Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Losing Sight

Five years ago we started a new adventure. We bought 2 1/2 acres and left the city lot we owned to start learning how to be more self-sufficient, raise our own food and animals and to have room to roam. It's been quite the experience but I've also on many occasions for long stretches lost the vision of my dreams. So the learning has been slow and the progress stagnant as of late. Much of it is due to the MANY responsibilities that pile my plate but also much of it is due to procrastination.
I'm a procrastinator! I have ambitious dreams but they remain dreams. I like what Abbot Tryphon says in that post about procrastination..."Procrastination only has power over our lives if we let it. Taking steps to curb the habit of slothfulness must begin with a decision that today, with God's help, will be the day that I leave laziness and procrastination aside, and move forward with action."
I've had these dreams forever! Why do I continue to let procrastination rule over my life. I have the power and ability to accomplish anything! I must decide to do so!
My garden grows each year. My new favorite crop is garlic! I grew garlic fo the first time last year and it was so fun and so easy and so delicious! The fresher garlic is the more oil/juice you get out of it. I was astonished when I first pressed a garlic clove straight from the garden! Last year I planted 40 cloves of garlic and harvested about 35 bulbs. Did you know you plant garlic in the fall? This year I planted 54 cloves and I wish I had planted more! I use garlic copious amounts of garlic in just about everything I cook. The health benefits are abundant.
I grew lots of cool weather crops for the first time last year as well. Things like kale and chard. So delicious. I am still working on getting the garden put to bed for the winter. Hopefully once school break begins (one more week) I can get out to the garden again to finish the clean up.
In no time at all I will be able to start seeds in the house!

Dreams! Well, it's time to stop procrastinating and following my dreams!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Farmers Tribute

There is a picture of my cousins farm in this video that someone created. I took this picture last summer, 4 months before it burned down. I blogged about our trip here. The first picture of that post is the one in the video. VERY cool video, a Tribute to Farmers. I don't know how they got the picture. I suppose just surfing the web.
I blogged briefly about the fire here. They still struggle through this, almost a year later.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

New Agrarian Fiction: The Last Pilgrim

Watch it and see why people are saying…

“Fantastic writing… excellent, well-crafted and imaginative… It is rare that someone has such aptitude to interweave so many elements into their work, that it not only conveys a very important message, but it is also a true pleasure to read." – Natasha

"You are making this too good. I’m almost in despair that each chapter end forces me to wait before I get more story. It’s like waiting for
next week’s installment of LOST…" -Ryan

"Wow, I was on the edge of my seat for the whole battle! I think it just keeps getting better." – Roger

The above comments are from The Last Pilgrims site where you can read the first draft of the book for FREE. This series, which reads like historical fiction, comes from the author of Surviving Off Off-Grid, so you know you’ll be getting some good agrarian-based fiction.

I learned about this over at Nourishing Days blog where Shannon is having a giveaway if you spread the word about this book. I think this book looks amazing and plan to read what I can on the website, The Last Pilgrims.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Barn Hoppin' Monday


Continuing my quest this week to fill containers to grow good things to eat I researched potatoes. I found a variety of blog posts and articles on how people have grown potatoes in garbage cans. I might have even read about it on someone's blog linked to Homestead Revival last week Barn Hop(so many to read). I can't remember what first put the idea in my head, but it got there, I researched it and now I have four 32 gallon trash cans set with potato seed inside.

What I did after reading several resources, was to drill holes in the bottom of 4 trash cans. These were old cans just laying around not being used any longer. I then put in about 6 inches of potting soil that was mixed in with some of my homemade compost. I arranged the potato seed in a circle about 4 inches from the sides and 4 inches apart with one in the center. I was able to fit 8 in 3 of them and 7 in the other (it was a slightly smaller can). I covered the seed with about 3 inches of dirt. As the potatoes grow I'll add more potting soil/compost mix and keep adding it until the can is nearly full. I'm excited to see the outcome of such a little space!

I also planted 12 broccoli starts and 8 cauliflower starts. This is the first time I've grown cauliflower so if it goes well I hope to do a LOT more next year. I wonder if I couldn't get it to grow under cover late into the fall, by starting 2nd crop in July. I might try.

I'm still busy decluttering. I did fill about 5 boxes this week. The goal is to be ready for a rummage sale by July 7th. I have a lot to do but am working hard. We leave on vacation on Thursday night so I need to be nearly done by then because the sale is the weekend after we get back.

