The Cantaloupe Treasure

Hello!! I am still here! I have neglected this blog for a while now! Time is tight right now. I know many of us are all too familiar with tight budgets. Sometimes, it just doesn’t seem like there is enough to go around. Or we sit around scratching our heads trying to figure out how to make it work. That’s how life has been the past couple of months for us. Since the beginning of summer we have been slammed busy with coffee business work, yard work, broken tractors, waist high weeds…you name it! Some days it feels like there is barely time to breath. Our time is literally budgeted to the max!

The other day, Alex and I were sweating our brains out weeding the garden, which is currently growing cantaloupes and winter squash. Our tractor had a broken part, which took forrrevver to fix, and the weeds got totally out of control. After spending HOURS weeding, cursing crabgrass, and nearly fainting with heat exhaustion we got the garden bed under control. All for some cantaloupes. Sweet, sweet cantaloupes. About midway through I had this crazy thought to myself of “why the heck am I doing this?! This is so much WORK. All this for some cantaloupes?!” Then I yelled some more at the crabgrass. Devil plant. Then I had the realization that this “work” is actually just life. You see, this is the life we have chosen. It’s not to say that this life is for everyone. When I made the realization that this work was really just life, it made doing it not as meaningless. It was more than just weeding a bed of cantaloupes.

AdobePhotoshopExpress_c1ef052d967c4f84b8516d91fdccc35d

WP_20150722_08_12_54_Pro

WP_20150722_08_16_22_Pro

WP_20150722_08_15_24_Pro

Some things that I treasure as a result of our hard work life:

  • Our children see things grow from seed to fruit. Lea planted the cantaloupe seeds, and is so proud of the end result. I love that she gets excitement eating things that “came from OUR garden”. Daggone crabgrass weeding is worth it for the kids.
  • Life is sweeter. Hard work makes the sweetest things even sweeter. One of my favorite and most enjoyable things to do at the end of a really tough day is to get in the shower and scrub the layers of dirt off of my feet. I know…kinda weird. Most days I do work in my flip flops…so my feet are downright scary. I love using my super scrubby coconut fiber loofa to turn black dirt caked feet into normal feet again. It feels so good.
  • I am learning survival skills. I mean, come on…girlfriend needs to know how to grow stuff in the case the world comes to an end. You might thank me someday.
  • Our views are a thing of beauty. 5 acres is a lot of land to care for. Most of the time I’m pretty sure we’re crazy. But then the sunsets, the storms, the lightening bugs in the wheat fields…The country life views are so breathtaking and worth the backbreaking it takes to maintain.
  • We work together. I don’t often leave Alex home to do the yard work while I take the kids places on the weekend. We work together as a family. Kids get involved, Alex and I trade off. Sometimes we all fight, sometimes we complain together, sometimes we laugh, sometimes at the end of the day we go eat Mexican food and drink margaritas. On days when we do have something planned, we try to get our work done earlier in the week so we don’t have to be apart. It’s just how we roll. Often we have family here too, to help with the kids.
  • Kids eat more vegetables when they pick it fresh. I have noticed that my kids will eat green things out of the garden when they wouldn’t otherwise touch it on their plates. Even Elly & Cai, who won’t touch green things with a 10 foot pole, eat cukes and snap peas from the garden. It’s their thing. They just love to go and forage for a cuke. Cai even eats the green tomatoes. Weeding the garden so that they can do this safely (read: make sure theres no places for snakes to live) is a high priority for me. Remind me to plant more cucumber plants next year since the kids eat them all…barely any make it in the house!

So while the rind of life is tough, the inside is sweet and worth every drop of sweat poured. Someday I will write more on the blog about less challenging times, but this is where we are right now.

AdobePhotoshopExpress_522284ee7b604105bd32de3c39c91f89

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).

The Garden Wrap-up: 10 Commandments for Novice Gardeners

Well, like all good things…the summer garden is coming to an end…at least the first round of it! The bugs have invaded!!
It has definitely been an encouraging season…I have never had so many squash, cucumbers, and beans coming out of my ears!! It’s been so wonderful to have extra to share! We even have a freezer full of squash for when I get the wintertime blues and need some summer sunshine. Ya know? I did learn a few things…let me share with you my lessons learned.

