Archive | January 2021

A Quick Step

I say that Homesteading is like dancing.  The challenge is you do not always get to plan what dance you will be doing.  Today, the Lord blessed us with a quick step.  Things happened rapid fire and we were just responding to them.  Which can be a blessing and God always works things out for our good, sometimes it is just hard to keep your footing!  

One the farm we are having a challenge with foxes.  Today, the fox took our “pet” turkey.  Now, we do not normally have pet turkeys, turkeys are here for a season and then they are frozen.  This turkey had an umbilical hernia when it was younger.  This needed time to heal and she was not able to go to butcher with everyone else.  The problem then compounded itself.  She became 30 pounds.  We did not have a way to disbatch her on the farm and she was too big for the butcher to do.  So we kept her until we had another plan.  Little did we know the fox was the plan.  My husband went out and saw the fox killing her.  So we knew this was a fresh situation.  As sad and horrible as it is.  This meant that we would be able to save some of that 30 pounds of meat!  We were able to save and cook that meat for the dogs.  There was nothing wrong with it. It was perfectly wonderful meat, but I just felt safer giving it to the dogs than to me.  This situation meant that our dance changed.  We had to process this animal right away.  We respected her, loved her and valued the gift God had given us, we did not want to see it go to waste.  

While all this was going, I was in the process of making chapstick, bottling vinegar and rendering lard in the kitchen.  I had to quickly finish what I was doing to make room for this blessing.  Time to turn on the music, put your head down and just dance.  

Making our own chapstick is something that we have started to clean up our lifestyle and use the blessings God has given us.  We use the wax from the bee hive and coconut oil.  That is it.  Clean simple chapstick using the “waste” product of bee keeping.  Part of the homestead is using all that you have been given.  
The vinegar is made from apples.  These are the storage apples that have started to go soft in the apple fridge.  I chop them up, fill a jar with apples, water and a tablespoon of sugar.  Cover with cheese cloth and let science do the work.  This jar sat on the counter for 6 weeks till it reached a pH of 3.  Today was the filtering and bottling day!  It feels good to be able to make vinegar for my family.

The dance continues.  This is the dance from a couple of weeks ago that I just never hit publish.  It can be added to the snapshot of this weekend. 

Sunday Snapshot for Jan 24. 

I am horrible at keeping up with the blog, I am sorry for that.  There are so many things that I do as part of the dance that we call life and I dont think of them as extraordinary.  My loving husband reminds me that our life is not ordinary and I need to write about it.  So I am just going to write about our weekend.  A normal weekend!  

We are down to only 6 bars of soap, so it was time to make another two batches.   Our soap is very simple, it is lard, goats milk and lye. We also have a few variations that include lavender oil or tea tree oil.  My family has sensitive skin and we like to keep our skin care simple.  We use this basic soap as hand soap, body soap and shampoo.  I prefer the lavender oil and during the summer when we have poison ivy and bug bites that tea tree oil is amazing.  This weekend we made a batch of with lavender oil and a batch with just goats milk.   We do this every couple of months, when we notice our supply is running low.  Start to finish it maybe takes us about an hour.  The bars of soap have to cure for about 6 weeks after they are made. 

Next, we organized and cleaned out one of our barns/sheds.  We use this building for many things throughout the year.  Right now, we are using it to get our wood splitter and lawn mowers out of the winter weather.  

The afternoon was brisk but the sun felt great.  We took advantage of the sun and split about a half a cord of  firewood. There is going to be a wintery mix of weather headed our direction this week and we wanted to get some firewood on the porch ready to use.  

As we approach the end of January, it is time to start planting for the high tunnel. Lettuces, kale, leeks and celery were started today.  We will be starting seeds now weekly till August.  It just becomes part of our weekly dance.  For the next few months the seeds will be started in the house, but eventually we head out to the high tunnel.  Our bathroom is our temporary winter  grow space, which means that we will not be fostering kittens for a while.  When we foster kittens we use our bathroom as the kitten room. We are sad to not have them, but thankful for the break and ready for the next season of our year. 

