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!

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.

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.

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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!!

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!!

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!

 

Snapshots of Moments- A Tour of Our Life in 2013

Goodbye 2013. You brought so much change, hope, love, laughter and hard moments. It is so easy to neglect all that we have done and accomplished in light of how much there is yet ahead for the next year. So, for my own sake I thought I would write at least one moment for each month of 2013 that stood out. Here’s our 2013 Journey.

January 2013

Alex goes on his first ever Missions Trip to the Dominican Republic with a group of men. They built a pole-barn structure for a YWAM camp.

DR Jan

DR Jan 2

February

This month brought lots of trips back and forth checking our the progress of our new home being built. We had hopes of moving in as early as Feb but it didn’t happen.

House Feb

March

Elyse’s First Easter! The girls even had matching dresses and coats!

March Easter

April

April brought our long awaited moving day into the new house!! April 16th we were given the keys and we promptly drove “Home”.

Moving April 16

Moving april 16 2

May

We got moved in and then instantly got running on two feet! We started building the garage for Alex to store all his man-tools in! Oh…and Elly also ate her first hot wing at her Uncle Nicholas’ birthday party!

May Garage

May Elly

June

With all kinds of left over building materials from the garage…we built our first bon fire. Yes, marshmallows were involved 🙂

June Campfire

July

We celebrated our baby girl turning the big One! We also harvested our first zucchini out of the small garden we started as soon as we moved in.

July Elly Bday

July Zuchini

August

Wow, this was an exciting month! We found out we were going to be adding a new addition to the Monroe household! A new farm-hand! We also got started (and finished) building the fence that surrounds our “back yard”.

Aug Baby Annc

Aug Fence Building

September

This was a fairly quiet month. We needed some respite from the crazy summer projects. Little projects here and there and finishing up loose ends. Lea is practicing taking care of babies in an effort to get ready for her coming baby brother. And we continued to enjoy our country views…

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Sept Views

October

Got the fall garden going, although it didn’t amount to much as it turns out. We also got our wheat planted and some garlic planted. Most exciting is that we harvested our summer crop of Sweet Potatoes. That was a blast!

Oct Sweet Taters

November

Gearing up for the wintertime. Winterizing all the mowers and such. Just random projects here and there around the homestead this month. Not much you feel like doing when its starting to dip into the 30’s and 40’s. But…that’s why we have a fireplace! We tried out the fireplace in the den for the first time!

Nov Fire place

December

Welcome Christmas!! Our First Christmas in the new home! That was fun and exciting! We haven’t had a live Christmas tree in a few years now since we’ve been moving around so much. It was refreshing to have a real tree this year! We thoroughly enjoyed our Christmas time off (except for a few days of sickness!).

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Onward!

That’s it! What a lot we accomplished in a year! New houses, new babies, new memories! We are looking forward to 2014 with anticipation of what is to come this year. I have big hopes and dreams, hopefully I will get some time to sit down and write those out so we can look back again in 12 months!

For now…Welcome 2014!! 

 

Fall Garden and Spring Planning

Alex and I have done some back-breaking, brow-sweating work these past couple of weekends trying to get the spring garden bed in place. We choose to create a new garden bed in a place more conveniently located behind the house. We got two loads of beautiful, black, compost which we laid on top of newspaper. We then covered the compost with our lovely woodchips, about 6 inches deep. We plan to get some manure and sprinkle that on top and let the bed rest until spring. Many have questioned our “No-Till” gardening method, and while I am very new to it all, I genuinely feel like this is how we are going to heal this land. There are some great articles online that talk about this no-till philosophy and permaculture.  Anyways, not to bore you. Someday, when I am more skilled I will post a more informative post on that!

In the meantime, we built an 18 x 30 ft garden bed, which ends up about 540 square feet. This is more than double what we did this year! So, I am excited about that. Obviously, in comparison to the land, this is still a very small bed but it took over 10 hours of work just to get that. Any bigger and we’re going to need some serious equipment. Not to mention all this while pregnant! I am pretty sure this baby is coming out with a pitchfork in hand! Lol!

photo 3 (22)Here’s the progress..as you can see the difference between compost and woodchips.

photo 5 (5)Elyse is checking out the new garden! Kids love this!

photo 2 (30)Good rich earth. Man, I love the smell of it! So excited for next spring!

In my current garden, I harvested all of the sweet potatoes last week. I am not sure exactly how many I got, but my guess is around 30-40 pounds. Not entirely sure. I’d say it was worth the 6 dollars I spent on the plant slips!

