Wilma The Wonder Hen Podcast

34 Homesteading In The Holler with Cat: How To Get Started On A Smaller Scale

February 07, 2022 Melissa Season 2 Episode 34
Wilma The Wonder Hen Podcast
34 Homesteading In The Holler with Cat: How To Get Started On A Smaller Scale
Show Notes Transcript

Today we talk with Catherine on how she and her husband started their homestead. Simple ways you can live the life you want, with purpose. Tips ad idea  you can implement, even on a small scale.

You can follow Cat here: https://www.instagram.com/cat_hensley/
Her previous episode on "What not to do when adding chickens."  can be found  here: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1624426/episodes/7819669

Please follow Wilma for more content: https://www.instagram.com/wilmathewonderhen/

We'd love for you to be a part of our podcast. 
You can email us your questions or inquires:
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Catherine:

There's too many questions at once. <laugh> can you ask me one question at a time? <laugh> so how was your day? It was good. I worked outside a lot and tried to prep my garden a little bit and hung out with the boys .

Mel:

Oh , that's cool. So how are you prepping your ,

Catherine:

So right now I have the spot marked off and I have leaves on top of it. I have probably four or five inches of leaves on top of the space, just to try to , uh , suffocate the weeds and keep the soil nice and moist. I'm ready to plug . Yeah. And it's free . It was already , the leaves were already in my yard. So that was a bonus. Well, I was gonna say I used straw last year, but the straw actually had seeds in it. So I was constantly plucking out grass from my garden.

Mel:

Yeah. You were sprouting seeds. Yeah .

Catherine:

Or whatever it was or whatever it was sprouting. It wasn't good. It was kind of counterproductive. So the Leafs are working much better and they're free. So that's nice.

Mel:

Hey, y'all I'm Mel and you are listening to Wilma . The wonder hand ,

Mel Intro:

Are you a chicken mouth love mama . Daddy weather will dive into the latest poultry keeping adventures chat about everyday life. We're the generous mix of some hilarious stories. Bringing you fascinating interviews with poultry owners from all over you'll find tips and basic advice from your local veterinarian. Along with new chicken, keeping gadgets and reviews. I'm gonna see what Mr. Jes and Wilma has to say about that. We're going to encourage and help you build a stronger, healthier flock . Let's go see what Mr . Jes and Wilma is up to. Let's go let these heifers out.

Mel:

Okay. Today's guest is Kathryn . Uh, Kathryn , happy to be my child. She's no longer a child. She is a grown adult and we are super excited to have her with us today, cuz she's actually very knowledgeable and the gardening and the all those good homestead things. So today she's gonna share with us a little bit about what , uh, moved her towards purchasing the place that she has now and the things that she does to help with sustainability and uh, her future plan. So welcome Kathryn . We are so excited to have you with us.

Catherine:

Thank you. I'm glad to be back again. I enjoyed the , the first time I was here.

Mel:

You guess if you didn't know, Catherine has a <laugh> Catherine has a prior podcast episode all about how she bought auction chickens and how that worked out and yeah. So you should , I'll , I'll tag that in the show notes and you can go listen to what not to do , uh, in getting new chickens.

Catherine:

Yes. I made lots of mistakes,

Mel:

But we are so grateful to have you with us. I know you're very, very busy. Uh, if you give our listeners just a little bit of a background of what you do, who you are, those kind of things.

Catherine:

Right now, I am working full-time as a nurse practitioner, serving veterans in our community. Um, at home I have about 20, no 14 chickens , uh, three dogs and a cat. And, and we live on about 12 acres in a rural area and east Tennessee.

