Random Weeknight Project!

Most of the time people save projects for the weekend and we are no exception. Both of us here at Two Old Oaks work and our time during the week is limited, but we love to spend whatever time we have left building and adding to our homestead. Sometimes however that means staying up late to get something ready for the unexpected!

 

Last night we both came home to find these five baby chicks a relative found for free! As you can see these guys are still tiny and super fragile. Judging from their size  we guess they are only a week or so old so we needed a better setup than the cardboard box they came in. After a few minutes thought we got to work!

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An acquaintance of ours one town over had a ton of wooden boxes laying around (see it with the red hose?) They are about 18” by 36” and sturdy as can be so we thought we would put one to better use here as a long-term brooder house!

 

We took the box and and got to work measuring what we needed. Thank goodness for leftovers from previous projects! Chicken wire, boards from the bedroom renovation, some cedar planks from a lucky find, and a couple old door hinges and we were good to go. (Oh and of course hammer, nails, drill, screws, and the old saw!)

We took the chicken wire and molded it over one half of the box so the peeps could get heat and see outside. The other half of the box we covered with three boards pushed flush together and a fourth board (the long one before we cut it to size) about a quarter inch from the first three. Half of the fourth board covered the chicken wire to help secure it, while the space let us set hinges down and make an easy-open door for our little brooder! With the cedar planks we fastened the first three boards together and installed the matching hinge. After tapping the pin into place the door was complete!

Of course no brooder is complete without a heat source so we took a few final pieces of scrap lumber and made a square arch over the chicken-wire where we could easily (and safely) hang a heating lamp. When all was said and done we had the perfect little home for our new chickies!

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The finished project! Pretty basic but still a joy to build! (The pup in the bottom left isn’t sure about this…)

Overall the project was just as easy as it looks, but the unexpectedness of it took us by surprise so we thought we would share it with you.

Once we’d finished the build we put some bedding down (in the form of shredded papers) and tried to introduce a mama hen to the babies to see if she would be willing to adopt. Unfortunately both the hens we tried to introduce weren’t too keen on the idea of taking care of them. The first was too young (hadn’t gone broody before) and the other we think is just old and ready to retire. After putting the hens back in the grown-up house we shut up the brooder and the babies have been loving it!

Hopefully all five survive and who knows? We may have more soon! (Just after we got done we found our Muscovy duck has built a nest and is gathering a clutch.)

Only time will tell but I think it is safe to FINALLY say….SPRING HAS COME TO INDIANA!

Thanks for reading!

J&D.

Springtime is Here!

The month of April has arrived and with it a host of new projects are in need of attention. Our Two Old Oaks are budding red and beginning to awaken after a long winter. The ground is finally drying out after a slew of storms battered our area for the past two weeks. And of course the grass is growing greener and taller. With all the changes of spring underway, it’s time to get to work here on the homestead!

This is our second year on the property and the first time we are in a position to really begin making things happen. As new homeowners we of course ran into the typical year-one money shortage and with everything else going on, building a dog pen and chicken yard was project enough. Buying the homestead severely depleted our savings, but we got a lot done despite the fact. We built (and exhausted) a winter’s worth of wood, we bought and raised chickens, and we set up a pen for both the birds and our dogs. We cleaned up the property overall (the previous owners having been major litterbugs) and we actively renovated the bedroom as seen in our ‘Renovations!’ post (though this project is still at the 85% complete mark.)

Now with 2018 almost a quarter gone and spring in swing we find ourselves reinvigorated and ready to face the world and make this spring, summer, and fall one for our personal record books. We have been doing a lot and still have a lot to do. We ended the month of March with a mini-vacation so we could step back for a bit and reflect on what we wanted to accomplish but we are back now and ready to go at it!

Like most homesteads and small farms we started off with chickens last year, getting two dozen birds as quickly as we could. We started with twenty-two hens, two roosters and over this winter we saved two Muscovy ducks to add to the flock.

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IMG_20180412_080027.jpg Chickie babies out with the sun! 

