Happy Earth Day!

I love that the homestead is buzzing with new life! I love to see the new blossoms on the trees, seedling plants springing up out of the black dirt, and dandelions by the millions scattered across the yard. I was so excited to find that the strawberry plants I planted last year came back this year! We were weeding the garden a few weeks ago and noticed that the dead pile of brown strawberry plants had sprung back to life! They are proliferating big time and already have little berries on them! Man…that brings joy. This truly is the best time of the year.

We have been working super hard on getting some trees transplanted. We have about 50 sunset maple trees in a small “holding garden.” They are getting big enough to transplant through the property. Planting trees is really hard work. Like REALLY hard. I am not even kidding.

We are also super excited that we got 6 new fruit trees to add to the orchard- 3 apricot and 3 plum. They have already started new growth and have leaves! Ah! Such a miracle to watch. Literally. CAN.NOT.WAIT. for the day our fruit trees start producing.

Anyways. Just wanted to share a homestead update and a fun video we made today of what a breezy day in the country looks like!! Enjoy. (Ps-Sorry the video is so small…I was just playing around with a new app and couldn’t make it bigger).

2015 Homestead Life Goals

2014 was a crazy busy year. We had babies (ok, just one but it feels like 5…), renovated structures, opened businesses, & ate way too many zucchinis. Come the end of the year we were tired. December was a rough month with water problems (2 pipe bursts) and mouse issues out the wazoo. Yeah…those little dickens are so determined. They chewed through our pest block foam spray from last year. Just so they could laugh at us while they ate all our tasty crumbs…Sorry, not to gross you out. The house has been officially sanitized. It was like spring cleaning in the dead of winter. Fun!

Annnyways. 2015 is going to be different. It is going to be full of so much opportunity. So here’s a few things on the checklist.

Homestead Goals

  • Expand garden and spread out the woodchips that were delivered last year
  • Make a better garden plan
  • Plant 3 new fruit trees & 3 new fruit bushes
  • Transplant all trees that have been in the “spare” garden for a year
  • Prune apple trees
  • Build duck coop and enclosure
  • Gutters on the house (not accomplished in 2014)
  • Build insulated house for the well pump (not accomplished in 2014)
  • Landscape front of house near porch
  • Paint one room of the house (living room or our bedroom)

Personal Goals

  • Last year I had pledged to buy better meat. I was pretty successful in that endeavor, I am happy with where we are in our eating habits right now. However, I would still really like to make it a priority to grow the bulk of our vegetables and can/preserve them for winter.
  • Finish the two courses I am enrolled in at Vintage Remedies. Enroll in two additional classes by the end of the year.
  • Finish the book Aromatherapy for Health Professionals 
  • Finish the book The World Atlas of Coffee
  • Do more educating on this blog

Coffee Business Goals

  • Integrate more missions-minded aspects into the site
  • Integrate an artists shop on the site
  • Partner with local businesses
  • Attend a local vendor event
  • Set up coffee shop at community events, such as concerts
  • Plan business expansion, including larger roaster

We are intentionally trying to keep all of our projects reasonable this year…and not trying to do any major renovating, building or projects that take more than a couple of weekends to complete. The past two summers have been crazy and we would like to actually enjoy a few days of summer without back breaking, sweat-to-death kinda work. I am sure you are all nodding your head in approval. Who is ready for a 2nd annual Camden County’s Largest Slip-and-Slide party!? Don’t ask me why I am already dreaming about summer…maybe its because we had the “first snow” of the season. I call it “snow” because of course all schools were closed and my kids had to get dressed in head to to winter gear to go play in the snow dust. Alas, I am not a cold weathered gal. Except that I have an excuse to drink more coffee. In fact, I think I’ll go brew another pot now…

What’s on your agenda for 2015? Comment and let me know!

Happy Valentines Day to My One and Only

I thought it would be appropriate on this day of love to share with you my affections for a certain someone. My heart is full of love for him each and every day. I thought I would share the top 10 reasons why I love him so.