Mel:

So what made you choose the land that you have? I mean, was, did you have in mind things that you wanted to get out of the land that you were gonna get or plans of what you, I you're a planner cause I've seen your, your garden planner. <laugh> her garden planner is stellar. It's a little like when we go back and forth about gardening and seeds and things and try or whatever , uh, she has these diagrams of how she plans out her garden. I, I do to a point, but hers is like, I mean, it's pretty intense. So

Catherine:

I like to visualize things on paper. I don't like to just have the plan in my head because it just feels so cluttered in my head, but it really helps me if I write it down. And so that's why I draw all the diagrams. Um , <laugh> no ,

Mel:

I think your diagrams are great though. I I'm gonna implement some of that stuff because I I'm gonna add a bunch of new seeds and some beds, so yeah . Gotta

Catherine:

Figure all that out . And it definitely helps too, if you have a whole lot of things that you wanna plant, because sometimes you can forget about things. If you don't write 'em down. Well, I, I do. And also with inter planning too, so you know what can go next to each other and what you maybe shouldn't put next to each other.

Mel:

So going back to the original question, so what, what was on your mind? No, save all the was great tips. What was on your mind , uh, prior to y'all picking what you picked? Like what did you envision? Well, we

Catherine:

Definitely wanted a lot of land because I wanted lots of animals , uh, farm animals. Of course we already had chickens at that point, but we only had maybe, I don't know, six or 10, we didn't have very many at that point. So we wanted more land to be able to expand with the chickens and then maybe consider getting like goats or horses or something at that time we wanted more land. Um, and then of course the gardening aspect of it too. I wanted to be able to have our fruit trees and have more crops that would come back each year, like the blueberries and strawberries and berries and all those things and where we lived before we were in the city a a little bit. I mean, it wasn't as real as it is now, but it wasn't really a great place to have all those animals and uh, plant like a food type forest that I wanted here .

Mel:

So you do plan on getting other animals?

Catherine:

Not, not so much anymore. Probably not. No, no. We've we really like to travel and we've found that having all these animals is nice until you wanna leave. <laugh>

Mel:

Isn't that the , yeah. I mean, you can't even go to the bathroom without one, forget about planning , any type of vacation. Yeah.

Catherine:

Maybe somewhere in the future. And plus the land that we ended up buying, not great for farming necessarily because it has a lot of Hills , uh, it's quite steep in some areas. So it would be really to difficult to keep like horses or cattle on you could probably goats would be fine. I'm sure sheep, but you know, the things that I originally wanted, I don't think that'll really work out here.

Mel:

So for someone who was looking to find a piece of property to be more sustainable originally, when you got your place, is that what you were think, thinking about is being sustainable or you just thought like the idea of the larger area, you know, more privacy , uh , more of a freedom. So what was kind of like the , I know you said your , your main goal at that time was to, you know, get all these animals. And then of course you realized that you wanted to be more free <laugh> and travel more and that was gonna be difficult. What could you offer someone , uh , advice on ways that, you know, tips of what to look for, or, you know, if they're going to start their own little homestead, I mean, you don't need 12 acres. Like you have, I mean, you could start in a smaller way. So what are some tips that you could give people maybe to be sustainable on where they already live?

Catherine:

So as far as sustainability, like growing your own food, I don't think that there is a certain amount of space that's required. I think that people are very creative with small spaces, like with , uh , vertical growing and raised beds. And I've seen those, those towers before, too. Yeah , the tower . Yeah. There's, there's all kinds of different options for people who wanna grow their own food. Um, and you don't necessarily have to have 12 acres or really a large area of land to do that. Um, whenever to answer your first question about what we were looking for, whenever we bought this property, privacy was a big thing. And then wanting just more land to get away from our neighbors <laugh> cause where , where we lived before we had some nosy neighbors and yeah , they were quite close. So , um, that, and we were renting from family and we didn't really feel like it was our own place. So that kind of drove us to,

Mel:

To say, this is mine, you know, I can do what I want with it and not have to be concerned with someone else and what they limit you, you know, what changes you can make and stuff. So yeah , you answered that quite well. Do you find there's ways that , um, you, you can help? I mean, I know that you work for full-time and most people do obviously work full-time too, but , uh , are there ways that you think that you can utilize the land that you have, or have you, and , uh , you know, to add income into the homestead, you know, to offset some of the costs for , um, you know, having your animals and