By November 2017 we had begun getting eggs and in no time were getting a dozen plus each day. Chickens are lovely because they are low-cost, low-maintenance, and a pleasure to watch as they scratch around their yard. Compared to other livestock they don’t require much investment and returns are realized quickly in the form of eggs or fresh meat. However our little flock has already begun to outgrow their yard (as you can see) and with several hens trying to go broody they will be in need of fresh grass before too long. We have already sunk two posts for the corners of the new run, now we just need to get the fence and some t-posts and we will be good to go!

We also want to spend some time cultivating the trees on the property. If you couldn’t tell by the title of our blog here, we are tree lovers (myself especially). Our little patch of heaven is a break from the monotonous cornfields that blanket so much of the Midwest United States. It has a little bit of everything; from a marshy section of grassland to a maple grove to an ash and oak forest. However it used to have even more in the way of trees. Since our moving here we have found countless scars and leftover remains of ancient trees brought down for unknown reasons.

While we cannot reverse the damage done by others we can begin reparations. We have 15 or so saplings of various species already established on the property. Unfortunately they are currently strangled for sunlight by the old-growth above them so we are working to transplant into a better location. While most of the little spirits are coniferous varieties we also have a few dwarf fruit trees we plan to move to the chicken yard so one day fresh fruit will help feed the birds.

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2018 is going to be a busy year, the preceding is only a small fraction of the projects we intend to complete, but it is a start! Keep an eye out for more projects coming up and thank you so much for visiting!

 

The Homesteading Witch’s Traveling Essentials

Traveling has always been one of my favorite things to do but since my honeymoon I haven’t really done much. Lucky for me the hubby and I have planned a 4 day visit back to his home state of Missouri to see family. Needless to say I couldn’t be more excited; it’s been a little over a year since I have been there and over six months since I’ve seen anyone. However, traveling as a homesteader means careful planning and preparation is a must! So that means….

  • Homestead Sitter (House and all the critters)
  • Making arrangements to stay with family
  • Plans to see almost all family and friends
  • Oh! And schedule off needed days at the current day job

With all this taken care of let’s get down to packing! It just so happens a Full Moon falls on the Saturday while we’re there. So I’m planning a small ritual, but doing so without imposing on my kind hosts.

As always there are the basic things to pack like cloths, soaps, etc Here are a few of my must have witchy traveling essentials.

Get creative with you kit! It’s your mini alter, design it with your intention in mind or a goal you want to achieve. With my plans this time I want to a more grounding, cleansing, and spring like kit. The size of your kit is completely up to you, just keep in mind where you will be staying while traveling. For me it’s always important to respect the place and persons that your staying with.

What’s in my Mini Alter Kit:

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  • Tea Blend
    • Currently enjoying the sipping of Madagascar Vanilla by Celestial Seasonings
  • Journal
  • Written Yoga Sequence
  • Incense
  • Tarot Cards
  • Guided Mediation

1. Two Doors: A Parable of Life

-It should first be noted I make no claim as to the origin of the following parable. I recall reading it once but cannot remember where. Regardless the lesson is one I couldn’t not share today.


Two men awoke to find themselves presented with two doors. A guard stood between the two and so the first man asked, ‘Where do these doors go’?

The guard gestured to the door on the left. “This door leads to a land where you will be safe and secure, with food and a home. The king is kind, the laws are just”

The first man thought for a moment and then asked, “What about the other door?”

Gesturing to the door on the right the guard replied, “This door leads to a land of chaos and disorder. Choose wisely”

After a moment of deliberation the first man strode towards the door on the left and disappeared into a land of green grass with a castle in the distance. The second man, now alone asked the guard, “What do you mean the right door leads to chaos?”

The guard looked at him quizzically. “How could it lead to anything else? Freedom after all can be a very messy business.”


Thoughts? Comments? Let me know below if you have them. I enjoy hearing from people.

-Dalton…

A Gentleman’s Study….