1. He is so giving
2. He is forgiving
3. He never complains about not being fed on time
4. He is always rising to the challenge
5. He is so bubbly
6. He scent can take you away and make you dream of happy things
7. He smells even better when he gets hot
8. He is satisfying
9. He is enjoyable

And finally…
10. He makes the BEST pancakes.

Meet Sowie.
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I don’t believe I have introduced him to you yet. He has been maturing for a couple of months and is at peak performance lately. Which makes my life oh-so-delicious and nutritious. Like I said above, he really is so giving…making my breads rise , making my muffins, pancakes, waffles, english muffins, crepes, biscuits, facial masks (ok kidding) & just being overall a joy to care for.

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So on this Valentines Day, I want to wish you, Sowie, my beloved sourdough starter, a day of love. And thank you for providing us with lovely heart shaped pancakes for breakfast. (Which I did not capture a photo of due to how quickly they were consumed.)

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PS- In case you are concerned about me (which you probably are by now), my real true loves in my life are very secure in my love for them and are not insulted by my public display of affection for my starter here on the blog. Just so you know. In case you wanted to know. But you’re prob just shaking your head anyways. Oh wellll….

PPS- Sowie is very fertile and always has babies up for adoption in case you wanted your very own starter baby. Apply in the comments that you would like to adopt some starter.

Happy Valentine’s Day. Show someone you love them today! And I give you permission to fall in love with yeasts and bacterias.

Progress and Regress

Does it ever feel to anyone else that you take one step forward, only to be greeted with something that takes you a few steps backwards? Well, that’s life isn’t it?

It’s been a challenging few weeks around the MonroePost homestead.

After returning home from a funeral trip to Indiana we were greeted with a frozen well. The lessons you have to learn the hard way sometimes. After being without water for a day and a half, we finally got the water going again. We quickly insulated our wellhead and pipes to the well and went on our merry way. Until the following day when it happened again. Oops. Get out the hairdryer again and thaw the well. Whoops, we melted off all the insulation…re-insulate. Sigh. We’re good until the following weekend when we get a crazy snowapocalypse with 10in of show. We left the faucets running and everything, but apparently it wasn’t enough because we woke up yet again with no water. We had filled a bathtub with water “just in case” but we quickly learned that our bathtubs leaked and we didn’t have much left by the morning. Sigh again. Alex got a heat lamp and put that by the well. After about 8 hours of running the hair dryer and heat lamp on and off, miraculously we got water back. Thank the Lord! The moral of the story? Well, we are highly untrained country folk and have some serious learning to do. In the meantime, we keep the heat lamp on when temps drop below freezing and turn on multiple faucets. We are looking for a long term solution such as an insulated enclosure around the well, but we’re waiting for some warmer temps to do such project.

Want to see our snow!?!

Alas. We didn’t get power to Alex’s garage yet as that set us back a good bit with time and money!

On Baby Boy Monroe front, we determined that the only way possible to fit three car seats in my lovely Buick was to buy three new seats. After a week of researching, debating and measuring…we THINK we finally found the right seats. They are not here yet, but we are desperately praying they fit and work as we want. Cuz that was a crud ton of money dropped on them babies. My health is not fantastic, and while I won’t go into details about it all…we would love prayers for peace and wisdom as we navigate these last few weeks before lil man arrives!

So, to be honest with you, this has been a tough few months. Emotionally and financially. I am feeling a bit discouraged by it all since it means pushing off some of my “projects” for the year. Power to the garage and getting the ducks set up may take more time than we initially wanted. I am also not sure how I am going to manage to get a spring garden in as I have to be careful about how much stress I put on myself right now. So, that’s all feeling a little heavy on the plate right now.

On a happy note! I finished reading my first book on my “list”. Finished Storey’s Guide to Raising Ducks! So now I am armed with knowledge, we have our coop and run plans pretty much set…now we just need a lumber fairy to drop some lumber off at our house. Haha!! 

We also were blessed to be able to trade Alex’s parents for a bigger freezer and free up some space in my utility room (we put the big freezer in the spare bedroom). So I can FINALLY get my worm composting bin set up-cuz it needed to go in the old freezer space! Hooray! I have my bins all ready, I am just on the lookout for some wigglies. I’ll do a post someday about my worm composting adventures.

