Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Seasons change....

The weather feels like Fall.  I normally love Fall, but the season's beginning has left me feeling melancholy this time around.

I am not sure why this is.  I have two kids starting back to school tomorrow - one will be at the "big kid school" for the very first time.  The mornings are about to get easier.

The garden is slowing down.  The harvesting season was quite time consuming, so the break will be welcome.

I have been busy crocheting my shawl, having nearly finished it once, only to tear it down to start again....But, this time, I know exactly what I am trying to do, and which stitch to use.

So, I guess it is change that it bringing me down.  There are way more positives in my life than negatives, but until I am solidly in the new rhythm of my days, I think I will be feeling off center.  I don't like this feeling, however....and I am looking forward to its exit.

So, until next time....I will wait it out.

Sunday, August 28, 2011


So, we are in hurricane prep.  Or at least high winds prep.  Adn upon waking this morning, still nothing....

I see the news, and therefore know that Miss Irene is no joke, but so far, we re in the clear.  I took that daughter to a party on the lake yesterday, and it was such a glorious day.  A perfect summer day.  The fact that we needed to leave at 3pm in order to prepare the house and yard for the coming craziness seems simply surreal.

But, now I am here.  I am working hard to keep the dishes and the laundry up, and spent time yesterday harvesting as much from the garden as I possibly could.  The edamame were finally ready, so that was a blessing, but the sweet potatoes....they are another story.  I hope that they will be safe burrowed in the ground, and that the drainage around the beds are sufficient not to drown them.

In the meantime, I am washing and blanching edamame for the freezer (which is so much more delicious than the product that we were buying from the grocery store) and relishing the fact that I still have internet access.  We will see how the rest of the day goes....

Friday, August 26, 2011

An exhausting day on the homestead....

There are some days at home that make a day at the office look like a total breeze.

Yesterday was my last Thursday at home for the summer.  Next week, the school session begins again and the kids are off and running.  And I am back in the office full time.

So, being the last day, I wanted to cram as much into the day as I possibly could.  And I did.  And I am exhausted.

It was such a rhythm of getting up and getting down....Up to put a load of laundry in the wash, down to fold the laundry, up to slice, dice, and can veggies, down to crochet another row on the shawl.

But, in the end, I had had canned 4 fours of sweet pickles and 12 jars of green tomato salsa, froze many types of veggies, made and froze a large batch of peach apple chutney, and cleaned most of the house, and added a few more inches to the shawl. 

A great day, an exhausting day, and a day well deserving of sleep.

And, get this...I slept in to 6am this morning!  Remarkable!  (however, if you had asked me 8 years ago if 6 am qualified as "sleeping in", I would have thought you to be absolutely and completely nuts!)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Cleaning :(

I have to clean my house today.

I am not looking forward to this….

I used to be OK with the whole cleaning thing, but I think that was pre-kids, pre-garden, pre-crazy life. Now, it just seems like a big interruption on my day.
But, that does not stop the fact that it needs to be done. I hate an unclean house, and it is so easy to achieve that state. I find this especially true in the summer. We are constantly running in and out of the house, trying to remove our shoes before tramping through…but only partially successful. And now that I am trying to cook more, the kitchen feels like it is constantly cluttered. But the time I get home, cook dinner, and load the dishwasher afterwards, the thought of putting anything away is just too daunting.

So, today is the day. The house, and the car, will be cleaned. Top to bottom. It is going to happen.



Well, if I say it enough….maybe it will actually happen.

Wish me luck…I think I will need it.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Potatoes in the morning....

The weather has begun to turn.  The crisp cool air greets us in the early hours of the morning, and the late hours of the evening....

Yesterday morning, I had a few moments before needing to rush the kids towards to van, in order to get to their dental appointments.  So, being the only natural things to do, I took a walk to the back garden.  And I was shocked!

I had just harvested tons of spaghetti squash, zucchini, and cucumbers over the weekend.  But the garden told me that the work was not done.  The ground was ejecting the onions, the zucchini were continuing to grow at alarming speeds, more cucumbers had come out of hiding, and the potato plants were beginning to die off....

