September marks the beginning of deer hunting season in Kentucky, with the opening of archery season, a Labor Day tradition. It’s Philip’s favorite time of year, the crisp cool air, the changing of the leaves, and hunting season! While the work on the homestead never ends, it does take a different direction during hunting season. This Labor Day Workcation was a real treat, as we got to spend time with some of our kids. Faith and Stephen Hardy came up for the Labor Day weekend and Eric, Jess, and Weston Kowalski came and spent the entire week with us. We were sure to provide plenty of opportunity for labor and some fun too.
Having grandkids on the homestead is an extra special treat, both Philip and Weston were beside themselves with excitement as the trip approached. We enjoyed riding the four-wheeler and throwing rocks in the creek. We spent time learning a new game and enjoying family time. Since most of us traveled through the night, an early bedtime was on the agenda.
A Beautiful Day in the Orchard
The next day we headed to Jackson’s Orchard for their Fall Apple Festival. We enjoyed treats from the concession, picking apples in the orchard, and shopping in their Apple Barn. We had to get creative picking apples, as we weren’t allowed to climb the trees. There might have been some horsing around in the orchard, but all family fun with three generations enjoying a gorgeous day.
We picked 3 pecks of Golden Delicious and Red Delicious apples in the orchard. I also picked up a half bushel of Gala apples from the seconds section. Thankfully I snagged the last two baskets of tomatoes in the seconds section too, they had salsa written all over them! I spent time over the next week making salsa, applesauce, and cider with Faith and Jess. More to come regarding our canning in a future post.
We also enjoyed the amazing playground at Jackson’s Orchard. The wooden equipment is so much fun! We got some great family pictures around the farm… a treasured day for sure.
Time to Labor
After getting rested up and enjoying the Apple Fest, it was time to get to work. The girls and I started our canning in the outdoor kitchen. The guys spread out and tackled quite a few jobs. I have to say that Eric saved me from so much heavy labor, I was especially thankful to have him around for the week. Philip tried to knock out as many difficult tasks as he could while he had some extra muscle around to get the job done.
Big Tasks of the September Workcation
Philip had a long list of tasks, but we got through as many as we could. One of the big jobs was to erect the logs that will be used at the log drying station to move and manage the logs. These two logs will have winches installed that will be controlled with 12-volt battery power. They will allow us to lift and move logs within the log drying area without the use of heavy equipment.
The task started with locating two trees that were tall enough for the job and haul them in. Then Philip and Eric dug the deep holes to stand the logs in and treated the end of the logs that will be buried in the ground. To stand the logs up, Philip built a tripod out of three logs, standing the tripod up was quite a job in itself! However, the tripod allowed us to lift and place the logs into the prepared holes using a 2-ton chain hoist.
Rainy Day Project
The next big job was on the agenda, but it got moved up the list when we got caught in the barn during a rainstorm. As you know, we do all our projects on workcations, so we do as much as we can, but complex projects just take time. The barn is one of those jobs, see where it all started here. The barn still has several aspects that need completion. The biggest task is the front of the roof. We had installed two logs that will support the extended salt box type roof, but we still needed several more. Once those logs are installed a support beam at the end will connect them all and the roof will extend out to the end, creating an attic of storage available in the front of the barn.
We were able to install 3 more support logs into the barn. Philip uses a combination of pulleys and safety support methods to manage the large logs. The first one was a real bear! It had me wondering how in the world will we ever build a house! Still, we got it done and the next two went quickly. Philip thinks that that will be all we need, he wants to taper the end to allow vehicles to make the sharp corner and not have to deal with the overhanging roof. Read the full post on the barn project here and see how we got it done.
More Fruit Trees
We made a trip into town to get water, we emptied our 450-gallon cistern tank. I knew we had a lot of people, but I couldn’t quite grasp how we went through 450 gallons of water in just a few days. Then Philip and I remembered we watered the trees on the last day we were in Kentucky in July. I was so thankful that Philip insists on a backup plan. We had a full secondary tank of water that we were able to transfer over for the evening, rather than have to make a hasty trip out to get water after a long day.