10 Commandments of Gardening with Erica (aka-The Novice)

  1. Thou shalt cage your tomatoes before they are bushes.
  2. Thou shalt secure said tomato cages in order to prevent them from blowing over in the freak summer storms.
  3. Thou shalt not plant thy zucchini plants so close together that you can’t reach the zucchini.
  4. Thou shalt not plant pokey cucumbers again. The smooth skinned ones are much nicer to your poor fingers.
  5. Thou shalt uproot and burn your diseased tomato plants very early on so as not to infect other plants.
  6. Thou shalt trellis your beans…Even if they are “bush” beans. Unless you fancy digging in bushes to discover said beans.
  7. Thou shalt also trellis your cucumbers so as to avoid the crazy vine maze they create. Unless you just really like vine mazes and watching your kids continually trip over rampant cucumber vines.
  8. Thou shalt let nature do its thing and not too concerned when your compost pile starts sprouting strange plants of unknown origin.
  9. Thou shalt adopt and accept the motto “If at first you don’t succeed, try try again…and again…and again.”
  10. Thou shalt let go of the notion of perfection. Weeds are friends right?
  11. (I know it’s more than 10…one more for good measure). Never let your garden go a day without picking produce, lest you find baseball bat sized zucchini. Tomato baseball anyone?

Who doesn’t love summer bounty? We have been totally blessed by it this year…there is so much JOY in going to your backyard to pick things for dinner. The kids especially love it. Everyday the girls would go out and pick a small cucumber from the garden and some strawberries and then go swing on their new play set. Incredible.

photo (1)

photo

We still have more coming! The winter squash is coming along nicely! Hopefully we will get some pumpkins out of that!! I had watermelons planted, but unfortunately they didn’t do too well. Boo. See # 9 above. The sweet potatoes will be harvested in the fall! I am super excited about that! I hope they do as well as they did last year since we planted 10 times more than we planted last year! That’s a lot of potatoes yo.

Ok, I’m off to roast up some coffee for Coffee With a Mission at church this week!

How to Break a Sweat: Summer Projects

Hey its me! Well, of course it is me…don’t know who else it would be. I suppose it could be my husband but he is a rare site on the blog. I told him the other day that we would probably get more readers if he posted on the blog. You know, because people like to read about manly things. Lol. Or at least some would appreciate his less than wordy and side-tracked posts like mine. You still love me though right?

Thought I’d catch you up to speed on how the Spring projects wrapped up and where we are headed for this summer! Lot’s of exciting things you certainly don’t want to miss now do you?

Looking back at my Spring projects list, I have managed to accomplish most of them. As you are aware, I did birth a child. Lol. Farm Buddy is almost 3 months old now. I got the garden in! We have been enjoying lots of stuff from it already! We upgraded the coffee roaster to be able to serve more folks some good coffee. We’re pursing the business aspect of the coffee roasting right now…more on that later. I did not manage to get my cold frames done, suppose that will be a fall project! Alex is almost done with the electricity to the garage but we are waiting for an inspection. We also ran a water line to the garden and put in fruit trees and lots of other trees! All in all, this spring was busy and successful!

So what’s the summer look like you ask? So glad you asked. Weekly mowing of our weeds, as you see, we don’t actually really have any grass. So saying that we have to mow the lawn is a bit of a fallacy. Nevertheless, that is an unending chore. So is pulling weeds from the garden.  Aside from that here’s a few things on the agenda.

  1. Put in vehicle gate to back yard (for mulch/sand/wood) deliveries. This task is complete.
  2. Build kids a playset and sandbox. This project is set to begin this weekend and finishing up the following weekend.
  3. Build the kids the “Ultimate Slip and Slide”. This project is set to be completed on July 12th. Right in time for Elyse’s birthday. Oh yah.
  4. Put gutters on the house (this might go on the fall list)
  5. Can LOTS of tomatoes (this is slight wishful thinking as I have bad luck growing tomato plants).
  6. Begin renovations to garage for coffee roasting business. This is pending a few things.

