Yesterday my family went out and harvested most of the remaining carrots and some of the cabbage that was ready to pick! We got quite the haul! Yesterday was a true testament to the importance of letting your kids play outside and including them in homesteading chores:Sunday morning was brutal! My 4 year old and three year old were fighting all morning. Arguing over toys, books, anything! They were yelling at each other, tattling etc. I was trying to get some house work done but I thought I better get them outside and playing, maybe that would decrease the tension. I brought them outside, gave them their gardening gloves and away we went. For 2 full hours they did not argue one time. They were laughing together, helping me pick and wash carrots! They gathered all the carrot stems up and fed the bunnies, chickens and quail. It was like a peace and calming washed over the whole family. Not that a homesteading life will always be rainbows and butterflies, but I believe that afternoon was a true testament to the importance of giving children age appropriate tasks and responsibilities. This is the type of ‘education’ they will never receive in school. It is one that generations past always gifted their children. We as a society have to get back to teaching our own kids how to garden, cook, forage, animal husbandry etc. If we don’t do it no one will, can you imagine a society where no one knew how to do any of these things? It’s a scary thought.
Back to the carrots and cabbbage…
Most of the carrots I peeled, chopped, blanched for 3 minutes and then froze them in ziplock baggies for use in a nice fall time soup!
The rest I left dirty, unpeeled, in a brown paper bag in the fridge for use later this week. I am going to cook them with a nice pork roast.
The cabbages I cut into quarters and blanched for a few minutes and they went into the freezer as well!
Thanks for stopping in today!
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.
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!
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!
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!
My cukes and zukes are doing awesome already! They are growing like weeds. I think is it because we had a lot of rain in the spring and now we have a lot of sunny, warm days! Anyway, I am thrilled because they did not do well last year, so this is a nice change! The good thing about getting a lot of rain upfront is that my rain barrels are full, which saves me on my water bill and feeds my plants nutritious rain water, instead of dull tap water. (A future post is going to be about rain barrels and how easy they are to make, they cost a fraction of what you would pay at Lowes or Home Depot)
Back to the cukes and zukes…
My neighbor, who is approximately 85, and grew up in Italy came over and gave me some advice about my zucchinis. When she talks to me about vegetables, I listen. She knows her stuff, to say the least. She told me to pick the zucchini when it is the length of your elbow to your wrist and thinner than your arm. She said in the case of zucchini (and cucumbers) bigger is not better! She used the term ‘woody.’ When they get so big, they taste woody – which I am assuming is not a good flavor LOL! I will be taking her advice, and not letting them get too big!
I love eating zucchini on the grill with some olive oil and salt and pepper, get some good grill marks on them. I chose to grow pickling cucumbers this year and will be making pickles (future post to come with recipe included). My family goes through JARS of pickles so I will also be buying some bushels from the local farmers market. I am hoping as the years go on to be able to rely less and less on outside sources for my vegetable needs. However, I definitely love supporting local farmers. I am almost passionate about it, you could say. I know how hard they work to make a living, and I would rather see my money go right into their pocket instead of Walmart’s. I have no problem bringing $60+ to the market on Saturday morning and spending every last cent on veggies. I love talking to the farmers, getting tips from them! They are a wealth of knowledge, and they are dwindling in numbers. We need to tap into this knowledge, and support them directly! As one of my favorite farmers, Joel Salatin would say “Don’t you find it odd that people put more work into choosing their mechanic or house contractor than they will into choosing the person that grows their food?” Powerful words.
I just did a small batch, I didn’t have enough radishes to make as much as I would have liked! I used the radish I grew and I also purchase some from a local, organic farm that grows them on a much larger scale then I do. However, we just harvested some more so I will make another batch tonight! Canning is such a great skill to learn, there is such a sense of accomplishment when you hear the *ping* of the lid sealing the mason jar. It’s food security. I would love to have an entire pantry full of canned preserves and dried goods! Maybe one day 😋
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
– Making ACV
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!
I took a few more pictures of the raised beds, I have 5 in total. I chose the Square Foot Gardening method so that I could utilize as much of my limited space as possible! This bed has pickling cucumbers, beets, radish and zucchini!This bed had celery, more beets, carrots, cabbage (2 varieties) and Swiss chard.one whole bed dedicated to strawberries!!! For some reason this bed isn’t thriving like the others, I think it gets a little more shade. It has a few cucumbers, peppers and onions! This is the kids ‘for fun’ garden. It has watermelon, pumpkin, cucamelons, squash, sunflower and poppy!
I added a few marigolds into each bed for pest control! Seems to be working so far! Last year I lost my entire cabbage crop to slugs 🐌
Last year, when I planted all my strawberries, I felt a little discouraged! I had very few berries and the small ones I did get, the dang birds ate! This year, they have exploded! I covered them with leaves in the winter and come spring, they were everywhere. The root system is very strong and we have had a ton of berries so far! Nothing makes a 3 and 4 year old more excited, than a big, plump red berry ripe for pickin’ 😄🍓I also bought a net to put over top of the plants to make sure the birds didn’t eat all of them! I left a few uncovered in case they wanted a little snack 🙂 🐦 We had a lot of spring rain this year, and I would bet that helped them grow a lot!