Self Reliance Challenge ~ Final Report!

hay field

The hay field behind our homestead…soon there will be fireflies by the thousands out here!

The Self Reliance Challenge Final Report

It’s hard to believe a month has gone by! I enjoyed taking part in a Self Reliance Challenge with my fellow bloggers. Setting goals and sharing my progress was good incentive for getting extra tasks completed around the homestead this spring.

The calendar says June 1st, but it feels like July 1st. I wasn’t prepared for how quickly the season heated up. Just 3 weeks ago we were building a fire in our wood stove at night…and now it’s getting into the 90s during the day. So a lot of my spring crops may be a flop this year.

Did I Accomplish All of My Goals?

No…I did not!

Some goals I set, but still need to accomplish: blanch and freeze burdock for carduni, make another batch of healing hand salve, figure out how to make cheese with stinging nettle rennet, cut and dry more alfalfa and forage for poultry, make more jam, go fishing! Needless to say, this self reliance thing is an ongoing process…you are never ‘done.’

Overall I feel pretty good about all that I accomplished, especially considering that I had a hip replaced in December and now I am back to gardening and keeping chickens and turkeys. Makes me feel pretty darn good.

I hope you have had a great month and maybe you worked on your self reliance goals too!

You can read about the rest of my challenge projects here…Week 1, Week 2, Week 3.

white columbine

What Did I Do?

The last week + has been mostly about getting my garden cleaned up and planted. I still have a couple of beds to weed, cultivate, and plant…but it’s looking a lot more manageable out there!

The chickens and turkeys are growing up. The meat chickens have about 3 weeks left before I start processing them for the freezer or pressure canner. The turkeys won’t be ready until the end of September. I have 4 little White Leghorn cockerels and I only want one, at most. So I will either sell or butcher the others.

Here’s the day by day run down of my final week…

rhubarb jam

Vanilla Rhubarb Jam

Day 1

  • Took care of young poultry – the meat chicks are eating machines!
  • Experimented with freezer jam. I made 4 batches using rhubarb, strawberries, and strawberry flavored gelatin…in different combinations. I want to make one more batch of each before I share the results.
  • Made 3 batches of canned jam: Vanilla Rhubarb, Strawberry Rhubarb, and Strawberry
  • Strained infused oil from yarrow and stored in a jar
  • Harvested some alfalfa and spread out to dry in barn

It was a jam session kinda day! This new recipe for Vanilla Rhubarb Jam is delicious…this is one I’ll make every spring from now on. I experimented with some freezer jam and it all tasted good, but some of it came out pretty runny. I’d like to try another brand of pectin and see how that goes…then I’ll share the recipes that are worthy. πŸ™‚


Hopefully we’ll have some plums ripen this year!

Day 2

  • Took care of young poultry
  • Spent most of the day working on my blog
  • Met with Small Business Development Center rep to discuss business plan

My husband and I are starting a business and right now we are in the paperwork process. I didn’t do very much around the homestead today, but getting this business off the ground is an important part of our self reliance plans. Fortunately for me, my husband is very detail oriented and he is taking care of filing the paper work. Thanks, Tom. πŸ™‚


baby collards

Freshly transplanted collard seedling.

Day 3

  • Took care of young poultry
  • Worked in garden today
  • Dug and prepared beds
  • Transplanted collards, kale, and Swiss chard
  • Planted seeds for: savory, thyme, sage, dill, golden beets, green onions, broccoli, lettuce, and cucumbers
  • Watered beds
  • Removed tarp from one bed, spread straw mulch and recovered area with tarp
  • Made 3 bean salad from home canned beans to go with dinner
  • Made chocolate ice cream for dessert

Oh my goodness…the heat! It doesn’t take long to sweat up a storm when the temps are in the high 90s. I know some of you are laughing at me because it’s in the 100s in your area. I don’t think I could garden in that heat! Kudos to you πŸ™‚


baby pears

These little pears are much nicer to look at than our water damaged basement. Sigh.