The first several items are easy to deal with.  Yank, pull, pluck....the potatoes, however, were another story.  Assuming I had another 10 minutes or so, and knowing that I would be home late in the evening, I ran for the garage and grabbed the shovel.  I then proceeded to tackle to potatoes, tugging the plant from the ground first, then shaking the potatoes clinging to the roots, and then, digging through the ground for any potatoes still lodged beneath.

10 minutes and 6 potatoes plants later, I had to retire for the morning.  The bounty was spread on the front porch for cure in the open air, and about 15 more potato plants waited in the wings.  They would have to meet their fate another day....

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A jam-packed rainy day...

For such a rainy day, it was a great day for homesteading!

I finally fulfilled my summer urge to start making more of my own wearables....and in a little bit of time, I will have a colorful & warm shawl to welcome the fall with. 

And the start of this adventure was made even more fun with the company of a good friend, who seems to have a bit of a homesteading soul in her....Soon, we shall be having our own crocketing gatherings, as our spouses gather together to drink and watch football, and our children race through our respective houses. 

And, to make it even better, my daughter is currently hard at work, crocheting a blanket for her American Girl dolls.

The evening was brought to a near close with the accomplishment of my summer goal - to finally CAN something!  There are now four pint jars of sweet pickle relish cooling on the kitchen counter.  'Course, I don't like pickles, or relish...but I am sure I can find someone who does! 

Next up will be Apple Butter...which oddly, doesn't have any butter in it...but is crazy good!  For that, I just can't wait :)

It was a good day...a jam-packed day...and a great day for homesteading!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Remember to breathe...

The internet connection is slow...

I feel that I should rise above this, but today is not the day....This day was chock full and we were moving at hyper speed, scarcely taking a breath at intermissions. 

We rose in the morning, tended to the kids, the chickens, the furred friends...and once assembled, we headed to our property on the other side of town.  We mowed, we weedwacked, we used the crazy big chain saw...and now we nearly have a camp site and a path to the pond.

We got back home, only to shower and change and ready for a visit from the in-laws.  The husband had a birthday during the work week, and it was time to celebrate.  A trip into town and dinner at a family-friendly restaurant, and we were moving again...this time to the grocery store...then the gas station...and then home to put everything away and settle the kids in for the night.

It feels like the day was a complete rush-rush-rush kind of day.  Had I of remembered to take a deep breath and look around, I would have found more joy and less hurry in it.  But I forgot, I worried about productivity and getting everything done, and now I am back on the couch settling in for the end of the night.  And I am still rushing around in my mind and feeling annoyed by the slow internet connection.

This is a problem.

This is not the plan.

This craziness can not continue.  It is time to live in the moment, and truely experience each one.  Because the day is full, but it is also beautiful, and that beauty can not be ignored.

So, I will go to bed and awake to a new day.  And remember to slow down...and breathe.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Welcome to Friday evening...

I am home.

It should be peaceful.  And it is...kinda of...in a loud kind of way...

The kids are running about in a barely constrainted excitement - the kind that occurs after a full day with the Daddy.  And he is much the same.  They are all excited to go to a local playground after dinner.

Dinner will be interesting.  In an entire garden, we have one head of cauliflower.  It is currently roasting in oven, complete with tomato and garlic, and a bit of dill.  It smells good, if nothing else ;)  It will be pared with some veggies burgers - a nice change from eggs. 

It was a big week.  The husband had a birthday and the son graduated preschool.  The kids had several playdates, and the house was actually cleaned.  And, if that wasn't enough, I even went to work!  And now, I have a head cold....which, I think is entirely unfair.  No one should get a cold in the summer.  It just doesn't make sense!  But that is neither here nor there...

