Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Homesteading’ Category

Today we finished our notebook calendar to Scott.  We wrote in a page a day for the time we’re gone, with a couple of guest writers (alright, alright, all Excursioneers).  Tidbits about how much we’ll miss him, where we suspect we’ll be along the trail on a given day, how many days ’til we see him again.  Some love notes.  Some chit chat.  You know, stuff like that.

We posted up the Farm Chore list in a few places for all of the wonderful folks who will be running the place so that we can be away.  We walked through everything with them all this past week, including how to properly use the new milk machine.  Yes, I said it: The new milk machine!

A lovely friend had a crusty, dirty, worn out little machine that she knew little about other than it being a supposed milk machine.  She offered it to us with the warning that it may be worthless and broken.  I did a bit of Googling and YouTubing, and was able to figure out the model of Hoegger Milking System, and how to take the entire thing apart for maintenance and repair.  I spent a few solid hours cleaning it up, hoping that it’d be fruitful in the end.  I got online and ordered $150 in parts that I knew it needed, gambling it would be a good investment.  And then we waited.

It felt like forever.

putting it all back together

Then the package arrived!  We went to work on it again, and got a final thumbs up from our friend who looked it over a bit with me, whose Dad is a machinist – and flipped the switch.  It fired right up and pulsated like a champ at the perfect pressure!  The girls didn’t even flinch when we tried it out on them that evening.  They really have settled into being the loveliest homestead milkers.

Not only was this roughed up little machine a milker, but was the perfect one for us.  It was a model designed for one to two goats (the company sells sheep adapters), but powerful enough to run a small dairy.  And it’s made right here in the U.S.A.  We never would have purchased one new – being content with hand milking (in fact, we can do it as fast as the milk machine if it’s doing one at a time), and knowing good ones like this one were much more than we wanted to pay for the convenience.  But what a gift (and a lot of elbow grease!  I felt like a rockstar fixing it.).  This will be perfect for Scott.  I knew it’d just be way dreamy for him.  But I was afraid it’d be a dud so left it a surprise.  He’s used it a couple of times now, gearing up for being the primary milker here on the farm for most of the time we’re gone – and has said what a breeze it’ll be now compared to the especially harder task morning and evening he was anticipating (and never did complain of!).  This should shave off an hour time off of his day.  And keeps it all the more easy for friends who will cover for him while he’s traveling to/with us, and as we may need a helper now and then in the future.

clickity clack! there she goes!

So here we are, wrapping things up, knowing the farm has been very tidied up for our leave.  All laundry is washed.  Rooms are clean.  RV is packed.  Just like that: It’s time.  Off we go!

Read Full Post »

14459793_10208754683238796_96220392_n

photo courtesy of Robin

We’ve always been of the mindset that animals cost money.  I mean, let’s be real.  You don’t raise your own animals to be frugal.  It’s a luxury.  You do it because you love it, you seek the lifestyle, or because you’re looking for a particular type of food to be on your plate.  Unless you’re a commercial operation, the cost is real, in most areas of your resources (finances, time, space, etc).

For example, when I calculate our expenses, we aren’t saving a ton of money on our sheep milk*.  I can justify it financially, but if we had to cut our budget, I sure couldn’t justify keeping ’em.  And when I [try not to] judge others, it’s the first thing I think they should let go of when the purse strings need tightened.  But this one family I know is making me change my perspective (and is certainly not following the norm), and reminding me not to judge a book by it’s cover.

Let me preface by saying: Steve & Robin’s number one goal is to supplement their groceries with free food.  So sure, they may not be doing things how we would (or have) as far as grassfed, organic, etc.  But honestly, it’s still leaps and bounds above CAFO mixed meats and picked-prematurely veggies from who knows where doused in who-knows-what.  Even if it doesn’t meet our general philosophies a hundred percent of the time.  It’s surprisingly not far away either.

