Around the Homestead, Gardening, Projects

Just a Quick Update…

There is nothing better than the feeling we get when we can provide food for ourselves.

We don’t have a huge garden this year, but we have a nice little selection of produce at our fingertips.

Enough that we are able to make an entire healthy, chemical-free meal all from stuff from our farm.

We added some eggs to the veggies above and had a delicious meal.

Remember these macrame plant hangers?  I have had many a crack made about the fact that I drug this beauty (minus the pot) home from the Salvation Army for $1.75 the other day.  I bucket of soapy water and the spray nozzle on our hose and it was good as new.  Even the lady at the Salvation Army said, “I was wondering when we were going to sell this.  It has been here FOREVER.”  I was still undeterred and think it looks great in our bedroom.  The pot was one I found laying around that mom had left behind.  I little bit of spray paint and it was ready to go.

Around the Homestead, Gardening, Homemaking

Homestead and Blogging Update…

I know some of you have posted comments, and they haven’t been showing up in a timely fashion.  I’m sorry about that.  We are no longer allowed to access social networking sites at work and that includes my blog unfortunately.  I have to approve comments before they can be posted to my blog, so I can only do that from Mom’s store, a hot spot, or the local library and I just don’t make it there with our laptop very often.  I am reading your comments and promise to post them as soon as I can.  I love the comments and don’t want anyone discouraged and not commenting.

We finally got some much needed rain.  Our pasture was in serious need of rain after being burned off and not a drop had fallen since.  Now with upper 70s in our forecast there is hope our pasture will grow.  The sheep usually get to go out on pasture the first of May, but that will not be the case this year due to lack of rain.  Our hay supply is dwindling with only two weeks’ worth left.  Hay will be in short supply due to a dry spring.  I sure prices will reflect this also.  It may be a long hard year as fuel, hay, and everything else continue to rise. 

Brick patio we built in our backyard.


A planter built from grain elevator buckets and filled with flowers from mom’s store.

I just wanted to give everyone a quick update and let you know the situation with your comments and my infrequent postings.  I will try to post as often as I can, but with no internet service at home it is difficult at times.


Around the Homestead, Gardening

Spring Weeding…

I am not proud of this, but this is what happens when you use straw mulch that hasn’t aged for a year:

All the straw had sprouted and was starting to choke out my new plants.

This is what it looks like after nearly three weekends of weeding and tending to everything.

There are gallon cans around nearly every small plant on our property.  The chickens get to roam and do as they please so we have to protect small plants from their rooting around.


By the Light of the Harvest Moon…

Well, not really.  It was morning, but it was the harvest moon that night. 

We put our garden to rest over the weekend.  It wasn’t the most productive garden we ever had, but we did get plenty of produce for ourselves.  We just didn’t have a lot left over to sell.  We had a (5 gallon) bucket full of sweet potatoes, 2 buckets of bell peppers, and a basket full of a variety of hot peppers, okra, and tomatoes.



Considering all the Bermuda grass growing in our garden you would think we put it to rest months ago.  However, we decided to leave the patches for the chickens and sheep knowing they would soon be on the garden for the winter.  I also scattered turnip seeds all over the garden for winter grazing. 


Our compost bin reached maximum capacity.  The right side of this photo shows our dead/dying pole bean crop.  It grew up the fence bordering our garden.  It looks kind of strange, so thought I would clarify.  The gas tank is not in use so no contamination going on either.  Under the gas tank is passion flower.  Somedays we wish the gas tank was in use so the spills would take care of the passion flower.  It is almost scary the way it grows and spreads.  Think Kudzu if you’re in the South!  I’m a little concerned and we’re really considering attempting to get rid of it before it takes over our entire farm (which we think may actually be a possibility).


With half the bell peppers I made approximately 4 dozen stuffed green peppers for the freezer.  A quick meal for those nights when all you want to do is order a pizza.


Okra has to be the easiest thing I’ve ever put up before.  All I do is rinse it.  Place it in a collander to dry.  Cut into pieces.  Flash freeze.  Place in freezer bags until needed.  Thankfully it’s that easy because we had a lot of okra.

There is a chance it may freeze over the weekend.  We still need to get all our hoses up and the rest of our tomato and pepper plants pulled.  We got 3/4 of the garden done, so hopefully we can finish up the rest this weekend.  We are headed into our “down time.”


Garden Update…

Tomatoes-nada….zip, zero, zilch!  We have green tomatoes on and tons of blossoms, but as far as ripe, red, ready-to-eat tomatoes we don’t have a single one to speak of.