So those are the exciting progresses, and I know that we will get through these tough times…as the Lord does always provide right when we need it. Thanks for letting me share my heart tonight. Sometimes it feels good just to get this stuff down on paper…err, screens. Or something like that.

Oh and hey by the way…we will be taking coffee orders soon, so if you got yourself the idea that you want some, let us know!!

Babies, Duckies, Puppies & Yummies

Is it terrible that I am sitting here eating coconut macaroons, dreaming of ducklings and puppies? I should be like washing and folding baby clothes or something…I think my nesting instincts are more interested in researching and preparing for ducks then they are interested in washing yet another baby worth of clothes. Somehow, that doesn’t spark my fancy right now. I keep telling Alex I need to get the crib set up and he just sighs and laughs at me because we both know how well the crib worked for our other kids. Read: It Didn’t. About 2 days of no sleeping them babies are nestled right up with us in the big ol King bed and we all sleep peacefully. I have heard my fair share of negativity regarding this choice. Anyways. This is not a post about co-sleeping. This is a post about…hmmm, well…not sure really…macaroons? Mmmm… I am slightly addicted to them. That is probably an understatement. Hang on…lemme go get another one.

Ok back.

So, I got my first “To Read in 2014” (see this post for more) book in this week.

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I know, I am officially a homesteading geek. I dream of lush gardens, fresh apples, country air, spring weather, bare feet, and ducks. Yes…I have actually dreamt about ducks. As part of my 2014 goals, I would really really  like to get some ducklings. Why you ask? Why not chickens? Lemme give you the 5 second low-down.

  • Ducks are cuter. (Ok so that’s not the best reason but…)
  • Ducks lay eggs as much as chickens (or better!)
  • Ducks are much much more resistant to extreme weather (tolerate very cold and very hot without much needed help). Unlike chickens who need pampering…
  • Ducks are much more resistant to diseases and parasites and have less overall health issues
  • Duck eggs are hello good. Like for real, if you have never had a duck egg…well. Get one. I’ll give you your first one free once I’m in abundance.
  • Ducks are excellent foragers and LOVE to eat all sorts of bugs that chickens sometimes overlook…like Fire Ants. I sorta feel bad for them, but I sure could use some help in that department. Ducks also eat lots of hard-shelled insects that chickens sometimes overlook. I can take all the help I can get for that.
  • Did I mention they are cute? Ok…stop me now…

Houdini

Sorry if that took you more than 5 seconds to read.

Problem is…we have so much to do before lil Mr. comes. Not to mention that money is a bit tight around here with everything that needs to get saved up for and prepped. Car seats and vehicle maintenance are eating away at my duck fund. Not that there was ever a duck fund, but I like to think there is…Sigh. And in the back of my mind I think I might be slightly crazy even entertaining the idea of getting baby ducks that will need a lot of attention right after a new baby is born. But that’s at the very back of my mind and my super woman “I-can-do-everything” mind is winning out. Naw, in all seriousness…I just want to walk out my door and collect some eggs for breakfast.

Moving on.

We recently traveled out of town for my grandmothers funeral, which was bittersweet, but we got to visit family that we hadn’t seen in years! Spent lots of time laughing and recalling memories of “Nanny”. While we were there we stayed with my uncle who had a big ol loving goldendoodle dog. We I fell in love and felt that I desperately needed one too. So, that’s where my puppy dreaming started…I really am just wishfully thinking that one will show up at a rescue near us and we can adopt since the whole tight wallet issue will most likely prevent a new dog for a while. Stop! I know what you are thinking. “Erica you need a smack upside yo head…you cannot possibly handle baby ducks, baby boys, and puppies this year.” Meh. I can dream! And if one showed up at my door, for heavens sake I would take it in. (If anyone wanted to just gift me a doodle puppy I wouldn’t resist!) Alright, alright.

Finally, I know all this posts about baby-ish things is probably making you feel a bit tired. How about I give you that recipe for the macaroons? Will you let me have a duckie and a puppy if I make you some cookies??

Photo Jan 25, 6 55 59 PM

Mmm…coconut yumminess….

