i’m living

It’s been forever and a month since I’ve posted here.  For the record, I started some great ideas, and never finished them.  Does that count?  No.  Okay.  Let me say I’m living.  Sometimes better than others.  What is my point?  Everything.  Also, I’m in a weird and funky mood, so bare with me.

Farm first.  The piggies are off to market…all four of them.  We have sold our dairy goats because I have nursed five children and milked two does for three seasons. I really needed a lactation break.  We miss our gals, but they are loved on by a family with more time than I.

Homeschooling has been going well.  I really need to post some reviews on here and YouTube.  I’m loving our system with workboxes.  Some of our curriculum is worthy of its own post.  Would you like that?  Do you care?  I know you do because somehow with all my random rambling, you still come back.  *muah*  I love you.

Nick has a new career. UPS.  That’s a big deal.  We’re still praying he gets onto a permanent position after the holiday season.  He really enjoys the work.  The pay is good and the benefits are great for a family this size.

Our precious poodle Luke died about a month ago.  If you follow me on Instagram, you saw a photo tribute to him.  We all miss him so much.  Nick and I have confessed to each other never being this sad over a dog before.  It has been hard.  On that note we are looking into adopting a puppy in the near future.  Stay tuned for lovableness.

I have been busy growing my new YouTube channel.  Have you subscribed yet?  I would love your support.  I have lots of grand plans for getting back on track here.  Thanks so much for staying with me.  I appreciate your support and love always.

humble homesteading: our garden prep

Over the years, I’ve attempted gardening on several occasions.  I’ve grown things in tiny peat pots, bought from the nursery, and direct-sowed.  Varied success has resulted.  This is our third spring here at the farm.  I think we’ve finally figured out what works for us and what works in our area.

First we till and make ditches.  Luckily, our neighbors are gracious enough to loan us their machine.  We then flood each ditch and fill in low points.  I also like this done because planting is easier when it’s wet.  It’s also better to plant in moist soil.

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Now for planning.  I like to sketch up the plan so I know what and where I’ll plant.

Planting time comes next.  After each row is planted I flood the ditch again.  Notice we plant in the ditch- not the hill.  This give the plant a great soaking.  The soil stays moist for 3-5 days (depending on the weather), and it catches all the rain during monsoon season.  We stomp the hills down to make a sturdy walking path.

We have a few garden boxes set up.  I’m making one of them the permanent strawberry patch.  Onions are in one, and the other will have pole beans soon.

We spent two eight-hour days in the garden this weekend.  I’m so glad it’s almost fully planted.

I filled the rows with seeds.  Every child had some part in the prep and planting.  Little ones love dropping seeds into the holes.  Nobody likes pulling weeds.  Me either!  IMG_1567IMG_1587IMG_1589IMG_1594

We have found through trial and error that I can’t grow peppers or tomatoes from seed too well.  I’m working on it.  For this year we decided to buy plants from the nursery.  I buy bulbs for onions and garlic.  Everything else is seed sown directly into the ground.  I’m worried about the carrots coming up.  I had no success last year.  Any tips for carrots?

Here’s our list of what’s in the ground right now:

pickling cucumbers, corn, tomatoes (variety), peppers (sweet and hot variety), bush beans, watermelon, cantaloupe, carrots, romaine lettuce, blue dwarf kale, zucchini, spaghetti squash, onions (red and yellow), garlic, asparagus, herbs (variety), pie pumpkins, and eggplant.

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By the end of next week I hope to add:

potatoes, blueberry bushes, raspberries, black berries, pomegranates, strawberries, pole beans.

What are you growing?  How do you adjust for your climate?

 

 

 

safe house for hens

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We have worked very hard this week.  We finally made a huge yard for our chickens.  After two years of them pooping on our porch, and all over the concrete barn, they are fenced in.  They are still free-ranging by definition.  The decision will also make it safer for them and easier for us.

I went back and forth about this.  I wanted them to roam, but I wanted them to stay out of my garden too.  They had free-range on our whole twenty-acres, then five, but they never utilized more than a hundred foot areas anyhow.  So space didn’t seem as important anymore.  Safety was also a concern.

There are many, many coyotes where we live.  We hear packs of them almost every night.  The hens now have a yard within a yard.  Double safe.  Now that they are laying solely in the coop, our Pyrenees dog Leia cannot eat their eggs.  That’s her favorite.

She is 100% trust-worthy with the hens, but boy does she love eggs.  She is patrolling happily, and making the safety of our animals even more secure.  She is a sweet and clumsy thing, but her bark is ferocious; she knows those coyotes are bad news.

The kids find it more convenient to check eggs when they know exactly where they’ll be.  Those hens used to lay everywhere.  In the hay, in the coop, in the back of Nick’s truck, in buckets, in twine, everywhere.  Easter egg hunts loose their excitement when everyday is hunting day.

Guess what?  I can now plant flowers to my heart desire too.  Things are always coming along here at the farm.  What improvements have you made lately?

humble homesteading: preparing the garden

This week I’ve tried to prepare the garden.  I say “tried” since the duck weed and crab grass are the bane of my garden.  I refuse to use round-up or other chemicals. Sometimes I regret my conscience.  I just can’t do it!  I know it’s wrong.

I’ve raked and pulled, and felt the reality of The Curse.  Thanks Genesis for giving me a person to blame.  Yeah, I know, pathetic.  It’s just help to randomly shout, “Thanks a lot Adam and Eve,” as blisters form on your hands.  It’s therapeutic.

Somewhere in this mess are three garden beds.

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We did all we knew last year to prevent this from happening.  We mowed and weed whacked all around the beds often.  We put that black screen stuff in the bottom and sides of the beds to prevent this.  It happened anyways.  Why?!  I don’t know.  That stuff is just brutal.