So yah. Totally do-able. So you want to know more about this coffee roasting business thing? Well the short of it is, we are trying to figure out if it is a possibility for us to start a “real” business out of the home. We have to meet certain requirements and are in the process of talking with inspectors. Its going to be a grueling processes, but we are excited for the possibility. And if not now, maybe in the future. But no worries, we can still hook friends and family up with some delish coffee. No worries on that 🙂

So you wanna check out what’s been goin on in the garden eh?

Baby Red Potatoes
Heirloom Beets!
Harvested Wheat (Awaiting threshing!)
Harvested Wheat (Awaiting threshing!)
Can you guess which of my plants bolted and made these pretty flowers?

Sadly, I have had two of my squash plants die. They just up and died. No explanation. Well, I am sure there is an explanation but I haven’t been able to discover it yet. I have quite a few more going strong and I planted some new ones just in case, ya know, in case we run out of squash. I have already frozen some!

That’s about it, I reckon. Anything you want to hear about?

Hope you have some awesome summer plans! Break a sweat.

Summer Garden 2014 Part 1

Ohhh this is such an exciting time of year. Zucchini, basil, and tomatoes galore! One can never have enough basil, mozzarella and tomato salad. Can I get an amen?!

I am happy (more like thrilled) to announce that my garden is doing WELL this year! I am so excited. I don’t go comparing my garden with others, so it might not be as fantastic as it could be but I’m satisfied nonetheless.

Shall we have a tour of sorts?

For starters, I thought that I would update that indeed, I CAN grow radishes. Just takes a few tries. In case you missed my radish growing saga, you can check that out here. Much better the second time around.

Radish

 

Next up we have some lovely yellow squash coming along nicely. In fact in probably a day or two I will be overrun with squash as there is a good 10-12 squash all growing the same size at the moment. I am not complaining 🙂 Funny thing about this squash is that I planted zucchini seeds and they are coming up as yellow squash. Someone must have packed those wrong! Lol. Oh well. I do have a couple of zuc plants as well.

squash

Next we have mega lettuce. Aka Christmas tree lettuce. AKA needs to be eaten soon lettuce. This is technically a spring crop, hence why it is bolting and the size of a small Christmas tree. Nevertheless, this lovely red lettuce tastes good with my new radishes in a salad! (Lea is there for size comparison by the way).

leetuce

Next we have my first real “crop” as I actually planted more than 5 of it. Most of the other plants in the garden I have only planted a few plants, even though in reality I could plant a whole field of lettuce if I really wanted to. You’re welcome to come down and do so yourself if you are so inclined. Lol. So…this crop here is sweet potatoes. 100 lovely plants. Last year we planted 20 plants, so we have majorly upped that! Sweet potatoes grew so well in the woodchips last year and they lasted forever (ya, until like yesterday when I finally ate the last one…) So, we’re hoping to get a good store of these for this winter and maybe even try canning some? Anyone know of ways to preserve sweet potatoes?

sweets

Those are the mains of the garden right now, although I do have some tomatoes, cukes, strawberries, kale, and beans planted as well. As soon as my spring crops clear out (still eatin the spinach and kale!) I’ll put in some more summer time goodness. Oh! I almost forgot we also planted a bunch of watermelons, honeydew and cantaloupes as well! It would be so sweet if we actually got any of those to eat!

Oh and I almost forgot! We harvested the wheat! If you missed my wheat growing story, check out the planting here , it’s growing herewaiting

WHEAT

I can say we have made some progress since last year as far as garden knowledge goes, however I still have a long way to go. Ever so slowly we keep going…I am truly thankful for anything that comes out of my backyard. It always tastes better when you know you have planted a seed, watered, and watched it grow (unless you are talking about mustard greens in which case…well…those are probably better left un-grown, lol.)

So to sum up, here are a few things I have learned about gardening this past year. (Yes I realize they are very rudimentary knowledge…).

