Around the Homestead

It’s Fall…

Without the hassle of cooler weather or misty, rainy mornings! It’s officially fall!!

Everyone around here is just trying to stay cool and survive.

Jose
Frida

The girls and I have decided that regardless of the brutal upper 90s-100 degree temperatures and the endless drought, we are celebrating fall. I have Cozy Cabin from Edens Garden diffusing, pumpkin spice hand soap in the dispensers, and a batch of hot cocoa mix ready and waiting.

Foam Soap:

3 T. Seventh Generation Dish Soap, Unscented

2/3 cup water

10 drops essential oil

Mix together, do not shake, pour into foam dispenser.

Pumpkin Spice (diffuse or hand soap)

5 drops cinnamon

2-3 drops orange

2-3 drops clove

1 drop ginger

I also whipped up some of this cleaner to spray the dining room table and counter tops.

Our library books are stacked high because we don’t intend to be outside in the afternoons unless we absolutely have to be out in the heat.

Mine
Girls

Cocoa Mix:

1 cup gentle sweet or lakanto

1 cup cocoa

3/4 cup powdered milk

1/4 t. salt

Mix together in a glass jar. Store in a cool, dry place.

To enjoy, add 2 tablespoons to a mug, pour hot water over, stir to mix. Add Dandies (marshmallows) or fresh whipped cream with a splash of maple syrup if desired.

Aspen & Laila

It’s time to celebrate. We have one single pumpkin purchased so far, afraid they will rot in the blazing heat. But today is the day we will bake something warm and delicious and curl up with a autumnal book and a cup of something warm. Hope everyone enjoys the first day of fall and create your own rhythms and traditions wherever you live.

Around the Homestead

Homestead Update…

Aspen with an Araucana-Barred Rock cross we hatched in the spring and her pet hen, Arial
Our newest baby Jersey, Heidi
Willie Nelson
Wolfgang, our newest stray to trap, neuter, and tame
Steve, Dad’s Scottish Highland bull we are borrowing
Opossum
Armadillo
My bestie, 1112

We have a lot of things going on around our homestead. Besides being in an incredible drought and an intense heatwave, we are also expanding our farm endeavors.

We are currently on a waiting list for a starter flock of registered Finn sheep. We are halter breaking our Jersey heifer, Tina, who will be for sale once she calves in the spring. We will soon have Scottish Highland-Hereford crosses growing on our farm. Rachel, Aspen’s Savanna goat, went to mom and dad’s to be bred to a really nice Savanna.

The Araucana-Barred Rock chicks we hatched in the spring just began laying. So we now get about a dozen eggs a day. The girls, Randy, and my dad processed the roosters together, so they aren’t terrorizing our hens anymore.

Last but not least….

Dante

We just bought a registered male llama, Dante, and are in the process of buying females so we can begin breeding guard llamas. We have wanted to do this for a long time and everything just kind of fell into place for us to make this happen. He is adjusting really well, and we can’t wait to see what the future holds for our llama herd.

The girls and I have a pretty good routine to manage all of our chores. Randy is good to do the bigger projects as needed, fencing, hay, hauling feed bags from point A to point B. Our barn is full of hay, our bins our full of grain, and we are ready to begin another season on our farm. We are so excited to see what the future of our farm and family holds.

Around the Homestead

From Hot Cocoa to Lemonade…Life’s Simple Pleasures

This morning we had temperatures in the upper 30s which warranted our new favorite our-cow-is-dry-so-we-have-no-milk drink. Hot cocoa made with dry milk powder.

Hot Cocoa Mix:

1/3 cup THM gentle sweet or powdered Monk Fruit sweetener

1/3 cup cocoa

1/4 cup A2/A2 milk powder

1/16 t. Himalayan Pink Salt

Combine and mix well. Add 2 T. to a mug and top with hot water. We don’t do super sweet at our house, so if you would like your cocoa sweeter, just increase the sweetener to your liking.

We warmed our water on our wood cookstove, topped our mugs with Dandies marshmallows (again no cream for whipping), and began our homeschool day together.