Slightly Addictive Coconut Macaroons

Barely adapted from this recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/4 cup sugar, use organic if ya got it!
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 egg whites

Method:

Dump all ingredients into a bowl and mix until sticky. Use your hands to form small (or large if you’re into that) balls. (Don’t laugh out loud at that sentence.) Place on greased cookie sheet or parchment lined sheet. Bake at 325 degrees for 2o mins. The last min or so I pop the broiler on just to give them a little more toasty look. I eat them strait off the cookie sheet. I suppose if you are the patient-type person, you could wait until they cool and dip in chocolate and then wait until they cool again. But that’s way too much waiting for me.

Alright. That’s enough for one night. Leave me a comment and lemme know what you think…I feel loved.

2014 New Year Goals

Well here we are a week into Two-Thousand and Fourteen. I swear I started writing this post on the first. I apologize for it’s tardiness. Before you check out my 2014 goals, did you see my post about 2013? It’s pretty neat-o. If you missed it check it out HERE.

While I am not a believer of “New Years Resolutions” because well…we all know how those are. Nevertheless, there is something about the start of a new year that makes you feel like you have a blank slate. There is also something so rewarding about looking back after a year to see if you actually accomplished your goals. They can be small or big…some will even carry over from year to year. Once these goals are accomplished however, they become lifestyles…changes. It can be entirely too intimidating to set a resolution for yourself with no plan of how to meet those goals. So, here I am going to list my goals in broken down, easy-to-know when I accomplish them format. Yes, I realize some of my goals may be totally wacky and you should not be intimidated. I would encourage you to set a goal to accomplish something completely outside your comfort zone this year! It’s so exciting to learn new things. My favorite place to learn new things is in the kitchen (whoa, don’t read that wrong). You read it wrong. STOP!! Ok, before you go banging your head against a wall to get bad mental images out…oh gee, I forgot my siblings read this…sorry guys. Ok, I’m done. What were you thinking anyways? I was talking about making liver pate and homemade chapstick! Peeps…

Goals for 2014

Eat Better:

  • Eat More Crisco (not really…just wanted to make sure you were paying attention…click HERE to read my opinions of that Crapsco.
  • Buy More Pastured meat products. We buy a cow share usually once a year from a grass-fed, pastured cow. I’ve also found a good source for pork products. Chicken however, has been rather cost prohibitive and I am not sure exactly how we’re going to swing this…but nonetheless, I’d like to make it a goal!
  • Bake with more Non-Wheat grains. Not that any of us have been diagnosed with any gluten issues (thank the Lord!) we have a host of friends who do have issues with wheat and gluten. I would like to learn more about baking with alternative flours/seeds/etc. In addition, I would like to bake more with sprouted grains such as sprouted oat flour and sprouted millet/lentils/etc.
  • Master making homemade tortillas
  • Master making homemade pasta
  • Add more fermented foods to our daily diet. Currently, we usually only eat them once every few days. The kids will eat lacto-fermented carrots and I am currently loving lacto fermented beets. Yum. But we need to up our daily intake. This will be a lot of work but big pay offs!
  • Master making beef bone broth and fish head stock

Become More Sustainable:

  • Have a flock of ducks for eggs by the summertime. I’m really anxious and excited for this goal. Duck eggs are incredible and ducks can lay up to as many eggs per year as chickens. Plus they are so dang adorable. Eeek. I am so excited about this I can barely stand it.
  • Plant a couple of apple trees.
  • Plant a spring, summer, and fall garden.
  • Expand the garden at the end of fall to plan for next year.
  • Harvest enough vegetables to can or dehydrate them for the following year. (Specifically tomatoes).
  • Re-do the compost pile to make it more usable
  • Finally get around to getting my vermi-composting system worked out.
  • Raise a small flock of “meat chickens” (this might be a stretch for this year…but we’ll see!)

Reading List:

I am excited to see where this year takes us. Not to mention we will be adding a sweet little boy to the family in just a couple of months! We actually sat down the other night and drew up our plans for the duck house and run. I am literally giddy out of my shoes about getting some baby ducks in just a couple of months too. I know, I am crazy. New baby AND baby ducks? Well. Yes, I know I am crazy and will tell myself that over and over and over again. But hey…crazy is not new to me. Lol.