14445309_10208754732880037_1739325533_n

photo courtesy of Robin

Here’s what they have on their homestead: sheep (milk, fiber, meat), pigs (meat, pasture-managers, scrap-clean-up-ers), chickens and ducks (eggs, meat, fertilizer), cows (beef, hides & milk) and a couple of horses (training children responsibility and skill).  Rabbits (meat, pelts, leatherwork).  Bees (honey, pollination).  Fruit trees and herbs (dinner plate and animal food).  What they “bring in” to feed their animals:

  • They hay their neighbors field once a year, paying $2.85 per bale; saving neighbors annual mowing costs.  Win-win.
  • They maintain a fodder system ($10/month for entire farm)
  • The food bank they grocery shop with weekly gives them excess for livestock; providing 90% of what is fed to the pigs and chickens
  • They water from a well (expense: minimal electric to run pump)

They do have to invest in minimal supplies from the feed store from time to time, as well as minerals and other odd items here and there.  They usually butcher their own meat, slaughter to wrap.  Butchered lamb skulls hang in their chicken coop where maggots clean them out, then drop to the floor where chickens get their protein.  They then sell the cured skulls to folks with terrariums after proper cleaning.  The property they rent came with fencing and small structures to contain their animals.  They co-op the pigs with other owners – the other owners are responsible for cleaning barns and fields of manure, etc… keeping this portion of workload (and waste) minimal for their own family.  They grow low-maintenance corn, melons & pumpkins (and weeds – ha!), feeding the harvest to the chickens, the stalks and vines to the pigs.

14429306_10208754683558804_480276636_n

photo courtesy of Robin

As for the horses, they’re a bit of a splurge.  Or are they?  They don’t provide food for the family, but provide a learning opportunity for the two children.  They teach responsibility and disciplines one would never get elsewhere.  And best of all?  It’s all financially sponsored (feed is included in the family’s farm expenses; minimal and self-sustaining).  Their five year old has sought – and secured – both businesses and private entities to 100% financially support her rodeo and training through selling farm goods and sponsorships.  What could add up to hundreds a month is instead worked for, providing a great opportunity for this young entrepreneur to not only set a budget, seek out investors and sell farm goods, but also to work hard for good results to report back of progress.  And heck, clean stalls and tie knots and lift her share of weight in the process.

Funny story: All but one in their family doesn’t like lamb or rabbit (but the kids’ll eat it if they have to).  They raise both because it’s cheaper than buying any meat from the grocery.  So they’re not going for gourmet.  They’re going for saving money.  Period.  Their monthly food averages $250 for a family of [currently] 5 – soon 6!  Some months it’s closer to $100, when the freezer and pantry are particularly generous.  Insane.

14429429_10208754684118818_1686094231_n

photo courtesy of Robin

I don’t even want to mention how much we spend on groceries per month, even growing a lot on our own.  We believe this area a high priority, and budget accordingly.  That said, Steve & Robin’s semi-permaculture-esque set up and goals have really inspired me to consider how we can enhance our strategy into providing continued high quality food, utilizing our resources to the best of our ability in a more economical fashion.  A good challenge for sure.

First step: Setting up that dag-gum fodder system that I keep saying I’m going to.  Literally adding 60 seconds a day to chores, decreasing feed costs a hundred fold.  Yep.  I need to just do it.

*actually, I have no idea where to buy sheep milk.  But other raw milk of this caliper is $20/gallon minimum.  In reality, we probably are saving money on dairy/meat from our lamb, but not a ton – we certainly aren’t eating cheap by growing it ourselves.  Tho’ I could argue in favor because they help maintain our land, add fertilizer, share wool, and offer a wide variety of meats & dairy products that would add up significantly otherwise… Yeah, but still.  Not cheap.

Read Full Post »

Funny story.  One of my main rules while blogging is to share things that have happened.  Not things that haven’t.  Once in a while I’ll share a goal with you, or even a project that we’re currently working on.  But unless it’s happening or has happened, I try not to.  Just in case.

Well, I broke that rule last entry.

We decided not to get the American Guinea Hogs (AGH) this year that I mentioned.  When we sat down with the calendar, we realized we’d be harvesting them right around when our baby was due, and that just wouldn’t work.

Years and years ago, before we began doing pastured poultry on our own, I struggled with helping my folks butcher chickens because I had littles at the time, and it really got me that the insides would be the same size as my little peoples’.  After we took over doing the poultry, our kids were bigger, and could participate in the assembly line.  That, and we had the enormous blessing of many helping hands.  And we took some time off when Colby was wee.