  1. Water direct planted seeds daily. Last year this was such a chore since we didn’t have a water line to the garden and walking 200 ft with watering cans is impractical and hard! Thankfully, Alex was able to get me a water line much closer to the garden and so now we can water much more easily with a sprinkler.
  2. Fertilize! We are using fish emulsion. Seems to be working really well, especially to get plants going.
  3. Plant what grows and skip things that have trouble. I replanted cukes this year even though last year they were devastated by the cucumber beetle. That’s pretty much the only pest I had, except the tomato hornworm. The beetles were impossible to get rid of organically and there were a million of them. So, if my cukes get wiped out again this year I will probably just skip planting them. I would rather buy them from someone without those pests and grows without pesticides than resort to using chemicals. If anyone else has ideas on how to get rid of them let me know! The hornworms are easy enough to pick and smoosh and they never made enough damage. Lea and I had fun last year scouting them out. They are pretty creepy looking though!
  4. Plant companion plants. I have tried to do this a bit this year, although I still have a ways to go…not sure i see the “benefits” yet…but maybe its the lack of problems that is the real answer! I have nasturtiums growing all over the garden, I am looking forward to seeing some of those edible flowers soon!

That’s it for now! Check back soon for Part 2 (Probably the mid-season harvest pics!)

Erica

 

Time Again to Wait

I have so many exciting things to share with you, I could barely decide what I should start with! Maybe I’ll just give you the full-fanny here and wear your poor eyes out reading. Nah, it’s not that bad! It mostly all has to do with our Spring projects which are coming along quite nicely.

Firstly, I’ve GOT to tell you about the wheat! Oh, I am so uber (or is it oober?) excited about this! I don’t really even know how to describe my feelings entirely. Yes, I have feelings in respect to my wheat. I know, I am crazy. Mostly it is excitement. But there is another layer…a deeper layer. Excitement only scratches the surface. There is this awe that abounds in my heart when I see something that I planted from a tiny seed turn into something so beautiful. While it might be a bit of a far stretch, its kind of like watching a child grow. We oohh and ahh over their firsts. First crawl, first step, first smile. You get me, right? Well for me, watching a plant grow is like that. From the first sprout, to the first flower, to the first fruits. It is incredible. It is also as equally disappointed when it doesn’t work out. When you plant a seed and it doesn’t grow. Think about that. Deep man, deep. However, it appears so far that my wheat is doing ok. Seems to be growing happily, unbothered. The commercial fields around us also have wheat growing and while its definitely cool to watch, it’s nothing like watching your own. Well just the other day we were driving down our road and I commented to Alex that I wish my wheat was growing the little wheat heads like the wheat around us. He replied that MINE WAS! I hadn’t been out to look at it in a few days. Of course as soon as we got home, I rushed out to see it. Sure enough. Man, my heart was so full of joy. My little patch of wheat babies. I’ve also got some sort of pea plant growing in the wheat as well…not sure how it got there but its pretty! Now to wait…until the middle of Summer when harvest time will be here.

IMG_8154 IMG_8155 IMG_8156

We also got a small spring garden in. Unfortunately, either the weather has been bad or my soil is bojangled because stuff hasn’t exactly grown excepttoo much. Not much has actually died, its just not growing. Except the radishes. Apparently I can grow radishes. Not that they are entirely my favorite food…there is a lovely sweetness to a freshly picked radish. Not like the store-bought. I’ll continue to wait for the fruits of my labors. Here’s a lovely squash plant starting!

IMG_8157

In addition to the garden, Alex was able to run a PVC water line closer to the garden. Having a garden over 200ft away from the nearest hose spigot was proving to be a problem. So he dug a trench and ran a PVC line from the well pump out to the middle of the yard and put a hose connection on it. So now we can run another hose from the middle of the yard, and much closer to the garden. Oh, what a blessing this is! The trench for this was an extension of the trench he dug to get electricity to his garage. This was a huge undertaking, but we are nearly done with that project as well! The girls thoroughly enjoyed the small river we had in the backyard for a few days as the rain filled up the 20in deep trench! It will be so great to have electricity in the garage for a number of reasons! I’m excited for the wood working projects that will come out of the garage, esp in the winter months when homestead work is slower! We can finally have a space heater so we can work out there!