Fermenting food is another thing we like to try our hand at around here. Not just fermenting and then canning but lacto-fermentation to create a heavenly bite of good lactic acid that will give you a boost to your gut. It aids in creating a healthy intestinal system. To buy these things is expensive, so we make them. On top of that, did you know it is virtually impossible to buy pickles from the store without dye yellow#5 in them. I have yet to find any, even the ones in the refrigerator section. So making your own fermented foods is the best! This week I strained 4 gallons of kombucha tea. We like to add grape juice concentrate to ours for a nice yummy flavor. I'd like to experiment with other flavors but haven't yet. A great place to find out more about fermenting and culturing is Cultures for Health.

Kombucha tea getting ready to ferment.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Barn Hoppin'


We've had a busy week. I've worked hard in the garden this week, determined to make it bigger than I have before. I was truly inspired after reading so many wonderful homesteading blogs linked to Homestead Revival's Barn Hop over the last couple of weeks. I've always loved to garden and have always had the goal to be able to support our family from the garden but my vigor has been renewed! One of the posts I read from Proverbs 31 Woman, really inspired me to make use of every space possible to grow food. So I've gotten out pots and buckets (which I get free from local bakeries and drill holes in the bottom) and planted seeds and starts and am setting them out all around the garden. I think I might even try potatoes in large buckets or small trash cans.

These are my 6 tomato plants (I've given up trying to raise tomatoes to can, near impossible here) that will grow in these buckets. I will move them to a tented area later this week. They need a tent in order to really do well here in Western WA.

In these buckets and pots I have purple cabbage starts. I also planted some mint and cilantro seeds.

Here is my bed of cabbage and chives. In the pots I have pepper plants under cover in their little mini-greenhouses.

I just loved this picture of the bumblebee hiding under the chive flower while it drizzled out. There were a couple others like this too.

These are my pole beans. I need to get the rest of the trellis up before too long. I also planted a row of carrots down the center.

Another thing that has recently inspired me a great deal is a show I watched recently with my family. We watched PBS Frontier House. Three families went back and lived like those lived in 1880's Montana frontier. One of the goals was to raise enough food to make it through the winter. These people had to garden as if their life depended on it. I believe that we need that mentality. Sure we have grocery stores not, but if I truly wanted to make a difference on my wallet, eat non-gmo, organic produce and become self-sufficient, I'd grow a garden like my life depended on it.

We also been working on the inside of the house. I'm preparing for a rummage sale that will take place on July 8th and 9th. A few weeks a go I started going through the house room by room and really analyzing it's functions and needs. I've culled a LOT!

I've also been able to hang quite a few clothes out on the line this week. I absolutely love hanging clothes out on the line. It's been a slow start to that this year due to such a wet spring. Once this winter I hung clothes out on the line. It was crisp and cold, but sunny and breezy. It was fantastic. I remember reading in The Long Winter (Laura Ingalls Wilder) about how they had to hang the clothes outside in the winter and they'd freeze-dry.

My goals this week are to continue filling pots and continue decluttering the house.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Monday Barn day late


We certainly had a busy week.
We had some gorgeous weather, finally making it into the 70's for a couple of days and seeing the sun bright and beautiful. The garden loved this! The grass loves this!
(And I can't keep up with it.)

I spent Friday mowing and weeding the garden. I have grass that grows between the paths and all around where there aren't beds. My goal is to eventually get rid of that by putting mulch paths down but I haven't gotten that far yet.

Saturday was our big homesteading day. We decided to finally get the old flock of chickens into the freezer. This would save money in 2 ways. I can now cut down on my feed bill and I put meat in the freezer! I first went to the farmer's market to get my tomato starts and then came home and set up the assembly line. We told our 4 children that they were all to help and that they would be rewarded! We also had our 10 year old niece here for the weekend and she was ready to help out as well. We got a great assembly line going and the kids were real troopers! I was so proud of all their help. We processed 19 hens in 4 hours. Most of the time the 3 girls did the plucking with a little help every now and again from the 2 boys. I did the eviscerating.
This picture is awesome. My husband took it with his phone. This is towards the ends after at least 2-3 hours of work and they are still smiling. I love this picture too, because of the plucked chicken sitting there waiting for me to eviscerate! Nicholas is also plucking here, but you can only see his little blue-gloved hand. He's behind Charissa.
It felt so good to get so many hens in the freezer. I've been wanting to cut this old flock out for months. I'm very thankful for the meat. Yes, it's stewing meat, but meat nonetheless.