As afternoon approached, our temperatures were climbing into the 80s. This called for fresh-squeezed lemonade sweetened with honey.

Honey-Sweetened Lemonade:

1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/2 cup honey

5 cups of ice water

Combine lemon juice and honey into pitcher and stir until honey dissolves. Add water and chill in refrigerator or serve immediately.

We tackled our science lesson on the front porch with a ice cold glass of lemonade and a handful of cats lounging and napping all around us.

Chance

What I’m Diffusing:

My favorite essential oil site oneessentialcommunity.com

California Coast:

2 drops cedarwood

2 drops orange

2 drops lavender

1 drop spearmint

1 drop frankincense

What I’m Wearing:

Happy Mama:

1 drop each

Peppermint

Patchouli

Lemon

What I’m Reading:

Anne of Green Gables-L.M. Montgomery

We are praying for rain here as we are as dry as we can possibly be here. My early garden is planted and growing, just waiting for some April showers. Hope your day is filled with simple pleasures too!

Around the Homestead

The end of winter

You never know what the weather will bring here. We experienced a 90 degree day and woke up to giant snowflakes falling from the sky the very next morning. I love the changes in our weather. You never have the chance to grow weary of the same thing day after day. I love winter and the excuse to snuggle up with books and warm drinks, but I also look forward to spring and the May, one of the prettiest months here with the green wheat fields and all the trees and bushes coming back to life.

Canyon and Aspen
Maria and Aspen
Maria and Canyon

We enjoy some sunshine. We enjoy some snow.

Rachel, Aspen, and Canyon

On cold mornings, we snuggle.

And on sunny days, we play!

Kidding season at Dad’s.

All boys, the girls called them The Three Billy Goats Gruff

Our garden is nearly all in and growing now. I have cold-frames full of greens (kale, spinach, and lettuce). The raised beds are full with potatoes, peas, carrots, beets, and brassicas. We west garden is still waiting for warmth and then we hope to fill it with sweet corn and okra.

The season is slowly changing and with it our daily life will change. Our menu has already started to change to a simpler fair and things harvested from the garden. The asparagus is popping up, the lettuce is ready for picking, and the green onions are oh-so-close.

Happy Spring!

Around the Homestead

Spring Chick Hatching

We decided this year we would try to hatch our own eggs instead of buying more chicks this year. We haven’t kept a rooster in a long time, but we took on a rooster from a friend who had way too many.

Walter

The girls and I were on our way home from a fun outing to a museum, in our “good” clothes, and decided it was time to stop by our friend’s house and grab our rooster. We had a shepherd’s hook, a large cat carrier, and determination. In a few minutes we had a barred rock rooster loaded in a cat carrier in the front seat of our car and off we went for home.

After 21 excruciating days of anticipation…a tiny Araucana/Barred Rock chick appeared in our incubator.

We literally all worried.

Laila

The cheeping was almost to much for her. She just couldn’t quite figure out why the box was cheeping.

We ended up with 13 adorable little chicks and couldn’t be happier with the experience. We are already talking about hatching more in the fall.

We don’t know if they will end up being roosters for hens, but hopefully they are mostly hens. Some of our hens are really old, so this will help our egg production having some younger hens coming up the ranks. We also are trying to focus on breeds that are good foragers since the cost of grain and the availability of feed is so hard to predict for the future. We want hens who not only can forage, but prefer to forage over bellying up to the food trough.

We had hoped to purchase:

Leghorns, Black Minorcas and/or Light Sussex

But do to cost, availability, and the Avian flu just decided to try hatching our own. We are so glad we did. What a fun experience for our whole family!

Around the Homestead

What we are reading and watching

This is an ever-changing list, but thought I would give you a glimpse of what our library hauls and book shelves consist of at the moment.

I am reading:

Bible (KJV) and Devotional

Right now the devotional I am using is:

Mom Heart Moments by Sally Clarkson

Beside my bed to read at night:

Surviving Off Off-Grid by Michael Bunker

First We Have Coffee by Margaret Jensen Hands down my all-time favorite book. I read this book at least once a year.