So yeah, we nixed the pigs.  We’re ready for when the time is right!  Meanwhile, we’ll enjoying having fall off to bask in a little one; and have lined up some AGH meat from our friends who are raising them.  It’ll be a fun culinary into to a breed we’ve wanted to raise for a long time.  And meanwhile will double our freezer lamb this year.  And we are raising 3 turkeys for holidays!

gobble, gobble!

gobble, gobble!

So there you have it.  Eating my words.  I’ve come to be more familiar with doing that.  I find that the more I learn (in many aspects), the more I have to eat my words.  The less I ought to say, really.

Oh!  And funny (not funny?) news!  Marley has put on some excellent weight in the last month!  First time she’s increased since we got her over a year and a half ago, and only weeks from her final ‘doom date’ after us exhausting nearly every option we could muster up to get her to gain.  She seriously looked like death there a month ago, and now looks like a well-milked dairy ewe.  At this rate, she’ll be healthy and stable to move forward with in a few months.  I really can’t believe my eyes.  So much that I’m still being real loosie goosie about how long we’ll commit to her.  But she’s definitely proving her ability to stay healthy, so long as we don’t over-milk her.

We’ve been chiseling away at our freezer milk for the lambs, chickens and geese, and a now pregnant (!) Great Pyrenees livestock guardian dog.  We’re trying to make cheese or ice cream every other day again, and realizing our need to up our intake of stored feta before we tuck more away.  Perfect timing to be flooded with milk as this is the month our own baby starts growing bones & teeth, needing the extra calcium increase.

You’ll remember that only two short posts ago, I shared with you that we would not be working too hard at gardening this year.  Another funny story: (more…)

Read Full Post »

Wow!  Another month has flown by since the last posting.  I’ve definitely gotten out of the habit.  I also wanted to take some time off of the internet, as it can impact the way one shapes their life – and I’d assume more reality once in a while.  I’ve stuck with mostly photo’s (less words) on social media.  More words to human faces.  It’s been a good season.  It’s also rejuvenated me to start again sharing my life here more.  A season of rest is a good thing.

In an effort to start somewhere, not knowing where that will be, I will start with sharing my today.

This morning we started with typical all-kids-piled-in-our-bed snuggles, followed by blueberry muffins Adyn had made from scratch.  Then on to chores; later, schooling.  This morning we decided to wean our 3 lambs (6 & 7 weeks, respectively) from the bottle.  They now spend their days with the big sheep, and are ready to graduate more fully.  By next Tuesday, our ewe lamb will live with the big girls; the boys in the hill pasture.  Segregation is a part of these fuzzy lives at this point in maturity.

As Kendra and I were leaving to art class, Adyn came and let us know that Scarlet had – at long last! – birthed a healthy baby boy out in the side field under the shady trees.  On a farm you’ve just got to be flexible.  Decked in our “town clothes” (don’t laugh, we have town clothes), we left the AC on in the car and went out to check on the two.  Scarlet looked great.  Baby needed a snip, dip, and Mama strip.  We left Adyn in charge to monitor feedings and placenta delivery.

13055591_2131169687021598_1072073777471711294_n

Oh the irony that we thought we were done bottle feeding this morning.

With a freezer full of milk, we’ll be able to use both Scarlet & Willow’s for the family after she shares her colostrum with the wee one.  More cheese.

This does leave us, however, one head over our chosen limit of sheep.  We’ll decide soon on Marley’s retirement plan and/or upping our goal for filling the freezer.  Marley has shown slight improvement in the last week and a half (we’ve battled keeping weight on her for a year and a half – she’s a heavy, heavy producer and it gets the better of her) as we’ve had one last idea to try and have been working on.  We may keep her through the milking season (or not).  Especially now that we have American Guinea Hogs coming early next week that would love the deliciousness.  We are thrilled to add bacon to our homestead meats again!  It’s feeling so much more well-rounded these days.  Especially knowing we’ll have duck & goose joining the lamb in the freezer soon.  Our chicken still comes from a farmer friend who raises it cheaper than we can.

We’re flooded in eggs right now.  Yesterday we got our first quail egg from the new hatch of girls.  Today they multiplied.  The goose egg basket is over-flowing.  Chickens are being generous.  The nettles and other spring greens are in full-swing.  I feel healthy these days.

