggs! pictured below are pictures of me holding our first dozen! Finally something we worked for gave us back so sort of reward. and that’s such a comforting feeling after so many fails.
A couple of months into homesteading Roland and I had the desire to use our land to give back to the community we decided that we were not only going to raise chickens for our family but also to feed families going through a hard time. So we ordered 50 meat chickens to raise and to give away. We built a chicken tractor. Which was really cool and something new Roland learned how to do. We were so excited about this project and really proud of what we had accomplished. That is until we had a “light rain” come through or so we thought. In a matter of a few hours a “heavy rain” passed through and drowned all but 9 of our chickens. It was so heartbreaking to lose them that way. We wish they would have just lined up around the rim and they would have been fine, Instead they were scared and stepped on top of each other and drowned. We are still devastated, wishing we would have taken added precautions. Moving forward we know to add a pallet inside the tractor as a place for the chicks to stand. Going into this we thought wow we are doing it. and it’s going to be awesome giving families in need a meal.
Mistakes Made; Lessons Learned
- We’ve learned quite a bit since we started this journey a few months ago and unfortunately we learned them through what I like to refer to as failing forward haha. we made a chicken run that wasn’t enough protection we added 5 more hen plus a rooster to our flock and lost 3 to a bobcat attack. because we didn’t make our run secure enough.
- we started a no dig garden and didn’t put enough paper and cardboard down and so the weeds and grass grew through the paper and much and pretty much took over. we learned from this and doubled down on our next attempt so far we are growing onions and they seem to be doing well.
- Our first week on the land we wanted to set up a sort of relaxing fun family environment. a space to hang out and enjoy our land. So we decided our first projects would be to build a firepit and set temporary post to string lights. I found a few diy projects on pinterest and thought it would be easy and fun projects to do as a family and boy was I wrong. We set the wood post in 5 gallon buckets with concrete and stringed lights from them only for a few hours latter high winds took them all completely out. Our fire pit was a grand success though.
- We successfully built a chicken tractor. Our meat chickens drowned but we have 30 more growing up and will soon be put out to pasture. Thankfully we have learned from our previous experience and have made provisions for this next batch not to have to same fate as the prior chickens.
- we installed a compost pile using our old container garden scraps and it honestly didn’t seem like much was happening months after starting it. I think we just weren’t adding enough fresh food scraps and we also weren’t turning it enough. Now things seem to be coming along and maybe soon we will have compost to add to our garden.
Roll with the punches
I know what you’re thinking, “wow what a depressing story”. Well I guess it depends on how you look at the experiences that we have had. To us lessons have been learned and you can’t buy this type of knowledge it has to be gained through experience alone.There is still many unknowns ahead of us we have dreams of raising bigger animals and growing a full vegetable garden. We want to build a house and a barn. We desperately need a road and we would love to plant an orchard. We are so excited for the journey ahead.
Thanks so much for reading our story of transforming from big city people to homestead country living. follow along and subscribe to my email list so that you can get notified as I update this blog. Also subscribe to our YouTube channel.