Saturday, May 17, 2014


Although I'm not a regular reader of the blog, I read a post over on Blue Yurt Farms about funding your homestead last month that I really appreciated. It didn't go terribly in depth to any of the seven families, but the one big thing I gleaned from it is that homesteading is often an expensive choice that you need to be creative to make work. On one hand that seems a rather obvious statement, but after reading homesteading blogs and books, I often find myself wondering how in the world people have the money they need to do all these cool projects they're embarking upon. Or alternately, how I can get as good as they are at thrifting or finding free or cheap materials. There is often very little to no discussion on how people make their dreams and projects work financially and it's easy for me to fall into the trap of thinking that there is something I'm just not understanding. So reading that post was like a breath of fresh air. 

I actually wished I could learn more about each of their situations and how they made it work (and perhaps I can if I follow their blogs regularly - only so much time for this one woman!), but just the confirmation that other people struggle with this too was helpful for me, as I often feel like I'm floundering alone in this homesteading territory. 

It also gives me hope and encouragement to just keep plugging away and working at achieving my homestead goals. It's awesome to see other people adding cows, sheep, pigs, fruit trees and gardening all in one season, but I don't need to feel anxious that I can't do the same. Maybe all I'll accomplish this season is growing a garden and building a worm bin, but that's okay. It's forward progress and that's something. These are all things I already know, but it's nice to have the reminder and the affirmation some days.

Yes, I know it's a terrible photo, but it's also just so her.
For now I'll enjoy gardening with this little bee in the sunshine (even if that flower is a cosmos seedling she ripped out of the soil ;P) and know that all will come in due time with patience and hard work.  

Friday, May 16, 2014

Sunny Mother's Day

Oh man! May is here in all it's Seattle glory and I am loving it! For the non-local, that means it's been rainy since December and the sun is finally peeking out and giving us some really nice, warm temperatures and the promise of the most beautiful summer. Of course, having lived in the pacific northwest for the last ten years, I also know that May is a total fake-out, getting everyone totally stoked for summer, only to plunge us back into the grey, cool, drizzly month known and June-uary. It gets me every time, but I still can't help but be excited. 

Last weekend was where the weather turned so sunny and I made the most of it! Saturday was the annual West Seattle Community Garage Sale Day, so my mom and I made the trip across the ferry to check out some of the 280+ garage sales going on in the West Seattle neighborhood. I was trying to find a bunch of 5T sized clothes for the Kiddomus and I have had great luck with kid clothes in the past, but this year I struck out. I imagine it's partly because kids his age just wear out their clothes more since they take longer to grow out, which makes sense as he's doing the same with all his 4T stuff now. We have a couple of consignment stores on the island though, so I'm going to check out some of those and will likely buy some things, like pants, new since he wears through them more than others. 

Even though it wasn't terribly successful on the clothes front, it was still a fun day and we got home in time to help make dinner and have a nice time with Gamer Hubby and the kiddos. 

Sunday was, of course, Mother's Day and it ended up being a really nice one. Gamer Hubby and the kids made french toast for breakfast while I relaxed in bed and, later in the day, we had my mother-in-law and mom over for dinner. At my mom's request, we smoked a chicken on our barbeque and roasted a second to make sure we had enough to go around. It turned out great and had the extra benefit of giving me time to just sit out in the sun, embroidering some cloth napkins and enjoying the quiet and an iced tea while the Kiddomus played with my MIL and Honeybee napped. It was a truly lovely day!

Hope your weekend was every bit as nice too! 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Garden Productivity

Thanks for hanging in there after my last post. I don't have close friends here to be able to talk to, so it really helped to get whiny feeling of tiredness off my chest so I could move on. And boy did I! I got right to work later that day and have been plugging away ever since, whenever weather allowed (downpour + kids = the suck). I have made so much progress! My garden now has filled, terraced beds, wooden paths to separate each bed into reachable areas, and some beds are covered by cloches to help warm the plants and soil for those heat loving plants that will be planted out soon. 

This weekend also saw the installation of a soaker hose system that I think will be really great. The garden area was too big to water all at once. The total length of the soaker system would have been so long that the water wouldn't have been distributed evenly and I didn't want to worry about some beds getting less water than others. I also didn't want more than two hoses going up to the faucet, which is attached to the house. So instead, I devised an easy system that attaches to my faucet with just one hose, but allows me to switch the flow to water one garden bed at a time. With only three (giant) garden beds, it's really easy to go out there and switch between the beds. It does mean, I can't have it set on a timer all the time, but going out to turn on the faucet, or flip the y-connector switch is super fast and easy, so I don't anticipate it being a problem. Plus, it sure is a big step up from what I've always done before - spending an hour plus watering by hand! While nice to be in the garden, it can be hard with the kids and everything else going on. I always felt that the garden never got watered quite as well as it should have, so I'm excited about this improvement!

In other homestead news, the chickens are laying really well, which has been great for this egg-loving family, except that Henrietta, my Black Australorp, just went broody over the weekend. 

If only fake eggs would hatch...

I'm still deciding whether I want to try to break her of it or let it just run it's course. Right now I'm inclined to do the latter, just because it's one less thing to worry about, but I've heard that one broody hen can inspire others. So if another decides to start sitting on the nest, then I guess I'll break out my wire cage and rig up a broody box to cool things down for them. 

I am also really looking forward to canning season! We go through a lot of jam in this house, so I am really glad I made so much of it last year. No real worry about running out, but I also don't think we'll have too much left over either, so that's exciting. Also, have you seen Marisa McClellan's (who runs the excellent Food in Jars blog) new book, Preserving by the Pint? I'm excited about it. I have checked out her first book, Food in Jars, from the library and it has some great looking recipes. It's on my amazon list of books I'd like to buy soon. Even though I have typically canned in bigger batches in the past, her new book focuses on making just a pint or two of something using the smaller amounts of produce and ingredients we get while on sale at the grocery store or something. While I don't plan to stop bulk buying fruit in the summer for my bigger canning projects, this seems like such a great way to use up the rest of that big basket of blueberries I got for sale at the store that week just before the kids decided they were tired of them. I also think it's a nice way to try out a little of something that I'm not sure will be popular or useful enough in our family to warrant a big sized canning batch. 

My remaining preserves. Not a lot since we go through a jar or two of jam per week.

In the same vein, Erica at Northwest Edible Life, recently wrote a really great post about some of the best foods to preserve. Although, as she notes, it is highly dependent on what your family eats, I found some of her suggestions for how to use that food to best advantage really inspiring! I'm not very good at just making recipes up by combining ingredients. I'm definitely a cook-from-a-recipe person, but I'd like to get much better at creating my own to better use up what I have. This post was really helpful and motivating in working toward that end. Especially since I have a pressure canner that I have been too intimated to get out of it's box and use! Canned meats weren't something I thought sounded terribly appetizing, but after reading that post, I just may try them out. 

So far it's been a busy spring, and I can hardly wait for the weather to warm up and my garden to really start growing. What's going on in your home this Spring?