I am very excited for next Friday.  I have reconnected with several of my closest friends from high school, and next Friday, it looks like everyone may be in town and available.  And we are hitting the town!  Not that I really know what that means anymore...what do people do after 8 at night on a Friday?  Personally, that it is time that I finish up the dishes and head upstairs for a hot bath.  And what to people wear out in the evening?  These are questions to tackle...

But, in the meantime, I will finish the dinner prep, and ready for the evening playground romp.  And then try to figure out how to cram more of the garden bounty into the freezer.  And don't forget the laundry....

Tomorrow, I shall hide in the garden! 

Wishing everyone a joyful Friday evening ;)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Flowers vs. weeds....

I have been so intent on my vegatable gardens, that I have completely forsaken the flowers.

The weeds are taking over....

After dinner, I told my husband to call me in a few minutes, so that we could get the kids to bed....I had to get out to the front flower garden.  However, once I started on that one, I noticed the one under the maple tree, and then the one by the crab apple tree, and then....well, you get the picture.  A few moments stretched to a much longer amount of time.  And now - it is time for bed.

So, the plan for the morning - as soon as the sun rises, I will be outside.  The flowers await, and they are sick of sharing their sun and nutrients with the weeds.  It is time to show those weeds just who is boss!

Or, at least try....can't forget about the veggies, after all....

More time please!

There are some days when the world just takes hold. 

This is one of those days...

So much to do, and so very little time to do it...

Do you think the summer might slow down if I asked really, REALLY nicely?  Just a bit, not too much....you know....just an extra month or so.

See!  I am really not asking for too much.  Just some more time in the garden, more time for the homestead, more time with the kids....not to even mention, more time at the office!

I hear the Donald Trump lives on 3 hours of sleep per night....wonder what his secret is....

Monday, August 15, 2011

What to wear...

I want to make more of my own clothing.  It is way too often that I find something that fits perfectly, except......  You know, it is great, except.....

For once, I want something that is perfect for me.  Fits me.  Was made for me.

Well, OK - that sounds a bit selfish....a few too many "me's" in those sentences.  But you understand what I mean....I know that you do.

So, I am going to try.  I am not sure where to start, but I will find a starting point.  Maybe a new shawl for the fall, or some wide leg comfy pants.  Or both!  And I can wear them together!

It's a plan.  Well, one of many, I guess....  But, definitely a plan!

OK - enough.  Going to bed.  Now...really....truely I am...  ;)

'Night y'all!

Adventures in canning...

I love to read other people's blogs.  They can be so inspiring, and work to remind me of my own goals.  You know...to get off the couch, spend more time in the garden, with the chickens, in the kitchen.  To prepare food from scratch and capture the bountiful flavor that comes from the backyard.  In a few months, the garden will be a thing of the past, and all that I will have left will be the remnants that I find in the the freeze and pantry.

I received a gift in the mail last week from a blog acquaintance.  It was a guidebook to preserving, and it has reignited some desires.  I set the goal at the beginning of the summer to learn to can the garden surplus.  And then I delayed....

But no more!  I finally took action this morning.  I went to the local grocery store and got a twelve pack of canning jars. 

And now I am at the ready, with only the decision for where to start to be made....cucumbers?  relish?  wait for apples for sauce?  I just don't know, but it is just the start of the adventure...

Sunday, August 14, 2011

And...we're back.

A whirl-wind of a long wekend, and we are back home.  And tired.  And desparately in need of coffee.

We had a great time!

Thursday was spent traveling south, visiting a county fair.  Despite the warnings that it was very "ag", I was left wanting more...More sheep, more goats...kinda like a giant Tractor Supply...but fried dough was eaten and fun was had...We even holed up in the maple building had some maple milkshakes (it was healthy...really!  Dairy, natural sugars...totally good for us ;)  )

Thursday evening was spent deep in the kitchen, cooking and baking for the weekend... and putting the garden bounty up for the winter months.  Or rather, I should say, put basil and pesto up for winter.  The freezer is completely, absolutely jammed packed.  Already.  There will be lots of pasta and pizza in those winter months.  Feeling a bit hungry already...