Thanks for stopping by!! Have a great week!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Barn Hoppin' Time

What have we been up to over the last week?
Mostly finishing up the school year, but you can't help but get out and dig in the dirt as well.

Most of our homesteading work took place on Memorial Day, which is why I didn't post anything yesterday. Other days were just too busy with school and Church.
Earlier in the week I did plant 1/2 of my pole beans, and yesterday I planted the rest. Pole beans are our biggest crop because it is our favorite and they usually do well. It is also one of the few that does do well in our short summer. This comic strip pretty much says it all regarding our weather. Especially the last several years.
Besides beans, I planted crooked-neck squash, zucchini, spaghetti squash (which I'm not sure will have enough time to finish), acorn squash and sugar pumpkin. I also planted lemon cucumbers, slicing cucumbers and pickling cucumbers. I weeded several beds, including the strawberries which are looking very nice! I just planted this bed last year and am really excited about how well the plants are doing and how full of blooms they are!
My husband spent the afternoon creating the very tall trellis for his 3 hops plants. One of them we've had several years and definitely needed taller support. The other 2 we planted this year and won't be as big.
I have a bed of bok choy and kale that is ready to pick and the bok choy is ready to bolt if I don't grab. Once that bed is harvested I'll plant something else there. I think potatoes. I know I should have planted those weeks and weeks ago, but I didn't think I was going to grow them until just last week. I'd also like to figure out where I can plant some more kale and bok choy to use through summer, but it has to be a partially shady area to block from the intense heat we just might get in July.
Well, another week is upon us. My homesteading efforts are headed indoors for some of this week as I cull and clean to get ready for a rummage sale.
Have a great week!


Monday, May 16, 2011

Homestead Revival Barn Hop

I am hoping to revive this blog a bit by joining The Barn Hop! I happened upon this blog "Homestead Revival" and find it truly inspiring. She, along with a couple other gals" created "Homestead Barn Hop: Cultivating the Homestead Community" which is done every Monday. Today, is my first post.


We've had a busy week and have even gotten to see the sun for several days. Well, it is actually what has allowed us to work on outdoor projects. I feel a change in the weather and it is wonderful. Saturday morning I walked outside and it actually felt warm. Not like WARM warm but the air was different, there was no crispness to it and I thought to myself...spring is finally here.
Last week we prepared more of the garden beds for planting, did lots of weeding and mowing (harvesting grass for poultry) and bucked up a tree that fell a couple months ago in preparation for next winter.

One of my favorite things in the whole world is gardening. Digging my hands into the dirt, transforming gardens by weeding, sowing seeds and watching them grow. Then being able to prepare a wholesome meal from the fruits of those labors. Nothing like it in the world. Last year I revamped all my beds to create raised beds (no built sides, but just mounds of dirt) using the "no dig method" of gardening. Each year you just continue to add mulch and compost never disturbing the ecosystem within the soil. There is lots of information out there on this..just google it. It's also known as "Lasagna Gardening". This is my second year on this method. Last year we had the cold spring possible and this year we are following suite so I have been struggling to get things to grow. Not only has it been cold, but it has been SO wet! We are approximately 5 inches above normal for rainfall since 1/1. For the season (which is recorded since 10/1/10) we are over 10 inches above normal.

Kelsey is planting onions here. Behind her we have peas and spinach. Even the greens that I have planted (kale, chard, choy, spinach) are all struggling, not because the cold but because it is so wet!

The peas are about the only thing that is doing well right now!

I spent a couple afternoons weeding the raspberries. They were so overgrown and thick with grass that there were even mushrooms growing in a big clump in one section. I'm still learning about how to take care of this fruit. It was here when we moved in 5 years ago and I still haven't figured out the whole pruning method for them. I know it involves 1st year and 2nd year canes and whatnot.

Kelsey and I worked together to get two beds ready and planted. We planted 10 rows of onion, 10 rows of broccoli, 6 rows of leeks and 6 rows of beets.

As I mentioned earlier I did lots of mowing. I take all the grass I mow and throw it to the chickens. They are not technically "free-range" due to the number of dogs that roam the area, my own included. They have a big fenced area where they've created a moonscape. So during the winter we throw them alfalfa hay from time to time and in the summer they eat the grass.

Last but not least we spent Saturday hauling these rounds ( and more) out of the forest behind our house. We had 2 big trees go down this winter from storms and so we took God's blessings and started the stockpile for next winter. This was hard work because we couldn't get the truck back to where they were.