IMG_7993 IMG_8152 IMG_7795

On a final homestead related note…we finally were able to order some trees. We got crepe myrtles, Japanese cherries, red maples, pecan, walnut and a couple of forsythia bushes. We actually just finished planting all of those last night! Phew. 20 trees total! I really did help, I promise…I didn’t just take all the pictures. We also ordered some fruit trees! We got three apple trees and three blueberry bushes. We are anxiously awaiting the arrival of those yet still. I am so thrilled that we are making some progress on our homestead dreams! Nevertheless, trees take a while to grow! The waiting game for apples, blueberries or nuts will be a long one! We will be sure to keep you updated on how those lovely little trees are coming along!

IMG_8198

 

In the meantime of all of this, we are happily enjoying our newest addition. In fact, even just last night when we were planting the trees I had the baby strapped to my front in a carrier and we were digging holes together. He is really a great baby and we are so blessed by that! The girls have finally adjusted (I think) and are very smitten by him.

IMG_7961

 

That’s it for now! If I could ever miraculously figure out how to get more than 5 minutes on the computer at any given time I would update more often. Alas, I suppose its the stage of life we are in eh? I am forced to choose between and shower or posting this update. At least I showered last night…

Spring Project List

No baby boy yet. Guess he’s just bulking up. Daddy doesn’t want no scrawny boy. //Kidding…//No it’s prob all this good food I’m feeding him. I wouldn’t want to leave somewhere that was feeding me such good food and making someone else gain weight. Who are we kidding here?

Anyways. Spring projects. Here’s my list.

1. Birth this child. While I love being pregnant and all the benefits (that do outweigh that difficulties) these last few weeks have been really hard. From a medical standpoint I am being treated as a sick patient, while not really exhibiting any signs of said “sickness.” So that has been challenging for me as it has meant a lot of invasive medical procedures that I would otherwise not sign up for. And while it would not have been my chosen path, I am thankful for all the support that my husband, family, friends and of course Jesus, have given me. Ya’ll are specials. 🙂

Me at 38.5 weeks!

2. Get power to Alex’s garage. This project has been on the back burner for a few months as we have been navigating through all this bojangled medical stuff. Nevertheless, we knew if we didn’t start soon it would get left on the back burner…and we know how those projects go don’t we? Like the time I left some vegetables lightly steaming on the back burner only to forget about them and return later to vegetable soup. Brilliant! Anyways. We picked up some materials for the project and Alex got working on it this past weekend. That boy is so dang smart. It amazes me all the various talents he has. My head is swimming between all the discussion of voltz, amps, circuits, sub panels, conduit, wires, overhead lights, GFCI outlets, fried chicken, direct bury, shop lighting, etc, etc, etc. (Ok, the fried chicken part was just to get your attention in case you fell asleep). Anyways, girl aint got a clue about this stuff and boy somehow figures these things out. He’s brilliant.

The man at work in his man-cave garage.
And of course no project is complete without the sweet tea!

3. Get garden in! Aye, this project is again intimidating me as I feel unprepared and uneducated as to what, when, where how you are suppose to actually grow a good garden. I tried my best to research and plan, yet I still come up with the same questions. I just really need to be able to plant seeds in the garden and have them grow. Is that too much to ask?! But alas, I shall persevere and keep trying again and again and again until something works! I did plant a few seeds this week, before this round of stupid-wont-go-away winter weather. We’ll see if anything survives.

Lemon Tree enjoying one of the spring days we had so far!

4. Build cold frames for seedlings. I REALLY need this as I have terrible luck growing seedlings in the house. I know all of my problems (inadequate lighting, leggy plants, not hardening off appropriately). My hopes is that the cold frames would really help these problems!! Luckily, I have some old windows from my dad’s garage so we just need to get some lumber and make some simple frames. Hopefully, this can get done before I need to get in some summer seeds for sprouting (which is probably like tomorrow…)

5. Get more worms for my vermicomposting bin. Did you miss my post about my new worm friends? They seem to be happy but I obviously have a lot more kitchen scraps than I have worms, so I need to get some more. Can’t overfeed the little dudes.