After evening fell and the sun rose again, we packed the minivan and headed for  a favored campground in New Hampshire.  And it was there that we gathered with friends, watched our children form packs and travel from site to site, shared food that we all brought from our homes, and told stories.  It was a wonderful time, complete with camp games and a trip to a local amusement park.  Definitely can't say it was an organic weekend...

And, now we are home.  Our vacation is over and we now look forward to next summer when we can plan for it again.  But, in the meantime, I need a bit of a stay-cation on the homestead to rest up...and work in the garden...and do the laundry...yawn....and maybe a nap...

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Off to the fair...

So, I slept in to 4:30 this morning, and am now trying to get things done, complete with kids running circles around the house.  They know that we are heading to the county fair today, and I think that the knowledge has energized them.  I wish such energy was contagious....

This will be a busy, busy day.  I have taken time off from work for a long weekend, and it will be filled to the brim.  We have a weekend of friends and visits planned, and my kitchen is covered with supplies, baked goodies, dishes...etc.... the list goes on and goes.  Shortly, I will convince myself, and my kids, that it is time to change from our sleepwear and find something presentable-ish for the day...  Only "ish" though, because we are heading for land of dirt, animals, and fair food.

This will be my first time at this county fair.  I have been warned that it is very "Ag", and I couldn't be happier!  I think that the warning might have been to discourage me, but it certainly didn't work.  Now I can't wait to meet people and see who is raising/breeding/growing what.  I hope to get some great pictures and learn alot from others who have been moving in the path a whole lot longer than us.

Now, it is time to get a move on!

Enjoy the crazy, busy day y'all!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Blissful quiet...

I have gotten up at 2:30 am every morning this week.  I expected to hate this, but it is oddly comfortable.  Once I am fully awake, I am able to enjoy the complete quiet of the house.  Well, quiet being a relative term.  I hear the refridgator humming and the guinea pigs conversing...but no voices.  There is no talking, no TV, no radio.  Just blissful quiet.

As the kids get older, I find myself yearning for this quiet time.  I am an introvert living with 3 extreme extroverts.  This is a loud house.  Someone is always talking, moving, changing.  It is a constantly evolving atmosphere.  Nothing stands still.

It is these moments of change that I yearn for my gardens.  To smell the vibrant green of the tomato plants and hear the buzzing of the bees as they visit each of the blooms on the squash plants.  I can get completely lost in the solitude and the hours fade away. 

That is what these mornings are to me.  A chance to settle, reflect, and ready for the day.  To hear myself and choose my path. 

In the blissful quiet.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The turning of the light...

The light is turning.

Every day, we move farther from the Solstice, and inch closer and closer to Beltane.  The chickens tuck themselves in to the coop earlier each evening, and the sun rises later each morning.  I find myself constantly running behind the ball, chasing the light in a quest to get things done....and constantly falling behind.  School is nearly here again, and the routines of home-school-work-home will return.  I need more hours, or to learn to operate on less sleep....

When the kids were born, I thought each day to be a success if I could get  combined total of 5 hours of sleep.  And it would be random...7 pm until 8:30...11pm until 2...3:30 until 5am...and we would be done.  And I could do it!  I was productive, my brain could function, the world would turn. 

But it is not so any longer...I am not sure what to do about this, and I find it so surprising and unexpected.  I probably should have seen it coming, but, what can I say?  I am oblivious to the passing of time, and the onset of years.  I know I should be thankful I had my children while I was young and energetic, and I am...but I wish it would last forever.  The energy, the time...the flexibility of each hour to expand and encompass the task at hand.

But instead...the kids are in bed, and I will be soon too.  It is 8:45 in the evening, and my bedtime is quickly approaching. 

There will be more time tomorrow....

Basil mutiny

The basil has taken over...

Try to run for cover...you can't hide..

Try to give it away...it breeds more...

It is haunting my dreams, lurking in the corners...

Pine nuts have been purchased in an attempt to quell the masses...

It will be another long night, but we will find success...

Sometime....and I am so tired.....