When I was young my father had a little room in the back of our home. It was small, perhaps 9 feet or so square and without windows. It was one of only three rooms in the house with a door (the other two being my parents bedroom and the bathroom.) It was crammed tight with model airplanes and other things he loved, but most of all it sticks in my memory for what it represented in our home:

A man’s private quarters.

Any other room in the house was open doors. Except for it.

Any other room could be accessed without permission. Except for it.

Any other room was just that…..any other room. Except for it.

This room was something else entirely. It was a sort of ‘magic place’ where only father went when he felt the need. Most often the door was locked. Even when it wasn’t the room was strictly off limits. Seen through the eyes of a little boy it was the ‘king’s quarters’ where only the king could go….unless he allowed another. On occasion I worked up the courage to knock and ask if I may come in, often finding myself greeted with a nod and a smile and a puff of smoke. I would enter, always somewhat nervous as he helped me up to his workbench (for my old man had quite the temper). Without fail he would keep puffing on his cigarette while I sat, enjoying my luck and awed by the things around me.

Now finding myself an adult I understand the value of such a place in a man’s life. A private space where he may go away from everything else….a place of solitude and silence breached by the outside world only on his terms. Many men today have neglected this aspect of their home, giving emotion, chaos, and family free reign throughout. They have no place of solitude, no shrine in which they reign supreme and without fail their mind, spirit, and emotions suffer for it. A man’s home is his castle, but his study is his shrine. It is a place where one can sit. A place to think, to read, to learn and reflect, and a place to practice one’s craft.

The power of solitude and separation is undeniable.

So without further ado I welcome you into the Gentleman’s Study: a place of thought, reflection, and practice. Pour a glass of whiskey, light your pipe and sit back for a while. Enjoy your time, speak your thoughts and let each minute be lived with intention.

-Dalton.

A Path Of Magic

As a young child I always had a strong belief in magic and the wildest of imaginations. I would pick different grasses and flowers to make believe I was making food or medicine for my friends. I would even pretend I was a magical witch casting spells. Every costume as a child I was a witch… in fact there were only two years I wasn’t. (Those two years I was a cowgirl and a desert princess). Looking back, it seems I was destined to follow down the path of becoming entangled in the magical, a practitioner of real magic.

Attending church as a young girl I grew up first attending a baptist church. Being young I only recalled that it was mostly a set routine on how things were done. Later on my mother and grandmother started back into the church, this time a Pentecostal organization. Having originally gone to a quieter and more reserved church such a change was understandably different. The belief was the same; they both believed Jesus Christ was their lord and savior, only their style of worship was different.

For some time I felt that I was on the right path, yet I questioned things that were done and discussed. I openly asked my mom about the craft. She was always honest with me and would tell me what she knew on the topic but her experience was limited. She mentioned that at one point in her life that she hung around that crowd of people, in fact even a close family friend (who was like another grandma to me) was very much into it, but in the same breath she warned me about the potential danger of practicing without knowledge of what I could be doing. Between her warnings and those of the church I was hesitant to pursue it further.

Despite it all though I could feel things….things the church just couldn’t explain to me. I was afraid to ask in fear that it was something of the “Devil”.

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It was just before I started dating my husband when I accepted that I wanted to learn The Craft. Coincidentally his mom had some history within those circles and I jumped at the opportunity to I ask her a million questions and try to absorb all the knowledge I could.

I still remember one of the first questions that she asked me (which I think you should always ask yourself before any great undertaking)

Why do you want to learn The Craft?”

My response was simple:

I want to find out who I am.”

Fast forward to the present…

I have learned more that I give myself credit for in the past three years. I am mainly self-taught as I patiently/impatiently await the universe to connect me to the right mentor/teacher. There are times that I call myself a lazy pagan. I don’t do a full ritual every full moon, new moon or on the Sabbats like I would like to. Hell sometimes I feel like I still have no idea what I’m doing. But alas I am here, striving to be what some would call an “Everyday Witch.” I want to walk my magical path within every step that I take.