Library Haul:

The girls:

The Action Bible

Aspen:

Christie’s Old Organ

Canyon:

By the Shores of Silver Lake by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Read Alouds:

Choose Kindness: 3-Minute Devotional Inspiration for Kids

Cheaper by the Dozen by Gilbreth, Frank B., Carey and Ernestine Gilbreth

In the evenings when the wind is blowing and the temperature has dropped. We snuggle up and watch Superbook together.

Around the Homestead

The last two weeks around the farm

The kindness of neighbors…

Aspen & Canyon

Our neighbors have an old camper they are gutting and turning into a trailer. So, they offered us the appliances inside if we wanted them. We spent the day taking out the fridge, stove, kitchen sink, and shower basin for our school bus. We didn’t know if we would put a kitchen in our bus because of the cost, so this was such a blessing.

Our “neighborhood” is just a wonderful group of people who help each other out. There are just a handful of us, but work together to keep things moving along smoothly. Sometimes I think that is slipping away in the world, but so grateful it still exists here.

Laila

Besties…

Dharma and Lexi

We finally got a little bit of moisture, in the form of snow.

Lexus
7:30 am

What a difference a couple of hours makes here.

1:30 pm
Sandplums from the freezer for jelly
Apple pie

I canned apple pie filling in the fall which made it really easy to whip up an apple pie for the weekend.

Snickers

We have two of Dad’s billy goats here at the moment and took on a stray black cat the girls named, Wolfgang. These two have become the best of friends. This billy goat lets Wolfgang wrap himself around his legs and the billy gentle licks and nibbles at the cat. So sweet!

Another neighbor came down over the weekend to take a look at our pond to get a plan together for getting it cleaned up and stocked. We will hopefully spend a great deal of time down here through the spring, summer, and fall. We love to hike through the trees in the winter, but the ticks are already out in full force, so this was probably our last tromp under the trees.

We worked at the pond to clear a spot for the picnic table mom and dad got for us as a Christmas gift.

Before
After

We also planted some zinnias and hollyhocks. We hope to put up some hanging ferns and solar/battery lights.

While we worked…Willie Nelson napped in the garage.
Chance & Max

When we stopped breeding and raising sheep to raise our girls, we held onto the last of our old ewes as pets. Our oldest ewe just passed away at the age of 15.

Ebony

We now have Buddy as one of our oldest ewes at 14. She has lost all her teeth, so she gets to go into a special pen everyday for alfalfa, beet pulp, and sheep pellets. Keeping them into old age has been hard in so many ways, but I just love sheep. They are so lovable and personable it is worth the extra effort physically and emotionally.

Buddy

The nice thing about the weather here is the fact that it is everchanging. You have very little time to get tired of the weather before it changes on you. We had snow this week and we had sunny days in the 70s. The sandplums and peaches are blossoming, so we are praying temperatures don’t dip below freezing again. We would love to have peaches from our tree this year!

Around the Homestead

Carrots

The girls and I got so tired of pulling carrots in the fall that 1/3 of the raised bed still had carrots in it this spring wintered over from last summer. As we started digging them up, we realized, they were still perfectly fine. We’ve left carrots before and they have become bitter or soft in the ground, but these were crisp and sweet.

I ended up saving the little ones for the girls to munch on and canning the rest. I ended up with 13 quarts of carrots I didn’t expect to harvest.

Canning Carrots:

  • Carrots
  • Canning Salt
  • Water

Wash carrots and cut off top and bottom end. I do not peel, but you can if you would like to.

Cut into fairly large chunks, 1-1 1/2 inches.

Pack into hot, clean canning jars.

Add 1 tsp of salt per quart.

Pour boiling water over carrots. I use a large 1 gallon kettle. Leave 1 inch headspace.

I use a chopstick to slide down the side of the jar to remove air bubbles.

Place lids and rings on. I used Harvest Guard reusable lids and have been really happy with them. I just washed all my lids and rings and warmed the rubber seal slightly to soften.

Process in a pressure canner at 10 lbs pressure for 30 minutes. Follow your pressure canner instructions and remove jars to cool once it is safe to remove lid.