We have notices our pole beans are on and should be ready to pick by today or tomorrow.  We have okra on and soon ready, peppers of all kinds, and sweet potatoes to dig.

I planted a patch of spinach and lettuce for fall and hope to stick winter onions and garlic in the ground soon.  I am also going to try to plant a patch of turnips for the chickens to dine on this winter.  Dad bought bulk turnip seed to plant along with the wheat so the sheep have extra grazing when they are out on wheat pasture.  So I may use some of the excess to plant little patches here and there to see if the chickens will root around and feast on them.

Our blueberries are doing fabulous considering they were just planted this past spring.  We get enough each week for a batch of blueberry pancakes or a little snack. 

I am taking full advantage of the farmer’s market.  Last week I picked up cucumbers, tomatoes, potatoes, and peaches.  This week I will be headed back to see what they have to add to our dinners.

Around the Homestead, Gardening

On the Farm…

We had a really nice and productive weekend.  Friday I spent the day doing laundry, working in the garden, and getting a few greens picked for dinner.


Poke and Spinach collected


Spinach ready to cook. 

I also built this handy-dandy trellis for my English Ivy. 


It doesn’t look the greatest now, but I’m hoping my ivy will take it over (and cover it up).  Plus it was free, so nothing lost if it doesn’t turn out as I have invisioned.

Friday evening we had a surprise birthday party for a friend of our’s.  So I did chores that afternoon and as soon as Randy got home we loaded up and headed out for an hour and a half drive to her house.  We had such a good time visiting with friends and eating (of course).  We got home fairly late for us that night, but were still up with the roosters at 5:45 that next morning.

We had to finish clipping pasture fence and with a predicted high of 94 we needed to get an early start on it.  I took these pictures while we were out clipping fence: 



This is the north end of Grandma’s pasture.  The sheep love it out there and always head north when they are let out of the lots in the mornings.


This is where my camera was last seen Satuday morning.  Last night Randy and I had to run the fence line to beat an incoming storm looking for my camera.  It was nestled in the grass right about where that first shadow is, safe and sound, thank goodness.

It didn’t take us long at all to get the fence all clipped.  Then we relocated to the garden to pull weeds and stake tomatoes.  Craig stopped by and helped Randy get his engine in his pickup which was really nice.

Sunday morning we were up really early to finish up some of our outside duties before heading to Mom and Dad’s pond to meet Craig to fish.  I had homemade ice cream in the ice cream maker so we couldn’t stay very long and didn’t catch a thing.  Craig ended up with a huge catfish and a bucket full of bullhead, so he was please.  While Randy worked on the grain truck and Grandma’s, I dug up some starts for peonies and lilacs.  I have been reading Tasha Tudor’s books, and have a new desire to add flowers to our homestead.  Her books are wonderful if you ever get the chance to read them.  She also has a children’s line of books with beautiful illustrations she did herself.

Mom and Dad grilled steaks for lunch for all of us.  Afterwards we headed home to vacuum the pool and build a door for our second chicken coop.  We plan to use it for our Banties, so they can hatch out some babies and also to raise our meat birds in the fall.

It was a really hot weekend, but still got a lot done despite the heat.  This weekend will be more of the same heat-wise.  We have to weigh our ram lambs for the sale next weekend.  We want to try and send as many as we can to help stretch our pasture this summer.  We have barely enough acreage with Grandma’s pasture behind our house to sustain the number of sheep we now have.  We plan to sell off some of our ewes next year, but needed just one more year with them.  Hopefully we get enough rain to keep our grass in good shape for them.

Saturday’s dinner:  mahi mahi soaked in lemon juice and sprinkled with lemon pepper along with, sauted spinach and onions fresh from the garden, and garlic bread.

Sunday’s dinner:  homemade chili and potatoes left to cook all day in the solar oven. 

Monday’s dinner:  cream of broccoli soup and garlic bread

Tuesday’s dinner:  leftover taco mix from the freezer to make taco salads with homemade salsa

Tonight’s dinner:  I was given some bok choy from a co-work, so I will be experimenting with it tonight along with ham steak and radishes also given to me by the same co-worker.  The bok choy looks wonderful.

Have a wonderful day!

Around the Homestead, Gardening

A Long Holiday Weekend…

We have had a busy couple of weeks.  My Dad and two other guys have been working to rebuild the roof over our front entry and porch.  It leaked really badly due to it being a more-or-less flat roof.  So the guys built it up so the water will run off better.






 Daily messes we got to clean up when we got home from work.


You can see here how much the roof was built up over the existing roof.