While we were in town, Philip spotted some beautiful apple trees at the Tractor Supply. He couldn’t resist, so we added 4 more trees to our orchard, two Gala apple trees and two Honey Crisp apple trees. Philip tried another method of tilling up the ground using the tractor. It did seem like it went a bit easier than exclusively fighting with the tiller.
The remaining trees also got a bit of maintenance. Stephen and Philip tilled up around the trees to keep the area clean.
Another big task we tackled was getting the food plots planted. Philip really increased the number of food plots throughout the property. We planted 7 plots this year. Philip likes to provide plenty of food for the deer to keep them close, that they will make Kowalski Mountain the place they call home. We’re getting some exciting images on the cameras, so the year looks like it’s shaping up to be a great year of hunting.
Philip borrowed some of the neighbor’s farming equipment to till up the ground and prepare it for planting. We all pitched in picking up rocks and helping to get the food plots planted. I’ll post more about our food plots in a future post.
Bobcat Back to Work
Philip was able to get the bobcat working again. I’m so thankful, I have no idea how we can build the homestead without that piece of equipment. Once it was up and running, he didn’t even drive it out of the woods without hauling out more logs. He was able to haul the rest of the logs out of the woods to dry, some of which weighed about 2500 pounds. The max rating for the bobcat is about the 3000 and it gave him a run for his money.
One task that did not get finished was the peeling of the logs. I purposely positioned my canning kitchen in the shade right across the creek that would allow me to work on log peeling when I was waiting on my canning projects. However, the task was difficult with the amount of drying that the logs have already done. Philip decided its time to invest in a tool that will attach to the chainsaw for that job. So for now, log peeling is on hold.
Philip did manage to get in the stand a few times this trip. He didn’t make hunting a priority since he had extra help on the homestead. Even Jess and Eric went and sat in the stand just to deer watch. Out-of-state hunting licenses are quite costly, but deer watching is completely free and enjoyable even without shooting the deer. I got to enjoy sleeping in and some one-on-one time with Weston while the others hit the woods.
One final thing we did this week was making homemade vanilla ice cream. I scalded the milk and mixed up the ingredients. In haste, I almost forgot to add the vanilla and Weston was able to help me add it. I asked him if it looked like ice cream. He gave me a disgruntled look of no. I reassured him that it was because I hadn’t used my magic yet! His face lit up and I secretly hoped that my magic would work. The last two times I made ice cream while camping, it never creamed.
He helped me chill the milk and then we got the ice cream churn going. We set about to do some other tasks while the ice cream churn went to work. When I heard the churn stop, I called Weston to come to see and while holding my breath, we eagerly looked inside the churn. I was relieved to see thick, beautiful vanilla ice cream! My GiGI magic still works! I’m going to post a Vlog video about this.
Of course, we did some of the regular chores. Mowing is a regular job on the homestead. Philip got some of it done. He mows the pasture strategically this time of year to create cover while hunting. Philip also installed a few more timed feeders to make the grain go further between visits. We made sure all the feeders were full and the cameras working. We were sure to leave the water cisterns full so that we will have plenty of water for the trips over the next few months. This time of year, we head to the homestead much more frequently.
Cave Boat Tour
Before Jess, Eric and Weston headed home we took them to the Lost River Cave tour. It’s a great historical and geographical tour of a local cave in Bowling Green. We had an amazing guide. Even Weston enjoyed the boat ride and seeing the dragonhead formation.
Oh friends, I had wanted to share more of the happenings at Kowalski Mountain while we were there, however poor internet service makes that practically impossible. While we have minimal connectivity, its slow and cumbersome, it’s something we will need to look at more closely before we move to the homestead permanently. Rest assured we are home, and Philip is back to work, providing tree service in our local area.
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.