Fresh homemade tortillas made by Kendra. Topped with portobello, onions and garlic, apples, lemon vinaigrette and wild nettles.

Fresh homemade tortillas made by Kendra. Topped with portobello, onions and garlic, apples, lemon vinaigrette and wild nettles.

It helps (feeling healthy) that this weekend I walked miles.  Miles, I tell you.  For anyone that knows me, I don’t walk.  It’s the weirdest thing in the world to me, and I’d rather be digging, hiking, hoe-ing, shoveling, exploring, planting, picking… well, just about anything other than “organized exercise.”  But this was different.  At the WSFB Leadership Conference, a fun fellow put together a Scavenger Hunt throughout a several-block radius of the hotel in Wenatchee we were staying at.  And this was no normal hunt.  It was ridiculous.  And hard.  I’d show you the blisters, but I don’t want you to get vomit in your keyboard.  I’ll spare you the clean up.  It was fantastic – and I felt really motivated to stay particularly on task with not letting my body just flop apart as I grow, grow, grow!

I’ve still been in a bit of denial.  I can’t wait to feel this little one move inside me.  Now and then I think I feel something, then remind myself that my digestive system has always been like a volcano looking to erupt.  Only it never does.  It just rumbles and grumbles like an old crotchety rocking chair, reminding me of it’s presence and control of my humiliation level.  All.  The.  Time.  More so in quiet moments.  Always when I wish it wouldn’t.  Story of my life.  Probably not the baby.  Yet.  A home doppler this round has made for every few nightly fun for the family!

I’ve been purging like mad.  Our home life has become too easy since we decided to let things go several years ago now.  I’d recommend it.  The more we give, the more we receive.  <chuckle>  And so 3 more boxes of clothes left the family closet today.  We can’t seem to keep to a minimum, and yet hardly ever buy.  I love it.  Swapping and sharing, hand-me-downs and re-gifting.  Never in need for long.  It’s a good way to live.

13043408_10209270958668772_5768929764629169373_n

Love her heart.

Late to art class due to Scarlet’s lovely addition to the farm, we stopped by to drop off a birthday gift for her instructor.  The other student had also not been able to show up, so we encouraged her to take the afternoon off, and left for errands and a girlie coffee date.  They’ll be back at it next week.  Working clay and making pottery.  I love how they continue to work all different mediums with their minds and hands.  I love how personal her classes are.  How intimate and bonding they’ve been.  How much Kendra can grow and blossom in it.

For those who hadn’t heard, Kendra submitted her first art piece to a high school level, agricultural Art Contest.  She won first place!  It was displayed over this past weekend, many asking to purchase it.  She did end up selling it to the Farm Bureau to frame and display in their state office in Lacey.  In November, it will be auctioned off to benefit young farmers & ranchers.  Prints are available for sale.  She is working on designing an online store to launch shortly.  We are beyond proud of her.  She has now also opened a banking account.  It’s awesome to see her success and potential future in a field she adores.

"Field of Dreams," painted on canvas using acrylics.

“Field of Dreams,” painted on canvas using acrylics.

As I type, a couple are on motorcycles running the track and yards.  Scott’s hard at work moving a hot tub we’ve added for fun.  Flynn is decked out in an apron and painting on an easel on the porch.  The sun is just setting leaving beautiful light.  Flynn’s playhouse solar lights are starting to pop on.  The hammock is looking awfully inviting swaying in the warm breeze.  So, so, so thankful for this quiet season.  This moment.

12801682_10209034703322536_5767366272375903375_n

Read Full Post »

Under No Pressure Canning

Twenty pounds of green beans, thanks to a dear friend who found them pre-picked for a fantastic price from a semi-nearby farmer.  I couldn’t resist.

The two littles and I went to snapping off the ends, then I cut all of them into 1-2″ pieces with the intent on freezing them.  I put a big pot of water on to blanch them.  You know, when you’re preserving something, a lot of times you lose a lot to the chickens.  Peels, cores, seeds, stems…  But with green beans, you have very little loss.  When I looked back at the box of beans, I realized we were going to need to invest into a walk in freezer.  Sure, the beans only took up about 2 square feet, but that’s on top of the other veg, the berries, the casseroles for quick meals… the meats!  I don’t think it makes sense to expand beyond two freezers.  And now that I thought about it, I was game for the challenge.