My order came in from Abundant Acres so I had tomatoes, peppers, herbs, and wolf berries to plant.  I wasn’t all that impressed with my order from them.  The plants were really over grown, and I’ve had to really work to keep them alive.  They yellow when I got them which I related to being shipped in a pitch black box.  Hopefully they will come around.  The rest of my tomatoes from Mom’s store are doing really well.  I also got soaker hoses ran throughout the entire garden on Friday.


Here you can see how gangly my heirloom tomatoes were when they arrived.



Compost Bin

 Randy was so good to help me Saturday, Sunday, and Monday morning in the garden.  We mulched the entire thing with leftover hay from the sheep’s pen.  It’s a shame they waste (expensive) hay, but at least it was put to good use in the garden.


We missed the majority of the Memorial Day activities, but our garden looks great, our pool is open for business (once it warms up), and Randy had some time to work on his pickup engine while I did housework and cooked.

We had a really productive weekend!

Adoption, Animals, Gardening

Weather and a Weekly Update!

According to the weather forecast (that changes oh-so-frequently), we are going to have rain tonight turning to snow by early morning and throughout the day Friday and Saturday.  Yuck!  We laid new straw in the buildings for the mamas and babies and are hoping and praying the weatherman is wrong.


I found a piano on for free as long as we load it and haul it off.  It doesn’t have a bench, but is an upright and looks okay in the picture.  It is first come, first serve and due to the weather it will be Sunday before we can pick it up.  We will see if it was meant to be or not.


My mom always wanted to learn how to play the piano and never did.  I always wished I knew how to play the piano and have tried to teach myself off and on. 


If someday we have children in our home I plan to try my very best to afford them lessons and help them learn how to play the piano if not other instruments as well.


I received yet another box of plants from Gurney’s last night.  Randy was so good to help me get 2 cranberry bushes, 2 dwarf blueberry bushes, and a cherry bush in the ground last night.  I also have two coffee plants that need to be potted inside.  I’m short on pots, but do have some I have been meaning to paint and decorate.  We’ll see if the two tiny plants setting on my counter are incentive enough to get them done.


We still have 37 baby lambs as of this moment in time.  Last night we discovered one of our mamas with a bad half (udder) and twins had gotten a split in the back of her udder.  Once we got her penned up and started to clean up the cut and milk her out I realized her bag was enormously full.  Not sure how this happened with two big healthy lambs nursing her, but it did.  She is now off food and water for at least 24 hours to try to get her milk production down and her udder healed.  We will supplement the lambs if needed and dry her off completely if she does not heal soon. 


We also lost a hen this week.  Randy found her dead in the coop.  Not sure what the cause of death was, but we suspect it could have been from ingesting the Styrofoam insulation on the ceiling of their coop.  It’s tricky for them to get to, but we have noticed areas where it has been pecked.  Hopefully she will be our only casualty.  The insulation is so nice to hold heat in in the winter and keep heat out in the summer.  We may end up having to cover the Styrofoam with wood, but our to-do list is so incredibly long right now the thought of adding to it is less than favorable.

I am looking forward to a 4-day weekend.  I am always off on Fridays and also have Monday off for a dentist appointment.  So, I will be getting our neglected house back in check.  It is all we can do to keep up with regular chores, lambing issues, and feed ourselves.  Housekeeping is kept to a bare minimum during lambing season.  We are just above “safe” and “livable” in our home right now.  Hopefully after this weekend we will be in the “clean” and “comfortable” zone.


Have a great weekend!

Animals, Around the Homestead, Gardening

Lambing Time…


The babies are dropping on our farm this week.  We started last Friday (March 13th) and haven’t really caught our breath yet.  We have 22 babies on the ground which may not seem like a lot, but when you are working a 40/week and both commuting 2 hours/day each (making it a 48-50/hour week); it can get a little crazy.

Yesterday took the cake for craziness.  Our registered Texel ewe (June) had a baby girl at 10:00 am, Dad pulled a big baby boy out of a first timer for at 12:00, and when I arrived home at 5:00 pm we had one in labor with twins (the first one with a leg back and I don’t even remember how the second one came).  We also had a beautiful ewe who had stopped laboring, so we knew she was going to need some assistance.  Her first baby came backwards, the second baby was a tangled up mess with what we later found out was the third baby.  This girl didn’t even look like she was carrying twins, but produced three nice-sized little lambs.  We finally got all of them, 4 mamas, and 7 babies situated and at 8:00 pm made it inside for dinner.  We showered, went out to check on them at 9:00pm and had to change back into our chore close rearrange a baby that was coming with a leg back, come inside, shower again, and finally made it to bed at 10:00 only to get back up at 4:00 and start all over again.