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Holy basil!

Basil has taken over the homestead.  It is all you can smell, it covers every surface, and soon, it will have to end up in every dish we make.....'cause that may be the only way we can use it all....

Yesterday, upon arriving home from the lake party we attended at mid-day, I cowgirled up and headed out to the garden.  If I didn't act fast, the basil would completely bolt....and then, I had no idea what to do with it.  At the end of the hour, I had three huge grocery bags full of basil, and another bag filled to the brim with kale, rainbow chard, cucumbers, and zucchini. 

After nearly two hours in the kitchen yesterday evening, I had washed, chopped, and put up one bag of the basil.  The rest would have to wait for today.  I was exhausted!

And now, it is today....I have not yet started on the harvest, and am a bit curious of what else might be waiting on the vine this morning....  The edamame is getting closer to pick-ready every day, and I can't wait to snack on those pods.  With a little luck, I might even get the kids interested.  Well, maybe....

It is going to be one of those crazy-busy days, I know...  We have four other kiddos coming over for a play date with my two.  On top of that, my house is screaming for attention.  Someday, I will install a big hinge on the side, so I can just open the whole thing up, shake it out and hose it down with a garden hose.  Until that day...well, the cleaning must be done.

But to start, I will get off the couch and grab those bags of basil.  And, if I get a big burst of energy, I may even travel down to the store this evening for some garlic and pine nuts.  We may have pesto afterall! 

But first, we must start with the basil...

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The harvest is waiting.....

It's Saturday morning.....

The sun is up, but the air is lazy.  The kids are relaxing on the couch, enjoying the quiet time, but I am busy in the kitchen, shredding zucchini and baking muffins.

We have yet another kids party to attend today, and I am working on our "pot luck" dish.  Upon waking, I had no idea what we were going to bring, and I even entertained the idea at stopping at the grocery store on the way....

But that is the laziness speaking....the garden is kicking and the harvest is full.  Zucchini are flying out of the garden at high speeds, and the basil needs to be harvested before it bolts (any ideas of what to do with huge amounts of basil, beside pesto....?  Pine nuts are fiercely pricy these days....).  Chard and kale also need to be harvested and blanched for the freezer.  This is no time to be lazy.

In addition, the edamame is finally getting on its way.  Now that the beetle issue has been dealt with (the best $6.69 I EVER spent!!!), the pods should be filling out and ready to pick soon.  Laziness is just not an option.

So, zucchini has been shredded and mixed with the Feathered Ladies eggs (amongst other ingredients...) for zucchini muffins.  Other masses of shredded zucchini has been sealed in one cup servings for the freezer.  I have even cleaned and set aside zucchini seeds (heritage, not hybrid) for drying and saving for next years garden.

So, while the air is lazy, it is the sun that inspires.  And there is no time to waste.  The harvest is waiting.... :)

Friday, August 5, 2011

The fog...

Sometimes, the foggy mornings are as beautiful at the sunny ones.... 

They make you feel as though you are encircled by great cushy arms and protected from the hectic outside world.  Today, I treasure that feeling.

Yesterday was a busy day.  We attended a local baseball game with the family and friends, and I was astounded by the masses of people.  The longer I live in this quiet rural town, the less comfortable I am in more urban areas.  When I was younger, I thought I would yearn for that buzz and activity....  I loved visiting the larger cities that we could visit and take day trips to.  As a teenager, I thought I would travel far to college and see so many things. 

But now, I yearn for home and peace and quiet.  We often feel so insolated from everything, living out here, and I cherish that feeling. 

It is such a surprise...

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Starting the day....

So, the sun has not yet risen, and I am stuck in the house. 

Well, not stuck, literally, as I could venture outside if I choose to...but I am fearful that the Mystery Predator is out there, waiting.  And, assuming that it is the animal that we think it is, it will not run in fear from me.  Brave little b#st%rd.....

So, I wait in inside, knowing that time is wasting, but that the Feathered Ladies are safe.  I wish so very much that I could take advantage of these early morning hours by putting in some extra hours garden-side...but it just isn't going to happen.