Day 4

  • Took care of young poultry
  • Took Rocky to the vet’s for his check up and suture removal – No cancer!
  • Dug garden beds and prepared them for planting
  • Watered my transplants and noticed a problem, water is leaking from under siding of house…this can’t be good πŸ™
  • Located source of water leak and assessed damage to interior of house
  • Tore wet carpet out of basement
  • Set up dehumidifier to dry out wet basement area

Today was very eventful. First, I am so relieved to find out that Rocky does NOT have cancer! Once I got over the euphoria of the good news, I started to feel a little angry with the doctor who told me that he had cancer in the first place. Rocky was just glad to get the heck out of the vet clinic with very little poking and prodding!

I worked in the garden until I was exhausted. When I was ready to ‘throw in the trowel’ for the day, I finished by filling up my watering can with the spigot on the side of the house. Unfortunately water started leaking from under the siding and my son showed up to tell me I needed to see something. The pipe that feeds the faucet leaked into the finished part of our basement. There is water damage. We found the leak and it only runs when the outdoor faucet is turned on…so it will be more difficult to water the garden now but at least we have water in the house.

I spent the rest of the evening removing wet carpet from the basement to prevent the water from seeping into other areas of the basement and to keep the mold from growing. Because it is a holiday weekend we won’t be able to call a plumber in or get a dumpster for the water damaged carpet and ceiling tiles until next week.Β 


homemade sports drink

Day 5

  • Took care of young poultry
  • Cultivated around peas, onions, and potatoes with the hoe
  • Hilled up potato plants
  • Finished prepping several rows
  • Planted storage potatoes and green beans
  • Mulched part of garden with straw
  • Pulled weeds
  • Made a ‘sports drink’ alternative to drink after working in the garden
  • Emptied dehumidifier and checked on wet basement situation

My husband and son spent the morning removing wet ceiling tiles from the area of basement that is affected by the leaking pipe. We can’t remove much more until we get the dumpster on Wednesday.

It is really starting to heat up outside and I am drenched in sweat every day when I come in from the garden. I’ve started making a homemade ‘sports drink’ to quench my thirst. It’s similar to a drink my Gram used to make when we were haying the fields on the farm a gazillion years ago.


young white leghorn chickens

I can tell the difference between the White Leghorn cockerels and pullets now. If you look closely, the 2 on the left are cockerels and the one on the right is a pullet.

Day 6

  • Took care of young poultry – It looks like I have 5 Leghorn pullets and 4 cockerels…and I have a cornish x pullet that is more active and smaller than the others, so I plan to keep her for a meat bird breeding experiment.
  • Dug up 2 more rows in garden and prepared them for planting
  • Pulled weeds
  • Brought more straw down to garden for mulch
  • Harvested oregano and put it into the food dehydrator for winter use
  • Prepared food for a cookout
  • Taking the rest of the day off!

I’m looking forward to having the meat chickens ‘taken care of’…they mostly sit next to their feed and eat all day. There is one pullet that is much more active and smaller than the others and I really want to try breeding her and raising my own meat chickens next year.Β 

The garden is looking more respectable, but I have a lot of work left to do! I’m looking forward getting it all planted.


new chicken run

Okay, don’t laugh at me too much! Here is my little chicken run for the youngsters. I took the photo after hanging the tarp. Yes, it needs adjusting. πŸ™‚

Day 7

  • Took care of young poultry
  • Dug and prepared 2 more rows in the garden
  • Pulled weeds
  • Dismantled compost bin and moved it (and the compost, too) with some help from my son
  • Put up a new chicken run off the coop for the youngsters
  • Cleaned out one corner of the garage