We have really been focusing on our nutrition up to this point and although we have gotten worn down and different times throughout the week.  I think it has played a part in keeping us healthy and somewhat able to cope with the disrupted sleep and physical labor we have subjected ourselves to.

I have been trying to implement eggs, kefir, and/or raw milk into our breakfast schedule.  With the onset of spring I have been able to include a fresh vegetable (broccoli, cauliflower, or asparagus) with almost every dinner.  Now that time is a factor I am resorting to frozen soups and dinners I made up ahead of time, and have substituted Bolthouse and Naked juices in place of kefir smoothies.  I realize store-bought smoothies are a far cry from a healthy, homemade smoothie with coconut oil, flax seed oil, vitamin c powder, and homegrown fruit.  However, we aren’t perfect and are doing what we can to improvise some quick meals and still stay as health conscious as possible.  Our latest love is to make hash browns or NT cottage fries with organic potatoes. 

For the hash browns I just run them through the food processor peel and all throw them in my cast iron skillet with some butter and olive oil.  Five minutes on each side, a sprinkling of sea salt and you have the most fabulous hash browns ever.

I hope to get some lacto-fermented foods back into our diet.  NT salsa and sauerkraut are at the top of my list as soon as the tomatoes hit the garden and I find an organic cabbage at the store.

Hope everyone is doing well and enjoying some spring weather.  We are in for thunderstorms all weekend.  The rain won’t be all that fun for lambing, but will help my new planted trees, bushes, and vines.

Just planted:

2 pecan trees

8 blueberries

3 raspberries

3 cherry bushes

2 apricot bushes

2 cranberries

And 2 coffee plants (for inside the house) for fun

That’s all for now.  Hope everyone has a great day!

Around the Homestead, Gardening, Green Living, In The Kitchen

Fresh produce…

I ran to the Farmer’s Market the other day and picked up these.

I love new potatoes, and my potatoes have apparently all gone to the plant and not the seed.  We had a feeling our ground was too rich.  This is our third failed attempt at potatoes.  Good thing there is a Farmer’s Market across the street from where I work.  I try to by local or grow food myself as much as I can.  Good for them, good for us, good for the earth!

We woke up Saturday morning very early to the roar of wind (75 mph), pounding rain, and hail.  Gotta love the Midwest!  The storm lasted about an hour and the rain lasted until noon.  We layed around inside all morning.  Something we NEVER get to do.  I read and got a little nap in, Randy napped, and the dogs snuggled with us and napped on and off. 

Once everything had cleared (especially the lightning) we went out to assess the damage, tree limbs, a filthy pool, and my garden had some serious damage. 

We repaired fence that afternoon and still have a little left to do before the sheep can be moved over to new pasture, but we are closer.

Grandma was back in the hospital, so I was on boysenberry duty.  I picked five more quarts for her freezer and two quarts for fresh eating at our house.

We have vowed to take it easy on Sunday afternoons.  We just need to start forcing ourselves to set things aside and relax a bit.  Our pool was too chilly to swim since the storms had blown the solar cover off on a 60 degree night, plus all the rain water.  So, we just hung out and did some mowing and gardening.

Monday I had to take my parent’s dog to the vet for them so I didn’t get home until noon.  However, I got busy and got the house dusted, cleaned the skylights, kitchen, and vacuumed.  Then I tackled my herbs and some cooking.

Chives, dehydrated in dehydrator overnight.

Cucumber Salad:

2-3 Cucumbers

1/4 c Real Mayo (no Miracle Whip)

1/4 c White Vinegar

2 T. Sugar

1/4 t. Dill (used fresh and just eyeballed it, is there such a thing as too much dill?)

Mix all together and chill before serving. 

We love this!  Is it summer without cucumber salad?  It might be for us since our chickens destroyed most of my cucumber plants yesterday.  The Banties (my good children) have never messed up anything while free-ranging in the garden.  The Rhode Island Reds, however, demolished the plants and ate all the cucumbers.  Did I mention they haven’t started laying eggs yet, so they aren’t technically a productive aspect to our farm and better tread lightly :  )

I also got two cabbages out of the garden over the weekend and made sauerkraut (Nourishing Traditions).

And Pickles.

Fortunately, my echinacea survived the storm and still looks nice.  It was really windy, so the pictures are a bit blurry but you get the idea. 

Hope everyone has a wonderful Tuesday!