In addition to making dinner and planning out the details of our meals for the week, we made the dog’s food for the week.  Our dog has been put on a special diet by the vet.  It is rice, chicken and pumpkin to supplement her store bought dog food.  We buy the rice in bulk but the chicken and pumpkin come from the farm.  We feed the dogs old laying hens, roosters or male ducks.  This helps to keep the flock controled and allows everything to go to use.  Crock pots or the woodstove  make short work of cooking the squash, rice and chicken. We are thankful to reduce the amount of dog food we are buying at the store.  I do not think we will ever produce all our animal feed on the farm, but we are working to supplement not only the dogs food, but the pigs and chickens feed as well.  This year we will be planting a garden just for the animals.  A few seeds, soil and sunshine can save us hundreds of dollars in grain.  

This year we are still working on making as much as we can on the farm.  I have told you how we are replacing store soap with our soap.  Another simple replacement we have made to reduce waste and save money is paper products.  We use cloth napkins, washcloths, and handkerchiefs.  The toilet paper we use is bought in bulk and there is no plastic in the packaging.  Reducing our pastic useage, which is one of our goals. 

These are just things that we do as we go about our day.  The dance always changes as we the needs of the farm change.  I dont always know the steps or the song, but I dance my way through it anyway.  

Life is a Dance, You Learn as You Go. ~John Micheal Montgomery

Happy New Year!

It is a new year and everyone is ready for a big change. Here on the farm we are making a new committment. We are changing things slightly, but mostly we are just taking it to the next level of what we are already doing. The year 2021 has us reflecting on our blessings. We are going to try and function with less, do without, live off the food the farm produces, eat local for what we do not grow and reduce our plastic waste. It may sounds like a crazy commitment, but it all goes hand in hand. If we are working so hard on the farm, we should eat what we are working to grow. If I am really eating what I am growing, I do not have room for from the store processed foods. When I stop buying from the store processed foods, I am reducing my plastic use. If we do need something, we will try to find it used or buy Made in the USA products. If I am a part of a farming community, I should support the farmers around me and buy from them and not far away. As I produce more on the farm, I decrease my carbon footprint. The difficult part for me is going to be the processed foods and giving up Chick-Fil-A. I have added a loop hole for my addictions and my children. We are eating foods that are as local as possible. UTZ potato chip company farms and produces their product locally. My daughter agreed to do this year experiment as long as she could still have potato chips. I am getting coffee that is not grown locally, but grown sustainably and roasted locally. Cheese, even though we produce it on the farm, I have not mastered cheddar. We will be buying cheese from a local farm that makes amazing cheddar. Still reducing our carbon footprint and eating local. We will have to buy some raw ingredients that we do not grow, like baking soda, flour, etc. Also, I still will be buying some of our grain products, like some pasta, bread, crackers and rice.  I am not able to grow those things.  We will try to get that as local as possible as well, the foods we can not get local with come from Imperfect Foods, which is still reducing our carbon footprint. So there you have it. Welcome 2021! I also wanted to clarify, we are not starting with an empty house. Our cellar is full, our pantry is full and we have full freezers. Most of the food is food we have grown and stored. We have dressers full of clothes, my kids rooms are full of toys and books. I am not depriving my kids of joy and forcing them to walk around naked! We have already been blessed with so much stuff! We want to stop buying more and truly use what we have already. So before we started this, I freaked out and wanted to buy a couple things, just in case! I admit, I did buy some cheese curls that I am hiding for emergency emotional snacking in the future. The other thing I freaked out about and wanted to buy was pens. Pens. If I ever wondered if I was truly a writer at heart. Pens. I want you to know I did not panic buy pens. There are thousands probably already in the house. I will just clean out drawers, finding the ones I already have instead of buying more. Cleaning out, using what we have, and not giving in to the fast “click” of Amazon. That is my goal. Part of eating what we have is menu planning. With it being winter and the garden is not producing, we are eating off what we have already stored. This allows me to make my menu for months at a time. I wrote another blog on how I do that here. This is what is in the rotation for this week. Menu planning, and a little prep work can cut down on the need to run out for dinner. I made a big batch of sloppy joes for lunches through the week, when that runs out I will make a pot of soup. Today, I will make banana muffins and oatmeal bars for breakfast throughout the week. This is our menu for the week.  Sunday: Pizza and leftovers Monday: Ham, broccoli and rice. Tuesday is always tacos. Wednesday: Salmon, pad thai noodles, carrots. Thursday: Chicken, sweet potatoes and green beans. Friday: Breakfast for dinner Saturday: Meatball subs with homemade rolls.