Our family lives on a 12 acre homestead on beautiful Saint Helena Island in the Lowcountry of South Carolina. We use sustainable farming practices to raise our produce and livestock to include composting, crop rotation, cover crops along with free ranging of our animals. The animals are allowed to grow at a natural, normal rate without any enhancements or stimulants and enjoy the grains, grasses, seeds, and insects they find.
We plant a nice size garden each year filled with local favorites of sweet corn, okra, tomatoes, squash, peas and beans. Our herb and flower garden are increased each year as well as our orchard. We encourage our children to participate in local 4-H projects that have included melon and tomato growing, goats and pullets. This year we have rabbits and will soon add pasture raised pigs to our growing homestead family. In the near future we hope to add bees, guineas and more goats.
We recently attended workshops for farmers offered by the 1890 Extension Service of South Carolina State University. In August they offered the Land Ownership Management and Responsibility Workshop and this fall over the course of three months a series of workshops on the subject of Developing Personal Risk Management Plans. Project directors and instructors were Dr. Albert Essel from Delaware State University and Dr. Laurence Crane from the National Crop Insurance Service. This was listed as a workshop for farmers and ranchers in Southcarolina StrickeForce Counties. Subject matter included, Farm Business Planning, Risk Management Basics, Enterprise Budgets and Goal Setting. Booklets and handouts were provided from major land grant universities across the country. This proved to be a very beneficial workshop.
We have attended other workshops and conferences offered by both SCSU 1890 and Clemson Extensions over the past few years to include GAP (Good Agriculture Practices), Soil Management, Flock Management, and Livestock Judging. A conference we’ve attended once and would plan to attend again is the Sustainable Agriculture Conference offered by the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, this year is in Greenville, SC.
Training helps us grow in our knowledge of develops our skills in the area of farming. We are planning to put the information into practice and continue to improve our operation.
June 2013 Update-Important News!
April 13, just a few months ago, we were blessed to celebrate two wonderful occasions, the birth of our first grandchild, Isabel Gabriella and our 28th wedding anniversary. She is the first child born to our eldest daughter Candace and her husband David. I left April 12th with my two youngest children in tow, we homeschool, to be with Candace and David. In route to Greenville, I stopped in Orangeburg and picked up my son Byron from SC State University. After arriving in Greenville I picked up my daughter Meagan from Bob Jones University, Tony was at work and joined us in Greenville Saturday. So now we joined Candace and David and Davidâ€™s sister Daniella at the hospital so support them during the labor and delivery. It was quite a long labor, we were in the waiting room overnight. Finally at about 2 AM, Isabel was born.
Sarah, Peter and I stayed in town to help out with the baby and household things. Early in the second week, Candace had an appointment at the nursing mothersâ€™ clinic in the hospital. During that visit a nurse noticed Isabelâ€™s irregular breathing and discoloration and told Candace to have her checked out at ER. Candace used the car so David called me, told me that where Candace and Isabel were and asked me to pick him up from work and take him to the hospital. During that ER visit tests were run and it was determined that Isabel had a hole in her heart and an unusually small aorta. David called to tell me the news and that Isabel would be flown to the MUSC Childrenâ€™s Hospital that evening. I packed a bag for them, we went to the hospital to see be with them as they waited for the flight crew and their departure to Charleston.
Candace went with Isabel, David drove down. My husband Tony was in Orangeburg attending a small farmerâ€™s conference sponsored by SCSU 1890 Extension. His plans were to come up to Greenville to visit us for the remainder of the day but I told him the news and suggested he meet Candace, Isabel and David in Charleston. He drove to Charleston and was at the hospital with Candace and Isabel arrived. He put them on the waiting list for a room at the Ronald McDonald House. They didnâ€™t have a place to stay the night so Tony went to the Charleston AFB and got an apartment on base; we are retired Army! With a place to stay for the night Tony got them settled in and the next day Candace and David were able to move into the Ronald McDonald House. Back at their apartment in Greenville, we cleaned up, packed more things for them, ran a few errands and left for Charleston by Thursday.