6. Secret project soon to be revealed. Stay tuned…you don’t want to miss this one 🙂

So that’s my plan for spring. Do-able. Affordable. We can do it!! I do kinda get this sinking feeling with the weather though that somehow we might just skip spring all together and go from this cold, wet winter to a blasted hot summer. I’ve been complaining far too much about the weather lately though. My apologies, I know we all feel the same way. I’ll stop talking about it. I just want more days in the sun so I can get my freckle tan on…don’t you think my feet are far too white?

You got any projects planned for the spring? Do share!!

Warm Weather Wishes and Worm Update

Sooo ready for Spring!! Are you??

We had a bit of a warm streak last week and everything perked up. But, now were back into the 20’s again. I’m excited about what this Spring is going to bring, but I am a tad bit nervous as this is the part of the year where “the petal hits the metal” again. Mowing acres of grass weeds, building projects, gardening, composting, NEW BABY! Haha…Yeah we have a lot on our plates this year! But I am still trying to remind myself that we are still LEARNING. Even though I desperately wish I could just instantly have all the knowledge I need to be able to do these things, I shall, like everyone else, continue to learn as I go.

I have however gotten started on one of my projects! Vermicomposting! It was on my goals for this year. For those who are not sure what this vermicomposting thing is…here’s the lowdown. I am basically creating an indoor composting system (you can do it outdoors, but its more challenging to get started). Instead of using time as my composting method, I am using worms! Alright, I know I just lost some of you…skip past the creepy crawlies if you must. For the rest of you…You basically make a little habitat for the woms to live in and you feed them your kitchen scraps. In return for your delicious leftovers, the worms will leave you with rich, nutrient dense worm poop compost for you to use as your heart desires in your gardens, flower beds, etc. It’s really probably the simplest thing to set up and doesn’t take a ton of time for a good amount of worms to create this compost. In addition, because the environment that these worms thrive in is moist, there will be a good bit of liquid that accumulates over time and this my friends, is known as (at least it is to me), the Holy Grail of plant feed- “Compost Tea.” Aka worm pee. Well, I am not really sure if worms pee, but theoretically, if dirt is worm poop, then the liquid is pee. See how sound my philosophy is??

There are lots more highly educated people who can probably explain this all better to you. I just thought I would give you the “Erica-fied” version of my understanding. Because that’s more fun to read. Ya know?

So, you might be wondering why I have any desire to have a colony of worms living in Rubbermaid containers in my laundry room, eh? Well. I had terrible luck this year with a traditional outdoor composting system. It was basically a pile of yard clippings, left over hay, and kitchen scraps. However, lots of nasty little creatures also enjoyed my pile. I had two major problems with my system. One, it took a long time for anything to break down and turn into soil before something came and “took over”. Herein lies my second problem, I had lots of…let’s just called them bugs so you don’t loose your lunch…take over. They made lots of babies in the soil that have been hibernating over the winter. So, if I were to use this soil in my garden, I would most likely be putting these BAD bug babies right into places where I am going to plant. We’re talking like tomato hornworm babies, cabbage lopers, cucumber beetles, etc. I ain’t like those in my garden. Now, to solve this problem, I COULD use my dreamy ducks or chickens to come nibble through the soil to eat all of these bug babies. That would be very handy. But alas, ducks are yet to get here. Boy they would have a feast though. Seriously, I’ve never seen so many creepies before. Ick!

Moving on…

So this concept of worm composting is attractive because it’s a little less prone to unwanted critters. Sure there are some other things that can get in there, but for the most part it’s a controlled environment. So, I am going to give it a whirl. Not to mention Lea is already smitten with the worms. She loves worms. Country kid.