Catherine:

Yeah, so really the only way that we have made income off of our land is by selling eggs , uh , from our chickens. And there's a few people for my work who buy those for $4 a dozen, which really isn't much, but it's, it does help with their feed cost . Um, but I know some people , uh, sell their produce if they have extra produce or they intentionally grow more than what they need to sell at farmer's markets or even , uh, selling cut flowers too. So there's several different avenues that you can take. If you wanna try to make some income off of your property. I know you

Mel:

Were very creative though, with some of the little Etsy shop, that little wood stuff that you had going. Could you tell us a little bit about that? I think it's very fascinating. Oh

Catherine:

Yes. So , uh, whenever we first moved here, the, the people who we bought the property from, they left a bunch of , uh , black Walnut wood that was already milled into one inch slabs. So we didn't wanna get rid of it cuz it was nice pieces of wood. So I came up with the idea to cut it into small sections and sell it as shelves on Etsy, which I've kind of fell , fell off the phone , off the wagon with that. I have a bunch that I need to put on Etsy, but I just kind of lost interest <laugh>

Mel:

Okay . But those things that you did list, you know, like a cut flowers and you know, selling your eggs. And I know , uh , quite a few people that's been on here they've made syrups and stuff, you know, homemade those homemade products that they sell on line to help adjust for some of the cost of their animals. But yeah, I think if you can be resourceful, you can definitely , um , make some money back and put it back into your homestead.

Catherine:

Absolutely. And the going back to the wood, you know, initially you didn't really think anybody would buy it. It cuz it's just, you know, a piece of wood, but you take decent pictures of it and write a little description of it and there's people out there who will buy it. So even if you don't think, you know, that your produce is the absolute best out there or your flowers are the prettiest or most unique, there's probably a market, somebody out there who would be willing to pay for it.

Mel:

Yeah. I think people are , um , apt to buy like local, you know, mm-hmm <affirmative> instead of these big commercial, you know, grocery stores they're even though if they're not as pretty as what you would see , uh , in the grocery store and I know there's a bunch of little farmers goods and all those things that you can, you know, get in contact with , uh , various organizations and be a part even like CSA, they have a lot of people that , um , do

Catherine:

That too. Yeah , they do. And I think some of that is , uh, those , your followers build a relationship with you. And so it's easier for you to sell that stuff to them because they, they learn to, they learn about you and you develop relationships. And so they have kind of a loyalty to you.

Mel:

Do you have plans on, I know you mentioned your garden, you already started thinking about that and stuff. And I am going to add a cut flour garden. I don't know if it's gonna be anything that anyone would even wanna buy because it's gonna be new, you know, like to see what kind of works and stuff. So do you plan on adding a cut garden or is that just for fun? I know you have a lot of flowers around your property , uh , but adding something that maybe you could on the roadside or

Catherine:

Something. Yeah. I definitely have more than what I need , uh, for my own viewing pleasure. <laugh> I think I'll have more than enough to , to try to sell some, if I have extra, just trying to test the water, see if there's a market for it . I know there's several people in this area that , uh , are doing that already, but

Mel:

Maybe you can sell that to, you know, your people you work with and stuff.

Catherine:

Yeah. I mean, you never know until you try and what's it gonna hurt if you're already growing it anyways, you might as well just see what you can share with other people. Do you have any

Mel:

Chicken keeping tips for our listeners since our last nightmare of an episode that we went through?

Catherine:

Yeah. Well I have, I'm living another nightmare right now because my neighbor's dogs gone into my chickens get in and killed six of 'em just past week. I'm

Mel:

So sorry. It just breaks my heart that it happened.