From that time on we were driving back and forth to and from our home on St. Helena Island to Charleston. Isabelâ€™s surgery was May 1st. We were there bright and early, 5:30 AM because the prep for surgery was to begin around that time. Thank God the surgery was successful in every way. The hole in Isabelâ€™s heart was repaired and her aorta widened with a stint. May 2nd we drove back up to Greenville to see our daughter Meaganâ€™s dramatic performance in Macbeth and her commencement May 3rd. That evening we drove home and Saturday May 4th we went to see Candace, David and Isabel. Sunday I took Meagan back to Greenville and she began a summer course Monday. Sarah, Peter and I stayed up with Meagan until Tuesday.
Since then we’ve been back and forth to Greenville, with stops in Columbia to visit Tonya’s mother and Orangeburg to visit my parents and pick up Byron after the end of his semester. David has a new job assignment in Orangeburg so Tony and Peter helped them move while the rest of us taught during the Migrant Worker and Community VBS here on the island. Meagan came home so I took her back last Sunday, Father’s Day, so she could begin her job Monday. So weâ€™ve been on the road quite much over the past few months. It has taken away from time in the field, tending animals and such but we thank God for the opportunity He provided us to be there for our kids, we certainly wouldnâ€™t have traded it for anything! Isabelâ€™s cardiologist in Greenville said she is doing very well and has set them up with a new cardiologist Columbia. Tony and I have both had a few minor health setbacks but seem to be doing fine. I have a cold that is wearing me down a bit but hope to be over it soon. If you contacted us and we havenâ€™t responded yet; weâ€™re slowly getting around to answering emails, voice messages and other correspondences. We hope you and your families are well and enjoying summer!
Take care and weâ€™ll add another update sooner than it took for us to get this one out we hope!
God Bless You!
Tony and Belinda Jones
Morning Glory Homestead, St. Helena Island SC
Where Faith, Family and Farming Flourish!
Spring Tidings and New Arrivals
Our hens just don’t seem to be interested in setting. We separated a few with roosters for at least a a few weeks and finally incubated the eggs after they left them. Today is hatching day!
Last night our son Peter participated in the 4H Barrow Show at the Orangeburg County Fair. This is Peter’s first year doing the barrow project and he wasn’t too excited about it but he has done well. The project involves the purchase of two barrows, castrated male pigs, raising them to market weight, keeping a record book and participating in the Orangeburg County Fair followed by attending the South Carolina State Fair in Columbia.
We picked up the pigs back in June and it has been quite the adventure for Peter and our family. We haven’t had pigs on the homestead until now and this is a great way for us to decide if we want to continue raising them. We had a small fenced in space that was our kitchen garden, with mostly herbs and peppers that became home for the pigs. They have enjoyed rooting through the garden spot, making places to rest, chasing the chickens that flap up and over the fence to visit the pigs and eat a bit of their food now and then.
Yesterday, Tony took off so he could be there to help with getting the hogs to the fair. First job was loading them on the trailer we borrowed from our 4H director, Beverley C. Brown. Farm animals hate moving from their place of comfort, food and water to the unknown especially if it is the back of a trailer. If it is their idea to go wandering off to an unknown place, like the woods for instance; that’s okay because they chose to do it. Getting them in the trailer is a whole other story. Getting the 2 hogs there was quite an ordeal, nearly took an hour to get them in the trailer. Tony and Peter had to pick them up and wrestle them in. The squealing was outstandingly loud and you would have thought it was slaughter day or something. After the battle was over, both Tony, Peter and the pigs were exhausted. We cooled off the pigs, sprayed them down with water, offered them food and they settled in for the ride, meanwhile Tony and Peter were sweaty, dirty and ready for a shower and bed rather than a two hour drive to Orangeburg..
Peter did very well for his first time participating in barrow project. Great group of 4Hers and family members there tonight. Lots of support and encouragement among participants. Complementing the size of the hogs, how well they did in the ring, sharing tips on showmanship and congratulatory comments at the end. It was a wonderful experience! Sarah wants to do the barrow project next yr…we will see!