Monday, February 20, 2017

Preparing for a Trip

** I typed this post in the early morning hours of Feb. 15. But I didn't want to advertise to the world that I was leaving my home unoccupied so here are my thoughts... a few days delayed.

We will be leaving tomorrow for our "mental health break." We'll be Texas bound this time. I'm really looking forward to all of it- the road trip and the visits with relatives and friends. This visit coincides with the Mother Earth News Fair event in Texas so we're planning to spend a day there as well. We plan to return home exhausted! Is that a bad thing? I don't think so. Cramming fun and memories into the few days we have away sounds exciting to me. But before we leave, I've got to get the homestead ready.

I'm up early today to make sure I get everything done. I'm a list maker but instead of writing all the errands and chores out on a piece of paper, I'm sharing it all with you today. Ever wondered how difficult it is for small homesteaders to leave for a few days? Well, I think it's fairly easy if everything is carefully organized. Here's our to-do list for today:

1. Check over the vehicle.
   I had it in for routine maintenance last week so today I will only have to make sure it is clean and all the necessary papers are in order. Since it's winter time and we will be driving through so many different climate zones, I'll check through the emergency kit, too.

2. Take the dog to the boarder.
    She suffers from terrible separation anxiety and would likely harm herself if left without more attention than a daily feeding for a few days. Our vet has a great boarding service so we will leave the dog in his care.

3. Check the fences and cages.
   An escapee goat or rabbit would be an awful experience for a sitter to deal with so we will double check all of the containment to make sure nothing has worked loose or rusted through.

4. Scoop the poop
  Part of keeping a good sitter happy is making sure no unnecessary work is piled on at the beginning of the job. It's so much easier to maintain a clean set-up than to try to catch-up. We will reap the rewards when we come home tired but not facing a mountain of work.

5. Top off the critter hay and water.
  We will be leaving before sunrise tomorrow and the sitter will be coming in the afternoon. But the goats and rabbits won't even realize we are gone if they wake up to a full hay supply and full water buckets. The chickens have an automatic door to the outside so they will be able to stretch and scratch to their heart's content when the sun comes up.

Add all that to the normal routine of getting ready for a trip and I'll have one busy day! But I'll be doing everything with a light heart and I'm looking forward to the next blog post where I'll share all about my trip!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Thankful Thursday #7

1 Thessalonians 5:18
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

Every week I hope to share something I am thankful for.

This week I'm thankful for new chicks! 

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Valentine's Gifts

My sweet DH knows how to make me feel special everyday. He encourages my desire to learn new skills, buys all the supplies for my hobbies, takes time to listen to whatever is on my mind, and gives me a shoulder to cry on when I need one. So I really don't need or expect anything from him on "that day" when some men have to scramble to buy an expensive gift to try to prove they love their wife. And yet he still takes the time to give me something so I won't feel neglected.

This year he surprised me with two gifts and they each touched my heart in a special way. First he gave me a hand crafted bracelet.
It's hard to see due to the reflection but he engraved the GPS coordinates of our first date into the stainless steel. I LOVE IT! He gave it to me a few days before Valentine's Day because he was scheduled to be out of town on the actual day. 

But then his schedule changed and he found out he would be arriving home on Valentine's evening. Not wanting to come in the door empty handed, he stopped at a grocery store and hand crafted a bouquet to bring me.
You might think it's odd to be thrilled with radish roses nestled in kale and broccoli. But my DH knows I'm trying to get healthier. And when he handed them to me, he said, "I want you to live for a long, long time." Now I ask you, "Can you get any more romantic than that?"


Monday, February 13, 2017

Fiber Bug

I've been bitten! I started out with a desire to learn how to spin. After taking a couple lessons, I now know that I really enjoy it. It's quite peaceful to sit with no distractions and get into a rhythm of spinning, your thoughts can wander and daydream, and you end up (hopefully) with a beautiful yarn when you're done. I have been using a borrowed spinning wheel and after deciding this is something I want to continue to pursue, I'm going to purchase it! By the way, if you find a teacher of any hobby who will loan you the equipment to learn on until you decide if you want to make an investment, you've struck it rich. I really can't stress enough how great that was!

I haven't been at it long enough to make a perfect yarn but I am having such a good time learning and I know with practice and patience I will get there. Meanwhile, I'm ready to start learning about dyes and different types of fiber. I want to get the head knowledge started to keep up with the hands-on stuff I'm doing. At the suggestion of my teacher I purchased The Joy of Spinning by Marilyn Kluger. It's no longer in print but I hunted it down on Amazon and it arrived this week. I've only thumbed through it but I'm looking forward to sitting down with it soon.