So, here’s a couple of my worm set up pics. This is a highly unsophisticated system that cost me about $15 (including worms) total. There’s many other ways to do it…I just had these Rubbermaid’s already and used some shredded paper and Voila!

Photo Feb 27, 11 04 30 AM

Photo Feb 27, 11 04 44 AM

Photo Feb 26, 9 14 39 PM

If you want the details on how I constructed my bin, these are the instructions I used…

http://www.vermicompost.net/rubbermaid-worm-bin-plans/

I am also proud to say that I did it all myself. Not that I don’t love my husband helping, but there’s something that makes you feel powerful when you bust out a drill and chop saw. Ok…I’m alone again.

On a final note, I found my worms at a local bait shop. They are a tad different than I expected but after some research, I did reassure myself that they are the correct ones that I needed. So, I am happy about that! And I am sure I looked like a crazy person with my two kids, 9 month pregnant self, asking to buy a bunch of packages of red worms. Oh well.

Well, that’s that for now. I haven’t fed the little buddies yet, as I just got them nestled into their new home last night. Apparently I am supposed to wait a few days so they get themselves all nice and cozy before feeding them. I’ll let you know how it goes. 😉

In other news…

Here’s the latest look at my wheat growing! It made it through the winter and being covered in a foot of snow! I definitely need to try to plant “rows” next time instead of just scattering it, but it’s looking the same as the commercial wheat growing across the field. So, at least I am not totally off base! Here’s hoping it keeps going!

Photo Feb 27, 10 53 15 AM

Photo Feb 27, 10 53 22 AM

Alright, I’ll keep ya posted. Next time maybe our little farm boy will have arrived! Counting down the days now!!

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!

 

Frost Kills

Welp. It happened. Our first frost. Never really did understand the implications of that. I mean I have watched some movies where farmers all start freaking out when it comes to early frosts…but now, I get to experience it. Wow, crazy! It really does make a big difference.

I got the “Frost Warning” on my phone weather app last week (I don’t remember the day).  Knowing that it can be a big deal I started thinking about what I needed to do. My only thought was to bring in my Meyer Lemon tree…and boy am I happy I did that. I also thought about my wheat and prayed that it had had enough time to grow roots that could sustain a frost. Wheat is a winter crop, but I had read it needs at least 2-3 weeks before a frost to set firm. I thought I was totally covered being that the normal first frost date for our area is like the second week of November. Bah, guess you can’t trust the old almanac after all. Not much I could do though as I had nothing to cover my wheat with. I just prayed.

Well, early next morning I scurried out to check on my wheat and it was totally fine. Praise ya Lord! Then I turned and looked at my garden and remembered my basil plant. Oh sadness. And my peppers…oh sadness. They aren’t kidding are they? Frost Kills. You know that lovely big bowl of basil I picked the other day? Well, I am so glad I did that because I lost it all! I could have cut more of it off, but again I thought I had a little more time! Oh well, I did get that last big bowl of it. It so sad to see something so beautiful one day and literally overnight die. Wow, I had no idea. My peppers were doing AWESOME and I was getting great yields from them. But alas, they did not survive. I was able to pick off the peppers that we on the plant and some of the larger ones are ok, most of the small ones shrived up and turned brown and squishy. Frost Kills.

Dead Basil
Hard to Tell…but a shrived up cherry tomato plant.

So, there is my saga. My lesson learned. Had I been more prepared, I may have been able to cover these crops with some insulating material to protect them for  few more weeks. But I didn’t think about it nor did I have anything I could use. Plastic wrap?? Nevertheless, I am more than thankful for the bounty of basil this season, the peppers, the few tomatoes, and all the other things that were a learning experience.

Green Pepper Harvest

And…my lettuce is doing fine as it likes the chilly. Weird how some plants love it, others just keel over and die. Why is that?

I am thankful for harvest time and all that it brings. Here’s a couple of my favorite.

Pumpkin Picking!
Hay Rides with Stud Man.

So. Moral of my story is: Don’t joke the frosts. They are serious killers. (I am sure they killed some bad bugs too…so look on the bright side right?). Till next year my sweet basil. Good bye.