That brings me to the title of this section of the blog: Muggles and Magic. As soon as the words sprouted from my mouth I knew that it was destined to come to life. I felt like it was symbolic of my own journey, trying to live in a Muggle world while still walking a magical path. And so here you will read my ponderings, my experiences, things I have learned so far and those things I will continue to learn.

Welcome to part of my journey, hold on tight!

What are things that you would like to learn, see, and gain from Muggles and Magic? Let me know in the comments!

Blessed Be

 

 

Abandoning Tradition….

“Tradition is a guide, not a jailer.” – W. Somerset Maugham.

One Saturday a few weeks ago my lovely wife and I sat together to enjoy a relaxing evening of reading, reflection and one another’s company. We both enjoyed a couple drinks and I set my pipe aglow to revel in the taste of good tobacco and whiskey while she read beside me. We held hands. We smiled. We chuckled together at little things and it was a wonderful evening that ended with warm and loving affection and a restful night’s sleep. It was in every way a welcome reprieve to the endless hustle we live throughout the week. As we sat there enjoying the evening I couldn’t help but smile to myself….realizing in the moment how many traditions we have already set in place for ourselves and our future family.

This of course got me thinking about that word….tradition, as well as what it represents. You see Jess and I are kindred spirits in that we are admirers of the older ways and students of the past. Practices and secrets, little tricks and habits handed down through generations intrigue us both not only for what they are, but for why they are. In a world where the only thing people pay attention to is the new, it is easy to get so caught up we forget about the old. As the saying goes, “those who do not know their history are doomed to repeat it.”

Unfortunately the modern man or woman has little time to engage in archaic rituals and ancient traditions seemingly irrelevant to their lives. The world has changed. Technology has moved forward to replace the roles of men and women in many aspects of society. Gender roles are being entirely turned on their heads. Children are being thoroughly confused in an ego-fueled attempt at social justice. History is being unwritten, devalued, demonized, and forgotten with masses endlessly crying for all to ‘get with the times’ and accept the new and insensible lest be labeled bigots, racists, sexists and all manner of other things.

The traditions of the past are being erased and trampled on as old ideas emerge with new names and forgotten failed experiments of history are flaunted as the answer to the new societal woes. Yet we still have two eyes, two ears, two hands. We still look to the sky in wonder, no less amazed by the galaxies we see than our ancestors were, despite knowing infinitely more than they. We shiver in the cold. We sweat in the heat. We love and cry and laugh and yell and dance. Here we stand on two feet; an ancient design from millennia ago amongst the steel towers and horses of today….it is truly a different world we  live in……but are we so different?

Deep down a man is a man, a woman is a woman born today or a thousand years ago. We are in every way save for the circumstances of our birth, the same as our ancestors. Mortal. Curious. Intelligent with a knack for thinking a bit more highly of ourselves than we ought to. This is the nature of humanity, it is who we are.

We have changed so little….perhaps then we should not be so eager to abandon the traditions we know. After all, they were likely established for good reason, whether you can see it…..

Or not….

What do you think?

-J&D.

 

Renovations! In Order to Build, You Must Destroy; Phase 1 of Expansion

When you live in a little house you are forced to make some crucial decisions that otherwise you may never have considered. You might really like having the desk or the couch there, but if it doesn’t make maximum use of minimal space…well too bad. While not the smallest, our home is still under 900 square feet and is an open-concept style home. With two humans, two dogs, two cats, and two parakeets space is sometimes in short supply. As such we have found ourselves in such a position more than a few times in our first year of living here. In order to have couches in our living room we were forced to downsize, giving away my favorite chair. And if we wanted to be able to stand in our bedroom wifey’s dresser had to move to the laundry room.

With everything else that comes in the first year of new-homeownership, we overlooked these minor aches and pains and kept plugging away until a time came when we could do something about it. However with Indiana Winter now taking a bit of a break (unless I am speaking too soon) we decided this past weekend that the time had officially come to begin the renovations we have so dreamed of.

And it all starts here;  with the master bedroom of course! We figured what better way to get this blog started than to really enjoy and share the process of renovation. (Pardon the weirdly-angled pictures!)

Before we began the tear-down, the bedroom(left-room) was 11’X11′ and was adjacent to a smaller 5.5’X9′ room(right) the previous owner used as a nursery.  An additional 5.5’X2′ or so was taken up by the doors of both rooms. As you can see in the pictures the angles were not exactly the easiest to live with. The bedroom door didn’t open past 70 degrees or so, and one vent in the tiny ‘nursery’ made the room unbearably hot anytime the furnace kicked on.

The initial tear down was the easy part, though not without a few surprises! Turns out the entire ceiling in the nursery had been held up only by a bit of trim, and a few boards in the bedroom ceiling were held up the same way(I found out the hard way when trying to take the trim down!)

Once the ceiling boards were down we began unscrewing the drywall from the wall separating the two rooms. We removed as much as possible the right way so we could reuse it but eventually we stopped hunting for endless screws and just smashed our way through the last two sheets.

 

Next came the frame of the wall itself. Being a non-load bearing wall we knew we’d be able to remove it without too much issue, however the angled bit was a bit more difficult than we originally expected. Eventually though we found all of the nails and screws holding it together and managed to rip it out. Then with a few taps to the top and bottom of the long-wall we were able to easily remove it for later use.

The entire point of this project was to increase our living space and make a tiny home feel markedly less tiny. Our new layout is set to do just that, expanding the bedroom by the entirety of the old ‘nursery’, plus taking advantage of the negative space that was being taken up by the doors and walls. We had to trim away a bit of the living room ceiling in order to reuse our old wall-frame, as well as cutting the old frame down to fit a bit more snugly. Once the trimming was done it was time to tap and secure the frame into place, install the noise-cancelling material we salvaged from the old wall, and put up drywall!

With the wall up and drywall in place we moved into the room itself to begin making it more than four walls. After cleaning up a bit we moved everything out of the soon-to-be bedroom and began surveying the situation. The old ceiling drywall was ruined in several places so we began by removing the boards below it and the ceiling itself.

This turned out to be a treat. The previous owner had used beautiful lumber for a ceiling so while taking down was a chore, we were thrilled to find such wonderful leftovers for future projects. The drywall came down without too much issue, other than a few surprises smashing through on top of our heads as we worked. When it was all said and done though the tear-down phase was complete!

Now the REAL fun begins! We’ll make sure to post more when we are done with the build, for now here’s a ‘sneak peak’. Thanks for reading!

J&D.

Finding Home…

In summer of 2016, after three years of city living my (then)-fiance and I decided we’d had enough of the crowds, enough of the endless noise, and enough of the straight-up-unnaturalness that is a life in the city. Myself having grown up on a farm and she having grown up in small towns, we were both ready for change. So we set about getting back to the basics and taking the next step forward in our journey together. Of course it all began by scraping and scrounging every penny we could while looking around for that little patch of heaven we both could love and call home for the rest of our lives. We searched for months, looking for something that fit not just our budget, but us as well. After more than a few disappointing trips and considerations we happened across a the place we have come to know as home.

It was love at first sight. While modest and perhaps unassuming to the eye, we both fell in love with the property and the home immediately. Six acres with everything our hearts could ask for. While small, it held in it a little bit of everything we wanted, from thickets to pasture to marshy forest. The house was small and simple; a wonderful blank-slate for us to call home and mold to us. It was perfect. Fast forward three months or so and we were moving in, beginning a new journey together and getting back in touch with the nature so many people tend to take for granted.

Since then we have taken time to get to patiently know our property. We’ve cleaned it where it needed cleaned and trimmed back those things that occasionally need trimmed back. We added chickens and ducks to our small patch of heaven,  and in autumn of 2017 we got married in the backyard in a circle of maple trees overlooking the south field. While our lives may appear simple and boring at first glance it is within that simplicity which we have come to find happiness and love.