Critters, Garden

What’s Happening around the Homestead?

Hello Everyone! I haven’t posted in a bit, it has been a very busy but productive month!The gardens are really producing, the quails and chickens are working hard producing eggs, and I have been canning away! I was going to post a few pictures of what has been going on around the homestead and talk about each one a bit! I calculated the size of my lot and thought I would share it with you. I have approximately 1/6th of an acre, which isn’t huge, but you can do so much with a yard of that size. You have to be smart and use permaculture principles to make it work though! That’s one thing I have learned in the last couple years, do what you can with what you have! I would love to have 5 acres out in the country and have a “farm” but that is not in the cards for my family right now, so I have to be patient and live how I want to live with what I have!
This is a picture of our ‘barn’ that houses the chickens and quail. A lot of sites say not to house them together, but I have had them together for about 5 months now and have had no issues. They have separate living areas and are not directly interacting with each other. We built separate runs for them on opposite side of the barn.

Obviously not done painting it yet! 😂
Back of barn is sectioned off for chickens, right side for quail!

I have Americauna and Wheaten Maran chickens. They both lay an egg about every other day, sometimes two days in a row. The Marans have beautiful dark brown eggs, and the Americaunas have a blueish-green egg! The quails lay every single day, they are egg machines!
Lots of eggs!

So far this year the garden has been pretty productive! We had a TON of cucumber and zucchini, the peppers are growing really well right now and we are finally starting to get some tomatoes! The one garden bed has powdery mildew unfortunately, so that may really hurt my watermelon, pumpkin and squash!  I made a spray which was water, a tbsp. of baking soda and some dish soap, and that seemed to help a bit.

We grew some cucamelons this year, which was fun! They look like tiny little watermelon but taste like cucumbers. We are harvesting carrot and beets right now. The carrots we have been eating as we go, and I canned up some pickled beets, YUM!

Beets! Some are puny! 😂 but so taste-y!
Store bought carrots do not even compare to fresh picked, these are crunchy, sweet and delicious!
Cucamelons growing up a trellis, they have since taken over the whole thing!

Thanks for stopping in to listen to my ramblings! Hope everyone is having a great summer! Post some pics of your garden or homesteading ventures in the comments! 

Critters, Garden, Pioneer spirit, Recipes

We have eggs!!!🍳🥚

We have 8 jumbo Coturnix quail on the homestead. 1 white, 1 white/wild, 2 Italian, 1 tuxedo and 3 wild. We ordered the eggs from Manitoba, Canada and had them shipped to Ontario. A friend of mine who has a farm business hatched and brooded them for me, and we received them beginning of March. They are now 8 weeks old and we have been patiently waiting for them to lay eggs, and today is that day!!! When I walked out to our small barn this morning there were 4 eggs laying in the wood chips! I almost didn’t see them! This is a big day for us, one less food item I have to source locally, or buy from a grocery store! All the work has been worth it! Animal husbandry is a lot of work, and when you are getting nothing in return it can seem a bit frustrating, but those eggs make it worth it. I know when I feed these eggs to my children they have not been tainted with hormones or antibiotics, and I know they came from healthy and happy quail. Plus, we do love watching our quails, they are funny and quirky. They are hilarious to watch in their dust bath, they just fling that sand all over (I also add some diatomaceous earth in there for extra mite/lice protection). I can’t wait to make some pickled quail eggs, Yum!

Quail eggs!

Some other happenings…

I have always struggled a bit with trying new things and new recipes. I am not creative in the kitchen and really have to force myself to try new things with different vegetables. Growing up I was not a big veggie eater, so I only have my go-to ways of preparing each veggie that comes out of the garden. I also grew a few things in my garden that I wouldn’t normally buy at the grocery store, to push myself to try new things! I am really trying to broaden my horizons to ensure I don’t get ‘bored’ of veggies and want to eat junk instead (I am sure I am not alone in this struggle!).

So this weekend I made baked zucchini chips from the garden!

Harvest your zucchini, cut in thin small slices, coat in olive oil, salt and pepper. Spray a baking sheet, lay out the zukes and cover them with parmesan and panko. Bake at 450 degrees for about 10-12 mins.