Thanks for Do-Sa-Doing with me. See you next week!

Sunday, January 30, 2011


I enjoy a good glass of wine. It really is a nice finish to a busy day.
With our desire to learn to become self-sufficient as best we can and with a source for free grapes (bushels in the fall), we thought, what better way to put them up than to try our hand at wine.
This fall we tried our hand at making wine. Tonight we bottled our 2nd batch of 10 gallons. The first batch we did right before Christmas and gave wine to a lot of people for Christmas; 1st Annual St. Brigid Farm Winter Wine. It was fairly good.
Tonight we bottled 10 gallons into 35 bottles of wine (standard size wine bottle- 750ml) and 11 smaller wine bottles (500ml). This is a sweet wine and very tasty. I love a good Reisling and this is very comparable. Maybe a little sweeter even.
I figure on the cheaper end of wine we have nearly $300 worth of wine here that I won't have to buy.
We recycled bottles and the grapes were free so there was very little cost in making and bottling this wine.
It feels good to learn how to support ourselves in this avenue. James also makes his own beer now.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

January 2011

It's been way too long since I've posted any news here. I really don't know why. Seems like time gets away with me. Lots has happened on our little farm over the last many weeks and months.

This past Saturday we began the butchering of our old flock of chickens. There were 20 something is all I knew, but now that we've butchered 8 and I can count better it seems that there were more than I thought. I still have 22 to go. These are chickens ranging in age from 2 1/2-4 1/2 years old. They haven't been laying eggs in over a month or longer. I can no longer afford to feed them. We butchered 8 and then I cut my finger pretty good so we stopped. I hope to continue VERY soon. I wish we could continue each Saturday until they were gone but alas life is full of other things.
I have decided to get rid of the other flock as well. They aren't earning their keep as well. We put this huge flock in the old barn a year and a half ago and we now only have maybe 50 left, if that. The problem is, the barn is not rat/mouse proof. And now that winter is with us, they are everywhere. They eat the feed right out of the bins during the day and they are now stealing eggs from the nests. This is totally unacceptable!
I've decided the barn is just not a good place for chickens. We will eliminate this flock as well. Clean everything out and start new. Putting the new chicks in the smaller rat/mouse proof coop.
I read somewhere that mice detest the odor of peppermint. As soon as I'm done here I am going to go out and sprinkle peppermint leaf in the nests of the barn and around the feed and down in the holes. I read that if you get essential oil and put it on cotton balls and drop them in their holes and around their paths that they literally will vacate. Apparently professional rat control people actually do this. Until I get the essential oil I'm going to try the peppermint leaf. I have a huge bag of it and I opened it up to see if it was still potent and whew! It sure was!

I'm thinking ahead now about gardening. I would like to start seeds indoors some time next month. I'm very excited about it this year, as usual. I found a place online called Victory Seeds that I think I am going to order from. They are a small family owned seed company selling only heirloom and gmo-free seeds. I've come to appreciate the importance of trying to grow heirloom and gmo-free seeds and really want to try and stick with that this year. If you want to learn more about this check out their website, but also do a little research. Especially check out the evils of Monsanto and their gmo patented seeds. Terrible stuff. (The name Monsanto was actually in my spell check. ) Also, check out the documentary "The Future of Food". Very good!

My garden seems to change each year and seems to get better, depending on weather. One of the most difficult places to garden, in my opinion, is here in Western WA. It seems as if the season should be nice and long, but it just doesn't get hot enough for long enough. Yeah, we have a long span without freezing, but the temperatures and sunshine are essential and we just don't get that here. So I'm changing things to focus more on cooler weather crops or shorter season things.

Our wood supply is very short this year. Nobody's fault but our own, but we've been working hard on being ready for next winter already. To help us through this winter we are dressing warmer, using the electric heat periodically, collecting pallets to burn and buying Northland Firelogs to supplement. They burn really well and for a really long time! I can put a log in before bed and it's still there in the morning. But we will be ready for next winter. Pretty much nearly are already. But I want to keep bringing in the trees even if we think we are ready for another winter because I don't think you can have too many!

I hope you and yours are fairing well this hard LaNina winter. (Well, at least some places are having a hard winter.)

Here are 2 pictures of the girls helping pluck chickens. This is a first time for Kelsey's friend Emma and really a first for Kelsey. She's never really stuck it out for a whole chicken before.
Kelsey is on the right, Emma in the middle and Charissa on the right in red.