Today was very productive. Since it’s been so hot, I wanted to get a small run constructed for the young poultry…it gets hot in the coop and having the door open helps a lot. So I spent some time and put up my redneck chicken run. I need to make the run larger when the birds are bigger. But for now, this allows me to open the door and cool down the coop.Β 


pepper plant

Day 8

  • Took care of young poultry – let them outside
  • Finished preparing most of the beds for the garden
  • Planted: tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, carrots, radishes, cilantro, basil, watermelons, cantaloupes, 2 varieties of pumpkin, 4 varieties of winter squash, scarlet runner beans
  • Watered as much of garden as I could with watering can
  • Hung a tarp over part of chicken run to provide shade

Now the garden looks much better! I’m thrilled to have much of the planting done. It’s supposed to rain tomorrow and I’ve got my fingers crossed that we’ll get enough rain to water everything in really well.Β 


garden rows

Peas in front row and potatoes in second row back…behind them are tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, beans and more potatoes.

Day 9

  • Took care of young poultry – let them outside
  • Made buckwheat pancakes with rhubarb sauce for breakfast
  • Dumpster arrived
  • Cleaned out debris from water damaged basement
  • Began cleaning out garage/barn – got a lot done
  • Harvested onions
  • Used water from container under downspout to water as much of garden as I could

I was promised rain…this was not nearly enough rain to water my garden in. πŸ™Β  I managed to water the transplants with rain from the downspout. I have a container under the downspout to catch water for the chickens, but I really should get some rain barrels set up to save more rain water.

The garage and basement are looking much better after cleaning out and filling the dumpster up halfway. I really hate to throw things out, which is part of the reason we have so much junk. But it’s hard to get organized and find the things I need for a project. My son helped me clean up the garage and we got a lot done. I still have maybe another day of cleaning left to do.


baby turkeys

Some of the turkey poults exploring their redneck chicken run. I really need to adjust that tarp.

Day 10 – Final Day

  • Took care of poultry
  • Ran errands and bought more seeds for the garden
  • Made yogurt
  • Watered transplants by hand…this is getting old (plumber is coming tomorrow!)
  • Made fresh hummingbird nectar

The final day of the challenge! It was kind of a low key day, but I ran a lot of errands and got some supplies for the garden and chicken coop. I also found some marked down organic milk to make a batch of homemade yogurt. Maybe I’ll make ice cream too! It feels like a good day for it. πŸ™‚


Cornish x chickens at 5 weeks old

What Is This Self Reliance Challenge Of Which You Speak?

Starting May 1st, a group of bloggers (including me) started a challenge to be more self reliant for the month of May. We are each doing our own thing and then sharing our posts about self reliance each week. Read some wonderful self reliance posts by my blogging friends:

AnnMarie – 15 Acre Homestead

Nancy – Nancy On The Homefront

Kathi – Oak Hill Homestead

Robin – A Life in the Wild

Candy – Candy’s Farm House Pantry

Farmgal – Just another Day on the Farm

Ashley – Practical Self Reliance

ShawnaLee – Homegrown Self Reliance

Frank – My Green Terra

Maria – Maria Zannini

And, of course, yours truly, Lisa Lynn!

I hope that you have enjoyed reading about our self reliance goals and projects this month! It has been a lot of fun to share my projects with you. πŸ™‚

Did you complete self reliance projects this month? I enjoy reading about your tips, tricks, goals, dreams, and experiences in homesteading and self reliance. Leave a comment and tell us what you did!

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Lisa Lombardo

Freelance Writer at Tohoca, LLC
Lisa writes in-depth articles about gardening and homesteading topics. She grew up on a farm and has continued learning about horticulture, animal husbandry, and home food preservation ever since. She has earned an Associate of Applied Science in Horticulture and a Bachelor of Fine Arts. She is a self proclaimed gardening freak and crazy chicken lady.

In addition to writing for her own websites, Lisa has contributed articles to The Prepper Project and

The author lives outside of Chicago with her husband, son, 2 dogs, 1 cat, and a variety of poultry.
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