My mind is trying to make a list of all that need to get done today, but it is just working through half-lists and then giving up.  Coffee has not fully hit the energy stream yet, and all is futile until that happens.  We are off to a baseball game today with the kids and some friends.  "Making the memories", as my husband says....which makes sense...and the kids are overjoyed at the prospect.

I do wonder why, however, my kids are always so eager to leave the homestead.  Most mornings are started with the question of "where are we going today?".  Often that question is answered by "school", "camp", "work"....and they aren't terribly picky.  They just seem to want to make sure that an activity is planned. 

I wonder if I was like that as I child.  As an adult, I yearn for time at home.   A week day that is not followed by an additional activity (i.e. errands) often seems like a race to the finish, where the reward is unplanned time at home.  The kids do not seem to like that reward.

But, that is all of no matter today, as an activity is planned, and I only need to garner the energy to rise from the couch and begin working through the day.

Maybe another cup of coffee will help.....

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Laying in wait....

So, as I mentioned earlier today, the Mystery Predator (aka M.P.) is back.

And I really wish it wasn't.  I really, really, wish that someone had already taken care of it....but that wish was not granted.

So, we are once again huddled in the house, waiting for something to happen.  Traps are laid, "snacks" included.  And we can just hope that it works.  I feel bad saying this, but I hope that it comes back and we get it.  I am tired of being on edge, looking cautiously out in the back yard, scanning for suspicious activity or hideous carnage. 

My daughter used to love coming with me to let the Feathered Ladies out in the morning, but now I am fearful of what we might find.

So, now, we lay in wait, and hope that we succeed. 

It's back.....the infamous Mystery Predator!

Crap, crap, crap.

And literally, CRAP!

The Mystery Predator is back.

It sh#t on the yard...it broke in to the chicken yard in TWO places...it has royally pissed me off.

The Feathered Ladies are safe...for now...

But plans are underway....we are planning the counterattack.

Tonight, it's on!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Revenge upon the beetles....

Well, I did it.  I finally sucked up it, hauled my cookies to the supplies store, and purchased a japanese beetle trap.  I hate to feel vengeful, but those nasties are going to get my edamames, dang it!!

A few weeks ago, I noticed that the edamame leaves had a lot of holes eaten into them.  After shaking down the plants, I saw that they had become home to many, many beetles.

For days after, I would make a point each day to whack at the plants and shake the beetles off.  I had heard of the japanese beetle traps, but that knowledge was both positive and negative.  Either they worked, or they made the problem worse.  But frankly, after some contemplation, I finally decided that there was no time to waste.  I was not going to lose that crop, and this might be my only hope....

So, tonight, under cover of darkness and mosquitos, I installed the trap.  And now I can only wait and hope...for my edamames will have their revenge!!

Hard decisions...

Yesterday was a day of hard decisions.

I have been doing some big thinking about what fills my time each week.  There is so much to do, as I am sure is a common issue with everyone, and not nearly enough time to do it all.

Between home, family, work, and my volunteer position, I am always on the go, and I am usually off homestead these days. 

Therefore, yesterday, I made the hard decision to leave my volunteer position at a local farm.

I contacted this farm in the late Spring, once the busy season at work had ended, as a way to gain homesteading knowledge while helping to support my community.  The knowledge I have gained is priceless, and I hope the farm feels that I made a positive contribution to them as well. 

I sent the difficult email (my prime contact method with the farm) yesterday, and the response I received from them was very understanding.  I am so very appreciative of their positive attitude and the open invitation they gave me to stop by anytime.  I know that I will.

By reducing my off-homestead commitments, I will now increase my time on our own expanding gardens (which are planned to grow by at least 400% in the next 9 months), my family, and my non-homesteading career (which is wonderful, and I enjoy very much). 

I feel sad, a bit horridly selfish, but solid in my decision.  It was the right decision.  But sadly, that doesn't make it any easier.