Catherine:

Yeah. It's it sucks. Especially if they won't take responsibility for it. But um, you know, right now we're just on lockdown. We have a poultry net that's let , and as long as they're in that, they're safe, but you know, we feel bad leaving 'em they have more than enough space, but you know, they've ate all the grass and Clover and everything else . So we were letting 'em free range for a little bit, but they're definitely not coming out for a really long time. Yeah. Being

Mel:

Your own property, you would think that , uh , they're safe. Mm-hmm <affirmative> I mean, not to be safe from aerial predators. I mean, we can't all control that, but no predators that live next door, that's just

Catherine:

Ridiculous. Oh yeah. And I we've, we've lost a few to Hawks before and, and I just, it doesn't sting as bad because you know that they're gonna kill 'em quickly and that their body's not gonna be wasted, but you know, the dogs just do it for fun and torture 'em. And so

Mel:

You have any tips that you've learned since then? Any magical chicken keeping adventures, anything you're loving right now, you got any , uh , products that you really

Catherine:

Love ? Um , I actually found some five grain scratch at a local feed store. That was a lot cheaper than the scratch grain at , uh, one of the big chain farm supply stores .

Mel:

Isn't that the co-op did you go to the co-op?

Catherine:

No, it's uh , off exit 50 . Oh ,

Mel:

That that's tells me everything.

Catherine:

No , it's literally right at 50 right before you get to fall branch school.

Mel:

Oh my

Catherine:

I'm check out . They have a five grain scratch and they have, well, they have like a three grain scratch, a five grain scratch. And I wanna say seven grain scratch with probiotic. That's fancy stuff. I just got the , the five grain scratched and they really like that. And uh, their crack corn was also cheaper there. So my tip would be to check prices around because in my head I thought that maybe the local would be more expensive. Uh, I don't know why I thought that, but it did, but it turns out they're actually cheaper.

Mel:

Yeah. Sometimes they are the co-op here. It's, it's a little , a bit more, it's the same product. Like they have their own mix mm-hmm <affirmative> but it's not any cheaper than the name brand. So, and I guess you kind of feel nervous when you've not, you know, tried it out yet. So, but yeah, that's a great tip to try and find local

Catherine:

Feed yeah. Price checks , and I'm sure it changes all the time too. Um, I know some of the big chains they price match, but , um, I don't know that you would be able to price match if it wasn't in a printed ad or online or something. So where

Mel:

Do you get the knowledge? Where , where would you send someone for , uh, tips on gardening? Do you have specific places that you always go to, you know, educate yourself on more things, like you said in the beginning, you know, like co planting and you know, to help yourself gain more knowledge to , uh, grow as a, grow as a

Catherine:

Gardener <laugh> uh , as I grow up through growing <laugh> yes , there , well, there's a couple places online. I like the Almanac website. Um, the farmer's Almanac, you can put an in your zone and it tells you about planting and , uh, like when to plant and when to harvest. And I just had a lot of details on it. And then also more recently I found a website , uh it's university of Tennessee extension, and it shows like the ask frost dates, the first frost dates, when you should plant , uh, spring vegetables and fall vegetables. And like, basically anything that you wanna know about anything related to farming and gardening in this area. And they also had a really cool calendar that was for the whole year and they had it divided with west Tennessee and east Tennessee, and it was color coded . And on each day of the month, it would be colored coded with the directions on what to plant now. Uh , or if you should be spraying your trees now, like your fruit and , uh , direct selling X, Y , Z . So those are two resources that I really like to use.

Mel:

Obviously local is better. I mean, you can go to the farmer's Almanac and put in your area and stuff, and then it come up. But if you , um , can find something local to your area, you get more, more of a detail, like you said, all those things broken down.

Catherine:

Yeah. And also on the back of your seeds too, or whenever you purchase the seeds online, like if you purchase 'em through Johnny's or , uh , I don't think baker Creek really has a whole lot of information on planting on their website, but I know Johnny's and , um, what's the other one gurneys.

Mel:

Yeah. Host tools. Has I bought a bunch of seeds from them last year. They, they, they have a big blog and stuff too .

Catherine:

Mm-hmm <affirmative> yeah. A lot of 'em give you directions on, you know, when to plan 'em when to harvest 'em and all the details of planting, but that university of Tennessee website I found was really helpful.

Mel:

So what is some advice that you would give someone that is just starting? I mean, what not necessarily tips, but just some general advice , uh , for someone who really has a heart really wants to be sustainable really wants to live a life that's not , um, so confined and maybe feel so vulnerable to , uh, what's going on in the world, you know, to , uh, take back some of that control kind of like they did in the old days, you know? Yeah. <laugh>

Catherine:

<laugh> well, I would say educating yourself is definitely one of the most important things that you can do. Um, because if you go in blind, then you're gonna make a whole lot of mistakes, not to say you're not gonna make mistakes along the way anyways, but I think really taking the time to do some research, watch videos , um, listen to people who are already doing it and take advice from them. People who have experience with

Mel:

It. Do you have anyone in particular that you would say, you know, you would recommend to watch or

Catherine:

Follow? Yeah, we really like Justin Rhode. Um, I think he just came out with his own streaming channel. Uh , I think it's called abundance plus, but anyways, we , we watched him whenever he was just doing YouTube videos, but he does a lot of home setting . His wife, Rebecca does a lot of key inning and preserving and they have their own dairy cows and , uh, they harvest meat, chickens, they harvest sheep or lamb. Um, they do a whole lot around the homestead and they're just genuinely good people. It seems like. So they have lots of experience and they're willing to share it for free on their YouTube channel. So , um , that's one that we definitely enjoy watching, but roots and refugees, another one, just , I think her name's Jess, we like watching her and her husband and kids. Um , but YouTube has an , a of homesteaders on there who are willing to share their experience and advice for people who are just starting out. Yeah. That

Mel:

Was really good though. That's a lot of places that people can go. Do you have any plans for the future? Is there anything different that you want to add that I know you said that you really weren't interested in adding, you know, too many more animals gonna stick chickens, but do you have any other vision, like , um, are you just living your life?

Catherine:

Yeah, I definitely have vision as far as gardening goes. Um, and the, the plants, the flowers, the perennials trying new annuals , um, getting our fruit trees established, which we already have a couple mature peach trees, a church cherry tree , uh , and a peach tree, or I'm sorry, a para tree , the para trees shaded out. And it it's never beared fruit, but anyways, we're really wanting to work on getting our more strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, those kinds of things that come back each year that you really don't have to put a whole lot of thought into other than, you know, fertilizing 'em and , uh , trimming 'em and just, you know, working maintenance, but gardening, I really wanna focus on the animals. Like you said, not so much. What we have is kind of we're maxed out <laugh> I don't want any more animal chores right now, but I really wish that spring would just get here. Cause I'm excited to try some new flowers and I've got new vegetables to try. Uh , but basically just expanding on our garden. Also, we've been clearing a lot of trees and a lot of land, so we have a lot of bear soil. So we're wanting to get that planted in to help with prevent erosion and , uh , keep our soil where it's at and knock down in the ditch , down the road. You,

Mel:

I also want to just mention that last year was the first year that I added in the cardboard in between my rose and my big garden. And I got this idea from Catherine . And when I shared this on my Instagram , uh, host tools, which is the some where I bought some of the seeds and stuff from last year, they actually were so excited. They shared it and then they like shared it on all of their platforms , um, with the cardboard. So where did that idea come from? Did , did you have, is this your original thought?

Catherine:

No. This idea came from , uh , my husband's mammo, his grandmother , my

Mel:

Father-in-law who he's pretty, you know, I think he's a , like 70, 71 or something, maybe 60, late sixties. And he was so excited about when I first went out there and I started laying the cardboard, which seems simple. Like I'm sure lots of people know that, but he has been a gardener in, you know, out in the hay fields for years and years and years. That's all, they, you know, what he does as who he was , uh, he was like, looking at me like, what are you doing? Mm-hmm <affirmative> . And even like his brother and all them, you know, they had always been, you know, out in the garden and stuff. They thought I was a lunatic cuz I was laying out, I didn't have big sheets of a cardboard. So I kind of pieced together a bunch of cardboard and, and then put like little rocks on it. So it didn't blow away. And they thought I was insane, but after, you know, a garden started growing and then we barely had any weeds and they were like, wow, mm-hmm <affirmative> this is so cool. So now this year, this whole winter time they've been collecting cardboard from, you know, different, you know, if they got a new refrigerator or whatever, they just put it away and, and you know, he was like, we got, we got more cardboard for this coming year. And I was like, yeah. So that , even those that small little tip so that the tips that you share are very useful to , uh , many people because you know who would've thought? I mean, like I said, probably lots of people use that, but wow. You know, so yeah. So we appreciate

Catherine:

That. She's got lots of tips and tricks with , uh , plants and she's raised a Arden for really, really long, long time. They preserve a lot too. They preserve,

Mel:

I mean last year was my very first year of canning for my birthday. I asked for a can <laugh> <laugh> so I got a pressure cooker and you know, all the little things that go with it, it was very exciting. So better . Do you plan on getting to , since you're gonna grow, you know, lots of cherries and you know, different types of fruit and stuff? I

Catherine:

Don't know , depend , I guess it just depends on how much we get. Well, you know, last year we had a late frost and it killed all of our cherries in our peaches. So I'm hoping that we don't get a late frost and that we can actually get some fruit this year because of the year before last, the squirrels robbed all of 'em and we didn't get a single peach.

Mel:

I know last year, my cherry tree, it , it killed it. It was all getting ready to bloom and then it , it killed all of the fruit. So,

Catherine:

But I'd be open to try some canning if we have an abundance of fruit and or vegetables.

Mel:

I think it's fun. I can't wait, but I'm super excited for my garden.

Catherine:

I know I'm too. I wish it'd just be spring already. I got some red onions that I'm wanting to plant, but I should have planted 'em in the fall. I'm gonna try spring plant and I'm see how it goes. So

Mel:

We appreciate you, you and all of your advice. I , I think it's great though, because , um, because you are in the younger bracket, you know, you're not babies, but you're not middle age . And I think it y'all have done an amazing job with, you know, your land and your animals. And I know that y'all both have very, and you went to school and are very, very smart. She's rolling her eyes, but she is, she's a genius, but I could be biased, but yeah, for your age, you know, that gives people hope. You know, it's never too late and it's never too early to kind of, you know, plan ahead for your own little space in the world. Mm-hmm <affirmative>, but we are so grateful that you , uh, you get , you know, you gave us a little bit of your time and some very good tips , uh, there , uh, where could our listeners find you if they wanted to follow you? I know you post, you don't post a whole lot, but you do post a lot of stuff to your stories. Mm-hmm <affirmative> and maybe , uh , this spring you can share a little bit more and , uh , help those out that are new bees or maybe wanna learn a new trick or two. So where can we find you?

catherine:

Yeah, I , like you said, I'm on Instagram a t my name, I think i s cat_Hensley. U m, but like you said, I don't really make a lot of posts necessarily, but I do put a lot of stuff on my story and I have a highlight f rom homestead and then also f or my plants and for my animals too. Yeah. I peeped all that, some good stuff. Plus h e lives in this really beautiful cabin. So i t, i t makes all o ur f or photos look like one of those, u h, professional, u h, beautiful Instagram accounts that we've talked about before, u m, our podcast that we will never be <laugh> < laugh> w e have, w e just be who we are so w ell, b ut we appreciate y ou. U h, we do l ove y ou and we'll see you next t ime. Y ou, y ou I 'm a nd l istening t o.