I’d love to hear some of your goals! You should leave a comment!

 

Kitchen Updates and Critters

Not much has been going on around here, which is probably why the blog is quiet lately. Nothing entirely new going on around here. The past few weeks have been tiring for me as I am trying to keep up with the two littles running around like wild Indians most days and growing another person inside me. It’s a challenge. Sometimes I think I am crazy. No, actually most of the time I think I am crazy.

After such a busy spring and summer, it almost feels awkward not having much to do around the homestead. Not that there’s not a lot to do, but mostly we just don’t want to be out in the cold! Wimps I guess. We did start painting the house inside. We got the kitchen painted and fabric picked out for the new curtains in the kitchen. We also painted the kids/guest bathroom and are decorating that! It does feel so good to finally be in a house where I feel motivated to decorate, coordinate colors and care. Since we sold our first house, we have been in less than permanent spaces and didn’t feel like wasting energy or money in making things look just right! So, now I’m happy to be able to be home where I can build our life and beautiful things.

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In addition to painting, we received some new beautiful furniture hand crafted by Alex’s Dad! It’s beautiful and matches our colors nicely! He made me a pot-rack, two end tables for the living room and a entry way bench with baskets for taking off shoes. I feel like things are starting to come together!! My kitchen is officially my favorite place in the house, and I am SO glad we went with a home design that included a big kitchen. I would not trade that for anything. Not to mention my picture window to watch the sunrises while cooking up pancakes.

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Speaking of kitchens…we have had a big of a saga this past week and a half…the mice found another way in and have been rather active (to say the least). Thankfully we are catching them as soon as they come in, so we don’t have to deal with them scurrying around the house (for now at least!). We are debating ways to help control this mouse issue, but for now we have a nice new chore to add to our mornings and evenings-taking out the mouse traps! I had a bit of a meltdown the first week it was going on (as we caught over 30 in one week). Seems to have started to back down in numbers now and it is much more manageable. I know I was thoroughly warned about this problem, no one can really help you prepare for that. I guess I never thought it would be that bad. Well, now I know they aren’t kiddin.

Aside from the mouse problem, everything else is fine and dandy. Only thing growing the garden right now is lettuce and collards. Garlic shoots are huge now and the wheat is just chillin doing its thing. Alex is going to start hunting with a friend, and I am so blast darn excited. I am seriously praying he gets a deer this year as we are nearly out of bulk meat in our house and it would be a huge blessing to our budget if we could get some close-to-free meat. Come on babes! Never thought I would be a hunting mans wife, but alas, we are here and free meat is happy meat. I will be doing a very happy happy dance if he gets one.

Other than that its been all Fall around here! Bread baking, pumpkin carving, watching the lemon tree bloom again!

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photo 5Well, that’s probably enough of an update. I’ll try to have more exciting updates soon.

 

Planting the Wheat and Garlic

I kinda laughed out loud just typing that title. When Alex and I first got married 6 years ago (in 4 days), I never had in my mind to make bread. Let alone grow wheat. I was probably in that mindset of some thinking “I didn’t even know you COULD grow wheat.” Our lives have changed a lot. Our priorities, dreams and goals are way different than they were when we got married. I am not sure I would even be friends with my “old self.” We are just too different. Hahah. I am sure a lot of us feel that way.

But alas, we have embraced the country life. The slowed down, not too many commitments kind of life. As we have mentioned many times on this blog, one of our goals in moving to the country (and buying 5 acres) was moving towards self-sufficiency. No, we may not ever reach full self-sufficiency because of some challenges that we face. Nevertheless, in the ways that I can reach it, bodiggidy I am going to try. One of those slightly crazy ideas is growing our own wheat and cereal grains (like rye, oats, barley, etc). In order to ever be able to do it large scale we will need a significant amount of tools and or machinery. Girl aint cutting down an acre of wheat with some garden snips. However, as it has been with everything else…before I dream big, I need to act practically. Baby steps and experiments this year, remember?

