Monday, October 27, 2014

Knowledge is Power!

I made a wise homestead purchase on Friday. This green notebook. Notice the name, Wise Gardening.

I've been reading on many sites about how important it is to write down what you plant, where and how you planted and took care of it and how much your garden veggies produced. Honestly, I'd never really given it a thought in years past just how important it was to do this.

What Hubby and I learned though, was that we had very poor soil.  So last winter we took the time to heavily fertilize and prep our garden. We kept our rows at the space we normally plant, but didn't take into consideration the fact that better soil would produce larger plants! We spent our summer harvesting within a jungle!!!! We certainly need wider rows next year......

That's what this little notebook is for. It is to help us remember and believe me, at our age, we need all the help remembering we can get!!

I'm looking forward to looking back on this notebook in a few years and being reminded just how far we've come in this homesteading process, what worked and what didn't and how we were able to share knowledge and bounty with others.

I encourage you to pick up a notebook and begin doing the same. Whether you are doing raised beds, container gardening or planting hundreds of acres, a record of what's going on in your planting world can be a very valuable thing, and remember...knowledge is power!!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Stay Strong!!

As most people do this time of year, we cleaned up our garden and tilled up a new spot for even more garden next year. Pulling up dead vines and plants, tilling the soil and planning out where we'll plant what next year on our homestead. It is a great anticipation of wonderful things to come, dreaming dreams and watching them come true!

New garden space for next spring!
During the pulling up process though, we found a couple of little guys who are refusing to give up the fight! Two strong, healthy cucumber vines, climbing the trellis and in full bloom!!

Not just in full bloom, but producing fruit!!!

When everything around them was dying and giving up, these two guys are standing strong, reaching toward the sun and producing fruit!!

What an awesome reminder from God! When everything and everyone around you seems to be giving up the fight...stand strong!!

When everything and everyone around you is dying, you can still produce fruit!!!

It's all God asks of us...reach for Him and produce fruit for Him!! You might be the seed planter or the trellis holding someone up, but fruit is the result!!

"For if you stand firm, you will win your souls." Luke 21:19 TLB

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Moving Day!!!

It has been SO busy here on the Small Homestead!! A morning of catching up on laundry and house cleaning and an afternoon and evening of cleaning rabbit feeders and pens, canning chili, cleaning up around some building projects we have going on.....boy can we make a mess!!..and completing our big hen doesn't have nests or roosting poles yet but come on!!..The babies are only a month old!

Yes, our little Austalorp babies are quickly outgrowing their baby coop so it was time to move them to their forever home. This chicken Momma was really watching helping chicken Daddy because it's a big deal when little chicks move into their big home!!
Still need to paint..
"Are all the cracks sealed?"

"Yes dear"

"No critters can get in?"

"No dear"

"Are you sure they will be warm enough?"

"Yes dear"

.....I'm married to such a patient man!!....

Anyway, three babies at a time and five trips back and forth and they were all moved in!! And I should have never worried for a moment!! Cheeping and scratching and running and jumping!! Digging among the shavings all the way down to the dirt!! I'm telling you these chicks are on a resort chicken island!!

Checkin' out the new place!

So much room!!!

Peeking in the window!

I have to admit...before I put head to pillow, me and my little flashlight friend will make a trip down to the mansion to make sure everyone is tucked in okay and settled down for the night!

Ahhh,.....simple pleasures make for big contentment on the Small Homestead!!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

No Room for Complaining

It is still raining here on the Small Homestead. We are so grateful that as strong storms came through last night and trees fell and one precious soul lost her life, that here on the homestead, we enjoyed just a good ole' fashioned thunderstorm.

Our one month old Black Australorps
As in my last post we have been having quite a bit of rain around here the last several days. Much needed rain I might add. However, when you are trying to plant your fall/winter garden and you are trying to build your chicken coop because those month old Black Australorps are quickly outgrowing their baby coop, it's quite easy to fall into complaining mode.

Rubber boots for mud and mucking stalls!
As I walked around this morning taking care of our babies though, I realized that God has provided so much to keep me dry and warm as I spend time outside in the rain and wind to help see our dream of full on homesteading become a reality.

One of 4 rain barrels to catch that free water!
I realized that He has provided free water for our babies that we don't have to pay for. That free water will also water our garden when the rain dries up for days and weeks on end.

Yes, it takes a little longer to complete the chores.

Yes, it can be a bit tougher to walk out of the warm, dry house to hang out in the cold, wet rain.

BUT....the babies that are working so hard to provide for us and help us reach that simple, self-reliant goal really appreciate it....and we appreciate them.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Rain, Rain

What a crazy weekend here on the Small Homestead!!! This is the weekend that is set aside each year for the men in our family to take a Father/Son camping trip. They are away for two nights, three days in the wilderness, no cell phone service--depending which campground they go to--no women, no jobs, no worries.

This year found them choosing the campground closer to home and that was a wise decision. You see, Friday was overcast all big with that, but that evening found our guys back home because a slight monsoon took place at our campground and....well....the tent just didn't cut the mustard!!!

Saturday morning was bright and sunny and found me cooking breakfast here at the homestead for my guys.....I must admit, for a brief moment, I was a bit miffed. For their camping weekend is also the women's hang out, eat chocolate, do mani-pedi's, watch movies and stay up late. NO WORKING.
However, after breakfast was done and I sat down with these men of mine, the conversation was great, the laughter was abundant and having time just me and my guys.....priceless!

They left again headed back to the campground to enjoy the day and hopefully actually spend the night. But.....evening came, and it brought with it angry lightning and heavy rain and three men headed back to their homes. Not the most relaxing camping trip, but memories were certainly made!!

Which brings me to a wonderful thing about homestead living. My guys talked and they are going to spend the next year clearing land on our property to build a small cabin and an outhouse so that next year at this time, no matter the weather, their plans won't be washed out!

Over the weeks and months ahead I'll be sharing pictures of that sweet little camping cabin going up and showing you just how awesome it is to live here on the Small Homestead!!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

It's Not All Work!!

Life on the Small Homestead can sometimes be very exhausting!! There is always a building to build or mend. A build or mend. A garden to till or weed, plant or harvest. There is always an animal to tend to...such as the surprise Ms Sarah gave us about three days ago....She was the first critter that we welcomed on the Small Homestead and what we didn't know was that she decided to bring seven others with her! Yes, Ms Sarah is a mother!!! A total surprise and that leads me back to there is always a building to build....
Ms Sarah resting

It can get exhausting at times, but then we take an evening here and there to have friends and family over. This past Friday night found us surrounded by these friends and family to celebrate Hubby's 50th birthday!! 

There was plenty of food and laughter and then there was a good old fashioned game of horseshoes! I thought and thought about what to buy Hubby for his birthday and all I kept hearing him say was, "I want to get back to simple. I don't want to always have to be searching for bigger and better." Well, when you are trying to change your mindset from consumerism to simple, let me tell you....that isn't always an easy thing to do!!

My Daddy reliving memories himself!
Hubby getting ready for a long pitch!
Then I got to thinking about my growing up years and how much fun everyone had at the end of long hard day gathering in the backyard for a game of horseshoes. The men took it very seriously and the women enjoyed getting to chat away from cooking, dishes and husbands. The kids enjoyed running around and being silly and seeing how far they could throw those heavy horseshoes!! And I realized what WONDERFUL memories those were for me and yet such a simple, simple thing. So that was when I made my decision to buy Hubby a set of horseshoes and the new memories made sure did favor those of my childhood!! 

It's those memories I want to pass down to AF and those grandchildren to follow. Simple times that money just cannot buy. Let me encourage you to let go of consumerism. Let go of bigger and better and more, more, more!! Life on the homestead isn't all work, it's simple laughter and priceless memories.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Just Because You Asked!!

I love sharing! I especially love sharing what I've learned because typically I've learned through my mistakes and if I can keep someone from following down my mistake path...well....I'm all over that!!

A few of you asked for the Apple Cinnamon Jam recipe. I wish I could take credit for it, but it's not my original idea. I got this recipe from a canning page I'm part of on Facebook. I LOVE this page and it has really helped me on this journey. The administrators are master canners and put safety above everything else! The best part is there is no such thing as a silly question---and believe me, I can ask some doosies!!!

Apple Cinnamon Jam

8-9 Apples
1 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
3 TBSP Lemon juice
4 Cups Sugar
1 Pouch liquid pectin

*Peel, core and cut finely. Simmer in a pot of water until soft enough to use a potato masher.
Use 4 cups mash and put in a separate pot. Add cinnamon, lemon juice and sugar.Bring to a rolling boil. 
Add liquid pectin and boil again for 1 minute.
Remove from heat and place in hot jars. 
Seal and process in a hot water bath canner for 10 minutes. 
Apple Cinnamon Jam and Homemade Biscuits

I have to tell you, this is truly delicious and just like I posted yesterday, it  is wonderful on hot, homemade biscuits!! 

*Don't throw those cores and peels in the compost just yet!! My wonderful mother reminded me that I can put those in a pan, add a little water and boil them down to get the juice. Once you've boiled those peelings down, strain over some cheesecloth and you have juice ready to make apple jelly!! 

We've got to get back to a way of thinking that includes not wasting! Too many things today are disposable and that is a terrible way to think and a very poor way to be a good steward of  ALL of the things God has blessed us with!

The recipe for the apple jelly can be found in a package of Sure Jell!! For those of you who might not want as much sugar as the regular Sure Jell calls for, Sure Jell offers a Sure Jell For Less version.

Give this a try and let me know how it turns out for you!! Abundant blessings and smiles flow when you witness your family enjoy the labor of your love!