My tomato plants are still producing, but most of the tomatoes are only turning slightly orangish- not getting to red. If I put them on the counter they turn redder over the week. So, overall guess the tomatoes weren’t a total flop. I’ve got some lettuce planted and it is growing very nicely. I also have some collards, but they don’t seem to be taking off as much. Hmm. They’re not dead yet though! Let’s see what else. Oh! I have a couple of snap pea plants that are doing well. I am sad that I literally only have like 4 plants of those growing, but oh well. This weather has been very confusing for plants lately.

photo 4 (9)So overall, with this last years garden, I am not thrilled with the results but I am not entirely disappointed. I got some great harvests of some things, like my sweet potatoes and squash. The pest issue was pretty significant and I need to come up with some better ways to help with that. I plan to be much more intentional with companion planting and using herbs and flowers in the garden next year. Hopefully, that will help some.

So what’s next for the MonroePost homestead? I am not sure exactly what’s in the lineup next but here’s a few projects we’re eyeing and trying to budget for!

  • Power to Alex’s garage
  • Finish garage organization
  • Build chicken/duck coop
  • Build a more sophisticated compost pile
  • Start a vermicompost system
  • Prepare old garden bed area to become the small orchard in the spring

We will keep you posted!

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

Our First Month (and some) [Homestead Update]

I thought it would be appropriate to try to keep track of how things are going and how we are progressing on our homestead goals. We’ve been here a little over a month now (moved in April 20th). Feels like its been longer than that!

-Our biggest project has definitely been building the garage/workshop. We are finally wrapping it up, just a few more things to do on it. I know I am pleased with how it turned out, and I know Alex is ecstatic about finally having a place to store all of his tools. I will be so happy when they are out of my living room!! I am looking forward to him being able to build me some bookshelves or other projects for things around the house! Now we need a table saw!

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-The second biggest project has been getting the garden in. I know this is a learning year so things aren’t moving along as quickly as I had hoped, but all is not lost yet! My plants are finally growing, and I am hoping they will “take off” here shortly. We have been getting plenty of rain and my woodchips are working beautifully I hardly ever have to water. I did go an get a load of mushroom compost last week and spread a few inches on the garden, I am hoping that will help them along. So far I have 3 tomato plants, about 7 squash plants, 4 cuke plants, 11 sweet potato plants, 6 pepper plants, a couple acorn squash, watermelon, and pumpkins growing. Oh and a basil plant. I have some seedlings to plant as well that are a few more tomatoes and some more herbs. Overall, I am happy with how things are going!

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-We are mostly unpacked, all except books really and craft stuff. I need shelves badly! We are still trying to figure out what to do with our spare bedroom, which is currently where all of our storage stuff is. I think we are going to turn it into a craft/sewing room for now until we need it for more kids. LOL (no that’s NOT a hint). It would be nice to have an area where I can set up sewing projects and not have to clean it up to eat dinner on the same table! However, I need another table and some storage bins of some sort. So that’s a work in process.

-Grass (or rather weeds) are finally growing which is helping take over the MonroePost mud lake. The front yard is almost covered and the backyard is getting there. We have some low lying areas on the sides of the house which get flooded in rain, so they are pretty much mud all the time. I think we will need a few loads of dirt to truly remedy that problem. The septic area is not really growing anything, and I think that’s mainly due to the high sand content. They brought in loads of sand instead of dirt. Sooo, we might just have to keep working on that area.

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-I got my clothesline built (or rather Alex built my clothesline). So far I love it! Its so nice to save energy and have sun dried clothes! I think hanging clothes does a better job than even ironing Alex’s work shirts! So windy out here, wrinkles don’t stand a chance! Yesterday I washed and hung sheets for the first time. Quintessential country living there. Haha!

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-We have also been talking with the farmer who cares for the land around us (and who once cared for these 5 acres). We have decided to sublet the back part of our land (about 2.75 acres of it) to this farmer and allow him to care for it for a while. This was a tough decision as we really don’t like what he will be growing, but we have decided its the best plan. We have a long journey ahead of us before we can really care for 5.5 acres by ourselves without a real tractor or a cow or something. We are letting him use the back and leaving a good 300 feet from the house before he will start planting. We felt comfortable with this distance. I have voiced my concerns about the pesticides ect to the farmer and he is extremely understanding and cautious. He is very supportive of my gardening methods and will do his best to support me. He even said if they wind direction was wrong (towards my house) he will never spray. I felt better knowing that he was supportive of me and cared about the safety of my family. All that being said, we knew that moving to the country, we would be experiencing commercial farming. There is really no way around it. I am glad to at least have met the farmer (he literally came to my house!) and feel that he is supportive of my values. He even invited me to come down and visit us at his house down the road. I like that. I will forgive the fact that he is planting death seeds in my yard. For now. Someday, I really hope that we can care for all 5 acres and plant our own crops, etc. Maybe goats can help us care for the land. Who knows! So much going on! For now, this will be a convenient way for us to not get overrun with weeds and also a little bit of extra needed income.

Stay tuned for more updates!