So. As it is, Alex went out with his shovel and rake and hand tilled me a plot of land about 12×18 ft for our “experiment” wheat growing. I ordered 5lbs of Hard Red Winter Wheat (as all I currently had in the kitchen was Spring Wheat). Thankfully, it had been raining for 4 days prior to our digging, so it was much easier than trying to do it on a dry week. Our soil is in pretty sad condition. We did not want to plant the wheat in our garden bed because it wouldn’t be ready for harvest until next July sometime. I didn’t want to take up space in my Spring bed with an experimental crop. After Alex tilled, I hand broadcasted about 2 1/2 lbs of the wheat. I really have no idea how much I should have used I just eye-balled it. I raked the seeds in a 1/2in to an inch deep. And it kept raining…so no watering for me! Yay! This was last Saturday. I went and checked on the wheat today, and I am happy to say that IT SPROUTED! Which means it germinated and is GROWING. Can I get a hallelujah!? I was half expecting to look out the window and see millions of birds feasting on all my seeds, but I haven’t seen that YET! So lets hope they don’t get a clue…or I might loose my precious wheat.

Wheat Plot
Wheat Seeds Sprouting!

Apparently…now, I am not a gardener…yet. But wheat will grow 30-50 times its original quantity. So like, if I planted one pound, I could get up to 50lbs back! Well, I planted just over 2 lbs and I will be thrilled to DEATH if I get 50lbs. Ok, I hope I don’t die, but I might cry. Happy sobs. And in case you are wondering…winter wheat is planted a few weeks before the first frost is expected. It gets a head start on growing, then you cover it for the winter and it sits dormant through the winter. Then, when the first warmth of spring comes it pops back awake and keeps on growing. As said above, harvest time is usually mid June-July.

When we bought the house, all the fields around us were planted with wheat. It was so awesome to watch it grow and mature. Granted, I don’t think I would actually eat the wheat they plant across the street from our house…it is a beautiful thing to watch grow. Near harvest time it gets very dried out and sways in the breeze. Hard to describe the sound, but dry wheat blowing in the breeze is a lovely, lovely sound. I’d say its as beautiful as hearing ocean waves. Sometimes it even sounds like that.

I’ll keep you posted on the wheat plot journey. And then, hopefully next Summer you can come over for some freshly baked bread. Ha. So let’s review. 6 years ago Erica bought white bread. 4 years ago, Erica started buying wheat bread. 3 years ago Erica started making bread occasionally. 2 years ago Erica really got nuts and started grinding her own grain from whole wheat berries and making bread. 1 year ago Erica started dreaming of growing wheat to grind to bake bread. Present day, Erica planted wheat to grow to cut, thresh, winnow, dry, grind, knead, bake and finally EAT a HOMEGROWN loaf of bread. Told ya, I’ve lost it!

In other breadish news…I finally sent off for a new sourdough starter. Praying I keep this one alive. I have missed Emily Elizabeth so much. My first love. I hope it will do better during the cooler months and when the dang fruit fly population has died off. Then, next summer I will try to do the refrigerator thing. More on that next summer, ok? For now…Say a little prayer for meee.

And in other news…Lea and I just got done planting a few rows of garlic. Dude, had I known growing stuff like garlic was so easy…well, at least the ACT of planting is easy…growing, we will have to see. You just literally take a head of garlic and break it into individual cloves and then plant those cloves. Each clove will yield a head of garlic. Shhweeet. Now, I learned a lesson that most garlic you get from the store is treated with an anti-sprouting agent, so basically they won’t grow a green leaf out of your garlic container. Not sure exactly why that would be bad, but…it is. So, now I know and I won’t be buying garlic from the store unless its organic (cuz they can’t spray organic ones). I was able to find some organic garlic and I put a clove in a little wet towel for a few days to make sure it sprouted and sure enough it did! Yay. So Lea and I dug two trenches and planted about 36 cloves of garlic. Then we covered it with a couple inches of good composted woodchips and soil . Those babies will sprout (hopefully!) and grow a few inches before the frosts come, then like the wheat, they will just hang out until Spring until they start growing again for a late summer harvest. I’m excited and have high hopes for these babies. I mean, I spent a total of $2 on 4 heads of organic garlic and a whopping $5 on wheat seeds. So my investments are small right now. We planted the garlic in what will be the apple orchard because garlic and onions planted near fruit trees are EXCELLENT pest deterrents. Guess the bugs don’t like Italian food. Ok, not funny…I know.

Garlic Clove
Garlic Clove
Lea planting garlic!
Lea planting garlic!

Welp, ill wrap it up here. Lea wants my help folding a pile of laundry. She loves folding laundry. What a kid…oh and El just woke from a nap. So, quiet mommy time=OVER.

See you soon!

6 Month Check Point

I’ve been so busy these past few weeks trying to make the most of this fall weather that I have neglected the blog a bit lately. There is so much to write about but I can’t ever pick what I actually want to sit down and type out. So my posts end up being a conglomerate of my brain spilled out over this lovely white screen. Thanks for loving me through my inability to choose a specific topic. 😉

We have officially been country dwellers for 6 months now. It’s good, but I think we are definitely past the honeymoon period and have settled into a contended “this is how it is”  life. Life is just harder now. It’s a good thing and I would not go back, but some days I feel the weight a little heavier than others. I have been more challenged in my beliefs, mindset, and physical body than I have ever been before. The lessons I am learning are so valuable to me, but as I have written about before…sometimes I just wish something was easy. Lately I have been wrestling with the idea of how to be content with where we are when I now have the potential to be and have so much more. Let me explain. God blessed us immensely with this 5 acres. We had not a clue how to do anything with it, yet we knew the potential that was now within reach. Whereas before, I really couldn’t have the potential for more than a  few tomato plants. Now, I have the potential to grow 5 acres of whatever crop I wanted! There’s so much potential in that. My brain gets dreamy and starts thinking about CSA’s or an organic apple orchard, or any number of things that could help us be sustainable yet profitable. It’s within reach…yet so far out of my reach. So I start with a tiny garden of a few tomatoes, a few squash, a row of sweet potatoes, etc…But then I look at how much more I have that I haven’t used yet!  So then I feel like I need more! More garden! More trees! More knowledge! Nevertheless, it all costs money. Money has to be spent intentionally these days. It has to stretch a lot further than it ever has before. So, all that to say that there are days where I am disappointed I don’t really know how to garden or raise chickens or prune trees. More often than not however, on those days I look at pictures of when we first moved in and I am seriously amazed with how far we have come in a short period of time. I guess I kinda expected things to just be easier or simpler. Yet, I am not giving up. I am in for the challenge and I am learning. Growth was never not a painful experience.

So as I have said before, this year is the year of trial and error. Learning, failing, learning more. It’s a big experiment. We will always be trialing through new things. It does give me a renewed sense of hope and of pursuit because at least I know I am trying. I am doing something…no longer just wishing and dreaming. Like our Pastor re-iterated last Sunday. “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” We have been taking a lot of single steps. My prayer is that each year my steps will double. Next year the garden will give double, I will plant double the amount of flowers and trees, I will preserve double the amount of this year. My joy will double, my heart will double. (My family will not however…just one baby in there alright folks!) This is thrilling. Because then the next year, I will pray to double the previous year. Wow, won’t take long to grow. 

Yawn. Well that was kinda heavy. My eyes are starting to fall. I’ll wrap up here with a few of my latest steps in my journey.

-Got 1/2 of the new garden in place. Picked up a yard of compost last weekend and put that down before the woodchips. Working on getting some manure to spread on top and let it sit for the season. We are planning to get another load of compost this weekend and do the same. The garden will be a bit bigger than my initial one we had this summer. We are going to use the “old” garden to start our fruit tree orchard in the spring. The new garden location is much more conveniently placed for access from house as well as future irrigation plans.

-I canned some applesauce and apple butter. Not a lot-about 25lbs of apples worth, but I wanted to practice canning more and get the hang of that. So, I’m happy about that! It’s just the beginning of apple season so I am really hoping to be able to get some more apples and can more…because there is no greater joy for me than seeing a shelf of home canned goods. Holy smokes. They are not kidding, those homesteaders. We get a feeevverrr. 

-Windows have been open for a few weeks now, I seriously cannot get enough enjoyment out of the cool breeze that passes through the house. I am looking forward to the reprieve on this month’s energy bill. Can I get a hallelujah? Seriously. It could be this weather most of the year long and I would be a happy camper. Yep. A few hot days for beach please, and then this nice beautifulness.

-Finally, I just want to say Thank You to my Jesus, because every.single.day. I am awestruck in the beauty of creation. I am so mourning that I have not noticed these things ever before so profoundly. The sunrises, sunsets, stars, wildlife, etc. Something will literally stop me in my tracks every day and make me go “wow.” The sunrises literally make my heart race…they are so beautiful, I just wish I could call everyone I know and say, “come down here, quickly, you HAVE to see this.” No photo will ever do, but I really hope I am blessed someday with an incredible camera to capture even a sliver of this beauty. Holy cow.  Haha. So what I am really saying, is everyone needs to come pitch a tent here and experience this. Whoa yeah, you’ll be changed.

Good night ya’ll. 😉

-Erica

Hello Fall?

We have been really enjoying some unseasonable weather lately. In the past few weeks we have had the windows open at night and even a few days…it’s been so lovely. The country breeze will never get old. However, it has got me yearning for fall…which is still procrastinating at this week it has been back in the 80’s. I was getting all excited to start cooking fall-ish stuff. Well Summer 2013 you have been serving us well. Even in the dread heat we have been working our tails off trying to make some progress on the homestead. It has been a challenge let’s say that but things are coming together and we are looking forward to some “smaller” projects during the fall.

So, here’s a few things going on around the MonroePost Homestead this week!

Apparently, I can grow sweet potatoes. This is so super duper exciting! Lea and I love rooting around in the garden looking for a sweet potato sticking up out of the ground…and then it’s an adventure to see how it grew and how big it is! I think I got a record breaker this week…check it out…For size comparison, the smaller one would be a more typical sized potato you would buy in the store.

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I am also excited because I found a new farmers market down south of us. I found a wonderful Christian family that raises grass-fed beef, pastured pork and chicken. I am on the cow-share waiting list, but I’ve been going down to the market because he sells pork there. Its so delicious and very well priced. I have always had a hard time sourcing good pork products, even finding them is challenging much less the cost! So, I am super happy to have found this lovely farm. BUT, while I was at the market this week there was a sculptor who had some pottery for sale and I got myself a NEW coffee mug! I have been in mourning for months since Lea threw my beloved handmade mug on the floor and broke it. So, finding this new handmade gem lit up my day. There is something about having a “cozy” mug to drink coffee out of. It just tastes better…don’t believe me? Go buy a fancy handmade mug and get back to me 😉

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Oh I’ve been fiddling around in the kitchen this week…trying to get some easier, quicker breakfasts pre-made since we are trying to get hubby out the door so early. Now that we have started homeschool with Lea our mornings are pretty routine so having some quick, healthy breakfasts makes life so much easier. So, this week I made a big batch of some delicious English muffins! I didn’t tweak a things, so I’m just giving you my original recipe source instead of posting the recipe…Check out The Elliott Homestead  for some Soaked English Muffins. (Ps-I did just use regular whole milk, not raw as I can’t get that here!). I’m thinking these would make good Christmas Presents…whatcha think?? Maybe I shouldn’t have given you recipe…

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In other news, the fence WILL BE DONE ON SATURDAY (God-willing). Hoorray! This has been a HUGE, GIGANTIC project (well with the exception of the garage) and I’m so pleased with how awesome it turned out. My husband is a sheer genius. So yay! Fence! Now…I can start lobbying for my chickens and ducks and my beloved new puppy (ya, right Erica). 

We’re excited for fall to be here! We have tons and tons of trees to plant that our lovely families have been collecting for us. Little saplings they have gathered from random placed. We’ve got some maples, pecans, Japanese maples, oaks, and mimosas (I know, not technically a desired tree). We are also planning our orchard spot and getting it ready for ordering apple trees in January/February time span! So excited about that!

So busy busy here. And when we are not busy we are enjoying roasting coffee on the front porch watching the wild storms blow past! (Ok, so this pic is the backyard, but same idea…)

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Come on Fall!