We’re going to pressure can today, kids.

We went downstairs and grabbed needed supplies: old dusty canner, new seal, jars & lids.

We’ve got this.

12004973_10207673054242160_7529462676727751195_n

I washed and sterilized everything, packed the jars, added salt and the boiling water that would have been for blanching.  Screwed on lids, placed in canner, lidded, allowed to steam for 5 minutes before adding my weighted gauge on it.  That’s when things got tricky.  Steam and drips were coming out the side.  I thought that they’d let up as the pressure built, but it didn’t.

I sat just inside my screen door (sure, screen will protect you from a pressure canner explosion…. riiiiiight…) texting my canning guru girlfriend that I thought it must be all wrong.  That it was about to blow.  She held my hand the whole time, and finally recommended a re-do.  Once it all cooled down and pressure was released, I checked the rim.  All looked well.  I oiled the seal, as per Denise’s recommendation.  And voila!  The next batch was quitely humming with no steam or drips in no time!  So fast (and stress-free), in fact, that we were done lickity split.  It went so well, I wasn’t even scared.  Let that sink in.  I wasn’t even scared.

I must be growing. That is definitely not my normal response to pressure canning – this whole cool-as-a-cucumber thing.  You’ll remember my last couple of attempts.  I was a total baby about it.

Needless to say, I’m pretty ecstatic.  After a second batch, I’m addicted.  A third is going in today, and then I’m picking up 20#’s of tuna that I was going to freeze… That will now go into superbly packed little glass jars.  This opens up a whole new world of food preserving that I’ve only dreamt to ever consider.

Our canning cellar will have more than jam and pickled things now!

Read Full Post »

skoolies

part-time skoolies

You’ll remember that one of our family goals for 2015 is to add a Tiny House to the homestead.  We anticipated learning together: carpentry, plumbing, and electric – start to finish.  In March, we landed ourselves a fully-converted, livable “skoolie” (hip jive for livable school bus).  With so much already being complete, this freed us up to work on upgrading projects we otherwise may not have done.  Our Wish List list is plenty long. We have since prioritized a few things to start with.  First, tho’ it is fully functional when plugged in at home or at RV parks, we want it to be self-contained.  That means adding 4 water storage tanks.  Our other priority is to replace the [water damaged] flooring.  This will allow us to redecorate more easily, reconfiguring cabinet/storage space as we do.  Lastly, we’ll paint the roof with an insulating, elastomeric roof coating.  This is known to take interior summertime temperatures down by as much as 15 degrees.  Our commitment is that our tiny house does not take from our family funds (checking or savings), and that we do not use money we do not have.  So how do we pay for stuff?  It compliments our de-cluttering goals.  As we sell excess things around the home & farm, we’re putting it into our “skoolie piggy bank”.  When we have enough money in there, we work on a project.

 Before we had any idea... Christmas 2013.

Before we had any idea… Christmas 2013.