I cut the skinny end of the 2 zukes that are oddly shaped and used the good ends! Grocery stores lead us to believe you can only use the perfectly shaped produce
Thin sliced, coated in olive oil and salt and pepper

Crispy and delicious. I only have pictures of the first few steps because I got so busy cooking and entertaining guests that I forgot to take a picture of the end result. Oops! Scatterbrained, what can I say! Trust me, they were good! 🥒

 

 

Canning, Critters, DIY, Essential Oils, Foraging, Garden, Pioneer spirit

My journey to becoming more self-sufficient…

 My journey started about a year and half ago. I started looking into how to cut back some of the chemicals that I used in our day to day life. I wanted to find recipes for soap, laundry soap, cleaning solutions etc. That is when I realized the more stuff I made, the more I wanted to learn. I wanted to learn the skills of yester-year. I wanted to know that if another depression hit, I could still provide for my family in a lot of ways. One aspect of learning that I still struggle with a little bit is frugality. I am really good with some things, and then other things I just want to ‘buy’ what I need to get the project done. Even if it means spending more money up front. This is something I am striving to work on. It is hard to shift your mindset from being a consumer to a producer. Our culture has taught us convenience, convenience, convenience. Pay more for something if it saves you time. I saw a quote by Robin Williams that said “We used to be hunter-gatherers, now we are shopper-borrowers.” I want to shift my mindset away from this thinking, but it is challenging when you are a working mom with 2 small children, but I strive every day to lean more towards frugality. Some of the skills I have learned in the last couple of years include:

– Canning (which I have found a passion for, I LOVE it!)

– I now make my own laundry detergent, cleaning products, body butter, chap stick, candles, body scrub, essential oil perfume etc.

– Baking bread (still learning this one, hard to get light fluffy bread)

– Hanging clothes on a line (not all of the time, but I try and dry all towels and bedding like this)

– Animal husbandry: chickens, quail, and bunnies (we have rescue bunnies as pets, not meat rabbits) I do use their poop for fertilizer, so they do contribute!

– Vermicomposting (Worm bins)

– Organic gardening

– Drying herbs and fruit, dried fruit tastes like candy 

– Sewing (still learning, I am definitely at the beginner level)

– I used to know how to crochet as a child, my grandmother taught me, so I would love to re-learn that skill

– Very small scale foraging (morels, fiddlehead ferns)

– Brew my own Kombucha (I will be doing a post on Kombucha soon!)

– Essential oils

Skills I would like to learn…

– Pressure canning (I have purchased a canner but have not tried it yet- slightly scared of blowing it up, not gonna lie)

– I would like to get better at ‘scratch cooking’

– Improve knowledge of medicinal herbs and plants

– Improve foraging skills

– Knitting/crochet

– Making ACV

– Fermenting

Beeswax candles, I bought the wax from a local Apiary
Salsa made with heirloom tomatoes
Pickles!
One struggle that I have encountered is that my ‘housekeeping’ has suffered a bit in this process. I now have so many things to do outside, watering, weeding, feeding animals, cleaning coops and hutches, that I have noticed the inside has taken a backseat a bit. I have to learn to give myself some grace sometimes. When you are raising young children and working, now with the added outdoor duties, you have to learn to prioritize. That has been a learning curve for me. I am working on it every day.

Some of my role models on this journey include:

Eve Kilcher from the show ‘Alaska the Last Frontier.’ She is an amazing homestead women. She has skills that would blow your mind. Watching her is extremely inspiring, they live off the land and between her and her husband Eivin, and they provide almost 100% of the food they eat. They grow enormous gardens, hunt, fish, and raise their own animals for eggs, milk, and bees for honey. It really is an amazing shows to watch and learn from.
Another role model is actually a friend of mine who owns a 7 acre horse farm. They board horses, raise and breed chickens and geese, grow food, preserve, bake etc. Surrounding yourself with likeminded people is so important, because you will encounter people that think what you are doing is weird, and they won’t understand. People will say, “but why would you bake bread when you can buy it at the store?” or “Eggs are 2 bucks a dozen at Walmart ya know.” So being part of internet communities and finding people in your area that have the same passions will motivate you to keep going! Leading a more simple life isn’t ‘easy’ but it’s definitely worth it! 
😄