For the past four summers, Philip and I have spent the week of Independence Day at Kowalski Mountain, We’ve not made as many trips to the property this year, since the truck is in need of repair. However, we couldn’t break our summer tradition of spending a week on the homestead. Philip’s mom, Joy Murphy, needed to make a run to Kentucky as well, so we traveled together to share resources and help her. She enjoyed the week visiting with our neighbor Patty Duvall while Philip and I tackled a few projects on Kowalski Mountain,
Challenges: Also a Summer Tradition
Right away we had to deal with broken faucets in the RV. Unfortunately, another summer tradition is dealing with issues that arise while we are gone. At the end of the first day, Philip headed out to gas the generator and I snuck in ahead of him for a shower. Good thing I did too, as he saw the water pouring out beneath the RV. This winter when we drained the lines, I opened only the kitchen faucet to release the water pressure and drain the lines. I did not realize I needed to open each faucet to drain each line. So as a result, we had two broken faucets that I had to track down parts and Philip had to fix them before we could continue to use the shower. Don’t ever think this homesteading thing is easy for us. It is not easy at all, we’re just too stubborn to let it beat us! Check out our Off-Grid Water Pressure System
Independence Day Celebration
The holiday fell on a Sunday, which meant we drove in Saturday morning and immediately hit the ground running to make preparations for our guests. My daughter, Faith Hardy, and her husband Stephen made the trip from Tennessee to spend the holiday with us. We planned a traditional holiday lunch with them as well as Joy, Patty and Patty’s granddaughters. We enjoyed venison burgers, harvested right here on Kowalski Mountain. Served with corn on the cob, watermelon, baked beans, and a variety of salads. I made a Lemon Blueberry Zucchini Cake in a cast-iron skillet for dessert. After lunch, we headed to Morgantown for another summer tradition, the annual fireworks festival. This small town of only 2600 residents knows how to do fireworks right! After the celebration, we headed home to fire off a few fireworks of our own, right here on Kowalski Mountain.
A Little Fun on the Homestead
During Faith and Stephen’s visit, we took them on a tour of Kowalski Mountain. While Faith has spent time on the homestead before, this was Stephen’s first trip to Kowalski Mountain. Philip really enjoys sharing the property with others as his dream of a homestead is becoming a reality.
On the last day of their visit, Faith and I headed to the upper field to continue picking blackberries. We are blessed with an abundant supply of blackberries in several patches around the property. I had brought a supply of canning jars in hopes of catching the harvest. I had done the same thing last year but the berries were not ready to be picked. This year we caught them at just the right time. I hope we can repeat this summer tradition each year. Faith and I will both be posting about the berry harvest, be watching for updates.
While Faith and I picked berries, Philip spent a little time on the bush hog, chipping away at the mowing. While we have 68 acres, only about 12 to 15 are cleared and need to be mowed. It takes him several days to get it done. Once Stephen had the range set up, Philip and Stephen spent some time sighting in their weapons. Stephen was looking forward to the freedom of being able to practice his shooting skills.
When we were done berry picking, we snuck down to the creek to stick our feet in the cool water and cool off. We got to talk and enjoy each other’s company. A moment to treasure for sure, the moments that summer traditions are born from.
Let the Workcation Begin
Later that afternoon they headed home and we headed out to work, so the workcation could officially begin! The first task at hand was to assemble the cage we had brought. We’ve torn down all the poultry cages at the Florida house and brought the materials with us for one cage. We intended on just storing the materials until needed. Little did we know we would need the enclosure right away. I’ll be posting all the details about assembling the enclosure later in the coming weeks.
An Unexpected Guest in Need of Help
The day we arrived at Kowalski Mountain I spotted the injured fawn while weed-eating around the bathhouse. Knowing that does will leave their fawns for hours at a time, I didn’t think much about him being alone. Several days later, he still was hanging around camp and limping badly. Philip decided to catch him and with Stephen’s help, they were able to. The fawn had a bad injury that was healing over but was very infected and swollen. I suspect his momma had already decided his fate. Such a severe injury he didn’t have a chance. Over the week, we only saw a few other deer on the property. None of the does were in the vicinity of the camp that made me believe she was looking for him.
We did administer antibiotics, clean and bandage his wounds. We also tried to get some electrolytes into him to give him a boost, but he continued to decline over the next several days before he succumbed to his injuries. Read the full post here.
Back to Work
Philip headed back to bush hogging and getting the mowing finished. It took him three days to finally finish mowing the fields. He gave me a short lesson on the tractor, but I am not quite confident enough to take it on myself. Our time on the homestead is short, so he didn’t really have time to teach me how to operate the tractor and bush hog. I headed out to do a few tasks that require less technical skills.
I filled all the large deer feeders on the property. We feed the deer year-round to encourage the does to stay on the homestead. A dependable food source ensures the does will stay on property and raise their fawns. Ultimately the does will draw in the bucks during hunting season to allow us to harvest venison and create a self-sustainable lifestyle. I loaded, hauled, and filled the feeders with over 600 pounds of whole corn! Read the third post in the July Workcation Series Farm Chores: Filling the Deer Feeders.
Retrieving the Logs for the Guest Cabin
While Philip and I were here in February for our wedding, we cut down 20 logs to build the guest cabin. It takes about 9 months for the logs to dry sufficiently after being cut, so we dropped the trees to get the drying process started. We didn’t have time to pull all the trees out of the woods at the time, so this trip, we planned to get that job done.
Using the bobcat to pull the trees out and hauling them in with the ranger using the custom log hauler that Philip had built. We were doing well until we broke a hydraulic hose in the bobcat. After inquiring about picking the hose up locally, we shifted gears, using the tractor to haul out as many logs as we could. The necessary specialty part would have to be ordered, so unfortunately we only got half of the logs out of the woods. Watch how we work together to pull these massive logs out of the woods and place them on drying racks here.
Winning the Battle but Loosing the Fight
In my free time, while Philip was bush-hogging, I picked as many blackberries as I could. I hadn’t intended to, but I ended up doing a major pruning job in the blackberry patch in the upper field. It starts with a little trimming here to reach a few berries and leads to a little tree trim there. Before I knew it I was pulling dead and unwanted trees out one after another. This berry patch has not been maintained, so it’s thick and well over my head. I wanted to cut paths into the patch and trim out the overgrown plants so that we can reach the delicious berries.
The blackberry bushes have a way of fighting back. Since I had not planned to prune the bushes, I wasn’t dressed for the job, wearing shorts and a tank top. My arms and legs were torn up by the many thorny bushes. I also managed to get into the poison ivy. I saw it and tried to avoid it, but the oils on my tools and clothes can be enough to spread poison ivy. So while I was successful in my task, I’m not sure I won! I’m still itching and a mess of scratched skin.
Planting Fruit Trees
On the final morning of our July Workcation, Philip and I worked together to plant five fruit trees. It’s quite a task to dig in Kentucky. In Florida, I can dig a hole. Just tell me where and how big and I can get it done. In Kentucky, it’s not so easy. Using the tiller and auger we busted butt to plant those five trees. See how we tackled the challenge of digging the holes for the fruit trees. I’ll also show you the beautiful persimmon tree we planted in memory of our neighbor and friend, Robert Duvall.
More to Come about our Annual Summer Tradition Trip
I have so many things I can’t wait to show you, please be patient over the next few weeks as I work to edit over 500 pictures and video clips. Thank you so much for being a part of the Kowalski Mountain Family. Please comment on the blog and subscribe to our Youtube Channel and like the videos if you enjoy our content. Those simple actions help our brand grow! You can also find us on several social media platforms. Links to Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest are on the main page.
About the Author: Barbra-Sue Kowalski grew up on a small hobby farm. She was always drawn to farm life, however, she was stuck in an urban life far from her roots. Barbra-Sue was a single mom for 13 years, raising her 3 children on her own. She met Philip in 2018 and they married in 2021. Between the two of them, they have 5 grown children and 4 grandchildren. These empty nesters are following their dreams! As they both turn 50, they are building their off-grid homestead to live the life that they dream about. Learn more about Philip and Barbra-Sue here. Contact them here. To leave a comment on this post, please scroll down.