Under the Hood

When we road-tripped to check out the bus, we knew we didn’t have a lot of time to dilly dally.  If we made the purchase (we did), we’d have to scoot back quickly in order to get through traffic and home before it was dark.  It wouldn’t be a concern, but the rear lights were not working (later we noted they were not plugged in ).  So daytime was a must. It was pouring rain.  The kids were excited.  The bus was perfect, there was no question.  The owner, a wealthy old guy, had decked it out sparing no expense, and was selling it for less than most used (crappy) cars we’ve bought.  Inside was a Heartland propane stove (worth the asking price alone!), from the same makers of the famous Aga stove.  Track lighting.  Leather furniture.  Floating cork flooring.  Smoke detectors and fire extinguishers.  New in box kitchen appliances.  Two small flat screen tvs.  A sound system wired in to the whole thing.  Custom matching linen from dish towels to couch upholstry.  Venetian blinds on each window.  An antique woodstove.  Everything came with a receipt (including all supplies used) and manual.  Really top notch. The drive home was adventurous. Scott drove the bus, I drove the ‘burb.  Because it has air brakes and the title hasn’t been converted from commercial to “motorhome”, it requires a CDL drivers license (anyone can drive it after title conversion).  No big!  Scott’s the guy for the task, using his every day at work!  Our first stop was for gas.  The attendant asked if he could tour it.  As he stepped inside, out ran an employee from a nearby restaurant, asking the same.  She told stories of when she moved to WA in her converted bus with two kids.  It was a hoot. One thing I noticed especially was the respectful traffic.  We were taking it easy, and were driving many miles on windy, hill back-highways.  Cars lined up every time we blinked.  When able, Scott would pull over to let them by.  But, assuming it was a bus full of school children, folks didn’t seem to give a rip that we were putzing along.  In fact, they wouldn’t pass us when we wanted them to! About halfway home we stopped at a closed Weigh Station.  The air compressor belt broke at that point, leaving us in a nice safe place to break down.  Easy fix, a belt, right?  But not on a Saturday evening, after 7pm.  No one would be open with the right parts.  So we called a towing company.  We actually called many.  In the middle of finalizing plans, our cell phone battery died.  So we loaded up in the ‘burb and hit the nearest town for a charger (and phone loan from a lovely gas station attendee there), hoping no one would loot our new home.  Long story short, our skoolie made it home and perfectly intact at 6am the next morning. The bus stayed parked there for a while.  Scott was working a lot of overtime during those weeks, so his ability (and know-how) to work on it was a bit limited.  With the help of John D. & DZ, several trips to Napa for the “right” belts and tools from Donald’s, the bus is mobile again as of early May!  Scott has since updated and shined up things under the hood, but I have no idea what.  It’s not my department.  Mine’s inside.

Shared

Keeping in mind that we strongly believe nothing we have is truly ours to hoard, and believe this project of ours (as all things) is a community project.  We’ve included folks in our learning along the way, and want to share it and put it to good use as much as we can.  And so, planning a trip to the Oregon Coast with our church family, we needed someone to manage the farm.  So we shared the need, and our new tiny house: We are looking for someone who would like to milk our 2 sheep for us in May. Perhaps oversee other homestead chores, but with minimal workload, if any.  It’s a good opportunity at your own sweet fresh milk, a holiday away from home (if you chose to stay over instead of travel for milkings) in our tiny house skoolie that sleeps 6.  We will stock the fridge/pantry with some good eats for your stay. And would totally entertain a “chore swap” if you want to get away from your own chores for a few days this summer!  Interested? Let’s talk.

Several applied for the position, and we landed ourselves a long-time customer of our past farming endeavors – the perfect gal for the job.  For what she may lack in experience, she makes up in motivation and care.  You see, we’re pretty picky about our homestead, and how it’s managed.  She is, too! And so our whole family was able to spend 4 worry-free days on the Oregon Coast thanks to a reliable and fantastic farm sitter.  It was such a comfort to head off knowing we could leave all worry behind with the farm in her care, allowing us the freedom to leave.   Who said farming holds you down?! We are so thankful for co-operative relationships that allow us to live more flexibly and *together*!

Who said farming holds you down?! Our whole family just spent 4 worry-free days on the Oregon Coast thanks to a reliable and fantastic farm sitter. We are so thankful for co-operative relationships that allow us to live more flexibly and *together*!

We came home to this beautiful, fragrant bouquet!

Kitchen Remodel

The first change we made inside was removing mossy oak camo curtains & gear.  It was a shame, as they were custom made and all coordinated.  But it wasn’t our cuppa, so down they came!  That itself made a huge change in it’s looks. We have saved up for the new floor (first thing before we do much inside), but haven’t decided what to go with.  We battle between a solid (not floating) cork and a few others.  The value of cork is that it’s green, is a good insulator, is waterproof, durable… and classy.  Fearing being put in a box, we’re trying to keep the interior nice.  Not hippy or gypsy as I’m so tempted at times.  It’s a dance we’re carefully doing regularly. The original [brand new] fridge was a typical tiny house specialty fridge.  It looks just like a full size top/bottom fridge, but is miniature.  It was great for the job, but my greedy self wished for a drawer style set.  One that would allow more counter space and remove the visual block of height, as well as have more usable space.  I did my research and stalked Craigslist for a while, then moved it to my “pipe dream” Wish List for the bus.  No one makes them “cheap”.  We’re talking $3000 and up.  So yeah.  No. And then I found it. A wealthy architect was re-doing his “vintage” (4 years old – ha!) auxiliary Sub Zero kitchen up in the OHSU hills, replacing his drawer unit for a wine cooler.  Naturally, we jumped on it.  Selling the Magic Chef upright paid completely for the new commercial 2-drawer set.  Score! So that’s where we are right now.  Not a whole lot of new things, but it’s already been put to use by others and us.  In fact, we had to firmly place a new rule that the kids can only sleep out there on weekends.  We weren’t ready for them to move out officially yet, and it was starting to feel like they may have.  We also do dinners and movies out there pretty frequently with the kids.  And meet with friends when we need quiet or private conversation space or moments.  It’s been a true blessing and joy!  We’re looking forward to more play throughout the summertime!