I've also been thinking about ways to get fiber. We don't raise any fiber animals so I will have to purchase the materials. Or maybe I will get some angora rabbits. A sheep? Some alpacas? Silk worms? A CAMEL!! I think it's time for me to stop writing, Even though he will be miles away when he's reading this, I can hear my DH's sigh when he gets to this part.  Have a great week!

Friday, February 10, 2017

Picking My Battles

This post is going to hurt. It's going to take me longer than normal to type it. There will be deleting and retyping the same phrases a few times, possibly some curse words thrown out. Once I hit the "publish" button, you are going to read the words, feel my anguish, and nod your head (or shake it in disagreement.) There's your warning, make sure your coffee (or tea) cup is full and then come back.

The topic of the day is gardening. I've put off thinking of the garden all winter but the seed catalogs are piling up and DH has hinted a few times about getting the seeds started in the basement. Plus Valentine's Day is right around the corner. If you've followed me for very long, you know about my tradition of planting lettuce on Valentine's Day. But just thinking about the garden has me in mild anxiety and near tears this year.

Spring is supposed to be a time of new hope, a beginning. Fresh green grass, the return of the robins, newborn critters, and sunshine. Yeah, yeah. I usually love it all. But the garden, y'all. The garden has come to represent all the hard parts of homesteading to me: the hopefulness that quickly turns to failure and bitterness, back breaking labor, frustration, and lack of control. Every single year for the last several years our garden has started out great- rich soil, no weeds, wonderful mulch, and plenty of compost. Then comes July with it's wicked, humid, oppressive heat and this hoosier girl with the damaged back and a lack of time loses heart. The garden becomes a war zone. Weeds, bugs, and sweat win the battles. By the end of the summer it's clear who the victors were. The losses are staggering. The cost of time in preparation for the garden is enough to make me cry when I see plants lost to squash bugs or overcome by Johnson grass. And then the trips to the farmer's market to replace the veggies I couldn't bring to fruition at home is demoralizing, too.

At the end of the season last year, I reached my limit. Tallying up the meager amount of produce we got from the garden and seeing the lack of results had me throwing up my arms in defeat. I had decided to not even have a garden in 2017. But DH happened to score a great deal on some rolls of plastic and convinced me to try using plastic mulch this year. I knew this method was effective because we had used it in our salad gardens back before we went the homesteading route and decided to be all natural. So this year I have made the choice to use plastic to try to keep the weeds at bay.

There, I said it out loud. Plastic. In. My. Garden.

Do I feel a sense of defeat? Yes. But no. I think the real defeat would be to have no garden at all. And if I can't make a go of it this year, that might be the result for next year. So I've given an inch to hold the battleground for another season.

Am I worried about "chemicals" and such? No. I see the plastic in the fields surrounding my home every year. I see the yellow clouds of dust dropped from airplanes into the fields surrounding my home every year. I follow tractors dripping pink globs of foam after they leave the fields surrounding my home every year. As much as I like to support the local growers at the market, none of them are organic. They all use "traditional" farming methods.

This year I will learn. I will try to find better ways to achieve my goals. But I will also have home raised food that's been enriched by the compost of our home raised manure- I take great pride in being able to say that, the mark of a true homesteader! I might have lost a small battle but maybe I can still win the war.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Thankful Thursday #6

1 Thessalonians 5:18
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

Every week I hope to share something I am thankful for.

This week I'm thankful for the things that are homemade on our homestead.
Coop roost and brooder pen

Niddy noddies

hay feeder

flag pole

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Not a Fan

I slept under a fan this passed Sunday night and I'm still suffering the ill effects. I know there are some people who can't sleep without a fan running and truthfully, I envy them. But I get sick every time I sleep with a fan blowing on me. Every. Single. Time.

While the stuffy nose and sore throat came and went quickly, an ear ache is lingering- holding out til the very last possible moment to make me miserable. I've tried every last trick in the book I know to get rid of it, but it's not having any of it.

Yesterday we had a nice balmy 60 degree day and I went out in my shirt sleeves to do the critter chores with a sock hat on to keep my ears covered. It got a little warm  hot under the hat but I couldn't stand the slightest breeze in the sore ear.

I've heard (over and over) from various sources that sleeping under a fan doesn't cause illness. I guess my body wants to prove everyone wrong. Maybe I'll conduct a scientific experiment. Or maybe I'll just go hunt up the heating pad for this darned earache.

The high temp today is going to be 20 degrees colder than yesterday so I am not going to be so uncomfortable with the sock hat on. (There's always a bright side!)