Homesteading is humbling.  I never knew the depths of exhaustion I could feel from weeds.  I look forward to planting onions and garlic in a lush garden bed soon.

I’m closing my eyes and dreaming of that now.  *It’s so pretty and yummy*

Yes, that will keep me in that darn bed removing that network of intruders that are trying to make me quit.

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Here’s what it looked like when the raking was done.  Not much better huh?  Now I’ll be soaking the weeds a few more times to loosen the roots.  This is the best tip for digging holes and pulling weeds.  Soak the junk out of it!

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What are you planning for your garden?  Lets dream about weeds disappearing together, shall we?

resolutions you won’t break

People like I set resolutions this time if year. Last year Mine was to buy more active wear and be inactive in it.  I’m serious, and I did that.  But then I broke my goal and took up running.  Do you sense a theory here?  I set a goal I knew I could reach, and then I realized I’m made of more than that.  What I love I must do.  I need goals to reach, and setting real goals is important to me this year; more than any other year.

We should all set the goal of moving forward.  Whatever you have dreamed of doing and have never done, why not give it a shot?  When I was a teenager I first believed myself a writer.  I never knew if I was very good or not; all I knew is that every word I wrote needed to be as true and real as I could make it.

I have never stopped writing.  Even after I became a Christian and my writing changed dramatically, it never stopped.  I just love it, and I just need it.  I have to write whether anyone cares, whether or not I’m great at it, whether or not I feel like it.  I must write because I’m a writer.

My resolutions, goals, whatever you want to label them include making some solid plans.  I want something to reach for, even if it feels impossible or too hard.  Dreams are only made true by taking action.

1.  Get Josie’s book published- However this happens, I’m spending this year to focus on this.

2.  Keep blogging- 2-3 times a week is my goal:  Be consistent and have something worthy to say.

3.  Keep writing- about everything

4.  Make homeschooling more fun- patience is usually the key here; along with a sacrificial perspective.

5.  Expand the farm- time to take it up a notch around here

What are your goals?  Write them down and make them real.  Don’t hid your gifts, talents and interests.  God created us the way he did for a reason.  What’s yours? When you’re passionate about it, you won’t give up.

seasons: spring

As I’ve hung clothes on the line again (thank you warm weather), I have really been pondering the seasons’ changes on the farm.  We have been out here in the country for a full year now, and I’m barely feeling like I have a better understanding of what each season brings.

We are coming from winter, which is the least busy of all the seasons.  The main goal is get animals bred, stay warm, and rest from the hard work of the rest of the year.  I see it as the stay inside and fatten up period.  Baking becomes frequent, and reading is plenty.

When you are stagnant for so long, it’s very difficult to kick into full gear Spring.  We made it through baby goat births and building garden boxes, and now we’re gearing up for planting the seeds and selling the babies.  This requires paperwork, advertising, disbudding, castrating ect.  In just a few short weeks I’ll be back to milking twice a day.  We have drip systems to fix, fencing to build, and trees to trim.  It’s about time to decide which hens are no longer laying and, therefore; need to processed.  Spring is the busiest and most work here.  

I very much enjoy the rest of the Winter, but I am definitely ready to begin the work of Spring, so as to profit from the harvest in the Summer.  Things are picking up here.  We are praying for a blessing on this little farm.  May He give the increase for our labor. 

 

tiny moments

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IMG_0021IMG_0020Here at the farm we have divided up the household and animal responsibilities into age appropriate sections.  I have had very little to to with feeding the animals since the goats have been dried up.  Yesterday was different with illness still lurking about these parts.

I certainly didn’t want to send any sick child into 20 degree weather.

So, I slipped on a few knit layers and rubber boots and went about the morning chores alone.  I forgot how much I truly need to get outside more, even in the cold weather.

I love listening to our winter friends, Sandhill Cranes over head.  I can’t get enough of the affection our sweet does give me and each other.  Are there really so many things more adorable than a fluffy rump chicken running about?

Okay, if you’re about to say kids, I’ll give you that.  But, seriously, I absolutely love our life, how ever trying times can be, no matter the sacrifices of worldly glamour.  Caring for animals may tie us down more, but they are more than pets.  They are our livelihood  our food, our entertainment, our family.

We learn so much, even about our Heavenly Father, as we raise and care for our animals and our farm.

I can’t imagine wanting to go back to our former life.  I know we are always open to whatever path is laid before us, but I do hope it includes livestock and mason jars.  I really love it here.  I am filled with thanksgiving and humility for the life we are living right now.  I am so excited for the future lessons and experiences that only a farmer’s life can offer.

I don’t say this to make you feel as though your life is unimportant.  I have simply come to realize more depth in my own life.  For me, it can be as simple as grasping the meaning of time-honored sayings or, even, spiritual concepts.

The phrase “pigs sty” just doesn’t mean as much unless your eyes have seen and nose has smelled.  Seriously, I would rather starve than eat from a pig’s trough as the “Wayward Son” of the New Testament did.

When I read in the scriptures that the fields are “white for the harvest, but the laborers are few”, I envision our neighbor’s cotton fields-breathtakingly white as far as the eye can see.  What a daunting task to think of harvesting a field like that without enough help.  It would seem downright impossible!

The Bible is filled with farming references and examples.  As I walk about about our humble farm, verses are alive before my eyes.  Much how I would imagine a trip the Israel,  I see and have a greater understanding of the depth, pain, toil behind the stories.  I know for certain I would go leave a flock of sheep “to pursue the one”.  Every animal we have, we love, nurture and enjoy.  How much more does He love me…you?  He pursues us!  Searching, calling…do we listen?

The future is never certain, so all I can be is overjoyed to be placed here, now, and forever in my heart.  I don’t want to forget these tiny moments on the farm, with my Lord talking to me while I go about my chores.