apparently I either want to get rid of everything and go tiny house OR live in a commercial-sized space. I'm so conflicted.

Apparently I either want to get rid of everything and go tiny house OR live in a commercial-sized space. I’m so conflicted.  And love our new in-house food dispensers!

Read Full Post »

Sheep Butter!

Today has been one full day.

After a few rainy days, it was our first sunny in a while.  Naturally I went outside and got filthy.  My goal was to get all potted plants into the ground, and every potted plant into a gallon size or bigger.  That means every seed we started and all of the plants we accumulated from the recent plant sales (dozens and dozens, if not close to a hundred).  Ridiculous.

newly painted pot for Flynn's patio tomato, and herbs happy to spread their roots!

newly painted pot for Flynn’s patio tomato, and herbs happy to spread their roots!

The good news is, it is finished!  The garden is filling fast!  So is our deck of potted goodness.  I’m really liking our progress on planting for this season, and am not feeling the expected rush and behind-ness that has been ever present in years past.  We were even able to even get our fava’s and bush beans in.  Our artichoke moved into the ground.  Even our figs graduated!

Last years one- and three- gallon pot fig trees have grown up!

Last years one- and three- gallon pot fig trees have grown up!

Mid-way through our work, I casually asked Colby the time, thinking it was 11:30am-ish.  One o’ clock.  Uh oh!  A quick call to our favorite mechanic proved them awesome as ever, them assuring us it was no worry that we’d be thirty minutes late to our appointment for a fluid change/check.

Rather grungy looking (we usually try to spruce up for city folk), we piled into the ‘burb and zipped along.  We dropped off the rig and hit the road on foot, Flynn on my back.  We walked through neighborhoods, passing church and on to the Dollar Tree.  Then we got some bento for a nice park picnic.  Complete with Horchata, a yummy drink I’ve only had one other time – in Phoenix with Jane.  She send me this recipe today, if you want to try it!

Well, short story long (you know how it goes with me), we returned to the shop and drove our nicely lubed rig home.  It’s driven like a champ since last summer, and I expect it will for some time to come after all of the love it got!

When we got home, I pulled out all of the milk from the fridge and took as much cream off of the top as I could get.  I ended up with over a quart!  So, for the first time in years we made butter!  I’ve been missing that!  A little pink Himalayan salt and voila – a pint of raw, fresh, sweet, SUPERB butter at our disposal.  A surprisingly huge yield.  There are those moments when my heart just feels especially full.  This was one of those moments.  The satisfaction and joy from homesteading is one I can’t make up.  I’d recommend it highly.

be still my heart

be still my heart

Back outside, Ramsey and our new ram lamb (“Mr. Handsome” until we come up with something better – any ideas?) needed a bigger shelter from future rains.  Juggling pens, they now have a nice big den inside of their “man pen”.  Mr. Handsome comes from fantastic dairy lines, and will service our ladies for January/February lambing.  I can’t believe it’s even time to think about that, let alone plan for it!  But it’s May.  Breeding time is not far around the corner!

the man pen

the man pen.

Tonight after milking we moved the girls into the barn.  Tomorrow Marley gets a hair cut, and so they’ll share a Girls Night Out in the clean-floored barn ’til then.  Marley’s done excellently at maintaining her condition, and we’re ready to milk her sans dreads!

Cheese is hanging in the kitchen.  Kids are finishing up some sheep yogurt ice cream, making way for the next batch whenever we make some (maybe strawberry!).  My feet would sure love a nice soak in epsom salts.  They may get lucky tonight.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »