Friday, January 12, 2018

The Difference a Day Makes

Yesterday I was slogging through mud and driving under cloudy skies. I was tempted to open the house windows for fresh air. I did my chores without a jacket.


Today I battled wind and sleet to get my chores done. I can barely see my neighbor's home across the field of blowing snow. My hat and mittens were stiff with ice when I took them off. My house windows were frozen shut.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Keeping it Real

Have you noticed the list of blogs I follow on the right side of the page? I don't read them as often as I'd like. But I can honestly say that I don't read any others. They all have something in common that's very important to me. They're real. If any are blogging just for the sake of getting followers, I haven't caught on to it. Very few of them post "posed" pictures and when life gets messy or hard, they don't hold back the details. That's what I need. And that's what I do also. The glossy pictured, fancy blogs are ok to browse but I get discouraged if I visit them very often. I know my homestead is never going to look like that. I have mud and cobwebs and POOP (and that's just today!)

Several months ago we decided it was time to upgrade our kitchen. The last time it was done was before we moved in- 30ish years before. The lighting is awful, breakers frequently trip, and the flooring is starting to come up from wear. When we discussed the re-do, we also decided to get the best quality replacements we could afford and do as much of the labor as we can ourselves. Keep in mind that DH is only home 3 or 4 days a month. And we are not carpenters. AND we are not rolling in the dough. So we went into the project knowing it was going to take a very long time to complete it. And we're good with that- we aren't going anywhere and our kids are out of the house. The only ones being inconvenienced are ourselves.

So, here's my honest-to-goodness mess right now.

We emptied the top cabinets and they're all torn out. I found things in there I'd forgotten we used to use. The old wallpaper behind some of them was kind of neat, too.

I know kitchen remodeling isn't necessarily a homesteading topic. But in a few months I'll be straining goat milk, washing garden produce, and learning to pressure can. In. This. Kitchen.  For real.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Real vs Artificial Christmas Tree

Due to DH's allergies, we've put up artificial Christmas trees for the last thirty plus years. I'd prefer to have real ones but didn't want him to be miserable. Unfortunately his allergies have been worse the last few years even without a live tree in the house. Since he is taking so much allergy medicine anyway, we've decided to try having a live one next year, though. Just a trial run because our current artificial one is ready to be replaced. If it doesn't work out, we can always haul it outside to the goats, trees are a special treat in the wintertime, and pick up another artificial one.

I'm over the moon ecstatic just thinking about having a live tree! There are so many reasons why I think they are better. First, we plan to purchase one from a local grower which will put our money into the local economy instead of the big box store's pocket- where most of it would be returned to China and a very small amount trickling down to the employee. And when we are finished with it we can "recycle" it in the goat pen instead of leaving a plastic pile of fake limbs in a landfill to sit for years and years.

Yesterday I had some errands in town and stopped by the Goodwill store to look around. Just as I was about to walk out, without purchasing anything, my eyes caught a glimpse of two Christmas tree stands, one tall and skinny, one short and squat. We'd given ours away all those years ago and I wasn't looking forward to buying a new one next year. But these were priced at $2 each! I snatched both of them up and did a happy dance when I got to the car (they frown at you if you do it at the register- don't ask me how I know.) I'm ready for Christmas now!

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Brrrrrr

It's twilight as I type this. I can hear the sound of snow flurries/sleet outside my window. The Christmas tree is twinkling- reminding me that I should have it packed away by now. I've just come in from stashing fresh straw in the goat shed for them to bed in. The forecast for dangerous wind chills is back in my news feed.

Over the holidays, DH got his smoker up and running. He took it for a test drive on New Year's Eve and we've been feasting on smoked chicken and brisket for the last few days. I haven't been out to take pictures yet, but check the The HoosierHubby tab in a few days for those. He also made some smoked jalapeno poppers and that's what I'm having for dinner. I can hear them sizzling as they reheat in the toaster oven. Hopefully they will do the trick of warming me up after the mad dash I just made to make sure the critters would be warm tonight!

Normally I would be getting ready for church right now. But the cold weather we've been having seems to be settling in my back and hips lately. By this time every evening I'm loaded up on pain medicine and longing for my bed.

Early this morning I drove an hour each way to pick up my grandson at daycare and bring him to our home for the day. We spent the whole time exploring our toes, exchanging kisses, and watching music videos- Return to Pooh Corner and Puff the Magic Dragon, mainly. He will soon be 6 months old and is a real joy to have around! We haven't introduced him to the outside critters, saving that for summertime. Being a grandparent is such an exciting adventure and I think our homestead will be a neat place to visit as he gets older. But for now, baby play is so much fun inside and we can forget about the cold raging on the outside.

While the little one was napping, I thumbed through my copy of  The Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery. I was fascinated by the baby topics, like how to keep a baby warm on bitter cold nights while using cloth diapers. There is so much useful information in there! I've decided to keep the book on my coffee table this winter and pick it up every time I have a short break. My goal is to break the habit of always picking up something electronic when I'm bored.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Blank Pages

I'm ashamed to admit it but feel I must, if only to help myself. So if you're not into reading about my downfall and confession, just skip on down to the next paragraph. See, every new year I post a Bible verse on this old blog. My intention is to have a scripture to reflect, guide, and INSPIRE me as I share about our little life here. Click here to see the one I picked for last year. I'm not sure when I fell off the thankful wagon and hopped onto the self-pity train but I can assure you that the train crashed. Big time. In picking up the pieces of the wreckage, I feel the best way to put them back together is to go straight back to that verse and be thankful for the lesson learned from it. I'm heading into 2018, blessed and ready to remember it!

Just like last year, I purchased a planner to record projects, weather, purchases, and harvests for this year. Right now all the pages are blank except one. That's the one where we'e started a list of homestead blessings we're bringing in to this year. Soon we'll be adding goals and plans. But I'm going to reflect on this page for a while first. And here is the verse for 2018:
Philippians 3:13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before





Friday, December 29, 2017

Ending 2017

The last few months have been rough on a personal level. I'll spare you the details, they don't have much to do with homesteading. I'm blessed to know a God who has seen me through it all. A new year is fast approaching and I'm looking forward to a fresh start, both in my personal life and on this blog. See you on the first of 2018!

Monday, October 9, 2017

Adding Goats to Your Homestead?

A while back I wrote a post about adding chickens to your homestead. Once you've tackled that task, and gotten used to having poultry around, you might want to move on to another type of livestock.  If you're considering goats, first you need to decide what their purpose will be- milk, meat, fiber, or a combination. Once you've figured that out, you can hit the internet to do your research on different breeds of goats. Just like you did with the chickens, look for breeds that are compatible with your climate. Also find the ones that will fit in your land space. While you're looking, check out shelter and fencing requirements.  By the way, are your goats going to have horns? Are you going to keep a buck or arrange for stud service? There's a lot to learn before you make a purchase! Find your county extension agent or visit a neighboring goat farm before you invest!

I really can't add anything to all that expertise. BUT I do think it's important to also prepare yourself for how owning goats can change your life. I can add my own experiences to help you mentally meet the challenge and make sure you're up to the daily added responsibilities of owning goats if you follow these simple instructions. Ready? Here we go...

Step 1- You'll need two people for this one.
Mark off the outside perimeter of your imaginary goat pen. Inside this space, walk around and randomly toss a large box full of Cocoa Puffs on the ground. Then take a leaf rake and try to sweep up all the Cocoa Puffs while your partner randomly tosses another box full of them out, AT THE SAME TIME. Take turns doing this for hours until you just. give. up.

Step 2-  Again with two people.
First decide where your gate will be. Give your partner a charcoal briquette. Walk through your imaginary gate with a bucket full of feed held up high over your head while your partner tries to decorate your clothes with the charcoal. Once you can get through the gate without spilling the bucket AND dodging the "hoof prints" you can consider yourself a pro!

Step 3- Go to the farm store and price goat fencing. Faint. Convince yourself you can use the cheaper fence instead. Practice calling in escapees with a bucket of grain and replacing your neighbor's rose bushes.

Step 4- Decide which one of your family is going to give up their Christmas for the cost of goat fencing.

Step 5- Find a good hay supply. Bust open a bale and throw half of it on the ground, where goats don't eat. Every day. 

Step 6- Decide what you're going to feed your goats on the days when they do not like the hay.

The rest of the steps are my personal suggestions for dairy goats.

Step 7- Set an alarm for milking time. Head out to the pen at this time every day. Milking gets done in sickness and health, good weather and bad, til drying up time.

Step 8- Clean off the coldest shelf in your fridge and fill it full of mason jars. Rotate the jars every day so the oldest gets used first. Utilize the "glare of death" on anyone who tries to rearrange the jars.

And finally, when you're just about ready to pull your hair out...

Step 7-Imagine there are baby goats bouncing (yes, bouncing!) around inside the imaginary pen. And then there's a mama goat, bleating because she wants her neck scratched. Or a buck who's blubbering and making funny faces. And don't manage to get anything else done within sight of that goat pen with ALL THE CUTENESS.